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3 years 11 months ago - 3 years 11 months ago #23278 by Quorry
Quorry replied the topic: Silver
Chapter 19: Definition

Char’s parents weren’t home when he got there. It was a bit odd, because it was so late, but he took it as a stroke of good luck and used the opportunity to stow the scooter in the garage. He briefly entertained the idea that he might call her and tell her that he still had it, but he didn’t want to sour his mood with conversation.

The cause for his present contentment was the slight buzz he had noticed in his eyes since waking up from his recovery nap. It took him a while to get the dregs of sleep out of his system, but when he did, he realized it wasn’t just an imagined feeling. He was seeing better than he ever had before, and it was true sight, not some inhuman supernatural sense untethered to a physical means. In a glance, he saw with perfect clarity the entire contents of the garage, its various yard tools and … not much else. Several cans of paint sat in one corner, and there was a string hanging from the ceiling leading to a loft. He shut the door and tried again in the next room. The couch, the bookshelf with a few boring books sitting on it (he didn’t have to look in their direction to know their titles), the television (turned off), and the cupboard it sat on. He paused. What was stored in that box? He’d never seen it opened before, and it had a layer of dust on the lip of the door and the handle. There were shelves higher up on the walls with a few trinkets balanced on them. There was a small model Stormtrooper, and a kaleidoscope with just the most beautiful colors he thought he’d ever seen, and behind him, through an open door, lay the kitchen, and the table, unset. The cupboard under the television (ah, he was distracted) had something in it, but to go check he would have to walk over and open it. And there was so much to see even without moving! He stared for another second. The house was unfairly sparse, he thought. The only color came from the walls, which were painted in wide vertical stripes of lavender and … he didn’t know enough names of colors to accurately describe them. One was a dark purple and the other was a pale green. He liked them individually, and he didn’t really mind them next to each other, either. He wondered why he hadn’t given this much thought before. Colors were fantastic.

Oh, the cupboard. He had almost forgotten when he started investigating the savory woodstain of the tabletop. The finish was so clear, he couldn’t help dimming the lights a little to reduce the glare. There was a picture hung up on the wall, of his parents smiling over a little boy. He had the same hair as his father, but his face more resembled that of the mother. It was probably him. He walked to the bathroom to check in the mirror, and was immediately struck down in awe. What was this perfection he beheld, with features refined after the image of the finest model, its smooth surface and gently curving? No, it wasn’t the toilet, though aesthetically, he had to admire its design. The sink too, really. The craftsmanship was marvelous, but, aahh, it was the mirror that he saw, no, the reflection. This couldn’t possibly be his face, his eyes. Those were the eyes of a person too good to be him, the images caught in the silver of his irises reflecting into infinity. Faced with such glorious recursion, he found it difficult to turn away.

It was a good time to leave the bathroom alone, he thought as he stood in the hallway, collecting himself. Things got a little weird in there for a second. Now, back to the cabine- there was something shiny in the other room. He thought about the mirror. He decided... not... to go looking at every reflective surface within walking distance, if only to stop himself from worshipping his reflection. There were better things to do with his time that bask in the glory of- never mind. He tried to focus on the cupbinet, whatever it was. Somehow, it was plain enough that every time he thought of looking inside anything else was more interesting. That was ridiculous, because how could he know that the contents were boring, for all he knew, they could be… not… that.

He coughed a little at the dust that lifted into the air when he disturbed the little door on the front of the thing. Maybe he wouldn’t be having such a hard time thinking about it if he had the sense to look up the names of specific articles of furniture beforehand. He grabbed the dictionary from the bookcase and looked up cupboard and cabinet. A few minutes later he returned it to the shelf, puzzling over what he had just read. The definition of cabinet used the word cupboard, which would imply cupboard with the more general term, but then the definition for cupboard described it as a cabinet or closet. He supposed they were synonyms. But then, which word should he use? As he puzzled over this, closing his eyes in thought, the buzzing faded. He opened them again, but it was no longer there. He looked around quickly, whipping his head to check his perception. It was noticeable duller than before. The colors were less vibrant, the reflections less… entrancing. His positivity started to slip into neutral.

He sighed, and thought about how all the cool things he experienced were fleeting. He sat back on the couch and looked at the cabinet’s door. It occurred to him, that his enhanced sight was just another aspect of his sensory abilities. He wasn’t sure what to make of it. Should he treat it like one of his extra senses, or was it separate? Why wasn’t it permanent? It wasn’t as though he was doing anything different now than he was a few minutes ago.

No, that was incorrect. Now, he was thinking, wrapped up in ideas and abstractions. Those were the opposite of how he was going about when his sight was enhanced. Then, he wasn’t analyzing, but experiencing his surroundings. He wanted to see if he could call back that enhanced state at will, but this was quite unlike using his extra senses, which were paradoxically accessed by retreating further into himself, away from his typical perceptions.

There was nothing for it, he was just going to have to abandon thought for the moment. He relaxed where he sat, until he was still without having to exert himself to stay balanced. Then, he concentrated on his senses. He started with touch. He felt the pressure of the cushion supporting his weight, and the cool of the floor through his thin socks. He took in the textures of his clothes that separated him from the air, and on the exposed bits of skin on his neck, hands, and face, he traced the slight movements of the air every time it shifted one of the nearly-invisible downy hairs that covered those areas. He noticed the weight of his hair on his head, and the tension of the muscles that he hadn’t realized were still supporting him. He felt his heart beating, steadily pumping blood. He felt himself trying to think about all of this, but he refused to be distracted.

The buzzing returned at a snail’s pace, beginning with his fingertips, sending him stronger and clearer sensations that before. He could feel the weave of the fabric on the couch, the size of the threads, the softness of its surface. The buzzing spread upwards to his wrists, then up his arms. He felt the drape of his shirt over them, the way it folded and hung loose. Like with the couch, he could tell the method by which the shirt’s fabric was pulled together, and the kind of threads it was composed of. The buzzing spread still further, it now rumbled within his lungs like an unheard sound, he could feel the air, feel the expansion and the winds through his throat, and deeper. He could feel its subtle resistance with every shallow breath. He inhaled deeper. The air had a level of purity determined by the particles floating in it, and by the extra gasses mixed in. He didn’t have a means to analyze this, but by his judgement the air was slightly dusty, but not stale. There were only trace contaminants.

He felt the buzzing through all his body but his head now, like standing on the crest of a wave, balancing on a fluid surface that should not be able to support his weight. As he let it build, it grew and his sense of touch sharpened and resolved into a kind of image in his mind. Not one of sight, but on pure sensation, not universal like an extra sense, but beautifully limited to a single contained surface. He did not know what lay around him except by the way it interacted with his borders. He did not let the feeling go to his head, so to speak, for fear that it would overwhelm him.

He held the image as long as he could stand it, then released it. As it went on to oblivion, his sense of touch returned to its default state. This time, he did not attempt to reinitiate the buzz. He had some things that he wanted to study up on. Maybe he would start by finishing the book on lockpicking. He was interrupted by the muffled sound of a car just outside. His parents were home.


Char couldn’t say specifically what it was, but something had changed about his parents. He eyed them from around the corner, as they prepared a late dinner of … something that required a lot more effort than usual. His father was looking up the recipe on his phone, while his mother collected what raw ingredients they had and attempted to follow the instructions as he relayed them. Char scanned them up and down for other indicators. They weren’t dressed differently than usual, and their hairstyles looked about the same… no, it was something about their faces. They were… smiling? How peculiar, he thought. That wasn’t something his parents did. No, wait. He walked over to look at the picture. They were definitely smiling for the photo, but did that mean they had actually been smiling back then? Regardless, he wanted to know why they were smiling now.

“Why are you smiling?” He asked. This was directed at his dad, but it was his mom that answered.

“Your father and I, well, we decided that we were worrying too much about you. It wasn’t doing you any good, and it made us feel awful too. Really, just a cluster**** of bad decisions and guilt. Today, we decided to get off our ***es and help ourselves. As you may have noticed, We. Got. Results.” She grinned. “We’re happy, Char. We aren’t held back by our fears for you anymore.” His dad made a small cough at her language, but nodded in agreement.

“So, you won’t worry about me any more?” Char wasn’t sure what to make of that. On the one hand, he didn’t like it when he could tell his parents were hovering over him, waiting for something to go wrong. On the other, in an odd way that was what he was accustomed to, and it was hard to imagine how they could act any other way and still be the same parents that raised him.

Lana Ashworth put down the cookware and turned to face her son. She leaned in to level her gaze with his, and spoke with overflowing warmth.

“Charon, you aren’t a weak child anymore. You don’t need us to smother you or hold you back anymore, and the sad thing is, I don’t think you ever did. That was our mistake, and I want you to understand, that everything we are doing now, and from this moment forwards, is to make things right. I know how you must feel that things are changing all around you, with your mutation and high school and, I don’t know, puberty? Help me out here. But change can be a good thing, and I’m sure that from here on out, things will only get better.”

“You don’t know that. You’re guessing.” Char was having new experience overload today. Too many things were happening one after the other. He couldn’t track them all, but they kept happening anyway. He’d been trying to put off processing it for when he had nothing else to do during school. His distractions weren’t working anymore. Now it started crashing in from all sides. Extra senses? Work at the library? Did the librarian know who he was? HE FELL ASLEEP IN THE LIBRARY!?!? Abstraction? Buzzing? His parents were happy? Dice actually had blonde hair and was scared of Mithras? What did it all mean? He fell off a motor scooter? Why was he asking questions out of order?

“We don’t have to talk about this now, if you want time to think about it. I just…” Her smile wobbled and unexpected tears made her blink hard. “I just realized how long it’d been since I told you that I loved you. I was just scared, and worried, and stuck on the negative emotions, I didn’t give it any thought. But it’s important to me, Char, that you know it. I love you.”

“That was unfair, now I get to sound like I love him less because you said it first.” His dad knelt in front of him, head bowed. “I am so sorry. I failed you, as your father. I love you.”

Char was so confused. He fought against his mask, tearing it away before it could give a meaningless ‘I love you too’. With a strangled voice, he asked them:

“What does that even mean?” His mask gone, his expression revealed his turmoil. He was lost. Nothing made sense anymore when he tried to fit it into the world he knew. He wanted to understand what everyone was talking about, but their words were puzzles. Dice was the only person who seemed to make an effort to understand anything, but she still had an understanding of what she talked about beyond what she said out loud. He wished that people talked like his textbooks were written, carefully and without ambiguity, so he could absorb it with ease. His eyes hurt. He wasn’t certain if it was natural or a result of his mutation.

He felt something wet roll from the corner of his eye down his cheek. So it wasn’t the mutation, he was just crying. That made him feel worse. He couldn’t remember ever crying, he just didn’t.

“Aw, ****” said his mom. “Aaron, help me out here, we need a definition. Maybe multiple.”

“Gotcha. Let’s see. Ok, Charon, I’m going to define ‘love’ for you, okay? Listen carefully. When a person ‘loves’ another person, they are saying they value that person regardless of any action that person does. They want to do everything they can to make that person happy. Love means different things to different people. When we say we love you, it means that to us, you are the single most important thing. If someone made us choose between literally anything, and you, we would always, always pick you. Sometimes, we think that we can see things that you do not, and we will try to act on that in order to help you. You might not understand why we do something, but we hope that you can know that because we ‘love’ you, we will not choose something that is going to hurt you.” He scratched his chin stubble absently. “Does that help, Char?”

Char did listen carefully. He thought very hard about what his dad said, and the focus helped him. It allowed him to ignore, for the moment, the unexplained things he hadn’t addressed, and deal with the most immediate item. It took him five minutes and thirty-four seconds to respond. He was watching the clock on the oven.

“So… you love me, so you decided to stop being scared, because you being scared was not good for me. It was also bad for you, which made it hard for you to help me. Now, you aren’t scared, so you won’t always watch me, but you love me, so you still won’t let bad things happen to me. Right?” He was more relaxed now, still confused, but at ease.

“Right,” his parents said.

“But, I don’t know, whether I ‘love’ you. I don’t know what I would do for you.”

“That’s okay,” said his dad. “It is enough for us that you recognize that we love you, and let us help you. We’re your parents, that’s how it’s supposed to work. You can figure out what ‘love’ means to you when you are ready. Until then, and after, we want to be happy with you.” He hesitated. “Can I give you a hug?”

“No thank you.”

[oh, my. That chapter took a LOT of editing. I kept thinking, no, that part should not go that way, what am I doing even, etc. The second half made my eyes water. Such emotion. You had to be there. wait... Oh, yeah. have 2 whole pictures. Yeah. you read me right. 2. If only I could capitalize letters. 2.]

Color Time
Warning: Spoiler! [ Click to expand ]

This is the Closest thing to a Family Tree I will ever draw.
Warning: Spoiler! [ Click to expand ]
Last Edit: 3 years 11 months ago by Quorry.

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3 years 11 months ago #23805 by Quorry
Quorry replied the topic: Silver
Chapter 20: Puts the Me in Memory

“How’s the food?” Char’s mom asked.

He swallowed his experimental bite of lasagna, and responded carefully.

“It isn’t bad… but because it was you who made it…”


“It tastes weird. I can taste how you cooked it.” He considered the rest of his serving on his plate, then took another bite anyway. He was hungry.

She frowned and looked to her husband for a second opinion. In response, he gave her a grin and gestured to his empty plate. “I’ll have seconds. I, for one, think you did great. Food wasn’t meant to be machine-perfect. Maybe I’ll try my hand at it one of these days. Cooking, I mean.”

“I reserve the right to not eat it if you do.” She said, playfully waving her fork at him as he walked past to get more lasagna.

Char tracked his steps by sound, without meaning to. He noticed that if he exerted a slight focus on the individual scuffs and taps, he could tell where his father was facing, and where he stood. He shook off that sneaking focus (not around the parents), and took another bite. He wasn’t sure if it was good, really. He knew its texture and its taste, but as with most things recently, he couldn’t compare it to anything. It was easy to eat, and it didn’t have the salt or the preserved flavor of the processed food he had always had to eat before. It was certainly healthier, and was made with higher quality ingredients, but that wasn’t a guarantee of good flavor, was it? He puzzled over the problem, until he placed his fork against his plate and found there was nothing left to eat. He supposed he would call it good, because his mom put effort into it, and he didn’t want her to stop cooking.

“Do want me to grab a second for you while I get my third?” It was his dad, getting up again, plate in hand. The empty hand edged uncertainly towards Char’s plate, eager to achieve symmetry. Char’s gaze traveled from that hand up to his father’s face.

“Ah, no thanks.” He picked up his own plate, and took it to the sink. He stopped on the way to the stairs, to say that one thing to his mom. “It was good.”

“You’re going up already?” His dad said, trying to express his distress by frantically waving at him to stop. He had to set down his plate to do so. Char wondered if that meant he was extra serious.

“I’m done.” Char explained.

“But, don’t you want to do something? We could do … something. As a family?”

“What?” Dinner was over. Together time was over.

“Um,” his dad caught sight of the television set, the cupboard beneath it, and the small door that sat slightly offset from a full close. It reminded him, of those happier and more carefree memories he had of his time with his son, that had spurred him into action just that day.

“Do you want to watch a movie?”


Char sat heavily on his bed, several hours later than he intended. It was very late, and after everything that had gone on that day, despite sleeping in the middle of it all, he was very tired. He tried to think why, because it didn’t make sense to him. All he’d done was watch a movie with his parents, which he had enjoyed. It was an old classic about a young man who dressed sharply and shot a lot of people on his way to stopping the equally well-dressed old man with a big machine designed to kill people more efficiently than the young man could. The young man eventually stopped the old man, and the big machine exploded, killing all the old man’s helpers in one go. After the young man had asserted his superior killing efficiency, the movie ended, leaving Char to wonder whether he killed people like that often or if it was something he only did when someone was threatening to beat his record. As a whole, he liked how the director kept finding new ways for the young man to kill people, and he thought it was a nice twist that he DIDN’T kill anyone in the old man’s base until he made it explode, killing all the people who would otherwise be spared. If he had to decide on his favorite scene, though, it would probably be the part where the old man described in detail how he would kill a large group of people with the help of his machine. It was brilliant, really, the way he showed his power over the capture young man by forcing him to listen to a long lecture on how he would lose at killing. And it had almost worked, except he hadn’t counted on the young man being the badass of the film. The badass always finds a way to defeat those less badass. This badass, for example, managed to use his powerful muscles and excellent timing to break free from his prison and dodge all manner of death traps, and use one of the traps to kill the old man.

Char wondered, for a moment, where this concept of the ‘badass’ had come from. He’d heard it from his fellow students at school, certainly, but never in this context. They used it to mean almost anything they thought was different in a cool way. One boy had said someone’s shoes were badass, but Char didn’t see those shoes doing backflips on the heads of nameless grunts, or more appropriately, kicking anyone through a wall. There was that fuzzy memory, again. That sense that he could recall what he was thinking of, but that he shouldn’t. Usually this feeling was enough to discourage him from trying, but dammit, if he had seen a movie like that one before, he wanted to know. Oh, and he also wanted to know where he’d first heard about badassery, too. Just not as much.

For the time being he set aside his tiredness, physical, mental, and emotional (still no idea where that was coming from), and really tried to focus on the elusive memory. It cleared up a little, almost came within his grasp, but before he could process it, it slipped away again. Not to be discouraged, he didn’t let it disappear to wherever his lost memories hid, and locked in on it. This was more difficult than he thought. Something was trying to keep him from remembering. He focused harder, his senses dimming as he put all available concentration on that one… stinking…. Memory. He could feel distracting thoughts trying to interrupt him, technicalities of a word in his thought train. No. He would not be fooled so easily, not when it came to Badassery. Because how ironic would it be to… no. He was almost caught, then. Whatever was trying to distract him knew what caught his attention. First it was improper word choice, now it was the use of irony. What next… it almost had him again, this time with speculation. There was nothing for it, he would have to abandon words as his thought medium. The distractions were too strong otherwise, to put aside completely in favor of a mere wispy memory.


An image appeared in Char’s mind. A girl his current age, standing over him, no, sitting next to him as they watched a movie. Or rather, they weren’t watching it. It was nothing more than a backdrop to their conversation. She looked like him. She had the same black hair, but shorter. She had the same silver eyes, the same nose, but a sharper chin. The biggest difference between them was her sheer vibrance. She practically radiated health. Her muscles were defined, her skin warmly tanned. Unlike himself, who rarely smiled, and felt ingenuine when he did, she had an easy smirking grin.

She spoke. “Hey Charcoal, do you think I can do what that guy just did?”

He glanced up at the screen. The protagonist had just jumped over a speeding car, shooting the driver and passengers in the process. He nodded vigorously.

“Y-y.. ca-d..” He wanted to tell her what he thought, but he couldn’t talk fast enough. The words kept mixing themselves with the other ones he had planned and coming out all wrong. He settled on just one.


Her grin stretched a little more than usual. “That’s right, I can do anything. You wanna know why?”

He nodded again, watching her teeth, sharp like a wolf’s. Wolves were cool, like powerful angry dogs, except he never had to go anywhere near them.

“I am a Badass. Definition: A person who is strong enough to do what they want, smart enough to not get caught, and has a stylish disregard for the rules.”

“Oooh…” So ‘badass’ was like an ever better version of ‘cool’.

“Ha ha! That’s right, I AM cool. But I prefer awesome, because ‘awe’ is the reaction I’m gunning for. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’d be a good idea for me to go public just yet. People might get jealous, and waste my time attacking me. Once I’m trained and licensed, though, I’ll be an official super hero. For someone like me, that’s gotta be the best job possible.” Her smile turned sly. Extending one arm, she set a finger on his forehead.

“How’d you like to be my first fan?”


Char snapped back to the present, mind whirling. He caught the time in glowing numbers on his desk clock, and compared it to when he’d last glimpsed it. An hour had passed, but he wasn’t sure how it was divided. Was the majority spent tracking down the memory, or reliving it? Come to think of it, that wasn’t how memories were supposed to work. Memories, if he remembered correctly, were patterns of associated concepts. He reconsidered what he had just done. It wasn’t truly experiencing, not in the sense that he was now. It was more like a simulation than anything else, which made sense. He couldn’t easily interpret a memory from associations alone, so he had translated it into a more straightforward format.

He was comforted by the thought, until he realized it meant he couldn’t really be sure of that memory at all. Logic sucks, he thought. He sat in a stew of muddy disappointment for a minute or so, then the time sunk in, and he decided to get ready for bed. He added the memory to his list of things to put in order during school tomorrow.

As always, he couldn’t walk into the bathroom without snagging his attention on the mirror. He gazed ponderously at that familiar face. How odd, he thought. It was very similar to the memory of … well, that girl had to be Kaycee, didn’t she? He braced himself for an epiphany. None came. There was no way to know if that was actually how her face looked, or if he was simply filling it in with the face he knew most clearly. Still, he had the sneaking suspicion that his memories had been shuffled when he wasn’t looking. Every time he grasped a new piece of the puzzle, something snuck one away from his collection.

He was so tired.

Char looked away from the mirror to undress. He let the spray of water drown out his thoughts for a while. His memory was a pain to think about, and avoiding it was preferable in the short term. The long term as well, if he could manage it.

The initial rinse stage took about three times as long as it should have. His eyes were heavy with warm water. He recognized that if he stayed too long, he risked falling asleep where he stood, which might be dangerous. He finished as quickly as he could, but he only barely managed to dress in his prepared pajamas, before he blacked out.

But only for a second. He didn’t want to sleep on the bathroom floor. He considered getting back to his feet, but opted to crawl instead. His legs couldn’t be trusted to hold him up at the moment.

Char’s day ended before he could get to his bed. The next morning, his mother found him sleeping soundly on the floor.

[Okay, this one took longer than I wanted it to... Lots of stuff going on (nonstory work to do). BUT to make up for it, I've got like 3 pictures. whee. Also, look at the FAMILY TREE pic from the last chapter. It's been updated! Unless you just came from that chapter... In which case it's probably still the same.]

It's a game! Guess the face
Warning: Spoiler! [ Click to expand ]

Wait a second this is only 2. Crap.
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