Actions

Work Header

Operation Starbright

Chapter Text

 

Ever since I could remember I was afraid of death.

 

It was so vast, too many questions and not enough answers.

 

But now death was everywhere, in every corner. I had lost more friends and allies than I count.

 

Nearly everyone I knew was a battle casualty and I had to do something to fix it.


 

 

Stella Floyd. Born in New York City, New York. DOB: 29 Dec 2003. 17 years old.

 

This was my new identity. The one I had to memorize. The story I was sticking to.

 

Orphan.

 

The painful truth that wasn’t so true now. My parents were here, in the past, but I wasn’t born yet. To them I was a stranger but to me they were the whole world.

 

Sex: Female. Height: 5’9”. Weight: 145 lbs. Hair: Brown. Eyes: Green

 

The mundane details, nothing more than a description in case someone needed to find me.

 

And there was definitely people trying to find me now. I could hear them behind me, feet beating like a herd of elephants. There was four of them and one of me and they were gaining.

 

I navigated through the alleyway, abruptly coming to a fence. Using my powers would be risky, it could blow my cover. I stepped back to get a running start, I used the momentum from my jump to at least get mostly up the fence. It was 10, 12 feet easily. I scuttled up as fast as I could. I looked up my breathing became labored, my legs and arms jelly. I didn’t know how long I’d been running but it was taking its toll.

 

Before I knew it there was a firm grip on my ankle. I looked down to see one of the thugs I had been trying to escape. He was bald and heavyset. Not necessarily meaty but more muscle bound than the rest. I tried kicking him with my free leg but he grabbed it. “You’re not going anywhere girly.” He said as he gave me a firm yank. My head landed on the gravelly ground with a sickening thud.

 

That was going to be a concussion.

 

I punched and kicked wildly, not caring where my hits landed. The other lackeys had caught up. “Well, well, well. What do we have here. A little thief.” One teased. “A defenseless teenage girl you stupid fuck!” I said angrily. My sass was rewarded with a kick in the ribs. “Let me up you pussies!” I coughed. If I was going down it wasn’t going to be without a fight. “I didn’t steal anything.” Another kick to the ribs. This one came with a crack. “Give us the flash drive!” The bald one demanded. “I don’t have your stupid flash drive!” Suddenly I was being slammed into the fence. “Give us the flash drive!” He said again.

 

I smiled weakly and spat my blood in his face. “Fuck. You.” I said defiantly as I looked him in the eyes. He must have seen the lack of fear, the stubbornness deeply instilled. He growled and threw me to the ground. “Search the bitch.” As they came closer I balled my fists. I stood up, every muscle protesting. “Touch me. I dare you.” They looked at me and laughed.

 

They were closing in and I was backed into the corner.

 

I looked around, searching for a way out. There was no way I was getting over the fence. I stayed as calm as I could without a proper exit strategy. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I somehow knew that it would be okay.

 

As I inhaled for the second time my lungs were filled with smoke. I started coughing and when I opened my eyes there was smoke and then, there was nothing.


 

 

When my eyes opened the first thing I noticed was that I wasn’t in pain. I should be in searing pain. The second thing I noticed was white.

 

Am I dead? I began to panic, my chest tightening until I heard the heart monitor pulsing. I was in a hospital. My first instinct was to rip the IV out of my arms until I heard the nurse next to me. It must have been how I woke up. “Hey sweetie. You’ve been out for a while.” She said with a soft smile. I looked up at her with a frown. “Where am I?” “Weiss Memorial. You’ve been out for two days.” I sat up slowly and as I moved my body began to ache. I hissed and grabbed my side. “Careful! Don’t pop any stitches!” She said as she grabbed me. “Just lay back down and push this button to raise yourself up instead of moving your body.” She said as she showed me the remote.

 

Once I was up I looked around the modest hospital room. I looked out the window to see that it was a rainy afternoon. “There’s a detective who wants to talk to you.” My heart rate spiked. “A detective?” I stuttered. “If you need a minute I can tell him to come back later.” I shook my head. “No, it’s perfectly fine.” She nodded and stepped out for a minute.

 

I laid back and closed my eyes, everything was moving in slow motion.

 

“I'm Detective Dick Grayson. I have a few questions for you.”



Chapter Text

My heart was racing.

 

I could practically hear my blood pumping in my ears.

 

This wasn’t happening. This shouldn’t be happening. I was so stupid, was so sloppy.

 

Only I could royally fuck up a recon mission.


 

 

I was on a rooftop watching a warehouse. I was suppose to be gathering intel and intel only.  I was carefully to wear all black and keep myself out of view.

 

Everything was going amazing until I was spotted. Baldie and Co ran out searching for something they looked up and saw me there. I wasn’t exactly innocent but I wasn’t a thief either.  

 

I ran from rooftop to rooftop but they were surprisingly good at parkour. I thought that weaving through the alleys would work but I didn’t have the geography of Chicago imprinted in my brain like I did Jump City.

 

The rest was unfortunately history.

 

When I had came to the past I was to be working alone, going unnoticed and flying (figuratively) under the radar. But that went to Hell in a hand basket faster than I had anticipated. I had only been in the past for like a week and I had already basically blown cover.


 

 

Should I come clean or stick with the lie? If I lied then it would be easier for me to fade away into obscurity right? If I told the truth though then my conscious could rest.

 

I took a deep breath and before my brain could stop my mouth I blurted out: “I’m your daughter from the future.”


 

 

All kids hide things, little white lies and huge secrets alike. I, being a teenage girl, had done plenty of both.

 

The biggest lie:

 

I had decided to go to an all girls boarding school in Rhode Island. I didn’t have behavioral issues like most girls who went.

 

I was chasing the girl I loved.

 

But I couldn’t tell my parents that.

 

They knew I liked girls and it was fine by them but they wouldn’t let me go if they knew why I really wanted to go.

 

Her name was Fallon Hall and despite being a raging bitch and hothead she was my best friend. The first time I met Fallon we were babies. I didn’t remember but Mom says she pulled my hair and instead of crying I looked at her and grabbed her hand.

 

I guess that my patience for Fallon was a lifelong thing.

 

Her parents moved back to Washington DC and we were on separate paths. Despite this we stayed in touch. Calling and writing faithfully. I wanted to become an ethnobotanist and she wanted to become an MMA fighter. I was Homecoming Queen, traditionally feminine. Fallon was a troublemaker, always testing boundaries. Always testing her parents. They got fed up with her and sent her off.

 

The last straw was in the locker room before soccer practice.

 

This was after Fallon shaved her head in a grand act of rebellion, a giant “fuck you.” As she told it some of her teammates were teasing her and calling a dyke. So she snapped. Many of the girls’ parents had wanted to press charges but Fallon’s parents begged the judge to not have any charges pressed if they sent her to boarding school.

 

She had wrote to me about how bored she was but how much she was flourishing.

 

Normally I was level headed. Then all my impulses had told me to apply. Not even two weeks later I was on a plane.

 

When Mom and Dad asked why I wanted to go I told them about how amazing their botany program was.


 

He stood there dumbfounded. We probably had the same stupid expression on our faces. Neither of us could believe what I just said. We didn’t speak for a moment we just studied each other.

 

What could we say?


 

 

After my little brother’s funeral I lied to my parents all the time. I was constantly telling them that I was fine. It worked for awhile until Fallon and I had gotten into a huge fight.

 

She had told me she loved me for the first time and all I could do was say “okay.” She stared at me like I’d grown a second head. The speech she had given was beautiful I was just so numb. “I said I love you.” She repeated as tears started streaming down her face.

 

“When someone says I love you, you say something like ‘me too’ at least.” Her voice was quivering and I could see her fists balling. I looked up at her with a shrug. “What if I don’t feel the same?” I said it to hurt her because I was hurting and I thought dragging someone down with me would take the pain away. She scoffed. “Then why are we wasting our time? You said you came here for me.” “I came here for the botany program.” I stood up and when I looked her in the eyes I could see only two things.

 

Betrayal and rage.

 

I couldn’t tell if she was crying because she was angry or crying because I succeeded in bringing her to my level. She bit her lip and nodded. “You’re supposed to be the good one. The caring one. The perfect and amazing one. But you’re more fucked up than I am. I get that you’re sad about Jake but that doesn't give you a pass to play with my heart.” She walked away and as soon as she was gone I fell to the ground, crying for the first time in a long time.


 

“I’m sorry what?” He broke the silence with the question. “It sounds crazy I know. I wouldn’t believe me if I was you but.” I took a deep breath. “Things are bad in my future. There’s this organization called the Court of Owls. The founding members started off in the League of Shadows but they wanted to be independent. There was a bunch of infighting and it resulted in a chain of seriously awful shit and the whole world going crazy and I came here to stop it before it started but I got busted on my first night out by some goons and I’m rambling and I’m sorry.”


 

I sat in the therapy chair with my knees up to my chest. “You’re a 16 year old self admitted alcoholic. How does a 16 year old girl become an alcoholic?” “Drinking.” I said with a huff. “But without being a smartass, grief. My little brother died. He was only 9. He was trying to get a bunch of kindergartners to the safe room. I didn’t like how being sad felt so I decided to make myself numb. My parents found my stache and we got into a fight. I asked ‘what will you do? Send me to boarding school?’ So they sent me to therapy instead.”

 

The old man nodded in understanding. “So you recognized that you were in a dark place but instead of trying to seek help you wanted to handle the problem by ignoring it?” I closed my eyes. “I guess.”


 

 

“What kind of father am I to send my teenage daughter on a mission like this?”

 

“A dead one.”

Chapter Text

For as long as I could remember I was a Daddy’s girl.

 

I love both of my parents, don’t get me wrong, there was just a stronger connection between my father and I. On rainy Saturdays we’d curl up in his favorite armchair and he would read to me until I fell asleep. He never read me proper children’s books, he said it was for the benefit of my vocabulary.

 

Mom would say we were so close because had the near same personality, my extroversion and mild-temper being the key differences We even shared some of the same mannerisms. I really didn’t notice until I was older but as always she was right.  

 

We sat across from each other at a diner, both of us placing our hands over our mouths as we waited for our food. Once I realized we were doing the same thing I sat back and tapped my hands on my lap. “I just, I have so many questions.” I nodded. “Yeah. I imagine.” We sat in silence for a while longer until our food came and we thanked our waitress. I noticed that we ate the same, dipping our fries in ketchup in sync.

 

Suddenly Dad’s phone went off. “I got to get this it’s Kory she’s my-” “My mom, I know.” I said with a nod. He paused for a second before taking the call outside. I stopped eating as I thought of the farthest memory I had of my mother.


 

 

“Water! Water!” I exclaimed as I pointed to the ocean. I don’t remember how young I was, maybe 3 or 4. It was summertime and I had decided that we were going to spend the day at the beach. I was sitting on Dad’s shoulders and Mom was laughing at my enthusiasm. According to them it was my first time seeing the ocean. Mom picked me up and spun me around. “That’s called the Pacific Ocean. Can you say Pacific?” I looked up at her, the shining sun above us making her glow. “Sefic!” “Pacific.” She repeated. I knit my little eyebrows in concentration. “Pific?” She kept repeating until I got close with “Paific”

 

That’s what she did best, she never folded in the towel. She determined and stubborn. That’s what I liked most about her.

 

Mom never let me fail.


 

 

The last time I saw my mother I watched her die.

 

She laid her head on my lap and had my hand pressed firmly to her heart but the blood wouldn’t stop.  “No matter what happens, don’t you quit. Keep going, keep fighting.” I shook my head, eyes beginning to water and I felt like I couldn’t breath. “Mama please, please don’t go I need you.” I cried.  “I know you do and I’m sorry. I’m so sorry that you had to grow up so fast.”

 

All it takes is one bullet, a stray bullet ricocheting off a wall and into her chest.

 

My mother was the strongest woman I knew and all it took was one goddamn bullet. A bullet that wasn’t even meant for her, a bullet that came from seemingly nowhere. I never figured out who shot or why but I did know one thing for sure.

 

For once I wasn’t sad anymore.

 

Now I was angry.


Chapter Text

At first when my mom told me she was pregnant with Jake I didn’t understand. I was in the 1st grade when the bombshell was dropped. I looked at my parents with a frown. I was an only child and suddenly they were having a baby. But I was the baby. Then I asked a question all parents dread to hear. “Where do babies come from?”

 

My parents were never the type to sugarcoat so at the tender age of 6, I learned what sex was. Well, as PG as my parents could make it sound.

 

But as my mother’s belly grew rounder I came to love the little parasite. It didn’t really hit me that I was a big sister until they brought Jake home. He was wrapped up in this little green blanket Gar gave him and he was so wrinkly and small. When I was asked if I wanted to hold him my hands shook. But then he looked up at me with curious brown eyes and I’m sure my expression was similar.

 

I silently vowed to myself that no one would ever hurt my little brother.


 

 

Things happen that are out of our control all the time. But there’s always a nag in the back of our mind telling us that we can control any and everything around us.

 

That stupid nag had gotten Jake killed.

 

It was a peaceful day at Jump City Central Elementary school. It was April and the school year was nearly over. The sky was cloudless, the sea breeze gentle, nothing bad could possibly happen on a day like this.

 

Right?

 

There was a teacher named Chloe Hamilton who was in the middle of a divorce. According to court documents her husband was abusive and she wanted out. But he wanted her to stay, he done one illegal thing or another and the only thing stopping the DA from charging him was that his wife wouldn’t be able to testify against him and she knew everything. Now that they were on the outs she could get subpoenaed in court.

 

And Frankie Hamilton didn’t want to go to jail.

 

His plan was simple, kill her before the divorce was finalized. Only, she had a restraining order and police sitting on her house. But they didn’t think to have someone watch the school.

 

But once he had that first kill he wanted more.

 

More meant innocent kids. 18 innocent kids. 

 

I was in AP Bio when the headmistress called me into her office. “Ms. Grayson, I have some troubling news.”


 

 

Jake was always caring. He did all he could to cheer people up or make someone smile. He was fiercely protective of anyone he knew that couldn’t stand up for themselves.

 

JCCE had a safe room for the students and teachers in case of a shooting or natural disasters. The only problem was how far away it was from certain wings of the building. The 3rd grade and kindergarten halls were the furthest away, the 5th and 1st graders being the closest while the 4th graders were a reasonable distance away. The kindergartens were understandably scared and Jake, who was set on being the hero had gotten them to calm down, he walked in front of them, the bullets meeting him as he rounded the corner.


 

 

 

Looking my Dad in the eyes was hard after Jake. All I could see were the sweet brown eyes of a little boy who deserved to grow into a man.

 

There was a pang in my chest and I’d find myself looking down in my lap or at my surroundings. Eye contact was usually easy for me but I just couldn’t look, I couldn't. It’d hurt too much.

 

I wasn’t a stranger to pain but I wasn’t necessarily a fan.


 

 

The last time I saw Jake was Spring Break. Rachel had taken us to the Santa Monica pier and he had won himself a plush walrus. It was a miniature one with bright green fur (“For Gar!” he said excitedly) and rainbow tusks. Jake held it close to his chest, proclaiming it his prized possession. We rode on the Ferris wheel and he made himself sick on cotton candy but overall it was a good day.

 

At the airport before I was due to go to my terminal he gave the walrus to me. “He’s good luck! He’ll help you with your finals.” He said with a warm smile, mom’s smile. “Are you sure that you won’t be needing him?” “Nope! I’m lucky enough on my own.”

 

Except he wasn’t.

 

I looked at the walrus one last time before placing it on top of my little brother’s casket. My legs wavered underneath me and I fell to the ground screaming how I had failed. "I promised, I promised to protect him."


 

 

It didn’t register to me that I had zoned so far out until I reached for another fry to realize they were gone. I didn’t even remember eating them all. I looked out the window to see the rain had subsided and the sun was shining.

 

In the distance, there was a rainbow.

 

The rainbow felt like a sign, like Jake was telling me to pull through. For the first time in a far too long time I smiled. 

 

Maybe Jake would be the one protecting me. 

Chapter Text

Dad and I sat in silence, his eyes on the road and my eyes looking at the sky. The rainbow was starting to fade but I had a sense of renewal. I could do this. I could really do this.

 

I didn’t have to let the past (future?) weigh me down. If all went according to plan then I could be happy again. Nobody would have to die, everything would be okay. It would be the same as it was before.

 

When the world was in technicolor.


 

 

When I was small my Dad had up and decided that he was going to be a social worker instead of a police detective. Mostly because his hours would be somewhat reduced meaning he could spend more time at home. Another reason being that social work wouldn’t be so hard on his body. Mom was always teasing him that his body was 80.

 

He had a love/hate relationship with his job. On one hand he was helping kids but on another he was exposed to the effects of abuse, seeing kids, babies even bloodied and bruised.

 

He wanted to beat the living shit out of the people responsible but he knew that would make things worse.


 

 

“From the future? Like Marty McFly style?” Gar asked in disbelief. I nodded. “Well, I didn’t come here in a DeLorean but yes.” “What’s the future like?” I took a deep breath. “I wouldn’t be here if it was peachy keen.” I said with more venom than initially intended. “Sorry.” I said as a sort of automatic response. “What did you come here to fix?” Mom asked, I turned towards her, wanting so badly to run into her arms and cry but I held my composure. “A lot.”


 

 

“There’s a difference between what’s right and what’s wrong in the eyes of the law and what’s right and wrong to you morally.Do you understand that?” Aunt Donna asked me seriously. I was only 5 and I had the slightest clue to what she meant but I nodded anyway. “There’s people in this world who do illegal things because they think it’s right even if it’s against the law.” I gasped, understanding that part. She was visiting for the weekend on on our way back from the zoo we had driven past the aftermath of a bank robbery and I had a million questions.

 

“But why do they still do it even if it’s against the law? Mommy and Daddy said that you have to follow the law all the time!” I protested. Aunt Donna laughed at the way I furrowed my brow and crossed my arms over my chest. “Because some people don’t care about the law.”

 

Her words resonated with me and in the following years. I’d seen it first hand, Hell, I broken a law or two myself. Morality was a gray while the law was black and white.

 

It was a recipe for disaster.

 

It was how sick monsters like the Court of Owls slept at night, how they didn’t care about the innocent lives they stole, the families they ruined, the bloodshed.


 

 

The battlefield was a nasty and certainly no place for a ragtag team of under-trained teenagers.

 

But there I stood, fists balled and burning with immeasurable fury, fueled with only one word buzzing and bouncing in my brain.

 

Kill.

 

They had been killing us, selling us, beating us and parading us. Kids, kids with superpowers, kids who were hurting, kids without parents. They manipulated us, promised us warmth and security and shelter only to drag us down to the very pits of Hell.

 

Enough was enough.

 

Aunt Donna’s words echoed in my brain as I charged forward.

 

Some people don’t care about the law.

 

I convinced myself that no matter how many of them that I had killed that it didn’t compare to the thousands of kids they had hurt.


 

 

“The Court of Owls are a bunch of lowlife scum. The two pieces of filth in charge used to be members of the League of Shadows but they went independent to do something far more sinister than assassination. They wanted more. They knew that the big money was in human trafficking but they didn’t stop there, they trafficked metahumans too. Kids and teens mostly. I, I want to make sure that they can’t hurt anyone the way I was. Like countless people were.   They need to be stopped.”

 

Rachel looked at me, really looked at me and must of saw the anger, bitterness and hatred building up in me. “It’s beyond personal, it’s for the greater good.”












Chapter Text

Normally I was meticulous. Mom said that she didn’t know how two people as disorganized and dysfunctional as her and Dad had such a detail oriented perfectionist.

 

But as things got worse I stopped thinking with my head.

 

I was running on pure instinct, my need to survive overrode any rational thought.

 

The sun had just set and I needed a place to rest for the night. I made my way through the city searching for someplace secluded with high windows and one door. I couldn’t even recognize it as Boston. If not for any remaining landmarks I wouldn’t have known any better. My breath grew ragged and I reached for my canteen before realizing that it was empty.

 

I’d have to find water now too. I stopped at a gas station hoping that there was something in stock. I had gotten lucky and filled my canteen. I took extra bottles and stuffed them into my bag.

 

My bookbag felt like it was a thousand pounds and I felt like crying, like collapsing in the middle of the rubble and never getting up again. I knew better than to yield. My mother’s words came to my mind. No matter what happens, don’t you quit. Keep going, keep fighting. I closed my eyes and forced myself into what appeared to be a abandoned warehouse.


 

 

“You mean to tell me that you came here without a plan?” Dad asked in disbelief. I sighed and nodded. “It was spur of the moment. It was either jump into the portal or get killed and I’m not ready to die.” I said as I looked down at my feet. “The first night I got here I thought that it’d be as easy as staking them out and it would all come to me after that but...it hasn’t.” I looked up and took a deep breath.

 

“Any better ideas?”


 

 

I had never skipped school before but Fallon had charmed me into ditching our Algebra  class. She swore that this was the first and only time we were going to skip. We were going into the town over to see a movie and hang out on the beach.

 

Happy Harbor was a quaint town, it was serene and in a way it reminded me of home, just less air pollution. Fallon grabbed my hand and laced our fingers as we strolled along the beach, the seabreeze blowing our skirts and my hair.

 

It was in that moment, that sweet October afternoon that made me realize just how deep in I was. I didn’t understand the weight of love. My mother always told me how great it was but I couldn’t wrap my head around it until that moment.

 

Fallon looked over at me, the sun turning her pale lashes and slow growing tufts of fuzz gold and her eyes into pure amber. Then she smiled at me with little pieces of popcorn in her braces. She had never looked more beautiful.


 

Since there wasn’t any extra rooms I was bunked with Rachel.

 

It was decided that we should sleep on it, it was a lot to take in in just one day and I was running on fumes. The bed was big enough for the both of us and it reminded me of when I was little and she would come to visit, Mom and Dad refusing to let her stay at a hotel.

 

I had just gotten out of the shower and I was brushing my hair as Rachel looked at me curiously. Maybe she was trying to find little bits of Mom and Dad in me. I had grown used to the staring although adult Rachel had a more powerful and nearly intimidating look. “Why Stella Floyd?” She asked finally as I put my hair into a French braid. I sat down on the bed and met steely blue eyes. “Well, Stella means star and Floyd is Dad’s Mom’s maiden name.” Rachel nodded. “Why not your real name?” I looked down at my lap.

 

“Because I don’t feel like Mar’i anymore.”



Chapter Text

“I understand that you’ve been through a lot of pain and hurt but that shouldn’t make you less of who you are. It’s awful shit but every experience, good and bad make you who you are . ” I looked up at Rachel, feeling very familiar and comfortable yet still uneasy.

 

It was strange to be both older and younger than her.


 

 

My Dad died on Christmas Day. According to the Coroner's report his heart had just stopped. He died of a broken heart. It was our first holiday without Jake and Mom and my last holiday with my Dad. The night before we sat by the fire roasting marshmallows and he had seemed so happy. We had laughed and danced and carried on as if there wasn’t a hole in our family.

 

He did his best to carry on for me but being in that empty house while I was a school must have worn him down more than he let on. I was supposed to be in the custody of Aunt Donna but I had ran away even before Dad’s funeral. I left a note on my bed telling Aunt Donna that I would be okay, that I needed to be alone and that I would be back before I had to go back to school.

 

I never came back.


 

 

“Have you ever had a sleepover?” Rachel asked to change the subject. I nodded thinking off all the times I had snuck Fallon into my dorm or before going to boarding school how I’d have friends over every other weekend. “Hundreds.” I said with a fond smile. “What’s it like?” She asked enthusiastically. I realized that she’s never been to or hosted one. “The kind that I threw mostly involved painting each other’s nails, karaoke, dancing, sharing secrets, it was basically what you’d see on a movie but with more snacks and no pillow fights.” I had left out the type of sleepovers that Fallon and I had because those were not traditional by any stretch of the imagination. 

I had almost forgotten that Rachel didn’t really get to be a regular teenage girl. Sitting across from her on the bed she looked like one. Her purple dye was patchy in some places and fading into blue in others, a sign that she did it herself. Her nail polish was chipped and her eyeliner smudged, very average. Rachel stood up with resolve. “I’m gonna take a shower and when I get out proper sleepover rituals will commence!” She said with a smile.


 

 

Rachel was the first person to see my first moments of life, she helped deliver me after all. The night I was born an earthquake hit San Francisco that rivaled the one in 1906 and naturally Jump City felt the aftershocks. Mom said that she didn’t want to take a hospital bed from someone who needed it more so, I was born in a bathtub in the middle of a heatwave.

 

She was around all the time before going off to a four year university. She originally went to community college until she felt she was truly ready to leave the nest. I have fuzzy memories of her in the early years but the first one to be clear came when I was 4.

 

It was my birthday and she had gotten me a collection of Goosebumps books. “They’re a little advanced but I’m sure that you’ll be able to figure them out.” She said with a wink. It was almost like a challenge, I was determined to read through them over the summer even though they were far above my reading level.  

 

Rachel was always there when I needed to learn. It seemed as if she was there for every major milestone with a helping hand and wise word or two.


 

 

We collapsed on the bed in fits of laughter as Gar had joined us for our rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody. Gar saw it appropriate to bust out the “Youngin’” card on me. Our singing was terrible and off-key but it was fun, good, uncomplicated, regular teenage fun.

 

It felt like home.




Chapter Text

 

I was standing on the beach. I didn’t know which one but I felt strongly that it was along the Atlantic. 

 

It was nighttime, a soft orange glow from a bonfire in the distance as I stared off into the horizon. I felt a tug on my arm and I looked down to see Jake. “Mar’i! You’re gonna miss the fireworks!” He said excitedly as he practically drug me to the bonfire. 

 

Fallon was sitting on her beach towel and she waved me over. I laid my head on her shoulder and I kissed her cheek with a smile. 

 

Mom and Dad were sharing a towel as well as Fallon’s parents. Uncle Jason and Aunt Donna complaining about how “mushy” we were being. Jake was sitting in Rachel’s lap bouncing excitedly as he waited for the fireworks. Rachel rolled her eyes as she looked over at Gar whose enthusiasm matched Jake’s. “You’re such a child.” She teased, making him stick his tongue out. 

 

This wasn’t a memory.

 

This was supposed to be my summer vacation.

 

I was supposed to be with my family, surrounded by love.   


 

 

The first thing I did when I woke up was cry. They weren’t sorrowful tears but ones of joy. 

 

That summer was going to become a possibility. I could be a normal girl again. I wiped my face clean and smiled. 

 

Maybe once I got my emotions in check I could fly again. 

 

“You were on the right track with surveying them but maybe not with a stakeout. We can just use satellite surveillance. I’ll see if there’s anything fishy going on at work.” Mom rolled her eyes and muttered “Cop perks” under her breath. 

 

They shared a look that made Gar gag. “Hey, we’re eating here. Cut it out.” He protested. “Did you forget that I’m an empath ?” Rachel asked as she rubbed her temples. “It’s too early to feel like that.” “It’s never too early.” Mom said with a teasing smile. 

 

It was such a terribly domestic breakfast. I looked down at my eggs, drowned in hot sauce and I smiled.


 

 

My original plan was going to be going place to place until I got over my grief. 

 

I took a bus to Star City, it was similar enough to Jump City but it was still something different. Plus, the no tell motels were the cheapest in the state while being mostly clean. Most important of all, they wouldn’t question a teenage runaway getting a room. 

 

In a few days I had a shitty retail job. I hated it with passion but I had enough money to keep myself fed and sheltered. I got bored of Star after 2 months and by March I was ready to go home. The day I was kidnapped started like any other. 

 

My alarm informed me that I had hit snooze too many times and with a groan I went to take a shower. I was supposed to go to Target to get my final paycheck then go back home. Easy peasy. 

 

After my shower I gathered all my things and handed over my key. It was going to be a good day. I got my check and on my way to cash it I called Aunt Donna. 

 

The last thing I remember was turning around to help a little girl who fell down and skinned her knees.


 

 

It was Saturday so Rachel and Gar didn’t have school. It was strange to see them young. Well, younger. Gar was basically the same but his hair was shorter, he was shorter, his muscles less defined, his canines less pronounced and his skin wasn’t green. It was a strange sight to get used to. Rachel changed more than Gar did. Her hair was shorter too by a lot and it was dyed purple instead of it’s natural black, she didn’t practically glide when she walked, her voice and demeanor were still very girlish and next to nothing like the wise woman I grew up idolizing, she was more pale, her eyes were more tired, and she didn’t send off waves of powerful energy. The only thing that was the same was the ruby jewel on her forehead that I loved to poke when I was little. 

 

I was so deep into my observations that I didn’t notice my name being called. “Huh?” I snapped into reality. “We’re going shopping, you need new clothes right?” Mom asked. I nodded, putting on a poker face like I wasn’t utterly excited to go on a shopping trip with my mother again. 

 

"Yeah."

Chapter Text

Admittedly, I wasn’t a fashionista. 

 

Sure I could coordinate outfits and make myself look good but I never had a deep interest. Mom on the other hand was a bonafide fashion expert. She had all this knowledge and know-how that was beyond me. “Don’t get those jeans.” She warned me in Rue21. “Why not? They’re cute.” “The back pockets are too far apart and they’ll make your butt look wide.” I looked at the pockets with a frown. 

 

How could she know something like that? 

 

“Experinance.” She said with a smile as if she was reading my mind. “You were making the face Rachel does right before she asks how I know what I know.” I laughed and searched for another pair of jeans. I held up a new pair for her approval. “Perfect.” She said with a smile. “Those would be cute with a peasant blouse.” 

 

I looked at her like she was speaking another language. “A what?” She shook her head. “Come on, I’ll show you.”


 

 

The first time I realized I was different was when I was 6. 

 

A couple of girls came up to me on the playground and started to tug at my curls. “Why is it so fluffy?” They asked. I couldn’t answer so I cried. 

 

On the jungle gym a few of the boys laughed at me. “Your arms are so long. ” They would tease, “Why are you so tall?” Others would question. 

 

Up until then I had no idea that I wasn’t “normal.” I would come home after school crying or silently wishing that I wasn’t me. “Don’t worry about anything those little shits have to say. There’s nothing wrong with you.” Dad would reassure me in the car. “You’re not weird, you’re special. I’m not saying that because I’m your mother, it’s true.” Mom would say as she hugged me close. 

 

But then my powers came in around the same time I hit puberty. 

 

With my hormonal bursts came what I liked to call “flare ups.” I couldn’t quite launch fire the same as my mother but my hands and arms would catch fire. For a while I could only wear tank tops until I got it under control. Flying came easier since I wouldn’t be able to do it if I wasn’t in a good mood. 

 

Mom and Aunt Donna would help me and once I got the hang of it I would go flying as often as I could. 

 

I felt free. 


 

 

“You don’t wear makeup do you?” Mom asked as I looked around the Ulta store with bewilderment. “Mascara and lipgloss sometimes but, this is a lot.” I said as I picked up a compact mirror. “I’m bad at it. I always end up looking like a clown or a drag queen.” I laughed. “What about skin care?” “I have a very extensive 12 step system.” 

 

She sighed in relief. “Thank X’Hal.” 

Chapter Text

Mom and I talked at length about my past, the future that could be or whatever it was. She was never the to beat around the bush so I wasn’t surprised when she asked about my romantic endeavors. Even though I was expecting her to my face still got warm and I shifted in my seat. “I uh, I had a girlfriend.” I cleared my throat and took a sip of my lemonade. This statement had opened the floodgates. “Really? What was she like?” I smiled softly as I thought of ways to describe Fallon. 

 

I couldn’t use just a few adjectives to really encompass her so I found myself gushing and ranting about her. I must have sounded like a love sick fool and I suppose that in many ways I was one. 


 

 

One of the nights I snuck Fallon into my dorm we cuddled, she was forever insisting on being little spoon. “I’m bald angel, you don’t have to worry about laying on my hair or it getting in your face.” I laughed and kissed the top of her head. “You’re right. But I would expect you to be big spoon.” I never understood why she called me angel but it certainly made my stomach flutter. 

 

“Would you rather I be big spoon?” She shifted around to face me and she looked me in the eyes. “No, this is just fine.“ I couldn’t believe that a girl as crude and vulgar as Fallon was here in my arms being such a sap. 

 

But our sweet moment didn’t stay sweet for very long as she started making a trail of kisses down my neck. 


 

 

The car ride home was spent singing along to the oldies station and talking about my lack of fashion sense. “Well, I just kind of wore dresses all the time. Then when I went to boarding school we had to wear uniforms and-” “Boarding school? What the fuck? Why would we send you to boarding school ?” Mom cut me off. I pursed my lips and knit my eyebrows as I wondered if I should tell her the truth or offer the same lie that I would in the future. Well, assuming that certain aspects of that future would be a part of the new future that would come if our plan succeed.

 

I decided that it wouldn't matter either way.  

 

“You didn’t send me I went on my own freewill. I said it was for their botany program but really it was for Fallon.” I admitted. Mom looked at me for a few beats and laughed. “You went to boarding school on purpose to be with a girl?” She asked in disbelief. “Yeah. But you and Dad never knew the truth. I was going to come clean but everything was happening so fast.” I looked down at my lap as I felt tears pricking the back of my eyes. She didn’t press further and the rest of the ride was filled with disco music and tension.