Friday Flash Fics — Ready

Today’s Friday Flash Fics reminded me of Cinder, the fire-powered superhero who pops up in “Lesser Evil,” my gay supervillain story from The Lavender Menace. Given world events, I wondered how that might parallel with my alternate universe of metahumans. From there, the image made me think things weren’t going well there, either, and I wondered what Jeff—that’s Cinder’s real name—might do in the name of justice when things get even harder. We’ve already seen him suggest some methods that weren’t entirely above the board in “Lesser Evil.” Now we see him facing off against bad policy.

Friday Flash Fiction

Ready

“Well?” Colin said, though the look on Jeff’s face said it all.

“They’re closing the border to us. The North American Metahuman Defense Agency is going to need a new name.” He loosened his tie and went to the window, looking out over the Canal. “This is bad, Colin.”

“I know.”

Jeff flinched and glanced back at him. “Sorry. Of course you do. Is this how it was for you?” He frowned. “Or would have been? Will be?” He shook his head. “You know, it’s awesome to have you back, but the whole quantum alternate futures thing makes it hard to make sense sometimes.”

Colin laughed. “Try living them.” He rose from the bed, and wrapped his arms around Jeff. “And no. In my original timeline, NAMDA was in place. It was just… infiltrated.”

Jeff kissed his forehead. “Well, I’m glad you’re back in my timeline. Even if it’s going to hell.”

Colin took a deep breath. “Yeah. So, how bad is it?”

“No non-citizen metahuman is allowed to cross the US border, period. NAMDA membership or not. So I can’t go there. Neither can Juan or Solange. And thanks to their idiot in chief, they’re even rolling back what US NAMDA operatives can do, and creating their own organization and…” Jeff threw up his hands. “Sorry. It’s not your fault, and I’m angry.”

“Hey, I get it. You’re worried about what’s next.”

“I’m terrified about what’s next. In two different ways.”

Colin squeezed him. “Just two?”

“Well, at least two. I’m scared for any new metas. I can only imagine how they’ll be treated.”

Colin nodded. It was easy to see that possibility. Hell, Colin had lived it, before he’d unlocked his own ability to slide through time and possibility both.

“And the other thing…” Jeff sighed.

“The other thing?”

“Tristan,” Jeff said.

Colin swallowed, tempering his reaction as best he could. Tristan Edwards—Psilence, back when he’d worked with NAMBDA, before he’d used his telepathic abilities to brainwash Jeff and convince Colin Jeff didn’t love him—had been gone for nearly a year and a half now. “What about him?”

“I’m convinced it’s him working with Aleph. The attacks. The donations. The…suicides.”

Colin didn’t trust himself to speak, so he nodded. Besides, he agreed. The recent spate of politicians and groups imploding, confessing, or literally exploding had been one of the major cases NAMDA had been working on. Now they had no access to the United States.

They stood in silence for a while.

“The thing is, in my darker moments..?” Jeff said, but his voice trailed off.

“You don’t agree with what he’s doing. Not really,” Colin said.

“He took down that serial killer,” Jeff said.

“And had him write ‘Psilence’ on the wall with his own blood after slitting his wrists,” Colin said. “That’s not justice. It’s vengeance.”

Jeff nodded. “I know you’re right. But I look at the world lately, and I wonder if I’d settle for vengeance.”

Colin kissed him again.

“You don’t settle.”

Jeff smiled. “Thank you. Talking to you always helps. I just wish I could help.”

Colin laughed.

“What?” Jeff blinked. “What’s so funny?”

“You’re already figuring out how you’re going to get the team across the border, valid access or not. Don’t tell me you’re not.”

Jeff blushed. It looked good on him. “When did you start reading minds?”

Colin tapped Jeff’s chest. “I’m not reading your mind, love. I’m reading your heart.”

“Fair enough.” He cleared his throat. “Any ideas?”

“I can’t shift in location, only in quantum. But I happen to know that in most timelines I’m aware of, there are metas who can teleport, and bring passengers along with them. Ever heard of Railroad?”

Jeff shook his head.

“She works on getting people like us out of Russia. Let me reach out to her.” He stepped back. “After food. You want to eat in?”

Jeff smiled again. “Reading my heart again?”

“You know it. Give me a sec and we can head down to the Market, pick something up, and come back here.” Colin went to the bathroom and washed his hands. When he came back out, Jeff was standing at the window again, but he had on fist raised. It burned with the flame he could conjure and control.

“Ready?”

Jeff turned, and nodded, fist still burning.

“Ready.”

Colin wondered if this timeline had the adage his own, original quantum reality had or not.

Never push a Canadian too far.

 

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8 thoughts on “Friday Flash Fics — Ready

    • I’d forgotten I named Cinder after you. I had to go back and look in ‘Lavender Menace’ for the names of all the characters and I was like, “Oh yeah! Jeffrey with complete control over fire… how did he not end up the villain again?”

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  1. Might have to go revisit that story. I remember it hazily but I do remember Psilence and thinking what a nasty piece of work he was (I mean, villain…) As one of the ‘metas’ to the south of you, can’t say I disagree with some of the character’s views. *bangs head on desk lightly* Two more years. Two more years. *mutters* Hope to God only two more years.

    On the story itself, would love to see more in the universe, even if it does mean letting Psi out to play, too, heh. Do like the “good guys starting at a disadvantage” situation and with you helming it, I can at least look forward to a hopeful ending if not a happy one.

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    • It’s funny, when I wrote ‘Light’ I honestly braced for people to be “really, superheroes?” with disdain, but that wasn’t quite how it was received—though it’s not quite as superhero-ish as ‘Lesser Evil’ was.

      But it’s fun to play in that sandbox. If I had my druthers, there’d be more superhero short fiction/novellas/novels out there. If you haven’t read ‘Sacred Band’ yet, that’s totally worth tracking down.

      I do have an outline for the story of Colin’s return, called “Greater Good” (to balance out “Lesser Evil” and because I hate trying to come up with titles). It’s wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey (because of Colin’s abilities) and is Jeff’s POV for when Colin shows up and meets Jeff for the first time (though for Jeff it’s after the effects of ‘Lesser Evil’) but he knows he can’t tell Colin because, well, messing with the timeline. But, as you say, I like to find a way to make hopeful endings, so I’ve got a loophole for him. 😉

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      • Coming back to this after reading the other flash and remembering I commented on it, heh. I’ll have to take a look at that. I also remember reading “Lesser Evil” after reading “Light” and going “Wow, Kieran could’ve totally become Psi” or at the very least, I found myself comparing the two characters. Totally feel you on the struggle with titles. *makes “Mondays!” memeface*
        Also looking into the Ex-Series by Peter Clines. Superheros and Zombie Apocalypse. Haven’t heard much about it but looks interesting, at least as far as the hero genre goes.

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