Twelve Sessions, 6/? (2017-01-26)

It’s weird how quiet the city has been. Hardly any crime that the police can’t handle themselves, no meta threat that needs much more than just Apex showing up.

Which is good.

I love this city, I’ve fought hard to keep it safe, but I can’t say I don’t appreciate the calm.

Even though, given the team’s numbers have been severely reduced, criminals should want to make a big move. Take advantage.

But I’m grateful because I’m pretty sure if another crisis hits it’ll just be me facing it.

Not that I’m afraid–Apex is indestructible,.

Nothing can hurt me.

We’re halfway through the assigned sessions and while I’m definitely less pissed off at the very idea of therapy, that doesn’t mean I’m comfortable.

Simone isn’t my friend. She’s my therapist.

I’m distinctly reminded of that at this moment.

The file she puts on the table between us, the file with my name on it, is a show of trust.

Oddly, it also feels like a betrayal.

“What the fuck do you want me to do with this?” I ask, hands curling into fists.

Simone doesn’t look afraid at all. But I can’t tell if that’s just her game face.

For all I know, she’s always had a game face on around me.

“It’s been a month and a half,” she says instead of answering, which is typical and nonetheless stings, “since the judge assigned you mandatory therapy…”

“I know. I was there,” and if there’s a snide tone in my voice then, well, I fucking wonder why that might be.

Undeterred, she continues, “Aren’t you curious about your progress?”

“No,” I say. I reach out for the folder anyway. “Doesn’t this defeat the purpose? Aren’t you supposed to keep this a secret from me?” I ask as I scan the first page–just basic info about me, a summary of judge’s mandate, the reason behind the therapy.

“Not necessarily,” Simone says, “You’re a patient, not a lab rat. Keeping secrets from you isn’t going to help.”

I flip to the second page, where the therapist’s notes are meant to begin.

“This is bullshit.”

“Is it?”

“You wrote that I’m bad at poker. And that I like jam on my pancakes.”

“Well,” Simone says dryly, “That is a weird thing to put on your pancakes.”

“No it’s not!” I defend, reflexively, “And that’s not the point.”

“What point?”

“How is me thinking the blue candy is supposed to be blue raspberry going to help anyone?”

“You say that a lot,” she says, always with her tangents.

I sigh, frustrated, “Say what?”

“You always bring up how something will or won’t help. How talking won’t help anything, how blue candy can’t help anyone, how you being here isn’t helping,” she looks at me, serious and steely and…

Simone is not my friend. She’s my therapist.

“You’re a person, Curtis” she says unexpectedly.

“No shit,” comes out automatically.

Her gaze turns sharper, somehow, “You’re not just a hero. You’re a person, too.”

My hands have been flipping through the file, more inanities over the past five sessions written in Simone’s slanted handwriting.

There’s a page that only has tally marks on the top. Five of them.

“You’re allowed to grieve for your friends. You don’t have to talk to me if you don’t want to. You don’t have to talk to anyone if that’s how you feel. We can spend the next six sessions as we have the last few. I can fill pages of notes on your appalling taste in pancake toppings, or maybe I’ll bring in my hamsters for a session, or we can just sit quietly and not say or do anything.

"But do it because you don’t like me. Do that because you don’t like therapy. Burn through these sessions because they’re mandatory and you think they’re a waste of time. If you go home and cry and scream and punch things and mourn because you don’t want to do any of that in front of me that’s fine.

"Don’t stay quiet because you think that’s what you have to do. You’re allowed to grieve, Curtis.”

Five tally marks on an otherwise blank page.

Simone is my therapist, not my friend.

Maybe that’s a good thing.

Most of my friends are gone–gone to ground, gone back home, gone to the future, gone.

We are quiet for a long time. If Simone is disappointed, she doesn’t show it.

The chime from her phone sounds off, and the both of us stand.

Before I leave, though, I say, “His name was Brian, but on the field he used Griever.

"He was my friend, and now he’s dead.”

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.

Word Prompts (G22): Grasping (2016-01-29)

A/N: I think I put too much pressure on myself to finish what I was working on yesterday, that I did absolutely nothing and now I’m frustrated with myself. But I didn’t want to have another missed post, so here’s a really quick Word Prompt.

~

I was five the first time I met a superhero, though I didn’t know it then. I had been grocery shopping with my grandpa–more like, clinging to the cart so as not to get separated from my grandpa as he went grocery shopping–and something caught my eye. I don’t even remember what it was now–probably something silly, like a fallen penny or maybe the colorful packaging of some candy.

Regardless of what it was, I remember that I had let go of the cart. Just for a second, it felt; I had looked away from my grandpa just for a second. And yet, when I turned to look back: he was gone.

I panicked, unsurprisingly. Felt a sudden bite of abandonment, and the sharp sting of betrayal. My grandpa had left me!

Of course, now that I am older, I realize he had just moved the cart around the corner of the aisle. No doubt, if I had walked a few steps, I would have spotted him immediately. But at that time, I was young and afraid and out of my depths.

I didn’t cry–only because I had always been a quiet child–but I did clutch at my shirt in confusion, unsure how to face the world all on my lonesome.

But, as this anecdote goes, I was not alone. A very tall man–or at least, he seemed very tall at the time, given my own childhood size–in the grocery store’s green uniform apron knelt down in front of me, putting himself at my eye level.

“Hello, there, miss” he said to me, voice soft and soothing, “Are you okay? Is there anything I can help you with?”

And I must have laughed, a little watery and tremulous, but a laugh nonetheless. Because here was this adult talking to me the same way adults talked to my grandparents, like I was an adult, too.

“My name is Brian,” he added, pointing at the name tag pinned to his apron.

“Hi, Brian,” I whispered back, “I’m Leanne.”

“I see your cart has misplaced itself, Miss Leanne. Would you like help in finding it?” He asked, not missing a beat.

I nodded, leading him to unfolding himself back onto his feet.

“And my grandpa,” I added, because I decided I could forgive his transgression if it had been an accident, “He’s old; I have to watch out for him,” I continued, because my grandma had said so.

Brian nodded, as if what I said had been perfectly legitimate.

It only took a few steps to round the corner where the cart and my grandpa–only just realizing I was not holding on to it–were. The ordeal was over in less than five minutes, and yet…

I remember he didn’t reach a hand out to me, but he did hold out one of his apron strings for me to grab–even though he had to undo the knot in order for me to reach it. At the time, I hadn’t thought it was strange. Truly, if that were the last of it, I wouldn’t have recalled that little detail.

But, of course, that was not the last of it. Unfortunately, that was the last time I met Brian because, not two weeks after that incident, the vigilante Griever was killed in action.

~

A/N: So Brian Odell, aka Griever, is an OC of mine whose super power doesn’t quite make sense? Basically, he has the ability to absorb injuries/pain and then transfer it to someone else with a touch. But he sort of has a max capacity, meaning that if he doesn’t get rid of the injuries/pain soon then they’ll either manifest on him instead… or on the next person he touches, whether or not he wants it to.

Hence why he doesn’t reach out to hold Leanne’s hand.

Leanne Peridot is yet another OC of mine who may or may not also be a superhero in the future? It’s complicated. There’s time travel involved…

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.