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Darren doesn't know where his dad is. He knows he has one, somewhere, his mom's capable of a lot of things, but creating a set of twins from nowhere is not one of them. He wants to know where his dad is, or at least what he was like, especially now. If he was just some schmuck who had no idea, or if he knew, before he'd sired children with his mom. He hopes it's the former.

Because his mother is a supervillain.

Not a small time villain, either, Darren's watched the news. He's seen Specular unmake half of a bank, turn it into a reflection of the side-street beside it, and then just - waltz right in and take whatever she likes. He's seen another news report of a bridge she collapsed when supers were chasing after her - two capes died in the chaos, and at least seventeen other people died, and that was getting off lucky. She could kill a thousand more if she really wanted to. She doesn't want to (or they would be dead), but she doesn't care if people get in her way.

He figured it out a month ago, because she just wears half of a mask and lets her long blonde hair flow free, and there was a clip from the news where she was speaking, and he just - he knew. 'Hand over the jewels,' she'd said, in the same chipper tone she says for, 'I'm going to make pancakes for breakfast'. Stealing money is on the same level as pancakes.

He tries very hard not to get in her way. He is the picture of a perfect son, quiet and withdrawn and studious. He hugs his mother (Allison, her name is Allison when it isn't Specular) when she asks him to and keeps the house spotless and tries very, very hard not to say that he knows. That he knows what her 'job' is when she leaves, knows where all of the money is mysteriously coming from, knows that she's killed people.

His sister realizes that something's up. She asks, when their mom is working and they're out of school. He - tries to lie, but Darren's always been awful at it. She weasels the truth out of him after quite a lot of prodding, and then she snorts and tells him he's crazy. And they go to Youtube and type in, 'Specular' and she hears the same thing he did. Her eyes go wide and she gets very, very still.

"We have to run," whispers Savannah.

"Wh- do you want to upset her, she took out half of a bridge, she's killed people, we can't -" protests Darren.

"We have to run. We can't stay here, she's - Dare. Dare, she's getting worse, we both know it, we both know we're not safe here."

That stuns him to silence.

"We're not," she insists.

"Where would we go?" he points out. "We're thirteen, not - not eighteen, she's our legal guardian, she has custody, anywhere we go they will find us and put us back! And then our mom, the supervillain, will know we ran away!"

"Would you rather stay here, with the crazy, psychotic murderess? Waiting, cowering, until at last she turns her powers on us because we didn't put the dishes away?"

"I. No. No I - I don't, but I -"

"Dare. Who knows when she'll be back, I can't be in a house with her, it'll end badly, you know it will!"

That was why he didn't tell her immediately. Because it would end badly. "Yes," he admits, hoarsely.

"Good. Okay, c'mon, we're going to pack and - and - I have some money, we grab a bus, we go - we go somewhere. I don't know where, but it's better than here."

"That's insane."

"No, she's insane, staying here is insane, I was tolerating it when I didn't know she was a cape, but she is. She can kill us. She can keep us here, locked in our rooms, or, actually, worse, she can take away the door."

Darren shudders. It's - she could. She definitely could.

"Okay. Okay, but we'll - we need to be smart about this, if we're going to run-"

"Run from what, darlings?" calls a voice from the door.

Both twins go still. They look at each other. They're so different, and yet they have the same matched look of panic.

"School's shit," lies Savannah. "We want to run from i..t..."

Allison (Darren's trying to get out of the habit of calling her 'mom') steps into the living room. She's in costume. Red and metallic silver and white, and a cape to match the term, and she's smiling at the both of them as if it's the most ordinary thing in the world.

"Darren, darling," she says, "you really should mind your search history. You were acting so strange and I got so worried."

Darren's heart might literally be ice now. He couldn't tell if it wasn't, couldn't look someone in the eye and say, 'Why yes, my heart is warm and beats blood throughout my veins.' It must be ice, to feel like this. Must not be beating blood, for him to be this still and cold. He's so scared he can't move.

Savannah doesn't seem to have that problem. "You bitch," she hisses, all fury and indignation and all of the rebellion of her teenage years packed into one moment. She is about to continue, start on a tirade, but her mother walks a few steps closer and then copies the wall behind her and puts its twin behind them.

"Language, darling," murmurs Allison. "I did it out of love, I love you both so much, you're the only things that matter to me in the world."

(So you can't leave me.)

"Yeah, right, bitch, that's not love, that's obsession, you're - you're insane, you need some fucking help," growls Savannah, but she's thirteen and ordinary, and her mother's thirty-two and a cape. Savannah backs away, into the newly made wall.

Darren can tell, it's all bravado. He - might just be about to watch his sister die. And he can't move, all he can do is stare, he doesn't know what to do, he doesn't know what to do-

"Darling," says their mother, as if she's talking about stealing jewels or making pancakes, "dear-heart, I would never hurt you." But she's coming closer and some voice in Darren's head is screaming but you have, but you have, and he still doesn't know what to do except stare and watch and pray his sister isn't about to die.

"But I will," she continues, in the same tone, "have you put you in time-out for a little while. Until you're a good girl, okay? If you're really good and you apologize I'll leave you the door."

Savannah, for once in her life, says nothing.

"Aw, such a good girl," coos the supervillain, going to touch Savannah's shoulder. "See? It won't be for -"

Her hand passes through Savannah's shoulder.

"Wh-" begins Darren, and then he's being dragged by the hand, by something, and all he can make is a startled squeak.

"Shut up and roll with it," hisses his sister, from - nowhere? What? The - he can feel her hand around his, it's shaking, and there's a waver in Savannah's voice.

Right. Shutting up. Rolling with it.

His mother's staring at the - at the not-Savannah, confused. "... Darling?" she says, not even noticing Darren's apparent escape. "What's -"

And then they're out of the door and he doesn't hear anything else she says. They dash down the stairs, fast as they can - oh fuck the door's opened she's coming she's coming, and Darren says, "Go, you're invisible, you can -"

"Fuck that shit, I'm not leaving you with crazy," she says, and she loses hold on the invisibility and there's his sister. There's - why are tears running down her face, she doesn't - Savannah doesn't -

"Okay," he says, because he's still trying to figure out what caused her to cry or even when she started.

She tugs at his arm, and she scrunches her eyes and he's - wait, what? He can still feel her hand on his but she's - she's going left? He's confused, what's - what's going on -?

"You have superpowers? When did you get superpowers?!"

"Thirty seconds ago," says Savannah.

"But you need a trigger moment, it doesn't - you don't just -"

She squeezes his hand. Oh. That. That was her trigger.

They make it out onto the street. They pick a direction, and they run. The Savannah-copy shouts obsenities for her mother to follow, and they disappear into the panicked crowd. And - and the street's being unmade behind them, their mother's screeching that she loves them and wants them to come back, and it's all they can do to just keep running, the both of them, with no idea of where. They just - they just need to get away.

Capes show up in record time. Rampaging supervillain? Yeah, they're going to show up. They distract her. The twins get away.


They're found, a week later. Not by her, but by someone else. He looks between the two of them and their disheveled clothes, Savannah's arrogant, defiant expression and Darren's - whatever his expression is, he's pretty sure he doesn't have one. He asks them who they're running from.

Savannah tells him it's none of his fucking business, she doesn't run from anyone.

The man doesn't believe them. But he does feed them. And give them a couch and a floor to sleep on after some wheedling, and then there's breakfast in the morning like it's the most ordinary thing in the world. He asks their names, Savannah makes one up and Darren goes with 'Elliot,' because that's sort of true enough to not be as much of a glaringly obvious lie. The man laughs, tells them his name is Vernon, and that they can think of some better names if they want, and that if they're going to lie to him, they might as well have the best names they can.

They don't trust him, at first. But he wheedles that out of them, too, after much, much longer.

Within a year, Darren's started calling him dad. For all he knows, it might be true.


Two years after their escape, when Darren and Savannah are fifteen and talking about learner's permits that their mother finds them. They're walking home from school. They have no idea where Vernon got papers for them. Darren suspects it's illegal. He's okay with that. They're taking a short cut, because it's faster and Darren doesn't want to deal with people right now and there's only a delightful silence.

And then, their mother.

"Sh, sh, sh, darlings," their mother says softly.

And then she snatches Savannah by the throat before she can echo herself and Savannah tries to trick her with invisibility and having a copy wiggling free, but - but it doesn't work. She remains trapped, and the invisibility cuts out and Savannah's choking.

"We're just all going to forget this happened," says Specular sweetly, "and you can see the new rooms I set out for you."


"I know someone's been hiding you," she continues, "So don't worry, we'll just go pay him a visit and I can show him how fantastic I think he is for stealing away my children."


"And I'm so proud of you, darling!" rambles their mother, to Savannah. "Triggering and getting a hold of the power so quickly, I'm so proud, I was a wreck when I first got mine, you're mommy's brave little girl-"

No no no no-

"I can show you all of my tricks and you can show me yours and we can try and get Darren to trigger, too, and then we can have family bonding!"

No no no no no no no no-

And then suddenly Darren's screaming, "No, no no no no no!"

Because he doesn't want to go back, she's crazy, she's going to lock them up and keep them as her pets, she'll - he doesn't want to be a supervillain, he doesn't want to help his mom, he wants to go back to his home and never see her again, never think of her again, never have another day of being terrified of how she'll react - never, never never!

The screaming in his head's replaced by something else. His head's - full of pictures. He has no idea why, or what they mean, but they're there. There's a - there's half of the bank, there's Vernon's house, there's - there's - He picks one, at near random. A desert oasis. He doesn't know why, it just sticks out at him. The concrete beneath their feet turns to sand, Specular slips on the new uncertain land, and Savannah is released, coughing.

He's a cape.

He's a cape, he's a cape, oh fuck his mom is going to be murderous. She's - probably about to rearrange the world around them. But he can, too, can't he? He snatches Savannah's hand, half-drags her away, because he's not sure, not yet, he's looking through pictures, there's got to be a good one here to use on her -

"What - what the fuck?" hisses Savannah.

"Shut up and roll with it," he replies, for lack of anything better to say.

His mom follows - they're out of the desert, it's not very big, it was centralized around him. Pictures, pictures - can he aim, with this thing? Maybe. He needs to try, he needs to slow his mother down and not them - library, there's a library, aim behind him, between him and the desert, something -

It goes. Library.

"Holy shit," breathes Savannah.

"Run," he hisses. She obeys.

Their mother follows - she can undo him, reflect the less hard-to-navigate terrain he hasn't shifted onto the parts that he has. He can't just slow her down, he needs to stop her - pictures, c'mon, give him something good -

Grand canyon. That'll do.

"Aaack!" screeches his mother, as she tumbles over the edge. He - stops. Wait, he didn't want to kill her - he looks back, tries to think of something to -

She's saved herself. Ledge reflection. She growls something, and she starts climbing back up, reflecting handholds where it's convenient -

"C'mon, let's go, we have to -" shrieks Savannah.

That's when Darren notices something. The desert is gone. The library is gone. It's back to smooth pavement and a median. The - oh shit -

"Wait, no, fuck," he hisses, and he darts back to try and - try and help his mother, he wants to be free but he doesn't want her to die -

He's on the other side, and he can't reach her. But she's almost to the top, maybe she can -

She doesn't.

The canyon reverts to concrete. His mother's hand is sticking out of it - she was reaching up and - and -

"... Holy shit," whispers Savannah.

"This isn't - that's not - I didn't - I didn't mean to -" The hand struggles. It clenches, uselessly, he can tell the - the person under it is squirming but there's nothing he can do. He tries to grab her hand and pull but - nothing, it's concrete. With a hand sticking out of it.

It doesn't take long for it to stop moving.

"No," murmurs Darren, so soft it's almost impossible to hear.

"Dare. Dare, c'mon, don't freeze up on me, we have to go -"

"Mom, I'm - no, hold on, I can - try to - I think I can -" Pictures, he searches through pictures, he'll put it back, put the canyon back -

"Dare. Fucking run!"

"But I can still -"

"No, you can't, we have to go, hear the sirens? They're coming, you demonstrated powers, you want to have a secret identity? You fucking run."

He tries to turn the area to a picture that can get her out, but - but - there's - the canyon's gone. Where's the canyon, there's - there's nothing else that can - nothing that goes that deep, where are the pictures he saw before, they're missing -


"I'm - I'm -"

She picks him up. She drags him off, struggling at first, but - but then he just relents and lets her drag him away before anyone arrives on the once-quiet street.


They show up at the Wards a week later with masks on their faces. Darren would - like very much to be a hero, now.


Sep. 20th, 2014 12:24 am
castmyown: (Default)
Max heads home, writes up everything he remembers from the trip to the moon with Cam and Adana, and then when his girlfriend gets home, he presents it to her happily.

"Also," he adds, once she's been updated. "The portal hub in Pantheon got a ton of renovations, I think we're calling it the Belfry now. It's very cute."


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Darren Elliott Sanders

September 2014

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