Twelve Sessions, 5/? (2017-01-25)

I remember the early years with fondness, grief, and no small amount of embarrassment.

The three of us were boys. Weird, stupid boys with more power than sense and the worst taste in food.

It’s amazing that Doc hadn’t just thrown us to the wolves and been done with us.

(That’s not a pun about Alvin, by the way.)

We were high on the adrenaline, the thrill of being young and being heroes and making a change in the world. We fought bad guys, foiled their schemes, wrapped them up for the authorities to deal with, and went on our way as if there were no repercussions.

Stupid.

Joy made us see that things weren’t nearly so black and white. We grew and we learned and–

–and Leanne arrived just in time to see everything begin to crumble.

No field trip today. Which is just as well. I’m feeling chatty: I’ll talk, but not about what happened.

What happened can’t be changed, why talk about it?

“I know a Simon,” I begin, taking charge for once in these sessions. If she’s surprised at all, it doesn’t show on her face.

“He’s Al–uh, Silverfang’s boyfriend. Shit,” I stutter, uncertain. My identity–neither of them–isn’t a secret, but the same cannot be said of the rest of my team.

It’s hard to keep track of who knows what.

Well, it was. There’s less to keep track of now.

“I know who Alvin is,” she assures, simply, and gestures for me to continue.

“Yeah, so, Simon. Alvin’s boyfriend. I used to think that was hilarious because of the chipmunks. You know, all they were missing was a Theodore. But then I thought about it more and I realized that’s weird because aren’t the chipmunks brothers?”

The words flow out of me too quickly for her to answer, not that there’s much of an answer to give.

“And why is it called Alvin and the Chipmunks anyway? Isn’t Alvin a chipmunk, too? It’s kind of redundant. Then again, I guess Alvin and his two brothers isn’t exactly catchy. Though it’s still pretty shitty considering it’s like saying oh, hey, you two we don’t really care about you. Just do some backup vocals for Alvin. Now he’s the real money maker.

The chipmunk, not the real Alvin. Al is basically the trashiest person to ever live. I swear one time I found him eating pizza he fished out of a dumpster. And you’d think what with the whole enhanced sense of smell that’d put him off, but it was an entire free pizza that someone tossed out because it was also a proposal pizza.

And who does that? Who thinks–oh, hey, I’ll propose marriage via pizza what could possibly go wrong? I mean, the eating dumpster pizza thing is still fucking gross never mind that it had still been warm in the box and untouched, but I already knew that about Al so it’s not like I was too surprised.

But the proposal pizza–the pizza proposal?–that’s just. And it wasn’t even any of the fancy toppings, either. Just pepperoni. Like, shell out for some gourmet chicken or whatever. Honestly, who does that?

Then again, if it were up to Al, he’d do a pizza proposal. Or, you know, try to. Except I’m pretty sure that even Al knows that Simon’s too classy for a pizza proposal. Joy would definitely shut that shit down before it took off. Nothing but the best for her baby brother. Never mind that they started dating before she joined the team.”

“Joy?”

Shit.

“Yeah… Simon’s older sister…”

I fucked up.

There are only two women on the team. Were. Jaguar and Anachron.

One of them is a reformed cat burglar (pun, annoyingly enough, intended). The other is a time traveller that has already disappeared.

Neither of them are public with their identities. Not that it would matter for Leanne.

Shit. I fucked up real bad.

I should have just kept talking, the silence is really fucking conspicuous.

“… I’d at least spring for multiple pizzas, if I were going to do a pizza proposal,” Simone says, slowly, as if the silence had a function to let her consider such a hypothetical and not a complete fuck up on my part.

Still, I take the out for what it is, and continue my word barf.

“Right? And pepperoni wouldn’t have worked, anyway, because Simon’s a vegetarian…”

By the end of the session, my throat feels sore from talking about absolutely nothing and I only slipped up the once.

As a parting gift, Simone tosses me a bottle of water–which I do catch–and, considering there’s not hint of it on the news the next morning, does not pass along valuable intel about still-wanted felon Jaguar.

Twelve Sessions, 4/? (2017-01-24)

This is the pertinent fact of the matter:

We were five and now we are three.

Put like that, it doesn’t sound too bad. The team used to be only three before. Now we’re back to original numbers, if not the original line-up.

Alvin and Brian and I–we were three, once.

Then came Joy, on an intermittent basis, then Leanne from decades in the future.

Five mismatching parts trying to make a whole.

Then goodbye to Leanne, gone as quickly as she came. Goodbye to Brian who always tried to reach beyond himself.

Goodbye five.

Three doesn’t seem enough anymore.

Outside the door to what’s-her-face’s room, I hesitate.

It’s not a sudden realization, or even a slow creeping one, but rather a reorientation of attitude.

There is no point in continuing the one-sided petulance. It’s more energy than it’s worth. And who does it help? Not what’s-her-face, and certainly not me.

I still don’t think I should be here. But I’m here and being an asshole isn’t going to change that.

Before I can get a hand on the doorknob, what’s-her-face opens the door.

She doesn’t look surprised to see me.

“Ah, good idea, Curtis. Just a second,” she says, gesturing with one hand, before shutting the door in my face.

I stare, stupidly, until she opens the door again, this time with a jacket and scarf on.

She locks the room behind her and walks to the end of the hallway.

“Well, come on!” she prompts, waving me over.

I follow, bewildered.

Outside the building, the weather is chilly. Weak winter sun filtering down through the clouds, but harsh winds more than making up for it. Our breaths puff out as quickly vanished steam.

“What are we doing?” I ask, confused. It seems like today is the day of confusion.

“Have you eaten, Curtis?” she asks, “I’m hungry.”

It’s three in the afternoon.

I say as much out loud.

“That is neither an answer or an argument. Come on, there’s a diner at the end of the block.”

“Is this allowed?” I ask, but follow her anyway. I could always go for pancakes.

“It’s your therapy,” she says with a shrug.

The diner is one of those old relics, clean but aged poorly–not one of those fashionably retro places. I’m not sure if it’s empty because of the time or because of unpopularity.  

Regardless, I’m always up for some pancakes.

It’s a mostly quiet session, consisting of eating noises and the casually indifferent check ins from the waiter.

At the end, Simone pays for the check and leads us back before the hour is up.

Word Prompts (AA1): +

It’s just basic arithmetic. If one death can save many, it’s logical to sacrifice the individual for the greater good.

Consider also this: two people and one of them must die. But one of them can save lives later down the road, whereas the other cannot.

Wouldn’t it make sense to choose the one who can save others? Exchange one death for another, since both cannot be saved.

If she can do this, if she can pull this off, then maybe the world won’t go to shit.

Right now, Leanne is approximately twenty seven years old and also exactly five years, three months, and eight days old.

Her older self is in Cadmium City, trying not to pass out as she helps Doctor Kaiza stitch her student’s organs back inside of his body, while her younger self is enjoying a relaxing breakfast with her grandparents in the town of Belleview.

Lucky brat.

“Oh god, I’m gonna hurl,” she groans–her older self, that is–behind the paper and elastic mask, trying not to move her gloved hands even though all of Brian’s blood has made everything very slippery.

“You better not, this is a sterile environment and I won’t have you ruining my surgery,” Kaiza scolds without looking up, a trail of neat black stitches following after her needle.

Leanne scowls, she wasn’t really going to, it’s an exaggeration, but she lets the matter drop. Instead, she aims a question at Brian, “Doesn’t this hurt? She didn’t use any anesthesia.”

He smiles, pale and shaky with bloodloss but amused nonetheless, “I have a high pain tolerance.”

In the eyes of society, the best thing for a metahuman vigilante to do is to have many children, raise them with strong moral values, and go around sacrificing their lives for the betterment of everyone else around them.

The second best thing is to die a martyr.

The superhero Griever never got the chance to do the former because he eventually ended up doing the latter before he ever got married.

But Leanne has never been a very good metahuman, much less a good metahuman vigilante, and in this instance she’s not going to let Brian be either.

Whenever she is shunted through time, the first thing she does is try to find a safe place. Whether the the trip is an hour or a month, it doesn’t hurt to have some kind of home base to work from and wait out her stupid pocket watch’s erratic decisions.

Of course, her stupid pocket watch is also very sadistic and likes to make such a notion as difficult as possible.

This time she lands in the middle of a battle that would be almost nostalgic were it not, well, a battle. It’s not her team, nor a villain she’s used to, but she lends her efforts in destroying the robots trying to stab the slower lingering civilians. She doesn’t scream when a massive wolf jumps over her and rips the head off of one such machine, wires still sparking at the end, nor does she quake when a seemingly ordinary young man punches his fist clean through two inches of steel.

No, it’s only after the fight–once the villain has been apprehended and the mass self destruct order activated–that she flinches: when the third member of this familiar-yet-not team lays a hand on a bleeding arm wound, and pulls away to reveal unbroken skin instead.

Alvin Chand she recognizes, both in his wolf form and his human form, though the version she met had more scars and gray hairs. Curtis Ives looks similar enough to his son–or perhaps its the other way around–that she isn’t at all surprised.

But this third man, the one who introduces himself as Brian Odell? Oh, she’s met him before, too.

When she was just a child, crying in a grocery store, and one of the stock boys helped her find her grandfather.

Not as one of the members of her vigilante team’s predecessor.

Who are you, she thinks, as Doctor Kaiza–almost annoyingly familiar to her–herds the team into the clinic. Why have I never heard of you before, she wonders.

Here’s the problem: as far as she knows, she can’t actually change anything.

Oh little things, sure, the kind of minor tweaks and rewrites that changes a punch to the cheek into a dodge and counterattack. The only reason why she was chosen for the team as a teenager in the first place–the only ability her pocket watch had at the time, or seemed to have, anyway. But she’s never been able to change anything major before.

That’s not going to stop her from trying.

~

A/N: It’s not like I actually did anything strenuous today but for some reason I am very tired. So here’s this Counterclockwise installment featuring Leanne (re)meeting Brian Odell. Read about their first meeting here.

Untitled drabble (2015-11-04)

“You’re kidding,” Alvin says flatly, eyes narrowed.

The doctor, in response, lifts one eyebrow. Even though it’s been years–over a decade–it still triggers an instinctive fear reaction in Alvin. He freezes, and she smiles, a slow creeping thing like a beast curling its lip back.

He lifts his chin. In humans, that would be a gesture of defiance, but in beasts…

“No, I’m not kidding,” the doctor finally answers, almost smug in her victory.

Alvin looks back down at the operating table, and ignores the persistent feelings of deja vu, of being a teenager lined up beside his teammates, listening to the doctor explain the latest mission. Before, there were pictures and files about the villain of the week. Now there are only two photos; the one on the left features a sullen-faced boy, the one on the right shows a somehow equally sullen looking lion cub.

“Cats and dogs, doctor!” he protests, futilely.

She is clearly unimpressed, “Hari isn’t some house cat, and you’re not a dog. Come now, Silverfang, what are you afraid of?”

The problem is, Alvin actually is a licensed foster parent. He needed to be in order to prove himself a suitable guardian for his niece and nephew.

It was a hassle to do–given the political climate a decade ago and the fact that he was, is, a homosexual bachelor–and so he makes sure to keep it up-to-date even though Diana and Jericho are both legal adults and have no need for him to do so.

Alvin didn’t really think it would be used against him, “Fine,” he huffs, “I’ll meet him.”

~

A/N: ? :/

Untitled drabble (2015-06-26)

“I am not bleeding, bruised, or in any way concussed currently!” Brian cheers, perhaps a little too enthusiastically, arms flung out and nearly punching Curtis in the eye.

“Congratulations,” Alvin says, not even at all sarcastically. It’s practically a miracle if Brian can get through a day without taking on someone’s pain. Most days they’re lucky and he has an opportunity to pass some of it on, but he still ends up keeping some.

“My little boy’s all grown up. Walking around on his own two feet, not hurting himself.” Curtis mocks, faking a sob; but he lets Brian smack him with a pillow, so all is forgiven.

“We can’t all be invulnerable,” Brian shoots back.

“We should get cake,” Alvin suggest, which is somewhat disjointed from the conversation, but not a total non sequitur, so his teammates let it slide.

“It’s not that big of a deal,” Brian demurs, confused yet also totally on board for cake. Any dessert, really. Well, all food, really; teenage boy plus biological superpower equals ludicrous metabolism.

Curtis, squinting suspiciously in Alvin’s direction, smacks a fist against his open palm. Then his expression rearranges itself into an exaggerated leer, waggling eyebrows and all, “Is Simon on shift at the Baker Bakery today?”

Alvin blushes, a creeping spill of red across his face. Curtis laughs.

“Dude, don’t play me like that,” Brian chides, kicking at Alvin’s ankle but only just barely grazing it, “If you want a wingman you just have to ask. Don’t risk my twenty four hour streak of perfect health for a lie-cake. A lake. A kie?”

“Yeah,” Curtis agrees through his chuckles before it peters out, “Don’t tease, man. You can’t lie about cake.”

“It wasn’t a lie!” Alvin protests, though suitably shamed.

“And anyway,” Curtis continues, unrelenting, “Isn’t his older sister super protective?”

“I’m pretty sure she hates you,” Brian adds, completely unhelpfully.

“She hasn’t even met me yet,” Alvin grumbles, but nods because he’s pretty sure Joy Guerrero hates everyone in general but Alvin specifically.

He has no idea why.

~

A/N: Well, this was not the direction I was expecting it to go in. But okay. Just click on the Alvin Chand tag for related drabbles.

Untitled drabble (2015-06-24)

This drabble is NSFW (just cussing, though)

“Those assholes are fucking useless!” Apex yells, punching one invulnerable fist straight through an inch of steel into the inner workings of the latest swarm of evil robots and pulling out several still sparking wires.

One down, only about two hundred more to go.

Behind him, one robot readies its blade arm (fucking swords for arms, why?) only to be toppled to the ground by a massive canine. Its head is then ripped off by said canine’s jaws, leaving the body inert. Between one blink and the next, the canine turns into a crouched human who scowls up at Apex in commiseration.

“They lost Griever,” Silverfang growls, jaw and teeth still distorted from his rapid transformation, “I told them to keep track of him.”

“Useless!” Apex repeats, bodily flinging one robot into a clustered group of four that may have been trying to fuse into one larger, deadlier robot (what the fuck, seriously). “Go find him, before he absorbs too much and ends up hurting himself. His power doesn’t do shit against machines. I’ll be fine on my own.”

Silverfang grunts before bounding away, turning from human to wolf between one step and the next.

In between the screeching clash of metal, the slowly petering out screams of civilians, and his own pounding heartbeat, Apex can hear the sounds of conversation between their piece of shit allies and the villain of the week. Are they–? Those tools are trying to get through to him emotionally. All five of them, apparently, at the same time.

“You are fucking kidding me,” he bites out between grit teeth, sacrificing a scratch to the arm to avoid a stab in the leg. It heals slowly, sluggishly oozing blood, “Are these rust fuckers’ goddamn sword arms coated in poison?”

This is the worst.

“We are never working with this team again.”

~

A/N: NSFW because of language… I’m not really prone to cussing, especially not loud explosive cussing so… yeah.

I always wondered why there weren’t more vigilante team team ups in various comics universes. I guess because so many would be unwieldy to write and kind of an overkill. But also… with that many people, personalities are bound to clash, and team philosophies are highly different.

Apex, Silverfang, and Griever are random vigilante OCs of mine. Apex is the typical superhuman super-strength/healing/senses (though not speed). He is also not usually this angry. Silverfang is a werewolf… maybe? Or just a shapeshifter who prefers wolf form. I have previously written about him here. Griever, who I’m more fond of than makes sense considering I didn’t even showcase him, has the ability to absorb injuries/pain and then transfer to someone else with a touch. He has a max capacity, though, so if he doesn’t get rid of injuries soon enough then they’ll manifest on him instead… his power really doesn’t do shit against machines.

Untitled (2015-05-03)

The second time Joy meets Alvin, she can’t decide whether or not it’s a terrible nightmare or an elaborate ruse. Considering he thinks it’s the first time they’ve met, when in fact the first time they met he was trying to arrest her for stealing over twenty thousand dollars worth of jewelry while they were both using their alter egos, her reservation is valid. Silverfang and his vigilante friends failed in catching Jaguar that night, but that doesn’t mean Joy Guerrero has necessarily gotten off scott free.

Fortunately and yet, somehow simultaneously, unfortunately, her younger brother really is dating Alvin Chand. Which means that although she isn’t going to be arrested belatedly for her crimes, her personal and professional lives are going to intersect in rather uncomfortable ways.

“Joy,” Simon says, smiling, unaware of the inner turmoil he is causing in his older sister, “This is my boyfriend, Alvin.” Which is obvious, from the way their arms are threaded together like out of a period drama.

Alvin looks at her nervously, the same way any teenaged boy meeting his boyfriend’s family for the first time would look. Not like a vigilante trying to suss out if said family is a wanted burglar.

“It’s nice to meet you, Alvin,” She lies through her teeth, extending a hand for him to shake. And if her grip is particularly tight, then it’s just an older sister’s prerogative. She raised Simon herself, she’s allowed to be protective.

“Likewise,” Alvin responds, wincing slightly. More from a message received than from actual pain–Silverfang has super strength, Jaguar does not.

“Joy!” Simon scolds, knowing her too well, though secretly pleased enough not to do much else, “Let’s sit already,” he continues, leading the two of them to one of four table in the unimaginatively, but aptly, named Baker & Son’s Bakery and Cafe.

Mostly, the Guerrero siblings just call it the Bakery. In part, because the entire name is ridiculously redundant sounding, but also because the two of them have lived in one of the apartments in the upper floors since they were children. The Bakers are practically family.

As soon as they all sit, Aaron, the latest generation of Baker, eagerly makes his way over to them with a pad of paper and a bright purple crayon. He is four years old and his tiny apron has little cartoons of smiling cats. As it should, since Joy was the one to buy it for him as a birthday gift.

“Ms. Joy,” He beams up at her, delight obvious on his adorable face. His greeting for Simon is only slightly less bright, “Mr. Simon,” And his smile drops completely when he eyes at the third member of their party suspiciously, “Who are you?” Aaron pouts, though he’s likely aiming for a scowl.

Aaron’s father, observing from behind the counter, stifles a laugh.

“This is Alvin, my boyfriend,” Simon explains, which prompts said boyfriend to wave slightly with a slightly sheepish smile.

Aaron looks extremely skeptical, but quickly dismisses him to gaze adoringly at Joy instead.

“Are you our waiter today?” Joy asks, extremely amused by this entire exchange.

“Yes!” He chirps, pride evident on his cubbish face, “Daddy says I’m a good em-ploy-ee,” sounding out each syllable carefully.

“I’m sure you’re a big help,” She assures, Simon and even Alvin, grudgingly, making noises of agreements. Aaron’s smile really could not get any wider.

“I think I’ll have one hot chocolate and a… hm, what’s your favorite kind of muffin, Aaron?”

“Blueberry!”

“Then I’ll have one of those,” Joy responds, smile curling as Aaron’s purple crayon draws random scribbles on the notepad. Behind him, his father waves a hand in acknowledgement of the order.

“Ooh, me too. Except instead of a muffin I’d like two chocolate chip cookies, please.” Simon adds, before nudging his boyfriend’s shoulder, “What about you Alvin?”

~

A/N: This drifted away from me very quickly. Like… this is what happens when I don’t outline shit, it just goes off on a tangent and so long, goodbye, thanks for all the fish.