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Not Much of a Hero

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It's a lovely day outside. The birds are singing, bees are collecting nectar from the freshly bloomed flowers. There's a crisp, cooling breeze whirling about occasionally, making the leaves on the trees rustle delicately.

 

Ah, yes. A perfectly fine day to-

 

*BEEP!!!* *BEEP!!!* *BEEP!!!* *BEEP!!!* *BE-

 

"AHHHHH!!!"

 

-fall out of bed and onto the floor of your bedroom face first into the carpet.

 

"...fucking ow."

 

Well. That was certainly quite the way to begin this lovely morning. Look at you. Hanging halfway off of your bed, legs tangled in the sheets. Truly a vision of grace.

 

Sighing, you lifted yourself back onto your bed and ducked back underneath the now cool sheets. Such a shame, too. You were having the most wonderful dream about not doing anything at all.

 

Maybe if you just close your eyes and cover your head with the sheets, you can trick your body into thinking it's still nighttime, still sleepy time.

 

...

 

...

 

...

 

...nope. No dice.

 

Huffing in frustration, you fling the covers off of your body and swing your legs over the side of your bed. Sitting up, you run a hand through your slightly tangled hair. Why did hair have to tangle as you slept? Why couldn't it stay nice and brushed like it was before you drifted off to dream land?

 

Whatever.

 

You grabbed your glasses off of the nightstand next to your bed that has caused many a bruised knee and put them on. Then, you took the retainer case off of the nightstand, took the plastic retainers out of your mouth, put them in their case, and put the case back.

 

Ok. Making some headway here.

 

Stretching, you removed yourself entirely from your bed before making it back up. Then you slipped on your house shoes and robe, opened your bedroom door, and went down the stairs.

 

You had just finished tying your robe's sash when you reached the bottom of the stairs. Something smelled delicious.

 

"Morning, Mom," you yawned out.

 

Your mom, as upbeat as always, turned around from one of the frying pans and smiled brightly.

 

"Morning, Pumpkin! Breakfast is almost ready! We're having eggs sunny side up, bacon, and pancakes!"

 

"Oh yay, I love Breakfast Faces."

 

She just smiled again. You'd always called  this particular breakfast 'Breakfast Faces' because that was how your mom always arranged them. Into cute, little faces.

 

You took a moment to consider your mom. She was already dressed for work. Indigo workout clothes, red gloves along with her-and one other person in particular's-signature red headband. You didn't really look anything like your mom. Aside from the small gap in between your front teeth and the basic build of your body-a bit stockier than most-you almost had nothing in common with her appearance wise.

 

She was blonde, you were brunette. She had short hair, yours went down past your shoulders and went all over the place unless you brushed it flat while hers curled a bit. She was really muscular-though that would be thanks to her occupation-and you were pretty much a twig even with your stocky build. She had brown eyes, you had blue. She was pretty tan and you were a bit pale, but that was due to the fact that you didn't really care about being out in the sun all that much. She was also a bit taller than you, just by a few inches nothing major, but you had grown all you would so... Yeah.

 

But you didn't really care that the two of you didn't look exactly alike. She was your mom. You loved her and she loved you and that was all that mattered.

 

Besides. You aren't the only one who didn't look exactly like Mom.

 

A small yawn was heard from behind you.

 

"Morning... What's for breakfast?"

 

Speak of the Devil and He shall appear.

 

You got up from where you were sitting down at the kitchen table and picked your little brother up.

 

"Good morning, K.O. We're having Breakfast Faces."

 

K.O. smiled sleepily at you.

 

Your mom, who had put the finishing touches on breakfast, set the plates of food down on the table, took your little brother from you, and kissed him on the head.

 

"Morning, Peanut! Did you sleep well?"

 

Your baby brother rubbed his eyes. "Mhm..."

 

You smiled softly as you went to retrieve the glasses and milk. K.O. wasn't one to be responsive until he had fully woken up. Similar to how you are.

 

Speaking of similarities, you and your little brother had a lot of them. Both of you were brunette. You both weren't as tan as your mom, though he was a bit tanner since he liked to go outside and play. Both of you had the same kind of hair: wild and everywhere until tamed with a brush. But he still had more things in common with your Mom than you did. They had the same nose and the same eye color. They both loved being athletic and doing all kinds of exercises.

 

...and they both adored everything that had to do with heroes. As much as you loved the both of them, you couldn't see what all the fuss was about.

 

Now that may sound bad when taken out of context. 'What?! You don't like heroes?! What did firefighters and police officers and the like ever do to you?!'

 

Well, Buddy. You aren't talking about those kinds of heroes. Oh no.

 

You're talking about honest to whatever deity it is you believe in, superpower wielding, heroes.

 

Up to speed now? Good.

 

You could kind of understand why the two of them liked heroes and everything about them. Your mom was one of the greatest heroes of her time. That is, until she retired for mysterious reasons that she refuses to share with you for some reason. She now runs her own dojo. You're not sure if she's training future heroes or what, but it makes her happy so it's whatever floats her boat.

 

That being said, you're pretty sure your mom was the whole reason K.O. got so hyped up about anything and everything hero related. I mean, being the child of the Silver Spark? Yeah, you could understand that.

 

What you couldn't understand was why your little brother wanted to be a hero so badly. In your opinion, the world had more than enough 'heroes.'

 

You use the air quotes because you know that people who are just starting out technically aren't heroes. Not in the eyes of the Heroes Law anyway. No. A person had to meet special requirements to be considered a 'real' hero. One of them involved earning their own Pow Card. It's essentially what truly marks someone as a hero or a hero-in-training. One of the other things a person has to do is several feats of heroism to get noticed by one of the many heroes associations around the world. And then the real training to become a hero begins.

 

What? Just because you don't really care about hero stuff doesn't mean you weren't paying attention when your mom told you all of this.

 

You had just begun to dig into your breakfast when Mom decided to drop a question.

 

"So, (Y/N), K.O.... How would the two of you like to come to work with me today?"

 

K.O., who had fully gotten rid of all his grogginess a little bit ago, smiled so wide you were certain he was hurting his cheeks.

 

"Wow! Really, Mommy?! Yeah I wanna go to the plaza! What about you, (Y/N)?"

 

Oh no. He was giving you the puppy dog eyes. Damn it! You just can't say no to him when he does that!

 

"Uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuugh... Fine."

 

"YAY!!!!"

 

Your little brother began scarfing his breakfast down quickly and zoomed off to his room to get ready as soon as he was done.

 

Your mom chuckled at his antics before she began to clear the table. When you attempted to help, she said she had it under control.

 

"You go get ready, Sweetie. I know going out isn't really your thing, but I appreciate that you and K.O. are coming to work with me."

 

"I know. Say. Why do you want us to come with you to work anyway? Isn't Judy supposed to come over today?"

 

Judy, or 'Punching Judy,' was K.O.'s babysitter. She was over practically every day. You were eighteen, so you didn't require anyone to watch you, but sometimes you had to run out to do errands and you sometimes couldn't bring K.O. with you. So your Mom decided to get a regular babysitter just in case.  Judy was always there to watch K.O. when you weren't.

 

"Unfortunately, Judy had to cancel. She's fighting the flu."

 

"Again?"

 

"Yep! So go on upstairs and get ready!"

 

"Okay, okay. I'm going."

 

After selecting your outfit, you went to the bathroom, hopped into the shower, and took care of your basic hygiene. After you were done, you toweled off, got dressed, and brushed your teeth before heading back to your room. You liked to give the bathroom time to air out before you started to dry your hair. You took really warm showers, the fogged up mirror can attest to that.

 

You put your socks and black sneakers on and went back into the bathroom. You took a moment to analyze your outfit.

 

Just a plain black T-shirt and some denim jeans. Nothing outlandish. Not that it really mattered what kind of shirt you wore since it would soon be covered up with a large, black hoodie.

 

You dressed for comfort, nothing more.

 

It always seemed that it took forever for your hair to dry because of how thick it was. But, finally, your hair was dried and on went the hoodie. You grabbed your purse-really it was more of a satchel- and phone, made sure your wallet and keys were in the purse, and headed back downstairs and out the door.

 

Your mom and brother were already waiting in the car for you. You opened the passenger's side door, sat down, and buckled up.

 

You looked back at your brother to see if he looked as bored as you were.

 

Nope. Looking through his Pow Card collection and muttering out loud about them.

 

"Hmm. Mr. Gar's level eleven, so he's way past Sparko's level three. But Sparko has that really cool power move, so-"

 

"Ready to go, K.O.?"

 

K.O., startled out of his own little world, looked at Mom in the rearview mirror.

 

"Oh. Yeah, Mom."

 

"(Y/N)?"

 

"Ready."

 

"I know coming to work with your mom isn't too cool for a girl and boy your ages, but Judy's fighting the flu this week."

 

"Again?" K.O. asked incredulously. "The flu doesn't stand a chance against Judy. She's, like, the toughest fighter in the neighborhood!"

 

You noticed movement out of the corner of your eye and looked over. Oh. There was Judy. Fighting the flu. Again.

 

Judy delivered a swift uppercut to the flu and they went sailing onto the windshield.

 

"See?" K.O. asked.

 

"Yuck," you stated with a disgusted look as the flu was taken care of by the windshield wipers.

 

"Sorry, Carol!" Judy called sheepishly.

 

"Go get 'em, Hon!" was all your mom had to say on the matter. "We better get out of here before things turn really ugly," she said as she buckled herself up. "Destination, K.O.?"

 

"Lakewood Plaza Turbo!"

 

Your mom put the pedal to the metal and the tires on her tank car squealed as the three of you headed off.

 

The traffic wasn't too bad this morning and you didn't live too far away from the plaza, you'd be there in no time.

 

You watched the scenery pass by. Pterodactyls glided by without a care in the world alongside the clouds.

 

K.O., who had been watching the scenery as well, shook himself back to reality.

 

"Oh, can't get distracted! Got to brush up on my facts in case I meet some real heroes."

 

Your mom chuckled. "If you train hard enough, K.O., you can be one, too."

 

"Huh? You're just saying that 'cause you're my mom."

 

"Ha! Maybe. But remember this, K.O. You don't start out as a hero."

 

"What do you mean?"

 

"She's right," you piped up. "No one starts out as a hero, you become one."

 

You glanced back at your brother in the rearview mirror and he looked as though he'd reached a stunning revelation.

 

"I can become a hero?"

 

He then proceeded to get lost in thought. Most likely thinking about all the ways he could possibly become a hero.

 

"You sure can, little bro."

 

"Everyone in that binder of yours came from humble beginnings, K.O.," Mom chimed in. "I mean, even Mr. Gar had to work hard to become the hero he is today."

 

Your brother seemed skeptical. "I don't know about that," he said as you all got out of the tank. "I bet he was always level eleven."

 

"Mm," Mom hummed. "Not when I first met him."

 

"You know Mr. Gar?"

 

Ok, even you knew that. Has Mom really not told K.O. any of the stuff pertaining to the plaza and its inhabitants?

 

"Of course! He runs the whole plaza."

 

"It's kind of hard to miss someone like that, bro."

 

"Look," Mom said as she placed a hand over her eyes like a visor. "There he is now."

 

You and K.O. did the same and sure enough there was a car coming down from the clouds. Quite rapidly, too.

 

It actually stopped just shy of crashing into the parking lot before landing. Dust scattered and you did your best to cover your face.

 

The roof of the car was kicked off and a man flipped out. Mr. Gar, you presumed.

 

"Employees!" Mr. Gar barked.

 

From God only knows where, two people who appeared to be in their late teens zipped in front of Mr. Gar and stood at attention.

 

"Yes, sir, Mr. Gar, sir!"

 

You couldn't really get a good look at them as they were facing away from you, but you could tell a few things. They were a boy and a girl. The girl had purple hair and dark skin. She was wearing a blue crop top, had what appeared to be binding tape on her arms, black shorts, and reddish-brown boots.

 

The guy had green hair and turquoise skin. He was also wearing a blue crop top-the required uniform perhaps?- pink pants, and black leather boots. You could also see what looked like little antenna poking out from his hair. Black stalks with white buds at the tips.

 

"We got a stack of last month's magazines to throw out..." You started to tune out Mr. Gar's voice until the orders came to an end. "...in the front! Step on it, people! Let's go, go, go!"

 

The employees zipped off to carry out Mr. Gar's demands and he watched their retreating forms.

 

"Mondays, am I right?" Mr. Gar gruffed to himself.

 

Your mom cleared her throat. "Morning, Gar!"

 

You swear you saw the exact moment when that man turned to stone and the exact moment when he broke out of it.

 

"Uh, uh... Morning, Carol." Mom pointed to you and picked up K.O. who waved vigorously at Mr. Gar. "And, uh, Carol's offspring."

 

"Good morning," you said politely as the three of you began to walk towards the dojo.

 

"It was nice to meet you!" K.O. shouted over his shoulder. "Wow! Maybe, if I hang around here long enough, Mr. Gar's hero-ness will rub off on me."

 

"Pffft. Okay, well. You can try that, K.O., but I think Mom's classic methods would work better."

 

You didn't see it, but your mom gave a single nod of approval at your words.

 

As you entered Fitness Dojo, you stopped in the doorframe at the sound of three gasps.

 

"Carol! Awww! Don't tell me that's your boy!"

 

Mom picked K.O. up and brought him over to the three women.

 

"K.O., you remember Gertie, Ginger, and Gladys, don't you?"

 

She passed him over into the woman you presumed to be Gertie's waiting arms-all four of them.

 

"Aww!" they all collectively said.

 

"Of course!" K.O. replied happily. "How could I forget my mom's best students?"

 

You sometimes forgot that K.O.'s been to the plaza before. Back when he was littler, about two or three. Back when after-

 

No.

 

You don't want to think about that.

 

The three ladies laughed at K.O.'s response. Your brother got out of Gertie's grasp and posed proudly.

 

"Guess what? I'm going to become a hero!"

 

"Aww," Ginger cooed.

 

"K.O., you're too much!" Gladys stated.

 

You closed the door as quietly as possible. You weren't very good in social situations like this. You hoped they continued not noticing you.

 

"Oh my goodness! Carol! Is this your little girl?!" Gladys exclaimed.

 

Well, so much for that.

 

You were immediately swarmed by cooing older women who couldn't stop gushing over how 'adorable' you looked.

 

 You were sure your cheeks would be a bit sore after this.

 

"Okay," your mom began as she finished setting up the training mats. "We're set to begin, class." She finally looked over and saw that you and K.O. were still being gushed over. "Class!" Still nothing. Mom sighed.

 

You caught her eye and discreetly glanced over to the planks sitting against the wall. She nodded and headed over to them. Meanwhile K.O. was soaking up all this attention.

 

"Ha ha! Me!"

 

The gushing ended when your Mom completely obliterated her last set of planks.

 

"Oh, no! My last planks. Darn it. K.O., (Y/N), I'm gonna need you two to go down to the bodega and fetch me some more planks. A-and get a little something for yourselves," your mom stated as she handed you her credit card and kissed you and K.O. on the cheek.

 

"Sure thing, Mom," you agreed. Anything to get away from the attention directed at you. It wasn't that you didn't appreciate it, you just weren't sure how to respond to it.

 

"Okay," K.O. stated simply.

 

And with that, Mom pushed the both of you out the door.

 

K.O. smiled and began talking out loud, not that he realized it.

 

"My first heroic quest! You picked the right hero for the job, Mommy."

 

Your precious little brother then ran off in the direction of the bodega making fart noises and waving his fists in the air as he did so.

 

You didn't really have to run to keep up with him, but you were the one with the credit card and you didn't want him to get to the register and not have a method of payment.

 

Thankfully, he stopped right outside the bodega.

 

"Whoa!" If it were possible, you were sure K.O. would have had stars in his eyes. "So many heroes!" Again, you didn't understand the hype that was centered around all things hero, but whatever. K.O. gasped and proceeded to pull out some of his Pow Cards. "Sparko, Shy Ninja."

 

The former of the two heroes your brother had named went into the bodega just as two others headed out.

 

"Just picked up some nukes, handful of 'nades."

 

"Nick Army and Joff the Shaolin Monk!" K.O. looked as if he were about to cry. "This is the most beautiful day of my life. Ha ha ha ha!"

 

Your brother ran off and flung his Pow Cards into the air as he did so. He quickly came back and picked them up before grabbing your hand and running towards the store. He stopped short and looked at the sign in the window.

 

"'Everything you need to be a hero.' Pfff, I highly doubt that," you snarked quietly.

 

"This is it, (Y/N)! This is how I become a hero!"

 

And with that, K.O. dragged you into the store.

 

Your brother giggled while he bounced up and down, still firmly holding your hand. Good. You didn't want him getting lost.

 

You glanced around the store, it was pretty large. Products lined shelf after shelf. You just might have to ask an employee where they keep the planks.

 

Ew, social interaction.

 

As you passed the many products the bodega had to offer, K.O. stopped suddenly and gasped with delight.

 

"L-L-L-Lazer Sword!"

 

He let go of your hand, grabbed the sword, and proceeded to do some admittedly cool slashes with it.

 

From then on it was utter mayhem in your personal world.

 

"F-F-F-Flame gauntlets!"

 

Oh God why.

 

"B-B-B-Bottom towel!"

 

K.O. please don't make more work for the employees to do. They have enough going on.

 

Somewhere along the way your brother had grabbed a small basket and had put all of his finds into it. The two of you had just entered a particularly messy isle when K.O. had a nasty spill.

 

"Ba-chu-chu-chu- Whoa!"

 

You were quickly at your brother's side.

 

"K.O.! Oh my gosh are you hurt?!"

 

He lifted his head off the ground and smiled at you. "No, I'm fine!"

 

A boot landed on his head.

 

As you helped your brother regain his bearings, you heard an annoyed voice speak up from behind you.

 

"Oh, great. I spent the last four hours pretending to clean the store and now I gotta do it for real?"

 

You looked behind you at whoever the fuck had the audacity to think that people getting hurt-however minor-because of their negligence of their assigned tasks was a hassle to them personally.

 

Hmph. It was the turquoise guy from earlier this morning.

 

"Well you aren't getting paid to slack off, now are you?"

 

Was there venom in your voice? Yes. Did the guy notice? Oh most definitely from the death glare you were sending his way.

 

He actually flinched a little.

 

Fortunately, for everyone, K.O. managed to diffuse the tension without realizing it.

 

"Oh! Hi there, Rad. What a rad name!"

 

'Rad,' as you now knew him as, looked grateful to not have to lock eyes with you anymore and instead focused on your little brother. He knelt down and retrieved the items that K.O. had lost.

 

"Yeah, it's short for Radicles," he bragged. "Back on my home planet, it's a really cool and rare name, too."

 

You doubted that. Really you did.

 

But K.O. was really gullible at times.

 

"Whoa! You're an alien?"

 

"Heh, yeah." Rad offered his hand to K.O. and helped him up. You got yourself back on your feet. Oh great, the top of your head barely reaches this jerk's chest.

 

"I'm K.O.! And this is my big sister, (Y/N)! It's nice to meet you!"

 

Rad looked slightly afraid. Good. That should teach him not to treat his job like it's a nuisance. Hopefully. Probably not.

 

"Say, um," K.O. continued. "Can you show us where the lightning nachos are?"

 

"S-sure thing," Rad stammered, unable to look in your general direction. Geez, you weren't that scary.

 

...were you?

 

"So, you two are choosing the path of a hero, huh?" Rad inquired as he began putting the lightning sauce on K.O.'s nachos. "I'm pretty heroic myself. Level two, if you must know."

 

Rad grabbed a chip and ate it. He briefly convulsed with electricity.

 

"Actually. It's just K.O. here who wants to be a hero. I have no desire to try and be one. I find it to be pointless and that it lacks any true purpose."

 

You said that in the most monotone voice, with the blankest stare. Rad's visual discomfort became more prominent by the second.

 

"...Well, anyway, thanks for your help, Rad. We better go check out-"

 

Rad once again tore his gaze away from you-for some reason you felt like this was going to become it's own thing-and interrupted your brother.

 

"Oh, so you need photographic evidence of my righteous feats?"

 

"No, no. I believe you-"

 

"If you insist! Here's one of me doing my famous power belly flop on a bad guy."

 

It was so badly photo shopped.

 

"And here's one of me getting the drop on the Chip Damage. Don't worry, we're cool now."

 

Again. Photo shopped.

 

"And here's me-"

 

"Aww!" K.O. interjected.

 

"Cute cat," you commented.

 

"Aah!" Rad jumped back a bit. "Uh, uh! She's nobody! It's nothing!" He then proceeded to run away in embarrassment.

 

Hmm... Perhaps the whole jerk thing was a front to protect his image?

 

Ugh. You despised the toxic masculine and feminine standards that people had of both sexes respectively.

 

"What a cool, guy. Right, (Y/N)?"

 

"...sure."

 

Before the two of you headed to check out, you quickly located the planks and picked up several of them.

 

As you waited in line, you spotted the purple haired girl from earlier behind the counter. She was scanning cans. As she attempted to scan the last one, it wouldn't for some reason, so she just tossed it into the bag.

 

"That'll be twenty technos. Have a... day."

 

You liked her already.

 

"Welcome to Gar's. How may I-"

 

"Do you have any gum?!"

 

You think you recognized that idiot from one of K.O.'s Pow Cards, but his name escaped you at the moment,

 

The girl sighed. "Yes." She waved her hand in a circle at the gum flanking the check out counter.

 

"Oh. Okay!"

 

As whoever he is walked away, the girl gave out an exasperated groan. Before flopping her head down on the counter.

 

"Hi, there," K.O. greeted. "My name's K.O.  And this is (Y/N). How are you?" He briefly shook the girl's hand.

 

"Uh, Enid. And, uh, well, I'm here."

 

"Yeah, here! It's got to be so much fun coming here every day."

 

"I take it you've never worked in customer service."

 

"Nope. I'm a little kid. But I can imagine it: Rubbing elbows with the bravest and toughest heroes. You must be exhausted from all that making a difference."

 

"...Yeah, that's it."

 

"You're so good at reading others, little brother," you added.

 

K.O. smiled up at you and turned back to Enid.

 

"You know, once I buy this stuff, I'll be a hero myself. My mom's gonna be so proud of me."

 

Enid smirked. "Hopefully proud enough to foot the huge bill you just racked up."

 

"I got it," you sighed as you slid the card through the slot and entered the pin number. K.O.'s birthday, not that anyone besides you, Mom, and K.O. would know that.

 

K.O. made little grabby hands for all the items he had gotten for himself, which you handed to him amused as he began doing a little dance with it.

 

Enid chuckled and handed the stack of planks back over to you.

 

"Is he, uh, always like that?"

 

"Like what? Full of energy and positivity?"

 

"Yes."

 

"Then yes."

 

"Oof. That must be a lot to deal with."

 

You shrugged. "For some people, maybe. But I've known him his whole life. I know how to deal with his hyper activeness."

 

"I guess that's true. Well, have a... nice day."

 

"You too, Enid."

 

You smiled slightly at her and turned back to K.O.

 

"Ready to go?"

 

"Yeah!"

 

K.O. rapidly put on all of his purchases and saluted the bodega before going outside with you.

 

"Everything's coming up K.O.!"

 

All of a sudden, people began screaming and running in terror.

 

Mass hysteria if you ever saw it.

 

"It's the Boxman!" you heard some panicked citizen scream.

 

An alarm started blaring and shutters began going over all of the businesses.

 

You had no idea what was going on, and K.O. remained oblivious to what was obviously danger.

 

The sky went a dark purple and a hole opened up in one of the clouds.

 

What looked to be a rather large box fell from the hole and landed in the deserted parking lot.

 

K.O. stared in awe as the box opened. You could see a figure standing there, but the dust had yet to clear.

 

"I am Darrell, and I've come to destroy!"

 

The dust settled and the figure turned out to be an almost entirely red robot with one eye. There was a green-tinted glass dome on his head and what looked to be a brain was inside. There was an amber looking chamber on his hand and chest and he had a blaster for his left hand.

 

'Darrell' as he introduced himself as began firing randomly and cackled evilly.

 

"Hi, Darrell!" Oh no please don't do this K.O. "I'm K.O.! Nice to- Aah!"

 

You and K.O. had barely dodged the blast that Darrell had sent your way. He then began firing at those who had not run inside to hide. He even hit the bodega's sign.

 

"That's right! Run away, Lakewood Losers!"

 

K.O. was still waving at Darrell for some reason. You shifted the planks you were holding to under your right arm and placed your hand on K.O.'s before slowly lowering it while shaking your head.

 

"Ugh. Another Boxman robot," you heard Radicles say from behind you.

 

"(Y/N)! K.O.! You two need to get away from him! He's evil and a total nerd!" Enid shouted at the two of you.

 

Oh no. She had said the 'E' word around K.O.

 

"Evil?" Your brother inquired, eyes narrowed. "I have to do something!"

 

"K.O. Do not."

 

"Yeah, whoa, hold up. She's right," Enid interjected. "You don't stand a chance against that thing."

 

"I think he's got it," Radicles said dumbly.

 

You got up in his face and glared.

 

"He is six years old you moron! He does not 'got it'!"

 

Rad backed away slightly.

 

"Oh. Oh, no, no, no! I meant Darrell's got it! Yeah. That kid's gonna get wrecked if he tries."

 

But K.O. was not one to be deterred and you knew this.

 

"Ha! Don't let appearances fool you. Witness the power of a true hero!"

 

K.O. charged at Darrell and was promptly knocked back into a wall after several happenstances involving his purchases and was out cold.

 

The sound you made was reminiscent of a dying cat.

 

"K.O.!!!"

 

You tried to run to your little brother, but a blast from Darrell's cannon stopped your path.

 

"And where do you think you're going?! Nowhere that's where!"

 

He proceeded to laugh as if he had just said something funny.

 

A fireball whooshed past you and Darrell had barely missed getting hit by it.

 

"Hey! Bucket head," Enid taunted, leg raised as if aimed to kick. "Focus on your actual opponents."

 

"Yeah, us!" Rad added.

 

You took the distraction to run over to your brother, who was still in the wall and out cold. You dropped the planks onto the sidewalk and gently pulled him out.

 

"K.O.? K.O., Sweetie, I need you to wake up now. Big sister needs to know you're okay."

 

No response.

 

You put your ear next to his mouth and heard little puffs of air going in and out. Okay, just out cold like you thought. That's a relief, sort of.

 

"Ugh..."

 

"K.O.!"

 

"Huh? (Y/N)? Wha-? What happened?"

 

"Darrell knocked you out cold, Sweetie. You really got hurt."

 

"What? You mean... That didn't really happen?"

 

He must have had a dream about beating up Darrell and impressing Rad and Enid.

 

"Get off the ground you stupid meatloaf!"

 

Speaking of. You turned your head back to the fight. Enid was trying to shake Rad awake.

 

That motherfucker was the reason your baby brother was so badly injured.

 

You felt something begin to bubble inside you.

 

How dare he. Villain or not, he no doubt realized that K.O. was still just a little kid.

 

He hurt one of the people you care most about.

 

You wondered if Darrell knew what real pain was like.

 

Why not show him?

 

A sharp whistle snapped you out of your deep thoughts, whatever the burning feeling in your chest had been was gone now.

 

You looked up to see Mr. Gar casually poking out from some clouds.

 

...what.

 

"Ha!" Enid taunted.

 

"What the-?" Darrell began confused.

 

But he didn't have time to finish his inquiry because as fast as greased lightning, Mr. Gar did a pile drive on Darrell's face.

 

There was a small explosion and when the smoke cleared, Darrell's body was destroyed and all that remained in tact was his head, which Mr. Gar promptly kicked across the street, presumably back where it came from.

 

Enid walked over to Mr. Gar, carrying a now awake Rad bridle style.

 

"You two, get this mess cleaned up!"

 

"Yes, sir!"

 

"Mondays, am I right?"

 

"Man, Mr. Gar's pretty cool, but, like, how'd he even get up there?" Rad asked.

 

You were honestly wondering the same thing. Probably had something to do with heroic bullshit.

 

"He's level eleven, dude. Come on." Enid explained.

 

Like you said. Heroic bullshit. 

 

Speaking of heroism, this little experience has only increased your distaste for the path of the hero even more than you already did. But you know that K.O. will only want to become one even more now.

 

K.O. looked after Mr. Gar with awe and admiration in his eyes. He clutched Mr. Gar's Pow Card, resolve in his eyes.

 

"(Y/N). I'm gonna get a job here to learn how to become a hero."

 

"What."

 

But K.O. didn't respond, he just looked towards the horizon.

 

"Heh. Yo, Enid, check out the squirt. Nice face, right?" Rad stated.

 

Damn right it's a nice face you jerk!

 

Seriously, what was Rad's deal? Was it a jerky façade or was he really just that obnoxious?

 

"Ah, I don't know," Enid replied. "I could get used to it."

 

You think that if you can get over your aversion to most social interaction, you and Enid would get along great.

 

"In any case, we should head back to the dojo and have Mom look at you, okay?"

 

"Mhm..."

 

K.O. quietly gathered up his items and walked beside you back to the dojo.

 

"Hey, Mom? We're back. K.O. got hurt and we need you to look at him!"

 

Like a swarm of locusts, Gertie, Ginger, and Gladys were upon the two of you. Giving you hugs and candy and forehead smooches saying that it would be alright.

 

You were very uncomfortable right now.

 

Mom came out of the back room where a lot of the equipment was stored and was immediately in 'Mama Bear Mode.' She almost went ballistic when she saw the black eye that was slowly starting to come in on K.O.'s face. Fortunately, the dojo was always stocked with healing items for situations such as this one.

 

After making sure that K.O. didn't have any other injuries that a few hugs and kisses couldn't fix, she turned her attention to you.

 

"Really, Mom, I'm fine. I didn't get hit once!"

 

Your mom huffed but relented nonetheless.

 

"Oh, alright. I hate to ask after what you've just been through, but where are the planks I sent you out for?"

 

Crap! You knew you were forgetting something!

 

"I'll be right back!"

 

You ran out the door but didn't get very far as you collided into someone.

 

"Aah!"

 

"Ow!"

 

Planks scattered around you and whomever you had just barreled into.

 

"Ah. Geez, warn a guy next time, will ya?"

 

Oh, great.

 

"Hello, Radicles."

 

"Uh, hey. It's (Y/N), right?"

 

"Yes, it is."

 

"You, uh, forgot your planks. So. I thought. I'd bring them to you?"

 

You both had pulled yourselves into the sitting position.

 

"That sounded like a question."

 

"Uh..."

 

He refused to look at you.

 

"Nevermind. Thank you for bringing them." You got up and began gathering the planks. "You didn't have to."

 

Rad had also gotten up and was helping you pick up the planks.

 

"I know I didn't have to. But, um, I figured it was the least I could do."

 

"How so?"

 

"Er... I know I haven't given you the best impression of me."

 

"No, you really haven't but please go on."

 

"I guess this is my way of apologizing? People tell me all the time that I can be a real jerk sometimes, but it's not like I mean to be! I just- Sorry. For being a Grade-A Jerk to you and K.O. today."

 

He was holding the planks he'd picked up out to you. You placed the ones you had on top of his and the took the entire stack. Your fingers brushed barely so.

 

"I suppose I accept your apology. If you were actually a jerk, you wouldn't have come to apologize for the way you acted. Thank you, Radicles."

 

You smiled at him briefly before going back into the dojo.

 

You missed how Rad's face had flushed deeply.

Chapter Text

After the completely disastrous-at least in your opinion it was-day at the plaza, you, your brother and mom went home to wind down and recuperate.

 

Well, you wanted to do that. You wanted to just curl up on the couch in the living room with a plate of the spaghetti your mom had made all of you for dinner while wrapped up in your favorite blanket and watching the news, but K.O. had different ideas.

 

"Mom?" K.O. called from his place on the floor. Why he liked to lay on the floor whenever you all ate in the living room was a mystery to you, but he wasn't hurting anything by doing it so you never really questioned it too much.

 

"Yeah, Peanut? Something wrong? Do you still feel sore?"

 

"No. Well, yes, I still feel a little sore, but that wasn't what I wanted to talk about."

 

"What is it, then?"

 

"Can I get a job at the plaza?"

 

Your bite of spaghetti then chose to go down the wrong pipe, deciding that it wanted to reside in your lungs rather than your stomach where it truly belonged.

 

You grabbed the glass of apple juice that you had poured for yourself a took a few sips until you could breath properly again.

 

Your mom and K.O. were looking at you worriedly.

 

"Wrong pipe," you coughed out.

 

Your mom visibly relaxed. She was always set on edge whenever you had a coughing fit like that, though the reason for that would be because of the food allergy that you and your brother had. 

 

Both of you were allergic to peanuts, and even though she knew that there was no trace of peanuts in the spaghetti, old habits die hard.

 

Mom turned back to K.O. "Well, I don't see why not, Peanut. Of course, just because you have my permission to apply for a job, doesn't mean that you'll get one. Unless of course you want to come and work with Mommy at the dojo! That place will definitely give you a job, I know the boss personally."

 

She winked at K.O. and it took you snickering quietly before he realized that Mom was making a joke.

 

"Oh! Ha ha! I do think it'd be really fun to work with you, Mom, but I really want to work at Mr. Gar's!"

 

Your mom smiled. "I figured you did, I'm only teasing. Hmm... You'd have to ask there of course, but again I don't have a problem with you applying for a job."

 

Oh. Okay. So they were both serious about this. This wasn't some random thought K.O. was voicing out loud, he actually wanted a job.

 

Now don't misunderstand, you found it admirable that your little bro wanted to get a job at his age. But on the other hand, he wanted to work at the bodega specifically to learn how to become a hero.

 

Uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuugh. Why couldn't your brother just be obsessed with almost anything else besides heroes? Like, say, video games? You had quite the collection, the two of you could find a genre or series that he loved and bond over it together!

 

Not that you would ever say that to him. This was his passion and you wouldn't squash his dreams. But that didn't stop you from being internally exasperated by them.

 

"Thanks, Mommy!" K.O. hopped up and kissed your mom on the cheek. "I'll go put my dishes away and get ready for bed! I've got a big day tomorrow!"

 

With that, your baby brother dashed off to prepare for the day to come.

 

Your mom appeared to be in deep thought. Oh no. No. Please don't let her thinking about what you think she's thinking about.

 

"Say, (Y/N)?"

 

God damn it.

 

"...yeah, Mom?"

 

"Look. You know your brother. You know as well as I do that he's bound to get into trouble whether he realizes it or not. That's just how he is. And I know I'm always going on about how heroes are always taking villains head on, but K.O.'s still a little boy. And even though age doesn't really matter in terms of being a hero, you saw how banged up he got. I guess it's just different when it's your kid out there in the fray getting beat up."

 

"So... What is it you want me to do?"

 

But you already knew the answer to that.

 

"I want you to apply for a job at the plaza, too. It doesn't have to be at the bodega, though I'd prefer it so that you can keep a close eye on K.O. As long as it's near the bodega if you don't apply there, then that's all I ask. Just apply for a job at or near the bodega and keep an eye on your brother. I know you prefer to stay as far away from social interaction and stuff to do with heroes, but this would mean a lot to me. I can't be constantly running over to the bodega to check up on him."

 

You are a weak person. Not just physically, but also pertaining to your resolve when it comes to your mom and brother. You sighed heavily.

 

"Alright, I'll do it. But don't expect me to make friends. We are both well aware of how that went the last time I tried."

 

Badly. It went badly.

 

And we'll leave it at that for now.

 

Mom got up from her chair and kissed the top of your head as she took your dishes.

 

"Thank you, Sweetie. It means a lot to me that you're stepping out of your comfort zone for me and K.O."

 

"I don't like getting out of my comfort zone, but I'd do anything I could for you two."

 

She smiled softly. "I know you would. Now go get ready for bed, you have a big day tomorrow, too."

 

You didn't sleep well that night. You woke up several times in a cold sweat for some reason. You assumed you kept having nightmares- No. Nightmare. Just the same one over and over again. It was really fuzzy and you couldn't remember a lot of it. All you could remember was that you were there.

 

But so was someone else. Though you couldn't say who, they seemed very familiar.

 

You had just woken up again when you noticed that light was beginning to peek into the room from behind your curtains.

 

Wonderful. You'd barely gotten any sleep and the sleep you did get wasn't any good.

 

You blinked several times as you sat in the car on the way to the plaza. You were trying to wake yourself up.

 

K.O., on the other hand, was bouncing up and down excitedly in the back seat.

 

"I can't wait to start working at Gar's! I'm gonna be so helpful and learn all about being a hero at the same time!"

 

You smiled sleepily at your brother's enthusiasm.

 

"You sure will. But first you have to get the job, remember?"

 

K.O. blushed and lowered his head, smile still wide as a mile.

 

"I know, I know! I didn't forget."

 

The three of you had just gotten out of the car when you heard sounds of a struggle.

 

Rad and Enid looked to be fighting Darrell again. Nothing really strange about that to you. Darrell was a robot. Odds were that he had multiple copies of himself waiting to be sent to attack the plaza. You know. From that totally evil looking factory right across the street.

 

"Well I've got to get to work. You two have fun applying for jobs and be safe. I love you!"

 

"Bye, Mommy! I love you, too!"

 

"Love you too, Mom."

 

K.O. tugged on the sleeve of your oversized hoodie and pointed back at the action. Radicles and Enid were faring better in today's fight than they did in yesterday's. It wasn't long before they managed to destroy the Darrell they were fighting. Although, Mr. Gar made another brief appearance and assisted greatly.

 

Enid pulled a broom out from who knows where and began to sweep up the debris.

 

"Afternoon" you greeted your fellow teen.

 

She looked up, seemingly surprised to see you again.

 

"Oh, uh, hey. Yeah, afternoon. What brings you back so soon?"

 

"Well, K.O. wants to work here at the plaza and my mom wants me to keep an eye on him, so... I guess I'm job hunting."

 

"...your little brother wants to work."

 

"Yes."

 

"This isn't some kind of joke."

 

"I don't really tell jokes."

 

Cue the crickets. K.O., meanwhile, was gushing about the fight.

 

"W-Wowee! I couldn't believe-! And (Y/N) did you see-! And, like, it was-! It was so-!" K.O. let out an impressed sigh. "When I'm a hero, I'm gonna be just like Mr. Gar!"

 

He then proceeded to make a lot of poses and grunts. Honestly your little brother was just too cute sometimes.

 

Enid thought so too it seemed for she laughed good naturedly at your brother's antics.

 

"There's a lot more to being a hero than just fancy moves, kid. It takes hard work. This," Enid gestured to her broom and Rad stuffing the headless Darrell into a garbage can. "Is us training under Mr. Gar to be great heroes."

 

Oh, so they were doing what K.O. wanted to do, essentially. Though they didn't seem anywhere close to as enthused as he was about it.

 

Rad, who just now noticed that Enid was speaking to someone, looked over his shoulder at whoever it was, and then quickly looked away once he spotted you. Not that you noticed, your back was to him. He wasn't sure how to feel about you. On one hand, you were a big sister who clearly loved her baby bro. That he respected like mad. But on the other hand, you seemed really disenchanted with the whole hero gig and your presence also made him super uncomfortable for some reason.

 

Rad figured that he'd better keep a respectable distance away from you until he got to know your personality a little better.

 

"Whoa!" K.O. excitedly exclaimed. "So you guys are training by just, like, cleaning up garbage?! Well, well, I could do that!" He then turned somewhat serious. The trying so hard to be serious but failing because I'm so gosh darned adorable kind of serious. "I must do that."

 

Rad, who was having trouble stuffing a piece of Darrell in to garbage can, replied to K.O.'s assumption, slightly annoyed. "Uh, we don't just clean up garbage, kid. We also fight evil robots." He slammed a fist into the piece, forcing it into the can. "Sometimes," he finished with a smile.

 

"Ooh," your brother said impressed. "Sometimes. But wait! That means more than one times."

 

"Time, K.O. More than one time. Remember your basic grammar," you lightly scolded. You weren't about to have your brother speak improperly and have it stick to his vernacular for the rest of his life.

 

"Right, I forgot! But how can there even be so many robots?!"

 

Enid sidled up to your brother and took a knee.

 

"Take a knee, K.O."

 

Your brother dropped down on both knees.

 

"I said knee, not knees."

 

"Oh," K.O. righted himself to one knee. You took one too, just so K.O. wouldn't feel like you were being left out. That's happened from time to time, and it's never good when he thinks that. "Is this better?"

 

"Yes," Enid nodded. "Now, look. When a dumb nerd and a dumb factory love each other very much, they waste a lot of time and money making dumb robots to attack the plaza."

 

Oh. So you were right about the factory across the street.

 

K.O., however, seemed to have remained oblivious to it.

 

"Dumb nerd? Dumb nerd?!" He grabbed Enid's face and shoved his into it. "What dumb nerd?!"

 

"Lord Buttman," Rad said ominously.

 

You were certain that that was not the dumb nerd's name.

 

"Of course. The Buttman."

 

K.O. you've never even heard of someone who actually goes by that name and probably never will.

 

"It's Lord Boxman," Enid corrected. "And are you seriously trying to tell me you didn't notice that giant evil factory across the street?"

 

K.O. seemed to have had his mind blown and Rad and Enid laughed at his shocked reaction.

 

"Geez, how dumb can you get?" You heard a voice pipe up from somewhere.

 

There. Next to the garbage can. Darrell's still somehow functioning head. You were still very pissed off at him for hurting your little brother, whether this model of him did it or not, it was still Darrell.

 

You picked up his head.

 

"Hey what's the big idea?! Oh. It's you. That wimpy looking girl form yesterday. Wasn't that your wimpy kid brother I bashed into the wall? Ha! I bet your family's just full of wimps!"

 

Darrell's head cackled maniacally. You tightened your grip on the glass dome.

 

"Ow! Watch the-! ...grip."

 

He squeaked out that last part and with good reason, too. You were certain you looked downright murderous.

 

"I'm going to dropkick you."

 

"Wha- AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!"

 

And you did just that. Darrell's head sailed across the street and through a window.

 

Good riddance. 

 

Well... Rad and Enid sure seemed to be enjoying K.O.'s disbelief. Seriously it wasn't all that funny. You decided to just stare at the factory across the street.

 

'Boxmore,' hmmm? Well, it was certainly an original name, you'd give it that. Was it named that because the robots were sent over to attack in boxes?

 

...if it was than that was dumb.

 

You noticed movement in the widow where you'd kicked Darrell's head. The blinds were slightly pulled back. They were let go of and then briefly pulled down once more.

 

Must be whoever 'Lord Boxman' is.

 

Enid was the first one to stop laughing.

 

"Aha ha ha... Okay, we'd better get back to work."

 

She grabbed Rad by the back of his crop top and dragged him back inside, where K.O. eagerly followed them.

 

Now, what were you to do? You knew your mom would prefer you to work at the bodega with your brother but she wouldn't mind it if you worked somewhere near it so you could keep a close eye on him.

 

Logically, the bodega made the most sense. You could keep an eye on your brother all day long while the two of you worked and you could report any injuries he might get back to Mom since you're certain that fighting robots is in the job description.

 

On the other hand, that was hero's work. And you didn't need to remind anyone who knew you how much you detested the whole 'path of the hero' thing.

 

But if you didn't work at the bodega, then where would you apply?

 

Not Mom's dojo, it's a little too far to properly keep an eye on the bodega. There is that frame shop. You briefly peeked in.

 

"Oh c'mon, dude! I need to concentrate! Please stop drumming!"

 

"Can't stop, won't stop, Magi!"

 

No. Definitely not.

 

Beauty and Weapons was just behind the bodega, but you were aware that that job would require a lot of interacting with customers, so it was out, too. Burrito Beardo was a food truck, which meant it wouldn't always be in the same location, so no. The café was out seeing as how you hated the smell of coffee. The Weiner Kabob was too far away. Logic Cuts was a great deal closer, but you'd have to focus on your clients-who might want to strike up a conversation-and you wouldn't be able to watch K.O. closely.

 

Plus, you were sure that the guy running it wasn't looking to hire. Ever. And why would he need to? He was a robot, he had a supercomputer in his head! He had measurements down to a T. Yeah, most definitely not Logic Cuts.

 

Wash The Wash was a no go, too. You'd be inside manning the controls to the wash and wouldn't see the bodega at all.

 

You weren't even sure what Air 2 Go really was about, so no.

 

You sighed deeply.

 

The bodega it was then.

 

You followed after your little brother, who was in the middle of pestering Enid.

 

"Hi, Enid! I would like a job here, please."

 

Enid looked mildly shocked.

 

"Oh, so your sister really wasn't kidding." You told her you didn't make jokes. "K.O., you do not want to spend your days looking at all this."

 

"Yeah I do! I can help! I can do anything!"

 

You really can't, Sweetie. But your enthusiasm sure makes it seem like it.

 

"Oh, anything, huh? How about this?"

 

Enid then proceeded to kick a fireball from her foot that ricocheted off several shelves before hitting a pair of sunglasses that whirled onto Enid's face.

 

"Um..." K.O. didn't look so confident anymore. "I can do this other cool thing!"

 

Oh no, is he talking about that punching move? He's only managed to pull it off a handful of times and all of them were accidental!

 

But your brother was determined. He did several waving motions with his fists and hips before rearing back.

 

"Fireball!"

 

Just like you thought it would, nothing happened. It never happened when he wanted it to.

 

But he kept his fist pointed at a table piled high with pickle jars.

 

Until a broccoli boy fell from the sky and broke all the jars.

 

"Oh, man," Enid groaned, leaping into action.

 

"I fell," the broccoli boy said dimly.

 

"Yep, I can see that, Colewort."

 

"I see the light," Colewort wheezed.

 

K.O. made a move towards Enid to help, but you managed to pick him up before he stepped on glass.

 

"K.O.! You need to stay away from this mess! You aren't wearing any shoes, you could get cuts all over your feet!"

 

"But I want to help! Enid! Let me help!"

 

"Just a second, K.O., I'm kind of-"

 

The slippery pickle jars fell out of Enid's hands and back onto Colewort. She grunted irritably.

 

"Uh, um..."

 

K.O. was trying to tell Enid about the rabbit girl about to walk into all that pickle juice, but was too late.

 

"Aah!"

 

Yep, she slipped and fell flat on her face.

 

"Rad," Enid called, ire rising by the second. "Mop! Now!"

 

K.O. managed to wriggle out of your arms. "Wait, I can get it!"

 

As he turned to go find the mop, K.O. bumped into Rad who elbowed him out of the way.

 

"Move it or lose it, kid!"

 

You glared at Rad's back as he began to mop and you saw him shiver as if someone just walked over his grave.

 

Whether he meant to be a jerk or not, that didn't excuse him for knocking over your brother!

 

"Hey, excuse me?" Some guy holding a loaf of bread walked up to the scene.

 

"I'll be with you in just a second," Rad said, desperately trying to get the uneasy feeling off of his back.

 

"But it's an emergency!" Bread guy exclaimed. "I don't want this bread!"

 

...really? This you couldn't keep quiet about.

 

"Then go put the bread back and get the kind you do want. It's not rocket science!"

 

Bread guy looked slightly embarrassed and Rad looked anywhere but in your direction. Now he knew what that uneasy feeling he couldn't shake was.

 

K.O., meanwhile, mad a grab for the mop.

 

"I'll do it!"

 

"This isn't a game," Rad grunted as he tried to get the mop back. He succeeded, but fell and caused both himself and Enid to get covered with pickle juice.

 

"Whoa! Aw, gross, man!" Enid complained.

 

"Kid, you need to quit getting in our way," Rad stated.

 

K.O.'s face fell into dejection. Sure, you'd agree that he was kind of preventing the bodega's employees from doing their work, but they could stand to be a little nicer to him! He was only six after all.

 

"C'mon, K.O.," you started as you gently placed a hand on his back. "How about we go get some ice cream to cheer you up? Would that be alright?"

 

He quietly nodded and held his arms up.

 

"Oh... C'mere, Sweetie."

 

You lifted K.O. up gently and held him close to your body before heading out. On your way out you heard the sounds of various patrons slipping into the pickle juice and Enid practically begging them to stop.

 

You didn't notice the eyes following you from in the bushes.

 

You had bought yourself a simple vanilla cone. K.O. got strawberry with chocolate sauce on top.

 

"Hey. I know today didn't go like you wanted, K.O. Sometimes you're just going to have days where nothing seems to go your way. Everyone has them. What's important is that you never stop trying, even when you really want to. You understand what I'm trying to say?"

 

"Um... That even if I don't succeed the first time I shouldn't give up because of that one failure?"

 

"Exactly!"

 

K.O. smiled, but it didn't reach his eyes like it usually did. He must still be upset, and he had every right to be. Everyone had the right to be upset when they tried their hardest and things didn't go their way.

 

The two of you quietly finished your ice cream. You sat in the grass for a few minutes in silence before K.O. piped up again.

 

"Man. Rad and Enid are on another level. I want to work with them so bad, but I can't even do a cool power move."

 

"Hey, they've probably been training to be heroes longer than you have, you'll get to their level some day, don't you worry."

 

Like you said, you may not care about all this hero stuff, but you did care about your little brother.

 

"You're right. I can't give up. There must be some way I can convince them to give me a chance. Maybe if I brought them a giant cake, or if I let them hold my rarest Pow Cards?"

 

"Bribery is never a good thing K.O."

 

"Maybe if I wore a baseball cap. Backwards."

 

You giggled at your brother's ideas of trying to win over Rad and Enid. Honestly, he was too precious.

 

"Excuse me," a voice brought your giggle fit to an end.

 

You looked up.

 

It was a girl with purple hair and poorly put on red lipstick. It was clearly a disguise on account of how bad it was.

 

Plus, it was kind of hard to miss the fact that she was made of orange metal.

 

"I couldn't help but notice your... Unemployment," whoever this was said to your brother.

 

"Well, for one thing he's six. Six year olds don't usually have jobs. He's just very dedicated," you said while looking her dead in the eyes.

 

"Uh... Right. Well. You know, these days if you want to work at a place like Gar's, you got to do something really special."

 

"A résumé," you and K.O. said at the same time. He seriously, you monotonously.

 

"No, no, no, no. I'm talking something like," she twirled her wig while speaking. "Infiltrating Lord Boxman's lair and maybe, like, defeating him all by yourself."

 

Her wig was askew.

 

"That sounds like a terrible idea for a six year old to attempt."

 

K.O. obviously thought differently.

 

"No way, (Y/N)! That's a good idea, so good that Rad and Enid will have to hire me and be my friends." K.O. rose from his spot on the grass and ran away before you could catch him. "Thanks for the help, ominous stranger! You're the best!"

 

"Ch'yeah, obviously," whoever she was said as she took off her wig and laughed evilly.

 

"Did you really forget I was here?"

 

"AAH!"

 

"Apparently you did."

 

She whirled around to face you.

 

"Well, it's not my fault you're so dull you blend in with the background! Who do you think you are anyway?!"

 

"I could ask you the same thing."

 

She scoffed at you like you weren't even worth the energy to talk to .

 

"If you must know, Lakewood Loser, I'm Shannon!" She ended that statement with a sassy snap.

 

"Okay. I'm (Y/N) and I'm not going to snap like you did. In fact, I'm just going to start ignoring you and go after my little brother now. Bye."

 

You heard the whirring of a saw and managed to barely avoid being sliced. Shannon retracted the saw back into her arm and looked at you smugly.

 

"Don't think I'll let you get away with talking to me like that! Heh heh heh heh heh!"

 

Well, today seemed as good as any to die.

 

"K.O.! (Y/N)!" Enid ran out of the store shouting.

 

"Hey, (Y/N), K.O., where'd you two go-" Rad called looking around, stopping himself when he saw you and Shannon. "Hey, what's that Shannon doing here?"

 

"She tricked K.O. into going into Boxmore by himself to try and take down Lord Boxman," you answered.

 

"WHAT?!?!" the bodega duo shouted in disbelief.

 

"You heard me. Anyways, I'm headed over there to get him back so... Later."

 

You're so good at conversation. Really you are.

 

Thankfully, Shannon was now distracted by Rad and Enid and you ran across the street-checking for oncoming traffic before doing so of course-and into Boxmore.

 

There were a few Darrells milling about, but you paid them no mind even when they shouted 'Hey!' as you made your way to the top floor. You also passed some round, purple robots on your way in to what you assumed to be Lord Boxman's office.

 

There was your brother. Strapped down to a table with a portly older man looming over him.

 

"I've had my eye on you, you know. I see you got yourself a little friendship going with those two goons from Gar's."

 

"Friendship?" your brother said confusedly.

 

"Yes," Boxman verified. "It's disgusting, and I hate it, and I want it destroyed!"

 

Ah. So he was that kind of villain.

 

"Y-You really think they want to be my friend?" K.O. asked hopefully.

 

"Not anymore," Boxman said smugly as he pressed a button on the remote he pulled from his pocket and a monitor appeared before K.O. It showed Rad and Enid looking rather peeved as they waited for the crosswalk light to change. Rad was holding a now offline Shannon. "Do these look like the faces of friendship? They found out you came here, K.O., and they're clearly seething with rage at having to waste their time rescuing a nuisance like you!"

 

"They weren't supposed to come get me. I was going to beat you and prove my worth!"

 

"All you did was fall into my trap!"

 

"No."

 

"Yes. And after this foolish stunt, they're gonna beat you up."

 

"No!"

 

"And then they'll never want to play with you ever again!"

 

"No-o-o-o-o!"

 

Okay, you'd had enough.

 

"Speaking from experience, are we?"

 

Boxman flinched.

 

"What the-! Who are you! How'd you get in here?!"

 

"I thought you'd 'had your eye on' my little brother. Surely you saw me standing with him in the parking lot as you watched from your office window like a creep."

 

"That is-! I don't-! Clearly! I was fooling you into thinking I had no idea who you were as a ploy to confuse you!"

 

"Uh huh." You weren't buying it. "Whatever. Just hand my brother over. It's almost time to go home and I need to know if I need to pick anything up for dinner tonight."

 

Boxman ground his teeth in frustration. Meanwhile, K.O.'s attention was solely on the monitor, watching Rad and Enid knock robot after robot out of their way. Lord Boxman took notice of the monitor and sat back down at his desk, ignoring you for the time being.

 

"Prince Peach Fuzz and The Sarcasm Queen are headed right this way. Getting scared are we?" Boxman asked K.O., who you were attempting to remove from the table. Damn your twig arms! If this is going to become a regular thing, you may have to ask Mom to help build up your muscles.

 

"Wha- What?" K.O. stammered confused.

 

"Why, you see what they do to people who get in their way," he motioned to the monitor showing Rad and Enid destroying robots. "And seeing as I'd hate to get in their way, I'll just put you between us."

 

Boxman hit some buttons and K.O. fell off of the table as it disappeared. You fell down as well, seeing as how you had been attempting to free your brother.

 

Lord Boxman disappeared into a dark corner of the room. You could barely make out his outline, but you could still hear him.

 

"Blinds! Now to watch from the shadows. Like a total creep."

 

Well at least he owned up to the whole being creepy thing.

 

K.O. was on his hands and knees, talking dejectedly to himself.

 

"I guess Lord Boxman was right. Rad and Enid will never want to be my friends after this."

 

Almost as if on cue, Rad and Enid entered the office, the former throwing Shannon's offline husk. It landed in front of you and K.O. Your brother back away scared.

 

"Aah! I promise I won't ever get in your way again," your brother stuttered as Rad charged towards the two of you.

 

You would not hesitate to kick him in the nads if he planned on hurting your brother.

 

K.O. clutched tightly onto you and you felt yourself fly as Rad tackled you and K.O.

 

"Yes," Boxman hissed. "Crush them, you oaf!"

 

Instead of doing that, Rad laughed, lifted you in the air and swung you and K.O. around in a circle before holding you at eye level. "K.O.! (Y/N)!"

 

"Rad, you're not mad at me?" K.O. inquired.

 

"Mad at you?" Enid said in disbelief. " We came here to save you two."

 

"But... Why would you want to save a nuisance like me?"

 

"Come on, K.O.," Enid said as she took K.O. out of your arms gently. "You're not a nuisance. We like having you around!"

 

Enid threw K.O. up into the air and you would have gotten worried if Rad hadn't done the same to you.

 

"You too, (Y/N)! Even if you're kind of terrifying!"

 

"What?!" Boxman shouted.

 

Rad caught you as Enid caught K.O. and they both set the two of you down.

 

"But, the two of you seemed pretty upset that K.O.-"

 

"Broke into Buttman's lair all by himself?" Rad interrupted. "Yeah, that was pretty stupid, but it also took serious guts!"

 

Rad slapped K.O. on the back good naturedly.

 

"No, no, no!" Boxman was getting more and more upset by the minute.

 

"And it was super brave!"

 

Enid high-fived both K.O. and you.

 

"You got our respect!" Rad stated as he fist bumped your brother.

 

"And our admiration!" the duo said as they noogied you and K.O.

 

"But most of all," Enid started. "You have our friendship!" she and Rad finished together.

 

You and K.O. had their arms wrapped around your shoulders.

 

Huh.

 

So they considered you a friend, eh?

 

You had completely forgotten about Boxman, completely swept up in all the excitement Rad and Enid were causing and the fact that they had pulled you and K.O. into a circle where you all held hands and they said 'Friendship!' over and over.

 

Which is why it was a complete surprise when a box appeared from out of nowhere and caught all four of you. 

 

It felt... Odd. Traveling by box. But you eventually landed, no doubt in the plaza's parking lot.

 

When the dust settled after the box opened, you saw a few people standing around. The skeleton and the bear from the frame shop, the former of which was disappointed that there was no violence to be found, and Mr. Gar who was approaching your group.

 

"Mr. Ga-" Rad started to say but was interrupted by the man himself.

 

"Why aren't you two at your posts?!"

 

"We were out rescuing Brushhead and Mophead here, sir!" Enid explained.

 

Were you Mophead? You felt your hair. Yep. In disarray and all over the place.

 

"Oh, okay," Mr. Gar accepted the answer. "Now send them home and get back to work!"

 

"Aww, can't we keep them? They're probably really good at cleaning toilets~."

 

"Yeah," Rad agreed. "They're both pretty much plaza material. And we could use the extra help."

 

"No," was Gar's answer.

 

"What?!" was the duo's response.

 

"We don't need any more employees! You just need to quit slacking so much. And besides, a recommendation from the two of you means squat."

 

"What about a recommendation from me?" Whoa, when'd your mom get here?

 

Mr. Gar was stopped cold in his tracks.

 

"Come on, Gar, just give them the job."

 

Mr. Gar began stammering incoherently before relenting. "Okay, fine!" Then he started pouting. "Hmph."

 

"I appreciate it," your mom said, placing a hand on his arm. Mr. Gar went rigid and flew away with the breeze. "Congratulations, Sweeties! I'll meet you two in the car!" She blew you and K.O. a kiss and headed over in the direction of the car.

 

"W-What just happened?" your brother said dazedly.

 

"I think you just got hired," Enid said as she pulled out a blue vest.

 

"We ran out of crop tops," Rad explained.

 

K.O. looked overjoyed at the sight of his new vest.

 

"But wait, what about (Y/N)?"

 

"Don't worry, little bro. I have a hoodie that exact shade of blue at home. If that's acceptable."

 

Enid shrugged.

 

"Ah. Ah! I did it!"

 

Your brother punched his fist excitedly in the air and as he did so, that flaming blue fist finally decided to show up and made a peace sign once it exploded in the air.

 

"Whoa, K.O.," Rad said, impressed. "I didn't know you could do that."

 

"Do what?" K.O. asked, obliviously.

 

You couldn't help it. You started giggling. And then the giggles turned into laughs. And the laughter evolved into full on cackling.

 

"Ahahahahahaha! Hahahahaha! Aha ha ha... Never change, K.O."

 

"I won't!" he promised.

Chapter Text

K.O. was absolutely giddy the whole way home that night. He kept stroking his new vest as if it were the most coveted thing to ever exist in the history of forever. You supposed that to him, it was exactly that. It signified that he had achieved his first step to becoming a hero.

 

And he certainly didn't act as if he didn't realize that.

 

"I still can't believe I'm gonna get to go work at the bodega every day! And you'll be there with me too, (Y/N)!" K.O. proclaimed as he all but skipped into the house.

 

You chuckled as you began to head upstairs.

 

"Well believe it, baby bro. I'll be right back down to watch that action show that you love so much. I just gotta find my blue hoodie first."

 

"Kay!"

 


Your mom smiled at the two of you as you headed to opposite directions of the house. Her kids had jobs now and one of them was on his way to becoming a full fledged hero.

 

'God I am getting old,' she thought to herself. But she found that she didn't mind. She'd always known that from the moment K.O. had shown interest in anything and everything that was related to heroes, he'd one day want to join their ranks. She couldn't be prouder.

 

She was proud of you as well, don't misunderstand her. You had stepped way out of your comfort zone by just going to the plaza with her yesterday. Now here you were a day later with a new job! One that would require you to interact with others, too.

 

Carol grimaced a bit at that. Yeah, she loved you and K.O. and wished that you were both as dauntless as you appeared to be at times, but she knew you well. She knew how you felt about interacting with other people outside of her and your brother.

 

You came off as cold, distant even. You were extremely blunt and monotonous with people that you didn't know or care to know. You'd been that way ever since...

 

...you'd been that way since you were twelve. Let's leave it at that, shall we?

 

Before... You turned twelve, you'd been completely different. You were a lot happier. You went outside more often than you did now. You had friends, sort of. They were the kids of your mom's friends, so you all hung out together a lot whether you wanted to or not.

 

Then... You'd turned twelve and things changed. You stopped being happy and cheerful around other people. You became a recluse, not going out unless absolutely necessary. You drew away from your companions until they no longer included you whenever your mom would get together with her friends to chat and catch up. You even stopped physically going to school. You still got your schoolwork and all, but you just were never in the building for classes.

 

Once, you attempted to make friends on your own. It ended very, very badly. For everyone involved. But you and your mom try not to dwell on that too much.

 

It seemed as though you'd never be anything resembling your old self again.

 

And then K.O. was born about half a year later.

 

You loved him from the moment you'd laid your eyes on him. Fast asleep in Carol's arms, smiling as if there was nothing in the world for him to worry about.

 

So you decided that he'd never have to worry about anything.

 

K.O. was like you in the friend making department. Not very good at it.

 

He was maybe three or four and he'd been crying when you and she had come to pick him up.

 

He had apparently tried to make friends with some of the older kids and as a reward they'd pushed him down and had taken his snack.

 

You, to say the least, were livid. You'd convinced him to tell you who the kids were, though Carol hadn't found out until after you had done what you did.

 

She wasn't exactly sure what it was that you did to the kids that had done that to your brother, but she knew that the next day K.O.'s pockets on his overalls were overflowing with snacks and there were a few bigger kids cowering behind a tree on the playground, looking fearfully at you.

 

Your face gave nothing away, however. No smug grin or sneering towards the big kids. You just remained stony-faced until K.O. greeted the both of you happily, and then you were all smiles with him.

 

You were K.O.'s best friend and he was yours. Carol knew you'd do anything for him.

 

And she was a little scared of that thought.

 


You rummaged around in your closet, trying to find that blue hoodie of yours.

 

"C'mon, I know you're in here... Aha!"

 

Success. There it was, tucked away neatly in the very back of your closet.

 

You pulled off the black hoodie you were currently wearing and pulled the blue one on over your head to make sure it still fit.

 

And by fit you mean that it was still a size larger than you were.

 

Again, you dressed for comfort, and you liked baggy clothes.

 

Fortunately, it fit the same as all your other hoodies did.

 

Unfortunately, it was the only blue hoodie you had.

 

"I might need to buy a few more, just in case you get damaged while I'm working at my new job..."

 

"(Y/N)! (Y/N), c'mere!"

 

"Coming, K.O.!"

 

You headed back downstairs and went into the living room, but there wasn't any sign of your brother.

 

"Where are you, K.O.?"

 

"In my room!"

 

You were sure he'd be all set up to watch his favorite show. Whatever it was he was calling you for, he must have thought it was more important.

 

"What's up, bro?"

 

K.O. had his laptop on and the video camera app was open, but not recording.

 

He turned and smiled widely. "Well, I wanted to start making videos of my progress as a hero and I figured what better way to start than with showing off my new vest?! I- I want you to be in it, too. 'Cause, well, I know you don't want to become a hero, but you're going to be with me every step of the way now, so I thought I could put you in some of my videos from time to time?"

 

Lord strike you dead now, your brother was too pure for this world.

 

"Well what are you waiting for, kiddo? Start recording!"

 

K.O.'s grin could have lit up the night sky. He hit record and began to talk eagerly.

 

"Hey, guys!" K.O. waved to the camera. "Welcome to my first video ever! I have an announcement: I just started working at Gar's Bodega! And so did my big sister, (Y/N)! Say 'hi,' (Y/N)!"

 

K.O. scooched over so you could get in the shot.

 

"Hi, (Y/N)."

 

"Oh, you!" K.O. laughed. "So, for today, I wanna give you guys a review of my official Gar's employee vest! As you can see, there are two holes for the arms, it's made out of a really nice, sturdy feeling material, and it's a cool shade of blue! So, over all, I give this a ten vest outta ten."

 

"It's a really cool vest, K.O."

 

"Yeah! And your hoodie is cool, too!"

 

"Pfft. This old thing? I just found this in the back of my closet. I'm only bringing it back out because I remembered that it was the exact shade of blue as the uniforms at Gar's."

 

"Still!" K.O. turned back to the camera and got a bit nervous. "Um... I wanna... Really talk about my life for a second. No one in my neighborhood really gets me. Well, except for my mom and sister. But today at Gar's, I made my first two friends! My co-workers Rad and Enid are so cool! And I think it'd be really fun to get them on this channel somehow, so expect more uploads soon! Bye, guys! Bye!"

 

"Later," you said, flashing the peace sign and sticking out your tongue.

 


Your dreams, thankfully, were void of any and all nightmares so you got a good night's rest.

 

The ride to the plaza was as uneventful as ever, and for that you were thankful. Nothing like having a little consistency in your life.

 

Now, you know that some people would wonder why you didn't drive your own car. Well that would be because you didn't have one. You had the license just not the vehicle. Your mom has offered time and again to get you your own set of wheels, but every car dealership nearby has only vehicles that came equipped to the brim with weapons of all sorts. And you're not looking to own one of those. Something with as little weapons as possible would be nice. You'd prefer no weapons, but come on. No one in the area that you live in would make a car like that. You'd have to go many, many, many states over to get one like that.

 

You and your brother stood outside of the bodega. His face filled with determination, yours with indifference.

 

"This is it, K.O." Oh, he was talking to himself again. "Your first day on that job at Gar's. It's so beautiful!"

 

You could have sworn there were stars in K.O.'s eyes.

 

"Isn't it, (Y/N)?"

 

"Uh... Sure. It's a vision."

 

K.O. giggled excitedly before regaining his composure.

 

"Focus, K.O. Remember what you are here for."

 

You knew he was probably repeating that whole spiel about how 'being helpful is the cornerstone of being a hero' thing he was telling himself in the mirror this morning.

 

"Let's get help-!"

 

Oh God K.O. you just sucker punched someone in the gut.

 

"Oh, jeepers! I'm so sorry, mister!"

 

"Here, let me help you up, sir," you offered your hand to the now battered man.

 

"Let me help you, too! Helping! I'm helping!"

 

You got the man to his feet, his wheezing thankfully done with.

 

"I am so sorry, sir!" K.O. kept apologizing over and over.

 

Thankfully, the stranger brushed it off.

 

"Aye, no problem, kiddo! Just uh, watch where you point that thing, alright? Wouldn't want to accidentally stir up trouble, eh?"

 

Why do you get the feeling that a joke just flew over your head?

 

The stranger waved goodbye and you and K.O. finally entered the bodega.

 

"Whoa, it's pretty packed today, huh K.O.?"

 

"Yeah, it sure is!"

 

You weren't exaggerating. The check out counter was practically swamped with customers waiting to buy their groceries. Enid looked none-to-eager to start ringing anybody up.

 

You were proved right when she pulled up a 'Lane Closed' sign and all the customers backed off disgruntled.

 

As the crowd dispersed, Enid took notice of you and K.O., the latter of which was saluting her.

 

"Helper K.O., reporting for duty!"

 

Enid couldn't help but chuckle briefly.

 

"At ease, soldier." K.O. stopped saluting. "Helper K.O.! Your first mission here at Gar's is to... Clean the store."

 

Enid pointed over to a bunch of cleaning product inside of a large cabinet. '8 Ways Cleansing' it said.

 

"Wow! The ancient tools of cleaning the floor!"

 

"Now go! And save the bodega from the forces of dirt or something."

 

K.O. had this in the metaphorical bag. Mom loved to make a game out of cleaning up the house, so he knew how to get something spotless while still having fun.

 

"Ha-ha! Dirt, today you breath your last filthy breath! I swear on the honor of the bodega, I will vanquish you!"

 

And with that vow, your brother took off.

 

"Wow. He's just passionate about everything, isn't he?" Enid asked, turning to you.

 

"You have no idea. Anyways, afternoon. What exactly will I be doing here?"

 

"Well, first, we need to give you your name tag. K.O., too, but I'll give it to him when he's done. Here."

 

It was small and rectangular. Red at the top and bottom, white in the middle. It said, 'Hello! My Name is (Y/N)! Helper.'

 

You pinned it on the left side of your hoodie, seeing as how your purse strap would have just blocked it.

 

"As for what you'll be doing here, I'm not exactly sure. K.O.'s doing what Rad and I normally do today so he gets used to the ropes. Hey, speaking of Rad where is that clown?"

 

"I haven't seen him yet today, so I'm not a good person to ask."

 

"Ugh, probably hiding somewhere, avoiding work. There, that can be your task. Go find Rad and get him to come back here."

 

"Really?"

 

"Yep."

 

"Won't Mr. Gar be upset if he doesn't see me here at all?"

 

"Trust me," Enid said, eyes darting about. "Mr. Gar knows everything that goes on in this store. Don't ask me how, he just does. He knows you're here and he knows you're going out to find Rad. Seriously, don't worry about it."

 

"If you're sure..."

 

You waved goodbye to K.O. who was still in the midst of cleaning before exiting the bodega. Okay. Think. If you were Rad, where would you go to avoid work?

 

...

 

...

 

...you got nothing.

 

You've only known the guy for, like, two days! You have no idea what his usual hangouts are!

 

Ugh. That means you'll have to ask around.

 

But where to start? You supposed anywhere was good. Why not right next door to the frame shop?

 

As soon as you walked through the door, your ears were assaulted by the sound of terrible drumming and a voice complaining for it to end.

 

Ah. So this is a regular occurrence here then.

 

"Oh come one, dude! I have so much work I gotta get done and I can't concentrate with all that drumming! It's driving me crazy!"

 

"Sorry, Magi. I gotta drum, it's like an itch I gotta scratch! I can't not do it!"

 

The skeleton turned around and hung his head in his hands.

 

"Oh why must you punish me? What have I done? Hmm? Oh!"

 

Seems like he finally took notice of you.

 

"Sorry to make you wait!"

 

"Not a problem. I see that you have much to... Occupy your attention."

 

"Ugh. I know."

 

"I'll make this quick. You know who Radicles is?"

 

"I'd be surprised to find someone at the plaza who didn't."

 

"Do you happen to know where he is? I just started working at the bodega and I've been tasked with finding and bringing him back."

 

"Sorry, can't help you there. Maybe try the arcade or the crater."

 

"The 'crater'?"

 

"Big crater just a little ways into the forest, lots of food trucks are parked there regularly, you can't miss it."

 

"Thank you, I'll try those leads out."

 

"No problem. Now, if you'll excuse me... BRANDON!!! Seriously I can't get any work done with all that noise you're making, dude!!!"

 

Well. That wasn't nearly as nerve wracking as you thought it would be.

 

Okay. Arcade or crater?

 

The arcade was closer, so you might as well start there.

 

As you exited iFrame, you passed by K.O.

 

"K.O.? What are you doing?"

 

"Helping!"

 

Ah. Yes. How silly of you not to realize that.

 

"Well, have fun with that."

 

"I will!"

 

Okay. Arcade, arcade, ah! Arcade.

 

Huh, this place was definitely bigger than it looked from the outside. Game after game lined the walls. There was an air hockey table and a basketball- No. No, those were bowling ball because of course there would be bowling balls being shot into baskets instead of actual basketballs and you were so dumb to think otherwise!

 

Ugh. Heroes. Heroes and their tests of strength.

 

You scanned the arcade as you walked between rows of games for any sign of Rad. No. No. N- Wait. Yes.

 

There he was, playing on a console with two other individuals cheering him on.

 

"Yeah! Go, Rad!" the one in the football outfit and diaper shouted.

 

Yeah, you couldn't believe they were wearing that either. But whatever. It didn't affect your personal life in any way, so you were going to ignore his choice of attire.

 

The other guy... He had no neck or head. Just eyes and a mouth where his neck would be. He lacked a shirt and shoes but had grey shorts on that were ripped at the ends.

 

"C'mon, you can do it!" Neckless cheered.

 

There was the sound of a digitized explosion before a little victory theme began to play.

 

"Ooooooooooooooooooooh! Still the undefeated champ!"

 

"Rad, Rad, Rad, Rad!" Neckless and the football baby chanted.

 

Rad smirked cockily. Sure, he was skipping out on work. But so what? Enid had everything under control and K.O. would be starting today. Rad's smirk became slightly strained. And so would you.

 

To be honest, he was surprised you didn't break his arms for holding you up yesterday and tossing you into the air. He wasn't sure why, but something about you just really terrified him.

 

And in a moment of stupidity, he admitted his fear of you to your face yesterday.

 

It wasn't even that you were all that scary! Sure, you had one mean glare. But other than that, you hadn't really shown any hostility towards him.

 

Something just didn't seem quite right about you with him.

 

Great, a chill just went down his spine. That's what he gets for thinking about you for too long. A case of the heebie jeebies.

 

"Uh, you okay, Rad?" Bell Beefer asked.

 

"Pfft! I'm fine! I'm the champ, remember? Nothing rattles me!"

 

"Hello, Radicles."

 

The sound that he made just then was the manliest thing to come out of anyone's mouth ever and no one gets to argue with him about that!

 

"Dude. Did you just scream like a little girl?" Mega Football Baby asked, eyebrow raised.

 

"Uh, uh, no! I did not!" Rad vehemently denied.

 

You could feel your impatience growing by the minute.

 

"Radicles," you said again and he flinched. "Enid sent me to tell you that you need to come back to the bodega."

 

Rad cleared his throat. "Ugh... Seriously?"

 

"Yes." With that, you walked away, not really caring if he followed or not.

 

He sighed. "Welp," he said, turning to his friends. "Duty calls, dudes. See ya."

 

MFB snickered into his hands. "Yeah, Rad. Pffft! See ya later after your date!"

 

Bell Beefer chuckled.

 

"Date? What are you talking about?"

 

"Oh come off it, Rad!" Bell Beefer said, clearly amused. "Some girl shows up saying you need to go back to the bodega now and you say yes just like that? No need to cover yourself man, you can tell us about your girlfriend."

 

"Girlfriend? You think (Y/N)'s-? Oh, no, no, no, no, no. No. She's just one of the new employees at the bodega. Today's her first day, it's also her little brother's first day."

 

MFB and Bell Beefer had dropped their amused smirks and were looking curious.

 

"Really? You're not dating?" MFB asked surprised. "But she seems like your type!"

 

"Uh, dude," Rad crossed his arms, not amused. "You've seen my type, she's not it."

 

"I agree with Mega here, Rad."

 

"How is she my type?!"

 

MFB and Bell Beefer exchanged a look.

 

"Dude..." MFB began.

 

"Dark hair."

 

"Rounded face."

 

"The kind of eyes that say it all."

 

"Wha-! Pssh, you guys don't know my type at all!"

 

"Dude. We've known you for years. We know your type. Er, types. We know your types," Bell Beefer corrected.

 

"And she's one of them!"

 

Rad slid a hand down his face and groaned.

 

"You two are reading way too much into this. Look, she's just a co-worker and friend, I guess. I don't know she kind of terrifies me. Just- Just drop it, alright?!"

 

Rad stormed off towards the bodega in a huff. You. His type.

 

Yeah, right.

 

Those two had no clue what they were talking about.

 

Geez, it was late. Did he really spend that much time in the arcade?

 

"Yo, Enid, I'm back! What can I and my impressive physique do for-"

 

Rad stopped short. There you were again. As intimidating as ever.

 

Only this time, Rad knew why you seemed so out of place all the time.

 

You were admittedly a bit creepy. You were just so quiet you snuck up on people without a problem!

 

You also didn't have very good social skills, something the two of you seemed to have in common. Although, Rad was definitely better at conversation than you were.

 

You didn't care about hero stuff. That should be enough for anyone to be put off by you.

 

But all those things weren't why you felt wrong.

 

In all the short time he'd known you, Rad had only seen you smile once. Outside your mom's dojo. It was brief, but that brief smile suddenly made everything about you seem right.

 

And here you were. Smiling at K.O. as he told you about his day.

 

That was what was so off about you.

 

You needed to smile more often.

Chapter Text

You honestly couldn't believe the day that your little brother had experienced.

 

And to think it had all started because he wanted to show Enid how nice being helpful could feel.

 

Also, personal problems or not, if that group of teens that likes to frequent the alley ever tries to trick your brother again, you think you'll have to do to them what you did to those little shits that made your brother cry a couple of years ago.

 

But that was only if they decided to try it again, and from what you heard that Gregg guy was more of a stand-by-and-watcher rather than a doer. So there's that.

 

Currently, you're hanging around the front of the bodega, waiting for your mom to wrap up what little bit of work she has left to do so she can take you and K.O. home.

 

The boy in question offered to-go on, guess- help her out. You would have, too, but for some reason you felt like you needed to hang back at the bodega for a little bit longer.

 

You shoved your hands into the pockets of your hoodie and sighed. All in all, your first day on the job wasn't what you were expecting it to be, but you had a sneaking suspicion that everyday here at the plaza would be like that.

 

Completely random.

 

And here you were wanting something resembling a schedule so that you knew what you'd be doing each day.

 

You scuffed your foot on the pavement, bored. Why were you out here and not at the dojo? Oh. Right. Some feeling that you had.

 

That's when you heard it. Shuffling coming from the alleyway next to the bodega.

 

You stared down the long, dark path that was barely illuminated by the light on the side of the building. Do you dare to go and investigate?

 

Hmm...

 

You were so lost in thought that you didn't here someone approach you from the side.

 

"(Y/N)? Are you oka- Oof!"

 

Startled, you whirled around and punched whoever decided it was a good idea to sneak up on you in the gut.

 

You looked at the beaten stranger who was curled up in the fetal position on the ground.

 

Oh. It was just Rad.

 

And he was whimpering.

 

"Why?"

 

"...you should know better than to sneak up on someone."

 

You regarded the alien briefly before redirecting your attention back to the alley.

 

Rad, groaning in pain, got up slowly. Yeah. That was definitely going to bruise. Badly. It felt like something might have been fractured, too.

 

"I think you cracked a rib..." he lamented.

 

"Shush. I'm debating whether or not I really feel like investigating whatever is making the noises that are coming from the alley."

 

'The alley?' Rad thought. He looked where your gaze was locked. "All that's down there is a bunch of smashed up, junky robots."

 

You looked at him, slightly irritated.

 

"Well something's making a racket."

 

You contemplated the alley a final time before snapping your fingers.

 

"Fuck it."

 

And with that, you headed into the alley, leaving behind a mildly shocked Radicles, who shortly after followed you.

 

"Did you just swear?" Rad asked, bewildered.

 

You rolled your eyes.

 

"Nooooo. I spoke Swedish. Yes, Rad, I swore. I'm sure it's nothing you haven't heard before."

 

Well. He had to give you that one. There was a lot of profanity being spewed over at Lakewood High on a daily basis. Hell, he swore on occasion! Usually he used the swear words native to Planet Earth, but occasionally some Planet X swears would find their way out of his mouth.

 

Those ones were a lot worse than the swears here on Earth, and thankfully no one besides people from Planet X spoke Xian, otherwise Rad would have found himself in detention more so than he normally did.

 

He shuddered to think what his mom and dad would do if they ever found out that their 'little man'-who was not little anymore, thank you very much!- was using 'naughty words.'

 

Realizing you were waiting for a response, Rad cleared his throat. "Ahem. No, no, you're right. I've heard way worse. I was just surprised that you would curse at all, what with K.O. constantly being around you and all."

 

"Don't misunderstand," you reprimanded. "I don't swear around K.O. or my mom, though I'm sure she knows I do sometimes. He's way too young to hear any swear words. And since you've heard far worse, I trust that you'll do your best to make sure that my beloved baby brother never does."

 

Rad swallowed thickly. "R-Right. No swearing around the kid. Not that I was going to, but I got it."

 

You did a onceover of his figure and nodded.

 

"Good."

 

The two of you continued to make your way down the alley, good God was it long. You eventually reached a chain link fence with a gate.

 

"...so this is what you do with all of the Boxmore robots you've beaten then?"

 

"Yeah, creepy to look at it at night, but this is where we put 'em."

 

"What happens to them? Do they just stay here to rust or are they repurposed?"

 

"Uh... Some of this stuff is so old and rusty that it can't be reused. That would be all the robots that Mr. Gar took care of before Enid and I started working here. But apparently some sort of construction business found out that there was a bunch of metal just sitting here, so someone comes by every so often and pays Mr. Gar to haul off the metal to be melted down and used as... Girders or something? I'm not really sure."

 

You nodded. Well at least some good came of the bodega's employees constantly bashing bots. In your opinion.

 

You slapped a hand over Rad's mouth before he could say anything else.

 

"Shhhh... There it is again."

 

More shuffling, very close to you this time.

 

"Move in slowly and quietly."

 

He nodded around your hand.

 

You opened the latch on the gate as quietly as you possibly could and opened the gate in the same manner. You and Rad stepped carefully into the deactivated robot infested part of the alley.

 

There it was again. Up a little further. Just to your right.

 

Something was inside of a cardboard box. You dug out your phone from your purse and turned on the flashlight function.

 

Big, yellow eyes squinted at you and Rad in the light.

 

"It's a cat. I decided to scope out the creepy alleyway at night and all it was... Was a cat."

 

The cat blinked at you. As impressed with you as you were with it.

 

It had really fluffy, soft looking gray fur. It almost looked like down.

 

The cat stood up and stretched, showing that it had short, stubby legs.

 

"Oh my God it's a munchkin kitten."

 

Rad was suspiciously quiet. Stealing a glance at your co-worker, you found him to be in a state of shock.

 

His eyes were locked onto the cat, wide with wonder and adoration.

 

He was even blushing a little bit.

 

You looked at the cat, then back to Rad.

 

"Dude. Don't tell me you want to keep it."

 

It was obvious that he did, you were just messing with him.

 

"Wha-? Uh! I mean! No! Definitely not! Why would- Mmph!"

 

"Stop shouting, you're scaring it."

 

Indeed he was. The kitten was back up against the box, hissing at Rad.

 

You squatted down and proceed to have another staring contest with the kitten. Slowly, it approached you after several minutes. It sniffed at your slightly outstretched hand that had been inching towards it before shoving its head into your palm.

 

You pet the kitten before gently wrapping your hand around its middle and hoisting it up.

 

"...it's a girl."

 

You stood up, kitten tucked under your arm and phone back in your purse. You and Rad made your way back to the front of the store.

 

You looked at the kitten who was purring contently in your hold.

 

She was cute. Really cute.

 

But you couldn't keep her.

 

Since you were no longer staying at home all the time, no one could be with the kitten all day to make sure she didn't get into trouble. Furthermore, you wouldn't have the time to teach her what she could and couldn't do in the house.

 

You looked at Rad's face. His stupid, downtrodden face.

 

Oh his antenna were drooping slightly, this was pathetic.

 

"Rad, hold out your hands."

 

"Huh? Why?"

 

"Do you want the kitten or not?"

 

Rad could only stare at you dumbly as he unconsciously held out his hands. You passed the kitten into Rad's awaiting hold.

 

She was not very pleased with being moved, but Rad gently stroking behind her ears sent her off into a content slumber.

 

Rad smiled goofily at the kitten before getting a confused look on his face.

 

"She's kind of plump for an alley cat."

 

You sighed.

 

"The most likely case is that she was someone's pet and they abandoned her. She has way too much weight for her to be an alley cat, you're right."

 

"But why would someone want to get rid of a sweet little angel like her?"

 

"Some people are just cruel like that, Rad."

 

The two of you stood in tense silence for a few minutes.

 

"...so. What are you going to name her anyway?"

 

"Huh?"

 

"You're keeping her, aren't you?"

 

You stared Rad in the eyes and he looked away quickly.

 

"I- I guess I could take her in. Not that I like cats or anything! But my parents do and I totally think this little gal deserves a home that won't dump her like garbage."

 

"So, names?"

 

"Uh..."

 

Ra's brow furrowed as he struggled to think of a good name.

 

"Hmm... Maybe... No. What about- No, doesn't fit. How- No."

 

You were getting bored again.

 

The kitten looked very regal, even in her sleep. Like she knew she was cute shit and deserved to be loved.

 

"How about Duchess?" you suggested.

 

"...why?"

 

"She looks like a Duchess."

 

Rad regarded the kitten for a moment.

 

"Hey, yeah, she does! Alright, Duchess it is then! You'll love your new home, I promise!"

 

Rad gave you a cheer filled goodbye. You waved, sort of.

 

The drive home that night was filled with talks of days and thoughts of cats.

 

And the blue-skinned boys that took care of them. 

Chapter Text

You little brother was snuggly tucked into bed a couple of hours after you had arrived back home. Good. He had had a long day of helping people out and had an especially hard time with those jerky alleyway teens.

 

God help them if they ever tried anything with K.O. ever again. God help them.

 

Dark thoughts aside, you kissed your sleeping sibling's forehead before closing the door to his bedroom as quietly as you could.

 

You made your way into the living room where you mom was sitting on the couch and watching the news. Something about some new business chain in Neo Riot City.

 

You plopped down next to her, exhaustion from your day filled with running around looking for Rad and having to talk to new people finally seeping in.

 

Mom muted the television and turned to face you.

 

"So how was your first day on the job, Hun?"

 

You sighed tiredly.

 

"Exhausting. I spent practically the entire day running around the plaza looking for one of my coworkers. The guy, Radicles. You saw him and Enid on Monday, remember?" She nodded and you continued. "It wasn't as bad as I was expecting it to be, but you know how I am when it comes to social interaction. It drains me."

 

You sunk further into the couch, debating whether or not you'd mention finding the cat in the alley with Rad. You opted not to.

 

Some things you just liked to keep to yourself.

 

Your mom shot you an amused but sympathetic smile.

 

"Aw, don't worry, Pumpkin! It'll get easier with time." She pulled you over and kissed your forehead. "You just gotta stay focused and get through it one day at a time."

 

"Yeah..." you agreed. You supposed now would be a good a time as any to bring up your request. "Hey, Mom?"

 

"Hmm?"

 

"So you know how robots are always attacking the plaza, right?" She hummed a 'yes.' "Well, I'm pretty sure it's in my job description that I'll have to chase them off or at least help out with that. So I was wondering-and don't get the wrong idea, I haven't changed my mind about hero work!-if you'd... Train me? To defend myself I mean! I'd kind of have to know how to unless you want to see me at the end of everyday that robots invade the plaza battered and bruised! But you're probably too busy running you dojo and everything I shouldn't have asked sorry I'll go n- Mmph."

 

You mom had placed her hand over your mouth and put an end to your rambling.

 

"Whoa! At least let me get a word in edgewise!" She removed your hand. You noticed her eyes were shining. "Pumpkin. I know that you're no fan of the whole heroing business. But I can't tell you how proud I am that you want your Mom to train you up to defend yourself! Of course I'll teach you!"

 

She brought you into a bone crushing hug briefly before letting you go. She looked you in the eyes, determination gleaming in hers.

 

"Now, about scheduling your training. I think weekends would be best, seeing as how you and K.O. only work five days a week and and the dojo's closed on the weekends. We'll start with the basics. How to control your breathing and the beginner's fighting techniques. Oh this is gonna be so much fun!"

 

You smiled hesitantly. Sure. This would be fun. For your mom. For you?

 

This would be a challenge.

 

But it's not as if it was going to mentally scar you for life. Physically? Maybe. But not mentally.

 


You're mentally scarred for life.

 

And you hadn't even started training with your mom yet.

 

No. You were at work. And you were scarred for life.

 

All thanks to Radicles who had drawn faces on his triceps and was now making them talk to one another.

 

You and Enid looked at each other uncomfortable before returning your attention the bizarre boy.

 

"I'm just gonna come out and say it, no offense," he made one of his triceps say. "Oh, no. What is it?" The other said. "You're so beautiful."

 

You were so uncomfortable.

 

"No, you are! I hate it!"

 

You hate what's going on right now.

 

"Why can't you just accept that you're the beautiful one? Why does it always have to be me?"

 

You leaned over and whispered to Enid, "Where's the bleach? I need to clean my eyes."

 

She snorted quietly.

 

"Shut up! You're making me blush I'm so upset!" the right tricep said.

 

"Stop it! You're making me blush! I'm so upset!" the left tricep proclaimed.

 

"Oh my gosh. Just kiss-"

 

Thankfully that statement was interrupted by Mr. Gar bursting out from underneath one of the floor's tile.

 

"Rad, you slacker!"

 

Rad flinched away, attention diverted to Mr. Gar.

 

"Unpack... That box!"

 

Somehow, a box being suspended by one of Mr. Gar's feet appeared from several tiles away. Rad lunged for it.

 

"Hooah!"

 

Rad unpacked it and out from in came Mr. Gar dressed as an old lady.

 

"...what," you whispered to yourself.

 

Then Mr. Gar threw several cans at you and Enid, the purple haired girl quickly scanning them and you catching them in a bag.

 

Mr. Gar slammed his hands down on the counter.

 

"Can I pay with a check? I also have a coupon," he presented both items. "Hurry! I've got to go home and feed my cat! Don't disappoint me."

 

Almost as if some magic words had been said, Enid sprung into action and scanned the check and coupon before kicked the bag to Mr. Gar.

 

"I need someone to help me into my car! K.O., chop, chop! Mittens can't wait all day. Don't disappoint me, now."

 

Again, like some magic phrase had been uttered, your brother sprung to attention.

 

"Yes, sir, Mr. Old Lady, sir!"

 

Mr. Gar pulled a walker out from who knows where and the two began their trek out the door. Mr. Gar wobbled a few times and almost fell over, but K.O. got him out the door.

 

Your brother reentered the store a few moments later.

 

"Phew!"

 

"How'd it go, K.O.?" you asked.

 

"Pretty alright, I think." He gave you a thumbs up.

 

And then Mr. Gar drove through the door, narrowly avoiding hitting K.O.

 

He lowered the window and blew a whistle.

 

"Great job with Operation Old Lady, folks."

 

"Oh, thank goodness," Rad and Enid said in unison.

 

An alarm began to blare and Mr. Gar glanced at his watch.

 

"Oh, that's my super top-secret mission alert. I'll leave you guys in charge of the store while I'm gone." The car swiveled around. "Don't go in my office!" The tires squealed momentarily for a speedy take off.

 

And then Mr. Gar poked his head out of the trunk.

 

"And don't disappoint me."

 

And then he took off for real this time.

 

You coughed as you fanned the smoke away from your face.

 

"We should definitely not go into Mr. Gar's office," your brother stated.

 

"After that whole spiel?" Enid stated.

 

"Mnh-mnh," you hummed.

 

It got real quiet for a minute. Uh-oh.

 

"Wonder what's in his office," Rad made his tricep say.

 

God, why wouldn't he stop with that?!

 

"It probably got, you know..." Enid mumbled. "Stuff... in it. Mm."

 

Please no one suggest going in there.

 

"Maybe," Oh no K.O., Honey, what is you doing?! "Mr. Gar actually wants us to go in his office for training purposes. I mean, we could do our job better if we knew more about him." Sound reasoning there, but still no. "We could even make him proud!"

 

Oh sweet Lord, he's making the face. Why must he make the face?!

 

"Yeah," Rad started, thankfully not doing that weird voice anymore. "I mean, why else would he bring it up at all, right?"

 

"Well... Since he's out doing important stuff, a peek couldn't hurt."

 

Nooooooooooooo. Enid. She was your last hope.

 

"Ooooooooooorrrrrr... Mr. Gar said to not go into his office because he didn't want us going through his things," you offered.

 

The three of them just stared at you. You sighed.

 

"You three are just gonna do it anyway, aren't you?"

 

Small grins appeared on their faces.

 

...damn it.

 

So here the four of you stood. Outside of Mr. Gar's office.

 

Rad opened it slightly and peered inside.

 

"What?" he asked, opening the door all the way to reveal a completely normal looking office. "Is this it?"

 

Some tiles slid back once Rad stepped inside and he fell down a long chute.

 

"Aah!"

 

You, Enid, and K.O. glanced at each other before taking the plunge.

 

'We're all going to regret this,' you thought to yourself.

 

After using Rad as a landing pad, you took in your surroundings.

 

Some bookshelves and an entire section of the room filled with monitors that showed camera feed from all over the plaza.

 

"Whoa," K.O. and Enid said in awe.

 

"Dang! No wonder he knows everything that goes on," Rad said, clearly impressed, as he got up from the floor.

 

"This is actually pretty creepy," you added.

 

K.O. gasped and headed over for a closer look at what was on the desk.

 

"Wow! Look! There's a photo of Mr. Gar with the President of the Universe!"

 

"Huh. Y'know that's actually really neat."

 

"Yeah," Rad agreed with you. "I hear the Prez is always, like, crazy busy! To think he took the time to take a photo with Mr. Gar..."

 

You inspected the picture closer.

 

"...Mr. Gar looks weird without his tie."

 

Indeed, the mustachioed man was missing his pink tie.

 

"Wow! There he is fighting Lord Boxman!"

 

Again, no tie.

 

"Whoa! Wait!"

 

Uh... What?

 

The four of you gathered around the last photograph on the desk.

 

"Whoa," Enid said, sounding super impressed. "Who's the babe?"

 

You turned to Enid, eyes squinted a bit.

 

"Uh. That's K.O. and I's mom. Please never refer to her as a 'babe' again, it sounds weird."

 

Enid blushed and looked away while laughing nervously. Rad snickered at Enid's obvious embarrassment.

 

K.O. took the photo from the desk.

 

"Why does Mr. Gar have a picture of our mom in his office?" K.O. asked you.

 

"I have absolutely no clue baby brother. But I think I've seen this photo somewhere before. Hmm... Maybe in one of the albums at home. This one's from her Silver Spark days."

 

"Yeah," Enid chimed in. "That's pretty weird for Mr. Gar to have something like this, honestly."

 

K.O. looked at the photo and back to you.

 

"You really look like her."

 

"Ahahaha... No... No, I don't."

 

Despite you saying otherwise, people always said that you looked like a younger, brunette version of your mom.

 

You had no clue what they were talking about. Young or older than she was in the photo, your mom was a beauty.

 

You? You considered yourself to be pretty average looking.

 

...people always gave you weird looks whenever you'd say that.

 

"Well, that still doesn't answer the question of why Mr. Gar has this photo of Mom."

 

"Maybe he just has an appreciation for vintage beauty," Rad offered up.

 

You snapped your head towards him.

 

"I will thank you to never refer to my mother as 'vintage' ever again. Vintage means old. Are you saying my mom looks old, Rad?"

 

Rad paled and began to slightly sweat nervously.

 

"N-no! Th-that's not what I meant at all!"

 

"Then what did you mean?"

 

"Yeah, Rad," Enid snickered, enjoying seeing Rad flounder. "What did you mean?"

 

"I- I, Uh-"

 

"Whoops, forgot my car keys."

 

The four of you whipped your faces to the monitor. There stood Mr. Gar in the store's entrance.

 

"That's a lie! You left in your car!" you exclaimed.

 

K.O. gasped in shock.

 

"It's Mr. Gar!" Enid said fearfully.

 

"We're goners!" Rad added, not helping at all.

 

K.O. began stammering incoherently. His hands had been sweating so much from nerves that the photo slipped right out of his grip.

 

Enid flailed as she attempted to catch it, but it flew out of her hands and over your head.

 

"I'll catch it with my freeze finger!"

 

Rad destroyed the photograph.

 

You gave him a look.

 

"Aw, dang. My bad," Rad stated as he looked at his fingers. You glanced at them, too.

 

Okay. You don't mind all that much that Rad hadn't used his freeze finger. Also, gross, Rad. Use a tissue for boogers.

 

"Rad, you clown!" Enid admonished. "Now he's seriously gonna be disappointed!"

 

"Hey! Don't go accusing me! We all committed this trespassing crime together."

 

"Uuuuuuuuuuuuugh... True."

 

"Oh, geez. What do we do? What do we do? What do we do?" they both rambled.

 

You sighed. You knew you'd all regret coming down here.

 

"Hmm. We do the right thing and admit our mistake to Mr. Gar," K.O. proclaimed.

 

"Uh..." Enid didn't sound on board with that idea. "How about something a little less up-front? I mean, just imagine how Gar would react if we actually did that.

 

Okay.

 


Mr. Gar sat down in across from you at the desk in the office above the secret one.

 

"So, even after I explicitly told you not to go into my office, you did so anyway?"

 

You nodded.

 

"Yes, sir. I did. I apologize for my actions. I was clearly not thinking about the consequences."

 

He sighed.

 

"(Y/N), you're a stand-up young woman, just like your mother. But I'm afraid I can't allow an employee who can't follow simple instructions to continue working at the bodega. You're fired."

 

"I understand completely. I'm sorry to have disappointed you, sir."

 

"I am, too."

 

You shook Mr. Gar's hand and left the bodega. You decided to wait in the dojo for your mom's class to end.

 


...you'd be fine with that.

 

Unfortunately, it seems as though your three partners in crime had had worse fantasies.

 

"O-On second thought," K.O. began. "Why don't you two distract Mr. Gar while (Y/N) and I try to get our mom to recreate this photo?"

 

Rad and Enid glanced at each other before nodding in agreement.

 

Rad got on all fours just below an air vent and Enid scooped your brother up before throwing him in there.

 

"I'll skip the throwing, thanks."

 

You stepped onto Rad's back and hoisted yourself through the vent.

 

As you and K.O. crawled through the vents, you couldn't help but wonder why Mr. Gar had a photo of your mom in his office. Especially one from her days as Silver Spark.

 

It was possible that he might've known her from back then. He could've been a member of her team at P.O.I.N.T. for all you knew.

 

Mom never really talked about her days at P.O.I.N.T. for long for some reason.

 

The two of you finally came across the vent that led into your mom's dojo.

 

"Mom!" K.O. shouted. The grate fell and you and K.O. popped out of the vent. "Mom, we need you to become young and hot again!"

 

Oh, your little brother would have quite a way with words when he got older, you could just tell.

 

Your mom blushed and chuckled nervously.

 

"Let's go ahead and take five, girls."

 

Gladys, Gertie, and Ginger all stated that it was about time for the lesson to wrap up anyways, so they packed their stuff up and headed out.

 

"All right, what's going on you two?"

 

You sighed.

 

"Long story short, we need you to put on your old Silver Spark outfit and take a picture for our boss. It's not what it sounds like, I swear!" you attempted to explain.

 

"Hmm. Let's try long story medium, alright?"

 

K.O. inhaled and blew a raspberry.

 

"Enid, Rad, (Y/N), and I snuck into Mr. Gar's office while he was out to learn more about him, but he came back and we freaked out and accidentally destroyed an old photo he had of you. And we need to replace it before he sees it's gone, or he'll be really, really disappointed, and the world will explode! Help us, please!"

 

"Gar still has photos from back then?"

 

Oh, so you were right. They did know each other from back in the day.

 

"Were you guys friend or something?"

 

"...we used to know each other..."

 

Your mom got that faraway look in her eyes. The kind that she got when she was thinking about parts of her past that she never wanted to talk about.

 

"...It's grown-up stuff, K.O. I'll explain it when you're older."

 

"Ugh! That just gives me further questions!"

 

"But, unfortunately, we need to fix the mess we made now. Can you help us, Mom?"

 

"Sure thing, Pumpkin."

 

"We'll have to hurry though. I'm not sure how long Enid and Rad will be able to keep Mr. Gar distracted like K.O. asked."

 

Your mom went to the office of the dojo and brought a box labeled secrets back out. She began to rifle through it, tossing objects out as she went along.

 

"Mm... Ha! Here it is," she exclaimed while pulling out her old leotard. "But I don't think it's gonna fit, you two." She held the leotard against her body and grimaced. "Bleh!"

 

"But we gotta get that pic!" your brother exclaimed.

 

"Hmm..." your mom held the leotard out and considered it for a moment before gaze flicked to you. Then back to the leotard.

 

Oh no.

 

"Mama's got an idea." She jerked her head towards you and shook the leotard a bit. K.O. picked up what she was putting down and his face split into a huge grin.

 

"That's perfect!"

 

"No! No it is not perfect! It is embarrassing and I really don't want anyone to see me dressed like that ever!"

 

K.O. gave you 'the eyes.' And so did your mom.

 

God damn it.

 

"...we will never speak of this ever."

 

Your mom beamed and pulled out the rest of the outfit.

 

"You can go change in my office, Pumpkin!"

 

Ugh. The things you do for your family because you love them so much!

 

"Goodbye dignity," you lamented as you shut the door.

 

You began to strip your clothes off until you were down to your underwear. There was a mirror hanging over an end table in your mom's office and you just so happened to get a glimpse of yourself in it.

 

"Bluh."

 

You put the leotard on first, because it would be stupid to do anything else first. Then the knee guards and boots. And then the wristbands.

 

Welp. There you were. Dressed like Silver Spark.

 

Okay. You could kind of see why people said you looked like your mom. Your figure was a little bit similar to how hers used to be back before she had you and K.O.

 

You opened the door.

 

"I feel ashamed! So let's get this over with!"

 

Your mom gasped and clasped her hands excitedly.

 

"Oh, Honey! Look at you!"

 

"I did, was not a fan. Let's just take the picture."

 

Your mom grabbed a camera from out of the chest and began directing you.

 

"Okay, you'll want to pose like this," she said as she demonstrated. "Okay, (Y/N), just scootch over just a bit. Little more, Pumpkin."

 

"I seriously think that Mr. Gar is gonna notice the difference."

 

"Nonsense! You're as cute as I ever was! Now pose like I showed you." You flexed your muscles and put on a confident smile. "Attagirl!" The picture developed and your mom looked at it lovingly. "What a beautiful girl!"

 

K.O. snatched the photo out from your Mom's hand and you rushed into her office to change.

 

"Okay, thanks, Mom! We love you! Bye!"

 

You two hopped back into the vents and began crawling really fast.

 

The two of you managed to find your way back to the bodega, but unfortunately it was not back in the office.

 

"Hmm?"

 

You and K.O. ducked behind some helves, but Mr. Gar was approaching fast. You climbed on top of the shelf you were hiding behind, just as Mr. Gar was poking his head around the corner.

 

"Smells like guilt. And embarrassment. And corn chips."

 

The two of you managed to avoid Mr. Gar at every twist and turn there was on the way to his office.

 

"We made it! The day is saved, and Gar is none the wiser. Yeah!!!"

 

Mr. Gar turned his head so fast you heard the wind swish.

 

You and K.O. looked at him nervously before darting into his office.

 

"K.O.! (Y/N)!"

 

You and K.O. placed the photo on the desk and Enid got through the air vent and leaned against the desk in a clearly fake casual way. Rad fell out of the vent just as Gar had entered the office.

 

"Huh?" He noticed the photo and how it was most certainly not your mom. "What is going on here?!"

 

"It was Rad! He was the first to mention it!" Enid exclaimed, throwing Rad underneath the bus.

 

"She said we should come down here!"

 

"I was like 'Whoa, I would never think of coming down here in a million years.' But Rad was all like-"

 

Their voices faded to white noise. You honestly didn't care at this point.

 

"Stop," your brother broke your concentration. "We did it, sir. We went into your office and accidentally destroyed the photo. Please don't be disappointed in us, sir."

 

"K.O. I wouldn't be disappointed if you had listened in the first place. But I am very disappointed!"

 

Rad, Enid, and K.O. all recoiled as if they'd taken a punch to the gut.

 

You took a step back, not wanting to be the first in Gar's wrath's path.

 

"How could you?!"

 

"Hey, K.O., (Y/N), I found another copy of that photo. I thought I'd bring it over. Oh."

 

"Hi, Mom," you greeted.

 

"Uh, C-Carol," Mr. Gar stated before he began stammering embarrassedly.

 

"Uh, right. Well, here you go," she offered the photo.

 

Mr. Gar hesitated to take it.

 

"Uh, yeah."

 

"All right, well, bye. I'll see you in the car later, K.O., (Y/N)."

 

Your mom left and there were a few moments of tense silence before Mr. Gar broke it.

 

"We are never, ever speaking of this again. Agreed?" You all nodded the affirmative. "Good. Now get back to work."

 

Enid breathed a sigh of relief as she exited the chute. You and K.O. did so as well. Enid tugged Rad out of the chute and all four of you panted from having to climb all the way back up.

 

"So. We are never doing that again," Enid stated.

 

"Never," your brother agreed.

 

"I didn't want to do it in the first place," you added.

 

The four of you decided that you would put off going back to work for just a little longer. Enid propped herself on the stool that was behind the counter while you sat on top of said counter. K.O. just sat down in the floor while Rad leaned against the counter, looking smug.

 

"What are you smiling about?" Enid questioned.

 

"Well," Rad drawled. "While Gar was distracted, I managed to swipe the photo of K.O. off the desk."

 

He what.

 

"Why?"

 

"Oh, come on! Don't you want to see what he looked like dressed up like his mom?"

 

"Actually, the photo's of-"

 

"Yeah, actually. It's probably super cute. C'mon, show me."

 

"Okay. Prepare your eyeballs for the image of K.O. dressed as-"

 

Enid and Rad's eyes went from relaxed looking to hyperaware and intently focused on the image in the photo.

 

Their heads went from the photo to you. Then back to the photo, then back to you. This repeated for several minutes.

 

Finally, you'd had enough.

 

"Okay, yeah! I'm the one who dressed up as our mom! I know it looks terrible! Give me that!"

 

You snatched the photo out of Rad's hand.

 

"I'm burning this when I get home. No one is allowed to see me like this ever again."

 

You headed to the back of the store and began to take inventory.

 

You were aware that you looked bad in the picture, but the least Rad and Enid could have done was not make it blatantly obvious that they thought the same!

 

"K.O.," Enid started. "Why does (Y/N) think she looks bad dressed up as your mom?"

 

"Oh," K.O. stated. "Well, to be honest, I'm not sure. My sister is as pretty as my mom, and that's really pretty! But she doesn't think so for some reason. People in our neighborhood always say how much she looks like Mom, but she always says she doesn't. I don't know why."

 

Enid stared at you as you darted from aisle to aisle.

 

You certainly didn't seem like the type that felt insecure about herself, but then she sure was one to talk.

 

There was more to you than meets the eye.

 

And Enid found that she wanted to know more.

 

Little did she know, a certain blue skinned alien felt the same.

Chapter Text

Thank the powers that be it was Friday!

 

After yesterday's 'photo fiasco,' you had done exactly what you'd said you'd do with the picture when you got home.

 

You burned it, much to the dismay of your mom and K.O. But, they understood that you had your reasons for not wanting to keep that picture around and respected your decision.

 

Currently, you were cleaning up the drink machine and giving Rad and Enid the cold shoulder for yesterday.

 

Hey, you knew you were no looker, but the least they could have done was said something instead of staring at you in what you were sure was shocked horror.

 

Hmph!

 

Of course, you occasionally checked on your three coworkers throughout the day. This time, they were getting ready to do some sort of 'impromptu hoedown.'

 

"Whoooooooooooooh! Hoedown!" Radicles yelled excitedly.

 

He began to slap and clap rhythmically for a moment before switching his 'instrument' of choice.

 

"Bongos," was all he said before he began to pat his behind. "Washboard abs." Rad pulled a spoon out from somewhere and began to scrape it along his abdominal muscles.

 

Huh, if you listened closely, it was making a scraping noise.

 

"Alright, Enid. Top that!"

 

Enid rolled her eyes. "Whatever. Check this out."

 

She made the 'o' shape with her mouth and started flicked her fingers against her cheeks, making a sort of popping noise. She then grasped her lips between her fingers and began making a sort of harmonica noise.

 

"Go, K.O.!" Enid encouraged.

 

"Oh! Uh..."

 

Your precious brother, unsure of what he should do, just started clapping his hands together randomly.

 

"Ha ha ha! Yeah! That was our greatest impromptu hoedown yet!"

 

It was also the only one they'd had yet, but you wouldn't dampen his spirit.

 

"Yeah..." Rad and Enid agreed not at all enthusiastically.

 

You finished throwing away the used paper towels and went over to the trio, scooping K.O. up once you got there.

 

"You're absolutely right, K.O.! And just think, you'll only get even better from now on!"

 

"Yeah!"

 

Your baby brother giggled and hugged you happily. You glared slightly at Rad and Enid, your gaze practically daring them to say different. They flinched and looked away. They looked slightly ashamed, for whatever reason.

 

You felt no pity. You'd only known these two for four days now, you weren't suddenly all buddy-buddy with them after such a short amount of time. This wasn't some cartoon show!

 

K.O. seemed to make an instant friendship with them, though. But he was six and that's what six year olds do.

 

Out of the blue, an alarm began to blare and red lights began to flash in the bodega.

 

"It's Lord Boxman! Everyone to battle stations! This is not a drill! Go, go, go!" Enid instructed, inner berating done with for the moment.

 

K.O. leaped out of your arms and grabbed your hand, dragging you out the door with him.

 

"Cheese and crackers!"

 

What was that? His new catchphrase?

 

...you love him, but that needs some serious work.

 

Enid and Rad posed beside you and K.O., ready to take on the threat.

 

"I am Jethro."

 

You heard a voice, but couldn't see its owner. You looked all over the parking lot. And then you looked down.

 

"What."

 

"Aw man," Rad said, facepalming in disappointment. "It's just stinkin' Jethro."

 

"I have got to fix that alarm," Enid said exasperatedly as she went back inside the bodega.

 

You had to admit, this tiny little robot was actually kind of adorable.

 

He kind of reminded you of a Roomba for some reason.

 

"Wait," K.O. stated, clearly want some elaboration. "I don't understand. What's a stinkin' Jethro?"

 

Rad pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed in annoyance.

 

"A waste of time, that's what. All he does is move forward and that's it." Rad wiggled his fingers and made a slicing motion with his hands for emphasis.

 

"Wait, aren't we gonna thrash him?"

 

Rad stepped halfway through the door and paused.

 

"Eh, you go ahead. I got some work to not do," he said not really caring one way or the other.

 

"Wow, really?!" K.O. asked in disbelief. "All by myself?!"

 

The small blue bot was continuing to slowly inch forwards towards the bodega.

 

"Why not?" Rad shrugged. "Jethro's perfect for you. He's simple, and you're simple," he smugly said with an equally smug smirk.

 

You could feel your left eye twitch from behind your glasses as you tore your gaze away from Jethro and locked it onto Rad.

 

"And just what, exactly, is wrong with being simple, Radicles? Out of everyone here in the entirety of the plaza, I'm by far the most simple.  Are you suggesting that there's something about being simple that makes a person's value less?"

 

You narrowed your eyes slowly at him.

 

"Well?"

 

"Meep," Rad whimpered quietly as he fled back into the bodega.

 

You huffed air out through your nostrils, irritated.

 

"That's what I thought."

 

You refocused your attention onto your brother, who was talking out loud to himself. Again.

 

"My first solo mission! Another step on my heroic journey! I'll earn Rad and Enid's trust by destroying Boxman's powerful robot and make everyone proud!" His face got all serious for a moment. "Especially Mommy and (Y/N)."

 

That was so precious.

 

"Aww!" you cooed as you scooped K.O. up. "There's no need to try and make me or Mom proud of you, K.O.! We already are!"

 

You blew a raspberry on his cheek and he began giggling uncontrollably.

 

"Hee hee ha ha ha! Qu-Quit it!"

 

K.O. wiggled about in your grip until you finally set him down. He calmed himself before turning back to Jethro, resolve hardened.

 

"Alright, Jethro. You asked for it, and now you're  gonna get it."

 

"I am Jethro," was the blue bot's response.

 

'Can- Can he only say his name? Or is he saying other things but it's all coming out as 'I am Jethro'? ... What is this, Pokémon?' you thought quietly to yourself.

 

"Not for long!" K.O. stated as he raced towards his opponent.

 

What basically happened next was K.O. dropkicked Jethro into the air and proceeded to wail on him mercilessly until the robot fell to pieces.

 

"Ah ha ha ha!" your baby brother laughed triumphantly. "And so my journey continues."

 

As K.O. walked back toward the door to the bodega, you heard a noise that sounded kind of like tank tires almost.

 

You turned around.

 

"Uh, K.O.? I don't think you're done here."

 

"Huh?" he inquired turning to face you. "What do you mean by- Oh."

 

Five Jethro's were now coming towards the bodega at a slightly faster pace than the previous one had been.

 

"Brought your friends this time, eh?"

 

"I am Jethro," they all said in unison.

 

"Wait, so you're  all Jethro?" Your brother was confused. "That doesn't make sense!"

 

Actually it did, but you weren't about to stop your brother from charging into an admittedly easy fight just to explain how that worked. You'd tell him later.

 

K.O. smashed through the five Jethro's in no time at all.

 

"Phew! I didn't realize becoming a hero meant sweating so much."

 

"It does," you called from where you were now sitting on the curb. "Remember, the path to becoming a hero is long and difficult! Sweating is just one of the many difficulties you'll have to deal with!"

 

"Yeah, you're right! Oh well. Jethro, and Jethro, and Jethro, and the other two Jethros are now gone. Forever."

 

"I am Jethro."

 

Oh this one was a good deal bigger than its predecessors had been.

 

It even crushed a car.

 

"My mom's car! Aah!"

 

Oh, well Brandon-as you knew him as thanks to the other day's hunt for Radicles- came from out of nowhere to assess the damage.

 

"It's totaled, man! She's gonna kill me!"

 

Eh. Probably not kill.

 

"I don't get it," you heard your brother mutter. "He just keeps coming."

 

K.O. momentarily got lost in thought before he made the motion of crumpling something up and tossing it away.

 

"I'll show you simple, you meanie."

 

Ah. He was thinking about what Rad had said earlier.

 

"I am Jethro."

 

Your brother sighed your signature sigh.

 

"Not for long."

 

K.O. went sailing through the air, leg outstretched to kick Jethro in the face.

 

And then he skidded to a halt.

 

Why did everyone have to break the laws of physics?

 

"I just can't do it!"

 

"I am Jethro."

 

Your brother seemed to be having a personal crisis.

 

"Do you know what my friend Rad says about us? That we're simple. My sister, the girl sitting over there, even says that she's the simplest person in the entire plaza!"

 

Well. You kind of are. Everyone else here in Lakewood Plaza Turbo had all these admittedly cool powers or abilities that you lacked. Your mom could imitate any fighting move she's ever seen perfectly, your brother was unusually strong for a six year old and had a flaming fist attack! Though it never wanted to work when he wanted it to more often than not. Everyone here could do something because they were gifted.

 

But not you.

 

You're simple.

 

"I am Jethro."

 

"Is that how Lord Boxman treats you? Like you're some dumb kid? Like you're not worth anything?"

 

Wait. What? K.O. was definitely worth something! Sure, Rad was a bit insensitive with his 'simple' comment, but you're sure he didn't mean that- Wait. No. You accused him of believing that when someone was simple it lowered their personal value.

 

You'd have to explain to K.O. that you were just spitting smoke and didn't actually think that. You were just still pretty upset about the photo incident when you said that.

 

You're still upset about that but that's not the point!

 

"Do people underestimate you, too?"

 

"I am Jethro."

 

"Well, I am K.O. And maybe Rad was right. You and I are a lot alike. So I don't think I can clobber you."

 

Jethro finally made contact with K.O.'s foot and fell to pieces.

 

"...poop," was your brother's response.

 

You stood up from where you were sitting down and went back into the bodega. You had to find Radicles and get this whole 'simple' thing sorted out.

 

It took you a little bit, but you'd finally found him in the soft drink section.

 

He was making two soda cans fight each other all while making explosion noises with his mouth.

 

"Aah!" he softly screamed as he made one of he cans lose. He picked up another can. "Now kiss," he whispered as he moved the two cans closer together.

 

"What are you doing?"

 

"Aah!" Rad shouted for real as he bumped his head on the shelf.

 

He groaned in pain and rubbed his cranium as he moved from out of the shelves.

 

"Hey, what's the big idea? Sneaking up on a guy like tha-"

 

He had begun to turn around and reprimand you for startling him, but clammed up and paled slightly when he saw it was you.

 

"Oh! Uh! It's you! I wasn't- It's not- I-" he was struggling for words. Finally, he sighed. "H-How much of that did you see?"

 

"Juts the part where you were making those two can fight, made one of them lose, picked up another can and almost made those two cans kiss."

 

Radicles could feel his face heat up slightly, no doubt a nice and noticeable shade of pink.

 

He refused to meet your eyes anymore and turned back to the shelves.

 

"...look, I know you're mad at me and Enid for some reason, but please don't tell anyone that you saw that. Please."

 

...seriously? Was he seriously pulling the 'I don't know what I did wrong' card?

 

"Do you honestly expect me to believe you have no clue as to why I'm upset with you and Enid?"

 

You saw Rad's antennas jolt up in surprise before lowering quickly again.

 

"What's that supposed to mean?"

 

You scoffed.

 

"Oh. I think you're well aware of what it means. Anyway, K.O. finished up with Jethro, he's probably going to come and get upset with you for that 'simple' comment you made earlier. And rightfully so."

 

With that, you made your way to the front of the store.

 

Enid was there at the checkout counter, as always. She was listening to her music but stopped when she saw you approach.

 

"Oh! Uh, h-hey! You! A-All done outside?"

 

She was giving you this big, nervous, and guilty looking grin.

 

You gave her a blank stare. She wanted something, you could just tell.

 

"...what is it that you want?"

 

You seemed to have thrown her for a loop. The grin dropped momentarily and was replaced with brief shock before returning full force.

 

"Wh-What? What makes you think that I- I don't want anything from- I- I- I- Ugh. There's no getting out of this, is there?"

 

"No."

 

Enid sighed and lowered her head down onto the counter briefly before looking up at you again.

 

"Okay. Look. I know that Rad and I have only known you and your brother a couple of days, but we both think that the two of you are pretty cool. There's K.O. who's always in a good mood and wanting to help everyone out. That's a real admirable trait to have. And then there's you. You're always there supporting your brother. You're clearly a girl who loves her family. But beyond that, Rad and I have no clue as to who you are as a person. You're a mystery."

 

You were honestly a little flattered with her assessment, but you were still upset with her.

 

"Is that all or was there a point to all this talk?"

 

Enid sighed again.

 

"Okay, I'll get to the point. Rad and I really want to be friends with you and K.O. K.O. already calls us his friends and is all buddy-buddy with us. We'd like to be like that with you, too. But, you're mad at us for some reason. We wanna know why so we can clear up any confusion and apologize for whatever it was that we did."

 

You were getting very irritated.

 

"Ha. Ha. Radicles pretended not to know what it was that made me upset with the two of you, too. It's so funny to see that the two of you are in on the joke. Ha. Ha."

 

"Joke? We're not joking we seriously want to-"

 

Suddenly, and violently, the ground began to shake.

 

You heard people outside screaming, so you, K.O., Rad, and Enid all rushed out to see what was going on.

 

"Oh my God," you mumbled.

 

"I am Mega-Jethro."

 

And indeed he was.

 

Enid slumped over, clearly not impressed.

 

"Bye," she said as she headed back inside.

 

"See, I told you!" K.O. berated Rad. "Jethro's a way more complicated enemy than you thought."

 

"Pfft," Rad sputtered. "Child's play. It's Jethro. He's still simple, and you're still simple."

 

You're gonna hurt Radicles. You're gonna hurt him badly.

 

"In fact, I'm so sure of it, I'll tag along with you, 'cause the only thing I love more than being proved right is proving other people wrong."

 

"I am Mega-Jethro."

 

And you are out of here.

 

"K.O., you've got this. I'm going to go and do... Stuff. Away from here."

 

"Okay. Bye, (Y/N)!"

 

You headed off into the woods. You didn't feel like having to deal with anyone else today.

 

Especially not Rad or Enid.

 

The forest was quiet, peaceful. Everything that you wanted your life to always be.

 

You eventually found yourself in a large clearing. The ground was slightly indented and there were tire tracks all over the place.

 

"Huh. Guess I found the 'Crater,'" you said to yourself.

 

There were a lot of rocks surrounding the area, no doubt they were as high as they were thanks to whatever it was that made this crater.

 

There was a small path off to the side that led to a small pond.

 

You...

 

You recognized this place.

 

Sure, it's been a few years since you'd been here, but you definitely knew this place!

 

This was where your mom used to come and meditate before she was presented with the opportunity to run the dojo.

 

Huh. Time sure does fly.

 

You continued your trek through the woods. You knew that there were several dead ends to these woods due to various complaints about them you'd heard your mom and others make.

 

There were a lot of odd rock formations, you could have sworn one looked like a giant woman but you weren't about to take a closer look to find out. Knowing how the world works, it probably was a giant rock woman that wouldn't have responded to kindly to being disturbed.

 

Speaking of disturbed, there was a slim chance of that happening to you here.

 

You sat on an old tree stump and let your mind wander.

 

A hazardous pastime of yours to be sure.

 


Meanwhile, back at the plaza.

 

Rad and K.O. were looking on as Mega-Jethro backed up into Boxman's factory and exploded.

 

"Too easy," Rad said confidently.

 

K.O. sighed dejectedly, wishing that his sister hadn't gone off who-knows-where.

 

"...you were right, Rad."

 

"Huh?"

 

"I thought Jethro had more to him hidden away, but he really doesn't have anything going on inside. Kind of like me."

 

K.O. stared down at his feet. If his sister were here, she'd know exactly what to do to cheer him up.

 

But she wasn't here right now.

 

Rad placed a hand on K.O.'s shoulder.

 

"Man, I was messing with you earlier. Which probably was not the smartest thing to do in front of your sister. You've actually got a lot to offer."

 

"Really?" K.O. asked, starry-eyed.

 

"Dude, Jethro's a dumb robot made of fake stuff, like gears. And you're a dumb not-robot made of, like, a million guts. That's a pretty okay number of guts."

 

"Gee, thanks, Rad. That's the nicest thing I've heard you say."

 

Rad blushed slightly.

 

"Pfft, what? Me, nice? You must be hearing things."

 

K.O. merely smiled and headed back towards the bodega with Rad.

 

The big, blue alien acted a lot like his sister did sometimes whenever she'd get complimented.

 

"Yo. You guys done out there?" Enid asked as soon as they walked through the door.

 

"Yeah. Squirt and I here finished Jethro off no problem."

 

"Cool. Hey. Where's (Y/N)?"

 

"Oh, my sister went off somewhere. She said I could handle Mega-Jethro just fine without her."

 

Enid looked at K.O. studiously for a moment.

 

"Hey, K.O.?"

 

"Yeah?"

 

"Do you have any idea why your sister's so mad at me and Rad?"

 

"Huh?"

 

You were mad at Rad and Enid? Why? And how? It must've been a fairly recent thing. Let's see... They couldn't have done anything to upset you today, what happened yesterday?

 

Oh.

 

"I, uh, think she might be upset about the whole picture thing from yesterday."

 

"What?" Enid stated, confused.

 

"Uh, yeah. What? Why would she be mad at us about that?! We didn't mean to destroy the original picture! And it's not like we made her dress up for the replacement or anything!" Rad exclaimed, upset at the idea that that was why you were mad at him and Enid.

 

"No, no, no! It's not that she's upset you destroyed the photo! She was a little annoyed at having to pose for the decoy we used, but that isn't why either!"

 

"Then why is she so upset with us?" Enid demanded.

 

K.O. grew very nervous. He had just dug himself into a hole that he could climb out of without revealing some details about you.

 

He hoped you'd forgive him.

 

"(Y/N)... Doesn't think she's pretty. She's always disagreeing with people that say she is or say that she looks like Mom. I don't know why she says she isn't pretty! My mom and my sister are the two most beautiful ladies in the whole wide world! But, she does think that way. She always says that she doesn't care if people say she isn't pretty because she already knows she isn't, but I think it does bother her. And yesterday, when you were looking back and forth between her and the picture, she might've thought that the two of you thought that she didn't look nice in it."

 

Rad and Enid stood in stunned silence. 

 

So that was it. That was why you were angry with them.

 

You took their silence and disbelieving looks at your photo as repulsion.

 

Enid held her head in her hands.

 

"Gah! We're so dumb! Anyone would probably get angry at someone for doing what we did yesterday! We gotta go find (Y/N) and apologize."

 

K.O. took in a sharp breath.

 

"Thaaaaaaaaaaat might be hard to do. If my sister doesn't want to be found, she won't be found."

 

And indeed you weren't.

 

You avoided detection until it was time to go home, where K.O., Rad, and Enid found you in the passenger's side of your mom's car that was sitting in front of the bodega, waiting on your brother.

 

Thank the powers that be it was Friday.

 

Because you didn't want to deal with anything but your training tomorrow.

Chapter Text

The thing about going to bed mad is that you don't get a good night's sleep.

 

And that's just what happened to you.

 

Your eyes snapped open at the sound of your alarm clock blaring noisily in your ear. You groaned as you shut the clock off and dragged yourself out of bed.

 

Not a good way to wake up on your first day of training. But since you'd be starting with the basics, it most likely wouldn't be too strenuous of a day.

 

At least you hoped it wouldn't.

 

Arriving down into the kitchen your groggy self was greeted with a surprise.

 

"Morning, Pumpkin!" your mom greeted while holding what appeared to be a glass of sludge under your nose.

 

Blinking sleepily, you stared blankly at her before responding eloquently.

 

"What are you holding in front of me and are you expecting me to ingest it?"

 

Your mom threw her head back in a hearty laugh.

 

"It's a protein shake, Sweetie! And yes. I do want you to drink it."

 

You scrunched up your nose a bit.

 

"What's in it?"

 

"Oh, don't make that face! It's protein powder mixed with water! Nothing crazy like raw eggs or anything. C'mon, I drink this everyday and look at me!"

 

Well. You supposed you'd have to get used to these drinks from now on.

 

You took the glass from her.

 

"Bottoms up."

 

It tasted... Not as disgusting as it looked, but it by no means tasted delicious to you.

 

You made sure to drink it all in one go, not taking the glass away from your mouth for fear of losing your nerve. You finished the shake and took a deep breath.

 

"...gross."

 

Your mom took the glass from you and patted you on the shoulder.

 

"Yeah. I thought so too when I started drinking these. Don't worry, you get used to the taste after a while."

 

She put the glass in the dish washer before returning with a fork, a plate of eggs, some toast, and a glass of water.

 

"Now, you won't get strong by just drinking protein shakes. It's all about how you train and what you eat! And you'll need to stay hydrated, so water is a must. Now eat up! We got a big day ahead of us!"

 

You took your breakfast with a 'thank you' and began eating. Like she said, you had a big day ahead of you, might as well get it started.

 


After breakfast, you went upstairs and showered quickly before changing into a comfortable T-shirt and some sweatpants. Mom said that you wanted to be dressed comfortably for this.

 

When you got back downstairs your mom was in the living room setting up the yoga mats.

 

"Okay, Kiddo, we'll start with some basic meditation. It's important to be able to control your breathing in a fight. You wouldn't want to be neck and neck with someone only to get winded because you weren't breathing properly."

 

You nodded and sat down cross-legged next to your mom.

 

"Okay. Sit up straight. You want to get as much air as you can and you can't do that if you're crushing your diaphragm."

 

You nodded and sat up very straight. You supposed you'd have to practice this even when you weren't training in order to get used to it. No more slouching when you stood or sat.

 

Your mom placed her hands on her knees and you mimicked her.

 

"Now I want you to close your eyes and empty your mind. Don't think of anything. Just focus on inhaling and exhaling."

 

"Right."

 

You closed your eyes and began breathing in and out deeply. Just focus on getting as much air in your lungs as you can and then getting it all out.

 

In this moment, nothing else matter. Only deep breathing.

 

You're not sure just how long you sat there with your mom, doing nothing but breathing exercises. Eventually, she snapped you out of your self-induced trance.

 

"Okay, that's enough breathing for now."

 

"Alright, then. What's next?"

 

"Fighting stances. I won't have you punching boards just yet. Stand up."

 

You did, and you made sure your spine was straight.

 

"Okay. We'll start with Tai Chi. While it in itself is not a fighting technique, it can be used as one once you speed up the forms."

 

"So it's like a really slowed down fighting form?"

 

"Eh. Basically."

 

And so your mom began to teach you the movements to the Tai Chi form: the Yang. The actual execution of the form took you about five minutes.

 

"This is just one variation of the Yang. There are over twenty. At least that I know of," your mom explained as you went through the motions.

 

"Really? Huh. That's a lot for just one form."

 

"Well, everybody has there own way of doing things. In Tai Chi, there are many ways to achieve the same form. Kind of like how every individual can do the same thing but still do it different."

 

Just as your arms were beginning to ache from all this exercise that they weren't used to your mom had you stop.

 

"That's enough for today. Huh, would you look at that. We've been at this for four hours."

 

Really, that long? Huh, not bad for your first day. But then again, you weren't doing anything too strenuous.

 

But that didn't mean you hadn't been sweating. You felt gross and took another shower.

 

It was twelve thirty and you hadn't seen a trace of your brother yet. You went to his bedroom door and opened it quietly.

 

Yep.

 

Still asleep.

 

"Poor thing. Must be burnt out from all the excitement this week," you cooed.

 

You tiptoed silently to K.O.'s bed and picked him up gently.

 

"K.O. I know you might not want to get up, but it's half past noon, Buddy. You need to eat something."

 

"Mrrrr..." K.O. grumbled, snuggling deeper in your arms.

 

You chuckled. He was so precious.

 

You grabbed K.O.'s signature headband on your way out of his room, his hair was everywhere without it.

 

You set your baby brother down in a chair at the table and put his headband in front of his. He yawned and rubbed his eyes.

 

"Morning," K.O. mumbled. 

 

You ruffled his hair affectionately.

 

"Actually, it's afternoon. Sleepy K.O.?"

 

He smiled warmly at you as he placed his headband on.

 

"A little. We've had such a busy week after all! Oh! Did you do your training with Mommy yet?"

 

"Yeah. Just finished it about ten minutes ago. Did the basic breathing exercises along with a little Tai Chi. Nothing big just yet."

 

"What'll you do tomorrow?"

 

"Probably the same as today, or something a little different. I'll also be stopping by the high school to drop off this week's homework and get next week's."

 

K.O. made a 'bleh' face as soon as you said homework.

 

"I know, I know. It's the weekend, I shouldn't be thinking about homework."

 

Well it wasn't as if there was a lot for you to do. Sure, you worked at the plaza and were doing a bit of training so you could defend yourself while working at the plaza, but other than that you had nothing else going on in your life.

 

'Homeschooled' was not the correct term for what it is that you're doing, but it's the only one that comes close.

 

You hadn't been inside of a classroom for actual classes in six years. You did what you'd be doing tomorrow. You'd go into the building while school wasn't in session, drop off the homework that had been assigned that week and get the next week's.

 

Now, most kids who were 'homeschooled' would be taught by their parents. But not you. Your mom was busy and even if she wasn't you didn't require her to teach you.

 

You may not have any powers but you were crazy smart. Like, mad genius kind of smart.

 

You more often then not just finished the homework you just picked up in the car and then proceeded to do nothing at all he rest of the week. Well, that's how it used to be. Now you'd just be focusing on your job for the rest of the week.

 

Your mom understood why you refused to physically attend school anymore, but you knew that she wished you'd go back. If not for the learning experience then to try and make friends, even though you both are well aware that you're terrible at that.

 

Just look at how this week went down.

 

Your mom may have understood, but K.O. sure didn't. He didn't have any friends his age, but that didn't stop him from trying to make some and enjoying the whole school experience.

 

Hey, more power to him if he enjoys it so much.

 

"I don't get why you don't wanna go to school. It's so much fun! There's always something to do and you learn something new everyday!"

 

"Well, school's not everybody's idea of a fun time, K.O. Some people, like me, are better off being 'homeschooled.'"

 

Notice the air quotes. Notice them. Because, again, what you're doing isn't technically homeschooling.

 

K.O.'s brow furrowed.

 

"I know. But you go to the same school as Rad and Enid! If you started going back, you'd get to spend the whole day with them!"

 

Your patient smile began to turn into a strained grimace.

 

"Yeah. I... Don't think that would be fun. For me."

 

"But why not?! Rad and Enid are our friends! Who wouldn't want to spend the whole day with their friends?"

 

You let out an uncomfortable chuckle.

 

"Eheh. Eheh heh heh. They're... Not my friends, K.O. They're yours. I'm just acquaintances with them and I'm not sure I even want to be that."

 

K.O. looked at you sadly.

 

Shit. You did not want to make your precious sibling start crying.

 

"...is it because of the whole photo thing? Is that why you're mad at Rad and Enid? I mean, that's what I told them, but..."

 

Ah. So they had resorted to getting your brother to give them answers.

 

"...yeah. That's why I'm mad."

 

K.O. wrapped his arms around your neck and rested his chin on your shoulder.

 

"...they didn't mean to upset you..."

 

You hugged K.O. back.

 

"...I know. But you know how I am. I'm... No good. At anything."

 

Especially this whole 'friendship' thing.

 

"...that's not true. You're great at a lot of things. ...the best."

 

You sighed.

 

What a way to start a Saturday, huh?

Chapter Text

You were right when you said that you and your mom would be doing more of the same exercises that you did yesterday. With a bit of a difference, of course. Doing the same thing over and over day after day won't yield any results after all.

 

Currently, you were laying down on your back, thinking about nothing and everything at the same time.

 

K.O. was laying on your stomach, watching some special about Chip Danger.

 

"Oh! Did you see that, (Y/N)?!?! Chip Danger has got to be one of the best super heroes to ever live!" K.O. gushed.

 

You smirked.

 

"He's not better than Mom~," you said in a singsongy voice.

 

K.O. laughed.

 

"Ha ha! Yeah. No one's better than Mommy."

 

The two of you continued to lay there for at least another twenty minutes before you thought to check the time.

 

"Hey, K.O.? What time is it?"

 

Your brother rolled off of your stomach and glanced at the clock by the television.

 

"It's one o'clock. Why?"

 

You pulled yourself into a sitting position, despite your body's request for you to not do that.

 

"I think it's about time I headed over to Lakewood High to take care of my homework."

 

K.O. made an over exaggerated noise of disdain before returning his attention to the television, which was now showing an hour long special of what makes a truly great hero.

 

Oh someone just gag you already.

 

You said your goodbyes to your mom and K.O., briefly double-checking with your mom to make sure she didn't need the car at the moment, and then you drove off towards the high school.

 

Even though you knew how to handle the car tank, that didn't mean you were very fond of it. It was just... Too much, in your opinion.

 

The nice thing about heading somewhere on the weekend was that there was hardly any traffic. You just cruised along, not having to worry about anybody whizzing by you at way over the designated speed limit, and no one honking at you for going the speed limit.

 

Heroes and villains alike both took the phrase 'living life in the fast lane' far too seriously. It was always about reaching the ultimate goal, and never about how you were reaching it. Villains took pride in the fact that they caused chaos and devastation whenever they decided to strike, but heroes rarely owned up to the fact that they also contributed to the damage.

 

...this driving metaphor is spiraling out of control.

 

Oh well, you were nearly at the school anyhow. No need to dwell on the personal crisis that is your thoughts. For now.

 

You're not surprised by the amount of cars that you see in the parking lot at the school on a Sunday anymore. You learned long ago that weekend detention pretty much had permanent attendees.

 

Their cars were always parked closest to the school, along with the unfortunate faculty members that got saddled with weekend detention duty.

 

You supposed it was so that as soon as detention was over with, the troublemakers could get to their vehicles quickly and leave.

 

You parked in your usual spot, shut the car off, stepped out, and considered the school for a moment.

 

Lakewood High was by no means a gargantuan school. Not like P.O.I.N.T. Prep. Now that school was huge. But neither was Lakewood High small.

 

Ahem.

 

Walking through the front doors, your greeted with the same sight as always.

 

"Good afternoon, Miss (Y/N)."

 

"Afternoon, Mrs. Johnson."

 

Mrs. Johnson was the receptionist up front that would sign late slips for students. You know this because she has a huge pile of blank slips on her desk.

 

"Dropping off last week's work?"

 

You handed her the papers, all labeled according to class and teacher.

 

"Yes ma'am. And I trust you have this week's homework ready for me?"

 

Mrs. Johnson's red painted lips stretched wide.

 

"Indeed I do! Here they are, along with the notes."

 

You took the from her appreciatively.

 

"Thank you, ma'am. Have a nice day."

 

"You, t- Oh! Wait a moment!"

 

Mrs. Johnson shot up from her seat and rushed into one of the rooms behind her.

 

"I know that you don't really participate in school wide events, but I thought that you should at least know about this one. I think you'd really enjoy it if you just gave it a shot."

 

She handed you a flyer.

 

'Lakewood High School's Theatre Club Presents:

 

Romeo and Juliet: The Tale of Forbidden Love

 

Directed by: Gabriel Stagehand (Theatre Teacher)

 

Interested in being a part of the play? Sign ups welcome!'

 

You blinked slowly at the paper in your hand before returning your gaze to Mrs. Johnson.

 

"So there's no cast yet."

 

She laughed nervously.

 

"Aha ha... No. I've passed the sign up sheet a few times, and there are some students who are interested, but with the way things are looking there will be quite a few students with multiple parts to play."

 

"Mr. Stagehand doesn't think these thing through too often, does he?"

 

"No. Honestly, it'd be better to announce they play after the roles have been cast and all the understudies have been taken care of. But Mr. Stagehand's always been a bit of an oddball."

 

"You don't say."

 

Mrs. Johnson chuckled and wished you a good day.

 

Normally, you arrived a lot earlier to take care of your homework, but since you've begun training you arrived later than usual. You can already see people getting into their cars and leaving.

 

'Okay, (Y/N). Just keep it together. Look, the car is right there. Just go towards it, and hopefully you won't have to talk to any-'

 

"(Y/N)?"

 

'Fuck fuckedy fuck fuck fuck.'

 

Just keep walking, just keep walking. Ignore the jerk, ignore him.

 

"Hey!"

 

Footsteps were rapidly approaching you from behind.

 

Come on, get your keys out. There you go, unlock the car. Hand on the handle.

 

Hand on your hand.

 

'WHY.'

 

You sighed, annoyed at the fact you were now engaging in social interaction with someone that you really did not want to see.

 

"Radicles," you hissed out, voice full of venom.

 

Rad pulled his hand back slightly as if he'd been burned.

 

"Oh, uh... Hey..."

 

He looked nervous.

 

'Good. I'm angry with him and Enid, he should be nervous to address me.'

 

"Wh-" he cleared his throat. "What are you doing here?"

 

You narrowed your eyes at him. Really. This was his idea of small talk.

 

"I'm picking up the homework for this week from the classes I have."

 

Rad's nervousness was briefly forgotten and replaced with genuine surprise.

 

"What! You go here! How come I've never seen you around before?"

 

You resisted the urge to roll your eyes, but God was it hard.

 

"I'm enrolled here, but I don't go here. I do my work at home and stay there. Or at least I used to. Now I do my work at home and work at the plaza."

 

Rad looked genuinely impressed by this.

 

"Whoa! You must be, like, crazy smart."

 

Is he trying to flatter you so you'd forgive him?

 

Probably.

 

"Look," you snapped. "I don't know why you feel the need to bother me, but stop. Your pathetic attempts at flattery to try and trick me so I stop being cross with you aren't going to work. Go away."

 

A flash of hurt ran across Rad's face for a moment, and you almost felt bad until you remembered that you were mad and didn't need to feel guilty.

 

"Trick you? No, no, no! That's not what I'm trying to do at all!"

 

You were growing more irritated by the second.

 

"Then what are you trying to accomplish here?"

 

"I'm trying- I wanna- Gah!" Rad tugged on his hair frustratedly. "I don't know how to say it so you don't think I'm just saying it but not meaning it!"

 

You shook your head in annoyance. If he couldn't say it, he was wasting your time.

 

Just as you were about to open the car door, your phone rang.

 

"Hello?"

 

"Hey, Pumpkin! Just calling to let you know I'm making a late lunch! You got your work?"

 

"Yes. I'm about to head home, nothing important is going on here."

 

"Hey!" Rad whined. "There is too something important going on!"

 

"Who's that?"

 

"Oh, that? That was just Radicles, my coworker. I think he had weekend detention and he's now pestering me."

 

"I am not!"

 

You mom chuckled.

 

"Sounds to me like he doesn't appreciate your view of things. Hey, why don't you invite him over for lunch? I'd love to get to know your new friend!"

 

"He's not my friend." You missed Rad flinching, hurt by that comment. "He's K.O.'s friend. And besides, I don't think he'd want to come over for lunch, Mom. He's probably got stuff to do and-"

 

"I'd love to come over!"

 

You turned your head slowly to Rad. Oh if looks could murder someone on the spot.

 

"Well that settles it! I'll see you two soon! Love you!"

 

"Love you too, Mom. Bye."

 

You hung up and felt even more annoyed than you already were.

 

"Go get in your car. I'm not going to make sure your following behind me. You want to visit my home, you make sure you know where I am."

 

You got in the car, started it, and began to leave the parking lot.

 

Rad shouted in surprise before rushing off to wherever his vehicle was parked.

 

You had just gotten onto the main road when you heard the roar of an engine behind you.

 

"Oh for fuck's sake," you bemoaned as you looked in the rearview mirror.

 

There was Radicles. Following you in a van.

 

You sighed and continued on towards home.

 

The ride back felt long, with Rad and his stupid, smiling face behind you.

 

You pulled into the driveway and Rad pulled in behind you.

 

You made sure to grab your work before getting out of the car and locking it.

 

"So... This is where you live. It's nice," Rad said, attempting to make small talk.

 

"Mhm."

 

You opened the door.

 

"Mom! K.O.! I'm home! Radicles is here too, I guess."

 

You heard the pitter-patter of little feet as your brother came rushing to the front door.

 

"Rad! I didn't know you were coming!"

 

Rad ruffled K.O.'s hair good-naturedly.

 

"Heh. Yeah. (Y/N) invited me-"

 

"My mom invited you, not me. Don't get confused," was your chilly remark.

 

Rad's antenna drooped a bit in disappointment.

 

"Uh, right. My bad."

 

You went into the kitchen without another word to start on your homework.

 

Rad watched as you left. To be honest, he wasn't really sure why he jumped at the chance to visit your house. You clearly wanted nothing to do with him at the moment.

 

He felt like he preferred your socially awkward self to the 'angry as Hell' personality you had adopted. He knew that it was partly his fault you were angry and he knew that he didn't know you very well as a person.

 

Rad wanted to change that.

 

He wanted to become your friend and get to know the you that K.O. would gush on and on about. The you that was apparently sassy and had snark to spare for anyone that you felt deserved it.

 

More than anything, he wanted to apologize to you first. Which was weird for him because he'd never apologized to a girl that wasn't his mom before. How was he supposed to go about it? Gah! With Bell Beefer and Mega Football Baby, apologizing was so easy! They just punched it out until they felt better! But Rad felt that if he tried that with you, he'd get all the bones in his body broken.

 

K.O. grabbed Rad by the hand and led him into the kitchen.

 

"You sit here! I'll be back with the plates and stuff!"

 

K.O. had set Rad down next to you.

 

Rad took a nervous glance at you and was stunned. You were flying through your math homework like it was nothing!

 

He noticed the pile of homework next to you and was shocked to see it was all finished. He was right about you being crazy smart after all!

 

K.O. had the table set in no time and you had just finished your work when your mom brought the food over.

 

"Nice to meet you," she said as she set down the tray of lasagna and held out her hand. "I'm Carol, and you already know my precious babies."

 

Rad took her hand and shook it.

 

"I'm Radicles, but people usually call me Rad. It's nice to meet you."

 

What? Just because people called him a brute occasionally didn't mean Rad didn't have manners!

 

"What a polite young man!" your mom laughed as she sat down.

 

Lunch was a tense affair for you and Radicles. He kept trying to make small talk and you kept shutting it down with disinterested comments.

 

Now, the two of you were sitting down in the living room on the couch, K.O. on the floor, completely engrossed by the news and it's latest story.

 

Rad took in a deep breath. It was now or never.

 

"(Y/N). I don't know how to say this right, so I'll just say it. I'm sorry for making you upset. I shouldn't have suggested that we go into Mr. Gar's office, seeing as how that's what eventually led to Enid and I making you mad. We weren't quiet about how you looked in the picture because we thought you looked bad! We thought you looked incredible! You looked really confident and heroic, everything that we want to be."

 

Rad had been whispering this the entire time.

 

You were a bit surprised. He was sorry? He and Enid thought you looked... Nice? What?

 

You mulled it over in your head for a bit. He sounded genuine. There wasn't anything indicating that he was just saying this to get you to stop being upset.

 

It's like K.O. said, they didn't mean to make you upset.

 

"...apology accepted. Now let's never bring it up again."

 

"...really?"

 

"Really. Now shush, K.O. is trying to watch."

 

Rad couldn't believe that worked.

 

Like, he really couldn't believe it.

 

You forgave him. Which meant you probably forgave Enid, too.

 

Rad felt... Giddy? Was that the right word? Yes. He felt giddy.

 

He knew that this didn't mean you considered him a friend, not by a long shot.

 

But it was a damn good start in his opinion.

Chapter Text

After convincing K.O. that Radicles could not stay over for a sleepover-seeing as how the bed in the space above the couch wasn't made up to receive a sleeping body and that Rad had school tomorrow-the alien in question bid a cheerful goodnight to your brother.

 

He wished you a goodnight as well, but with far more hesitation in his voice. Forgiven or not, he would most likely be walking on eggshells around you for a little while. He'd be trying his hardest to stay on your good side over the course of the next few days, and would do his best to not accidentally offend you again.

 

Rad contemplated his choice to not anger you and grumbled quietly to himself all the way to his home.

 

"Since when do I get so worked up over someone else's feelings anyways?"

 

This question would be one to plague his thoughts for an indefinite amount of time until he found his answer.

 


You blinked drearily as your mom pulled into a parking space in the lot. God, was yesterday mentally and emotionally taxing on you or what?

 

On the bright side, you rested far more easily than you had been the past few days after you forgave Radicles.

 

Not that you'd ever tell him this, but you didn't actually mind his presence all that much. Not that you were saying you were fond of him or anything, you... Hmm... You tolerated him, yes, that's the word. Tolerate.

 

You supposed you tolerated Enid as well, seeing as how you were going to say you were pretty much over the whole photo incident now.

 

Stepping into the bodega with K.O., your brother immediately dashed to where Mr. Gar was standing in the middle of the store, Enid and Rad standing at atention and saluting him.

 

K.O. happily copied your coworkers, eager to recieve today's instructions.

 

You were not as eager as your brother, but nevertheless you stood in front of your boss and saluted. Ignore the fact that you were slouching and your salute was with only two fingers.

 

Mr. Gar regarded the four of you briefly before nodding his head once and grunting his approval.

 

"Good, you're all present and accounted for. At ease."

 

With pleasure.

 

"Now," Mr. Gar continued. "Radicles. Enid." The two of them went even more rigid than they were when standing at attention. "I have a top-secret assignment to deal with and as such, I will not be here to keep an eye on things. So, here's what I want the two of you to do. Radicles, you will remain here with K.O. and keep a close watch on the store. Enid, I need you to patrol the plaza, make sure that nothing suspicious is going on. Take (Y/N) with you, you may need someone to watch your back."

 

"Yes, Sir!" Rad and Enid shouted while saluting once more.

 

Mr. Gar once again grunted his approval before leaping through the ceiling of the bodega and on top of his car that was patiently hovering several feet above the bodega's roof. Ceiling tile and other various debris littered the store's floor.

 

Rad, eager to abuse his temporary position of power, ordered K.O. to clean up the mess while he 'supervised' your brother's progress. And by supervise, you mean he leaned up against the counter and started playing with his phone.

 

"Have fun patrolling the plaza with (Y/N), Enid," Rad taunted.

 

You may have already forgiven him and subsequently Enid, but like Hell was he not going to make the ninja squirm a little bit! Enid was always teasing him whenever he messed up, and turnabout is fair play as the saying goes.

 

Enid shot a nervous side glance your way before acknowledging the loaf of a coworker she shared with you and K.O.

 

"Yeah," the purple haired teen grit out from behind clenched teeth. "We'll have a swell time."

 

Enid made her way toward the door, only pausing to check behind her to see if you were following. After affirming that you were indeed coming along, she continued onwards.

 

Once outside, the two of you stood in front of the bodega for several minutes, not moving.

 

Okay. This was getting ridiculous.

 

"So," you began, startling Enid. "What exactly are we supposed to be doing?"

 

"Oh! Uh... Ahem," Enid cleared her throat. "Well, usually Gar has either me or Rad go around the plaza and just scope things out. Make sure there aren't any suspicious looking people hanging around. Definitely make sure that there aren't any Boxmore bots roaming around the plaza doing whatever they want. And... I guess just make sure that everyone is happy and if there are any complaints we write them down and Mr. Gar handles things from there."

 

"Ah," was your eloquent response.

 

Enid's lips were pressed into a hard line. Here she was. Alone. With you. The person that currently held a grudge against her. Not that she was scared or anything! Don't be ridiculous!

 

Pfft. Imagine! Her! Scared of you!

 

...okay maybe a little. But it's not like that's her fault or anything! You were just so... quiet. It was honestly really creepy.

 

"So," Enid managed to blurt out, stretching out the 'o' so long that you knew an awkward attempt at an apology was coming up. "About the whole 'photo incident'..."

 

You called it.

 

You put a finger on Enid's lips, effectively shushing her up.

 

"Don't. Radicles already apologized for the two of you. Well. Actually, mostly for himself. But he did include you, but only a bit. I've already forgiven both of you, so let's just drop it, okay?"

 

You lowered your finger and began walking in the direction of your mom's dojo, may as well start there with the patrol.

 

Enid felt her face heat up slightly once you turned your back. She touched the spot on her lips where you finger had been only moments ago.

 

'Her finger was like ice. How can she possibly be that cold?! I mean sure it's still tecnically Winter, but she's wearing a hoodie and jeans for Cob's sake! And why would she even put her finger on my mouth in the first place?! Gah!!! You're overthinking things again, Enid! Look, she's walking away, keep up!' Enid mentally screeched at herself.

 

Entering the dojo, you were surprised to see that no one but your mom was in the building.

 

"Oh! Hey, Pumpkin! What'cha need?" your mom greeted you.

 

"Nothing really. Mr. Gar just has Enid and I patrolling the plaza, you know, looking out for anyone or anything suspicious. And writing down complaints too, I guess."

 

Your mom smiled and waved at Enid, who for some reason was lagging behind you.

 

"Well, nothing suspicious to report. But could you tell Eugene- Sorry. Could you tell Gar that the training dummies need to be replaced?"

 

"Sure thing, Mom. You got that, Enid?"

 

Enid had pulled out a notepad and a pencil from somewhere and was writing stuff down.

 

"Dojo training dummies need replacing... Okay! Got it. Thanks K.O. and (Y/N)'s mom!"

 

Enid walked briskly out of the dojo.

 

"Well, that wasn't awkward at all," you quipped.

 

"Ha! You sure do attract some interesting people, Sweetie! You tell her you forgive her yet?"

 

"Yeah. She's probably going to try and ask if I'm sure I'm over the whole thing."

 

Your mom placed a hand on your shoulder and gave you a slightly concerned look.

 

"Are you?"

 

You sighed. "Not completely, but being mad at people takes so much energy."

 

Your mom patted you on the back and laughed.

 

"Don't ever stop being yourself, alright?"

 

"I'll try to stay relatively the same as I've always been, Mom. Love you, see you later."

 

"Love you, too!"

 

You found Enid casually leaning against a lamppost once you got back outside.

 

"Let's head over to iFrame next," you suggested.

 

"Sure," was the response you got.

 

Walking into iFrame, you were greeted to the sight of Brandon and... Magi? You think that's what Brandon called him, but that could just be a nickname. Whatever. You saw Brandon and the skeleton arguing over only God knows what.

 

"Look! All I'm asking is for you to pick up your garbage when you're done! That's not a lot to ask of a person!" the skeleton shouted exasperatedly, as if this argument had been going on for an hour or so.

 

It could have been, for all you knew.

 

"Dude! It's not garbage! It's art! I can't help it if you can't see the genius behind my masterpieces!" Brandon countered.

 

"It is so garbage! You just don't want to clean it up!"

 

"It's art!"

 

"If it were really art, you would have had a problem with me throwing away all of your garbage that I have before I decided to ask you to do it yourself!"

 

"Well maybe I decided to get into art just recently!"

 

You dragged your hands down the sides of your face.

 

"Uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuugh! Girls, girls! You're both pretty! Now, have either of you seen anything suspicious or have any complaints that can be addressed to Mr. Gar?"

 

You could only take so much.

 

You had apparently startled them both, seeing as how they jumped at the sound of your voice.

 

"O-Oh! It's you again," the skeleton greeted you. "I don't think I introduced myself last time. I'm A Real Magic Skeleton, but everyone calls me ARMS for short, please don't laugh. This is my coworker, Brandon," ARMS stated the last part dryly.

 

"Coworker?! I think we're a little more that just 'coworkers' Magi! We're like, best bros!"

 

ARMS huffed, crossed his arms, and turned his back to Brandon.

 

"To answer your questions, no, I haven't seen anything suspicious and I doubt Gar could do anything about the complaints I have. Most of which have to do with my COWORKER, WHO'S TOO LAZY TO PICK UP HIS OWN GARBAGE!!!"

 

At the end of the sentence, ARMS' skull flew off of his body, surrounded in purple flames and got right up in Brandon's face.

 

"I KEEP TELLING YOU, IT'S ART!!!!" Brandon screeched.

 

You and Enid quietly backed out of the store.

 

Once outside, you gave your patrol partner and inquisitive look.

 

"Are they... Always like that?"

 

"Huh? Oh, you mean are they always arguing? Nah. But that doesn't mean that it's rare for them to argue. It's an at least once a week kind of thing," Enid answered.

 

"Why?"

 

"Personally? I think it's because there's some romantic tension between the two of them that they refuse to address, but that's just me. It could be something else entirely. But they are really good friends with each other."

 

You hummed thoughtfully. You didn't know ARMS or Brandon at all, so it wasn't your place to speculate.

 

As you continued your patrol, you could tell that Enid was getting progressively more and more uncomfortable.

 

Finally, you couldn't take it anymore and had the two of you sit down at a table outside of the coffee shop.

 

"Okay. You want to ask me something. So ask," you stated.

 

Enid looked extremely uncomfortable with being called out like this, but you honestly couldn't find it in you to care at the moment.

 

"Geez... I must be off my game if I'm that transparent. Okay. I know you said you've forgiven me and Rad, which I can't believe he apologized before I did, but I can't help but feel like you're still upset about what happened.

 

"Of course I'm still upset about it."

 

"Oh. Then why-"

 

"Because it's physically and emotionally draining on me to put energy into being and staying mad at people over something that is honestly really trivial. Yeah, I may think it's important in the moment and for a while after it's happened, but I know that what happened isn't something that I should hold a grudge over. I'm not that petty. But keep in mind I'm still petty."

 

Enid seemed to be at a loss for what to say.

 

"You're just... Brutally honest with everyone, aren't you?"

 

"Yes. I don't see a point in beating around the bush. Not to say I haven't done just that, I just don't see the point."

 

The two of you just sat there in silence for a few minutes, letting your words sink into both your minds for some serious contemplation.

 

"(Y/N), I- Look out!"

 

Enid lunged for you and pushed you out of the way just in time. A green plasma blast completely disintegrate the spot where you had just been sitting.

 

"Nyah hah hah hah hah hah! Greetings, Lakewood Losers!"

 

Oh God, it's Darrell. Stupid, stupid Darrell.

 

Enid grabbed your hand and hoisted you up to your feet. The plaza's alarm was blaring in full force.

 

"What do you want this time, you creep?" Enid demanded.

 

Darrell rolled his eye and smiled a shit-eating grin.

 

"What I always want, Idiot! To destroy Lakewood Plaza! Ahahahahahahahahaha!"

 

Darrell let his plasma cannon fire randomly and various objects were hit, but surprisingly none of the buildings were scathed.

 

"Er..." Darrell was clearly embarrassed. "Whatever! That was just a taste of what's to come!"

 

He retracted his cannon and his hand returned.

 

"You wanna dance, Dork? Then we'll dance!" Enid shouted as she raced towards Darrell.

 

In all honesty you could probably take Darrell, even if you hadn't just started training with your mom. His attack pattern was so easy to read that it was just sad. He talked a big game, but when push came to shove, Darrell just wasn't any good on his own.

 

You tolerated Enid, you might even go so far as to say you were warming up to her. But she was a hero, and as you've stated multiple time, most heroes are dumb. Because they think with their muscles and not their brains.

 

Case in point, Darrell just swung at her, which she easily dodged. But she missed the opportunity to grab his arm and use his momentum against him.

 

And now Enid has made an impression in the concrete wall.

 

Great.

 

Now Darrell shifted his focus onto you.

 

He gave you a once over and scoffed.

 

"Pfft. You aren't even worth the effort, but Lord Boxdad made it clear that my orders were to take out you Bodega Babies, so..."

 

Darrell charged at you. You scoffed. What an idiot.

 

As soon as he was within striking range, you raised your leg swiftly, delivering a kick to where his solar plexus would be if Darrell had been made of flesh. The results were still the same.

 

He doubled over in pain, clutching the area you kicked. He wasn't getting up. You squatted down next to him and grabbed ahold of the glass part of his head.

 

"Don't you ever slam my baby brother into a wall again."

 

You ripped Darrell's head off with one hand.

 

As the last of his energy fizzled out, Darrell's head gave you a fearful look before he shut down.

 

"Whoa..."

 

You turned your head toward the sound.

 

Enid was looking at you. It was a look that was part shock and awe and a little terror.

 

You raised a finger to your lips.

 

"Shh. Before you try and say how 'cool' that was, it wasn't. I'm not a hero. I'm not even a good person. But I love my brother and I won't tolerate anyone hurting him."

 

You pulled yourself into a standing position and dropped Darrell's detached head into a nearby garbage can.

 

As you passed Enid, you whispered to her.

 

"Don't tell anyone you saw me do that. I don't need people getting the wrong idea about me."

 

Enid couldn't look at you until you passed her. When she finally did, she wasn't sure how to feel.

 

That was your first fight, and you were brutal.

 

'Brutally honest and just plain brutal... Just who are you, (Y/N)?'

 

If Enid were lucky, she'd never get to see what your definition of brutal was.

Chapter Text

It's a perfectly lovely day out today. The sun is shining so brightly, not enough to where it would hurt your eyes, but enough that the world looks like those really old paintings. So colorful and beautiful.

 

The air is really warm, too. Not unbearably so, and that's good. It's far too nice out to not play outside today and you would have hated for a little bit of heat to ruin it for you. Luckily there's a strong and steady breeze going.

 

This is nice, just being outside it such lovely weather. Not a care in the world.

 

Just you...

 

"There you are, Sweetheart."

 

...and Dad.

 

You turn your head and tilt it up so that you can look up at your dad's face.

 

Huh...

 

How strange.

 

You can't quite seem to make out what his face is supposed to look like.

 

He crouches down and lifts you up from under your arms and holds you close to his side.

 

"It's such a nice day out, Sweetie. Why don't we go to the swing set and I'll push you?"

 

You say okay.

 

He smiles, at least you think he does.

 

It hurts to try and look at his face, it's like trying to look directly into the sun without blinking.

 

Why can't you see his face?

 

Why can't you see any of his features?

 

You can't even tell if this man is really your dad.

 

His voice is all muffled and you can't tell what color his hair is supposed to be.

 

And you can't. See. His. Face.

 

The sky, which had been so bright and cheerful mere moments before, turns a dark and ugly gray. The cooling breeze has whipped up to a chilling wind.

 

You are promptly dropped.

 

And your father is nowhere to be seen.

 

You get up.

 

You're no longer the size of a six year old. You're back to how you normally are.

 

Lighting flashes across the sky, thunder rolling almost immediately after.

 

Where...

 

Where are you?

 

"Hehehehehe..."

 

'Who's there?' You'd like to ask that, but your mouth won't cooperate.

 

"Who? Heh. You know who this is. You just don't like to think about it."

 

You honestly don't know who it is that's speaking to you. It feels like the darkness is closing in on you.

 

It's almost suffocating.

 

Something brushes softly against your cheek, barely there but you still felt it and jolted away.

 

"I can tell... You're afraid."

 

No you're not.

 

"You are. But you shouldn't be afraid. Not of me. Never of me."

 

From the ever growing darkness, two beady red eyes stare at you, and mouth full of razor-sharp teeth slowly grins.

 

"You know who I am."

 


Your eyes snap open and your heart is beating fast.

 

You breath in and out deeply for a few minutes before you calm down enough to process what you had just dreamed about.

 

Your eyes narrow at the ceiling.

 

"Why can't I ever have normal dreams? Dreams about food? Or - and I can't believe I'm actually saying this - dreams about having a boyfriend? Or girlfriend? I don't know which! But those would be better dreams than the one I just had, that's for sure!"

 

You reluctantly sat up and glanced over at your digital clock.

 

Eh. It was almost time for you to get up anyways.

 

Your morning routine passed by in a blur. All you could think about was your dream before it got all dark and creepy.

 

If you could, you'd waste your life sleeping it away.

 

But only if you could have dreams with your dad in them.

 

It was the only way you could see him now.

 

Before you knew it, you and K.O. were walking through the front doors of the bodega.

 

Today, K.O. would be helping Enid out at the register, Rad would be cleaning up the store, and as for you...

 

Well, you would be out in the alley, sorting all the metal for pickup.

 

So here you were, hanging out in the alley with all of the deactivated robots and severed robot parts. It was way less creepy out here in the daytime instead of at night. You would probably be berating yourself for thinking it was a good idea to investigate strange noises coming from an alleyway at night for a good while. At least it turned out to be nothing but a cat. Speaking of, you wondered if Duchess was adjusting well to living with Radicles.

 

"I can think about that later, right now, I've got metal to sort."

 

There were plenty of Darrells and Shannons, both somewhat intact and missing many parts. 

 

There were also way too many Jethros scattered about, all of them in shambles.

 

The purple robot that you passed by when you infiltrated Boxmore was nowhere to be seen amongst the wreckage.

 

You began sorting through all the debris by putting the robots in their own piles. You know. A Darrell pile, a Shannon pile, you get it.

 

Logic dictated that moving the Darrells and Shannons first would be the smart choice, seeing as how Jethro was significantly smaller than his brother and sister and would therefore be harder to round up with all the other parts in the way.

 

"Ugh," you grunted as you moved the upper torso of a Shannon to one side of the alley. "These things are heavier than they look. Hope I can make some progress with sorting through all this..."

 

You'd been at this for about half an hour before you decided to take a little break.

 

"Phew... No need to rush through this, (Y/N). Just take your time..."

 

You casually leaned against the brick wall and closed your eyes in an attempt to drown the rest of the world out.

 

Your mind wandered back to the dream that you'd woken up from this morning.

 

It was rare that you ever dreamed about your father. Sure, you missed him and everything, but that didn't mean that you liked thinking about him all that much. With everything that had happened...

 

Let's just say it was very hard for you to think about your dad without getting really emotional and leave it at that.

 

K.O. never asked about what had happened to your dad, and so you and your mom had never brought it up. It had always been just the three of you when it came to K.O. and he had no reason to believe that it had been any different before he came along.

 

The fact that your mom had put away any and all photos with your dad in them didn't really help K.O. understand that at one point he did have a dad.

 

Sometimes you wonder what life would have turned out like if...

 

Well. You wonder if you'd be as protective as you are of K.O. if your dad was still around, for one thing. You also wondered if you would have stayed the happy girl that you used to be. Would you have made friends? If you did, would you have kept them?

 

But it's no use tormenting yourself with 'what ifs'.

 

Something scraped along the pavement of the alley and as soon as you snapped your eyes open, something was thrown over your head and you were grabbed.

 


You were sitting in a chair, tied up with a bag over your head.

 

You'd been kidnapped by the Boxmore Brats.

 

How did you know this?

 

Well, for one thing, they wouldn't shut up.

 

"I'm the one that got the drop on her!" Darrell shouted.

 

"Nuh uh! It was thanks to my brilliant strategic thinking that I was able to nab this Bodega Baby!" Shannon countered.

 

"No! It was my capture!"

 

"No! Mine!"

 

"Mine!"

 

"Mine!"

 

"Mine!"

 

"Mine!"

 

"MINE!!!"

 

"MINE!!!"

 

It was never-ending.

 

You could hear the two get into a slap fight with one another over just who it was that managed to get you.

 

Not that it mattered, the point was you'd been gotten.

 

You heard the sound of metallic doors open and shut accompanied by footsteps.

 

It wasn't Boxman because one: Darrell and Shannon were still fighting and you were sure they had the common sense to not have a scuffle in front of their... Boss? Creator? Boxman. Two: the footsteps has a metallic clang to them.

 

The bag was lifted off of your head and you found yourself staring at one of those round, purple, one-eyed robots.

 

"Terribly sorry about the wait, Miss, but Lord Boxman is finishing up an important meeting with a high priority client as we speak. It'll be another moment," he explained. "In the meantime, I've been sent to keep an eye on Darrell and Shannon and subsequently you as well. These two could barely contain their excitement when they informed Lord Boxman that they had a surprise for him."

 

He let out a sigh as chairs and the like were being thrown across the room.

 

"Excuse me for a second. Darrell, Shannon! If you two could stop fighting for a minute. Lord Boxman was almost done with his meeting and should be arriving soon to... Well actually I'm not sure what it is he wants with you, Miss. I don't think he even knows what do when presented with a surprise like this." The purple bot shook his head. "The point is he'll be here soon to see what the two of you wanted him for and I'm sure he'd appreciate it if his office weren't in a state of disarray."

 

Darrell and Shannon, the latter of which had been biting at her brother's glass dome, stood up rigidly.

 

"Lord Boxdad's on his way?!" Darrell cried out in a panic.

 

"We can't let Daddy see his office looking like this! He'll be so upset!" Shannon exclaimed.

 

'So you two think of him as your dad? Well I guess you're technically right?'

 

The two panicked bots got to work putting the office back the way you assumed it normally was. Shannon had just put a potted plant back in place when the doors behind you slid open and shut.

 

"Honestly, I have no idea what the Professor seems to be concerned about. His shipment of robots will get to him without any issues," Boxman muttered to himself.

 

'Professor'? Probably some scientifically associated villain.

 

"Now then! Darrell! Shannon! What was so important that the two of you had to make me five minutes late to my business meeting?!"

 

The two robots in question had recoiled a bit as Boxman raised his voice near the end there, but they quickly regained their composure.

 

"I brought you a surprise that I'm sure you'll love, Lord Boxdad!" Darrell bragged.

 

"No. I'm the one who thought that this would be a nice surprise for you, Dad," Shannon butted in.

 

The siblings glared at one another while grandly gesturing to your tied up form. You looked over your shoulder at Boxman.

 

"Yo."

 

You have such a way with words.

 

Boxman stared at you for a moment, blinking slowly.

 

"What? Who is this?"

 

Wow.

 

Just.

 

Wow.

 

Darrell and Shannon glanced at each other before chuckling nervously.

 

"Uh... She works at the bodega, Daddy," Shannon explained.

 

"I thought you'd like it if one of the bodega's employees were captured," Darrell offered.

 

Both statements oddly sounded like questions.

 

Boxman scrutinized you again and you could tell when the bulb finally lit up.

 

"Oh! Oh, I remember you," Boxman stated, almost accusatorily. "You're the older sister of that little brat! The one that completely ruined my ingenious plan to destroy all friendship at the bodega!"

 

The puffy man walked to his desk and angrily plopped down into his chair. Darrell and Shannon flanked his left and right sides. The purple robot stood beside you on the right.

 

"Bwahahahahahahahaha! Ha! Oh this is too perfect! The sister of my nemesis in my clutches! Oh I know what-"

 

"Wait," you interrupted. "You consider K.O. to be your nemesis?"

 

"Yes! Is there a problem?!"

 

"You've only known about him for a few days and have personally interacted with him once."

 

"So?!"

 

"He didn't even really do anything regarding your plot to ruin friendship."

 

"Your point?"

 

"He's six. He's too young to have a nemesis. Wait a few years. Like twelve."

 

Boxman sighed, his energy for blathering on about what he was going to do with you gone.

 

"I would have figured that someone training to be a hero would at least have some sense of how this whole dynamic worked." He rolled his eye, annoyed. "Honestly, it's like you don't even-"

 

"Now hold on. I never said I was training to be a hero. I think the whole hype around being a hero is stupid. The whole hero and villain thing is a stupid waste of time in my opinion."

 

That seemed to catch Boxman off guard. Literally.

 

He fell out of his chair.

 

"OW!"

 

Boxman lifted himself up, batting away Darrell and Shannon's attempts to help him up.

 

"So, wait. You're not trying to become a hero?"

 

"No."

 

"You just work at the bodega?" Shannon asked.

 

"Yes. I keep an eye on my brother."

 

"You ripped my head off yesterday..." Darrell stated while clutching the glass dome.

 

"That was payback for hurling my brother into a wall. K.O. is one of the only people I care about. I would do anything for him. Anything. Don't you dare doubt that."

 

The air was awkward now. The purple robot coughed. Somehow.

 

"Well... This certainly puts an awkward spin on things. What do you propose we do, Lord Boxman?"

 

"..." Boxman had sat back down and was very quiet.

 

"Sir?"

 

"...Darrell. Shannon. Go to your playroom. Ernesto, you take her there, too. I need to... Rethink my plan here."

 

Wow. You really shook his worldview, didn't you? You bet it never occurred to him that there could be someone that didn't care for heroes or villains.

 

Ernesto, as you now knew the purple bot to be called, untied you and set a hand on your shoulder.

 

"This way, Miss."

 

It's not like you could have busted your way out of here, so you comply and allow yourself to be led in the direction that Darrell and Shannon were headed.

 


The 'playroom' looks like a toddler's room. Puzzle piece mats and all.

 

Darrell has busied himself with some toy cars.

 

Shannon is sitting on the couch, knees to her chest, watching you.

 

"Now, you just stay here, Miss. And please don't cause any trouble."

 

Ernesto shuts the door on his way out.

 

The mood is tense. Despite trying to ignore you, Darrell is noticeably uncomfortable with you being in the room. He's tense.

 

Shannon is still staring at you as you stand in front of the door.

 

There's a plastic chair on the other side of the room.

 

You sit in it.

 

Shannon keeps her eyes trained on you.

 

Your purse vibrates. Oh. Your phone.

 

You pull it out and see you've got a text from K.O.

 

K.O.

hey where r u? mr gar wnt outside 2 c how u wre doing & u wrn't ther

 

Good God you were going to teach that boy that just because you were texting someone didn't mean that you didn't have to spell things correctly.

 

You

Hey. Sorry, not my fault I'm not there. Got kidnapped. Over at Boxmore. I'm fine, just having to hang out with Darrell and Shannon while Boxman decides what to do with me.

 

And send.

 

You were probably going to regret that.

 

You put your phone back into your purse. You could still feel Shannon's eyes on you.

 

You looked back to the couch, only to see that Shannon was now directly beside you.

 

"Oh God," you held a hand to your chest. "Sheesh. What's your deal?"

 

Shannon's eyes drooped.

 

"If you're not a hero then why do you work at the bodega? Why hang around the plaza at all?"

 

You sighed.

 

"I already explained this. I only work there because my brother wanted to. He's the one that wants to be a hero, not me. I'm just there to keep an eye on him because my mom asked me to."

 

"...oh." Shannon nodded her head, seemingly accepting that answer. Huh. When not trying to harm, injure, or maim you in anyway, Shannon was kind of... Nice you supposed?

 

She definitely had problems with personal space though.

 

"...what's a 'mom'?"

 

You and Shannon looked over at Darrell, who had put the toy cars away in favor of looking at you.

 

"Hey, yeah," Shannon piped up. "What is a 'mom'?"

 

"Uh... Well. You know how you call Boxman your dad?"

 

"Yes," they both answered.

 

"Okay. So. Boxman is your dad. He's your parent. My mom is my parent."

 

"Wait, so 'mom' is another word for 'dad'?" Darrell asked, confused with your explanation.

 

"No, no. A mom is completely different from a dad. Dads are the male parent, moms are the female parent. Every child has a mom and a dad."

 

"We don't have a mom," Shannon stated.

 

"Well, you weren't made like most, eh, 'children' are made." If they saw Boxman as their dad then they were his children, you supposed. "You're robots, you were built. I'm organic, I was born. When it comes to building robot children there doesn't necessarily need to be a mom and a dad. But with organic children there's always a mom and a dad involved. However, some organic children don't have moms. And some don't have dads. Some have two moms and some have two dads. Some don't have either."

 

"Wait, but you said that there was always a mom and a dad involved. How can someone have two of each?" Shannon asked.

 

"Some people are homosexual. That means that they like people who are the same sex that they are. You might also hear the terms gay or lesbian be used. They can't have kids on their own, so they can adopt. Or they can find a surrogate parent. That means that they find a man or woman to help them have a child of their own."

 

You cannot honestly believe that you are having this conversation right now.  

 

"Oh! I get it! I think," Darrell states enthusiastically. "So, a mom is kind of like a lady version of a dad! But different!"

 

"And you don't necessarily have to have both!" Shannon added.

 

"Yep," you confirmed. "Good job."

 

And then the positivity came to a screeching halt.

 

"What did you just say?" Shannon whispered.

 

"I said 'good job'."

 

It got really quiet for another minute.

 

"...no one's ever said that to us before," Darrell said quietly.

 

That's...

 

Honestly really sad.

 

Not even Boxman?

 

An alarm began screeching. Effectively cutting the solemn mood short.

 

"Intruder alert. Intruder alert. Some inconsiderate hero jerks are trying to break in."

 

'Must be K.O. and the others.'

 

Darrell and Shannon had sprung into action at the sound of the alarm.

 

Leaving you unguarded.

 

Whistling to yourself, you casually strolled out of the playroom.

 

It wasn't hard to find your brother, you just followed the sounds of fighting until you found yourself outside in front of the building.

 

There was some serious smack talk going down.

 

"What have you done with (Y/N) you copper clad creeps?!" Enid demanded.

 

"I swear, if even one hair on her head is out of place!" Rad levitated a nearby delivery truck and crushed it.

 

It exploded and a bunch of destroyed robot parts came flying out.

 

'I wonder if that was Professor whoever's delivery? Eh. Who cares? Well. The Professor will if that was his delivery and it doesn't arrive. Also Boxman. That won't be good for business.' 

 

K.O., not one to be left out, added, "Yeah! You better not have hurt my big sister you-! Uh. Y-You meanies!"

 

Ah, K.O. Sweet, sweet K.O.

 

"Guys, I'm fine! See?"

 

Everyone's attention was on you now.

 

"Hey! You can't be outside! You're our prisoner!" Darrell complained.

 

"Yeah! Go back inside like a good prisoner and wait in the playroom," Shannon made a shooing motion at you.

 

"Eh, no can do you two." You checked your phone. "You've had me over here for a few hours now, it's almost time for K.O. and I to be heading home. Oh yeah. K.O.! They finished up the construction work for Lakewood Elementary! You'll start going back again on Friday!"

 

Why they didn't just make it Monday of next week, you weren't sure. Even though it made sense.

 

While Darrell and Shannon were distracted by you, Rad and Enid managed to get the drop on them, reducing them to scrap metal.

 

"Are you okay?!" Enid asked worriedly"

 

"I'm fine."

 

"They didn't try to experiment on you, did they?!" Rad exclaimed.

 

"No. Really, I'm fine. You two worry too much."

 

You walked past them, and tripped on an arm.

 

"Ah!"

 

An arm wrapped around your waist and scooped you up.

 

"Yeah, no," Rad stated. "You're getting carried all the way back to the bodega and then Mr. Gar will make sure you're totally fine."

 

"This is really unnecessary. Put me down, Radicles!"

 

But Rad was having none of it, and neither were K.O. and Enid. The two snickered at your predicament, but made sure that you weren't going anywhere the couple of times you managed to escape Rad's grip.

 


Boxman tapped his foot irritably as he waited for both Darrell and Shannon's consciousness to pick new bodies to inhabit.

 

Honestly, what was he thinking leaving those two in charge of watching a prisoner?!

 

No. No. It was his own fault for thinking that they could handle the task by themselves.

 

But what an enigma you were.

 

Someone who wasn't a fan of the whole hero schtick but also couldn't care less about villains and their clearly superior methods.

 

Having to be related not one, but three hero fanatics had to be driving you secretly mad.

 

Boxman, despite what others may think, was no fool. It wasn't hard to find out who your mother and father were. Two of some of the greatest heroes that ever were! And your brother wanted to walk the path of the hero.

 

It was so sweet it was revolting! Boxman could just heave!

 

And then there was you.

 

You who didn't walk the path of the hero or villain.

 

In a world of black and white, you were gray.

 

And Boxman knew that no one, not even him, had any idea what to do with gray.

Chapter Text

Radicles hadn't given up on the ridiculous notion of carrying you all the way back to the bodega to ensure that you didn't accidentally injure yourself. In fact, after your first two successful attempts at wriggling out of his grip, he decided to carry you bridal style and held you close and tight to his chest.

 

You'd been set down on the checkout counter and were examined by Mr. Gar and your mom, the latter of which whom dropped everything she was doing and closed the dojo early to make sure you were doing absolutely fine.

 

Mr. Gar was shining a flashlight into your eyes to check for any signs of brainwashing. Which was a completely ridiculous idea and proved to be a waste of everyone's time when the results turned out to be one hundred percent negative. Still, you supposed you could understand why they were being so cautious. Boxman, as much of a joke as seasoned heroes and villains alike thought him to be, was a very unpredictable man when it came to matters other than laying siege to the plaza and its inhabitants. 

 

Regardless of whether or not you understood their concern, that didn't mean that it was necessary for them to worry and fuss over you. You were fine, you'd said so yourself and that rang true after all the examinations and tests given to you by Mr. Gar and your mom to perform.

 

You drew the line when Mr. Gar said that he was going to get the tongue depressors to see if some sort of chip had been lodged into your throat.

 

"Look, I told all of you that I was fine, and I am. Nothing serious happened while I was being held over at Boxmore. I was tied to a chair with a bag over my head nearly the whole time! Can we just go home now? I'm sore from having to sit upright in an uncomfortable chair for several hours straight," you inquired, turning your tired gaze to your worrying mother.

 

You could see the worry that refused to completely leave her eyes, but she sighed and finally relented.

 

"Alright, alright. We'll call it a night and head on home. But if you start to feel strange even just a little-!"

 

"I will tell you and we'll break the speed limit getting me to the hospital, I know," you interrupted.

 

Your mom huffed but didn't say anything else regarding you possibly having been experimented on. Instead, she honed in on Mr. Gar.

 

"Gar, I don't want her going out in that alley by herself for a good, long while, you got it? I don't trust that those robots aren't done with my little girl. I'd prefer it if she didn't have to go out there at all, but I know that the metal back there needs to be sorted occasionally. Promise that you'll send someone back there with her if you need her to sort metal again?"

 

Your mom had this pleading look on her face, eyes shimmering slightly. Mr. Gar's cheeks turned a rosy pink and he could hardly stammer out a 'yes' to your mom.

 

She smiled softly at him and patted his shoulder appreciatively.

 

"Thank you. Alright kids! Time to head home!"

 

You and K.O. said goodbye to your boss and coworkers and headed on home.

 

You were hoping that by tomorrow, things would have calmed down.

 


Apparently, that was too much to ask for. 

 

Mr. Gar was making your mother's request to keep you safe his top priority. That meant that you would be under constant supervision during your shifts at the bodega until your mom felt that you could handle yourself should Darrell and Shannon make another attempt to get the drop on you and whisk you away to Boxmore again.

 

Which meant that you would slowly begin descending into madness over the course of the next couple of days, probably. But there was nothing that you could do about your predicament right now. All you could do for the time being was try and ride it out and convince your mom that you weren't some helpless infant that needed to be closely monitored at all times.

 

K.O. zipped by you with extreme vigor. He was in the middle of mopping the floor of the bodega. Rad was actually supposed to be the one mopping up the floor, but he had managed to sweet talk your brother into taking over for him. The lazy alien in question was reclining in a rolling chair with his feet propped up on a cardboard box, reading one of the trashy tabloid magazines that the bodega carried.

 

Honestly, why did people enjoy those things so much? You just didn't see the appeal to them at all. 

 

Rad yawned, stretching a bit as he did so, crop top riding up to show off a tiny bit more skin than you already saw.

 

That's another thing, why were crop tops the standard uniform for the bodega? It seemed like a really odd choice of attire for a uniform in your opinion.

 

He smacked his lips in an attempt to get a little moisture going in his mouth. His tongue was probably dry. Your brother skidded to a stop just a little bit away from where Rad was slacking off.

 

"Rad! Hup!" K.O. had to hold onto the mop handle to keep himself from slipping. "I finished washing the floor just like you told me to!"

 

The floor of the bodega sparkled due to how clean your brother had gotten it. Huh. Well, if there's one thing your brother was good at, it was cleaning up messes, big or small.

 

"Poifect, huh?" K.O. inquired.

 

Rad got up from his relaxed position and sauntered over to where K.O. was standing.

 

"I'll be the judge of that," Rad stated as he ruffled K.O.'s hair good naturedly.

 

A broccoli guy, 'Colewort' you think was his name, walked by, drinking a soda. Just before he completely passed by Rad, the blue brute picked Colewort up by the head and slid him across the floor.

 

"Oh? Oh!"

 

Colewort squeaked across the floor, coming to a stop when he hit a row of refrigerators. Enid, who had been standing nearby, gave a look to the downed Colewort and gave a thumbs down to Rad.

 

"Nah," Rad said while shaking his head. "Still not slick enough. Colewort should have crashed straight through that wall."

 

"Aw, poop," K.O. lamented.

 

"C'mon, K.O., you gotta keep your head in the game! I could give you some tips if you want."

 

"Or," you spoke up from where you were restocking shelves. "You could mop the floors like Gar asked you to do, instead of pushing it all onto my brother. Just saying."

 

Rad averted his eyes from the judgmental look you were giving him. He needed to remember not to do anything that might piss you off.

 

"No!" K.O. firmly stated. "A hero doesn't need help! I have to do it..." He paused for dramatic effect. "...on my own."

 

Rad was completely fine with not having to take over mopping.

 

"Ha, okay lone wolf. But you've got a lot more floors to mop before you come close to being a hero."

 

K.O. looked down thoughtfully before a huge grin split his face.

 

"Maybe I already am a hero! I've been doing heroic stuff all week! Maybe I finally have a POW card!"

 

"You know what," Enid said as she carried over an unconscious Colewort. "Maybe you do, K.O.! You might even be a level one." K.O.'s eyes were almost starry when Enid said that. "You should check the POW card machi-"

 

But K.O. dashed off to the machine before Enid could even finish.

 

"Wow," the purple haired girl said. "He's really excited about the idea that he might finally have his own POW card."

 

"Of course he is," you stated matter-of-factly. "He's wanted to become a hero his entire life. All six years of it. He's finally been able to start training as a hero, so the next step would be for him to receive his very own card."

 

You moseyed on back to where the POW card machine was located in the back of the store and saw your brother giving it a look of awe.

 

"Ohh..."

 

He's lost to all of you in this moment in time.

 

K.O. clapped his hands together briefly, as if praying that he would have his own card before pulling out a coin from his shorts pocket.

 

"Heh heh!"

 

He hit the 'SELF' button on the machine and waited with baited breath.

 

"Retina scan for identification commencing."

 

An infrared laser scanned your brother peepers before searching the hero database to see if he was in it.

 

"Scan complete. Searching hero database. Hero found: K.O."

 

K.O. giggled giddily, not caring that the machine pronounced his name incorrectly.

 

"Printing. Printing. Error! Error! Error! Error!"

 

"No!" your brother shouted in dismay.

 

You sidled up to him and placed a hand on his shoulder reassuringly.

 

"Hey, hey, hey. It's okay, Sweetie. We'll fix it."

 

"Yeah, don't worry," Rad said from behind you. He had that overconfident grin on his face again. "I'll show you an old trick."

 

Rad stood on the other side of K.O.

 

"Alright. Tuck in your arm real tight." K.O. did as Rad did. "Now, clench your butt." Why? "Reel back and," Rad and K.O. leaped toward the machine. "Give it a good smack!"

 

"That was not a smack that was a punch! One from each of you, I might add. Look at the dents you two left!"

 

You gestured to the fist shaped dents that had indeed been left behind. K.O. scuffed his foot along the tile and Rad whistled nervously, refusing to look at you.

 

You gave the two a deadpan look.

 

"Printing continued."

 

K.O. gasped in excitement and Rad chuckled smugly at the fact that his 'old trick' worked.

 

"I'm... I'm level one hundred?"

 

...come again? You couldn't have heard that correctly.

 

K.O. turned around, head in the clouds.

 

You and Rad kneeled down next to him. Rad grasped the hand holding the card to look at it.

 

"Did you say you're level one hundred?"

 

"Level one hundred?" you heard ARMS' voice from nearby.

 

"One hundred?" some people at the register asked in disbelief.

 

"Whoa!" a rabbit girl said out from one of the aisles.

 

"Are you serious K.O.?" Enid asked, rushing over to see for herself.

 

Before you knew it, a small gathering had formed around your brother.

 

"A level one hundred? No way!" Ah. This was one of the alleyway teens that had tormented your brother.

 

Strawberry Shortcake here had best back the fuck up if she knew what was good for her.

 

"Uh, yes way?" K.O. countered.

 

"Alright then, prove it! Show us your POW card."

 

"Hey. You."

 

Little Miss Thing shifted her gaze over to you.

 

"What?"

 

"I suggest you drop the attitude towards my brother, or things just might get ugly between you and me. I already don't like you for messing with him last week, so don't press your luck with me. Got it?"

 

You had lowered your head slightly so that there would be a shadow cast over your eyes. It was an effective technique to use when you told people to back down.

 

Whatever her name was looked very uncomfortable and unsure of how to respond to you. Luckily, K.O. held up his POW card to prove that he wasn't lying.

 

Everyone was super impressed by it.

 

"That's like, a way higher level than anyone else in the plaza!" Brandon said, shocked.

 

"You're even more powerful than Gar!" ARMS added.

 

"Yeah, you're right!" K.O. agreed. "I'm more powerful than, well, everybody!"

 

"Pretty sick, dude." Ah! One of the other teens that messed with your brother.

 

"Yeah, guess you're cooler than I thought."

 

You gave an icy glare to the girl, to which she recoiled slightly from.

 

"Um. And I'm like, sorry I didn't believe you earlier."

 

You nodded once and she visibly relaxed.

 

"It's an honor to know such a great warrior," Joff stated as he bowed respectfully to your brother.

 

"Mm-hmm!" a mummy girl agreed.

 

"I always knew you'd do great things, kid."

 

Were those cherry blossoms falling down from behind Enid?

 

When did your life become an anime?

 

"I'm so proud of you, K.O." Enid lightly punched him on the shoulder.

 

Rad shoved past you to wrap an arm around your brother.

 

"Uh, can I get you anything K.O.? Soda? Snacks? You want me to wash your car?"

 

"I don't have a car."

 

"Then uh, take mine!" Rad held up the keys to his stupid van. "Only the best for you, my level one hundred friend!"

 

"Hahahahaha."

 

You put a hand on Radicles' and made him lower the keys.

 

"Radicles. He's six. He can't drive. But our mom has a car if you want to wash that."

 

"Sure thing!"

 

And then he ran outside to do just that.

 

You looked back to your brother and you could see all this attention begin to go to his head.

 

'Oh, great. My little brother is getting a big head over all this.'

 

You weren't convinced that your brother was actually level one hundred. More than likely, it was actually a glitch and would fix itself later.

 

But man would your brother be crushed if and when that happened.

 

The POW card company was notorious for getting information on the cards they produced incorrect. You could attest to that because you've spent a good while actually hunting down cards like that for your brother. Incorrect though they may be, they were still a valued collectors item, and your brother was always excited when you presented him with those cards. They were kept separate from his normal card collection.

 

POW Card Industries was also notorious for not really caring about mistakes like these.

 

With the way that your brother's head was beginning to metaphorically swell, you knew he'd try and do something that was way beyond his limits.

 

And when he got out of that situation, should it actually happen, you would threaten to sue.

 

It's been done before over incorrectly printed information on a handful of hero's cards.

 

The rest of the day went on like this, people gushing over your brother and his ego only got bigger and bigger.

 

At some point, someone had called Action News from channel fifty-two and a crowd was gathered outside the bodega.

 

A news van landed on a nearby car and the door was kicked clean off.

 

"Action! This is Dynamite Watkins comin' at you live from the heart of the neutral zone. We're here in front of Gar's Bodega, where a crowd has gathered to see the newcomer hero with a power level of one hundred. You heard me, level one hundred! And here is the famed hero himself, K.O.! How does it feel being the most powerful being in the plaza- Possibly the world!"

 

K.O. had this smug grin on his face that just didn't belong there. Not on your sweet little brother.

 

Leave the smug smiles to Radicles.

 

"Well, I always knew I would be a great hero some day, but I didn't think it would happen after only a week! Guess I'm just that good!"

 

"And how do your friends and family feel about this newfound power of yours?"

 

"Make way, coming through! Move it, jerk!" Enid shoved her way through the crowd so that she and Rad were up front.

 

You stayed far in the back. Not too far to where you couldn't see your brother, but not close enough to where you could be seen.

 

Heh. So much for you being under 'constant supervision'.

 

"Not to brag, but me and K.O. go way back to the beginning of last week. N.B.D." Enid most definitely bragged.

 

"And I sort of act as K.O.'s best friend slash life coach slash older brother figure. We're really close," Rad declared.

 

Uh, yeah, no. The only way Rad would ever truly act like K.O.'s big brother figure is if the two of you were to get married.

 

And that is never gonna happen.

 

No.

 

"K.O.! Can I have your autograph?!"

 

"Ha, sure kid."

 

K.O., that bunny girl is most definitely older than you.

 

You're fairly sure of that at least.

 

K.O. was really wrapped up in signing autographs, with that really smug smile still on his face.

 

You feel a metal hand wrap around your wrist and are pulled from the crowd.

 

"Ah!"

 

You're dragged across the street to Boxmore. Everyone is so invested in your brother that they don't notice.

 

You aren't letting yourself be dragged away easily, you're wiggling something fierce.

 

"Hey! Stop moving so much!"

 

Oh.

 

It's Darrell.

 

"When I'm dragged away and I don't know who's doing the dragging I struggle. Why am I being kidnapped again?"

 

"Daddy heard about K.O. becoming level one hundred and wants to put his nemesis to the test."

 

You roll your eyes.

 

"He's really sticking to calling my little brother his nemesis, huh?"

 

"Yeah."

 

You get tired of being dragged and just start walking alongside Darrell.

 

"I assume that whatever Boxman has in store, it's something big?"

 

"Huge! He's been saving it for a special occasion and I get to help him execute his plan this time!"

 

"You're being oddly nice to someone that's friends with enemies of your dad. Why is that?"

 

Darrell leads you into a room that has higher ceilings that the previous ones did.

 

"Well, Lord Boxdad decided that since you aren't a hero, we aren't technically enemies. But since you're friends with heroes, you're fair game to use as a hostage."

 

Ah. Classic villain logic.

 

Gotta hate it.

 

"Okay, Dad'll be pressing the button soon, so we need to get in."

 

"...get into what?"

 

You know you're a hostage, but you can't find it in you to care all that much.

 

"This!"

 

Darrell flips on a light switch and yeah.

 

This is pretty huge.

 

"Okay, c'mon. Let's go."

 

Darrell pushes you gently into the cockpit of the giant version of himself, which happens to be in the head.

 

Almost as soon as you're inside and the door shuts, the giant Darrell is put into a box and you can feel it get transported to the plaza.

 

"Say hello to my latest creation," Boxman says menacingly as his desk hovers nearby. "I call him, Big Darrell."

 

The head tilts to show Darrell at the controls, but he pushed you down before that so that you wouldn't be seen.

 

Probably for more drama once it's revealed you've been caught.

 

"I've upgraded him to be level negative one hundred! Ba-ha-ha!" Boxman gloated.

 

Meanwhile, the crowd below looks on in a rising state of worry.

 

K.O. saunters up confidently.

 

"You really think this bucket of bolts will be able to stop me? Heh. I stomped you once and I'll stomp you again, Lord Buttman!"

 

"Okay, but he didn't even really do anything the first time he faced your dad," you said to Darrell.

 

Darrell just shrugs. He's just doing whatever his dad tells him to do, he doesn't ask a lot of questions.

 

The crowd below cheers your brother on.

 

"You're going down, robo-dweeb!"

 

'K.O. Honey. As your sister I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it won't be that easy. Also, I'm definitely threatening to sue now.'

 

"Level one hundred takedown!"

 

Your brother flies at Big Darrell, who promptly flicks him in the face.

 

Okay. You'll give your brother all the smooches that he wants once you get out of here because you love him to death. But despite the fact that you love him and would do anything for him, he kind of needs to be shown that getting overconfident just because you're, supposedly, a high level is very dangerous.

 

"Darrell. I know that you're doing what Boxman told you to do, but I don't think I need to remind you that I love my little brother vey much and would do anything for him, do I?"

 

Darrell flinched, remembering that you effortlessly brought him down two days ago and ripped his head off like it was nothing. He shook his head rapidly.

 

"Good. That being said, go as easy on K.O. as you can, alright?"

 

Confused, but still pretty terrified of you suddenly snapping and repeating what you did on Monday, Darrell nodded slowly. It'd be hard to hold back, Big Darrell was made to dominate after all.

 

But he'd try.

 

"Stand back everyone! I'm gonna smack this chump down!" K.O. declared firmly.

 

Big Darrell wasn't even fazed by K.O.'s attacks.

 

"Huh?"

 

Big Darrell smacked a hand over K.O. and picked him up.

 

Instead of crushing K.O. right away like Lord Boxman wanted, Darrell had Big Darrell write 'GET WRECKT' in the pavement.

 

"Ha!"

 

Well, Boxman was clearly amused.

 

Also, your brother very hardheaded. Literally.

 

The crowd gasped in horror as Big Darrell pushed K.O. into a hole.

 

Boxman and Darrell laughed evilly while Big Darrell gave Boxman a fist bump.

 

K.O. burst angrily out of the ground and glared angrily at Big Darrell. He took his POW card out briefly before kissing it.

 

"Mwahahaha!" Big Darrell laughed obnoxiously. "Hey!" He squinted his eye at your brother. "Seriously, are you on your phone?! So rude. Give me that!"

 

"Hey!" K.O. yelled angrily.

 

"Oh," Big Darrell said as he got a good look at what exactly it was he had. "Your own POW card. Rude and narcissistic!"

 

"Give it back!" K.O. demanded.

 

"You want it so bad? Come get it."

 

Darrell made K.O. jump up and down in a desperate attempt to get his card back.

 

"What am I even doing here? Is there a point to me being here?"

 

"Shh! You're here in case we need to make your friends think twice about attacking. That's what Lord Boxdad said anyway," Darrell whispered. "So just sit back and enjoy the show."

 

"Hoo hoo! This is rich!" Boxman giddily said as he pulled out some sunglasses and popcorn.

 

"Argh! Come on!"

 

"Fine," Big Darrell said. "You want it so bad? Go fetch."

 

And then he flicked it so hard it made it's own little crater.

 

"No!"

 

K.O. rushed to see if his POW card was okay.

 

"Huh? Level zero?"

 

Oh. So it was a glitch after all.

 

You knew it had to be, but this had to be devastating for your brother.

 

It didn't help that his POW card just shattered.

 

"It was just a glitch all along?"

 

The crowd gasped and you could see some people put away some merchandise of your brother.

 

When had they found the time to either make or buy that?

 

Big Darrell loomed over your brother, annoyed he was ignoring the fight.

 

"Quit spacing out will ya?"

 

You slapped Darrell on the arm.

 

"Be nice, he's a little boy that doesn't know when to not bite off more than he can chew. He's still learning."

 

"Um... Wait. Let's call it off for now."

 

"Ha! What I'm about to do to you will be the worst thing that's ever happened to you. And the last! 'Cause you'll be destroyed!"

 

Big Darrell's right hand became a giant spiked ball.

 

You slapped Darrell's arm harder.

 

"Ow! Why?!"

 

"Be glad that slapping your arm is all I'm doing. Also, how is that hurting you but not me? You're made of metal!"

 

Darrell decided that he'd focus on your brother. He'd try to take it easy and just lightly maim K.O. instead of outright destroying him.

 

He didn't want to imagine what you'd do to him if he actually destroyed K.O.

 

"Take th-!"

 

"Yah!"

 

Enid came swinging by thanks to Rad's telekinesis and kicked Big Darrell in the face before grabbing a spike and slamming him into the ground. Effectively making him stuck.

 

"Don't worry, K.O.! We got your back!" Enid said confidently.

 

"After all, I'm level two!" Rad casually bragged as he floated nearby.

 

"And I'm level three! I don't know what level your sister is but I'm sure she'll help out, too!"

 

Not while in this dome you won't.

 

"So together... We just might be able to-!"

 

Big Darrell got unstuck in time to be jumped by Rad and Enid, who were chewing on his face.

 

Why.

 

"Get off me you... You..."

 

"Filthy monsters," Boxman whispered.

 

"You filthy monsters!"

 

Big Darrell grabbed Enid and Rad and threw them to the ground.

 

"Rad! Enid! (Y/N)? (Y/N)! Where is she?!"

 

"Ahahahahahaha!"

 

Bid Darrell had his hands on his hips as he laughed triumphantly.

 

"Take a look, weaklings!"

 

He tilted his head to show you and Darrell sitting inside.

 

"Hey K.O. I got kidnapped again. Second day in a row. I hope this doesn't become its own thing."

 

Big Darrell sneered down at the trampled trio.

 

"Better think twice before doing something drastic! Or else..."

 

You could see people were upset by the fact that your brother wasn't actually level one hundred, but he didn't care.

 

K.O. had been so wrapped up in all the attention from people that he didn't even know, he didn't notice when the person that loved him unconditionally and showered him with all the attention he could ever want went missing!

 

All that mattered was making sure you got out of Big Darrell safely. But, he was only level zero!

 

"Wait a minute! You guys are two, you're four, Rad and Enid are two and three, uh... Mr. Logic! Can you add up everyone's levels?"

 

Mr. Logic scanned the entire crowd, using facial recognition to look them up in the hero database and see what level they were at.

 

"Everyone here in the plaza adds up to..."

 

"Ten! Is it ten?" Colewort inquired.

 

"One hundred!"

 

The crowd began to murmur amongst itself.

 

"Did you hear that, guys?" K.O. asked. "If we were all one hero, well, you'd be my most prized POW card!"

 

"You guys thinking what I'm thinking?" Red Action asked, looking around at everyone.

 

"Yeah!" everyone cheered.

 

"No?" Colewort stated.

 


"Oh, Darrell, you're doing such a good job!" Boxman praised.

 

"Wow! Uh, thanks, Dad! I never heard you say that before."

 

A fact that you were well aware of yesterday.

 

"And as for you- Uh. Remind me what your name is again?"

 

"(Y/N). Also, this whole kidnapping me thing had better not become a regular thing. I've got stuff going on in my life that doesn't need to be interrupted."

 

Boxman coughed.

 

"Yes. Well. As I was saying, you've been a very cooperative hostage, (Y/N)."

 

"Was that supposed to be a compliment?"

 

"Uh... No?"

 

"You have no idea what you're doing, do you?"

 

"I do too!"

 

"Pretty sure you don't, but agree to disagree I guess."

 

"Hm?" Darrell 'hm'ed, attention on the chattering crowd.

 

Everyone, save for your brother, jumped in the air and landed on your brother's hand in the shape of a giant fist.

 

"Me?" K.O. said in disbelief.

 

"Oh, big arm. Wow. More like big whoop! Am I right, Dad?"

 

"Come on, kid!" Red Action called.

 

"But, I'm just level zero," K.O. argued. "I can't do anything."

 

Your heart went out to your baby brother, but you doubted he could hear you if you tried to send words of encouragement.

 

"Sure you can, K.O.!" Rad encouraged. "You just gotta give it a good smack!"

 

K.O., now properly inspired, turned to face Big Darrell and gave him a good smack.

 

This cut the big bot in half, leaving a hole for you and Darrell to exit from. Well, you exited from it, Darrell crawled from it and then blew up.

 

"No! Oh, those wretched do-gooders! Wretched do-gooders! You haven't seen the last of-"

 

Boxman fell off his desk and into a bush. His desk just kept going to who knows where.

 

"Aah!!!!"

 

Boxman screeched angrily and basically ran like a crab back to Boxmore.

 

You walked back to the bodega, and K.O. jumped into your arms.

 

"(Y/N)! I'm so glad you're ok!"

 

He was crying a little.

 

"Hey, there's no need to cry. I'm fine, I'm here."

 

"Nice job out there, Squirt!" Enid praised as she took K.O. from you and set him down.

 

"As for you young lady, you should have stuck closer to me and Rad!"

 

Enid was holding your shoulders and shaking you slightly.

 

"Do you have any idea how worried we were when we saw you in that thing?!"

 

"Why worry about me? I'm not important."

 

Rad spun you around and finally looked you dead straight in the eye after not doing so all day.

 

"Wrong. Like it or not, Enid and I think of you as our friend. You're important to us!"

 

Rad hugged you tightly.

 

In his opinion, it was the bravest thing he'd ever done in his life so far. Friend or not, you were still terrifying.

 

"Huh?" you heard K.O. question.

 

You looked over your shoulder because Rad refused to let go and saw K.O. reassemble his POW card.

 

"You see this?! Huh? I'm point one! I'm point one! I'm point one! Only ninety-nine point nine more levels to go! Woo-hoo!"

 

You chuckled.

 

"Power levels aren't everything, and I should really tell K.O. that, but I'll let him celebrate for now."

 

Rad still hadn't let go.

 

"Mmhmm..."

 

You sighed and wrapped your arms around Rad and gently patted his back.

 

"There, there. You can let go now, it's starting to get awkward."

 

"Wha-? OH! Uh, right, sorry! My bad! I'll just be inside the bodega! Washed your mom's car like you said by the way! Bye!"

 

Rad nearly tripped over himself in his attempt to get away from you and not further embarrass himself.

 

It didn't work.

 

He fell flat on his face and Enid laughed.

Chapter Text

While the crowd dispersed and Enid and K.O.-and Rad, after he stopped being an embarrassed dork-cleaned up Big Darrell's severed remains, you were making a very important phone call.

 

"POW Card Industries, how may I direct your call?"

 

"Hi, yeah, I'd like to speak to Mr. Powio B. Cardsley," you stated, trying to keep your voice as calm as you can.

 

"Mr. Cardsley is a very busy man. I'm afraid that he's unavailable at the moment. You can leave a message and Mr. Cardsley will get back to you at his earliest convenience."

 

Ha ha ha. No.

 

You know that won't happen.

 

"What's your name, Miss?"

 

"Uh... Georgina Thaddeus. Why?"

 

"Tell me, Georgina, do you have any younger siblings or children?"

 

"Yes? I- I don't see how this is rele-"

 

"Do you care about them? Would you do anything to make sure their safety was a certainty? Because I would and do. And let me tell you. POW Card Industries made a colossal mistake that just could have gotten my little brother killed. All because his POW card read as him being level one hundred when he was, in actuality, level zero. And then he proceeded to take on a level negative one hundred villain. Do you see where I'm going with this, Georgina?"

 

"I- I- Um-"

 

"Connect my call to Mr. Cardsley - who, by the way, I know for a fact isn't the least bit busy - NOW."

 

"R-Right away, M-Ma'am."

 

You heard her put you on hold while she no doubt raced to Cardsley's office to make sure he picked up the phone. The receiver was picked up and you heard snippets of a conversation from the other side.

 

"Didn't... Extremely busy?"

 

"Yes... She sounds... Possible lawsuit..."

 

At the mention of 'lawsuit', the phone was presumably grabbed by Mr. Cardsley, seeing as how he answered rather nervously.

 

"Hello! This is Powio B. Cardsley speaking! How can I help you?"

 

"I believe you know exactly how you can help me, Cardsley. I'll tell to you what I told the receptionist. POW Card Industries distributed my brother's POW card, stating that he was level one hundred when he was really level zero. He then went on to fight a level negative one hundred villain. All because your company made a mistake and he believed that he could handle a challenge that big."

 

"Well, I'm, sorry to hear about the mistake. But I don't see how we could be held responsible for your brother's ac-"

 

"July 31st, 1988. The up and coming hero, Kickbox Kid, faced well-known villain Heatsmore in an epic showdown that resulted in Kickbox Kid's untimely death. Now. Refresh my memory, Mr. Cardsley. Why did Kickbox Kid, a level fourteen hero, take on Heatsmore, a level negative thirty villain, when she obviously had no business in doing so?"

 

"B-Because-"

 

"BECAUSE. Due to a manufacturing error. The numbers had been flipped. Kickbox Kid's POW card read forty-one instead of fourteen. And what did her family do when this information was leaked to the public?"

 

"...sued."

 

"Very good Cardsley. Now. Thankfully, this particular situation didn't end that way. But it could have. I know damn well that POW Card Industries has severely upgraded it's production line to make sure mistakes like this don't happen. What I want is simple. You find out why this happened, compensate my family for the medical bills we'll receive after we take my brother to the hospital to make sure nothing's been permanently damaged, and I won't sue your ass for everything you own. And if you don't. Well... You know your company can't handle anymore bad publicity, Mr. Cardsley. Do you understand and are willing to comply with my demands?"

 

"Y-yes. I understand. We'll investigate immediately and get back to you when we find anything. And I will personally call whatever hospital it is you plan on visiting to make sure they know to send the bills our way."

 

"Good. We'll be going to Neutral Zone Regional Hospital. Have a pleasant evening, Mr. Cardsley."

 

You hung up after making sure that Cardsley got your name correct so that the hospital knew not to bill you.

 

Oh boy, you know you are not one of Cardsley's favorite people right now.

 

Good. You and his company are even then in the favoritism of one another factor.

 

Heading back into the bodega, you were met with a distraught Mr. Gar.

 

"Gah!" Gar shouted frustratedly as he punched a nearby sandbag, causing it to explode. "You had one job, Eugene! One! Make sure (Y/N) doesn't get kidnapped again! And what happens?! She gets kidnapped the moment you and your other employees take your eyes off of her!"

 

He hunched in on himself suddenly, the room becoming slightly chilly.

 

"Oh Carol is going to kill me when she finds out."

 

"No she won't," you scoffed.

 

"GAH!"

 

Mr. Gar flinched at the sound of your voice. When he realized it was you, he visibly relaxed.

 

"Oh. Oh thank goodness you're not your mother. A-and you're also safe!"

 

The macho man chuckled awkwardly. God, were K.O. and the others still cleaning up Big Darrell?

 

It was just you and Gar in the store at the moment.

 

Y'know. Now that you think about it, you could swear that you've heard and seen Mr. Gar somewhere before. You just couldn't quite place your finger on it.

 

"So. Now that you're safe and all... Uh... Do you, wanna talk? About it? I know that being kidnapped can be quite nerve-wracking. Not that I've ever been kidnapped! I've just. Seen what it can do to people."

 

This is worse. He trying to connect with you.

 

"Do you want to talk about why you freeze up whenever my mom is around or even mentioned?"

 

You slowly raised an eyebrow at Mr. Gar and he suddenly seemed very interested in the very well mopped floor.

 

"Didn't think so," was your slightly snarky reply.

 

Finally, after what seemed like forever of awkward silence, K.O., Rad, and Enid came back inside.

 

"Ugh," Enid grunted as she kicked her feet up on the counter. "Boxman really needs to not make such huge robots. They're a pain to clean up."

 

"Yeah," Rad agreed as he leaned against the counter. "They take up way too much space and junk."

 

K.O., still giddy from finding out he's gone up by one decimal point, paused in his self-celebration to check on you.

 

"Are you okay? You're not hurt?"

 

You smiled tiredly at your brother as you leaned down to pick him up.

 

"No. I'm fine. But we'll be going to the hospital to make sure you're doing just fine, Baby Bro."

 

"The hospital? Isn't that a bit much?" Rad questioned.

 

You stared at him with a deadpan expression.

 

"Level. Negative. One hundred. Giant. Robot."

 

Rad coughed awkwardly.

 

"Uh. Right."

 

Honestly. Some heroes just thought that they were completely invulnerable to everything their enemies threw at them.

 

Okay, you'll admit that some of them were invulnerable - with the melting pot of powers there were bound to be a handful - but that didn't mean that all of them could handle just about anything.

 

"So-o-o-o-o..." Enid dragged out. "What are we gonna tell your mom?"

 

Mr. Gar's body locked up at that question.

 

What your mom doesn't know won't hurt her.

 

"We tell her that K.O. got in over his slightly inflated head," your brother made a little noise of protest at that, "And we say nothing about me getting taken hostage. Agreed?"

 

Rad and Enid exchanged slightly concerned looks with each other.

 

"I'm not sure that's such a good idea, (Y/N)," Enid began slowly. "I mean, it was just yesterday that you got kidnapped by Boxmore, and it happened again today! I feel like this is something your mom would want to know about..."

 

"Yeah," Rad scratched the back of his neck nervously. "She made it pretty clear that she wanted us to keep a close eye on you."

 

"Right," you cut him off. "But obviously, that didn't happen. My mother is a very understanding woman. She is also a very overprotective one. If she were to find out that you all failed at the task she assigned to you - well really she asked Mr. Gar to do it and he roped the three of you into helping him watch me - she would flip. Not at you. Just flip in general. She'd probably have both K.O. and I quit working here and close up her dojo for good so that she could keep an eye on both of us nearly twenty-four seven at home."

 

You're exaggerating... But only a little. Mom had been a bit like what you're describing when D- ...when you turned twelve.

 

"Now," you continued. "You are all aware of how much K.O. loves working here."

 

"I love it so much!" your brother chimed in.

 

"Thank you, Sweetie. See? It would absolutely break his little heart if he couldn't come work here Monday through Friday anymore. You don't want to break this precious angel's heart. Do you?"

 

You held K.O. up so that the three of them could see his precious face. He had the puppy dog eyes going full force.

 

You don't know anyone that can say no to 'the face'. Especially if they know how loveable your brother is.

 

Their resolve was wavering, you could see the cracks in their armor getting bigger.

 

Mr. Gar sighed.

 

"Okay. We don't bring this up to C- C- C-" He had to stop to compose himself. "...to your mother. BUT. We'll be doing a better job of keeping an eye on you whenever Boxmore attacks. For some reason they've taken an interest in you and that's never a good thing. Rad! Enid!"

 

"Sir!" they shouted in unison while saluting.

 

"Be ever vigilant in watching your coworker's back!"

 

"Yes sir!"

 

Mr. Gar sighed tiredly while massaging the bridge of his nose.

 

"Good. I'll be in my office. Don't disturb me."

 

Mr. Gar went to his office-most likely to brood was your guess-leaving the four of you to yourselves.

 

"Welp. We gotta go get our mom and let her know that K.O. needs to be seen by a doctor. We'll see the two of you tomorrow."

 

Rad and Enid offered halfhearted goodbyes, clearly still not comfortable with the fact that your mom would be in the dark about you getting abducted again.

 

Well unfortunately for them, since you were 'fair game to kidnap', as Darrell put it, you would probably be getting abducted far more often than most people who are acquainted with heroes do.

 


Your mother, to say the least, was not happy when you told her what happened in the parking lot.

 

The whole 'Big Darrell vs. K.O.' thing not the 'you got kidnapped again' thing.

 

Obviously. You just had a whole conversation about not telling her that.

 

Anyhow, where were you? Oh yes.

 

Your mother was not happy.

 

You're pretty sure she broke several traffic laws rushing to the hospital.

 

Fortunately, no one was injured due to her reckless driving.

 

Even more fortunately, despite a little bruising and some expected soreness, your brother was just fine. The medical personnel reassured you that POW Card Industries would be footing the bill for your visit. 

 

You made sure when you all got home that K.O. took some Motrin before he went to sleep to help keep the soreness down while he slept.

 

You think that it's your brother your mom should have people keep a closer eye on.

 

He's a hero and your whole wide world after all.

Chapter Text

Watching you leave the bodega and not being able to follow and tell your mom you'd been held hostage again because they had promised not to was extremely difficult for Rad and Enid to do. Enid's legs kept violently twitching against the legs of the stool she was perched upon. She was just itching to do a triple flip over the checkout counter and Naruto Dash towards your mom's car before she could speed off towards the hospital. It just seemed like she was letting your mom down as a hero sworn to protect others and also letting you down as a... A coworker? No. A... friend? Yeah. It felt like she was letting you down as a friend, even if you didn't consider her to be a friend to you. Enid wasn't exactly sure she'd label herself as your friend either, but calling you her 'friendly acquaintance' sounded weird and more than a little creepy to her.

 

Rad wasn't faring any better than his aloof friend.

 

Honestly it was kind of tearing the big lug up inside a little bit.

 

It was obvious to him-and just about anyone else who bothered to pay attention to how you interacted with others - that Boxmore, and more specifically Buttman and his creepy kids had taken a disturbing interest in you. An interest that you didn't seem to really be aware of. Or if you were aware of it you sure weren't showing any signs that it bothered you in the slightest. Maybe it did bother you. But more than likely, knowing what he did about your personality and general thinking about just about everything, you simply didn't care that Boxmore had its sights set on kidnapping you on a regular basis. And your general disregard for your safety honestly freaked him out more than you getting kidnapped did.

 

And so did you letting him hug you in the parking lot earlier, but Rad attributed that to the fact that you were probably either tired or caught off guard by it. Or both.

 

The faint buzz of the ceiling lights was the only noise throughout the entirety of the bodega. None of the usual last minute customers were in the store. It was just Rad, Enid, and Mr. Gar who had retreated into his office and issued the order to not be disturbed.

 

"...so," Rad flinced at the sound of Enid's voice breaking the silent ambiance of the room.

 

One of Rad's antenna twitched in annoyance when Enid didn't continue whatever it was she so obviously wanted to say.

 

"So?" he asked, hoping to get what Enid had to share out in the open.

 

"Today was a complete and utter mess," she stated matter-of-factly.

 

Rad side eyed Enid for a moment before completely deflating with a huge sigh.

 

"Yeah... Definitely not one of out finer moments," he agreed.

 

Uncomfortable silence filled the store once more. Rad coughed awkwardly as Enid half-heartedly scrolled through Social Media.

 

Rad shifted his weight from side to side slightly in an attempt to ward off the uncomfortable atmosphere closing in on him and Enid, to no avail.

 

"Hey... Do you think (Y/N) was serious about her mom not letting her and K.O. work here anymore? I mean, if we had told her mom," Rad asked.

 

Enid huffed out a sigh.

 

"To be honest, I'm not sure. While K.O. calls the two of us his friends, we actually don't know a lot about him or his family. For all we know, (Y/N) was just exaggerating. But then again, maybe she wasn't."

 

"Maybe," Rad agreed. "While we're talking about it, we all know that K.O. loves working here, but do you think (Y/N) likes it at all?"

 

Enid got a thoughtful look on her face while she briefly contemplated the question.

 

"Nah. I don't think she enjoys working here at all."

 

"Well that was quick," Rad commented, a little put off by how fast his coworker had answered his inquiry.

 

Enid shrugged her shoulders absentmindedly.

 

"Is it really all that surprising? It doesn't seem like she hates it here, but she sure doesn't seem to like it either. I think she only puts up with it because K.O. works here. It's not like she comes in everyday to see us."

 

Rad scoffed, brushing off that comment.

 

"Pfft! As if she doesn't want to come hang out with one of the coolest heroes the plaza has ever seen!"

 

Enid rolled her eyes at Rad's typical 'trying to hard to be cool' personality. She rolled up a nearby magazine and whacked him over the head with it.

 

"Ow!" Rad rubbed the back of his cranium tenderly. "What was that for?!"

 

"Open your eyes you meatloaf. True, she doesn't act like working with us is the worst possible thing in the world. She's polite and will talk to us. But that's usually only if we start the conversation. And her politeness is the creepy, 'I was raised to be polite to everyone' kind of polite. K.O.'s a little kid. Little kids make friends easily all the time. Not that I'm saying that we're only friends with him because that's just how it works with little kids. But they just make friends faster than us teenagers do. And I'm positive (Y/N) doesn't see us as friends."

 

Rad's antenna drooped. So Enid wasn't getting anywhere with you on the whole friendship thing either. Granted, they hadn't known you for long - and he felt as though this fact would be brought up several more times - but he at least thought that you'd want to chat with them a little!

 

Enid checked her phone before hopping down from her stool.

 

"Welp. Quittin' time. See you tomorrow."

 

With that, the purple haired teen headed on home, Rad following suit soon after.

 


"Hey Mom, hey Dad! I'm back!"

Rad tossed his beat-up backpack onto the couch in the living room as he made his presence known to his parents.

 

He heard a series of metallic clangs and the sound of something with some weight to it being dropped onto the floor of the kitchen.

 

The scene before Rad was one that he had become accustomed to ever since he could remember.

 

"Hello, Radicles! Back from grinding the daily I see!"

 

"You mean 'the daily grind', Dad," Rad corrected gently.

 

His father, Ofrang, had always had a little trouble with all of Earth's sayings. His mom, Theodosia, had a much better time with them than his dad did.

 

"Ah yes! And how was your day of receiving your monetary gain?"

 

"Work was fine, Dad."

 

"Splendid!" Ofrang gushed as he continued stirring whatever was in the pot.

 

Rad rolled his eyes good-naturedly at his Dad's enthusiasm. He was always so interested to know about whatever was going on in Rad's life.

 

"Hello, Sweetie. How was work?" Theodosia asked as she entered the kitchen.

 

"Hi, Mom," Rad greeted as she kissed his cheek. "Work was good. I got to fight a giant robot with Enid and K.O. today."

 

And the rest of the plaza, but details details.

 

"Mrrrr," came a lazy purr from below.

 

Rad's entire figure softened up at the sight of his precious kitten. He cooed at her as he stooped down to pick her up.

 

"Hi, Duchess. How was my precious baby today? Did you behave?"

 

Duchess blinked up lazily at Rad before softly kneading at his chest.

 

Rad chuckled at her. He was honestly surprised that Duchess had adapted to living with him and his parents so quickly. He had expected her to be a nervous wreck, especially with the renovations they were doing to the, currently, one-story house.

 

But no. She had adapted well and they were all slowly getting into a routine with each other.

 

When Rad had brought Duchess home his parents immediately began to coo and fawn over the adorable little ball of fluff. When asked where he had gotten her, he had said that he had found her in the alley, which was true.

 

What he hadn't told them was that you were also there. He would never hear the end of it if his parents ever found out that someone had given Duchess to him. They knew how much he loved cats and would immediately jump to the conclusion that he and you were dating or one of you was in the process of asking the other out.

 

Yeah. He was fine with his parents not knowing you gave Duchess to him. Not that they didn't know you existed. And boy, were they fascinated by you! Someone who isn't interested in being a hero working at a supply store for heroes? Unheard of!

 

If they ever got to meet you, Rad was sure you would murder him and hide his body where no one would ever find it after they got done badgering you with questions.

 


You woke with a startled gasp.

 

Another creepy nightmare. Only this time, that weird voice with the beady red eyes was showing you an alternate scenario in which your brother had been crushed to a bloody pulp by Big Darrell. Nothing but a sticky, red, squishy mess in the parking lot. The voice said that this scenario could have very well happened and that if you hadn't instilled that trace amount of fear into the Boxmore Brats, it more than likely would have.

 

There really wasn't any point in whatever it was showing  you that.

 

Maybe you should consider talking to someone about these bizarre nightmares.

 

But you know that you're not going to do that.

 

Groggily, you pulled your useless dead weight out of bed and trudged downstairs.

 

"Hey, Mom," you greeted while stifling a yawn.

 

Your mother turned around swiftly and embraced you tightly. Squeezing the air out of your lungs.

 

"Mom-! C-Can't b-bre-e-e-e-e-eath!"

 

"Oh!" she cried out in alarm, releasing you from her steel grip. "Sorry, Pumpkin! I just- I was-"

 

You placed a hand on her shoulder in a comforting manner.

 

"You were worried yesterday and didn't get the chance to say that you're glad K.O. and I are alright. I understand."

 

She sighed tiredly at your assessment, her body deflating a little.

 

"Yeah... Here I am, probably faced just as bad if not worse when I was both your ages, and I'm becoming a nervous wreck."

 

"There's no need to feel upset about that. We're your kids. I'm sure Grandma and Grandpa were worried whenever you got yourself into tough situations! K.O. and I are fine, though he may be all bruised up and sore whenever he wakes up. We still have healing potion in the medicine cabinet, yeah?"

 

"Checked as soon as we got home last night. That'll take care of whatever bruises and pain he's still feeling."

 

You nodded in approval. Your mother was never the kind to buy the cheap healing potion. Her children's health had always been top priority to her. You remember one time, back when she was still with P.O.I.N.T., you had gotten a cold.

 

The babysitter had gone out to get you some medicine because you happened to be all out.

 

Your mom - as well as your dad - was away at work and you were all alone with a rising fever. The drugstore was a bit far from where you lived at the time, so the babysitter wouldn't have been back for a while. By then, it would have gotten worse.

 

Somehow, you managed to get your aching body to the phone and dialed your mom's number.

 

She had picked up, and you could here the sounds of fighting in the background.

 

When you told her the babysitter went out to get you cold medicine, she said that she'd be home right away and that she'd see you soon.

 

The point here is, your mom cares about you and K.O. more than anything else in the world.

 

She'll drop everything she's doing at the moment if the two of you ever need her.

 


When K.O. finally managed to drag his little beaten body out of bed he was, predictably, extremely sore and littered with bruises.

 

Your mom made sure that K.O. drank all the healing potion that she had poured for him. Remember how you said your mom didn't get the cheap stuff? Well, aside from being a bit more pricey, the better healing potions were also very bitter. No flavorings here, unlike at the bodega.

 

Within a few minutes of ingesting the bitter concoction, K.O. already sowed signs of improvement. By the time he'd finished his bath and got ready to go to work, he was completely better.

 

The atmosphere of the bodega had greatly improved since last night. Rad and Enid greeted you and K.O. like they always did, Mr. Gar gave you two your assignments for the day, and you got to work.

 

You would be helping Enid at the checkout counter. You could understand why she didn't seem to ever want to put her full effort into doing this. These people were crazy! With all the pushing and shoving it was a wonder anyone got to make their purchases at all!

 

K.O. and Rad would be cleaning the store, as usual. Which is lucky for K.O. because he loves cleaning, for whatever reason.

 

You could tell that Rad and Enid wanted to talk with you from how they kept glancing at you and at each other. More than likely they wanted to discuss what had happened yesterday, at least that's the conclusion you came up with. Why would they want to talk about anything else with you? And what else could they want to talk with you about anyway?

 

Unfortunately for the two of them, whatever they wanted to discuss with you would have to wait because at that moment the plaza alarm went off.

 

You would think that the plaza goers would be used to Boxman's frequent attacks on the plaza, but no. It was still mass hysteria as the alarm continued to blare without end and the shutters came down over the shop's windows.

 

Your brother and coworkers all rushed outside to deliver a beat down to whichever robot or robots Boxman had decided to send over to the plaza this time. You made sure that the cash register was locked up and no money was left laying out before you pocketed the key-to be returned later! You weren't a thief!-and moseyed on outside.

 

Ah. It was both Darrell and Shannon.

 

"Greetings, Lakewood Losers!" Shannon snarkily insulted. "Today's the day your precious plaza gets obliterated!"

 

"Yeah!" Darrell happily agreed as his left hand shifted into a cannon. "We're gonna reduce this place to rubble!"

 

Enid yawned and rolled her eyes. Rad scoffed as he got into a fighting stance. K.O. grit his fists in determination.

 

He was going to do his best to not let any of Boxmore's robots get the better of him like yesterday.  

 

You pulled your phone out of your purse and checked the time. Hmm.

 

"It's a little early for Boxman to be attacking the plaza. Guess he's trying to shake things up to throw you three off guard."

 

Shannon and Darrell glanced at you briefly before returning their attentions to Rad, Enid, and K.O. You didn't really care, seeing as how you weren't one of the people that would be fighting them.

 

...as long as they didn't do unnecessary damage to your brother, that is.

 

And so the fighting began.

 

You won't go into details, but there were blows delivered from both sides. More from the hero side than the villain.

 

Darrell and Shannon were breathing hard, somehow. Really it didn't make any sense why they appeared to be breathing. They were robots and therefore didn't need to breath. But whatever, you really don't care.

 

"Alright team, let's put an end to this!" Rad stated confidently.

 

"It's time for a Team Power Move!" your brother exclaimed excitedly.

 

"First comes Enid!" the purple haired teen yelled as she kicked your brother towards Rad, setting him on fire just a little.

 

Just a little.

 

"Then comes Radicles!"

 

Rad caught your brother with a telekinetic net.

 

"Then comes K.O.!"

 

Your brother was shot towards Shannon and Darrell at a pretty good speed.

 

"Aw dagit," Shannon muttered as she and her brother were blasted all the way back to Boxmore. Screaming all the way there.

 

"A-a-a-a-and garbage taken out," Enid stated smugly as she wiped her hands together.

 

Your brother picked himself up off of the ground with an excited gasp.

 

"We did it guys!"

 

"More importantly," you interjected. "You all did it as a team."

 

"Right," Enid agreed, shrugging her shoulders. "But as with any team, there was one member who did a little more of the work. Therefore, all of the work."

 

She finished that statement by pointing at herself and bobbing her head from side to side a little.

 

No. Enid. That's not how it works.

 

"Tha-a-a-a-a-at's big of you to admit, Enid," Rad began as he made Enid point to himself. "And you're right. This was moi victory. So kind of you to point it out."

 

Enid got right in Rad's face and squished his nose with her finger.

 

"Your victory?! I kick started the entire attack! I clearly deserve the credit!"

 

"Well without my bungee net, there would have been no momentum!" Rad clicked his tongue at Enid. "You might as well not have eve been there."

 

They were now forehead to forehead. Snarling in each other's face.

 

"This was so my victory!" Enid insisted. "Me!"

 

"Oh yeah right!" Rad challenged. "I'm the true hero this bodega deserves!"

 

The two continued their childish bickering.

 

K.O. sighed.

 

"Why does this always happen?"

 

Wait. This was a regular occurrence? You weren't there for every fight that they had with Boxmore, so you didn't know.

 

No wonder Rad and Enid always seemed to be at each other's throats. If they were always fighting like this, then they would never have what it takes to become real heroes.

 

Real heroes seldom ever work alone. There are so many hero organizations that it's hard to get anywhere in the heroing world without joining one. And joining an organization means joining a team.

 

These two really need to work on their teamwork skills.

 


Meanwhile, right across the street...

 

Darrell and Shannon had busted through the widow in Boxman's office. As they slowly stopped bouncing, they got on their knees and had their hands clapped together, asking to be forgiven.

 

"We're sorry, Father, we tried!" the siblings pleaded in unison.

 

Boxman clenched his fist in annoyance. Of course those Bodega Babies won again. Because despite all his ingenious plans to lay waste to the plaza, his children always managed to botch them up!

 

"Ah yes. Tried." Boxman got up from his chair. "Tried and failed! For the last time!"

 

"Oh, I bet we could fail way more times," Darrell whispered to Shannon, who punched him for it.

 

"Quiet!"

 

"Ow!"

 

Boxman rolled his eye at his children's antics before going around them to the conveyor belt in the room.

 

"You do not need to try, you need to do!" The evil genius sighed as he rubbed the side of his head. "I knew you two would fail me again today, so. I created a new robot to succeed when you never could! Say hello to R-R-Raymond."

 

Boxman pushed the button on the remote he had produced from his pocket.

 

Shannon was not looking forward to this. Another sibling? And another brother at that! She was envious of you because you only had to deal with one brother, and you seemed to get along with yours just fine. How?! Darrell was a huge baby all of the time, Ernesto - while not being annoying - was always busy with paperwork for the company, Jethro only ever wanted to talk about existentialism.

 

Darrell, however, was always excited whenever Lord Boxman would create a new sibling. That meant that there was someone new to hang out and play with! Ernesto played a mean game of Go Fish whenever he found the time, and Jethro was really good at Monopoly. Darrell's other siblings were alright, but they didn't really have time to play, seeing as how they were robotic delivery trucks.

 

The door leading to the assembly line part of the factory opened up and steam poured out of it, indicating that a robotic body had just been put together.

 

"Aha ha ha ha ha ha ha..." came the voice of Boxmore's newest creation. "Here comes..." The silhouette of Shannon and Darrell's newest sibling leapt up into the air in a dramatic fashion, grabbing a pink rubber ball with a single rose on it. "The player of the year!"

 

"Oh..." Darrell hissed in some air. He was a sporty kind of robot. Darrell didn't really do sports, but maybe he could learn to tolerate them a little more with his new brother.

 

"Already hate him," Shannon stated with a grimace on her face.

 

Raymond snapped his fingers together and turned towards his big brother and sister.

 

"Hello dearest brother and sister, care for a friendly game of ball?"

 

Shannon, with that grimace still on her face, deadpanly said, "No thanks."

 

Darrell, wanting to establish a familial bond with his new brother, gladly accepted. "Ooh! I'm open!"

 

With that, Raymond hocked the ball into Darrell's face and it ricocheted between his and Shannon's heads.

 

"Of course, there is no game to be played when there's just one player," Raymond cheerfully sneered at his downed siblings.

 

Being programmed with the knowledge of his siblings' failures at vanquishing their father's most despised enemy meant that Raymond had a clear goal in mind to earn his father's affections. Succeed in areas where his older brother and sister could not. That would prove to his father that he was superior in every way.

 

"Brilliant introduction, Raymond! So very rude," Boxman praised he newest child.

 

Raymond bowed low to his creator.

 

"Thank you, Coach Boxman. Of course it was brilliant! You are, after all, the master engineer behind this vessel of pure athleticism," Raymond schmoozed, producing a rose from behind his father's ear.

 

Lord Boxman clapped his hands and giggled gleefully at the trick.

 

Shannon scoffed in disgust.

 

"Ech. Totally just parlor tricks with a slimy, amateur clown."

 

"Father, I will make you proud by stealing a letter from the Gar's Bodega sign. Then no one will know their store, their profits will plummet, and with that," a snap of the fingers followed, "They forfeit the business game." 

 

"I love it!" Boxman exclaimed.

 

Darrell and Shannon gasped in shock as their dad actually hugged Raymond for his idea.

 

"Raymond you're my favorite. I've always loved you!" Shannon and Darrell could feel those words hit their artificial feelings. "And I wish you two could be more like him." Another hit to the artificial feelings. Raymond sneered delightedly at his siblings emotional pain. "Let us go Raymond, and equip you with strong weapons!"

 

Raymond laughed victoriously. "Yes! Hole in one."

 

"This is all your fault, Glassbrain!" Shannon snapped at Darrell once Boxman had left. "Now Father hates me!"

 

"Oh yeah right! He hates me more!" Darrell bragged, missing the point entirely. "But he loves Raymond so much more than both of us..."

 

'True,' Shannon thought to herself. 'But I refuse to let you know I agree with you!'

 

"Psh. Raymond is gonna fail anyways. But he won't fail as spectacularly as you!"

 

"Say that again you orange, mushroom head!"

 

And so began one of Darrell and Shannon's infamous slap fights.

 


Back across the street at the bodega...

 

You looked at Rad and Enid with a bored expression. Well, more bored than usual.

 

They had been engaged in a slap fight with each other for the past twenty minutes. No one was minding the store. You could see customers inside getting more and more antsy whenever they would check on the checkout counter to see if you or Enid had returned.

 

"Okay, I'm tired of watching this. I'm going back to work. You try to get your friends to stop fighting, m'kay?"

 

You ruffled K.O.'s hair gently before resuming your duties.

 

As soon as you had stepped behind the counter here was a swarm of customers in front of you.

 

"Welcome to Gar's Hero Supply and Bodega, did you find everything that you needed?"

 

"I sure did! It's so nice to see you again, (Y/N)!"

 

"Oh. Uh, hi Mrs....?"

 

The four-armed woman laughed.

 

"Just 'Gertie' is fine, Dear! But if it makes you more comfortable, you can call me Miss Gertie!"

 

"Right. Well, it's nice to see you, too, Miss Gertie. Just the self-duplicating bread today?"

 

"Yep! When you have over three thousand kids, this kind of stuff comes in handy!"

 

"Okay, that'll be four technos and twenty-five technites. Have a nice day."

 

You'd managed to get three other people checked out before the plaza's alarm went off yet again. It goes off several times a day, which is why you don't always go out and watch the fights.

 

The shutters went down once more and most of the customers hid in the isles of the bodega.

 

You stayed where you were, fully intent on not watching this fight when something slammed against one of the store's front windows.

 

Huffing irritably, you rose up from your perch and headed outside. Looking to your left, you see Rad moaning in pain with...

 

"Why are there roller-skates on your hands."

 

But he was too disoriented to give you an articulated answer.

 

"Poor little Slugger," you looked up to see a lime green robot walking towards your turquoise coworker. "I guess you couldn't... Roll with the punches?"

 

"Why is there a robotic, flamboyant chicken telling bad jokes in the parking lot," you asked yourself.

 

Apparently, you were loud enough to be heard by said chicken, because his eyes snapped up at you in annoyance.

 

"Well! I never!"

 

You rolled your eyes.

 

"Well. Now you have."

 

One of Enid's fire ball's whooshed past the new robot's head and he turned his attention towards her.

 

"As usual I'll finish this myself."

 

Whoever he was began firing his cannon at the ninja girl, who dodged gracefully. He nearly got ahold of her, but she swapped places with a log.

 

"Drat. Where did she-"

 

"Over here, Pompadork!" Enid called from above. "Dodge this!"

 

'Pompadork'. You'd have to remember that one. It was clever.

 

Fire rained from above, but the robot was undeterred.

 

"Why would I 'dodge this', when I can just dodge ball."

 

Stop. You'll hurt yourself trying to make those jokes work, chicken robot.

 

A tsunami of dodge balls came out of the robot's chest and Enid was brought down.

 

"Eni-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-id!" your baby brother cried out in alarm. He looked like he was about to cry.

 

"Benchwarmers," whoever he was scoffed. "Now, what letter to take? Unless you intend to try and stand in my way as well?"

 

Oh. Was he talking to you now?

 

"Pft. I only work here. I don't really do the whole 'fighting robots' thing. Don't think I'll ever get around to doing it, now that I think about it."

 

The robot regarded you for a moment before becoming disinterested.

 

"Hmph. How boring. But your choices don't really concern me. Hmm... Hehehehe... 'R' for Raymond!"

 

'Raymond'? You guess that was what his name was.

 

He smacked the 'R' off of the front of the store and proceeded to walk off with it.

 

"Boom boom, shake the room."

 

You weren't really concerned that Raymond was taking the sign's 'R' with him. It's not like people wouldn't know that this was still Mr. Gar's store or anything like that.

 

K.O. on the other hand seemed to be very upset by this.

 

"That's not his name!" he whimpered out before standing in Raymond's path. "Not so fast, Raymond! It's time for the final ba-"

 

Raymond kept walking by, not paying attention to your brother.

 

'Rude. What to do to get his attention? He's a sports nut, so... Ha! Perfect...'

 

You leaned down to whisper what you wanted your brother to say to Raymond.

 

"Hey! Raymond! Where'd you learn to spike? Little League?"

 

"Who dares?" Raymond asked, all offended.

 

Your brother laughed triumphantly.

 

"Fight me, Raymond!"

 

"Hmm..." Raymond squinted his eyes at K.O., assessing whether or not he'd be a worth opponent. "Pass."

 

"Hey!"

 

K.O. began running towards Raymond, intent on bringing the fight to him.

 

"Penalty box!"

 

In went your brother shaped like a boy and out came your brother shaped like a basketball.

 

"Why. Just. Why."

 

Raymond lobbed your brother through the roof of the internet café.

 

"Nothing but net."

 

You're going to hurt this one. But not physically. Oh no. It's his pride and ego that needs a beating.

 

You heard rustling in the bushes and arguing over whose fault it was that 'Lord Boxdad' hated them now.

 

Your brother rolled up and finally went back to normal.

 

"Fight me, Raym- Oh. Hi guys," he greeted Shannon and Darrell. "What are you two doing here?"

 

The siblings exchanged a look before pouncing on your brother. They had taken him so much by surprise that his head hit the ground hard, knocking him out.

 

Shannon produced some rope and tied up your brother.

 

"Ahem."

 

The two froze at the sound of you clearing your voice and turned around slowly.

 

"What are you doing with my precious baby brother?"

 

"Uh..." was their simultaneous eloquent response.

 

"You two don't like your new brother, huh?"

 

They shook their heads.

 

"Well. I'm not that big a fan of him either. He's far too full of himself. So. Let's go talk about it where we won't be interrupted. Behind the bodega should be good. No one is ever back there."

 

"How do you know that?" Darrell asked as he picked up your brother.

 

"I take breaks back there. No one's ever around. It's nice."

 


And that brings you to now. Shannon and Darrell didn't really have a plan involving your brother. His capture was really a spur of the moment kind of thing. Currently, they were arguing over who nabbed him.

 

"I pounced on him first so it was my capture!" Shannon screeched.

 

"You kidding?! I totally bagged K.O.!"

 

"You merely cleaned up the aftermath of Hurricane Shannon!"

 

They then proceeded to shout 'My victory!' to one another. Huh. This sure paints a familiar picture.

 

"Hey!"

 

Oh, K.O.'s awake now.

 

The rope, having not been tied at all, simply fell off your brother.

 

"Why does everyone gotta fight over who did the big do? What happened to good, old fashioned 'Good job, team!' or 'We won this victory together!'"

 

"Hmm..." Shannon and Darrell contemplated your brothers words. "So, as long as you win..." Darrell began.

 

"You win, I win, we all win! Everyone is a winner! Except me. 'Cause Raymondo got away with the bodega sign.

 

"Uhhm... Maybe-"

 

"Maybe. The four of us can work together."

 

"Huh?!" the robotic siblings cried out.

 

"If you two can help K.O. restore the bodega's sign, we'll help you win against Raymond."

 

Shannon and Darrell shared a mischievous smile.

 

"You're a winner..." Shannon started as she held out her fist.

 

"I'm a winner..." Darrell said, his fist touching Shannon's, K.O.'s following soon after.

 

"Everyone's a winner," you finished as you added your fist to the group fist bump.

 

As you all pulled away, you had a decent idea.

 

"Okay. So here's a thought. K.O. can pretend that he was caught by Shannon and Darrell who were working together. This'll definitely make Boxman happy because, for some reason, he still views you as his archenemy K.O. Boxman will most likely forget about Raymond defacing the bodega's sign, allowing me to sneak up from behind and grab the 'R'. Assuming this damages Raymond's pride as much as I think it will. Sound like a plan?"

 

The three of them nodded and you all headed towards Boxmore.

 

"Hey, y'know you're pretty good at coming up with plans," Shannon said to you.

 

"Yeah," Darrell agreed. "How're you so good at that?"

 

You shrugged.

 

"Dunno. I've always been more of the strategic type rather than the 'let's punch everything first and ask questions later' type. I just think about things before I do them."

 

You doubted telling them this would negatively impact your life. They seemed like the type that would always follow the orders they were given no matter what.

 

When the four of you reached Boxman's office, you went off to the side and began crawling through an air duct.

 

"Oh Lord Boxman, we've got a surprise for you!" you heard Shannon call.

 

"Oh no! I've been captured by Shannon and Darrell! Captured. By a team!"

 

Let's hope your brother never tried to go into acting until he had a few more years of practice.

 

"What! You've- You've captured K.O.?! I'm so- I'm so-!"

 

"Uh-huh?!"

 

"So proud of you!"

 

"Whoopee!!!"

 

You were in the room now, watching everything from above. Raymond was still near the 'R'. You'd have to wait.

 

"That's the nicest thing you ever said," Darrell stated.

 

"And you!" Boxman started, turning his ire toward Raymond who had dropped the 'R' in shock. "I wish you could be more like your perfect sister and brother!"

 

Ooh, that had to hurt. Judging by the puff of air Raymond just huffed out, it did.

 

Boxman began to rock Shannon and Darrell in each of his arms, cooing at them for a job well done. Dang, he didn't look it, but he was actually pretty strong.

 

"And I've always hated you!!!"

 

Unnecessary, but Raymond was now a quivering mass on the floor, pride and ego shattered.

 

Darrell giggled at his brother's defeated form.

 

"Looks like Raymond is in the penalty box," Shannon joked.

 

Okay. Now that one was funny.

 

"Please give me another chance, Lord Boxman," Raymond pleaded as he gripped his father's lab coat. "It was a foul play!"

 

Lord Boxman trudged out of the room, a weeping Raymond still clinging and saying 'please'.

 

"Mission accomplished," Shannon and Darrell bumped fists.

 

You hopped down from the rafters and picked up the 'R'.

 

"Indeed. Good job you two. You really committed to the act."

 

You patted Shannon and Darrell on their heads as you headed towards your brother.

 

"And you," you said as you picked K.O. up. "You made a very good hostage."

 

You blew a raspberry on his cheek and K.O. giggled.

 

You looked back at Shannon and Darrell, who had a sort of far-off look in their eyes.

 

"See you net time Boxman has you attack the plaza or kidnap me."

 

Shannon and Darrell watched you walk out the door with both K.O. and the sign.

 

Originally, they had planned on not giving the sign back, fully intending on keeping it and bragging to Raymond about how much Lord Boxman loved them over him.

 

But there was something about the way that you told them they genuinely did a good job that made them rethink. Their dad had never given out praise and affection the way that you did with K.O. And to have you give some to them...

 

They liked it when you were nice to them.

 


You saw Rad and Enid sitting down in front of the bodega.

 

"Yo! You two done arguing over who did more of the work yet?"

 

Your coworkers had serene looks on their faces, as if they hadn't been arguing about an hour ago.

 

"We were fighting for a while, but then we saw how beautiful the sunset was. Our problems suddenly felt very small," Enid said.

 

"Really put things in, like, perspective and junk. So we agreed to set aside out differences for the day and enjoy the view."

 

You exchanged a look with K.O., who you had untied once you had gotten out of Boxmore.

 

"That's great!" K.O. said.

 

He sat down in between Rad and Enid and watched the sunset with them.

 

"You wanna join us, (Y/N)?" he asked you.

 

You looked at the three of them, then the 'R'. You walked past the three of them and they took on slightly disappointed faces, until they heard the scraping of metal against concrete and you picked K.O. up and took his spot in between Rad and Enid and set him in your lap.

 

"Why not?"

 

And so, for the first time...

 

You hung out with Rad and Enid willingly.

Chapter Text

The sunset really was beautiful, just like Enid said. You had to admit, it was nice having things slow down to a peaceful drawl after such an action-filled day. You didn't notice, but Rad and Enid shot excited looks and silently high-fived behind your back, overjoyed that you were finally hanging out with them for once.

 

The four of you stayed on the curb until the sun had completely set and the stars began to twinkle in the night sky.

 

At some point, Mr. Gar had shown up and was about to shout at all of you to get back to work, but then he saw how calm and relaxed you all appeared to be - not to mention that since you were sitting in the middle of Rad and Enid and K.O. sitting squarely in your lap there was no way of any of Boxman's goons sneaking up on you to pull another kidnapping stunt - he left the four of you alone and took the 'R' inside with him to be reattached to the building later.

 

Eventually, your mom pulled up in her car, indicating that it was time for you and your sibling to head on home.

 

"C'mon, K.O.," you said as you rose from your sitting position, brother cradled against your side. "You have school tomorrow and need to get some sleep."

 

"Oh yeah!" K.O. shouted. "I completely forgot that they finally fixed up the school!"

 

"It's a wonder that you kids ever learn anything with how frequently your school gets destroyed by random hero versus villain fights," your mom stated, shaking her head as the two of you buckled up.

 

"Bye Rad! Bye Enid!" K.O. called from the open widow.

 

"Bye K.O.!" Enid replied back.

 

"See ya after school tomorrow, little dude!" Rad added.

 

You waved pathetically at coworkers. It could hardly be called a wave.

 

"See you two tomorrow."

 


The thing about getting ready to send a six year old off to school in the morning is getting the timing right. It's all about the timing.

 

See, while a few parents drop their kids off at Lakewood Elementary, most don't. Your mom was one of the many that didn't. She did have a dojo to run after all. The whole going in later thing she had been doing for the past week was only because you and K.O. had gotten jobs at the plaza and that your shifts were set to start in the afternoon. She normally arrived at the plaza way earlier.

 

So, in the Kincaid household, the weekly schedule for the mornings was dictated by when the school bus arrived.

 

You and your mom waved goodbye at K.O., who waved back from an open widow.

 

"You sure you don't want me to come pick you up, Hon?!" your mom called.

 

"I'm sure! The school's not that far from the plaza! I'll walk!"

 

"You call one of us if you change your mind!" you demanded of your brother.

 

"I will!"

 

And then the bus faded into the horizon, off on its mission to deliver those little monsters to school safe and sound.

 

With the knowledge that your baby brother was now on his way to his place of learning, you got into the car with your mom and she set off towards the plaza.

 

"You know you don't have to come with me. Your shift at Gar's doesn't start for another five hours!"

 

A small smile tiptoed across your face.

 

"I know. But that doesn't mean that I won't be able to find something to do to kill the time. Really, I'll be fine Mom."

 

She worried her bottom lip between her teeth, the gap catching it a little as she opened her mouth to reply.

 

"Those robots haven't been giving you any trouble, have they? You make sure to tell me if they are! I don't want you to feel unsafe whenever you go to work!"

 

You huffed out a little laugh.

 

"No, Mom. They haven't been bothering me."

 

And they really hadn't been. Not even getting kidnapped again bothered you, though you're certain that it should. If anything, you were slightly amused by Shannon and Darrell's antics. And also really depressed at the fact that Boxman didn't seem to say or do anything nice. There was the fact that he was a villain, granted. But still, they may have been his henchmen, but his robots were also his children. And he viewed them as such if the fact that he let them call him variations of 'Dad' wasn't a big enough indicator.

 

"Besides, we have another weekend of training ahead of us. If you're really that worried, then at least the fact that I'm slowly but surely learning self defense should put you somewhat at ease."

 

It was extremely subtle, but you noticed that your mom relaxed at those words.

 

"You're right. As usual," she sighed. "I know it might seem that I'm turning into some kind of helicopter parent, and I'm sorry if I am. I just worry. About you and K.O.! But..."

 

"But, K.O.'s actually interested in training more than twice a week and actively participates in the robot fights that occur regularly at the plaza. He's better prepared to face someone in a scrap than I am. You can say it, I won't get offended. I know that you worry about both of us equally, but I agree, K.O. is more likely to win in a physical fight than I am."

 

Your mom parked the car and the two of you got out.

 

"I still can't believe you wanted to come here this early," she said, putting her hands on your shoulders. "I would have driven back to pick you up!"

 

"I would've felt bad if you had to do that!" you countered.

 

"Ugh. You are so stubborn! Mwah!" She kissed your forehead. "I really need to get you a car."

 

"Please don't do that."

 

"Sorry, Sweetie! It's happening! I've decided!"

 

You hung your head in the palms of your hands, glasses getting smushed against your face.

 

"No-o-o-o-o-o..." you bemoaned.

 

Your mom laughed heartily at your theatrical response.

 

"Ye-e-e-e-e-e-es. Don't worry, I'll try to find one that isn't its own battalion, but no promises that it'll be completely void of weaponry."

 

"Fine."

 

You knew she wasn't going to give up. Plus, it was bound to happen eventually. Why fight it?

 

She bid you farewell after assaulting you with more smooches and headed towards her dojo.

 

Now. What to do, what to do?

 

Honestly, what was there to do around here? There was the arcade, of course. But you had gotten a good look at the games that the place had to offer when you had gone looking for Radicles last week, and to say the least you weren't all that impressed with their selection. Maybe if they got something that could really terrify a person... Scare them out of their skin, yeah? Maybe you'd play something like that. As long as it actually looked like it could terrify a person of course. Other than video games, there really wasn't much to do around the plaza except either shop or go to one of the food joints or trucks and get something to eat. And you weren't interested in any of the plaza shops - aside from the one you worked at, for work related reasons only - and you had just had your breakfast, so you weren't feeling hungry in the slightest.

 

The plaza actually seemed kind of deserted, now that you really paid attention to your surroundings. Well, you were here much much earlier than you normally were, so it wasn't that big of a surprise that you didn't see the faces that you normally did milling about in and out of the various shops.

 

Eh, you hadn't really gotten a good look at the view from the plaza's rooftop yet. That could be something to do. You might even find more neat spots to take your breaks at, too. Yeah. You'll use this time to scope out the more secluded areas of the plaza to ensure maximum alone time.

 

You thought that it was pretty cool that all the roofs of the stores connected and that there weren't any gaps to trip over. The roof was just a cool area in general, in your opinion. You could see so much from up here! There was the volcano in the distance that you were pretty sure was very much active, there was the lava pit across the street with what looked to be a boxing ring in the middle of it, the forest that you were almost one hundred percent sure was magic, Beardo's ever moving food truck, a little bit of the Crater, Boxmore-but you could see that at ground level-Shannon and Darrell running across the roof towards you, some neighborhood-

 

Wait.

 

Yep. You were right. Shannon and Darrell running across the plaza's roof towards you.

 

Probably to kidnap you. Again.

 

They finally reached you and had to pause for a moment, placing their hands on their knees to catch their breath. Somehow.

 

"Hey, you two. What's up?" you asked nonchalantly.

 

Most people would find it odd that you were more friendly towards the robots whose creator had decided to make you a frequent hostage of his than you were towards your coworkers. You are not most people.

 

Darrell was the first one to recover.

 

"Our daddy said that he saw you show up here without your brother. He wanted us to come get you and find out why."

 

"Oh. Yeah. K.O.'s school finally got repaired so he's started going again. Hopefully this time whoever the School Board hired to do the repair work used sturdier materials, that place seems like it's always getting wrecked."

 

"Does that mean he's not working at the bodega anymore?" Shannon asked.

 

"Nah. He's still working there. He just has to go to school first now. You do realize that I'm here way before my shift starts, right? K.O. gets out of school in about five hours and will start his shift when he gets here. I'm just here so early because my mom usually gets here this early, and I didn't feel like having her waste gas driving back home to pick me up and bring me here."

 

Shannon and Darrell nodded in understanding.

 

"O-o-o-o-o-oh. Okay! Daddy'll be glad to hear that! But we still gotta capture you!" Darrell enthusiastically explained.

 

"So early? Rad and Enid have school too, you know. Boxman won't be getting the fight he's looking for for several more hours."

 

"He knows," Shannon said as she picked you up effortlessly. "But Daddy still wants you for something. Now hold on tight."

 

The bottoms of Shannon's feet ignited and you wrapped your arms around her neck tightly to avoid slipping from her grip. She blasted over to Boxmore with Darrell right beside her.

 

You had quickly gotten accustomed to being kidnapped regularly. You weirdo.

 

The window of Boxman's office was actually open for once, thus Shannon and Darrell made a smooth landing without having to crash through the glass.

 

The man in question was waiting not at his desk, but in a chair across from it. Darrell was quick to relay the information you gave him about K.O.'s absence, and you noticed that Boxman instantly looked relieved.

 

"Oh, is that all!" Boxman sighed out. "Well then that's nothing to be concerned about!"

 

"Boxman," you stiffly greeted. "What crazy plan to destroy the plaza have you cooked up this time?"

 

"Psh. All of my plans are ingenious. But that's not why I had you brought here this time."

 

"No?" you responded as Shannon gently set you down on your feet. "Then why am I here?"

 

Boxman coughed into his fist a bit awkwardly.

 

"As you no doubt know, Boxmore caters to villains all over the country. Every now and then, we need to remind some of those villains why they bought Boxmore products in the first place. So-"

 

"Oh my God you're shooting a commercial and want me to be in it acting as the captured hostage and saying something about how efficient your robots are at kidnapping," you boredly interrupted, already seeing where this was going.

 

There was a brief, awkward pause. Darrell tapped the tips of his fingers together, Shannon whistled innocently, and Boxman looked like he was choking on air a little bit.

 

"...yes?" Boxman said with major hesitation.

 

You looked at the trio in front of you. By no means were you underestimating Boxman as a villain, he seemed pretty unpredictable, but this just seemed...

 

Out of character? No, that wasn't it. Weird? Yes, but that's not what you wanted to call it either. But you can't think of what you want to call it, so you'll let the matter go for now.

 

"Eh. I'm already here. Plus I get the feeling you would keep bugging me about it until I said yes."

 

"So you'll do it?!" Boxman nervously asked.

 

"Yeah sure, why not?"

 

Boxman appeared to do some version of a happy jig before regaining his composure.

 

"Now. We have to get a few things ready before we begin shooting. We'll need to drive out to a few areas to get some of the needed shots, so we'll go to those first. You just sit tight here while those preparations are made."

 

And then he was gone. Leaving you, Shannon, and Darrell in the room.

 

You began to mindlessly play with your hair. Darrell stared at it with intrigue. You noticed his staring immediately, as he was not subtle about it in the slightest.

 

"What?"

 

"What's it like having hair?" Darrell asked innocently.

 

"Uh..." Okay. Not what you were expecting, but let's roll with this. "It can be a real pain at times. Literally. Sometimes it gets tangled and it takes forever to get the knots out. It can also be hard work to keep it maintained. It needs to be washed regularly and cut regularly as well to prevent split ends. I like the length my hair is, and I do my best to keep it in good condition, but it just feels like a lot of work at times."

 

Darrell seemed fascinated by your explanation.

 

"Oh... Can I touch it?"

 

"Why."

 

"It looks soft so I wanna see if it really is. Daddy has hair, but he doesn't let anyone but him touch it, and I'm not getting near Raymond's."

 

Ah yes, you'd nearly forgotten that there was a new robot sibling to deal with.

 

"...yeah, okay. But be gentle."

 

Darrell clapped his hands together gleefully and began lightly combing his fingers through the strands of hair hanging below your ears.

 

"Wow! It really is soft!" he eagerly commented.

 

"Really? I wanna feel!" Shannon stated.

 

"Go ahead."

 

So now you had two curious robots playing with your hair on both sides of your head.

 

Shannon and Darrell marveled at the way that no matter how much they moved your hair around it would always return to where it had originally been.

 

It didn't take much to impress these two, did it? Their reactions reminded you of whenever K.O. saw something that sparked his interest. Maybe that was why you warmed up to these two so fast.

 

They really did remind you of your little brother at times.

 

"Lord Father, I had a brilliant- Oh. It's you."

 

There he was in all his lime green glory. Raymond.

 

"Hey," you greeted.

 

Raymond narrowed his eyes slightly at the sight of you receiving the attentions of his older siblings. Honestly!

 

Shannon and Darrell had made sure to fill him in on just who you were right before they had been sent to retrieve you and he was not all that impressed with what they had to say. The big sister of that little pipsqueak they captured yesterday? Psh. Hardly worth getting all that excited about. From the looks of you, you weren't all that interesting. Big deal if his father's arch nemesis just so happened to be your little brother! All you were good for, from what he heard, was being used as bait to lure the actual heroes into a fight. Other than that Raymond didn't really see what else you had to offer.

 

And why were his brother and sister playing with your hair so casually!?!? If they wanted to play with someone's hair so badly, hello?! He had hair that could be played with! Of course after his siblings got done messing it up he'd have to style it back, but still! There was no reason for them to- For you to be fawned over by them like that!

 

As Raymond silently fumed at the sight of you, you were wondering just what was up with that weird look he was giving you. It almost looked like he was about to cry, crossed with the look people get on their faces when they get constipated.

 

"What are you two doing? You shouldn't be playing nice with the hostage! She needs to be tied up and bound to a chair while we await Father's orders on what we are supposed to do with her!"

 

Shannon rolled her eyes, already done with her new brother's theatrics.

 

"Ugh. Lord Boxdad already told us what we'd be doing with her! We're gonna have her be in the next commercial so that Daddy can sell more of our copies to his clients!" Shannon explained.

 

"Yeah! And we're heading out to the places we need to drive to here in a few minutes so we can spend the rest of the day getting the shots here done!" Darrell added as he twirled your hair around one of his fingers. You hoped it didn't get stuck...

 

Raymond crossed his arms and huffed. Okay. He could see the logic behind that. If clients required henchmen to abduct someone for them, it would be beneficial for his father to have proof that they could perform such a feat.

 

"Okay!" Boxman reentered the room cheerfully. "The truck's all started up, so let's get- What are the two of you doing?"

 

Shannon and Darrell both flinched slightly and let go of your hair.

 

"They were playing with my hair," you stated blandly.

 

"Why?"

 

"Because they asked to and I said they could. Don't you have a commercial you want to make?"

 

Boxman just rolled his eye and sighed as he massaged the bridge of his nose.

 

"Just. Get in the truck. All of you."

 

The first place you would be shooting would actually be at the home of one of Boxman's frequent clients. How he managed to get other villains to agree to appear in this commercial was beyond your understanding, but whatever. You didn't have to be anywhere for several more hours anyway.

 

The seating arrangement was simple. Boxman drove. You sat in the passenger's seat. And Shannon, Darrell, and Raymond sat in the back.

 

The tallest of the three siblings was hunched over in his seat and pouting while glaring at the back of your head. It wasn't fair that you got to sit up front with his father! True, he would also think the same thing if it were either of his two siblings sitting up there, but the fact that it was you made it a billion times more horrid! Raymond wasn't sure why he was so against you being here, but he was. Something in his circuits said that he shouldn't like you at all, so he was going to adhere to that something's advice!

 

And right now the advice given was to kick at your seat every now and then.

 

Not that you cared. You had dealt with K.O. occasionally becoming bored in the car and kicking the back of your seat. The thing was, K.O. always stopped when it began to grate on your nerves. You're certain that Raymond would only increase the frequency of his kicking. Instead, you decided to use the tactic you did when K.O. was being difficult about something.

 

You were going to be so overly sweet about it that it got awkward for everyone.

 

"Raymond? Is there something you need? I can only imagine that that would be the cause of you kicking the back of the seat," you stated in the most nauseatingly sweet voice you could manage.

 

Boxman glared at his latest creation in the rearview mirror, who didn't notice as he had ducked his head in shameful embarrassment for being called out like that. Darrell looked slightly uncomfortable with the tone your voice had taken on. It was one that his dad often used when he was beginning to get really upset but didn't want to lose his temper just yet. Shannon snickered maliciously at Raymond's discomfort.

 

The rest of the ride to your first stop was spent kick free.

 

"Alright, we're here," Boxman said as he cut the engine. He turned around to face his kids. "I expect all of you to behave yourselves while we're here! I will not have you acting up in front of a customer!"

 

The siblings nodded vigorously in understanding. No petty bickering with each other while they were here.

 

Stepping out of the vehicle, you happened to notice a slightly slanting mailbox right next to the brick steps.

 

"'QUANTUM'? Wait... Is that who I think it is?" you asked yourself.

 

Boxman rang the doorbell once and you could here the sounds of shuffling and cats meowing in protest before the door was opened.

 

She was exactly as you had remembered her. Purple hair, round glasses, those stupid pencil sleeves of hers.

 

"Miss Quantum!" Boxman greeted. "Thank you so much for agreeing to help out with Boxmore's next commercial!"

 

He shook Miss Quantum's hand vigorously. She had to practically pry Boxman off before she responded.

 

"Not a problem. But let's make this quick. I have a lot of work to get done before tomorrow."

 

"Yes, yes! Of course!"

 

You all went inside and you couldn't help but wonder why Miss Quantum bought Boxman's products. Sure. She was level negative one which did technically make her a villain. But she wasn't one of those big shots, she had no interest in causing what mayhem she could. She was more interested in making her student's lives miserable.

 

Once you got to the living room, you understood. There were quite a few cats going in and out of repurposed Boxmore boxes.

 

"Alright, so here's how we're gonna do this," Boxman said. "We'll have you just sitting down in that chair and have you say just how much Boxmore's robots have improved your life! Sound good?"

 

"Sure," Miss Quantum sighed tiredly as she plopped down, a white cat climbing up on her lap to take a snooze.

 

Boxman had his robotic children retrieve the heavy recording equipment while he supervised to make sure nothing got damaged. That just left you and Miss Quantum.

 

She squinted at you, as if trying to place your face.

 

"Do I know you?"

 

Your mouth pressed into a hard line.

 

"No. I was never one of your students. But I did meet you last Fall when the elementary school had family day and my little brother introduced me and my mom to you." You didn't bother holding out your hand. "(Y/N) Kincaid, and I suppose it's nice to see you again."

 

Not really, but Boxman probably wouldn't like it if you got him kicked out because you didn't personally care for this woman.

 

Her eyes lit up at the sound of your last name.

 

"Ah, yes. K.O.'s older sister." You didn't care for the way she said your brother's name. "And how has that brother of yours been?"

 

"Fine," you answered stiffly. "He's in training to become a hero now. Has his own POW Card and everything."

 

Miss Quantum rolled her eyes, but said nothing. Which was for the best.

 

Boxman finally came back, children and equipment in tow.

 

"Okay, we'll get this set up, and then you'll just say how much you love Boxmore's products!"

 

Once the equipment was set up, Boxman got to work.

 

"Okay... Action!" he whisper-yelled.

 

"I was hesitant at first, but I'm so glad I placed the order. The cats just love these boxes!"

 

"What about the robots?" Boxman hissed out.

 

"Say what now?" Miss Quantum asked, not being able to hear Miss Quantum.

 

"Ro. Bots."

 

"I- I can't hear you, what?"

 

"The robots!!!"

 

You turned to Shannon, who was still recording and made a slicing motion with your hand across your throat. She stopped filming.

 

You tapped on Boxman's shoulder, effectively distracting him from the breakdown he was about to have.

 

"You said that you had other places to be. If you really want to try more takes, go ahead. But Miss Quantum should be leaving soon."

 

"Why's that?" Miss Quantum asked, curious as to what you thought was so important that she couldn't stick around for a few more takes.

 

"It's Friday, Miss Quantum. I can only assume that because Lakewood Elementary - actually, are they still calling it that or did they change the name again? - the school has been closed for repairs for so long, that you lost track of the days of the week. School's back in session starting today."

 

"Oh my Cob!"

 

The cat was launched from Miss Quantum's lap as she hurried to gather all the things she would need for the day.

 

"I'm terribly sorry, Lord Boxman, but she's right! Oh I can't believe I forgot!"

 

Miss Quantum shooed all of you out of her home before locking the door and racing to her car.

 

"So... Where to next?" you casually asked.

 


Of all places, the airport was not what you were expecting.

 

"Who're we looking for again?" you asked, still confused as to why the airport.

 

"An extremely important client of mine: Professor Venomous. He's supposed to be coming back from a business trip around this time today. He's very well-respected in the villain community. Having him endorse the products would really help boost sales! Of course he's also very busy, so we won't be able to take up too much of his time. If you see him, let me know." Boxman explained.

 

"Okay. But I have no idea what he looks like. For all I know, I've already seen him and you've missed your opportunity."

 

Boxman sucked in a withering breath before reaching into one of his lab coat's pockets and pulling something out.

 

"Here," he said as he handed the item over to you. "This is who we're looking for. Take this handheld camera and see if you can find him. Shannon, Darrell, and Raymond! You three do the same!"

 

"Yes, Lord Boxdad!" the three of them saluted.

 

"One last question," you stated before you ran off. "Where is Professor Venomous supposed to be coming back from?"

 

Boxman scratched his head.

 

"U-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-uh... Somewhere... tropical?"

 

"That sounded like a question but whatever."

 

You took off towards the terminals that had flights coming in from tropical locations. After asking an employee where those terminal were.

 

Once you got there, you flipped out the screen on the camera and took the lens cap off before turning it on.

 

"Okay. Got full battery so I should have plenty if I manage to find this Venomous guy. Not a lot of flights coming from the tropics. Probably delayed due to severe weather. What did Boxman give me? A photo?

 

A POW Card. One that depicted a purple skinned individual in a lab coat.

 

"Huh. Negative seven. Decent. Wonder if Boxman'll want this back, K.O. would like it."

 

Now that you had a clear image of just who it was you were looking for, you began to look for him. On the plus side, there weren't a lot of people with purple skin milling about the terminals. On the downside, you had yet to spot a single purple skinned person.

 

'Maybe I missed him already? Or his flight was one that got delayed? I suppose either of those scenarios are highly plausible. ...how did Boxman even know that the professor was supposed to come back at this time today in the first place? Actually, I don't want to know. That question has the potential to lead to places that I do not want to end up.'

 

Your eyes continued to scan the crowd back and forth. Still turning up nothing.

 

Complete Dullsville here. You were surprised that security hadn't been seen trying to drag three robot teens out for going into the boarding areas without plane tickets. Also, you were surprised that no one made a move to ask you to leave this area. Sure, people were allowed to wait in the areas where planes were arriving if they were meeting someone, but you weren't. You were just standing around with a video camera.

 

You were about to give up and go back to the entrance when you finally saw a flash of purple.

 

He may have been wearing a baseball cap and sunglasses, but you recognized the professor thanks to his POW Card profile. There were a lot of people getting off the plane with him, so you had to keep an eye on him all while making sure not to run into anyone.

 

Finally, Venomous made a turn towards the food court area.

 

'Perfect. There won't be as many people in the way of my shot.'

 

When he got to a clear enough area, you hit record and shouted to get his attention.

 

"Professor Venomous! What do you think about Boxmore's robots?!"

 

He whipped his around to see who was addressing him. You kept your pace up to make sure he didn't slip away.

 

"What? Oh." He cleared his throat. "Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. They're great."

 

"Can I get an ice cream?"

 

Oh, he had a small child with him. On one of those child leashes. She looked like she was some sort of rat creature. Yellow-green skin and green hair tied into a ponytail.

 

'His minion maybe? His POW Card bio did say he was a bioengineer.'

 

Whatever. You needed to get this footage to Boxman.

 

You eventually found your way back to the entrance where you could see Boxman berating his children.

 

"Honestly! How hard can it be for you three to find one man?!"

 

The siblings hung their heads in shame. They had disappointed their father once again.

 

"Yo. Found Venomous and got him to comment," you greeted casually as you handed off the camera to Boxman.

 

"You did?! Excellent! Now all we need to do is shoot the rest of the commercial at Boxmore!"

 

Shannon and Darrell excitedly asked you what it was like to meet one of their dad's top clients. They were never allowed to be at the meetings whenever Professor Venomous visited, so they were naturally curious.

 

It was like this all the way back to Boxmore and Raymond couldn't stand it. His siblings, swooning and fawning over your efforts when they should be upset that you managed to do what they couldn't! His father, praising you! Raymond was still sore about being upstaged by his older siblings yesterday, but this really took the proverbial cake! You didn't even work for Boxman, let alone participate in acts of heinous villainy! You were his father's hostage and that was it! You shouldn't have been getting praised by him and yet here you were receiving such an honor! Raymond finally managed to work out what the feeling in his circuitry was.

 

He was jealous. Of you. You. Of all people!

 

He'd understand it if his jealousy was directed towards either or both of his siblings as it had been yesterday. They all strived to be better than each other to earn their father's love. But you? You couldn't care less whether or not Boxman approved of you! You weren't at all concerned if you happened to do something that either pleased or displeased his father, you simply did what you wanted to do and accepted the results that your actions yielded.

 

When he and his father returned to the office to find that both K.O. and the bodega's sign went missing, Raymond felt a surge of smug relief. His siblings had managed to screw up their triumph over him in a remarkable amount of time! Oh, and was Lord Boxman ever furious with them! And then his father went and asked just how K.O. had managed to get away with the sign in tow. And when Boxman learned that K.O. hadn't? That it had been you who had retrieved the child and sign?

 

Lord Boxman merely sighed. Of course you would come after your brother, was what he had said. Of course you managed to get away with the sign. Of course, of course, of course.

 

Why 'of course'? Raymond wanted to know the answer. And when the question was asked, the answer he got was cryptic and vague.

 

It was 'of course' because you were the gray in this black and white world, his father answered.

 

You were a favorite of his siblings, his father tolerated your presence despite the fact that you had ties with heroes-nevermind the fact that you were a hostage and thus his father would have had to learn to tolerate you regardless. And. You were gray.

 

What did that even mean?

 

Raymond didn't understand. He didn't understand his jealousy and he didn't understand you.

 


Thankfully, all that you were needed for at this point was just a few simple lines praising Boxmore's robot's kidnapping capabilities, so you really didn't need to be watched as heavily once that was said and done with.

 

Of course, Boxman still wanted to pick a fight with your brother and coworkers. You checked the time.

 

1:15 P.M.

 

Hm. Almost time for your shift. It honestly felt like the day dragged on a lot longer than that.

 

"(Y/N)!" Shannon yelled enthusiastically as she burst through the door of the playroom. "The commercial just finished rendering, let's go watch it!"

 

Sure. How bad could it be?

 

The answer is 'very'. It could be very bad.

 

Part of the commercial didn't even sync up so you could tell it was two separately shot scenes, even if you ignored the fact that Boxman was playing both himself and the truck driver in the same scene. The boom mic could also be seen in a shot. All in all, it was subpar at best.

 

But everyone else seemed to be happy with the way it turned out.

 

Well, Shannon was a bit pissed that Raymond had cut her jingle for time and was currently engaged in a fight with him and Darrell was convincing Boxman that the genius wasn't getting 'puffy'.

 

It was honestly relieving to see that Raymond was fitting into this weird, little 'family' so well after only a little over a day of being a part of it. But then, he was programmed to be a brother to Boxman's other robots and they to be his siblings, so maybe it wasn't all that surprising to see how quickly they all adapted to the new addition. Even Boxman, though he was the one to create Raymond, seemed to have seamlessly accepted Raymond as a part of his everyday life now.

 

Bzzt! Bzzt!

 

Oh. You have a text message.

 

K.O.

 

hey im here now but mr gar sez u havnt shown up yet 2day. r u ok?

 

You bit your bottom lip. Did you really want to tell your brother you were at Boxmore again?

 

K.O.

 

also i got asked to help som1 with a qest! her names dendy and im gonna help her fix her hackpack!

 

You

 

Hackpack? Also, I know you know how to spell K.O.

 

K.O.

 

:3c

 

You

 

Stop being so precious.

 

You

 

Actually, nevermind. Don't stop being so precious.

 

K.O.

 

aw! you're so nice, (Y/N)! but really, where are you?

 

To say or not to say, that is the question.

 

You

 

Don't worry, I'm fine. I'm out in the forest and I just lost track of time. Tell Mr. Gar that I'll be there soon and then you go on your hackpack quest with your new friend. Okay?

 

K.O.

 

ok! love you!

 

You

 

I love you, too.

 

If you timed this correctly, you could definitely sneak out of this room and then just walk out of the factory. Slowly inch towards the door now. There you go. Almost...

 

And you're out of the room and on your way.

 

It's a shame that someone saw you leave.

 


Walking through the doors of the bodega, you're happily greeted by your coworkers.

 

"Hey, (Y/N)," Enid waved. "Lost track of time, huh? Happens to all of us sometimes."

 

"Psh. Not me," Rad bragged as he passed by with a broom. "I've never been late."

 

"What about just last week when I had to go and get you from the arcade and you screamed like a little girl because I startled you," you reminded the cocky boy.

 

"Did you really scream like a little girl?" Enid asked, laughter seeping into her voice.

 

Rad sputtered pathetically as he attempted to regain his composure.

 

"Pft! What?! No! I did not scream like a little girl! I screamed like a man! A big, strong man whose screams are the manliest sound to ever be made!"

 

As Enid cackled at Rad's terrible attempt at covering for himself, the doors of the bodega opened behind you and you felt cold, metallic hands wrap around your waist.

 

"Out of bounds!" Raymond announced as he tossed you over your shoulder and ran back outside, leaving behind your momentarily stunned coworkers.

 

You saw Rad and Enid run outside and look around frantically for you.

 

"Hey! Get back here, Pompadork!" Enid shouted as soon as she saw Raymond running past the dojo and towards the forest.

 

As your luck would have it, your mom just so happened to walk out of the dojo to see what all the commotion was about and saw you slung over Raymond's shoulder like a sack of potatoes.

 

"Hey, Mom," you called from your perch and waved. "Don't worry, Radicles and Enid are right behind Raymond here. They're keeping an eye on me like you wanted."

 

As Raymond ducked into the trees, you could see your coworkers wave to your mom as they continued their pursuit of you and your alloyed abductor.

 

Raymond kept running. Past all the cleared off areas and into the one marked 'HAZARDOUS AREA: UNAUTHORIZED PERSONNEL DO NOT ENTER!!!' Because Raymond just had to be that level of extra when it came to fighting, apparently.

 

"Why'd you even run into the forest in the first place?" you asked.

 

"Oh shut up," Raymond chastised you in an attempt to cover his embarrassment. He had meant to run back to Boxmore, but, well. He panicked. He had pointed out that you had slipped away and Lord Boxman had tasked him with retrieving you, telling him that it was his chance to redeem himself for yesterday. "Clearly. This was all a part of my plan to lure your hero friends into an area most dangerous and best them in combat!"

 

"Not buying it."

 

"...yeah. Me neither. But it sounded cool."

 

"Also, don't refer to Radicles and Enid as my friends. They aren't."

 

"Really? And here I thought that you got along with everyone. My mistake."

 

You scrutinized Raymond.

 

"Why would you think that?"

 

He simply huffed at you and refused to answer, like a bratty child w-

 

Oh. O-o-o-o-o-oh. Now you get it. The baby of Boxman's family was jealous. Of you. You of all people.

 

"Dude. There's no need to be jealous just because your siblings happen to get along with me and your dad has me kidnapped. That second thing is strictly professional and as for the first, well I'm not really sure why they seem to like me but they do. So."

 

Raymond squawked at you.

 

"I am not jealous! I merely stated what I observed and how your words contradicted it!"

 

"Mhm, sure."

 

Before Raymond could continue arguing with you, Rad and Enid finally caught up with you two.

 

"Hold it right there!" Rad stated. He pointed at Raymond in the classic 'hero confronts the villain' pose. Or the Phoenix Wright pose. Whatever you want to refer to it as.

 

"Hand her over and we won't put as many dents in you as we were planning to," Enid threatened.

 

Raymond simply set you down on a rock and widened his stance a bit.

 

"I think not, heroes."

 

And then he lunged.

 

You weren't all that interested in the battle, so you pulled out your phone and dialed your mom's cell.

 

"Hello?! (Y/N), Sweetie, are you alright?!"

 

"I'm fine, Mom. Just watching Radicles and Enid fight Raymond. I just had an idea. Since I'm insisting on coming with you to the plaza so early now, I could use some of that time to train. That way I'm not just training twice a week. So, if you're okay with it, I could come with you to the dojo and you could teach me along with your students. Do you think it's a good idea?"

 

You honestly don't want to do that, but you reasoned that it's be best to get your mom away from the idea of having you and K.O. quit working at the plaza. More specifically K.O. because he loved it there. But the two of you were pretty much a package deal, so... Yeah.

 

You could hear your mom sigh on the other end.

 

"I don't know, Honey. I mean, I literally just saw you get kidnapped."

 

"Before you make your final decision, consider this. I'll be with you for a couple of hours, so that means that you'd be keeping an eye on me while training me. Exactly what you wanted. It's a win-win situation."

 

"I can see your reasoning behind that but-"

 

"Mom. I think we're all going to have to accept the fact that I may have become Boxmore's Frequent Hostage. I know you may not like it, but it's what most likely has happened."

 

"Oh for God's sake. I hate Frequent Hostage scenarios."

 

"I know. But logically, it's the only reason I keep getting kidnapped. Boxman thinks of K.O. as his arch nemesis. And he wants to destroy the plaza. I'm the big sister of his arch nemesis and the plaza's protectors are my coworkers and boss. It only makes sense."

 

You could hear the long sigh of disdain that you normally use on the other end. Your mother is where you got it from. 

 

"Fine. I'll see you later then, okay?"

 

"Okay. Love you, Mom."

 

You hung up just in time to see Enid deliver the final blow to Raymond, who promptly blew up.

 

Rising from your sitting position on the rock, you walked towards your coworkers in a casual manner, as if you hadn't just been kidnapped.

 

"Guess we'd better head back to work, huh?"

 

You walked part them as they stared at you in disbelief.

 

"Seriously?! That's all you have to say about what just happened?!" Rad exclaimed in confusion.

 

"Yeah. It happened and now it's over," you replied.

 

"Does this mean that you and K.O. won't be at the plaza anymore? Your mom did see you get kidnapped," Enid asked.

 

"Nah. That's why I called her while you two were fighting Raymond. We're still gonna be working here and now I'll be training with my mom at her dojo. So I'll be training more than twice a week with her now."

 

"When did you start training? I thought you weren't into that kind of stuff?" Rad asked.

 

"I'm not. But I asked my mom to help me train when K.O. and me got hired. I've only had two lessons with her so far. Now it looks like I'll be getting them everyday. Even if it's not for very long, some training is better than none."

 

"Oka-a-a-a-a-ay..." Enid accepted. "But why?"

 

"Oh. I figured that fighting robots was part of the work experience, so I wanted to be able to defend myself. I'm still not looking to fight robots and I don't think I ever will now, but there's more than just robots to defend myself against."

 

"When exactly would you train at the dojo? Your mom gets off work the same time you do," Enid pointed out.

 

"True. But her getting here in the afternoon was because K.O. and I got jobs, there's only one car and K.O.'s school was still getting repaired. Now she's back to her regular schedule, so I get here when she does. I have like five hours to kill before my workday starts. That's when I'll be training at the dojo."

 

The three of you had finally made it back to the bodega. Mr. Gar was waiting with ill concealed anticipation. Once he saw that all three of you were perfectly fine, he regained his stoic, macho composure and barked at you all to get back to work.

 

Total softie that one.

 

You put a hand in the pocket of your hoodie and gave a small sigh of relief.

 

Professor Venomous' card was still there.

 

K.O. was going to love this. 

Chapter Text

It's not as dark as it normally is this time around.

 

This is a dream, that much you know for certain. But it's not like it normally is. Instead of the usual inky blackness that regularly appears in your subconscious, your surroundings are a foggy gray.

 

You're laying down on your side for whatever reason. It feels nice, the ground here is very soft.

 

You realize that you may be in that state where you're in between being asleep and waking up, you're most likely feeling your mattress.

 

Oh well. Maybe you'll have slept a good deal this time before you wake up again. You absolutely hate it when you wake up and still have a few more hours to go before it's actually time for you to be up and going about your day.

 

You pull yourself to a sitting position and look around to see if anything is discernible at all.

 

Nope. Nothing but this think, gray fog.

 

"How... Incredibly droll."

 

Oh. Great.

 

Them.

 

They giggle, the sound reverberating all around you. It's impossible to tell where exactly they are.

 

"You don't seem happy that I'm here. Why is that?"

 

Well, the fact that they plague your nightmares is one thing. Speaking of, just what exactly is up with you having so many nightmares lately?

 

"Hmm hmm hmm~! It's not very polite of you to ignore me! After all we've been through, too..."

 

Ugh. Here they go again. Acting as if the two of you have some sort of history with each other.

 

It's really annoying.

 

Your feet feel cold.

 


Your eyes open slowly and you blink blearily as you take in your surroundings.

 

Why are your feet cold?

 

Oh, you managed to kick your covers off of you sometime while you were sleeping.

 

Well. It's better than falling face first into the carpet, that's for certain.

 

You begrudgingly sit up in your bed after checking the time. It's almost time to be up anyways.

 

'Most people would sleep in on the weekend, (Y/N)', you think to yourself.

 

Yeah. And most people don't have creepy dreams like the ones you've been having as of late.

 

You hope that these dreams aren't some sort of sign that something is seriously wrong with you psychologically. That would seriously suck if that turned out to be the case.

 

You make your bed after reluctantly leaving it to don your robe and slippers. Your hoodie lies in a crumpled heap next to your closet door, you were so drained from shooting the scenes for Boxmore's latest commercial yesterday that you hadn't bothered to take it downstairs along with the rest of your clothes from yesterday to be washed. A good thing, too. Professor Venomous' POW card was still in the hoodie's pocket. Would have been a bummer if it had gotten wrecked. Your brother has lost many a POW card to the washing machine and dryer due to forgetfulness.

 

You clutched your hoodie in one hand, POW card in the other. You really needed to get backups of your hoodie. Maybe if your mom didn't mind, she could drive the three of you down to Neo Riot City's megamall. It was as the name implied. A super huge mall that had literally every clothing style store and then some. You'd gotten this hoodie a few years ago at the Macy's there. They might have something similar to it in stock.

 

You made your way downstairs to the laundry room and threw your hoodie into the dirty clothes hamper. The hamper wasn't very full, even with all the clothing from yesterday, so there wasn't a point in starting a load of laundry just yet.

 

Making your way back into the kitchen, you notice that your mother isn't up and about just yet. It's not unusual for you to wake up before her, it just doesn't happen very often is all.

 

You set down Professor Venomous' POW card in front of K.O.'s seat at the table and then get to work on making breakfast for the three of you.


 

"I think French toast with a side of scrambled eggs would be a nice way to start today," you absentmindedly muttered to yourself.

 

You didn't really cook meals all that often. Not because you didn't want to or anything of that nature, but because your mother was so adamant on doing anything and everything herself. She never really asked for help with any task, no matter how big or small it was. She always insisted on doing everything by herself. So much so that you and your brother had to be extra sneaky whenever the two of you wanted to do something nice for her. Like, just for example, making breakfast.

 

It occurs to you that maybe the reason your brother wants to help other people so much is that he hardly ever gets to help out around the house with how stubborn your mom is and all.

 

Speaking of the light of your life, K.O. groggily trudged into the kitchen while clutching his stuffed froggy.

 

"Good morning, K.O.," you greeted warmly.

 

"Morning..." he managed to yawn out. "Where's Mommy?"

 

"I think she's still asleep. I probably gave her a big scare yesterday. Y'know, with being kidnapped right in front of her and all. She's probably mentally and emotionally exhausted from all that excitement."

 

K.O. nodded, accepting your explanation.

 

"Are you okay?" he asked.

 

You blinked at the question. Were you okay?

 

To be quite honest, you hadn't been 'okay' for quite some time now. You weren't sure if you'd ever fully be okay again.

 

But in regards to yesterday?

 

"Yeah," you answered after a short pause. "I'm fine. No need to worry about me."

 

You could tell that even with the remnants of sleep fogging up his brain, K.O. didn't fully believe your assurances that you were indeed alright. So you quickly changed the subject.

 

"Hey. I got you something yesterday. I think you'll really like it. It's on the table in your spot."

 

Thankfully, K.O. took the diversion.

 

You smirked triumphantly to yourself when you hear your baby brother let out a barely suppressed squeal of delight.

 

You turned around just in time to catch K.O., who had decided to fling himself upward to latch onto you.

 

"This is so cool!"

 

Your brother happily waved his new POW card around in the air.

 

"Where did you even find this?! It's, like, a super hard card to find!"

 

You shrugged as you held K.O. against your hip with one hand while stirring the eggs with the other.

 

"I've got my ways," you said cryptically.

 

Those ways being Boxman was either forgetful or he had copies of Venomous' POW card somewhere. It wasn't unusual of villains to have POW cards of heroes, usually their arch nemeses, so it wasn't odd to you in the slightest that Boxman had a POW card of one of his clients.

 

One of his most important clients, as you recall.

 

K.O. kissed your cheek several times in thanks before carefully getting out of your grip and down to the floor.

 

The eggs had turned out nicely and were sitting in a bowl with a plate on top to keep the heat in. You were finishing up the last slice of toast when your mom came into the kitchen wiping the sleep from her eyes.

 

When she spotted both you and your brother, she blinked dazedly. Almost as if she wasn't quite sure if what she was seeing was real or not.

 

K.O., who had been setting the table, was the first to greet your mother.

 

"Morning Mommy! Look at what (Y/N) got me!"

 

Your mom smiled at K.O., but you could tell it became a bit strained when she saw what it was.

 

Don't misunderstand now. Your mother was all for K.O. collecting POW cards, both hero and villain. But whenever you gave K.O. any POW cards, they were always the hard to obtain kind and she became concerned as to how you'd gotten ahold of it.

 

But the story of the one time you put yourself into a dangerous situation to obtain that crazy rare Chip Damage holo card was not one you'd be telling.

 

"That's so cool, Peanut! You made sure to thank your sister, right?"

 

"Mhm!"

 

You brought over the eggs and toast and the three of you sat down to eat.

 

"Thank you for making breakfast, Pumpkin, but you didn't have to! You could have woken me up!"

 

You had to hold in the sigh that threatened to escaped your throat. Of course she would say that. Like you explained, your mom was the kind of woman that felt like she had to do everything herself.

 

It's a complete and inarguable fact that you got your stubborn streak from her.

 

"I know I didn't have to. I wanted to. You work so hard all the time, I just wanted to give you a little break from that."

 

Your mom's gaze was tired and soft looking.

 

"That's very sweet of you, Pumpkin."

 

The three of you dug into breakfast with vigor. It was really good, and you aren't just saying that because you're the one who made it.

 

Back when your mom was still with P.O.I.N.T., more often than not she wouldn't be home until late into the evening. Villains were a much more serious threat back then. You would often have to cook your own meals, especially when your babysitter couldn't make it and your mom had no choice but to leave you home alone. Evil didn't rest and therefore Justice couldn't either.

 

You were well aware that it was most likely because your mom wasn't always there to take care of you that she feels as though she's got to do everything. Don't get the wrong idea now. Your mom was never a neglectful parent. She would always come to school events if you asked her to. On the rare occasion that she had the day off she and your dad would use it to spend time with you. Even from a young age you knew that hero work took a lot of dedication. You honestly didn't mind.

 

Your father was the same as your mother. He was always there for you when he could be. You were never quite sure just who your dad's hero persona was. For all you knew, he and your mom worked together at P.O.I.N.T. You never understood why he felt the need to keep his hero identity a secret from you, but your dad had always been a man that did things for a specific reason.

 

Once breakfast had finished, you and your mom went on ahead to do your training for the day. It felt the same as it had the last two times: tiring and sweaty. You knew that it would take a while before you got used to all this training, and you honestly couldn't wait for the day when you no longer felt tired out by Tai Chi. Of course that would mean you'd be moving on to other exercises that were far more strenuous, but you didn't want to get too far ahead of yourself.

 

You were sprawled out on a mat in the living room, just staring at noting in particular when you remembered that you wanted to look through a specific book.

 

Hoisting yourself up, you made your way to the overstuffed bookcase in the corner of the room.

 

It was filled to the brim with books on various subjects. From cookbooks to ones on fighting techniques, the poor shelf seemed fit to burst.

 

"Now, where is it..."

 

The book that you were looking for would be much larger than any of the others. It would be the most worn out looking and perhaps the pages would be slightly yellowed.

 

Because of all the clutter, you knew that you would have to start removing the books from the shelves.

 

"This'll be fun," you muttered.

 

Book after book was pulled out of the suffocating confines of the shelf. Some of them had an impressive amount of dust covering them. There were three piles of books on the floor when you finally found the one you'd been looking for.

 

"The Hero's Rulebook, by Bibliothekar. Of course you'd be shoved into the very back. Because nothing that relates to heroes is ever easy."

 

You plopped down into your seat at the kitchen table and layed the book out in front of you. Upon locating the table of contents you began your search for the specific section that you were looking for.

 

"...History of Heroes...The Greatest Fights in History...Proper Fighting Stances... Aha! Villain Protocol page two thousand and ten!"

 

You eagerly flipped to the aforementioned page and began to skim through it until you found the specific section of text that was of the most importance to you at the moment.

 

"Frequent Hostage Situations. Though we heroes do our best to ensure that the public at large is the safest that it can be, villains have always played underhanded tricks to ensure that they won't simply be charged by a hero that has swooped in to save the day. More often than not, villains will have taken a civilian - or sometimes a hero - hostage to try and make certain that their evil plot won't be interrupted. It is one of the most deplorable things a villain can do, involving a civilian or hero in their scheme. Statistics show that more often than not, a villain will become smug and overconfident due to the fact that they have a hostage and know that the hero cannot act without the risk of the hostage being harmed. They will go on a tangent, a monologue if you will, about their scheme and how 'there's no possible way' for the hero to stop them. It is advised that you start forming a strategy about what you will do to get the hostage to safety while the villain is distracted by their own gloating. There is a high chance that you will be able to safely retrieve the hostage before delivering swift justice to the villain. The odds are that the villain won't take the person that has just been rescued hostage again, and they can go back to their daily life. However, there is a special circumstance where this is not the case. This is what's know as the Frequent Hostage Situation. To summarize, an FHS is when a villain continues to abduct the same person over and over again, no matter how many times they are beaten down. FHS's occur when the hostage has connections to the hero in some way or another. It is usually because the hostage is a loved one and the villain has somehow found out about the hostage's ties to the hero. This type of situation is to be regarded as a Threat Level: Orange, meaning that the hero needs to be on their guard at all times, especially if the villain they're facing is a wild card kind of person. Villains who partake in FHS's are to be put under constant surveillance and, if need be, sent to Dire Shade depending on just how high their level is. It should be noted that not all FHS's are dangerous, but they are all to be treated as such until the villain is neutralized."

 

Yeah. You were remembering correctly. You were a frequent hostage.

 

You know you shouldn't be so numb to this fact, but you are. It's not really your fault though.

 

Sometimes your mom and dad would get taken hostage and wouldn't be home for several days on end. Your mom more so than your dad. The longest time she'd ever been captured was for a month. When it first happened, you were naturally overwrought with grief and wanted your mom to not go back to work. But she and your dad sat you down and explained that sometimes heroes got caught and then had to escape. Sometimes it took a while, but they assured you that you didn't have to worry about them because they would always come back.

 

So you stopped worrying whenever you saw on the news that your mom and her teammates had been taken hostage. You stopped being bothered by the fact that there were many days in a row when one or both of your parents weren't at home.

 

Because they promised they'd come back.

 

And little kids usually always believe it when an adult promises something.

Chapter Text

You know, when you left the house today you were expecting it to be a completely normal Sunday. You were expecting today to happen like it does every week. Now including your training, you thought that things would proceed from normal after that when you went to drop off your completed work and pick up the next week's worth of work. That's what you thought would happen.

 

Instead you got this.

 

And you aren't even sure what 'this' is supposed to be.

 

There you were. Standing at the front desk, patiently waiting for Mrs. Johnson to bring you your work and then you'd be on your way when all of a sudden what could only be described as a tornado of dramatic flamboyance burst through the door leading into the school. And no you don't mean Raymond.

 

"Mrs. Johnson! This just has to be the worst! Possible! Thing! To happen to the Theatre Club!!!"

 

The man was blonde, hair pulled into a messy bun and his skin was tinged sea foam green. He had a single yellow eye that was glistening with tears. His outfit was just about as flamboyant as he was. A pink sequin shirt that was cut a bit low, white pants with a black belt that had a large gold buckle looped through them, and black ankle boots.

 

He was draped dramatically over one of the couches in the office, whether or not he actually felt faint was a complete mystery to you.

 

Fortunately, Mrs. Johnson had returned with your work firmly in her grasp and a look of tired annoyance at the man's antics on her face.

 

"Really now, Gabriel," Mrs. Johnson said with a sigh. "You can't just come barging in here and loudly proclaim that something is 'the worst possible thing to have happened' every time something doesn't go just right. Now. What's the matter this time?"

 

Gabriel had pulled himself to a sitting position, knees to his chest but also keeping his feet off the furniture. His lower lip quivered as he sniffled pathetically.

 

"W-well... It's just awful! Hardly any people have signed up to take place in my production of Romeo and Juliet! At this rate, I'll have to cancel the whole show!"

 

And then he began to bawl like an infant. So this was Gabriel Stagehand, the theatre teacher.

 

'At least he's got a flair for the dramatics,' you thought to yourself.

 

Mrs. Johnson sighed as she handed you your work.

 

"I'm sorry you had to see this shameful display, (Y/N)." She turned to address Mr. Stagehand. "And as for you. You should have realized that you needed to prepare for this play earlier in the school year. You should have announced it to the Theatre Club members as soon as you decided that you wanted to do a production of it and then have extended the offer to any of the other student who were interested in participating. As it stands now, many of your kids are focused on finishing this semester strong. They may be members of the club, but that doesn't mean that they'll participate in every production you put on. They have classes that they need to focus on. And I understand that a great deal of the Theatre Club's members are seniors, yes?"

 

Mr. Stagehand nodded in confirmation.

 

"Well, there's another issue. Your seniors will be focused on not only their classes and finals, but also trying to get internships or even jobs at some of the hero agencies. I've met your kids and they all understand that it's one thing to be the top hero in their neighborhood and another matter entirely if they want to become professionals. They'll be applying wherever they can in the hopes that a few places will accept them. God knows they'll all be applying to P.O.I.N.T., even if acceptance rates are extremely low for those who didn't attend P.O.I.N.T. Prep."

 

Mr. Stagehand was now picking at a loose thread on the couch. tears were running down the middle of his face like a waterfall.

 

"What I'm trying to say, Gabriel, is that you waited too long to announce this play and you most likely will have to cancel it."

 

"HOW COULD YOU SAY THAT?!?!?!" he shouted, fists clutching his sequined shirt tightly.

 

Mrs. Johnson gave him a dry look.

 

"Not ten minutes ago you were just crying about how you might have to cancel."

 

"Yeah! Might! You need to be more supportive of me!"

 

You placed your work into the backpack that you had brought with you.

 

"Thanks, Mrs. Johnson, I'll see you next week."

 

"Oh! Wait! I heard that you got a job. Is that true?"

 

You sighed, but not in annoyance.

 

"Yes. It's true. Me and my little brother work at Gar's Hero Supply and Bodega. Nothing too exciting. Well, except for the regular robot attacks, if that's your definition of exciting."

 

Mrs. Johnson clapped her webbed hands together-oh, did you fail to mention that Mrs. Johnson was a fish hybrid?-and squealed a bit.

 

"Oh! I'm so happy for you! Finally getting out into the world and experiencing social interaction with new people!"

 

"Ugh. Don't remind me. It's so emotionally and mentally exhausting."

 

Mrs. Johnson giggled at your response. You wouldn't be you if you actually wanted to chat with people you didn't know.

 

"Anyways," you said. "I should head out before the detention kids get cut loose. It's a nightmare to navigate the parking lot with other people walking across it."

 

And then, it was as if you had flipped some kind of switch on for Mr. Stagehand.

 

"EUREKA! THAT'S HOW I'LL MAKE THIS PLAY HAPPEN!"

 

You were turned around swiftly by Mr. Stagehand.

 

"Listen well, girl I've never met! I need you to go down to room three hundred and seven and tell Miss Daisy that Mr. Stagehand requires all of her students to go to the auditorium at once! I'll go inform Mr. Luna that I need his students as well!"

 

And before you could protest, Mr. Stagehand excitedly ran out the door to go fetch the poor sou- you mean students. 

 

You just stood there, quietly, for a moment before addressing Mrs. Jonson.

 

"How much will he cry and whine if I don't do this?"

 

She gave you a sympathetic smile.

 

"Knowing Gabriel? A lot. And it'll be ugly crying, too."

 

You groaned all the way out the door and further into the school. You really didn't feel like doing this, but you felt like dealing with a crying teacher even less so. Crying just made you really uncomfortable. Like the kind of uncomfortable you feel by looking someone that you don't know very well directly in the eyes while trying to speak with them.

 

Thankfully, there was a map of the school hanging in a glass case just outside of the office. What? You never set foot in this place except to drop off and get your work! You have no idea where any of the classes are!

 

That's why you're glad there's a map.

 

Room three hundred and seven was located in the third floor's east hallway. Just a little ways past a set of bathrooms.

 

When you arrived at the door to the class, you hesitated. What exactly were you supposed to do in this kind of situation anyway? Did you just simply waltz on in and tell the teacher what you needed? Did you just knock on the door and wait to be let in? Were you supposed to send a letter beforehand and wait for a reply before coming to your destination?

 

...okay. You highly doubted it was that last one. But just because you were pretty clear on what you weren't supposed to do didn't mean that you knew what you were supposed to do.

 

You peeked into the room through the small glass window on the door. Okay. The teacher - who was an actual daisy, thus making her name both obvious and cliché - was sitting at her desk reading a book while the students she was supposed to be watching did whatever they damn well pleased. Some were chatting in small groups, some were looking through their phones, three of them were writing on the dry erase board, and a few were asleep at their desks. One of them had a blanket draped over their body.

 

You screwed your courage to the sticking place and opened the door.

 

It was like that time before you stopped physically attending school and some kid had stood up on a lunch table and screamed the word 'fuck'. It was dead quiet. People were staring. The teacher was approaching what caused all the silence.

 

"Can I help you?" Miss Daisy asked in a sickeningly syrupy voice.

 

You blinked and stared at her for a moment before regaining your voice.

 

"...Mr. Stagehand wants all of your students to go to the auditorium."

 

"Oh? Did he say why?"

 

"No. He just wants them down there. That's all I know."

 

"Alright then!"

 

Miss Daisy turned back to her students and whistled sharply to regain their attention.

 

"Alright class! We'll all be going down to the auditorium to see what it is that Mr. Stagehand wants with all of you! So let's get going! Don't want to keep him waiting!"

 

Some of the students groaned quietly as they headed out the door. Those who had been sleeping were shaken awake by their peers to get a move on.

 

There were a few faces that you recognized from the plaza. There was that bird guy, Greg. The cat boy with the angel wings who was always shirtless for reasons unknown. But then again so was Mr. Gar, so whatever. Coffee shop girl. Drupe, you still don't like her for how she treated and talked to your brother. And those two guys that Radicles was almost always hanging out with on his breaks. Other than that, the room was filled with unfamiliar faces.

 

You had no real reason to stick around after you did what Mr. Stagehand asked, but you were curious as to what his big plan was.

 

The auditorium was a rather large room, but it was by no means filled. There were probably only twenty-five or so students in total there, not counting you.

 

"Rad!"

 

You flinched at the sudden and very loud voice that just assaulted your eardrums.

 

Looking over to the source of the noise, the neckless guy was waving your coworker over.

 

"Bell Beefer! What's up?" Rad said as he fist bumped his friend.

 

"Ah, y'know. Same old, same old. Mega Football Baby and I were just goofing off in detention."

 

"Yeah!" MFB confirmed.

 

Rad laughed deeply.

 

"Oh man! That's so you guys. Wish the teacher I was stuck with was laid back like Miss Daisy. But Mr. Luna's, like, super strict. Hm?"

 

Rad noticed that there was someone watching his conversation and turned only to be met with your bored face. His face broke out into a huge grin

 

"(Y/N)! What are you doing here?!" 

 

"Same thing I was doing last Sunday. Dropping off my completed work and picking up new work. And I guess to see what Mr. Stagehand is going to do with all of you."

 

"Ahem," a voice speaking into a microphone interrupted. "Attention."

 

There he is.

 

"Thank you," Mr. Stagehand continued. "Now. As I'm sure you all know, I'm putting on a production of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Unfortunately, I haven't had many people sign up to be in the play. But that's where you all come in! See, I've already cleared it with the principal. You all will be a part of the cast! And in exchange for you doing so, your detention sentences will be significantly reduced! Isn't that just exciting? No roles have been assigned yet, so you're all going to receive a slip of paper and whatever role is on it is the one you'll play!"

 

Once everyone - except you - had been handed a slip of paper, Mr. Stagehand returned to the microphone.

 

"Remember, no trading roles with anyone. Now, open them!"

 

Bell Beefer groaned after learning that he would be playing Juliet's nurse. MFB would be Abram. A handful of people were murmuring about their characters. Most of them weren't even in the original story, so Mr. Stagehand was most likely putting his own twist on the play.

 

And then Rad opened his slip of paper.

 

"What?! I have to be Juliet?!"

 

You were holding back laughter. The ugly kind of laughter. The kind that makes you snort.

 

And then you heard Enid's voice from across the room, full of dismay.

 

"I have to be Romeo?! Why?!"

 

You decided that now would be the perfect time to exit stage right.

 

You let the chuckles fall freely from your mouth once you were on the road. It was all too hilarious of a situation. Rad, the dainty Juliet. Enid actually fit the role of Romeo quite well personality wise, in your opinion.

 

Perhaps this would be a school event that you attended after all.

 

Arriving home, you noticed that there was an unfamiliar car parked in the driveway and it appeared to be full of... water?

 

You eyed the car briefly before shrugging and heading inside. It wasn't too peculiar. You'd definitely seen weirder.

 

Opening the door, you were greeted to the sight of your mother conversing with two kappas on the couch while K.O. was on the floor with another kappa.

 

"Hey, Sweetie! How'd it go?" your mom greeted you.

 

"It went... well. I got roped in to helping out the theatre teacher for a bit. You'll be amused to know that Radicles will be playing the role of Juliet in the upcoming production."

 

Your mom covered her mouth quickly to try and muffle her snort, but it didn't work.

 

"And I heard Enid loudly lament that she'd be playing Romeo. So there's that. Oh. Sorry. I'm (Y/N) Kincaid. It's nice to meet you."

 

At the last part, the kappas on the couch smiled at you.

 

"Nice to meetcha! I'm Pavel and this is my beautiful wife Pepelina!"

 

"And this is our daughter Dendy!" Pepelina cooed.

 

Dendy? The kid who asked K.O. to go on some quest?

 

Huh. Well at least your brother is making friends.

 

Dendy looked up at you with a curious look in her eyes. One you knew well. That was the look of someone who hungered for knowledge about any and everything.

 

"Pavel and Pepelina stopped by to introduce themselves. Apparently K.O. made quite the impression on Dendy," your mom explained.

 

You smirked slightly. Oh really?

 

K.O. saw the mischievous smirk you were sporting and discreetly shook his head 'no'. You sometimes liked to playfully tease your brother that there must be tons of kids in his school that have little crushes on him and you joke that he'll be a little heartbreaker someday.

 

But you'll save it for later.  

 

Right now, you had work to do.

 

It would be rude of you to just get up and ignore the guests, so you sat down in one of the chairs and pulled out your work.

 

This caught a certain little genius' attention.

 

"What are you doing?" Dendy asked.

 

You looked over at her.

 

"This? It's just all of the homework for the upcoming week. I'm just getting it out of the way."

 

Dendy cocked her head to the side.

 

"You do your work ahead of schedule? Is it so that you can check over it once the material has been discussed in class to see if there are any mistakes?"

 

"No. Actually, I don't go to class. I kind of teach myself."

 

Dendy's eyes sparkled a bit in fascination.

 

"You're self-taught? Interesting..."

 

A holographic screen popped up in front of Dendy and she began furiously typing something down.

 

Pavel gave out a laugh.

 

"That's our Dendy! Always writing down whatever it is she's learned!"

 

So. Your brother's new friend was interested in learning?

 

Heh.

 

If Dendy was going to be coming around for play dates with K.O., you supposed it was good to know that she's probably be trying to learn all she can about things as well.

 

She kind of reminded you of your younger self. 

 

The one that had been filled with such curiosity and wonder for the world around her.

Chapter Text

Sunday had been a decent day, barring the little detour you made with helping Mr. Stagehand rounded up all of the dententionees into the school's auditorium. The actual helping out was what annoyed you the most with that encounter if you're being completely honest with yourself. After all, Mr. Stagehand really had no business expecting you to go along with what he demanded you to do. What if you had been in a hurry and had no time to assist the overly dramatic theatre teacher with his little quest? Fortunately for him you were in no such hurry, you never are. Still, the only reason that you had gone along with the whole thing was so that you wouldn't have to potentially deal with a grown man weeping loudly into your ear for not helping out.

 

Really, Mrs. Johnson had helped you dodge a seriously annoying bullet with you asking her if Mr. Stagehand would cry about the fact that you chose not to help.

 

As you've stated before, crying in general just makes you super uncomfortable. You don't even feel comfortable when it's you who's doing the crying!

 

Ahem.

 

Anyway, that was the only part of the day that you could have done without. The end result was admittedly hilarious to you, but not even humor was worth going around a building you're only in once a week - and the front desk being the farthest you'd ever gone up until yesterday - and hunting down a bunch of people that you didn't personally know.

 

What had been a real highlight of your day was getting to meet your little brother's friend Dendy. The little kappa girl was very well-mannered, if not more than a little reserved. Not that you were judging. You were the exact same way after all. It was nice to meet someone that you could kind of relate to in some way, even if they weren't your age. You felt as though she and K.O. would grow to become really close friends with one another. They complemented each other very well as a matter of fact. K.O.'s energetic personality was a good contrast to Dendy's calculated one and vice versa.

 

You'd be seeing more of Dendy, that was for certain. She and K.O. would begin to have regularly scheduled play dates on weekends and holidays, provided that nothing interferes with that schedule. Things can and do come up unexpectedly sometimes after all.

 

But that was yesterday. Right now, you're focused on today. More specifically, you're focused on the way that Rad and Enid's expressions become extremely uncomfortable whenever they happen to catch each other's eyes. You supposed you could understand that awkward atmosphere that had overtaken them. Enid would be playing the role of the hopeless romantic Romeo who, up until he met Juliet, had been pining away for his sweet Rosaline who had decided to devote her life to religion and take the vow of chastity. You were aware that there was a bit more to Romeo's character than that. For one, he seemed to be the kind of person to have a bleeding heart, which is why you think Enid fits that role well. As aloof and uncaring as she may act, you've seen several signs that show Enid's heart isn't completely covered with ice. Her interactions with your brother are a good example.

 

And then there was Rad. Macho, insecure, won't-admit-to-anyone-that-he's-a-softie Rad. Who will be playing the role of the sweet, young, and naïve Juliet, a girl of fourteen whose family is pushing her to get married soon and whose mother - who was twelve when she married - considers her daughter to be an old maid.

 

In your opinion, that role doesn't fit Radicles all that well. Juliet is someone that you interpret to be very in touch and expressive with her emotions. As we all know, Rad is not. You're pretty sure he'd rather die than admit to anyone that he cooed at and tickled the belly of that kitten the two of you found in the alley.

 

Speaking of which, you wonder how Duchess is adjusting to her new life. You may ask Radicles about her in private later.

 

You sighed quietly as you continued to mop up the spilled bottles of Mega Milk that Colewort had dropped on his way to the register. The broccoli boy in question was currently in a daze on the floor at the end of the isle. He banged his head pretty hard against one of the freezers.

 

Briefly, you wondered if you should call an ambulance, but decided against it when Colewort began to - shakily, mind you - rise from his place on the ground and slightly limp out of the bodega.

 

You shrugged to yourself. It wasn't any of your business if Colewort didn't feel like having someone call for non-emergency medical support.

 

Thankfully, spilled milk wasn't nearly as hard to clean up as scorch marks from the selection of bombs that the bodega carried were Nick Army, so before you knew it you were putting away the mop and bucket and making your rounds about the store. Just doing what you would normally do such as look to see if there were any new messes that needed to be cleaned up or if there were any customers that needed assistance in finding anything. You may not like having to talk to all these people, but it helps your job go a little quicker if the customers can find what they need, pay for it, and leave.

 

As you made your way around the store, you stumbled across your brother and Rad near the new shipment of magazines.

 

"The thing about magazines is they're not free, right?" Rad questioned your brother as he leaned against the boxes filled with magazines.

 

"Yep! That's the thing about magazines," K.O. confirmed.

 

"But," Rad continued. "The free samples inside the magazines are totally free!"

 

Rad and K.O. began to rub open magazines on their bodies and slowly started to disappear from view.

 

Ah. Free samples of Invisi Juice. You had to admit that it was useful, especially for heroes who were going on stealth missions.

 

'Or me, for that one time I snuck out of the house to wait in line to get that limited edition Chip Damage POW card for K.O.,' you quietly thought.

 

But there were two major flaws with the product. Flaw one was that you had to use a huge amount if you wanted to stay invisible for a good long while. Flaw two was that if you paid close enough attention, you could see when the invisible person was moving due to the fact that when you were looking through them, the scenery they would normally be blocking looked slightly distorted.

 

So, you made an educated guess and pinched Rad's ear as you made your way over to where he and K.O. were too busy giggling. It helped that they hadn't put the magazines down yet.

 

"Ow!" Rad cried out. It actually didn't hurt that much, he was more surprised than injured.

 

You held on, not too tightly but tightly enough that Rad knew you had words to say.

 

You could see that the Invisi Juice was already beginning to wear off, so you let go.

 

"What are you two doing?"

 

Rad rubbed his assaulted ear.

 

"Just teaching your bro some important tips about the bodega. Also, was pinching my ear really necessary?" Rad answered, a bit annoyed.

 

"Would you rather I had tugged on it harshly?" you countered.

 

Rad held his hands up in surrender and grinned awkwardly.

 

"No thank you!"

 

"Rad! Rad!" K.O. jumped up and down excitedly as he tugged on Rad's pants. "I wanna know more tips!"

 

Rad's smile turned from awkward to smug.

 

"Sure thing, kid. Follow me, I'll teach you some things."

 

This you just had to see.

 

Rad led you and K.O. over to the explosive produce section of the bodega and sat down on the edge of the container of bombs.

 

"Freshness is key when picking the perfect explosive." Rad explained as he picked up a bomb. He slowly inched a clenched finger towards it.

 

"Oh don't tell me you're about to-"

 

Rad flicked the bomb and it exploded in his face.

 

"-do that," you finished.

 

"...too ripe," was all Rad had to say about what happened.

 

All you could do was give Rad the Thousand Yard Stare as he struggled to get the soot off of his face and out of his hair. Sometimes you couldn't help but be in awe of just how dumb your coworker could be sometimes. Everyone should know that to check the ripeness of a bomb you need to knock on it, not flick it! Knocking on it was way more accurate than flicking it! Like with a melon!

 

Rad walked on towards the back of the store, closing in on the 100% Magic Health Juice machine.

 

"You got your standard cup sizes," Rad said as he held up the three sizes. He picked up your brother to not-whisper his next 'tip'. "But did you know that the biggest cup of all is your skull?"

 

Rad put your brother underneath one of the nozzles and opened his mouth before flipping the tab.

 

"Behold!"

 

Rad flipped the juice off and rolled your brother onto the floor.

 

"Gosh Rad!" K.O. said in awe with a mouthful of juice. Juice that he quickly swallowed once he saw the look you were giving him and remembered his manners. "How do you even know all this stuff?!"

 

"Yes Radicles, enlighten us," you muttered sarcastically.

 

"Because K.O. and (Y/N), I know everything," Rad finished that declaration with a finger wiggle.

 

"Everything?!" your brother said excitedly.

 

"For instance," Rad provided an example. "Did you know that Gar's Bodega is named after Mr. Gar, our boss?"

 

"No way!" K.O. explained.

 

You rolled your eyes at Rad's antics and your brother's gullibleness. True, he was only six, but K.O. should know better than to believe that one person could know everything there is to know.

 

"Of course it's named after Mr. Gar!" Enid said exasperatedly. "Everyone knows that."

 

Rad rolled his eyes at Enid's attempt to show him up.

 

"Please, Enid. You're just jealous because I figured it out first and you're only pretending that you knew."

 

Rad and Enid made eye contact for about three seconds before looking away quickly.

 

"Yeah, Enid!" K.O. piped up. "Rad knows everything."

 

"Who told you that?" the purple haired teen asked, fully aware of who it was that told your brother that. She made eye contact with you and you nodded your head to Radicles before rolling your eyes.

 

"He did!" K.O. said proudly as he gestured to Rad.

 

"Eh, excuse me," a fish man with human legs said as he approached the three of you. "I was looking for the Super Shaving Cream-"

 

"Shaving beams are in isle three, dude," Rad interrupted.

 

"Uh, no. Super Shaving Cream. You guys are all out. Do you have anymore in the back?"

 

Your brother let out a startled gasp and you looked over to him slightly concerned.

 

"K.O.? You okay?"

 

"The back of the store? The most dangerous and mysterious maze known to employee kind?!" K.O. muttered to himself.

 

"Danger? Mystery?" Rad said incredulously as he wiggled his fingers at you. "Ha! How soon you all forget that I know everything! Especially where to find your... piddling cream. C'mon K.O."

 

Rad waltzed into the store room with your brother in tow. You looked back at Enid and you both shared a knowing look. Enid turned back to the line of customers in front of her.

 

"You know I have to go watch him embarrass himself, right?"

 

She pulled down the metal shutter, leaving behind a handful of disgruntled customers.

 

"Hey wait up guys!"

 

Enid casually walked over to where you were standing.

 

"So, how badly do you think Rad'll mess this up?" she asked.

 

"Hmm... Hard to say. But what I can say is that the two of you need to stop looking so embarrassed every time you make eye contact. Eye contact is the least of your worries if Mr. Stagehand mostly sticks to how the original Romeo and Juliet went. You know. Kissing scene and whatnot."

 

The look of sheer horror and disgust on Enid's face after you said that was priceless.

 

"Ah, the storeroom. AKA, my domain," Rad bragged to K.O. as you and Enid stepped into the room.

 

Your brother ooh'ed at the sight of it all.

 

"Please," Enid scoffed, still a bit put off by what you just said. "It's just a stockroom, K.O. And he's," she gestured to Rad. "Just a stockboy."

 

"Man! Stockman," Rad corrected.

 

"Whatever," you interjected. "Can we just get the shaving cream so we can all get on with our lives?"

 

Rad stopped pouting and snapped back to his overconfident self.

 

"Come my pupils. The back is this way," he said as he led you further into the room. "Well. It's more of a back and down, down, down, back, down. You gotta go downstairs is what I mean."

 

The four of you continued on, passing by a lift that was taped off.

 

"Oh!" K.O. said excitedly. "A creaky, old lift! Please tell me this is how we get to the back and down and the rest!"

 

You slowly turned your gaze to your coworkers. No way in Hell were you letting K.O. on that thing.

 

"The stairs are this way, K.O. That thing's been busted for-" Enid attempted to explain, only to be interrupted by Radicles.

 

"For you guys, totally! But for a hero like me it's-" Rad began to walk confidently toward the lift before you glared menacingly at him.

 

And as luck would have it, the lift decided it would slip downwards a little right as you glared.

 

"-u-uh. Safe but not totally practical," Rad finished as he slowly walked back to stand next to Enid again.

 

"You sure about that?" she said disbelievingly.

 

"C'mon, Enid! If Rad says it's safe, it's gotta be safe!" K.O. argued.

 

You continued to glare at Rad.

 

"Ye-e-e-e-e-es! But I'm also super sensible! So we'll just take the stairs!" Rad hurriedly picked up your brother and brought him over to you. You held K.O. firmly underneath your arm.

 

"Cool," Enid said. "I'll lead the way."

 

God damn it.

 

"Oh no!" Rad disagreed firmly. "I'm the leader with all the, uh, knowledge here. So we follow me!"

 

Enid sighed as Rad made his way back to the lift.

 

"Crazy dangerous old lift it is."

 

"Yay!" K.O. cheered.

 

"No yay," you stated, effectively stopping your brother's little party. "I'm not letting you near that thing. We take the stairs."

 

"Awww!" he said dejectedly.

 

"See the two of you down there!" you called as you descended.

 

As you made your way to the bottom of the stairs, you swore that you heard screaming from up above.

 

You managed to see Enid whip out a kunai attached to a rope from her hair and use it to swing herself and Rad out of the lift.

 

"Autumn Breeze!" she yelled and countless leaves appeared from who knows where to make a pile for her and Rad to land on safely.

 

The two of them were busy coughing up leaves from out of their lungs as you made your way over to them with your brother still tucked away underneath your arm like a package being delivered to someone's front porch.

 

"Have a nice trip down?" you asked sarcastically.

 

Enid glared at you slightly in a playful manner.

 

"Oh, sure," came her sarcastic reply. "It was just loads of fun."

 

Rad continued to splutter out leaves from his mouth as he rose from off of the ground.

 

Enid side eyed the turquoise male as she tied her hair back up.

 

"Well at least you're right about it being broke now, Rad."

 

"Uh..." Rad chuckled nervously as he glanced in any direction other than Enid, still completely embarrassed they were doing the play together as the leads. Who kissed. He may have skimmed through the script last night and was having an internal crisis. "I just pushed the lever too hard. Don't know my own strength."

 

"But I thought you knew everything?" K.O. questioned as you set him down gently.

 

"Yeah Radicles. Everything," you added with a slightly condescending wiggling of your fingers.

 

"Well! Y-yeah! It's just, you know, I'm always getting buffer so..."

 

Rad flexed for emphasis to the point he was attempting to make.

 

Your brother, sweet but oh so naïve as he is, was awestruck once again.

 

"Dang..."

 

Rad ruffled your brother's hair as he began walking off.

 

"C'mon we're almost there."

 

K.O., not wanting to let his idol get too far ahead of him, leapt up on Rad's back and wrapped his legs around Rad's chest as best he could.

 

"So this place is kinda like a corn maze, huh?" K.O. asked curiously. "Have you guys ever been to one? My mommy likes to take me and (Y/N) to them every Fall!"

 

"Nah," Enid answered coolly. "Corn freaks me out."

 

That wasn't odd in the slightest. No really. It wasn't. A lot of people are freaked out by corn, seeing as how there was an actual divine being that was a sentient corn cob. Oddly enough people referred to him as Cob. There was this whole religion based around him that you didn't really understand, but you nonetheless respected the fact that there would be people whose religious ways were different from yours. 

 

"I always get lost in them. But Mommy and (Y/N) always find me! What about you, Rad?"

 

"Heh. I always know the right path," came the smug reply. "This way!"

 

And so began the continuous pattern of Rad leading all of you in the wrong direction.

 

After a while of just wandering aimlessly you began to notice some big changes in the environment. Like how the lighting had changed and the fact that the walls of crates were becoming stone.

 

"Still no shaving cream," Enid stated annoyedly.

 

"I can't even tell what direction we started from," K.O. commented.

 

Rad brushed off the two.

 

"You don't gotta worry about that with me guiding ya. Watch your head!"

 

You managed to avoid some low hanging...

 

"Vines?" was your confused assessment. "Radicles are you sure this is the right- Hey!"

 

Your questioning of Rad's sense of direction was interrupted by you getting distracted by the cute blobs on the floor.

 

"Check out these Gloops!"

 

You motioned for K.O. to come kneel down on the floor to look at the precious monsters on the floor. Gloops were so adorable in your opinion, but they were very dangerous. And flammable. If you tried to pick one up without letting it be fully aware of what was going on, a person could get some serious burns. That wasn't the only reason that they were very dangerous. Get enough Gloops in one place and let them touch... Well. Let's just say that you would want to pack up and move to a whole new area right then and there.

 

"Weird..." your brother commented. But you could tell he was just as entranced by them as you were.

 

Enid kneeled down next to you to get a closer look as well.

 

"Aww... Hey Rad! Is it okay to touch these things?"

 

"Sure..." he said, not really paying attention as to what was going on behind him. Now what direction to go next?

 

Enid picked up a small twig and slowly brought it towards an unsuspecting Gloop.

 

"Uh, Enid you really shouldn't-"

 

Poke went the twig and then the twig went up in smoke.

 

"Ah!" Enid screamed in a startled and totally justified manner.

 

Rad turned around swiftly ready to take on whatever made Enid scream until he saw her clutching her hand close to her chest and scooting away from the Gloops. Your brother looked mildly perturbed and stepped back a bit.

 

"What the heck dude I almost lost my favorite hand!"

 

"O-o-o-o-oh... I thought you meant, uh, emotionally touch. Like, tell it a sad story or something. Yeah, you shouldn't physically touch these things."

 

Enid's eyes narrowed drastically at Rad's retreating back.

 

"Wow! Rad really knows his stuff."

 

You could only shake your head slightly. There was a Gloop sitting up there and you didn't want to shake it loose.

 

Your little quartet continued to make there way further into the catacombs of the Bodega until a hooded figure stopped you.

 

"Halt! Go ye no further. For deep in the bowels of the back and down, down, down, back, down lie dark forces whose power-"

 

"Get out of the way Gary," Rad said in an annoyed manner as he pushed his way past.

 

"Oh hey Rad," Gary greeted. "You on break?"

 

"Hey Gary," Enid waved as she passed.

 

"Guy me and my brother don't know," you said. K.O. waved.

 

"Oh hey. You two new employees or something?"

 

"Yeah! Working at the Bodega was already a dream come true! But I get to work there with my big sister, so that makes it even better!"

 

You smiled and rustled your brother's hair affectionately.

 

"Well aren't you just the sweetest? Working with you is a real joy for me, too."

 

You didn't catch it, but Gary smiled at the obvious love you held for your brother. It was downright adorable.

 

"So do you just work down here and keep an eye on what's in stock or what?" you asked the cloak cladded male.

 

"Yeah, that's pretty much all Gar has me do back here. Sometimes I'm up front, but usually it's down here. What about the two of you?"

 

K.O. puffed out his chest proudly.

 

"I'm training to become a great hero!"

 

"I'm just here to keep an eye on him. But we both clean up the store. I sometimes help with the register. Right now, for some reason, all four employees are hunting down a can of Super Shaving Cream because we're all out. Rad is attempting to lead the way."

 

Gary sucked in a breath.

 

"Ooooh... Good luck with that."

 

"Thanks. I think we'll need it."

 

"You two get lost or something?!" you heard Rad call from a bit up ahead.

 

"Bye Gary!" K.O. waved as he took your hand.

 

Rad was impatiently tapping his foot when the two of you caught up.

 

"What took you guys so long?"

 

"We were introducing ourselves to Gary!" your brother said enthusiastically. "He seems like a really nice guy!"

 

"Yeah. He reminds me of a guy that used to live in our neighborhood. He'd always say hello and ask how your day was going. He was nice, shame he moved," you reminisced.

 

The four of you continued on your little quest. The lights grew dimmer and dimmer as you progressed.

 

"Man, Gary wasn't kidding with that whole darkness schtick," Enid observed.

 

"Gary doesn't know anything," Rad stated. In truth he was a little jealous that you seemed to have taken a bit of a shine to Gary so quickly when you still weren't all that friendly towards him and Enid. Why he was jealous, he couldn't say. "We just gotta, uh... Use this... Flashlight that's always here!"

 

Odd that what you needed the most at the moment suddenly showed up. You knew that Rad was just bullshitting his way through things by this point.

 

And then the flashlight grew eyes and a mouth and bit Rad's hand.

 

"Yeow!"

 

"It's a Mimic! Get it!" Enid ordered.

 

Well this would get pointless quickly. Mimics weren't know to stay as one thing for very long if you had figured them out. You felt around until you hit a wall and slowly made your way around until your hands found a light switch that you were quick to make use of.

 

"Take that darkness," your brother cried as he punched the air, stopping when he realized the lights were on.

 

"Hey, where'd it go?" Rad wondered.

 

"I take it that you know about this light switch, Genius?" you asked Radicles sarcastically.

 

"Obviously," he said with a dead stare. "It's just the power's normally out down here."

 

"What about the Mimic?" Enid added, coming to your side and crossing her arms as she stared down Rad. No amount of embarrassment was going  to keep her from putting Rad in his place when he needed to be.

 

"Clearly I was protecting you guys," he insisted.

 

"Man," K.O. piped up. "It must be hard being smart and selfless."

 

You and Enid exchanged an annoyed look. Oh hey, the two of you are kind of bonding over being completely done with Rad's shit.

 

The Gloop made a quiet gurgling sound, like it also couldn't believe Rad's idioticness.

 

Still, the three of you followed the meathead.

 

"And here we are in the, uh... Bathroom!"

 

"Bathroom?" you and Enid said in disbelief.

 

"Yeah. See? Here's the toilet- Wah!"

 

Rad got startled when the sarcophagus began to move.

 

"Someone's using it!" your brother cried out in alarm.

 

A hand stretched out, followed by a yawn.

 

"I- I got you buddy!"

 

"Where did you get toilet paper K.O.?" you questioned.

 

The mummy stepped out of her sarcophagus.

 

"Hmm? Oh, thank you! Travelers! Are you perhaps lost?"

 

"No way," K.O. stated. "Rad knows all about this place."

 

"Ah. So the handsome one is guiding you. I would have thought the cute one would be, as she seems to be the knowledgeable type."

 

When the mummy said 'cute one', she glanced over to you.

 

...what.

 

You were uncomfortable and Rad looked flattered.

 

"Then there won't be a need for my extensive backroom maps?"

 

"You have maps?" Enid asked excitedly. "She has maps!"

 

The last part was whispered to Rad, who looked offended.

 

"Puh. Like I need a map."

 

"But, a backup couldn't hurt..."

 

Good, K.O. You're starting to get it.

 

"Save 'em for the tourists!" Rad said as he levitated your brother out of the room and grabbed your hand.

 

"Ew, why are your hands so sweaty? It's not warm down here at all!"

 

Rad pressed forward, having tucked your brother underneath his arm and keeping a firm but sweaty grip on your hand. A determined, if not slightly pissed off look adorned his face. Almost as if the very idea of any help other than his being utilized was the worst thing to ever happen ever.

 

"Rad," Enid called as she caught up with the stocker's swift pace. "Hold up. Hey!"

 

The ninja poofed in front of him.

 

"Okay. Real talk. I haven't seen a single Bodega product for the past, like, twenty rooms."

 

"That's because I'm taking us through the scenic route."

 

Oh thank God he finally let go of your hand. Gross there was Rad sweat on it. You wiped your hand off on your jeans.

 

"I'm going back for the map," you stated dully and then took off back towards the mummy. Enid and Radicles hot on your tail.

 

"(Y/N)! Enid! Come back! Hey!"

 

You reached the door frame quickly, but stopped short.

 

"What the Hell?" you whispered to yourself.

 

This wasn't the room you had just exited, but an entirely new one. Marble columns lined the side of the room you were on. In the center was a small island with a large tree growing from it. The water glowed an unnatural, iridescent blue. Were those... Glorbs hovering all over the place?

 

"Wasn't this that mummy's room?" K.O. questioned innocently.

 

Enid was at her wit's end. And honestly you were getting there yourself.

 

"The rooms are... Randomly generated?"

 

That last part was said through gritted teeth.

 

"Well, there you have it Enid, (Y/N). You two have no choice but to follow my lead," Rad stated in that annoyingly smug manner of his that made you want to rip his head off right now.

 

Did you say that you were almost at your wit's end? Scratch that.

 

You were there.

 

Your pupils constricted until there was almost nothing but harsh blue. You swiftly turned around and yanked Radicles down to your level before Enid had a chance to do the same.

 

"Listen here. You tiny, little man. We're lost, it's all your fault, and you have no idea what you're doing!" You brought your face close to Rad's, so close you could feel his breath on your lips. "I'm in charge now."

 

You let go and walked around him to get K.O.

 

Rad swallowed thickly.

 

"Uh. Yeah? Well. Then I'm not coming!"

 

"I don't care," you said apathetically as you picked up K.O. who was trying to catch a Glorb. "You coming Enid."

 

"Yeah," she confirmed.

 

Rad blew a raspberry at you both. Wow. So mature.

 

You were pretty ticked by this point. Seriously! Rad had an ego the size of Texas and the stubbornness to match. Even you could admit when you were wrong about something. But no. Mr. Thinks-He's-Hot-Shit back there just has to do things his way and prove that he's not just all talk!

 

"It's weird that Rad didn't want to come with us," K.O. remarked from his perch around your torso. "We're probably slowing him down, huh?"

 

"Kchhhhh..." was your hissy reply.

 

"Hey look!"

 

Your brother pointed to a room off to the side excitedly.

 

"Is that a map?" Enid said disbelievingly.

 

K.O. hopped down and ran towards it.

 

"Now we can make Rad's knowledge ours, too."

 

But the Mimic had other plans.

 

"Really?!" you cried out.

 

K.O. ripped the Mimic to shreds in startled confusion.

 

"K.O., Sweetie, you alright?"

 

Your brother turned to you with unshed tears and sniffled.

 

"Yes..."

 

But the Mimic wasn't down for the count.

 

"Ugh. I forgot that these things are essentially punching bags that punch back!"

 

"Aah!" Enid cried out in alarm as the Mimic scraps flew by her before turning into a mace.

 

Luckily Enid has superior reflexes and smashed the Mimic into the wall. But that only seemed to tick it off even more. It turned into a hammer and prepared to smash.

 

"No way!" K.O. couldn't believe his eyes.

 

The three of you managed to dodge the hit and Enid burned a bit of the Mimic.

 

"Ha! Gotcha. K.O. use your Power Move before it can reform!"

 

"Okay!"

 

With the fire, it didn't take long to get rid of the Mimic.

 

"I think we got 'em," Enid said slightly out of breath.

 

You chanced a look around and regretted it once you got to the floor.

 

"Oh no..."

 

The three of you were swallowed, but you weren't in the mood to be digested. Some swift punches and kicks to the Mimic's insides got you all free.

 

And you exploded out of the room.

 

"Urg! Great! We're hopelessly lost! And we're gonna starve! And I'm gonna miss every Shadow Boys concert! All because we're stuck down here forever."

 

Enid sunk down to the floor in a useless heap.

 

"We can't be stuck here forever because at five (Y/N) and I gotta go home and eat spaghetti!" K.O. explained.

 

"And how will we get back?" Enid whispered darkly from the floor.

 

"Rad!"

 

You dragged a hand down your face. The Gloop on your head sharing it's discontent with that answer.

 

"That useless dweeb got us into this mess!" Enid gruffly stated.

 

"He's not useless! He knows what he's doing..." K.O. defended.

 

You sighed and placed a hand on your brother's shoulder.

 

"You really look up to Radicles, don't you?"

 

K.O. nodded, not meeting you or Enid's eyes.

 

"Look. It's fine that you admire him. But you can't put him up on a pedestal and just expect him to be this perfect being that can't possibly ever be wrong about anything. It isn't fair to either of you. It's not fair to you because you'll go around and blindly think that he's the be all end all of what's the best, and it isn't fair to him because that makes him face a number of standards that he just might not be able to meet. Okay? You need to treat Radicles as a person and just see him for who he is."

 

"...we're gonna miss that spaghetti."

 

"Probably."

 

"Hey, guys?"

 

Oh, speak of the jerk.

 

"I'm sorry about everything. I was a real stinker and, gosh it all, I went ahead and got that map for us!"

 

You stared onward, unmoved.

 

"Really? This is how you're gonna play it?"

 

That clearly was not Rad.

 

"There you are, jerks. I got tired of waiting for you guys to come apologize to me so I came to-" The real Rad finally took notice of his doppelganger. "Who's this doofus?" 

 

"A Mimic," you three said in tandem.

 

"I guess I put myself ahead of the group and that was just plain wrong," fake Rad said.

 

"Ha ha ha! Dude!" Rad laughed.

 

"What do we do?! Which one is which?!"

 

"Think, K.O.," Enid said. "Look at them for who they really are."

 

"Who they really are..."

 

K.O. got that look on his face. The one he gets when he's lost in his thoughts. Kind of like when your mom has that confusing noiresque sandwich flashback.

 

"The real Rad is... the bad Rad," he said dejectedly while pointing to the Rad on the left.

 

"Truth! I'll suck upon thy bones!" the Mimic yelled before slinging Rad at your group.

 

Rad laughed the whole way through it.

 

"You sniffed me out have you Bodega Knaves? Huzzah for you!"

 

"Oh man! Even his evil speech is geeky!" Rad cackled.

 

"Ugh, enough," you rolled your eyes. "Let's just get this guy and get out!"

 

The four of you charged towards the Mimic.

 

"Hold! If this truly be out final battle let's do it right!"

 

"What do you mean 'do it right'?" Enid questioned.

 

"Take turns, silly! Let me just roll for initiative here."

 

"Dude, what are you doing? This isn't a game of DnD!" you stated, getting more agitated by the second.

 

"Um. A little thing called 'playing by the rules'. You gonna roll your dice or not?"

 

"No!" the four of you shouted. "Dice are for nerds!"

 

The training you'd done with your mom that morning may have tired you out, but not so much that you couldn't throw a decent punch.

 

"Filthy casuals," the Mimic muttered before vanishing.

 

"Now then, if you're done doubting my knowledge, we're pretty close to the exit," Rad said.

 

"And you reached that conclusion how exactly," you asked, hand on your face and Gloop growling at Rad.

 

Rad huffed out a sigh. "I told you already. I know everything!"

 

"If that were really true, then why'd you get us lost?!" your brother demanded.

 

"Hey! First off, we're not lost! And frankly, I resent your lack of faith in me good buddy."

 

"Hey..." Enid said curiously before gasping in astonishment. "Rad! You went back and got the map!"

 

"Wh-wha-? N-no I-!"

 

"So you... actually did the right thing for once."

 

"Look! I! I only got it 'cause you guys wanted to see it so bad! I- I mean I- Whatever! Can't we just go already?"

 

Rad waddled off all embarrassed.

 

"So... Rad did know what he was doing!" K.O. concluded. "He's so smart and cool and wise and heroic..."

 

On the way out, you spotted a can of Super Shaving Cream and grabbed it.

 

You shielded your eyes from the harsh lights of the Bodega as Rad moved one of the floor tiles out of the way so you all could leave the underground maze.

 

"Hey you're finally back!"

 

"AHH!" the four of you screamed.

 

"Your beard!" Rad pointed.

 

"Were we gone that long?" Enid questioned worriedly as she exchanged a glance with you.

 

"Oh. No, no. I just grow a beard really quickly. That's why I need that Super Shaving Cream."

 

"Oh... Ha ha... The shaving cream..."

 

"Don't worry guys! I picked some up on the way!" your brother reassured as he produced the can.

 

Only it wasn't shaving cream.

 

It was the Mimic again.

 

So while customers got out of the way of your brother and coworkers trying to corral the Mimic, you made sure that the fish man got checked out.

 

Seeing as how it would take some time for the Mimic problem to be taken care of, you settled in for a long time at the cash register.

 

"Oh yeah..."

 

You wiggled your flingers and moved your hand in a circle around your head before feeling for the Gloop. Still there and not giving you burns. It was a rather large Gloop. Real chubby and gooey feeling. It squeaked happily when you squeezed it a bit.

 

"I don't really have the time to take care of a pet, Cutie Pie. I'm sorry."

 

The Gloop gave you a smile. It most likely had no idea what you just said.

 

"Go back downstairs, okay?"

 

To your surprise, the Gloop did just that. It slithered off of the counter and through the stockroom's doors.

 

Well, that takes care of that monster. 

Chapter Text

When you're the kind of person that enjoys keeping to themselves and not bothering or getting caught up in the lives of other people, you have the tendency to notice and take in the world around you more often than the people that actually prefer the company of their friends. It's the little things that go overlooked by so many others that really stand out and make a statement to you. Where someone who's out walking with their companions might notice a tree that is currently in bloom and go 'oh hey that's pretty' before moving on and forgetting about it, you take the time to really look at the flora in question and actually take in its beauty.

 

You're someone that finds more enjoyment with her own company than with the company of others, your mom and little brother being the obvious exceptions to this of course.

 

So why exactly did you let K.O. talk you into taking your lunch break with Radicles? That was a rhetorical question. The obvious answer to which is that you just can't seem to say no to your brother unless it's to something that would seriously get him injured or if you just really don't feel like putting up with whatever it is that he wanted to do and even then that rarely happened.

 

It could be though that your family was the only weakness that you had at all. And you honestly couldn't find fault with that accusation. 

 

So here you were outside in the cool spring air. Your precious brother bouncing excitedly while holding your hand as Radicles led the two of you to what he claimed to be 'one of the best places for food at the plaza'.

 

You had gotten into the habit of just bringing a couple of granola bars with you to work and would eat those for lunch, so this out of the blue invitation to go and eat together was seriously throwing off the routine that you had snuggly put yourself into.

 

It occurs to you that this may be Rad's way of trying to apologize for getting you, K.O., and Enid all lost in the back of the Bodega yesterday. Speaking of the absent ninja, she had been invited but coolly declined before ripping into a bag of chips and chewing them a bit more aggressively than was necessary. So clearly she was still upset about the whole 'getting lost and then having to deal with a Mimic once you all got back' deal. Not that you could find fault with Enid holding a grudge. Plus, it'd be pretty hypocritical of you if you thought she was being overdramatic. Photo incident, remember? Which you're still not completely over but being angry just takes up so much energy.

 

'These granola bars are just going to sit in the pocket of my hoodie for the rest of the day, aren't they?' you thought to yourself. It wasn't like you couldn't eat them some other day, you just didn't like it when your schedule was thrown off track so unexpectedly.

 

So onward across the plaza the three of you marched. K.O. had a fun time waving to all of the people that he knew, as well as the ones he didn't. He even waved to that strawberry girl. Drupe, you're pretty sure that was her name. She clearly hadn't forgotten your face as hers adopted a very nervous and uncomfortable expression when she saw that you were with K.O. She waved back hesitantly before eagerly returning to the conversation she had been having with the red-headed cyborg girl.

 

You would never be completely over the fact her and her friends decided that messing with your brother was a good idea, but it was satisfying to know that she most likely wouldn't try anything with your brother for fear of retaliation from you.

 

"So are you going to tell us where you're leading us or are we going to have a repeat of yesterday?" you jeered at Rad.

 

The face he made at you for that comment made him look as if he had just swallowed something extremely sour.

 

"Ha. Ha. Very funny, (Y/N). Really. But to answer your question, we're here!"

 

He finished his sarcasm-laced statement with a large swooping motion of his arms before bringing your attention to a truck parked sideways.

 

"A food truck," was your ever so impressed response.

 

Rad physically deflated at you being so obviously unimpressed with his choice of venue. Thankfully for him, your brother was easily impressed by such things.

 

"Wow! So cool!"

 

The turquoise boy perked right up after that.

 

"Yeah it is! Beardo makes some of the best food here at the plaza!"

 

Ah. So this was the ever moving Beardo Burrito. You remember it now. You had considered looking to see if they were hiring when K.O. first got hired to work at the Bodega and your mom had wanted you to keep an eye on him. Too bad the truck was always on the move and thus a poor job choice to keep tabs on your brother for your mom.

 

A portly blue man who was in the process of balding poked his head out at the sound of your voices.

 

"Ah! Come to try some of the best handmade food you'll ever have I see? Radicles! Always good to see familiar face! Your regular?"

 

"You know it, Beardo!"

 

Beardo produced a tinfoil wrapped burrito to Rad in what seemed to be no time at all.

 

"That'll be four technos and thirty technites."

 

Rad payed and began happily scarfing down his lunch.

 

Your brother got a huge grin on his face and scoped out the food choices as best he could without getting in the way of the people in line waiting for their orders.

 

"Alright, alright, alright," Beardo bellowed. "We got one order of the Joe and Macaroni, one Spyro's Platter, and one Gnocchi Gnocchi Panic."

 

Your brother was practically drooling.

 

"Man, it all looks so delicious!"

 

"I recommend the Dragon Dragon Burrito," Rad stated before belching out two bursts of fire in the shape of dragons.

 

Gross. But also cool looking.

 

"Ha ha! I really want to try that," K.O. admitted. "But the burgs and potato wedges also look really good. Hmm..."

 

While your brother was contemplating his menu options you decided to speak with Beardo.

 

"Excuse me."

 

"You know what you want?"

 

"I actually had a question. Are any of the food choices made with any form of peanuts? Because my brother and I are allergic so I thought I'd ask."

 

Beardo's expression went from dull to hyperaware in seconds.

 

"You definitely don't need to eat the Juri Gonga then. Only dish with peanuts of any kind I swear. I always clean off counter before and after each dish, so no risk of contamination."

 

You nodded stiffly.

 

"Thank you. You heard that, right K.O.?"

 

He nodded vigorously at you before returning to his contemplative state.

 

"Ahe-hem," an annoyed voice piped up from behind you.

 

From your peripheral vision you could see it was some kind of reptilian gang. The source of the annoyed voice was the lizard kid in the middle who looked at his watch before sighing annoyedly.

 

Excuse you, you little gremlin? Who the fuck's not been teaching you your manners?

 

Your brother gave the boy a blank look for a short moment before turning his attention to Beardo.

 

"So wedges I think. Or maybe-"

 

"Ahem!"

 

You've already had enough of this kid. He's been waiting, what? A few seconds? A minute at best?

 

"Take your time, it's cool. It's not like anybody is waiting," lizard boy droned on condescendingly.

 

Wow. Okay. What an entitled little shit. Can't even wait a few minutes for somebody he doesn't even know to order. Nope. Just has to be unnecessarily rude to a complete stranger. Normally you wouldn't care, but this brat was talking to your baby brother like he was some sort of inconvenience.

 

"Ah! Thank goodness! I was worried I was taking too long," your brother remarked before returning his attention to the menu.

 

Beardo happened to notice that you were giving a very hostile look out of the corner of your eye to this bratty little kid.

 

'Let's hope she doesn't feel need to get involved in this matter,' he worriedly thought to himself.

 

"Great. We gotta real genius here," lizard boy snarked.

 

His little gang seemed to get a kick out of that. Rad gave them an unimpressed look as K.O. continued to be his sweet, oblivious self.

 

"Aw! Thanks for the compliment!" K.O. bashfully acknowledged. To which the laughter only got louder.

 

"Dude. K.O. You're not getting complimented. You're getting zinged. O-o-o-o-oh," Rad explained in a bored manner. He had been the victim of zinging back in his kiddie days and as such had grown a thick skin towards it, even if it wasn't directed at him.

 

"What?! No! What should I do?"

 

"Zing 'em back! A true hero never backs down. They fight fire," Rad paused to take a bite of burrito. "With fire."

 

And now the top half of his face is singed. What was he thinking. Really. It's fascinating how Rad's lapse in judgment can momentarily distract you from your thoughts of talking some serious smack to this little bastard. You could lay down some serious verbal hurt if you really needed to. He seemed to need a bunch of people to back him up and thus might also rely on them to feel important about himself. Embarrassing him in front of them would do wonders for shutting his attitude down.

 

"Even firefighters?" K.O. asked confused.

 

"Yes. They use blowtorches," Rad explained.

 

Beardo was half intrigued by how your brother would handle this and half concerned that a physical confrontation would come of the verbal one about to take place. He didn't need something like that happening near his truck. Bad for business.

 

Your brother stalked confidently towards the ringleader whose attention was gotten by one of his followers.

 

"What are you looking at, NERD."

 

You know what. You're not even phased by the blocks of letters. That shit is tame compared to what else you've seen and been through in the last two weeks.

 

"WELL IT TAKES ONE TO KNOW ONE," K.O. countered.

 

"OH, YEAH?"

 

"YEAH!!!"

 

Lizard brat ducked for cover under the A as the rest of his gang were blown back.

 

Your brother huffed out a breath confidently as lizard boy began to lose his temper.

 

"Oh it's on now! I challenge you to a clash of fists!"

 

"Bring on the fire, Jerko. I torch you like a crème Brule."

 

K.O. glanced back at you with shining eyes, looking for your approval.

 

Rad and Beardo were all for it, but your mouth was set in a hard line. As long as your brother didn't take things too far, you supposed that it would be alright. A small nod was given.

 

"Have a taste of my sticky tongue!"

 

"Dodge!"

 

The kid's weird hand shaped tongue stuck fast to the truck. He was taken off balance and landed right on his face.

 

Beardo and Rad acted as though that was the funniest thing they'd seen and guffawed heartily at it, K.O. joining in but not as loudly. You were keeping your eyes on the kid who was rapidly turning pink all over from embarrassment as he wiped his eyes.

 

"Well! M-m-my dad can beat up your dad!"

 

"Wha ha ha ha ha! Oh yeah? Well my dad can- My dad can..."

 

You began to grip the metal counter tightly.

 

'Shit...' you mentally swore. You and Mom never talked about Dad around K.O. Add that to the fact there were no pictures of him up in the house and K.O. has a perfectly logical reasoning for assuming he doesn't have a dad. Which he doesn't anymore, but he thinks he never had one.

 

"I don't have a dad..."

 

Beardo's chuckling was cut off and Rad began momentarily choking on his burrito.

 

"But..." your brother continued. "I have a mom that can beat up anybody!"

 

Beardo and Rad both breathed a sigh of relief for some reason while you were considering giving the brat a beat down and how K.O. agreeing for Mom to fight someone's dad was a very bad idea. So was the assaulting a child thing you guess. Yeah. Don't want to get thrown in jail.

 

"Then it's on! Three o'clock sharp! Roof of the plaza!"

 

"Oh we'll be there. My mom is gonna love this."

 

The two boys got out of each other's faces and ran off towards their respective parents.

 

Rad wasn't sure what to think about this. Up until just now he had assumed that you and K.O. had two parents just like a good percentage of people did. In hindsight, assuming that you two did wasn't the brightest thing to do. You were still pretty distant from him and Enid, but K.O. loved to share a lot of the details about your lives at home. But not once did the little dude ever mention anything about having a second parent. It was always talk about either you or your mom and how amazing K.O. thought the two of you were. Not that there was anything wrong with only having one parent! It was just... Odd. How little it seemed to faze K.O. Sure he got a little down about it, but he bounced back just like that.

 

If K.O. wasn't all that bothered by it, how were you feeling? You were being pretty quiet.

 

"Hey (Y/N) are you- Whoa!"

 

Rad gently but firmly grasped you by the wrist and pried your hand off of the counter. Whatever stupor you had been in you were quickly snapped out of.

 

"Hey what's your deal?!"

 

Rad pulled some napkins out of the dispenser and pressed firmly down on your palm with them. They soon turned a dark red.

 

"Oh," was all you had to say about that.

 

You had gripped the counter so hard that you managed to slice the palm of your left hand on the slightly sharp edge. Half of a bloody, slightly smeared handprint was left behind on the counter.

 

Rad attempted to mop up the blood on the counter, but Beardo told him to go and get your hand bandaged and that he would take care of it. Radicles thanked him and walked you to the Bodega, burrito forgotten and left behind.

 

"Enid! We need a first aid kit here!" Rad called as soon as the two of you stepped inside.

 

"Dude there's no need to yell I'm right- Cob what happened!"

 

Enid sprung up from her stool and produced the first aid kit that was behind the counter.

 

"Sliced my hand on Beardo's truck's counter. Didn't notice," you explained.

 

You threw away the napkins and took the kit to the bathroom. You knew how to dress your own wounds.

 

Enid watched you disappear into the restroom before abruptly turning on Rad.

 

"What happened?!"

 

Rad held his hands up defensively.

 

"Whoa! Relax! Like she said, she cut her hand on the metal counter at Beardo's."

 

"Okay, but how?"

 

Rad adopted an uncomfortable look. It really wasn't his right to tell Enid your personal business, but he knew this wasn't something she'd let go of.

 

"Okay. So K.O. was in the middle of ordering, right? All of a sudden Chameleon Jr., you know him he sometimes comes in here with his gang," Enid nodded and Rad continued. "Right. So he shows up and starts acting like K.O. taking his time to order is such an inconvenience to him personally and starts zinging him. So K.O. zings him back and it eventually leads to Jr. saying that his dad could beat up K.O.'s dad. But then K.O. says that he doesn't have a dad but that his mom could beat up anyone and now there's going to be a showdown on the roof later today. So K.O. runs off and there I am feeling all uncomfortable with the situation and I look over to see if (Y/N)'s okay and she's just... Standing there. Gripping the counter hard enough to cut open her had."

 

"Dude..." Enid whispered, a bit saddened by this new information about you and K.O. "Wait. She was just standing there? That's it?"

 

"...not exactly."

 

"What's that supposed to mean?"

 

"She had this... Look."

 

"What look?"

 

Rad was already uncomfortable enough as it was.

 

"Rad!" Enid barked.

 

"Gah! Okay, okay! It's honestly the most expressive I've ever seen her."

 

"Get to the point."

 

Rad exhaled deeply.

 

"Enid. You know that expression 'if looks could kill'? Well, if they could... Someone would have definitely been murdered."

 


You glared at your reflection.

 

Bluh. Just look at her. Gross.

 

You made certain to thoroughly wash out the cut on your hand before applying the disinfectant. You wrapped your hand up good and tight with bandages, but not to where it was cutting off the circulation.

 

Nodding at your handiwork, you dropped off the kit at the register and walked over to the dojo where it seemed as though your brother was just wrapping up his explanation of what had transpired.

 

K.O. was looking up at your mother with a cheerful gleam in his eyes.

 

"I hate this, K.O.," your mom said. Arms crossed and disappointment putting a down payment on her face. "I am very disappointed in you.You're grounded."

 

"But Mo-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-om!" he cried out in dismay as he crawled towards her and crumpled to a heap on the floorboards.

 

"Why would you do such a reckless thing?! What were you thinking?!" Your mom took notice of you. "And why didn't you stop him young lady?!"

 

Before you could plead your case, K.O. piped up.

 

"There was this kid. Chameleon Jr. And he just kept on zinging me. He said his dad could beat up my dad. And it kinda got to me 'cause- 'Cause I don't got a dad."

 

You picked up your brother gently and hugged him tight. Your mom sighed and took him from you.

 

"Oh, K.O., Honey... You did have a dad. He was a great man. A great hero. And I'm sure he would have loved you very much."

 

She set K.O. down on one of the makeshift benches and patted it, indicating that she wanted you to sit down as well.

 

"You know, getting mad and escalating the situation is never a good idea, Peanut."

 

"She's right, it only ends up making things worse," you agreed.

 

"Escalate? Escalate?! How can I escalate something when I don't even know WHAT ESCALATE MEANS?!"

 

"You see right there, Honey," Mom interrupted and sat down as she handed K.O. a burrito. "That was escalating."

 

She handed you a burrito as well and you tentatively took a bite out of it. Hm! Not bad.

 

K.O. belched a bit of fire back into his face.

 

"Ah snappy-wap-wappy! Dragon Dragon Burritos!"

 

Your mother tussled K.O.'s hair affectionately.

 

"So I've decided that I will make an appearance on the roof later, but not to fight. I'm gonna face Chameleon Jr.'s dad, but with my words. Not my fists. I'll show you how a conflict is deescalated in the flesh."

 

"'Deescalated'? What's that?" your brother questioned.

 

"It's making a big thing smaller," your mom explained with a wink.

 

The three of you sat there for a few minutes quietly eating.

 

"Yeah. I should have stopped you from confronting that kid- Er. Chameleon Jr. I should have told you to just ignore him instead of encouraging you to exchange zings with him. I'll try to do better by you from now on, K.O." you apologized.

 

Your job was to be the best big sister you could be and lead by example so that your baby brother could grow up to be a good person. Or at least a person with common sense.

 

Your mom kissed your forehead.

 

"Everyone makes mistakes, Pumpkin. It's all a part of growing up."

 

It was then she took notice of your bandaged hand.

 

"What happened?!" your mom shouted as she held your hand gently. "This wasn't here this morning while we were training!"

 

You coughed awkwardly.

 

"I, uh... Gripped the counter of Beardo's food truck when Chameleon Jr. brought up the subject of dads..."

 

Your mother's eyes softened.

 

"Oh, Sweetie..."

 

It made you angry whenever someone used to bring up your dad. No, you didn't know what happened. No, they didn't understand what you were going through. How could they? They had never-

 

Stop. You hate talking about your dad and you hate thinking about him. As much as you loved him and still do, it just...

 

It hurts.

 

It always hurts.

 


Three o'clock rolled around and while you took the stairs like a normal person, your mom and brother leapt up to the roof like the athletic people they are.

 

"Yeah! Power Bat-!"

 

Your mom put her hand over K.O.'s mouth.

 

"K.O. What did we just discuss little man?"

 

He quickly became sheepishly bashful.

 

"Sorry, Mom. I'm just excited to hang out with you."

 

Aww...

 

"About time you chumps got here."

 

Way to ruin the cute moment you little prick.

 

Well. The brat was here. Where was the dad?

 

"Huh. Looks like Chameleon Jr.'s dad took the high road and decided not to show. Maybe we won't have to-"

 

Your mom was abruptly cut off by a loud crashing noise.

 

A very large lizard man crashed down on the roof of the plaza and patted Jr. on the head. The boy in question hissed excitedly.

 

"Wah..." was K.O.'s response.

 

"You just sit back and watch carefully now, K.O. (Y/N), it never hurts to pay attention to these types of things," your mom reassured. "Hey there Mr. Chameleon Sr.! I heard about what our boys did today and thought we could show them the right way to solve conflict! By talking things out!"

 

"HA!" came the disbelieving laugh. "You think I'll let that little squirt of yours slide after zinging my precious boy? I wanna FIGHT!"

 

The overly boisterous man attacked with his own weird hand shaped tongue.

 

"Sir! I really think fighting sends the wrong message to our sons. We should just sit down-"

 

A tail swipe cut her off. As your mom landed to safety, Chameleon Sr. disappeared from view.

 

"Mr. Cha-"

 

Your mom dodged the underhanded sucker punch Sr. there tried to land.

 

"Heh! You're pretty good at not fightin'! Just like your weakling of a son," Sr. jeered.

 

"Ha!" Jr. laughed in your brother's face.

 

You quickly got up in Jr.'s face.

 

"I am not afraid to break your bones little boy. I would suggest keeping your mouth shut," you hissed out quietly.

 

No, really. Where was all this anger coming from? First it was yesterday with Rad and now this? Sure this kid had gotten on your nerves, but not so much as to warrant this much animosity from you.

 

There is also the fact that you are not normally such an angry person.

 

Maybe you should get an outlet for all this anger. Punchy hadn't been used at the dojo in quite some time, maybe you could take the punching bag home with you.

 

"Did you just insult my son?" she demanded.

 

"Ha ha ha. And what are you gonna do about it?" Sr. challenged.

 

"I'm gonna challenge you to a Power Battle!"

 

Oh. Mama no. No. That's not de-escalation at all.

 

Well Chameleon Sr. just seemed to think that this was the funniest thing he had heard all day.

 

"Now what could puny coward arms and coward legs ever hope to do-"

 

Your mother cut off the oaf with a punch to the face. She then grabbed his tongue and used it to pull him back after each punch.

 

"Mom?"

 

"Daddy!" Jr. cried out.

 

Sr. grabbed his tongue and slammed your mom into the roof.

 

"Mommy!"

 

"I told you that your puny coward antics wouldn't faze me!"

 

As Sr. was distracted by his far too early victory pose, your mother caught him off guard.

 

"Hey Lizard Breath! Looks like your tail has come to an end!"

 

Your mom spun Sr. over her head like some guy at a sporting event would do with his shirt.

 

"I don't think this situation is getting any smaller!"

 

"It's not, Sweetie. It's not," you affirmed.

 

She hurled Sr. into the air and delivered a swift kick that sent him hurtling back into the roof of the plaza.

 

"All's well that ends well!" your mom cheerfully stated as she dusted her hands together.

 

"Mom? I'm not really seeing how we made the situation smaller. I thought we weren't supposed to resort to using our fi-fi-fi- Uh! Look out being you!"

 

Sr. grabbed your mom with his tail, leapt into the parking lot, and began slamming her into the pavement.

 

"Mom!" you and your brother called out.

 

"What do I do?" K.O. asked himself out loud. "Mom's made this situation even bigger! Wait a minute... That's it!"

 

"What's it?" you asked. "K.O.?"

 

But your brother didn't hear you as he leapt off of the roof and onto the sore loser's shoulder.

 

"Excuse me!"

 

"Eh?" the brute said confusedly.

 

"Hi Mr. Chameleon Sr. sir! I'm K.O.! This whole thing started because I took too long to order my food. So I was hoping we could all eat these peace offering burritos together and forget this whole thing ever happened!"

 

Your precious sibling giggled sweetly as he held out the food.

 

"Daw. That's real sweet of ya, kid. The only problem is I'm not a forgetful guy. And I don't like sharing."

 

The burritos fell uselessly to the ground below as Chameleon Sr. swallowed your brother whole.

 

You aren't quite sure what exactly happened next because you were seeing blood red and your body seemed to move on its own accord.

 

A punch to the face had Sr. sprawled out on his back in dazed confusion. Grabbing his tail and slamming him from side to side made his brain rattle around.

 

More punching a kicking took place. You knocked some of his teeth out. As Chameleon Sr. shakily rose to his feet to try and defend himself, you were already on the move.

 

"SPIT HIM OUT!" you raggedly screamed as you delivered a swift punch to his gut.

 

Your brother was spit out and landed somewhere on Sr.'s back.

 

"Oh no no! No, no! No!"

 

And then his skin was in a crumpled heap in the parking lot and what stood before you was extremely disturbing.

 

"Oh no. My skin!"

 

As Chameleon Sr. was freaking out, Jr. hesitantly approached him.

 

"Dad? What- What's going on?"

 

Jr. was carefully scooped up.

 

"Son. Okay, there's something I've been meaning to tell you," Sr. sighed heavily. "Listen closely Chameleon Jr. N-now I know you- you bragged to your reptilian gang about your old pap here being a super cool kaiju chameleon, but I'm really just a large man in a rubber costume. I'm sorry."

 

"Um... Why didn't you just tell me?"

 

"I... I just wanted to be the best giant lizard dad I could be for you..."

 

"Aw shucks, Dad!" Jr. hugged his dad's chin. "I don't care what you look like! You beat up other dads and keep me safe! You're the best dad any lizard could ask for!"

 

"Oh, son..."

 

Sr. wiped away some small tears and looked down to you and your family.

 

"I apologize for my behavior today. I realize now that talking things out can be the better solution. And you young lady," he looked directly at you. "You could really be somebody if you work hard at getting stronger." He placed a fedora on Jr.'s head. "Let's go home, son."

 

"Wow," K.O. said as he watched the two disappear into the sunset. "I guess there are all sorts of different families, huh?"

 

"There sure are, Sweetie. Looks like you've learned a valuable lesson today K.O."

 

"Yeah. Seems like inside every bully is a big, sweaty, troubled man."

 

"True," your mom agreed. "And you learned you shouldn't escalate situations you can't handle."

 

Your mom chuckled as she booped K.O.'s nose.

 

"So-o-o-o? Does this mean I'm not grounded anymore?"

 

"Oh no. Ha ha. You're still grounded."

 

"But Mom! You escalated things with a Power Battle!"

 

Your mom adopted a thoughtful look.

 

"Huh. Then I guess I'm grounded, too."

 

"Huh? Ha ha ha ha! You grounded yourself, Mom!" he giggled as he leapt into your mom's awaiting embrace.

 

"Then I guess I can't take you and your sister out for surprise ice cream either. Oh well."

 

"No! Unground yourself! Unground yourself!"

 

You smiled. Your mom was quite the jokester when she felt like it. K.O. had no reason to worry, Mom would definitely go out for ice cream.

 

Your left hand felt wet. Oh great. You agitated the cut and now it was bleeding through the bandages.

 

Your knuckles were also torn open on both hands.

 

You... hadn't realized that you had been hitting that hard.

 

You didn't want to think about how wild and unkempt you must look right now. Slightly sweaty, covered in a bit of grime and your own blood. God you must look even more disgusting than usual.

 

But you didn't care about that right now.

 

You kept your mom and brother safe.

 

That's all that matters to you.

Chapter Text

You're head was swimming and every single noise was extremely muffled sounding. The blood in your ears was pounding so much that you could feel each individual twitch.

 

You moaned pathetically in pain, stomach twisted up into a very large and overly complicated knot like it had been tied by a Girl Scout's new den mother trying to hard to impress her troop.

 

Your mom pulled the thermometer out of your ear and tsked at the results

 

"Ninety-nine point nine. You're staying home from work today, Pumpkin. I'll let Gar know so don't you worry about calling in sick."

 

You sat up slowly and rubbed your face with your bandaged up hands. Your mom had flipped when she saw just how busted up your hands had gotten after you thoroughly thrashed Chameleon Sr. yesterday. Add onto the fact that one of your hands had already been damaged earlier and you got yourself a mom in Helicopter Mode. Complete with fretting, frequent kisses, and entirely too much gauze when she first tried to wrap your hands up.

 

As well as that ice cream she had promised you and K.O. 

 

You could thank that stupid, anger-fueled adrenalin rush from yesterday for making you run a slight fever and feel nauseous. You rarely did anything involving a lot of exercise and use of your full body, so it's really only natural that your body is now having a freak out over how much you had strained yourself yesterday and making you pay for it.

 

"But I can't just not go to work!" you protested, coughing roughly after doing so. "You want me to keep an eye on K.O. and I can't do that if I'm here all day!"

 

Normally you'd be thrilled at the prospect of returning to how your life used to be before you took up the job at Gar's, but since K.O. wasn't with you, you had little reason to be happy about that.

 

"Shhhh..." your mom quieted you. She pushed you back down on the bed so that you were once again laying down. "Don't worry. Your coworkers seem like dependable kids. I'm sure your brother will be fine with them keeping an eye out for him while you rest up. There's leftover spaghetti in the fridge if you think you'll be able to keep it down. If not, we've got soup and crackers in the pantry. Call me if you need anything. No strenuous activity for you young lady. That means don't go wailing on Punchy, okay?"

 

"Okay..." you huffed, arms crossed in defeat. Your mother really loved to baby you and your brother whenever she got the chance. You might bop Punchy in the face, softly of course.

 

Your mom kissed the top of your head before exiting your room.

 

"Be sure to drink plenty of fluids!" she called from the front door.

 

"Bye, (Y/N)!!! I love you!" K.O. proclaimed before the door was shut and you heard the car's engine start up not too long after.

 

You sighed heavily and stared at the ceiling. Stupid sickness, stupid Chameleon Sr. swallowing your brother whole just so he'd seem cool in front of his son, stupid you for getting so worked up yesterday and letting your anger get out of control!

 

Why had you become so irritable as of late? Nothing had really happened to warrant you becoming so irate towards even the smallest slight. It was all very alarming to you, though you didn't let that show. You had to maintain the façade that everything was going along just fine and that there was nothing for your mom or brother to start worrying about.

 

It never sat well with you whenever those two became worried because of how confident they normally were. It was off-putting and made you feel very upset with yourself for causing them any sort of reason to worry. 

 

You knew-in the deepest part of you that wanted you to reach out and ask others for help-that it wasn't healthy for you to keep all of this emotion bottled up inside of you and offer no outlet for it to be plugged into. But that's how you've been for the past six years. You don't want to ask for help, so you don't.

 

Speaking of bottles, there was a bottle of Motrin on your nightstand as well as a glass of water. Your mom must've brought it in when she went to get the thermometer.

 

You swallowed the pills with a large swig of water and winced at how scratchy your throat felt.

 

Normally you'd love to stay in the bed for as long as you possibly could, but on the rare occasion you got sick you couldn't stand to be in bed all day. So you got up and made your bed before hopping into the shower and putting on actual clothing. There was no need for your hoodie today, seeing as how you weren't going into work. You tugged your slippers on over your socked feet, grabbed the pills, water, and your phone and trudged yourself downstairs and plopped onto the couch. After you had set the water and pills onto the end table you grabbed the remote and a blanket and began to channel surf.

 

You hoped that K.O. would have an alright day and stay out of trouble.

 


After school at the Plaza...

 

K.O. was most definitely not staying out of trouble at the moment.

 

Currently, he was being used as a soccer ball by Raymond who maliciously bounced him back and forth on his cold, hard, metal knees before being kicked into Shannon who had briefly turned into a net.

 

"Goal!" Raymond taunted irritably while striking a pompous pose.

 

Shannon giggled evilly at her brother's antics. Honestly this was the most fun that she had been able to have in several days. Boxman had kept his children cooped up inside the factory while he concocted his latest scheme to force Lakewood Plaza Turbo to its knees before annihilating it completely. He hadn't told them too much about the plan, just that they needed to keep the Bodega Babies distracted long enough while Darrell fiddled with something on the Plaza's roof.

 

Still stuck in Net Form Shannon, K.O. wriggled and writhed about helplessly. Whatever this net was made of it was strong stuff! No amount of pulling or biting was getting him anywhere!

 

"Aww!" Shannon cooed mockingly. "Is the wittle baby having twouble wif the net? Allow me to help you!"

 

Shannon managed to swing K.O. towards Rad and Enid with enough momentum to launch him out of the net and knock them to the ground in a heap.

 

Back to normal, Shannon dusted off her hands as Raymond sauntered up to her left side.

 

"Oh, just look at the dear sister. So uncoordinated and helpless."

 

Shannon sneered at the pile of heroes before her and her brother. She was so sick of seeing all of their stupid faces so many times a day! Sometimes she wished that Lord Boxman wasn't so invested in the destruction of the Plaza and its inhabitants. Don't misunderstand, she loves being able to squash do-gooders on a regular basis! But losing to the same three people several times a day - and day after day at that! - got real tiring real fast.

 

"Yeah. They're all so pathetic and weak. Is it any wonder that they lost to us? We clearly outmatch them," she gloatingly mocked.

 

Enid groaned from her position underneath Rad's bulk. This was so not how she had wanted the day to go. Not even an hour into her shift and already the Boxmore Brats were looking to pick a fight! Really, she had so many things to do that were way better than dealing with these creeps. Like catching up on her gossip magazines reading about the latest celebrity drama. She wanted to know if Gary Holdlock was going to try and get Jenny Odeffer to take him back or not damn it!

 

A loud whirring sound of a large piece of machinery being turned on was heard from up above.

 

"Ah," Raymond casually commented. "It appears that Darrell has successfully done as Lord Father requested."

 

Shannon's sneer turned into a maniacal grin.

 

"Perfect. Lord Boxdad will be so happy that he's finally rid of this stupid plaza!"

 

Darrell jumped down from the roof to join in his sibling's revelry. The trio eagerly awaited whatever it was that their dad had planned for his enemies.

 

Meanwhile, our heroes were struggling to get up from off the ground.

 

"Ugh," Rad grunted. "I overdid it yesterday with the weightlifting. I'm so sore I can't even put up a good fight today."

 

That was a lie. Truth is Rad was distracted by yesterday's events and had got taken off guard by a well-paced kick from Raymond. But who could possibly blame him for not being at his best today? You had sliced open the palm of your hand without even noticing right in front of him and Beardo! The goblin man reassured Rad that he wasn't upset that you had done so as it was clearly unintentional, but he advised Rad to be careful around you if he attempted to bring up the incident. Beardo had seen the look on your face as well and it was one that he hoped you would never find a reason to point at him.

 

Rad shared Beardo's sentiment about that. You normally looked so tired or just uninterested in whatever it was that was going on that seeing such an angry, hate-filled expression on your face caused him to do a quick double take before he even noticed what you had done to your hand. Clearly, the subject of your dad was not one that was to be approached lightly with you. Rad wasn't sure of what exactly the reason was that the topic of dads made you so angry, but even someone as tactless as him wouldn't want to do anything that would set you off on and make him the target of your rage. He'd already kind of been on Monday and he'd really rather not have a super intense repeat of that.

 

If he and Enid wanted to know about your dad, they'd have to ask K.O. what he knew. 

 

Enid grit her fists tightly as she reassumed her fighting stance.

 

"K.O., get up on the roof and trash whatever's up there. Rad and I'll keep these dweebs distracted."

 

K.O. gave a salute before catapulting himself upward. Once on the roof, he quickly located what it was that Darrell had been setting up.

 

"Uh..."

 

He could feel his heart freeze mid beat as he stared upward at the oversized bomb and the timer that was ticking down from ten minutes.

 

'Okay think fast, K.O.! How do you disarm a bomb? Gah! I don't know! This is something that we haven't gone over in school! Wait!'

 

K.O. furiously dug his phone out from his pocket and dialed your number.

 

'Please pick up please pick up please pick up!'

 

"Hey, K.O.! What-"

 

"How do you disarm a bomb?!"

 

"I'm sorry what?!"

 

"There's a bomb on the roof of the Plaza and not much time!"

 

"Okay! Uh! You should see a panel right below the timer if there even is one. Is there one?"

 

"Yes!"

 

"Okay! What kind of bomb is it? There should be large numbers and letters somewhere on it! Doesn't matter if it's painted they should be indented on it!"

 

"Uh! Uh! Here they are! SH-17!"

 

"Okay! Rip off the panel and you should see five colored wires! Remove them in this order: red, green, purple, blue, yellow!"

 

"Got it!"

 

With roughly two minutes to spare, K.O. successfully defused the bomb and breathed a heavy sigh of relief.

 

"Thanks, Sissy. That was scary..."

 

"Why were you defusing a bomb?"

 

"Darrell put it up here."

 

"Ah. Another one of Boxman's schemes then. Are you alright? Do I need to call Mom and have her bring you home?"

 

"No! I mean, yes I'm fine but don't call Mommy! I gotta go help Rad and Enid deal with Shannon, Darrell and Raymond now. Love you!"

 

"I love you, too. Promise that you'll be careful, okay?"

 

"Okay! Bye!"

 

K.O. pocketed his phone and rushed to go and help his friends deal with the remaining threat, but by the time he landed Rad and Enid had gained the upper hand and thoroughly thrashed the robots.

 

The two teens breathed heavily. That battle seemed to drag on unnecessarily and they were glad to be done with it.

 

"Nice work, K.O. What exactly was up there?" Enid praised her tiny coworker.

 

K.O. beamed at the praise and skipped a bit as they walked back inside.

 

"It was a bomb," he answered casually.

 

Rad and Enid both froze mid step, strained smiles on their faces.

 

"A... bomb?" Enid squeaked out.

 

"Yeah! A really big one! I won't get to learn about how to defuse bombs until I get to middle school, so I had to call my big sister."

 

While relieved that K.O. had managed to get the job done, Rad and Enid were still rattled by the fact that they had sent a six year old to go and defuse a bomb.

 

"Hey," Enid realized. "Speaking of your sister, where is she?"

 

"Yeah, I didn't see her come in with you and your mom," Rad added.

 

"Oh, she's at home. She got really sick after she fought Chameleon Sr. yesterday. Mommy says it was because she had an adrelalin rush and it made her body upset. So she's resting with medicine."

 

"Whoa, whoa, whoa," Enid interrupted, ignoring K.O.'s butchering of the word 'adrenalin'. "(Y/N) fought someone?"

 

"Mhm! I was trying to end the fight by giving Mr. Chameleon Sr. a peace offering, but he swallowed me. Then the next thing I know I'm being spit out into the air! I thought my mommy had gotten back into the fight but it was my sister instead! I wish I could've seen it because my sister has never fought anyone before! But I got real worried 'cause her hands were bleeding. She already hurt her left one; it got cut open. But she made her knuckles bleed from the fight! Mommy bandaged (Y/N)'s hands up real good though so they'll be okay! But she won't be doing a lot of training for a while."

 

Enid and Rad exchanged a glance. So you weren't joking around when you said that you had your mom training you to get stronger. And you'd had your first fight. But from the sound of it you seemed to be a sloppy fighter, someone who isn't thinking about how to keep themselves or bystanders from being hurt but instead going straight for the kill.

 

The way you fought kind of sounds like the way that most villains would. That was honestly worrying to them due to your periodically voiced disdain for heroes. But not so worrying that they felt the need to step in just yet. If there was one undisputable fact about you it was that you were loyal to K.O. to the point of it being hazardous to your health. You wouldn't go near the path of villainy because that would mean that you'd be on the side of everything K.O. stood against.

 

Still, maybe a little guidance from two heroes-in-training wouldn't hurt. Rad and Enid could offer some valuable advice on how to keep bystanders out of your fights and how to keep you from causing unnecessary harm to yourself.

 

They'd do their bests to show you what it means to be a hero, even if you don't ever plan on becoming one.

Chapter Text

Man was a creature whom was flawed beyond the hope of ever being fully fixed. No one in their right mind would even attempt to try and undo all the damage that was the result of Man doing as it pleased with very little thought to the consequences. It was a universal truth that if you were to give Man an inch, it would take far more than it was permitted and hardly leave scraps behind for what it viewed as scavengers. So when man is plunged into a hopeless situation in which there is little to no chance of overcoming the hardship, all others look the other way and offer no assistance. For they are wise and know that Man deserves this. Man deserves every single horrible thing that has and will ever befall it. For they are acutely aware that Man shall never truly learn from its past transgressions and so will forever be doomed to repeat them. When hard times fall upon Man, Man deserves to suffer.

 

...okay.

 

Maybe you're being a little overdramatic with your current thought process here.

 

But c'mon! You're still feeling under the weather and on the rare occasion you get sick you tend to think about how you truly deserve to suffer for not taking better care of yourself. It's a bad habit and not one that you'll be breaking anytime soon, unfortunately.

 

The medical mask itched your face something terrible and you had to fight the rapidly growing urge to scratch until your pale complexion turned a harsh red.

 

It was a hard urge to fight. Much like how it was hard to maintain your focus just sitting still in the dojo due to the fact that your mom was refusing to let you train very hard until you were completely better. It was nowhere near time for you to get ready for your shift, and you were getting antsy. Oh, wait. Better not think about ants that'll make you want to scratch even more than you already do. 

 

You supposed you should just count yourself lucky that you had managed to convince your mom that you were feeling well enough to work your shift at the Bodega today because otherwise you'd be stuck at home alone once again. And as much as you enjoyed staying home and away from other people, it was boring without your mom or K.O. around.

 

The medical mask may have been overdoing it just a bit; after all, it wasn't like what you had was contagious or anything. But you were nothing if not slightly courteous to other people and didn't feel like having them give you dirty looks for coughing roughly.

 

You sighed, irritation evident in your voice. Boredom had decided that it liked the vacancy in your mind and was now currently paying rent to the emotion landlords. They were being a real jerk to the other tenants but nothing could be done because Boredom and the landlords knew each other from way back when and wouldn't be going anywhere until intrigue decided to come back to town.

 

Your mom eyed your slumped over form from where she was setting up one of the punching bags on the far side of the room away from the door. She couldn't help but feel somewhat responsible for you getting sick, as ridiculous as that may sound but she had her reasons. Reason one: escalating the situation with Chameleon Sr. Reason two: not finishing the fight soon enough so when K.O. had gotten into a bind you had gotten involved. She was honestly impressed by the raw power that you had displayed but she was also very concerned by the pure, unadulterated rage that had overtaken you for that brief period of time.

 

It was possible that you might need a professional's help, but your mom would have to bring up that topic delicately. You had the tendency to get angry and clam up when you felt cornered.

 

"So-o-o-o-o..." Oh God your mom was attempting to make small talk. She was so horrible at that, she'd always been horrible at making small talk it just wasn't in her character! "How have things been? Your school work going okay? How are you feeling in general?"

 

"Yeah," your voice was a little muffled from the mask. "Got it all done. It wasn't hard. It never is."

 

She smiled at that. You'd always been very bright, always made good grades. You could have been done with college by now if you really felt like it. But the thought of going further than what the normal person would be at your age never appealed to you, so your mom had never brought it up after the first and only conversation that the two of you had about it. You said you wanted to be in the now, not that you weren't thinking about the future of course. You had some idea of what career you wanted to pursue. It definitely had to be something that stimulated your mind and challenged you in some way. You weren't sure of the exact job that you wanted, but you used to build and fix electronic devices around the house so you could do something with that...

 

Nothing that was directly hero related, obviously. You had made that very clear.

 

But you still had time to think about it. After all, you were only in the twelfth grade. You still had grades thirteen through fifteen to go!

 

What you would do for those grades was a mystery for now.

 

"That's good that you're not having any trouble with the material! And what about just being happy in general? Is everything going alright?"

 

You cocked your head to the side as you gave your mother a confused look.

 

"Yes. I'm happy. Why? Do I not seem happy?"

 

"Well..." she averted her gaze, finding the punching bag to be a far more interesting thing to look at than you at the moment. "Kind of? I mean, you have your moments when you seem down but everyone does now and then. I was just asking because of what happened on Tuesday. With Chameleon Sr. I've never seen you get that angry before, you honestly had me kind of worried, Sweetie. So I thought that I'd ask you if you were doing okay."

 

That made you pause in the generic response that you were about to give your mother. She had an extremely valid point there and gave you some food for thought. Was the bout of anger you had been feeling as of late the result of you not being as okay emotionally as you had previously assumed? Or was it simply momentary frustration rearing its head in the ugliest way possible? You were hoping that it was the latter because then you could at least be reassured that the rage would pass before you knew it. However, if it was the former option then you were shit out of luck when it came to hoping that it would go away on its own.

 

"I... think I'm doing okay? I mean, it's been a hectic two weeks trying to adjust to all this change going on in my life and you know that I enjoy having a stable routine. Working here doesn't really provide that. And while I'm not necessarily unhappy with all this change, I'm not happy with it either. But as a whole I'm pretty sure I'm doing alright. As for what went down on Tuesday, I have no idea where that came from. Maybe..."

 

Did you really want to say this? There was no going back once you let this thought out in the open.

 

But it wouldn't hurt to give it a try, would it?

 

"...maybe I need to see a psychiatrist or something to help me sort all this out," you mumbled as you looked to the floor.

 

There. You said it. You admitted that you might just need professional help dealing with your dumbass emotions.

 

Your mother's gaze turned soft as she made her way towards you.

 

"Hey, hey. It's alright." She sat next to you and wrapped you up in a hug. "There's no shame in asking for help."

 

"I could say the same to you," you softly chuckled, thinking about all the times your mom clearly needed help with something but refused out of pride.

 

"Eheh... So! Here's what we can do. When we get home we can look up some nearby practices and make a list of the ones that you think would work best for you. We can go check them out this Saturday after we do some light training. I have a place in mind that really helped out some of my friends back in my P.O.I.N.T. days. Don't make that face. It's not some heroes only practice that goes on about how great heroes are. It's just one of the best places to go, and also one of the least expensive so there's no need to worry about that."

 

"One of these days I'm going to pay for these kinds of things."

 

"Only if you're able to somehow do it under my nose. Let me do things for you and your brother."

 

She rested her head on top of yours and sighed dramatically as she said this. God your mom was such a goofball sometimes.

 

You reached up and patted her head gently.

 

"You do plenty for us and we really appreciate it. Thank you. I'd kiss your cheek but I'm not risking passing anything on to you, as unlikely as it is to happen. In fact, I think I'll walk around for a while until I either get bored or it's time for my shift."

 

"Okay but if you start feeling lightheaded or anything you come back here or call me if you don't think you can make it."

 


You ended up just wandering aimlessly around the plaza until it was time for your shift at Gar's to start. Nothing of real interest happened save for when you ran into ARMS while satisfying your wanderlust and actually had a somewhat decent conversation. He had apparently seen you fight Chameleon Sr. but wasn't able to record it due to his phone having died mere minutes before. He noticed your medical mask as well as how drained you seemed to be and asked about your wellbeing.

 

That part was a little weird but also slightly endearing to you because the two of you didn't know each other very well at all.

 

As you walked into the Bodega, you noticed a distinct lack of Rad's boisterous voice attempting to impress Enid with whatever made up feat he'd recently come up with.

 

Instead, the store was quiet, save for the ever-present buzzing of the fluorescent lights and Enid occasionally flipping the pages of the latest issue of Angst Daily. You took up your post right next to Enid at the counter and checked your phone for any messages from K.O.

 

"Oh, hey. How's it going?" Enid asked, looking up from her magazine once she realized you had shown up. This was the second time that the two of you had been alone together, though the first would always be ingrained in her memory. Because you ripped Darrell's head clean off his shoulders. Hard to forget something like that.

 

You looked at Enid, a bit befuddled by the sudden change in how she normally acts when you show up. Usually it was a halfhearted 'hey' or a silent nod.

 

"Uh... Decent. I guess?"

 

Not going to dump your emotional dilemma onto someone that you hardly know. And it isn't technically a lie.

 

"Great!"

 

The next few minutes were spent in uncomfortable silence with the two of you staring at each other in an equally uncomfortable manner.

 

"Uh... How are-"

 

"SO I HEARD YOU HAD YOUR FIRST FIGHT!"

 

You blinked several times at the sudden intensity of Enid's voice. The ninja had the common decency to blush from self-inflicted embarrassment.

 

"Uh, sorry. That was loud, wasn't it?"

 

"Just a bit. And don't worry about it. Also, not my first fight. Remember the whole incident with Darrell's head?"

 

Enid got this really uncomfortable looking smile that wasn't really a smile but more like a grimace stretched across her face as you brought up the incident.

 

"That was not a fight that was a beat down."

 

Couldn't the same be said for what transpired on Tuesday? Possibly. But you were in no mood to argue.

 

"O-o-o-o-o-ka-a-a-a-ay... What about it? I fought someone, so what? Pretty much everyone here at the Plaza fights someone on a regular basis. I don't see what's so special about me getting into one."

 

"You're right," Enid conceded. "Lots of people do get into fights regularly. It's just... surprising that you would willingly get into a fight with someone."

 

"Oh I wasn't going to get involved until the jerk decided that it would be a good idea to swallow my brother whole. Then all bets were off."

 

Enid blinked once. Slowly.

 

"Right. That's a thing that happened. K.O. got swallowed."

 

"Yeah. He told me that you and Radicles were wondering where I was yesterday. I'm guessing he told you that I'd gotten sick?"

 

Enid nodded. "Mhm. Is that why you're wearing that mask?"

 

"Right. I don't think I could get anyone sick, but I'm not taking any chances. I'm just courteous that way."

 

It was oddly easy talking with Enid when it was just the two of you. Maybe that was the trick to getting comfortable around other people. No, wait. You've been alone with Rad a handful of times and it's still super uncomfortable for you to try and hold a conversation where your sentences aren't comprised of only a few words. Maybe you could just relate to Enid better than you could Rad? She was passionate about becoming a hero but she wasn't overly obnoxious about it like some people were. She'd mention it in passing now and then but otherwise you didn't hear much hero propaganda coming out of her mouth. There was also the fact that she seemed to be about as done with everyone else as you were. What could you say? Interacting with most people was an exhausting ordeal for you to experience and you have no problem with letting others know that you aren't interested in holding a conversation with them. Provided that you attempt to not come across as overly rude unless you have already made it abundantly clear you aren't interested in conversation.

 

Enid was seemingly just an easygoing person. Maybe that's why you felt a bit more comfortable around her than you did most other people. She didn't seem to care who anyone was or what they thought of her.

 

Now, it could be the complete opposite, but you're only speculating based on what you've seen.

 

"But yeah... I suppose that was my first official fight with someone. I'm hoping that it doesn't become a regular occurrence; I'm more than content with watching you, Radicles, and K.O. fight from the sidelines."

 

Enid smiled. "Heh. You know, this is the most I've heard you say, well, ever."

 

You shrugged.

 

"I'm not that big of a talker around other people, I get pretty uncomfortable doing it."

 

"You seem fine to me."

 

"You're different from most other people. I find it easy to talk with you when it's just us rather than when Radicles or anyone else is hovering nearby."

 

Enid felt surprisingly touched by your words. So you were somewhat comfortable around her, huh? From how she's seen you interact with most everyone else, saying that she was easy for you to talk to was probably a form of high praise from you. She felt like that she understood you as a person just a bit better.

 

"And why do you think that is?" she asked, genuinely curios as to what it was that made her so different from the majority of other people.

 

You rested your hand in the palms of your hands, medical mask feeling crinkly.

 

"Hmm... I think... I think it's because of how laidback you always seem to be. I know that you're probably not completely chill with everything all the time, but it's the way that you appear to be chill all the time that makes me comfortable. You seem to not care about the opinion of most everyone else, but I know that there are a select few whose opinions you value highly with how you try and impress Mr. Gar, as well as the way I've seen you interact with my brother. You really don't want to disappoint him, not that I think he could ever be disappointed with anyone. You don't care about what strangers think of you, but you're really concerned with trying to please the people you know and care about."

 

You were sitting casually on your stool, but Enid had gone a bit stiff. Your assessment of her was... scary with how accurately you described her personality. True, she put on a cool façade, and for the most part that was also what her personality was. But it was the addition of how you'd observed that she sought the approval of a select number of people that put her a bit on edge.

 

It was like you didn't have to try to get her in order to get her. 

 

It made her wonder just how observant a person you really were.

 

"...heh. You've got a different way of thinking than most people do. I'm pretty sure that if you asked almost anybody else, they'd say that I'm the lone wolf type and don't care if I step on others to get where I want to go. They'd say that I'm just some rude girl that works the front counter at Gar's. They might even say I'm a bitch. And maybe that last bit's sorta true. Why don't you think like that?"

 

"I've always been a bit different from what most other people consider to be 'normal'. But the way I am is 'normal' to me."

 

It was oddly slow for a Thursday.

 

"...you say that you feel comfortable around me? Does Rad make you uncomfortable?"

 

"Not in a creepy way or anything like that. And maybe 'uncomfortable' isn't the correct word to describe it. He's just... too much for me to handle most of the time. It's why I always seem to be upset with him in some way. I can't deal with how big his personality is, however fake it may be, and I get overwhelmed. I suppose you think I should probably apologize for being so snarky and upset towards him?"

 

"Hmm... Maybe for a little bit of it, but you can't help that Rad's the way he is. Sometimes I have a hard time dealing with him, and I've known him for years! Don't let your reactions bother you. Rad can be a total jerk with no regard to other people's feelings sometimes, but he's an okay guy."

 

You wanted to believe her, you really did. But Radicles just seemed really content acting like every other individual that dared to refer to themselves as heroes.

 


After about half an hour of you and Enid just casually talking about nothing in particular, your brother had finally arrived from school and was more than delighted to see that you hadn't changed your mind and had your mother take you back home.

 

"Sissy!"

 

He joyfully leapt into your awaiting arms and gave you a large hug.

 

"Hey, K.O.! What's with you calling me 'Sissy' again all of a sudden?"

 

He hadn't called you that two years. The occasional slipup not counted. But this was the second time in a short while that he had called you that without it being an accident.

 

"Oh, uh... No reason?"

 

"That sounded like a question."

 

You remembered when K.O. used to call you 'Sissy' all the time. He would always follow you around and say things like 'Sissy's so cool!' or 'I wanna be just like you, Sissy!' whenever he'd see you do something he thought was impressive.

 

He stopped after that fateful day when those bullies stole his snack and you...

 

Talked with them. Nothing more than a friendly chat that ended with them reimbursing your brother with so many snacks that his overall's little pockets couldn't accommodate them all.

 

You rolled your eyes playfully as your brother squirmed under your scrutinizing gaze.

 

"I'm just teasing, Sweetie. If you want to go back to calling me 'Sissy' then you go right ahead. I'm fine with it."

 

K.O. perked up immensely after that and excitedly began his shift.

 


Things began to pick up shortly after your brother had reported for duty. It was a bit mindboggling how in one moment this convenience store could be as quiet as a graveyard and the next it's hopping as though there was some big shindig going on.

 

"Thanks for shopping at Gar's, have a nice day," you stated blandly as you handed a customer their bad of goodies. You really couldn't be bothered to show much enthusiasm with how shitty you were still feeling. Not that you showed much enthusiasm when you were feeling alright.

 

K.O. had finished cleaning up the store in record time, so he was hanging out with you and Enid at the register. Radicles couldn't come in today due to his van suddenly having some issues, so it would just be the three of you today.

 

Even though things had picked up a bit, it wasn't as if they were terribly busy. So naturally, Enid and K.O. were goofing around with each other.

 

"Ready K.O.?" Enid questioned with a confident smirk on her face.

 

"I was born ready, Enid!" was his enthusiastic reply. "One patented K.O. Kickyball coming up!"

 

The fact that there was a name for what they were playing made you believe that it was something they often did. When they usually played it was a mystery.

 

Your brother curled in on himself after launching his small form towards Enid's outstretched leg. She began to bounce him on her foot like one would do with a soccer ball if they were skilled enough.

 

"You two seem to have this whole thing down to a science," you remarked, slightly impressed at how Enid was masterfully launching your brother into the air and catching him with ease.

 

"Yeah, we've had a lot of practice."

 

"Woo!" K.O. shouted as he landed on Enid's knee. "Perfect form!"

 

"You ready for the big finish? I've been practicing my signature Hands Free Hotdog."

 

"Hands Free Hotdog! Hands Free Hotdog!"

 

"This I've got to see," you said quietly to yourself.

 

"Ahem," a customer cleared their throat behind you.

 

You turned to see Judy standing patiently with money in hand.

 

Enid sighed. "Hold on, duty calls."

 

"Hey Judy," you greeted. You got along well with her considering how she used to come around and babysit your brother. And by an extension you since you used to not leave the house unless you needed to.

 

"Hey, (Y/N)! Didn't know you worked here."

 

"Yeah, K.O. and I have been working here for about two weeks now."

 

Enid was rapidly bagging up Judy's Glove Off.

 

"Did you find everything you needed? Great that'll be eight ninety-nine. Thanks for shopping at Gar's, bye."

 

Judy gave a little perturbed look at Enid before waving goodbye to you.

 

"Okay! Now, as I was saying-"

 

A customer coughing interrupted whatever it was Enid was about to explain.

 

"Two ninety-nine. Good job shopping. Have a nice life, bye."

 

"You sure can talk fast when you're in the middle of doing something. It's impressive," you commented.

 

"Thanks. Okay, now let's drop this dog quick before someone else barges in, huh?"

 

You would help out the next customer that came to the counter, Enid really wanted to get to her Hands Free Hotdog.

 

"Good evening young madam."

 

There was an old wizard at the counter.

 

"Good evening, sir." You noticed he had no items to purchase. "Do you need help fi-"

 

The sound of several glass objects breaking grabbed ahold of your attention.

 

"Terribly sorry, sir, bit I need to go check on that."

 

"Of course, by all means go right ahead."

 

You rushed off to the source of the crash, leaving Enid and K.O. to deal with the wizard.

 

The crash originated from the jarred foods section and in the middle of the isle laid a dazed and confused Colewort.

 

"Not again... Does this guy break something every time he comes in here?" you whispered to yourself. No sense in asking that question out loud after all. "Okay, Colewort," you helped him get to his feet. "Why don't you just... not be here anymore today?"

 

There were various shattered jars all over the floor. And K.O. had just cleaned, too.

 

The broccoli boy conceded and once again left the Bodega looking a little worse for wear. Returning to the counter, you were met with the image of a very irate wizard. 

 

"Yes. The new in store record for ignoring the customer!" 

 

Aw dang. You missed the Hands Free Hotdog being made. Also, the wizard didn't need to be raising his voice.

 

"Actually," Enid stated matter-of-factly. "My record for ignoring randos like you is way higher than that. Better luck next time."

 

The wizard harrumphed. "You know young lady, back in my day the store employees knew that the customer was always right And treated them with respect. Like that young lady that was here a few moments ago did."

 

Okay. First of all. He don't need to be dragging you into this. Second. The customer is not always right.

 

"Well, sir, you have may attention now. What do you want?"

 

"I want to speak to a manager," the wizard demanded.

 

Oh God he was one of those kinds of people.

 

"Fine. I'll grab him," Enid promised before setting K.O. on top of the counter. "Here he is."

 

Your brother was happily eating the hotdog Enid had made. You snapped a picture with your phone. You made it your life's mission to document as many cute moments K.O. had as possible.

 

"That is not the manager! Why, he is but a child!"

 

Your brother burped a little after finishing his hotdog. He had some mustard and ketchup stains on his tank top.

 

"Uh... Oh. You're right. See, he manages to survive when someone isn't paying attention to him for five seconds so I got confused. My bad."

 

Damn, Enid. That wizard is gonna need some Aloe Vera for that burn. This is a great example of why you like Enid. She's not afraid to put people in their place when they need to be.

 

Storm clouds gathered about the wizard, lightning striking as his rage grew.

 

"Mark my word you impudent brat! You will rue the day you ignored the petulant demands of Wally the White!"

 

"Who?" Enid asked.

 

Wally stumbled over his words. "Don't you see?!" More stumbling. "That's me!"

 

Wally disappeared in a cloud of smoke.

 

"Bye," Enid stated sarcastically.

 

You grimaced as you made your way back to the counter, not that anyone could see it.

 

"Sheesh. You'd think with age he'd be a little more mellow."

 

K.O. hummed thoughtfully. "Do you think we went too hard on that guy?"

 

"Psh!" Enid brushed the question off. "That old windbag? Don't feel bad for him, K.O."

 

You ruffled your brother's hair.

 

"Yeah. Odds are that he wasn't actually going to buy anything. He probably wanted someone to talk at. It'd be one thing if he talked while he was purchasing something, but if he just wanted to talk then he really should just do that with his friends. If he even has any. Even though we're not too busy right now and you two were using the slow time to have a little fun, we do have jobs that we need to do and we can't just chat with every customer that's feeling lonely or whatever."  

 

"But now he thinks that Enid's mean!" K.O. countered while gesturing to the purple-haired teen.

 

You and Enid raised one eyebrow each at your brother. While Enid wasn't over-the-top with her snark, you knew that she could most definitely be mean.

 

"She's not mean!"

 

Enid smiled. "Well. I'm glad you think so, K.O., but, I don't really care if people think I'm mean."

 

Your brother was obviously struggling to understand this.

 

"But, doesn't it bug you that they've got you all wrong?"

 

"Nah," she casually answered with a shrug. "I really don't expect people to get me."

 

Enid glanced quickly over at you and met your gaze for a few seconds. You getting her was indeed unexpected.

 

"Oh... I get you though! ...right?"

 

"Uh..." Enid was suddenly very much uncomfortable. "I don't know?"

 

You could see your brother's eyes shining a bit, and they weren't shining with wonder like they usually did. You made frantic hand gestures behind K.O.'s back for Enid to end this conversation.

 

"Oh. Don't worry about it, Brushhead. Now go mop up that wizard crud and whatever it was that broke before we close!"

 

Enid became engrossed by her phone as you witnessed your brother doing another one of his internal monologues.

 

"Yeah!" he shouted.

 

"Huh? Oh, thanks K.O."

 

You're brother leapt off the counter to do his duties.

 

"You know that he now see's it as his personal mission to 'get' you, right?" you questioned your coworker.

 

Enid chuckled.

 

"Yeah. I figured as much. He's not the kind of person to let things go easily, is he?"

 

"Nope. It is one of his greatest strengths and weaknesses at the same time."

 

"Your brother's a good egg. Now to get back to doing what I do best around here."

 

"Sitting on the counter and ignoring people?"

 

"See, you really do get me."

 

Enid slapped some shades on and laid down on the counter.

 

You went to get a mop so that the cleaning would get done sooner.

 

So, you actually got how Enid was as a person?

 

You're not sure why, but the thought of that made you feel nice.

 


Ah, Friday. Sweet, beautiful Friday.

 

A day that most everyone looked forward to and thoroughly enjoyed once school and work were over with.

 

You were still wearing the medical mask, even though you felt fine now. You had gotten to take some healing potion this morning, so your knuckles were all patched up and your hands no longer required gauze. Unfortunately, your left hand now had a large scar running across its palm. The cut was so deep that it was very unlikely that it wasn't going to scar over and the healing potion had sped up the process. It wasn't like it would get in the way or anything, you just wish you hadn't gotten it.

 

You and your brother walked into the Bodega, him with a confidence in his stride that normally wasn't this big.

 

"Alright, Enid! I'm ready to get you!"

 

Enid was relaxing on the counter, but something was off.

 

"Enid?" you prodded as you tapped her shoulder. Her hard as stone shoulder. "Uh-oh..."

 

K.O. proceeded to flail about on the floor in a panicked state. He was making so much noise that Mr. Gar came out of his office to see what all the commotion was about. Radicles was walking out of the stockroom when he noticed your brother's frantic state.

 

"What's going on out here?! Why is K.O. on the floor?!" Mr. Gar demanded.

 

"Yeah," Rad added. "I've never seen the little dude get this freaked out."

 

"Enid's been turned to stone. It was probably that wizard who came in here yesterday that did this," you explained.

 

"Turned to stone, eh? That's quite an accusation, (Y/N)," Mr. Gar commented.

 

"Yeah, dude," Rad agreed. "She's, like, so normal."

 

"Sun glasses, feet on the counter, refusing to make eye contact or talk to anyone," Mr. Gar listed off. "You're in top form, Enid!"

 

Your boss, having assessed that nothing was the matter, went back to his office.

 

"Hey, Enid. (Y/N) here thinks you've been turned to stone," Rad stated, attempting to strike up a conversation. "You know what I said when she told me that?"

 

Enid, of course, didn't answer.

 

"Exactly! I was speechless. Maybe you should rest up some more, (Y/N). You're seeing things."

 

You could only shake your head in disappointment.

 

"Why didn't they realize that Enid really has been turned to stone? Could it be... Are we the only ones who get Enid?"

 

"It looks like it. So I guess we're on our own to try and turn her back into a person."

 

"Oh! I know someone that can help us come up with ideas!"

 


"Thank again for coming, Dendy!" K.O. said gratefully. "I just knew that Sissy and I could count on you to have some super smart way of getting to the bottom of this."

 

"It is my pleasure, K.O. I will metaphorically leave no stone unturned," the kappa girl replied.

 

"Ha ha ha! And literally, too, right?"

 

"What?"

 

Little kids were so precious sometimes. Except K.O. K.O. was precious all times.

 

"Ooh! Ooh! The results are printing. Hmm... Mhmmmmm... Mhm! Well K.O., (Y/N), it would appear as if your friend has been turned into steatite!"

 

"Huh?" K.O. said confusedly.

 

"It is also known as soapstone. It is commonly used by novice sculptors to practice carving techniques because of its relative softness."

 

"I know that!" he shouted exasperatedly. "I mean. I didn't know what kind of a rock and that is super interesting! But..."

 

You placed your hands on K.O.'s shoulders gently to help him calm down.  

 

"What we were hoping," you continued to explain. "Was that you could help us find a way to turn her back into a person."

 

"O-o-o-o-o-o-oh..." Dendy said, understanding. "I don't really... do that.

 

And by 'that', she means magic. Well, it was worth a shot.

 

Your brother was less than thrilled.

 

"No-o-o-o-o-o-o-o! I can't help her. And no one else thinks they need to help her," K.O. said dismayed as he crawled towards Enid's petrified form. "How is she ever gonna come back?"

 

Dendy gathered up her analyzation equipment.

 

"I don't know anything about Enid's predicament, or giving emotional counsel. I am sorry (Y/N) and K.O. See you at school on Monday!"

 

Dendy probably has about as much socialization experience as you do because that last part was far too chipper.

 

K.O. sighed dejectedly as he looked sadly at Enid.

 

"You were right, Enid. Nobody gets you. Not even me. And now you're stuck like this!" K.O. was quickly becoming overwhelmed with sorrow. "I'll never even get to play Kickyball with you again, or learn rude new words from you again-"

 

"Excuse me what," you briefly interrupted, but K.O. kept on.

 

"-or copy your taste in music ever again!"

 

Your brother began to weep heavily on Enid's unmoving form, his tears cascading down his face.

 

"I f-failed you!"

 

Your heart broke for your little brother, but before you could go and console him, Enid was enveloped in a soft, purple light and her stone exterior shattered.

 

K.O. blew his nose on Enid's leg.

 

"Dude!" she exclaimed as she pushed your brother away with her foot. "That is not cool."

 

"Agreed. K.O., don't blow your nose on other people's bod parts," you lightly chastised.

 

"Enid!" K.O. began to laugh and cry at the same time while hugging your previously petrified coworker's foot. "D-did I do it? Did I bring you back by getting you?"

 

"Uh..." Enid was at a loss for what to respond with. She seemed confused as to what just happened.

 

"Wrong, child!" Oh God, this guy again. "That spell only lasts twenty-four hours. She would've come out of it no matter who blew their nose on her!"

 

"You! I should've known it was you!" K.O. said accusatorily.

 

"Okay, but I literally said that it was probably his fault earlier but whatever," you mumbled.

 

"I'm here to pick up an item on layaway. It's a statue of a snotty teenager and should be under 'Wally'. Wally the White!"

 

And poof. Enid was back to being a statue again.

 

"Aw, nuts," you and K.O. muttered out loud.

 

"Now if you'll excuse me, I'll be taking my new lawn ornament home to cast a more permanent spell on her," Wally stated before levitating Enid out of the Bodega.

 

"No! That's super weird!" K.O. cried out and you had to agree with him. This was pretty much a kidnapping.

 

So as your brother dashed out of the bodega after Wally, you called the police.

 

"Nine one one, what's your emergency?"

 

"Uh, yeah I'd like to report a kidnapping in progress. Some wizard named Wally the White just turned my coworker to stone and is now attempting to run away with her. I'm at Lakewood Plaza Turbo, but I'm not sure where he's trying to go."

 

"Police are en route to the scene and should be arriving shortly, please try and stay out of harm's way."

 

The operator hung up because they have other calls to respond to and you needed to hunt down a wizard.

 

You'd taken not three steps out of the Bodega when you saw Wally run towards the dojo.

 

"Please help! Somebody help me!" came his pathetic voice.

 

You casually strolled into the dojo in time to see Wally clinging desperately to your mother, begging her for protection.

 

"Some rascally person has been chasing me all throughout the Plaza! Please, madam! Use some of those Kung Fu skills of yours and whatnot and put him in his place!"

 

Your mom was already exasperated by Wally's theatrics.

 

"Um... Alright, sir, who we talking 'bout again? ...and why do you have a statue of my son and daughter's coworker?"

 

"Um. Well. That is- That-"

 

"There you are!" K.O. called from just beyond the open door.

 

"Ah!" Wally screamed wormishly. "There he is! That's the child! Now go accost him! Hmm?!"

 

Your mom was already at the door and Wally turned in time to see you and K.O. whispering about what he'd done to Enid.

 

"Don't worry, sir! I've got this situation under control." K.O. curled in on himself and you passed him to your mom who then threw him at breakneck speed towards Wally. They and Enid crashed through the dojo's wall and out into the alley.

 

"Thanks, Mom. By the way, I called the police because this is a kidnapping situation. They'll be here soon."

 

You crossed through the hole and stood defensively by your brother's side as Wally regained his senses.

 

"Okay! Time to fess up! Why are you doing this to Enid!?"

 

"Because," Wally explained. "That brat was mean to me earlier. So I thought I'd teach her a lesson by turning her to stone!"

 

The stupid, old man let out a sinister laugh.

 

"So, let me get things straight," you interjected. "You turned our coworker to stone and then proceeded to kidnap her because you thought she was being mean to you? That's some messed up thinking right there."

 

"Yeah! Enid's not a brat!" K.O. agreed. "You think she was acting like that because you're a creepy, old wizard. But she's like that to everyone, get it? You're the one that decided to mess with her."

 

Wally looked at the two of you, unimpressed.

 

"I thought your friend was annoying, but you two are even worse! Looks like I'll be getting three lawn ornaments for the price of one!"

 

K.O. covered his face defensively and you shielded his body with yours. Like Hell you were letting this creep get your brother!

 

You could see the spell moving towards you quickly, but before it could hit you Enid once again broke her stony exterior and destroyed the spell with a fireball. She held her foot threateningly in Wally's face.

 

"Leave 'em outta this ya creep! What is your deal?"

 

"You were rude to me earlier!"

 

"Ugh! Are you serious?! Every time you have a problem with someone you turn them into stone?!"

 

"Yes! And I've got a problem with you!"

 

Wally held up a magically charged hand like he was actually about to pull some shit, but Enid let a fireball loose by his head and he backed down.

 

"No!"

 

"Heh," Enid humorlessly scoffed. "I thought you were just a jerk, but you're a coward too." Wally flinched as if the words had physically harmed him. "And not only are you a bore," another flinch. You're a sad, sad, old wizard." Wally crumpled to the ground in a pathetic head. "So stay outta my store!"

 

Wally quit shivering and picked himself up. "Pah! Pah! Pah! I've had enough of this juvenile nonsense! I shall go tend to my herbs!"

 

He gave out a puff of smoke, but clearly hadn't gone anywhere seeing as how you three were watching him attempt to climb over the wall.

 

"And don't come back! Jerk," Enid added.

 

"Oh. He won't be coming back. I called the cops on him for kidnapping you," you whispered to Enid so K.O. wouldn't overhear.

 

"Enid!" K.O. called as he stood in front of her. "Now he just thinks you're a mean teen again."

 

"Ah, it's whatever man. It's like I said yesterday: some people are just never gonna get me. And even if they do, not everyone's gonna get me like you," she finished that statement by booping K.O. on the nose.

 

"I- I get you? I- I get Enid! I knew it!"

 

"Yeah, yeah. Don't rub it in."

 

"I get Enid!"

 

Your brother ran back inside the dojo to go tell your mom the good news.

 

"You know he'll never stop talking about this, right?" you asked as you and Enid strolled to the Plaza's roof.

 

"I know, I know. It's going to be something that he'll never let anyone forget. You know, you get me too."

 

You smiled, not that she could see.

 

"I figured from that glance you gave me yesterday. Oh hey look the police."

 

You could see the police chasing down Wally across the parking lot, apparently they'd run into him just as he got over the wall.

 

"Was calling the police really necessary?"

 

"Was him turning you to stone and kidnapping you to make you into a lawn ornament necessary? Something that we now know he's done to who knows how many people. I don't play around, Enid. I may not consider us friends, but you're someone that's starting to grow on me. Plus, K.O. loves you like family and he'd have been devastated if Wally got away with you." 

 

You two made it up to the roof where a concerned Radicles, proud Mr. Gar, and curious Dendy were already hanging out.

 

Enid couldn't help but smile inwardly.

 

So she was growing on you, huh?

 

Good.

 

You were growing on her, too.

Chapter Text

Your relaxation time up on the roof was extremely short lived once the police had caught Wally and put him in custody. You, Enid, and K.O. were all brought down to the station to be questioned by the police about what exactly went down that lead up to Wally's arrest. Your mom came along as well because she had brief contact with the crotchety, old wizard. Radicles and Mr. Gar also drove down to the police station in their respective vehicles, but since they hadn't had any form of communication with Wally, they just waited out in the lobby while you were being questioned, for moral support or some shit like that. Dendy had also wanted to follow all of you to the station, but her parents had showed up and calmly talked her out of it. She was disappointed, but understood that she really didn't have anything to contribute that might help the police, much like your coworker who was not petrified and boss.

 

All in all, it was not as painful of an experience as it could have been. You were all questioned in separate rooms, most likely so that the officers questioning you could see if your stories matched up pretty decently.

 

The fact that there was footage from the bodega's camera showing Wally petrify Enid was some pretty damning evidence. There was no possible way - that you could see - that Wally the White was getting out of this.

 

It sucked that you had to go to the courthouse whenever Wally's case got around to a judge, but you were a key witness after all, so...

 

When you were finally let out of the interrogation room, you headed to the lobby where your mother was having a seemingly serious conversation with Mr. Gar, who for once was not stammering incoherently. It was good to know that your boss could be counted on to momentarily get over his nervousness around your mother when the situation was as serious as this one was.

 

Enid and K.O. were not out in the lobby, so by logical deduction they were still being questioned. Enid was probably being asked the most questions, seeing as how she was the one Wally had petrified and K.O. was most likely giving a long-winded and complex, not very helpful explanation of the events that transpired.

 

Radicles was talking in a hushed voice into his cellphone.

 

"No, Mom, I'm gonna be late coming home," you could hear an unintelligible female voice on the other end of the line, clearly distraught. "I'm fine, I'm just at the police station-" now there was an unintelligible male voice raised in alarm. "No! No! Dad! I'm not in trouble! My friends are just being asked some questions! Everything's okay!"

 

It was obvious that Radicles' parents were concerned about their son, even if you couldn't tell what they were saying on the other end of the line.

 

"Okay," Rad said exasperatedly as he attempted to bring the conversation to a close. "Yes, I'll head home once everything's wrapped up here. Of course I'll check on Duchess when I get there! Alright. I love you guys, too."

 

Rad made kissy noises into the phone before hanging up and looked up to see you staring blankly at him. A look of embarrassed horror crossed his face and his cheeks took on a purple tinge.

 

"...how long have you been standing there."

 

"Long enough," was your telling reply.

 

Rad groaned and buried his face into his hands.

 

"Dude. Can you please not say anything about that to Enid? Or anyone really but Enid especially?"

 

You plopped down tiredly into the seat next to Rad.

 

"First of all, why would I? Second, I don't think Enid's going to be in the mood for embarrassing stories about you tonight. This whole wizard thing was a load of shit and I'm honestly too tired to think about anything other than going to bed once I get home."

 

Rad peeked out from behind his fingers and noticed that yeah, you looked pretty beat and had dark circles forming underneath your eyes.

 

The medical mask was starting to irritate you in your tired state of mind, so you took it off and placed it in your purse.

 

"Screw it. I know I'm not contagious and I'm too exhausted to deal with it itching my skin."

 

You leaned your head back and closed your eyes; you felt as though you could fall asleep at any moment.

 

And you did just that.

 

As you slipped into quiet nothingness Rad turned to ask you about just what went down with Wally. Unfortunately, you were dead to the world.

 

'Huh. She actually looks kinda peaceful and sweet when she's asleep. ...did I really just think that,' Rad absentmindedly thought to himself.

 

Well. Whether you looked sweet or not didn't really matter. Rad knew very well that you could go from looking boredly docile to scary pissed in an instant. His eyes wandered to your left hand. He wondered if the gash you'd gotten had left any permanent scaring or if it had healed completely. He was kinda tempted to look...

 

Before Rad could even decided if he should pick up your hand or not, Enid and K.O. came strolling out of their respective interrogation rooms. K.O., upon seeing you fast asleep, immediately crawled into your lap and began dozing off.

 

"Okay," Enid sighed as she plopped down to Rad's left. "Got all the major questioning done and I'll be headed home soon." She glanced over at you and K.O. "Wow. Those two look like how I feel."

 

Rad huffed out some air through his nose. "Yeah. I wasn't even there when this all went down and I feel totally wiped out. This... It's just something you wouldn't expect would happen this far into the Neutral Zone. I mean, sure, the Danger Zone is right next door north of us, but still."

 

Enid groaned and pinched the bridge of her nose. "I know what you mean. One thing's for sure, that old coot's magic license is definitely going to be revoked and he may wind up in one of the higher end magician prisons for pulling a stunt like this."

 

Rad cocked an eyebrow up. "How do you know all that?"

 

Enid felt the blood drain from her face and quickly scavenged her brain for an excuse.

 

"U-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-uh... I just remember reading about magic related crimes in Heroics 1020! Yeah! There was this case where a villain used magic to make a whole town disappear and those were some of their punishments!"

 

"Oh," Rad stated, suspicion fading. "Okay. That makes sense. I can never remember what Mr. Rivera goes over in that class."

 

Enid mentally breathed a sigh of relief at her quick thinking and Rad's poor attention span when it came to just about everything.

 

"Yeah," Enid laughed nervously, not that Rad noticed the inflection the ninja's voice took on. "He can sort of go off topic and get real into talking about other things that sort of relate to the lesson, but we don't actually need to know." The two friends shared a chuckle at that. "Anyway, I'm heading home. I need to memorize my lines."

 

"Lines?" Rad tilted his head in confusion.

 

"Yeah, lines. Y'know, for Romeo and Juliet? The play we're being forced to participate in?"

 

Rad's eyes widened for a moment before he slapped himself in the face.

 

"Ugh."

 

Enid rolled her eyes at his antics and waved as she exited the precinct.

 

Seeing as how you were all now out of the interrogation rooms, Rad decided that it would be best if he headed home as well. No need to keep his parents worrying about him if everything was mostly alright here.

 

As the macho stockboy headed down the road, he couldn't help but have his thoughts wander back to what lead up to you, K.O., and Enid needing to be taken down to the police station for questioning. Maybe if he'd taken the claims about Enid being turned to stone more seriously he could've-

 

'Could've done what, exactly?' He berated himself. 'Punched the wizard until he turned Enid back? Yeah. That would've probably just ended up with you being turned to stone, too.'

 

Rad's grip on the steering wheel turned painful as he acknowledged the truth of his thoughts. He wasn't the brightest of people, though you'd never hear him admit it; and he often didn't think things through, which usually lead to him getting into dangerous situations and needing someone to bail him out. It was usually Enid.

 

After Rad had returned home and checked on Duchess, he laid down in his hammock and stared at the ceiling.

 

He found himself questioning just what kind of hero he was shaping up to be.

 


When you woke up, it was underneath the covers in yesterday's clothing with a foul taste in your mouth. Also your retainers, those were there, too. Which was weird because you don't remember putting them in.

 

Since you felt totally disgusting you opted to take a shower and brush the death out of your mouth before heading downstairs.

 

"Hey, Pumpkin," your mom greeted warmly as you reached the kitchen. "How you feeling?"

 

"Better now that I've showered and got rid of whatever decided to crawl into my mouth and die."

 

She laughed that deep, sunny laugh she had and gestured to a plate of toast, bacon, scrambled eggs and a glass of milk on the table.

 

"Hungry?"

 

"Always."

 

The two of you chuckled and sat down to enjoy breakfast.

 

"So," your mom said between bites. "You know the places you want to scope out today?"

 

You nodded. While you weren't busy trying to retrive Enid from a crazy wizard, you did a little research of psychiatric institutions in the nearby areas.

 

"I found a few that seem to be worth checking out. And I guess it wouldn't hurt to at least look at the one that you were talking about."

 

She patted your head in that affectionate way thatonly mother's seem to be able to do.

 

"Thank you for at least giving it a chance instead of dismissing it on principle. But you know I don't care which place you decide would be best for you. I'll support you all the way."

 

It was a nice feeling to know that your mom was in your corner.

 

"And K.O.? Is he coming with us or...?"

 

Your mom shook her head.

 

"Nah. Much as I know he'd be supportive of you, too, I don't think you want him knowing that you don't think you're doing as well as you'd like."

 

That was true. You absolutely did not want your little brother to know that you felt like you had problems that you needed to see a professional about. For one thing, you knew he wouldn't really understand how serious the issue was and that it couldn't be solved by just talking it out, even though that was one of the major things you'd be doing. Whoever you ended up seeing would most likely have tasks or goals that they would want you to attempt once they were certain they knew what your problem was.

 

But you're getting ahead of yourself. It's one thing to admit you need help; it's another to actually accept that help.

 

"You're right. I don't. So what're we doing about him then?"

 

"Don't worry. I set up a playdate for Him with Dendy. There gonna head to Duck Pond and do what kids do best."

 

When it came time for K.O. to leave you and your mom made triple sure that he had his Epipen on him just in case. You and your mom were never too careful when it came to that.

 

And then the two of you were on your way.

 

Unfortunately, the institutions that you had lined up weren't quite what you were looking for. Maple Grove Psychiatric Institution was an alright facility, however the staff obviously couldn't care less about actually treating their patients and just gave them whatever perscriptions they felt like. Seriously you saw a woman go into an office and not five minutes later she was out with a perscription slip in hand.

 

You and your mother had shared a look that said this was undoubtedly being reported.

 

Starlight Mental Institution was pretty in pictures, but those photos must have been taken when the building first opened because the building you saw was in shambles and most likely was violating several safety codes.

 

Then there was the private practice run by Joanne Pandemik. Unfortunately, Mrs. Pandemik was retireing soon and was only staying open until she had finished all the appointments that had already been made.

 

She was a nice woman and introduced you and your mom to her daughter, Sybil, who was moving to New York City in a few months.

 

Soon, your list of choices had dwindled to zero. You may have made a mistake in having so many standards to be met, but this was your mental well being we're talking about!

 

"Well Mom," you sighed. "I guess that just leaves Neo Riot City Mental Hospital."

 

She patted you on the shoulder.

 

"Don't worry! This place is the best of the best! I'm almost one hundred percent positive you'll love it!"

 

"And if I don't?"

 

"Then we keep looking! I know that this isn't easy for you, but it's already a step in the right direction to try and get help. And I'll be there with you every step of the way."

 

You were not going to cry. You refused. Eyes. Stop feeling warm and stingy.

 


You had to admit.

 

This institution was impressive both inside and out.

 

From the moment you stepped through the door, you were greeted with smiles and 'hello's. And not the fake kind either. These people genuinely were nice.

 

"Hello," a chipper bat lady greeted you at the receptionist's desk. "Welcome to Neo Riot City Mental Hospital! I'm Jainy! How can I help you?"

 

"Hi, Carol Kincaid. I called and scheduled a tour of the facilities for my daughter."

 

"Okie dokie! Let's see here... Ah! Here we are, Kincaid... Oh! You're Silver Spark!"

 

The woman's eyes lit up like a Christmas tree. She was about to go into a tirade, probably about how cool your mom was, but was stopped by your mom.

 

"Please. Just Carol. Anyway, about my daughter's tour?"

 

"Oh!" Jainy flushed violently, remembering she had a job to do. "Of course! Right this way."

 

Jainy was... alright she was way too perky for your personal tastes, but not so much that you couldn't stand it whenever words started coming out of her mouth. She just had the sort of personality that you'd never been able to click with is all. But she was very professional during the tour despite her overly cheery demeanor.

 

"Here is where our patients undergo art therapy. Whatever it is that they're feeling, we like them to put it on the canvas as a way to positively express those emotions. I may be oversimplifying it a bit. If you do end up with us and are given art therapy, the doctors n charge of it will probably go into a bit more detail. Sorry, that'll be most of what my explanations of the areas in out facility will be!"

 

Jainy wasn't kidding when she said that. Every time you and your mom were taken to a new area, a vauguely general description of the activity done there was given. But you understood that it wasn't Jainy's job to intimately know about all the activities.

 

Her job was apparantly to be a receptionist and to give tours when necessary.

 

As your tour was winding down to a close, you noticed a perculiar door on the way back to the lobby.

 

Perculiar because it was locked up as though it was Fort Knox.

 

"What's up with the maximum security door?" you inquired while gesturing to the object in question.

 

"Oh! That door leads to where we keep all of our patient's files. Only the doctors and other select personnel have the access codes necessary to unlock that door. And I know what you might be thinking and don't worry. The doctor's are only allowed access to the files of the patients they're treating. Everyone has their own individualized code for getting into their assigned file cabinet and whenever one of our doctors or other authorized personnel leave, the codes are immediately changed."

 

You supposed it made sense that the files were locked up so securely. Your mother did state that back in her days at P.O.I.N.T. some of the members came here and some still may, as well as other heroes. If a villain were to ever come into possession of the knowledge that their foe was a patient at a mental institution, they'd most likely want to get their hands on the files so that they could see if they could somehow use the information against the hero.

 

Everything seemed to be in perfect order at this facility. The staff were dedicated to their patient's recovery, it wasn't some revolving door of doctor's pushing pills, and it wasn't about to close down.

 

"Well?" your mom asked once the two of you were seated away from listening ears. "What do you think?"

 

"I think..." you paused, were you sure? Yes. Yes you were. "I think this place might be able to help me sort out whatever issues it is that I have."

Chapter Text

With your confirmation that yes, this facility is the one you want to be treated at, you and your mother were handed all the necessary forms that needed to be filled out in order to be registered as a patient. Though with you legally being an adult, your mom didn't necessarily have to look at or sign any of the forms. But she did anyway because you asked her to. Because you were more comfortable with her knowing about what all would be going on and the information they needed to know than you were with her not knowing anything about what would be happening with your treatment.

Once you had crossed all of the 't's and dotted all of the 'i's, you handed the forms in to Jainy, who perkily informed you that your first session with your doctor would be for next Saturday. Which was perfect considering you had things to do during the week - such as your job - and also that your mom wouldn't have to take any time off of work to drive you over here. The reason that you wouldn't be able to see your doctor until next Saturday was due to the fact that they were at an out-of-town appointment. Apparently they did this once a month. You weren't quite sure how a patient could be getting an effective treatment with such infrequent visits, but Jainy assured you that this particular appointment of the doctor's only needed to be seen once a month and that was all she could say on the matter. You were apparently not the only patient of this new doctor's that seemed hesitant when they had heard about this, and so that was all the information any of you were allowed to know, doctor-patient confidentiality agreements and whatnot.

 

Whatever. You would see the doctor next Saturday and that was that. No need to worry yourself unnecessarily with other people's business. Worry about your business and no one else's unless they decide to try and make it your business.

 


Upon arriving back to the Lakewood area, you and your mom stopped by Duck Pond after calling Dendy's parents to let them know what was going on.

 

K.O. was ecstatic to see you and had a seemingly endless stream of questions about where you had gone and what you did while you were there. Thankfully, you had anticipated this and had a vague enough answer that would satisfy the curious little cutie.

 

"Well," you turned your head slightly so you could see K.O. out of the corner of your eye from where you were sitting. "I'm going to be doing a special kind of training once a week to help improve myself so that if something like what happened with that wizard ever happens again, I can do more than just call the police."

 

A lie. Well, sort of. It was a lie by omission. Therapy was, in a way, a kind of 'special training' meant to help people improve themselves. You just weren't being straight with K.O. about the true nature of this 'training'.

 

"So," you continued on. "I'll be going to see my new trainer every Saturday until they feel like I've improved enough to not have to see them again. I'm not sure how long the training sessions will last or what kinds of workouts we'll be doing, but it will help me."

 

K.O.'s eyes sparkled with awe as you spoon-fed him the not-quite-a-lie. You felt lower than the scum that graces the bottoms of people's shoes deceiving your baby brother like this, but you really didn't want him to know that you felt like you weren't all quite right mentally. That would make him upset and you never wanted to be the reason that K.O. was upset. 

 

When the four of you returned to the house, you found yourself helping Dendy in repairing her 'Hackpack' as she and K.O. so lovingly referred to it as while K.O. listened to the two of you prattle on using words that he didn't really understand.

 

You didn't realize it at the time, but you now had more than one six-year-old child looking at you as though you had painted the sky.

 


It was Sunday once again and you prayed that you wouldn't have to lend any sort of helping hand with any school activity this time.

 

Mrs. Johnson was especially perky this morning. Her eyes twinkled in that knowing way that had you wary of her motives the moment you noticed it.

 

"You're plotting something especially devious, don't even bother denying it," you accused with your eyes narrowed, daring her to state otherwise.

 

She just giggled in that watery, warbling way that she always does, gills flapping happily.

 

"Why whatever do you mean?" she asked coyly. Ha. Get it? Coyly? Because she's a- oh never mind.

 

She began her tittering again when you narrowed your eyes even further.

 

You tolerated Mrs. Johnson more than you did any other person who wasn't your family, excluding Dendy because you didn't find her the least bit annoying and though she was socially awkward she at least ha denough common sense to know when to drop certain topics. However, tolerance was all Mrs. Johnson had going for her. And right at this very moment, you could feel your tolerance levels rapidly decreasing.

 

Jenny Johnson was hardly ever a woman who felt intimidated by others. Hell! When she had first met her husband, it was when they were both teenagers and he and his friends thought it would be a good idea to try and harass Jenny and her friends.

 

Terry Johnson, tiger shark that he is, learned that day that a certain trout looked really hot when she was pissed off.

 

(Y/N) Kincaid, however, was no tiger shark and not the least bit intimidating to Jenny. No.

 

She was something beyond terrifying. Jenny could tell that lurking beneath that indifferent exterior was something that you would never want to piss off and then encounter at night in a dark alley.

 

So she came to the wise decision that it was best to not poke the bear any more than she already had.

 

"Okay, okay," Mrs. Johnson said calmingly. "There may or may not be a countrywide contest beginning and the prize for winning this contest that may or may not exist may or may not be the chance to go abroad and visit what may be the most prestigious hero school in the world."

 

You immediately saw where she was attepmting to head with this.

 

"No."

 

Mrs. Johnson's cheeky smile fell off her face as fast as it would take someone to snap.

 

"It's a fantastic opportunity though! And I might have... well..."

 

Please no.

 

"I might've... recommended you to the principal... and she thought that having a student of your academic prowess win this would be a great chance to represent Lakewood High."

 

Okay. Deep breaths now. No snapping and murdering the receptionist. All she did was recommend you and your name got entered. That's all. Besides. There's no guarantee you'll win! So there's little to no chance of this interfering with your therapy sessions.

 

"I am not happy that I have been signed up for a contest without my knowledge or consent. But there's nothing to be done about it now, is there? No pulling out once entered?"

 

Mrs. Johnson nodded her head.

 

"What kind of contest is it? Just enter your name and it gets put in with a bunch of others to be pulled?"

 

"Oh! No, actually. It's an essay contest. The topic is what the word 'Hero' means to you. And before you think you can get out of this by not submitting anything, the principal has made it clear that if you don't at least try, you will have to start physically attending school. No more of just dropping off your completed work and picking up new assignments if you try to not participate."

 

Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck.

 

Fine. Whatever.

 

They want to know what 'Hero' means to you?

 

You'll let them know exactly how you feel.

 

You shoved your new assignments into your backpack and were about to leave when, of course, something happened that prevented you from going on about your day.

 

Because why would anything regarding you getting your homework and getting home be easy anymore.

 

You're pretty sure that Mr. Stagehand has managed to crack the wall with the force he used to shove the door into it.

 

"Girl I've only met once thank God you're here!"

 

And you're being dragged. Why are you being grabbed. You don't like this.

 

Eventually you stop being dragged so you can stare at all the little detentionees doing a horrible job at performing their lines.

 

Still. Why were you here?

 

"...what do you want from me now?" was your sardonic reply to the relative silence between you and the train wreck of a theatre teacher.

 

"I'M SO GLAD YOU ASKED!!!"

 

Okay. Loud. Also, ow.

 

"You see," the inconsiderate, loud man prattled on. "I've only just come to the realization that I assigned everyone a role last Saturday except for you! I couldn't possibly live with myself if you were denied the opportunity to perform! So, I've decided-"

 

"No," you coldly interrupted.

 

"...hah?"

 

"No. No, I will not be participating in your play. I have no interest in it. I don't care how much you whine or cry. I have other and better things to do than to take part in a play that is going to be a disgusting dumpster fire on opening night."

 

So... You may be a bit more pissed at being forced to take part in the stupid essay contest than you had let Mrs. Johnson believe. And you had every right to be. The principal was well within her right to rescind her permission to let you do your work like you have been for the past six years, but forcing you to participate in a contest and using your special privilege as leverage to make you do so really pissed you off.

 

Like Hell were you about to let this trembling, little twig in front of you try and rope you into doing something else that you wanted no part of.

 

You could see that a few of the students close to you and Mr. Stagehand were looking at the two of you out of the corners of their eyes, nosey little shits.

 

Whatever. You made it quite clear that you would not be doing anything related to the play. Aside from possibly going to see it just to have an internal cackle at how bad it turned out to be.

Chapter Text

If Rad had to be completely, one hundred percent honest about this, it was that this was the most humiliated he's ever been in his entire life thus far.

 

Enid was rather inclined to agree with her turquoise companion, though she had no way of knowing that her line of thought matched up exactly with his.

 

 

After all, here the two of them were, along with the rest of their fellow detentionees, practicing their given lines for the roles that were forced upon them a week ago by one Mr. Gabriel Stagehand.

 

Now, there were a few teens that were excited to be participating in the play. Drupe, for example, was more than excited to be playing the role of Prince Escalus. True, she would have preferred a more prominent role that had more lines than what the prince was given, but her being allowed to design the costumes that everyone would be wearing after seeing the atrocities to fashion that Mr. Stagehand had made more than made up for her lack of lines!

 

And, of course, there were the teens that absolutely hated the idea of being in Mr. Stagehand's play, or just hated the role that they got saddled with, or both.

 

Rad and Enid fell into that last category.

 

Enid was having a hard enough time just being surrounded by this many people. Sure, she was surrounded in the classroom used to hold Weekend Detention, but she had never had to interact with anyone in there! Now she did and the fact that she was one of the lead roles in this play and would therefore be on stage most of the time only added to her anxiety about this whole situation.

 

Rad was faring no better than his counterpart. Try as he might, there was no way he'd be able to act as gentle and ladylike as Juliet was portrayed to be! The only time he was ever gentle was when he was out doing the things that no one he knew thought he was cool or otherwise could ever know. If anyone ever found out that beneath his muscley, cool exterior was actually this super sensitive dude, he would never, ever be able to live it down.

 

In fact, the two were so engrossed in their existential crises that they almost failed to both see and hear you hiss out your angrily cold reply to Mr. Stagehand attempting to make you join in on the play.

 

They weren't the only ones to notice as well.

 

A few of the other students gave passing glances to the scene, but ultimately decided that they would rather not get involved in any way. Drupe, however, stared at your retreating form until you had exited the theatre. She wouldn't lie and say that she wasn't the least bit intimidated by you. In fact, you terrified her! Never had she met someone that could instill such fear into her very being from just a single look! Well, no one aside from her mom that is, but don't all children fear receiving 'The Look' from their parents?

 

Ever since her initial encounter with you in the Bodega, Drupe had kept an eye out for you at the Plaza. It was on one of the days that she had decided to skip school that she had seen you training at the dojo with the owner, who she found out was your mother after a bit of asking around.

 

You were definitely skilled, at least in comparison to her that was. All she could do was whip her vines at people and hoped she landed a hit. But you moved with a certain fluid grace that Drupe felt she would never be able to achieve no matter how hard she tried.

 

Her awe of your skill only increased when she saw you take out that giant chameleon dude. Honestly she should have been even more terrified of you than she already was after seeing the amount of rage that you displayed, but instead...

 

She found it surprisingly attractive.

 

Not that she currently had the confidence to go up and tell you that to your face.

 

 


When you returned home after your encounter with Mr. Stagehand your mom and K.O. could immediately tell that you were in a very foul mood.

 

You dumped the contents of your backpack out onto the kitchen table, ready to get your homework over with so that you could proceed to write what would no doubt be the only essay in that stupidass contest that would bash on the hero community as a whole.

 

Just thinking about how you're pretty much being forced to participate in this makes your blood boil.

 

As you separate your work by subject you come across a flyer for the aforementioned contest. Mrs. Johnson must have slipped it in before she handed you your work.

 

Attention all students!

 

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to visit a prestigious hero school?

 

To know what it feels like to walk the halls of those that came before you?

 

Well now you have the opportunity to do so!

 

One lucky student will have the chance to visit the most esteemed hero school in the world!

 

All you need to do write an essay explain what the word 'Hero' means to you and why.

 

Essays will be accepted from February 24th - March 10th

 

The flyer didn't even mention the school by name. Not that it really needed to.

 

Everyone knew what hero school was the best in the world after all.

 

"Okay, so today's February twenty-second... Yeah, I'll have time to type up my essay after I finish my other work."

 

Your hopes were that whoever was in charge of selecting the winning essay would be so offended by how full of shit you believed hero society as a whole to be that they would immediately toss your essay aside and forget about it.

 

A girl can dream.

 

 


That brings us to today. Monday. The worst day depending on who you asked.

 

At the moment, that was debatable for you.

 

Currently, you were being "held hostage" at Boxmore once again.

 

Shannon was really excited to see you. So excited, in fact, that she dragged you out of the playroom and to her room.

 

"Okay! We're going to do something super fun today!" Shannon threw open the drawers of her vanity and began to rummage through them thoroughly. "No... No... Ooh! Been looking for this! But no."

 

Shannon was carelessly tossing out objects to the floor below. Oddly enough some of those items included hairbrushes, combs, and hair ties.  

 

"AHA!" she cried victoriously. Shannon turned to you with a mischievous glint in her mechanical eyes. "Tadaa!" 

 

She had nail polish of various colors clutched in between her fingers as well as lipstick, mascara, and eyeshadow.

 

Ah. So this was Hell.

 

Well. It wasn't like you had anywhere to be soon. Morning training with your mom was over and you still had several hours to kill before your shift started. So, whatever. Loos like you'll be getting makeup put on. Not like you can't wash it off later.

 

"I think that black or blue would look good on your nails!" Shannon said giddily.

 

You supposed that you could understand her excitement. As far as you've seen, Shannon was the only girl of the Boxmore Bunch. She must be having the time of her robotic life since you were now subsequently part of her and the rest of her family's lives.

 

Her excited expression reminded you of whenever K.O. would show you something that he had found and thought was cool.

 

Shannon was actually surprisingly good at applying nail polish. You say surprisingly on account of how her lipstick looked when you first met her.

 

She was right, black looked good on your nails.

 

Unfortunately, Shannon was still horrible at applying all other types of makeup.

 

You could feel the smears.

 

"Okay! My turn! I think I'll go with red!"

 

"Uh..." you weren't quite sure how this was going to work. "Not to sound insensitive, but you don't have nails..."

 

Shannon giggled. "Of course I do, silly! I just need to get my feet!"

 

You were about to ask what she meant by that when she pulled out a pair of silicon human feet.

 

"...you know what. I'm not even going to question it."

 

Shannon slipped the fake feet over her robotic ones and held a leg out so you could start applying the polish.

 

After you had finished and the polish dried, Shannon was eager to start playing with your hair.

 

"I know that this probably isn't your idea of fun, but it was really nice of you to let me have kind of a Girl's Day with you. Darrell's good at playing Dress Up with me, but he's totally clueless when it comes to putting on makeup! And Raymond gets this weird look on his face whenever I ask if he wants me to help with his makeup."

 

'Say nothing, (Y/N). Not a thing.'

 

The weird 'bonding session' as you're calling it came to an abrupt end when Boxman called Shannon for... whatever. You don't really care what job he needed her to do.

 

You gave it a few minutes before you decided to go look for a sink to wash your face in.

 

This would also help you memorize the layout of Boxmore considering you'd no doubt be spending a great deal of time in the building.

 

As you wandered aimlessly through the halls you took in your surroundings. There honestly wasn't much to discern one hallway from another aside from the odd, slightly crooked tile or color of lights lining the walls.

 

...you seriously needed to get this caked on mess off of your face. And soon.

 

"You look horrendous."

 

Raymond watched you from where he was leaning against a doorframe.

 

"I take it that this is Shannon's handiwork."

 

"That wasn't a question and you know it. There a sink nearby or what?"

 

Raymond regarded the horrifying makeup job that Shannon gave you. Honestly, his sister could stand to watch tutorials on the internet like he did. Just looking at the atrocity that was the mess on your face really pissed Raymond off a bit. He ma not like or understand you, but he'd be damned if he let you keep walking around with that on your face.

 

"Come with me," he said, taking hold of your arm.

 


Raymond's room is...

 

Pink.

 

Very pink.

 

And it has roses all over it.

 

You are not in the least bit surprised; it's so him.

 

So here you sit, eyes closed and face tilted up as Raymond expertly applies eyeliner to your face.

 

"There. I've managed to salvage the wreck my dear sister made of your face. The rest I can't do anything about."

 

You punched him in his robot gut for that one. No one rips on your appearance but you. 

 

"Just for that I'm not going to thank you, you little shit. Which is a shame because you did a good job."

 

What was this... warm sensation slowly coursing its way through his systems? All you had stated was that he had done a good job at fixing his sister's mistake.

 

Raymond recalled when he overheard his siblings gushing to one another a little while back about how happy they were to receive words of praise from you.

 

This felt nothing like the scant, few times that Lord Boxdad had praised him.

 

Okay, so maybe Raymond could understand his siblings' want to do things that might please you. But only a little.

 

"Tch. Whatever. I know I did a fantastic job. What's a real shame is that you're probably going to just wash it off in a bit."

 

"That is most likely the case, yes."

 

He couldn't help but feel both a little irked and refreshed at your blunt honesty.