"Somehow I find myself questioning the historical authenticity of that movie," Red said as we emerged from the theater.
It was a Saturday night; the first Saturday off for me in a long while. I'd spent it doing something I hadn't done in ages--going out on a date.
The movie was The Society of Distinguished Gentlemen. Kind of an 'Extraordinary League' rip-off. Mark Twain, Spring-Heeled Jack, Nikolai Tesla, Roderick Usher, and the Skull join forces in the late 1800s to fight Napoleon as he leads an army of undead Confederate soldiers out of Hell to conquer all of England.
According to the blurbs, it was based off of real events. Needless to say, I thought it was the greatest movie ever.
"I think I totally should be getting royalties for that," I said. "I mean, that was awesome and all, but come on. Totally using my bad-ass family name."
"If you were registered, you could have all manner of movie deals, book deals, even a line of toys--"
"Would they have karate chop action?"
"They would. And accessories! Like a pretty pink unicorn," Red said, and then she fluttered her lashes at me.
I opened my mouth to respond, but Red grabbed my hand and pulled me toward a movie poster. She pointed toward what looked like some sort of cartoon, clearly excited.
"It is a new Miyazaki movie!" she said.
Red turned and stared at me.
"What?" I said.
"Valley of the Winds? Spirited Away? Princess Mononoke?"
"Yeah, except for that last one, those are all definitely words," I said.
Her stare shifted into a glare, except not as harsh. "They are movies. Excellent ones. Ones you must see!"
"Are they cartoons?"
"No! Well, I mean, yes, but--"
Now I was just teasing her. "Okay, I'll watch your cartoons, but you've got to watch my copy of 'Big Trouble in Little China'."
She narrowed her eyes; the lovely curve of her mouth pulled into a line. "This 'John Carpenter' of yours is a terrible, troubled man, and I will see no more of his movies."
"Look, is this about 'The Thing'? If I knew that seeing a decapitated head sprout spider-legs and skitter across the floor would make you squeamish, I wouldn't have--"
Our conversation was interrupted by the sound of a low whistle. I turned and caught a glimpse of several teenage boys behind us, lurking like a pack of wolves; several of them were grinning our way. They had probably noticed we were holding hands.
Red saw them, then saw the look I was wearing. Her face shifted into a frown. "Sue."
"What?" I said, looking back to her. "I'm not going to do anything."
"Sue. Let's go."
"It's fine," I said, and I took a step toward the boys.
"I just want to talk."
"Sue." She had force in her words, now; I could almost hear the sparks of electricity beneath her tongue.
Something about the way she said my name made me hold back. The boys kept on grinning; reluctantly, I stepped away.
We walked out on the street. For a long time, we didn't speak.
Tired of what it had to say, Red broke the silence.
"Why did you do that?"
"Do what," I said.
"You were going to hurt them."
"You don't know that."
"Yes, I do, Sue. Empath, remember?" She looked up at me; there was still a trace of violet lightning in her eyes, but it was fading. "You wanted to hurt them."
"But I wasn't going to. Not unless they made a move first."
"So that was your plan? Instigate a fight?"
"I don't know," I said, shuffling my feet and staring at the ground. "I wouldn't have really hurt them. Just, you know."
"Just humiliated them," she said.
"I'm tired of people treating me like I'm a freak," I said. "If it isn't the muscles, it's something else."
"But it's not just that," Red said, her voice gentle. "There is something else, isn't there?"
I stopped walking; my eyes remained locked on my shoes. "I miss her," I said, and I felt my breath rush out of me, like I had just gotten punched in the gut.
"My mom. She always knew what to say to make things better. To make me feel better. I know--she's been gone for a long time, now, and I really should be over it," I said, and I felt my stomach twist up into knots. "But... I feel like, if she was here, she'd know exactly what to tell me to make everything okay. And sometimes, the fact that she isn't here anymore, it just hits me, and--"
Suddenly, Red wrapped her arms around me and hugged me close. Hesitantly, I reached to hug her back; she kissed the dampness from my eyes and pressed her forehead to mine.
"It is okay to miss her, Sue. She sounds like she was a wonderful person. And for what it is worth, you are not a freak. You are a hero," she said.
We held each other for a little longer before we hesitantly pulled away. We slipped into an alleyway where Red whispered words of magic and floated into the air; I gave her a goodnight kiss and she flew off.
I was feeling a little better when the phone-call came. I flipped the cell open and brought it to my ear as I stepped out of the alley and back into the street.
"Get back here now," Sumerset said, his voice drawn and stressed. "We have a situation."