ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem was written outside the regular prompt calls. It has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. It belongs to the Berettaflies thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.

Warning: The first conscious meeting between Facet and Adalina is really awkward, and they both have some body issues of their own, so watch out for the social angst. Everyone is pretty mature about coping with the challenges, though.


"Two People Collude"


Day Four

The first time that Facet's new protégée
caught sight of him, she screamed.

It was his fault, of course:
after she drifted in and out of
consciousness during the third day,
Facet had dragged himself out of bed
and tried to avoid scaring her; but
then the day after, he'd worn out
and was just sneaking back
for a nap when she woke.

Facet dove into bed and
yanked the covers over his head,
concealing his hideous bug eyes.

"I'm sorry," he said hastily.
"I really didn't mean to scare you.
This isn't how I wanted us to meet."

"Who are you? What are you?"
she demanded in a voice
shrill with incipient panic.

"My name is Facet," he said.
"I'm a superhero with Insect Powers.
I'm supposed to be your soup mentor,
if you're willing." He sighed. "Should I
just go get the duty nurse instead?"

"Yes."

"Okay," he said. "Just ...
take some deep breaths, and
close your eyes while I leave."
As soon as she did, Facet
hurried out of the room.

Drawn by the scream,
Nurse Overton was
already on the way.

"Yep, she hates me,"
Facet said glumly.

"What happened in there?"
asked the nurse. "I thought you
were just going to take a nap."

"She saw me." Facet shrugged.
"I'll just find a chair instead."

"Okay," said Nurse Overton,
and slipped into the room.

The SPOON infirmary consisted of
a treatment room and a very little space
for recovering patients, crammed in
along with all the other services that
the Easy City base provided.

Facet stretched out as much as
he could in a chair, and tried
to ignore his aching body.

The venom from the berettaflies
hadn't done him any lasting harm
as far as anyone could tell him --
which was more than could be said
for many of the victims -- but it still
made him feel awful, even days later.

It wasn't quite as bad as the exposure
to pesticides and ant venom which
had precipitated his superpowers in
the first place, but it left him with
a pervasive sense of malaise.

He was half-asleep when
Nurse Overton put her hand
on his shoulder and said gently,
"Facet, wake up. She's asking for you."

"What?" he said, shaking
his head to clear the fog and then
instantly regretting the motion.

"Adalina would like to speak with
you again," said the nurse.
"Go easy on her, okay?
She's a good kid, just
struggling to cope."

"I'll do my best," Facet said,
hauling himself to his feet.

He opened the door just a crack.
"Hi? You wanted something?"

"You can come in, I've got my eyes
closed this time," said Adalina. "I'm sorry
that I wigged out earlier, just, you caught me
by surprise and I'm still feeling all oogy."

"Yeah, me too," Facet said as he
sidled into the room. "That's why I
came in here to catch a nap. I was
hoping you'd feel up to talking later,
but well, I don't know now."

He snuck a peek at her, and
realized that her colors were brighter,
stark white and black swiped with
brilliant streaks of deep yellow
and blazing orange.

"I asked the nurse and she said that
I could request a different mentor, but
you're the best match," said Adalina.

"Probably so," said Facet. "There are
a few other options, but not very many
if you want a real power match and not
just someone to show you the ropes.
Insect Powers are pretty rare."

"I want to try again," she said softly.

"You screamed when you saw me,"
Facet pointed out. "That's big barrier
to get over." For both of them.

"I know, and I'm really sorry," she said.
"I won't pretend that I'm not freaked,
I just don't want that to be the end of it."

"Why?" Facet asked. He needed to know,
to tell if it had any chance of working.

"I don't want to act like a fork, and I
don't want to judge someone based
on appearance," Adalina said, shifting
on her bed. "That's awful, and it
makes me feel bad about myself."

Facet was impressed to meet someone
who actually stuck to her principles
when the going got tough.

She'd make a wonderful protégée,
if she could get past his face.

"Do you think that's something
you can change, or work around?"
Facet asked her, wanting to make sure.

"I don't know. I hope so," she said. "I mean,
doesn't everybody? You kind of have to do that
in a relationship. Your roomie forgets to label
her food, your best friend is an awful gossip, and
your boyfriend -- or girlfriend -- has terrible taste
in movies. Two people collude to forget the things
that would keep them apart if they didn't."

That was true, although Facet hadn't
gotten much experience with relationships
in recent years, due to his superpowers.

"Okay ... I'm willing to go there,
but it's going to be hard if ..."
Facet had to pause to swallow,
"... if you can't even look at me."

"One thing at a time?" Adalina said
in a pleading tone. "Maybe we can
think of a way to get past the problems."

"Neither of us are at our best today,"
Facet said diplomatically. "We can hope."

"You can go ahead and sleep in here,"
Adalina offered. "Nurse Overton said that
you're still feeling lousy too. Just, you know,
close the curtains or something?"

"Sure," said Facet. "Thanks for
letting me stay. I really am wiped."

He'd forgotten about the capery curtain
snugged against the wall, but it flowed along
its metal tracks at the slightest tug of his hand,
enclosing his bed in a bubble of privacy.

With a grateful sigh, he sank onto the mattress,
pulling up the thin cotton blanket, more for
comfort than because he needed warmth.

"Sleep tight ... don't let the berettaflies bite,"
Adalina said through the curtain.

Facet's answering chuckle
stole the last of his strength
and sent him down into sleep.

* * *

Notes:

Bugeye / Facet (Benton Reyes) -- Although he gives his codename as Facet, people typically call him Bugeye. Mostly humanoid, Benton has compound eyes in vivid peacock hues. Not only can he see everything around himself, but he can also see everything visible to all the insects around him. He has straight black hair and fair skin. When off duty, he dresses conservatively. He is a soft-spoken, quiet man who is more complex than most people realize.
Origin: City exterminators sprayed a multi-queen hill of fire ants behind the church where Benton worked. The ants came boiling out of their hive and stung everyone, causing the exterminators to lose control of their equipment, spraying toxic chemicals everywhere. The two exterminators died from a combination of ant venom and pesticides. Benton survived and mutated.
Uniform: Pixelated dexflan unitard in many colors. From a distance it looks grayish when deactivated, although up close the rainbow colors are visible. When activated it has a chameleon mode to blend into the surroundings.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Cooperation, Good (+2) Christian, Good (+2) Constitution, Good (+2) Office Worker
Poor (-2) Self-Blame
Powers: Master (+6) Control Insects, Average (0) Flight, Average (0) Super-Intellect
Motivation: God is inordinately fond of beetles. So am I.

Adalina Louis -- She was born with light brown skin, brown eyes, and straight black hair. Now most of her skin is paling to an uneven chalky white marked with bold splashes of yellow, orange, and black. Her hair is a vivid lavender. She is slim and petite, with modest breasts, a soft belly, and hips a little wider than her shoulders. Her heritage is primarily Hispanic mixed with African-American, French, and various other things. Adalina is studying Environmental Science at Loyola University in Easy City, Louisiana.
Origin: While working on a class project, she was stung by berettaflies. Their venom made her very sick, but also triggered the development of her superpowers.
Uniform: Street clothes.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Constitution, Expert (+4) Gregarious, Good (+2) Naturalist
Poor (-2) Situational Awareness
Powers: Developing. Insect Powers metapower so far includes Chromatic Skin and Hive Mind. The purple hair seems to be a separate manifestation from her own potential, triggered by the metagen.
Some kind of skin color power, which may be static or active, along with the purple hair. Possibly pheromones, direction sense, dancing, or other things related to insects. Probably ultraviolet and polarized vision.
Motivation: To learn about the environment of Louisiana.

Hollis Overton -- She has fair skin, brown eyes, and short brown hair. Her heritage includes British, Scottish, and German. Hollis has a far-flung family who have a hard time keeping in touch, but they're supportive of her work. A lot of her relatives work in caring professions or emergency services of some kind. She generally has a pleasant personality. However, she has no patience with forks or other people who try to push her around.
Hollis got kicked out of nursing school when someone made a stink about her superpowers, but when she called SPOON in tears, they sent a teleporter to pick her up and tell her school to go fuck itself. Then they found her a saner place to complete her training, after which she came to work for them as a duty nurse for the infirmary in the Easy City SPOON base. Hollis is currently studying toward her Bachelor of Science in nursing through a completer program.
Origin: Hollis gained Super-Immunity from the Aegis vaccine base, and had no idea about that until a SPOON volunteer with Power Reading visited her junior high and quietly mentioned it to her. She immediately outed herself by squealing and jumping up and down in glee. It fit perfectly with her plans to become a nurse. The Body Sense grew in gradually as she pushed herself to figure out what's wrong with other people, and now she can perceive a lot of what happens in her own or anyone else's body.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Observant, Expert (+4) Practical, Good (+2) Registered Nurse, Good (+2) Soup Care, Good (+2) Stamina
Poor (-2) Takes No Bull
Powers: Good (+2) Body Sense, Good (+2) Super-Immunity
Limitation: Body Sense relies a lot on her understanding of the input. So she's great with human or near-human people, but the farther out it goes, the stranger the readings get and the less she knows what they mean. That puts her at a disadvantage with an unfamiliar, very atypical soup until she spends enough time observing to learn their baseline and warning signs. But if you say, "Don't panic, my basal temperature is five degrees above human-standard," she can adjust pretty quick.

* * *

Don't panic over the rocky start. Adalina is a nice girl, Facet is a decent guy, and they just knocked heads at first.

"I think it's part of your mental health to let go of things. I think if you would have it all right there, it would be a little overwhelming. I don't know how you'd have a relationship. When you have a relationship, don't two people collude to kind of forget certain things?"
-- Dylan Walsh

Screaming is a response to something startling or frightening. If this sort of thing happens a lot, it may constitute a disorder, but for most people it's just an occasional response to weird shit happening. In particular, surviving a traumatic incident may increase your startle response for a while. Understand how to help someone through a panic attack.

Major life changes can cause stress for anyone. There are things you can do to support a friend during difficult times, cope with your own struggles, and get a better handle on life.

Most people feel bad when they hurt someone's feelings. It's important to forgive yourself and work it out with the person.

Shame is about failing to meet your own standards. Here are some tips on how to get back on track after disappointing yourself.

Accepting flaws is necessary for healthy friendships and romances. Know how to build a strong relationship through acceptance.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-12-17 05:04 am (UTC)
thnidu: my familiar. "Beanie Baby" -type dragon, red with white wings (Default)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
Collude or collide? (or both?)

(no subject)

Date: 2015-12-17 02:27 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] lone_cat
Image links have "%20" in front, which keeps them from working.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-12-17 03:30 pm (UTC)
redsixwing: Red-winged angel staring at a distant star. (Default)
From: [personal profile] redsixwing
I'm glad this is headed in a positive direction. I feel for both of them, here.

Thoughts

Date: 2015-12-18 04:02 am (UTC)
shiori_makiba: Makiba Shiori in Kanji and Roman Letters (Default)
From: [personal profile] shiori_makiba
You have to feel for both of them. It's not easy situation for anyone at all.

Adalina gets bonus points for sticking to her principals.Facet gets bonus points for going in that room again - that cannot have been easy. They both get bonus points for being willing to work on the eek reaction and with each other in-spite of a rocky beginning. Especially considering how low on spoons both of them are.

Huzzah!

Date: 2015-12-17 11:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] book-worm5.livejournal.com
I was hoping this one would get sponsored. :-) Things are tough for them just now, but hopefully they'll mesh better when they have more spoons to work with.

Re: Huzzah!

Date: 2015-12-18 12:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
Thank you! Yes, it's hard right now, but things will indeed get better. They are resourceful people and have a motivation to work together on this.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-12-18 05:00 am (UTC)
ext_3294: Tux (Default)
From: [identity profile] technoshaman.livejournal.com
No, they're trying really hard. They've both had bad weeks, and they know it...

Yes...

Date: 2015-12-18 05:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
Adalina probably just had the shittiest week in her life. Facet has pretty much classed it as the second-worst for him. :(

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