She had always liked the name Morgan. Her husband was convinced they were having a boy, she a girl, but that name would do nicely for either. But he wouldn’t give, always making a face every time it showed up on their short list. Wouldn’t say why he didn’t like it, only that it had been the name of one of the bad guys he had fought before they met. How the heck they had been on a first name basis, she didn’t know. She had never been that close to any of the bad guys she had fought to be able to call them by name. Only the Timekeeper, Orpheus, the Vortex and Blade among the to many of them. A mix of women and men who had responded to being Powered by being as bad as they could.
A distant crash caught her attention as Langston threw an opponent into a building. Ok, one. She knew one’s first name. But she still wasn’t as sure as her husband that Langston had abandoned his evil ways. The big ape leapt after his prey as the man scrambled to get out of his way.
“Enigmal! Heads up!”
Her name bellowed with a note of fear made her look up just in time to shift the car heading towards her. As the previously metal and plastic molecules expanded in a cloud of air around her, she reflexively solidified the air into a gentle ice slide underneath the terrified driver and passenger, slipping them down to the ground as their vehicle ceased to exist. Grateful, she smiled at The Falcon as he flew down to her and looked her over with a critical eye.
“We’re fine, Falcon,” she fussed as he crossed his arms, hovering protectively. In his mask, muscles rippling, he looked every bit the superhero. Half of the problem of fighting bad guys was the guaranteed admirers he had that would squeal at every flex and move and the other half was a fifty fifty split of thrill seekers and deer in the headlights who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Like the couple below. She spared a glance to make sure they were on the ground and let the ice dissipate.
“That car almost hit you. You’re having a baby. You need to go home.”
“I’m fine. We’re fine.” Looking over his shoulder, she pointed to the top of one of the near skyscraper. “Mentos, Mental. . .whatever he’s called is going to drop that poor woman if you don’t go stop him. He’s been waving her around like a flag to get your attention for the past minute.”
“Empirion will handle him,” her husband answered without looking around. “He’s radioed that he’s on his way.” He flew to her and gathered her in his arms and she could almost feel the exhales of envy and inhales of the romantics as he kissed her lightly. “Go home.”
“Nope.” As the flames engulfed them, she turned the fiery air to a cool breeze. She deepened their kiss for a moment and then pulled free. “Someone wants your attention. I’ll be fine.”
Another blast of fire came and with a small curse, she bubbled Inferno in a layer of neon gas after encasing her in a shield. “We’re having a family discussion,” she yelled. “Hold on!” She winked at her husband and then frowned as she remembered that he couldn’t see it under the cover of her mask lenses. “Wanna see what color she lights up?” The Falcon looked back and she charged the atoms around the costumed woman, making her glow. Inferno cursed weakly, trapped in a bubble where oxygen had ceased to exist and began to sag midair.
“Silly science teacher,” her husband laughed fondly and then released her to go capture the badie.
She smiled, watching him go. It had only taken a thought to encase Inferno in pressure bubble but in truth, the baby was causing her to tire a little more quickly. Maybe, if the other teams were handling this crisis, she would go find a place to sit for a moment. The Falcon flew back by, Inferno bound, her mouth covered by one of Dr Gizmo’s restraints. “Toby,” Ryan yelled as he passed by. “Tobias.”
“After you know who?” she hollered back. She rolled the name around in her head for a moment and then answered, “Okay, but I still think it’s a girl!”
“Nope!” The 200-watt smile lit the afternoon. “It’s a boy! And I love Toby!”
Ryan had loved Toby. He’d have been pleased to see that their son favored him more and more each day.
But he wouldn’t now. She had been more than Ryan, the super strong, unbeatable hero Falcon, could handle.
Silver Streak had told her what she had done as far as it had been captured on video. It still seemed impossible. Shifting the inorganic had been easy peasy if only a bit exhausting. Her only limit had been her imagination and her own strength. She preferred air. . .it had always shifted easiest. Her directive was defense, second tier help for others, protection for the innocent to shield them if she could from the destruction that her team and her husband’s team could deal out. Inorganic molecules, atoms, electrons. . .hers to shape and reform to help, to save.
But the melted landscape, ionized, broken and warped buildings, twisted trees and empty lakes that Silver Streak had made her look at. . .the corpses, human and animal that had been caught between the mad battles of the supers, well that had been more than she could stand. He had shown her a statue hidden in an alleyway, or so she thought, of a man and woman. But on closer inspection, it had been stone and metal and flesh and the terror and pain on the faces had been more real than any sculpture could reproduce. The Streak had grimly nodded when she asked if that was her work and she had fallen to her knees, retching.
Streak had tried to reassure her, that from the footage he had seen before everything fell apart, they had just been the victims of an accident, caught unseen between her and Halcyon. Halcyon had been on a run of terror, Streak had told her. In the madness of the aftermath of the Event, she had actually fought to stop Halcyon, been a hero, not a villain. But Powers hadn’t seemed to pay attention to the mortals. Things had happened. Probably hadn’t even seen them.
Melody had just stared, his words a buzzing background to the sight of the people before her. But accident or not, unseen or ignored, their tortured deaths were at her feet. Her stomach had roiled; she could do nothing but be sick and cry.
He watched her protectively until she had quieted, drew her back into hiding as the sun came up. She had watched it from their window of the apartment they had taken over, tears still rolling down her face.
“There were some that you might have been able to tear the world in two, Enigma,” he had said, holding up a small, half-rotten apple for her to eat. She held up a hand, waving it away, and he shrugged and bit into it himself.
“That’s how the new media spins things. Overdrama.”
“No, Melody,” he stated flatly, finally using her name. “I saw the videos before everything went even more to hell in a handbasket. You kinda killed a few villains. . .tore them into nothingness. Never saw anything like it on the videos; didn’t know you could do what you did. You fucked up reality girl, remade shit. It was damn scary.” His voice had quavered a little, breaking from the unemotional tone that he’d tried to maintain.
“I couldn’t have done that!” she spat, turning on him. He backed away, holding up the half eaen apple in defense. The fear in his face was real, she suddenly knew with a gut punch of certainty. Her shoulders slumped and she shook her head. “I didn’t do it on purpose. I was a good guy.”
The Streak sighed. “From what I’ve seen, we were all a little crazy. You did some horrifying things trying to be good. It happened. Now we just survive.”
She was silent for a while and he decided it was safe enough to finish the apple and nap. They would move again when the sun set. He didn’t awake until she spoke again, her voice startling him as he jolted from the sofa. She hadn’t moved from the window or had and then gone back to it. The thought unnerved him.
“Did I really kill him?” came a whisper in the gathering darkness. The sun was almost gone; he went to light a single candle, the only light he’d allow lest the other survivors find them.
“I’m sure he went all bad, Melody. You did what you had to. We were all nuts.”
She didn’t answer and he was certain that she wouldn’t. The Streak went to curl up on a broken sofa and pulled a blanket off the floor. But then, softly, in the flickering light, he heard her whisper, “No, Ryan was always the good one. He was trying to stop me.”
Her voice was so soft that he could barely hear her answer. “No, but I don’t need to. He was always the special one, always true and good. And I took him away from the world.”
Melody rolled out of bed, taking deep breaths in the darkness to quiet the scream that threatened to rip from her soul. She went to her son’s room and smiled sadly as he murmured something and rolled in his sleep. She crept softly to his bed.
Leaning over, Melody kissed Toby’s hair lightly, pulling the covers back over him after freeing them from the twisted mess that they’d become. “I took him from you,” she whispered, trembling. Stepping back outside, she went to find Natalie. She had to talk, even if Nat was asleep and she had to wake her up.