A superhero hires the only person who might be able to babysit their bratty child. An ex super villain
In the free state of the Mardi Gras Republic, the line between villain and hero had long since blurred into meaninglessness. The walls that surrounded society were still kept up by a mixture of gangsters and recruit heroes, the law was still a mixture of ad hoc hero courts and gangsters, and the sky still wasn’t quite the right color.
But for Horus, it was home.
His son, however, still wanted to go back to Mississippi, which made going on his weekly patrols ever harder and harder. Tears ran down his face, smeared across the dirt he’d been playing with.
Alex took after his mother far more than he took after Horus. Emotional, prone to outbursts… god, he missed her so much. She could melt away the questions in his head and tease away the kinks in his muscles.
When Horus saw Alex, sometimes all he could think of was The Siren, calling down the monsters that had destroyed his city so that everyone else could escape, and his heart, the same heart he’d thought was frozen cold, ached a little harder.
“Alex,” Horus said. “Do you think you’d be alright meeting someone new tonight?”
“New?” Alex sniffed. “How new?”
A woman with a mask swept in from the other room. It fit perfectly over her face, painted in long sweeping lines of yellow and silver. The eyes underneath of the mask were still bloodshot from weeks without sleep.
Horus didn’t blame her in the slightest. “Have his powers manifested yet?” the masked one asked.
“Not yet,” Horus said. “Doctors say they will in a year or two, but…”
“Go have fun on patrol then,” The masked woman cut in. “I can handle it from here.”
“Hawkins,” The witch corrected. “I’m out of the business.”
“You showed up with the mask on,” Horus said.
“You never know who is watching nowadays, Horus. Even here.”
Hawkins sat down in front of the crying child, her joints popping, and stared at his face. Alex sniffed, staring right back at her. “Y-you’re a friend of ma?” He asked.
“I was,” Hawkins responded. “Do you want me to tell you about her?”
Horus was already creeping away. The gulf wasn’t quiet, what few months had been bought for them in blood hadn’t lasted long enough.
And he was an A-rank hero. Weren’t too terribly many of those left around, not anymore.
The door opened, then closed, then locked, leaving Hawkins and Alex together.
“He left,” Alex huffed.
“He did,” Hawkins agreed. “What sort of story do you want to hear today?”
“C-can,” Alex stuttered. “Can you tell me why you’re in mask?”
Hawkins chuckled. “I can’t tell you that. Besides, you already know why one of our kind wears a mask, kid.”
“To hide your identity?”
“I upset a few people a few months ago. I’m lucky your dad was willing to help me out,” Hawkins leaned back against the couch, privately wishing the kid would sit down on it so she could straighten out her legs. “So now I’m going to watch you.”
Alex flicked his head around, looking at the windows, then the doors. Hawkins recognized it. She’d done the same thing when she’d gotten out of the military the first time, checking exits and entrances.
“Seems like you have a story to tell, though,” Hawkins said. “You wanna speak up?”
“There were monsters,” Alex said. “They came in the night, over the wall.”
Hawkins nodded. “Mississippi is still considered lost.”
“They were like wolves, but they had no fur,” Alex said. “And their teeth were so bright. Mom said not to look, but I kept looking, and Dad went BOOM! and his mask flashed!”
“I know how he works.”
“And one of them exploded! But the rest just ran away from him, and Mom hid me in the basement, and we were really close together and I could barely breath.”
“What happened then?” Hawkins asked.
Mobile had been lucky to not get this much action.
“She started singing, and I fell asleep,” Alex pouted. “I didn’t want to, I wanted to stay up and help.”
“You helped her by being safe,” Hawkins said.
“But I woke up while we were driving away,” Alex said. “But no matter where I looked, I couldn’t find her. She must be lost,” Alex said, placing a hand under his chin. “We should go find her!”
Hawkins’s eyes closed behind her mask. Another on the KIA monuments. Lovely.
“Not now, kiddo.”
“Why not?” Alex whined.
“I don’t have a car,” Hawkins said.
“Oh,” Alex said. “She was covered in red paint, so we should get her a bath too.”
Hawkins turned her head away for a second, glaring at the door Horus had left through. Bastard.
“Okay. So story time!” Alex said, walking over to stand in front of Hawkins.
“Right,” Hawkins said. She wracked her brain for something not totally bloody or murder filled.
“Once upon a time…” And Hawkins told him of the first time she’d had to help a hero, on the battlefield of Korea, long ago.
Edited, of course, to remove the miles of dead bodies. Hawkins rarely dealt with things that didn’t include those.
Alex listened in rapture.