Dancing in the Shadows (Part 2)
A Whateley Academy Adventure
Dancing in the Shadows
by Maggie Finson
After 'Mommy' came to rescue me I really don't remember much at all. Except that I was really sick and miserable.
I recall being hot to the point of feeling like I'd catch fire, then cold enough to get frostbite. Someone kept forcing things down my throat, and wiping me with a cloth that felt like it had been sitting in an ice bucket when I felt it.
I shivered, convulsed, and tried getting my body into positions that just aren't possible if one wants to survive the experience. I do, vaguely, recall once trying to arch my back in an imitation of the arch in St. Louis, accompanied by shouting, hands pushing on my stomach, and thankfully, my arms, legs and neck were held down to keep them from trying the same thing.
Then there was the pain. I'm really glad I don't remember much of that part. It was horrible. My whole body protested, and to be honest, I just wished the voices I heard and the hands that touched me would give up and let me die.
"Bite this." I managed to focus on a feminine voice and my vision cleared just enough to see a slender forearm held in front of my face.
"What the hell," I think I muttered then the arm lowered to reach my mouth. Wondering if it tasted like chicken, or whatever, I vaguely felt some movement in my mouth. Hey! Teeth aren't supposed to move like that are they?
I bit down on the thing and felt a pair of my teeth actually sink into what felt like meat.
"Good, now drink, just like you're using a straw on the best tasting malt you ever had."
Obediently, I did just that, expecting the welcoming cool thick taste of a malt. What I got was thick alright. Just not cool or malty. It was hot and very salty with a slight tang of iron. Disgusting.
But something in me kept going until a hand pressed my head back and away from the wonderful stuff. "Good, but that's enough for now. Rest. You need this off and on, and especially now."
I fell into sleep again, content for the first time since I got sick at school. Even with the pain, the heat, cold and convulsions, I was actually almost comfortable.
Oh, don't think the heat, cold and thrashing around that could have broken bones was over. Far from it.
There was a lot more of that, along with shouting voices and hands holding or trying to soothe me. One thing did really stand out through all that, though. Over the agony and all the rest I got that wonderfully hot, salty fluid several more times.
Each time I did, I knew I was feeling a little stronger, a little better.
But the pain and other things seemed to go on forever. Had I died and been sent to Hell?
I finally woke up completely. No pain. No heat. No cold. No contortions. Just a kind of a tired relaxed sense of well-being. That was different.
I was in a comfortable bed, and started to look around to see where exactly I was.
The room was unfamiliar- -- big surprise there, right? It was big room with a huge television on one wall and furniture that I was used to seeing in a living room. I mean what kind of bedroom has a big couch and easy chairs with end and coffee tables with lamps? Some of the decorations and the paint scheme were kind of feminine, but at this stage who was I to complain?
"Good, you're awake, a velvet, melodious contralto interrupted my look around the place. I turned towards that voice and my breath caught. The woman I was looking at was gorgeous. There was no other word to describe her.
Alabaster skin that seemed to have a bit of coffee poured in so she wasn't white like some zombie or ghost, and her oval face was framed with long, thick, wavy-curly midnight black hair. Her almond shaped eyes were a vivid blue and her shape matched her beautiful face. Wet dream material there.
"Yeah," I answered and my voice sounded wrong, very wrong, but I ignored that and asked. "Who are you?"
She gave me a gentle smile and answered, "I'm you mother, Camille."
My mother is the Iron Queen. This beauty couldn't possibly be her. Though a small part of me argued that no-one had ever seen her out of her armor. That was hard to deal with, so I grabbed to whatever I could and answered, "My name is Ethan, not Camille," I shot back.
"Not anymore," the nearly ethereal vision responded. "That's the name your father and I were going to give you if you had been born a girl."
"Not anymore?" I questioned, knowing that things had changed, and then I looked down at my body, knowing that things felt different.
Looking down at myself, I saw what looked to be lavender silk with white lace covering my upper body. The bumps that contained, okay not so much bumps as real breasts, were undeniably there. With thick, curly black hair across my shoulders and resting over those foreign things it was almost too much for my out-of-sync sensibilities.
I started to move a hand up to prove to me that what I saw wasn't real. When my hand, slimmer and delicate, encountered soft flesh I gave it up. My eyes rolled back and I happily fell back into the pleasant darkness of comforting unconsciousness.
I did NOT want to deal with this. Nope, no way no how.
I DID not want to wake up.
But perversely, I did. Dammit.
"She's awake," I heard an unfamiliar voice announce.
"She hasn't gotten used to her new self," the familiar melodious contralto replied. "We need to gently ease her into things."
"No, Angie," the male voice argued. "Her feelings from her body will tell her even if she doesn't want to admit it. One look in the mirror will convince her. It wouldn't be fair to her for us to try and hide things."
"She's traumatized, Darren," she shot back. "She was a boy two months ago."
Two months? What the... I knew I felt different, a lot different. Why do these things happen to me? And two months? And HER?!!
The Iron Queen was named Angie? I had never imagined that super heroes or super villains had real names. And Darren? Was that dad?
Too much information there. I hated it, but at that point I didn't care all that much. Me a girl? I passed out again.
"Camille?" I heard and couldn't ignore it.
" I wish you wouldn't call me that," I groaned.
"Get used to it, dear," she told me. "A boy's name isn't going to work for you now."
"I so don't want to hear that," I told her.
"Then get up and come with me so you can look," she told me, and then commanded, "Get UP and come with me."
Her voice wouldn't allow argument. So I pulled myself off the bed and went with her. We were heading towards a full length mirror.
"Look!" she commanded. I did. No one sane tried to argue with the Iron Queen, after all, unless they were a super hero with regeneration or invulnerability.
I did, and what I saw was more than I wanted to take.
I was the spitting image of my mother.
"Don't you pass out this time!" she shouted at me. "You need to know who and what you are!
" You can't change what has happened, honey." Her voice was gentle as she hugged me. "Now you need to learn how to deal with it. You're beautiful and are a girl. I'll help as I can, but you need to help me with this."
"How can I help you?!!" I shouted. "I'm someone I never knew!"
"Stop fighting so much," she told me. "You can't change what happened. What you need to do is quit bitching and just deal with things. Do that and you'll be okay."
"I don't know anything about being a girl!"
"Then let me help teach you."
"Camille, you're my daughter even if you didn't start that way. I love you, and want to give you all the advantages you can get. Please let me help you."
I looked at myself to find that I was as curvy as Mom and sighed. "Okay."
I still wasn't happy about it, but could see the sense in what she was telling and asking me. "Teach me."
"I will," she answered then added. "Your father will help with that, too."
Wonderful. Being taught how to be a mutant and a girl by two super villains. Though knowing that neither of them had ever been caught, that might not be a bad thing at all. But I was so tired. I'd think about this later.
I didn't know how long I'd been wherever I was but I was gradually getting stronger, thanks to drinks of what I now knew to be blood from Mom, Dad, and some of Mom's minions. Even so, it was still an effort to simply get out of bed and walk to the bathroom.
Oh, yeah about that, going to the bathroom. The first time had been kind of traumatic given that I no longer had something I could conveniently pull out and aim. I had to sit and just kind of let go. Mom's admonishment to wipe front to back after that was no help at all.
Stops in front of the full length mirror in my room whenever I was strong enough to venture to the bathroom didn't help any either. When I managed to stand long enough to really look it was very clear that Ethan was gone. Long gone.
I was a curvy, beautiful girl with a symmetrical oval face, almond shaped eyes in a vivid emerald green, high, well defined cheekbones, small straight nose with just a bit of tilt at the end, full but not quite pouty mouth, small rounded chin and a smooth, delicate jawline. Framed with thick, curly-wavy midnight black hair that fell to my newly rounded ass.
So much NOT what I wanted to see. I was a babe. And as previously hinted, really built. Gah!
That hair was a real pain, too. I had to move it to the side if I sat or laid down, or it would get caught under me and pull painfully at my scalp. Not to mention that it was really heavy and kept trying to pull my head backwards when I either sat or stood up. I was gradually getting used to it. But if any guy ever tries to tell you that females are the weaker sex, slap the shit out of him, then find a long, thick, heavy wig and dare him to wear it for a while. I'm pretty sure that will change his opinion.
Oh yeah, it would have been a lot easier if I'd died in that averted catastrophic burnout. But mom had things available, and invented others on the spot, to keep me alive. Even weeks after I came out of the coma, I was weak, lethargic, and just not interested in things.
It was a hard road back, and was taking a lot of time to get there. But at least I was alive and getting better, even if the 'me' I was now didn't match my original body image.
Sucks, but at least I wasn't dead.
I found out that I was in the Iron Queen, mom's, lair shortly after deciding alive was lots better than being dead even if I was girl who had the looks and figure that would have made me want to get to know her but fearful of making any kind of advance because she was so gorgeous.
Okay with her, my, walk, presentation, gestures and other things? Not so much. I looked like either a boy stuck being a girl, or a girl trying to act like a boy. So what was up next in my life?
Girl lessons. Oh, joy.
I will NOT go into that in any great detail. All I will say is that I eventually learned to walk like a girl, talk like a girl, gesture like a girl, and dress like a girl. Sigh. That was not an easy few weeks of intense lessons, trying to cram years of experience and training of a natural girl training into mere weeks.
Once I got through that, there was another very important issue to handle. My perceived abandonment by my parents. I still resented that, even though both were here trying to help me now.
"Why did you leave me?" I questioned both of them on a day when the three of us were sitting around and the area was minion free. "I felt like the child that is found on the steps of an orphanage or a church."
"Good question," my dad said, looking pretty normal out of his bright red costume with the horns, face mask and almost prehensile spade tipped tail. (A gift to him from,mom, I found out later.)
Right then, he looked just like an average guy approaching his middle years with a carefully combed shock of red hair, green eyes, and looking quite innocuous at the moment.
"We left you with your aunt and uncle because we do love you and as a child you didn't need to go through the grief of constantly moving and being in danger," he answered.
"I had the MCO and H1 up my butt all my life!" I almost shouted. "How did that make me safer, or whatever you meant to do?"
"I was very amused at your handling of the MCO," Mom answered, "Waving to them and offering them snacks and drinks was hilarious. Plus once the H1 idiots figured out you didn't have clue one about where we were, they pretty much left you alone. We're so sorry you had to go through that, but if you had been with either of us you would have been in even greater danger."
"Our enemies and adversaries would have been constantly trying to take you so they had leverage on us," my father told me. "Your mother and I don't play well with others."
"So what kept these people, or heroes, from taking me when I was trying to be normal?"
"Leslie shielded you, hid you for a long time," Mom told me."
"But why didn't someone try to grab me when I was there?"
"Mutants," Mom said somberly, "don't go after other mutant's children and family. If they did, almost every mutant in the world would be on them and making their life miserable. That life would be very, very short, by the way."
"The MCO and H1 couldn't touch you if hadn't manifested," my dad added. "Doing that would have violated the H1 idiots' charter, and laws that are on the books to protect children of mutants. They couldn't take you if you hadn't manifested or they would have had the full force of the law, not to mention a lot of angry mutants after them if they did. So all they could do was watch you and wait."
"Oh, they did that." I let out a sigh.
"And that's all they could do," mom answered. "We were always watching over you, actually intervened a few times to keep you from getting hurt to badly."
I recalled a few really unpleasant incidents where I could have died but the attackers suddenly just went away. "That's why Aunt Leslie and Uncle Kevin insisted I learned some martial arts..."
"Yes," Mom nodded. "We all wanted you to be able to defend yourself if you needed to."
"We provided money to make sure you always had what you needed, along with some extra for emergencies," Dad told me. "We were always watching to make sure you stayed safe."
"But that time I wanted a play station, I didn't get it."
"You needed clothes, a computer, and food," Mom answered. "Need is not the same as want. And you did end up saving the money to buy it yourself, didn't you?"
"Yeah," I had to admit.
"So you were taught that needing something and wanting it are two different things," Dad put in.
"And learned to get the things you wanted through your own efforts," Mom added.
Dammit. I hate it when parents or other adults are right.
"But you two are super villains," I countered. "You just go in and take what you want."
"And you think that doesn't take work?" they both answered almost in unison, which made a weird kind of echo.
"Okay, okay!" I held my hands up in surrender. "I get the idea."
Mom and Dad did love me. They had taken more than a few pains to make sure I was safe while learning that no one was going to just hand me anything. Plus, Mom had rescued me when push came to shove. I also found out that Dad was in the wings in case things got really out of hand. As if that could have happened with who and what mom was.
But I could deal with that. And it made me feel really good.
I honestly started to feel loved and protected after that conversation.
Which is something I'd never really felt before.
It felt good. Really good.
August 10, 2007
Powers testing was... umm... interesting.
I watched as she cobbled together a few pieces of equipment and had no idea of how she'd done it. Her devisor talent obviously hadn't transferred to me. I had not clue one about the things she was doing.
"Well," Dad said, "She is a devisor, after all."
"I know," Mom said while still sounding a bit distracted and disappointed. "I can't place what she is with the equipment I have now. I'll need to build some other things to really find out what she is, but I think she's a mage, given some of the readings I've gotten."
"A mage?" I asked.
"Magic," Mom answered simply. "What you do with shadows doesn't fit into any other category. You aren't a manifestor, or an avatar. The things you do with shadows defy description in any of the other categories. It has to be magic of some kind and I'm not really able to find just what it is."
Oh great. I was some kind of magic user and had no more than a vague idea of what I could do. Or even how to really do it.
Life can be great and all of a sudden it can suck. Another life lesson there, I guess. I really hate those, by the way.
Eventually, Mom told me that I was most likely an empath 2 and wiz 4, whatever that meant, and combined with my martial arts skills made me very formidable. Funny, I didn't feel formidable at all but was willing to take her word for it. She was the dangerous and never caught super villainess after all.
Did that make me feel any better about things? No.
Oh well, when had my life ever been anything like normal? At least I didn't have the MCO and H1 breathing down my neck at the moment. Take what you can get, you know?
August 12, 2007
"Why are we here again?" I asked mom while watching things all around us nervously.
"Don't worry so much," she admonished. "No one other than your father and few very trusted friends, aside from my minions, know what I really look like and you don't look anything like you used to."
"Point," I admitted unhappily. "But why here?"
"It's home," she answered a bit sadly. "Where we grew up and will always remember as home. I always come back off and on just to see it again, and you need clothes that aren't fabricated by mutant powers."
Slathered in sunscreen with sunglasses and wearing a simple top and jeans so tight I thought they would hold my shape after I took them off, and thankfully a pair of flats, I asked, "But the clothes you make me look and feel normal enough, for a girl."
"They are and would pass a normal scrutiny," she answered, "but someone who knew what they were doing and was really looking could tell they were not made by normal means. There are tell-tale traces when a mutant duplicates normal clothing that people looking for differences can find."
"Now come on," she cheerfully said. "I've been looking forward to a mother/daughter outing since I got you to the lair."
We got looks, but mainly because daughter looked so much like mother, and both of us were babes - as much as I still hated to admit that about myself. After what seemed like forever, I had a lot of clothes and shoes, some of which were kind of embarrassing with the short skirts and revealing tops, not to mention the heeled shoes that went with them.
I was wearing a violet sun dress that had little white flowers all over it and sandals with a two-inch heel when we were finished. Plus I was carrying a white handbag that matched so well with the dress and shoes. Wait a minute here! What was I thinking?!! Coordinating things and I was happy with the results? Sheesh. I was more girl than I wanted to admit it seemed. The reflections I saw in the store windows told me that I was looking at a beautiful girl who dressed to emphasize that beauty. Wonderful.
But I had to admit that the looks mom and I got were admiring instead of accusing, and seeing guys look at mom like they did was kind of embarrassing, too. No one wants to think of their mom as being sexy, but that was the impression I got from the looks given to her. The ones I got? I don't want to talk about it.
But they were a lot like the ones mom was getting. Talk about being creeped out.
Then all of a sudden I thought about Marla and felt really guilty. "I have to let Marla know I'm alright."
"Not such a good idea there," Mom said. "She wouldn't believe it was you telling her that."
"Then I'll just tell her I'm a friend and that Ethan is ok," I shot back. "I don't want her to think I'm dead or don't care for her anymore."
Mom sighed then nodded. "Just tell her that. No more."
"Oh, like I'm going to say, "Hi Marla. I used to be Ethan but I'm now a hot chick who puts you to shame. Not going to happen. I just want her to know that I'm okay is all."
"All right." Mom let out a sigh and pointed to a pay phone nearby. "There you go."
I don't have any change to use it."
"Don't worry about that," she grinned. "Got it covered."
I picked up the handset and heard the chimes that said money had been put into the phone. Okay, sometimes being a super villainess without scruples was a good thing.
A familiar voice, Marla's mom answered the phone. But I couldn't just say, "Hi Mrs. Crane, can I talk to Marla?"
"Hi, is Marla there?" I asked instead.
Are you one of her friends? I don't recognize your voice, dear."
That one took a second or two to work out.
"I'm a friend of Ethan," I finally answered. "I just want to tell her that he's okay."
"He can't tell her that?"
"Not at present," I honestly told her. "I just need to tell her that Ethan is okay. Please?"
"All right, I'll call her to the phone."
"Ethan?" Her question about my identity all most broke my heart.
"No," I gently answered. "Just a friend of his. He wants you to know that he's well but can't come back."
"Can I talk to him?" she asked with such urgency that it almost broke my heart.
"That wouldn't be a good idea just now," I told her. "The MCO has him listed as a dangerous mutant and H1 wants to kill him. He wanted to let you know that he's okay so I agreed to call you and let you know that much."
"He's alive and doing well enough under the circumstances," I answered. " He has to keep his head down right now and can't contact his friends."
"Tell him I love him," she told me and just about broke my heart.
"Thanks for letting me know he's okay," she said.
My heart was almost breaking when I answered, "I will, he'll appreciate hearing that. He loves you, too."
I hung up and started to cry.