abetterlie: (Default)
After this and this


Since the news about the antidote meant the immediate threat to Gotham was gone, I figured what made most sense was to go after the red-haired woman behind it all before she died her hair, disguised herself as a nun and started with the next take-over a few month later. Or just took the green stuff to the next big city where they didn't have the antidote.

She didn't reply on the number she had given Lex, no surprise there, but Lex had managed to track a location down via Eddie's cell phone, but the house where Eddie's phone call had most likely gone to had about a gazillion apartments, plus of course we had no guarantee she was still there. She could have left some clues, though. I had never met her, and nobody I asked recognized the description, until someone said he didn't know about a readhead, but there was this nice shy mousey-haired girl who lived in 212 b and always kept to herself. This sounded like a candidate, and the disguise thing reminded me I'd better get into the blue outfit. She was human, after all, which meant prison, which meant she could identify me as a vigilante or something if she felt like it.

So I put the costume on, and I did find her - not just her, but her in two editions. They were both packing. Utter and complete weird sight. I guess I should meet more twins, except those don't usually wear the same clothes. Also, twins don't smell of clay, and one of them did. In addition to smelling familiar. Great. Really great. Because I did have that binding chemical Peter Parker had given me. At home. Because I was after crack-good-dealing readheads, not suffocating shapeshifters.

"Hmmmm," said Redhead on the right side, whom I figured had to be the genuine Ivy, if that was her real name. "Seems you can take over from me sooner than I expected. Ta, darling."

With that, she touched her other self on the cheek. I noticed she didn't wear a glove on the hand she used for this, contrary to what Lex had said, but she did wear one on the other. Readhead No.2 nodded obediently and promptly went for me, changing form in the process.

I don't think I ever did what I did next before. The thing was, if I duked it out with Clayface, it would end up with me getting suffocated again, and even if it didn't, she'd get away in the meantime. Plus I figured that the reason why he was all of a sudden teaming up with her, wearing her shape and obviously meaning to stay in Gotham to get arrested wasn't exactly his idea. She had to have some hypno power or something.

So what I did was getting right out of the window I had just climbed into again, jumping down to the street. And then I raced back into the building and broke the next fire alarm glass. The sprinklers went on everywhere, people started to run outside, and sure enough, so did Clayface looking like Ivy again. Not the real her, though. She must have taken the elevator to the garage. I'm so sticking to vampires and demons again, I thought. You need techno teams for humans. Or the police. The garage exit was on the other side of the building, and Clayface saw me running there and followed. There wasn't anyone else insane enough to take a car when they thought the building was on fire, so the hybrid speeding out had to be her. I jumped on the roof, smashed in the driver's window, and that was when my luck run out, because Clayface had caught up with me. Cue mudlslinging, literary. He couldn't be precise enough on a driving car to cover my mouth and nose, so he couldn't use his old tactic, but I had just one arm free all the time because I was clinging to the car so Ivy wouldn't go away. As for her, seems driving with two passengers on a roof wasn't the same thing as using chemicals to control people and enhance their powers. That car crashed right into the next traffic light. Which was when the police showed up. I guess the fire alarm must have gotten their attention earlier, so some patrol car or the other had already been on its way.

I saw them, yelled "the woman inside is responsible for the Wayne hostage thing" and did the fasted backflip I could to get the hell out of there. Clayface by now had looked like a boxing lump of earth and not like Ivy, and I guess whatever she used to control him might have gotten flushed out with the water from the sprinklers, or self interest was just too strong; anyway, according to the late night news he vanished by sliding away, literary, before the cops had figured out what was going on.

They did get Ivy, though. And some of the guys they arrested in the hostage situation say they can identify her. Plus there was evidence in her apartment, which I suppose was meant to stay there so Clayface-as-Ivy would take the fall. Anyway, she's got a lawyer who claims this thing won't even go to trial because she's clearly innocent. Guess we'll find out later. Right now, I'm out of Gotham. Boston first, then Nevada with Harry.

Unless Lex has me arrested for kidnapping, but there you go.
abetterlie: (Default)
I'm starting to miss vampires.

I mean, it's not like this city isn't in a mess anyway, like Harry said, or in need of help. Last night I met a couple of gangsters who were just this side of crazy and stronger than they should be, though not superstrong. Just a better kind of steroid or some other drug, I guess. But they were human. I couldn't pretend to myself, even for a second, that they weren't. On the other hand, they had guns. As in: using them. Taking them out without killing them or getting shot was a hell of a challenge, and one got away because of that. Can't tell Harry about the guns, because he knows what that means. I'm not undead. Or invulnerable. I just heal faster. But if one of them hits my skull or heart or lungs, I'm just as dead.

Anyway, vampires. You know where you are with them. You try to kill them, they try to kill you, no need to save their lives in a fight, no holding back on either side, except they don't use guns, for some reason. I mean, now that I think about it, they could, it's just that those I've met didn't. I got trained to kill anything I fight, and let's face it, I'm just plain better at dealing with demons than with humans. Plus that Batcat or whatever seems to specialize in that anyway.

Maybe I also miss vampires because I miss killing. Not a good subject to brood on. So I tried to be more productive and find out more about that shapeshifter I met. The one with the demon-like strength and the smell of clay. Him being a demon would be about the best thing ever right now, but I got close enough to smell him, and aside from the clay stuff, he's human. So, two possibilities, I thought: either what I saw with the woman was just a panic reaction on his part - maybe his powers are new or something - and with me, well, I attacked him - and he's like the Slayers or Peter, someone superstrong and learning to deal with it - or he's bad news. I read all the papers and tried to overhear cops talking, but it was really at work that I caught the first rumour. Someone had done a scam, assumed the identity of some banker, down to the finger prints, and walked away with a lot of money and some jewelry. "So how do they know the banker didn't do it himself and just wants to try an insurance fraud?" I asked, and they told me the banker had been found in a hospital where he had been during the entire time, without any papers and in no condition to talk because someone had beaten him within an inch of his life. He still hadn't regained consciousness.

Okay, I thought. If it had just been the scam, well. I remember Electro Gwen, as Gunn called her. Whatever I am, I'm not a cop. And it's not like rich people can't afford to lose some money. (Note to self: are you projecting again? Stop that.) Anyway, putting people in the hospital is different. It still makes him a case for human law, of course, except that normal cops wouldn't be able to deal with him if he just changes shape or goes Rock-man or whatever on them. If it was the same guy.

I went back to the club where I had seen him and found out the name of the woman the shapeshifter had argued with. Lavinia Hill. Turns out she didn't go the police, but she didn't show up at her place of work the next day, either. She was still at home and was doing the Scotch and valium thing which reminded me - anyway, I had been wondering whether to show up as me or in costume, because I didn't want to frighten her, but I figured if I went as me than the whole cover identity thing to protect Harry would be superfluos, so, costume. Wasn't that hard to get in if you can climb up walls and know how to open windows from outside, and she had taken enough pills not to jump when I started talking. It took some time to convince her I just wanted to talk, though, and I think I broke the phone. Which sucked later. So when she started to talk, she told me the guy had been an old collegue of hers, a former stockbroker named Matt Hagen who had gone through some kind of midlife crisis about two years ago, left his job and started to fulfill the dream of his youth and gone on a expedition through the Amazonas. She'd lost contact with him until he showed up a week ago and asked her out. He was way more pushy than he used to be, though, hence argument on the dancefloor, and that was when he started to lose control and changed into this huge yellow-or-ocre creature we both saw.

She was just about to tell me more when guess who showed up, either having a key from two years ago or letting himself in the way I had done - anyway, he was there, with flowers in hand, saw me, yelled "You again!", threw the flowers away and started to go Rocky on me again. I think Lavinia tried to call the police, that was how she found out I had broken her phone earlier. Anyway, we threw each other around a couple of times, and about the only success I had was that I managed to move the fight to the bathroom. Because I had sort of hoped that the whole scent-of-clay thing would come in useful. Even though he felt more like rock when punching. What's the thing which makes clay melt? Water. So I switched on her shower and the whole thing became even more bizarre. He didn't melt. Not right away. He did get orange spots, though, and got even madder. Then he became a mass of clay pouring itself all over me and tried to suffocate me.

I should have thought of that possibility. I really should have. Should have thought that whole shapeshifting thing through to its logical conclusion. It was one of the worst things that ever happend to me in a fight, in a way worse than getting trashed by the Beast or that one time by Angel when he and the others were trying to get away from Jasmine, because you can struggle against punches, you know what's happening, even when you're losing. When there's just clay in your mouth and nose and everywhere and you can't even hold on anything, fight anything.

I could have died there. Again. Only this time without Angel around and with no hope of coming back.

Actually, I think I would have died if it hadn't been for Lavinia. She had come after us and figured about about water as well and switched on everything that wasn't already, and when I got air again she sat on the bathroom floor and sobbed and said: "He - it - it's gone. But it'll be back, right?"

I was still trying to manage speech again and do the hero-puts-comforting-arm-around victim thing which you're supposed to do in these situations, never mind she had been the one saving me, when she looked at me and said: "You're so paying for the tiles and the phone and the couch table, buddy."

I got out of there post haste. Though I guess I know where my first salary goes, via anonymous cheque or something. Because all that did get broken through the fight, and it's not right that she should pay for it.

Still. I have to figure out a way to defeat Mr. Clay without getting suffocated by him. Just breaking his neck while he's in human form once I can be sure about it being him sounds like a great idea right now. Father would have done it, I think. Despite him being human. He'd have said that if an enemy means to kill you you should -

No. He'd also have said I'm trying to make it easy for me. Think about the dead bodies in your resume and find a non-lethal way to take him out, Connor.

I really miss vampires.
abetterlie: (Default)
After Harry had left for Metropolis, he felt a numb sort of relief, because that was good, wasn't it? Because that meant Lex must have decided to be Harry's friend again.

But that didn't change the rest of the current mess, and Connor still had no idea what to do about the rest. Mostly because anything he could think of, he had already either done or offered. Being-friendly-to-Bruce-all-the-time wasn't enough, and Harry hadn't been wrong when he said, in reply to Connor's offer of giving the apartment up, that this wouldn't change the original reaction and that one had to stand by one's decisions. He was too worn out to think very logical, and what thoughts he had ran in circles, but the only conclusion he could come to was this: Harry couldn't forgive him for having asked in the first place, and for whatever reaction Bruce had had. And as long as Harry couldn't forgive him, they wouldn't be able to get back to normal.

The irony about withholding forgiveness: he was so very good at that himself. A lifetime of training, wasn't it? Figured he'd be on the other end now.

He had learned his lesson from the Chilton affair. He had made himself a complete costume now, to hide his identity, something in dark blue that covered his face and body. It was only midnight, so presumably some criminals and/or demons were still around. It would help with the double need to beat someone up and to feel useful for something.

His father would be disgusted. Either of his fathers. Fighting evil is a holy cause, Stephen, Daniel Holtz would have said, not an excuse to distract yourself from your self pity.

You manage to self destruct every single time, Angel had said, about a year ago, in the Hyperion, or was it: you manage to ruin every single chance you were given.

There was no vampire in sight. He heard people talk about someone dressed as a bat and wondered whether that could be a case in point, but decided no real vampire would be so corny. On the other hand, people coming out of a club yelling about some zombie creature sounded like a) they really could need help, and b) something supernatural might actually going on, so he used the fire exits to enter the club from behind. It was easy to see where the commotion came from; someone huge and bulky was struggling with a woman, and for a moment he thought it was the Hulk, probably because of all the talk with Kara about it. Then he shook his head. This was real. Also someone brownish, not green. Whose argument with the woman had just reached a climax that caused him to throw her across the room. She would have hit the wall with her skull if Connor had not caught her. After making sure she was alive and well (and still yelling), he let her down and dived for the brown giant... who had disappeared. Utterly and completely.

Except his scent was still there. Slightly changed, but still there. In the room, together with dozens and dozens of panicked or morbidly curious people shoving each other into the direction of the exit or the place where the giant had been.

Maybe he was just too damm tired. Maybe he was completely off his game. But the scent was still there, only that element of - what had it been - something familiar - that was missing now. Connor closed his eyes amidst the noise and tried to focus, and then it hit him. That element which had been there earlier, and was missing now, that had not been organic, neither a part of human or demon physiology. It had been clay.

That wasn't explaning as to where the giant had vanished to. The scent was rapidly being fainter anyway, and maybe he really was imagining things. Next thing he knew, he would be seeing the actual Hulk, changing from David Banner into...

Connor opened his eyes. Changing. This was probably the craziest idea of all, but he was the child of two vampires, so he really wasn't interested in probability. He made his way through the crowd, honing in on it, narrowing it down, and finally, about two metres away from the exit, he thought he had it again.

The scent belonged to a man with grey hair and slight build who could not have been more unlike the creature he had just seen.

"Can I help you with something?" he said, and Connor was uncertain again. He shook his head and felt his hair chaffing against his neck because of the hood during the motion.

Wait a minute. He was in costume. Since when did innocent people, when encountering constumed freaks pursuing them, not cry for help?

"Maybe," he said, and decided to bluff. He pointed in the direction of the wall where he had caught the woman."The lady over there said you hadn't finished your conversation with her."

The slight man ran. Faster than any human should; and while he ran, he began to change form. By the time Connor had caught up with him again, he was as huge as the Beast, and judging by the fist that smashed into Connor when the guy turned around, nearly as rock-like.

He remembered his hopeless fight against the Beast only too well. So he went for speed, ducking, evading, jumping saltos across the giant's body, which worked out well enough but didn't give him the opportunity to land any blows, either. Connor felt a pang of envy at Spider-man's ability of shooting webs.

The Beast ultimately had been vulnerable only to something made of his own body, and this shapeshifting man who smelled like clay but was far too hard for that substance might be as well, but then again, he could be utterly different. Connor went through his memories of the Beast anyway, which turned out to be a mistake. It wasn't that far a jump from the Beast to Jasmine and Cordelia, especially now, only a few hours since he had told Harry what he had not told anyone else. He ducked a moment too late, and the arm of the giant hit him full force, throwing him against the dumpster.

By the time Connor had made it out again, the shapeshifter was gone, and this time without obliging by leaving a trace of his scent. He probably did something as simple as taking a taxi. Connor spent the next two hours trying to find him again, and wasn't succesfull. So he returned to the apartment, put the costume into the washing machine and used the internet to print out what he could find on stories about shapeshifters. Out of an impulse, he googled for "clay" as well, and read a few articles there, before giving it up.

He hadn't realized how cold he was before taking a shower. Well. Bruce Wayne had said Gotham winters were tough. He made the water a bit hotter, and for no reason at all sank down on the floor, feeling the drops hitting his skin.

Harry would come back from Metropolis, reconciled with Lex, and presumably a bit happier.

Except if he didn't, or if the happiness would go away as soon as he saw Connor and remembered the non-forgiveness for the choice he had made again.

Entering the bedroom, he found the shirt he had looked for earlier in the evening, the one with the invisible bloodstains. It still vaguely smelled of Harry and the guilt of failing to protect him. Connor put it on and went to bed.

Harry probably thought he didn't get the need for drugs because all he had ever done was that one trip with Ecstasy in New York. But not all drugs where chemical. Either way, they all had the same problem. With time, they wore off. Fighting and pursuing as much as any other. They all wore of. Except love and guilt. Except for those.

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abetterlie

July 2010

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