2007-10-02: Moving Forward

Starring:

Kory_icon.gif Lee_icon.gif

**Lee works on moving forward, but Kory's a bit stuck in the aftermath of a harrowing experience. **

October 2, 2007

Moving Forward


The Secret Lair

Lee has been more energetic in general since the day he came bustling back to grab Kory to go start collecting materials for the job he should have been doing the last three years. Frustration is still high, but Lee's expression of it now runs less to complaints and more to the sorts of tones that soldiers get when describing an entrenched enemy position. He intends to overrun them. And then the day after Kory's nightmarish, uh, nightmare, she comes in to work to discover that Lee has taken down almost all the pictures of his parents from behind the counter, including the MISSING poster. The only one left is not their Starfleet wedding picture, nor the one of them in X-Men garb with a seven-year-old Nima in a little Wolverine costume, but just a regular picture of the two of them in the shop, in normal clothes, marked, modestly, 'Our Founders'.

Kory doesn't really complain about that; she may be running the store, but it's not hers. She looks a bit ragged around the edges. Her ebullience is a bit flatter than usual, like club soda shaken and then left open. She swallows a yawn behind one hand; and Lee has never, ever, in recent memory — say, those selfsame three years — seen her yawn.

"Tito," she greets the cashier warmly, handing him a brown paper bag that smells delicious, "Thanks for minding the shop for me when I called in." She heads for the back room, thinking she hears Lee. "Hello — Pod Person Lee?"

Lee calls down, "Come on up, Kory." The door is open, one of Lee's obscure indie bands is playing on the CD player, and he's working on lesson plans, with a big stack of library books - journalists, books on interviewing techniques, and so on. "Heyy. You look a bit zonked." he says, and isn't sure why he thinks that's unusual, not consciously anyway. "Feeling all right?"

"Bad night," Kory explains. "Didn't sleep as well as I usually do, that's all." She goes over to examine the CD case if he's left it out where she can get to it; always looking for new songs to toss into the mixmaster. "I'm good." There's not her usual sincerity in these words; it's like she's trying to convince herself almost as much as him. "How's Nima? How's Philly?"

Lee is apparently listening to Trout Pout, which, according to the label, is an Oregon band, and according to their music, is pop-py and strangely compelling. "Nima's good, she sends her love. Philly is fighting her every step of the way, but you know her, she's digging in her heels and hitting back twice as hard. Organizing a girls night, pushing for more female-friendly space… There'll be a Secret Lair in every city at this rate." he says, and although he exaggeratedly looks like he's about to puke, he can't hide that he's proud of her. "As you can see, I got a new ally at Brubaker. Bastardy old librarian."

"Well, good for her. Tell her to suggest October be women's month. Pink ribbons all around. It may wig out the boys, but nobody turns their nose up at fundraising for breast cancer awareness and finding the cure," Kory offers, perusing the label. "Hmm. Trout Pout. Cute. I like the backbeat. This is a little cheerier than I expected to hear you listening to. What's this now about a bastardy old librarian?"

Lee says, "I'll pass it along. Well, you know me, I've always liked pop, so long as you can't find it on the radio and these guys probably can't even get a radio broadcast way out in the wilderness of wherever." He indicates the books, "He's going to help distract the administration while I teach my class civics instead of the civics test. He called the rest of the faculty 'stepford teachers', which is dead-on hilarious and I'm not just saying that because I'm at the bottom of the landslide of shit." he adds gleefully.

Kory chuckles. "Stepford teachers," she repeats. "I have to go with your ally. I can see that one vividly. Of course, I boggled most of my teachers back in White Plains." Homework turned in early. Chapters read early. Bored Kory sitting through a class with some other book because she'd already done what she was supposed to do in class before class. "So — how else goes the revolution?"

Lee says, liltingly, his eyes closed: "The streets of cities inundated with light, green branches on the thresholds, nations sisters, men just, old men blessing children, the past loving the present, thinkers entirely at liberty, believers on terms of full equality, for religion heaven, God the direct priest, human conscience become an altar, no more hatreds, the fraternity of the workshop and the school, work for all, right for all, peace over all, no more bloodshed, no more wars, and happy mothers." He opens them and grins: "Or something like that. How are you doing? Bad night hopefully not recurring…you know, I can't remember the last time I saw you tired?"

Kory listens to him, and smiles faintly. "Poetic," she finally says when he finishes. "The revolution is poetic." She waves a hand at him, blushing faintly. "It was just the one night," she says, scoffingly. "I'm good. Cup of warm milk tonight, and I'll be out like a light. Just you watch." She pauses, gives Lee the hairy eyeball, and adds, "Not literally."

Lee says, "Well, it's Les Miserables, so it should be poetic….Uhh, no, not literally. I will not be watching you literally without a clear invitation, and something to do while you're tucked in and snoozing." Aw, he would watch over her if she wanted. "Good, glad things are going well downstairs. Gave you a little more wall space yesterday. I figured it was time."

"Yeah, I saw that," Kory murmurs, glancing downward. "You …you had enough time to deal?" She looks from the door downstairs back to Lee, concerned.

Lee thinks about it a while, before he puts down his pen and closes his lesson book. "Kory. I saw my dad again." he says, looking across at her. "I think you should know. You helped Nima so much when they disappeared - I came back as quick as I could but she counted on you a lot, even after I was back." It was a rough time for both of the twins. "So I think you have a right to know. I saw him. I knew where he was for several weeks, and I didn't tell anyone because he was wanted for questioning by the police."

Kory settles beside Lee on the sofa, and her eyes grow wide and serious. Lee had mentioned before seeing his father, but not like this. "The police…" she repeats, voice dropped to an astonished whisper. "I …I'm so sorry. I had no idea."

Lee says, "One of the crimes he was wanted for was the attempted arson of this building. Of the store. I don't think he was doing it of his own free will, but that's how it looked to the police. He was hurt badly, and was in a private medical facility. After he rehabilitated…" Lee pauses, this part still clearly hurts him, but in a way, it makes sense to him, he nods when he says it, he looks Kory in the eye: "…he left again, of his own free will. He's involved in some crazy things, strange things. He didn't open a comic shop because he loved comics. He loved comics because he believed they could be real, they should be real. And that's what he's off chasing right now. It's lunacy. It scared me half to death. But so much started to make sense."

"Fi—?!" Joule can't even say the words. She halfway grew up in this store, and remembers his parents family. "Not…" she shakes her head slightly, and snaps her mouth shut. She sees this pain in Lee's eyes, and clasps his shoulder. Then he goes on to speak on the reality of comics, and Kory swallows hard. "Yeah? I guess it would. You take all the time you need. That had to have come as some shock."

Lee says, "It was a huge shock, but like I say, a lot of things started to fall into place. It's what gave me the distance I needed to see things clearly. It's so hard to describe, but it was a relief, Kory. He wasn't dead somewhere, and all the fights we had… It wasn't because I had failed him, it was because his expectations were so off-the-wall. I can't walk on walls or move things with my mind1, so I let him down. He wasn't disappointed with my choices, he wasn't even paying attention to them. It was this big jolt of freedom."

"I …wow," Kory murmurs. "I suppose it would be. Growing up thinking your Dad thinks less of you because you didn't follow in his footsteps, only to discover his footsteps were up in the clouds somewhere." She gets up, and returns the CD case to the spot from which she picked it up. "So now you don't have to worry about anything but being you." She smiles at him from across the room. "Good for you, Lee. I'm happy for you, even if it came about in a painful way. The wound's been lanced."

Lee says, "Yeah. It's what Nima and I were fighting about the day you came over? She sort of feels like if she can make the store more successful she can earn back their love. It's her way, you know, work harder, get smarter, move faster." He smiles back at her, and he really does mean it.

"To hear you tell it, that might not do it. But we'll be there for her if the worst happens," Kory says, determination momentarily hardening her gaze. Lee has been many things over the years, but no one could dispute that 'there for his sister' was not one of them. "In the meantime, it's time for both of you to get on with your lives." She returns to sit next to Lee. "If space is what Nima needs to get sorted, I'm happy to keep running the Lair as long as you need me to."

Lee says, "Thanks, it's a big help, Kory. Even given my aversion to comics, I have virtually none of the skills necessary to keep a business going. I'm really glad Nima can count on you."

"She's just lucky I am a big old bookworm," Kory teases. "This wasn't what I got my degree in. But life is all about adapting." She bites her lip, as if uncertain that was the best choice of words she could have made.

Lee seems cool with it. In fact, he says, "I'll say. So, ah. If you see either him or mom around, keep an eye out. Or anyone displaying superpowers." That last's a joke, right? He does seem to be joking. He even grins.

Kory startles, though, at his turn of phrase, jerking into a more straight posture. "Um. Yeah. I'll do that." She shakes her head, though, vigorously. "Sh-should I call the police, if your folks show up here again?" She's not grinning. She looks — spooked.

Lee says, "Only if you think it's an emergency. Otherwise, call me at the school." He is more reassuring when he says that, more in-control. We can do this together.

"All right." Kory seems to calm down at the idea that crazy or not, his parents are still essentially harmless. She knits her brows pensively a moment longer, though. "So, did you sort through all that stuff in the storage room, then?" she asks, seemingly eager to change the subject.

Lee says, "No, I haven't. I assume most of it is old stock that Nima never got around to cataloging. Sounds like a weekend project sometime. I'll pay for the pizza and the bin to haul whatever we can't sell to the Salvation Army?"

"You've got a deal," Kory grins. "But I'll just pick away at it after I close up, and if it gets to be too big a job, we'll do it your way."

Lee says, "Sounds good. I know we've got six million copies of Adventures of Amazonia back in there, and…" He pauses. "Oh, Christ, that now takes on a whole different creepy dimension." he adds with a pained look on his face.

"Knowing what your folks were getting at when they published that? Yeah. No doubt." Kory wraps an arm around his shoulder. "It'll be okay, hon." Hon? Kory seems vaguely surprised she's getting all sisterly with him herself.

Lee smiles at her, his face relaxing, and puts his arm around her waist. "Thanks, Kory." His squeeze is friendly, perhaps even brotherly, but he doesn't go further than that.

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