Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Not Broken (another superhero thing)

εν νω εχω* a series of stories set in the shared superhero universe featuring Corv and the others about earth elementals who are petrified and then freed.  (In the setting) Earth elementals are somewhat unique in that when they're overtaken by, and transformed into, their element they tend to stick around.  Fires go out, air disperses, water flows, stone stands statuesque.

Thus, baring unfortunate incidents with sledgehammers, rock-slides, or whatnot, they can be recovered.  I envision six to eight characters featured in the petrification chronicles, each petrified under different circumstances and each trapped as stone for a different amount of time.

*I have in mind

Not all superhero teams a created equal, and the one that Ge and Desdemona (Des) below feature in was never one of the good ones.  It was consciously cast in the image of Corv's team meaning that its nominal leader turned away people who would have been good additions to the team because they didn't have powers showcased on Corv's team and added people who weren't good fits because they did have the right powers.

(Ge filled the earth elemental slot on the team.  Desdemona filled the demon slot.)

The team was always dysfunctional, for example: at the time Ge was turned to stone she had lost all will to live and would have welcomed death had it come to her.  After Ge was gone, things got worse.

All of that is only tangentially related to this particular fragment, which begins after the break.

* * *

Alisha turned in hopes of figuring out what had stopped Des in mid-sentence.  There didn't seem to be anything out of the ordinary, the club continued as it had before.  As she kept looking, though, she realized that a girl was walking toward them and looking straight at Des.  Dark hair, dark eyes, freckled face, possibly Japanese, definitely too young to be in here.

When the girl reached their booth, Des stood up and hugged her.

~ ~ ~

Ge smiled when Des whispered, "Are the others right behind you?"

She didn't bother whispering her response:

"This is the third club on their list in this area, and at the moment they're looking somewhere else entirely.  May I sit?"

Des nodded, sat herself, and slid far enough into the booth that Ge had space.

"She your sister?" the woman Des was with asked.

Ge looked at Des, tried to imagine seeing her for the first time, and was still confused.  So she asked, "Do we look related?"

"No," Des said to the other woman.  "Alisha, this is Ge," Des said with a gesture, "Ge, Alisha."

Des using Ge's real name was a sign that Des wasn't bothering with any secret-identity fake-name crap.  That made things simpler.

"Pleasure, I'm sure," Ge said to Alisha.  She thought her voice was neutral enough, though she didn't understand why Des did this, apparently with surprising frequency.

"How do you two know each other?" Alisha asked.  Then she followed up with, "And how did someone your age get in here?  And who is the 'they' who are looking somewhere else?"

Inquisitive one.

"Long story," Ge answered.  "Nightclubs can't afford the locks it would take to keep me out.  Acquaintances who don't like the fact that Des has a habit of having sex with random women she meets at nightclubs."

Alisha seemed to take it in stride.  Des chuckled.

Ge looked over Alisha, nothing stood out as wrong about her, then she turned to Des, "Is this really what you do with your free time now?"

"I appreciate your concern," Des said.  Had Ge sounded concerned?  She hadn't meant to sound concerned.  She was concerned, of course; who wouldn't be?  But she hadn't meant to sound concerned.  Des continued, "Especially because for you it's actually because you're worried about me instead of worried about upholding some image, but there's something very important you have to understand, Ge."

So Ge listened.  Waiting for very important.

"I'm not broken," Des said, "and neither are the women I bed."  Des paused for a while.  "Not everyone who wants sex wants a relationship.  And there's nothing wrong with that.  I make sure that my partners know full well I'm not looking for anything that lasts."

Ge looked at Alisha, who hadn't bolted.  Ge would have.  Des might as well have pointed to her as an example when she talked about the women she "bedded".  That would have tripped her awkwardness alarms and sent her into run and hide mode.  But Alisha was just sitting there.

When she noticed Ge's eyes on her, Alicia confirmed what Des had said with a nod.

Ge turned back to Des and said, "It's just that you always used to--"

"A lot has chan--"

"I know." Ge said.  She hadn't even realized how angry she'd suddenly become until she heard the sound of her own words, but that didn't stop her.  "You don't have to tell me things changed.

"I was a year older than all of my friends when I went under and when I came back up everyone was twenty three while I was still seventeen and everything is different.

"I don't need more reminders; every time that someone who used to be my friend brushes me off like I'm just some random kid, I get more reminder than anyone should have to endure.  Everything I know might as well be ancient history to 'kids my age', the places that I used to go have been bulldozed, torn down, renovated, or rotted out.  The entire damned world changed and I'm the only thing that didn't.

"I know that things changed."

"I'm sorry," Des said.  The words brought Ge back down to normal.  She looked around to see if she'd created a scene, but no one outside of the booth seemed to have any interest.  "I know it's still raw for you.  I was just trying to . . ." the pause wasn't usual, it wasn't right.  Des didn't pause mid-sentence.  "It doesn't matter.  I apologize."

"Accepted," Ge said before she'd even processed exactly what Des had said.  "So, while I was gone, you discovered that you happen to like meaningless sex and--"

"Hey," Alisha said.  It was either amused indignation, or an amused impression of indignation.  Ge wasn't sure which.  "If it were meaningless do you think I'd still be here?"

The tone was one that put Ge into a comfortable autopilot, and she asked, "Not just sticking around to watch the train wreck?" in banter mode.

Alisha smiled, shook her head, then looked at Des in a predatory way.  Ge very much did not understand.  But she didn't really need to either.  As long as Des was ok.

As Ge was making peace with that, she missed that Alisha had turned her attention back to Ge, and so the question, "You were really frozen for seven years?" caught her off guard.

It only took a few beats longer than it should have for the question to register, and then she said, "Provided you're using the word 'frozen' figuratively, yeah."  A quick glance in the direction of memory lane told Ge that she had never mentioned that directly.  Still: basic math.

"And after that" Des said, "when your condition prevented you from sleeping alone, remember whose bed you shared?"

"Of course I do," Ge answered.

"Remember how long it lasted?"


"So you know as well as anyone," Des said, "I haven't had sex in ages."  There was a pause --between sentences as pauses should be when Des was speaking-- and then Des said, "Could you keep the others off my back, Ge?"

Ge pulled out her communicator, looked at messages that had been sent on the frequency --all text-only because heaven forfend that someone overhear the team was looking for a member who had left the house in hopes of getting laid-- and then nodded.

"I'll run interference for you," Ge said.  "Get back to the common by two AM though."

"Thanks, Ge," Des said.

~ ~ ~

Alicia watched the girl walk away, then said, "That was interesting."

"Now you know my dark secret," Des said.

"That you have a curfew?"

"That my best friend isn't old enough to vote, and I have an entire squad dedicated to forcing me to look less debauched because it's allegedly bad PR," Des said.

"I do wonder why PR would matter to you," Alisha said, "and I'd hate to think that our time tonight might be cut short . . ."

"I can make you forget time and space even exist," Des said.

"I'll hold you to that," Alisha said, noting her own body's reaction to the boast, "but mostly what I want to know is: what's a 'common'?"

"We were a bunch of teenagers --orphans and outcasts-- who thought we could run our own lives better than any adults," Des said, "and to prevent anyone from pulling that 'under my roof' crap, our home was held in common."

"It sounds like a nice idea," Alisha said.

"Yeah," Des said.  Darker emotions seemed to take hold for a moment, but they were clearly pushed aside.  "Shitty implementation, though."

"Just out of curiosity," Alisha said, "is your name short for 'Desdemona'?"

"Does it matter?" Des asked.

"Not really," Alisha said.  They'd both already decided where this night was going.  Well before the interruption, in fact.  "If you're trying to hide it, though, you're not doing the best job."

"I strive not for deception but plausible ambiguity," Des said as her expression transformed into a smirk.

Alisha laughed.

"I take it it was worth sticking out the unexpected drama," Des said.

"That remains to be seen," Alisha said, "but if any of the PR I've heard about you --which didn't seem bad to me-- is true, I think it will have been."

Des' smirk returned at the mention of her "PR", and became a fuller wider smile when Alisha shared her opinion on it.

1 comment:

  1. LIKE.

    Tho I keep imagining this is Alicia the portal-controller from the MCU story... IDK if that's bad?