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Chapter 9: Chapter 9: Reflect

Eli supposed there were worse ways to spend his Sunday than the lab at the HL Tower while Mr. Carlysle literally poked around his disabled suit. Mr. Carlysle only stopped to take notes on his tablet. Eli felt like a kid having to show his parent he broke his new toy.

Thankfully, Mr. Carlysle was more intrigued than upset about the suit being disabled. He took things a lot better than Kathryn when Eli broke the skateboard she got him for Chrismukkah. She refused to have the board fixed and Eli had to learn how to with ingenuity, determination, and the internet. Eli doubted they could fix the suit with only the power of Google and tape.

“What were you hit with?” Mr. Carlysle asked. “A lightning bolt?”

“Magnetic propulsion gun, Doctor Downfall’s new prototype.”

Mr. Carlysle smiled. He tapped the suit and tiny sparks came out. “Good old Doc. What I would do to spend five minutes in his head. Brilliant man, such a shame he’s completely insane.”

Eli saw enough of Doctor Downfall’s inventions growing up to not disagree. It did seem a waste of intellect but whatever made the guy happy was his business. Some people liked mini golf, and other people liked creating weapons of mass destruction. Everyone had their own thing.

“Can you fix it?” Eli asked.

Mr. Carlysle put on dark goggles and large sparks flew out of the suit. “Have some faith, young padawan. I just need to recharge your suit and upgrade it against future magnetic attacks.”

“And how long with that take?”

“I’ll have it done by the end of the day. You can’t rush genius.”

“Any chance I can get it sooner? I have to get back to campus.”

“I pay people to rush, people don’t rush me.” Mr. Carlysle looked up to give him a look that Eli felt even with the goggles. “You can take the chopper back to campus.”

Eli stared at him in disbelief. “I can’t take your helicopter back to school. People will notice.”

“Your interning for me, remember? Just say it’s one of the perks of the job.”

Eli felt very self-conscious as the Carlysle Industries helicopter dropped him off at the CIT campus. He got a lot of looks that he tried his best to ignore. He felt like an international spy, but a bad one. Like if James Bond announced his arrival with fireworks at the start of each mission.

Eli missed his suit. Being far away and unable to summon it felt odd. He couldn’t immediately fly away to do his hero duties without it. He couldn’t fly on his own like Savior.

He was grounded, literally.

He entered his dorm room to find Mo and Tadashi. The sight of Mo made him feel better. He spent the whole night reliving their moment in his head.

“Hi."

“Eli,” Tadashi said. “Where have you been? We tried to call you last night.”

“I was in the city visiting a friend, and my phone died.”

That wasn’t completely a lie. He did spend the night on Alex’s couch since it was too late to get the train back to campus.

He took the seat beside Mo on his bed and asked, “What’s going on?”

Tadashi cut in before Mo could answer, “Smokeburn attacked the William Peace Arena. Mo almost died last night.”

Eli pretended to be surprised, like he wasn’t at the event the previous night. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine.” Mo replied. “Not that it wasn’t terrifying for a good two minutes but I am unscathed, thanks to Electrick.”

“The new superhero?”

Mo nodded, smiling. “I was about to get flattened like a pancake when he swooped me up and got me to safety.”

Eli remembered in vivid detail. He got the tip about the arena just as it exploded. Chromium and the other heroes went to save the civilians inside and around the arena. Eli saw Mo in the parking lot and felt a rush of panic. He needed to save her or he would die trying.

“You went to a concert and met a superhero.” Tadashi shook his head. “Some of us are born lucky, I guess.”

Mo smacked him on the arm. “I almost died, you dummy.”

“And where was Blaze during all of this?” Eli asked.

He hadn’t forgotten that the two were on a date when all this happened. It was like the universe was agreeing with Eli’s feelings on the situation.

“He saved me. He pushed me away from the falling concrete before Electrick showed up. He has some superficial scratches but he’s okay.”

Eli frowned, annoyed that Blaze managed to compete with him with saving the day. Was there anything that guy couldn’t do? Did he have super strength too? Couldn’t he let Eli have one thing?

“He didn’t get any burns?” Tadashi inquired. “I heard some people had to go to the hospital for burns and smoke inhalation.”

“His jacket was completely ruined but he wasn’t burned.”

The fire couldn’t even ruin his good looks. He probably would still be good even with scars. He would make them look rugged. None of this was fair.

Wanting to change the subject from perfect Blaze Hart, Eli told Mo, “I’m glad you’re okay. I hope this didn’t ruin the concert experience for you.”

“Thank you, Eli.”

She smiled and Eli reminded himself that Blaze Hart may have saved her first but Eli made it cinematic. And that meant he did it better.

Mo added, “Nothing can ruin Taylor Swift for me, not even an arena exploding.”

“Taylor tweeted #RiseFromtheAshes and it’s trending on Twitter,” Tadashi remarked, showing his phone screen. “There are memes of her as a phoenix. If anybody was a superhero, it would be her.”

“Maybe not,” Mo countered. “Real superheroes hide in plain sight. They’re usually the ones you least expect to be anything other than ordinary.”

Eli coughed, trying to hide how nervous this topic was making him.

“There’s something weird about a super having a mundane day job," Tadashi said. "Imagine Savior writing for a newspaper or CopyKat working at a café."

“That would be the point, right? Anybody could secretly be a super and we would have no idea,” Mo continued. “Anybody we know could be a hero.”

“Or a villain,” Tadashi concluded.

Eli paused.

Blaze didn’t get burned.


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