The nice thing about the new fridge is that she didn’t need to open it up to figure out what she wanted. The clear doors made things much easier, and was energy efficient, too.
The main problem was that Charlie wasn’t hungry. She wasn’t thirsty, either. She was in a state of indecision, one that she felt she’d been in her whole life. Its not that she didn’t want to make decisions; things just happened before she really could.
From the time she and Hubert stumbled across that glowing rock when they were six, decisions had been taken out of her hands. She stopped to think a seconds before picking up the pulsing purple gem – Hubert reached down immediately. So it was Hubert who’d wound up with all those fancy light-based powers, and it was the Hue who’d saved the world time and time again.
High school? Check. College? Full ride to UC Berkeley in their journalism program… check. It wasn’t the college or the program she’d really wanted, but it was the only one she knew her parents could afford. With her exclusive blogs on the world’s first hero, there wasn’t much else anyone expected.
Charlie managed to get through the program easily enough, and she managed to minor in physical education (really, muay thai was her true passion). She also manage to drift into becoming the Hue’s non-powered beard for a much longer time than she’d expected. They were linked romantically from the start – even though they were more like brother and sister than lovers.
This lead to kidnappings, ransoms, and damsel-in-distress moments – none of which were her choosing. Even when she could get out of these incidents on her own, she would always be a moment or two too late. In blasted the Hue, laser fingers blasting, hard light body impervious to the inevitable blazing guns. Charlie was saved, and Hue was there to do it.
Charlie sighed with frustration. “Why the hell can’t I figure out what I want?”
“Maybe,” said the gecko-like voice behind her, “you just haven’t tried… me… yet.”
Charlie was in the middle of a spinning back crescent kick before the sentence was finished. She’d seen the reflection in her refrigerator, noting a figure was on her ceiling. The kick found it’s mark: the Gecko’s head snapped to the side, ricocheting off the low-hanging light fixture. She dropped back into a defensive crouch, while the sticky-fingered villain just dropped.
“I’m not really in the mood to deal with a second tier guy tonight,” Charlie said. The truth was a little different. There was a twinge of adrenaline that tweaked her happiness glad a little. That was a thing, right? “Besides, didn’t you hear? I’m not Hue’s squeeze any more. It’s all about Mz. Malleable now.”
The Gecko, his fat tail twitching, licked his eyeballs. “But everyone knows… you are… his best friend. When I am done,,, with you… no one will look at me as second rate… any longer!” He lunged, leaping across the wooden island in the middle of the kitchen. Charlie was expecting this, rolling backwards while kicking upward into the lizard man’s trachea.
She flipped up again, on her feet and ready for another attack from the violently coughing figure. What she wasn’t expecting was Hue to come blasting into her apartment, destroying her front window, her sports duffel and couch. The force of the blast sent her back into the glass-front refrigerator, and blackness descended.
She didn’t know how long she was out. Her eyes felt gummy, but she managed to pry them open. Charlie knew that her head was cut, she could feel the blood matting down her ponytail. It was going to be a bitch to clean, she knew from experience.
She tried to assess where she was, and was surprised to find that she hadn’t been moved. She was also surprised to hear what sounded like raspy hissing coming from the next room, a hissing that sounded more like a panicky, panting chuckle.
The Gecko. He was still here. But why? The Hue should have taken care of the little bast…
“Oh no,” she whispered. Charlie moved now, with a speed and precision that startled her. She ebbed though her apartment, a creek finding the swiftest route downhill. Hue was in trouble, she knew this. This fact lent her speed, agility and silence.
Years before, Hubert had given her a crystal, one that glowed with the orange of summer sunset. He’d discovered this stone on one of his trips around the universe with the Legendary Cadre: it was the one thing that could sap his powers. Hubert trusted Charle to keep it safe, to keep it just in case.
When he’d blown through the living room, he’d blown through the titanium safe that held the crystal.
Charlie heard the noise again, coming from her bedroom down the hall. She got to the threshold, peering into the room.
The air escaped her lungs in a rush. Hubert was face down on her bed, bloody and beaten. And the Gecko… his tail…
Something snapped in Charlie. Martial arts training beat out sticky fingered superpowers every time. The fury filled muay thai tornado that she’d become sent the home invader across the room in two pieces, his tail shattering her mirror, the rest of him colliding with the door jam.
The yellow and black speckled creature scurried off, running for the apartment door, leaping from floor to wall to ceiling. “Yes,” he cackled, “I’m leaving… but… they will … remember me… what I’ve done.”
“Anyone ever tell you that gloating is bad for your health?” Charlie quipped, grabbing the ankle of the lizard man as he tried to slip out of the door. He was not a heavy man, nor was he tall. He swung easily off the ceiling, body crunching on the floor. He lashed out with his free foot, knocking Charlie off. He was off again,down the hall, prying open the elevator door as a softball slammed into the button beside him.
The Gecko yelped, letting go of the doors momentarily. Charlie heard an angry hiss as the man’s claws scrambled to open the doors again. In a flash she was on him, just as he managed to get the doors open. The Gecko tried to jump into the shaft, but a second late. Charlie had his legs again, and his half leap wound up a belly flop on the floor, his body hanging half over the edge.
“I… am done… playing!” The growl was filled with a venom Charlie hadn’t heard before. “Now… you… die!”
Is what he would have finished saying, had the elevator not slid down from the upper floors, severing her foe at his mid-section.
Charlie winced. She was going to have a lot of explaining to do.
But it could wait. There were things to do now. She needed to take care of the Hue… Hubert. She would need to figure out what to say, what to do when the authorities came.
It would be easy though. Decisions weren’t going to be quite as hard to make any more.
Not hard at all.