5th November, Early Morning
The morning had actually turned out warmer than expected – Basil still had to wear a jacket and a scarf, but at least there was not any new snow. Not that he disliked snow – far from it – frozen surfaces were bad for his grappling hooks and, subsequently, bad for him.
And I will have a lot less protection than before, once I have reworked my armor into something lighter and cheaper. He really had to get more money. Maybe I should have asked Mister Karlson for a job, he thought with a smirk no one saw.
He walked on past a fast food restaurant as he thought about yesterday evening – he had tried to talk to Amy, but she had been in a weird mood, and he had decided to wait for a better opportunity to take his first step in… well, he did not know if it could be called redeeming, but perhaps reigning her in? He should have talked to her at once, made his position clear, set boundaries…
Except the mere idea of getting into a fight with her made him physically ill. Just looking at Amy at breakfast had made him feel both ashamed, angry and wistful, all once, remembering the good old days.
I wonder if this is how Lady Light feels, every time she looks at the Dark. Was that what he was doomed to do? Spend the rest of his life trying to reign a mostly insane – and he could not deny it, Amy was not all right in the head (but neither was he, so he could not really throw stones) – supervillain in, always trying to preserve those beautiful memories of better days, trying to bring them back to life?
Maybe he was assuming too much – there probably were other, better reasons, more noble ideals and goals, maybe even something tied to Point Zero and their powers involved – but that would explain a lot of things. He only had a few years of those really good memories, and they were rather normal – Lady Light had a full score of years, an entire lifetime of being together with him, through an entire world war even before they got powers, and everything since then… Maybe that was the reason for conceiving Irene? A desperate attempt to draw them closer, to pull him back onto the side of the angels? It certainly seemed to work, he had never been as mellow and restrained as during the past decade.
Or perhaps a weapon to stop her older sister… because there certainly seems to be no other way besides bringing overwhelming power to bear against her.
But that, too was just speculation.
I would sure like to talk to them both. First, though, I need to stop distracting myself from the issue at hand. Amy.
He walked by the alley next to the restaurant just as he finished these thoughts, and caught a movement out of the corner of his eye. A trash can’s lid had moved.
I found Grimalkin in a place like this, he thought, and suddenly he hoped… maybe he would find him again? He sure missed that crazy red-brown eyed furball of a cat. Despite what it had done to Amy’s underwear drawer. Or maybe because of it. It had been rather funny, after the horror had worn off. I could keep him in my hideout now, so Amy could not object.
Reaching out, he lifted the trash lid – and a rat jumped out and scuttled away. So not Grimalkin. He put the lid back down and walked on towards his hideout.
I wonder what happened to him – where he is by now.
Shaking his head, Basil continued on his way to his hideout. There was a lot of work to be done. And maybe, tonight, he would feel up to confronting Amy.
* * *
The lift went down into the lair, and Basil was not surprised to find Vasiliki already there, in her winter school uniform, sitting on the couch.
“You know, your perfume is nice, but you wear too much of it,” he said in lieu of a greeting.
She looked up from her book (she was always reading something) and gave him a deadpan look. “It’s supposed to be noticable,” she said as she closed her book and stood up. “And I didn’t come here to discuss cosmetics.”
He shrugged, taking his jacket and boots off. “Why did you come here? You don’t usually come in the morning.”
“Since I don’t have school this week – again – I’ll be working in one of our restaurants, and I drew the afternoon shift,” she explained, brushing a few stray strands of hair behind her ear. “Anyway, I wanted to try an experiment with y-“
His head whipped around from where he’d been switching into his labcoat. “Experiment! Tell me more!”
“Weeeeeeell… you know how they say, Contriving and Gadgeteering can’t go together? I thought, maybe, there’s a way to get around that. Here’s what I was thinking…”
* * *
“Oh God, I think it’s alive!”
“What in the name of God are you doing!?”
“I always swore to myself I would laugh madly if this happened! I have been practicing the laugh ever since I got my powers!”
“Are you c- Oh shit, it’s trying to escape! Quick, we have to stop it before it gets out!”
* * *
“Let us never do this again,” she sighed, falling down onto her butt.
“Let us never speak of this to anyone,” she added.
“Agreed. I guess there IS a good reason why people do not do these experiments anymore. Though I have to say, it was rather… sporting, do you not think so?” he replied, sitting down next to her, looking very deliberately away from her.
“Well… yeah, but… how come I always end up indecent after these things!? Thank God I wasn’t wearing my costume, because I only have one left!” she replied, glad that he was not the peeping type (sometimes she thought he didn’t have a sex drive to begin with).
“Here, take my coat,” he said, giving her his labcoat. Of course he’d gotten out of it unharmed – though Vasiliki had to admit, his reaction time was insane to begin with. In fact, they should probably test him sometime, in case he had some kind of secondary power that sped them up.
Because it was either that, or being a grizzled veteran with finely honed instincts in disguise. And that was too ridiculous to consider, really.
Basil was many things, but not grizzled.
“Do you want a dragonskin suit? I should have enough material for one more,” he offered.
She thought it over. She really didn’t want to impose on his fading resources, but… her current costume was basically just fabric – she could only enchant objects she’d customized to meet her standards, and doing that to a fullbody skin-tight suit took time.
“I’ll take it. I insist on paying you back, though. If only in rates,” she said, giving him a look that dared him to give it to her for free.
To her surprise, he just nodded, his expression understanding. “Alright. We will work something out. How about you pay me in meals at your restaurant? Haven’t ever been there, but I hear the chain’s great. And I love Greek food.”
She shrugged. “Suits me. I’ll give you a card, then they’ll be putting it on my name.”
He raised an eyebrow. “You actually have a system for giving out free meals to people?”
She raised her nose up. “Paying people with food is common Hellenic family tradition.”
“Think I can join your family?”
She looked away. “D-don’t be ridiculous!”
“Huh? Why are you blushing?”
* * *
Melody stumbled back into her room, yawning. She really shouldn’t have gone drinking with Irene. They were too young! And she’d never even touched alcohol before, except for a sip of wine during Christmas or such. Of course, her body could take it – she’d emptied half a bottle of… something Irene had given her, and had barely felt her fingertips and toes prickle.
But still, they’d really lost track of time, and she’d never even considered the damage Irene might have caused if she got drunk – but she turned out to be the most pleasant drunk Melody could imagine (it turned out her power didn’t protect her from alcohol at all unless she wanted it to, and sometimes not even then). She’d just gotten quieter and quieter, and then fallen asleep.
Of course, that meant they were stuck in Italy, two underage girls without passports or anything. And Irene wouldn’t wake up.
She could have gone to the local United Heroes chapter, but… somehow, she really didn’t want this to become official.
Finally, she’d done something she never thought she would – she’d taken Irene’s cellphone and called her father (she didn’t want to disturb Lady Light at work, and something told her the Dark would be more understanding of the situation – besides, anything to distract him from doing Evil).
And… well, travel by Darkwraith was definitely not something she ever wanted to do again. He’d been a perfect gentleman, even seemed to find it funny what had happened – apparently, he already knew how Irene reacted to alcohol – and had taken her straight back here, dropping her off in the nearest alley, out of sight, telling her to ‘be a good girl’.
Look who’s talking, she thought as she pulled her sticky clothes off – the first half of a bottle hadn’t done much, but the following nine bottles of Italian spirit had done a number on her senses.
She stumbled out of her room in a bathrobe and into the showers, passing by a disgustingly chipper Aimi (who began to say something, then saw how messed up Melody was and wisely shut her mouth), and all but falling under the first showerhead, turning it on to ice-cold.
Brrrrr! Now, that helped better than any other remedy against a hangover… or whatever one would call her state. Not her field of expertise.
How did we even get the idea to try out Italian alcoholic drinks? Had it been Irene’s idea, or hers? She couldn’t quite remember…
Maybe Irene would remember, whenever she woke up. Her father had said it might take time, though.
I should probably go to sleep, she thought. No school this week, anyway. She turned the shower off, put the bathrobe on, and walked back into her room, wet and dripping. There wasn’t much chance of her catching a cold, but… she still sat down to dry her hair.
Turns out, she shouldn’t have, because someone knocked.
“Melody? It’s me, Sarah!” her handler said in a soft voice.
Oh, please don’t tell me I have an appointment. She at least couldn’t remember one.
“You have an appointment with Mister Patrid and Mister Gerden, from the Board of Directors.”
Dratz, why can’t they let me- wait, the Board of Directors!? What do they want with me!?
* * *
Later that evening
Dalia raised her glass high, shouting along with the other people in the club. The band had gotten a call-response thing going, and though she couldn’t, for the life of her, tell what she was supposed to say in response, she just shouted along with the others. The intervals were just big enough to take another draw from her drink, or call for a new one, and it was awesome.
She never could have gotten into a place like this! No way, even if she hadn’t so obviously been underage. Now the bouncers didn’t care if she was underage or not – she was hot, she was dressed up and obviously up for a party, so she was just waved in.
Suck on that, Zara! Bet’ya you never got to skip the line just for being hot! she thought in triumph as she emptied her glass and put it back on the counter, calling for a new one. Another advantage of being her, she could take a lot. As in, she was on her ninth drink, and she barely noticed a buzz – when she’d tried some alcohol back then, she’d dropped after just one drink! Now, her vision was a little weird and unfocused, but she could still tell where everything was and all!
And the guys. They were all looking at her when she danced by them, looked her body up and down, feasting on every bit of skin she was showing off… It made her feel so much more like a woman than she ever had before!
And, as if she wasn’t feeling good enough already, just then, she saw her. Good God, was she hot. She’d known that before, of course, but she’d never seen her dressed up for partying before!
Grabbing her new drink – something blue and gold and sparkly, with a name she couldn’t even pronounce – she danced her way through the crowd – I fucking love this – I don’t even need training to dance, it just works – and towards her. There was already a throng of guys around her, trying to dance her up, but she just danced by all of them, teasing, playing.
She’d already taken the dancefloor over, as people began to dance around her, she had that much presence.
I should hate her for stealing my thunder. But she had to admit, she still had to learn a lot, and here was a chance for some of it.
“Didn’t ecssspect to find yyyyyou here,” she said, not noticing the slur in her own voice. “How come yyyyou can dshuust come in here and make everyone pay attentschion like that?”
She turned, looking at her, eyes and lips sparkling brightly. “I just do it!” she replied. “And aren’t you a little young for a Fleur de Lune?” she asked, taking Dalia’s drink and emptying it in one draft!
And yet, I just want to kiss her. How does she do that? “I can take ik!” Dalia said proudly. “I lick alcohol! Never knew it wash thish goot!” she continued, giggling.
She smirked, and took her hand. “I think I can do better than some alcohol! Come, let’s dance!”
Dalia was so focused on the warmth and softness of her hand, she barely noticed when she pulled her onto the dance floor, held her hand up in hers, put her other hand on her hip and started to move.
It started slow, in tune with the slowly winding up song the band was just getting into, and then sped up along with it.
And Dalia was keeping up. She’d never have believed it, but her every step was perfect, keeping up with her as they whirled around the floor, two unbelievably hot babes dancing in a way that was just barely out of the realm of indecency.
She was so warm, and she smelled so nice, and the room was so hot and loud and full and just…
The world whirled around them, and Dalia couldn’t even really tell what they were talking about, just that she felt so… fuzzy…
* * *
“Well, this is awkward,” Amy whispered as she twirled with the barely conscious girl, getting her off the dance floor without making a scene. She was emitting gentle waves of don’t notice us, and once she was sure they were unobserved, she picked her up like a baby (she weighed about as much to her) and carried her out of the club through the backdoor.
“Basil would kill me if I didn’t take care of you now, you know? What a bothersome girl…” She looked down at the pretty face with the badly applied make-up. “A cutie, though.”