This is an original work of fiction meant for entertainment purposes only.
For as long as he could remember, Adam had been a nonentity in his own life. Someone who was rarely noticed. Someone very often ignored so long as he wasn't making waves. Which he rarely did. He favored it that way. He would have preferred solitude even from his own, often strange to him, family.
His parents only seemed to acknowledge him when offering a steadily growing list of commandments regarding behavior, or chores. Or so it seemed to him.
His siblings, an older sister finally moved out, and a younger sister that just confused him were rarely part of his life anyway.
The bullies around him usually ignored him, too. Except for a rare few that couldn't seem to be able to ignore someone who ignored them.
Even some of his alleged friends would often mock, and assault him at times without warning.
Overall, he had long since taught himself to stay to himself. To stay quiet. To depend on no one but himself.
For whatever reason, that only encouraged certain of those bullies that noticed him.
They didn't get it.
None of them did.
Not even his parents.
Certainly not Jack 'JJ' Barnes, biggest senior on campus both figuratively, and especially literally since he was six foot-three inches of solid, nerd-terrifying muscle. Of late, the jock of all sports was a golden boy who was both physically and mentally perfect, and deemed himself the enforcer of certain clichés. Yet he also defied the stereotype by being a genuine honor roll student, as well as the best athletes Parker Sands High School had ever seen.
It gave the jock a lot of leeway, or slack when it came to teachers.
The coaches loved him. The faculty loved him. The cheerleaders, and even some parents loved him.
He could virtually do no wrong.
Even when he was teaching less that athletic students to be more 'manly.'
Such as now.
"Oops," JJ, the bully in question just then sneered as he swept Adam's brown paper bag from off the table, even though it was still holding his lunch. The bag fell onto the floor, just before JJ pointedly stomped it. "Hope you were finished, dweebette," he called him. "Because you should know that no one brown bags anymore. Talk about behind the times."
Dweebette was JJ's favorite term for 'sissy-boys' as he called anyone that wasn't chiseled from stone, and carrying his own less than fashionable crew-cut. The derogative had a lot of targets of late since JJ chose to actively pursue his current stereotype as a bully.
Especially with Adam.
Adam knew he wasn't the bigger boy's idea of masculine.
He was just barely five-eight, lean and wiry, with no real evidence of manliness in the misanthropic teen's mind since Adam dressed in loose hand-me-downs from an older sister, and often wore his usually shaggy hair in a careless ponytail, if not just loose.
It was not a purposed style. His parents simply didn't care about wasting money on haircuts. If he wanted one, as his mother would often say, he knew where the scissors were. As to his sometimes girlish clothing, well, money didn't grow on trees. The jeans and sweatshirts, or even at times overly colorful tees were good enough for his sister, they were good enough for him after she grew out of them. So long as they weren't worn too badly, they saw no issue with his wearing certain of his sister's hand-me-downs.
Which, of course, had only made his older sister Darla laugh her head off when his mother would hand over something like a pale green tee with a butterfly on it. He was almost glad when she left home.
He did his best to avoid wearing anything overtly feminine like certain shirts. Sometimes, he had little choice.
And people wondered why he was accused of having an attitude?
"Well, pick it up, dweebbette," JJ sneered as he stepped back, eyeing him. "Wouldn't want anyone to trip, or something because of your carelessness."
Adam slowly rose to his feet, and looked down at the ruined lunch in the now stained paper that now barely contained the smashed peanut butter sandwich. His mother's lunch of choice for all of her kids. When she bothered to make it. Usually, he tried to make his own, even if peanut butter remained a mainstay.
He eyed the tray of hot foot JJ held, and tried not to drool too much.
Just then, though, hunger wasn't the real issue.
"Tell you what," he found himself saying that day, his own temper already well frayed after another morning argument with his mother, who had actually tried to pass off Darla's too-small blouses as shirts now. Which was why he was still wearing her old tees despite the cooling air as the season was starting to change. "You obviously wanted it, so you clean it up. Jerk."
JJ's eyes flashed, and Adam knew the bigger teen was both angry, and incredulous.
Adam had never stood up to anyone.
It likely wasn't part of the way of things in JJ's mind.
To Adam, he had simply had enough. Far too much, in fact. Something told him that it was time to show the bigger teen that he was just as capable as he was in any arena.
"You looking for trouble, butt-wipe," JJ growled.
"No. You are. Guess what. You found it," Adam heard himself say as if listening to someone else just then. "After school. Behind the gym," he said pointedly, knowing that was where JJ usually liked to show off when educating other boys. Or so he called it. "Now, why don't you clean up your own damn mess for once," he swore, and shocked even himself by slapping JJ's tray to the ground to join his ruined sandwich.
"Hey," JJ sputtered as Adam turned, and walked off, ignoring the utterly silent cafeteria that was now gaping at him as he simply walked out, and went down the hall to the library.
He walked into the as usual deserted library, and took a seat at a table. For once, he didn't reach for a book. Didn't do anything. He simply sat.
He didn't think of anything as he simply sat there, waiting on the bell.
What the hell, his own mind swore at him as he now mentally reviewed his own actions. His own surprising reaction, and words.
He wasn't sure why he had reacted as he had. He wasn't sure where he had found the daring. It was as if someone else had been controlling his body. Speaking through his lips. He was still surprised that JJ let him walk away. Probably too stunned, he reasoned.
Adam never considered himself suicidal, but even as he considered it, the end of school was only two hours away. Two classes, and he would see if the jock would accept his challenge.
If, he snorted at himself.
JJ was going to be early, and waiting.
He was going to kill him.
He'd probably throw the first, and the last punch.
And quite a few kicks.
Again, he found his mind strangely calm despite the awareness of how JJ worked. His own manner, however, was strangely accepting just then.
Instead of fearing what was likely coming, he found himself considering strategies. He had seen JJ fight. He had seen him bully. He had been on the receiving end long enough to know his style, too. He knew just how JJ liked to open things up.
A hard right.
Always that big, hard fist of his.
Rumors of his karate lessons didn't seem to show in the teen's brutish approach to all things physical. He just liked to swing those fists like hammers, and kick someone once he knocked them down.
Long, wild rights.
Easily ducked, his rational mind now told him. Or even deflected.
He considered that.
He visualized his reaction. His response.
Duck, or deflect, and rather than fall back, press in, and strike him in vulnerable areas. Nerve strikes would be best, he knew. Trading blows with an overly muscled ape would be vain from the start. But hitting key nerve points would incapacitate him from the start, ensuring a swift victory.
And how the hell did he know that?
Okay, he tested himself with a thought. How could he drop JJ fastest, with least effort.
His mind showed him a critical point.
Pressed too hard, it could even kill. Or render the victim impotent.
He frowned at that instinctive knowledge, even as he wondered how much force was necessary to achieve his goal.
Again, his strangely calm, and suddenly canny mind readily supplied the answer.
Even as he heard a bell ring, he started when he realized it wasn't the class bell. Staring at the clock, he realized he had sat there for over two hours, lost in his own strange thoughts as he let the last two periods slip past him without realization.
He glanced around, and frowned as he looked up at the clock again in disbelief.
Two hours, and no one had bothered him.
Then he saw Ben Collins standing nearby, looking uneasy. He stood up, and walked over toward him, and the door.
Ben was one of the few of his alleged friends that stuck around. He mocked him, made silly jokes, but that was just the skinny boy's way. They talked trash to each other, talked about comics, and film, and books, and even compared stats on certain games. Not that Adam played many. He only played when visiting friends. No unnecessary luxuries at his house.
He eyed Ben, then spat, "What," when he realized Ben wasn't saying anything as he just stood and stared at him.
"Hey, dude. You really gonna take on JJ?"
"He's nothing," Adam heard himself spit out as he rose to his feet.
"Uh, Adam, I know you must be having…..problems," Ben half said, half asked, moving to hold the door for him. "But JJ is telling everyone how he's gonna kill you this time. You really pissed him off, dude. He's even claiming you ran off, since you….missed P.E., and math."
"I zoned," he shrugged, walking out of the library. "I just can't believe no one came in to remind me it was time for class."
"Dude," Ben rasped, eyeing him. "I don't think even Ms. Bartleson was gonna get near you the way you were staring holes in the air. You looked like you were ready to snap there for a second."
Adam glanced at Ben, then considered his earlier thoughts.
"I was just thinking of how I was going to…..hurt JJ."
"You," Ben actually squeaked.
Even though they were both sixteen, Ben was one of those smaller boys that looked as if puberty had yet to really hit him.
"Me. I've had enough, Ben. If this practice for reality, then it's time reality and I got acquainted," Adam said ominously.
"Dude, now you're sounding scary. You….. You aren't carrying?"
"The most dangerous weapon of all," he said, making a few people around them in the still crowded hall gasp. "My mind," he added, making more than a few relax, and a few even laugh mockingly.
He ignored them, and kept walking.
Toward the gym.
"Mr. Knight," Mr. Duprise called out, his Junior class math teacher stepping out of his room, and spotting him just then. "Just where were you…..?"
"Later," Adam snapped, not even looking his way. "Destiny calls," he quipped, and kept walking.
Ben faltered, gaping at the equally gaping teacher, and then loping after Adam.
"Adam Knight," the balding man shouted, and actually came after him.
"Dude, you are digging it deeper," Ben hissed a warning just before Mr. Duprise grabbed his shoulder, and jerked him around.
Adam had moved instinctively, without seeming to will it, and seemed to slide sideways, away from the man's hand even as he spun around, and locked eyes with the man.
"We both know what I'm doing. You, and your pet jocks have ignored me all year, sir. Well, you may continue to ignore me a few more minutes while I go settle with your juvenile Neanderthal," he spat, and turned, and started walking as the noisy hall fell just as silent as the cafeteria had earlier as all eyes tracked Adam.
"Ben Collins," the teacher barked. "What is going on?"
"Adam says he's going to take down JJ," Ben said bluntly, and then looked down the hall before running after his friend.
Adam had not stayed after chiding his teacher. He had not hesitated. He had just kept walking.
He pushed through the door, turned right, and headed directly for the gym.
He said nothing to Ben, or anyone else as he continued to ignore the people now following them, and walked around the gym, and toward the knot of jocks already gathered. He saw JJ's blonde head, and the older teen jerked around when someone pointed, and Adam realized he looked surprised to see him.
Then he slowly smirked.
"Come to apologize," the tall Adonis sneered, well aware of their growing audience.
"Actually, I came for your apology," Adam countered. "It occurs to me that despite your…..degree of intelligence, you are still suffering from the poison of machismo most of your ilk enjoy. Apologize, and I will not harm you."
JJ's blue eyes narrowed on him, and he literally snarled.
"Dweebette, I have taken all I am going to take from you," JJ shouted. Literally shouted, as he smacked a big fist into a big palm.
Predictable, some part of Adam observing every move noted.
"Just tell me, did you clean up your mess?"
JJ only laughed.
"He made Jason do it. With his hands," Ben told Adam quietly.
"You in on this beat-down, dweebette," JJ sneered at Ben.
Ben yipped, and back-pedaled, hands up as if in surrender.
JJ laughed again.
"I have attempted to be magnanimous about this. I see it was a wasted effort. To be fair, I give you the first strike, since I did challenge you. Do your worst, ruffian," he called him.
"Ruffian? What are you, a freak? No one talks like that in the real world."
"Enough," Adam growled now. "Do you face me, or do you yield? Choose, vermin," he pointedly called him now.
"That's it," JJ swore, and swung his big fist.
The crowd, especially the other jocks, howled in anticipation.
For all of two seconds.
Then Adam was suddenly moving, easily sliding away, and around the blow, and coming up under JJ's longer reach in front of the taller teen even as he simply stabbed two thumbs into the bigger teen's sides.
Adam stepped back, staring blankly, then JJ coughed.
Then the laughter died abortively as JJ frowned, and slowly dropped to his knees with a low, keening moan of genuine pain.
"Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuckkkkkkkk," the older boy howled, his hands belatedly wrapping around his muscular torso. "Oh, God! What…..? What did you…..?"
JJ's eyes fluttered, and rolled up in his head just before he fell over, and lay still before Adam, and the gaping spectators.
"Hand it over, Knight," Mr. Duprise rushed forward to shout at him.
"Hand what over," Adam asked blandly, belatedly finding a faint smirk of satisfaction stretching across his lips just then.
"The….knife," he sputtered, looking down at JJ, then back at him. "Whatever you used…..?"
"These," Adam smiled, and held up his hands. "Sorry, but they're connected. Now, as you've so often overlooked others settling matters so, I'll deem myself equally safe, and be on my way. Oh, and no excuse for your class. I'm afraid I just missed it."
"What," the man sputtered at him before starting to pale.
"Knight," he hissed. "Are you…..powered," he demanded in a low tone meant only for his ears.
Adam said nothing else as he turned, and simply started walking.
"What did you do to him," Mr. Duprise shouted after him, but showed a rare wisdom, or perhaps fear, in not chasing him. "You are Powered, aren't you," he accused.
"Hardly," Adam snorted.
Adam stopped, turning to face him as if only then noting the crowd, smirked, and told him, "Why, surely you know, sir. You are a teacher."
Then Adam walked away without looking back.
"Holy spit," Ben sputtered, loping after him. "Dude, that was… Whoa! When did you learn kung fu? That's what that was, right?"
"Actually, it was acupuncture. Without the needles," Adam smiled at his classmate. "A simple trick for anyone that bothered to read the manuals on neural manipulation of the chi."
"So, kung fu," Ben deciphered, not being the brightest of teens in spite of allegedly being just another nerd.
Adam said nothing to that.
"Can you teach me how you did that?"
"No? C'mon, dude. We're buds. Besties. Right? Right? You have to…..!"
"It's too easily misused," Adam admitted. "I know where, and how to strike. If you did it wrong, you could kill someone," Adam informed him as they walked away from the school.
"No way. Wait, you're serious?"
"Or you could even leave someone…..neurologically castrated," Adam smiled, knowing JJ was going to be disappointing girls for the next few months. He could have made that permanent, but he didn't feel it necessary.
"Let's just say, he's going to find it hard to date for a while," Adam did smile now.
"Man, I wish I could learn that," Ben exclaimed.
"It takes complete mental and physical control of your own body first," Adam told him.
"And….you have that?"
Adam just stared at him.
"Dude, sometimes you come across as kind of…a dick," Ben huffed. "You know that, don't you?"
"Why would you say that?"
"Come on," Ben sputtered. "What about the way you always stare through people even before today? I remember the one time Penny Karson kissed you, and you just glared at her."
"She only did it on a dare. It was hardly wanted, or meaningful," Adam shrugged as they kept walking, both of them living near one another on the same block.
"She let those kids dare her. She liked you, idiot. Or she did. Man, you can be thick for a smart guy."
Adam just stared at him, and shook his head.
"See. That is what I'm talking about. I'm your friend, and you still give me that weird look. Sometimes, it's like you're two seconds from going full-on psycho, or something. Everyone was sure you were about to snap in the cafeteria today. Then you dropped that bomb on JJ, and….. Dude, I wish I had had a camera, because the look on his face when you made him drop his tray was pure gold."
"I'll take your word for it."
"Jeez. Sometimes, dude, you really do have a stick up your….."
They were only two blocks from the school, but the big, blue crew-cab Chevy in front of them had obviously sped to cut them off as it did now. Five jocks climbed out, and one of them sneered at Ben, and spat, "Get lost, fairy. This is a private matter now."
"Go," Adam told him when the five jocks moved to surround Adam.
Ben eyed him, the jocks, then ran.
"What'd you do to our boy, freak? He won't wake up. They carried him off in an ambulance, and even the medical guys couldn't figure out what had happened to him."
"He'll wake up in an hour. Hopefully, smarter than he has been to date," Adam told the five virtual giants standing around him. "Do you wish to join him? Is that why you're here?"
One of the jocks, a beefy kid with a shaved head sneered.
"You really think you can kung fu all of us, you little bastard?"
Adam felt a frission of fear, just before his mind went strangely calm again without him actually willing it.
"You have no chance against me," he said quietly, rolling his shoulders, and flexing his hands at his sides.
"You little freak! Get…..!"
A car horn honked shrilly as the old, blue sedan pulled up next to the truck parked on the sidewalk, and they all turned to see the woman staring at them from behind the wheel.
"Adam Knight, get in this car right now, young man. Fighting at school? What have I told you? No showing off. Now get over here, young man. You are so grounded," the redhead swore at him.
The closest jock, Nolan Sands, sneered, and spat, "This ain't over, dweebette. Your moms won't save you next time."
"Actually, moron," his mother shot boldly as Adam walked over to climb into the back seat. You didn't ride in the front unless you were an adult. None of his siblings broke that rule. Not unless they wanted to walk home from…..anywhere. "I'm saving you. Now pretend you have a brain, and go home."
"Bitch," someone dared shout as his mother started to drive away. She hit the brakes hard enough to lock the tires, and looked back.
Adam noted all five boys looked nervous.
"Next time, boys," his mother said coldly, and then drove away.
If they knew his mother, they'd have known better than to push her. He still remembered the time she dragged a principal from his office in junior high, and kicked him into the street in front of his own school before suggesting he learn to panhandle, since it was all he was fit for.
He had not quite lived that one down yet.
Fortunately, it had occurred in the last town they lived. Not this one.
"All right, tell me what happened. I got a weird call from your teacher. And your principal. So, what happened?"
He told her.
You couldn't lie to his mother, after all. She had the uncanny ability to know a lie the minute your mouth opened. Sometimes, he imagined she was secretly telepathic, and used it to torment people without their realization.
Sometimes, he even considered it likely.
Still, he didn't lie. He told her exactly what had happened, and then he fell silent.
His mother didn't say a word.
Samantha Knight tended to be blunt, curt, and in your face when deciding punishments for trespassing against the rules. The fact she was silent now had him very nervous for the first time that day.
"So, you got it?"
"Tell me, have you ever heard of….Dr. Devious?"
"Some Grade-B villain that used to fight the heroes up north somewhere? He disappeared years ago, though. What about…..?"
"That's your uncle. Uncle Rob," she told him. "And you can't tell anyone. Ever."
"My…..uncle? Is a super-villain?"
"Was. He retired. So did I."
"You," he sputtered now.
"I was Firestorm."
The pyro-kinetic heroine that helped take down some really heavy-hitters according to the media. She had vanished twenty years ago, and never showed up again, leaving some to speculate she had been killed. Or seriously injured.
"Wait. You were…..? And Uncle Rob was….? You fought him?"
"Our first family squabble kind of defined our roles back in the beginning. Obviously, it got out of hand, but your uncle didn't care. Robbie found it a kick, and got off on being 'evil.' He was just being an idiot, as usual, though. If he were really evil, he would have been controlling the world inside a week."
"A week," Adam frowned.
"You don't get it, do you? Rob…. Or, rather, Dr. Devious, could analyze anyone, or anything, and instantly devise a counter. Nothing could stop him, if he didn't want to be stopped. Understand now?"
He frowned thoughtfully now.
"That….. That was like….."
"Your fight with your bully. Your principle, and teacher, were quite explicit. You obviously have his hyper-kinetic gift. At the least. The fact you were able to employ it so effectively suggests you have other augments. We need to test you. You don't want to hurt someone by accident. And powers like ours can lead to accidents, son. Don't doubt it. Unless you favor visits from the NRH, or worse."
"But you haven't….. Well, you aren't using yours, are you? Not any more?"
"Not…..openly. That doesn't mean you're safe. As when you were pushed, sometimes, you can react instinctively, as you learned today. Or, as Darla learned the day she caused that flood two years ago."
"Flood," he frowned.
"She's a hydro-kinetic. She's been training with the Champions as Hydro the past year."
"No way," he sputtered in surprise now. "Darla?"
"You didn't really believe she was really working all those extra shifts at Thrifty-Barn, did you," his mother chortled.
"Never thought that much about it," he grumbled. "So, what's dad?"
"I'm serious. He's an accountant. Ordinary, I might say, unless you're referring to his many other talents," she smiled. "Such as in the bedroom….."
"TMI, mom," he groaned now.
"You're as bad as your sister Anna. Anyway, I'm taking you to Guardian. He'll test you thoroughly, so we'll know what to expect."
"The Guardian," he sputtered. "But he's like….."
"The Immortals are among the best heroes active today. Still, Guardian is still just a man."
"He's a demigod from another world," Adam sputtered. "A genuine alien…."
"He still puts his pants on one leg…"
"Mom," he groaned.
"Do you know, I almost married him. He was a bit too prudish for me, though."
"Who isn't," he muttered.
"Young man, remember that grounding?"
"It's real, and likely to get longer if you push me," she said archly.
"Fine," he sighed as he realized they were heading out-of-town, and speeding up.
Even as he thought she was going to get a ticket, she jerked on the gearshift in a way he didn't think it went, and the car jerked, and suddenly launched itself into the air with a howl of shrill jet turbines that roared to life from wherever they were hidden.
"Whoa," he sputtered, genuinely surprised now. "Our car flies?"
"Not such an old Junker now, is it," she smirked back at him as he leaned forward in spite of his seatbelt, staring out the windshield as they flew higher, and faster, and kept going.
Adam found he could not think of anything to say to that as they flew away from the city, and on a northwesterly direction.
To Be Continued…