I donít want the world to see me, ícause I donít think that theyíd understand
When everythingís made to be broken, I just want you to know who I am
~ The Goo Goo Dolls, "Iris"
You know, Iíve got this recurring dream.
In it, Jake and I have just gotten back from a mission. I guess weíve been successful at whatever it was, because weíre both in a great mood. Anyway, I jump down out of the TurboKat, head over to the lockers and pull off my maskóonly to look in the mirror, and see that thereís nothing under the mask but an empty flight suit.
The first time, I figured Iíd just had too many mongo peppers on my pizza that night. But Iíve kept having this dream. And it bothers me.
For a while, I thought about telling Jake. Heís better at thinking about all this psychology stuff. Heck, heís better at thinking, period. I havenít said anything yet, though. I mean, sure, heís the best friend and partner a kat could ever haveóbut heís gotten so used to my silly crud, sometimes he doesnít really know when to take me seriously. Thatís my fault, not his. Besides, when I think about it, it does seem kinda dumb getting worked up over a dream.
So I puzzled it out all on my lonesome for a whileÖ and I finally admitted to myself that I understood what it meant. In hindsight, I guess it was pretty obvious, but I just didnít want to face it.
The simple truth is, sometimes Iím afraid Chance Furlong is the real mask.
See, a mask is more than just a piece of cloth. A whole lot more. Thereís a heavy price to pay for giving it a piece of your life. Everything that makes you special belongs to that maskÖ and whatís left over becomes something youíre not. Just a shell to protect the secret.
I think itís different for Jake. As Razor, heís cocky as anythingóbut underneath his mask, the real Jake is a pretty shy guy. He doesnít mind hiding out from the world in the grease pit. He doesnít crave the real credit for the things we do, the lives we save, the times we risk our tails.
But meÖ Iím a pilot, and a darn good one. Iím snarky and brash and self-confident.
And Chance Furlong can be none of those things.
The hardest part is seeing CallieóMiss Briggs, that isówhen she brings in that big green jalopy of hers to the garage. The way she smiles and says "thank you" to Chance isnít the way she says it to T-BoneÖ the way I want to hear it. All she sees is a brawny scrapyard kat who lives his life under the hood of a car. She doesnít see whatís really me, and I can never let herófor my sake, for Jakeís, and especially for her own. She runs plenty enough risks being Deputy Mayor, without knowing the secret every megavillain within a thousand miles would sell whatís left of their souls for.
Thatís the difference, again, between Jake and me. Heís more of himself around her.
Maybe thatís why she smiles at him a little differently.
© 2004Jordanna Morgan