“Four superheroes are invited to a lesbian wedding – that’s gotta be the set up to a joke, right?”
“Five superheroes. Look, Ultrasonic’s name is in front of that empty chair.”
“Honeybee’s right. Also, Cy-Clone, are you sure you can afford to be making lesbian jokes? You know, you’re not the most popular on Twitter, so…”
“What, no! People love me! They do! Right…?”
The four heroes sat around the table, waiting for their turn to go to the buffet line. As encouraged on the invitation, they showed up in costume. What wasn’t listed on the invitation though was the fact that there were only five guests who were still active superheroes – everyone else, including the two brides, had long retired.
“Of course, we love you!” Glenda, aka The Goat, reassured Cy-Clone, her voice sweet and song-like. She towered over all the guests, having a side of the table all to herself. Her Viking inspired costume worked to accentuate both her chiseled muscles and her natural goat horns. “Though, it would be nice if, you know, you returned our texts every now and then…”
“Well, you know, I just, uh, lose so many phones. They go whizzing out of my pocket every time I whip up a whirlwind,” Cyrus, aka Cy-Clone, sheepishly admitted, trying to add some comedy to his clumsiness by waving his hands around. He wore an aviator suit – closer to Amelia Earhart than to Top Gun – and had kept his emerald sunglasses on inside (“They match my scarf perfectly,” he explained when he had sat down).
“I’ve been saying this in the group chat, it’s only a matter of time before carrier pigeons are back in style! I’m working on it!” Chloe, aka Honeybee, threw out with a laugh that slowly died out when she lost enthusiasm for her own idea. She avoided eye contact with the rest as she brushed her hands through her unkempt bushy hair. Her costume was a bright yellow dress with a few black stripes and real flowers around the collar, with a few bees poking their heads out.
“I trust that you’ve told that bear in the parking lot to behave, correct?” Alberto, aka El Vator, asked Honeybee judgmentally as he took a sip of wine. His gray overcoat was ragged, covered in years of dust and ashes from rescue sites. He flicked his hand and a gray translucent box appeared around a bread roll that Glenda the Goat was just reaching for. It floated over to him as she watched in slight dismay. “Sharing is caring,” Alberto quipped to Glenda as he put his wine down and started eating the bread.
“Yeah, yeah, Ursa’s a good boy. I told him to be nice to people and wait outside for me. I gave him a coloring book and everything.” Chloe laughed, but in the distance, they heard a man yell “Oh my God, is that a bear?!” followed by a roar. Her laughter died out once again as she whispered to one of her bees “Go check on your brother,” before it buzzed away.
No one said anything for a while, just letting the generic pop music fill the air. They had already killed most of the small talk in the beginning. They hadn’t seen each other since graduating Amazing-Hero High School (not to be confused with Spectacular-Hero High School), but they did have a group chat. It used to have a dozen and a half members, including the newlywed Mrs. and Mrs. Green, but in the decade since graduating, people kept leaving the chat as they hung up their capes.
Cyrus was absentmindedly using his wind powers to swirl a grape around in his empty wine glass. He then looked at the empty chair. “So… any idea where Ultrasonic is?”
Alberto took another sip of wine, rationing it out, and checked his phone. “Looks like he’s singlehandedly fighting Mr. MysTech’s army of magic robots a few states over. He’s making us all look bad for taking the day off,” he grunted, gripping his wine glass perilously hard.
“Hey now, we deserve a break every now and then!” Glenda said in a casual tone that Alberto took offense to. “I just fought a giant mutant fly the other day – you think I don’t deserve a spa day and a wedding invite after that?”
“They could’ve called me instead,” Chloe said dejectedly as she put her head down on the table. “Could’ve made friends with the fly… didn’t have to throw it into space…” she muttered to herself.
Cyrus used his wind to fling the grape into his mouth, and he looked around for any sort of response. None. So, he settled on trying to revive the small talk. “Hey, um… Honeybee, what’ve you been up to?”
“Well, you know, me and Ursa go to schools and talk about forest fires and stuff. Well, actually, it’s been a while since we’ve done that… Smokey the Bear said we were encroaching on his territory…” The bee returned to Chloe and buzzed in her ear. She sighed and said, “Oh thank God, Ursa’s okay.” She timidly looked around and then felt embarrassed, so she added, “Uh, actually, the government has been trying to talk to me about using my bees for… um, espionage…?”
“Oh, spying, that’s… oh, well, that’s nice.” The enthusiasm in Glenda’s voice faded away as she sat with the shady implications of what the government was asking of Honeybee.
“More like es-BEE-onage,” Cyrus laughed, immune to the implications.
“Oh look, Twitter is roasting Ultrasonic – too much collateral damage from the fight, popped eardrums, shattered windows…” Alberto said while scrolling his phone. “What do they expect when a guy made of soundwaves has to destroy a mechanical army?”
“Hey, El Vator, are they more mad at him than they were at you?” Cyrus joked, ignoring the glares from Alberto. “You know, when you trapped those paparazzi in your elevator and left them in the sky for a couple hours?” The glaring was still being ignored. “You remember that? Huh, El Vator?”
Alberto closed his eyes for a second while he ran some quick mental calculations as to what to say to hurt Cyrus the most. “Well, they’re not as mad compared to when someone uploaded a compilation of the times you blew women’s dresses up with your wind.” Cyrus opened his mouth, hurt and ready to defend himself, but Alberto cut him off. “And don’t call me ‘El Vator’, Mr. Cy-Clone – your powers don’t even have anything to do with clones.”
The argument was halted by a shuffle at the microphone as one of the brides got up to make a speech. All the guests turned with their food to look at Mrs. Green – though Glenda quietly whispered, “Hey, we didn’t get food yet. Do you think they left us for last on purpose because of me? Because, you know, I’m a big gal?”
Mrs. Monica Green smiled and began speaking. “I know we all haven’t had food yet, so I’ll keep it brief. But I keep getting asked why I took Pam’s last name and why we didn’t combine our names like other couples.” She turned to her bride, still sitting and smiling, tears starting to well up already. “Well, it’s because, as you know, we both have powers that complement one another. I grow plants, and she makes light. She literally lights up my world – and our bedroom!”
A wave of laughter went through the crowd (except for Alberto), and Pam looked embarrassed but still willing to hear more. Monica continued, “Pam, you helped me grow into the woman I am today. I can’t say the same for my family, who aren’t here today, so why keep their name? And the public certainly didn’t help me grow when we were heroes together. That’s why we don’t fight crime anymore – no more scandalous exposés on the spandex-wearing lesbians.” Monica raised a champagne glass and looked at her wife. “So, we moved on. Together.”
The crowd cheered and applauded the couple as they moved in for a kiss. But one table provided a more subdued applause as the speech slowly sank in with them. Almost on cue, Monica ran back to the mic and said, “Oh, before I forget, we do still have heroes with us today!” She motioned to the one table that wasn’t applauding as hard. “It wasn’t the life for us, but I’m glad you guys are still fighting the good fight!” And now a second wave of applause began as the four now looked around and nodded, doing their best to appear thankful.
The clatter of forks and knives against fancy plates danced around the heroes’ table. A server came over and motioned that it was their turn for food, but all four declined to move. Cyrus finally broke the silence.
“Guys. Like, being a hero is still cool and all. I saved that town from a tornado – that was my debut. It felt… I don’t know, like, exciting, like I need to keep doing this. People love me.” He looked at Alberto and said, “Yeah, I know I mess up. Lost phones, cars flipped over. But I didn’t blow dresses and skirts up on purpose. I can’t… fully control my powers. But my publicist won’t let me use that as an excuse. And she also won’t let me say…” He looked around, taking his sunglasses off. “Well, I don’t care about looking up skirts anyway because I’m gay, just not openly. But, you know, I cultivated this cool bachelor persona, and people keep supporting me. So, I don’t really wanna risk their love. I just…” he moved his hand forward and a slight breeze drifted over the other three. “I just gotta keep moving forward.”
Alberto sighed and leaned forward, relaxing his face for a second. “Well… now I’m mad at myself for throwing the skirt thing in your face.” His face tensed up again before anyone could respond. “I’m mad at a lot of things actually. My name, El Vator? Stupidest thing I ever heard. But that’s what tabloids thought was cute to call me. Oh, the Latino who makes elevator-type things? Sure, give him a nonsense name, ignore the fact that I’ve done several search and rescues amidst collapsed buildings and caves.” He placed his fist on the table, not banging it, but using enough force that the others could feel the weight shift. “God forbid I ever get mad in public once. So, I do what they want, I bottle it up, I smile for the cameras, I act like I’m doing good when I know people have died because I wasn’t fast enough. So, the one time, the only time I ever let my true emotions shine, was to put those annoying journalists in their place. A time-out for adults. And they crucified me for it.”
Glenda looked down at the two men with nothing but sympathy in her eyes. “I’m sorry for the both of you. You do so much good – I mean, we all do so many positive things for society. But it’s just, like, one compromise after another. I let them call me ‘The Goat’ because I told myself it could also be for ‘greatest of all time’ – but some part of me knows it’s just because all they see are my horns sometimes. And I agree to the modelling photoshoots every now and then because I figure maybe I’m inspiring some kind of body positivity, you know, being six foot seven and several hundred pounds. But… I do read the comments on articles, and I know I shouldn’t!” Now tears were welling up in her eyes. “They’re like, ‘oh, how many men has she crushed by sleeping with them?’ or ‘she’s still single because we haven’t discovered giants yet.’” Glenda shook away her tears. “I told myself I was just putting off having a family to focus on being a hero when the truth is… I might never have one if the comments are right.”
Though Glenda didn’t end up crying, Chloe was fully sobbing by the end of her monologue. Chloe looked up at Glenda and said, “Don’t listen to the comments – I love how cheery and so ridiculously strong you are.” She looked down in shame before admitting, “I’ve been… jealous of you this whole time. It’s clear that you can make a difference with super strength. But I just talk to animals. I don’t even train them – it’s actually secretly partial mind control, only works on animals. So, I’m just a horrible manipulator. I suck at fighting villains, I’m terrified of putting animals in harm’s way, and now the government won’t leave me alone because they only see me as a tool.” She wiped away tears and mucus and covered her face in her hands. “I should’ve just been a vet or an environmental scientist. But I was just too stupid to think of that… It’s so obvious, I could help people without being a superhero, but I’m just so stupid I didn’t think of that…”
By now, most of the guests were on the dance floor. No one was paying attention to how Glenda put her hand on Chloe’s back to soothe her. Or how Cyrus moved over and sat in Ultrasonic’s empty seat to hug Chloe. And thankfully for Alberto, no one saw him walk up behind his friends and start a group hug.
Glenda stood up and picked up her three friends in a bear hug that could give Ursa the bear a run for his money. “Oh, you guys, I know we’ve been busy, but we shouldn’t have waited this long to see each other.”
Cyrus laughed but then realized something was off. “Hey, what’s that in the air?”
Glenda put them all down and the four stood there and looked around. “Can everyone hear that too?”
“It’s like… a distant echo…?” Chloe said as the other guests began to look around and hear the same thing. “Like… ‘Ike Wit’ or something?”
Alberto once again was on his phone, furiously typing and scrolling. “Hold on – no way! Are you kidding me? The government issued an arrest warrant for Ultrasonic?”
“What for?!” cried out Cyrus, putting his sunglasses back on and getting ready to go.
“They finally deemed him to be a ‘living weapon of mass destruction’? They want Ultrasonic to turn himself over to the military? That’s insane!”
“Wait,” Glenda said, looking at her custom extra-large phone. “That’s what it is!”
“The bees are saying something is coming this way…” Chloe said nervously.
“Oh my God, Ultrasonic just texted in the chat…” Cyrus whispered, eyes widening with excitement.
Alberto was still focused on typing. “I’m reaching out to all of my contacts – either we’re repealing this arrest warrant or going to war, stay tuned.”
Glenda gasped and exclaimed, “It was Ultrasonic! That’s the noise! He shouted out ‘I Quit!’ and we heard him from miles away!”
Chloe faced the windows which were starting to shake. “That’s what the bees were saying… a loud vibration is heading this way…”
Cyrus laughed and grabbed Alberto’s arm to snap him back to his friends. “Ultrasonic – oh, I guess he’s just Gordon now – texted, ‘Get on the dance floor, let’s make some noise for the newlyweds!’”
The four friends just looked at each other before the scenery finally dawned on them. The wedding venue was full of flowers and vines with glowing specks of light illuminating them. None of them had focused enough on the display of the Green’s powers supporting each other until now. Alberto sighed and gave in, finally smiling. With nothing left to say, he led his friends to the dance floor and waited for Gordon to join them.