“Lisa, this is unnecessary. We don’t have relationship problems,” Roscoe complained as he was pulled by the arm into the medical arts building in downtown Central City. She continued dragging him despite his protestations.
“That you still deny it is proof that we do!” she declared with grim determination, and gave him a not-so-gentle shove into the elevator.
“Ow, dammit! Fine, I’m moving!”
They were both silent for the duration of the elevator ride; he was crabby and resentful, and she was nervous for reasons she wasn’t sharing. She’d find out soon enough if this ambitious scheme was going to work…
“We have an appointment with the therapist in five minutes,” she told the receptionist sweetly, and they were led down the hall to a room with a closed door. Lisa made sure to push Roscoe in quickly as soon as the door was opened, and closed the door behind them so he couldn’t back out. The reason for this was simple: Len was already sitting in one of the chairs, looking as irritable as Roscoe, and when the two men saw each other, they stared in surprise and anger.
“What’s he doing here?” both demanded in unison, and Lisa sighed. Here goes nothing.
“You said this was for us to work out our problems!” Len protested to his sister, and Roscoe echoed him with a similar complaint.
“Yes, I want the three of us to work out our problems,” she told them firmly. “I’m tired of being caught in the middle of your little alpha male pissing matches. You two are the most important people in my life, and you won’t stop the hostility…so we’re going to talk it out. I knew you guys wouldn’t agree to come to a joint session, so I lied to you. Deal with it.”
“Well, I’m not staying here with him, this is stupid,” Len announced, getting up. Roscoe simply glowered at him in silence, and Lisa grabbed his arm as he walked past.
“Lenny, you said you wanted a relationship with me. You’re not going to get it if you won’t even try.”
Len pondered that for a moment, and then let out an audible grunt of annoyance, slowly returning to his seat. Lisa and Roscoe sat down in two of the available chairs -- making sure to put as much distance as possible between the two men, of course -- and she smiled at her brother.
When the therapist arrived, there was already plenty of tension in the room.
“Hello, hello!” she greeted them. “I’m Miranda, and I’ve already spoken with Lisa. She told me she wants to improve relations between her brother and her boyfriend, which I assume are you two gentlemen. Why don’t you introduce yourselves, and tell me a little bit about you?”
There was silence in the room, and finally Lisa nudged her brother.
Miranda waited for more details, but none seemed to be forthcoming, so she pressed on.
“Welcome, Len. Are you the brother or the boyfriend? What else can you tell me about yourself?”
“…I see,” Miranda finally noted after another lengthy silence. “You don’t like sharing. Well, maybe we’ll be able to change that. And how about you?” she asked, turning to the other man.
“My name is Roscoe, and I am here under duress.”
Lisa elbowed him in the ribs, and he sighed, not looking happy.
“Apologies. Apparently I am not under duress.”
“Put a sock in it, willya? You don’t hear me complaining, do you?” Len grumbled, and Roscoe glared at him.
“Well, you aren’t being any more helpful, Leonard.”
“Least I’m not whining.”
“Both of you shut up!” Lisa ordered, her voice rising in anger, and Miranda looked slightly chagrined.
“I see that there are a lot of issues going on here, and the two of you have a history of conflict. I want you both to feel free to share and go into detail about it, but must remind you that making hurtful comments doesn’t help anyone,” the therapist noted diplomatically, and Len rolled his eyes.
“Okay, see Ugly over there? He’s a pain in the ass. He’s arrogant and stuck-up, and thinks he’s smarter than everyone else. He needs a good beating.”
“Lenny!” Lisa snapped.
“That’s your answer to everything, isn’t it?” Roscoe retorted. “You don’t like it, you beat it up…or freeze and smash it, as the case may be. The same old refrain that led us down this path. Well, my grievance with him is that he killed me!”
“He…killed you?” Miranda asked, confused. “You seem quite alive to me.”
“Yes, that’s because I came back from the dead,” Roscoe explained, and she looked at him as though he’d just sprouted a second head.
“He did. So did I,” Lisa confirmed, and Miranda seemed as though she didn’t know what to think.
“Yeah, I killed him. He had it coming,” Len said casually, and Lisa slapped him. Roscoe looked thoroughly annoyed by Len’s comments, and leaned over in his direction.
“He’s right for once, though. I’m certainly more intelligent than he is, although admittedly that bar is set fairly low.”
“Okay, we’re having a Time Out!” Miranda declared loudly. She could tell she was losing control of the situation, and wasn’t sure what to make of these people. “Let’s stop insulting each other, shall we? It’s not productive. Len, tell me why you, um…killed Roscoe.”
“`Cause he was pissing me off. He was trying to take over the Rogues again, and making threats, so I shattered him.”
“…what?” Miranda asked in surprise. She laughed a bit, now really starting to believe they were all pulling her leg. “You make him sound like one of those supervillains, or something!”
“Well, yes,” Roscoe replied, puzzled. “We all are.”
Len and Lisa nodded, as though it was the most ordinary claim in the world.
“You’re…serious?” Miranda asked, suddenly looking worried, and the three of them nodded at her again. “Are…are you going to kill me?”
“Of course not!” Lisa assured her in a friendly tone, although Len leaned forward.
“Not unless you tell people we were here. I don’t want that getting out.”
“I won’t,” Miranda squeaked in fear. “This is all confidential.”
“That’s what the psychiatrists said at Iron Heights, but they were all liars,” Roscoe complained, and Miranda chuckled nervously, checking to see how close she was to the door. A little farther than she would have liked.
“You’re still batshit crazy!” Len told him rudely, and Roscoe’s eyes began to glow a bright green, illuminating his face.
“I’ll show you crazy...”
“Knock it off!” Lisa ordered her boyfriend, smacking the side of his head, and he quickly calmed down, although he didn’t look very happy about it.
“You know I don’t like it when people call me that.”
“Shush, baby, we all know you’re not crazy,” she soothed.
Len snorted derisively, and Lisa slapped him in return.
“Oh dear, I don’t think we’re getting anywhere,” Miranda fretted, now really desperate for the hour from hell to end. “There’s so much unhelpful hostility.”
“Suits me fine. I didn’t see the point in coming here anyway,” Len shrugged.
“Lenny, what’d I tell you about making an effort?” Lisa demanded with exasperation. “I want you to get along with Roscoe, but you’re not even trying! And Roscoe, you have to stop letting him get to you, and stop snarking back at him. Come on, guys. For me!”
Roscoe sighed heavily, and lowered his head in resignation. “All right, Lisa, I’ll try again.”
Len stared up at the ceiling so he wouldn’t have to meet his sister’s gaze. “Okay. Whatever.”
“Why don’t you tell us about your relationship with them, Lisa?” Miranda suggested, finally seeing a possible glimmer of hope, although she wasn’t putting a whole lot of faith in it. “You obviously care about them both.”
“I do,” Lisa answered. “Even though I want to strangle them sometimes…a lot of times…I care about them more than anyone else in the world. Lenny’s looked after me since I was born, when no one else would, and I owe him a lot. Roscoe makes me feel better and more loved than anyone ever has. And even though they hate each other, they still worked together to bring me back from the dead, which makes me love them even more. I just wish they could get along better, because their fighting really stresses me out. So…that’s why I brought us all here.”
“I’m sorry,” Roscoe murmured, and she sought his hand, squeezing it tightly.
“Just promise me you’ll try, baby. Why don’t you go next?”
“Uh…” Roscoe began, for once his prized eloquence failing him. He spent a while thinking about what to say. “I care about Lisa, obviously, otherwise I would have left here half an hour ago. As for Len, well, I don’t really like him. He’s been rude to me for years and doesn’t approve of me dating his sister. He apparently blames me for something that wasn’t my fault, treated me poorly when I went to him and the Rogues for help, and then killed me. But to be fair, I suppose I’ve been a jerk to him sometimes, and he did help me get a new body…so he isn’t all bad.”
He looked to Lisa for approval, and she smiled at him, but Len didn’t seem overly impressed.
“Uh huh. Dillon’s a snooty ass who’s always scheming. He’s also really, really weird, and I don’t trust his mental powers. The only good thing I’ll say about him is that he makes Lisa happy, for god knows what reason. She should probably dump him and find a better guy, `cause I know she can.”
“Lenny!” Lisa rebuked him angrily, and Roscoe glared darkly at him.
“I don’t think being weird is a crime, Len,” Miranda pointed out, and he shrugged.
“Nope, it just means I don’t like him. What’s with all those damn tops?”
“I like tops,” Roscoe replied irritably. “You wear that wretched parka and visor all day long, so how’s it any different? All of us have our quirks.”
“Maybe,” Len conceded. “But I’m tired of your nuttiness and stupid top puns, and you coming back from the dead all the time is creepy. Why don’t you just stay dead?”
Lisa started to cry, finally having had enough of all the conflict, and Roscoe put an arm around her, whispering a few words of comfort.
“You must be very pleased with yourself,” Roscoe said scornfully to the other man.
“I thought the point of this was to get it all out into the open,” Len muttered. “Don’t cry, sis, it’s okay.”
“All I ever wanted was a happy family, and you two can’t give me that!” she sobbed into her hands. “Not as long as you’re fighting all the time! Lenny, how dare you wish he was dead--!”
“Okay, maybe that was out of line,” Len admitted with some regret, feeling terrible for having upset her so much.
“Perhaps you should apologize,” Miranda suggested, and he sighed. Normally he would rather pull out his own teeth than apologize to his enemy, but he hoped it would make Lisa feel better.
“All right…sorry, Dillon. I don’t think you should stay dead. She’s happier with you around.”
“Accepted,” Roscoe said a bit resentfully. He would have preferred to tell Len where to go, but realized that would just make Lisa more unhappy. She sniffled and huddled against him.
“I don’t know why he makes me so mad,” Len confessed, scratching his head and looking somewhat rueful. “He’s an asshole, but I guess he’s no worse than Digger was. I dunno, maybe it’s because he’s not like me. Lisa an’ me had a shitty home life, and I don’t like people who look down on us.”
“Well, I don’t look down on her,” Roscoe grumbled. “She’s never let her past define herself, as you have. To tell you the truth, Len, I do look down on most people -- I am far more intelligent than they are, but they don’t think much of me because they say I’m crazy. But I respect you. You are intelligent, and have always been a worthy opponent. I just think I’d do a better job leading the team, that’s all.” There was a slight smile as he spoke the last sentence, a hint at humour.
Smiling, Lisa leaned over to give them both a kiss on the cheek. “That’s so much better, guys. Thank you.”
“We’re not all bad. Only mostly bad,” Roscoe told her with fond amusement, and took her hand.
“I’m really sorry for upsetting you, sis,” Len said with genuine contrition. “Sometimes I get carried away. But I guess this was kinda cathartic, so that was good.”
“Great!” Lisa replied with a sly smile. “So you’ll come to another session?”
Roscoe, Len, and Miranda all kind of deflated; none were keen on the idea of doing this again. Miranda preferred slightly less criminal and hostile clients. But Lisa’s determination won them over.
“Yeah…I guess so…” Len sighed. “If it’ll make you happy.”
“I don’t really have a choice, do I?” Roscoe asked rhetorically, and she shook her head.
“All right, I’ll schedule you an appointment for next week,” Miranda told them faintly, fearing she would regret it.
As the trio got up and gathered their coats, Lisa put an arm around her brother and grinned at him. “Say, this was so helpful that maybe we should have a group therapy session with all the Rogues!”