The Extraordinaries – T. J. Klune

Nate Belen wasn’t a damsel in distress, even if he was currently tied up on top of a bridge waiting for Shadow Star to save him. As he regained consciousness, awareness seeping in, all he felt was pain. He groaned lowly. Everything hurt. His neck. His legs. His right hand. And his heart. His heart hurt worst of all. Because it had been broken into tiny shards. The words that Shadow Star had growled at him echoed in his head. I care about you, Nate, but I can’t be with you. Nova City needs a hero. And I have to be that hero. I can’t take the chance of my enemies finding out how much I care about you.

They could use you against me. This is over. A single tear tracked its way down Nate’s face. Not that he was a crier! No, he didn’t cry over anything. He was strong and brave and never cried. Except when his stupid superhero almost-sort-of boyfriend broke up with him. “I see you’re awake,” an evil voice said. Nate opened his eyes. And gasped. The wind whipped through his thick hair.

He tried to struggle against the binds wrapped around his body, but it was no use. He was trapped. At the top of one of the spires on McManus Bridge, the biggest bridge in all of Nova City. Birds flew by. The stars were bright overhead. And in front of him, black cape billowing, was Pyro Storm. His mask covered his face, leaving only a slit for his mouth. His eyes were covered in red lenses. His costume was tight—black with red piping—and showed off his strong, muscular body. He had an eight-pack.

His chest was really strong. His thighs were thick. His boots were killer. On his chest was a symbol that caused the good people of Nova City to cower in fear: a tornado made of fire. Nate felt his heart start to race, but he would never let Pyro Storm see he was scared. No way. He struggled against the binds that held him. “What do you want with me?” he snapped courageously at the supervillain. Pyro Storm tilted his head back and laughed. “Oh, Nate.

It’s not you I want.” “Then why am I here?” Nate asked heroically. Pyro Storm flew a little closer to Nate, eyes narrowing behind his mask, cape billowing. “You know why.” “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” “I think you do,” Pyro Storm retorted. “Everyone knows to whom your heart belongs. And since I have captured you with my diabolicalscheme, we both know who will come to your rescue. He always does.” Nate felt a trickle of sweat drip down his forehead.

“He doesn’t care about me.” Pyro Storm shook his head. “You’re wrong about that. You mean everything to him. Even though he could have anyone in the city, man or woman, he has chosen you. You must be something extraordinary for him to have fallen the way he has. And now I know how to strike at him. How to get him to his knees.” “You’ll never win,” Nate snapped valiantly. “Villains were only made for one thing: to be defeated.

” “Wow,” Pyro Storm said, sounding really impressed. “Did you think of that all on your own?” Nate nodded. “Yes.” “That was pretty great. I can see why he likes you as much as he does.” And then a voice growled, “You shouldn’t have touched him.” “Shadow Star!” Nate gasped. Because, yes, it was. Shadow Star had come. He looked as amazing as he always did.

He wasn’t as buff as Pyro Storm, and his costume wasn’t as obscenely tight, but he still was the most handsome Extraordinary that Nate had ever seen, even if he couldn’t actually see his face, given that it was hidden behind a black mask that covered his entire head except for his mouth. His costume glittered like a starry sky, and no matter what the haters said, it absolutely did not look like it was sequined. Instead, it was as if he were covered in tiny jewels. Shadow Star had once pulled Nate close, and just when Nate was sure he was about to be kissed for the first time in his life, Shadow Star had turned and run, climbing up the side of a skyscraper quicker than Nate could follow. But he was here, now, hanging off the spire across from Nate by one hand, his other hand a fist as it dangled toward the river hundreds of feet below. Shadows grew around him like they were sentient, thick bands of tentacled darkness that whipped back and forth. Nate wished he knew Shadow Star’s secret identity more than anything else. “Ah,” Pyro Storm said, turning to face his greatest nemesis. “I see you got my message, Shadow Star.” “I did,” Shadow Star said, his voice a deep rumble that made Nate shiver.

“Though I’m sure the city would appreciate if you sent me a text instead of burning it into the side of the mayor’s office.” “Had to make sure I’d get your attention,” Pyro Storm said. “You have it, though I’m not sure you want it.” Shadow Star glanced at Nate. “You all right?” Nate nodded. “I … I’m fine.” “I’ll get you down.” “That’d be nice.” “I need to talk to you.” Nate didn’t know if that was good or bad.

“O … kay?” Shadow Star stared intensely at him. Or, at least Nate thought he was staring intensely, given that he couldn’t actually see Shadow Star’s eyes. He wondered if they were blue. He hoped they were. A cerulean blue, like an exotic ocean. They were probably beautiful and hot and full of anguish and pain at the sight of Nate trapped by Pyro Storm. “Wow,” Pyro Storm said. “You could totally cut the sexual tension out here with a knife. Are you guys soul mates? Because you seem like you’re soul mates.” Shadow Star turned away, staring off into the distance, full of quiet angst and strength.

“I don’t know if I can believe in love. I’ve been … hurt. In the past.” Pyro Storm nodded. “Oh, I get that. It sucks, right? But sometimes, you have to move on from whatever hurt you in the past. Or whoever.” “You don’t know what you speak of, villain,” Shadow Star said, clenching his fist. “It’s not as easy as you think it is. Loving someone whether they’re an Extraordinary or not only brings sorrow.

” Oh, the quiet power Shadow Star had. Nate’s stomach twisted painfully. “It’s worth it,” he said. “Because without love, we have nothing.” Shadow Star glanced at him before looking away. “It’s not you, Nate. You have to know that. I don’t care that you have ADHD that you think makes your brain all screwy, or that you get terrible migraines. Even when you let your dad down last year with bad grades, I know you tried. You try.

You try harder than anyone else I’ve ever met. It’s one of things I … I…” He shook his head. “Nate. I have so much to tell you. Things I should have told you long ago. But I’m scared of letting someone in, letting someone get close. To see the man behind the mask.” “I see you,” Nate said fervently. “All of you, mask or not. Which is why I will do what I must to keep you safe.

” Pyro Storm was distracted as Shadow Star began his hero’s lament, saying that he’d ignored his heart since he’d learned they were made to be broken. Pyro Storm didn’t see that Nate had managed to get one of his arms free. He was up really, really high, but he wasn’t scared. Nothing scared him. Nate leapt from the bridge spire directly onto Pyro Storm’s back. The villain shouted in anger as Nate wrapped his leg around his waist, reaching between them and pulling the cape up and over the villain’s head. “And that’s why you don’t wear a cape, you dick,” Nate growled awesomely, like a badass. Pyro Storm cursed as he struggled to find his way out of his cape. Nate tried to hold on as best he could, but Pyro Storm was bigger and stronger. Nate couldn’t avoid the elbow that Pyro Storm threw back at him.

It struck the side of Nate’s face. Nate saw stars. He let go of Pyro Storm. And began to fall. “Nate!” Shadow Star screamed. To be continued … Comments: ExtraordinariesSuperFan 14:45: OMF GOD! This was AMAZING! But why did you have to leave it on ANOTHER CLIFFHANGER???!!! AAAAAAAAAAAA PyroStarIsLife 15:13: I kno u said u didn’t want to hear about it n e more, but I think Pyro Storm and Shadow Star are in love. They have so much tension!!!! They should kiss and see if they like it. Nate would understand! MoltenMagma 16:04: How much longer is this going to go on? You’ve been writing this for almost a year. I just want Nate and Shadow Star to finally get together. This is already the longest work in the fandom.

ExtraordinaryGurl 16:14: JLKHGSLKDHT!!!! I LOOOVE IT SO MUCH. THIS IS MY FAVORITE FIC ON THIS ENTIRE SITE GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH ShadowStarIsBae 16:25: Why does Nate suddenly have ADHD and migraines???? That’s never been brought up before. Noah Fence, but this is REALLY improbable. How did Nate get out of his binds? How did he jump on Pyro Storm? I like this, but you need to have it be realistic if you’re going to talk about real-life Extraordinaries. FireStoned 16:36: SHADOW STAR IS STRAIGHT. HE LOVES REBECCA FIRESTONE. STOP MAKING HIM GAY, IT’S WEIRD. HE’S NOT GAY. NOT EVERYTHING NEEDS TO BE GAY ALL THE TIME. I DON’T UNDERSTAND YOU SLASH SHIPPERS.

STOP MAKING THINGS GAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ReturnOfTheGray 17:15: Sorry I couldn’t beta this. Stuff came up. But you did good. I really liked it. Tho, you really talk a lot about Pyro Storm being more muscular than Shadow Star. What’s that about? Text you later. 1 Nick Bell stared at his phone as he shifted on his bed in his room. “Not gay,” he muttered to himself. “He has sequins on his costume.” He thought about deleting the comment, but others were already responding to it, coming after FireStoned with a vengeance, so he decided to leave it up.

Whoever FireStoned was, they’d learn fast that one absolutely did not comment on a ShadowStar744 fic like that. After all, Nick was one of the most popular writers in the Extraordinaries fandom (even if he’d had to use the screen name of ShadowStar744 since Shadowstar1–743 were already taken, those bastards), and slash would always be more popular than the hetero nonsense FireStoned seemed to want. Straight people, Nick thought as he shook his head. He’d never understand them. The other forty-two comments, though. They weren’t too shabby. Especially for a shorter chapter that ended on the thirty-second cliffhanger in a row. Thank god his fans understood. They were the only reason he’d continued writing what could be considered a quarter-of-a-million-word masturbatory ode to Shadow Star. Without them, the fic probably would have ended a long time ago, or worse, been one of those unfinished works that turned into a cautionary tale for new people in the fandom.

He could deal with the occasional idiot like FireStoned. He switched over to Tumblr and reblogged a few things, thumb twitching over a rather risqué drawing of Shadow Star in an evocative pose that was both physically impossible and erotic, but decided against it. Ever since his dad had discovered what Tumblr was and that his son had accidentally posted a drawing that apparently no one under the age of eighteen should be looking at, he’d kept things clean. It was the only way that Dad had let him keep his Tumblr page at all, even after the powers that be decided showing something as inconsequential as nipples could be considered pornography. That, and his dad had demanded the password. Nick had nightmares of his father logging on himself and posting to all of Nick’s followers that he’d be grounded if anything remotely explicit showed up on his page again, just like he’d threatened to do. Nick had been mortified. Which, of course, was made worse when Dad frowned, and as if it were an afterthought, said, “Also, I feel like we need to discuss how it’s a naked man on your page, Nicky. Unless it’s just supposed to be artistic. I don’t get art.

” What Nick said next weren’t words, not really. They were a combination of sounds better suited to a nature documentary on the mating habits of elks in the Pacific Northwest. His brain had shorted out as he’d tried to come up with a logical explanation as to why he’d decided to reblog a picture of Shadow Star with a comically large bulge that made him look like he needed to seek medical attention immediately. His father waited. Finally, Nick said, “Yeah. So. Um.” And Dad said, “Right. Have you had sex?” “No, Dad, oh my god, why would you even—” “Do you know what condoms are?” “Yes, Dad, oh my god, I know what condoms are—” “Good. That means you’ll use them if, and when, you decide to have sex.

Which won’t be for a very long time.” “Yes, Dad, oh my— I mean no, I’m not having sex, why would you even say that?” “If it were with a girl, I’d be telling you the same thing. Wrap it, Nicky. Always wrap it before you stick it anywhere.” He tilted his head and squinted at his only son. “Or if it’s stuck in you. It don’t matter to me one way or another. What’s that called? Bottoming? I don’t care if you’re a bottom or the other one. Use protection.” Nick had gone into a full-blown meltdown: synapses firing, eyes bulging, breath caught in his chest as he started to hyperventilate.

His father had been there, of course, as he always was when Nick lost his mind a little bit. He sat next to Nick, wrapping an arm around his shoulders and waiting until his son’s head started to clear. They didn’t say much after that. Bell men weren’t the greatest when it came to feelings, but Aaron Bell had made it clear, perverts were everywhere, and that while some of the people Nick interacted with online might be nice, they might also be men in their late forties still living in their mothers’ basements, waiting to lure in an unsuspecting sixteen-year-old for nefarious deeds like making their victims into hand puppets or wearing their skin. And while Nick didn’t think that would happen to him, he wasn’t sure. He was a cop’s kid. He knew the statistics, had grown up hearing stories of some of the terrible things Dad had seen on patrol. He didn’t want to end up as someone’s hand puppet, so he didn’t reblog porn anymore, no matter how tasteful it was. (Which meant he’d also had to scrub his other Tumblr page which was considerably more adult, but the less said about that one, the better.) And that was how he’d come out to his father at the age of fifteen.

Because of Extraordinary porn. He’d been so young, then, so naïve. He was sixteen now. A man. Perhaps he was a man who once bought a pillow off Etsy with Shadow Star’s face on it. He had tracked the delivery at the top of every hour, making sure that the moment it was on their doorstep, he was the one who got to the door first. It wasn’t that he was embarrassed by it (even if it was now hidden under his bed), it was just … there’d be a lot of questions, and Nick hadn’t been in the mood to answer said questions. (It does need to be said that three days after receiving the pillow, he kissed it—even though he knew it wasn’t exactly normal.) But Nick was still a man. He’d promised to make good decisions this new school year, a clean slate for both of them.

New day, new dawn, blah, blah, blah. He was shoving his feet into his beat-up Chucks when there was a knock at the door. That too had been part of their agreement. Nick would be trusted to have his door closed if he was responsible enough to do his own laundry so his father wouldn’t see any evidence that Nick had been … exploring himself. Nick loved his dad, but his singular talent for making Nick’s life excruciating was something that needed to be addressed. “Breakfast,” Dad called through the door. “You better be getting ready, Nicky.” Nick rolled his eyes. “I am.” “Uh-huh.

Stop your Tumblring and get your butt downstairs. French toast waits for no man.” “Be right there. And it’s not Tumblring, you philistine. God, it’s like you don’t know anything at all.” He heard his dad’s footsteps retreat down the hall toward the stairs. The floorboards squeaked, something they’d talked about fixing for years. But that was … well. That was Before. When things had been right as rain and everything had made sense.

Sure, his dad had worked too much back then too, but she’d always been there to rein him in, telling him in no uncertain terms that he would be home for dinner at least three times a week, and they would eat as a family. She didn’t ask for much, she pointed out. But it was understood by all that she wasn’t asking. Dad still worked too much.

.

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