Author: CreativeThinker26 PM
This is the story of a man/superhero trying to manage a double life. When a young photographer enters his life she sets his world upside down and complicates an already challenging relationship with a young and beautiful news anchor. As he struggles with matters of the heart an evil genius will stop at nothing to expose his secret and destroy everyone he loves.Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Sci-Fi - Chapters: 26 - Words: 135,278 - Reviews: 53 - Favs: 10 - Follows: 10 - Updated: 01-01-13 - Published: 09-14-12 - id: 3058187
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Paranoia, a Plan and Heartache
Ryan sat at his desk looking into any avenues possible for him as he worked on the project. There were days he felt like things would never go his way. He spent the whole day yesterday working non-stop. Between hunting down pictures for the Global Man Project, doing little research projects that Darlene insisted that only He could handle and keeping on top being Global Man he couldn't manage a moment's peace.
He was hoping to meet up with Amber to talk about their relationship at the end of the day. After the sudden meeting with Jake the night before, he could not get a moment to talk to Amber at all. He had spent most of that day trying to work while being so distracted by both Amber's sudden distance and Darlene's excessive attention. Just as the day was drawing to a close he heard the panicked screams. He had gone off to try and save a couple from being mugged by a local gang. The resulting chase through the streets of the City really took up too much of his time. When he finally got back to the office Amber was nowhere to be found.
Ashley explained that she waited for him a while and then needed to leave. Ryan thanked Ashley and started to head back to his desk. He sat down and leaned back in his chair trying not to think about where this left him and Amber. He needed to talk to her. He could not think about what this could mean until he spoke with her first. The possibility that they could no longer see each other was too painful to think about.
He heard his phone chirp from where he left it on his desk and reached it. When he almost had it in hand he heard a sultry voice that halted his movements, "Hello, Ryan."
He looked up puzzled to see Darlene sitting on the edge of his desk. Her smile was at its full charm and her eyes were filled with need. He had seen that look in her eyes plenty of times only he was wearing his Global Man outfit. Never had she looked at plain old Ryan like this. Since when did she learn what his name was? He cleared his throat, "Uh, hi Darlene."
"I was wondering if you managed to finish finding the first responders for the GMP yet." She asked leaning in a little. Her power suite's jacket was still in her office her white button down shirt was left open more so than usual.
He shut his eyes and looked away. Heat rose to his face as he realized he had been staring, "I have a list here."
She flipped her hair and started to lean lower as he picked up the list that he had scribbled down on a note pad. He smelled coconut and cream as the scent from her hair wafted gently his way. He groaned inwardly as he took a step further from her. He shoved the pad of paper her way and said, "I would have given it to Ashley. You didn't have to go through the trouble of-"
"It's no trouble. I enjoy the chance to see you, Ryan." She took the pad of paper in her slender hands and had it trace a line gently down his chest in a seductive move. She moved with grace as she did this and came around the desk to close the space between them.
Warning bells were going off in his head but his body protested any attempt to ward her off. She seemed to paralyze him with her gaze and her touch. She looked over her list of names and bit her lip as she did so. She then looked up at him with a heated gaze that left him thinking of the bedroom.
"Listen, Ryan," She said taking her own hand and caressing his chest with her index finger. She slowly led a trail from his sternum to belt buckle, "I just wanted to thank you for all your hard work over the years. I bet research isn't the only thing you are a hard worker at."
He swallowed. He was going to be in real trouble if Darlene kept this up. She could shut his brain down and leave him needing a cold shower when she did that. Trouble is she had never done this to Ryan O'Conner before. As she toyed with his belt buckle for a bit his mind wandered to them doing more than just toying with it. The idea produced a groan from the depths of his throat.
The corner of her lips turned up ever so slightly and she removed her hand. She walked away knowing he was watching her backside. She flaunted it. Then briefly she turned back and blew him a kiss before saying, "I will see you tomorrow."
She walked away with a smile and he finally let out a breath he didn't realize he had been holding. What was that? For years he yearned to have Darlene look and talk to him like that. After he finally gave up and found an incredible girl that he could real fall for Darlene finally noticed him. Even worse she reduced him to some gawking fumbling moron with a look. He had the worst luck in love.
Still worse he found himself liking it, He wanted her attention. Four years of yearning and disappointed hopes came roaring back to life as he thought of her. The flirtations that they shared came back anew in his mind. The possibility that she might actually want more from him than Global Man was something he had once ached for.
He lifted his glasses and rubbed his eyes to snap himself out of it. He needed to call it a day before something else happened. He moved to grab his things and noticed his phone. He had a voicemail and a missed call from Amber Wade . . . Amber. His heart plummeted at the thought. She had waited around for him and left when he failed be there for her. Then she had tried to call him while he was busy having thoughts about another woman, a woman he had been wanting for so long now.
He got on to the elevator alone and began to listen to the message. Amber's voice was sweet and loving in the message as she spoke, "Hi Ryan! I was hoping to catch you before I left the office today but you weren't around. I would love to have a talk with you about what Jake told us the other day." She heaved a sigh and there was a pause, "Can you call me back? We really need to talk. Thanks. Talk to you soon, bye."
The voicemail ended and all Ryan wanted to do was play it over again. That had been the most he heard from her since yesterday afternoon and it left him aching to hold her, touch her. If only this policy didn't exist! He thought of his own actions upstairs and cringed at his own behavior. He felt a rare moment of self-loathing go through him. What was he doing?
He needed to talk to her. He needed to have things sorted out. Somewhere above him he heard a very familiar voice, "Global Man? Are you there? We really need to talk! Where are you?"
Darlene was calling him from the roof again. He groaned as the elevator opened up. He stood on the ground floor and was faced with a choice, get off and call Amber or shut the elevator and go up to meet Darlene on the roof. He had to choose between sweet, loving, soft Amber or gutsy, smart, take-no-prisoner Darlene. How the hell was he going to choose?
Fate seemed to make the choice for him. A scream echoed out into the twilight air as someone called out for help. All thoughts of his personal life took a back seat as his mind was brought him to the immediate need of the crisis at hand. He shut the door and changed into his super suite within a fraction of a second and was flying out across the sky toward those in need.
Amber came into the office the next morning a little less her normal self. She had waited all night for Ryan to call. It never came. Sure she was busy with her gallery. She had been going there every night this week to check in on things for the gala this weekend. She was feeling over worked and the day was only just starting. She wished that Ryan could at least give her a text. Maybe he was busy? Maybe he changed his mind about the whole thing when he learned that his job was at risk by seeing her. What if he was just blowing her off?
She tried to push that last thought away. She couldn't slump the guy in with all the other jerks out there. He had a life too and they did just go on one date. Maybe that was all that it would amount to. She looked down at the ground. It was an incredible date though. One of the best she had ever been on. He had been unbelievable. She would even willing to give up her position here if it meant seeing him again if she didn't owe Jake so much. Maybe she could level with Jake?
She was only here on a temporary basis. Perhaps he could look the other way? Of course none of this could be decided while things were so up in the air with Ryan. She needed to know his thoughts on the meeting with Jake. As she entered the office she placed her usual offering of Starbucks coffee on the table out front. As the rounds of people came up to claim a cup she snagged hers and one other. She headed over to Ryan's desk and found his things recently placed on the desk and he was nowhere in sight. She placed the coffee down and began to rethink the smiley face that she had drew on it to distinguish it from the other coffees.
She shook her head and decided to put her thinking to better use. Putting feminine insecurities aside was the best way to do that. She had come in a little late this morning and the studio was already broadcasting the morning news. Darlene was reading prompter and delivering the news with her usual charm and allure. Her eyes twinkling in the lights that Amber adjusted for her only a couple of weeks ago. It had only enhanced her beauty.
As she batted her eyelashes she ended the story she was reporting and was in the process of introducing her next story with the help of Enrique. A hand on the small of her back made her turn to see Ryan smiling down at her. The sight of him looking down at her so warmly made the knot of yearning curl tighter in the pit of her stomach. She tried to disguise her feelings by smiling up at him and winking.
He bent down and whispered in her ear, "Thanks for the coffee. I've been meaning to talk to you. Can we go somewhere and chat?"
"I would love that. How about lunch after the GMP meeting?" Amber whispered back.
"Wouldn't miss it for anything," he responded. Then with a mischievous smile he added teasingly in a voice that mimicked Jake's, "Even if it risks immediate termination without a severance package."
She giggled and rolled her eyes at his good impression. She playfully nudged him with her hip and sent a flirtatious gaze his way. He smiled back with a cocky smile that left no doubt in her mind that he wanted to see her again. She felt him lean in a little closer as she listened to Darlene hand over control of the news to Enrique.
Enrique looked over at Amber briefly and winked seconds before the camera turned to him. He then began to read the news and it drew the attention of both Ryan and Amber. Amber felt Ryan stiffed almost immediately after hearing what Enrique had to report.
He started out with, "In a shocking turn of events a man is outraged after his encounter with the famed super hero Global Man. Norman Fisher was out with friends the other day after enjoying the victory his favorite football team had just won when Global Man allegedly attacked him."
They cut to a clip where they had caught up with Norman Fisher. The man was mid-twenties and was holding up a cast on his right hand. He had a black eye and looked dead into the camera as he recounted what happened, "I was just coming out of the stadium with a bunch of my buddies and, yah know, we were all talking with some of the fans from the other team. We were all having a good time when I felt someone grab my shoulder. . . "
Amber rolled her eyes. She could read between the lines. He was probably drinking and starting trouble with fans from the other team. Global Man was probably trying to prevent an all-out brawl. She watched as Darlene sat up straight and glared at the clip. Evidently she had not heard this piece of the news either.
Norman continued, "The guy hauls me into the air and drags me to the hospital! I never asked to be taken there. I have a God-given right to refuse medical treatment if I want to. I was in shock from the attack and then he hijacked me and took me to the hospital against my will. I was in no condition to refuse at the time. Besides, I would not have been in need of treatment if it weren't for his treatment to begin with!"
The clip ended and Enrique came back on the screen, "The hospital reported that Norman suffered several fractures to his right hand and several bruises to his torso and face as well. They also reported that he had consumed a large amount of alcohol before being treated at the hospital.
"Norman claims he has accrued about $2,500 in medical bills for the injury and is demanding that Global Man pay for the bill as well as issue a public apology for his actions that led to the injury in the first place. We will be bringing more to you on this story as it develops."
Amber was speechless. She had never heard of anything but good things from people who had been rescued by Global Man. This alleged attack on a man was the last thing that she had expected. People were definitely going to react to this one, especially with the president's invitation to accept an award taking place tomorrow! This man could not have chosen worse timing to come out and make such an accusation.
She couldn't believe how this man was acting. Beside her Ryan was frozen in place. His face had gone as white as a piece of paper. She couldn't make out what he was thinking but it had to be something along the lines of dread and shock based on what she could read on his face.
After that moment the news was all that people could talk about. The news segment had been a quiet project, on a need to know basis. So naturally it had made a big splash when the news broke. People seemed to be shocked at the accusation. Amber was particularly stunned when she found that some people actually believed the man.
Right before lunch she was getting ready to go search out Ryan. He had disappeared and missed the GMP meeting for the first time ever. As she was heading over to where she thought she could find Ryan, Enrique cornered her with a rant about his opinions on the subject. "I think he really did it. It was only a matter of time before the guy went to the dark side."
She nodded and was only half listening as she tried to get around him and proceed to her destination.
"Think about it! The guy goes around day in and day out saving people from disaster seeing God only knows what! He is around all kinds of shit all the time. Maybe the guy just finally snapped!" he continued, "It is a scary to think what a guy could do with all that power behind him. He could take over the world. I mean no one could stop him!"
She listened to this and felt the tension in her shoulders grow in frustration. She hatted that people were actually thinking this way about Global Man. He had saved countless lives and had never done anything lead to this kind of criticism! Just because of one drunken man people were being suddenly paranoid about him.
She excused herself just as Enrique was about to go on another point about the Global Man gone mad theory. She darted around him and she sought out Ryan. He was nowhere to be found again. Amber's shoulder slumped as she waited. As the time crept by she slowly started to think that maybe he wasn't going to be available for that lunch after all. Disappointed and confused Amber gave up after a half hour of waiting and returned to work knowing that there would be no talk today.
Jacob woke at his usual time around five am in the morning and gently moved off the bed so he didn't disturb his wife, Terri. After thirty years of marriage he still made an effort to never wake his partner he had built a life with. He shed his pajamas and put on a freshly laid out flannel shirt and worn faded jeans that his wife put out for him. He dressed quietly in the pre-dawn hours and brushed his lips on his wife's forehead before heading out the door.
He stretched his weary body and headed down the old familiar staircase of his childhood home. The creaking of the stairs reflected the creaking in his bones. Time had taken its toll on this old house as much as it had on him. He soldiered on though. He had a farm to run and horses to take care of. As he reached the bottom of the stairs he grabbed the old suede jacket that sat on the same hook at the end of the day every night. Putting it on he headed out into the cool early morning air.
The stables lay a short distance away from the house. It was a large barn that was nestled against the woods. The horses were already awake and whinnying for him to come and feed them. He spent the morning tending to the horses on his large family farm in rural Vermont. There were forty plus horses on his farm. Most of them were for breeding and had been hand selected by his family to produce top of the line Thorough Bred horses. His family had spent seven generations perfecting the art of breeding horses.
Like every morning since the day he could first lift a bale of hay he did the same chores over and over again. He brought each horse their morning feed and water. Then he brushed the horses in a rotation of five horses a day and took Sundays off. He washed them down, mucked out their stalls and let horses loose in the paddocks all before breakfast.
By the time he came in it was breakfast time. Terri was in the kitchen frying up eggs and bacon like she did most mornings. She had such a steady hand from years of practice that she barely paid any attention at this point. It was effortless for her. She stood by the oven frying up the meal for two and all the while she was watching the news for the morning. Her hair was tied up in its usual French twist and she wore a red and white stripped apron that was one of her favorite gifts from their son in the big City a state away.
He came in the back door and kicked off his boots. His clear blue gaze took in the sight of his wife and he could not help but smile at what he saw. She had aged over the many years of marriage. Her once red hair was greying at the temples. Her green eyes were still the same color that reminded him of spring. She had acquired a few more wrinkles over time and yet as he watched her she still had the same smile on her face that she had every morning.
This smile was on her face the morning that he woke up the first day after they were married. It had been so new so breathtaking to see. It had been on her face the same morning after they had brought their son home from the hospital and she had been up all night tending to the new born. It had been there the first day she had set out a lunch for their child's first day of school and the first day of high school. It had been on her face the day he went off to college and the day he moved out of the house to start a new life for himself.
Now as he watched her he had the same feeling of awe that he experienced the first day that he saw her. She turned to him now and said, "Hey there! You work up an appetite?"
He flashed her a smile that she had seen a thousand times before and he walked in shedding the jacket he wore. He draped it over the back of his seat as he entered the kitchen. He kissed her on the lips in greeting and said gently, "I love you."
"I love you too, my very muddy man." She said rubbing her nose to his in her very familiar gnome kiss.
She then gave him a playful shove to the sink, "Did you roll around in the muck. You are almost as black as your hair! You wash up. This is almost ready."
He laughed at this and went to the sink. He washed up and he sat down at the kitchen table in their cozy little cottage home. He picked up the paper and read the headlines while he awaited his meal. She served them breakfast and sat down next to him. As they ate their meal they chatted a bit about their quiet life on the farm. The only real excitement was the class that Terri was taking at the closest community college to "broaden her horizons." The broadcaster on television mentioned something that made them both look up.
He was a new man on the news that they watched every day. It was their favorite station and Darlene Dashwood was the only news anchor that they paid attention too. Terri commented on the lack of skill the new anchor had when they both sat up in stunned silence. A man came on the screen and started complaining about Global Man. He started demanding payment for a medical injury that he claimed Global Man caused.
By the end of the broadcast Terri was in tears and Jacob was on his feet. He had his jacket, wallet and keys to his old truck before Terri could react. She saw him get his things and knew immediately where he was heading. There was only one place to go when one heard news like this. Terri got up and met him at the door. She grabbed his arm as he was reaching for the door handle.
"What are you going to do?"
"I don't know, Terri. I can't just sit here though. I need to do something to help, if I can," He opened the front door and was off the porch and down the front steps in a couple of strides.
His wife's voice made him turn back. Terri was standing on the porch but she wasn't looking at him. She was looking to the porch swing. On it sat a man in his mid-twenties. He was a younger version of Jacob. The only real difference was the softer outline of the eyes that the man got from his mother. Terri and Jacob's son sat on the porch swing with his body hunched forward and his head in his hands.
Terri reached his side first and sat down beside him. Ryan O'Connor let his hands fall down as he looked up at his mother. His eyes looked defeated and lost like the day he first discovered he was different at thirteen. Jacob was next to move slowly making his way back up the porch and sitting down on his other side.
Jacob put an arm around his only son. He had been so proud of his child. He could not have been prouder of the man his boy had become. Ryan put the weight of the world on his shoulders and did it without complaint. When he decided to put his unique gifts to use and save people it had been days after the accident that changed him forever. Jacob had been as supportive as he could. Right now his son would need as much support as he could get.
Ryan finished off the tea with lemon his mother made for him as he finished rehashing the last of the many problems on his mind. It was unlike him but he had left work without a word and had not returned. Between the pressure at work to keep his identity a secret, this photographer who had at least a dozen photos of him up close, the question about the medal presented by the president and now this latest hassle with Norman Fisher he needed to speak with someone who could understand him.
He hadn't even brought up the subject of the Darlene/Amber debacle that he managed to get wrapped up in. That was something that would just need to be put aside for now. The three other issues were far more pressing at the moment. His father was helping him already by just being a listening ear as he helped him with his daily chores. This was how things went in the O'Connor household. The chores were done in throughout the day. Ryan took this time to work out his issues with his father. His mother would offer them some tea at the end of the day.
Ryan had not intended to stay for so long. He wanted to just get some advice and stay for an hour or two. He ended up staying most of the morning and helped his father complete a day's work on the farm. He now sat at a table with his father and mother asking, "What should I do?"
He had just related all of the issues with the medal. He needed to make the decision today. The president was expecting him tomorrow and he had not gotten any closer to making a choice. He still didn't know what to do. He wanted to protect the ones he loved, his parents being the foremost on his mind, and yet to not show up would be outright disrespect to the president. After weighing the pros and cons with his father his father sat back and was silent for a moment.
"The choice to be a superhero was always your decision, son. If people want to show their gratitude for everything you've done for them, let them." His mother interjected as she stirred her tea.
"I have the feeling that it isn't as simple as that," Jacob said, "I heard that the president is behind in the polls. Issuing this Medal of Honor could be just another political move from a desperate politician."
Ryan shrugged, "Wouldn't surprise me. It is the fact that people are expecting me to-" Ryan started.
"Never do anything that people expect you to do. You have a good head on your shoulders and good instincts. Don't let it go to waste worrying about other people's opinion. What would you tell someone else if they had this problem?"
He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. He thought about it for a while. Objectively, the world needed a superhero. They needed Global Man more than they needed to thank him for past work. Still, the president wanted to issue an award. If only there were a way to accept the award and still be able to protect the ones he loved from exposure. Then he got an idea. It was so simple he was in awe that he hadn't thought of it before now.
He huffed in laughter and gave his father a look. Words weren't needed his father simply smiled back and nodded in approval. He knew what to do and his father knew it. Jacob got up from the table and said he was going to let out a few more horses. He excused himself with a pat on his son's shoulder he headed outside with only a , "That's my boy."
Ryan watched his father leave and got up to put away his empty mug and toss out the soggy lemon from his tea when his mother asked him to join her again. He complied and thanked his mother for all the help again. His mother just watched him for a moment then asked, "That isn't all that's bothering you is it Ryan?"
His eyebrows rose up a little, "I don't know what else-"
He stopped when his mother pinned him with a look. He never could fool his mother but he didn't know how to proceed with explaining this issue to her. As usual she beat him to the punch, "So what's her name?"
Smirking at the intuitiveness of his mother he started to tell her she could be psychic the way he read her so well when the clock in the kitchen caught his eye. His heart plummeted. It was nearly two pm. He had missed his lunch date with Amber. "I-Is that the time?! Uh Mom I got to go. I missed something really important."
She got up from the table and went over to him as he started to grab his jacket and rush out of the room. Terri called out after him mid jump into the air, "Alright, come over for dinner if you have time and we can finish this later. We are having steak night!"
She watched as her son flew out the door and he gave a wave to her before shooting off to the big City once more. Ryan flew over the mountains and headed south. Despite the urgency to get back he felt surprisingly at peace. His family always centered him and gave him direction He could take on anything with their guidance. He had a plan now and he would need a little help to see it through.