Breakfast With Magneto
Breakfast With Magneto
"It was my duty to shoot the enemy, and I don't regret it. My regrets are for the people I couldn't save. I'm not naive, and I do not romanticize war. The worst moments of my life have come as a SEAL. But I can stand before God with a clear conscience about doing my job." – Chris Kyle
At first, the man struggled in her arms, not that it did him any good. He had flailed and kicked and punched, attempting to disrupt the hold she had on him. It was a fruitless effort, of course. He could no more break her grip on him than he could have ordered the tides to halt in their flow. He was only a human being, after all, and she was the physical embodiment of power. This world was filled with powerful people, but outside a handful of beings who could easily claim to be living, tangible gods, none could have matched her for physical ability.
The man had red hair, almost the same shade as Willow Rosenberg's hair, though his was graying, and he had a round bald patch at the crown of his head. He was dressed in a navy blue bathrobe, in a European style that was once called a "lounging robe". Under the bathrobe he was wearing a white t-shirt and a pair of elastic-waist shorts, also navy blue. He was wearing matching blue fuzzy slippers, and wire-framed glasses.
She remembered quite clearly that one of the slippers fell off of his feet almost immediately and was left in front of his door. The other slippers fell off of his feet somewhere over the North Atlantic Ocean. The first slipper would later be found by police officers investigating his disappearance. The second slipper would eventually be encountered by an oceanic white-tip shark, a member of the species Carcharhinus longimanus and would be casually swallowed by it.
He lost his glasses somewhere over Germany. Of course, he was long-past being able to tell where they were and there wasn't a lot to see except the curve of the earth, the clouds and the growing border of black above them.
She had grabbed him quickly enough and with enough force to snap the radius in his left forearm. Despite that, none of the noises he made were made out of pain. Rather, they were made out of anger, and involved demands to be released from her hold, demands that she explain what she was doing, demands that she explain where she was taking him, threats to her person or to her lover. Many of these demands were made simultaneously with his attempts to physically harm her. Again, they were useless.
He stopped making the demands right around the same time that the two of them reached an altitude of about eight thousand feet. That was when the man's eyes got really wide and he seemed to begin to pant. all sound began to get dim due to a lack of atmosphere. Instead of loud demands, he began wheezing. At just about twenty-two thousand feet, the man had ceased moving entirely, and frost had begun to collect around his face. By the time they passed forty-four thousand feet, she had shifted her grip until she was only holding one of his ankles, as if he were a garbage bag full of trash she was taking out to the dumpster. By this point, his other limbs, as well as his head, were bouncing along in her wake.
She kept flying, though. She kept flying until she reached the height of one hundred and seventeen million feet. She'd left the breathable air far behind and was working on just the gasses she'd trapped in her lungs the last time she'd taken a breath. But that was okay, she could stay like this for a few hours still and not be bothered.
She pulled the man's body – by that point he'd been nothing but a corpse for at least twenty minutes – into position in front of her. She straightened his robe and retied it; the wind had nearly pulled the garment off of his body. It wasn't that she cared, but it seemed disrespectful to give him this sort of burial without at least showing him the respect of being fully dressed. She pushed his mouth closed, gently lowered his eyelids, and folded his arms across his chest. And then, as hard as she could, she gave him a push, outward, away from planet Earth.
In full accordance to Newton's Third Law of Motion, she fell toward the Earth as quickly as the man's body rushed outward away from it. But that was all right. She was going back anyway. Going back to her lover. Going back to her life. She turned on two axes and allowed the Earth's gravity to take her, floating downward for a moment. She luxuriated in the feeling of the atmosphere slowly getting thicker.
It brought back vague memories of her first night on this world, when she was certain that she wasn't a she, but a he from another world. Now, several months later, everything was different. And that was okay.
Her mind wrapped itself around the name 'Alexandra Lucretia Harris'. She still wasn't sure of the middle name, but it was growing on her. It was her name. Her name. Not a name borrowed from the two minds that had once been warring over her for supremacy, but the name of the third mind created from the melding of other two.
Alex Harris smiled to herself as her own bow shock caused multiple sonic booms to explode over the Atlantic. She was headed for a motel in New Mexico. She was headed toward Louise.
Henry Peter Gyrich, or rather his corpse, had more than enough velocity to escape the Earth's gravity, but did not have enough to escape the Sun's. The body would eventually settle into a stable orbit. Unbeknownst to Alex Harris, the push she gave to Gyrich's body put it on a very long, very slow course that would see it impact with a Kuiper Belt object that would eventually be known as 238 Ekaterina, when it was finally discovered in 2303 by astronomers on Earth. The impact with 238 Ekaterina wouldn't occur until the middle of Gyrich's eleventh orbit around the Sun, some six million years after he died.
This is what actually happened. But in the nightmare, that isn't what happened at all. The nightmare is different. Alex knows that the nightmare is different, because she's experienced the nightmare before, but can't seem to shake it, regardless of knowing that it wasn't real.
Reality was bad enough to give her nightmares. The nightmares were worse.
In the nightmare, when Alex gave Gyrich the push that would shove his corpse out of Earth orbit and into interplanetary space, he came alive. His eyes were black pits that leaked dark lines along his veins. His hair had gone from the graying red it normally was to a dark inky black. The body gripped Alex's wrist like iron. No matter how she pushed, or pulled, or tore at the hand, Gyrich wouldn't let her go.
His mouth opened, revealing sharpened fangs. Alex screamed silently as the body pulled her closer, and the fangs pierced the flesh of her neck. In her mind, she heard a voice, a voice that carried millions of years of decay and corruption.
"From beneath you, it devours!"
From where she had been leaning against the door on the passenger side, Alex jerked upright. The paperback that had been lying upside down and open on her lap fell to the floorboard beneath Alex's feet. Alex bit back a scream. She gasped as the world around her started to make sense to her. The car, the highway, the passing traffic. The setting sun.
"You okay?" Louise was driving, so she could only make the occasional glance toward Alex on the passenger side. "Do you need me to find some place to stop?"
"No. No, I'm good." Alex stretched and rubbed at her eyes without even thinking about it. "Where?"
"Just outside New Orleans. You've been asleep for about an hour." Louise seemed to study Alex out of the corner of her eye. She made a face and turned back to driving.
"What? What's that look about?" Alex rubbed at her eyes again, then sat up in her seat.
"Did you have another nightmare?"
"It was nothing. Just a dream." Alex turned and watched the suburbs of the Big Easy roll by. Even a year after the city had been drowned by Hurricane Katrina, it still looked like a bomb had hit it.
"Yeah, well, you've been having these 'just a dreams' since New Mexico. I can tell they're not nothing, Alex." Louise made the same face, the one that said, 'I don't like what's going on.' "I can tell something's bothering you."
"I – look, I really don't want to talk about it, okay?"
"Come on, Alex. I'm your wife. We're supposed to be sharing things, you know? Part of the deal." She put a hand on Alex's. "Married people share."
"Yeah, I know. I just don't feel like sharing right now." Again, Alex stared at the passing wreckage that had once been a city. "Can you just leave me alone about it? Please? For now?"
Louise was silent, and without looking at her, Alex knew that she'd said the wrong thing. She turned to study Louise's face, and saw disappointment, anger, concern, love, more anger, and more disappointment dance across her partner's face in the space of a few seconds.
"Fine. Whatever you want." Louise wasn't looking at her. Louise was, in fact, actively avoiding looking at her.
"Look, Louise..." Alex began, but Louise wasn't having any. She played with the buttons on the steering wheel, turning the car's satellite radio system to the 90s channel, and turning the music's volume up to just loud enough to cover any normally pitched conversation.
Alex stared, open-mouthed. "Oh, very mature. Very fucking mature."
"You're the one who didn't want to talk, so we're not going to talk."
"Fine," Alex huffed. "Whatever you want." She returned to staring out the window. Shortly, they crossed over Lake Pontchartrain, and were out of the New Orleans surroundings. Not talking, just each stewing in their own anger, while 90s music played in the background.
Alex had tried sleeping again, only to be chased out of it by the nightmare. As a Kryptonian, she only needed a couple of hours, far less than a human being needed, but the point was, she needed it and wasn't getting it. She jerked her head up, suddenly aware that she'd nodded off. There was the usual disorientation caused by the awareness of missing time, but she hadn't dreamed. Alex shook the sleep off and looked around at where they were. No clues as to their current location jumped out at her other than it was dark now, and they were no longer on Interstate 10.
The dashboard clock said it was just after 8 pm. They hadn't talked in nearly three hours. Every time Alex tried to start up a conversation, Louise would either ignore her or only reply in single words.
"Where are we?" Alex studied Louise as the other woman drove. Then she sighed. "How are you doing?"
"This is Pensacola. You slept right through Mobile. Missed a pretty cool looking ship that was... whatcha call it. Tied up? Moored that's it. It was moored in a bay right near the interstate. The U.S.S. Alabama battleship. Also missed signs for about half a dozen Indian casinos." Louise glanced at Alex, then brought her eyes back to the road. She was silent for while before finally saying, "As for how I'm doing. Well, I'm tired, and I'm hungry and I'm scared and I'm pissed off. I'm a lot of things, Alex. I'm a lot of things right now, and you are the cause of some of them. We need to get some gas, and we need to talk, and we need to get something to eat, and I don't know about you, but I need to pee. I figured we could combine stops."
"That's fine." Alex turned to stare out of the window. She heard the click of the turn signal as Louise turned into the parking lot of a Waffle House. Louise stopped the car in the space right in front of the door, put it in park, and turned off the engine. They sat there, Louise staring at the restaurant's entrance, Alex staring at Louise.
"How are you doing?" Louise asked.
"Tired. Sad. Worried that I've pissed you off and made you scared. Trying to figure out what to do and what to say to fix this, 'cause I know I pissed you off and made you scared."
"Okay." It was Louise's only response. Alex listened as Louise took a deep, deep breath. It was a sound she heard nearly every second of every day, the sound of air rushing in and out of people's lungs. It was a deeper, more fascinating sound than most of the sounds Alex constantly heard. Much more fascinating than the background hum of electricity, or the sound of heartbeats, or the metallic clicks of engines, or even the constant whoosh-whoosh of blood-flow. For the most part, Alex ignored these constant background sounds, but she never didn't pay attention to Louise breathing.
"Come on, let's go. I really do have to pee." Alex followed Louise out of the car. Her partner pushed the lock button on the key fob and handed it to her. "You're driving next."
Alex nodded. "Sure thing. Um... I figured we were going to hit a drive through and just power our way down the road. Are we eating actually eating here?" Alex had never actually been inside a Waffle House, but from what she understood, it was the type of place that put the 'grease' in the phrase 'greasy spoon'.
Louise looked at her as if she had asked if Louise wanted to be set on fire. "You're kidding right? Okay, new rule. No eating drippy messy shit in the Benz. And after non-drippy food is eaten in there, we take the time to vacuum it out. You're not messing up my car."
"Uh, okay. So we're eating here. Gotcha." Alex looked at the 'Please Wait Here to Be Seated' sign. "You want me to order while you're in the ladies?"
"Nah, I'll be right out. Won't take long. Besides, I have no idea what I want yet." Louise gave her a quick kiss and cupped Alex's cheek. "Cheer up. I'm not divorcing you. I'm just a little pissed off."
Alex shook her head, watching as Louise headed for the ladies room.
Alex dabbled with her food. She really wasn't hungry; instead Alex was waiting for Louise to decide when they'd start talking. Alex watched Louise eat her turkey club; every once in a while she'd take a bite out of her cheeseburger.
Eventually, Louise was done with her sandwich and had cleared out half of the french fries – Alex's own were still untouched. Alex had sat in the silence Louise had demanded the whole time, occasionally staring at the televisions hanging above their heads. The usual choice of cable news or some sporting event – looked like a rodeo, of all things – was presented. She was watching a teenaged girl ride a horse through a course made of overturned oil drums, and not paying attention.
"Are you listening, Alex?"
She snapped her attention back to Louise. "What? Sorry... um, no, I was sort of out of it. I'm sorry. What did you say?"
"I asked you if this, this whatever it is that has you not talking to me about what's bothering you has to do with the other night."
"The other night?"
"Yeah, in Las Cruces." Louise popped another couple of fries into her mouth. "I got up to go to the bathroom and you were gone. It didn't bother me then, because I know you don't need as much sleep as I do, and its not the first time I've woke up and you were doing something else. But you were gone a long time. I just sort of shrugged it off at the time, but now I'm worried. About you."
Alex couldn't meet Louise's eye. She took a slow glance around the restaurant. "Look... can we get back on the road? I don't want to have this conversation here."
Louise stared at her for a long moment. "Fine. We can wait to talk until we get to the hotel room."
"We're getting a room?" Alex really had thought the plan was to get to Tallahassee, at least, before stopping.
"Yeah. And I figure this place..." Louise pointed out the window to the Econo-Lodge in whose parking lot the Waffle House had been constructed. "... is as good as any. I just want a shower and a bed and for you to tell me what's going on, okay?" Alex nodded. It wasn't a very enthusiastic nod. "Now eat your burger. Even you need to eat every once in a while."
"Nope. Eat your burger." Louise reached across the table and gave Alex's hand a squeeze. "Look, I'm not pissed off anymore. What I am is in love with you and worried, okay? This is me, being concerned for you."
Alex opened her mouth to say something, but before she could Louise was glaring over her shoulder. "You got something you want to say to us, mister?" Alex turned in her seat. At the counter an older man in a flannel shirt sat, staring at the two of them. His expression was one of someone who just found a turd floating in his corn flakes. "Well?" Louise prompted.
The man seemed to sniff and as he turned away, he said, "Ain't me got sumpen to say to ya. It's God."
That caused the man's attention to move from Louise to Alex. "What'chu say?"
"I asked to which God were you referring when you said that God had, uh, 'sumpen' to say to us." Alex shrugged. "Also, just why do you think a god would want to talk to us?"
"God don't like queers." The man rolled a hateful eyeball at them. "And suren you two are queers."
"Well, yeah." Alex turned to face the man, suddenly interested. "We are. But you still haven't told us which god you're talking about."
"God almighty! The Creator!" The man seemed offended that there was a question. "That god!"
"I can name at least fourteen separate religions that name their gods as the creator of the universe. Which one do you mean?"
"There's only one God!" The man was actively getting upset. People were turning their heads to watch the argument.
"I can name eleven religions that claim their god is the only god."
The man stood. "You stupid bitch!"
"Hey now! Watch it!" That from another man nearby.
The angry man ignored him. "There's only one God of Abraham! The God of the Bible."
Alex smirked at the man. "Which Bible? I can name at least five translations that are different enough from the original Aramaic scrolls to be considered separate documents entirely." That angered the man enough that he took a step toward Alex. But the manager was there suddenly. He got between the angry man and the girls.
"Charlie, sit down and shut up. You're bothering people." He turned toward Alex and Louise. "And if you ladies are finished, I'd appreciate It if you went about your way now."
Louise looked him up and down. "You have a problem with queer girls, too?"
The manager shook his head. "No ma'am. Don't much give it any thought. But I do have a problem with people who provoke fights in my dining room, and that's just what the two of you did. I appreciate your business and all, but I want you out of here, now." The man nodded over toward the door, where a deputy with the Escambia County Sheriff's Department stood.
"Okay. No problem." Alex pulled Louise by the elbow. "Come on, baby, let's get out of here before there's any trouble, okay?" Louise glared at her for a second, but nodded and kept walking. The deputy followed them to the car.
"Look, girls, I'm sorry about that. Charlie's an asshole and he shouldn't have been staring at you like that." He took his campaign hat off and rubbed the top of his head for a moment. "You girls drivin' on, or are you lookin' for a place to stay? 'Cause if you're planning on stoppin', I wouldn't recommend this fleabag. I'd go down to the next exit and stop at the Holiday Inn. Much nicer place."
Alex nodded. "Thank you, sir. Come on, Louise." She opened the car door. "Come on, baby."
"Yeah, thanks." Louise climbed into the car. She rolled down the window. "Thanks for being nice about that, deputy. You're a nice guy."
"You're welcome, miss. Like I said, next exit."
Alex semi-collapsed onto the bed. She really wasn't looking forward to this, but knew it had to happen. Her reticence was bugging the hell out of Louise, and that was only to be expected. They'd been so open with each other about everything. As Louise dragged the last of the bags into the hotel room, Alex studied the room. The deputy was probably right. This looked a lot better than the Econo-Lodge had, though she could tell she was going to hate the blankets on these beds already.
Given what she was about to talk to Louise about, there was every chance she'd have one of the beds to herself. That thought didn't cause major happy-feelings to run through her mind.
The sound of the door locks being set brought Alex's attention back to Louise. Her partner sat down next to the small circular table that seemed to inhabit every Holiday Inn on the planet. Alex shifted guiltily as Louise seemed to study her; she was tapping the fingers of one hand on the table while the other twisted a lock of hair.
Finally, Louise spoke. "I'm still sort of pissed, but its cooling off. I do want to talk to you though, so I hope you don't think you're just going to sit there quiet while I rant at you. Okay?"
Alex just shrugged.
"No, that's not good enough." Louise sighed. "Look, I want you to say it. We're going to talk, and you're going to tell me what the fuck is bothering you so much that you spent the last twenty hours or so moping and not telling me what was bothering you. So, we're going to talk, okay?"
"Yeah, okay." Alex started to just blurt it out, but thought better of it.
"I was right, though, its about the other night in Las Cruces. You went out that night. I woke up, you were gone, I went to bed and then woke up again, and you were just coming back to the room with donuts. It was that night, right?"
"Yeah, it was that night. Or that morning, anyway."
"Let me guess, you cuddled up to me and waited for me to be asleep, then got up, got dressed, and snuck out." Louise tapped her fingers on the tabletop again.
Alex just nodded and didn't say anything else. If she keeps doing that, Alex thought to herself, she's going to ruin the manicure. That caused her to smile, weakly. The first thing Louise had spent any of the money on was a manicure. She had said she had heard about them and had always wanted one.
"Alex, don't zone out." That caused Alex to snap her eyes back to Louise's face.
"Okay. What were you doing while you were gone? I know you don't do drugs, so I know you weren't seeing a dealer. We're carrying around fat stacks of money, so I don't think you stole anything. We'd just pulled into town – Alex, do you know anybody in Las Cruces? Old girlfriend?"
"No, nothing like that. I just... I took care of something."
"What did you take care of?" Louise leaned forward and snagged one of Alex's legs. She pulled gently, and Alex complied and put her foot in Louise's lap; within moments Louise had Alex's sneaker and sock off. A foot-rub followed. Alex looked at Louise's face and studied the gentle smile. "Come on, Alex, what did you take care of? I had to be something you didn't want me to know about. Or you thought I'd hate you for doing. And something you're not too proud of doing."
Alex nodded. "Yeah." She consciously relaxed the muscles in her foot. If she didn't, Louise would find giving her the massage to be like trying to mold cement with her bare hands.
"What was it?"
"Alex, what was it?"
Nothing. Just a shrug.
"Alex, I swear if you make me ask you again..."
"I killed him." It was just a whisper, but it was enough to make Louise stop the massage for a couple of seconds.
"What was that?"
"You heard me!" Not a whisper. Not a yell. Just a statement. "I killed him."
"Who? Who did you kill?"
Alex stared into Louise's eyes and suddenly was sure. Louise knew what this was, and had done since shortly after the news of Gyrich's disappearance broke on the television.
"Come on, baby. Tell me. It'll do you good to get it out." Louise continued her gentle press against the pads of Alex's foot. It was relaxing.
"Gyrich. I killed Gyrich because he sent that woman." Alex wasn't sure when she started crying. "He put you in danger. He wasn't leaving us alone. So I took care of him. I had to do something. We can't live in fear all the time, waiting for the next cop or superhero or supervillain even to jump out of the bushes. I can't take it anymore. I've got to keep you safe which means I can't risk sleeping to long but I can't stay awake all the time. So I figured sometimes you have to remove the source of the threat, not just the threat. Please, tell me you understand. Please!"
"I do, Alex. I do understand. You did what you thought you had to." Louise sighed. "Just like Bullseye and that Chinese Man, and the man in the black spider suit."
"No, that was different. That was a fight." Alex shuddered, her breath was coming in gasps. "It happened in a fight. I just waited for Gyrich to stick his head out of the door and grabbed him. He didn't have a chance against me."
"Bullseye and the other two didn't have a chance against you either, 'Lex. You did what you had to." Louise moved to take Alex to her shoulder. "Go ahead and let it out. I'm not ashamed of you. I don't hate you. I still love you and I love that you protect me. I know how stressful it is, being on guard all the time. Cry if you need to."
Which is exactly what Alex did.
"I'm a killer, Louise. I'm a murderer."
"No, you're not. It's different. Its like... its like you're a cop who has to shoot a burglar. Or a soldier. You had to do it."
"I forgive you, Alex. I forgive you."
Alex nodded into Louise's shoulder and cried.
Alex awoke slowly. It took her a moment to realize she was still dressed, on top of the covers of the bed. The pillow was damp, but Alex couldn't tell if it was from drool or tears. Maybe both. She hadn't planned on falling asleep, but emotional exhaustion did that.
She hadn't had the dream. It was the first time since New Mexico that she hadn't had the dream.
As Alex sat up, Louise clicked off the television. "You feeling any better?" Her partner ran her hand through Alex's hair. "I think you need more sleep, but that was a good start. You were asleep for about two hours."
"Two hours?" Alex stretched. "What time is it?"
"Just around midnight. C'mon." Louise extended a hand and tugged to get Alex to stand. "Let's get you cleaned up, and then we'll get you back to bed, okay?" Alex nodded. She started to pull her t-shirt over her head, but Louise slapped at her hands. "I'll do that. You just cooperate." Alex nodded again.
Louise drew the garment up and off of Alex's body gently and slowly, then stepped in close. She wrapped her arms around Alex, her hands coming to rest in the center of Alex's back. Alex's bra abruptly lost tension, and Louise stepped back, pulling the brassiere away as she moved.
"Gotta tell you, sweetheart, that sight never gets old." Louise's hands traced their way across Alex's shoulders, then down her sides. She stepped forward and kissed Alex, one hand rising to cup a breast. Again, Louise stepped back, keeping her eyes locked on Alex's. She did not move her hand except to rub her thumb across Alex's nipple. It hardened under the sensation, and Louise smirked.
Alex returned the smirk, bringing up her own hand to fondle Louise through her shirt. And then, to her own surprise, she yawned. Not a simple, basic yawn, but the kind of yawn that lasts for hours and always includes a stretch. And when it was over, Louise was still smirking.
"Yeah, that's what I thought. Go get a shower. We can play tomorrow night. Tonight's for resting." Alex noticed that Louise didn't sound very disappointed, as if she had expected this to happen.
"Are you going to be awake when I get out?" Alex asked as she yawned again.
"I think so. Go on." Louise gave Alex a kiss on the nose, then pushed the larger girl toward the bathroom. At the door, Alex looked back, watching Louise fiddle with the room's air conditioner. She smiled, then closed the door behind her to start her shower.
Sunlight peeking around the edges of the room's heavy curtains finally woke Alex. She lifted her head, momentarily confused by her surroundings. There was a creepy quality about hotel rooms that Alex never got over, that made waking up in one a confusing ordeal. She dropped her head to the pillow and closed her eyes again, but still that stray beam of sunlight kept her awake.
She lay there with her eyes closed. Her arms were wrapped around Louise, who was using Alex's shoulder as a pillow. Their legs were intertwined, and Louise's right arm was lying across Alex's stomach. She didn't want to think, but being awake her mind started moving. She realized, for example, that it wasn't the light of the sunbeam that had woke her, but rather the energizing effect it was having on her skin. She realized that while Louise's breathing was horribly out of synch with her own, their heartbeats were in tandem. It was a neat and somewhat romantic thing, and for a while she just lay there, listening to it. The low, thu-thump of their hearts.
She concentrated and expanded the range of her hearing. In the room just above them, two kids were entreating Mommy about donuts while Daddy complained about not being able to find the socks he was wearing the night before. From the sounds Alex could hear coming from the room on their right a couple was having energetic sex in the shower. And it was anal sex, too, now that she was paying attention to what the woman was saying to the man who was fucking her and what he was saying back. Alex smirked as she realized that whatever else was going on, the sex was the result of a business transaction.
She could hear a couple of people speaking Japanese walking past their door; the wheels on their luggage squeaked as it moved by. Traffic was beginning to pick up on the surface road, and the Interstate was already busy.
Alex felt Louise begin to stir. The other girl rolled out of her arms and lay on her side, facing the bathroom for a moment. Alex kept her eyes closed, still just trying to relax. She felt the sensation of weight on the bed shift, and figured Louise had climbed out of bed. "Alex?" The sound of Louise's sleep-tinged voice was like that of an air-raid siren. Alex winced and cranked her hearing back down to normal range. "C'mon, Alex, we need to wake up."
"I'm awake. I'm awake." Alex opened her eyes. Louise was standing over her, smiling. "Hey there, beautiful."
"Hey yourself. You going to want to hit the shower again, or are you okay?"
Alex shook her head. "No, I'm good. You go ahead." She sat up in bed and watched as Louise stripped as she moved. It was a fun show.
She yawned and stretched, then started gathering dirty clothes. Those got shoved into the white garbage back tucked into one end of the suitcase. As far as clean clothes, Alex chose a pair of faded denim jeans and a blue t-shirt that read "Dear Math, I'm not a psychologist. Solve your own problems" in bright yellow letters. Teeth brushing and toiletry gathering followed, and once everything was packed except Louise's chosen clothing, she plopped herself down in front of the television. It didn't take her long to find something watchable.
In Alex's opinion, the only people who couldn't find The Beverly Hillbillies watchable were uncouth barbarians.
As a gift to Louise, Alex carried the three bags to the car while her partner turned in the room key. As Alex neared the car, she realized that this was probably a lucky choice. There were three men and a woman standing near, or even leaning on, the Mercedes.
"Okay, what's going on?" Alex asked. She never took her eyes off the one member of the four she recognized. Seven feet tall, muscled like a professional wrestler. Hairy to beat the band. Visible fangs and cat-like eyes. It was Victor Creed, Sabretooth. "Would you mind stepping aside so I can put these away?" The other three did just that. Sabretooth lingered just long enough to send the message that he was moving because he wanted to, and not because he thought she could move him. "Thank you."
Alex deposited the bags in the trunk and closed it. She leaned against the back of the car and looked the four over. She honestly could not place three of them. No idea who they were. But if they were in Sabretooth's company, they were likely bad guys, and mutants to boot.
"Okay, so... what? You're not here to fight or you would have jumped in already. So what's up?" Sabretooth sneered at her. The big man leaned over her in an obvious attempt at a dominance game and sniffed at the air around her. "Oh please. Big guy, you got nothing I need to be afraid of, so let's stop playing and just let me know what you want."
"Heh. You got balls, lady. I like that. The boss wants to..." Sabretooth's words trailed away as Louise approached. The big man sniffed the air again and started to turn towards her. Alex stood up from her lean and put a hand on Sabretooth's arm. She casually, but inexorably, pulled downward until he was bent over and his head was even with hers. She could feel him straining against her grip, but it was useless.
"One thing, Creed. You treat her..." Alex leaned her head toward Louise. "... with as much respect as a bastard like you is capable of. If you can't, I'll rip your arm off and beat you to death with it." Alex looked to the other three, all of whom now looked terrified. "Goes for the rest of you. Louise, honey? Go ahead and get in the car."
Louise stepped past the four and climbed in. She locked the car behind her.
Sabretooth was still trying to stand up. His face betrayed how much pain he was in.
"Okay, Victor, you were saying?" She kept her grip on his arm.
"The boss. The boss wants to talk to you."
"The boss?" Alex squeezed his arm, just a little, and the big man winced.
"Yeah, the boss. Magneto."
"Magneto wants to talk to me?" Alex was confused. "Why? How did Magneto even know where I was?"
"Uh..." it was one of the other man, the one who looked vaguely Asian, or maybe Central American. "There's a tracker on your car. He was looking for you in LA and could feel the signal, so he had us following you." At Alex's scowl, the man held his hands up. "Just following. He said he wanted to talk. Just talk!"
Alex thought about it for a minute, then nodded. "Okay, fine. We'll talk to him, and then we're walking away. And if one of you so much as even hints that you'll try and stop either of us from leaving, or if anyone so much as tosses Louise an ugly look, I'll break every bone in the lower half of your body." She gave Sabretooth another squeeze. "Goes double for you, big man. Do you understand?"
"Yeah, yeah! Fuck, stop! I understand!"
She released Sabretooth's arm. "Good. Now, where is he?"
"He's at this restaurant down the road, waiting. Figured you might want to eat during your business meeting," the Asian man explained.
"Okay. Fine. Lead on." Alex moved to the driver's side.
"Uh, you're supposed to, um, you know, go with us. In our car." It was the woman this time.
"Yeah, that's so not happening. I said I'll talk to him. You either believe me or not. Either way, I'm taking my car, and my girlfriend is staying where I can see her. Its not that I don't trust you, fine upstanding citizens, but I don't trust you." Alex tapped on the glass and was rewarded with the sound of the car's locks releasing. "I'll drive, you lead."
Louise was quiet until Alex was in the car and the engine was running. "So what's going on? Who are our new friends?"
"The big guy is Sabretooth. He's a mutant hit man. The other three I don't know. They work for Magneto." She backed out of the parking space and waited for them to climb into their own vehicle, a huge SUV.
"Magneto? Wait, you mean Magneto, Magneto? The terrorist?"
"That would be the one, yeah. He apparently wants to meet with me." Alex pulled out into traffic behind the larger vehicle. She followed closely enough to keep other cars from getting between them.
"And why are we meeting Magneto? How did Magneto even find us?"
"I asked that. Apparently we've got a tracker on the car. As for why I agreed to meet him, well..." Alex shrugged. "On the one hand, I think it would be cool to meet the guy. He is, after all, Magneto. I don't think he's just going to try and kill us."
"And on the other hand?" Louise was rubbing her temples.
"We have a tracker on our car. I'm going to ask him to find it for us and remove it."
"Right. And he's just going to help us out like that?"
"Hey, you never know." The SVU was pulling into the front of a Bob Evans. "If I ask nicely, you know? I mean, he's a terrorist, sure, but from what I hear, he's not actually mean about it."
Just outside the door, Alex stopped. Just simply stopped. The four escorts looked at each other, obviously wondering what to do if Alex decided to not go through with the meeting. Louise was also looking confused.
"What's the matter, sweetheart? You okay?"
"Oh, sure. I just had this surreal moment where I realized I'm about to meet a guy whose probably the second or third most powerful mutant on the planet in a franchise location of a 'home cuisine' restaurant chain." Alex shook her head again and looked up at the sign. "I mean, seriously? Bob Evans? Magneto wants to meet me at a Bob Evans?"
"Well..." the woman spoke slowly, as if she was afraid of offending and was thus choosing her words carefully. "The boss felt you might be more comfortable in a public area. We know you guys stopped at places like this in Texas, and, you know, he felt that the bystanders would give him an extra layer of protection should you decide to, um, well, get hostile."
"Wait, Magneto's afraid of me?" Alex was shocked.
"Hey, you took down all the Avengers single-handedly. What do you expect?"
"I dunno... he's Magneto for crying out loud. I don't even know why he wants to talk to me." Alex looked at the four of them. Even Sabretooth was looking uncomfortable. "All right, spit it out."
"Um. He pulled the short straw. Otherwise you'd be talking to Emma Frost." Sabretooth chuckled. "I doubt she would've had you meet at a Bob Evans. Me? I like this place. They got great omelets. She'd think its too lowbrow."
"Right. Okay, that sort of makes sense, I guess." Alex looked at the door again. "Let's get this over with."
Alex took a deep breath, and opened the door. Like all restaurants did, the combined smell of the cooking food made her hungry. It was like a reflex. She had a quick word with the seater, and the six of them were quickly shown to their tables. Tables. A large round table was set for five people, while a rather majestic looking white haired man sat at a table for two. He was watching Alex expectantly.
"I'm sorry," Alex stopped the seater. "But we're going to have to drag another table close. We need to have three people at one, and four at the other, not five and two. Okay? Thanks." Alex motioned to the goons, who had clearly overheard her. She watched Magneto's expression sour as his own people altered his plans on her behalf. Shortly, there was extra space, and Alex sat Louise next to her.
She smiled as she held her hand out to the supervillain. "Good morning. Alexandra Harris. This is my partner, Louise Harris. Its nice to meet you, Mr. Lehnsherr. Or, um, are you using still using Erik Magnus?"
"Lehnsherr is fine." He shook her hand gently, then turned to Louise. "Nice to meet you, Madame. I'd hoped to have our little talk private, but if you insist."
"I do." Alex wasn't curt, but she put enough emphasis on it to make her wishes known. "So, you wished to meet. And over breakfast, which was a brilliant idea, as neither of us have had the chance yet." Alex opened the menu, nodding to Louise to do the same. After a few seconds, Magneto had opened his.
They took a few minutes to decide, and then closed their menus. "So, what can I do for you, Mr. Lehnsherr?"
"Well..." Magneto seemed to be gathering his thoughts. "It should be no surprise to you that your sudden appearance out of nowhere, and your actions in resisting this silly registration law, not to mention your utter defeat of SHIELD and the Avengers, has brought you to the attention of persons, like myself, who are, shall we say, pursuing a particular social agenda."
"I can buy that, yes. I've tried to keep myself off of the governments radar, but they always seem to find me."
"Yes, that is how it works. As I was saying, certain interested parties were wondering about your exact stance on the issue. We know, for example, though the underground, that not only are you a member of our community, let us say, but that so is your partner. You are obviously willing to oppose tyranny and oppression, and have already demonstrated..."
Alex held a hand up and Magneto immediately stopped speaking. She sat there silent, and it was clear that he was puzzled, until the waitress suddenly appeared and asked for orders. When the woman had gone, Alex motioned him to continue.
"Er, you've demonstrated a willingness to apply force in pursuit of this opposition."
"I think he wants you to join up, Alex." Louise had been listening to the rather long-winded speech with interest.
"Yeah, that's what I'm getting, too." She looked at Magneto through narrowing eyes. "I wonder, do you want me for a one-time gig, or do you want me to hang out at the clubhouse with the rest of the Mouseketeers?"
"I'm sure whatever you'd like would be fine." This was Magneto, trying to be ingratiating.
"Uh-huh." Alex sat back in her seat. "And what sort of role do you foresee me undertaking, should I be willing to join your theater troupe?"
"Theater troupe," he repeated, amused. "I like that. Well, Ms. Harris, I am sure that, given your obvious talents, your role would be that of leading lady. I would have thought that was obvious."
"Oh, it was. I just wanted confirmation." Plates of food began arriving, and once again the conversation was delayed. When the waitress had left once again, Alex forked a piece of egg and chewed, slowly. It was just slightly overcooked.
"There is one small problem." Alex took a sip of her orange juice. "I'm not actually a part of the theater community, if you don't mind me extending the metaphor."
Alex watched as Magneto's jaw dropped open. The potato on the end of his fork actually fell off and back into his plate. "You mean, you're not a mutant?" The last word was almost hissed.
"Nope." Louise was shaking her head. "I'm the mutant. She's... not."
Magneto looked from Alex to Louise and back. "But I've seen a copy of your SHIELD file. You're listed as a mutant by..."
"Yes, I'm sure I am, but I'm not." Alex leaned in, motioning him closer. "I'm not even from this planet!" she whispered.
"Not..." Magneto sat back, his eyes wide. "Wait. Are you an Asgardian? Or one of the Eternals?"
"Oh hey! I didn't think of the Eternals. I should have pretended to be one of them." Alex grinned at the man across the table. "But no. I'm a garden variety extraterrestrial from the planet Krypton. In fact, by Kryptonian standards, I'm a child barely out of diapers."
"You mean there is an entire planet of people as powerful as you?"
"Three, actually. Krypton, Argo, and Daxam." Alex continued eating her breakfast. "I am, however, the only Kryptonian on Earth."
Magneto sighed, apparently in relief. "Wait, you said your home planet was called 'Krypton'? Like the element? The noble gas?"
"Yeah, that's one of the fantastic coincidences I keep finding during my travels on this planet. I mean not only did you name one of the periodic elements using a word that sounds a great deal like my own planet's name, there are similarities between certain letters in our most common alphabet, you have a plant species that's remarkably identical to our own buffees... um, you call them roses." Alex shrugged. She was making it all up off the top of her head, and didn't know how much she could get away with. Think, think, think. Got it... "Oh, and you also have breen. And that's a really weird one, because Krypton has encountered dozens of alien species, and they all have breen. Even yours."
"What is breen?"
"Its a food... an entree dish to be eaten. You call yours 'Swedish Meatballs', but I assure you, its all the same breen." Alex gave Magneto a wide smile.
"Yes." Alex forked the last of her breakfast. She casually noted that Louise was done with hers, too. "Now, if you'll excuse us, we must be going if we want to get to Orlando by nightfall." Florida was a thin state; for most of its area, the peninsula was a little less than 200 miles wide. But it was a very long state; in driving from Pensacola to Orlando they would end up covering nearly a thousand miles, all within Florida. "But thanks for the offer, and thanks for breakfast. And it was a thrill meeting you, really."
That shook Magneto out of his revery. "What? Oh... um, yes. Certainly. Drive safe." The supervillain continued to sit there, stunned. His henchmen didn't say a word. They just finished their breakfasts.
"Oh, almost forgot. I was hoping you could do us a favor." At the sound of Alex's voice, Magneto looked up.
"What favor would that be?"
"Sabretooth told us that there's a tracker planted on our car. Do you know by whom it was placed?"
Magneto shook his head. "No, Ms. Harris. I merely detected the signal."
"Oh. Okay. Would you mind taking it off of our car, or at least letting me know where it is so I can do it?"
"Ah," Magneto looked to the henchmen, who all shrugged at him. "I suppose I could." He turned to the other table. "If she asks, tell her I had to get something from the vehicle."
Magneto followed the girls out. When he reached the Mercedes, he ran a hand over one side, then the other. "Ah. Its on the gas tank." He crouched down behind the vehicle and gave a little wave. A metallic disk about two inches across flew into his hand. He gave it to Alex. "There you are. Surprisingly, its magnetic."
"That's perfect." Alex walked across the parking lot and bent down to inspect the undercarriage of an RV parked nearby. She casually flipped the thing underneath, so it stuck to the buses axle.
"Mr. Lehnsherr, once again thank you for breakfast. Don't get in too much trouble." She shook his hand again and followed Louise's to the car.
"I have no idea what just happened," Magneto said to himself as he watched the two girls leave. "Huh. Swedish meatballs."
Author's Note: Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the property of Warner Brothers in conjunction with Mutant Enemy Productions. The Marvel Universe is the property of the Walt Disney Company. Power Girl is the property of DC Comics, which itself is the property of Warner Brothers.
Author's Note the Second: The idea that all inhabited planets in the galaxy separately develop the concept and recipe for Swedish meatballs comes from the mind of writer J. Michael Straczynski, and was first expressed in his television show, Babylon 5. I couldn't resist throwing it in.