Go To Chapter IX
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
The Hero's Son - Part VIII
“Just hear me out!” Rip insisted when he and R.J. returned from their patrol and found Henry just getting off phone duty. They were now standing in the kitchen with Renee. R.J. couldn't decide if he wanted to stalk away angrily or stay and listen.
“I know I haven't had time to think this through, but I really think it's a good idea!” Rip argued.
“Just think about it! Most other kids my age go off to college!” Rip exclaimed.
“It's really not fair since I don't need to go to college. I'm fully trained and will have this job for the rest of my life, but even so, I think it would be a good idea to experience a bit more of the world and get some tougher experience!”
“Stop!” Henry finally shouted. “I agree!”
“No really, it'll be good for me, and R.J.! Wait; what?” Rip stared at his father in confusion.
Renee laughed. “Your father and I had time to talk this over while you were still on patrol, and we decided that you have a point.”
“If you go to another city, you can join their Hero Squad, and then when you are ready, you can come home,” Henry elaborated.
“You mean it!” Rip squealed like he was still a little kid and then hugged his parents exuberantly.
R.J. bit his lip and frowned as he watched them. Considering that they had spent the entire afternoon arguing, he and Rip hadn't had any time at all to talk about this possibility, so R.J. didn't know how he felt about it. Never once had he considered moving anywhere, not even to the house he still owned from before his father died.
R.J. decided to think about it as he changed and showered in the men's locker room. He walked away silently, feeling like he was an outsider. He also felt like starting a fight. Nothing would please him more right now than beating Rip until he passed out!
Rip sighed morosely when he realized that R.J. was no longer in the kitchen with them. “We've been fighting almost all day...” he admitted without intending to.
“What about?” Renee asked curiously. R.J. was usually quiet and most of the time it took a lot to provoke his temper.
“Jenna,” Rip stated. “For some reason, he thinks Jenna and I are getting serious.”
“Then you need to go make sure he stops thinking that!” Renee exclaimed supportively.
Rip sighed heavily. “I know...”
Something in his tone made his parents raise their eyebrows and give him a suspicious look. Henry cleared his throat.
“Um, are you getting serious with Jenna?”
“No! Why would you think that?! She's my best friend, and only my best friend!” Rip growled in frustration as he stalked out of the room.
He nearly stomped all the way to his room, and then showered as quickly as possible. Afterwards, he wrapped a towel around his waist and rushed to answer his phone.
“Hey Jenna,” Rip greeted, flopping onto his bed. He turned slightly onto his side and scratched at an itch on his inner thigh, which made his towel fall open slightly, but he wasn't concerned because if anyone happened to come into his room, he was facing away from the door and they wouldn't see anything important.
In the hall, R.J. heard Rip talking and silently opened the door to their room just enough to hear him clearly. One eye peered through the crack to see if anyone was in the room with him. All he saw was Rip lying on his bed with a towel draped over him. Movement inside the towel made R.J. wonder if Rip was whacking off.
“Do you think we will last all night?” Rip asked. Then he laughed. “Whatever Jenna! You'll see! … … Oh? You doubt my skills? … Ha! Whatever! I bet I'll make you wet yourself!”
“What?!” R.J. demanded angrily, shoving the door open.
Rip turned to look at R.J., and then looked at himself the way his boyfriend must see him. The thought that R.J. assumed that Rip was playing with himself while talking on the phone with Jenna made him blush, he sat up and hastily covered his lap since the door was now wide open.
“R.J.!” Rip's blush got even deeper when he realized that his conversation sounded highly incriminating. “Uh, I'm gonna have to call you back!” He hung up before Jenna could respond.
R.J. forced himself to not start shouting at the top of his lungs. Instead, he growled softly and shut the door. He took a few deep breaths to calm his temper.
“I get it. I always knew that one day you would betray me like I betrayed you. What I don't understand is why you won't just tell me that you'd rather be with Jenna. Do you hope to make this as painful as possible?”
Rip gaped at R.J. in absolute shock. His blood started to boil.
“Now wait just one minute!” Rip stated menacingly. “What do you mean you always knew I'd betray you? What makes you think I could ever do something like that?!”
R.J. shrugged, trying to appear calm and uncaring. “If I can do it, you can. Besides, you're like a book... Actually you're even more transparent than a book because I don't even need to pick you up and open you to read what's inside. You and Jenna have been giggling and secretive all week. I just kept giving you the benefit of the doubt, but I can't ignore it any longer.”
Rip pulled on his hair in frustration and then sighed as deeply as possible. He rolled out of bed – nearly tripping on his towel as it fell to the floor and he decided to just leave it. Actually, in his aggravation, he kicked it across the room. Striding to the bathroom, he grabbed his discarded uniform and then held it up for R.J. to observe. He shook his uniform as if strangling it.
“You see this?!” Rip demanded, causing R.J. to frown and wonder if he had gone crazy. Rip pulled open the velcro on one pocket and retrieved a package before tossing his uniform on the floor. He threw the package at R.J., knowing that he would catch it.
R.J. stared at the package numbly. It was wrapped in shiny blue wrapping paper and had a pretty gold bow on it. He was so taken aback that his anger completely evaporated, replaced by a puzzled frown.
“What's this?” R.J. wondered.
“It's what I planned to give you tonight!” Rip stated emphatically.
“Okay, but what is it?”
“Just open it!” Rip yelled.
R.J. was suddenly afraid of what the box held. It was small, about an inch and a half squared, therefore it couldn't be a gun or ammo or anything useful like that. His hands shook.
“But it's not my birthday,” he protested.
“For three more days!” Rip laughed. “You were adamant that you didn't want a party or anything so Jenna and I have had to be really sneaky about – uh – nevermind...”
R.J. leaned back and tilted his head to the side as he stared at Rip, a frown on his face. “Wait... You mean...”
He looked back down at the present, slowly tearing the wrapping paper off. Inside the box were two matching gold necklaces, and when R.J. held them up, he realized that one had a charm that said RJ and the other said Rip. Both charms were about a half an inch square, which was small but still manly.
Rip was inexplicably embarrassed all of a sudden, which made him mumble. “I wanted to give you the chain from my necklace for your birthday. I wear it all the time and I figured that you would be happy because I love it so much, but then...”
R.J. looked up at him curiously. “Then what?”
“Jenna reminded me that she had given it to me for my 16th birthday and that you probably wouldn't appreciate me giving you something that she had given me,” Rip confessed.
R.J. bit his lip as he nodded in agreement. Had Rip actually given him that necklace right now, it probably would have pissed him off even more.
“So then – together – we came up with this idea instead: What if I got a necklace for each of us? That way, you could wear one and I could wear the other. We'd match, but it wouldn't necessarily be obvious to everyone that these are a symbol of our commitment... to each other,” Rip finished with a blush.
R.J. noticed that Rip had taken off the much bigger gold necklace that had a charm that said RIP, which was unusual since Rip never took it off. Not even to take a shower. It had never come between them before, despite being a gift from Jenna, but then again, Rip had never tried to hide anything from R.J. before.
“I... I love it,” R.J. admitted. He felt so stupid right now for thinking that Rip was falling in love with Jenna. Or maybe just lust, since R.J. was certain that Rip truly did love him.
Rip walked closer to his boyfriend. “Happy birthday,” he murmured huskily, obviously thinking of ways they could make up from their fight.
R.J. smiled almost shyly, and then took a moment to fasten one of the necklaces around Rip's neck. Rip returned the favor, chuckling as he realized that R.J. had switched them on purpose so that Rip wore the one that said R.J. Either way it would be a symbol of their commitment, but this way, it was a tiny bit more overt.
Rip kissed R.J. softly. “I promise that you never have to worry about Jenna and me.” He frowned as a thought occurred to him. “Also, I had no idea that you still felt bad for what happened when we were just kids. I promise that I will never betray you. If I should ever happen to fall in love with someone else, I'll tell you. That way you don't have to wonder and worry, but honestly, I just don't see that ever happening.”
“I'm sorry I doubted you,” R.J. apologized, giving Rip a kiss in return. His mind was now brimming with ideas on how to make it up to Rip. He pulled Rip closer and gave him a much deeper kiss.
The two of them kissed for a long time. Long enough for R.J.'s clothes to disappear. Eventually, they drifted to their bed – having upgraded the two smaller separate beds into one bigger one at some point. They pulled the blanket over themselves so that they could warm up, both having started to feel cold as the air dried their skin after their respective showers.
A couple of minutes passed in silence, when suddenly the door to their room opened.
“Rip honey, I – Oh! Sorry!” Renee gasped and quickly left their room, shutting the door behind her. In the hallway, she giggled to herself. “I guess they worked things out!”
Rip gasped, mortified over the fact that his mother had walked in on them, but R.J. simply laughed and continued what he was doing.
“I told you that I planned to go hoverboarding with you tonight,” Rip stated with a smug grin. R.J. simply nodded, looking away to cover his embarrassment that he'd jumped to such a terrible conclusion. Rip laughed, willing to forgive his boyfriend and move on. “Bet you can't catch me!”
“Ha!” R.J. shouted, following as Rip raced off. The two of them flew all around the city. R.J. finally caught up to Rip about a half an hour later, grabbing onto him and then steadying both of them as their boards rocked violently.
“I let you catch me,” Rip informed him with a chuckle.
“Whatever!” R.J. muttered, seizing a demanding kiss from his boyfriend.
Rip's cellphone rang, interrupting them. He checked it to find that it was a text that read: Aww! Kissy kissy! He separated from R.J. to look around.
“Hey! Are you ever coming down here? You're going to be late!” Jenna called out from the ground.
She was standing near the beginning of a long line of people waiting to gain entry to an enormous event center. Other people in line looked around for a moment before realizing that she was looking up. They looked up too and saw Rip slowly floating to the ground, followed by R.J.
“It's Richard Plantagenet!” A couple of girls squealed excitedly.
Jenna started jumping up and down. “Don't you dare try to mob him! You'll lose your place in line!”
“Aw damn! It's Rip's girlfriend,” they muttered jealously, using Rip's preferred name because the media had a habit of using it, and therefore so did the people who eagerly kept an eye out for him.
Rip jumped the last foot to the ground next to Jenna, and then leaned over to give her a kiss on the cheek. Whispering into her ear, he said: “Thank you for this.”
She blushed happily and flapped her hand at him as if saying no problem!
Rip and R.J. stood behind her in line, accepting when she handed them each a ticket. R.J. examined the tickets curiously. With a shout of surprise, he threw his arms around Jenna in an impulsive hug, careful not to smack her with the hoverboard he was now holding onto.
“Mistress Apples is my absolute favorite!” R.J. announced.
“Happy birthday!” Jenna and Rip cheered in unison.
Before R.J. could even respond, a pair of girls standing two people in front of them squealed. “Can we get your autograph?” They held out notebooks as they stretched to reach Rip without losing their place in line.
“Oh oh! Us too!” A couple of girls standing behind them in line burst out bubbily. Other girls and women – and even a couple of guys who considered Rip cool because he was now a Hero in his own right – clamored to beg for an autograph as they mostly stayed in line.
“I should've known this would happen,” Rip muttered softly before sighing and taking a notebook. Pulling a monogrammed pen out of his pocket – a gift from a fan that had been sent to him at some point – he signed the page diagonally: Richard Indigo Plantagenet – Rip. Upon further reflection, he added a note above his signature: Good luck always! He handed the notebook back and took another.
A good 20 notebooks later, Rip was beginning to wonder if the doors would ever open to let them in. Suddenly, the doors did open, but not to let the crowd pile in; to let out a handful of security guards surrounding an utterly hot and provocatively dressed man. The man walked along the outside of the ropes that defined the line until he got to Rip.
“Mr. Plantagenet, I'm here on behalf of Mistress Apples. She's totally thrilled that you're here to watch her and would like to invite you back stage.”
“Uh...” Rip said hesitantly. “I'm only here to celebrate my best friend's birthday.” He gestured to R.J.
Utterly hot was prepared for this. “Of course, right this way.” He unfastened the velvet rope for the section and gestured for Rip, R.J., and Jenna to follow him.
“Oh my God!” R.J. whispered in awe. “I think I'm going to die from happiness!”
Rip laughed, graciously capitulating to the hottie's request. R.J. and Jenna followed him as he followed gorgeous. The guards surrounded them, which made it hard for the rest of the crowd to see that all three of the lucky bastards were staring at to-die-for's tight, black-leather-covered ass. They all moaned in appreciation, and then giggled as they realized what they'd done.
They were allowed to meet with Mistress Apples as the event center finally opened it's doors to let the crowd in. She was also wearing very little, but as they studied her, they realized that her outfit covered her better than it appeared to, it's just that the color scheme implied that more was showing that actually was. She was famous as a singer in her early 20s who didn't take crap from anyone. She was tough and did what she wanted no matter what anyone said.
They expected her to be rude and maybe even arrogant, but she was surprisingly open and friendly.
“Ah! Richard Plantagenet!” She squealed and bounced like any other fan girl. “I'm so excited to have you at my concert tonight!”
Even though Rip was a tiny bit used to people treating him like he was a superstar, he was baffled as to why Mistress Apples even knew he existed. True, he was always on the local news, but he didn't think that the rest of the country cared two bits about him.
“Thank you,” he mumbled with a blush.
“Too bad you have your girlfriend with you,” Mistress Apples stated with a suggestive leer.
Rip stammered in embarrassment. “Uh...”
Mistress Apples laughed. “Maybe your friend here... I hear it's your birthday, uh...”
“R.J.,” he replied with a wide-eyed flush of shock. He was not used to people treating him like someone important!
Jenna was trying hard not to bust up laughing as the rock star made both of her friends thoroughly uncomfortable. They actually backed away from her nervously. Any other boy would have taken Mistress Apples up on her offer immediately!
Mistress Apples fiddled with the charm on R.J.'s necklace as an excuse to get closer to him. Then it occurred to her what she held in her hand. She turned her head to look at Rip's neck and an expression of enlightenment lit up her face.
“Oh... I understand now. Too bad for me, I guess,” she stated with a shrug. With a sweeping gesture, she gave them a quick tour of the back stage area. “There's plenty of food and things to drink. Feel free to help yourself. You can watch the show from literally the side of the stage, or you can go to the VIP area right directly in front of the stage.”
She kissed R.J on the cheek, and then kissed Rip. With a laugh, she hugged Jenna. “Sorry, but I'm not into girls!”
Jenna laughed. “I'm not either!”
“But for me you'd make an exception, right?” Mistress Apples asked playfully.
“Sure would!” Jenna replied with another laugh.
“Thought so!” Mistress Apples smirked. “But I can't stay here and play. I've gotta go finish getting my hair done. Only five more minutes till the show!”
More like 11 and a half minutes later, Rip, R.J. and Jenna stood off to the side of the stage as music started playing thunderously. Jenna squealed in excitement.
“Ah! It's my favorite song!”
Mistress Apples made quite a living singing songs of rebellion and standing up for what you believed in. Her catch phrase was that she didn't take crap from anyone! Sure enough, her song – which was a remake from an old song – assured everyone:
“Oh we're not going to take it! No! We ain't gonna take it! We're not going to take it anymore!”
The concert was a blast, and they even got to stay and party after it was over. In Rip and Jenna's original plan, they were going to take R.J. out to grab a bite to eat, and then probably go hoverboarding until the crack of dawn, but this turned out so much better! By the time the party wound down, Mistress Apples felt like she was their new best friend. She put her arms around the three of them and gave them each another smooch on the cheek.
“Hey, I know we probably won't see each other until my next concert in Marion City, but I'll give you my email address... the one I actually check, lol! And... you can call me Tiffannie.”
“I think I've just died and gone to heaven!” Both R.J. and Jenna murmured.
Rip was a bit less of a geeky fan and a bit more smooth. “I'm honored!”
They all exchanged their information, and then it was Jenna who embarrassed herself by yawning loudly. She giggled in an attempt to cover her mortification. Rip nudged her playfully.
“And who was the one that said I couldn't stay awake all night?” He asked, referring to their phone conversation from right after he'd gotten out of the shower.
“Yeah yeah,” she muttered unappreciatively. “I'm still awake!”
Tiffannie laughed. “What? Don't tell me that you Heroes are babies who can't party all night!”
R.J. decided to whisper in her ear, mostly to provoke a reaction from the other partiers, who were slowly dispersing in order to find a bed; presumably for sleep.
“I bet you wouldn't say that if you did what we do all day,” R.J. wagered, making it look like he was flirting with her. She giggled, adding to the wrong impression that they were creating.
“Oh really? Too bad you can't show me...” she replied suggestively.
“We should really go home,” Rip murmured, feeling sleepy himself now. They'd had a long day after all. R.J. smirked at him as if asking: Now who's jealous?! Rip simply shook his head. He knew that R.J. was just pretending to be flirty, and so there was no need for jealousy.
“Let me give you three a ride home,” Tiffannie suggested. “I've always wanted to see the inside of a Hero headquarters!”
They exchanged questioning looks, and then shrugged. “Sure, why not?”
Rip and R.J. grabbed their hoverboards from where they'd stashed them earlier, and then they all followed Tiffannie – their biggest celebrity crush Mistress Apples! – to her big and expensive tour bus. It was like a mini mansion on wheels!
She had her driver drive them to Hero headquarters, and then gushed like a total fangirl once more. “Oh wow! This is so cool!”
She followed Jenna and R.J., linking arms with Rip as they walked. The moment they entered headquarters – using a security access code since it was after midnight and not quite 6AM yet – Josh looked up at them from where he had sat answering phones most of the night.
“Holy sh-” The rest was cut off as he fell out of his chair. He hastily scrambled to his feet. “It's Mistress Apples!”
A couple of Heroes were just getting changed in the locker rooms since it was the end of their shift. Others were getting ready to go on patrol. Still more Heroes were already in the sparring room to get in a bit more practice before morning sparring. They all piled out to see if the excited shout was true.
Renee and Henry appeared from the door to the kitchen. Renee checked the clock and frowned. “You're just getting home now?! I thought you two were in bed hours ago!”
“Mom,” Rip groaned in embarrassment.
Surprisingly, it was Henry who came to his rescue. “Oh leave them alone! They've obviously had fun partying after the concert.”
“Wow...” Rip murmured in shock. “Thanks dad.”
“Ah! Henry Plantagenet!!!” Mistress Apples squealed. “I watched you fight some bad guy when I was just a little girl. You were like 10 feet in front of me! You've been my Hero ever since...” she purred dreamily.
Henry was used to this reaction and simply smiled at her. “Thank you.”
“Mistress Apples! Can you sign my limited edition fan club photograph of you?” Josh asked, producing the item in question from his wallet.
“Sure thing!” She agreed with a kiss on his cheek. Josh just about passed out from the shock of a kiss from her. His hands shook as he took the signed photograph back from her.
After that, Mistress Apples signed something for everyone, expressing how grateful she was for Heroes in general, and how much she appreciated it that they loved her. When she was done, she grinned at her three new friends. They were now all wearing blue and white concert tee shirts that had her name on the front and the dates of all the concerts of her tour on the back.
Taking a permanent marker from the desk, she decided to sign the tee shirts, starting with Jenna. She wrote: Thanks for partying with me all. Night. Long! Tiffannie – aka Mistress Apples. She gave Jenna a kiss on the cheek and then wrote the same thing on R.J.'s shirt and kissed his cheek. She ended with Rip, giggling as she kissed him once on each cheek.
Several of the Heroes thought it was unfair that Rip got two kisses when they hadn't gotten any at all – aside from Josh. They muttered to themselves, glaring at Rip as they vowed to pay him back during morning sparring. Rip chuckled nervously as he sensed death threats being aimed at his back.
Tiffannie linked her arm through Jenna's. “You said that you lived nearby, right? Come on, I'll give you a ride home.”
Jenna nodded and they left.
The TV that had been Josh's only companion for most of his phone duty suddenly caught their attention.
“Here's footage from earlier. Mistress Apples' tour bus was spotted traveling, and we followed it to its destination: Hero Headquarters! Here she is getting out of the bus with none other than Richard Plantagenet and his friends. Oh what's this? This just in, Mistress Apples is getting back on her bus with Rip's longtime girlfriend! I guess young Hero Jenna isn't taking any chances that the superstar is going to steal her man!”
The reporter went on to tell everyone how Rip and company had gotten invited backstage for the concert, and speculated if he had made his first equally famous friend. They seriously wondered why he hadn't gone out partying with the hot young celebrity crowd before, and made bets on whether or not he would do so frequently now that Rip was 18.
“Bah!” Rip exclaimed in disgust. “Why do they always get everything so wrong?!” He tapped R.J. on the arm. “I'm going to bed!”
R.J. nodded, a huge yawn threatening to break his jaw.
Rip kissed his mother on the cheek. “Please don't wake us for anything, not even if the world is about to end! I'm too tired to care...”
Renee laughed. “Go on honey.” She then kissed R.J. on the cheek. “I'm glad your pre-birthday celebration turned out so well.”
“Thanks,” R.J. replied with a smile. He hugged her, and then waved to everyone else as he followed Rip to their room.
Rip groaned once they were alone in their room. “I wish I had energy for a bit of fun...”
“Me too,” R.J. agreed. They didn't even have the energy to get undressed and simply snuggled up in bed for a moment before passing out.
Go To Chapter IX
Go To Chapter IX