Word Prompts (J7): Joy

“So angry,” Allen says with his easy, genial smile, a softer version for so early in the morning. He’s fond of her and her brother, still thinks of them as the orphan kids who asked to live in the room above his bakery years and years ago.

“A coffee and pastry would help with that,” she responds, grumpy, but with far less bite than she would with most anyone else.

She’s pretty fond of him, too.

Allen shakes his head, tuts at her; the flour in his hair blends in with the patches of gray and white. He still thinks of her as a kid, but she also sometimes forgets how old he really is.

“You need sleep, not caffeine and sugar. And I need to bake today’s bread, not babysit a brat. Upstairs with you now, your brother’s waiting.”

It’s not Allen’s fault that’s a lie.

///

She hears it a lot–

You don’t look very happy.

Or,

Shouldn’t you smile more, then?

Or, even,

Your parents were pretty wrong about that.

–the last one usually causes her to lash out, parents are a touchy subject for good reason, but it’s not exactly inaccurate.

There’s not a lot in her life that matches her name.

///

The world has gotten a lot stranger in the past year or so. Or perhaps it’s always been strange and only now she’s beginning to notice, only now it’s beginning to resurge.

Regardless, she prides herself on being the best; on being so skilled that rumors whisper maybe something is strange about her, too.

It’s sheer competence, mostly, with some engineering and parkour of course. And luck, she’d grudgingly admit.

Still, she makes a name for herself, one much larger than herself, and for a while she thinks that’s enough.

One night she runs into a man who can turn into a literal wolf.

Luck isn’t enough.

///

She always loves the wrong people.

People who will leave her–whether they want to or not. People who would rather see her in jail than free. People who could never make her happy.

When she meets Ann, she thinks this time will be the exception.

And for a while, it is.

Just a little while.

Ann doesn’t mean to leave her, doesn’t want to leave her, but leave she does.

(A decade later, Joy will realize that even if Ann had stayed it wouldn’t have worked. Normal people falling in love with gods rarely ends happily)

~

A/N: I realize, terribly belatedly, that I should have saved all of my (_7) Word Prompts for some kind of DoS Lucky Sevens thing… because there are a few golden ones (like, N7 Ninja or T7 Teamwork or E7 Emotion or even S7 Sand for a nice Wind Country visit)

Ah well. And, I mean, some of the letters don’t even have seven words so…

In other news: I swear, every time I write something I learn something new about the Cadmium/Counterclockwise ‘verse… Joy and Leanne? Honestly did not see that one coming.

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.

Untitled (2016-04-04)

On the day of her brother’s wedding, Joy falls in love.

It is the second worst thing to happen to the Guerrero family.

Normally, Simon would be very supportive of his older sister having any positive emotions for anyone other than himself and maybe their neighbors the Bakers who ply his sister with free sugar and caffeine on a near daily basis. Frankly, it’s not even the fact that it’s his wedding that is the problem–Simon is not so selfish that he demands the entire day be about him and his fiancé/husband–it’s the who that is the problem.

Because it’s one thing for Simon to keep secrets from his vigilante husband about the real identity of the criminal Jaguar. It’s another thing entirely to not tell his sister that she’s fallen in love with a different vigilante Apex. Who himself is engaged to yet another vigilante Firefly.

This can not end well for his sister.

“Fly straight, fly true,” Bastian murmurs, before pulling the trigger. It is not quite the same–the differences in technology, between bullets and arrows–and he’s not actually invoking any magic. But it is a habit, or maybe a superstition, and the bullet does its job.

Bastian doesn’t know what the man did to get a hit called out on him, but easy money is easy money. And even though Bastian can never die, he’d still prefer not to starve.

Once, he was the prince of the most powerful kingdom in the world. But that was thousands of years ago: times change, the mighty fall.

Bastian stays put for two minutes more, waiting even though alarms and sirens sound off. Sometimes, when he does something she wouldn’t approve of, Leanne appears. But she does not this time, and so he flees just seconds before the heroes of the era happen upon his vantage point.

His kingdom is not the only one who has fallen.

It’s strange growing up knowing that you are only the middle man. That you were born for that exact purpose.

It’s not that his parents don’t love him, not like he can’t live his own life. It’s just that, at some point in the future, he’s going to have a daughter and he’s going to give her the pocket watch that allows her to travel through time.

He met her once already, when he was just a child: a green haired woman who had looked at him and started crying with a wobbling smile. His parents had been alarmed, catching on and fearing the worst, but she had stayed silent on the matter, hugged them all farewell, and disappeared.

It’s not that he’s not worried about what that kind of reaction might mean for his future–but there’s also some good in it. He’ll have a daughter that will love him enough to cry for him; everything else he’s free to choose.

~

A/N: So this is about a decade before Leanne is born. Just some snippets from the same universe, some world-building, I guess…

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 (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.

Untitled (2015-01-20)

Joy is tired, angry, and bleeding. She is missing one of her shoes, has torn both legs of her pants, and will need to get a haircut to even out the still smoking mess on her head. But she trudges back to the apartment triumphantly, because she did it.

She killed the vampire that bit her brother. She even beat the one month deadline by a week.

“Simon,” She greets him, after a quick stop to dunk her head under the kitchen sink. Might as well try to save as much as she can, “Simon, I did it.”

For obvious reasons, the past three weeks have not been kind to her brother. To begin with, he had always been somewhat sickly–asthma, allergies, liable to catch four different strains of the flu–but the whole vampire infection being what it is, basically his body just started to systematically shut down. And she had been forced to confine him to their apartment.

“Simon?” Her call nearly echoes in their tiny, empty apartment. His bedroom window is open, the screen punched through from the inside.

“Oh god, no.” But even as her mind denies it, her hand is already pulling out her phone and calling the one person who may be able to fix this.

“You were too late,” The doctor intones, expression as irritatingly blank as always.

“No, I had one month to kill it.” Joy bites back, fists shaking in her pockets.

“If you had come to me sooner–”

“It was your team that fucked up, why would I trust you with something this important?”

“–I would have been able to tell you that you mistranslated. You didn’t have one month, you had one moon. Specifically, you had until the full moon.” Ellen’s face is still placid, but even she’s not so unaffected as to deny the sorrow seeping into her voice. The doctor had been fond of Simon, in her own way, and even his sister for all that the feeling wasn’t mutual.

“But that was…” Joy breathed out, horrified and unable to finish.

“Eleven days ago,”

~

A/N: meh…