Counterclockwise (2017-03-25)

“Hey!” she screams up at the sky, empty and silent and useless, “How long are you going to wait? Haven’t I done enough?”

There is nothing around her, nothing for the sound to bounce back, no echoes just her voice lost to eternity.

She’s reached a new low. Now she does not want an ending. She needs it. And she’s demanding it.

She doesn’t know if there is a god up there, one who will smite her for her hubris or will take pity on her. She’s met people with fantastic powers, people with immortality, people with both. She’s met beings who go by the terms angels and demons. She’s met spirits of long passed people, spirits of ideas, spirits of natural formations. Once, she met a spirit of red crayons who gave her a surprisingly legitimate treasure map after she did it a great service.

But she’s never met a god.

She thinks, if she ever does, she’s going to punch it in its face.

She’s become riskier over the years. Vicious and flippant and aggressive over the eons. Once, she was just some civilian who thought fighting was the arguments she had with her siblings over whose turn it was to do the dishes.

Now she runs headfirst into battles, brushing past a literal invulnerable man and sneering, “Why are you hesitating? What’s the worst that can happen? We’ll die?”

Once, meeting Apex had brought stars to her eyes. Had reaffirmed her confidence that maybe she could one day be hero, too.

Now she is the team’s walking time bomb, all shrapnel and fire and incandescent rage, even he is afraid to follow where she goes.

Sometimes, she wonders, if he had just said something then–years in the future for him, but ages in the past for her–if he had warned her away, would anything have changed?

All these what ifs, more heady and seductive with the growing power in her palm, like coins rattling in a jar, or gleaming at the bottom of a fountain. What if she could just pluck them up and hold them to the sun and wish?

How much more does she need? What is the quota? Or maybe, she thinks, there is none. There is no mystical, mysterious finish line that she needs to cross. There is no time card to punch out, no hours to dock, no sick days or annual bonuses. Seasons barely mean anything to her, she doesn’t know when her last birthday was. She’s beginning to forget what her family looked like.

No wonder Bastian was so mad when they first met: she’s finally on her way to joining him.

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, 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.

Twelve Sessions, 3/? (2017-01-23)

The thing is, it doesn’t make sense for me to have therapy. I’m not the one who needs it.

And I don’t mean that in a “therapy is for crazies” way.

It’s just that I’m not allowed to cry.

And I don’t mean THAT in a “real men don’t cry” way.

It’s just that, in comparison to what Alvin’s lost, to what Doc has lost–hell, even that fucking cat burglar, though no way she’d end up in a position where a judge would send her to therapy instead of straight to jail.

In comparison to them, my loss isn’t that bad. Barely anything.

I don’t get to cry over a paper cut when everyone else has a bleeding gut wound.

Metaphorically speaking, of course.

I’ve never gotten a paper cut in my life.

“Are we actually going to talk today?” I ask, sitting, waiting. I’ve wised up to what’s-her-face’s plans and I’m not going to fall for it.

She looks at me skeptically. She’s always looking at me skeptically.

Then again, it’s not like I’ve done anything impressive in this room.

“Do you want to?” she asks, instead of answering. And doesn’t that just rankle.

“Fuck no,” I spit out, like the very thought is disgusting.

“Then we won’t,” she says simply and. That’s just.

“What the fuck are you here for then?” I ask, getting to my feet, and now her look is changing. Now she looks afraid.

As she should be, Apex can punch through solid steel.

That just makes me angrier.

“What the fuck am I here for? What’s the fucking point of all of this?”

It’s tempting to just throw the chair against the wall. To pick up the entire table and throw it. There is rage and frustration and sometimes you just want to break something.

Usually there’s a villain’s face that needs punching, or an army of killer robots.

Here in this room it’s just me and what’s-her-face and all her shitty government subsidized furniture.

“How is this fucking helping anything?” I shout and I can feel my throat close up, my voice crack, “This can’t change shit.”

There’s a tin of individually wrapped candies on her desk. It hardly weighs a thing, but the spray of bright colors against the wall is soothing in its own way.

What’s-her-face looks calm again, as if she knows that childish minor outburst was enough to vent.

I sit back down.

“I don’t want to talk,” I say, ashamed.

She stands up, walks around her desk.

For a moment, I think she’s going to go for the door. Get out of range of the mad meta. That would be the smart thing.

Instead she goes to where the candy tin has fallen, kneels down and begins picking up the little wrapped colorful pieces.

Musingly she says, “I hate the blue ones,” as if that were at all related to what just happened, “I mean, what is blue supposed to be? The other colors make sense, red is cherry, orange is orange, yellow is lemon, green is lime… or green apple I suppose, and purple is grape. But what the hell is blue supposed to be?”

Some of the pieces have bounced back to land near me. Even more ashamed I crouch down to help her pick them up.

“Not that artificial cherry or grape taste good, but at least they correspond to actual fruits. It’s not as if the blue ones are blueberry flavored.”

The tin is dented slightly–super strength aside, it was like trying to throw a feather and the impact was less than stellar–but still functional. Carefully we both gather our sugary loot before going back to our seats.

“Here,” she says, holding out a candy to drop into my hand.

It’s blue.

“You just said how shitty these were,” I snort, but begin unwrapping it anyway.

“No, I said I hated them. They’re pure sugar trying to be a color, that’s just wrong.”

“So what, you’re foisting them off on me instead?”

“You have one, and I’ll have one, and we’ll both decide what bullshit fake fruit they’re trying to be,” she has a blue candy in her hands, too.

Thirty minutes and the session ends with no agreement as to whether the blue candy is meant to be bubblegum or blue raspberry.

Twelve Sessions, 2/? (2017-01-21)

Second session, no way am I going to fall asleep.

For one, in the week since that first session it seems like I’ve done nothing but catch up on my sleep debt.

For two, I’m pretty sure napping during my mandatory therapy isn’t allowed. Or it’s a massive waste of taxpayer money. My money? My insurance company’s money?

Whatever.

For three? I’m not a fucking toddler that needs to be put down for a nap whenever I have a tantrum. I’m a grown ass adult, I can stay awake and not talk about my fucking feelings for an entire hour.

I’m going to ice out what’s-her-face.

“Hey catch,” I hear the second I step through the door, and a box of cards come  flying in my direction.

Super speed isn’t one of my gifts, and I’m not expecting it. Still, it’s pretty embarrassing when it just hits me in the chest and falls to the floor, hands coming up too late to do shit.

What’s-her-face looks at the box on the floor then up to me, skepticism blatant and unflattering.

She doesn’t say anything, but she doesn’t have to say anything.

Super powered vigilante Apex can’t catch a box of cards even with warning. Clearly, her expression says, if it’s not punching something or jerking off, my hands are fucking useless.

“I was gonna suggest we play cards, if you wanted something a little more active than nap time,” she says, tone edging into sarcasm, “but if this is the kind of swift reaction times I can expect from you today, I can just put on some music and do more paperwork.”

Growling, I bend down to pick up the cards, and I can feel the heat on my face. God, am I blushing? This is just fan-fucking-tastic. I kick the door closed behind me–strong enough to slam but not enough to break it–and sit on one of the chairs on the opposite side of the table from her.

“Just deal,” I say, tossing the deck onto the table, watching it spin and slide over to what’s-her-face, “As long as it’s not Go Fish.”

There aren’t many card games that function well with only two people. Bullshit is out, as is Crazy Eights. Poker we try for three rounds before giving up, Blackjack for two. Speed might work if it weren’t for the fact that, if I were to slap something–the table or what’s-her-face’s hand–I’d end up breaking it and that fairly counterproductive. And shitty.

She’s in the middle of teaching me gin rummy–or fleecing me at gin rummy–when a soft chime sound off from her desk.

She glances at the clock and begins packing up the cards even though she hasn’t finished her explanation.

“Time’s up, Curtis,” she says, and for a second I look up at her in confusion, “See you next week.”

~

A/N: Again, highly fictionalized example of counseling.

Twelve Sessions, 1/? (2017-01-20)

Mandatory therapy.

And that’s just.

Well that’s just fucking peachy, isn’t it? After the absolute clusterfuck that this entire month has been.

Eating like an asshole college student, living off of cheap ramen and energy drinks. Sleeping only when the sheer weight of exhaustion threatens to smother me to death.

At one point I literally forgot how to count to ten, but that was fine considering all you need to keep the beat is an eight count and there are only five people on my team.

Were.

But it’s all fine.

Now I get to waste an hour every week talking to a stranger who’s just doing this to fill some bullshit quota from the court.

Mandatory therapy.

Like any amount of therapy can fucking help.

“Wow,” says what’s-her-face, I don’t need to know her name, just the time and place of these damn meetings, “You look fucking exhausted.”

“No shit, dumbass,” I spit back, before the words catch up to me. Fuck. Is that going to get back to the judge?

… wait a second. Is she even allowed to talk to me like that?

“Today’s meeting clearly isn’t going to do fuck-all for anyone,” she says, calm, and maybe this past month has altered my brain to the point where I can’t even hear normal sentences without cussing being sprinkled in. Auditory hallucinations. That’s a thing, I think?

“Take a nap,” she says, waving over at the deflated, lumpy turd of a couch. It looks like she scavenged it from the curb, or ransacked some color-blind old lady’s dumpster.

It doesn’t smell like it, which is something at least; I check before taking a seat directly in the middle.

“What, really?” I ask, before tipping over to lay across the couch.

“Well I’m pretty sure you’re not going to tell me shit, so you might as well,” she says with a shrug. And, well, yeah. She does have a point.

Another wave, this one dismissing, “I’ll wake you up in fifty minutes.”

Normally, I can’t sleep around strangers–definitely not without my team to watch my back–but it’s as if now every time I get anywhere near horizontal my brain just switches off. The quiet and, admittedly, soothing sounds of paperwork don’t help much either.

I try to stay awake–pretty sure I even manage to do so for ten minutes–but it’s as if I just blinked and suddenly what’s-her-face is calling my name and waking me up. Good instincts, to not touch me. I don’t know what would’ve happened.

“Nap time’s over, Mister Ives,” she says, and there’s something about it that just.

“Don’t,” I cough out, throat clogged and gritty with even that little amount of sleep, “Don’t call me that.”

She sends me a look, unimpressed and annoyed, “I’m not fucking calling you Apex.”

She may as well have slapped me. “Not that either,” because I don’t need that shit right now, “Just call me Curtis, Jesus fucking Christ.”

“Well that’s not my name,” she says, and that’s… is that a fucking joke?

“I’m Simone Tallis. For when you get sick of calling me what’s-her-face in your head.”

Lucky guess.

“Now get the fuck out of my room. This session’s up.”

~

A/N: This is a highly fictionalized example of counseling. This does not reflect on anyone in real life. This is not an appropriate way for a therapist to speak to their patient. Nor is it polite for a patient to speak to their therapist this way.

Basically the equivalent of “do not do this at home,” except for therapy.

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 (F9): Famous (2015-10-27)

“I will find you,” he hissed, hand encircled around Victoria’s wrist in a bruising grip.

His breath smelled of mint and she wondered if, perhaps, it would have been better if she could smell alcohol; if the possibility of blaming his behavior on drunkenness would have been preferable.

But she had no time for what ifs, had little patience for indulging his tantrum.

“Not likely,” she shot back, yanking her arm away.

She walked away from him; his body curled up on the floor via a well-placed kick

As Venus, her life was simple. Wake up, check her email, receive assignment, find the target, kill the target, go to sleep.

Simple did not mean easy. Or normal.

But it was still her life. One that she had chosen, one that she had excelled at, and one that gave her satisfaction.

Until the entire Falcone family had been obliterated in the span of three days.

All of them–from the patriarch to the lieutenants to every little runner on the street–but one.

“Shh, little one, I’ll keep you safe,” the woman once named Victoria, murmured to the young child trembling from shock on her sofa beneath three of her spare blankets.

Henry Falcone, the youngest blood member of the Falcone family, slated to inherit control of a major chunk of all organized crime in the nation.

Including her services.

She couldn’t be Venus anymore, that’s not what he needed.

Vivian hadn’t planned to fall in love–but who plans to? If she had, she certainly wouldn’t have chosen Curtis Ives of all people.

“Tell me a secret,” she said during one of their date nights–Henry and Curtis’ son, Caleb, asleep upstairs. The kids had a sleepover, and she supposed the adults had one as well.

“Tell me a secret,” she had said, warm and relaxed from good food and wine and company, “Something you’ve never told anyone else,” she continued.

She hadn’t expected much from it, maybe some silly childhood story. But she should have known he would make it something real. Something serious.

He was halfway in love with her, with Vivian that is, this identity that she had created to protect a little boy from his would-be murderer. Curtis would have done a lot more for her than tell her a secret.

If she had known what the secret was before, she would have never asked.

~

A/N: Real quick thing mashed out when I realized midnight was approaching. And, for some reason, like my other word prompt drabbles this one does not have the actual word in it.

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.