What. The. Actual. Hell?
Look, Kayleigh got it. People apparently lost their damn minds at Christmas-time and everything just went to hell in a handbasket. It happened every year without fail.
But this year seemed to be even worse and she was about to lose it. She just wanted to go home to her boyfriends and curl up in front of a fire. She was cold and she was wet and she was tired of being cold and wet. Sure, she could redirect the water and heat it up a little bit, but it wasn’t the same. But she couldn’t go home because people kept doing stupid and dangerous things, because they were all convinced that they were exceptions to the laws of physics.
A car hydroplaned, and Kayleigh managed to keep it from skidding onto the pedestrian path, pulling the water from the road and gathering it into a ball in front of her. “I have had it!” she yelled in frustration. “I want to go home and I can’t do that because you morons keep pulling stupid crap!”
Aquangel, Kayleigh’s alter-ego, was generally considered nice and sweet. She was a decent fighter and wasn’t a pushover, and while she would snark she didn’t cross lines into being actually mean, no matter how well deserved it was. The fact that Kayleigh was yelling at (relatively) innocent people just went to show how ragged she had been run by the Christmas insanity.
As evidenced by the shocked stares she was getting.
Well, shit. This was so going to go viral, she just knew it.
Kayleigh shoved her hair out of her face with a sigh, and took off to fly over the city to see where else she’d be needed or if she could just go home.
Apologising wouldn’t do any good. People took that as proof that you’d done something wrong and didn’t always look beyond that. While Kayleigh was sorry that she’d lost her temper, she was frustrated that people kept pulling the same stunts time after time.
When Kayleigh saved the same person for the seventh time in as many days, she dumped him unceremoniously in a snowbank. “Okay, what gives? You can’t be this clumsy. You just can’t.”
He gave her a sheepish smile, running his hand through his hair. “I might have a bit of a crush on you,” he mumbled.
“And what, you thought that I’d fall in love with you over saving you repeatedly?” Kayleigh kept her voice gentle, which wasn’t exactly easy with how stressed she was. “Look. I’m flattered, really. You seem sweet. But I’m in a relationship and don’t see that changing, and I try to keep my superhero life and my personal life private.”
That… might be stretching the truth, actually, but Kayleigh wasn’t going to go into more of an explanation than that. After all, her boyfriends were both superheroes themselves. But they tended to do their own thing while she did hers, so she maintained that it was separate enough to not be a lie.
And also it was nobody’s damn business. People had been speculating on her personal life since she’d burst onto the superhero scene, and she’d had to just shut up and deal with it since she was twelve but the public assumed she was older. So she’d gotten used to shutting things down quickly, make no comment, feed no fires, and ignore the trolls.
And there were a lot of trolls.
“If you’d just give me a chance-” he started before Kayleigh cut him off, gently but ruthlessly.
“No,” Kayleigh stated it firmly. “I already said no. I don’t owe you anything. And stop putting yourself in danger just so I’ll come save you.” Kayleigh flew off before he could respond. She wasn’t in the mood to deal with a guy making her feel guilty for not wanting to date him.
She was happy with what she had. She just… wished she could have more time with them. They were all busy with jobs and superheroing, and lately it just seemed like they were ships passing in the night. It was Christmas Eve. They should be able to spend more time together, not less, during the season in general but especially on Christmas Eve.
Kayleigh decided enough was enough and went home. She’d get called for a major disaster. She’d been called before. She’d be called again. But she couldn’t deal with every single thing that came up. She had a life, too, and it was time she got back to it.
Kayleigh slipped in, pulling the water off of herself and dumping it into the dead garden. Eoin had a cup of hot chocolate waiting for her, and Aidan had the fire going. It was warm and dry, she had her boys… what more could she want? She was home. “Merry Christmas,” she settled in between them on the sofa. She didn’t need presents, she just needed this.
Hopefully they felt the same way, since in all the madness, she hadn’t had a chance to actually do her Christmas shopping like she’d planned.
Presence, not presents. She could do presence, even if she had no presents to give.
Kat Dodd is an American transplant that escaped from a small town in Arkansas right between Toad Suck, Pickles Gap, and Wooster. The first story they ever wrote was in a purple crayon in their journal, and Kat hasn’t stopped writing since. Kat is a co-organiser of Cupán Fae and has been a member for almost 4 years and has contributed to anthologies: Dublin’s Fierce City, Fierce Mighty, Fierce New World, and Fierce & Proud.