Silence drafts over the room.
Someone in here set the Misfits up. Someone in here was responsible for the death of Sunbeam, Jolie and Baby Boom. Someone almost got me killed. I can feel my heart racing from the anger that I had inside of me. If I could I would probably turn the table we were sitting at into a train so it could run over everyone just for the opportunity to get back at the one motherfucker who set me up.
My heart raced as Vicious Vigor releases the information to everyone. A hard tear presses up against my cheek at that moment. It burns as it falls. I'm beyond pissed.
"Which one?" I ask, "Which one did it?"
Vigor has a blank stare. He doesn't know. It's clear he doesn't know. My heart is racing. I get up from my table at that moment.
Vigor turns to Gadget Girl, "Gadget. Escort Materias out for a minute. He may be too emotional to be involved in this interrogation."
"Emotional? I need to hear this!" I start off arguing with intention in my eyes, "My friends died!"
I know screaming like this isn't really convincing Vigor or anyone else for that matter that I'm not emotional. The other villains are all quiet. If you ask me they all look guilty. I want to be in the room and watch as Vigor interrogates them and tries to get down to the bottom of who sold the Misfits out. I want to know who was responsible in this room for tipping off Mayor Morals.
Vigor doesn't scream or bark an order like I think he's going to do. His face and his voice are gentler to me offering me instead a constellation prize, "How about you have the chance to go talk to your friend that we have in the prisons while I get to the bottom of this. It'll be ok, Materias. I promise..."
The idea of seeing Scan-man may be the only thing that would have made me a little less emotional at that moment. I think for a minute wondering if I should actually take Vigor up on his offer. I'm struggling with the opportunity to see Scan-man though.
Gadget Girl is immediately whispering something to Vigor. She's smart enough not to scream it out like Icebox or I. Instead she says it to him softly privately. I don't need to be Mr. or Mrs. Thinker to know that she's talking shit about me. As I look over to Mr. And Mrs. Thinker I wonder if they are able to know who was the one who is the traitor. They are scanning the room clearly even at this moment. I can see the couple's eyes looking at everyone. Then I remember what Fem said. She told me to clear my mind around them. Maybe that was their Limit. Maybe the powers only worked if the person's mind they were trying to read wasn't resisting. Or maybe the Thinkers were the traitors...
My mind is going crazy with what-if scenarios. I think it's best to take Vigor to his word so I get up and walk out of the room following a reluctant Gadget Girl.
My heart is racing when I see my friend. He's behind silver gates at the very bottom floor. The bottom floor is dark and gives me the creaps. There all these walls off rooms and Gadget Girl is particular that I not go into any of them. As we pass some rooms I swear I hear some sort of low painful moans. It makes me worry about Scan. When I see him however he's in good health. It's clear that they'd been keeping an eye out for him.
"Five minutes..." Gadget Girl instructs me.
She gives me a weary stare before walking back down the hallway. I roll my eyes at her and hug Scan man throughout the gate.
"Did you get a chance to scan that bitch?" I ask him.
"That girl's powers are technology induced," he tells me almost immediately, "She was born Emily Richardson on a rainy day in April. Her father is Dr. David Richardson at the Children's hospital of Pittsburgh. Her mother is a stay at home mom with ADHD. Emily is 24 years and received the gift at the age of 14 while she was running away from home due to not getting enough attention from her parents. She has a super human understanding of gadgets. Her Limit is that after 20 minutes of intense thinking she will develop a Migrane that leaves her on her ass for hours. She's also quite cold finding it difficult to express human emotion even when wants to."
She wasn't the only one. Vigor had the same issue.
"What about Vigor? Had a chance to scan him?" I ask.
"Slightly...when we were in the conference room," Scan tells me, "He's closed up. Nothing very useful. Something about an old relationship that hurt him up inside. I couldn't scan real details..."
I shake my head.
"Scan. The reason I'm down here is because Vigor believes one of those people upstairs sold the Misfits out to Mayor Morals."
"How'd they know enough about us to sell us out?"
I shake my head, "Vigor was tracking us in hopes of recruiting us. He'd also been tracking Morals. He'd been wanting to recruit some of us."
"Maybe he sold us out then."
I roll my eyes, "Scan seriously?"
"What?" Scan-man asks crossing his arms, "He could be trying to cover his tracks. I don't know why that's so unreasonable to you. You don't know these people. I'm your only real friend left."
The way Scan-man says it makes me think that he really means it. It scares me a little bit to be honest. I lean up against the bars unsure of if I should believe him or not.
"I don't know. I trust Vigor."
At least I wanted to trust Vigor. My heart raced thinking about it though. Vigor wasn't exactly warm and fuzzy. He didn't exactly ever tell me that he was someone who I could trust. He needed me. He was using me. It was clear. Still the cause that Vigor had was good. I thought about telling Scanman about the virus at that moment. Him scanning me wouldn't really give away information like that. He only knew specific facts about someone's life from a scan.
"When I scanned him there was hurt there. That guy is all fucked up inside. I never had a hard time scanning anyone before," Scan offers, "Don't trust him. You need to break me out of here. We need to make a run for it."
"Run where?" I ask.
"Anywhere. Away from these fuckin' people."
He didn't understand.
I shake my head, "Scan. There's no where to run. There's a wall. Remember? I made a deal with Vigor. He wants me to do something for him. Once I do it, he'll let you out of this cell."
"What's he want you to do?"
I struggle to tell him. It's not important for him to know and the last thing I want Scan to do is start worrying.
"Just a little magic," I reply waving my fingers hoping that would inspire him to laugh.
That doesn't work. I realize now how different Scanman is from his brother, "Sunbeam wouldn't want this for you. These guys are the real deal Cameron. Vicious Vigor killed the president. He's the most wanted man in America. These aren't low budget stick up kids like us. These are REAL bad guys."
Bad guys. I'd rather be bad if the good guys were the type to commit genocide against their own kind.
Luckily Gadget Girl calls out, "Wrap it up!" with a mean exclamation from down the hallway.
I struggle to change the subject so I don't upset Scan man.
"Listen did you get a read on anyone else that day you were in the war room?"
I look over in his cell and notice they've given him some writing utensils, paper and other useful items to keep him busy. I point towards them, "I need you to go ahead and compile a list of information on these people. Make it as detailed as you can from what you remember from your scans."
"Why?" he asks me.
"It may give me a clue on who the traitor is."
Scan looks at me with a worried look, "Fine. I'll do it. Come back down to get it but only when you can. And Cameron. Be careful. You are way over your head here."
He worries. I wonder if Sunbeam honestly would say the same sort of things if Sunbeam were alive. I know Scan is saying these things though because he's worried. I give him another hug before leaving. It's really hard to see a friend of mine stuck behind bars like this. I decide for Scanman that I'm going to try even harder in creating the device that will take down the wall for Vigor.
I'm back at it for hours trying to make this fucking device. I get a mockup created from the shoe box that is actually really convincing but it only lasts for about 2 minutes before it turns back into a shoebox full of forks. Soon I feel like I may be adopting Gadget Girl's Limit when my head starts to hurt all of a sudden.
I'm interrupted by a knock on the door.
I'm shocked that it's Vicious Vigor standing there. He isn't dressed up in his costume. He's wearing basic clothing. He looks almost like a normal guy. Sure his muscles are a lot bigger than your average guy and his face is definitely more handsome, but besides that he looks normal. He has on a motorcycle jacket and some tore up jeans with some timberland boots on. He has a baseball cap that is pulled down a little too far that it covers up his eyebrows and barely exposes his face.
I don't beat around the bush, "Who is it? Who is the traitor?"
He bites on his lower lip and admits, "I'm actually not sure of that yet."
He laughs a little bit, "Some promises take a little longer than usual. I promise you I'm working on it. In the meantime how about we get out?"
I look down and notice that he has two motorcycle helmets in his hand.
Vicious Vigor was asking to hang out with me...
Before I know it I'm swerving through the city of Pittsburgh. My hands are strapped onto Vigor's sides. He drives like a maniac through traffic on his Ninja bike. The secret entrance to the lair is in an old beat up looking repair shop at the side of Mt. Washington. When we hit the streets I feel a thrill of excitement and freedom strapped onto the back of Vicious Vigor.
He smells like manliness and pomegranate seeds. It's an odd mix and I don't know how I come up with it. I remember my parents always used to give me pomegranate seeds. They'd been in California on vacation when the Gift came and the wall came up. I'd never gotten to see them again. I promised if the wall ever came back down I'd seek them out. I wonder if they remembered what I looked like. I wondered if they remembered what I smelled like. To me they smelled like pomegranate seeds. For some reason it made me feel safe and right now strapped on the back of Vicious Vigor I felt...safe.
It didn't matter that he swerved through traffic. None of that mattered. I had lifted my hands into the air for a minute forgetting to hold onto him and just feeling the excitement. The city was so beautiful. The many bridges of Pittsburgh were illuminated all around us. The water glistened. In the distance you couldn't see an invisible wall. For a minute it felt like we could just drive off into the sunset together. I had almost lost my balance doing a stunt like holding my hands up and luckily Vigor grabbed me and secured me on the back of his bike before anything happened.
By the time we got to our destination he was sure to give me a stern look, "You got a death wish don't you? You thought you were on a roller coaster ride or something?"
"Sorry. I just felt...safe," I respond.
It had been such a long time. I offer him a smile but Vigor doesn't find it funny. He's leaving me walking away to what looks like some kind of bar and returning a stern, "You're never safe."
The bar that we go into is big. It's private. We get a table in the back and I think Vigor is mad about my stunts on the bike so he isn't really saying much of anything to me. I attempt to exchange a smile with him and after a while he seems to lighten up enough to ask me what I want to drink. In a minute the bartender returns to our table with a Tequila sunrise and a whiskey on the rocks. It's not hard to see who ordered which drink.
"You come here often?" I ask him.
"Enough," he asks, "Bars are in high demand since the wall went up. Electricity became regulated. The government is very careful what they let in and out of the wall. The one thing that always never seems to run out is the supply of alcohol."
I laugh at the idea, "Why do you suppose that is?"
"Metahumans get drunk. They reveal their powers. They are reported and forced to register," he responds, "Simple."
I laugh at the idea, "Damn. You have it all figured out huh?"
He leans in close to me at that moment, "Not everything. I haven't figured you out."
The idea that this mysterious man was actually telling me that he couldn't figure me out blew my mind. I cross my arms at the table and attempt to put on one of Vigor's apathetic cold stares. I never thought of myself as mysterious. If anything I was an open book but the idea that someone thought I was gave made me feel like 007.
"I got a couple of secrets," I lie straight forward, "You know. I'm walled off. I can't let everyone know my shit. Can't let anyone know my weakness."
"Your Limit," he responds, "Keep that safe. Never tell a soul unless you trust them with your life. Once you tell someone your Limit you're not a threat to them. They can control you. Once we get this wall down, no one will ever control us ever again. How's that device coming along by the way."
I put on a slight smile, "It's going. How about you finding out who the traitor is?"
"I told you. I'm working on it," he responds.
I let out a yawn, "But you got time to take me out drinking?"
"You're the only one I can really trust 100%. You weren't at the lair when the message was sent. You are the only one so far that I know couldn't have turned on me. So hell. I took you out."
I roll my eyes, "That's lame. I thought it's cause you wanted to spend time with me. You're lame..."
"Did you just call me lame, bra?" he asks turning his baseball hat and staring me down in surprise, "Don't I terrify you?"
He shrugs a little bit, "I don't know. You don't seem scared of me for whatever reason. I don't think I'm some nice guy. I'm a Supervillain. If you ask the right person they'll tell you that I am THEE Supervillain. Don't I terrify you?
He did terrify me but not in the way that he thought. I look deep into his eyes. They are dark and deep. When you look at them it's almost like you can be devoured by them. I wonder if it's his super power. That is when I realize that I still have no idea what his super power is.
"If I knew what you did you'd terrify me," I tell him, "I still don't know what your super power is."
He laughs, "Seriously? Don't you know your supervillain trivia? I'm Vicious Vigor. I'm going to be in the history books right next to John Wilkes Booth."
My face gets red, "Damn Vigor don't say that."
Vigor takes a long swig of his whiskey. He finishes the whole thing slams it on the table and then orders another one. He licks his lips as though trying to get the remainder of the whiskey slow and when he realizes I'm staring at him licking his lips he just precedes to wipe it off with his hand.
When he's done he leans over and shrugs, "It's all good. History doesn't get it right. Some heroes are villains. Some villains are heroes. Look at Columbus."
"True. But since I don't know your history yet. Why don't you show me your gift?"
"Fine. Touch me."
I smile at him and raise an interested eyebrow, "Damn...maybe you should buy me another drink first and then..."
"Stop. Seriously. Touch my arm," he responds.
Every time I flirt with him he gets super serious. I do what he says though. I lean forward and touch Vicious on the arm. When I touch his arm it seems as though his arm has lost all sort of elasticity. He's super soft. As I push into his skin it's so squishy that I can press in all the way through his arm almost as though he doesn't have any bones in there at all.
I make a fake wheezing noise and respond with an, "Ah. You like some sort of elastic man or something?"
"Not quite. Touch my arm again. Go ahead."
I reach back out on his arm and touch it again. This time his arm is solid. It's not solid like an arm would be though. It's solid almost like some sort of metal. It doesn't feel like skin anymore. It's beyond hard. I'm immediately impressed imagining how much it would hurt to be punched by an arm like that.
"You have two powers."
"Sort of. It's really just density manipulation. I can control how soft or hard my body is. How heavy or how light. It helped with me breaking out of jail believe it or not. . I squeezed right through the bars," he replies taking a strong gulp of his alcohol and motioning his hands in a tight squeezing manner.
"You say you can make yourself as hard as you'd like?" I ask with a flirty smile. I lean back in the chair and stare under the table making sure that he knows exactly what I'm getting at.
It's funny to see the cold faced villain squirm at that moment. He adjusts himself in his seat and stares out of the glass window that is illuminating all of Pittsburgh. His eyes are focused on the street for a moment as though waiting for the moment to pass or maybe even checking for something until the moment passed. Then after he looks out of the window he stares back at me.
His eyes challenge me, "You enjoy making me uncomfortable don't you?"
"I can't be as bad as Fem Fatale," I plead.
He laughs, "It's different."
At that moment that's all he says. I look at him wondering if he's going to emphasize what point he's making but he doesn't. He seems to go into a slight daze as though wondering about something or maybe thinking about something. I doubt it is really connected to what he just says or not. I don't mind him acting like this. I take that moment to study Vigor's face. His strong face is the color of desert sand. He plays with the glass for a moment deep in thought and for a couple of minutes we just sit there. Vigor silently staring at his glass and me staring at him.
Every moment that passes I'm getting deeper and deeper into him. He orders more drinks. Soon I'm feeling drunk without really noticing it but Vigor seems completely sober and I'm not sure how. His tolerance seems to trump mine completely. I can barely look at him straight.
I don't know why I do it but I find myself reaching over the table. I touch his hand. For a moment he doesn't expect it. He just glares at me trying to understand what I'm doing. I run my fingers through Vigor's fingers. I feel on his skin. It's not too soft right now. It's not hard. It's just normal skin with slight hairs that tickle my fingertips.
Soon the alcohol gives me a cape.
"You're always so standoffish," I tell him, "And I'm not gonna bullshit with you. Vicious Vigor. You are the sexiest man in the world to me. I've had a crush on you since you got arrested back in the day. I still do..."
Vicious stares at me for a moment clearly not expecting me to say what I say. I know I'm kind of loud. The waitress walks past and sees us. There are guys at the bar who are probably not used to this tenderness between two men. They are staring curiously. I'm so desperate for anything. I'm just desperate for him to give me a slight smile. Maybe if he even gave me a wink. I just wanted to know this chemistry that I was feeling for Vicious Vigor wasn't something that I was feeling alone.
"I'm not like that," he responds bluntly and sharply, jerking his arms away.
Embarrassment empties through me. I swear I even hear the waitress let out a stifled laugh. It's so funny. The gay boy who is crushing on the straight boy. I should have known. Just the fact that he clearly turned down the attention of Fem Fatale made me assume maybe he had a chance. Fem wasn't the type of girl you just turned down.
"Don't apologize. Just don't do it again. It won't happen," he tells me bluntly and if that isn't enough he adds in a sharp final, "Ever."
My heart drops a little bit and I attempt to save face by taking the moment away from my embarrassing fail, "So you and Gadget got something going on? She's pretty...in her own way."
"Gadget? No," he responds crossing his arms.
"Have you ever?"
"Dated? Been in love?" I ask. I want to add if he'd ever been human but decide that would sound a little too petty after he recently shut me down.
She sounded like a lucky bitch. I pretend to smile but I can't get it. I don't know Vicious Vigor like that. I never did. But I'd always had a crush on him. Being shut down by the guy that you had a crush on hurts. It hurt with Sunbeam and it was hurting again with Vicious. The only reason that he's brought me out here is probably because he can't trust the rest of his crew. I'm thinking this is a heart to heart but honestly right now I don't feel like Vigor really has his heart in it.
"She sounds hideous," I respond, my lip quivering.
Vigor just looks at me. He's staring daggers into me. I must have definitely hit something there.
"More drinks?" The waitress bartender lady asks walking over to us.
"None for him. One more for me," Vigor replies.
I look over at him, "You ordering for me now."
"You're getting tipsy. You're eyes are wandering and you're looking emotional because I told you that I'm not interested in you," he replies, "A couple more and you'll be pouting. The last thing I want is you crying again..."
The embarrassment runs through my body. Does he think I'm a little cry baby?
"Fuck that. Why would I cry? I can have any man I want."
I sound so childish saying that but I don't know what else to say.
"Congradulations," he replies with a cold, blank stare, "You're still not drinking anymore. And that's final. You'll need to toughen up. You'll also need to stop looking for love. You won't find it in the Division of Disaster. You're going to die alone and hated. That's our lives. Deal with it."
Fuck. I am getting emotional as soon as he says it. I don't know what the fuck gets into me. I whisper out a quick and silent, "Fuck."
I know it's coming and I can't stop it.
"Holy fuck. You're going to cry."
"Is he alright?" The waitress comes back asking.
"He's fine," Vigor excuses here before leaning across the table grabbing my arm and solidifying it so it almost squeezes my arm. He lets out a strict whisper through clenched teeth, "Get your fucking self together."
"I'm not about to cry. You fucking dickhead."
I just called Vicious Vigor a dickhead. I am too drunk to care. The alcohol is also causing me to lie directly to his face. My lower lip is quivering. I lower my head on the table. This is the same thing that happened with Sunbeam. The same fucking situation. How many nights had I cried over Sunbeam while he was with Jolie? How long had I wanted it to be me?
Vigor looks out the window again as though staring at something, "This can't happen now. Not now. I need you to get yourself together."
I'm not sure what he means at that moment. I don't care either. I completely am ignoring his desperate tone and just in my feelings at that moment. The tears are coming down my eyes like fucking water works. What kind of Villain was I?
Then I have the audacity to open my mouth and begin to whine, "I keep falling for these straight men. I keep letting myself go there. And you're just one more person I had a crush on. Just like Sunbeam. I like the punishment. I must love the idea of falling for someone who would never fall for me."
I'm having an outer body experience right now. I'm watching myself break down and there is nothing I can do to stop it. If it was in front of anyone else right now it wouldn't be nearly as bad as it is right now. I'm breaking down in front of Vicious Vigor! I'm breaking down in front a guy who had literally been my idol for years. I'm not normal crying either. I'm ugly crying. My mouth frowns up.
He stares at me for a moment. It looks like he doesn't know how to react. I wonder what is behind his stone face. I wonder if he's feeling pity, disgust, anger, embarrassment or even annoyance.
For a second the stone face breaks and he gives me an interesting stare, "If you tell anyone I'm doing this I'll kill you."
I'm confused and question him through wiping snot off of my nose, "Doing what?"
He walks over to me at that moment and I think he's going to hit me. I even cover my face ready for him to solidify his limbs and strike me. Instead he sits beside me on the same bench and puts his arm over me. He grabs me. He aggressively pulls me close. He holds me for a second and we sit in silence. Vigor lets me cry on him. It's at that moment I realize that he's not cold. I realize that he's not some heartless villain. There is a heart there and it's huge. He doesn't care about my snot or my tears. He holds me close to him letting me cry all over him. He pats me on my back.
"You'll be fine," he whispers to me rubbing my back as though he has the powers to transfer security over to me, "You are strong, smart, talented and...well your handsome. Any man would be happy to have someone like you."
"Yes," he says, "But I'm going to need you to do something for me, Materias."
"I know. Create your device."
"Yes that. But right now I'm going to need you to put on a brave face. I just looked out the window and I saw men walking up. These are men from the Mandate Ministry. They've come to arrest us and if we resist...they've come to kill us."
My heart drops. All of a sudden I try to sober up as much as I can. My heart is racing. I mean Vigor is telling me this as though he's saying something as simple as the sky is blue or the grass is green. I can't help but to look out the window and see men walking up to us. There are many of them. They have guns in their hands.
"Oh fuck. Oh fuck. Oh fuck," I ask, "Why the fuck are you not scared?"
"I expected this."
"I need to find out who the traitor is in the group. I need to at least narrow it down," Vigor explains to me, "So I separated the group. I told half the group where I was going tonight and didn't tell the other group. I figured the traitor was desperate enough to want to make a move. Now that they are here I am closer to knowing who the traitor is."
I shake my head. Fuck. This was a plan by Vigor. This was a plan all along.
"You could have fucking told me."
He smiles at that moment, "Where is the fun is that?"
I'm so mad at Vigor. I'm so fucking pissed but I don't even have the time to be pissed. I jump up to my knees at that moment but before I can even get to my knees guns are points towards me. I have no where to go.
The Mandate Ministry is here in the fucking bar. I count 22 of them. Vigor is still sitting at the table. He's has his glass in his hand. He hasn't even moved.
One of them is walks forward. The Ministry officer must be a leader because he's has more pins on his black Ministry jacket. He has on the signature black Ministry slacks that go with it with silver linings. As he approaches he goes right up to Vigor. He's a handsome guy...possibly in his mid 20s. He has silver hair and I'm not sure if it's natural or not. It almost looks gray in certain lights. Even with his hair, he has a youthful face that seems to have a sense of self about him. He has a black goatee and huge bellowing lips. As he approaches he gives Vigor an immediate look of recognition that I first I don't doubt. I mean everyone in the Metropolis knew who Vicious Vigor was.
"Vicious Vigor. You are under arrest for the murder of the President of the United States," the Ministry leader with silver hair states.
Vicious looks at the Ministry leader and smiles, nonchalantly.
"Ashley. Is that honestly the way you treat your ex?" Vicious responds.
This MAN was Ashley Keeper!
Vicious really was gay...
To read the next chapter in advance go to www.crushedcrown.com