Previously in Comic Superhero…
Andrew and Emily met at the coffee shop; a clandestine meeting after Andrew’s revelations at the party. Emily revealed the truth about her father and why she was so competitive. Andrew’s infatuation with Emily leads to a protestation and declaration of his intentions…
Emily’s eyebrows arched like question marks. “Pardon?”
Andrew’s brain caught up with what his heart had done. It face palmed itself and tried to recover the situation. It felt like free falling without a parachute, which Andrew surmised, tends to have awkward and unpleasant endings.
“I said I like you.” Andrew looked down at his hot chocolate, now tepid and unappealing. Some of the cream melted down the side of the cup pooling on the table. He was hoping a black hole would materialise in the table under his cup and swallow him whole.
With his admission in plain sight, Andrew thought the words hovered above his head in flashing neon; he looked up into Emily’s green eyes. He didn’t like what he saw. Her defence mechanisms reacted in a nanosecond.
“You have got to be joking,” said Emily. “Is this some way of getting back at me? Make me look like an idiot when I say, ‘I like you, too’ and then have it texted all around school as a cosmic joke?”
“No, that’s not what I’m trying to do,” Andrew said trying to back pedal furiously. “I would never do that. I’m not like you.”
Emily whispered through clenched teeth. “What do you mean, ‘I’m not like you’?”
“That time in the library when you span me that sob story about your father; you had a field day telling everyone what a sucker I was. I’m still getting posts on my facebook about it. I would never have done that.”
Focused on swilling the dregs of her latte, Emily let her hair fall in front of her face. It was a few moments before she responded.
“I’m sorry about that. I did it because I wanted to get back at you. It was childish of me.”
Pushing her hair back behind her ear she looked at Andrew. He accepted the apology with a nod of the head but quickly broke eye contact.
Now that the topic was voiced, it needed answering. The longer the pause lasted, the more Andrew felt like a balloon with a small leak.
At the same time, Andrew and Emily made a motion to speak. Andrew deferred to Emily. He initiated the new topic of conversation and was waiting on a reply.
“You go first,” he said.
Emily sucked her lower lip under her top teeth as her forehead knotted.
“I am flattered by the attention, a little bemused perhaps, but it wouldn’t work between us.”
“Oh.” The Andrew balloon that was leaking suddenly burst. A number of pop culture references about a still beating heart being removed flashed in fast forward in the back of his mind. “Why not?”
“It wouldn’t work because we are like two negatively charged magnets. The closer we get to each other, the more we repel.”
“So you’ve been paying attention in Chemistry class, too?” joked Andrew. A frown cracked Emily’s forehead before it faded and a smile appeared. She even managed a brief laugh.
“Putting it into terms that you understand, we are like the superhero and the super villain. Neither of us exists without the other.”
“What do you know about superheroes and super villains?” Andrew couldn’t believe Emily knew the basics of comic lore. It made her even more attractive.
“You pickup a thing or two when the Caped Crusader Joshua spouts comic books all day long.”
With her spoon Emily traced invisible words on the table.
“I’m really very sorry,” said Emily. “I’ve never really thought of you in that way.”
She turned her palms upward on the table. Andrew did not detect any malice or intent to harm in her voice. She was being as honest as he was. On the table between them Andrew imagined two masks laid out in a mutual unveiling. Even if they were to be replaced, the truth was out there.
“What happens now?” asked Andrew.
“I don’t know.”
“It’s out there now, isn’t it? I know about your family history and you know how I feel about you. Neither of us wants that to become public knowledge.”
“How do I know you won’t go and blab this to Jackson and then everyone else?”
“I could ask the same question of you. The first person you would tell is Bianca or Catherine, probably Joshua, too.”
“Our past history would lead to the conclusion that we cannot trust the other not to tell.”
“We are at am impasse,” said Andrew. “We know each other’s secrets and we don’t want anyone else to know. Neither of us is willing to budge on this one. Is there anything I could swear by that would make you believe I would tell no one?”
“I doubt it.”
“A compromise perhaps? What if I promised to only tell Jackson and you could tell Bianca or Joshua?”
In his head Andrew muttered a curse. “Iocane powder would come in very handy right about now.”
“You cheating bastard and dirty, double-crossing freak!” spat Emily.
The venom caught Andrew unawares.
“What are you talking about?”
“I said to come alone and tell no one.”
“I told no one, not even Jackson.”
“Then what is he doing here?”
Andrew turned and craned his neck to see over the booth. Jackson was weaving his way through the customers to where they were sitting.
“You’ve double-crossed me too ‘cause there’s Joshua on his way in.”
“Hey Andrew, whatcha doing here?” asked Jackson.
Joshua joined them surveying the situation. “This is a little cosy get together isn’t it?”
Andrew and Emily exchanged glances, trying to manufacture an escape plan, wondering who would be the first to ignite the metaphorical pool of petrol they were standing in. More importantly, Andrew thought, who is holding the match?