Fire - Part II

From the Story Arc: The Weight of the World

Previous Story in the Arc: Fire - Part One by Bestial Boy (Thursday, May 12, 2005)

Next Story in the Arc: A Plan Interrupted by Bestial Boy (Sunday, July 17, 2005)

(posted Sunday, July 17, 2005)

Bestial Boy has faced demons, super villains, two ton walking piles of
stone, and a 100 foot tall octopus, but nothing scared him like this.
His palms were sweating, and he nervously cracked his knuckles. How
was he going to be able to do it? How could he look at himself in the
mirror once it was done? What kind of person was he?

He stretched out as best he could in his seat, trying to stay limber.
On a domestic flight, it was easy to forget how small a 6 foot tall
hero could feel in Paragon City. But here at 20,000 feet, it was hard
for a super-hero to get comfortable, even in business class. It
sometimes seemed like airplanes were built for a race of 5'5"
stick-men.

There was no two ways about it. He had to end it. It was no use
going on like this, and lying to himself and her every day.
Pretending was the coward's way out, and Zach was no coward. The trip
to DC had given him some time to think, time to sort out the mess of
feelings towards Carpathia, and now he realized that it just wasn't
working. It wasn't that he didn't care for her, in fact there was no
way you could say that Zach didn't "love" Carpathia Peregrim. But he
wasn't "in love" with her, not in the way she deserved to be loved.

Zach tried to reflect upon the positive. They had been there for each
other at a very vulnerable time, for both of them. Zach had been new
to the group, Carpathia was new to America. They were each other's
crutch, a guide to make the strange seem comfortable. He couldn't
have imagined the past year without her. But now, as they each grew
more comfortable, they were growing apart. Carpathia was more
involved in arcane goings on at home in the old country, and Zach's
role in the CCCP continued to grow so that he was far too busy to
dedicate the time to her that he once had. They spent less and less
time together, and the funny thing is that neither of them seemed to
mind it terribly. It reminded Zach of a line from a book he once
read:

"So, this is how the world ends, not with a bang, but with a whimper."

Zach expected to do some whimpering when all was said and done.

***

By the time the flight set down, Zach was going stir-crazy with his
own thoughts. Now that he had resolved his mind up, he didn't want to
think about it any more. He needed a way to clear his head, and for
the Bestial Boy, that normally meant hitting something with his fists.

He took a cab straight to the CCCP HQ without stopping off at home, so
as to avoid the possibility of encountering Carpathia unexpectedly.
Quickly, he changed out of his suit into his combat gear, sliding into
his leather flak jacket like a second skin. He pulled on his gloves,
stretching out the fingers and shadow boxing.

"Much better. I am good for something at least. Stick to what you
know Zachy boy", he thought to himself. "A bouncing ball of lint
never made anyone a good boyfriend anyway."

He pulled out his scanner, to see what members of CCCP were on active
patrol. Only a few entries were lit. “Sparse crowd today…let’s see. Sturmfront, Agn, and…..”

You could say Zach was surprised to see this name on the active list, but then you would have to say that Lazarus was surprised to be brought back from the dead. Zach’s jaw practically hit the floor. In one shocking moment, all of his relationship problems evaporated as he looked upon a name he thought he'd never see again, except with an R.I.P. next to it. He soon heard a long-missed voice over his comm. The voice of a comrade long presumed dead, a fiery bundle of broken English, overconfidence and feral joy.

"Ha-Ha! Goblin-boy is back in town! Want to come bust some heads
with the true Phoenix, Gobly? Or is Bestla too much for you to be keeping up with?"

***

Sweat was pouring off of his forehead, so Zach tore off some fabric and made himself a makeshift headband. He had forgotten how hard it was to keep up with Bestla, who was a bounding ball of fire leaping from one group of Freakshow to another. Soon it became a race, the inky black ball of Bestial Boy racing to take down foes faster than Bestla.

Zach adrenaline was pumping so hard that he massively over swung at a Freak tank, missing badly. “Ha!”, yelled Bestla from the other side of the room, “whiffy whiffy boy!”

Zach couldn’t help himself but smile. As he hit the cyberpunk with an uppercut, he spun around towards Bestla. “You know, its a lot faster punching Freaks out than standing around waiting for them to burn!”

Bestla was nonplussed. “They seem to burn pretty fast to me, goblin-boy!” She exploded in another ball of flame and bounded into the next group of onrushing cyberpunks.

Zach smiled and watched her go, although it couldn’t help but remind him of another fiery juggernaut, one who was definitely going to be less than pleased with him. But the commissar put those thoughts out of his head, and focused on his feelings of joy on seeing Bestla’s return to the fold. She wouldn’t talk about where she had been, or how the process of “burning out” had been reversed, but that was very much like her. Sometimes a conversation with Bestla was like talking to your dog. You could tell she was happy and enthusiastic, but you couldn’t make out the details. It didn’t matter, not at that moment, and Zach couldn’t stop smiling from ear to ear.

Maybe the world wasn’t going to end today after all.