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This story arc has been published as a novel!

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---

Possession Is Nine-Tenths of the Law

Megan waved to her mother as the rented van pulled out of Marigold Lane and up into the streetlights of the neighborhood beyond. Once the taillights vanished over the rise, she let out a long breath she hadn't been aware that she'd been holding.

"Your mom's pretty decent," G said from the front door of the house.

Megan felt her shoulders tense up immediately and couldn't quite bring herself to turn around. "Yeah," she said. "She is. But I'm glad she took off. I wanted to spend Christmas with her, not all the holidays."

"She gave you New Year's Eve," G said, sounding amused.

"A few hours of it," Megan said, and forced herself to turn around.

G hadn't changed. G was just the same. G was the same short, wiry, narrow-eyed, wind-carved butch bundle of sex she'd been two and a half weeks ago, when they'd gone out to a late lunch and were on their way home for several hours of practicing the horizontal hokey-pokey.

The only difference was in Megan's head, and that whole green leotard thing.

G cocked her head to one side and said, "You've been avoiding me."

"Sorry," Megan said, and had started out meaning it to be sarcastic and angry, but it came out heartfelt and guilty. "I... just didn't feel up to processing while also dealing with Mom. Knowing her, she'd've figured out what was going on and offered to mediate, and you don't want to know what I think of her relationship skills."

The sky began to spit ice at Wonder City again, and Megan stood in it, feeling penitential and a little like a small child waiting for her doom to be pronounced.

G stood back from the door. "What is it with you and standing out in precipitation? Get your ass in here."

Megan fought down her reflexive nervous smile at that, and heavily tramped up the steps into the house. G shut the door on the dank, frigid blast outside and turned to regard the younger woman, pursing her lips.

"Come upstairs," G said. "The cats miss you."

"I..." Megan started to say something, and forgot what it was.

"I've got hot mulled cider on the stove," G said, squeezing past her in the narrow hallway and thumping up the steps. "Come on."

The apartment did smell of the cider and spices, and baking bread, and maybe even cake. Megan hovered in the doorway and sniffed.

Evason happened to be passing by the front door on urgent cat business, merely twitched her maimed ear at Megan's intrusion. Madame Blavatsky, however, hopped down from the kitchen counter and trotted over to Megan's giant boots, loudly chastising her. Megan bent to offer a fingertip to Madame B to sniff. Madame B did so gravely, gave out an imperious, "MWAH!" and strode toward Megan's preferred chair. She hopped onto the arm and looked back at Megan expectantly.

"You thought I was kidding," G said, gesturing at Ursula and Olamina, who had both also materialized from somewhere. "You'd better sit down."

Megan did so, and was immediately colonized. She suspected that the cats liked her because she emitted a lot of heat and had a lot of cat furniture surface area.

G gave her a very large mug of hot cider and reclined onto the loveseat with her own, rather smaller, mug, leaning against one arm with feet up on the other. When Megan looked at her next, Jazz had curled into a large black and white ball on G's lap.

Megan felt the silence stretching and twisting like an irritated copperhead (what had become of him? she wondered irrelevantly), but she kept staring into her mug, trying to think of the Right Thing to say.

"Do you feel betrayed?" G asked.

Megan looked up at her, then back down into the darkness of her cider. Ursula rolled onto her back on Megan's knees, waving her paws in the air and exposing her calico belly. Megan petted the exposed belly, and Ursula contracted around her hand pointily. "I guess so."

Megan could see G nodding out of the corner of her eye. Ursula chewed on her fingers.

"I could say several different things right now," G said, scritching one of Jazz's ears. "I could point out the whole secret identity thing. I could say, 'You're not the boss of me!' I could even be a really righteous asshole and explain that I'm not the one in spandex, the ghost possessing me is. But it all comes down to the fact that I didn't tell you, even though I knew you had issues with spandex relationships, and you have to be the one to choose to deal or not deal."

Megan stared at her for a long moment, opened her mouth, shut her mouth, then shook her head. "Okay, I'll come back to the ghost in a moment. Why didn't you tell me, even though you knew, et cetera, et cetera?"

G's mouth quirked a half-smile. "Should I spin you the pathetic story about how when I was a kid, I had the hots for a straight girl and I just kept hoping that if I made her like me enough, it wouldn't matter that I was a girl in the end?"

Megan raised an eyebrow. "Is it true?"

G shrugged. "Yes, but does that really matter?"

Megan scowled into her mug for several moments, and finally took a long drink of the cider. "Maybe," she said.

Uhura arrived, later than the others -- as usual -- and appeared on Megan's knee. She stomped across Ursula and stuck her head into Megan's mug.

"So what's this about a ghost?" Megan said.

G looked down at Jazz and pretended to be examining his ear. "Back in the summer, I was working on recording some points of architectural interest in a building that was being demolished. Near the end, I was in the basement, looking over the foundation, and I, well, found her body."

"In the basement?" Megan said, leaning her head forward so Uhura could drape herself along the back of the chair.

"Yeah. Just part of a skeleton, you know, and the bits of costume." G drained her mug and set it aside. "She was from the war."

"The costume did seem kinda... vintage," Megan said. "'Part' of a skeleton?"

G nodded. "She got killed her first time out. She says a guy called the Grey Phantom dematerialized her and shoved her into a wall. She died pretty much instantly. I don't know how or why she was never found. I couldn't even find a reference to any villains using 'Phantom' in their names who were on record as having the power to demat someone."

Megan frowned. "So she's all angsty and unfulfilled now? So she asked you to help her fulfill her destiny or some junk?"

"Asked, hell," G said angrily. "She grabbed hold of the back of my lizard brain and won't fucking let go."

"She's really possessing you?" Megan said, appalled.

"Yes," G said, still avoiding her gaze. "But I guess we've come to an understanding."

"You haven't tried to get her removed?" Megan said. "In a city full of Mystikai, there's gotta be someone who can do it."

G shrugged. "She claims that any attempt to remove her will hurt me. And I'm not sure she's telling the truth, but I'm not really willing to find out that she is the hard way."

Megan watched Evason stride across the room and jump onto the back of the loveseat. "A very smart lady recently said, 'Ghosts are notoriously crazy.' And I think she's right."

"I... can't really think about getting her removed," G said slowly. "And, I admit, I'm kind of enjoying the whole saving-the-day thing most of the time."

"Really," Megan said in a flat tone.

G plucked at the edge of the cushion. "Yeah. I guess so."

"And when did you start feeling this way?" Megan said.

G shook her head. "Don't."

"Why not?"

"I can't talk about it."

"Because she won't let you."

"Yeah."

Megan caught herself before she dashed the mug against the wall, not least because it would have discomfited one, if not two, of the cats on her. She settled for growling. Ursula twitched a paw at her. Madame B, curled into a round ball, gazed at her from one mad eye.

"You realize," Megan said after counting to ten and back, "that you're crazy too."

"Probably." G stroked Evason's nose. "The cats keep me sane-ish. And it's kind of nice being really superstrong and able to do cool shit, as opposed to being sort of strong and sort of tough and not really enough of either to be worth much."

"You could've been a helluva firefighter," Megan said.

G laughed. "I suppose I could've." She leaned back over the arm of the loveseat, her spine making little crackling noises. "But I'm not. I'm a lump of mobile meat with someone else in the driver's seat. A post-existential Oldsmobile."

"You're an unbelievably hot butch architect," Megan said. "And she's not. How long before she convinces you that you'd look good in long hair, maybe in a dress?" Ursula, taking issue with Megan's violent gesticulation, hopped down to the floor and stalked off, tail switching in irritation.

"That won't happen," G said, finally meeting Megan's gaze.

"How about dating a man?" Megan said, getting louder and more sarcastic than she meant to. "Did she ever get laid? Does she have a long-lost love? I bet Ira Feldstein was contemporary..."

Olamina punched Megan in the arm with a particularly mighty pawslap and disappeared under the chair.

"Jesus, Megan," G said. "The only thing she's concerned with is heroing. That's it."

"For now," Megan said, gently removing Uhura from her full-body drape, stroking her, and setting her on the floor. "Look, you can see where this is going as well as I can." Madame B uncurled on the arm of the chair, gave Megan an offended look, and stalked off.

"Yeah," G said, sitting very still and looking at Evason. "I think I knew this was where it would end up."

Megan stood up. "Thanks for the cider, G. I..." She groped for words. "It was really fun. I like you an awful lot, G. It's spandex-girl I don't like."

"Well," G said, stroking Evason's nose with one finger, "I'll let you know if I lose the roommate."

"Yeah," Megan said. "G'night."

Megan let herself out of the apartment gently, and went down to the back garden for a stroll in the sleet. She found Watson sitting on the back steps, under the overhang, smoking a clove cigarette.

"Hey," Watson said.

"Hey," Megan said.

"Almost time for the fireworks," Watson said.

"Yeah," Megan said gloomily. She finally admitted to herself that she'd really been hoping that the talk would result in her and G making some all-night fireworks of their own.

Watson looked at her quizzically over the rim of her glasses. "Not much for celebrations?"

Megan rubbed her hand over her face. "Bad mood, sorry."

Watson watched her for a moment, took a drag on the cigarette, and said, "You know, she can't think about having the ghost removed."

Megan looked at Watson sharply. "You know way too much. You sure you're not a telepath?"

"Absolutely," Watson said.

"So you think she was hinting at me to help?"

Watson shrugged. "Well, what mystical whosit is going to take time to talk to an architect? Or a consulting detective?"

Megan sighed. "But the daughter of the Amazon is another matter. Why does it always come down to my mother?"

Watson raised her eyebrows. "Why would they listen to the daughter of a retired superhero?" she asked. "Especially when they could be talking to one of the women who just saved the city?"

Megan stared at her for a moment, then said, "Oh."

Watson crushed her cigarette out on the cement of the stairs and dropped it into one of the cigarette poles Zoltan had put around the place.

Megan said, "But why didn't she talk to Simon? He's got better connections than I do."

Watson turned to walk up the stairs. "Maybe because she wasn't sleeping with Simon."

Megan thought about that a moment, and just as Watson was going through the back door, she said, "But then how did you --"

Watson grinned over her shoulder and went inside.

Megan stood in the sleet for a while, digesting that conversation, and thinking back over the talk with G.

In the distance, she started to hear small pops and explosions, and could see multicolored lights flickering against the cloud cover.

Zoltan landed in the yard, his dark trenchcoat folding down around him like wings. "It is very pretty from up high," he said, "but not so much in this weather. Why are you standing out getting a nice frosting like this?"

"Trying to clear my head," Megan said. She ran her fingers through her hair, flicking water and ice away.

"Pah! New Year's is not for clear heads. You must become muddled and befuddled."

"I'm already that," she assured him.

Another figure dropped neatly into the yard. She was a round-hipped black woman with short dreds and an easy smile, also wearing a trenchcoat. "Hey, are you one of his tenants?" she asked, a slight Jamaican accent flavoring the sentence.

Megan smiled back at her. "Yep. I'm Megan."

"Isolde," the woman said, drawing the word out, her smile widening. They shook hands; the handshake lingered. Isolde's hand was surprisingly warm.

Zoltan gave Isolde a jaded look over his shoulder. "I'll have you know that she's not edible. You would break your teeth on her skin."

"My dear," Isolde said witheringly, "I do have more interests in this long life than just eating."

He shrugged. "Could have fooled me."

"Hah!" she said, throwing her hands in the air. "Look at who's talking here. How often does he have pretty boys in?"

"Wouldn't know," Megan said, quirking a smile. "I think he's got a separate entrance."

"Of course I do," Zoltan said. "Now can we go inside where there is no ice falling on my head? I would like something to drink, myself, that is non-nutritional."

"A lush, too," Isolde said to Megan, shaking her head. "It's so sad to see one of our elders devolve so."

Megan was having trouble not giggling. The world felt more than a little surreal to her right then -- a consequence of being para among paras, she concluded. Too much para-ness.

"Now?" Zoltan asked, raising his eyebrows dramatically. "You too, young lady. You require some sustenance after trying to freeze yourself like Lady Justice in Antarctica."

"I..." Megan started to say.

Isolde seized her hand. "Oh, yes, do come in. I want to know more about you, and I need diversion from Old Stuff here."

"If I am so old and boring, why did you come with me?" Zoltan said, opening the back door and bowing to the women.

"I was hoping to meet some of your young and beautiful tenants," Isolde said, tugging Megan after her. "Clearly, I am precognitive."

Megan allowed herself to be towed, glancing once toward the grand finale fireworks that exploded in a technicolor spray reaching up into the clouds. She turned to follow Isolde through the door and smiled vaguely at Zoltan.

"You see?" Zoltan said. "It is not so bad. Change is the only thing you can count on. Trust me, I'm old, I know these things." He patted her on the back. "Happy New Year, dear."

"Yeah," Megan said, looking after Isolde and letting her smile grow. "Happy New Year!"

---

From the author:

And so we close volume #1 of Wonder City Stories. I hope very much that you've enjoyed this first story arc at least as much as I've enjoyed writing it!

I'm going to take a week or so off now, as I pull the plot of volume #2 together and write the first several episodes. Want to influence the plot, or at least who appears in it? If you send me a tip OR write a review of WCS on your blog or on a site like Web Fiction Guide or Muse's Success, you can also give me the name of a minor character you'd like to see more of, and I'll do my best to include her/him in volume 2!

Thank you all for your continued support!

Jude



Vote for us at Top Web Fiction!






O_O

Date: 2010-09-21 05:53 am (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
From: [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
"How about dating a man?"

Aaaaand all of a sudden, this turns into one profoundly disturbing ghost story.

I'll have to see about writing a review. Not sure how you sort major/minor characters, but my favorites include the Outsider, Simon, and the girl who played Tin Lizzie for a while.

Done!

Date: 2010-09-22 02:48 am (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
From: [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
I posted a review in Web Fiction Guide. I hope you like it.

Yay!

Date: 2010-09-22 06:09 pm (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
From: [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
I'm glad you like the review.

Date: 2012-05-09 11:47 pm (UTC)
the_leaky_pen: (Default)
From: [personal profile] the_leaky_pen
Can I just say, in the midst of the general Sherlock Holmes craze, I am deeply in love with Watson Holmes?

Just thought you should know.

Date: 2015-01-13 05:07 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Thanks for book one! It was great!! Sometimes it was hard keeping track of all the characters, spandex-names and real names, though, particularly in the beginning. Looking forward to more of the same greatness! ^_^

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