2019-10-08 - Someone Like Me


Anon and Rebecca stop a carjacker.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Tue Oct 8 10:50:52 2019
Location: The Bowery

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Theme Song



It's an ordinary afternoon in the Bowery. The sun is high, the clouds are few, and the streets are busy. Celerity doesn't have class today, so she's been out working, running deliveries — not that she lets anyone know she literally runs them. Though really, a name like DoorDash is just begging for an on-foot speedster.

Yet, it's an ordinary afternoon in the Bowery. And someone's driving through in too fancy a new car. At a red light, a man approaches with a gun in hand. Once the driver has been pulled out and thrown on the ground, there's the squeal of driving away far faster than is safe. A carjacking, like happens far too often in these streets.

Celerity clocks out, and after a quick change of clothes, Anon clocks in. She stays a bit behind the car. Yes, she can catch up to it, but how can she stop it without people getting hurt?

"Faster than is safe" is about to prove itself about two blocks of reckless driving later, as the stolen car bears down on a crosswalk where several pedestrians are trying to scramble out of the way. It's not at all certain that they'll make it, especially with the way the car is swerving from lane to lane…

…until suddenly, it is airborne, its rise clearing those still in the crossing, if only barely. The car quickly loses speed, partly due to its driving wheels no longer being in contact with the pavement, and partly, apparently, due to whatever it is that is lifting it into the air.

On the sidewalk to the left, among the bystanders, a young blonde does nothing in particular to stand out. She's dressed in jeans, a cranberry hoodie, and pink Nike cross-trainers, as unremarkable as can be in terms of clothing. And to most people she would probably blend right in. But to a speedster, able to pay more attention to everyone, she might be noticeable by the degree she's trying not to look like she's paying attention to the floating car, despite the concentration written on her features.

Anon pulls up alongside the car. That's not the problem. The problem is—

Oh hell, that's a crosswalk. Anon puts on some speed, to get there ahead of the car and whisk the bystanders aside, in time to clear them out of the car's path. The car which didn't reach the crosswalk at all. That brings Anon's attention back to it. "What the…"

But she does have time to look. Who could be doing it? How? There's no big, flashy arcane sign or obvious anti-gravity gadget, but powers like these take concentration, and there's just one person looking at the car with more than surprise. Surprise, and then fear. That brings Anon's attention back to the car again.

The carjacker swears enough for a whole navy, waving his gun out the window. "I know one of you is doing this! See how well you can hold me up with a bullet in you!" He starts squeezing off rounds.

But none of them seem to actually hit anything. Not just in the sense of missing anything important. They don't even ping off the walls; the muzzle flashes, and the bullets disappear, Anon catching each one. Though with a hiss from the metal's heat.

But noise like that could make someone flinch. How does Rebecca handle having a gun pointed at her, even if it's just in her general direction?

"Less than perfectly" turns out to be the probably-unsurprising answer. Becca's concentration is broken as she flinches from the gunfire, and the car abruptly drops several feet. But the young Texan recovers her focus quickly enough to catch it before it hits the ground, her mastery of gravity halting the car's plummet with about a foot to spare.

She could put up her shields. But unlike the gravitic 'telekinesis' she used to stop the car, that would be visible and obvious and point her out as the source of it. So for the moment, she takes her chances.

The car now only being a foot off the ground does place it within easier reach for Anon to deal with its driver, however.

Anon takes her blessings where she finds them, like the car not falling all the way down. But even if that gun's going to run dry soon, she can't assume she'll go on catching them all. The car being that little bit closer is all she needs. She's not the tallest… but with a bit of a run, she can jump like crazy.

And then she's through the window, feet first, and across the guy's chin. It knocks him out, leaving him slumped. She double-checks, getting his foot off the accelerator, and calls out: "Clear!"

So that hints to others that she's not working alone. No, Anon doesn't have super-awesome car-lifting powers. But more importantly, it lets Rebecca know she can relax.

"Whoa," comes Rebecca's quiet response as she observes the driver being taken out, by someone moving like a blur. Which then resolves to a young woman calling out that the danger is apparently past. Hearing that, she sets the car down gently onto the pavement before relaxing her gravitic grip on it, and attempts to blend in again among those on the street.

And after that, what's a speedster to do? She has enough social awareness to know that Rebecca was trying not to be noticed; she can't exactly come find her straight after, offer a fistbump, and say 'Good job!' in front of all the pedestrians. No, she'll have to… well, first off she'll have to get the carjacker delivered to the police, and get the carjackee back to his vehicle.

But she gets a good look at Rebecca, making sure she'll recognise her later. And when all the smoke clears? She goes searching.

Given that Becca is operating on most-of-us time and not Anon-time, she's not that far away from the scene when the speedster catches up with her, as she's walking down the sidewalk of another street after turning at the first corner she came to.

This has given Anon a quandary. She's had a subjective while to think about it, sure, but it's a hard quandary to resolve. She's coming to Rebecca to talk about super-stuff; she can't come without the mask. She just can't. But it brings attention to Rebecca to come in full costume. It seems like a paradox, right?

And it results in her coming over wearing a great big coat. Her suit's hood is pulled back, revealing her vivid red hair, slightly wind-tousled. The coat's collar is raised, to obscure the mask… but Rebecca herself would see it. "Hey," she says, her voice low and quiet. As if 'hey' is so confidential a thing to say.

"How's about you go pick on someone with more'n ten bucks in their pocket? We'll both be happier, an' that's a promise," Becca says, the twang in her voice, particularly certain vowels, plain and obvious. But then she gets her first real look at who just spoke, and things begin to click into place. "Tha… That was you who stopped that jerk in the car back there," she observes, without owning up to her part in it.

"That's not—" Anon huffs. She tugs at the coat, showing the suit underneath to make herself that much easier to identify. As if she needed to look any more like a flasher, in that coat. As soon as Rebecca states her recognition, she pulls the coat closed again. "Yeah. I'm Anon." No way is that a real name. (Not that Celerity's real name sounds like a real name either.) "Can we… talk? Somewhere else?" Like, not out on the street.

"Guessin' I don't have much choice," Rebecca answers, resigning herself to the obvious fact that she's been busted as the one responsible for the levitating car. "You have somewhere in mind?"

Anon pouts. "You absolutely have a choice. Just say the word, and I'll leave you alone, and try to forget what I saw. But, if you want to talk…" She glances about. "That alley there? It's out of the way, and… well, I don't think going down an alley in the Bowery will be too much of a problem." Not with two supers around, one of them in costume and ready for action.

Rebecca nods. "All right," she acquiesces. "Was it really that easy to tell it was me back there? I was tryin' to not stick out…"

Anon leads the way. Even buzzing with nerves, she manages to keep a lid on her speed: she still moves fast, but not blur-fast. More like 'agitated normal person' levels. Once they're hidden away, she tugs her hood back up, hiding her hair away, and she seems to breathe easier once she's back in full disguise. "I had to look over, like, everyone before I saw that look in your eyes. What you did back there, that was amazing. Some kind of telekinesis? That's what they call it, right? I've heard psychokinesis before, too, but…"

"Sort of," Rebecca answers. "I mess with gravity." And as if to demonstrate, she herself lifts off the ground by about a foot, hovering there for a few seconds before landing gently. "Figured out a bunch of ways t'do stuff with it."

Anon gasps, eyes wide behind her mask as she watches Rebecca lift off. Her hands clap rapidly, sounding more like a single drawn-out clap. "Oh my god, you can fly. That's so cool. Um, what do you…" She goes to fidget with her hair, but just ends up touching the hood. "What do you call yourself?"

"Rather not be givin' out my name t'…," Becca begins, before realization of the nature of the question hits her. "Oh, you mean like what you super-people call yourselves. Like what you go by. I don't really have anything like that. I'm not exactly runnin' around in flashy clothes an' beating up bad guys, y'know?"

Anon shakes her head. No, no, she's not asking for an actual name. The referfence to clothing tugs Anon's gaze downwards. "You could, though." At first, the tone hints in a certain direction. Anon wouldn't mind seeing her in something other than jeans and a hoodie. But then she realises that implication, and blushes from brow to chin. "E-Er, I mean you seriously could do amazing things. If it's what you wanted to do."

Given her history of being looked at — often in that exact sort of way, while performing with her school's dance/cheer squad — that tone, and the look that went with it, are not lost on Becca, despite Anon's attempt to deflect it. The blush may have had something to do with it. "If you wanna ask me out, I've sure heard worse lines," she says, drawling it out playfully, something between a sly grin and a smirk forming on her lips. Okay. Now, for the moment, at least, she's back on at least a little bit familiar ground.

Being faster than normal just means that when she falls into a mental loop, Anon's cycles are measured in megahertz. Her blush fumes brighter than the hair Rebecca had seen before. "That! That's not what I meant!" There's a little bit of whine, a little bit of squeal in her tone.

"Y'know, you're a really bad liar. Which is actually kind of a good thing, and also, right now, cute as hell," Becca says, grinning. "It's all right. Having someone like you look at me that way is better than when 40-year-old men were doing it at football games." She laughs. "Seriously, it's okay."

Anon whines, something deep and keening, far back in her throat. She grabs the coat's collar and pulls it up, as if to hide behind it. Not like she's already wearing a mask, or anything. "And you are good at deflecting! You know what I meant. You stopped that car while I was still trying to get ahead and save the people right in front of it. You might not have come up with a name for yourself, you might not have a costume, but if you wanted to, you could." Deep breath, trying to steady herself. "What was that, anyway? Some kind of… mutant thing?"

Even if she didn't actually move, there's a sense — something in her eyes, or maybe a subtle shift in her expression — that at least some part of Becca just cringed at that word. "I… I don't know. Maybe? Probably? I mean, I've kinda guessed so all along, but it's not like I have any way o'knowin' for sure," she replies. "Back home, I spent since I was 14 keepin' it a secret. These things I can do, I mean."

Anon winces at seeing that cringe. She vibrates for a second, seemingly unsure whether to approach or to keep her distance. "Ah. That sounds hard. It's only been six months for me, and I'm already… you know, putting myself out here dressed like…" She tugs the coat open to look down at herself. "You know, this. For running around in." She chews her lower lip. "And… I'm pretty sure it's mutant for me, too. I've never met anyone else like me and had a chance to actually talk." That time Black Cat took half of the money they'd saved from being stolen, and bugged out, doesn't count. "Or at least, I don't think I have — they could be keeping it under wraps, for all I know."

"Momma and Daddy would've thrown me out o'the house if they knew," Becca says. "They were all 'dirty mutie this' and 'freaks that' an' every other thing. They got pissed off when the election went the wrong way, an' worse when they did away with registration."

That sounds far, far too familiar. Anon's arms cross in front of her, hugging herself. "Yeah… yeah, I know what that's like. It's just mom, for me. Haven't even spoken to my dad for years." Her voice has grown softer, quieter as she remembers her experiences as… not-Anon. No names here, yet.

"'S part o' why I'm here. Tryin' to figure myself out, an' what t'do about what I can do," Becca says. "I grew up bein' taught that bein'… like me meant you were a bad person. That bein' a mutant was pretty much the mark of the Devil. But I've been like this long enough t'know that that's just not true. But part o'me still feels ashamed I'm like this, anyway. Like it's wrong, somehow."

That settles it. Anon does approach this time, laying a hand on Rebecca's shoulder and giving her a firm, fierce look, right in the eyes. "We are not wrong. We are who and what we are. We are what we were born to be, and nobody has the right to say that's wrong." Her voice has that tense energy that comes from someone talking as much to herself as to others.

Becca's eyes go wide, and then close as a little shiver runs through her before she opens them again. "No one… No one's ever looked right at me an' said anything like that before," she says, her voice small and with a quaver that wasn't there before. "I… I'd really like t'hug you right now, if that'd be okay."

Anon huffs. "Well, that's a damn shame, because everyone should have the chance to hear something like that." At the suggestion of hugging… well, Rebecca barely gets a chance to get the sentence out, before Anon's arms are both squeezing tight around her. It's a good thing she doesn't have enhanced strength, or Rebecca may be in for some pain.

And in response, Becca hugs back tightly. There's nothing even vaguely sexual about it. It's not hugging someone she's attracted to, or a loved one, or a friend. It's the clinging of a lost child, who's just been found. She resists the urge to break into tears, but it's a near thing. "Thank you," she murmurs, still holding tight.

"Thank you," Anon insists. One arm stays clingingly tight, while the other scratches along the back of Rebecca's head. Those nails are short, but they bring a bit more bite, a bit more solidity to the touch. It grounds them both better than if it were just a soft touch. "Thank you. I've never… never had anyone to talk to."

"You do, now," Becca answers, still not letting go. "I don't even know what to say. You're the first person I've ever really talked to about… about what I am."

"Same here," Anon murmurs. As closely pressed as they are, they just don't need volume. "I… there are reasons, so many reasons, why I wear the mask. Why I keep myself… you know, Anon." She bites her lower lip. "I don't know if I'm ready to take the mask off yet, and I understand you not wanting to share your name, either. But… do you have a phone number? I-I keep a burner phone to go with the whole Anon thing."

"I… I do," Becca replies. She's not going to go into the 'having a burner phone because of her parents having canceled the service on her real phone' thing. "I'm gonna have t'let go to get it out, though." There's a sense of a laugh in her voice, even if there isn't any actual laughter.

Anon scoffs, squeezing tighter. "Why would you need to get it out? You remember your phone number, right? Just tell it to me. I've always had a good head for numbers, I can remember it long enough to put it in later."

"I, um, haven't had it that long," Becca explains. A late-teens girl who hasn't had her phone — or, apparently, its number — that long? Yeah, that's not at all a trouble sign. Not one bit. "But let me… yeah, I do remember it." And she reads off a number, with a New York area code. Yeah, definitely not the number she would have had back where she clearly comes from.

Anon closes her eyes, nodding as she takes the numbers in. She recites them back flawlessly. Hey, she did say she had a head for numbers. "I'll text you when we finish hugging." She tilts her head, suddenly thoughtful. "With that gravity stuff… how fast can you fly? Or is it just, like, hovering?"

"'S mostly how I got here from Texas, so…," Becca answers, smiling a little as the question turns her thoughts to the one aspect of her powers that is, to her, exhilerating fun. "I can't say exactly how fast, but, like, airplane fast? Faster, 'n like airliners."

Anon whistles, her eyebrows lifted. She draws slightly back from the hug, loosening it but not ending it entirely. "That's fast. And, how sharp can you turn? I mean, I think there's something weird about how I move, but… how does your body handle those speeds? You'd think the G-forces would… do something."

"I haven't rightly tried any sharp turns, so… I don't know?" Becca shrugs slightly, as much as she can while still in the hug. "I know about G-forces, like with fighter pilots and astronauts an' such, but I don't really feel those. Maybe 'cause it's me doing the flying, and not getting pushed by a plane or a rocket or whatever? Wind was a problem, or I guess air resistance, 'til I figured out how to put like a bubble or a shield or whatever you wanna call it 'round myself."

Anon nods thoughtfully. "As I understand it, though, the G-forces are about any kind of acceleration. It… should probably be more of a problem for me, too. I'm not sure how fast I go when I get going — don't exactly have a speedometer for my feet — but I, uh. Get up there." She blushes. Oh god, she sounds like she's bragging, doesn't she?

Becca grins, and suggests, "Maybe we should race sometime?"

Anon giggles, nodding her head. "Yeah. Th-That… that sounds like fun. Mostly I'm racing bullets." She takes a deep breath, and reluctantly pulls out of the hug. The next second, her phone is in her hand, and she sends a quick text to Rebecca's number: 'It's Anon!'

From the left pocket of Becca's hoodie, a decidedly not-smartphone-ish beep sounds, and a moment later, she pulls out one of those cheapest-available black plastic 'candy bar' burner phones like the convenience stores sell, and peers at its little monochrome display. "Guess I remembered my number right," she says, with a half-laugh at herself and a grin.

Anon's phone isn't any better. Hell, they may have bought their phones from the same convenience store, for all they know. She giggles in return. "And so did I. See? Head for numbers." She chews her lower lip. "Um. I should probably get going soon — more work to do tonight. But… it's been really great meeting you. M-Meet up again sometime?"

"I… I'd like that," Becca replies, with a nod and an actual, full-on smile. "I've never had someone I could talk about this stuff with before."

Anon smiles brightly. "I'd like it too. Just, uh." She holds up her phone. "Need to work out what to call you. S-So I can save it in my phone. Just having a naked number feels weird. Ah! As in a number without a name saved with it! Not as in…" She just stops talking.

Becca breaks into giggles, but also blushes a bit as she says, "Tell you what — If I think up somethin' to call myself, you'll be the first t'know."

Anon secrets her phone away again. "I'd like that. For now, I'll just save it as…" She frowns. Can't save it as 'cutie', because whichever gender she's finding 'cute', her mother seeing that name saved is a one-way trip to a lecture. "…uh, 'New Friend'?" Her thumb sweeps across the phone's buttons, tapping the name in. "And… I kind of interrupted you. Is there anywhere you'd like me to, uh, drop you off?" Really, she just doesn't want to part ways any sooner than she has to.

Becca shrugs. "I don't really have anyplace I need to be. I was just out for a walk, checkin' out more of the city."

Anon nods, lips pursed. "Alright. Then I guess now is goodbye. Um… how about a goodbye hug, then?" She steps in closer, arms held out and open.

"Only goodbye for now," Becca replies, smiling. "I have a feelin' we'll be seein' each other on the regular." She takes a step to help close the gap herself, as she adds, "And I'd love another hug."

Anon closes the distance, arms wrapping tight around Rebecca's waist. Her eyes close, and she lets out a breath, letting herself simply… exist in Rebecca's arms. "I'd like that," she murmurs. "To spend more time with you. To talk more about this. To have someone who understands."

Rebecca finds herself fighting several impulses. One of them being that her gravitic senses, in their focused, short-range form, could easily pierce Anon's mask and show her the shape, the contours, of the face behind it. Curiosity — and interest of another sort — nearly win out, but in the end, she chooses to respect the speedster's privacy.

The other strong impuse is to offer Anon a kiss to go with the hug. But there, Becca chooses not to be too forward, too soon, out of fear of scaring Anon off or otherwise derailing their newborn friendship.

"I really want that, too," she finally says, quietly, squeezing Anon a bit tighter as she speaks.

Anon has certainly thought about the latter impulse. Rebecca might have seen how the speedster's eyes dip down to her lips. But she doesn't make the move either. The important thing is that she has a friend who understands her. She may run faster than sound, but she knows that sometimes, it's important not to rush things.

So a hug is where it ends, and a moment later, she squeezes and releases her. "Then… I'll s-see you around. And look forward to your text. For now…" She zooms away, a golden blur that leaves a breeze passing by Rebecca. And as she runs, she's smiling to herself.

It's maybe three hours and change later when Anon's phone beeps to signal an incoming text. Enough time for Becca to have gotten over to the New York Public Library and consulted an encylopaedia and a physics book or two.

When Anon — or Celerity, by that point — looks, she'll see it's from Rebecca's number. And the text reads:

Looking forward to seeing you again soon. —G

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