Jasper pulled his locker open, letting out a sigh as he started collecting the books he'd need for his morning classes, jamming them haphazardly into his open backpack. As he went to zip it up, he heard a couple of girls whispering loudly behind him, which wouldn't be all that unusual except he was certain he had heard his name. He turned around, his suspicion only growing when he noticed they had been subtly pointing to him. Their gaze immediately darted away when he caught them, but their hushed tones increased as they quickened their pace, disappearing around the corner out of his line of vision. Jasper's brows snapped together, his jaw clenching in confusion, as his eyes lingered for a moment on the spot where they had been just seconds ago.
He was all but certain they had been whispering about him but.
A second later, two hands slid over his eyes, a familiar voice whispering, "Guess who?" in his ear. Any confusion or agitation he had felt instantly melted away, his lips spreading into a warm smile.
"Hey, Henry," he said as he turned around to see his boyfriend's warm brown eyes sparkling at him.
"Hey," Henry replied, placing a chaste kiss on Jasper's lips before he went to lean against the locker beside Jasper's. Jasper went back to rearranging the things in his locker, noticing out of the corner of his eye that a couple of his classmates were looking at him and whispering just as the other two girls had. He whirled around towards them,causing them to promptly look away. Jasper frowned, doing his best not to jump to conclusions.
Were they actually looking at him?
Or was it just an illusion?
He attempted to shake it off, as he turned his attention back to his locker, but a second later, he saw yet another group looking at him and pointing. He slammed his locker shut in irritation, causing Henry to jump a little. He turned to face him, his brows knitted together into a frown. Henry's expression turned to one of concern as he stood up a little straighter, meeting Jasper's gaze.
"What's wrong, love?" he inquired. Jasper felt his annoyance vanish for just a brief moment; he and Henry had been together for over a year, but Jasper still felt his chest get warm whenever Henry would call him by an endearing pet name.
He threw his backpack over his shoulder while letting out a loud sigh. "Is there something wrong with me? Like, is there something on my face? Something wrong with my hair?" he demanded. Henry was clearly a little taken aback by Jasper's demanding tone, but he quickly recovered as he gave him a once over.
"No, you look fine. Why?"
Jasper bit his lower lip. "I don't know. That's just the third time today where it seemed like people were pointing at me and whispering," he answered, his gaze cast down. He stayed silent for a beat before deciding to just let it go. "So, I just look fine today?" he questioned, his eyes meeting Henry's again as he pretended to be hurt. Henry's lips curled into a smirk.
"Okay, you look good today," he replied. Jasper pursed his lips into a pout as he glanced at the floor again.
An amused expression crossed Henry's face as he used the front of Jasper's shirt to pull him closer.
"Okay, you look absolutely, positively fantastic today. Best looking guy in the school," he mentioned, smiling as he started leaning in for another kiss.
"No PDA in the halls!" Ms. Shapen bellowed before their lips could connect.
"Okay, no PDA in the halls but what about in class?" Henry jokingly called after her as he and Jasper shared a grin. Ms. Shapen whipped back around the corner with a scowl as she shot daggers at Henry. Henry gave her a playful smile, clearly hoping she might pick up on the fact that he was kidding and see the humor. After several seconds of enduring her intense stare, Henry finally cracked.
"Sorry, Ms. Shapen," he mumbled in defeat. She pressed her lips into a thin line, giving him one final glare before turning on her heel, rounding the corner once more.
The two boys shared a look before they broke out into a fit of airy giggles.
"Guys!" they heard a voice exclaim a beat later, and Henry peered over Jasper's shoulder while Jasper whirled around to see Charlotte beaming up at them.
"Hey, Char," Henry chirped.
"Hey, Charlotte. What's up?" Jasper uttered with a grin.
"So, I just got back from a yearbook meeting, and I'm not supposed to tell you this, but you two are definitely a lock for the Cutest Couple Senior Superlative," she said excitedly, glancing around to make sure no one had overheard them. Henry and Jasper shared an amused look.
The warning bell rang then, signaling for them to get to class or risk being late. Henry gingerly took Jasper's hand, intertwining his fingers with Jasper's, the trio falling into sync as they started down the hall.
As they walked, Henry was clearly starting to take notice of what Jasper had been referring to at the beginning of their conversation, his eyebrows slowly coming together in confusion.
Many of their fellow classmates were eyeing them, talking in hushed tones.
"You see what I mean?!" Jasper declared, turned to look at his boyfriend. Henry frowned.
"Yeah, I do...I wonder what that's about," he pondered out loud.
"I don't know, but it's really bugging me," Jasper grumbled. Henry's expression turned sympathetic, obviously picking up on how bothered Jasper was, and he squeezed his hand a little, offering him a warm smile.
"Don't worry about it, babe. I'm sure whatever it is, it'll be forgotten by tomorrow."
The corners of Jasper's mouth curled into a lopsided grin, the heat rising in his cheeks.
"I like it when you call me 'babe'."
Henry's eyes gleamed. "I know. That's why I do it."
By the time lunchtime rolled around, at least half the school had been whispering about Jasper, and Jasper was sick of it.
As he made his way into the cafeteria, two of his fellow classmates, who were standing off to the side, peered at him as they whispered, and Jasper decided then and there to finally confront them.
"What is it?!" he roared, turning to face them. The girl's eyes went wide, and Jasper could tell that she was more than a little shocked by his outburst.
"I uhh...sorry," she stuttered, "It's just...we know it's none of our business but….are you really cheating on Henry?"
Jasper took a step back in surprise, his eyebrows snapping together as he frowned.
He wasn't quite sure what he was expecting her to say, but it certainly wasn't that.
" What? " he responded incredulously, "Of course not! What would give you that idea?!" he interrogated.
"Well," she started, but the guy she was with nudged her in the side and shook his head, signaling for her to keep quiet. "Never mind," she muttered, and the pair of them scurried away from him. Jasper exhaled sharply as he stood there for a beat, flabbergasted.
"Okay, where did that ridiculous rumor even come from?!" he thought.
As he continued into the cafeteria, his eyes landed on Henry entering from the other side, with Charlotte following a few steps behind him. They immediately locked eyes and made their way to each other, meeting up in the middle. Henry was clearly perplexed as he kept his eyes on Jasper.
"Henry, there's this rumor going around that I-"
"That you're cheating on me?" Henry interjected, raising his eyebrows. Charlotte looked back and forth between the two of them with rapt interest.
Their fellow classmates had almost immediately taken notice of their confrontation and were quickly forming a crowd around them.
"Are you?" Henry questioned, sounding more puzzled than angry. Jasper's eyes went wide as he shook his head.
"No! Of course not! I've never even thought about cheating on you and I never would!" he explained hastily. Henry nodded in response.
"Okay," he replied with a simple shrug.
Jasper supposed he shouldn't really be surprised by Henry's casual response. They had known each other for almost their entire lives, and Henry had an unwavering trust in him, one he obviously wasn't going to allow one rumor to break.
Jasper let out a sigh of relief, reaching out his hand for Henry to take but before he could, a kid from the back of the crowd yelled out: "Wait! We have photographic proof that Jasper is cheating!"
Jasper and Henry both furrowed their eyebrows and frowned.
"What?" Jasper snapped. "That's not possible. I've literally never cheated on Henry!" he asserted. The kid pushed his way to the front of the crowd, pulling out his phone as he held it up for Henry and Jasper to look at.
On the tiny screen, there was a photo of Jasper and Kid Danger in a tiny back alley that was taken just moments after Kid Danger had stopped a robbery, with Jasper leaning his head on Kid Danger's shoulder. Charlotte and Henry both quickly clasped a hand to their mouths, the two of them stifling a laugh while Jasper's mouth hung open.
"Oh. That," Jasper started, his brain scrambling for an excuse. "See, that's not what it looks like. Kid Danger….Kid Danger had just saved me from getting mugged...and I kinda felt like I was gonna pass out so I was just leaning on him for support. That's all."
Jasper looked up at Henry, and he could tell from the look on Henry's face that he was finding this much more entertaining than he did.
"Oh, yeah?!" the kid demanded, "Then explain this!"
He held up his phone again, this time displaying a picture of Jasper kissing Kid Danger in the same alley. Henry's eyes went wide, shooting Jasper a worried look, while Jasper grimaced. Everyone watched Jasper expectantly.
"That...that I can't really explain," Jasper muttered.
"So, you admit it? You're cheating on Henry with Kid Danger?" a girl standing closest to Jasper interrogated. Jasper shook his head slightly.
"No, I mean-" he began, but his classmates started cutting him off.
"So, what is it, Jasper? How do you explain this?" one of them questioned.
"Well, I-" he tried to answer but was interrupted again.
"So, what are you saying? That's clearly a picture of you kissing Kid Danger, but you deny that you're cheating on Henry with him so...are you implying that Henry is Kid Danger?" one kid interjected.
Henry's eyes went wide as his head snapped in the direction of Jasper, and Jasper could practically hear him frantically pleading with him to fix this. Jasper exhaled sharply.
He tried to think quickly for a good excuse, but it was no use. He had to say something soon before the kids had too much time to wonder about Henry being Kid Danger. "Um...you guys caught me," he mumbled in defeat, tossing his hands up in the air, "I'm cheating on Henry with Kid Danger."
A chorus of gasps rang out as everyone quickly turned their attention to Henry. Henry was standing there with a blank expression until he realized everyone was looking at him.
"Huh? Oh, wait! Oh, uhhh…." he stammered. "Wow. I am...shocked and betrayed," he declared entirely unconvincingly. Jasper squeezed his eyes shut, internally wincing over how utterly bad Henry's acting was, but by some miracle, everyone seemed to be buying it.
"So, are you breaking up now?" a girl in the back of the crowd asked.
"Well, let's not be hasty…" Jasper replied.
"Yes, I think we should," Henry announced over him. Jasper's gaze snapped to him, the panic that was currently rising in his stomach etched all over his face. Henry's expression remained entirely serious, his eyes locked on Jasper's, and Jasper could feel his chest getting tight, the breath getting caught in his throat.
The darkness in Henry's eyes was starting to make him believe that he might actually be serious.
"We're done," Henry growled, his expression unchanged. Jasper's mouth fell open slightly as he suddenly felt dizzy.
"Henry," he quietly pleaded, his eyes still glued to him. Henry took a few steps back as the crowd started to swarm around Jasper. When the crowd had taken enough of their focus off of him, Henry's lips slowly curled into a sly smile as he winked at Jasper, and Jasper knew that meant that the breakup had just been an act. He let out a quiet sigh of relief as his classmates started hounding him with questions.
"How long have you been seeing Kid Danger?!"
"What's he really like in person?!"
"Do you know his secret identity?!"
Jasper did his best to field the questions, while Charlotte and Henry looked on, teasing smiles plastered on both of their faces.
"Glad they're having fun," Jasper thought to himself sarcastically.
The rest of the day wasn't much better for Jasper. He had been the center of attention in all of his classes, and try as they might, the teachers weren't able to get any work done. It took Jasper three extra minutes to get to the rest of his classes because he kept getting hounded by crowds of people asking about Kid Danger.
Even when he left school, there was a news van waiting outside for him, and Evelyn Hall immediately started pestering him with questions.
"Jasper, can you tell us about your relationship with Kid Danger?" she inquired, shoving the microphone in his face. Jasper pushed it away, annoyance etched all over his face as he marched away from her.
"No comment," he grumbled. Evelyn followed close behind him.
"How long have you known Kid Danger? Are you aware of his secret identity?"
"Does Kid Danger know about your now ex-boyfriend?"
Jasper stopped dead in his tracks, knowing that she had asked that question solely to get a rise out of him and cause him to break on camera but he just turned, shooting the camera a death glare.
"No. Comment," he growled before continuing the trek through the parking lot. Evelyn finally left him alone as he climbed into his car. He tossed his backpack down on the seat beside him, slamming the door before he put his face down on the steering wheel, squeezing his eyes shut for a beat. He jumped when he heard a knock on the window and he felt his blood turn to ice, certain it was more people coming to pester him about Kid Danger, but to his relief, it was just Henry. He hit the button to unlock the door and Henry climbed in the passenger seat, the biggest grin plastered on his face as he threw his and Jasper's backpacks down on the floor at his feet.
"Okay, this is hysterical," he declared. Jasper slowly turned to face him, his eyes narrowed and his lips twisted into a frown.
" How? " he sneered.
"Because! People think you're cheating on me with Kid Danger, but I'm Kid Danger!" Henry exclaimed before he let out a laugh, but Jasper just continued to shoot him a death glare.
"This isn't funny at all, Henry!" he cried. "Everyone thinks I'm a cheater!"
Henry's smile began to fade. "Ooo, yeah, I guess I hadn't really considered that aspect of it," he replied softly. "Well, I wouldn't worry about it too much, I mean, this is high school. There'll be another scandal by next week and everyone will have forgotten about this."
Jasper looked at him, unconvinced.
Just then, the backdoor opened and Charlotte crawled inside, a huge smirk on her face.
"Okay, this is hilarious!" she announced.
"It's not FUNNY!" Jasper bellowed. Henry and Charlotte fell silent while Jasper turned on the car, putting it in reverse. After a few beats, Henry tried to subtly turn back to Charlotte, the two of them snickering as quietly as possible. It irritated Jasper to no end, but he was too exhausted from the day to fight over it anymore.
Jasper was actually excited about going to work that day. He was happy and relieved that he'd finally be at a place where he could get some peace away from the constant prying questions. He was hoping he could even find a way to forget about the whole mess for a while and just spend some time with his boyfriend and best friend, shutting out the rest of the outside world.
No such luck.
When the elevator came to a crashing halt and opened up into the Man Cave, the trio found Ray sitting in front of the monitors with a remote in his hand, a steely look on his face. On the main screen, the newscast about Jasper and Kid Danger's relationship was paused.
"Does someone wanna tell me what the hell this is about?" Ray snapped as he pointed the remote over his shoulder at the monitor. Charlotte and Henry shared amused glances before they broke into a fit of giggles.
"It's kinda funny isn't it?" Henry said. Ray stood up, his expression unchanged.
"No, it's not. At all," he responded sternly.
"Thank you!" Jasper declared, throwing his hands in the air.
"Do you know how dangerous this is?" Ray continued, his tone severe as he stood up. The smiles on Henry's and Charlotte's faces immediately vanished. "What do you think is gonna happen to Jasper if one of our enemies finds out about this?! You just handed them the perfect piece of bait for Kid Danger," he finished, his eyes dark as they bore into Henry. Henry's gaze snapped to his feet for a beat.
"I hadn't considered that," he mumbled softly. Ray took a few steps towards them as he sighed.
"We need to take care of this. You two need to break up," he announced as he waved the remote between Henry and Jasper. The pair exchanged alarmed looks as they both began to protest.
"Nooooooo!" Jasper whined.
"I don't wanna break up!" Henry cried. Ray shut his eyes as he exhaled sharply, clenching his jaw.
"Not you two!" he snapped through gritted teeth, "You and Kid Danger!"
"Ohhhh," Henry and Jasper both replied simultaneously.
"That makes more sense," Jasper responded. Ray began to pace with a thoughtful expression.
"We have to make sure it's public. Make sure the word gets out," he continued, putting his hand up to his chin while he thought it over.
"I've got it!" Henry exclaimed, snapping his fingers. Ray stopped dead in his tracks as everyone turned towards Henry. "We've got the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new playground tomorrow. It's supposed to be televised. We'll just get in front of one of the news cams, stage a fake breakup and boom. Easy peasy," he explained coolly. Ray's expression turned severe once more.
"You better hope so," he warned.
The next day, Jasper and Kid Danger arrived at the ribbon-cutting ceremony and a chorus of gasps and whispers rang out.
"Man, I can't wait until this is over," Jasper mumbled, feeling self-conscious under the scrutinizing gaze of what felt like all of Swellview.
The two had decided to wait until right before the ceremony started to do their "breakup" so that most people would have arrived and tuned in by then. As the last of the guests arrived, Henry and Jasper exchanged a glance and a nod before searching for locating the nearest news cam.
"Ready?" Henry whispered softly.
"Ready," Jasper replied, and Henry gently squeezed his hand. They stepped in front of the news cam, putting on the angriest faces they could muster.
"Oh, yeah, well! You're too bossy!" Jasper shouted. Kid Danger furrowed his eyebrows as he frowned.
"Well, at least I'm not a huge dork!" he shot back.
One of the news reporters, Evelyn Hall ran up to the cameraman that had been manning the camera Jasper and Kid Danger were shouting in front of, as she tapped him on the shoulder.
"The mayor and his wife are arriving, quick, get a shot of them!" she hissed, completely ignoring Jasper and Kid Danger.
Jasper and Henry exchanged defeated looks.
"Now what?" Jasper whispered.
"We gotta find another news cam."
The duo scanned the event, searching for another place where they could stage their breakup.
"Oh, over there!" Henry said as he pointed to a camera on the other side of the crowd. The pair made their way over to it, positioning themselves in view of the lens once more. Henry raised his eyebrows at Jasper, silently asking if he was ready or not and Jasper nodded in response.
"Oh, yeah!" Jasper exclaimed, "Well you're not even that good of a superhero!"
Henry was physically taken aback as he snapped his eyebrows together.
" Dude!" he hissed through gritted teeth. Jasper shrugged a little as the corners as he subtly grimaced.
" Sorry," he mouthed.
"Well, no one cares about your bucket collection!" Kid Danger spat. Jasper threw his hands up, his face twisted in genuine offense.
" See how it feels?" Henry whispered. The two both turned then to see that the camera was no longer on them.
"Oh, come on!" Henry cried. "This isn't working," he said flatly, slumping his shoulders.
His eyes scanned the crowd as he clearly worked to devise a new plan.
As he was thinking it over, the mayor stood behind the podium situated on stage in front of the giant ribbon, starting his speech as the cameras closest to the stage turned towards him. Henry grabbed Jasper's arm and started pulling him towards them.
"Where are we going?" Jasper asked.
"Just follow my lead," Henry muttered. Henry pulled Jasper right in front of the mayor so that Jasper and Kid Danger were situated smack dab in between the camera and the stage.
"Uh, fellas? We're kinda doing a ceremony here," the mayor muttered, holding a hand over the microphone. Henry put on his best angry face as he held up a hand to him.
"Hang on, we're in the middle of something here," Kid Danger declared as he shot daggers at Jasper. "If you really feel that way, then why don't we just break up?!" he roared as loudly as he could.
"Why don't we?!" Jasper bellowed.
"Fine!" Kid Danger snapped.
"Fine!" Jasper shot back. The two of them gave each other one more scathing glare before they stormed off in opposite directions. The crowd went quiet for a moment.
"Did they really just break up?" a voice in the crowd whispered loudly.
"YES!" Kid Danger and Jasper yelled simultaneously. Evelyn Hall grabbed her mic, stepping in front of the main camera with a slightly shocked and dumbfounded expression.
"Uhh, well. You heard it here first! Kid Danger and Jasper Dunlop are officially over," she announced before turning to face the mayor as she shrugged. The Mayor awkwardly cleared his throat before continuing on with his speech.
After the event, Henry, Ray, and Jasper piled into the elevator to go down into the Man Cave, and when they stepped out they found Charlotte already waiting for them.
"Did it work?!" Ray inquired hopefully. Charlotte gripped.
"Yep! The news just did a segment on Jasper and Kid Danger's big blowout at the ceremony this afternoon. You're in the clear," she answered. The boys all let out a collective sigh of relief.
"Thank God that's over," Jasper said as he slumped down onto the couch.
"Can you guys please be more careful from now on when Henry's in his Kid Danger costume?" Ray pleaded.
"Oh, don't worry. I'm never going through that again," Jasper replied. Henry took a seat beside him, leaving no space in between them. He put his hand down on Jasper's knee as he turned his head to face him.
"I gotta admit, it was kinda fun having you on my arm as Kid Danger, though," he mentioned with a smile. Jasper opened his mouth to argue, but Henry spoke again before he had the chance. "But, it's definitely not worth the risk," he added.
And just like that, everything went back to normal and Jasper went back to being just another face in the crowd. He and Henry waited a week for things to officially cool off before announcing their reconciliation, and Charlotte informed them that they were back on track to becoming Cutest Couple. It was almost as if the whole "Kid Danger cheating scandal" never happened.
Yep, everything was back to normal.
Well, that was until….
"Hey, Henry, is it true that you're dating Kid Danger?"