2007-12-07: No Seriously Comics Are Terrible


Lee_icon.gif Kory_icon.gif

Summary: Lee and Kory discuss the situation, then (after she reads 9th Wonders), the real situation.

Date It Happened: December 7, 2007, at two different times of day.

No, Seriously, Comics Are Terrible

The Secret Lair

Sunday afternoons are slow in the Lair, so they're the day that Kory flits about tidying up. She makes sure the free-read box is in order. She organizes the DVDs back into alphabetical order. She has a pile of comics on the front counter ready to go into mylars for the back issue bins. But normally she's quiet about it. Today? Today she's singing. Not badly; thankfully. Not loudly; but she is singing. "…Klingons on the starboard bow, starboard bow, starboard bow! Klingons on the starboard bow, //Scrape 'em off, Jim!"

Lee is descending from the apartment, he's talking on his cellphone, "Yeah. Yeah. Hang on just a second." he says, long enough to interject: "Filk? Really?" with a 'gotcha' smirk. He leans on the counter and finishes up his phone call, which has something to do with video equipment from the sound of it, and hangs it up. He looks over the comics with a jaundiced but accepting eye. "Hey Kory." he says.

"Not filk," Kory chirps, still humming the tune under her breath. "It got actual radio airplay." She tosses her hair at him, but she's smiling serenely. "Hey, Lee," she replies. "You're up early for a Sunday. Date with The Hyperactive Woman again?" She intentionally puts a little accent on the words so it sounds like Lee's girlfriend has a superhero name. "There's still a few bagels in the office, and a coffee box, though you'd have to nuke it."

Lee says, "We're close to finals and work is driving me crazy, so I've got to find time when I can. No, I made breakfast upstairs while I was making some calls. How's it going, you look like you ate a delicious canary?"

"Ah. How's that going, then? Are you getting thorugh to the dangeorus minds?" Kory laughs. "Do I? I'm just happy. Thanksgiving with Mom and the grans was surprisingly drama free. My brother minded his manners. Cam's out of the hospital. It seems things are starting to look up again, just in time for the holidays." Oh, yeah. There's a box on the floor behind the counter of holiday decorations she's about to put up. "Everything's just great. Isn't that reason enough to smile?" Though she's not saying everything; Lee's known her long enough to be able to tell she still has something behind the smile she hasn't said yet.

Lee says, "You can't complain about minding manners. Nima texted me this morning, she got back to Philly all right, she really liked hanging out with you on the holiday. It was different spending Thanksgiving over at the shelter kitchen with her, but we had a really great time. Throwing wet sponges at each other like we were ten." with his own grin. "The dangerous minds are still dangerous. Things are a bit in turmoil since one of the ringleaders got suspended. I wish I could say that I'm entirely enthused about that, but the counsellor that nailed the little twerp did so in a bit of an underhanded way, and it's not much of an example for the rest of them."

"Considering my brother's lack of manners usually ends up with Nana and Great Gran arguing over who's going to make the fruitcake at Christmas, and that usually ends up with thrown dishes? Yes, I /can/." Kory laughs. "I was happy to see Nima too, though. I really missed her. But it looks like Lair Philly is shaping up nicely. I may have to go visit her for New Year's. Take her out, get her drunk, and then drag her out of the bed early to see the Mummers." Kory finishes with the DVDs, and goes for the holiday box. "You in a hurry? I could use a spotter with the stepladder." She grins, and pauses, before adding, "Delay as long as possible thinking about those kids. How'd your colleague do it underhanded? How do you nail a kid for doing wrong underhanded?"

Lee comes over to the stepladder obediently: "He used another, younger kid as bait. The younger kid was okay with it, but still…it's taking advantage of his position as counsellor, as someone the kid trusts. I could never do that." He holds it in place. "I've never seen the Mummers except on TV, that would be a trip!"

"Bait? That is more than underhanded. That's …unethical," Kory disapproves. "Even with a kid who's okay with it. I mean Kids aren't capable of making decisions like that. Thanks." She takes the fun-tack container in her teeth, and climbs the stepladder, holding a garland of pine from which icicles are hanging. She has an ornament of The X-Men's Storm holding up her hands so it'll look like the mutant is the reason there are icicles." "The Mummers are fun. Dad took us once when I was little. Awesome floats and stuff."

Lee tactfully averts his eyes from the display, like an atheist at a nativity scene. "Excellent. But seriously, that can't be all that you're chuffed about…" He got that word from his girlfriend. "…you're practically floating."

Chuffed? Kory looks down at Lee quizzically, then shrugs, and tacks up another bit of garland, stretching carefully and balancing against the wall when necessarily. "Oh. Well. Y'know. I guess I'm a season too early, but, romance. I think I can officially call him my boyfriend." Years of acquaintance will indicate this is a momentous occasion; Kory has always been sweet and friendly, but always shy when it comes to guys. Of course being a pretty girl in a comic store full of socially stunted geeks probably didn't help. This may well be the first time Lee has heard her say 'boyfriend' in reference to herself. "So yeah, I'm happy."

Lee says, "Congratulations. Not Professor Neckbeard, I take it?" Lee is referring to a rather pungent-smelling regular customer who has long had a crush on Kory. He adds: "Chuffed is a useful word. Don't judge me." with a sly grin of his own.

"You mean Fergus?" Kory shakes her head, though there's a bit of an involuntary nosewrinkle. She tries hard to be nice, but well, yes, the guy does sort of carry a miasma of stale Doritos and Hai Karate with him. "No, no, not Fergus. His name's Randall. He's been here a time or two." She climbs down, moves the stepladder, and re-ascends to keep tacking up garland. "I thought he'd gotten the same freak out and run scared vibe most guys I like get. But he hasn't…it was all a huge misunderstanding."

Lee says warmly, "That's great. I've always wondered what the heck was wrong with the other guys you've had such problems with. I'm glad things are going well. So when do I get to meet him?"

"I seem to attract jocks who don't want a brainy girl," Kory muses. "Or guys who don't have anything more in common with me than the fact we both read comics. Or guys who …y'know…look down their noses at me because I read comics." Like Lee. Who she had such a silent crush on in high school. "Randall doesn't mind any of that. Or the fact that I'm so freaky in other ways." An Iceman ornament goes here, helping Storm with the icicles.

Lee looks skeptical, "I've never thought of you as freaky." He may or may not know about the crush, of course. "And I was a jock in high school, and semi-sorta one in college, and I like brainy girls." he says, not grasping the difference between athletes and jocks.

If Kory had her way about it, he'd never know. She tried very hard never to let on. Pretty easy, too, given Lee's method of coping with the world was 'Be a Bigger Jerk'. "You," she points out, without looking at him, "look down your nose at those who read comics." The Justice League's Ice dangles from the garland at the next instance. "And you're not a jock. You're a brain who plays sports."

Lee says, "I look down my nose at the practice of reading comics because it is terrible." Well, that sums that up. "Plus, just about at everything else, being tall and having a ridiculous nose." he adds, the self-deprecation muting the comics-reading criticism she's heard a million times before. "Anyway, my point is that you're not freaky."

"Okay, I want you to read this." Kory plucks, unnerringly, a copy of 'God Loves, Man Kills' off the Graphic Novel shelf, and drops it toward Lee. "You sneer at it without even giving it a real try, and you're supposed to be a teacher." She comes down again, moves the stepladder, and climbs once more. "And it's nice of you to say so." Unspoken, obviously, is that she knows different, if not better.

Lee catches the graphic novel, then slides it neatly back on the shelves. "I have. It's awful. I'll make a narrow exception for Maus. But that's about it." he says amiably.

And so Lee and Kory split up, Lee heading out for a day of work on his classroom and hanging around with Joule, Kory dealing with the Christmas rush and a crapton of people coming over to the Lair with Comical Interactions - later, after Kory read about Lee's abilities in 9th Wonders, she met him upstairs.

Lee can hear Kory's steps coming hard up the stairs. She knocks. That's hard too, compared to her usual gentle knock.

Lee opens the door for her, his coat off. He never watches TV, he reads library books. The one he's got in his hand is The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia by Samuel Johnson, a thin paperback in a 18th century style. "Hey." he says, still warm to her.

"Hey," she says, quietly. She's trying not to seethe. She's holding firmly in her head the mental image of how completely freaked out Lee was by finding the back room full of crazy. So she takes a deep breath, shoves the door closed, and walks into the kitchen to get herself a drink. "Is any of Nima's herbal tea left?"

Lee says, "Should be, up in the shoebox." Every bohemian household has a shoebox full of tea. He lets her come in, and he's perceptive enough to note her mood - lost in his book he's forgotten to be self-absorbed.

She heats the water on the stove, rather than the microwave. It keeps her in the kitchen, rather than lunging across the room to wring his neck. "So." The next word would be 'talk', but she figures he's got enough literary knowhow to parse that on his own. She doesn't trust herself for more than mundane questions and monosyllables.

Lee closes the door, and then the distance between them, so if she really wants to wring his neck, she can. "So you must be one of the ones that think that comic book was drawn by a guy who could see the future." he says. "Well…probably it was. Everything in there happened. I was at the hospital visiting Cam, and those idiots attacked, and all of a sudden there it was. The flashbang went zipping back into the other room." He doesn't sound enthused by the development.

Kory stares at him for a moment. "I'm your sister's best friend. The closest thing you have to family. And I had to find out from reading 9th Wonders." The angry expression intensifies for a second, then melts away, replaced by a kicked puppy hurt. "…after I've been running myself ragged…" She turns away from him. "Your parents plan? Their original plan for the Lair? It works." Not past tense. Present. "And stupid Kory tries to protect their dickhead son from the boogeymen that freak him out." She must be upset if she's descended to vulgarity. "All the while, you were laughing up your sleeve?" She stares accusingly at the teakettle. Boil. So she doesn't have to turn around and look at Lee again.

Lee says, "I didn't know until that exact moment, Kory. I really didn't. I'm not laughing, I certainly wasn't laughing at you. This whole thing is annoying as hell. I'm just as exasperated as you are. More so. It changes everything that their crazy plans work. I don't know what I'm going to do with the notebooks." He still thinks she means the experiments on him.

"Not that plan," Kory says, tiredly, going to sit down, because she's suddenly so weary. And she's /never/ weary. "Somebody who was in the store tonight was looking for an owner's manual for their powers."

Lee says, "What? Oh, Christ. They almost deserve what they get." he scoffs. "What did you do?"

"I didn't do anything," Kory says, looking accusingly at him. "She wanted comics with Storm, she got them. And what makes you the goddamn authority on how lame this all is, huh?" Her eyes well with tears. "The comics may suck in your opinion, but they're the only anchor people like us have to why we are like we are. They're the only option for learning to use them." She sniffles, and gets up to go back in the kitchen. The teapot's about to boil and start whistling. And she needs to wipe her eyes.

Lee blinks. "What, you too?" he says. "Oh for….Kory, I'm so sorry, I had no idea. Five minutes ago you were about to tear my head off for me not telling you. Why didn't you tell me? Is that what you meant by 'freaky' earlier?" He turns to follow her.

"Tell you?!" Kory's voice rises an octave right toward hysterical. "Are you kidding? Are you high?" She doesn't pour the tea yet. Her hands are shaking. "I've known you more than half my life, and all you've ever done is mock and sneer at -" She gestures with a flung arm toward the door leading downstairs. "I know now why, but-" She sighs. "I couldn't. Okay? I just couldn't."

Lee nods, gives her a minute to gather breath, and says, quietly admitting: "I can't say I wouldn't have said something cruel, but I hope that I wouldn't have. Okay. That's the past. We're here now, we both know, it's real for both of us." He exhales, setting the book down, a red pencil to mark his place. "It's real."

"It is." Kory takes a breath and does pour herself the mug of tea now. She warms her hands on the mug briefly before setting it down to steep. "And you're still sneering," she points out. "Maybe not every comic guy in the biz can see the future, but Isaac Mendez, it looks like, can. You can go on sneering and mocking, but that's eventually going to come and bite you." He's a literary guy. He knows the tropes.

Lee says, "We aren't seriously going to argue about the quality of the comic that I myself appeared in. Because if we are, we are going to have to start with Tristram Shandy…" He ventures a smile at her, with his puppy dog eyes. See, we can laugh about this. "Anyway. It doesn't matter, we both are who we have always been. I've got finals coming up and you've got the holiday season. I've got my sister and my crazy parents, you've got your brother. It's all the same."

"I'm not going to argue with you," Kory tells Lee, voice barely above a whisper. She's disappointed that even this hasn't softened his anger at what the Lair represents vis a vis his parents. "We are. I guess it is."

Lee nods. "Good. Now. What do you think we should do with people showing up like the Storm you got today? If anything. I mean, I don't have to like comics, but there are people out there like that and not all of them have read Johnson." Oh. He must have just been talking about their relationship. It must be important to him, more important even than his hatred of comics.

"Do what I'm already doing," Kory says, dunking the teabag a few times before she drops it in the trash. "Sell them comics and let them find their own way. I didn't have anyone to teach me, and there's no comic that has what I can do in it. I've made it this far. They just have to trust to dumb luck if the comic doesn't work for them as an owner's manual."

Lee says, "Well, there is Rasselas…" He taps the book he's reading. Oh, Lee's turning to something too? "Of course you can hardly recommend something like that if they're looking for comics…." He shakes his head. "I should have said something. The plan about the Lair being a magnet is working even without you and me. There's others I've met. So far I'm the only one that really dislikes comics."

"I don't know from Rasselas," Kory admits, surprised. She reads a lot. Lee knows how much. He helped her move. He saw her books. And that her apartment is more library than home. "I've met others too. Suppose we should just sit down and compare notes, then, huh?" She edges toward coming out of the kitchen. Finally.

Lee admits, "I sort of don't want to betray any confidences. A lot of them are scared of their secret getting out. Apparently there's various organizations and people who are real jackasses about it. Anyway, I should respect their wishes. I'll tell you what I can, of course. And sitting down together is good."

"Organizations," Kory repeats, taking a sip of tea and sinking to the sofa. "Of course there are organizations. But there are also people who want to help. Must you always dwell on the negative?"

Lee says, "Oh, definitely, but that's why people were saying 'don't tell anyone about me'." He follows, and also seats himself. "There's students. There's some close friends." He nods, indicating that she's in that group. "I talked to Nima and she hasn't seen any, uh, symptoms…that's a bad way to put that."

"You're twins," Kory says, thoughtfully. "And your personalities are pretty radically different. It may take time for her to see hers. But hey, she'll have our support." And Nima's as big a dreamy eyed believer as Kory is, and Lair Philadelphia is as good a place for her to do it as any. "Yeah. I have a handful of people I know with the gift as well. I'm not sure if the woman tonight was the only one. I just kind of had a doubletake when it started hailing, and put two and two together."

Lee nods. "Cass pretty much ditched her shop to work at this place under Seville Hospital on very basic stuff. Testing how strong strong people are, how fast fast people are, That's where dad recuperated when he popped back up. And he…stole a lot of data from there too."

"Wow. All this parallel and we never knew," Kory sighs. "That's where …" She pauses a moment, then continues, after mentally taking stock of something Lee said before. "I took Cam after Magma got murdered, because he wants a place to practice. And because he was scared. She invited me back after they've sorted out some problem they're having with a …a virus?"

Lee says, "Yeah. That's what she was working on when I was there. It's the one you saw on the news - apparently it started in the, uh, supernormal population, or whatever it's called. But like it says on the news, there's a cure now, so it should be safe to go back to. So you know about Cam too? I found out on the same day I found out about mine."

"Known about him for a few weeks now," Kory says, nodding. "He'd been showing a particular interest in Iceman. The change in the weather didn't seem to bother him. And something somebody said made me wonder. So I asked him. And he told me."

Lee shakes his head. "He's the one that the counsellor used for bait. Made the whole thing doubly dangerous that someone could have gotten frostbite. Or killed." he says. "This 'keeping it quiet' thing is not going to last forever. It just can't."

"I suppose it will last as long as it can," Kory murmurs. "And we'd better be glad of that." She looks up at Lee seriously. "I believe Isaac Mendez can see the future because I saw the future. I saw it because I was with someone else who can. And that future is not someplace we want to end up." She shudders, closing her eyes.

Lee says, "So, you can see what other people are thinking? That's got to be annoying." He ignores the discussion of the future. What, is he not interested?

"No," Kory shakes her head. "I can see what people are dreaming. But if the dreamer can see the future, I can see what they see." She draws her knees up to her chest, clearly spooked by remembering. She is perfectly okay with not discussing the future, or trying to get him to.

Lee says, "See, now that's interesting. Much more interesting than changing things' directions. And it might be useful, you're an artist. Me, not so much. Teaching is teaching." He's at least open to the possibility that others might use their abilities productively.

"You could probably teach the kids stuff by getting their attention with your gift and letting them think it is some kind of trick." Kory says, tiredly. "You just would rather have something to sulk about."

Lee laughs brightly. "No." he says. "Haven't you noticed? I kinda started to like teaching." He shrugs. "I have noticed that no matter where I throw the pen from, it always lands on the whiteboard ledge." he says. He sees she's tired, and naturally puts an arm around her shoulder, giving her a hug. "All right, look…we can talk about this more another time. Okay? It's…it's sort of a relief to me that you know now. I hope it is to you too."

"Very much," Kory assures him. "Now I don't have to try and shove all this stuff outside the store when it crops up and people want to talk to me. Peter wants me to try increasing my range, so as to be able to talk to people in dreams. Like a secure conference call without phones. Now that I know I don't have to guard your sanity anymore, I can just …breathe." She's not tired in the classical sense, so much as just dragged through too many emotional ups and downs in too short a time.

Lee admits, "I had a pretty bad meltdown…thanks for looking out for me. A lot of my friends did, but none that really knew the full story like you."

"Well, what was I supposed to do, hon?" Kory asks, and the fact she's using a term of endearment is indication she's decided to forgive him. "If I'd let you go all to pieces, Nima would've murder-death-killed me." She's teasing gently. "Seriously, though, I was worried. That was a really messed up scene. And I like to think you'd have done it for me if our positions were reversed."

Lee says. "I hope I would have. I hope we never have to find out. Will you stay for dinner? I'll cook, and I'll tell you the story of Rasselas. Read it a million times. It gets better and better every time."

"Dinner would be great, yeah," Kory tells him. She won't have to cook, and can go home and practice. "Thanks. And then you can tell me about Rasselas."

Lee goes into the kitchen and opens the refrigerator. "Rasselas was the prince of Abyssinia, what we today call Ethiopia, and he lived in a place called Happy Valley, where all his needs were provided for…but he still wasn't happy." he begins.

Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia

Tristram Shandy

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