Chapter 1: The Simple Request
It was a simple statement but said with a powerful conviction. Helen had never seen Bob that firm before. He was generally easy on the kids – always was the old softie beneath the impatience. Sure, he could be strong willed, strike fear in villains and politicians alike. But this was different. Bob was tense, his muscles bulking more than usual. His blue eyes grew a shade darker as they locked on his prey, Winston Deavor, who sat stiffly across the shiny mahogany table, clearly understanding he crossed a line.
Ever since the day on the DevTech ship, Winston had kept in touch with the Parrs. Supers weren’t made legal overnight. They had more work to do after the final show down – press appearances, political meetings, meet and greats. Anything to maintain the perception. The surplus of time spent together caused the three to grow closer, and Winston, recently without a family, reached out to the Parrs often. At his core, Winston was a nice guy. He gave them a practically new mansion to live in, so the Parrs were more than happy to open their doors. It became a symbiotic relationship. Winston continued to provide any necessary amenities, technology, and entertaining business stories for the dinner table conversation. The Parrs offered their hospitality and kindness in repay. And their true identities. With the amount Winston was over, it didn’t make sense to keep them hidden, and he had proven himself trustworthy.
Of course, some people were not entirely happy about the legalization of Supers. Every change had its nay-sayers, some more radical than others.
It happened just a week before. As Winston was leaving a rather successful negotiation with the major, a hooded figure sped by on a motorbike and fired three shots. Helen shivered, remembering how the streets hushed eerily as Winston fell to the ground, the only sound from the revving of the motorbike.
That usually never happened.
Luckily, Winston did not attend the meeting alone. Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl, Frozone and Voyd were following closely behind. Frozone sped ahead on his ice to try and trap the shooter. Voyd, who had been under Elastigirl’s mentorship for a few months, used her refined power to drop Helen and her husband right in the shooter’s path. He was apprehended before long. Nothing the four of them couldn’t handle.
But Winston did not leave unscathed.
One week and 50 stitches later, the hospital released him with specific instructions to rest.
“Don’t worry about it, please,” said Winston to a worried group of Supers as they escorted him home. “You were there. You stopped it from getting worse. If anything, it only helped our cause more!”
Helen nodded, but still felt a pang of guilt inside her chest. Winston’s parents died because they trusted Supers. A similar situation could’ve happened tonight, and she remembered all too well what could happen if history repeated itself. She shivered, remembering the ice chamber, the goggles, and Evelyn’s raspy, dry voice taunting her, lamenting at the world’s stupidity in trusting people they didn’t even know. Another Evelyn could’ve been created that day, and Helen was ready to do everything in her power to prevent that from happening.
To show his gratitude, and probably cease the Parrs’ worry, Winston invited Helen and Bob over for a dinner. Just them. No Frozone. No Voyd. No kids. Helen noted the peculiarity of the secluded invitation. Bob also found it strange. Lucius and Karen were just as important to the operation, if not more. Winston was, typically, one for grandeur and elaborate celebrations. Surely, if this truly was a celebration dinner, all of Metroville’s supers would’ve been invited.
Helen figured he had a favor. A sensitive one.
And sure enough, not a moment after they’d finished eating dinner, the simple request came.
They were almost through their second bottle of wine and lounging comfortably in their chairs. Or at least, as comfortably as one could whilst wearing a full suit and chest bandages. Helen felt bad. Though Winston would never comment on it, his posture showed he was still in pain.
The mood shifted when Winston’s jovial smile slipped from his face and he leant forward on the table. He had a serous topic to bring up, and Helen was almost positive he knew they weren’t going to like it.
“I received a call from the detention facility this afternoon.”
Helen froze in her seat and could sense Bob do the same beside her. Winston had not brought up Evelyn once since her arrest, and for good reason. She probed a sore wound for the family. Weeks after the event, Bob paced furiously throughout their bedroom, angry at the DevTech genius for endangering his family. Helen, too, was struggling with her own ill feelings. Of course, she was equally furious. No one, no one harmed her children. Who would even think to do that? It was criminal. And yet, a small part of her felt sad to have lost a potentially good friend. But then again, how can you lose something that you never had. That’s what Helen didn’t understand. Yes, they talked often. Helen liked having the company of another smart, independent, confident woman. She didn’t get to be around that often, even as a superhero, which was a largely male-dominated field back in the day. And they worked well together. Bouncing off each other in such strong synch and harmony. In fact, apart from Bob, Helen could only recollect having that strong of a connection with one other person.
However, the sadness always would disintegrate under the heat of her anger. She couldn’t comprehend how suffering could create a better world.
Needless to say, Evelyn Devour was not a popular name within the Parr household.
Since neither Helen nor Bob said anything, Winston continued with his request.
“They’re releasing her soon.”
If possible, the room grew more tense. Helen felt her shoulders scrunch together, forming a rather deep knot beneath her neck. She glanced over to Bob, who was bending a fork in half beneath the table. His jaw was taught, seemingly unable to open, so Helen responded.
“How soon is soon?”
Bob released the fork – now a ball of metal – and let it clatter to the floor.
“Well, that’s a quick turn around,” said Bob, his gaze staring intently into the table cloth.
“She’s being put on parole for good behavior,” said Winston, “but I didn’t invite you over just to tell you that.” Despite the tense subject, Winston appeared cool under the pressure. His only tell was his brief adjustment of his tie, wincing when his hands touched his shot wounds. “I have a favor to ask.”
Bob leaned back into his chair aggressively and folded his arms in front of his chest. Helen had only seen him scowl this long when he was teaching Dash new math.
“Every year, there’s this conference in the Caribbean for technology companies. Evelyn and I have been attending since we became co-CEO’s, and my dad went before that. It’s where he made his connections, got his start, really. Anyways, I’ve talked to my doctor, and he’s recommended I not attend.”
“Which you shouldn’t,” Helen said, glancing worriedly at his chest. By the way Winston sat stiffly, she could tell the shot wound was still painful.
“And I agree, however, not attending the conference…well, it just isn’t an option. DevTech must go.”
“What, can’t you send one of your engineers or marketing representatives? Surely they can go in your place.”
“If only it were that simple,” Winston said with a forlorn sigh. “Since DevTech is a globally renown technology company, it is expected that the face, or in this case faces, of the company attend. We’ll arouse suspicion if we don’t. We could lose business…”
He trailed off, and Helen could tell he was referring to his recent endeavor – the Super Legalization Campaign. As recent events showed, Winston had enemies out there. Helen could put two and two together. It was hurting business.
“I don’t see the problem,” said Bob. “Evelyn’s getting out just in time. She can go and be the face for both of you. One has to be better than none, even if that one—”
Helen stretched her leg and kicked Bob from underneath the table. She knew where his comment was going, and now was absolutely not the time. The kick did not hurt Bob, but grunted nonetheless.
“You’re exactly right, Bob,” said Winston, “however, it isn’t that simple. You see, since Evelyn is on parole, the powers that be aren’t willing to send her out of the country, much less to a private tropical island.”
Helen began to grow suspicious. She had a feeling she knew where this was heading, and she didn’t like it.
“You mentioned you needed our help,” she said carefully. “In what capacity do you have in mind?”
“Well, I was thinking the court would be a little more…flexible if Evelyn didn’t go alone.”
“What, you want us to go and babysit your sister?” asked Bob, his voice on the verge of a full bellow.
“Not both of you. Just Helen.”
The firm response reverberated throughout the dining room, and the three parties sat tense, no one daring the make the first move for fear Bob would break through his suit and explode in rage.
The request shocked Helen at first. Not angered, like it did to Bob, which surprised her. Surely, the notion should make her upset. Yes, she felt uneasy, not entirely sure if this was the best course of action. Evelyn was even more of a mystery now. Everything she previously thought and knew were useless. Taking on a mission like this was a jump into the unknown, and there was a chance she might not come out alive. However, Helen also saw it as an opportunity. Maybe Evelyn would surprise her. Maybe, Helen could change her mind…
“Mr. Incredible, please, hear me out.”
“You want to send my wife to a, as you put it, secluded topical island with the woman who tricked her, manipulated her, hypnotized her, and set her against her own family all out of a hatred for Supers? I don’t see how this is a good idea.”
Helen thought Bob had a good point. With the way he put it, the simple request appeared to be more like the jump into the dangerous unknown.
“I have to agree,” said Helen. “Winston, I know your heart is in the right place, but I think this plan will cause more harm than good. What if she tries to pull something. We’ll be on this island. I won’t have back up. Who knows what she could have up her sleeve, and with all that technology around her. It could become another catalyst for total Super demolition.”
“I have thought about that,” said Winston, “and your fears are valid. However, Evelyn is on parole. One toe out of line and she’ll go back to jail, and I know for a fact that is the last thing she wants.” A dark shadow passed over his eyes. “And, as you can imagine, Evelyn’s little…plan has procured quite a shadow over the DevTech name. Everyone knows about her vendetta. So, my thinking was, why not create the perception that she’s changed. If people can see that Evelyn and a Super are getting along, working together even, they may believe that she’s turned a cheek.”
“Do you think that’s going to work?” asked Helen. “I don’t see your sister changing her mind any time soon.”
Winston shook his head wistfully, a sad smile on his face.
“Oh, I don’t think it’ll be genuine. We’ve talked, Evelyn and me. She’s no closer to liking the Supers than she is to giving up red wine. However, if she can pretend, even for a week, that she can get along with Supers, it’ll help the company and her court case. We may be able to negotiate a shorter parole.”
“Why Helen?” asked Bob darkly. “Why not send Karen? Lucius, even? Honey would love to go to the Caribbean for a week, even if it was for a tech conference.”
“I discussed this idea with Evelyn before you two came over tonight,” said Winston after taking a thoughtful sip of wine. “And she agreed. She sees the benefits it can have for the company and herself. But she’ll only comply if Elastigirl went with her.”
The knot burned in Helen’s shoulders and she felt her stomach drop. She wracked her brain to find a reason why Evelyn would ask for her specifically. Why, out of everyone, would Evelyn choose her? Helen began to think of spending the week with Evelyn in the Caribbean, of consistently being around her, of the conversation that was to come at some point. Or rather, the arguments. Things could get ugly. Evelyn was persistent.
“I don’t feel entirely comfortable being alone with her,” Helen said out loud.
“We could arrange for her parole officer to go as well, as a sort of back up,” said Winston.
“Wait, wait a second,” said Bob incredulously. He turned to Helen, blue eyes filled with worry. “You’re not seriously considering this offer”
“Well, I don’t know, maybe!”
Truthfully, Bob was right in his confusion. Evelyn had given Helen no reason to trust her. And yet, the small bit of Helen that was the optimist kept screaming “what if!” What if Evelyn had changed while in prison, despite Winston’s belief? What if Evelyn was willing to change her mind during this week? What if Helen could change her mind? What if Evelyn could be…good? Who was Helen to say Evelyn was a hopeless case? The idea of not helping Evelyn become better when she could so easily, right now, offer her assistance…she could rectify the wrong. Make things right. Bring justice still.
“Honey, I don’t feel entirely comfortable with the idea,” Bob said. He turned toward Winston. “What if I went instead of the parole officer? As back up?”
“Evelyn specifically said no Supers other than Elastigirl,” Winston said. “Not an ideal situation. I tried to fight her on it, but she was determined. The only way she’d agree to do it is if Elastigirl goes. And only Elastigirl.”
Helen wasn’t entirely sure how the decision came about. The three debated the topic for an hour longer, everyone resurrecting the same points over and over again until it became so repetitive that Bob and Helen decided to head home and sleep on it. They continued the debate the next morning.
Somehow, they decided that Helen should go.
“I can’t believe this is happening,” said Bob, lying on their bed and covering his eyes with his hands. “I still don’t like it, but you do have a point. She’s going to be out in the world before long.”
Helen rolled onto her side and rested her head on his chest, rubbing his stomach comfortingly with her hand. She felt Bob relax under her touch.
“If we can change her mind about Supers, it’ll be safer for everyone, especially our family,” she said.
Bob pulled her close.
“If things go south, use the homing device and I’ll come.”
Helen snorted, shifting her head to rest her chin on his chest so she could look at him.
“How?” she asked, a playful skepticism on her brow. “I’ll be on an island, and I’m the only pilot in the family.”
“It can’t be that hard,” he said. “Besides, I’m Mr. Incredible. I’ll find a way”
The two shared a quick kiss, which left matching, goofy smiles on their faces.
When Helen made the call to Winston, his usual chipper optimism was laced with relief and gratitude. He wouldn’t forget this favor, he said, over and over again. He owed her big time.
Helen was sure she could get Evelyn to change her mind. She’d raised three kids. She married Mr. Incredible. She had a strong will and could be convincing. The only question that remained was whether she was ready for the true Evelyn Deavor.
Evelyn sat on the steps to the DevTech company plane. Even with a fresh haircut, long shower, and lack of prison jumpsuit, she felt scraggly. She hadn’t been sleeping well, what with Winston breathing down her neck all the time. He had this irrational fear that six months in the slammer had changed her, whatever that meant.
Prison hadn’t been too terrible. Sure, the first few weeks were rough, as it was for any newbie. And yes, she became quite comfortable sleeping with a butter knife under her pillow after her cellmate got jumped in the middle of the night…Actually, prison sucked, but she didn’t like dwelling on it often. While she came out unscathed, what went on around her was enough to supply her nightmares for life.
But, no one else had to know that, and she planned to keep it that way.
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw an oh-too familiar hourglass figure walk onto the runway, and Evelyn immediately snapped her head forward, forcing her gaze away. To solidify her outward nonchalance, she slouched, sunglasses sliding a fraction down her nose, and took a sip of her dark roast coffee. She glanced over her shoulder at her parole office, checking to see if she got some reaction from him. He stood behind her, back straight, face unmoving. Evelyn scoffed. He didn’t have to act so professional. The officers in her facility were far more candid.
Her quick fixation upon the parole officer was successful in distracting Evelyn from the Elastigirl’s quickly approaching figure. However, it did cause her to jump when she heard the familiar, raspy lisp from behind her turned head.
Evelyn felt her heart drop to her stomach when taking in the Super’s appearance. Decked out in the bright red jumpsuit and mask, Elastigirl looked as heroic and sexy as ever. However, the determined smile that she remembered had vanished. In fact, Elastigirl didn’t look too thrilled at all. She was professional and cordial, but lacked the friendliness Evelyn remembered. That was to be expected, Evelyn reminded herself. She had almost destroyed her family. Why she expected anything but formality, Evelyn wasn’t sure. She didn’t deserve it by any stretch of the means.
“Elastigirl,” she greeted with a small smirk, hoping it would help lighten the mood. “Glad you could finally make it.”
“Well, Winston is a good friend. I know this conference means a lot to him.”
For being apparently angry at Evelyn, Elastigirl was nothing but professional. While her tone was cool, she maintained respectful eye-contact with Evelyn, treating her with the respect she didn’t deserve. Damn supers, being so “holier than thou” and heroic. And why? Just because they could lift a car or stretch to be 1mm thin.
The parole officer pulled Evelyn out of her mind rant to inform her that if they needed to head out. Evelyn scoffed under her breath before snatching her carry-on bag and stomping up the stairs. She could hear Elastigirl thanking the officer for the reminder, which put her in a worse mood. Of course, she would be kind to a stranger.
Evelyn rolled her eyes and decided she was not going to let it bother her.
They were in the air before long. Evelyn, overstuffed box of ramen in her lap, sat toward the back of the plane. She had her earbuds in and design book out. It was the perfect combination for maximum distraction, and she figured it would keep her occupied during the long flight ahead. While determined to not turn around and look at the Elastigirl, who sat reading a book across the aisle, Evelyn found herself catching small glances over her shoulder.
While not the suit she was given from DevTech, the Mode design Elastigirl fit nicely, perhaps even better. It was like a second skin. Evelyn wondered if she would end up seeing Elastigirl out of the suit in the upcoming week…well, wait, not like that. Just in normal clothes. But the thought had entered her mind and it took her an extra second to shake it from her attention.
Sketchpad long forgotten, Evelyn found her thoughts captivated by the Super. She noted it must have not been a good book, because Elastigirl seemed hyper aware of her surroundings. She sat stiffly, and Evelyn noticed her eyebrow would twitch every time she looked at her.
“Good book?”: Evelyn asked before she could stop herself.
Elastigirl barely glanced up from the page.
“It’s quite fine, thanks.”
Usually, Evelyn reveled in silence. She liked the space to focus on her designs. The quiet allowed her to listen to her mind, uninterrupted. It produced her best work. But that wasn’t the case today. The silence distracted her. She wanted there to be words, specifically from Elastigirl. From the corner of her eye, she could see that Elastigirl had yet to relax in her seat. Her tense energy flooded the plain, and it bugged Evelyn. Why wouldn’t she just calm down?
“I’m not going to bomb the plane,” she grunted as she harshly drew a thick line in her design pad.
“Excuse me?” asked Elastigirl.
“I don’t plan on destroying this plane, nor you, while we are in mid-air. I just got out of prison, I’d like to enjoy my freedom a little longer than one week.”
The silence that followed satisfied Evelyn. She had made Elastigirl speechless, and she couldn’t help but take pride in that. It put her in a better mood.
“I wasn’t expecting…”
Evelyn lifted her head and looked Helen in the eye, a small smirk on her face.
“Keep fooling yourself, Super, but you can’t fool me.”
“It’s not the idea of what you could do that is on my mind,” Elasigirl replied as she turned back to her book. “It’s the thought of what you have done.”
It wasn’t so much the comment that stuck with Evelyn as the tone behind it. The ice underneath Elastigirl’s rasp was sharp, cutting, splitting Evelyn open for all to see. It was unnerving, feeling this vulnerable, but Evelyn refused to let the Elastigirl win.
“I did what I thought was right,” Evelyn said, slouching in her eat. “That’s what you Supers don’t seem to grasp. The concept of right and wrong…it’s so subjective. Truth is an abstract notion society made up to make us feel more comfortable about not knowing anything. It helps us cope with the unknown. But different people need to cope with different things, depending on the life they lead. Therefore, there are different versions of truth. It’s not black and white, like you and your husband and you little band of the abnormal seem to think. It’s gray, Elastigirl.”
Her head lulled to the side, eyes set on Elastigirl once again. The monologue had the Super thinking intently. Evelyn smiled at the sight of Elastigirl in deep thought, concentrating on an object that did not exist, scrunching her brow and yet not producing a wrinkle on her forehead. It fascinated her, the forehead, and what was going on behind it.
“So by your logic, killing a bunch of innocent people, emotionally scarring a family, those are okay, so long as justice prevails?”
Evelyn was impressed with the rebuke. It was nothing her mind hadn’t come up with. She had six months to play out this conversation in her head, followed by a week of perfecting it once she knew Elastigirl was tagging along.
“They’re sacrifices to make the world a better place. You can’t coddle the progress. Look at evolution, Darwinism, the rise and fall of great empires. Everything, and everyone, has it’s time.”
“Yes, but progress built upon suffering isn’t sustainable. The end does not justify the means,” said Helen, standing from her seat and towering over Evelyn in a few steps.
The two met eyes. For a brief moment, Evelyn was taken aback at how cold Elastigirl’s brown eyes had grown, like frozen chocolate. And in that moment, deep within her chest, Evelyn felt a small pang of guilt. It was foreign to her. She could only recollect feeling a similar sensation once in recent years. It was back before Elastigirl had discovered her guise, when they were working together to stop the Screenslaver. They were bouncing ideas off each other late one night. Helen had brought up insights that Evelyn had not thought of before, and she found herself responding easily and enthusiastically, reveling in the woman’s intellect. It was an instant connection with Elastigirl. She couldn’t remember having that strong of a connection with someone before.
After reaching a revelation, the two fist-bumped, and Evelyn found herself genuinely laughing with the woman.
And then Elastigirl reached out and grasped her wrist.
Evelyn almost choked on the air around her.
She was not expecting a strong heat to come from the confident yet gentle grip. She remembered feeling the heat spread up her arm, down her torso, and fill her belly pleasantly until it sparked an even more intimate feeling. Every instinct told Evelyn to pull away, that the feeling was bad, dangerous.
She didn’t pull away.
On the plane, the warmth was back, which confused Evelyn because Elastigirl kept her distance. So instead of addressing it, Evelyn brushed off Elastigirl’s comment and returned to scribbling on her sketch pad. She was more than aware that Elastigirl had not moved toward her seat, only causing the warmth to grow in her stomach. God, why was she reacting in this way?
Elastigirl exhaled a deep breath through her nose, as if forcing herself to relax, before kneeling on the seat in front of Evelyn. Evelyn dared not look up.
“We’ve got seven more days,” Elastigirl said. “Can we agree to be civil during that time? While I’m not thrilled at the situation, I’ve said my piece, and can see you’re more stubborn than a mule.” Evelyn snorted at the comparison. “We know where we both stand, and while I disagree, I’d rather not make this week a living…nightmare for the both of us.”
“The kids are gone, Elastigirl, you can say hell.”
Elastigirl sent a glare her way. Evelyn shut her mouth but tried to hide a playful smile that tugged at the corner of her mouth.
“How about we try to be civil this week. We don’t have to be chummy, but we’ve shown we can work together before. We’ll just…keep the emotions out of it.”
Evelyn wasn’t sure why she felt her chest fall. If it meant being able to actually enjoy the conference, why shouldn’t she be interested in the plan. But still, she forced herself agree to the conditions.
The space between them didn’t relax. Sure, it wasn’t hostile. Evelyn could go to bed without the fear of Elastigirl hanging her with a noose made from her arm. But there was something unresolved, something unspoken. She just couldn’t pinpoint what.
Thank you for the lovely comments! Hope you enjoyed a bit of Evelyn's POV.
Chapter 3: The Surprise Reunion
Soon after arriving at the technology conference, Helen runs into a familiar face that resurrects unwanted memories from the past.
Shortly after landing in the middle of a lush tropical forest, a tense Helen followed a greatly disheveled Evelyn into one of the most cutting-edge hotels Helen had seen. The contemporary, glossy white panels and lack of right angles stood out among the tick foliage. That, and the multitude of business personal in suits. It all looked out of place.
Evelyn strutted through the open threshold, half-eaten box of ramen in hand, and headed in a rather roundabout way to the front desk, completely unfazed by the grandeur. It took Helen a few minutes to match her pace. She was busy analyzing the floor, wondering how it could remain that glossy with the amount of business shoes that scuffed on top it. And where was all the electricity coming from to power the bright fluorescent fixtures across the vast lobby. Helen had seen the island from the air – it looked uninhabited.
Evelyn gave an impatient cough, snapping Helen out of her revere. She quickly picked up the pace to meet her at the concierge desk. As she made her way across the lobby, Helen noticed a lot of looks and points heading her way from the other conference attendees, whispers of “Is that Elastigirl” following her step. It was easy to ignore – it happened whenever she was Elastigirl in a public place, but she noticed Evelyn flash her eyes nervously, conscious of the attention. But it only happened briefly. She was quick to regain composure.
“Reservation is under Deavor,” said Evelyn, sticking the leg of her sunglasses between her teeth as she leaned on the desk. The hotel worker giggled softly. She was a sweet girl, silky blonde hair pulled half back, revealing her crisp blue eyes and soft pale skin. She must’ve been brought out for the event, because there was no way this woman was native to the island. She clearly hadn’t seen the sun for a long while. The woman gave a shy smile before typing quickly on the keyboard.
“Yes, for Evelyn and Winston?” she asked, glancing skeptically toward Elastigirl before recognition crossed her face. “Oh my god, Elastigirl?! I mean, Miss Elastigirl. I—I—I didn’t realize you’d be…you know…here! This week.”
Helen smiled at the girl reassuringly. This wasn’t her first fan encounter, and compared to Voyd, she seemed tame and far more professional. Before she could respond, Evelyn piped in with a bored tone.
“Yeah, there was a change of plans,” she said, placing the sunglasses on her forehead. “Winston had a bit of an accident. And so did I, I guess…anyways, Elastigirl is my plus one”
Helen found herself rolling her eyes at Evelyn’s dramatics, but felt a blush creeping up her neck. She stretch her arm around to rub her shoulders, trying to ease the tension that would not go away.
“Oh, that’s no problem,” the girl said, returning to the computer. “I’ll just change the information on the system here. And it looks like the original reservation was booked for two adjoining rooms. I’m assuming you’d prefer to consolidate?”
The girl looked between Helen and Evelyn, gauging their reaction to find the response to her question. Feeling a bit nervous at the insinuation, Helen laughed. Evelyn, on the other hand, froze, as if her hardware had a glitch. She’d never seen the woman’s brain short-circuit like that before. Usually, she had a quick-witted response ready.
“The two rooms will work great,” Helen answered for Evelyn, taking the keys from the woman.
It didn’t take long for Evelyn to restart. As soon as the elevator doors opened, a small entourage of women in turtlenecks and button downs emerged and gave a resounding yell at the sight of Evelyn. Evelyn immediately lit up, reassuming her casual confidence as she greeted each with a quick hug and kiss on the cheek. Helen took a step back, surprised and the sudden shift. It was strange seeing Evelyn this social…and seeming to enjoy it. During most of their events at DevTech, she was the one sitting quietly in the corner, watching the events unfold. Winston was always the front man. In fact, Helen didn’t think she ever saw Evelyn until the event was nearly over.
Helen politely stepped away from the group, given the women space to interact. While yes, she was Evelyn’s pseudo-parole officer for the week, Evelyn could interact with her friends without someone breathing down her neck.
That is, until, a sweetly familiar voice emerged from the mass.
And addressed her.
Helen’s eyes raked over the group, which had suddenly fallen silent, desperately searching for the source. Her eyes landed on a face that she was in no way prepared to see. Unlike most of the group, this woman had long brown pulled back into ponytail. While her face had a few stress marks, and dark circles imprinted deeply underneath her eyes, masking a few freckles on her cheek, Helen would’ve recognized her anywhere.
“Liv!” exclaimed one of the women, Helen couldn’t tell which, “you know Elastigirl? You never mentioned this.”
“She’s a family friend,” Liv said. A sadness passing her eyes. “She and Gail were…close.”
Helen swallowed, the mention of Gail resurrecting some strange reaction within her but pushed through the awkwardness and approached Liv. She pulled Liv into a warm hug.
Liv and Gail were twins, four years younger than Helen. They met in high school during when Helen was 17. Liv was the intellectual of the two – excelling in math and science and often tutoring other students. Gail, however, was like Helen – a Super in disguise. They met through training, soon discovered they went to the same school, and became…close.
Helen shook the thoughts from her head, the idea of Gail and their relationship resurrecting feelings and conundrums that were meant to be dealt with a different day.
That was a long time ago. It meant nothing…
“Look at you,” Helen said, “working at a tech company.”
“No just working,” said Liv. “I recently got promoted – Senior VP at IBM.”
“I can’t say I’m surprised,” said Helen. In high school, everyone knew Liv would be at some major technology company, working to build something indescribable.
“I don’t mean to separate you two,” said one of the women, “but Liv, we’ve got a meeting in a few.”
“Right,” said Liv softly, tucking stray hair behind her ear. “We’ll talk soon?”
Liv struggled to maintain eye contact, seemingly worried about Helen’s reaction. Helen couldn’t blame her. Things between them ended quite suddenly.
“I’m here all week,” she said warmly. “It’ll give me something to look forward to.”
The encounter silenced Helen for the duration of the elevator ride. While it had gone well, Liv’s presence had sparked a memory, resurrect a moment from her past she hadn’t allowed herself to dwell upon for very long. She barely remembered riding the elevator up to the 16th floor, Evelyn slurping the rest of her ramen as they walked down the hall, finding her room, or setting her suitcase by the door and lying on her bed. Her mind raced, replaying memories that refused to go away.
Oh gosh, was it 20 years now? Had to be sometime around them. She hadn’t thought about Gale in such a long time.
A soft knock pulled her out of her thoughts and Helen quickly remembered her task: to watch over Evelyn. Make sure she stayed out of trouble. The thought resurrected the knot in her shoulder.
Sure enough, Evelyn was on the other side of the adjoining door. Helen peaked over the other woman’s shoulder to glance at the room and saw that, somehow, Evelyn had quite thoroughly trashed it. How long was Helen trapped in her thoughts just then?
“Uh, I just wanted to inform you that the gals and I are going out.”
“To dinner?” Helen asked.
Evelyn’s eyes grew wide and a brief flash of concern raced across them.
Helen blinked. How did that happen?
“Ah, okay then,” she said.
The two stood their awkwardly, both far enough away that they weren’t intruding on the other’s space but close enough for Helen to feel a bit uncomfortable. She felt like Evelyn was analyzing her through her critical eye, as she did to everything around her, making Helen feel exposed.
“I just assumed I’d tell you,” Evelyn said, “you know since you’re babysitting me this week. We’ll just be at the bar in the lobby.”
“Will Tom be there?” Helen asked.
Evelyn scrunched her nose.
“Your parole officer,” Helen responded. She honestly shouldn’t be surprised Evelyn didn’t know his name, but her ignorance still irked her.
“I suppose,” Evelyn responded with a sigh. “If it’s necessary.”
“It is. Thanks for letting me know.”
“Do I have a curfew?”
The comment could’ve come across as teasing, but Evelyn was unnaturally shy when asking it, which threw Helen off. She honestly hadn’t thought of that yet.
“I mean…do you have a parole curfew?”
“Yeah…it’s midnight, but I figured you might be a liiiitle more lienent,” Evelyn said with a wiggle of her eyebrows. Helen had to suppress a smile, and instead, gave a small laugh through her nose and placed one hand on the door and the other on her hip.
“Midnight. No later.”
And with that, she shut the door on Evelyn, mid-complaint that two hours was simply not long enough. She hoped this wasn’t going to become an issue.
Staying awake wasn’t an issue. She was a mother of three. She could function surprisingly well on little-to-no sleep. It was distracting her mind that proved to be the issue. An activity too simple would cause her mind to slip and dote back to her young adult days. Of high school. Of Gail. But she would quickly push the image of the young freckled face out of her mind. After the third time it happened, she snatched the hotel phone. A call home. That would distract her.
However, Helen forgot the hour. Bob’s tired voice broke the long string of rings with an urgency.
“What? Helen? Honey? Is everything okay? What’s wrong?”
“Everything’s fine Bob,” she said softly. “As fine as they can be at least.”
“Oh, thank god,” Bob sighed, audibly relaxing. Helen could picture him melting into the bed, which made her smile fondly. “So, she’s behaving them.”
“As well as a technology genius with a warped god-complex can be,” Helen said, standing from her bed, the thought of Evelyn’s disagreeable mindset beginning to rile her up again. Apparently, that came through on the phone.
“What happened?” Bob asked.
“Gah, we just got into an argument on the plane. There’s no use convincing her, Bob. She’s still set in her beliefs.”
“Do you think she’ll try something?”
Helen had no reason to believe so, but Evelyn’s words on the plane resonated, and Helen found herself believing them. As warped as her beliefs were, Evelyn was pragmatic, and knew a losing battle when she saw one. But Bob wouldn’t believe her instinct. Quite frankly, she felt she shouldn’t either.
“My gut tells me no,” Helen said, “but I’ll keep an eye out. Make sure her parole officer is aware.”
“Any help you can get would be great.”
“Speaking of help,” Helen said as she sat back down on the bed, “I ran into an old friend of yours.”
“At a Caribbean tech conference? Who?”
Helen tucked her feet underneath her and hugged her knees.
“Liv?? No way!” Bob boomed on the other line. Helen had to hold the phone out to save her eardrum. “Gosh, it’s had to be…oh I don’t know…15 years? Maybe more. I think the last time we saw her was…”
“Our wedding, yeah,” Helen sighed. “It’s been a while.”
“Well, if you need the extra help, I’m sure Liv will remember you. She knows we’re married and all, and luckily, you’re wearing your suit 24/7.”
Helen gave a strained smile, the truth wanting to bubble out, but she kept her lips shut. There were a lot of things Bob didn’t know about her, things she had to tell him, but not now. Not on the phone.
From down the hall, Helen could hear the soft ding of the elevator. Harsh footsteps thumped down the hallway toward her room, and Helen didn’t have to recognize the voice to know it was Evelyn. She checked the clock on her beside table.
“Helen? You still there?”
Bob’s voice brought Helen back from her sleuthing and she relaxed back in bed.
“Sorry, hon,” she said. “Evelyn’s back.”
“Back? She was gone?” Bob said, clearly panicked.
“She just went out with some friends until her parole curfew,” Helen said.
A scuffed footstep followed by a rather loud, mumbled curse sounded from outside Helen’s door, causing her to cringe.
“And she’s drunk.”
“She was out by herself?”
“Her parole officer was keeping an eye on her,” Helen responded calmly, unfazed by Bob’s panic. “gI kept my suit on just in case I had to go downstairs.”
The answer didn’t seem to ease Bob’s worry completely, but he dropped the subject. The lull in the conversation alerted Helen to the strange silence outside her door. Surely, she would’ve heard Evelyn struggle to open her door before stumbling into her own room. Helen looked at the clock.
“Bob, hang on a sec,” Helen said, sliding out of the bed and treading carefully to her door. She peaked through the peephole. Sure enough, Evelyn was outside, swaying slightly with her arms crossed as she stared intently at Helen’s door. With an exasperated sigh, Helen swung the door open and crossed her arms.
Evelyn matched her crossed arms, a dramatically suspicious look on her brow.
Helen suppressed the small flare of panic that erupted at the mention of her husband’s name. She was needed to maintain her anonymity on this mission. Preventing her family’s number 1 enemy from learning any information about them was a priority, if she could help it.
“What are you doing?” Helen asked coolly, attempting to block the question without arousing suspicion.
Evelyn gave a sly smile.
“Past my curfew, innit ‘lastigirl?” Evelyn slurred, chuckling at her own cleverness. She swung one arm to lean against the doorframe. Helen had to force herself to contain the laugh that bubbled in her chest. Evelyn looked ridiculous. “Whatcha gonna do about it?”
“Ask you to go to your own room so I can finally go to bed.”
“I have a great response to that, but since I’m a lady, I’m not going to say it.”
Maintaining her air of authority, Helen was unfazed by the comment, not entirely hearing it.
“You do that. Goodnight.”
She watched with a sharp eye as Evelyn dejectedly, and with surprising ease, unlocked her door, gave a two-finger salute, and slid into her own room. As soon as the door shut behind her, Helen gave a sigh and returned the phone to her ear.
“Sorry honey,” she said kindly as she began to extract herself from her super suit.
“What was she insinuating?” Bob asked, a bit uneasy. “With that comment.”
It was the first time Helen allowed herself to replay the conversation in her head, and she blushed. However, she wasn’t angry, scared, or even uncomfortable. She shook her head, frustrated with her body’s reactions the past day and dismissed the thought that popped into her head. There was no way.
“She was just being a difficult and drunk,” Helen said. “You know people speak nonsense when they’re drunk.”
“Yes, I’ve had to deal with it for 15 years.”
“Hey now,” said Helen playfully with a comfortable smile. “You watch your comments, mister.”
The call soon ended, and before long Helen was wrapped in a bathrobe and snuggled under the sheets. As she tried to drift off to sleep, the image of Gail appeared in her mind, causing her to tense. She had just enough energy to push the thought away before falling asleep.
You all are incredibly supportive and morale-boosting. Thank you for your kind words and encouragement. Chapters will be posted on a Tuesday/Saturday schedule.
Chapter 4: The First Day
Evelyn's first day at the conference does not go as planned. The hangover doesn't help.
Evelyn woke up with the worst fucking hangover, but it was nothing she wasn’t equipped for. Pediasure. Sunglasses. Aspirin. She packed it all. As she attempted to roll off the bed, she wracked her brain for memories from the night before. She scowled, soon realizing she couldn’t remember much. By the time she arrived at the bar, Trace was five shots in and said Evelyn had to catch up. After that it was all a blur.
She stood from her bed, jerking slightly when her foot kicked an object on the floor. Looking down, she saw the empty box of ramen from the day before, surrounded by discarded notes for designs and mundane, domestic errands. Feeling disorientated, Evelyn couldn’t fathom bending over to pick it up, so she left it.
Eventually, Evelyn dragged herself down to the lobby, groaning at the sight of the masses of men in suits that filled the area. She looked at her watch. 10 minutes until the first panel and they all were loitering. Okay, they were networking, but that still bugged her. Winston would do the same thing. They were basically late for every engagement because he was too busy chatting up some Senior VP or c-suite executive.
Thank god Elastigirl was out of this industry and didn’t know anyone. Evelyn woiuldn’t have to worry about her socializing too much. As expected, the Super was sitting patiently in the lobby, suited up, mask on.
As not expected, there was a small swarm of people around her. ‘
Evelyn tried to stifle the groan in the back of her throat, but couldn’t be bothered, honestly. Elastigirl is the in-house celebrity, practically a household name. Of course, she generated some attention.
“How’s that head, Deavor?”
Not registering the voice, Evelyn turned around lazily, expecting to see Trace behind her. She did a double take at the sight of a maroon-suited man with leopard-print glasses and a thin pedo-stach. The shock soon subsided.
“Ed,” she greeted in a sharp monotone.
Ed swayed toward her. He was long, lean, and towered over her, which allowed him to look down his nose as he considered her disheveled appearance. Even her best striped shirt and business slacks could not compare to his designer suits.
They’ve had a not so friendly rivalry for as long as Evelyn could remember.
“I’m surprised to see you here this early,” he said, a gold molar winked at her through his slimy smirk. “I wasn’t expecting you to be…how you say…awake.”
Evelyn wasn’t dumb. He must’ve seen her last night post-shots. Determined to obtain the power in the exchange, she slyly removed her sunglasses, resolving to convince him she remembered everything.
She squinted at the fluorescents, headache buzzing behind her eyes.
“I’ve had more to drink than that, Ed,” she said, forcing her eyes open. “Unlike some, I can handle my tequila.”
Ed broke eye contact and walked a bit away. Point one for Evelyn. She rubbed her temples while Ed wasn’t working. It wasn’t long before he swooped in for another attack.
“I was not expecting you’d be here this year,” he said slyly, “not after your recent…incarceration. Not to mention your declaration against the Supers. You realize that’s practically social suicide.”
“If anything, I think you just complimented me, Ed,” Evelyn said. “Because yes, I created an invention so powerful that it could enslave some of the world’s most powerful beings. And I almost got away with it. Going to prison was my reward. It meant I did something right.”
She knew she was pulling that a bit out of her ass, but she was hoping that with confidence, she would convince Ed.
“If you were truly successful, you wouldn’t have gotten caught,” he clucked, tapping her nose patronizingly. The touch was soft but seared her skin. A burning panic erupted in her chest. She did not like being touched, especially by a man she loathed.
“Don’t. Touch. Me,” she snapped, slapping away his hand. “You’re just jealous because you’ve created nothing that equates in quality or effectiveness.”
“Well at least my inventions do not threaten the destruction of a city.”
Evelyn scoffed. That was one thing she never understood. Yes, she wanted to maintain the illegality of the Supers, but it was for the better of the world. The point was to protect the civilians, not harm them. How sadistic did he think she was?
But before Evelyn could make her rebuke, someone placed their hand on her shoulder gently. The touch was warm. Her shoulder dropped, as if releasing some held stress, and she found herself calming immediately, even without looking to see who the person was.
“Is there a problem here?” asked Elastigirl.
The sound of the Super’s voice, paired with the innocent touch, snapped Evelyn out of her calming haze. She jumped back, suddenly needing to escape the touch. Ed squealed from beside Evelyn, distracting Elastigirl to Evelyn’s relief. She had to suppress an eye roll.
“Elastigirl, this is Ed, my tech nemesis, I suppose.”
The man stretched his hand out, nearly checking Evelyn in the arm, and shook Elastigirl’s hand enthusiastically.
“Eduardo Ricardo Ramirez,” he said quickly, “It is an honor, Elastigirl! Unlike my some,” he glared at Evelyn, “I appreciate the work you do for our world.”
Evelyn had to suppress a laugh, unsure of how true Ed’s statement was.
To Evelyn’s joy, Ed insisted that he escort them to the first panel because, surprise surprise, he was attending the same one. He took Elastigirl’s arm and entertained her with stories of his career – wonderful highs and embarrassing lows. Evelyn had heard them all before in different variations. When they got to the main conference room, he bid them farewell with two air kisses and went to join his co-workers. Elastigirl decided to stand in the back, claiming the angle was better for monitoring the room. Evelyn was a bit peeved she didn’t want to sit and participate like everyone else, but the rational side of her brain brought up the fact that maybe she wasn’t as interested in technology.
It didn’t take long for Evelyn to find her group of acquaintances toward the back. Trace, luckily, saved her a seat. The woman also wore sunglasses, slightly masked by the bangs of her bleach blonde bob.
“Where’s your friend?” she asked, passing a mug of hot coffee toward her.
Surprised at the word choice, Evelyn fumbled the drink, causing a few drops of coffee to spill on her pants. She hissed in pain, the heat intense.
“Elastigirl?” she asked, shaking her burnt fingers. “Not my friend.”
“Is babysitter a better term then?”
Evelyn ignored the comment.
“She said the back was better for monitoring the room. Basically, she can see if I’m misbehaving.”
Trace passed her some napkins from her pocket. Taking them gratefully, Evelyn began to blot the droplets on her pants, cringing at the stain marks. Trace shook her head at the sight, giving a soft chuckle.
“You are a mess,” she said. Trace took off her sunglasses, testing her eyes against the harsh fluorescent lights, before shaking her head and replacing them back on the bridge of her nose. “So, do you have any plans?”
“For what?” Evelyn asked, not paying much attention to the mischievous smile forming on Trace’s face.
Evelyn paused, feeling the weight of the suggestion. Typically, the answer would’ve been a resounding yes. Conference was more than a time to network. Winston did that for her, which gave her the time to have some…fun. But with her stint in prison and her status on parole and Elastigirl’s…presence, she hadn’t really thought about it.
“I can’t,” she finally said, unable to look at Trace. “I mess up once and I’m back in the slammer.”
“I don’t think we’re going to do much either.”
This caught Evelyn’s attention, and she lulled her head toward Trace.
“That, I find hard to believe.”
“No, seriously,” said Trace, taking a large gulp of coffee. “We’re all getting old. The hotel bar will be entertaining enough for this year. It hasn’t failed us before.”
Evelyn gave a belly laugh as a more recent memory entered her mind.
The panel started in the midst of their conversation, and the two kept quiet for the rest of the two hours. Evelyn jotted down notes from interesting points brought up, but for the most part was only half listening. Having a calmer year was probably for the best. Winston pulled her aside before she left and expressed his desire that she networked for him. There were a few appointments she had to attend, but he seemed more interested in interactions outside of those set times. Talking to people in the hall. Making lunch plans. All the superficial corporate relations that she despised.
However, she had to keep DevTech in mind. Thankfully, the company hadn’t taken too bad of a tumble after her little stint, probably because of Winston’s intense role in the legalization of Supers. But she didn’t want to put it in any further jeopardy, simply because she didn’t want to talk to people. She couldn’t do that to Winston. He’d already done so much for her.
Once the panel ended, explained the situation to Trace.
“I mean, it’s your decision,” Trace said, looking at Evelyn a bit skeptically. “I support it. But if you’re looking for us, we’ll be by the pool.”
With that, Evelyn was determined to find someone – anyone – to engage with for the duration of the day. Surely, she could find one of Winston’s connections. He knew everyone.
But first, she had to check in with Elastigirl.
Not that she had to, but well, Elastigirl was in charge of tracking her whereabouts until 3pm, and yes, while she was certain Elastigirl had the capabilities to locate her without verbal cues, she might as well make her job a bit easier. Show that she wasn’t going AWAL to hypnotize everyone.
Without saying goodbye to Trace and the gals, Evelyn sauntered over to the Elastigirl, who stood with her back against the wall. The intense activity had her distracted, watching the multitude of suits walk, talk, engage. She was focusing on something. Her brow knit in concentration, the lack of creases entrancing Evelyn. It was a becoming expression, cute almost.
Evelyn wondered if Elastigirl ever looked at her that way before.
But that thought was sudden and brief, and Evelyn dismissed it easily. The warm feeling in her body that came from it took a few more moments to dissipate, much to her annoyance.
She slid behind Elastigirl, strategically placing herself so she was unseen, and leaned her shoulder against the wall.
“Can I leave the conference room, Chief?” she asked slyly.
“I don’t know, can you?” Elastigirl asked, unfazed. Evelyn frowned, slightly peeved at the lack of surprise. She was hoping for a small jump, at least.
“Well, the headache is gone and, to my knowledge, my legs are working just fine.” Helen glanced over her shoulder and lifted an eyebrow. “I’ll be around.”
Evelyn found herself raising an eyebrow, taking Elastigirl’s comment as a challenge.
“The hotel. Lobby. Bar. Conference Center area. Just networking.”
Elastigirl turned to face her fully, crossing her arms but assuming an amused expression. The reaction only egged Evelyn on. She leaned forward and found herself smiling.
“I know how to talk to other business people,” she said. “Please, I’m late to one meeting and sit in a chair unconventionally and people think I’m this antisocial design genius.”
“And a humble one at that,” Elastigirl added.
Evelyn normally would’ve been offended or at least a bit self-conscious about the response, but instead she found herself chuckling. Who cares if what she said was a partial lie. Yes, she wasn’t antisocial and could carry a conversation…but that didn’t mean she always enjoyed it, especially when it was networking.
“So, what are you going to do?” Evelyn asked. “Stand 10 steps behind me at all times? Stalk me from the stairs? Bug me so you can listen in on my conversations?”
“I was thinking more of the ‘survey from a distance while I read my book,’” Elastigirl said, turning away from Evelyn so her back was against the wall. Evelyn didn’t like how she disconnected entirely. “Go do your job, and don’t worry about me. I’ll come by around 3 to let you know Tom’s taken over.”
“Tom?” Evelyn asked with a scrunch of her nose.
“Yes, your parole officer.”
Evelyn wasn’t sure why the thought of Elastigirl and her parole officer on a first name basis gave her such a visceral reaction, but she soon felt a gross sludge enter her stomach.
“You know his name?”
“Yes. We bonded this morning while we were waiting for you to come down. He’s a lovely man. He has a son who’s Jac—” Elastigirl stopped herself suddenly and Evelyn knew from the guarded look in her face that she almost shared confidential information. She was probably referring to one of her two sons. A part of her wanted to press on, ask for more details, tease her, but the moon shifted, not that it was all that friendly to begin with. Elastigirl was entirely professional. Not even a sarcastic comment would past through those tight lips.
Evelyn soon dismissed herself and began to stalk the halls for a lone executive to entrance with her mystical people skills. Without much surprise, she found Ed entertaining a small group with an elaborate, unnecessarily dramatic story about who-knows-what. Evelyn scoffed at the sight. She knew that the story was probably made up, and it sickened her that they all ate it up.
Every so often, Evelyn felt like she passed some familiar face, but as soon as she turned around to approach them, they disappeared into the crowd. If it happened once or twice, she wouldn’t have thought much of it, but it continued to happen three, four, five times?
Luckily, she found two distracted faces in the lobby. Two men stood by the wall, engaging in an intense conversation. Evelyn recognized them as acquaintances of Winston. Mr. Aaronson…Anderson? Something like that. And the one dude…with the nose…yeah him. They hadn’t seen her yet…perfect. With conjured confidence, Evelyn made her way towards the pair, locking her gaze on them to make sure they didn’t disappear.
The one with the hair saw her coming first. A brief look crossed his face that was far from positive, and he turned his body away from her. Evelyn slowed her pace, growing suspicious. However, all doubt cleared her mind when he greeter her with a mouth of pearly whites and firm handshake.
“Evelyn Deavor,” he said, his voice loud and clear, as if he was a radio announcer. “Fred Rohlfling. Great to see you! You remember Paul Aerickson?”
Aerickson? Yup, Evelyn was a bit off with that.
Paul, hair glistening with excess gel and smelling of old cologne, slid his hand between them and shook with equal intensity. Evelyn smiled. This was going well. She could do this.
“Great to see you, Fred, Paul,” she said plastering a smile on her face that felt horribly out of place. She began to wrack her brain for facts about them that she could bring up. Hobbies. Trips. Kids… “How are they kids doing?”
At least she thought they had kids…
Paul seemed extremely touched that she’d brought up the subject, for his eyes crinkled in delight.
“They’re great! The boy’s eleven now and my daughter just turned four. It’s craziness. Always chaos on the house. Now, if I remember correctly, you don’t have kids?”
The conversation continued pleasantly superficial for another few minutes, and Evelyn was feeling good about herself. She was making connections. She could make small talk. She wouldn’t fail. However, the conversation soon took a turn. They were chatting about Fred’s new golf swing (apparently it helps to be slow and thorough) when their smiles turned strained and an awkward lull fell upon the conversation. It wasn’t long after that the two excused themselves, citing a meeting they had to attend.
It made Evelyn feel weird, as if she had unknowingly said something wrong.
Her next few conversations followed in a similar pattern. They started off well, pleasant hellos and “how’s the family?” and enquiries about their personal lives, but before Evelyn could inquire about business, she would be brushed aside. Yes, it had been a few years since she networked, but she was pretty sure Winston didn’t leave his conversations feeling like he personally insulted the other party.
She sent him a text asking about it, just for good measure. Yeah, Tom would see it. All her texts went through him before they were sent. It was part of the parole agreement…annoyingly. But her curiosity was insatiable.
It was well after three by the time she took a seat in the lobby, deciding a break would be ideal. She was busying herself with her phone, browsing funny social media videos, when she received a response from Winston.
You talked to Paul and Fred, right? They texted me asking if you still worked for me. Around 1?
Evelyn frowned at the text. Why would that even be a question?
Why did they assume that she was Winston’s employee?
Feeling annoyed with the lack of answers, Evelyn pocketed her phone and looked around the lobby, leg bouncing up and down with excess anxious energy.
It stopped when her eyes landed on Elastigirl.
She wasn’t expecting to see her in the lobby outside her shift (she turned on her phone to double check the time). But Elastigirl wasn’t alone. Evelyn could recognize Liv from a mile away. She’d known the girl for years. It seemed like the two were in an intimate conversation. They sat close together, secluded from the rest of the crowd. And Elastigirl was touching Liv, rubbing her on the arm. Evelyn had no clue what they were talking about, but the knot in her stomach lurched at the sight. She tore her eyes away from it almost immediately and crossed her arms aggressively.
She convinced herself it was residual anger from her failed networking attempts.
Deciding she was fed up with being a presentable face for DevTech for the day, Evelyn sprung from her seat and charged for the bar.
Shout out to the Lesbian Pride Spotify playlist for always coming in klutch, and to all of you for your kind comments and kudos! Tune in next Saturday for the update!
Chapter 5: An Awkward Night
After a difficult conversation about her past, Helen finds herself entranced by two things: a potential set-up and the eyes of the woman caught in the middle of it all.
WARNING: If I know the lingo correctly, I think the latter half of this story classifies as dubcon (I'm old and learned the term on the discord this week). This chapter's narrator sees it, doesn't participate in it, so I'm not sure what that classifies as. I don't endorse this or practice it in my life. I think it conflicts with the idea of consent. It's here for two reasons. It's as an area of growth for the characters. And I'm working through a recent experience, using this story as closure. Hopefully, this will caution those who are uncomfortable by this. And if you do read it and could help me figure out the best way to tag it, I will be forever grateful.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Helen turned her attention away from Liv for a brief moment when she heard an aggressive stomp from somewhere within the lobby. Without too much surprise, her eyes caught Evelyn just as she entered the hotel bar. Helen knit her brows in worry, glancing around for Tom. She found him in a far corner, eyes also following Evelyn’s movements. However, he made no motion to follow. Helen considered checking on Evelyn, just to make sure she was okay, but stopped herself. It would be rude to leave Liv. Besides, she shouldn’t mom Evelyn like she did her kids. Convict or not, Evelyn was an adult. She could make her own decisions. No matter how obviously poor.
“Everything okay, Helen?” Liv whispered, her voice soft and mouse-like.
Snapping her head back to the conversation, Helen apologized, claiming it was hard to turn off the Superhero when off duty.
“It becomes a part of you,” she said with a shrug. “Besides, I have three kids, so crisis intervention comes naturally.”
“Gail was the same way,” said Liv, nodding her head enthusiastically. “Mom and dad would always get on her about low grades. She said it was hard to concentrate when she was trained to look for trouble.”
Helen’s smile dropped, and she crossed her arms, feeling a tightness close in on her chest. Their conversation had steered away from Liv’s twin sister until now, and Helen selfishly was hoping it would stay that way.
“She talked about you,” said Liv when Helen didn’t respond. Her big green eyes brimmed with a sad nostalgia, but there was a brightness to them. “All the time. Even after you left.”
“I thought about her a lot,” Helen confessed in a soft whisper, surprised the thought had escaped her lips. “She…she was special…to me.”
“She wanted to stay with you, you know,” said Liv, arms wrapping around her legs. The younger woman knew she was treading on delicate ice, Helen could tell, yet she charged on. “She didn’t care about any of it. The age difference. The unconventionality.”
“The scandal?” Helen said, raising an eyebrow. Liv’s eyes grew wide with confusion at the accusation.
“Gail didn’t see it as a scandal,” Liv said, her voice quieting.
“Gail was 15,” said Helen, assuming her mom-command voice. “She didn’t know what she wanted. And she had such a bright future. I wanted her to be respected in the industry.”
“You were thought of highly,” argued Liv with a shrug. “Weren’t you asked to lead a team of Supers at one point?”
Helen chuckled at the memory. The NSA did want her to lead her own squadron, but by that point she was engaged to Bob and knew a family was on the cards. At the time, she called it her future, biological squadron.
“The world saw me as the rebellious, spunky girl from the other side of the tracks, the Supers included,” said Helen, “and that image was only partially true. People didn’t know there was anything additional. I didn’t enter the industry…with that knowledge…known.”
Helen couldn’t say it, not entirely. She wasn’t ready. Liv reached out to touch her reassuringly, but Helen pulled away slightly.
“It was different for Gail,” she continued. “She was so young and had so much to prove. If people knew she was…what she was, she’d have to prove herself all the more. Not to mention anything between us would’ve been illegal at that time.”
A dark shadow fell on Liv’s brow as she leaned back in her seat. Helen could tell that she said something to make her upset. Liv didn’t speak, though. Not at first. She let the silence drag. It was unbearable.
“You can say it around me, you know,” Liv finally said darkly. “You shouldn’t be ashamed of it. Gail wasn’t.”
Helen stared at Liv, mouth agape. She lifted her finger, attempting to wrap her head around the comment. She couldn’t deny being ashamed, because deep down, what Liv had said was true. There was a reason Bob didn’t know about the motorcycle and mohawk period of her life. She tried to find some way around it, but Liv had her in a trap, and the only way she could see out of it was with the truth.
“As a Super, it’s hard to be proud of something that’s illegal,” she said, her voice straining as she squeezed the answer out.
Liv stood up with a start, darting her eyes toward the ceiling to blink back tears. Helen followed the motion, but with more hesitation.
“She loved you.”
Helen’s heart lurch, causing her to freeze mid-stand. Her super suit felt unnaturally tight. Liv’s glare pushed her back into her seat, and Helen couldn’t look away.
“I’m sorry you feel the way you do, because it’s not how she felt. She was always proud of who she was, which is more than most girls, gay or straight, at that age could say. You didn’t deserve her.”
Liv held the glare for a second more before storming away. Helen didn’t follow her. Her gaze had gone foggy and her insides felt empty. She wanted to be angry at Liv for the comment but couldn’t find it in her. Her chest began to ache as she replayed the conversation over in her mind.
But she didn’t cry.
Helen stayed in the chair for a few moments more, replaying the conversation and feeling more and more conflicted. She truly wanted to be okay about it all, to think back to high school and not feel her insides knot up. But she didn’t know how.
She soon found Tom and asked if he could take over the rest of Evelyn-watch solo.
“Something came up,” she said, her voice hollow. “I know I’m the one who’s supposed to watch her primarily, but I can take a solo shift tomorrow.”
Tom, surely sensing something was off, was more than willing to comply, as he indicated by a curt nod. Helen gave him a grateful pat on the shoulder before heading up to her bedroom.
After exiting the elevator, however, she stumbled upon a suspicious activity. As she turned the corner toward her room, she halted upon seeing a tan man in a hotel uniform outside Evelyn’s door. She backed up behind the corner, poking her head around to keep an eye on the spot.
The man was scribbling fiercely on a piece of paper against her door. An empty gray sack balanced on his shoulder. Figuring he was trying to rob Evelyn, Helen shot her arm out quietly and socked him in the jaw. He immediately fell, knocked out, and the paper flittered to the ground delicately.
Helen ran down and swiped up the gray bag. Sure enough, it was empty, and Helen breathed a sign in relief. Hopefully, she stopped whatever was about to happen from happening. She then picked up the piece of paper. There were two. The first was a shopping list written in a horrible scrawl. The second was a note in the same hand.
Thank you for the
Helen scrunched her brow, confused. What was he writing? Checking to make sure he was passed out, Helen went into her own room to enter Evelyn’s. While her initial thought was that Evelyn was almost robbed, the empty sack could indicate that the guy had given Evelyn an unwanted present.
The room was a complete disaster – worse than Dash’s room had ever been, and that was saying something. Evelyn was the type whose closet and trash can were her floor. The pile of trash by the bed was alarming, and Helen could not figure out how Evelyn could’ve brought so much stuff from home. Surely, she had picked some of it up during the conference. Helen suppressed an eye roll and began to check for spy software.
After a thorough search, Helen determined that there were no secret microphones or cameras in the room, but upon checking underneath the bed, she did find a black case, secure with a padlock. She knew for a fact it was not Evelyn’s. It was not on her person when they checked in, and there was no way it could fit in her simple duffle bag.
A sudden rummage sounded from outside, alerting Helen’s attention. She jumped into action, sprinting through the trashed room to Evelyn’s door. She opened it just in time to see the hotel worker turn the corner for the elevator. Holding onto the case, Helen followed the man. She rounded the corner to see the elevator doors closing with him inside. She stretched her hand to stop it but was too late.
With a frustrated sigh she clicked the down button aggressively while searching the area for another way down. The hall had no windows for her to hop out of, and she knew for a fact the stairs would take her longer. Luckily, an elevator dinged almost immediately, and she was riding toward the lobby.
By the time she made it to the bottom floor, she leaped out and began surveying the area. The room was so crowded with multiple hotel workers sprinting about. Helen could not pick her guy out. She groaned in frustration, fist clenching the suitcase handle. How did he wake up so quickly? Usually those hits lasted longer than a few minutes.
Helen wasn’t sure how long she was locked in her room. Tom stopped by at some point to silently pass her a burrito, but apart from that, she remained at the desk, on the phone with the Agency, trying to track who bought the case and lock. Dicker said he would investigate it, but that could a day or two. Even after her phone calls, her mind was racing with a million thoughts, none of which she could grasp onto.
That is, until she heard an aggressive thump from outside her room.
It wasn’t a knock. It wasn’t at her door. It was somewhere in the hall, but not far away. And, complete silence followed.
Helen checked the clock and did a double take. 1:13 AM blared back in a bright red light. She blinked. What on earth was she doing for the whole evening?
Another sound cut through the silence, but Helen couldn’t pinpoint exactly what it was. It almost sounded like someone was sliding against the wall out in the hall. But surely, that wasn’t the case…Checking to make sure her mask was on, Helen slid silently to her door and opened it just a crack.
Her jaw dropped as a blush crawled up her neck, threatening to spill over the collar of her super suit.
There were two people – both women – in an intimate position against the wall just outside her bedroom. One had short hair; the other, long blonde hair that was tangled around the first woman’s fingers. The short haired woman had the blonde pinned and was busy devouring her neck, placing strategic, hungry kisses up and down, up and down the pale skin. The blonde, eyes shut, held her companion’s head, tightening her grasp as her breathing became labored.
Helen should shut the door.
She watched for another moment, taking in the sight. She wanted to be disgusted, or at least alarmed.
It was familiar to her. A part of her had been deprived of this and was gorging on the spectacle.
Helen shook her head. She should really close the door. But just as she was about to move, the short-haired woman swung her head to the other side of the blonde’s neck and looked Helen right in the eye.
The heat form Helen’s neck shot down her body, filling her chest and stomach with a pleasant buzz, and hitting directly below her abdomen. Evelyn’s eyes were hazy, clearly intoxicated, but remained fixated on Helen with unnatural clarity. Helen couldn’t help but look back. Evelyn didn’t stop kissing the blonde. Helen noticed Evelyn moved her hands from the blonde’s hair to her hips and began stroking her sides, causing the blonde to respond enthusiastically with squirms of pleasure and a soft moan. Helen was paralyzed, just for the moment, unable to shut the door.
Finally, Helen yanked her attention away from Evelyn and moved to close the door but did so with such suddenness that she accidentally nailed her foot. Helen yelped an expletive in surprise, capturing Evelyn and the blonde’s attention.
“Oh, Elastigirl!” said the blonde, her voice jumping an octave. “Hi.”
It took Helen a moment to recognize her as the hotel employee from check in. Except with tousled hair, swollen lips, and eyes dilated with arousal.
“Hi,” said Elastigirl, giving a quick wave, before turning toward Evelyn.
Evelyn had lost all semblance of clarity as soon as she broke away from the blonde. Her hair was a mess, her bloodshot gaze unfixed, and exuded a strong stench of overpriced whisky. It didn’t take a sleuth to realize Evelyn had been drinking for the better part of the day. Probably from the moment Helen saw her storm into the bar.
It took her a few tries to speak, for Helen still felt a bit flustered.
“It’s past your curfew,” she finally said, crossing her arms.
Evelyn stared back, gaze with a hot intensity, as she wavered back and forth. It took her a few moments more than a sober person, but she shrugged, clearly not entirely understanding Helen’s words. Maintaining eye contact, Evelyn reached over to grab the blonde hotel worker’s wrist and, with care, led her into her room. Helen found herself entranced, unable to look away as Evelyn opened the door, taking a few tries to swipe the card and grasp the handle.
It wasn’t until the door shut behind them that Helen felt fully control of her body again.
She felt hot.
Helen slid back into her own room and shut the door, quickly stripping her super suit off, feeling relieved at the lack of confinement. Pulling on a fresh robe, she discarded her mask and crawled into bed, burrowing into the sheets. She couldn’t pinpoint why she was reacting in this way. It wasn’t the first time she’d stumbled into a…sensitive situation such as this. But it had felt so…personal. She wanted to feel disgusted, embarrassed, but the opposite was the case.
She couldn’t stop thinking about it.
And she wasn’t cringing.
It took a few minutes, but she finally calmed herself. She hated how she felt like a teenager again. She was an adult with a marriage that was in no ways celibate. But it was Evelyn and…her.
She shook her head in frustration. Who would’ve thought a rather simple assignment to the Caribbean would’ve resurrected the past so strongly?
Her thoughts were disrupted by a sequence of high pitched moans from the other side of her wall. They started off soft and small, but each one grew in volume and desperation. While muffled through the wall, Helen heard them clearly. Rolling her eyes, Helen pulled one of the pillows over her face and willed herself to sleep.
But as she dozed off, all she could see were Evelyn’s eyes. Dilated. Deliberate. Drunk. Desperately locked onto hers.
As always, thank you for your continued support. I love hearing your feedback, so feel free to leave a comment if you have the time!
Chapter 6: The Morning After
The morning after their heated encounter, Elastigirl saves the day in more ways than one. Evelyn honestly can't complain.
Usually after a drunken one-night stand, Evelyn would wake up to an empty bed. She never took it personally. Her partners would either bolt at early hours to avoid confrontation or get fed up with her prolonged sleeping schedule and loose interest.
But never had she been woken up by screaming.
Loud, ear-piercing screaming. The kind that turned her hangover headache into a brain splitting migraine.
Evelyn bolted upright, her limbs twisted in the covers and her hair matted over her eyes. She snapped her head back and forth, trying to pinpoint the sound, but couldn’t see anything due to the bright tropical sun spilling through the curtains. Eventually, her eyes landed on…that one woman. You know, the one with the name…she worked at the hotel…gah, why couldn’t she remember her name? Evelyn remembered seeing her at the bar the night before and chatting her up. They exchanged some pleasant flirts between her second and fifth glass of wine. After that it was all a blur.
It wasn’t the first time she had drunkenly brought someone home with her, much to Winston’s annoyance. So, seeing a blonde hotel worker in one of her button downs didn’t surprise her. What did was the look of absolute fear and disgust on her face as she curled into a ball on top the desk in her room.
Evelyn must’ve given her a rather dumb look, for when the two made eye contact, the blonde rolled her eyes and pointed to a spot on the ground. Evelyn followed her finger to find the old ramen box, now accompanied by an assemblage of other trash articles.
But the box was moving.
“Holy shit!” Evelyn screamed, jumping as far back in the bed as possible. The box for a series of squeaks, causing the blonde to scream again. Evelyn forced herself to hold back a gag.
“Well don’t just sit there!” exclaimed the blonde, eyes frantic with alarm. “Do something! Get rid of it.”
“Nu-uh,” choked Evelyn, unable to look at the box. “I’m not touching that.”
“It’s your trash,” said the blonde.
“That doesn’t compel me to pick it up.”
Suddenly, the adjoining door burst open with a ferocity that immediately captured Evelyn’s attention. Elastigirl ran inside her room, mask on, suited up, and ready for action. Her brown eyes darted around the room, quickly assessing the situation. She looked ready to spring into action whatever came her way. It shocked Evelyn, to be honest. Sure, maybe she would come in to see why they were screaming, but she wasn’t expecting her to be ready to tackle some bad guy.
“Is everyone okay?” she asked loudly.
“We’re fine,” said the blonde, exasperated.
“Oh, are we now?” Evelyn mumbled, remembering the rodent and turning toward the wall with a sudden feeling of illness.
“What’s going on, is anybody hurt?” Elastigirl asked quickly, creeping into the room while keeping an eye on all corners.
“There’s a mouse,” said the blonde.
“Rat,” Evelyn interrupted, holding back a gag. She threw an arm toward the trash pile on the floor but kept her gaze away from it. “’s overther.”
Elastigirl relaxed almost instantly, shoulders dropping in relief. Evelyn was shocked at how much she seemingly cared. She confidently approached the trash, noting the moving ramen box, and picked it up without hesitation. Evelyn groaned in disgust. She did not want to be in Elastigirl’s position. She watched as Elastigirl poured the creature – just a mouse – onto her palm. The Super chuckled.
“All that screaming about this little guy?” she asked. “He’s harmless.”
As Elastigirl opened the window the release the mouse, the blonde hotel worker descended from the desk, breathing a sigh in relief. Evelyn was determined to not leave her tense ball at the head of the bed until Elastigirl shut the window and the creature was gone for good.
“Thank you, Elastigirl,” said the blonde.
“Oh, that was nothing,” Elastigirl said with a laugh. “I owned a few rodents as pets in high school. They’re quite tame. But still, neither of you should’ve picked it up without some gloves on. They need shots before they can be touched.”
Elastigirl took a moment, as if trying to decide something mentally, and then turned to Evelyn. Everything else disappeared.
“You know you should really pick up your trash.”
Her words weren’t angry or patronizing, as Evelyn was expecting. They were bossy, yes, but more lighthearted. It wasn’t necessarily a kindness, but Evelyn decided to consider it as such, and she disentangle from her ball position.
“Isn’t that what the maid service is for?” she asked, raising an eyebrow, playing into the fun. And for a moment, Evelyn felt as though things between them had return to normal.
“It’s suspended for the week,” said the blonde, thrusting Evelyn back into the real world. “I guess the tech companies have new software or something and they don’t want anyone going through their personal stuff.”
Evelyn was beginning to find the blonde’s company more irksome than enjoyable, which was a shame. She had a tight body and clearly some form of a brain. She wouldn’t be here this morning if she didn’t. A part of her was hoping they could have fun for the rest of the week, but that idea was becoming less desirable as the seconds ticked. The night was so hazy she couldn’t remember what drew her to the blonde in the first place. Probably the alcohol. That was usually the case.
A small squeak from another corner in the room brought Evelyn out of her thoughts as her body tensed once again. The blonde backed up toward the desk and Elastigirl gave a low sigh through her nose.
“You really need to clean you room,” the Super said, her voice low with an exhilarating danger as she charged toward the noise.
One hour and two mice later, Evelyn found herself at the front desk with Elastigirl and the blonde, who was clearly uncomfortable with the whole situation, as evident by her tense shoulders and taught lips.
“There has to be one extra room,” said Elastigirl. “It doesn’t even have to be on our floor. Just something else without mice.”
The blonde scanned the computer screen in front of her, shaking her head as she scrolled through listings and reservations.
“I’m sorry, there’s nothing,” the blonde said. “The conference has the whole place booked.”
Evelyn groaned, leaning against the counter as the thought of sleeping with rodents, probably creeping under her sheets and gnawing on her legs while she slept sent shivers up her spine. This week was really shaping up to be…something. She glanced over toward Elastigirl to see her deep in thought, eyebrows scrunched but creating no wrinkle.
“I really don’t want to do this,” she whispered under her breath, more to herself than to Evelyn.
“Do what?” asked Evelyn. “I missed out on the internal monologue there.”
Elastigirl ignored Evelyn’s comment and directed her attention back to the blonde.
“Cynthia, is there really nowhere else? An empty conference room? A kitchen broom closet, even?”
Evelyn blinked. When did Elastigirl learn the blonde’s name? She curled in on herself, feeling a bit embarrassed.
“Nowhere I can place her legally,” said Cynthia.
Elastigirl looked back at Evelyn.
“What about your friends, the ones I saw the other day. Could you stay with one of them?”
“No, they’re all three to a room at the moment and switching off who has the floor. Besides, it’s conference week, and they all like to have a bit of…fun.”
Cynthia, who was taking a sip of water, began to cough violently. Elastigirl seemed unfazed by the comment. Instead, she turned to face the counter once again, staring at the ceiling as she seemed to be dealing with some internal argument. Finally, she turned back toward Evelyn and gave a low sigh.
“Well, until they can fumigate your room, I guess you’re staying with me.”
If Evelyn heard correctly, Elastigirl didn’t sound upset about that.
Elastigirl sent Evelyn away for a moment, saying she needed to talk to Cynthia about something. Evelyn watched the two suspiciously, wondering what was so important that she couldn’t listen in. She watched as Elastigirl passed a black suitcase over the counter, Cynthia, wide eyed in alarm, took it from her and tucked it behind the counter.
By the time Elastigirl rejoined her, Evelyn had a million questions. But before she could open her mouth, Elastigirl pulled her aside to a secluded corner in the room. Evelyn almost did a double take, feeling the warmth return as Elastigirl tugged her arm gently. She liked it.
“I don’t want to scare you,” Elastigirl said quietly, “but I found a hotel worker outside your room yesterday.”
“How terrifying,” Evelyn said sarcastically. “Are you sure he wasn’t cleaning it?”
Elastigirl stared at her impatiently, and Evelyn decided to behave. Actually, she was just told that hotel staff doesn’t clean during conference week, so it was a lame joke to begin with. Score one for Elastigirl.
“He had a sack with him and was writing this note when I found him.”
Evelyn took the piece of paper offered to her and felt her heart race as she read it. It wasn’t detailed or anything, just a few words, but the content wasn’t what surprised her.
“That’s my handwriting,” she said under her breath, her voice threatening to shake.
“That suitcase, the one you saw me pass to Cynthia, is that yours?” Elastigirl asked.
Evelyn shook her head, too busy analyzing the note to figure out if it was really her handwriting. It was so close.
“I found it under your bed,” said Elastigirl.
Evelyn’s head shot up to look at Elastigirl, her eyes wide. She knew enough to know that someone was trying to frame her. If DevTech was presenting, Evelyn was always sure to lock up her technology safety. Thefts happened every year.
“What the fuck,” said Evelyn, unable to form any other thoughts.
“It’s probably good you’re staying with me now,” said Elastigirl. “I asked Cynthia to keep your room as is for now, hopefully to throw off whoever it is trying to frame you. But I’ll keep an eye out. I’m not sure what the motive is yet, but I have some guys working on it back home. Are there any enemy companies I need to know of?”
An image of Ed flashed in Evelyn’s mind, but she brushed it away. Yes, she hated him, but he had never tried to sabotage DevTech before. Apart from him, though, Evelyn could think of no one else. Winston was good with people. They never had issues like this before.
“Not that I can think of,” she responded. “But I’ll call Winston and see what he knows.”
“Already on that,” responded Elastigirl. “My people are figuring it out at as we speak.”
Evelyn considered Elastigirl, honestly baffled at how many steps she’d taken already. She was treating this like an actual mission, as if a non-convict had been in possible danger. The thought confused her.
“This isn’t part of your mission,” Evelyn said. “Your job is to keep me out of trouble, not keep trouble away from me.”
Elastigirl considered Evelyn softly, a small smile forming before it was tucked away and masked with trademark Elastigirl heroism. But Evelyn noticed it. It was hard not to. She had endured days of short responses and non-emotive professionalism. Anything a fraction friendlier would stand out. Something had shifted between them, and she didn’t know why or how.
“Yes, but in this situation, you’ve done nothing wrong, and I don’t want an innocent person to be blamed for something they didn’t do.”
An innocent person. As of late, Evelyn would snort at the accusation. However, she found herself smiling. She didn’t deserve this, especially from Elastigirl. And yet, the Super was keeping her safe. While she wanted to question why, the notion…felt nice.
The day carried out as the previous one did. Evelyn attended a few panels with her gal squad. Typically, she was half paying attention while talking to Trace, maybe writing a few notes here and there if the topic was something interesting. But Evelyn found it difficult to concentrate. She didn’t attempt to talk to Trace, and her scribbles had nothing to do with the talk. In fact, they were nothing but incoherent lines. She looked intently at the pad of paper, her mind fixated on something far from her grasp.
She never truly had time to think over the morning’s events. Elastigirl had practically stormed into her room, fully suited, and rid the space of three mice. Evelyn felt a warmth spread across her cheeks. Elastigirl looked ready to take down a thug.
Given recent circumstances, that’s probably what she thought was going on.
A sharp nudge from Trace broke her from her pleasant thoughts.
“You okay?” she asked.
Evelyn shook her head as she adjusted to reality.
“Yeah,” she mumbled. “Just thinking.”
The day continued in a similar way until 8pm when the panels were through for the night. The girls were ready to hit the bar, but Evelyn didn’t feel up for another bender that night.
“I don’t believe it,” said Liv, shaking her read incredulously.
“Are you sick?” asked Trace, genuinely confused as she placed the back of her hand on Evelyn’s forehead. Evelyn brushed it off with an eye roll.
“I’m not sick,” she insisted.
“I don’t know…you’ve been acting strange all day,” Trace responded. “I’ve only seen you this way when you’re coming down with something.”
“All the more reason to rest,” Evelyn said with a sly smile. She turned on her heel and headed toward the elevators.
“Who the fuck are you?” asked Trace behind her. Evelyn responded with a lazy wave, not even bothering to turn around and face her friend. She’d be over it by tomorrow.
It wasn’t until Evelyn was inside the elevator that she began to understand the confusion. It was so early. She was in the Caribbean. She never turned down a good night out on Winston’s dime. And yet here she was, willingly retiring for the day. Only to spend the remaining hours of the day with a superhero.
Evelyn wondering what Elastigirl was up to at this time of night. Was she still in her supersuit? Would she wear the mask to bed? Probably, since Evelyn was going to be in the room with her. She scoffed under her breath. The whole “secret identity” thing seemed a bit over the top. Especially since Winson knew her real name, as well as the whole family’s identity.
The sound of Elastigirl’s tense voice through the door stopped Evelyn from knocking right away. Evelyn felt her heart rate accelerate, a wave of worry spreading through her chest.
“Honey, I know it’s not ideal, but there was literally no other option!”
Ah, so she was talking to the husband. Figures.
“I don’t think she’s going to try anything. It’s been what? Two days? Three? I’ll be fine…Of course I’m going to wear my suit to bed…hey, no, that does not mean I don’t trust her!”
Evelyn cringed at the comment. The idea of Elastigirl not trusting her, especially after what she said earlier that day, didn’t set right with her. But honestly, Mr. Incredible was right. As much as she wanted to take advantage of Elastigirl’s kindness, she didn’t deserve it. The thought made her sad.
Deciding she was done snooping for the night, Evelyn gave three short knocks on the door. Elastigirl stopped talking almost immediately, and Evelyn could barely hear her whisper on the phone that she’d call Mr. Incredible back.
The look of surprise on Elastigirl’s face when she opened the door was precious. Evelyn wished she had a camera.
“Do you need something?” Elastigirl asked, eyes wide and jaw slacked.
“A bed would be nice,” said Evelyn.
Elastigirl stretched around herself to check the clock on the bedside table. Evelyn jumped a bit as she watched her contort, not entirely expecting it.
“It’s not even 9.”
“So, I guess my bed’s the hall floor tonight,” Evelyn said, biting her lip, trying to stop herself from smiling at Elastigirl’s confusion. Seeing her so thrown was…as she said earlier…precious.
Elastigirl insisted that Evelyn take the bed, claiming the stiff couch would be perfectly suitable for the night. Evelyn could hardly believe the request.
“It’s your room,” she argued. “I’m the one intruding.”
“Oh, it’s no issue,” Elastigirl said, waving off the topic. She sat gracefully on the couch, opening her book from the plane. A prime distraction from the situation at hand. “Just turn off the lights when you’re ready to sleep. I won’t mind.”
And thus, the conversation ended. Evelyn spent a total of 10 minutes before snuggling under the covers, ready for bed. She checked the clock. 9:07pm. God, when did she get so boring? She shifted her head to watch Elastigirl, sighing under her breath to find her distracted by her book. Evelyn squirmed under the covers. This wasn’t what she wanted. Honestly, she didn’t know what she was expecting to happen. But this wasn’t it.
Evelyn was suddenly filled with the desire to win this game, whatever it was. Elastigirl obviously wanted to ignore her presence, to have them go about their own lives separately that night. But Evelyn was not about to have that. She wasn’t sure if it was the lack of sleep, the lack of alcohol, or the fact that Elastigirl had saved her this morning from three mice. Okay, maybe not saved, but the event had made the impression. She was feeling playful. And she was going to make Elastigirl crack.
“So, will the mask be on or off while you sleep?” she asked as she lay on her back, staring mischievously at the ceiling.
Evelyn could hear Elastigirl shift uncomfortably against the polyester couch covers, causing a playful smirk to spread across her lips.
“You don’t need to worry about that,” she finally responded.
“I can look the other way,” Evelyn said, Elastigirl’s uncertainty giving her confidence.
“It’s alright. I have a plan.”
She didn’t sound all that confident.
“Do you now?” asked Evelyn, stretching her arms above her head.
“What is it?”
“Why would I tell you if you’re the one I’m trying to wear it around?”
Evelyn was beaming. This was too much fun. She rolled onto her stomach and scooched around so that she was facing Elastigirl, who hadn’t looked up from her book.
“We’ve got what, four, five nights with this situation?” Evelyn asked. “Winston knows who you guys really are. I don’t see why me knowing would be such a bad idea.”
“Mr. Incredible would prefer I maintained my anonymity,” Elastigirl said through a tight jaw. Evelyn couldn’t tell if she was annoyed or nervous. Her wrinkle-less brow scrunch was not present, so maybe it was nerves.
“And if he gave you the okay?”
Elastigirl shut her book with a sharp snap and set her gaze upon Evelyn. Her eyes were intense, daring, and clearly not pleased with the conversation. Annoyance. Evelyn was a bit off.
“And what’s that supposed to mean?” she asked, her jaw tightening and making her lisp especially prevalent. Evelyn liked the sound.
All this smiling, she probably looked like an idiot, she thought. She didn’t let that bother her.
“Come on, girls. Leave the saving the world to the men? I don’t think so!” Evelyn said, attempting her best Elastigirl impression, voice match and gestures and all.
With the number of times she watched that clip while composing her cost analysis, she should be able to quote it perfectly. Evelyn notice Elastigirl softened, clearly recognizing the saying.
“What happened to that feminist spirit of yours?”
Elastigirl didn’t respond right away. She gave a long sigh and looked down at her gloved hands.
“It had a family,” said Elastigirl, “and had to start thinking of people other than herself.”
“Oh, come on,” said Evelyn. “It’s still there. You can’t suppress that much fire.”
“Who says I can’t be a feminist and have a family?” Elastigirl asked, lifting an eyebrow with the challenge. “I like to thing I’m a strong role model for my children, and clearly I’m still at the top of my game with it comes to missions. If anything, the past 15 years have taught me to let someone in and to compromise, which has only made me stronger. Having someone love you isn’t a burden, and it shouldn’t dim your flame, if that’s the analogy we’re going with. They should ignite it.”
Evelyn didn’t want to admit it out loud, but she could see where Elastigirl was coming from. However, the idea of trusting another person, of them lifting you up, she couldn’t entirely relate to. Most of her past…relationships, she supposed she would call them, wouldn’t be healthy by the Elastigirl standard. It didn’t help she had to keep them hidden because, well, lesbians weren’t looked highly upon. And she had the reputation of the company to maintain.
What happened during Caribbean Conference didn’t count.
She must’ve looked pathetic because Elastigirl was looking at her with a soft expression. She was being friendly again, and that allowed Evelyn to relax.
“And Mr. Incredible does that?” Evelyn asked. “He ignites your flame?”
Elastigirl took small moment, just a brief pause to think before answering.
“In recent years, yes,” she said with a confident smile. “Like any long-term married couple, we had our roadblocks. But the past year has been…really nice.”
A wave of admiration passed across Elastigirl’s features and Evelyn found herself looking away. It hurt to see that, just a little bit.
“Does he know about your mohawk stage?” she found herself asking, an edge to her voice.
If Elastigirl noticed it, she didn’t let on that she did. Instead, she stared at Evelyn completely flabbergasted. Evelyn smirked, proud of herself for pulling that fact out when she did.
“How do you know about my mohawk stage?” she asked, her voice small.
“Cost assessment report,” Evelyn said. “You’d be surprised, Elastigirl, I know a lot about your past. Don’t worry, it was hot.”
Evelyn found herself winking while simultaneously questioning why she added that last comment. It was unnecessary, and she was usually very good about not flirting with…unavailable women. However, she noticed a bright pink blush poke above Elastigirl’s collar and began to creep up her neck as she laughed nervously. Evelyn found herself entranced, unable to look away from the sight. She swallowed thickly.
God, she was beautiful.
The comments I got after I posted Chapter 5 were absolutely lovely. Plus, we hit 100+ Kudos and 1000+ Hits with the last chapter posting. Thank you everyone for your support! It means more than you could ever know <3
Chapter 7: Coming Together
Evelyn shows a change of heart, much to Helen's surprise. It only complicates her feelings toward the technology genius more.
Helen breathed a sigh in relief when she woke up and found Evelyn still snoozing away. Tentatively, she reached up to touch her face and felt her shoulders drop when her fingers touched the familiar material of her mask. It felt as though sack of bricks had been released from her chest. She could relax now.
After a quick shower, Helen sneaked out of the hotel room, compelled to obtain some form of distance from Evelyn. However, she did not shut the door without glancing over her shoulder at the sleeping woman. Evelyn laid somewhere between her side and stomach, limbs tangled in the sheets and head propped up at an uncomfortable angle against three pillows. While it seemed like she had a rough night of sleep, her face was completely peaceful. It was strange for Helen to see Evelyn not thinking. Even when she wasn’t working, Evelyn always had a look, one that told those around her that she was aware of eve thing going on. That she was thinking, processing.
But that was all gone now. The sight of Evelyn’s weary yet stress free expression brought warmth to Helen’s chest.
She walked out of the room before it could make itself at home.
The idea of rooming with Evelyn for five nights sounded manageable at first. She had been in more stressful and life-threatening situations, especially in the past year alone. But she underestimated…whatever it was that was going on.
Helen’s mind drifted to the scene she stumbled upon two nights ago. Evelyn and Cynthia in the hallway. Evelyn’s rather direct gaze at her. As much as she tried to ignore that it happened, she couldn’t forget. While voyeuristic, it definitely opened something up between them. Helen didn’t want to admit it, but she felt more drawn to Evelyn and more willing to open-up. Not that her rational mind wanted to, granted…it was all too confusing.
She wondered if Evelyn remembered it…
The ding of the arriving elevator was distant, but present enough to snap her out of her thoughts for a moment. She tensed as the doors opened to reveal Liv, leaning against the back wall, arms crossed, and shoulders hunched. Never one to back down from a tough situation, Helen walked into the elevator confidentially, but respected Liv’s space and didn’t interact apart from a small smile. Liv glanced up through her eyelashes before fixating her gaze back on the floor.
The doors began to close as Helen pondered the importance of Liv’s existence in the conference. It baffled her how she could go so many years not thinking about…a specific time in her life. About Gail. But it was coming up a lot in the past few days, and aggressively. Helen wasn’t sure how she felt about that.
Suddenly, a hand shot between the practically shut doors, triggering the sensors and causing them to open again. To Helen’s surprise, Evelyn barged in, out of breath.
“Ah, glad I caught you,” she said, huffing out air as she clicked the “close door” button. “I woke up and saw you weren’t in bed. I’m surprised you trust me that much.”
Helen felt her shoulders tense as the warmth returned to her chest. However, she tried to remain aloof.
“I thought I’d let you sleep in. You looked like you needed it.”
From the corner of her eye, she could see Liv watching the two of them, eyes wide with surprise and hurt. This confused Helen, but she decided to ignore it for now. There was a more pressing issue that was threatening to seep down to her abdomen. God, it was like high school all over again.
The soft ding signaled the elevator’s stop in the lobby. Liv exited almost immediately, keeping her head down. Evelyn watched, eyebrows raised in an amused surprise.
“What did you say to her?” she asked Helen with a small, teasing smile.
“Nothing,” Helen said.
It wasn’t entirely a lie.
Helen began to watch Evelyn’s movements carefully. While she was naturally always on guard, thanks to her role as superhero and mom, she felt the need to be extra cautions around Evelyn. She knew Evelyn wasn’t going to try anything stupid this week. That had been established. If she wanted to do something, she had multiple windows up to this point. But her presence caused the warmth to trickle into her abdomen, making her uncomfortable. She wasn’t an idiot. She knew what was going on. But she wanted it to stop.
Thankfully, a distraction came in the form of a pair of men in suits. Helen noticed as Evelyn straightened her posture ever so slightly when she noticed their coming and approached them with ease and confidence.
“Fred, Paul, great to see you guys,” she greeted in a manner that reminded Helen to a laid-back Winston. “Have you had the pleasure to meet Elastigirl yet?”
The three exchanged pleasantries. Helen didn’t let on the surprise she felt when seeing Evelyn interact with business professionals in this way. Evelyn had told her that Winston was the face of the company, the one who made the connections, while she sat in the office and created the products. Even at events, Evelyn always took the back seat while Winston facilitated.
“Paul and I were actually hoping you two had the morning free,” said Fred boomed, his words loud and perfectly annunciated. “We’ve been in a debate for the past few days, well, ever since we saw Elastigirl here came to the conference, about the correlation of Supers and technology – trends, market projections, possible contentions.”
“Ooo, that’s dangerous territory there, Fred,” said Evelyn as she cautiously glanced at Helen. She was gauging Helen’s response. Helen could tell. This was strange. Surely, Evelyn didn’t care about her stance on the matter. She had already proven that she thought differently and wasn’t changing her mind.
“Sounds fascinating,” Helen responded enthusiastically, smirking at the look of shock on Evelyn’s face.
“Breakfast then,” said Paul, his smile as slick as the gel that saturated his hair.
The four quickly settled into a private table outside on resort property. The men had bought them coffee and pastries. Fred picked up a piece of toast, examining the burn pattern with thought before taking a nibble off the corner. Evelyn looked at him in disgust.
“How you stomach dry toast, I’ll never understand,” she said as she smothered a muffin with butter.
“Only so long as the—”
“—the toast is just right, yeah, yeah, I remember,” Evelyn finished with a teasing tone. “Doesn’t mean I get it.”
“I can’t eat it if it’s just warm bread,” he insisted, his voice rising with passion. “No. That’s just disgusting, but you know, I like it dry.”
“I tried to get him to invest in my company’s new toaster design,” said Paul slyly as he sipped his black coffee. “He wouldn’t do it.”
“Well, just because I like my toast a certain why doesn’t mean I’ll invest my business’s assets. It’s a toaster. We deal in the automotive industry.”
“A toaster is the same as a car engine,” Paul insisted.
“I’m not sure that’s correct,” Helen said, more so under her breath.
Paul turned toward Helen, as if just noticing her presence at the table, and gave a slick smile. He ran a hand through his gelled hair and leaned forward so his elbows rested comfortably on the table.
“So, you’re familiar with the automotive design?” he asked.
Helen felt the urge the scrunch her nose but held the impulse in while trying to be polite.
“Not cars specifically,” she said. “But I had a motorcycle back in the day. It helped me get around when I was on missions.”
“Ah yes,” said Paul, his voice sliding through the air like a snake. “The Elasticycle, right? And if I remember correctly, you had a more recent model for your latest project.”
“Evelyn made a great design,” she said factually, noticing Evelyn jump slightly at the mention of her name.
“See, this is exactly what we were talking about,” said Fred, booming himself into the conversation. “Technology and Supers. I like to think they can work together, as you and the Elasticycle show. But Paul thinks otherwise.”
“I just think one has to win out above the other,” said Paul through his nose. He leaned back into his chair and placed his fingers together delicately. “Who have the past two major villains been? Syndrome – who used technology to create his own powers. And the Screenslaver,” he gave a pointed look toward Evelyn, “who used it to manipulate them. It seems like the two are at war.”
“Which may be the case,” interrupted Fred, “but they have to learn to live harmoniously.”
“If you don’t mind me asking, Paul,” Helen said, politely inserting herself in the debate. “In this war between the Supers and technology, who wins?”
Paul stroked his chin thoughtfully, as if he had a beard there. It was over the top and off putting.
“I think the two will come into conflict for a while – decades even – but in the end, technology will win out.”
Helen could see where Paul was coming from. He was right, saying that the two were at odds. After fifteen years, it seemed that the only villains Helen was fighting was technology, and that was probably going to be the case from here on out.
“Oh, I have to disagree,” she said. “In my experience, there’s technology we’re fighting, yes. Sometimes that technology is intelligent, but there’s always a person behind the screen.”
Helen realized after the comment came out of her mouth how pointed it was at Evelyn, but the other woman seemed unfazed.
“But what about the day when technology becomes smart?” asked Paul. “We’ve seen it happen to an extent, but some day, I bet you all devices will make their own decisions. And when that day comes…”
“Oh, come on, Paul,” interjected Fred, as he took a big bite of toast. His voice causing the three others to jump. “Just come out and say it. You think technology will overtake the Supers.”
Helen felt her heart drop to her stomach. Turning to face Paul, she searched his face for any semblance of sympathy that would tell her he thought otherwise. Instead, he shrugged indifferently.
“I think technology will make the Supers unnecessary,” he said with a sip of coffee. “But, we invited you both here to get your opinion, since you represent the two sides of the argument.”
The table fell silent. Helen didn’t like the assumption. She thought it was cold and wrong. How could Paul think such a thing? The small flame within her had been exposed to a gust of oxygen, and she was ready to take on the nay-sayer. But before she could lay her truth, Evelyn spoke.
“I don’t think technology should make the Supers unnecessary.”
Her words clearly shocked the whole room. A brief flash of surprise crossed Paul’s face, which he cleverly hid in an instant. Fred gaped, a joyous smile tugging at his lips.
Where the fuck did this come from?
“You don’t?” asked Paul, his voice hitching in disbelief.
Evelyn shrugged, slouching in her chair under the three gazes. Helen watched her closely, ascertaining if she was telling the truth or not.
“I don’t,” she said simply, looking Paul straight in the eye.
That’s all she had to say on the subject, and Paul and Fred were too shocked by the information to probe much further. But Helen didn’t forget.
She brought it up again later that night when they were back in her room. Helen was lying on the couch, suit and mask still on, as Evelyn wrapped up a shower. Figuring Evelyn would be chatty, like the night before, she wanted to get her question out before the conversation got ahead of them. It wasn’t too long before the doors burst open, Evelyn emerging with the billowing steam. She wore green plaid men’s boxers and a loose tee shirt, her damn hair sticking up as she scrubbed it with a towel. The plan was to wait for Evelyn to lie down in bed, but the question stilled out upon sight.
“Why should Supers not be unnecessary?”
Evelyn jumped at bit, snapping her head toward Helen with surprised eyes. She shook her head.
Realizing she spoke too quickly, Helen took the question again, making sure she was deliberate. Evelyn shrugged in response.
“On its own, technology can be callous. It’s what the world saw with Syndrome and his super-killing robots. That’s why I invented the Screenslaver. The perfect technology/human hybrid.”
Helen’s shoulders fell. She was disappointed, thinking that maybe Evelyn changed her mind…it had only been a few days, so realistically she probably didn’t.
“You didn’t answer my question, though,” she said, soon seeing the loophole.
Evelyn sighed, flopping onto the bed.
“Technology would look at my track record and calculate that I’m not worth saving,” she confessed to the ceiling, refusing to make eye contact with Helen. The response caused Helen to perk up and lean forward, intrigued. “It would recognize my abilities, see my past actions and recent criminal record, do some cost analysis and conclude that I’m better off not being around. I didn’t get out of jail for good behavior. They let me out because Winston and DevTech have influence. I was miserable and asked him to bail me out. I’ve done nothing to be where I am right now, nothing to deserve it at least. Not when you add it all up.”
Evelyn rolled onto her side to face Helen. Her face was guarded, her eyes searching Helen’s for acceptance.
“And you’re making sure I stay safe. After I brainwashed you, manipulated you, and almost killed your family.”
Evelyn sounded more frustrated than grateful, but Helen brushed it off. She was clearly having the beginning of what hopefully would be much needed transformation. Helen wanted to make it as easy for her as possible.
“Justice isn’t black and white,” Helen said softly trying her best not to push Evelyn over the edge. “There’s a lot of gray areas.”
The two sat in silence for a while. Evelyn rolled back onto her back and Helen relaxed as much as she could on the couch.
“Can I ask you something now?” Evelyn asked.
Helen’s heart began to race at the proposition, a bit worried as to what Evelyn wanted to ask, and how she would respond. She said Evelyn could ask, trying to keep her voice even and not suspicious.
“What’s your first name?”
Helen paused, her breath caught in her throat, unsure of how to respond to the question. On the one hand, Winston knew her full identity. Bob’s as well. The harm of Evelyn knowing a first name was minimal. But at the same time…why did she want to know her first name? The sleuth in Helen couldn’t help but be suspicious, which made her cringe. Evelyn was just starting to trust Supers, she didn’t want to give her reason not to.
Luckily, Evelyn kept talking, which gave Helen some more time to figure out how to handle the situation.
“I know anonymity is important, especially for your family. I’m not going to ask you to shed the suit or the mask. I think those are important. But, I don’t know, with you starting to save me now, you don’t feel real. You’re a figure. A brand. But, I don’t know, I feel like we know each other a bit better for just that. A name would…humanize you.” Evelyn scoffed at herself and tangled her fingers in her hair aggressively. “I know this sounds suspicious…god, just forget it. I can deal with Elastigirl for four more days.”
Evelyn’s little monologue solidified Helen’s decision.
She had to blink, partially surprised the words came out as easily as they did. She didn’t dare look over at Evelyn but could hear her shift suddenly on the bed. Helen could imagine Evelyn looking at her, eyes wide in shock at the confession and the thought made her smile.
“Elastigirl outside this room,” Helen said, turning to face Evelyn as to solidify her point. She had to hide a smirk when seeing Evelyn’s face was exactly as she pictured it. “But in here, I can be Helen.”
Evelyn’s shock subsided for a moment and Helen could see a small, soft smile tug on her lips. She found herself smiling back, feeling as though a huge weight had been lifted from her shoulders. They relaxed, and Helen could move her neck without feeling the knot dig deep.
The silence of the moment allowed Helen to hear a strange clicking sound out in the hallway. The moment was ruined. Breaking eye contact from Evelyn, Helen sprung from the couch and cracked the door open just enough for her to survey the area. She was half expecting Evelyn to make some sarcastic comment from the bed. She was surprised to feel her behind her, craning her neck to peak over her.
Helen tensed. Outside Evelyn’s door was hooded figure, working quickly and for the most part quietly on the door handle. Helen immediately weighed all the different options for action, quickly deciding a knock out punch would be the best course of action. Maybe this time, they can quarantine him and figure out who he’s working for.
“Hey asshole, get out of my room!”
Helen cringed, Evelyn’s shout sounding out of the door and down the hallway. Not to much surprise, the hooded figure jerked in surprise, glancing underneath over his shoulder at the two before making a quick escape.
“Oh, no you don’t,” grumbled Helen under hear breath, taking off after the man.
For the first time in a while, her mind drifted away from Evelyn as her sole focus became tracking the intruder. He was quick, clearly knowing the floor plan intimately. He must’ve been another hotel employee. Helen remained hot on his trail as he dodged through hallways, quickly making turns in an attempt to get Helen off his trail.
But then he disappeared.
Helen wasn’t more than ten steps behind him and followed him down a corridor that only led to two bedrooms. But when she turned the corner, he was gone. She knocked on the doors and searched the rooms, much to the dismay of the execs who were staying inside. But he was nowhere.
How the hell did he pull that off?
“Thanks again, Cynthia,” said Helen. “Hopefully this will help for the rest of the conference.”
“Of course, Elastigirl,” said Cynthia with an air of professionalism. Despite the late hour, she was composed and dressed as though they hadn’t woken her up in the middle of the night about the break in. “It’s standard protocol for this conference. There’s someone every year who gets targeted.”
A thump on the threshold into the room signaled Evelyn’s presence. Helen sighed, figuring the woman was leaning against the doorframe with on eyebrow cocked and eyes on Cynthia. Helen turned to see just that, except Evelyn’s eyes were on her.
“Almost done out here?” she asked impatiently as she stifled a yawn. “I’ve dozed off twice now.”
Helen, who too was tired but would never let anyone know about it, nodded. She watched as Evelyn’s eyes considered her sleepily for another moment before glancing behind her. Her eyes grew wide at the sight of Cynthia and she crossed her arms in front of her chest.
“I haven’t seen you at the bar, Ev,” chided Cynthia playfully from behind Evelyn. “Didn’t scare you away, did I?”
Helen watched carefully as Evelyn gave her a quick side glance before assuming a more confident posture.
“No, no I’ve just been under room arrest. I’m afraid our night broke my curfew.”
Helen was expecting the comment to be directed toward Cynthia. She was shocked to see Evelyn maintain eye contact with her. Helen kept the connection, determined to not show how shy she felt on the inside. Cynthia interrupted, tossing a maroon handkerchief between them. "Did either of you drop this?" she asked. "It was on the ground outside the door." Helen had never seen the object before, and from the confused look on Evelyn's face, she could safely determine it neither of theirs. Thanking Cynthia for the find, Helen pocketed the item. Evelyn gave Helen a wink before sliding back into the room. Helen’s mouth ran dry.
They were in bed before long – Evelyn in the bed and Helen on the couch. She fingered the edges of her mask, toying with the idea of taking it off for the night. It felt like ages since her skin was free of the black material. The thought was tempting.
She tucked her hands underneath the sheets, dispelling the idea. Evelyn already knew one private piece of information about her. Probably more, if her drunken memories would ever return. Best not add to the list.
Evelyn’s voice rose from the darkness. She was clearly half asleep when saying it, for she never heard the other woman sound so gentle. Helen blushed from underneath her suit, feeling it creeping out from under her collar. She cleared her throat.
A day late, I know. I blame the food poisoning. As always, thank you to everyone who has reached out and commented on the last chapter, whether on A03, tumblr, or the discord. You bring so many smiles to my life.
Chapter 8: The Drunken Day
Evelyn learns more about Helen than she ever thought possible.
Evelyn woke up with a hankering to pee. She had a dream that she was working in her office back at DevTech, but it wasn’t actually her office. It was an open concept workplace in the Amazon, and instead of windows everywhere there were holes in the wall. And she was right by a waterfall. A steady, gentle waterfall that ran in the background as she worked. As she blinked the sleep from her eyes and rolled onto her stomach, she soon realized the running water was coming from the bathroom.
The presence of the running shower only grew in her mind as it awoke. It became louder, triggering her bladder. However, as she grew more awake, she realized that in order for water to be running in the bathroom, someone had to be in there. She lazily cracked one eye open and attempted to focus on the couch. Sure enough, Elastigirl was nowhere to be found.
Helen was nowhere to be found.
Evelyn smiled, remembering the discussion from the night before. Elastigirl was such a Helen. While not the first in her list of possible names for Elastigirl, she couldn’t conceive it being anything else. It was something about her hair that pulled it off.
With her mind on the Super, Evelyn almost forgot her brimming bladder. It wasn’t long before the water shut off and, not entirely thinking for she had just woken up, Evelyn charged for the bathroom door. She opened it, not entirely thinking, but quickly realized her error.
Helen’s reflection was in the mirror.
No, she wasn’t naked. She had a robe on her shoulders and a towel in her hair.
But her mask was off.
And she was unaware that Evelyn was peeping in.
A blush tainted Evelyn’s cheek, but she didn’t register it right away. How could she when her mind was fixated on the sight in the mirror in front of her. Helen’s face. Her nose was smaller than she was expecting. And her brows were killer, she’d forgotten people had those temporarily. And how was it that her teenage daughter had more bags under her eyes? Her skin was flawless and young. How does that happen? She has three kids.
Evelyn wasn’t sure how long she stood there. It wasn’t until Helen moved her head up to no longer face the sink that Evelyn realized she’d been staring. Immediately wracked with guilt, Evelyn quickly and quietly shut the door as to not draw attention toward herself and slunk back to the bed.
Oh fuck, what did she just do?
It had taken how long get Helen to trust her? And she almost jeopardized that. Yes, Helen didn’t see her, but what if she did? The thought made Evelyn sick. It also conflicted of the image of Helen’s face, which was so beautiful and unexpected. Typically, she wouldn’t feel this conflicted. Usually, she would feel betraying trust was worth it to get a glimpse into the life of a beautiful woman. But she couldn’t shake the guilt that wracked her chest.
Seeing Helen as she walked out of the bathroom, fully suited up, bright eyed and cheery, didn’t help the feeling.
The two went about their morning as usual. Feeling awkward when around Helen, Evelyn found herself hanging around Tom more. She hadn’t betrayed his trust in any way.
Tom didn’t say much. He never did, but that was nice. As Helen monitored the lobby in between panels, Evelyn would willingly sit near the parole officer. She’d occasionally attempt small talk but was only met with one-word answers and monosyllabic grunts. Of course, she kept an eye on Helen…not just to look at her. Of course not, why would that have thought pop into her head. No, to see if she had found any clues about a possible break in artist. Assuming it was the same guy, he’d gotten away twice, and all they had to show for it was two notes in Evelyn’s handwriting and a satin maroon handkerchief.
As Evelyn scanned the room, her eyes caught onto a sight that made her groan and roll her eyes, immediately alerting Tom and causing him to look down at her with a raised eyebrow. Ed was walking away from Paul and Fred, probably networking as usual, and making his way toward her.
“If I ask you nicely, can you destroy him with your bicep?” Evelyn asked to Tom, only half seriously. Tom responded with an alarmed look. “Oh, don’t call reinforcements on me. I’m only half kidding.”
Ed sauntered over and Evelyn wondered how it is gravity would allow it that his feet could lead so far in front of his torso.
“Word on the street is you’ve no longer denounced the Supers,” he said, addressing Evelyn but looking around the lobby, searching around to see if anything interesting was happening.
“Hello, Ed. How are you today?” Evelyn asked in a monotone.
Ed rolled his eyes but ignored the comment.
Evelyn was shocked at his force. Sure, Ed was a corporate gold digger, but he never was this…unfriendly.
“I don’t see how this concerns you,” she said, crossing her arms.
“My number one enemy just became more popular in the public eye by saying, and I quote, ‘I don’t think technology should make the Supers unnecessary.’ Where is this coming from, Evelyn? Who’s telling you to say this? Is it Winston’s plan to save DevTech’s investing profile?”
Evelyn stared at Ed, brows furrowed and mouth slightly agape. Tom completely forgotten, she stood and approached the man, puffing out her chest to make herself feel to be his height.
“DevTech is doing fine,” she whispered, placing a punch behind each syllable.
“Have you seen the stocks?” he asked, giving Evelyn a mouthful of crooked teeth and gold molars. He pulled a newspaper from the inside pocket of his glossy black suit. “Well, I won’t spoil the surprise, but you and Winston will have a lot to talk about when you get home.”
“I don’t believe you,” Evelyn scoffed.
Ed pocketed the paper once again and straightened his maroon tie.
“You don’t have to,” he said. “Because like I said, if you’re supportive of the Supers, that changes everything.”
Evelyn watched as Ed disappeared into the crowd. He kept eye contact with her, even walking backwards as to just make a point. It was so difficult to take him seriously when he did stupid shit like that. But even a horrible moonwalk couldn’t lessen the impact of his warning. She wanted to call Winston immediately, but knew the call would be monitored and therefore they couldn’t talk about matters like stocks or the business in general. She would have to wait until she got home.
Even if DevTech was in trouble, it sounded like there was a way to save it. Evelyn quickly located Helen in the lobby. She hadn’t moved. A small smile formed on her face as she studied the Super, entranced by her concentration. She shouldn’t stare, but she let herself for a moment.
Someone cleared their throat from behind her.
Evelyn forgot Tom was in the room.
Evelyn was insistent to Winston that her mind on Supers wasn’t going to change. She felt that resolution weakening by the hour, and with this new business benefit, she could see herself getting along with Helen quite well for the remaining days.
The rest of the day’s panels ended without anything too notable. Evelyn supposed the demonstration of the video recording device was cool enough, but nothing too mind blowing. She retired to the bar, smiling at the sight of her group, huddled by the bartender as they usually were. Trace gave a yell as she noticed Evelyn walk in. She had clearly been here for a while and was well on her way to another splitting hangover.
“What took you so long?” she asked, sloppily pushing her bangs out of her face as she handed Evelyn a vodka shot. Evelyn downed it without batting an eye and slid onto a barstool.
“The panels just ended for the day,” Evelyn said, signaling the bartender for her usual double shot of whisky.
“Remember, Trace, she has to be Winston this week,” said Daisy as she made her way toward Trace and draped an arm around her. The two worked together at IBM.
“That doesn’t explain why she wasn’t here last night,” said Trace, crossing her arms. “We didn’t’ see you at all!”
Evelyn felt a slight panic set in as she gratefully took her shot and downed it without blinking an eye. She signaled for another.
“I broke curfew two nights ago. Elastigirl revoked my visitation rights.”
It was half true. She suppressed the guilt with the next shot, hoping it would produce some sort of buzz. Her tolerance was getting horribly formidable, but she was beginning to feel something.
Trace bought her a nice glass of red wine to celebrate her arrival and Evelyn sipped on it as the group chatted up the bartender and danced. They were already a rowdy group, but give them some alcohol and there was no shame. Daisy was grasping onto Trace, but whether out of desire or to stand up straight, Evelyn couldn’t tell. Liv found a tech geek at the other end of the bar. They spoke sweetly to one another, causing Liv to have a small smile on her face. That was nice, she’d seemed really bummed for a while there. The rest of the group switched form dancing in the little circle that they’d formed to ordering more drinks and back again.
Evelyn wasn’t one for dancing. The touching thing. She didn’t like it. It made her uncomfortable. So she sat at the bar and commented on the happenings from the outside. It was the best position. Her friends knew her preferences, so they were always quick to engage back with her if she made a comment. And, it meant she was closer to the alcohol. If she wanted two more whisky shots with her glass of wine, she sure as hell could have that, and nobody could tell her otherwise.
Unsure of how long she’d been sitting there, Evelyn found herself swaying to the music, “da da”ing along with the rhythm. She wasn’t thinking of anything, but was distracted enough to jump when Trace slumped down next to her.
“Wha timesyur curfew” she slurred, eyes focused on Evelyn to try and focus her thoughts.
“Midnight, like every night,” Evelyn said with a shrug as she took a sip of her wine. It took her brain a few moments to process Trace’s words, and when she did her eyes grew why. “Shit what time is it now?”
Trace groaned, slouching down to rest her torso on the bar.
“I don’t know. Bartender!”
It didn’t take much to get the bartender’s attention, and he was able to soberly inform them that it was 11:27. He tried saying 11:30, but Trace interrupted him, saying she needed the exact time for science.
“Well that’s weird,” mumbled Trace.
“What’s weird, your face?” asked Evelyn, chuckling at her joke as she slouched on her stool.
Trace ignored her, focused on a spot behind Evelyn’s shoulder and trying with all her might to muster a thought.
“If it’s only 11:27, then why is Elastigirl over there?”
Evelyn almost didn’t turn around, figuring it was Trace’s drunken state making things up. Tom always took the night shift. She probably got the two confused. However, she felt a tingling in her back, as if her body was hyperaware of a presence behind her. Evelyn’s curiosity got the better of her, and sure enough, she turned around.
Helen stood by the doorway, not looking at Evelyn but surveying the room as she usually did. Confused, Evelyn looked to where she last saw Tom, and found him still in the booth, also watching the area but eating onion rings while doing so.
“Excuse me,” Evelyn said, her voice vacant as she took in Helen. She left her glass of wine behind and tried to straighten her posture. Either it was the low lighting or the alcohol, but to Evelyn, Helen seemed more captivating than usual. It was like there was a radiant glow that emitted from her and Evelyn, like a moth, couldn’t help but be drawn toward her presence.
“Hey,” she said with a casual wave. “I thought Tom took the night shift.”
“Change in plans,” Helen said, refusing to make eye contact with Evelyn as she finished her initial scan. “With the second break in, we thought having two people around would be best.”
“We?” she asked. “The two of you…talked about this?”
“Yes,” said Helen, clearly not catching Evelyn’s amusement toward it all.
“Did he come up with the idea or you?”
“He did,” said Helen.
Evelyn threw her arms up in the air, almost hitting a busser in the face. She didn’t notice. Helen did.
“I swear, the man talks to everybody but me.”
Helen must’ve finished her scan, about time, because she looked at Evelyn finally and Evelyn had to remind herself to breathe. Her eyes caught her off guard. They were warm tonight, or so they seemed, and as she looked at them, Helen couldn’t help but picture the mask less face from this morning. But she shook the thought from her head, because she wasn’t supposed to know what Helen looked like. So she tried to forget. For Helen.
The wine was slowing her down.
“You gonna drink with us?” Evelyn asked, nodding her head toward the gaggle of women.
Helen laughed, and Evelyn felt her soul soar.
“I’m on duty,” she said.
Evelyn took that as a challenge.
“You’ll still be aware of your surroundings after one drink,” Evelyn said, grasping Helen’s hand and leading her gently into the bar.
“I’m not worried about one drink,” Helen said. Evelyn was surprised to find her walking along easily. She was even more surprised to see Helen take a double shot of vodka right off the back. She must’ve had an astonished look on her face because Helen laughed after looking over at her. “And that will be it for the night.”
Helen sat gracefully on a barstool, seemingly unfazed. Evelyn had to shake her head aggressively to reengage with the real world and sat next to Helen.
“You came all the way down here for one shot?” Evelyn asked, fingering the stem of her wine glass but all together ignoring the contents. “You could get that in the mini fridge upstairs. Winston would’ve paid for it.”
“It’s not the same,” said Helen. “Besides, this way, I can make sure you’re upstairs on time.”
Evelyn snorted, not her typical way of laughing but her inhibitions were down, and she couldn’t help it. Helen’s relentless heroism was, quite frankly, adorable to her non-sober mind. They always were, but that was never something she’d admit usually. So, she was set to let herself revel in it for the time being. It was difficult to do so without feeling guilty.
Deciding Helen was not going to have just one drink, Evelyn signaled for the bartender to bring over another glass of red wine. The shock on Helen’s face when Evelyn passed it to her was adorable. She looked at the glass with a longing, as if she wanted it but something was stopping her.
“You’re opening a dangerous can of worms,” Helen said, glancing over to Evelyn warily.
“You can have two drinks,” Evelyn insisted. “Besides, Tom’s here.” She glanced over to Tom, who focused intensely on the onion rings in front of him. “What’s the worst that could happen?”
“I realize how much of a lightweight I’ve become,” Helen said. She bobbed her head side to side as her cheeks glowed a rosy red. The double vodka must’ve been kicking in. “Gosh, I can’t remember the last time I had a drink.”
Evelyn’s jaw dropped. In that moment, the idea of not remembering the last time you drank sounded devastating to her. What a horrible existence.
“Why?” she asked.
“If you remember, I have a little one,” said Helen, tracing her finger on the rim of her glass. Her gaze kept glancing toward it. “I haven’t had the time to really drink since he was born, and then it was at least nine months before that.”
“All the more reason to take this gracious gift I’ve offered you,” Evelyn said, leaning forward and sliding the glass of wine closer to Helen. “Plus, think of it this way, the whole reason I was able to convince Winston to let you come was to show the world I befriended the Super I wronged, or whatever. Well, if people see us drinking together, chatting, having a good time, we’re making that believable. You’d basically be doing your job.”
Whether it was the relentless pestering or the double shot lowering her inhibitions, Evelyn would never know. All she knew was that, with a shrug, Helen picked up her wine and took a sip. Evelyn cheered and patted Helen on the pack like she won a race or something. The two were awfully close, she thought, realizing that she never did lean away after sliding the glass toward her.
Helen met Evelyn’s gaze. She must’ve been staring into her eyes. Helen raised a single eyebrow. Not a single crease. God, this woman was a goddess.
“Goodnight everyone!” shouted a voice from the other end of the bar, drawing Helen’s attention away. Evelyn groaned internally and slouched across the bar to see who it was to disturb her moment. It was just Liv.
“See ya, Liv,” Evelyn shouted back, shutting her eyes and extending her hand into the air but not waving. “Ride the elevator safely.”
When Liv did not respond, Evelyn opened her eyes. Liv always responded. She was too nice to not respond. She was able to just catch her fast walking out of the area, head down and arms crossed tightly. That was odd. Evelyn flickered her eyes back toward Helen, stunned to find her looking miserably into her glass as she swirled her wine.
“I feel like I just missed something,” Evelyn found herself saying out loud.
Helen immediately perked up, but Evelyn, at the beginning of her sobering up process, could see something was still amiss.
“No, nothing really,” said Helen, taking a sip of her wine.
“You just looked super depressed,” said Evelyn. “Seriously, I closed my eyes for a few seconds and the whole mood shifted.”
“Liv and I got into a small argument is all,” Helen said, waving the matter off with her hand.
But drunk Evelyn was insistent.
“That was not small,” said Evelyn, gesturing between Helen and the door. “I mean, how long have you guys known each other? If it’s been more than five years, then yeah you should probably do something about this. But less than that,” she sliced her hand across her throat for emphasis. Helen cracked a small smile.
“I don’t know Liv all that well,” Helen said. “She was a freshman in high school when I was a senior. It was her twin sister, Gail. We were close.”
Evelyn saw a wave of sadness pass across Helen’s face as she mentioned Gail, which sparked her curiosity. Without really realizing it, she reached across and began to rub Helens arm in an attempt to be comforting. Helen’s lean into the touch told her it was working.
“What’s this all about?” Evelyn asked. She was surprisingly focused considering the amount of alcohol she had. But then again, it had been a while she had a drink. Probably for the best.
Helen considered her for a moment, and Helen could see in her shifting eyes that she was going through some internal conflict in her mind. It pained Evelyn to see Helen like this. It was quite odd, actually. She was always so composed and radiant, a relentless go-getter. But now, she seemed to be near her last straw. It was as if she had been fighting a battle for years, decades even, and she was aching to let the walls down. Evelyn didn’t like this, seeing Helen this conflicted and hurt. It made her sad.
And so, she resolved she’d do anything she could to help Helen feel better.
Evelyn traced her hand down to meet Helen’s and the two joined fingers. Evelyn squeezed Helen’s hand and hoped that it came across as reassuring.
“Is there anything I can do?” she asked. She had never sounded more sincere to her own ears.
Evelyn watched carefully as Helen looked up to meet her eyes. She took a deep breath in through her nose, and on the exhale, said the last thing that Evelyn was truly expecting to come out of her mouth.
“Gail was my high school girlfriend.”
As you've probably noticed at this point, whether from the lack of update or from my tumblr, the twice-a-week posting schedule has been broken. Trust me, I'm not proud of it. It was my last week of work and I had to move my life to a different state for college. So, it's been a little stressful lately, and writing didn't get done. But, I hope this chapter makes up for it.
As I'm starting school tomorrow *cries* updating will now take place every Sunday. I won't let this story die!!
Thank you all for your kind reviews and notes this past week. It thrills me that people are still discovering this story and finding it entertaining. I love to hear what you say, so leave a note if you have the time :)