Previously: Snake-Boy Comes Out, Part Two
Snake-Boy and Lady Dogface arrived on the rooftop of the Clockwork Brownstone just in time to see The Great Hunter almost fall off the edge of the building, so emphatically was he shaking his index finger at Sky Prince, who hovered just out of reach.
“Just tell him,” said The Great Hunter. “Tell him I’ve done what he said. And I want that thing out …”
Sky Prince did not look happy. He took The Great Hunter by the elbow, helped him gingerly back toward firmer footing on the roof.
“Tell your father I want it out of my house,” said the Great Hunter. He turned, saw Snake-Boy and Lady Dogface. Snorted. “Bah humbug and sheesh. Can’t a man have privacy anymore on the rooftop of his own home?” He flung both hands down to his sides, causing the roof beneath him to open. He dropped out of sight into the room below. They heard a thud, a “damnation!”
The roof, slowly, closed.
Sky Prince continued to hover. He had dark circles under all three of his eyes. His headband had gone missing, but he was squeezing his third eye shut so tightly that it seemed to be trembling. The effort involved in holding that third eye shut made his whole face, and his neck, tremble, actually, his whole body, even. Or maybe it was the effort of not crying. Or maybe he was crying.
“Hey,” said Lady Dogface.
Sky Prince noticed her there for the first time. “Oh,” he said, in a voice more tender than any Snake-Boy had ever heard. “Hey.”
“What was all that about?” said Lady Dogface.
“Who knows?” said Sky Prince. He settled down and sat on the edge of the building, facing away. “I wasn’t listening. I never listen. That’s part of my charm.”
Lady Dogface sat beside Sky Prince.
Now he was crying in earnest: great, heaving, tearless sobs.
Snake-Boy sat on the other side of Sky Prince.
“You,” said Sky Prince. He didn’t look at Snake-Boy. He looked straight ahead. “You are the love of my life.” He put his hand across Lady Dogface’s shoulders. He didn’t look at her, either.
Lady Dogface licked his ear until he giggled.
“No, I’m not,” she said.
He took his arm off of her shoulders, set it down between them. Sky Prince made his sullen face slightly more sullen. But he also looked a little pleased.
“Dogs always know,” said Lady Dogface. “Who loves and how much and why. And who only wants to love. And who only loves love. And so on. Etc.”
They kept staring into each other’s faces for a while.
Snake-Boy, feeling awkward, got up. He went around behind them, sat beside Lady Dogface. Then he got up, and sat on the other side of Sky Prince again. Then he got up again, and sat beside Lady Dogface.
“Hey! You came to my party,” said Snake-Boy.
Sky Prince wiped his nose. He didn’t look at Snake-Boy. He looked at Lady Dogface. “There’s a party?”
“Yeah,” said Lady Dogface. “It’s a blast, let me tell you. Listen –” She patted Sky Prince twice on the thigh, thoughtfully, like it was a loaf of bread she was about to put in the oven. “What’s going on?”
“Oh, nothing. I was going to ask The Great Hunter to help me out with a little. With a little situation I’ve got myself into. But.” Sky Prince sobbed. Then laughed at himself for doing so. “But that one’s always full of his own problems, you know.”
“Where’s your dad?” said Snake-Boy.
Sky Prince turned now, frantically, as if he’d just been accused of something.
“What did you say?”
“I mean, why come to The Great Hunter, of all people?” said Snake-Boy, “Can’t your dad help?” And then, when Sky Prince kept staring at him uncomprehendingly, “With your problem?”
Sky Prince laughed, almost like he was relieved. “Oh yeah. That.” He wiped his nose. “That’s exactly the thing,” he said. He stood up. He hovered off of the edge of the roof. He turned to face them.
“The thing is that I think I’ve killed my dad.”
On the horizon behind him, the Three Towers erupted in flames. A spaceship half as wide as the sky lowered itself above the destruction. It blinked like a Christmas ornament.
“W! T! F?” said Lady Dogface.
“I mean,” said Sky Prince, “I don’t remember doing it, but –”
Then he noticed that neither of them was looking at him. He turned to see what they were looking at.
“Oh,” he said. “Yeah, I noticed them on my way over here. The SerpenTerrorist has launched another attack on the Towers. Biggest yet. It’s crazy.” After a little while he said, “Yeah, I guess we should get down there.”
It took a good five or six minutes, though, before the alarms went off in the Clockwork Brownstone, alerting The Great Hunter and his guests to the emergency. It took another twelve or thirteen minutes before the flighted heroes, minus Sky Prince, left en masse to join the battle to defend their homes.
“C’mon!” said Snake-Boy.
“You can’t go down there,” said Lady Dogface. “Somebody will think you’re just another snake-boy. You’ll get killed. You totally got lucky last time.”
“Not if he’s with me,” said Sky Prince. He didn’t look back, but he held his arm out to Snake-Boy, who took it.
Snake-Boy climbed up onto Sky Prince’s left shoulder.
Sky Prince held out his other arm.
“Oh, no,” said Lady Dogface. “No, no, no. Flying makes me nauseous. I’ll meet you there.”
Snake-Boy looked over at Lady Dogface. He was beaming. Stars and hearts and dancing cherubim shot out of his eyes. Even his shoulder-snakes gave a little shimmy.
“O! M! G!” said Lady Dogface. She took a step back. “Snake-Boy loves Sky Prince.”
But they had already flown away, the two of them, toward the conflagration.
Next: This Time It Was Different