Draven wakes up to discover his friends had gotten more out of the party than they bargained for. (the title is being changed. 'Last Generation' is the name of the series, 'Not a Hero' is the name of the first book)
Draven – The Morning After
April 18th, 3131
Draven stirred in his sleep, nuzzling his face up a pleasantly firm pillow. His shoulder was sore and his back felt twisted. He opened his eyes, finding he was in a dimly lit room, the only light peeking through the sides of the curtain near the ceiling. He instantly recognized the general shape of the room; he was in Nolan’s basement. He rubbed his temples, trying to ease the throbbing he felt with every heartbeat. He was trying to recall how he had gotten here, but the last thing he remembered was running from an officer, with Gwen in his arms.
Draven rolled to his other side, lowering his head back onto the pillow and cupping his hand against the side of it. His eyes shot open, and he quickly sat up as he realized his hand was rubbing against a polyester-wrapped thigh. His hand explored in the dim light, feeling the curves as the pounding in his head became more intense.
Gwen stirred, and Draven’s hand retracted quickly as he realized he had been fondling her rear “Oops, sorry.” He whispered, but there was no response. He waited for a moment before cautiously poking her with one finger. Nothing. He poked again, but this time harder and still, there was no response. He laid back down, wrapping his arms tightly around her leg as he once again rested his head against her head, smiling from ear to ear. His body may have been hurting, but it seemed his splitting headache seemingly faded away into the blissfully comfortable ‘pillow’ he rested upon.
He laid there for a moment, embracing her leg in the dark until the tantalizing smell of bacon and eggs opened his eyes once more, magically pulling him to his feet. He stretched every muscle he could, groaning in quiet pleasure as his bones cracked and boned. As if he were in a trance, Draven shuffled across the basement, hardly noticing the cans and bottles he was knocking over.
As he took the first step onto the stairs, he felt an overwhelming grogginess wash over him. He heavily debated turning around and returning to his heavenly sleeping arrangement, but his stomach called out for food, beckoning up the rest of the steps. He pushed the door open, recoiling as a flood of light pierced into his eyes like tiny needles.
“Afternoon, Angel.” Bri said from somewhere in the kitchen.
“Why does the sun hurt? Why does the sun hurt my face?” Draven clenched his eyes shut.
“I told you you’d regret today.”
“It’s not a good night unless I do. Wait—wait, it’s the afternoon?”
“Yeah, bro, it’s like one something.” Nolan said, pouring some batter into a skillet.
“Why are you making bacon then?”
“There’s never a wrong time for bacon, Dre.”
Draven couldn’t argue with that. He picked a fresh piece of the counter, downing it before Nolan could snatch it back. He sat down onto a stool, dropping his head onto the kitchen island.
“Feeling any better? You don’t look it.” Bri asked.
“Neither do you.” Draven mumbled.
“I didn’t sleep much.”
“Are you gonna puke all over my floor again?” Nolan asked.
“I highly doubt I puked last night.”
“Gwen puked on you.” Bris said.
Draven laughed. “Then yeah, I probably puked. So you’re gonna blame me but not her?”
“You zapped her in the first place, bro. Besides, you don’t have a nice ass.”
“Whatever, it’s what you get for ditching me with those earth cops.”
“I had to get my car, bitch. I didn’t wanna leave it there.”
“Oh, crap. What about Gwen’s car?”
“You went back and got it. Remember?” Bri said.
Draven shook his head subtly, not enough for the others to notice. Other than bits and pieces at the party, he remembered nothing. Clumsily he reached up, moving his hand around until it found a plate of sausages. He grabbed two of them with his fist, letting gravity pull his hand off the island. He turned his head, shoving the sausages into his mouth and rubbing the left over grease from his hand onto his pants.
“Did you bang Gwen last night?” Nolan asked.
“Dude, I don’t freaking know. I don’t remember a thing.”
“You guys were all over each other.”
“I guess it’s possible. I mean I woke up sleeping on her butt so…”
“Damn, I wanted you to tell me about it.”
“You two are pigs.” Bri said. Nolan squealed, biting into a piece of bacon. He grabbed his plate and left the kitchen, heading out onto his back porch. Draven’s head fell back down as he slowly chewed on another piece of sausage. He toyed with his phone, ignoring the ten missed calls and texts from his parents and reading one from Emma, sent sometime last night.
“You ok, Angel?” Bri asked, putting her hand on his shoulder. Draven sat up, looking her in her brown eyes. His mind was racing, thinking of the night before and of days to come. He faked a smile. “I’m fine.” He said.
Bri glared at him, knowing he wasn’t telling the truth. He thought for a moment, wanting to speak but being unable to. A creak caught his attention, and he glanced in the direction of the noise to find that Gwen had come up from the basement. She yawned, rubbing her eye with the palm of her hand. She was as gorgeous as ever, even after waking up from a drunken slumber. Draven smiled at her, putting his phone back in his pocket. She smiled back, and for a moment the three of them were silent.
“Well…”Bri said, slowly standing up. “I’m gonna go out there with Nolan. You kiddie’s have fun.” She clicked her tongue, pointing two finger pistols at them. They waited for her to leave out the back door, then turned back towards one another.
“So.” Gwen said.
“Sooo…you wanna go out there with them?” Draven said.
“Yeah, that’d be cool.” She said. Draven stood up and went to the back door, sliding it open for Gwen. She thanked him and went through. Draven followed behind her, his eyes locked on her rear end as he bit his lower lip. He followed Gwen across the deck, stopping when she did. He looked up as she stopped, pretending he was looking at something else. He looked over to his right, and jumped as he saw something get shoved into his face. He backed his head up, looking more closely at what Bri was holding up to him.
It was a black iguana, with the spine of its back and edge of its tail colored teal. Bri held it beneath its front legs, belly towards him. It looked down at Draven, staring directly at him.
“What the hell is that?” Draven said, taking a step back.
Suddenly, the iguana shifted and grew larger and paler. Before Draven knew what was happening, Quentin was standing in front of him, bare naked with Bri’s hands underneath his armpits. Bri yelped and pulled her hands back. She slapped Quentin on the back.
“Don’t do that when I’m holding you!” She yelled. Quentin laughed, shifting once again, this time into a smaller lizard. He scurried off the deck, with Nolan shooting pebbles of fire around him.
“Since when could he shift?” Draven said, staring at the lizard dodging fireballs.
“He showed up this morning with it.” Bri said. Quentin changed back into human form, just as a small flame hit him in his pasty rear. He yelped and rubbed the spot. Nolan laughed, shielding his eyes from his naked friend.
“Son of a bitch, that hurt.” Quentin said, bending down and picking up boxers off the ground. He slipped them on and jumped up onto the deck, leaving the rest of his clothes behind.
“Yeah, I randomly shifted last night when the cops were chasing me so I just rolled with it.”
“That’s not it, either.” Bri said. She vaulted off the deck and fumbled around in the dirt, eventually sitting down and crossing her legs. She closed her eyes, concentrating on something. A few seconds passed, and the ground began to rumble. Slowly, Bri rose into the air, the ground beneath her rising and pushing her upwards.
“Hi.” She said as she stopped. She was still sitting, but she had raised the ground enough to be at eye level with the rest of them.
Apparently she had discovered them last night as well, and had been up all night toying with her new abilities. Even Gwen had gotten abilities, some form of telekinesis she discovered when she knocked over a lamp and caught it with her mind. She had spent some time testing it, but couldn’t do much more than move small objects and hold slightly bigger objects in place. It was entertaining to try and see her move things, because they never went where she wanted them too, as if she was playing a video game with reversed controls.
Draven’s head was still pounding uncomfortably, a sensation that intensified with movement. So he opted to sit back and spectate, watching his friends toy with their newfound abilities. First, it was Nolan around a month ago, and now the rest of his closest friends received their abilities in one night? Draven had heard of ways to “kick start” abilities such as life-threatening situations or intense feelings, which could be explained by outrunning the cops last night. Still, Draven felt a bit of uneasiness about it, but decided to hold back the information from his friends while they were still enjoying their new abilities.
They were all trying to show each other their powers simultaneously. “Watch this!” was uttered more than once a minute. Playfully, they fought; throwing and dodging things with no intention to actually hurt each other. Except for Nolan, who Draven could tell was holding back. He wanted to unleash everything he could, but he wouldn’t hurt his friends unless they gave him permission.
“Dre, come join us!” Gwen called.
“I’m not feeling too hot.” Draven replied.
“Suck it up, neither am I.”
“You guys know what I can do already.”
“And? I wanna fight!” Bri said.
Draven felt a vibration in his pocket, breathing a sigh of relief. His relief turned into fear as he saw it was his mother calling him. He closed his eyes, taking in a deep breath before answering the phone. “Hello?” He said.
“Where the hell have you been?” His mom said.
“I stayed the night at Nolan’s.”
“You didn’t tell me that.” She snapped.
“I did! I sent you one last night saying all was good and I was staying here, it must not have gone through.”
“Get your ass home now.” His mom said, hanging up the phone. Draven let his arm fall to his lap, dropping his head back, groaning.
“I gotta go home. Parents are pissed.” Draven stood up and stretched. He felt a subtle uneasiness fall over him. He didn’t really want to go home, other than to rest, but with his parents mad at him he knew that wouldn’t have really been an option. He could already hear the hour long lecture he was going to receive, as if it were a script for a play he was in. He had heard it a million times, but apparently he hadn’t learned; he was always doing something wrong in their eyes.
Sometimes he wished he had the strength to show them his powers. Maybe it would have gotten them off his back since they didn’t have their own powers yet; his family had had a history of obtaining their abilities late in life or not at all. He wanted to show them he was strong and capable, and not as useless as they made him out to be. But he feared the day they learned of his abilities and that they would try to control them; along with everything else in his life.
He had grown to loathe them. It’s what pushed him to get a job as early as possible; to save up enough money to move out. As soon as he had enough he would be gone. Being so young without a car and bad habits made it hard for him to save money, but now that he had finished high school he could work longer and make more. He had thought about exploiting his abilities to earn more money, such as working in a power plant; but his powers felt too sacred to him to be used for something so mundane.
Even being a mercenary had crossed his mind once or twice. Traveling the world doing odd jobs on his own time would have been liberating, but with the war in the south, being a mercenary nowadays was more about killing than it was about helping others. He had never been in a fight with another hero, and didn’t care too.
“I can take you home.” Gwen said.
“I appreciate it. Keep me updated, guys!” Draven said, waving at his friends.
He walked around the side of the house with Gwen, an uncomfortable silence filling the air. He glanced over at her, watching her as she bit her lower lip and looked down at the ground. She turned and looked back at him, and he quickly looked the other way. They walked without saying a word, across Nolan’s front yard and up to Gwen’s car, which was covered in sticks and leaves.
“Did I make things weird because of last night?” Gwen said, stopping him just before the car.
“I don’t remember anything after the party.”
Gwen giggled, brushing her hair back. “Well, that’s good you don’t remember much.”
“And why is that?”
“It would probably make things a bit weird.”
“You’ve got me curious now.” Draven smiled, taking a step closer to Gwen.
“I could show you what happened.” Gwen said quietly, moving closer to Draven. She lifted herself up onto her tip toes, gently pressing her lips against Draven’s. He kissed her back, putting his hands on her waist. She grabbed his hand, sliding it down onto her rear. He quickly moved his other hand, grabbing her butt and lifting her up onto the trunk of her car.
“Get a room!” Bri shouted from the other end of the driveway. Draven pulled away from Gwen, glancing over at Bri and flipping her off.
“No thanks, I don’t want sloppy seconds.”
Draven turned his hand, forming a gun with his fingers. He let out a small spark that jumped on the tip of his finger, reaching out no more than an inch. Bri yelped, expecting something to fly her way. She cursed him out when she realized it was nothing, and disappeared behind the house. Draven leaned over and kissed Gwen once more. “Come on, I gotta get home so they can kill me.”
Gwen hopped off the trunk, and Draven walked towards the passenger door, checking his phone. One of the messages he had received was from Emma, but instead of opening it, he put his phone back into his pocket.
“So what the hell happened to your car?” Draven said as he entered it.
“You did. Well…WE kind of did.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Draven said. Gwen giggled, shifting the car into first and stepping down on the gas.
“Thanks for the ride.” Draven said, looking at his house. His stomach was empty and spinning, and all his muscles had tensed up.
“Want me to come in with you?” Gwen asked.
“No, they’ll just yell after you leave.” Draven said, still staring at his house. He felt uncomfortable even looking at it. It was odd to him, he felt like he didn’t belong in it.
“Then I won’t leave.” Gwen smiled.
“I don’t want to subject you to that. But thanks anyway.”
Gwen kissed Draven on the cheek, and he threw her a fake smile before getting out of the car. “See ya.” He said, patting the roof. Gwen pulled away as Draven watched, immediately wishing he had agreed to her coming in. He lowered his head, slowly taking in a deep breath. Exhaling quickly, he spun on his heels and walked towards the house, his hands in his sweater pockets.
The front door burst open, and one of his parents came rushing out, but his head was lowered so he didn’t see which.
“The hell is wrong with you??” His dad said.
“Hello to you, too.” Draven said sarcastically.
“Where were you? You promised you would check in! We didn’t hear from you all night, were you at that freaking party?”
“Well, technically I didn’t promise anything.”
His dad grabbed him by the arm and pulled him faster into the house, throwing him inside and slamming the door behind him. Draven stood with his back to his dad, not wanting to turn around, so his father made him.
“Were you at that party?” He repeated.
“I wasn’t at the party.”
“You know the cops showed up and arrested most of the kids. You could have gone to jail. Do you really want that shit on your record ‘cause you’re too stupid to wait until twenty-one to drink?”
“I didn’t go to the god damn party.” Draven growled.
“Watch your mouth. Come here, let me smell your breath.” He grabbed Draven’s arm and pulled him closer.
“God dammit, dude, get off me!” Draven ripped himself away from him, well aware he still probably smelled of vomit and alcohol. He ran for the stairs.
“You better stay up there until you learn to respect me!” His father shouted. “Freaking idiot…” He said just loud enough for Draven to hear. Draven held up his middle finger as he went up the stairs, storming into his room and slamming the door behind him. He locked it, grabbing a chair he specifically used for shoving under the door handle.
He felt his phone vibrate in his pocket, and without even looking at it he whipped it out and threw it as hard as he could. He immediately regretted his decision, using his electricity to suspend it in the air just before it shattered against the wall. He gently dropped it to the ground, shuffling over and picking it up.
‘Get down here...’ A message from his mom read.
Draven replied aggressively, using words he probably shouldn’t have. As he closed out of the message, he saw he still had an unread message, remembering it was from Emma.
‘Just over a month until I could see you and hold you again <3’
The message soothed Draven, putting a smile on his face. Whenever the both of them were single, they would talk as if they were in a relationship, even though they weren’t and had always awkwardly avoided the subject whenever it was brought up. Emma had broken up with her last boyfriend a couple of weeks again, and it was calming in the waning days of high school to see her cute messages pop up on his screen.
He booted up his computer, ignoring the shouting from his mom outside of his room. She gave the usual spiel through the door. “Don’t bother coming down for dinner!” She ended with, storming off down the hall. Draven shrugged, opening his desk drawer and pulling out a bag of chips. He had gotten used to this punishment, and always had food hiding in his room for that very reason.
Once he was certain his parents were going to leave him alone, he opened up a video chat with Emma. She was known to change styles often, but her latest one was similar to how Quentin dressed; skin-tight clothes and countless accessories, her teased hair dyed a deep shade of red. He found the look incredibly adorable on her, which is probably the reason why she had kept this particular style the longest.
She taunted him by hiding her face behind her hands hidden in her sleeves, because she liked when Draven would say “I want to see your face.” He told her about the party, purposefully avoiding certain details involving him and Gwen. He wasn’t sure what they were yet, and he didn’t want to upset Emma if it was nothing.
“And this morning Quentin showed up with shifting powers. Turns out they all got powers last night.” Draven said, regretting it as the words came out. Emma had in indifferent opinion on heroes, leaning more towards dislike than respect. She claimed the majority of them used their powers to get an advantage over those who didn’t have or couldn’t get powers, or weaker heroes. She had always said “When and if you get your powers, it’s okay, I won’t think any different of you.” While he believed her, he was still nervous with telling her, especially since he didn’t like telling people in the first place. He knew what was coming next, and now was as good a time as any to tell her.
“Did you get any?” She asked, just as he suspected.
“Uhh…yeah.” He said. He figured someday he’d tell her that he had his powers for as long as he remembered, but he chose to avoid it for the time being.
“What’d you get?” She asked with false excitement.
Draven held up his hand, bouncing electricity between his fingers. Her eyes grew wide as she watched the sparks dance. He told her he was still learning, feeling the lies pull at his chest and tightening it. He should have told her the full truth, but he was already digging himself deeper into the lie; he just didn’t want to upset Emma.
They talked for a few hours, going on about his powers and eventually about what powers she might have. Like his parents, her parents didn’t have their powers either. Her grandfather had the ability to copy the powers of others temporarily, but he absolutely refused to use them, having grown up during the birth of UPRA; a small, yet impactful organization created over sixty years ago that prided itself in their human status. The Unpowered Rights and Equality Activists believed in fair treatment of powered and unpowered humans—at first. It quickly evolved into a hateful organization hell-bent on criminalizing the use of powers in public.
Needless to say, they’ve stuck around, becoming partially successful in their efforts over the past few years. They’ve used the war in the south against heroes, giving them exactly what they wanted. Emma had always been partial to the group, but wasn’t an extremist like some of its more notable members, such as her grandfather.
A few hours passed before she had to log off and relinquish the computer to her brother. She blew him a kiss before her face disappeared from the screen. Draven smiled, leaning back in his chair and closing his eyes. He imagined the day he would get to see Emma again, and what they would do. The two of them along with the rest of his friends would commonly go into Alpine, wandering the streets and visiting all the specialty stores and restaurants. Every visit to the city included a trip to the Grand Library of Alpine, where they would snap a picture in front of the famous Bronze Book; a massive statue of an open book located just outside.
A knock at the door snapped him back to reality. He opened it to find his mother standing there. He was scalded once again for not checking in, and for disrespecting them earlier. Draven knew now that she was calm as long as he was quiet and agreed to everything she said she would leave him alone. After nearly fifteen minutes she ended on a surprisingly good note, inviting him down for dinner.
“I’m not hungry.” He said. Up until the past couple of years, there would be five of them at the dinner table; Draven, his parents and his two older sisters. Now that his sisters had moved out, Draven was forced to make small talk with his parents, and on days like this he would rather wait until they went to bed so he could heat up leftovers and eat in peace.
“Then in come down and do the dishes.”
“But I’m not even eating.”
“Do the dishes.” She repeated. Draven sighed, agreeing only to keep the peace. He waited about ten minutes before going down. He washed the dishes in awkward silence, getting irritated as his parents added more dishes while he was still cleaning the other ones.
“Sorry about earlier.” His dad said. “We just want to make sure you’re safe and not out being stupid like we were.”
“If you would just check in with us—”
“Mom already went over this with me twice.”
“Well then listen.” His dad said, suddenly frustrated. Draven quickly finished the dishes, ignoring his growling stomach as he rushed back upstairs. Much to his dismay, Emma hadn’t gotten back online. He checked his phone, and found no messages from her or even Gwen. He tossed his phone onto his desk and jumped into bed, staring up at the ceiling and until his day dreaming drifted into a deep slumber, taking him peacefully away from everything that had happened that day.