Scene 10 – June 19th
Interior Townhouse, Afternoon
“Hmm…” I hummed thoughtfully as I stood in front of the mirror, holding a crimson dress against my body. After a moment of consideration, I replaced it with a dark pantsuit and a red blouse. Then I went back to the dress, and sighed. “Dear?” I called.
“Yes, love?” my wife’s voice floated back from the other side of our house.
“Do you have a moment? I need a second opinion.”
Maria was there instantly, her arms wrapping gently around my waist and her chin resting atop my head. My heart skipped a beat as I saw her appear in the mirror, as it did every time I saw the most beautiful woman in the world – her lips curved ever so slightly in a faint smile, tiny crinkles at the corner of those beautiful dark eyes, her luxurious hair falling to her shoulders in loose curls.
I couldn’t resist tilting my head and twisting around to kiss her, loving the way that Maria’s hands slipped from my waist to my ass as she eagerly responded. The outfits fell from my hands in favor of slipping one into my wife’s hair and the other up her shirt, both of us moaning in pleased unison.
We didn’t separate from each other for a few minutes, both of our faces flushed and unable to stop smiling, and just sat where we had fallen to the ground and grinned at each other like teenagers in love – a common state of affairs in our household.
Eventually, Maria took a deep breath and exhaled. “So,” she asked, “what was it you needed an opinion on?”
I blinked at the apparent non sequitur, then cast my thought back to before our impromptu make-out session. “Oh yes!” I spun back around to face the mirror and picked up the two outfits I had assembled, rising so that they would hang more correctly against my body. “I’m trying to pick an outfit for the east coast MLED gala. Suit or dress, do you think?”
Maria stood against me again, just as she had when I had first asked her to come help. “Hm… you know that I always like you in suits,” she murmured into my ear, and I shivered slightly at the feeling of her breath. I resisted the urge to kiss her again – if I did, we’d probably go further than just making out, and then we would never make a decision.
“I do know that,” I agreed, holding the pantsuit against me, and Maria made a soft, happy sound. “But I almost always wear suits, don’t you think it’s time for a change?”
“Then wear the dress.”
I displayed the dress instead. “…I worry it might be too low-cut, though.”
“Do you have any other dresses that shade?” Maria asked.
“None that will go with the necklace I want to wear quite as well.”
“Then wear the suit.”
I made a face. “You’re no help, dear.”
“You don’t have to decide now, love,” Maria offered. “The gala isn’t until… when is it again?”
I met her eyes in the mirror and raised an eyebrow. “I reminded you just this morning, honey, and the invitation came weeks ago.”
“Did you?” she asked. “I suppose I must have been…” her eyes roamed down my body even as her hands shifted upwards from my waist. “…distracted,” she whispered, then pressed a kiss behind my ear.
I couldn’t hold back a soft moan. “Maria…”
“Essa…” Another kiss, this one at the base of my neck.
“Love…” Another at the top of my spine as she began to sink to her knees behind me.
I reached for my power and vibrated three times, low and powerful, and Maria paused at our standard safe word.
“Red or yellow?” she asked.
“Red,” I said firmly – as firmly as I could, with how much I wanted to give in to her seduction. “Dear, we don’t have time right now, we have to go in only an hour. The gala is tonight!”
Maria blinked in surprise. “Tonight, really?” she asked, releasing my breasts.
“Shit.” She let out a long, slow breath. “I’m sorry, love, I truly forgot. With today being inspection day for the gambling houses, it’s been something like a subjective week since this morning for me. Between that and how good you look in that lingerie…” Then she sighed. “But that’s no excuse. I’m sorry.”
I put a hand against her cheek even as she hung her head, lifting my wife’s gaze so I could meet her eyes through the mirror again. “It’s alright, dear. Just pick one of these outfits for me, and then get ready yourself.”
“The suit,” Maria decided.
“The suit it is,” I agreed, stepping out of her arms so that I could hang the dress back up in my closet. Even though I knew we didn’t have much time – well, I didn’t have much time, Maria had all the time she could ever need – I couldn’t resist wiggling my ass at my wife as I did, teasing her and hopefully getting her at least half as worked up as she had gotten me.
We would have a fun night when we got back from the gala. I was looking forward to it.
“…what’s wrong?” I asked as I sat down on our bed to put on the blouse, seeing that Maria was hesitating.
“It’s nothing,” she said, “just…”
My wife sighed, sitting on the ground and leaning against my legs. “I don’t really want to go. You know I’ve never enjoyed the political games as much as you, and I’m starting to get fed up with people’s confusion about our apparent ages. One more ‘and is this your younger sister’ and I swear…”
I nodded in understanding. Maria’s power over her personal passage through spacetime meant that she hadn’t aged since she was 25, leaving her looking at least a decade younger than me despite actually being two years older. “I know. It used to be amusing, but…”
“Yeah. It’s a lot less funny the tenth time. And the looks will only get stranger.”
“…have you thought about letting yourself age?” I asked after a few moments. “It won’t help immediately, but after a few years, an apparent 30-year-old will look more normal next to a 40-year-old. By the time I’m 50 and you look 40, no one will think twice about it.”
“I have,” Maria admitted. “But it would make me less able to protect you. Not just by aging out of my prime, the freeze on aging is also the same effect that makes me invulnerable – if I don’t circulate my timestream constantly, then a surprise attack could take me out.”
“It would have to do so in one hit for you not to just undo it, though,” I pointed out. “And you would turn your invulnerability back on if it didn’t.”
“Given that without my power I’m just a physically fit 25-year-old woman, taking me out in one shot isn’t that hard. Particularly if my attacker is expecting the invincible supervillain La Borda, not just Maria DeVitto.”
I thought about it for a few minutes, absently playing with Maria’s hair as I considered the ramifications. “I think you should still do it,” I eventually said. “We haven’t been attacked out of costume in years, so it should be safe. And it’s more important for you to be comfortable than for me to be perfectly safe, anyway.”
“Nonsense,” Maria disagreed. “You’re far more important than me.”
I leaned forward and pressed a kiss into the top of Maria’s head. “Agree to disagree.”
She made a happy sound, and began to stand. “If I accelerate my timestream instead of holding it back,” she mused, “at least when we know it’s safe, like now, then I’ll be able to catch up to you faster.”
“I always thought it would be nice to grow old together,” I admitted. “I had resigned myself to you outliving me, but…”
Maria smiled, then leaned forward to give me a soft kiss, this one briefer and more chaste than our previous indulgences. “Then I’ll make it happen,” she promised me in a whisper after pulling away just enough to speak, her forehead now pressed against mine.
After a moment of gazing into each other’s eyes, she stood up straight again. “I’ll let you get ready,” she said, “and go pick out an outfit myself.”
“You don’t have to go, dear,” I offered.
“You know you’d be miserable without me, love” she pointed out as she turned to walk to her side of the room.
“Yes, but you still don’t have to.”
“I will, though.”
“…maybe I’ll stay home too,” I suggested, making a decision.
“…really?” Maria asked, turning to face me again.
I lay back, spreading myself on the bed and displaying my body, still clad in only my underwear – the nice, lacy lingerie that I had picked out to make me look as good as possible for the gala. “Really,” I confirmed. “Let’s make it a night in.”
A slow smile spread across Maria’s face, and she knelt on the bed, straddling my legs. “Oh?” she murmured as she began to lean forward. “That’s a shame. I was hoping we could eat out…”
Scene 11 – June 19th
Interior Laboratory, Afternoon
“Hey dad,” Sara’s voice echoed to me out of the shadows under my workbench, “mail’s here.”
“I’ll get it in a few minutes,” I responded, more focused on the magical shard I was analyzing. I had sold a minor villain some gadgets in return for some enchanted artifacts he had stolen in the past and had no more use for, and was slowly working through them to try and find similarities and attempt to work of some sort of scientific system for magic – the beginnings of one, at least.
Progress was slow, as many of them seemed to work along entirely different lines, using different energies and operating principles. Even some of the items with similar functions worked very differently, like a digital watch vs mechanical watch vs an hourglass vs a sundial. It seemed as though there was no single energy and system for all that was labeled as magic, but rather an enormous variety of differing energies, each operating on their own unique system and interacting with the others in their own ways.It could easily be the work of a lifetime – perhaps several lifetimes, as Arthur Peregrine had been performing similar research for two centuries. Still, I was optimistic about my chances to, if nothing else, begin the work, and perhaps share the results more widely than Peregrine.
“I think you might want to check it out,” my daughter cajoled me. “One of the letters looks to be time-sensitive.”
I paused. “Time sensitive? How so?”
“It seems to be an invitation that got lost in the mail for a while, but the event starts tonight.”
Well, there was no harm in reading the invitation, I supposed. “Alright, let me see it.” I reached into the darkness and, thanks to my daughter’s command of the shadows, my hand closed around the mail that had been left in my home’s mailbox, some hundred feet above the underground lab I currently sat in.
I pulled it free and slid my chair along the table to a clear spot to take a look at the letters. Bill, magazine, political ad, bill, ad, credit card offer… invitation. I could certainly see why Sara had told me to look at it, the letter looked quite official.
I was wearing the gauntlets of my costume at the moment, having been using them as welding gloves, so a moment’s thought was all it took for to flash-print a small knife, thermoregulators bleeding off the heat of the magnetically-shaped molten metal to solidify it and recover some of the energy spent on the forging. I used the knife to open the letter, and read it.
The DMO had apparently sent me an invitation to the MLED’s east coast convention, which began with a formal gala tonight and would continue with various metahuman-focused events and panels for the next three days. It was sent to me as Nicholas Dreyfus, but reading between the lines, it was obvious that they had somehow discovered that I was Motael. How irritating, I thought with a frown, – I had believed that my identity had remained a secret. I had never been held long enough to be identified on the few occasions that I had been captured, with my children both happy to assist me whenever I allowed them to. Or I had though that was the case, at least.
Still, it seemed they had found me out, because the invitation promised freedom from ‘unprovoked harassment’, which was clearly code for ‘we won’t arrest you as long as you don’t start trouble’, and offered me a slot to host a panel as well as a booth to sell technology on the convention floor.
It was, I had to admit, a tempting offer. I rarely had the chance to speak to other inventors on my level – there were few of us to begin with, a decent portion were heroes, and the remainder weren’t the most stable people. Graviton might be an unparalleled genius in the field of gravitic technology and manipulation of the Higgs field, but the mass-murderer wasn’t the kind of person you could invite to a poker game.
There were no technologists at anywhere close to my level in New Venice – Starling was no slouch, but while he had been the closest around before his transfer to Cleveland, he still couldn’t really keep up with me. But there was a hero in Charlotte, Droideka, and I had heard of a villain from Boston who went by Doctor Proton… if either had been invited as well, speaking with them would make even having to attend a formal party worth it.
And my current work wasn’t particularly time sensitive – I had no particular goal in mind, yet, it was just for the pleasure of the science. No reason not to put it aside for a weekend.
The decision was easy, really. I wanted to go, and there was no reason not to. I activated a small drone, directing it to clean up my workbench, then began ascending from my laboratory into my home to get changed into something formal.
Scene 12 – June 19th
Interior Warehouse, Afternoon
“-how dare you speak of me that way! Your mother-”
“-you see the whites of their-”
“-over 300 casualties in the latest incursion from-”
“-is for friends who do stuff together-”
I sighed and just turned the TV off, not finding anything interesting on right now. If Ridealong would just get a streaming service set up, alleviating my boredom would be so much easier, but the man was paranoid about our hideouts being found. Hell, I had never actually met him in person, only while he was possessing one of his goons. Well, our goons, I supposed.
I glanced to the other side of the warehouse, where Robin was playing some kind of card game with today’s designated possessee, a short but muscular black guy who was a favorite of my boss for his friendship with Robin.
“…tap, tap, tap, swing for 18,” Robin said, turning several of the cards in front of her 90 degrees. Then she looked up at Ridealong – her back was to me, but I was certain that the Buff Boys’ resident psycopath was giving him a sadistic grin. “And I believe that wins me the game.”
Ridealong’s host scowled. “I don’t know why I play with you, prick,” he muttered, beginning to gather up his cards. “I swear, your fucking luck aura is cheating.”
“You know I don’t have full control, Isaiah,” she insisted, sweeping her own cards back into her deck, “and I hold it back as much as I can.”
“So you say,” he shot back, “but I had to mulligan twice to get a hand worth playing with, and you-” Isaiah cut himself off and sat up straighter, reaching up to the electric blue scarf around his neck that labeled him as Ridealong’s host and tugging it absentmindedly, as though checking it was still there.
“Got something for us, boss?” Robin asked, leaning back in her chair.
“‘Nothing for you, Rube,’” Isaiah quoted, relaying the words that Ridealong was projecting into his head. “‘Brewer,’” he said, looking over Robin’s shoulder to me, “‘I want an update on the shipment for next week.’”
I turned my mind briefly to the current target of my powers, the batch of Brawn I was cooking up in the basement of this hideout. It was a pain, sometimes, that my powers could only work on one thing at a time, but at least they worked from any distance, once they had been tagged – it meant I could monitor their composition and the progress of their transformation from simple chemical reagents into alchemical drugs that granted temporary superpowers. Yes, the powers I had purchased might not be the flashiest, but they were perfect for chemistry.
“On schedule, boss,” I assured Ridealong, my eye closed as I examined the mixture. I telekinetically nudged a handful of molecules that were stubbornly refusing to circulate to get them in the convection current as I said, “it’ll be simmering for another nine hours before I can adjust it for the client’s measurements.” The components of Brawn were surprisingly simple to brew, at least when you had a power like mine and close to a year of practice – mixing them for optimal effect was the only tricky part.
“‘Good. Anything to report?’”
“Not from me,” Robin said, shuffling their deck of cards in one hand.
“We got some kind of invitation in the mail,” I said, pointing to where the unopened letter sat on a table. “Thought you might like to check it out.”
Isaiah rose and walked over to it, giving Ridealong a look through his senses. “‘Where was it sent to?’” He opened it and began scanning through it. “Dear sir or madam,” he read, “congratulations! You have been randomly selected to receive an invitation to the 53rd Annual East Coast DMO Convention. This invitation may be exchanged for three tickets to all three days of the convention. ‘Suspicious,’” Ridealong finished.
“I think it sounds fun!” I disagreed. “I’ve heard of that convention, it opens with a big party and has tons of metas, not just heroes. Could be a good place to make contacts.” I had always wanted to go to that convention.
“‘Where was it sent to?’” Ridealong asked again. “He also says something that’s not polite to repeat to a lady,” Isaiah added.
“Tell me, and I’ll pass it on,” Robin said with a smirk, coming up behind Isaiah and resting her elbow on his shoulder.
I crossed my arms. “It was in my mailbox yesterday,” I told him. “Three tickets – I thought I might as well invite you two, but maybe I’ll just grab some other friends.” I had wanted to bring the other members of the Buff Boys along, but maybe I should offer them to Essa and her wife instead? No, they probably had tickets already – the woman was more than well-connected enough in her civilian identity to get them herself if she wanted them. Besides, I wanted to do something fun with these two for once – I wanted to bring them along.
“‘You don’t have any friends,’” Ridealong said through Isaiah, who winced even as he repeated the words. “‘Why you of all people?’”
“Random selection,” I repeated. “I figured it was Robin’s fault.”
“‘His aura only affects those within a short radius,’” he pointed out. “‘Unless he was close to you when the drawing occured…’”
“I spend enough time here, it’s possible. Who knows when it actually happened? Look,” I said, “you don’t have to come, but I’m going. It’ll be an excuse to wear a nice dress.” I wanted to go.
“‘Rube,’” Isaiah turned to address to person still leaning on his shoulder, “‘What are your thoughts?’”
“Sounds like a fun time to me,” Robin said, and I flashed her a grateful smile. Multiple-murderer or not, she was on my side here – and it paid to be nice to a person who could kill you just by wanting it enough. I still hadn’t forgotten the meteor that her powers had aimed at Legion last year.
“Boss,” Isaiah added, “I don’t see the harm in it. If it really was a random drawing – ‘I don’t recall asking for your opinion, Isaiah,’” he interrupted himself, faithfully conveying Ridealong’s words. “Sorry boss, I just – ‘Stop interjecting and just relay my words. Understood?’ Yes, boss. ‘Good. Now, Rube.’”
“‘Toss a knife into the air.’”
Rube obediently produced a knife from… somewhere… and flung it haphazardly into the sky, clearly not aiming. Wherever it came down would inevitably be lucky for her – it was a trick that Ridealong often used to pick locations for deals and sales, having Rube fling it at maps.
The knife came down on the letter still held in Isaiah’s hand, piercing right through it and tearing it out of the man’s grip, leaving it pinned to the floor.
“‘That settles it,’” Ridealong declared. “‘Brewer, you aren’t going, and that’s final.’”
“…yes, boss,” I submitted, turning away from Isaiah to scowl.
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