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Graduation Day

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At the Homecoming in his Freshman year Will's girlfriend became his arch-enemy, his arch-enemy became his best friend, and his best friend became his girlfriend. He was only fourteen at the time and, finally, his superpowers had come through, just in time to save everyone with the help of his Hero Support friends--and Warren. That had pleased both his mom and dad, who had not wanted to go through puberty again and learn to be super-villains. Of course it pleased them more that he had gained both of their powers--flying and strength.

By the end of Will's fifth year at Sky High, the circle looked ready to turn again. Except, not exactly. Gwen Grayson was never going to be his best friend but over this past year, things had started to change between him and Layla, and between him and Warren. He couldn't quite put his finger on it though, but he guessed he was changing just as much as them, growing from a boy into a man. At some point, his interest in girls had started to wane, though he had originally put it down to not caring about other girls when he had someone as wonderful as Layla on his arm. However, Will found he was having greater fun in Warren's company these days--listening to music and playing pool.

Layla had changed too, slowly losing interest in her 'childhood crush'--in him--and offering coy smiles towards other boys followed by guilty ones towards Will. This past month had been particularly bad and he had not seen her at all last week except for one lunchtime in the school cafeteria two days earlier, and yet there was a time when they had almost lived in each other's pockets. This week had fared no better until today.

Will had sat with her at lunch but it was obvious that her heart was elsewhere.

He missed her, but not in a boyfriend-girlfriend way. He missed her as the best friend who would climb up onto the roof outside his bedroom window and sit with him for hours on end. They used to talk about trivial things that had happened in their day, and their plans for a future that had always included the other to some degree. At one point he had even entertained the idea of them becoming a duo-superpower partnership like Will's mom and dad--The Commander and Jetstream--but he could honestly say that although he cared a great deal for Layla, he wasn't in love with her.

The few words exchanged at lunch changed everything. With the Graduation Ball only a week away, Will knew he would no longer be going with Layla. She had already chosen another partner and it was painfully obvious that her affections lay with this other guy, but Will had to admit that she and Zach made a good looking couple. Zach was still considered hero support but Will had to admit that Zach's ability to glow perfectly complemented Layla's superpower--the ability to make plants grow and do her bidding. When Zach was glowing around her, the vegetation became even more lush and manageable. Yeah, he had to admit that when the time came to pick a superhero name and pair up with someone from Hero Support, Layla couldn't do much better than choose Zach.

The problem was, with only a week to go there were fewer from Hero Support still looking for a hero--and most of them were holding out just in case he picked them. He didn't want hero support though. He had never liked the idea of one of his friends being considered second class, not allowed to pick their own name or costume in case it clashed with whatever the hero chose. It was stupid. His friends had every right to pick their own name and colors even if it clashed so bad that they might never be mentioned together in one breath or have their photos taken and placed on the front page of any magazine or newspaper side-by-side. He had never cared about the fame, wealth and photo opportunities like some other heroes.

Anyway, it was fairly obvious that his parents had already laid a claim on him having red, white and blue colors to match their superhero costumes, making them one big, saving-the-world, happy superhero family. He just hoped his parents had not already picked out a name for him too. It was all they had talked about for weeks. He could imagine it now, walking up to the podium only for Coach Boomer to drown him out with whatever name his parents had chosen to complement their own.

"Hey, Will!"

"Warren."

He greeted Warren with a soft smile and they fell into step with each other as they walked across the campus to where the school bus stood waiting. By rights Will shouldn't need to take the bus as he could fly but the school was kept up high in the sky by anti-gravity propulsion and was in constant motion to avoid detection to reduce the possibility of attack from some super-villain. Only Principle Powers, Mr. Medulla, a few of the other teachers and the bus driver knew where it was located each day. Of course that hadn't stopped Gwen--and her alter-ego Royal Pain--as she had managed to infiltrate the school as a student.

"You working tonight?" Will asked.

"Yeah. You seeing Layla?"

"No. We broke up."

Warren stopped dead leaving Will to walk on several paces before realizing. He turned to find Warren frowning at him. "When?"

"At lunch today."

"Bummer!"

Will shrugged because he really wasn't that torn up about it. He and Layla were still friends, and maybe that was the way it was supposed to be. Instead he glanced across at Warren and grinned as they grabbed the cool seats at the back of the bus, feeling that all-too-familiar twist in his gut and skip of his heart that often caught him when Warren smiled back at him. He just wished he understood what it all meant.

The one area that Sky High seemed to fail at was at teaching the students how to handle emotions. Principle Powers would disagree but lessons on how to accept the adoration of grateful people whose lives he had just saved, or how to stop a panicking crowd were hardly the same as how to cope with the strange new feelings he had developed for his best friend, Warren. Of course there was always Nurse Spex but Will did not exactly feel comfortable discussing issues of that nature with a woman who was older than his grandmother and who could see right through him--literally.

"Come to the Paper Lantern tonight. I'll get Mr. Wong to cook us up something special."

Will grinned because Mr. Wong was a great Chinese cook and he didn't particularly want to be alone when he could have Warren's company.

"Sure."

****

Warren slipped into the booth opposite Will and with a flick of his forefinger, used his superpower to light the candle between them. The glow picked up the reddish brown tints in Will's hair, making Warren wonder why he was torturing himself like this. They were best friends but he wished they could be more. Even though Layla was no longer an obstacle, he still had to contend with the fact that Will had shown no sign of interest in anyone other than Gwen or Layla before today. And yet Will was barely upset about the break-up of what had been an almost five year relationship with Layla. There would be shocks at school tomorrow as most expected Will to marry Layla and, possibly, choose her in a superhero-duo instead of asking someone from hero support.

Now Will was in the same position as Warren, with both of them uninterested in the few remaining hero support, and if Warren had his way then he would happily not choose anyone. He knew he would always be able to count on Will to back him up in a fight, the same way he would always be there for Will. That's the way they had been ever since the Pacifier Incident back at that very first Homecoming.

Mr. Wong delivered the food personally, smiling at Warren and Will and insisting they eat. It was really good and Warren enjoyed Will's little moans of pleasure as they shared the dishes, both of them adept with chopsticks though Warren could remember all the fun he had teaching Will. The problem had been Will's strength, easily snapping the thin sticks even when he was trying to hold them as delicately as possible. Will had wanted to give up but Warren had kept on insisting, knowing it would be a good lesson in how to control his friend's newfound strength. Years later, Will never even had to think about it anymore. At the end of the meal there were fortune cookies.

Warren read his out first. "The hesitant man loses many chances for happiness."

He wanted to laugh it off but Warren was struck by how close it was to his own inner dialog over the past months when he could swear he caught Will looking at him with something akin to longing in his eyes. But then Layla would slide into the seat next to Will and the moment would vanish as if it had been all in his imagination. Dare he take the advice from a fortune cookie?

In the meantime, Will have opened his and was frowning.

"Well? What does it say?" Warren wasn't sure why it should be so important. Just because his own held a hidden meaning it didn't mean that Will's would be equally enlightening. Problem had some silly quote instead.

"Love comes in many forms...so you must seek it with new eyes."

Will looked up suddenly, catching Warren expression before Warren could school the longing from this face, and Warren saw Will's eyes widen in realization.

"You...?" he waved a finger between them. "And me?"

It had to be the single worst moment of Warren's life and he felt physically sick as he waited for Will's surprise to turn to disgust. Instead there was a soft laugh and he looked up feeling annoyed because he didn't deserve to be laughed at. There was no disgust in Will's eyes though, just tenderness and something more, something he couldn't quite define.

"Idiots. Both of us," Will stated softly and remembering his fortune quote, Warren did not hesitate. He reached out to cover Warren's hand with his own.

"Or maybe not?"

Will twisted his palm until he could lock his fingers with Warren. "Maybe not any longer."

***

Graduation Day caused plenty of stirs as unlikely partnerships fell into place between heroes and hero support. Will cheered as Layla chose Zach as her hero support, both of them hugging in their new complimentary green and gold colors while most looked towards Will in shock. The new Flower Girl and Glow Boy took their bow as Layla lifted her arms and flowers bloomed all around. Finally his turn came and Will stepped onto the podium when his name was announced with his graduation gown wrapped tight around him, hiding his chosen costume and colors. His parents were seated in the front row in their superhero costumes, grinning with pride.

Principle Powers began the opening speech. "I present to you...Powerman!"

Everyone gasped when Will ripped off his graduation robe using his superior strength to reveal a costume of mostly black, though with a set of deep Vs in red, white and blue on his chest, elbows and thighs to appease his parents. He gained wild cheering from his fellow students as he showed off his new costume and identity, pleased when he saw his father standing up with his mother, both of them applauding.

"And your hero support?" Powers asked.

"No. I won't need any," Will stated loudly, "Not when I have a superhero partner..."

Predictably, everyone turned towards Layla, who looked throughly confused but Will was looking to his right, to where another graduating student was waiting for his turn. He grinned and Warren stepped up in his graduation robe only to open it with a flourish to reveal an almost identical costume to Will's--black but with deep Vs in orange, yellow and red.

"Firestorm!" Will shouted, and Warren opened his arms and sent balls of fire shooting up from his hands.

And so Will's girlfriend became his best friend once more, and his best friend become his lover and partner. Royal Pain was still his arch-enemy.

Ten years later, Powerman and Firestorm saved the entire planet from the evil machinations of Royal Pain and her Discombobulation Machine, sending her back to prison for another ten years. All the magazine covers and newspapers carried a single image of Powerman and Firestorm standing together...locked in a passionate kiss as the people cheered on behind them.

END