I had a lot of fun with this one! The experiment continues! Thanks for reading!
Spender squirmed at the suggestion. It was bad enough hearing spirits whisper when he passed, seeing others dart for darkness, since that day seven long years ago. Somehow in its aftermath the word had spread that he was some sort of savant... that that fearful scuffle in the fog had proved he was the very strongest spectral.
In truth, he hardly knew what he'd lashed out at. It was big, sure, with a presence like nothing else he'd ever felt... but when the mist cleared, no sign of the threat it might have posed was left behind.
...No sign besides the shadowy sliver of its power that still possessed him.
In any case, Spender hardly felt heroic, and he DEFINITELY didn't feel deserving of the sparkling, rose-hued filter clearly clouding Isabel's wide-eyed stare up at him. He'd have to set her straight.
"You know, Isabel, I don't know if I'd call what I did saving Mayview so much as... um..." It was hard for Spender to get the words out with the full weight of a 6-year-old hanging on each and every one of them. "Well really all I did was shoot just like a concentrated beam of energy at—"
The stars in Isabel's eyes went supernova.
"Er, truthfully it was my patron Lucifer's power that allowed me to—"
Still wider eyes signaled the planting of a future metal phase's seed, and Spender's image as an antihero was secured.
"I nearly drowned after, it wasn't—"
By this point she was forcefully nodding along as if to coax out Spender's epic poem's next verse.
"...Stay in school," he sighed, cutting his losses.
Mina, meanwhile, had been busy replacing a swath of Jean's face with the palm of her hand in a particularly grim use of the dormant Patchworm's power.
"Richard, please just let yourself be flattered," she said. "Not every joy need be refined into the good boy rush you get denying it on principle. And BOTH of you..." She raised Jean's stolen right eye to meet her glare close-up, the unsettling sensory input of which elicited from him a nauseous groan. "If you're going to tell ghost stories, pick a tale that isn't ours. What's done is done. Let's keep it in the past."
Spender frowned, scanning Mina's expression. It wasn't like he especially enjoyed talking about those events either... but she didn't really think that all of it was done, did she?
Sure, he had no proof it wasn't, but the seed of fear had never left him, had kept him training, kept him studying the spirit that possessed him. That, and the hope that he could still undo its damage... that he could reunite little Ed with his parents and answer all the questions left in stasis in their absence. After what they'd all been through together, how could Mina not feel the same...?
She was getting harder and harder to read these days. Spender had to squint to see the parts of her he'd known so well before, as if somehow, without moving, she'd grown distant.
The last light of Mayview's sunset slipped below the hill on the horizon. As if on cue, an unctuous voice rang out, interrupting Spender's train of thought.
"Did someone say... ghost stories?"
Three awful teens stepped out slowly from the shadows of the treeline with a gravitas that frankly at this point should have clued our heroes in to the whole vampire thing. Jean let out another nauseous groan.