Real Men Wear Tights

High school can be tough for everyone. This is especially true when you're hiding a secret that can never be told.


20. Intermission Two: In Which Hemogoblin Learns the Importance of Situational Awareness

/ / /

===> Be Hemogoblin

Your name is Hemogoblin, and you love the feeling of the cool night air whistling by your face as you traverse the tops of the buildings and apartments that make up your nighttime highway. Leaping from rooftop to rooftop, the breeze ruffling your hood and swaying your hair makes your blood sing with joy, the feeling of it pumping through your veins as reassuringly familiar to you as the sun must be to a plant.

While you’re sometimes (always) envious of the ease with which Heir is able to travel around the city with his extremely convenient and not at all bullshit flying abilities, there’s still something to be said for navigating the rooftops by foot. There’s nothing quite like the adrenaline rush of hurtling yourself into the void between buildings with no reassurances of your survival except for faith in your own abilities and the idea that there will be a ledge or hold to grab when you land. It is, dare you say it, even more exciting than flying.




That doesn’t mean it can’t get monotonous, however. Tonight is a great case in point. You’d made plans to meet up with Heir in a place way outside of your normal patrol route, and that means you have at least half an hour of travel before you even enter the proper district, let alone find the proper building, and that’s if you’re lucky enough not to run into any delays. You honestly should have told Heir to meet somewhere closer to your route since it isn’t really a hassle for him to go out of his way, but you've been finding it incredibly difficult to object whenever he suggests something to you, doubly so when he’s suggesting to meet up. You’ve always harbored some small, irrational fear in the back of your mind that he might call things off if you disagreed, so you've made it a conscious choice not to. But that doesn’t really matter, as what’s an extra half an hour of running if you get to spend the rest of your night with Heir?

It would have been nice to have something to occupy your mind besides the run, however. When you get into the zone like this, sometimes you allow your instincts to take over and your mind to wander, usually to thoughts of your alluring partner.

Which is where this night goes terribly wrong.

You're too busy thinking about Heir to pay attention to your surroundings—which is kind of the first and most fundamental rule of freerunning for a reason—and all of a sudden, one moment you’re dashing along stealthily, the black of your costume blending into the shadows, and the next moment you’re falling through what appears to be an open skylight directly into someone's apartment.

Your fall is broken moments later by a conveniently placed card table, which almost instantly buckles and folds under the presence of your obtrusive weight, the clattering of what sounds like board game pieces echoing in your ears like gunshots.




After getting over the immediate shock of falling and ending up somewhere you hadn't planned to be, you take a long moment to diagnose your condition as you lay sprawled on your back in what appears to be a kitchen, staring up through the open skylight at the few stars visible from smack dab in the middle of the city. You have the vague thought that it’s such a pretty night, the grumpy rainclouds from earlier in the day having apparently given way to something a little calmer, when you snap out of it and refocus. You are slightly dazed from the sudden shock of it all, apparently, but nothing seems to be broken except for your pride and the table, thankfully. But man does your ass hurt. It's a good thing you landed the way you did, or this could have been a much worse of an experience.

Your eyes dilate painfully as the lights are suddenly flipped on around you, your eyes watering instantly, and then out of nowhere a human female wielding a baseball bat and standing upside down fills your vision. She's staring at you with her mouth hanging open and her eyes wide as you lie on her kitchen floor on top of a ruined card table. Her ruined card table. You continue to stare for several long moments, painfully aware that you have no idea what to say, and even more painfully aware that every second that stretches on in silence is just going to compound the awkwardness and make this infinitely harder. The only thing you can think to compare the feeling to is the time your best friend almost walked in on you while you were enjoying a decidedly not-safe-for-work Heir fic. That had been awkward bordering on tragic, but you’d mumbled your way out of it and both of you had acted like it hadn’t happened. This situation is so much worse.

As you tilt your head back, a vertebrae in your neck popping as you stretch it in an unusual position, you discover a much tinier human gripping the older one's nightgown, and he, too, is staring at you with wide, round eyes, his little mouth hanging open in what you think is something like shock and awe. At least, that’s what it looks like upside down.

"Urgh..." you manage ever-so-classily, as you flip around slowly and push yourself up to a sitting position. Neither of the inhabitants of the apartment say a word as you take your time getting up, your hands briefly patting your legs and side down in case of any missed injury. When you're once again standing at your full height and they still haven't said anything, the need to break the silence and relieve the overwhelming tension floods your thinkpan with an almost suffocating intensity.

"Sorry about the table," your mouth mumbles on autopilot, your eyes having a hard time meeting the woman's. "You, uh, shouldn't leave skylights open like that." You finish your half-apology with a lame shrug towards the ceiling with your shoulder, feeling moronic even as your body carries out the motion.

The woman, eyes still wide, nods slowly. "It...was a nice night out."

You don't know what to say to that, really, and oh my god this is so fucking awkward, so instead you let your gaze lower to the little one clinging to her leg. He looks to be about five or six, you'd guess, though you're really not that good at telling young humans apart. He manages a bashful peek at you from between the folds of the nightgown of the person whom you assume is his mother, and you raise your hand in a half-hearted attempt at a little wave. That just causes him to turn his head and bury his face further into her leg.

You take that as your sign to leave and so does the woman, apparently, because without prompting, she slowly walks to the door as best she can with her child clinging to her like that, unbolts it, and leaves it standing open for you. Nothing seems injured as you walk to the door, turn around, and open your mouth to say...something. Whatever you were going to say leaves you as soon as you open your mouth, of course, so you're left standing there with your mouth hanging open, looking like a total fucking moron. Snapping your jaw shut with an audible click, you inhale deeply, before raising your hand in a pathetic mockery of the officious wave you’ve seen Heir give to the police when making a report. "Have a good night, ma'am."

The door abruptly closes a half an inch from your nose, and you can feel the heat as your blood, unbidden, tries to rush to your face and warm your cheeks. You ruthlessly squash that down with an exertion of control and send your blood back to mind its own goddamn business, but that does nothing to get rid of the embarrassment you still feel.

That was literally the most embarrassing moment of your entire pathetic existence, and that is saying a lot. As you lean against the wall opposite the now-closed door and attempt to regulate the incessant beating of your heart against your ribcage, the only thought clear in your head is that you're extremely glad that Heir wasn't around to have witnessed that; that would have been just the worst.

As you take another deep breath to clear your head, you notice for the first time that heads are sticking out of doorways up and down the hallway, gawking at you like you're a particularly interesting zoo exhibit. You didn't think you'd made that much of a racket when you crash-landed on that table, but either you had been much louder than you thought, or else the walls around here were paper thin. Whatever the cause was, it didn’t matter, because regardless of the reason, you have at least ten pairs of eyes on you at the moment.

The blush that again tries to force its way upon your face tests your power to its limits when you notice that one of the residents has a cellphone out and is pointing it at you like they’re taking a picture or recording video—probably the latter. An almost overwhelming feeling of self-consciousness sweeps over you, then, and you fight the urge to readjust your costume and somehow make it cling less tightly to your curves.

Squashing those feelings behind the confident visage of your masked identity and straightening up, you try to appear as dignified as possible as you choose a direction at random and start walking down the hall, all of the heads and the camera turning as if on swivels as they mechanically follow your movements. You almost let out a stream of colorful curses when you round the corner and almost smack face-first into another apartment door. It takes you a second of confusion before you realize that you had chosen the wrong direction and that this was one of those idiotic floor plans that terminated in a dead end with no exit in sight, which you're petty sure is some kind of fire hazard. Chalking this up as just par for the course for your life, you turn on your heel and go back the way you came, your head held high even as you hear one of the residents—the one who’d been situated right at the corner and who had probably witnessed you almost faceplant into a door—lets out a snort of amusement. You completely avoid eye contact with anyone as you stalk down the hallway at a much quicker pace, eager to leave the scene and get to work scrubbing its memory from your thinkpan permanently.

When you notice a sign on one of the doors ahead of you indicating a stairwell, you almost sob in relief, though you manage to keep it hidden behind your mask of indifference. Hemogoblin is calm and collected, after all, no matter what. Even when he makes a giant ass of himself and will probably be splashed all over YouTube the next day in the most embarrassing way possible, because seriously, fuck your life.

It takes you a good five minutes of crouching in the shadows of the building’s rooftop before you deem yourself to be sufficiently composed. You set off on your way after that, eager to meet up with Heir and put your latest fuck up behind you.

When you arrive at the designated building, Heir is already there, waiting for you. As you make your presence known, he smiles, his lips stretching underneath his tight mask, and you feel your heart stammer.

“Good evening, Hemogoblin,” he murmurs, the greeting making you feel warm and fuzzy though you mask it all under your persona’s confident smirk. It’s always like this, with Heir effortlessly putting you off balance and you doing everything you can just to stay rooted in the moment without blowing your cover and fanboying all over the place. Despite knowing him for almost a month, now, and despite having taken down a major criminal organization together, it still blows your mind that the two of you are not only close, but are actually partners. It’s one of the very few bright spots in your otherwise frankly terrible existence, and it’s taken you this long to reach a point where you don’t flail around like a wriggler on a sugar high as soon as you get home after your nightly patrols. It’s not your fault that your heroic idol had turned out to be everything he had been made out with you to be.

...made out TO you to be.

“Ready for a night of fun?” you ask around a smirk, doing your best to inject as much emphasis into the innuendo as possible. As usual, Heir doesn’t seem to get the hint. When he just smiles innocently and voices his agreement, you roll your eyes and bend forward to do a few stretches to keep your muscles warm.

And that’s when the smile clearly visible behind Heir’s cloth mask morphs into a confused frown and his eyes furrow.

You catch the look out of the corner of your eye and you straighten back up, your own eyebrow cocked inquisitively. Just in case it’s something important, you reach out to your power and call your blood to the ready, a sliver hardening invisibly beneath your skin along your forearm, ready to lash out at any perceived threat in an instant. “What?”

The frown changes into something resembling...embarrassment? Heir raises his hand and attempts to articulate whatever it is that’s bothering him. “You’ve got a...a…” There goes his hand flailing helplessly. It would be really adorable and you’d probably be internally cooing at him if you weren’t so confused.

“A what?” you ask, the sliver of iron-like blood dissolving back into liquid with a careless loosening of your power.

Heir clears his throat as you watch a blush spreading from the bottom of his mask across the somewhat tan skin of his cheeks. Then, in a move that totally surprises you, he hesitantly reaches out a gloved hand and starts reaching for your...your butt?!

Your entire musculature system goes into lockdown as you go as still as a statue, and you actually feel your heart literally skip a beat, as cliché as that sounds, before it picks up with gusto and starts hammering in your ears. Time seems to slow down as you watch his gloved hand inch closer and closer, your eyes tracking it like it’s a deadly projectile. While this is happening, a thousand thoughts rush through your head with all of the subtlety of Niagara Falls. Is this it? Is this the night that Heir actually makes a move? Are you two going to officially become partner-boyfriends and then eventually matesprits? And then you’ll reveal your identities and move in together, and then down the line get human married?? This is a scenario you've run through your head a million times, and now that it seems to be coming true, every plan you'd ever come up with about how you'd respond is nowhere to be found, the noise of every other thought completely drowning out anything resembling a plan of action. Something vaguely buzzes in the back of your brain reminding you that the one creep at the MC club had already copped a feel, so this wasn’t exactly a new experience or anything, but that mental tick is thoroughly overpowered by the sound of your heart beating a sharp staccato.

Your heart, which is now pounding in your chest so rapidly that it’s almost shocking that Heir apparently can’t hear it.




As his hand finally reaches your ass, your already frozen muscles tense up even further, your brain fully expecting a grope, or a squeeze, or a you-don’t-know-what and why-is-this-so-nerve-racking, but you feel nothing. Instead, Heir jerks his hand back quickly as if scalded by a hot stove, and you barely catch sight of something held firmly between two of his fingers. You squint your eyes to try and make out the object’s shape in the ambient light, though your eyes widen comically once you realize what it actually is.

It’s a puzzle piece. A goddamn motherfucking puzzle piece that was stuck in the cleft of your ass. As the blood once again rushes to your face, this time bypassing all attempts to stop it, you distantly wonder if Heir would let you fall to your death if you threw yourself over the building’s edge.

Fuck. Your. Life.



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