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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Hero's Son - Missing Chapter

Every once in a while, but alarmingly often lately, I go back and read something I wrote and realize that it's missing an important scene. For example, in the Hero's Son, at the end of Part III, R.J. has been court ordered into permanent Hero custody. THEN in Part IV, the story moves on to the relationship between Rip and Jenna. I was always planning on this to be a romance story, so it made sense to me to advance the story to the relationship rather than dwell on the daily life of semi-super hero kids. But when I re-read it and thought about it, I realized that I needed to reestablish that Rip and R.J. really were best friends despite R.J.'s betrayal. SO, I wrote in a chapter that takes place after chapter three, but before chapter 4. Even better, in my opinion, doing so has sparked interest in the direction I planned the story to go after part 5 - which is now part 6, lol.
Anyway, here's the missing chapter, which FYI, is what I was working on when my computer froze and I lost a couple of paragraphs. Even so, I love how it turned out :-)

Shortly after Rip's 15th birthday, he and R.J. were sitting in the back of his dad's Hero car while he was inside a store dealing with an attempted robbery. Normally, they would have stood somewhat behind him and watched how he handled things, but it had been determined that the situation was too dangerous – having devolved into a hostage situation. Sort of.
The would-be robber did actually have a few innocent people in the store, and he was threatening their safety, but rather than demand money and a bunch of other things, he was simply asking to be let go and not pursued. He felt this was a reasonable request because he hadn't actually gotten any money or stolen anything – Henry Plantagenet had arrived before he could.
That had been a total coincidence; a random stop at a convenience store to refuel their car. Unfortunately for the criminal, if a Hero saw a crime in progress, he literally could not ignore it. Henry had reported the situation via his communication device, and then had explicitly ordered that the boys wait for him outside the store.
Night patrol!” Rip growled in aggravation.
R.J. laughed as if this was the most hilarious thing he had ever heard. “You used to hate it when he didn't take you on patrol!”
Rip rolled his eyes. “Don't remind me!” He then sighed in something close to depression. “He still doesn't think I'm capable of doing anything... All we ever do on patrol is stand back and watch him. I'm beginning to think that he just wants to show off for us!”
R.J. shrugged and hid an amused grin. “I can recall a couple of times when we helped out.”
Yeah, by cuffing already subdued criminals or keeping an eye on an incapacitated suspect or two until the police arrived to take them away,” Rip grumbled unappreciatively. “That's not trusting us, that's just trying to keep us pacified.”
R.J. bobbed his head side to side lightly. Rip had a point and he couldn't deny it. On the other hand, R.J. felt that Rip's parents had come a long way in giving them age appropriate responsibilities... albeit quite a bit less than what they could be doing.
It also amused R.J. that Rip was so eager to go out and follow in his father's footsteps – be an impressive Hero that everyone loved – that he forgot just exactly how much he hated attention from the media. If Rip really was out there taking down major bad guys on a daily basis, he'd be on the cover of every newspaper and magazine – not to mention all over TV and the internet!
It's just frustrating!” Rip yelled, reinforcing his aggravation.
R.J. abruptly covered Rip's mouth with a hand. “Did you hear that?”
They both listened in strained silence for a moment. Suddenly, a woman was cursing in outrage between shouts for someone to stop touching her.
Rip felt a chill run up his spine. “That sounds like an official crime in progress.”
A mugging?” R.J. wondered.
Rip shrugged. “Probably.”
What should we do?” R.J wondered.
Rip sighed. “My dad would tell us to stay in the car, but he can't exactly come out and handle this himself.”
And there's no one else in the area,” R.J. added.
They sat in indecision for a moment. They were torn between doing what they know was expected of them, and doing what they knew was right.
Don't you dare! I swear to God I'll murder you!” The woman shouted threateningly. “No! No! Noooo...” She started sobbing.
Both boys jumped out of the car and ran to help her. They both automatically activated their personal shields as they ran. This also activated a tiny high quality digital camera that recorded everything they saw.
It took them at least a minute to locate the woman, and by this time, she was in serious trouble. Six men – who all sounded at least a little drunk – were busy tearing off her clothes and holding her down as they prepared to rape her.
You sonovabitch!” She shrieked, trying to break free of their grasp. “I'll hunt you all down and cut your balls off for this!”
One of the men smacked her in an attempt to shut her up, and then another stuffed one of his socks in her mouth to muffle her screams of outrage.
Stop right there!” Rip called out, his voice calm and determined.
R.J. was too busy pointing his stun gun at them to do so, but he was seriously tempted to grin at and heckle Rip. Rip sounded just like his father; firm and unyielding; like he fully expected to be obeyed; and just a tiny bit cocky and arrogant.
Beat it kid! This one's ours!”
Yeah! Go find your own woman to f-”
I'm warning you,” Rip interrupted them. “I'm a trained Hero and I'm authorized to shoot you if you don't cooperate.” The fact that he also held a stun gun at the ready lent credence to his words. The stun guns – part of the standard Hero gear – looked like 357 Magnum long barreled pistols, and unless the group of rapists somehow knew that Heroes issued stun guns instead of real guns for the Hero kids, they would be stupid to take any chances.
The problem with a stun gun versus a real gun was that they weren't anywhere near as accurate, and had a shot limit of three. That meant that between Rip and R.J., they had enough shots to take out all of the criminals, but they couldn't miss a single shot. It was also sometimes hard to hit the target they aimed at. Thankfully, they weren't like old style stun guns that shot out a pair of darts on wires to conduct the electricity.
Two of the men weren't as busy holding down the woman, so they leapt forward to tackle the two boys trying to stop them, figuring that they wouldn't actually have the nerve to shoot. Neither boy hesitated for a second before shooting. The two men made strange noises as their bodies shook violently from the electricity racing around inside them, and then fell to the ground.
As one, the other four men abandoned their victim and rushed over to take down their would-be captors. The two boys each tried to get another shot off, but their targets had just enough presence of mind to dodge the balls of electricity. With only one shot left in each gun, the boys knew that they couldn't rely on them anyway.
They barely had enough time to stash their guns as they prepared to fight. Hand to hand combat was something they both excelled in, and they were confident that they would be victorious.
Bring it on!” Rip yelled out, mostly to remind himself that he could do this.
The fight took surprisingly longer than expected because the group of rapists were apparently trained to fight together as a team. Had two of them not been incapacitated, R.J. was more than a little afraid that the six of them would have been more than they could handle. As it was, it was actually a challenging fight.
Little by little, Rip and R.J gained the upper hand. One by one, they took down the bad guys. When it was finally over, they made sure to cuff them all with zip ties before any of them could recover and start fighting again.
R.J. sighed in relief, and then turned to help the woman up. She had been watching them – having spit the nasty sock out of her mouth – since there was no other way to escape but by running past them. She didn't want to risk one of the men flat out killing her so that she couldn't get away. Her clothes had been almost completely torn away, and what little of them remained hung off her in tatters.
She didn't seem to care about her lack of clothing in the slightest. Instead, she hugged R.J. the moment she was on her feet. “Thank you!” She cried out and then kissed him on the cheek. R.J. blushed but shrugged as if saying just doing my job.
She turned to hug Rip too, but her emotions caught up to her just then, hitting her like a punch to the chest. She gasped, nearly strangling Rip with a choke-hold.
I was so scared!” She sobbingly confessed into his shirt.
At 15, Rip was just barely taller than her. He was also embarrassed and awkward about having a more or less naked woman hanging on him. He forced himself to pat her on the back in an attempt to calm her down.
She cried for about a minute, and then seemed to remember that this boy was a stranger who was baffled by how to handle the situation. She sniffed until she stopped crying, and then looked him in the eyes.
Thank you for saving me!” She expressed her gratitude and then kissed him on the cheek at the corner of his mouth. Rip stiffened as he wondered what in the world he was supposed to do now.
Ahem!” Rip's father cleared his throat significantly. From his perspective, it looked like his son was making out with a mostly naked woman in an alley. Only the fact that there were men in handcuffs on the ground and R.J. standing guard over them made him give Rip the benefit of the doubt.
Dad!” Rip squeaked guiltily in surprise. “I was just, uh...”
The damsel who was no longer in distress burst out sobbing again. “He saved me! They both saved me! I owe them my life!” She rested her forehead on Rip's shoulder again and gave up trying not to cry.
Rip held up his hands in a gesture that clearly asked what he was supposed to do now. A moment later, receiving no response because his father was still studying the crime scene as he mentally pieced together what had happened, Rip resumed patting her awkwardly on the back. More of his training kicked in.
You're safe now,” he assured her.
Finally coming to terms with the fact that Rip and R.J. had quite Heroically rescued this woman, Henry took charge of the situation. “I managed to stun the man holding everyone hostage. There's still two squad cars parked next to our car. I'm sure that the officers will be less than thrilled to take this bunch into custody too, but that'll leave us free to give our vic here a ride home. Wait here,” he commanded, and then retreated to ask the cops to help out.
While he was explaining the situation, he grabbed a spare blanket from his trunk. Heroes responded to all kinds of situations, and therefore tried to be ready for anything. The cops all nodded grimly, and then followed Henry back to the dead-ended alley.
Henry noted with a concerned frown that the victim was still clinging to his son. With the utmost care and respect, he covered her with the blanket as the officers discussed how to deal with the criminals. They decided to retrieve their cars while the three Heroes were still on hand to guard the unconscious men.
Meanwhile, nothing could get the victim to stop wailing as she clung to Rip. She was shaky, like she was terrified that something else would happen to her the moment she let go of her savior. Henry gave up trying to pry her away from Rip and went to help put the criminals in the back of the squad cars.
Including the robber from the convenience store, it was a tight fit for the seven criminals who were divided between two small and uncomfortable back seats. It was probably a good thing for them that they were still all unconscious. Especially since the cops didn't particularly care about being gentle as they shoved them into their squads.
R.J. took the time to upload his automatic recording onto the police officers' laptops, and then did his best not to spook the victim as he grabbed Rip's device so that his recording could be uploaded too. When he handed the device back, he cast Rip a look that said I wish I could help.
Rip nodded, resigned to the fact that this woman was holding onto him as if her life depended on it and that nothing he did could calm her down and get her to let go. Remembering his training in dealing with traumatized victims helped him feel better though. Not so freaked out and squeamish.
I promise I won't let anything else happen to you,” he consoled her yet again. “I need you to calm down so that we can get your official statement and bring you home.”
He continued to repeat everything he had been trained to say and waited until some of it sank in. She slowly calmed down until she seemed numb.
Yes... I think I'm ready to go home now... but I don't want to be alone tonight!”
Is there anyone you can call to stay with you?” Rip asked, surprised at how much the scripts he'd memorized came in handy in real life situations.
No,” she stated, definitely sounding numb now. “I'm new here. I just moved to Marion City. My closest family lives an hour away... my sister...”
I'm sure she'll be willing to come stay with you,” Rip reasoned.
I don't know... maybe...” the victim said, now sounding hopeless.
Henry gestured for Rip to try to get the victim to walk to their car, also motioning to let them know that he was going to go get it and bring it over here. By the time he returned with the car, Rip had convinced the victim that she was better off going home and trying to sleep. She nodded and let herself be helped into the backseat of the Hero car. She clutched Rip's uniform and refused to let him abandon her.
Rip looked to his dad for advice and was told with a gesture to sit with her and keep her calm. He nodded, his awkwardness over his proximity to a practically naked woman returning now that the blanket had fallen open to show off part of her leg. He covered it up as R.J. and his father took their respective seats in the front of the car.
It's important now,” Rip stated gently. “I need to know your name and address.”
I'm Amanda Fleming,” she murmured, and then gave them her address. They drove her home, but were forced to sit in the car because she refused to go anywhere with out Rip to protect her. She wasn't purposely leaving R.J. out of her dependency, she simply assumed that wherever Rip went, his partner would go too.
Rip pulled out his cellphone and insisted that she call her sister. “I know she'll come help you get through this difficult time.”
Amanda nodded, and then called her sister. “Ally... I need you...” The moment she tried to explain why, she burst out crying again. Rip took back his phone.
Miss? My name is Richard Plantagenet and I'm with the Heroes. You sister was the victim of a terrible crime tonight, and she could really use your support.”
Oh my God!” Ally wailed in horror. “I'll be there as soon as I can! I'll frickin' speed the entire way if I have to!”
No, I don't advise speeding,” Rip insisted hastily, but it was too late. Amanda's sister had hung up on him and was presumably rushing towards her car.
She'll be here as soon as she can,” Rip assured Amanda.
I can't be alone!” Amanda wailed, her tears still flowing.
Finally, Henry sighed. “Alright, here's what we're going to do. R.J., grab your and Rip's hoverboards from the trunk. Rip, carefully help Ms. Fleming to her apartment, and then the two of you can stay to guard her until her sister arrives. I trust you to treat her with courtesy, compassion, and respect. After her sister arrives, call headquarters to report your progress, and then return home.”
Both boys nodded solemnly, intuitively understanding that Henry would far prefer to send them home and deal with Amanda himself, but that clearly she wouldn't let him. There was no point in all of them staying with her when Henry had several more hours of patrol left, so he was basically giving them their first solo – or rather duo – responsibility.
In silence, R.J. retrieved their hoverboards while Rip helped Amanda out of the car. He waited for R.J. to shut the trunk, and then turned to study the building. It was the type to need a key or a security code – which could be problematic. He suppressed a sigh as the weight of his responsibility pressed down on him. He had to somehow gain entry to this building, get Amanda into her apartment without her key – none of her stuff had been found in the alley – and then keep her calm for an indeterminate amount of time.
And I wanted more responsibility!
Henry cleared his throat to gain Rip and R.J.'s attention. “You did good tonight, boys.” He sounded reluctant to admit this, and at the same time, impressed and proud of them.
Thanks,” both boys murmured, blushing at the unexpected praise.
With a nod, Henry shifted his car into drive and then slowly pulled away.
Without a key and – as it turned out – the security code system out of order, Rip had no choice but to push the button that buzzed the landlord. He had to buzz it a couple of times before a light turned on in a window above them and to their right. The window opened and a grumpy man in his 50s leaned out to shout at them.
I don't care what you want, stop pranking me and go away!”
R.J. cleared his throat. “I'm sorry to disturb you, sir, but we're Heroes here on official business. We have Miss Amanda Fleming with us. She's a tenant of yours and doesn't have her keys. Could you please let us in and help us get her to her apartment?”
Miss Fleming? …” He frowned as he took a good look and realized that something was terribly wrong.
This was not a couple of police officers escorting home a drunk person – or other person that was being let off on a warning. This was someone relying on a pair of Heroes to get her home because she literally couldn't do it herself right now. He was initially tempted to believe that these were simply teenagers pulling an elaborate prank on him, but their uniforms left no doubt in his mind that they really were Heroes, despite their youth.
Yes, I'll be right down,” he informed them, and then disappeared from the window. A little more than two full minutes later, the landlord let them in the building.
Her apartment is on the third floor, on the right.” He then gave them her apartment number and followed as they slowly escorted her up the stairs.
They took their time so that she didn't feel like they were rushing her or like they just wanted to get her home and abandon her. At the top of the stairs on the third floor – in front of her apartment – R.J. gestured to Rip that he was going to make sure her apartment was secure, and then motioned for the landlord to unlock the door.
His stun gun at the ready, R.J. silently looked around the entire apartment. Determining that it was secure, he smiled at Rip. “It's safe.”
Amanda sighed in relief, more than a little terrified that someone was waiting to attack her. She let Rip help her to sit on her couch while R.J. talked with her landlord.
We're just waiting for her sister – Miss Ally Fleming – to arrive. Please note that if for some reason she doesn't think we're here to let her in, she may bother you.”
The landlord nodded in acceptance. “If she does, I'll let her in.”
Thank you,” R.J. stated with a relieved smile.
The landlord returned to his apartment and waited in anxious silence for over an hour until he was certain Ally had arrived.
Meanwhile, Amanda was sitting on her couch staring at nothing. She desperately needed a shower and put on some clean clothes, but she refused to take a shower because she didn't want to be alone, and she refused to put on any clothes because she didn't want to ruin them with the guck covering her. Being dragged around and then cowering in terror in an alley had gotten her filthy with the slime and whatnot covering the street, walls, and trash. She smelled terrible!
Rip and R.J. looked at each other in indecision. It wasn't exactly appropriate for either of them to offer to guard or help her with her shower. Neither was it appropriate for them to force or help her get dressed.
Relieved that she was no longer clutching him desperately, Rip took a moment to look through her cupboards. “Good, you have Chamomile tea. Do you want me to make you anything to go with your tea?”
Amanda didn't respond, but she did look up at them briefly before looking back down at nothing. They took this as a nod. R.J. rummaged through her fridge to make her a sandwich while Rip brewed the tea. Less than five minutes later, they were sitting next to her – with her in the middle of the couch and them on either side. She actually seemed to relax a bit with their presence literally right there to protect her.
Almost absently, she took a sip of the tea, and then a bite of the sandwich. She ate microscopic bites, alternating it with miniscule sips of tea, so they knew she wasn't hungry so much as hopeful that it would take her mind off what had happened.
In her mind, things progressed much farther and more gruesomely than they had in reality. She shivered as she mentally lived through a morbidly vivid gang rape. Her hands shook and she almost dropped her tea.
Rip hastily set her tea on the coffee table while R.J. tried to remind her that she was safe. He put a hand on her shoulder and jostled her ever so slightly. She took a deep breath and forced the images out of her mind.
Crying again, she lay her face on R.J.'s shoulder. “If you hadn't saved me...”
They let her cry until she fell asleep, then they carefully helped her lay properly and covered her up.
Finally!” Rip whispered in profound relief. R.J. nodded in agreement. The two of them paced for a while and then wandered aimlessly around her apartment until Ally arrived.
Ally listened to them explain the situation in silence. Then she thanked them and promised to stay with her sister until Amanda felt more like herself again. With a small hug and light kiss of gratitude for each boy, she ushered them out of the apartment and shut the door firmly behind them.
Time to go home,” Rip announced needlessly.

*****

Renee hugged them both tightly, squeezing them in her surprisingly strong arms. “My wonderful boys!”
Mom...” Rip groaned in embarrassment. R.J. merely returned the hug, grateful to have someone like a mom to give him affection.
I can't tell you how proud I am of you two!” Renee gushed. “Your father called to tell me what had happened, and then I got the official report forwarded from the police. When I watched the videos of what had happened... My heart was in my throat! I was so worried that you'd be hurt, but I also knew that you could handle yourselves.”
She still hugged and squeezed them both, but now even Rip was hugging her back. It a beautiful group hug that Rip was secretly grateful that no one was around to witness. He had enough heckling from his fellow Hero kids without mushy public displays of affection.
Go on up to bed,” Renee ordered them gently, but made it difficult for them to obey her.
Mom... you're going to have to let us go,” Rip reminded her.
She laughed, half crying, and then released them from her death grip. “Right, heh heh... of course...”
Rip and R.J. went to their room, got ready for bed, and then lay in their respective beds thinking about everything that had happened.
I didn't have time to think about it when it was happening, but my mom is right...” Rip admitted. “So much could have gone wrong!”
Lucky for us that we make such and excellent team!” R.J. laughed, also more than a little relieved that everything had turned out so well.
That we do!” Rip agreed with a proud chuckle. “We totally kick butt!”
This might be weird of me,” R.J. murmured softly, turning his back to Rip in an attempt to get comfortable. The one pillow under his head got fluffed and plumped for extra support. “But did you also get the feeling there for a minute that Amanda was, um...”
Rip grunted in agreement, suggesting: “Half hoping to thank us a bit more thoroughly before my dad showed up?”
Yeah...” R.J. admitted slowly.
I'm just glad my dad got there when he did!” Rip exclaimed honestly.
Me too,” R.J. stated.
Rip laughed, shifting into a more comfortable position himself. “I don't care what my mom says! I am not getting up in time to attend morning sparring tomorrow!”
Me either,” R.J. mumbled, already half asleep. “Night...”
Night,” Rip returned the sentiment, and then fell asleep.

Go To Chapter IV 

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