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Careful to Tuck Their Shrouds Neatly About Them

"So G has moved out," Pearl said, folding her hands in her lap.  "How are you with that?"

Megan shrugged one shoulder.    "It's her life."

Pearl raised an eyebrow at that, and let the silence stretch out.

"She's angry, you know," Megan said, looking down at her knees.  "She says she's mostly angry at Watson for not doing anything for months, despite knowing that G was possessed.  And I kind of wonder why Watson didn't do anything."

"Have you asked her?" Pearl said.

"Yeah," Megan said, plucking at her jeans.  "She said she's really bad at being decisive about people she cares for.  She was worried that maybe she was misreading the situation, and says she has always second-guessed her instincts about family and friends, because she was so often wrong about her parents and her sister."

"Do you believe her?"

"Yeah," Megan said, her voice coming out flat.  

Pearl cocked her head.  "I'm not sure I believe you."

Megan started to bang her fist into her thigh, and caught herself before doing it on the broken leg, because jarring the leg was an experience she didn't enjoy.  She settled for grasping frustratedly at the air.  "I don't know whether to believe me or not.  I don't know whether to believe her or not.  I want to trust that she'd always have my back, you know?"  She sighed.  "She's the first person in forever I've wanted to have my back."

"Not G?" Pearl said.

"Not G," Megan said, heaving a large sigh.  "Not G.  I didn't have time, really, to get that far with G.  I'm not sure how much of the woman I met and slept with and lived in the same building with I actually ever knew."

"I'm sorry," Pearl said.  "That sounds incredibly painful to realize."

"It is," Megan said, rubbing her throat and frowning.  Her throat hurt suddenly, like she'd strained all the muscles leading up to her mouth.

"So now there's an empty apartment?" Pearl said.

"Actually," Megan said, glad for the distraction, "G told me she found a subletter.  I only found out who it was this morning."

Pearl raised both eyebrows at her tone.  "Not a welcome addition to the big house on Marigold Lane?"

Megan huffed.  "It's Lizzie.  Tin Lizzie?"

"The woman from the Wonderful House?" Pearl said.

"Yeah," Megan said, throwing up her hands in despair.  "The crazy, crazy chick from Wonderful House.  The one who stabbed her dad -- who, to be fair, was assaulting her -- on national TV."

"Well," Pearl said, "it sounds like your house is one place where she might feel safe."

Megan froze, staring into space, then slumped.  "Yeah," she said.  "Yeah, I guess that might have something to do with it.  I mean, Simon's across the hall, and I'm downstairs, and Mr. Hammer is in the carriage house, and our landlord is a fucking vampire, after all..."

Pearl watched Megan as the sentence drifted to a stop.  Their gazes met and Megan nodded sharply.

"So what else is keeping you up at night?" Pearl said after a moment.

Megan had noticed in the mirror this morning that there were some serious dark circles under her eyes; she hadn't really expected Pearl to miss them either.  "I guess," she said slowly, "the big thing is the Merlin."

"The Merlin?" Pearl said, and Megan remembered she hadn't told Pearl yet.

"The first day I was in Wonder City," Megan said, "almost as soon as I stepped off the bus, some guy tried to mug me.  I heard him coming, from above, and I got him down on the ground, smashed his flight harness.  And then this other guy... this guy in a hood and cloak showed up on the roof, called me 'Citizen' and said he'd been chasing the Merlin for... a while, I guess, days or weeks or something.  So I handed the Merlin over to him."  She inhaled slowly, and exhaled again.  "And that guy in the hood was the serial killer."

"Oh, that's very hard. I'm so sorry," Pearl said.

"Yeah," Megan said. "Thanks."

Pearl said, "Did the Merlin give you any indication he was in fear for his life?"

"No," Megan said. "I think he thought the guy was a real superhero. He just seemed resigned."

"So -- and I don't mean this flippantly at all -- you're upset because you aren't a mindreader?" Pearl said.

"No," Megan said, her voice catching on her rage. "I'm angry because I reacted entirely to his white male authority: he was up on the rooftop, speaking down to me, addressing me in what I can see now was a parody of comic book heroes from World War 2. He was on his own turf, laying down the law. And I just rolled over without question and let him take the Merlin. I should have doubted him. I should have called the police. I'm an eight-foot-tall superstrong, invulnerable queer feminist of color, raised by an eight-foot-tall superstrong, invulnerable lesbian feminist, and I just fucking rolled over for the Man. And the Man did what he does best: kill people. Kill some poor, stupid, middle-aged crook who didn't deserve to be hauled down to the river and strangled."

Megan discovered that her hands were shaking, and she balled them up on her knees. But when she did that, she couldn't do anything about the hot tears that were suddenly running down her cheeks.

Pearl leaned over and pushed the tissue box closer. Megan carefully uncurled her fingers and pulled a tissue from the box to blot her eyes and nose.

"I'm having nightmares," Megan said finally. "I can't stop reading articles about the victims and searching for more information about them. Did you know that they're investigating a murder in fucking Acapulco as possibly being connected to the killer? They think it may have been his first murder, back when he was in high school and went down there for Spring Break."

Pearl's brow furrowed with concern. "Have you ever had this sort of reaction before?"

"Yes," Megan said wearily, "And I ran away from Berkeley because of it."

"Are you thinking of leaving Wonder City?" Pearl said.

"Yes," Megan said, staring at her lap. "I just... a new city, where I don't know anyone..."

"That's what you did coming here, right?" Pearl said. "You had all your things in a backpack and you took a Greyhound across the country, found a job the next morning, and an apartment a week later. What's to stop you from doing it again?"

Megan rubbed her face with her hands. "Watson, I guess. I mean, I know I want to see how this turns out."

"Is she really the only thing keeping you here?" Pearl said.

"No," Megan admitted. "There's Simon, who's the best friend I've ever had. And G, even though she's not here right now. And I like my job, I like working with my hands, and I think I've just about convinced one of the carpenters to take me on as an apprentice. And I like my apartment, and I have a good landlord, and..." She shrugged. "I guess I don't want to leave all that much."

"That sounds like a good analysis," Pearl said. She gestured apologetically at the clock. Megan saw they had less than five minutes left. Then Pearl added, "So have you revisited your feelings about spandex in light of recent events?'

Megan snorted and said, "Oh, yeah."

Pearl said, "What do you think, then?"

Megan waved a hand.  "Being para makes normal problems huge and life-threatening.  It doesn't matter whether we're wearing spandex or not.  And I can't fucking get away from it, because I have these stupid powers."

Pearl smiled.  "Well, that's progress in the direction you wanted to go, right?"

"Also," Megan grumbled, "all paras are freaking insane."

Pearl said, mildly, "Well, it's job security for me.  Do you mind if I let the dogs in now?"


Note from the Author:

Megan just keeps acquiring more angst, alas. Just to let y'all know, we now have only 3 episodes left for volume 2, which means we will wind up this story just before my birthday at the end of the month, timing which I did not, actually, plan, but which is lovely nonetheless.

Also, thanks very much for donations received this past month!

Wonder City has been nominated for the Rose & Bay Crowdfunding Award! Thank you! Now, y'all should go check out all the nominees for fiction, webcomics, art, poetry, patron, and other projects. And then VOTE!

And remember to vote for WCS at Top Webfiction!

Date: 2012-02-02 07:07 pm (UTC)
kore: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kore

I love her. Big girls are so tough....until they aren't. And of course she blames herself for not standing up to power (even tho she'd been there what, all of TEN MINUTES?). Aww.

Date: 2012-02-03 04:06 pm (UTC)
heavenscalyx: (Default)
From: [personal profile] heavenscalyx
I know! She's utterly unreasonable with herself. But still.

Date: 2012-02-02 08:36 pm (UTC)
the_rck: (Default)
From: [personal profile] the_rck
Poor Megan. Life keeps happening, the bad and the good. You can leave some things behind, but others, you're stuck with.

Thanks for writing!

Date: 2012-02-03 04:07 pm (UTC)
heavenscalyx: (Default)
From: [personal profile] heavenscalyx
Yes, Megan just keeps accumulating Life. So does Nereid, but Nereid doesn't have a therapist. Yet.

Date: 2012-02-10 08:31 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I think Nereid probably needs a therapist as much as Megan does, maybe more because she's had less time to learn to deal with life.

Man, I love Pearl so much. Can we get LOTS more of her in the next volume?

Date: 2012-02-10 08:35 pm (UTC)
the_leaky_pen: (Default)
From: [personal profile] the_leaky_pen
augh! That Anonymous was me. I forgot to sign in.

Date: 2012-02-10 09:02 pm (UTC)
heavenscalyx: (Default)
From: [personal profile] heavenscalyx
I expect Pearl will definitely show up in the next volume. Not sure how often she'll show up -- you'll understand when we get there. :)

Date: 2017-03-14 01:18 pm (UTC)
cosmicdawn: a fox smoking happily (Default)
From: [personal profile] cosmicdawn
First Pearl is the absolute best therapist hands down (as a reader she's giving vicarious emotional realizations how is that a thing?). Second I hope this path leads to Megan taking up spandex :D Third I am so relieved that Lizzie is moving into Zoltans place, I was worried about her since the funeral. Fourth I am so glad to be able to binge read this series during this blizzard.


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