Discussion in 'NEVER NORMAL' started by CloudyBlueDay, Nov 13, 2017.

  1. Delilah Buress

    Swimming in and out of consciousness, Delilah watched from the open car door, unable to move, unable to cry out, as Solomon retraced his steps back to the Havershime house. The explosion rocked the silent evening and fire burst skyward, orange and hot, and staring at it, Delilah's eyes stung with tears. Fisher... He'd called him, which meant he intended to leave him alive. But why? Why? Nothing Solomon did was ever out of fairness, out of kindness. They had played right into his plan...

    Solomon returned several minutes later and slipped behind the steering wheel, looking back at her with a small smile, "Did you like that, Lil? I wish I could have seen them, beforehand... It's the worst part of what I do. I never get to see their faces. Hm." Pulling the car into drive, the wheels crunched against the macadam road, and flickering on the lights, he turned his attention to driving, "I know you're asking yourself what's next. You think you're clever, don't you? You and Fish... Hiding them. The Bridges. But I don't give a damn about the Bridges. You were always the end game, Lil. You just made it quicker. Unfortunately for Fisher, that's not such good news, but if you listen... if you cooperate, it doesn't have to be bad for him."

    Falling silent, he focused on the drive, and swimming between the darkness, Delilah lost track of time. At one point, Solomon pulled out his phone again and she could hear his texting, but otherwise, there was silence... stillness. They arrived at their destination as the sky began to lighten and killing the engine, Solomon slipped out and came to the back to collect her. The building was a brownstone, and appeared abandoned, broken windows boarded over, and a metal door flashed over with graffiti. Carrying her up the steps, he slid the door back and inside, he flicked on the dim industrial potlights, bathing the empty room in pale yellow. At one end of the room sat a chair, the other a long metal chain, hanging down from a solid beam. At the center of the room, a sliding partition, with another metal door in the middle.

    Depositing Delilah in the chair, he looked up at her as he pulled her arms through the bars and secured her wrists with metal cuffs. She could feel her arms again, feel the metal biting into her skin, and she grimaced as she struggled against him, but standing, Solomon caught hold of her jaw, holding her face still, "Won't be long now, Lilah... Just sit tight, and stay quiet. He's coming."
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  2. Fisher Hawkins

    He would’ve stayed in front of the Havershime home for a long time if he could’ve, letting all the guilt simmer within him. He stared at the fiery blaze, watching his last burn to the ground. It occurred to him now that everything was gone. The Declain home. The office. The Bridges, the Havershimes. All of it, ashes.

    He slid back into the driver's seat and pulled out of the driveway, eyes glazed over. She was in his arms one second and the next, gone. He’d ruined it all. But as much as he feared for Lilah… it was almost selfish to say that he feared for himself more. Because he knew Solomon would barely harm a hair on her head. It would him that would be removed from the picture.

    But until his last breath Fisher would fight him. Lilah deserves her own choice. Deserved to be free. And if he died, she would be nothing but Solomon’s toy, chased for eternity. So even if they never got to be together.. he had to make sure that Delilah was safe.

    He drove nowhere for a little while. Waiting for Solomon’s call, because he knew it would come. And when he sent the address, he was nothing but a steely exterior. It was a job to finish. A mission he could not fail.

    When he reached the abandoned brownstone Fisher parked his truck, slipping his gloves on as he travelled up the steps and proceeded to bang on the metal door. No mistakes. He would do whatever it took to set Lilah free.
  3. Delilah Buress

    As she sat there, waiting, Solomon slid the partition open that separated the two rooms. It was her impression that he wanted to make a dramatic show of things, and if she were honest, he was doing a damn good job. The lighting, the building itself... the hollowed shell of what once was probably a small factory or warehouse, broken down, dusty and neglected. Solomon had ditched his hooded sweatshirt, and she could see him full, as she had at the funeral, his dark hair slicked back from his face, features cool and focused… He had always been an attractive man, but the emptiness, the ugliness inside of him gave him scars across the soul, that detracted from any aesthetic value.

    He didn’t pace, or wander. He stood before the doorway, watching, waiting with an unnerving calmness. At first, she had tried to engage him, to beg him not to do what he was doing, but he had ignored her pleas and met her only with silence, and eventually she had fallen still, watchful as well. When the headlights pierced a crack in one of the wooden shutters, Delilah straightened and at the corner of his mouth, she saw a small smile. At the banging, Solomon grinned, and stepping forward, he pulled back the latch, threw open the entryway.

    “Nice of you to join us, Minnow.”

    There was a darkness in his eyes, backed by anger and grief. He stared at Solomon, the emptiness in his heart and how it formed in that cunning smile. He could see Delilah, chained up like a dog, and for her, just for a moment, his anger bled away into sorrow, regret. “What do you want, Solomon.” He hissed.

    Solomon’s smile didn’t fade, even at the sight of Fisher’s scowl, and stepping around him, he closed the door again, snapping the lock back into place, “You know what I want, Fisher. I think we could probably skip all the formalities.”

    Turning around, his eyes drifted across the room, following Fisher’s gaze to Delilah, and shaking his head, he nodded, “Shame… I’d like to let her loose, but I just don’t think she fully grasps the situation, you know? Hasn’t quite hit her. My guess is, she’d try to run, and well… Can’t have that. Anyhow…” Bypassing Fisher, he gestured to the chains draped from the rafter, to the shackles that hung at the bottom of them, “Shall we begin?”

    “Fisher!” Delilah called out, from across the room, her voice still heavy from the drug, “Fisher, don’t you do it!”

    Laughing softly, Solomon shook his head, “Cute. But ultimately pointless. You know that he’s going to cooperate, my dear. He has to… because he knows that I’ve already thought two steps ahead. And if he doesn’t, he’ll never get you out of here alive.”

    Swallowing, Fisher glanced to the shackles. He wondered how long Solomon had been waiting for this moment. He winced at Lilah’s cry, but refused to look at her anymore. He had to do this. Giving Solomon a tired glance, he nodded reluctantly. “Alright.” He murmured, offering no other words of assurance. Get it over with.

    “Fisher!” Delilah repeated, with a desperate air, her voice cracking as tears burned at her eyes.

    Solomon’s expression did not shift, and gesturing to the shackles again, he nodded, “These handy things… well, I won’t bore you with the details about where I got them, but what they do. That’s a fun story. Power dampening. No fancy tricks this time, Fish.”

    His eyes drifted over to Delilah, the smile fading away, “This is what you do… This is what you make them give. And you still think you’re different than me?” Gaze snapping back to Fisher, his tone shifted, cooled, “Put them on.”

    He was silent, docile. Lilah’s cries only made his shoulders tense, but he never looked at her. His stomach was twisted in a million knots.. he had no idea how to save her unless he played his game. Fisher wondered how bad it would hurt.. for how long.

    He dragged himself to the shackles and pulled the first one on, gaze down and somber. It was untrue what Solomon was saying, and he knew it in his heart. Hopefully he would be able to tell her that soon.

    As Fisher attached the cuffs, Solomon crossed the room with purposeful strides. In the opposite direction to a small metal panel in the wall. Opening it, he pulled out what looked to be a car battery, and the cables that might attach to it, for a jump. From where she sat, Delilah could see it and struggling against her own cuffs, she shook her head.

    “Solomon, please don’t do this! Please… please. Oh God… I will do… I will do anything. Please… don’t hurt him.”

    Cocking his head in her direction, he chuckled, coldly, and shook his head, “...It’s not time to beg, Lil. Not yet. Fisher… Pop quiz.” Turning back to him, he held up the jumper cables with a smirk, “How much electric shock can a person withstand, before their heart explodes?”

    Raising his gaze just the slightest to meet the machine that would decide his fate. “Between a hundred and two hundred milliamps.” He muttered angrily, finding the slightest bit of pleasure from knowing the answer. “Just get on with it, Solomon. Have your fun. You’ve been waiting for it, no?”

    “Hm.” Attaching the end of the jumpers to the battery, he looked over with a shake of his head, “This isn’t about fun, Fisher. I thought I’d made that clear.” Turning a dial on the battery, the machine sparked to live with a buzzing sound that drew shivers down Delilah’s spine. Tears flowed, and she grit her teeth, her eyes flickering desperately between Fisher and Solomon, hoping… praying for intervention. For a miracle. Her fingers wiggled behind her, life returning to the limbs. If she could just find a way to free herself…

    “I’m not going to make your heart explode, though, Fish. That’s not my style. I mean… Exploding things is all good, but it’s in the nuances. Breaking a person. You can’t just jump into it without investing time… thought…” Approaching with the other end of the jumpers, he looked up to Fisher with a small frown, “I would have made it quick. Probably painless. But you just had to do it, didn’t you. You just had to kiss her.”

    Finally, Fisher stumbled, wrestling his chains as Solomon stepped forward with the cables. He took a deep breath in, trying to teach himself what it felt like before he was shocked. Through gritted teeth he growled. “She’ll never love you.” He spat. It was going to hurt anyway.. why hold anything back? “Do your worst.”

    Eyes narrowing, he brushed the jumpers together, acetate sparks leaping between the two heads. His expression was a mask, still, but the tightness of his jaw, the tension in his shoulders was as much genuine emotion as the man had shown yet, and with a word, he tapped the jumpers to Fisher’s stomach… just a second, no more, but it was enough that the jolt would be felt.

    The pain was sudden, so sudden that it was excruciating, more than he could ever expect. A sharp cry came from him, one that he tried to bite back immediately after, struggling to keep the pain back. He gasped, panting heavily. “Come on,” He cried. “Is that all you’ve got?”

    His eyes darkened, disappointment the notes in his features as he looked up at Fisher. Delilah called for it to stop, but without relent, Solomon drove the cable heads towards his gut again, holding it there a second or two longer, this time.

    Now he knew how it felt, the searing pain that crawled up under his skin. The first time caught him off guard, the sudden jab in his gut, but now he braved it, biting down with a grunt as the current flowed through him. He had a long way to go, and he wasn’t going to break so simple. “Come on, Sol.” He hissed, letting himself fall forward in the chains. “Give me a little more for old time’s sake.” He spared a glance to Lilah, just a second, watching her shout for him. He’d do anything for her.. endure whatever it took. Solomon didn’t know what love was. He knew how to obsess.

    Solomon’s growl was one of outrage, as her slammed the cables to the ground, fury rising, uncontrolled. He moved closer, gripping Fisher by the neck for a moment. But in that moment seemed to be a sense of clarity and his gaze darkened, his voice a whisper, “You won't scream, Fish… She will.”
  4. Fisher Hawkins

    Releasing him, he crossed to the metal partition that split the room and facing Fisher, he slammed it across, blocking the view between Fisher and Delilah. With that same savage glare, he approached the chair, Delilah sucking in a sob as she watched him. His movements were fast… Fluid. Chaotic. He gripped the back of the chair, leaning close enough that Delilah was forced to meet the madness in his eyes.

    Panic warred with her will to fight, but as his free hand reached behind her, grasped her pointer finger with a vicious yank, he snapped the fragile bone inside. The scream came, unbidden and coarse, followed by broken sobs. Straightening, he glared down at her and yelled, “Should I keep going, Fisher??”

    A strangled sound fell out of Fisher as Solomon grabbed his neck, and the words that followed made his eyes widen with worry. The sudden sporadic movements.. he knew Solomon was losing it. And immediately after he let go, Fisher gasped for air, letting out a few coughs. “No.. Solomon, don’t!” He yelled after him, jumping in the chains as the metal partition was slammed.

    “Solomon! Don’t fucking touch her!” He cried, and then came the scream. He was shouting at the blocked door, willing it to open, fighting the restraints as hard as he could with the pain that wore his body down. “You want me to scream?!” Fisher shouted back, desperately trying to overcome her broken sobs, trying to keep that strength he was putting on for her. Telling himself over and over Solomon wouldn’t go any further. Wouldn’t hurt her anymore then he already had. “Come over here and make me!”

    With a scream of his own, primal and furious, Solomon pulled away from Delilah, quickly enough that the chair tipped, leaving her on her side. The agony in her hand was forgotten in those few seconds, balanced on fear and on something else as she felt it… The broken rung…

    Spinning around, Solomon shoved the partition back again and moving swiftly, slammed his fist into the side of Fisher's jaw.

    He should’ve been a little bit more prepared for Solomon’s sudden attack. He expected the return of the jumper cables or something a little bit more methodical, but Fish had begun to realize that his words had unhinged Solomon, and there was no going back from that. The punch to the jaw had pain burst to life in a whole new place, blood exploding in his mouth. He felt as if his neck had been twisted all the way around. Fisher hung still for a moment, before picking his throbbing chin up and spitting blood in Solomon’s face.

    His other fist wound up as the spray of spit and blood splashed against his cheek, and without mercy, he plowed it into Fisher's ribs. Once… Twice...

    Delilah struggled, fighting against gravity to loosen the broken rung. It stuck awkwardly, the sharpened, jagged edge tearing at her arm, but she wiggled, ignoring the pain, the flowing wetness down her wrist. Just a little further.

    The third punch was hard enough that something cracked within Solomon's hand, and hissing, he backed up, seething, sharp breaths… uncontrolled, through flared nostrils and he narrowed his eyes up at Fisher.

    Fish could feel his ribs caving in, the steady cracking with every punch. It was sickening, and he wasn’t sure if it was the taste of bile or blood on his tongue. Well, definitely both. Blood poured from his mouth, and this time he didn’t have the willpower to spit it in his face all over again. Dangling from the chains, the only thing holding him up, Fisher smiled weakly. “You still haven’t made me scream, Solly.” He whispered.

    His expression stone, Solomon bent to grab the jumper prongs, and from her angle, Delilah could see him as he snapped them together before pressing them into Fisher's abs again. She pushed against the broken rung, pushed until she was sure it would slice clean through her arm, but finally with a snap, it splintered away and without it, the back of the chair swung off it's dowel. Freed from the chair, she rolled herself away from it. The next bit came with barely a flicker of hesitation as she slammed the thumb of her injured hand hard into the concrete floor, slammed and pressed until she could hear the snap, biting her cheek to keep from crying out. With her thumb dislocated, she could wind her wrist free of the cuff and pulling herself to her feet, she called out, just as Solomon moved the jam the jumpers into Fisher again.

    “Solomon! Enough!”

    Fisher shot back up, throwing his neck back and shaking uncontrollably, the electricity ripping through him, staying far too long. It was so harsh he could barely open his mouth, try to breathe. No sound even came, just a gasp frozen in time. When Solomon pulled back, Fish crumpled, a lifeless paper doll tied on strings. He could feel himself slipping away, and Lilah’s voice was a muffled blur. He wanted to tell her no.. to let him handle it. But he was half unconscious, so there wasn’t much he could’ve handled for her anyway.

    Surprise registered in Solomon's gaze, a brief flicker, and holding the jumpers, he eyed Delilah, frowning, “What are you gonna do, Lilah? Just wait your turn..”

    He turned to Fisher again, and Delilah took a step forward, “Don't you touch him!”

    “What're you gonna do?”

    Her eyes trailed to the machine behind him, to the tiniest trail of smoke, curling up from the overextended power source, “You forget what I can do…” With a flick of her wrist, the smoke snaked forward, up the cords, nearly solid as it wrapped around the jumpers in Solomon's hands. Swearing, he released them and stepped back, spinning to face her,.

    “Stop it! Stop it, or I'll kill him right now!” He growled, but Lil had already wound the smoke around his ankles, like tendrils that grasped… the density building, tightening. He tried to back up, but the motion sent him sprawling and the smoke continued to climb, encapsulating… leaving him paralysed beneath it. Her eyes flickered to Fisher and as she moved towards him, a second tendril wrapped around the chain, the metal darkening to rusty brown, crackling apart. His weight dropped and she ducked forward to catch him, best she could.

    Straining his neck upward, trying to see why the electricity had paused, why the voices were blurred. He could see Lilah, fingers out of place, but glowing with strength.. Out of the chains. The edges of his lips curled as Solomon was swarmed with smoke, until he could see him no more.

    As Lilah corroded the chains, leaving him to fall into her arms, he could only let out the smallest of pained noises, his aching jaw not allowing anything else. “Lil..” He croaked, blood staining his teeth. “M..m...p-phone.” His body begged to be put down, to be left alone. The pain was too much. “Call… Doc.” He croaked, eyelids fluttering.

    “No… no, no… Don't you dare, baby. You stay with me. Fish, I swear to God, don't you leave me…” fumbling, searching, she found the phone, and while she combed through the contacts, her free hand raked the hair back from his sweat drenched forehead, “You stay with me…”

    Pressing dial, she held the phone to her ear.

    The phone was answered quickly, the click on the other side a welcome noise as Fisher struggled to keep his eyes open. “Fisher?” Came the voice, an educated man, perhaps a bit older. “It’s a bit early in the morning.. Are you alright?” The speaker was tinted with worry despite the simple question. “No fire metas, I hope..”

    The voice was unexpected, and Delilah breathed out a sob as it filled her ear, “Hello? Hello! This… this is Doc? Please be doc. Fisher needs your help! This is Delilah! Please. The… the address…” flipping through the texts, she found the one sent by Solomon and recited it, “Oh God… please hurry!”

    There was a sudden silence on the other line, perhaps one of shock. “An ambulance will be coming immediately.” The reply was abrupt, and certainly worried. “Yes, I’m Doc. You called the right place. Is there a central wound? Tell me what’s happening. Do you need backup?”

    “I don't… he's… there was this… charger… like a car jumper, and…” Sucking in a breath, she prayed silently that Fisher was thorough when it came to his speed dial friends, “It was Solomon! I've got him trapped, but it won't hold for long… You have to hurry!”
  5. Delilah Buress

    “Oh.. no.” The reply was strangled. “Fisher’s .. spoken about him. I already have people on their way. Keep him awake.. Keep Solomon away.” The man on the other side seemed to care about Fisher quite a bit, and distraught by the situation Lilah was relaying back to him. “I can stay on the line with you. Are there any other injuries?”

    Looking to the arm free of the cuff, to her mangled wrist and the thumb and pointer finger, swollen and purple, she grimaced, “No. Just… just worry about Fish.” Patting his cheeks, gently as she could, she leaned forward, kissed his forehead, “C'mon Trout… open those pretty eyes for me… please.”

    There was a noise of understanding from the other end, and some shuffling and breathing. It was quiet on the other end, as if something was being prepared. At Lilah’s kiss, Fish let out a quiet groan, stirring in her lap as best he could. “I’m here.” He whispered. “H-...hurts.”

    “Shh…” she whispered, brushing his hair back again, “Shut up. Just… stay with me. You and me, Fish… we're gonna be okay. You promise me that. We're gonna make it. Cause we've got plans… And if you leave me again, I'm never gonna forgive you. You hear me? So you fight.. And you stay with me.”

    He looked up at her with a glimmer in his eyes, despite the brokenness. “I promise.” He croaked. He didn’t want to go, didn’t want to leave her, not after all of this but.. God.. it fucking hurt. Every part of him screamed for release, for darkness. But looking at her, feeling her fingertips brush the hair out of his eyes.. How could he ever leave.

    “Chain Sol.” He mumbled, trying to lift his own wrist, to show her. “Doc’s.. F..ast. He’ll .. be here s-soon.”

    She was reluctant to leave his side, but the point he made was one she couldn't ignore. Already, she could feel the hold on her power slipping, and Solomon could not be allowed to get away…

    “You keep mumbling there, Fish. Like a caveman… I'm right here. Keep talking..” Shuffling past him, she grabbed the end of the chain still attached to Fisher. The cuffs had some slack to them, and with a frown, she grasped his wrist, terrified at the coolness of his skin, “I'm sorry baby, this is gonna hurt a little.”

    As gently as she could, she eased the cuff up, while pulling his wrist down, it was a small struggle, but after a few seconds, the cuff slipped free, and she moved to the second. Her own muscles were agony after the drug she'd been dosed with, her head pounding, her mouth dry. Her fingers hung useless and purple as her eye-glow, blood dripping off her fingers from the gash in her arm, the only thing keeping the pain from being fully realized the surge of adrenaline…

    Taking the cuffs, she approached the smoke cocoon and frowning, she concentrated, cleared the smoke from where his hands would be. In this small motion, she afforded him movement and he thrashed and claws and grabbed, but she tightened the cocoon over the rest of him and with less delicacy than she had used on Fisher, she jammed his hands through the cuffs. Then taking the chain, she dragged it over to the table holding the battery and bending down, she looped it several times around the leg, pulling it taut, giving him little to no slack

    With a wince, she gripped her temples and released the hold entirely, the smoke evaporating into mist.

    “You bitch!” She could hear him growl and instantly, she regretting losing the smoke gag…

    “Shut up.” She hissed, returning to Fisher's side, “I'm here, Fish. I'm back.”

    Canting his head to the side, Solomon grinned, “He's a dead man. He'll never make-AUGH!” His face bloomed in a spray of blood as Delilah's heel crashed into the bridge of his nose and his idle words were truncated by a howl.

    “I said shut up....”

    Fisher could feel his chest tightening, found himself struggling for air. He scrunched his eyes shut as Lilah pulled off the cuffs, letting out a strangled gasp of pain for the first one, and falling silent for the second one. He’d been hurt before.. but not like this. Not like every part of his body was aflame, screaming for emptiness. He didn’t want to leave her.

    The kick to Solomon’s face was the last thing he saw before darkness bloomed upon his gaze and Fisher fell limp. Sirens wailed in the distance, promising rescue as they came forward and tires screeched against pavement.

    “Fisher??” Turning back to him, Delilah’s hands hovered over him, her heart pounding as he went limp, “Fish! Don’t you dare…” The sirens screamed, and Delilah skittered to her feet, to the latched door. Once, twice, three times she fumbled with the lock, before she managed to get it undone and throwing the door open, she raced back, dropping beside Fisher, “Come on, baby. Hang on… Just hang on.”

    Two men exited the ambulance and carried a gurney up the stairs, brows furrowed with concentration. They took in the scene quickly, glancing at the rabid animal that was Solomon, and bending down to pull Fisher up. One checked his pulse quickly and nodded to Delilah, and with a practiced count off they lifted him onto the gurney, placing on the collar for support. Fisher’s limp body promised no flailing.

    In the next moment they were back down in the stairs and in the ambulance, to where one of the paramedics gestured for Lilah to join them in the back. “We’ll send authorities here.” He said pointedly. “...After we’re gone.” The other paramedic was quickly attaching an IV as the driver revved it’s engine.

    Delilah followed, without needing to be told, ignoring Solomon’s angry curses from where he lay, and as she climbed up into the back of he ambulance and collapsed back onto the bench, arm cradled in her lap, she shook her head as she watched them, watched the monitor over his heart, where heart rate and pulse were indicated, “He was electrocuted… and hit… stomach area, ribs… and his jaw.” Rubbing her temples with her other hand, she fought a wave of nausea, of dizziness, “Is he gonna make it?”

    A glance was shared between the two at her question. “Fisher’s not going down without a fight.” The first one piped up, offering her a quick smile. “He’s been with us a lot.” The other chuckled weakly, as he finished hooking Fisher to the monitors. “A good friend of Doc’s. We won’t let him go easy.”

    The ambulance sped into the daylight, cutting through morning traffic with practiced precision. “Keep pressure on your arm wound.” One of them piped up, eyeing Delilah. “Are the fingers broken?”

    Looking down at her hand, she blinked back tears, nodding, with a deep, stifling breath, “Yeah. They are. Who is he? Doc? Fish… he never mentioned him?”

    One paramedic began to examine Fisher’s ribs while the other pulled out an oxygen mask. “We’re part of an underground hospital for metahumans. Doc runs it.” The paramedic gently pressed each of Fisher’s ribs, feeling for broken bones. He quickly grimaced.

    “Underground…” Smiling dryly, Delilah shook her head, “Oh, Fish. You really are some kind of superhero huh?” Tears burned again and looked away from the paramedics, she sank back on the bench, “How much longer?”

    “Couple minutes.” Came the short response, eyes trained on Fisher’s lifeless body. “You’re lucky you were fairly close to one of our facilities.” The two fell silent as they worked on Fish, as the ambulance pulled into a tunnel that lead them through a dark passage.
  6. Fisher Hawkins

    There were lights at the end of this tunnel, thankfully, and an underground structure greeted them as the ambulance skidded to a halt. The paramedics opened the back doors and hauled Fisher out into the front, where a hospital-like setup greeted them, as well as nurses rushing to their aid.

    Delilah’s expression shifted as they entered the tunnel, widening slightly in awe as she looked around. When they said underground, they’d meant it, apparently, “Hell… Got yourself a regular operation here, don’t you.”

    “The superhero profession’s growing. Someone’s gotta play support.” Came the short reply as the gurney was wheeled in, nurses following quickly as he was taken down a hallway and faded in the distance. Another nurse approached Lilah, a short, round woman, with a pleasant smile. “Don’t worry about him. He’s in the best hands. Could I take a look at your arm?”

    As the gurney was wheeled away, Delilah tensed, considered staring after it, before the nurse looked to her. Frowning, she glanced at her arm, at the blood caked from her wrist to her fingertips. Slowly, she nodded, “...Yeah… Sure.”

    The nurse smiled again, leading Lilah to another room where there was a doctor’s chair and a counter with cupboards above. “Care to walk me through what happened?” She said gently, pulling out an antiseptic wipe and preparing to numb the area.

    Sitting in the chair, she continued to look at her hand, her mind revolving around what had happened. She could still see it… the madness in his eyes, the insanity… “Sick son of a bitch broke it. The pointer. Snapped it with his bare hands. I broke the thumb, to get out of the cuffs. The gash is from a busted chair rail…”

    The nurse grimaced, examining her hand as she brought over a needle. “I’m sorry, sweetie. This’ll only be a prick.” Once she had injected the numbing agent, she put the needle down as the drug worked it’s magic. “Were you in contact with anything else? Metals? Any poisons?”

    Frowning, she looked up with a nod, “...He drugged me. Beforehand. Something that made everything numb. I’m guessing it was an anesthetic. Don’t worry about the needle.” Biting her lip, she glanced away, “Never bothered me.”

    Eyeing Delilah warily, the nurse continued to clean the wound up. “Once I bandage this we’ll probably have you in for an x-ray.” She said with a sigh, pulling out a roll of bandages. “I’d have Doc walk you through this, but he’s in there with Fisher.” She offered her a reassuring glance.

    “He’s good?” She asked, and her gaze softened, as she looked at the nurse, “This Doc? He’s the best…?” She hated it, being away from him, being separated. Her arm didn’t matter… her fingers. They could fall off, for all she cared, she just wanted to be with Fisher.

    “Oh, yes.” Assured the nurse, pulling out a needle, preparing to stitch the wound. “And he has a lot of experience with metahumans, too. We’re very lucky he’s devoting all his time for us.” She began to close up the gash, smooth and clean, trying not to make a fuss about it. “Fisher is friends with his son, you know. Keeps an eye out for him.”

    If Delilah noticed the needle, she didn’t show it, barely flinching as the sharp metal pierced through. She was too wired, too distracted to care, “When Fish told me what he was doing, I… I was worried he was on his own. I had no idea places like this even existed.” Looking to the woman, she smiled faintly, “Guess that’s the point, though…”
    The nurse laughed lightly, closing up the stitching. “The rest of the world is coming around.” She said hopefully. “I think, soon, we won’t have to be so hidden anymore. People like Fish are doing good. Superheroes.. They bring in a positive light. Make normal people feel safe. It’s brave work.” She frowned. “It can all too often get out of hand.”

    “Yeah… people like Solomon don’t exactly make it easy to convince people we’re safe.” People like Solomon… and maybe people like her. She had never exactly used her powers for good… “So… what can you do? I mean, if you don’t mind the small talk. I… I could use the distraction.”

    Blushing slightly, the nurse glanced off to the side as the put down the needle and took out the roll of bandages, wrapping it around her arm. “I.. glow.” She laughed weakly, though it seemed the nurse didn’t find it very funny. “Sometimes it’s hard to control, I’ll be in the dark and just… fwoosh.” She gestured to herself. “Glowing. Bioluminescent.”

    “You must be a hell of a kick at clubs…” Delilah noted with a small chuckle, “I used to think my power was pretty useless, too… but it came in handy, today. I’ve never… It’s never been that strong, before…”

    The nurse glanced up at Lilah as she turned to the trash can in the corner and peeled off her latex gloves. “Maybe there’s hope for us yet, then.” Came the simple reply as she moved back towards Lilah. “Let’s get you x-rayed, hm?”

    The x-ray had been more of a necessary precaution, but there was little question that her fingers were broken. They were splinted, and she was given antibiotics, and after that, it was just waiting. Endless, torturous waiting. Finally, when her patience had reached an unbearable level, another nurse stepped in to let her know that Fisher was out of surgery, and that this famed ‘Doc’ wanted to meet with her.
  7. Delilah Buress

    It was a while until Fisher got out of surgery. There were murmurings among the staff, and Doc took a moment even after it was heard that Fisher had been moved to a room of his own. He stood at Fisher’s bed, waiting for Delilah’s appearance, reviewing the chart’s as he slept peacefully, despite being hooked up to every machine imaginable.

    With directions to the room, Delilah made her way to Fisher’s room, moving with purpose… She hadn’t been told much, other than that the surgery had gone well, but in her mind she couldn’t imagine Fisher in any other state but the broken, battered form that had collapsed in her arms in the old factory. Her eyes stung with tears and taking a deep breath, she paused outside his door, knocking, before opened it, “...Doc? They… they told me you wanted to see me?”

    “Yes, yes.” Came the short reply, Doc moving to meet her at the doorway. “I don’t know if you’d want to talk over in the hallway here. Fish is resting.” He slid out past her and straightened his white coat, clipboard in one hand as he put out the other. “My name is John Carlo Rodriguez, but everyone here just calls me Doc.” He glanced back at the door leading into Fish’s room. “He’ll be alright. Quite banged up, but luckily nothing got too out of hand. He had some internal bleeding and quite a few broken ribs, but it’s nothing we couldn’t patch up.”

    Nodding, Delilah stepped back, a dazed look as he explained the situation. Internal bleeding. The son of a bitch had hit him so hard he’d broken something inside. She had regrets… major regrets… that she hadn’t done far worse to Solomon than shattering his nose.

    “He’s gonna be okay, then?” She asked, and for a moment, she hesitated, before with a noise between a whimper and a yelp, she threw her arms around the doctor’s neck, stifling a sob, “Thank you. Thank you so much…”

    Awkwardly patting Delilah on the back, Doc smiled happily. “Of course. Fish is a good friend of mine.. Couldn’t let him go down so easy.” Once Delilah had broken away, he adjusted his glasses. “Of course, it won’t be the quickest recovery.. But he’ll be back to normal before you know it.”

    “He’s not leaving our place for a year…” She muttered, wiping her eyes with the back of her uninjured hand. It occurred to her a moment later that she’d said ‘our place’, but she made no motions to correct it, looking to the room instead, “I know he’s resting, but can I… could I sit with him?”

    A look of startled surprise came upon Doc’s face, blossoming into a gleaming smile. “So you two are finally together?” He said happily. “A year’s a bit of overkill.. At least he’s got that bit off his shoulders. Don’t hit him too hard, hm? I don’t want him back here for a while.”

    Doc nodded gently, pushing the door back open. “Of course. He isn’t looking his prettiest, but I’m sure he’d appreciate it.” His words were caring and soft, and he looked at Fish, motionless in his bed, with a deep sorrow in his eyes.

    “Yeah…” She said softly, and with a very small smile, “Yeah, I took a while to catch up, I guess. I blame him. Idiot didn’t tell me till today.” Moving to the edge of the door, she looked into the room, taking another steadying breath, “Don’t tell me he’s not pretty though. Best damn sight I ever saw.” And moving into the room, she sank into the seat, gingerly reaching out to rest her hand on his, “...Thanks again, Doc.”

    Nodding with a chuckle, Doc stepped away from the door, leaving the two alone. Fish was certainly a sight to see.. Jaw purple and blue, hooked up to a beeping machine, charts and numbers surrounding him, IV dripping. The covers were pulled up to his waist, locks of brown hair sprawled about. It was strange how peaceful he looked, despite the his surroundings.

    “Hey, idiot…” She muttered, tenderly, pulling his hand to her lips to press a kiss to the back of his knuckles, “Told you not to go dying on me, but you tried your hardest, didn’t you? Don’t ever do that again. Not ever. I can’t lose you Fish… I just… I can’t. I need you. I love you…”

    Eyes scrunching together, Fish pulled all his strength to turn his neck and face her, trying to peel his eyes open, a small smile forming. “I promised I wouldn’t die,” He said softly, voice scratchy and hoarse. Every breath was labored and he could hardly feel his limbs, but he was desperately happy just to see her at his side, even if she was so worried. He was sorry to have made her so scared.

    “Shh…” Looking up, she frowned at him, tears rolling down her cheeks as she shook her head, “You’re supposed to be resting. Don’t get me in trouble… Geez.” Squeezing his hand, her eyes studied him as she shook his head, “Lookin’ sexy there, Mr. Hawkins.”

    He smiled up at her, a dopey look in his eyes. He didn’t even dare try to laugh, the action would certainly make every part of him shout in protest. “I think this shade of purple looks good on me,” He whispered. “Maybe I’ll wear it more often..”

    “Don’t you dare.” She said, and the humor in her voice evaporating and she shook her head, “This is the last time I ever wanna see you this way, Fish. Ever. You scared me…” Her eyes stung and she blinked, rubbing the tears from her cheeks in frustration, “Egging him on like that? What… what were you thinking?”

    His gaze lowering to the rest of him, shifting ever so slightly to feel the brace around his chest, the pain that exploded into color, grunting. “I was trying to keep him from you.” He murmured, never letting his voice go above a soft whisper. “He snapped your finger just ‘cause I didn’t scream. So I had to get him to make me scream.” He looked back up at her, puppy dog eyes shining through. “I was just trying to protect you.”

    “Well knock it off. Cause you being dead doesn't do me any favors…” But every word was breathed with affection, as she brought his hand to her lips again, “We got him, though. We got him, Fish.”

    Though he seemed quite out of it, there was a constant smile on his face, one of pure love. He beamed up at her, perhaps not even fully grasping what she was saying, finding himself too sleepy to hang onto every word.

    “Got him?” Fisher echoed, backed by an air of confusion, glancing away, before returning his gaze back with a determined look. “Why won’t you kiss me for real this time?”

    “Doc might yell at me…” She mused with a small chuckle, “I think the only reason he let me in here with you in the first place is because he was so glad we were together.” A brow raised as she leaned back, eyeing him with scrutiny, “Why is it everyone else in the world knew how you felt about me before I did, hm?”

    “Hey,” he mumbled. “A man says a lot of things while drugged and in pain.” He continued to look up at Lilah, yearningly. “C’mon.. he won’t be mad. I’ll take the blame if anyone catches us.” He was desperate to envelop her again.. to piece back the moment he had run from.

    Chuckling, Delilah shook her head and rising, leaned over him, “You're depraved, you know that?” Carefully, ever mindful of her hands, she leaned in to brush a kiss to his lips, leaning her forehead against his with a soft sigh, “I love you.”

    With how gentle she was being, no pain stirred up at all. His eyes closed in bliss as their lips met, and he smiled sleepily as their foreheads came together. “I love you too.” Came the whispering reply, as his eyes fluttered closed once more.

    “Good…” She answered softly, sinking back into the chair, “So quit trying to die on me, then. Get some sleep, baby. I'm gonna be right here, watching…”
  8. Fisher Hawkins

    The first few days at the hospital were the hardest. He was in an out of a drugged stupor, filled with either pain or numbness. It depended on the day. It was hard to grasp the time and he had a feeling of helplessness. Being bedridden was humilating, but Lilah was by his side nearly every time he woke up. So it didn't feel so bad.

    Through the darkness that enveloped his mind more often than he was awake, Fisher could hear Solomon. Could hear the buzz of electrocution, the snapping of Delilah's fingers, of his own ribs. If he had the ability too, he might've woken every time jumping out of the bed. The slightest movements brought him pain so much so that he could hardly find the energy to speak for the first days of recovery.

    Doc and his staff kept a careful eye on Fish alongside Lilah, and their constant surveillance was not only ensuring his recovery, but making him feel secure. Lilah would calm him of the thought of Solomon everytime. He was gone, he was in prison. That part of their lives was over, but until he was up and walking again, there was still a battle against Solomon to fight.

    While he rested there was a whole world for Lilah to explore. The superhero underground was both a figurative and literal thing; connected by a series of abandoned railway tunnels lay all sorts of regular establishments with a secret in the back. Superpowered craftsmen selling items to aid any super in battle, and all the best superhero hang out spots.

    The most well known one was a pub by the name of The Glass Belly. At the front it was a perfectly normal establishment, but in the back was a room private to the most private clientele; superheroes.
    #168 CloudyBlueDay, Feb 3, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2018
  9. Delilah Buress

    Recovery was emotional, too. Delilah had been told that time and time again by just about every therapist she had been to. She couldn't rush her emotional healing any more than she could will her finger bones to snap back into place. But that didn't stop her from wanting it. And more than she wanted it for herself, she wanted it for Fisher. Every time she sat by his bedside while he slept, watching his forehead bead with sweat, his jaw tighten, listening to his breathing quicken as the dreams overcame him, she felt the strain of loving a person who she couldn't help, and it was a torture of its own variety. She herself didn't sleep - not much, at least. Doc insisted that she try and because she owed him quite a great deal, she did... but it was only fits, here and there, haunted by visions... He'd taken Nick. He'd almost taken Fish... Solomon had done the job well, and they had a long road ahead of them.

    But it wasn't all bad. The Underground proved to be more than just an emergency stop for injured Metas. It was a fascinating and enormous array of tunnels, leading to businesses and offices... even a pub. It was a village beneath a village... a world beneath the earth where people like her and Fisher could exist in safety and peace. And in the waking hours, when she couldn't hope to try and force her mind to shut down and abandon thoughts of fear and anger, she wandered through it, searching for answers to questions she wasn't entirely aware she was even asking.

    It was a few days after their arrival, while Fisher was resting that she found The Glass Belly. The oddity of the name stuck out with both amusement and curiosity, and so Delilah found herself stepping inside. Pubs were, by nature, a comfortable environment, even if she wasn't big on social settings. There was an atmosphere to a bar that gave off a sense of ease... no pressure, no judgment. Just a place to relax, to unwind and to forget. Or... to learn.

    Finding a seat on one of the stools, she raked her good hand through her hair, and using the functioning fingers of her splinted hand, she dug a few honey-roasted nuts from the complementary bowl on the counter. The decor was akin to an old sports bar, but not without an air of warmth and charm that those establishments lacked. There were TVs with programs running, and a few pool tables currently occupied. The memorabilia, she noticed, was geared towards superheroes, and this brought a smile to her lips as she considered looking for anything that might belong to Knockout. But it was a full house, and winding her way through the crowd lacked appeal, so instead, she sat and she waited for the bartender, and in her mind she compiled a list of questions that, undoubtedly, she'd lack the nerve to actually ever ask.
    #169 Elle Joyner, Feb 3, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2018
  10. Fisher Hawkins

    Eyeing the fresh face in the pub, a red haired woman cleaned a glass from the back of the bar. She knew all her regulars. Everyone knew her. So why hadn’t she seen this pretty face before? A new hero?

    Sliding in front of Delilah on the opposite side of the bar, she offered the girl a warm smile. Her face was freckled and covered with light scars, telling of a rich past. “I haven’t seen ya around,” She hummed, finishing up with the glass she had been cleaning. “Can I get you somethin’?”

    “A new life…” Delilah mused quietly, as she turned to face the red haired woman with a small, tired smile, “But for now, just a beer. I’m not exactly a local. My…” Blinking, she chuckled dryly. It still felt strange to say, considering how unconventional their entire relationship had been, “My boyfriend got messed up by my psychopathic stalker… and Doc’s takin’ care of him. Nice place you got here.”

    Scoffing humorously, the red haired woman shook her head as she poured a generous mug of beer. “Sounds rough.” She muttered, glancing around the bar. “Yeah, thanks. Been a long time ‘comin.” Her smile was cold as she turned back to Lilah and rested her hands on the bar top. “So, who’s the super in the relationship?” She smirked. “Anyone we’d know? Should I put him on the wall?” She have a nod of her head to the memorabilia on the wall.

    Laughing softly, she shrugged, “Knockout, actually… But I guess we’re both technically… I mean, I’m not one of you guys, or anything, but I can…” Pinching the bridge of her nose, she smirked, “Sorry… I haven’t been sleeping well. At any rate, he might already be on the wall. He’s pretty tight with Doc.”

    “Oh!” Came the barkeep’s delighted response, surprise etching into her features. “Fish! He’s here quite a bit. Already on the wall for sure!” Her happiness diminished quickly. “Ah.. damn, he got beat up, huh?” She shook her head. “Too often, I’ll say. Kid can’t stay in one piece.” She gestured to Lilah’s splinted arm. “I can see it’s been a rough week for the both of ya.”

    “We grew up together, Fish and me… None of this was supposed to happen, but things just kind of… fell apart.” Looking at her arm, she frowned, “It’s been a rough life.” Glancing up, a brow lifted and she looked around. It seemed like a Fish place, somehow… “I’ve never actually heard about all this… How long’s it even been here?”

    “I assure you, everyone here’s had a rough life.” She said with a shake of her head. “This life ain’t easy. So it’s best this stays hidden.” Glancing around the room, her face contorted in thought. “This hasn’t been around long enough. This pub’s only been open a few years.. underground is barely a few decades old.”

    “I’m glad… I dunno that Fish would’ve made it, if this place wasn’t around. And I don’t just mean recently. He needed something like this, I think… to pull himself out of the mess we were left with...” Sitting back on the stool, she turned to the girl again, “I’m Delilah, by the way.”

    Nodding appreciatively, she leaned over the counter with her hand outstretched. “Willow. I own this fine establishment. If you’re looking to meet some more people from the superhero life, this is the place to be.” She smirked.

    “Honestly? I’m not sure what I’m looking for right now, Willow. This whole… part of the world? It’s kind of new for me. I actually just found out about Fish, and I definitely never imagined a place like this existed. I’m not sure the capes and tights life is for me, you know? But it’s nice to know Fish has good people behind him.”

    “I’m sure.” Willow said reassuringly. “But I invite you to explore. People are happy to share, there’s a lot to learn. When Fish is up and at ‘em bring him over so I can kick his ass all over again.” Willow chuckled. “Even if the capes and tights life isn’t for you, there’s still a lot to learn and to aid.”

    Chuckling, she nodded, “I’ll let him know. He seems pretty enamoured by trouble, so I’m sure he’ll rush right over.” With a sigh, she leaned her elbows against the bar top, “...So is everyone in here… Are they all… you know? Special?”

    “The majority, yeah.” Willow said. “This whole place is for the people with nowhere else to go. Y’know they call Millennium the city for people who have something to run away from.” She said with a sad sigh. “Not everyone’s a hero, but they’ve all got somethin’ special, if that’s how you want to put it.” Her gaze was knowing, and she often spoke through a smirk.

    “I never figured…” Shaking her head, she turned back to Willow, “There’s so many of them. Of us. When I was younger, before I knew about Fish and…” Blinking, she hesitated. She’d avoided it… saying him name, since Fisher had first been brought in. Like some freakish curse might be unleashed and he’d appear, summoned… “Anyway, I guess we’re not so alone.”

    Smiling, Willow picked up another glass to dry it. “We’ve always been here. It’s just a shame we’ve gotta stay hidden. Not for long, though. We can all feel it.” She eyed Lilah curiously. “So? Now you’ve gotta tell me, what’s your power?”

    A brow lifted, and looking up, Delilah smirked, “...I can manipulate smoke. Used to just be able to move it around, but I’m getting better. I can solidify it, now. At least partially. Can’t make it, though. Gotta come from somewhere… What about you?”

    “Mm.” Willow mumbled, a noise of perhaps understanding. The power seemed to intrigue her. “Void manipulation. Though it’s not as daunting as it sounds. More like a personal little space pocket.” She said with a shrug. “It comes in handy for storing things.”

    Chuckling, Delilah nodded, “That does sound handy. You’d never need a purse. And packing for a trip must be a dream.” Rubbing her fingers along the splint, the smile faded a little, “...I used to see the news stories… About the heroes. And I always wondered what it’s like. But I just… I dunno. I’m not like Fish…”

    Willow rolled her eyes. “Says who?” Her tone was nonchalant. “You can be like whoever you wanna. Something tells me you’d be good at the gig. Don’t tell me you’re too chicken to try.” Willow flashed her a grin; it was obviously a lighthearted joke. “Plus, I’m sure Fish would walk you through it. He’s been building his name for a long time. He’s really got a knack for it. With a boyfriend like that, cmon. You can’t tell me you’ll never try.”

    “Ha! Chicken? No… no it’s just… A lot of the stuff that happened when we were kids? It’s my fault. And I guess I just never wanted to put myself in a position to hurt him again. After what happened to him? Seeing what that animal did to him?” With a small shrug, she looked up again, “If I ever lost him, it would destroy me.”

    Willows look became a bit more solemn. “So, we talkin’ about the animal that beat him up now, or the dog bite he’s got on his arm?” She said with a small snort, trying to ease the tension. “Kid rambles a lot when he’s drunk, is all I’m saying. I doubt it’s all your fault, really. Shit happens. You’re here now and he’s recovering and that’s just how life goes. It brought you back together, so I doubt he’ll let you go again.” She smiled warmly. “He’s the hero type… he’ll always try to make sacrifices. As with most the people in this line of work. He’ll learn not to be so quick to throw himself around now that you’re here.” Willow looked down, the smirk still present on her lips. “Heaven knows he needs to learn sometime.”

    Chuckling dryly, without much humor, her shoulders bounced in another shrug, “Both, I guess. I know it’s not really my fault, but it’s just… Fish doesn’t think when it comes to the people he loves. He just does… and half the time, it gets him into messes like this. And I guess I’ve always been sort of a blind spot.”

    But as she continued, Delilah seemed to consider the words, sinking back a little, “...But maybe you’re right. Maybe if it wasn’t him against the world, alone… I dunno. I guess I’ve got time to think about it, anyway.”

    Willow nodded. “You definitely do. Well, Delilah, I hope you find the underground to your liking.” She pulled out a business card from her pocket, the words The Glass Belly shimmering in black cardstock. “Give me a call if you need anything. It’s probably best I actually get back to work, now. It’s been a pleasure.”

    Taking the card, she glanced up and nodded with a small smile, “Thanks Willow. I’ll be sure to tell Fisher to stop by when he’s not all banged up.” Tucking the card into her back pocket, she rose to her feet, “You take care…”

    With a small wave, Delilah slipped through the crowd and back out of the Glass Belly. It was early, yet, but she was never too keen on being away from Fisher for long, and so she started back down the tunnel pathways to where the hospital was located.

    Arriving a short while later, she found Fisher was still asleep fairly peacefully, and deciding the beer she’d had wasn’t nearly satisfying enough, she found her way to the vending machines in the hall for something slightly more substantial.

    Someone was already standing in front of the machine, letting out a string of curses as it appeared not to be letting any snacks out. The man appeared in his mid twenties, with long, shaggy black hair and sharp blue eyes. A black bandana lay against his neck, one that looked like it was to be pulled up to cover the mouth. He was a strange get up, though it would be familiar to those who followed the news closely. It resembled that of a knight, though half of his armor was missing, it was clear he was wearing part of a costume that seemed highly functional for battle. His hero name was Gallant, and he was quite well known. Now, however, his leg was in a cast and one arm rested upon a crutch while his other hand smashed the vending machine’s keypad.

    As she approached the machines, Delilah paused and for a moment, only a moment, stared at the figure in confusion. But as recognition slowly revolved in her mind, a small smirk formed and stepping forward, she peered at him, “...It’s… You’re… Gallant, right? Oh wow. This… this is weird.”

    Gaze flying up with a startled look, Gallant turned towards Delilah. “Uh.. yeah,” He muttered, distaste in his voice. He narrowed his eyes at Delilah. His stature seemed cautious. He looked tense. “Damn thing just ate my dollar and I’m hungry.” He whined. “You’re not some fan girl, are you?”

    Laughing quietly, Delilah shook her head, “Nah… I mean. You’re great and all, but I think my boyfriend would probably take issue with that. What’s your number?” Pausing, she smirked, gesturing to the machine, “On the keypad, I mean.”

    He seemed surprised when she asked for his number, and relieved when she clarified. “Ah. Uh. 408.” For a bag of doritos. Gallant seemed somewhat uncomfortable around the woman, and shifted uneasily on his crutch. He was well known for his skill on the battlefield, a very obvious medieval theme paired excellently with his mastery in swordsmanship. With his skill he was able to create large blasts of energy forceful enough to throw an opponent back, by thrusting his sword into the earth. Now, however, he seemed smaller, and certainly a lot more tired.

    Never meet your heroes… That was always what she’d been told, and she could see, at least to a degree, why. There was always something a little… disenchanting about seeing someone you admired up close and personal, ordering doritos from a vending machine.

    With a nod, she turned to the machine and running her finger down the front, located the number, and with a quick glance around, she gave the whole machine a bump with her hip. The doritos wavered on their peg before, with a small thwock, they fell into the receiving tray, “...I’ve been here a few days. Learned how to muscle her into submission. What happened to your leg?”

    He gave a short chuckle of surprise, maneuvering among the crutch to reach for the bag of doritos out if he machine. Shrugging unhappily, Gallant huffed in despair. “Was chasing a crook. Got pushed out a window. Not my best moment.” He muttered. “What happened to your arm?”

    Looking to her fingers, she smirked, “Tortured by my psychotic former foster brother… It’s kind of a long story. And why I’m here. He messed up my boyfriend pretty bad. Not our best moments, either, I guess.”

    “Hrm.” Gallant muttered, mulling over the situation Delilah had just laid out for him. “I’d say you won this round.” He said, tone just sturdy enough to make you wonder if he was joking or not. “Would I know you? You a super? Or your boyfriend?”

    “He is…” She continued, glancing to the machine with consideration. After a few seconds, she decided on the rice krispie treat and pressing the buttons, waited for the machine to dispense it, “Knockout. Apparently, people know him, down here. This is all pretty new to me.”

    A look of realization dawned on Gallant’s face. “Oh. Knockout.” He seemed somewhat worried. “He’s not.. Hurt too bad, right? He’ll recover?” Gallant said, eyeing Delilah squarely.

    “Yeah…” She started quietly, bending down to take out the package, “Yeah, I think he’ll be alright. At least physically. Solomon… he messed him up pretty bad, but he’s always been tough. Still… it’ll be a while.”

    “I don’t know who Solomon is.” Gallant said matter-of-factly. “But I wish him a speedy recovery. We’re not on a real name basis, me and Knockout, but.. I’m Aspen.” He stuck out his hand, brows furrowed. “Sorry to hear ‘bout all that.”

    “You might remember him from his recent escapades… Blowing up that wing in the hospital, and that city bus. The... the case worker office, downtown.” Extending her good hand, which required a bit of maneuvering, she nodded, “Delilah. And thanks. We got him, so.. Hopefully it’s over. That’s about all we can hope for.”

    Aspen’s features morphed into a look of surprise. “I saw those.. Damn.” He muttered. “You grew up with that?” He shook his head. “Didn’t know he had that on his plate. Unfortunately, if you’re in this business, people generally have such shitty pasts.”

    “Yeah… He wasn’t always so… Dramatic. But a slew of fosters homes where you’re treated like the scum of the earth’ll do that to a person, I guess. I’d feel sorry for him, except he snapped my fingers like dried pasta and nearly electrocuted my boyfriend to death. Personally, I hope he gets shivved.” She smiled dryly and shrugged, opening the package for the rice krispie, “Seems our past isn’t too keen to stay put where it belongs, but like I said… we got him, so… Here’s to hoping.”

    “Yeesh.” Aspen said uncomfortably. “So, uh.. You’re not out there too? Bein’ a hero? Just your boyfriend’s thing?” Aspen fidgeted with the bag of chips. He seemed hesitant to open it. “You seem feisty enough for the job.” He snorted.

    Laughing, she pulled the rice krispie out, “That’s the second time someone’s asked me that, today. You guys gettin’ paid or something?” Taking a bite, she chewed, before shaking her head, “Not a hero, no… I dunno… I just never really thought about it, before. Guess maybe I should start…”

    Confusion fell into his eyes. “I really frickin’ wish I got paid.” He deadpanned. “So if you like that kinda life, I guess you could think about it. You might want to consider where we are right now, however. And if you enjoy being in hospitals pretty often.” He muttered. “The damn cast itches.”

    “What kinda life? Poor and half-dead? I mean… That’s sort of where I’m at right now.” Chuckling, she turned to toss her wrapper in the trash, “Still… Who knows. Right now, I’m just waiting for my guy to get better, so we can decide the next step. At any rate, hope you heal up quick, cause you do good work out there. Just maybe avoid standing too close to windows, yeah?”

    “Yeah, that kinda life. Well, then you're halfway there to being a hero.” He muttered. “Same to your.. Guy. And, sure. I’ll be standing a little bit farther from windows.” Aspen muttered awkwardly, as he turned to go.

    “Take care, Aspen,” She added with a nod, “Maybe I’ll see ya around, out there…” Turning in the opposite direction, she gave another soft, sardonic laugh, before returning down the hallway to Fisher’s room.

    He was stirring, now. The steady hum of his monitor always seemed to be the first thing to greet him, and he blamed it for waking him up always, even though it wasn’t loud enough to do so. He’d been gaining more consciousness each day, rather than waking up to a blurry world and going right back to sleep. It was surprising not to see Lilah right beside him, though a sleepy smile fell on his face as he saw her appear in the doorway.

    “Hey,” Fisher said slowly, pushing the words out. “What’ve you been up to?”

    Leaning on the doorframe, Delilah studied him for a moment, and her lip curved up into a smile as she took him in. Every time he woke, she was reminded that he was alive, still… and that was a good thing. But she was also reminded of what he’d been through, and the pain was still all too apparent in his face.

    Moving into the room, she sank into the chair beside him and reached with her good hand, for one of his, “Oh, just… wandering around our little Mole village, here. Met some pretty cool people. Did you know, My darling Trout… you’re famous?”

    Offering her his hand, Fisher’s smile broadened. “Mm.. am I really?” He hummed. “I think I did know. But maybe I don’t really like to admit it.” He adjusted himself ever so slightly to look at her better. “Who did you meet?”

    Chuckling, she gave his hand a squeeze, pulling it gently forward to press a kiss to the knuckles, “A woman named Willow… Works at the Glass Belly. Which I’m absolutely furious you never told me about, even if we did just sort of figure out this whole reunion thing, you and I. And… OH! Get this! Gallant. THE Gallant. How cool is that? Busted his leg getting chucked out a window, but man… He’s pretty cool.”

    His eyes were glazed over in a drugged haze, but that didn’t stop the smile on his face from blooming just as he listened. “Mmm..” He finally murmured, closing his eyes to gather a response. “Willow’s nice. Dunno why you needed to know about the Belly. ‘S a nice place.” He mumbled, nose turning in disgust at the sound of Gallant’s name. “Don’t hang around that asshole,” Fisher whined, though it was more comical than anything. “But it’s nice to know he’s stuck here too. Heh. Chucked out a window.” Fisher echoed.

    “Hey, now… He might have bad choices in snacks, and he’s definitely not the charming shining armor sort the news makes him out to be, but that’s harsh.” Smiling, she leaned forward, “And if you’re not gonna tell me about your superhero friends, Fish, all I can do is… figure it out, myself.”

    Fish groaned. “He’s not my friend.” He insisted. “We’re rivals! It’s cool to have a rival. Don’t poke around too hard, pleaaaase. I’ve done embarrassing crap in my time here, pleaaaaaaase.”

    “A rival? Please tell me that’s part of the superhero oath you guys take. That you have to have a rival.” Her laugh echoed again, this time brighter than it had been in a while, “Oh… See… You shouldn’t have said that, because now I need to go poke some more. What sort of embarrassing crap??”

    Fisher wined and turned his head the other. “Nothing. And don’t go askin’. I’ve been a modest hero all my life -- no -- no.. no wait.” Fisher’s brows scrunched. “For.. some years. And I haven’t done nuthin’ embarrassing. Ever.”

    “Fisher Hawkins… I will ask.” She gave him a look, one he’d know meant business, though it was curved by the touch of a smile as she sat back in her chair, “...Hell… I’ll go ask Gallant, out there. He can’t have gotten far, hobbling on that crutch.”

    “No!” Fisher exclaimed, and coughed a little bit afterwards from the effort. “Don’t you dare. My carefully crafted rivalry..” He brought a hand to his forehead. “Alright.. Alright. Willow’s old pub..” Fisher leaned in and whispered. “I accidentally set a fire in it.”

    “..You…” Staring at him, Delilah bit back a look of pure enjoyment, a brow raised, “You set fire… to Willow’s pub? How do you manage the things you do, Fish? It’s incredible, honestly.”

    He giggled softly. “Okay, it wasn’t totally me, but like.. I made this girl mad, and she had fire powers, and it got messy so fast. So fast. And it wasn’t Willow’s yet, but I’m totally the reason she got her own place. So that’s good.”

    “Oh… There’s more to this story. I just know it.” Grinning, now, Delilah pulled her knees up to her chest, leaning her chin against then, “How did you piss her off bad enough that she tried to roast you? Better yet… how do you even make anyone mad? I didn’t think that was possible…”

    “Well I was very drunk.” He stated. “Very drunk, and I was playing darts, and I threw one in her.. Er.. general direction. But I think she just took the liberty of saying I threw it at her head. And my drunk butt, you know, didn’t let it go.” Fisher mumbled. “I hear about her sometimes, in the news. She’s around. It’s weird.”

    “Oh my God… Who are you! All this time…” Laughing again, she shook her head, “Here I am, thinking you’re this lost sheep who needs protecting. But you’re out there, throwing darts at girl’s heads and burning down pubs. Fisher Hawkins… you fiend.”

    “I was just drunk, okay! I’m not that bad, I swear. I swear, Lil. Don’t be mad.” He sighed. “I was all over the place. I really was.”

    Leaning forward again, she took his hand and with a small, soft sigh, she kissed the back on his hand, “...Fish… Baby. Did you forget already, how I was basically a drug mule for gangsters? If I were mad at you, I’d be a pretty hypocrite. I kind of like it, honestly. Fisher’s dark side. Never saw it coming.”

    He smiled up at her with a little laugh, a very airy one that he had perfected these past days that allowed little to no movement, therefore, no pain. “Yeah.. I might’ve forgotten, maybe. But it doesn’t really matter to me. ‘Cause you’re you.” He squeezed her hand.

    “And you’re you… Which is the only thing I need you to be.” Resting her forehead on his hand, she closed her eyes for a moment, “...How are you feeling?”

    “Mostly numb,” Fisher mumbled. “Don’t worry about it. What about your hand?”

    “I think I can actually feel a few of them, today.” She said with a small, dry chuckle, “Getting there, anyway. Willow wants you to stop by the pub, by the way… when you’re feeling up for it. Maybe it’s not a bad idea. Getting on your feet again, soon.”

    He took in a breath. “I dunno. She’ll kick my ass back to bed.” He smiled weakly. “When Doc tells me to get up, I’ll get up. Right now, though.. I’m not so sure.”

    “She did mention something about ass kicking… But if you’re throwing darts at her patrons, I’m not sure I can blame her.” Smiling slyly, Delilah shrugged, “...Not sure physically… or not sure mentally? Cause I can definitely understand both, but I can only help you through the one.”

    His eyes darted across the room. “Both.” He murmured, quietly, almost ashamed. “It’s.. it’s.. Safe here. And I know that he’s gone, that we got him.. But it’s still.. safe here.”

    “It is… And that's okay, for now. When you're ready, Fish… we'll get back out there. You take as long as you need, okay?” Sitting up a little straighter, she smirked, “But just know… The longer we're down here, the more of those absolutely adorable Knockout stories are gonna come out.”

    He gave that airy laugh again and rolled his eyes, his gaze falling on their intertwined fingers as he fell momentarily silent. “Thank you.. for staying with me.” Her murmured, looking up at her with a gentle smile.

    “Where else would I go, Fish?” The smile softened, her eyes meeting his, “My whole world’s right in this room. You told me you never wanted to leave, I’d make myself right at home here, and not miss one second of what I had before. So take your time. I’m not going anywhere…”

    He smiled at her lovingly, drowsiness already creeping into his gaze. He could hardly stay awake in those short intervals. Doc would eventually have to ease up the painkillers. But he didn’t dare let go over her hand, because with it he knew that come what may, they would get through it together.

    “Get some rest, Fish. I'll be right here when you wake up.” Her smile twitched to something teasing and she shrugged, “Unless I wander off to hear more embarrassing stories. We'll see…”
  11. Delilah Buress

    A few more days passed, and Delilah found herself slipping far too easily into a life of comfort underground. It was an odd feeling, because while she was glad for the safety and the welcome they received, the fact was, it wasn't home. The sooner Fish recovered, the sooner they could move on, and as hard as that sounded, she knew it was the right thing.

    So it was accepted with a strange sense of relief, the news that Fisher was ready to begin physical therapy. His recovery process would be slow and he would undoubtedly have to start small, but they were on the road, and that was the important thing…

    But she also knew, all too well, Fisher's reluctance, and so as they traveled to the therapy room, she pushed down her own feelings, and instead watched him like a hawk, for any sense that he wasn't handling it…

    “Almost there…” she murmured, gesturing to the sign on the wall with an arrow leading them to the therapy center, “Holdin’ up?”

    It was scary how strange it was to be fully awake. He had spent the past week or so coming in and out of consciousness, and when he really was awake, it was for a very brief, hazy period of time. Which was very upsetting for him, because when he finally was awake and ready to get up, it turned out he could only be wheeled places. Fisher found this horrifying, and desperately humiliating. To go from fighting crime to being pushed around in a wheelchair almost hurt just as much as his injuries.

    “Sure.” He grumbled, refusing to look back at the nurse who was pushing him.

    Smiling dryly, Delilah looked to the nurse and shaking her head, gestured to the wheelchair, “Here. Lemme take over.” And with a nod, the nurse pulled away to allow Delilah room to push. As she took hold of the handles and resumed their pace down the hall, she leaned in a bit, closer to Fisher’s ear, “I know this sucks, baby. But just keep telling yourself… it’s to get better.”

    He sighed deeply and nodded. As much as this hurt his pride.. He knew it was true. The idea of physical therapy worried him.. If he had to be wheeled around now, he didn’t understand how in the next room someone was going to get him on his feet. Despite feeling so humiliated, the more terrifying thought was that he couldn’t quite remember the last time he’d.. Stood. It was only a few broken ribs but they had taken such a toll on him.

    “I know. Sorry I’m grumpy.” He muttered, glancing at the doors that lead to the physical therapy room. A whole new battle to face, he told himself. Just from a different perspective.

    “You don’t have to apologize, baby. You got electrocuted… and had your ribs bashed in. If anyone’s allowed to be a little grouchy, it’s you. Besides… I think it’s cute when you pout.” Pressing a kiss to his cheek, she straightened, before wheeling him into the therapy room, “Here we are.”
    “Hardy har har,” Fish said with a small smirk as they entered. It had a sort of stuffy air to it, even though the room was spacious, and evenly divided with shelves of equipment and padded mats. The majority was empty, but there was a slim figure working with a nurse towards the back of the room, one that looked unnervingly familiar. Fish grumbled as he averted his eyes towards the nurse that seemed to be waiting in an empty station, with Doc’s calming presence beside the nurse.

    Slowing the wheelchair before the station near Doc, Delilah stepped back with a warm smile, “All yours… Careful, he’s a little grump.” She winked to Fisher, before moving to lean against one of the unused tables, her eyes shifting around the room to the other patients, “Busy crowd today, huh Doc?”

    The nurse smiled warmly, welcoming Fisher as Doc greeted him, and moved off to the side towards Delilah. His gaze was strangely calm as he glanced back at Fisher, who was looking more nervous than anything now. “A crowd of grumps, too.” He said with a chuckle. “Physical therapy is no easy task. It certainly evokes some emotion. Not always the best of them.” He turned to her. “How have you been lately? The hospital treating you alright? The underground?”

    “Better than I expected, honestly. All of it… It’s strange. I never put a lot of stock in what I was, before. I was never ashamed of it, or afraid, but… I guess it just didn’t matter to me. But when I ran into Fish again, and I saw what he was… What he could do…” Looking to Doc, she smiled faintly, “And now all this… It’s the first time in a long I’ve even thought about my abilities.”

    Doc smiled pleasantly. “I’m really glad to hear some good has come out of this. The underground is an amazing place.. Even though I’m not a meta, I do say I might appreciate it more than anyone else here.” He smirked jokingly, and then took a pause. “And.. for my son. He doesn’t quite realize it yet, but.. This place will be here for him when he’s ready.”

    A brow lifted as she turned back to him, “Your son? I didn’t know you were a family man, Doc. He’s one, too?”

    Taking a seat, Doc let out a long sigh. “His mother was one, as were my parents. Skipped a generation, I’m going to assume. He’s a little airheaded.” Though his words were harsh, they were fueled by love. “He works at Fish’s auto shop. It’s how I came to know him.”

    “Wait, wait… Diego?” A small laugh escaped and she pushed off the table, “No wonder he and Fish get along so well. I mean… the Meta thing. Not the airhead thing. Though there are times with Fish… Do all superheroes just… not think things through? Run off into crazy…?”

    “Yes.. Diego. You’ve met him?” Doc sat up. “I suppose it comes with the gig, though I think just having powers goes to one’s head.” He let that sentence stay in there air. “Medically. I mean medically.” Then his posture relaxed again.

    “Briefly. It was before Fish and I were… Anyway. He seems like a good guy. And if he does end up here… there are worse places.” Turning to him again, she shrugged, “I think if I let him, Fish would just move in down here. Might have a contender in him for how much he loves this place.”

    Doc tipped his glasses and glanced at Fish from their perch. “It’s.. intoxicating.” He said sullenly. “We really try to provide refuge for those with utterly nowhere to go.. But Fish is scared. Don’t let him get too comfy. He’s.. a true hero. And sometimes it can get harsh, especially times like these. It’s good to take a break for a little while.. But he’ll want to forget.”

    “Oh, don’t you worry about that, Doc. I’m not about to let him settle down here. It’s nice, but… Fish don’t belong underground. He’s not just a hero cause he wears a suit and fights the bad guys. He’s a hero for a lot of other reasons, and I don’t have any intentions of letting him forget that. I think he just needs a little bit of time to remember it, himself.”

    Doc nodded with a smile. “Good. I’m glad he has you.” He said simply. “Fish has been around many times.. often spilled a lot about himself. It seems to be a reaction to pain for him. In all the times he’s talked about you, I really did wonder why you two hadn’t found each other again already.” Doc smirked.

    “He’s stubborn…” She mused quietly, “I think he kept away, cause he wanted me to be safe. But I wish he had… I feel like things might’ve been easier if he’d just… told me, you know? Maybe we’d have had less heartache.” Looking to Fisher, she smiled faintly, “But who knows… I’m just glad we have each other, now. And I’m glad he’s had you, Doc. Really. Thanks for taking care of him for me.”

    The man nodded. “Of course. He would do the same for my family.” The door to the room swung open, another young man walked in. His posture radiated confidence, cool eyes narrowed with a suave smile and perfectly quaffed black hair. He breezed into the room, hardly taking notice of those around, but Fisher, who had been turned backwards to face the door, stared at him in shock, eyes widened as the man walked in the other direction to another nurse.

    Catching sight of Fisher’s gaze, and the sudden shift in his demeanor, she turned to see the man wandering in, a brow lifting. He wasn’t familiar - at least not to her, but there was definitely recognition in Fish’s eyes, and not in any way good.

    “Excuse me a second, Doc…” Crossing back to Fisher, she nodded towards the newcomer with a small frown, “...Friend of yours?”

    “Not.. even close.” Fisher growled, memories flooding back to him. “He’s from an old foster home.. After the Declains.” He avoided Delilah’s gaze. “I never thought I’d see him again.”

    Blinking, Lil straightened up a little, crossing her arms over her chest. She didn’t know much about what Fisher’s life had been like after the Declains, but she was fairly certain it had been about as pleasant as her own…

    “...Trouble? Should we tell Doc?”

    Hissing, Fish narrowed his eyes on Dawson. He still had that same disgusting charisma. “I don’t know. He was trouble for me, but.. I can’t jump on him before he does anything.” Fisher grumbled. “I can’t quite jump on him at all. He’s not good news, Lil.”

    “Well, hey…” Turning to Dawson, she smiled faintly, with what she hoped was an encouraging air, “He’s here, so that’s something, right? Can’t cause much trouble when you’re down for the count, right?”

    Fisher seemed hardly encouraged. His gaze was still filled with anger, and he shook his head. “He doesn’t look so down for the count to me.” Fisher hissed. “Maybe you should go talk to him.. Get a sense of whether or not he’s here to cause trouble, because I swear, if he wants too, he will.”

    A brow lifted, and Delilh turned to Fisher fully, to ask if he was serious. There was little use asking, however, because she could see in his expression he was. Shaking her head, she uncrossed her arms and made her way to the other side of the center, pausing near the stranger, “...Hey. Sorry to bother you. You… you’re not that Gallant guy, are you?”

    The man turned, a curious look in his eye. He looked Delilah up and down, before his face lifted in a devious smile. “No, but I could be,” He hummed, his voice smooth. “What might your name be?”

    “Oh… Bummer. I was really hoping… I’m a big fan, see…” Smiling, though it pained her to fake it, she leaned back against the table nearest her, “I’m Delilah. What brings you here? You don’t look injured..”

    Shaking his head with a sultry laugh, he leaned back. “Just finishing up some PT for a sprained shoulder. Really, it wasn’t necessary to begin with in the first place, but you know. Hospitals.” Dawson sighed, and stuck out his hand, reaching for her good one. “I’m Dawson.”

    Extending to give his hand a shake, she nodded, and simultaneously held up her own splinted hand, “Oh, I know. I could walk a handstand on these puppies and they still wouldn’t let me out of here until I finished my eight weeks of PT. What’d you do to sprain it?”

    Dawson chuckled at her joke, flipping his hair. “Asshole at the gym dropped the bar while spotting me,” he said ruefully. “Quite an experience. How about you? What happened to that pretty hand of yours?”

    “Oof… Sounds like a bad spotter.” With a shrug, she lowered her hand again, “Got into it with an ex. Not a good ex… But he’s in jail now, so… I guess I don’t have to worry about that.”

    Dawson’s coolness fell away to intrigue. “Sounds like a terrible ex,” He said slowly, almost cautiously, as if he were still trying to digest who this ex was, and who Delilah was. “Sounds like a terrible time. How long ‘till ya get the splint off?”

    “Couple weeks…” She said with a nod, “I’m pretty ready to get it off now, though. It’s hard to be patient when you have things to do outside of here that require two hands, you know? Can’t exactly waitress with one.”

    His smile returned, sickly sweet. “I’m sure.” He replied eagerly. “So you waitress, hmm? Anyplace I’d know? Maybe I’ll stop by to make sure everything’s all fine and well.”

    The smile returned, and Delilah shifted to look at him a little better, “Sadly, I don’t think I’m actually employed anymore. I… missed quite a few shifts. But I’m sure I’ll find a place, once I’m cleared to leave. Guess you’ll just have to keep in touch.”

    “I think I will.” He said with a very casually delivered wink, head turning as the nurse called him over. “Then I’ll see you around, Delilah.”

    “Sounds good, Dawson.” And with a nod, she turned away, crossing the room again. For a moment, she waited until she was sure he was occupied, before returning to Fisher’s side, “Wow. Okay. So… apart from him being basically just… gross and really sure of himself, I’m not sure, but…” Frowning a little, she shrugged, “He didn’t seem shady. But I’m not too sure I believe he’s not, either. I think he lied about why he’s here.”

    Rolling his eyes, Fisher growled. “He’s gonna be up to something. Christ. Can’t get rid of him even if I tried.” He groaned. “I don’t know what I’d tell Doc.. just better hope we never see him again.” He muttered.

    “You… you wanna tell me about it?” She asked, a brow lifting. This wasn't the same disdain he'd shown for Gallant. This was new. It wasn't a look she had never seen on Fisher. One she didn't particularly like seeing on her… it didn't fit, “Maybe after PT?”

    He nodded sullenly. “Yeah.. after.” He didn’t want to talk about it at all, but he had no choice. He shuddered at the thought of that foster home. It was a better place than he had ever landed in, but Dawson made it awful. Unbearable. And of course, that was what had gotten him expelled.

    Giving a nod in return, Delilah reached out to squeeze Fisher’s hand and leaning forward, she pressed a kiss to his cheek, “...After, then.” And releasing him, she turned to let the nurse resume her work. It was roughly an hour later when Fisher was released, and waiting by the door, Delilah smiled faintly, “..You feel up for leaving the hospital?”

    The physical therapy was more grueling than he could have predicted. Coming out was like finishing a marathon, and it even took him a moment to finally process the fact that he could feel every finger fully again. Lilah’s presence brought a faltering smile to his lips through every grimace. No, he wasn’t sure he was ready.. but Lilah’s proposition felt like something he needed to do. It felt like he hadn’t been above ground in years. He was afraid he’d forget. But hell if he was gonna go up and see anyone in a wheelchair..

    “Yeah,” He said softly. “I am, actually.”

    Delilah’s smile warmed and she nodded, “Good… I was gettin’ a little tired of vending machine meals. Where you wanna go? Underground’s the limit, as they say.”

    “There’s a small place near the Glass Belly. Pizza?” Fisher said weakly, slipping his hand into hers. “Feels pretty weird to be taller than you all over again, hm?”

    Taking his hand gratefully, Delilah chuckled softly, “It feels nice. The whole Giant Girlfriend thing is not for me. And pizza sounds great… Anything sounds better than chips or pretzels.” As they started down the hall, she looked forward and the smile faltered a little, “So… This Dawson guy?”

    Fisher sighed, which brought a sudden jolt of pain to his chest. After a wince, he glanced at her again. “So.. after the Declains, I got bounced around a little more. Actually ended up in another pretty decent home. The caretakers were actually nice. Tried their best. Dawson, the little shit… he was stealing from them, causing trouble left and right. I eventually got fed up… and we got into a huge fight. Got us kicked out of the house, but luckily I was just of age.” FIsh shook his head. “He was never any good.. And now he has powers?”

    “Oh… wow.” Glancing back in the direction of the PT center, Delilah shook her head, “Hopefully won’t be around much longer, at least. He said this was his last session. And at he didn’t see you.” Turning to Fisher, she managed a small smile, “...You fought? Like… actually fought him? With your fists?”

    Fisher gritted his teeth, trying to take it lightly but failing. “I was.. Angry,” he murmured. “The whole.. Y’know.. Declain… Explosion..” He shook his head. “I wasn’t in a good place. I finally had something pretty decent, and Dawson just.. Ruined it. All of it. As he usually does.”

    “I’m sorry, Fish.” Giving his hand a squeeze, she gently nudged his shoulder with her own, “Hopefully it’s just a fluke, okay? Just a one time thing. Don’t let it get to you. Look… you’re up. You’re walking. And I must say… while the dazed and delirious drugged up look was pretty cute, you are looking pretty damn hot, all healthy and pink again.”

    He chuckled weakly. “You’re right. Maybe he’s straightened out. We were all shitheads back then..” He smiled and pecked Lilah on the cheek. Nevermind all the effort it took just to make it a few steps.. He was going to get better. “And maybe we’ll stop by to see Willow, just so I can assure her I’m not dead.”

    Laughing a little, Delilah shook her head, “Maybe not… She did say she was gonna kick your ass. And honey… you look good, but you don’t look good enough to take her on. I get the impression she’s pretty intense.”

    He laughed with her, thinking back to the years when Knockout was still a dream. Doc had noticed his friendship with Diego early on, and after catching him using his powers, introduced him to the Underground. Willow had been one of his first friends. “Well.. she is sort of kind of part of a biker gang,” He hummed. “But seriously, I’ve known her forever. If I make sure just to get in a few moans of pain, she won’t hurt me.. Too bad.”

    “Well, don’t you worry your pretty, busted up head. I’ll protect you…” She cooed, affectionately, but not without a degree of teasing, “I think, though, she’ll just be glad to hear you’re alright. I think everyone’s been worried about you. I know I have…”

    His smile wavered. He wondered who, other than Willow, was worrying about him. It was interesting to consider it. These people.. They were guarded. While he spent nights with them at the bar, and promised to be at their side if they ever needed backup, they had a duty to keep their identity secret. He had known people like Gallant for years, and didn’t even know their real name. Fisher didn’t even need to ask, but sometimes.. It was strange, knowing someone, knowing their closest secret, and maybe not knowing them at all.

    “I don’t plan on worrying you like that again anytime soon.” He promised.

    “Good…” She said, and all traces of teasing were gone, “Because I didn’t like it. And as nice as it is down here, and as much as I like the people, I don’t ever wanna have to come here with you again because of something like this. Not ever, Fish. Okay?”

    He took a moment to look her in the eyes, to understand the severity of her words. He didn’t want to be helpless again. He didn’t want to make her worry like that, and he especially.. Never wanted to see her in that position. “Yes. Okay. Never.” He said firmly.

    “Good.” Smiling again, she leaned in to steal a kiss, “As long as we're agreed, I'm happy. Now… pizza. I'm starved… and you're probably sick of hospital food.”

    His steely expression lifted into a smile. “Oh, so sick of it.” He echoed. “And Ricky’s pizza is the best. He’s got a fire meta fueling the oven n’ everything. It’s why they’re so good.”

    “A fire meta fueling the… Wow. This really is a strange new world.” She chuckled, shaking her head, “I thought I’d seen it all…Think Ricky’s hiring waitresses? I’m pretty sure I’m out of a job, topside.”

    Fisher paused, considering if Ricky was hiring. “You know, he might be,” Fisher said thoughtfully. “You should definitely ask. No safer place to work..” Luckily it wasn’t too much of a walk, and after passing the Glass Belly they would come upon the small pizza shop, dubbed Ricky’s. Fisher held the door open for Lilah with a smirk. “My lady,” he announced.

    With a small laugh, she shrugged, “Maybe I will…” But in truth, they didn’t really need the excuse to stay underground longer than necessary. As nice as it was, Fisher needed to move forward and in a way, so did she…

    At the door, she grinned at his gesture and bowing her head, nodded and walked past him, in the shop, “Could give Gallant a run for his money…”

    Fisher snorted and rolled his eyes, poking his head into the place afterwards, allowing the smell of fresh pizza to waft into his nose. “You’ve spoken to the guy. You know he’s not half as charming as he pretends to be. Dude’s… grizzly.” The word was a little bit strange, but felt right to describe him.

    Laughing, she nodded, “No… that he isn’t. But he isn’t all bad, either. You really should consider a different rival. I mean… I’m on a first name basis with the guy. Feels weird to obligatorily hate him because you do.” She winked, “I mean, I will… if that’s how this goes, but it’s weird.”

    As he headed for the closest opentable, Fisher turned back to look at Delilah with a mouth open in shock. “A first name basis?” He said slowly. “You.. you… wha? He told you his real name?” Fisher slid into the seat, rubbing his chin in thought. “You don’t just.. Do that, here.” He muttered. “I’ve known half the people down here for years. You don’t tell names. It’s crazy, but.. It puts everyone in danger. I can’t believe he would do that.”

    Fisher shook his head. “Don’t.. Hate the guy for me. But sometimes knowing is just as dangerous as being in the dark. It’s a different world. Everyone has a past that’s out to get them.”

    Chuckling, though not in a way that diminished his concerns, she shrugged, “I'm not a superhero, Fish. I don't have anything but my first name to introduce myself to people. I guess he just felt strange not returning it... Or, I dunno… maybe I just exude a trustworthy nature?”

    He laughed lightly and rolled his eyes. “They just know you’re special. Like I do.” He hummed, straightening his posture as the server came by. It was a gangly young boy, with dirty blonde hair and blue eyes. “Hey, Percy,” Fisher said with a smile. Percy grinned at Fisher. “Hey! Heard you were roughed up from Willow.” Fisher scoffed. “Guess I’m the talk of the town?” “No… it’s just Willow. Who’s your friend?”

    Delilah turned to the boy with a small smile, still reflecting the warmth of Fisher's words, “Delilah. Definitely not the talk of the town. Nice to meet you.”

    Percy tucked the menus under his arm to shake Delilah’s hand. “Hi, Delilah. I’m Percy. So, you a new super or something?” He handed them both a menu. “Do you want the usual, Fish?” Fisher chuckled. “Let’s see what the lady wants.”

    “Me? Nah. Just this lucky guy's girlfriend.” She answered, gesturing to Fisher, “What's the usual?”

    Percy laughed. “We call it Fish Pizza, in honor of this man. Anchovies!” Fisher blushed. “He really does live up to his name. Now all he has to do is start catching it.”

    “Oh, Fish. Baby… no…” Shaking her head, she looked up at Percy, “You let him eat that? I thought you people were friends.... I'll have pepperoni, very far away from his anchovies mess.”

    “Right.” Percy said with a chuckle. “I’ll be back with it in a moment.” Fisher laughed lightly once more. “As he said.. Gotta live up to the name?”

    “So join a swim team… Anchovies are made for cats.” She sank back with a smile, “Percy a super, too?”

    “He’s got powers, but he’s not quite in the business.” Fisher hummed. “Willow’s best friend’s little brother. I know, I know. I’ll say it slowly if you really need. And I hate swimming.”

    “You really do have a little family going on down here, huh? Feels like the equivalent of bringing me home to meet your mom. Except, you know, for the hospitalization.” A brow raised as he went on and she laughed, “You hate swimming. Do you know how ironic that is?”

    “Hey. I’m a fisher, not a swimmer.” He joked. “And yeah.. I guess it is sort of a little family. Gotta put some roots somewhere.. Especially when you’ve got no one else.” Fisher scratched the back of his neck awkwardly. “Percy’s a good kid though. His sister’s always off doing something righteous. Used to be part of some superhero team, I think. She doesn’t talk much.”

    “Well, you got me, now. But if this is home to you, Fish… That's good enough for me.” Sitting back in her seat, she frowned faintly at his words, “No? Why's that? Didn't think I'd ever meet a quiet super.”

    Glancing around to make sure Percy wasn’t quite back yet, Fisher sighed deeply, and very quickly regretted it. After a small wince, he looked for the right words. “Percy told me they were.. Murdered. Her team, I mean. He was just a kid, but it was their family. Their dad started the whole thing and he died with it.”

    “Wow…” Frowning, she sank back further, “...That’s heavy. It’s weird to think stuff like that goes on in the world. It just doesn’t seem real, you know? But then I look at what happened with us… and I guess I can believe it.”

    Fish nodded grimly. “It’s crazy to think about. And Willow, too.. they both had run ins with the scientists, the SPME. It’s not really my game, but it’s a vicious organization. It’s a vicious world.” Percy appeared from the back, carrying two steaming pizzas. “Here we are,” He grinned awkwardly. “Anchovies for the man and pepperoni for the lady.”

    “Ah… I guess he can eat at the same table as me…” She mused as the pizzas were delivered, but her smile seemed strained and when he’d gone again, she looked back to Fisher, “The more you talk about it, the less I feel inclined to leave the underground. Fish… how… how dangerous is it? What you’re doing? Besides the obvious stuff, like… fighting crime. What else is out there?”

    “Well.. what I’m doing is just the tip of the iceberg.” Fish said solemnly. “There’s many evils out there.. Many evils against mankind, and many evils against supers themselves. But just being a hero.. It changes things for Supers. It shows that there’s humanity in us, because people are scared. And I’ve still got my own demons to fight, too.”

    “Why do you do it, Fish?” The question came out softly, almost hesitantly, and her eyes lowers as she brushed her fingertip a speck on the tabletop, “What makes it worth going back to, no matter how many times you get hurt?”

    He picked up a piece of pizza and allowed it to hang in his hand a moment. “It makes me somebody. Somebody who does good.” He shrugged. “I was nobody all of my life.. I couldn’t ever do anything. I couldn’t ever help anybody. It gives me power.. It makes me less of some kid with no family and more of.. More of a person. More of somebody who can do something to change the world. So then, it doesn’t matter how many times I get hurt, as long as I can get back up and keep fighting.”

    “...Damn. I was hoping it was some convoluted, self-centered reason like… you like the spotlight or you think you look hot in spandex. How am I gonna convince you not to go back to it, now?” Her smile was faint, teasing, but there was an edge of truth to her words. She hadn’t been fully convinced it was all worthwhile, worth the risk… until now…

    “Well, a part of it is self-centered.” Fisher muttered, failing to match her teasing attitude. “I needed to make myself feel important. Needed to be worth anything. Needed a way justify searching for Solomon.. Needed a way to justify my lack of self care, too.”

    “Fish, baby. You're talking to me, here. You really think you need to explain yourself? You let a dog maul you so we'd get pulled out of a crap situation. Even when you try to be selfish, it ends up in someone else's favor.”

    He chuckled awkwardly, shaking his head. “That was different… I was a kid. We had to get out of there. I wasn’t thinking the same sort of way.”

    “It was no different and you know it.” Reaching across the table, she took his hand, giving it a squeeze, “You've always been a hero. You've always been someone. You just never saw it cause you can't accept that not everyone can be saved. But you saved me, Fish. Too many times to count… And that's pretty amazing.”

    He laughed and smiled at her, squeezing her hand back. “I’d do it a thousand times over.” He insisted. Carefully ignoring whatever else she had said. With the other hand, he finally took a bite of his pizza. “Now, seriously Lil. You gotta let me eat. I’ve been waiting too long for this.”

    Laughing gently, she nodded and released his hand, reaching for her own piece, “Eat up… Just don't think you can kiss me after. Not till you brush your teeth.”

    Giggling, Fisher stuck out his tongue. “You’ll just have to miss out on my soft, soft, lips, then.” He joked, taking another bite with a glimmer in his eye.
  12. Fisher Hawkins

    Even before the pizza, Fisher had been exhausted. After laughing and talking with Lil, and the whole walk here, he was finding himself getting droopy again, especially after all the PT. So they’d headed back to the hospital, leaving Percy to promise Willow he would stop by soon enough. It was a bit discouraging to return to the hospital, but their outing served as a reminder he’d be out very soon. Fisher had crawled back into bed quickly, and dozed off.

    The dreams were still present, and probably would be for a long time. This time, he dreamt of the Havershimes. Of that time when he’d finally had enough. It had been a day after he watched a fellow foster kid, Angie, get beaten for missing a speck of dirt on the cutlery. She was seven.

    “We’re going to get out of here.” He insisted to Sol and Lil, face full of anger, cheeks hot.

    Looking up from the book he had taken from the shelf in the guest room, Solomon frowned, a strange sight on his young features… but somehow fitting for so sullen a boy. Delilah had begged him to put the book back and she had already nearly exhausted herself with the efforts… Now turning to Fisher, she shook her head.

    “What're you talking about, Fish? We can't leave… You know they lock up when they leave.”

    “She's right.” Solomon said, closing the book, “A deadbolt and two keys.”

    “Of course I know!” Fisher grumbled. “We’ve gotta break the lockbox on the phone. Call the police. I-I can do it.” He gave them both a knowing look. He could do it because of the new powers he had stumbled upon. And they both knew that was what he was talking about.

    “Are you nuts?” Solomon asked, his voice barely altering in inflection, “They'd lock you up next time. Put you in the basement for a month.”

    “Yeah… Remember what happened when Nick got ahold of the neighbor's cellphone and called the police? They didn't believe him. Didn't have an proof and he got beat so bad he couldn't walk straight. Fish… You can't…”

    “Yeah, but I’ll have proof this time. I’ll have proof, just you watch.” He insisted, a look came into Fisher’s eye, one of determination. The phone was locked up in the kitchen, right next to the dogs as they guarded the front door. Hiding in the guest room wasn’t going to work for them any longer, and he finally had the power to do something about. He’d been given the power to do something.

    Fisher snatched the book from Solomon’s hands and ran down the stairs without another word, face already scrunching with effort to try and put his powers into the book, knowing he was going to use it to smash that lockbox open.

    “Fisher!” Delilah cried after him and turned to Solomon, who was already on his feet. They took off after Fisher, Solomon taking the stairs two at a time.

    “Fisher! Stop! You can't do this!” He hissed.

    “I can and I will!” Fisher shouted, as he jumped off the last three steps and landed with a thud, skidding straight into the kitchen. With an aggravated shout he threw the powered book into the lockbox, listening to the dogs bark in rage as it shattered. The other children who were downstairs backed away in shock.

    There were three dogs. Two, rottweilers. Big and slobbery and vicious. One german shepherd. The Havershimes bragged that it was an ex police dog. Fisher was, unfortunately for him, inclined to believe them. After the commotion they seemed angrier than normal, and slowly advanced on the young boy, herding him out of the kitchen.

    “Fisher!” This time, they cried it together and the sound of the lockbox breaking resonated through the house. Heart hammering, Delilah ran after Fisher, “Get the phone, Solly! Call the cops!”

    In the hall that lead from the kitchen to the foyer she found the dogs advancing and paused, paled, “No! Fish! Get away from him! Fisher you gotta run!”

    There was definitely nowhere to run too, at least, nowhere that would keep him safe for long. It didn’t matter, because he didn’t plan too. “Nick didn’t have proof,” He reiterated, staring the dogs in the eye as drool spilled from their mouths, teeth bared, growling as they advanced. Fisher squeezed his eyes shut and held out his arm. “I’m gonna have proof.”

    “Fish! No! You can't…” Delilah’s cheeks damped with tears as she stepped closer, but a growl from one of the rotties had her frozen in place, “Please, Fish. I don't want you to…”

    “Lil…” Solomon appeared in the doorway behind him, wearing a dire expression, “He's right. Cops are on their way… We need proof. It'll be okay, Lil. He's strong… he can do it.”

    The dogs barked and Fisher flinched, really regretting his decision right about now. He was really hoping it’d be one nibble on the arm and that would suffice, but if the police didn’t come in time…

    He didn’t have much more time to consider his actions as the german shepherd lunged.

    Delilah’s cry echoed through the house and somewhere in the midst of the chaos, Solomon had reached out to grab her, to pull her back. He shielded her, and stared at Fisher as the shepherd lunged, grimacing.

    The german shepherd snapped its jaws in his face as he was pushed the crowd, and Fisher could swear his heart was going to beat out of his chest. Preferring to keep his nose, he pulled his arm up to shield his face and cried out as the dog’s teeth sunk into the soft flesh.

    As the dog bit in, Solomon pulled his hand from his pocket with a small paperclip in hand and this he tossed at the animals… With a pop, the paperclip exploded and the animals gave yelps and growls, skirting away. As they parted, Delilah was off, rushing to Fisher’s side where she grabbed his arm, clamping her hands down over the bite marks.

    “Fisher! You big stupid jerk! Why would you do something so so stupid!”

    Wincing, Fisher propped himself up against the wall as Lilah clamped her hands around the bite. “I’ve got proof now, see?” He said with a gasp. “It’s not all that bad, just a bite.. but the Havershimes aren’t ever going to foster anyone again.”

    “What if they’d got your face, Fisher!? Or your neck! What if they’d all gone at once! You big dumb, stupid jerk.” The tears flowed as she clamped harder, and then with a sob, she released his arm for a moment to throw her arms around his shoulders, “Thank you…”

    Solomon approached with a dry smirk as he shook his head, and holding out a towel, nodded to the bite, “Wrap it up, Lil… I hear the sirens.”

    He gave a weak smile as Lil wrapped the towel around his arm, blood soaking it through. Fisher could hear the sirens wailing, and the shout of the police as they came up to the door, trying the knob, and then like every kid’s TV drama dream, kicked it in.

    One ran to Fisher and Lilah, eyeing his bloodied arm and nodding the paramedics in. Fisher was herded out into the ambulance, while police filled the house.

    But Delilah Buress wasn’t having it… whatever questions they had, whatever concerns, as they started for the door, Delilah trailed after the paramedics, “I’m not leaving his side!” She cried back to Solomon, who glanced up to the officers with a flat stare.

    “Best to let her go. Come on. I can show you the rest…”

    Offering Lil a pained smile, Fisher allowed the paramedics to continue to shepherd him. “Young lady, I advise you to stay behind,” one of the paramedics muttered as they opened up the back doors of the ambulance, Fisher stared at it in awe. “I get to ride in that?” He mumbled.

    “No way.” She said, matter of factly, staring at Fisher with a fixed frown, “I’m comin’. If I have to, I’ll jump on the back before you drive off and I’ll hold on and I won’t let go! I’m not leavin’ him. I’m not.”

    The paramedic sighed. “Alright. Ride in the back with him, then.” The one with Fisher helped him up, and then offered a hand to Lil. “Foster kids..” The other muttered as she pulled into the passenger seat.

    Sitting down on the small fold out bench beside where Fisher lay, Lil reached out to take his other hand, her eyes welling up again as she shook her head, “...I’m not done behind mad at you, Fisher. But I’m glad you’re okay…”

    He grinned at her, even though it was filled with pain. “You shouldn’t be mad - ow.. - I just saved our butts.” The paramedic raised an eyebrow as he held out Fisher’s arm and cleaned the wound. Fisher glanced at him nervously, wondering if saying he had done it on purpose would allow the Havershimes to go free. “I mean.. Ooooow.. Ouuuch..”

    “I’m not mad. I’m furious.” She said, giving his hand a squeeze, “And if you ever… ever do anything like that again, I will never ever speak to you. Not ever.”

    “Liar, you’re lying. You’ll always talk to me. You and Sol. And now we’ll go somewhere different, and it’ll probably be safer. I think, I hope.” He shrugged. “Anywhere’s better than there.”

    “Shut up…” She mumbled, leaning forward to rest her chin on his hand, “I mean it, Fish. Not ever again. You’re my best friend, and if anything happened…Promise you won’t do anything like that again.”

    He rolled his eyes. “Okay, yeah. I promise. Alright? I promise. Never again. Ow.” The paramedic had injected something into his arm and Fisher flinched. “Just gonna keep it numb. Don’t worry.”

    Her eyes moved from Fisher to the paramedic and she managed a small, weary smile, “...It’s gonna be okay, now, Fish. We’re gonna be okay…”
  13. Delilah Buress

    She’d slept. Not long, but she had finally slept. Maybe it was seeing Fisher out and about - maybe it was finally realizing that she couldn’t stop life from happening, now matter how much she’d wanted, but whatever it was, as Fisher slept, so did she… and she was grateful for it. When she woke, it was the first time in days she felt refreshed… really refreshed, and stretching in her chair, she smiled faintly up at the ceiling, shaking her head.

    “...Gonna be okay, Fish.” She whispered, to his sleeping form.

    It wasn’t quite as restful for him. Luckily, the dream continued to the part where he and Lilah rode off safely into the distance, and he woke with a twitch of the nose, scrunched eyes bringing him back to the real world, with Lilah beside him.

    “Hm. You don’t look ten anymore.” He muttered with a yawn.

    Looking down again, Delilah’s brow lifted and she chuckled softly, pulling her chair closer to the side of his best, “Well, I would hope not, or that would make our relationship really awkward… How you feeling?”

    He brought a hand up to rub his eyes. “Alright, actually. Not terrible.. But I haven’t really moved around quite yet, so. We’ll see.”

    “You look better…” Leaning forward, she studied him for a moment, “You have now, for a few days. Stronger… More like your old self.” Smiling faintly, she leaned back again, “What made you think of me at ten?”

    With a small grunt, Fisher propped himself up, leaning against his pillows, sitting up. “Dreamt about the Havershimes.” He muttered awkwardly. “You know… the day.” He said with a sigh. “I think I promised you something like that wouldn’t happen ever again, but.. Here we are.”

    “Hmm… and I promised I’d never speak to you again if you did anything like that. Whoops. Guess I blew that one.” Grinning, she shook her head, “You’re good at it, Fish. Scaring the hell out of me. Maybe it’s time I took care of the hard part, for once, hm?”

    He frowned, narrowing his eyes at her. “What’s that supposed to mean? I can’t throw myself before a bus for you? But that’s all I want in life.” He whined.

    “Ha. Not funny.” Reaching out, she poked his arm, “You keep up like this and eventually, it might stick, baby. And you know I couldn’t handle it. Losing you. So I think if we’re gonna do this right… when you get out of here, you and I… we’re gonna have to lay down some ground rules.”

    Fish’s lips pursed. “Alright. Makes sense. Rules. But I’m not out of here yet, so we can save that stuff for later.”

    “Deal… But don’t go running in front of any buses, just to get it out of your system in the meantime, alright?” Sitting up, she folded her hand around his, “Feel up for getting out of here again for a few hours?”

    Smiling, Fisher nodded. “No buses.” He swore. “And yeah, I think I do. Could use the exercise, no? Doc would be pleased.” With the help of Delilah he swung his legs out onto the edge of the bed, feeling his ribs whine in protest, but nothing too unbearable. “Let’s get out of here.”

    “That’s my Fish…” She said with a small amount of pride, as she rose to her feet, before helping him up, entirely, “Where to, then?”

    Leaning against her a moment before righting himself, getting used to the weight of planting his feet on the ground, before rolling his shoulders back, albeit with a slight wince. “We should go see Willow. I owe it to her. I hope Percy bought us some time, though, or I’m really dead.”

    Lauging softly, she nodded, “Sure… Sounds good to me. I kind of wanna see her kick your ass, anyway… For freaking me out like this a second time.” She winked, taking his hand, “Lead the way.”

    The air in the underground wasn’t exactly fresh, but it felt better than the hospital air. Each time he left the place with Lil he was more inclined to work harder, to get better, to go back to his own version of normal. Staring at the entrance to the Glass Belly, Fisher grinned as he burst through, heading straight for the counter.

    He didn’t have to go all the way, because Willow was seated at a booth towards the far end of the bar. Her bright red hair always made her easy to spot, even when she was busy making out with a man he had never seen before.

    “Oh, wow. I’ll come back another time.” Fisher whistled, and Willow and her mystery man broke apart. “Fish! Pal! Good to see you! Sorry ‘bout that, this is Jack.” Jack, who’s eyes glowed a brilliant white, grinned from his spot in the booth.

    Delilah’s brow lifted and she smiled a little, rubbing the back of her neck, “Sorry to interrupt. Nice to meet you, Jack…” She added, with a small, awkward wave, “Told you I’d bring him by when he was up for it, Willow.”

    Willow laughed, wrapping her arm around Jack. “I’d give you a hug, but you seem too fragile.” She teased. “And that you did, Delilah. I appreciate it. You’re looking good, man. How long ‘till you’re up and at em again?” Fisher chuckled. “Soon, hopefully. Started physical therapy and everything. I won’t be down long.” Mimicking Willow, Fish teasingly wrapped his arm around Lil’s waist.

    Leaning into Fisher with an amused roll of her eyes, she nodded, “We’ll get him back on his feet, in no time.”

    He already seemed more like his old self these days, and it was encouraging to see the emotional healing with the physical, “And then he's gonna show me around down here properly. Cause I feel like I'm in Narnia right now.”

    Willow laughed. “I’m sure. Place is big. There’s plenty of back rooms to explore even on the topside. Fish knows his way around. And remember what I said, eh? ‘Bout joining him up there?” Willow grinned. Fish glanced at Lil curiously.

    Smiling faintly, she shook her head, avoiding Fisher's stare, “Maybe. You're not the only one, either. I'm not sure yet how I feel about any of that, though. Gonna be a lot more recovery for both of us, even if we get cleared… so I got time to think.”

    Willow nodded. “You’re probably right. I was always a little bit too impulsive anyway, so don’t take my word for it.” She chuckled, planting a kiss on Jack’s cheek. “Can I go get you guys anything?” She hummed.

    Looking to Fish, finally, she shook her head, “He’s still on meds, and you look like you’ve got better things to do than wait on us.”

    Willow laughed. “Alright, then. No mercy. I’ll catch up with you later?” She said through a grin.

    “Absolutely…” And with a nod, she turned to Fish, taking hold of his hand, “Come on… You can show me around.”

    Intertwining their fingers, Fish waved goodbye with his free hand. “Bye, Will,” He said with a grin. “Bye, Fish! Get your ass back here soon so we can have a drink.” She called, and then pulled Jack in for another long kiss.

    “I didn’t know she was dating anyone. They look good together. Cool eyes.” He hummed, kissing her hand. “What do you wanna see?”

    “They do look good together, and it’s nice… seeing two people together, like that. Like us.” It was refreshing to see that a pair of metas could make it work, even with all the chaos in the world.

    Glancing over at him, she smiled faintly, “Hm… Your favorite spots down here. I already know WIllow’s. And we had pizza yesterday. Where else does Fish go when he’s underground?”

    “Like us,” He echoed with a breathy smile. “Yeah.. I can show you. The last stop on the Fish train.” He squeezed her hand. “You know how eyes get like that, Lil?” He said almost sadly. “Glowy, I mean.”

    “My guess? Something to do with stress… maybe using it too much… breaking some kind of limit? I dunno. None of it made much sense to me. Hell, I’m not even sure what my own limits are. But that seems to be the most logical reason.”

    Fisher sighed deeply. “I mean.. That’s the case for most people. Eyes glow when you use your powers. But… when eyes glow permanently.. It’s a different story.” Fisher’s smile twitched. “Maybe one for later. We’re here.”

    Fish gestured to the building in front of them. It seemed pretty sparse, with a title that claimed TRAINING over the front doors. “Better known as the Dojo, by regulars. Learned a lot here.” Fisher said fondly.

    Looking up at the building, Delilah smiled again, shaking her head, “Oh Fish. Please… please tell me a training montage set to 80s music is coming up in our near future?? Complete with you, being gradually more impressive, until finally, you have your shining hero pose in slow motion glory?”

    Fisher laughed. “It’s not that bad. I promise. Might not be anyone at all here now, anyway… certain metas drop by to give classes, but otherwise, it’s open just for equipment.” He opened the door and held it open for her as they walked inside.

    “I tease… but actually, this is pretty cool. I wish I'd had a place like this to train when I was younger. Maybe I'd understand my powers better.” Stepping in, she looked around, a brow lifting, “So how did you know, Fish. That you wanted to be a superhero?”

    “How did I.. know?” He said with a shrug. “I don’t know if I ever knew. I don’t know if it started so noble. I needed to justify searching for Solomon… I needed to justify my existence, somehow. I needed to know that what I could do wasn’t worthless. So I.. I stuck to it.”

    “I'm proud of you, Fish. I… I dunno if I ever said that before, but I am. The person you turned out to be. It makes me wanna be better, too. To do something worthwhile. All of this does…”

    Looking up at Delilah, almost startled, eyes sparkling. “That… means a lot.” He mumbled. It’s not so often one thinks about themselves then and now, but Fisher thought about it every moment. To think… he ended up alright, followed through with his childhood dreams.. it felt like it was finally becoming worth it.
  14. Fisher Hawkins

    In the days Fisher spent in the hospital, Lilah was always by his side. It was hard on him, being bedridden, the pain that spiked through him with every movement. He had never felt so weak.. But when he had come to his senses, and Lilah told him once more that Solomon had been captured, he felt free like no other time in his life, despite being trapped in a hospital.

    And past all the pain, it was fun to be with her. Even if she was mad as hell at him, they were free to love each other. Every laugh hurt like mad but he didn’t care. She made him happy.. Happier than he’d ever been, ever thought possible.

    After a few days he was released, with specific instructions from Doc that basically all meant “no fun.” He was glad to be back at his apartment.. But in trying to cover it up from the rest of his friends from the real world, he had to say he’d gotten in a car accident, and say goodbye to his beloved truck.

    Knockout was stored away like an old toy on a shelf. There was a period in time where Fisher would do nothing except watch the segments where they spoke about him, where the beloved hero had gone. The only thing keeping him from falling into a deep pit of despair was Lilah, through and through. Her broken fingers only served as a reminder for them.. But now, a reminder of a thing of the past.

    So he got through it. With Lil keeping him in check, taking care of him as best as she could, taking care of everything. Picking up a new job instead of him, paying the rent, buying the groceries. And he was desperately sorry for that, desperately sorry he couldn’t help her, start building their life together, sorry he was as limber as a stick because of the itchy brace, and that there was.. Nothing he could do.

    But he finally pushed through the worst of it, that feeling of helplessness until he started to get stronger. Until he was moving around again, until the brace came off, and the one thing he was desperately craving, more than anything, was to be back on the streets, be back under the mask, and stop some crime.

    And today he was finally going to tell her, that he was ready for it. Ready to be normal again, to go back to work, to go back to doing something. So he waited for her to get home eagerly, rehearsing the words in his head, trying to phrase it. He only hoped she’d let him.

    Delilah Buress

    It was slow going... recovery, and for both of them, patience was not a strong suit. The amount of times she needed to remind Fisher to rest, to keep his brace on, to sit down, to stop flexing... she'd lost count, which was probably a good thing, since she was incapable of using her pointer and thumb finger for just about as long.

    Her job at the diner could not be salvaged, and she wasn't surprised... but it was easy enough to find another restaurant that would take her, and the work was decent, with tips that just made up for the deficit of Fisher's job. It was tiring, and probably more energy than she'd ever expended for another human being. But Fisher was worth it. In more ways than she could think, he was worth it.

    There were some days, though, when she was reminded of just how much she really, truly hated Solomon. Those days when she dropped four trays of glasses because of her fingers, and got called 'sweetheart' by middle aged men with scowling wives, and burnt herself on cheap, crappy coffee because the blue haired old ladies insisted it wasn't hot enough. That particular day had been one of those days, and arriving back at the apartment she and Fisher now shared, she opened the door, dropped her purse on the floor and without a word, crossed the room to drape herself across the couch, curling up in Fisher's lap.

    Fisher Hawkins

    As the doorknob turned Fisher flinched, trying to calm his beating heart, berrading himself for getting so worked up over a simple question. He didn't want to stress her out anymore then she already was. He knew she was working so hard for him, day and night, doing everything she could.

    As she trudged in, dropping her purse on the floor and falling onto the couch, Fisher's brows furrowed with concern as he adjusted himself to try and make her as comfortable as possible, stroking her hair. "Hey, baby." He murmured, kissing her gently on the forehead. "Long day?" He cooed, letting out a sigh. He knew her job wasn't the easiest. Fish admired her for getting up everyday to pull herself there. It must've been hell.

    He certainly didn't want to say something she didn't want to hear now, after what seemed like a harsh day, but the question was burning in his mind. As he continued to twirl a lock of her hair around his finger, he glanced off to the side. "Lil.. can I.. ask you something?" His voice was quiet, and he was trying to be gentle about it. Perhaps a little bit too gentle.

    Delilah Buress

    "Old ladies are evil... Men are gross and I hate coffee and never want to see another mug of it in my entire life." She groaned, burying her face in her hands, "It wasn't just long... it was eternal. Seriously. I'm pretty sure I'm actually six hundred years old, now. Because that was the longest shift of my entire existence."

    She wasn't one to exaggerate, and she wasn't one to complain - particularly since she knew just how hard it had been for him to sit for so long, to wait until he was healed... It had to have been a torment, knowing he couldn't get out there... work. Not to mention the other things he was missing out on.

    He kissed her forehead and she tipped up her chin up to meet him on the lips, before flopping back with a small sigh. It wasn't a long lived sulking-fest, however. The moment he continued, she pressed herself upright, a brow lifting as she turned to look at him. There was something in his tone that almost made her laugh - like a child, preparing to ask his mother if he could sleep over at a friend's house on a school night.

    "Sure, sweetie. What is it?"

    Fisher Hawkins

    Laughing softly at her description, he continued to twirl her hair, trying to picture in his mind a devillish looking elderly woman. "If you ever need me to beat any guy up, I'm there." He murmured, the smile fading, feeling unsure if he even still had the fight left within him. He'd certainly slimmed out over the months spent in bed, his old scrawny self poking through.

    "I.." He started, pushing himself up with an uncertain glance. "I want to go back to being Knockout." This time he took a deep breath in and faced her with determination in his gaze, lips pressed. "I'm losing my mind here, Lil. Watching the news.. watching all the stuff I know I could've prevented. Things that happened two blocks over and I.. I was just here. Laying in bed.

    I'll go back to work soon, too. You can take less shifts. I know it's hell. The guys, they're all waiting for me, said I could come back the moment I was feeling better, and that goddamn brace is finally off and.." He sighed, scratching the back of his neck. "I think it's time things go back to normal, for real. You've worked too hard for me for too long."

    Delilah Buress

    Somehow, she'd seen it coming. Might've been because of the ten thousand ridiculously obvious hints he had been dropping for the past month and a half. Might've been the notion that he was and always had been tied to the idea of being a hero... of rescuing people. Might've been the sad youtube montage videos he had glued himself to for weeks on end. But whatever it was, she had seen it coming.

    And for however prepared he was, so too, it seemed, was she. Sitting straighter, she studied him a moment, a brow lifting as she considered his choice of words. Normal. They weren't normal. Either one of them. Their lives weren't normal, their current situation wasn't normal. Nothing about them was normal. But she also understood that the norm for him was different than it was for her. His life, for so long, had been a mask... and long, dark nights protecting the city. It had been truncated by Solomon, but she shouldn't have expected him to stop altogether.

    Yet the fear clung... lingered, sticking to her, cloying. Desperately, she wanted to tell him no. To tell him not to do it. That it was too dangerous, and the risks outweighed the rewards. But it was selfish, and it was wrong, and she knew it. The thought of him lying prone in a hospital bed, broken and bloody, with no real notion of whether or not he'd survive... As much as that image pained her, it was also something that she couldn't prevent - any more than she could prevent a stray bullet, or an out of control car, or a half-rabid dog. She couldn't protect him from everything... and it wasn't fair to try and protect him from himself. From what he truly wanted.

    "...Alright." She said, simply, her speech dissolving away in her mind, driven away, because it didn't need to happen. He didn't need a lecture... he needed a friend, "But under one condition. You need to work with someone, Fish. Someone who can keep you safe, the way you keep everyone else safe. Someone who's got your back."

    Fisher Hawkins

    At her approval, Fisher shot up eagerly, a childish grin on his face as he realized it was finally over, those dreaded months where he felt so useless. He could go back to being Knockout, go back to work, go back to living again. He could feel excitement bubbling up within him, imagining rushing through the night streets, feeling his power surge through him again. Getting back into the shop, seeing all his friends again. Hell, he even missed the hum of a car engine. Maybe he'd finally get his hands on a new truck.

    And then the but came. His posture sunk a little as he waited to hear the caveat. His brows furrowed at the proposition.. to fighting alongside someone? Fisher had never even considered it. He didn't know a lot of other superheroes very well.. through the undergrond hospital he had met a few, but certainly none he felt comfortable enough to propose a partnership with.

    He looked at her, pleading with his eyes again, trying to find some way out of this. "I.. don't.." He didn't know where to begin.. this wasn't going to be some simple thing, something he could post fliers up for. Superhero seeking superpartner! Call this number. He glanced around worriedly, feeling as if it had been suddenly stripped away.

    And then he looked at her.

    "You, Lil." He mumbled, a smile brimming on his face. "You and me. I don't trust anybody more. I don't see myself fighting beside anyone other then you." He took her hands in his own and squeezed them. "You'd get to keep an eye on me, right? I'd do the same. It'd be like we planned, Lilah, as kids. K-Knockout and Wisp."

    Delilah Buress

    She laughed. Not coldly, but with an air of misunderstanding. It wasn't long lived, however, and when it clicked in her mind that he was actually serious, her expression shifted... her eyes slightly wide, "You... You're serious?"

    But of course he was. Why wouldn't he be? When Fisher looked at her, he never saw what she did. He never saw the scarred past. The anger. The mistakes. He never saw the frightened girl, hiding behind sarcasm and attitude to avoid being hurt. He would see her differently this way, too… And maybe she wasn’t as surprised as she should have been. She had been considering it, hadn’t she? After talking to Willow… Hell, maybe even before then.

    "Fish, I..." But as she opened her mouth to argue, she considered his words. It made sense. In a way she hated, it made sense. She wanted to protect him... Keep him safe. And what better way?

    Blinking, she sat up, "...I mean..." Trailing off for a moment, she fell quiet, contemplative. When she spoke again, it was with an air of amusement, "Is this just some halfass excuse to get me into spandex?"

    Fisher Hawkins

    "Yeah, of course I'm serious!" He said, brimming with excitement. Oh, he could see it. The two of them together, stopping crime.. fufilling everyone of his childhood dreams. He was begging her to say yes without even saying so, still holding her hands tight. He could see her worry at the idea, but there was no way she could say no.. she knew how much he wanted this, and this would be the perfect way to give her peace of mind.

    "No, no!" He said with a laugh. "Though you would look good.. just saying." He smiled at her. "I'll even let you.. pick out a new outfit for me." That was hard to give up, but he knew she hated the denim jumpsuit. "Obviously.. the gloves and boots stay, but, you can pick me a new suit. We could match. That'd be so cool!"

    "C'mon, Lil. This is perfect. Admit it." He was glowing with happiness.. they'd spend so much time together. It'd be like the old days, exactly.. he'd get to back to his normal life, the one he had built with her absence, but now they'd be doing it by each other's side. "Plus.. I've seen how powerful you are," He didn't dare mention when exactly he had seen that. "Imagine how much more you could learn? Imagine knowing how to use your powers for real? It's invigorating, Lil. And we'd be together."

    Delilah Buress

    His excitement, to her detriment and slight irritation, was contagious. She found herself growing excited about the idea, even before she had actually agreed to it - brimming with thoughts, costume details... contemplating what it might be like to have videos on youtube of the two of them. Everything she'd seen about Fisher had been perilous and frightening, but there was an appeal to it, too... an excitement.

    Looking up at him, a smirk twitched at the corner of her lip, "...Tell you what. I'll do it. I'll do it, but only if you promise me if it ever gets to a point where we're losing more than winning... where the risk is too big... we get out. No questions asked." Her eyes met his, and rising, she looped her arms around his waist, pulling herself closer. It felt good... holding him again, being close to him. It had been too damn long since she'd dared even touch him, knowing the pain he was in...

    "That... and I get to burn that damnable jumpsuit." Her smile broadened and she stretched up onto her toes to kiss him, her fingers winding through his hair, to ruffle it, before she dropped back down to the soles, "As long as I'm with you, Fish, and you're safe... I don't care what we do. But yeah, I guess I could give superhero a try. Hell... beats waitressing, anyway. And there's definitely less little blue haired old women."

    Fisher Hawkins

    He nodded determinedly. "Of course." He'd never keep going in a place where there was no chance for them.. he refused to ever see Lilah hurt as bad as he himself had been. Just the sound of that finger snapping.. Solomon's crazed actions. They were enough to send shivers down his spine.

    Grinning ear to ear, Fisher held her tight as she wrapped her arms around his middle. Though she had been by his side every moment she could spare, her touch was something he had missed dearly. Not too long ago, every little movement had hurt.. she'd been so considerate, trying to never to touch him. And it sucked. It sucked to watch her fidget around him, retract every touch, and it made him boil with anger. Even though Solomon was gone.. he still haunted them both far too much for comfort.

    "Hey! No way. I'm keeping it for memories." He retorted, pressing his lips into hers, smiling as she dragged her fingers through his hair. "Less little blue haired old women? Yikes." He echoed with a laugh. "I mean, I don't know. What if you ran into a supervillain today? Miss Evil Gremlin." He moved to pull her up onto him, lift her weight, but the very beginning of that action made him wince. "Okay. Too soon.."

    Delilah Buress

    Laughing softly, she shook her head, "For memories... More like 'keeping it so you know what never to do again.' That thing was just awful. I mean... don't get me wrong... you rock any look, baby. But you should save that one for work. Your other work. Cause as a superhero? Sweetie, no." It felt good to see him smile again, to see how happy her decision had made him. She didn't regret it... especially when he'd agreed to her terms.

    "And I'm pretty sure she was definitely a supervillain. Granny Gremlin... Mistress of Nuked Coffee. Seriously, Fish. She was terrifying. Evil incarnate." In truth though, the day had started off terrible, but she could not longer feel that way about it. It had improved exponentially, for so many reasons. She missed him. This Fisher. Her Fisher. She had missed him, and he was so close to being back, fully.

    But as he lifted her and winced, she made a face, shaking her head. He wasn't there yet... not completely. They would need a little more time before they ran off to be great big heroes... Time and training

    "You dummy." And with that affectionate moniker, she shifted, carefully, onto his lap, and looped her arms around his neck, "...Better?"

    Fisher Hawkins

    Taking a deep breath to calm the sudden spike of pain, he eased himself back onto the couch. Smiling gently as Lilah shifted onto his lap, he planted a kiss on her cheek. "Yeah." He murmured, bringing his hand up against her neck. brushing her chin delicately, this time going in for a gentle kiss on the lips.

    "I like Granny Gremlin the best." Fisher laughed lightly, picturing a comical character in his head. "She'll be our first opponent. Our sworn enemy to the death. Granny Gremlin doesn't stand a chance against Knockout and Wisp." All the while he traced his fingertips along her skin, humming peacefully.

    "Us against the world, Lil." He finally uttered, a final statement, their pact sealed. Soon, he'd be on top of the world again. He could see the reporters, swarming, begging for questions about where he'd been. A heroic accident, he announced. But now he was back, better than ever, a new partner by his side to keep him in check. He could hardly wait.

    Delilah Buress

    "Us against the world..." She murmured in response, leaning in to return the kiss. She relished it, the excitement in his voice, the sentiment behind it. They had finally, finally come to a place where their lives could begin, and while maybe it wasn't exactly what she'd expected, it was better than wallowing in pity... better than looking in fear over their shoulders. Solomon was in prison... their past, albeit tragically, had been wiped clean. They were free... Free and together.

    Trailing a fingertip along his jaw, she grinned, "Gonna need to get back into training then, if we're gonna get you in shape enough to start at this again. Can't fight crime if you can't even pick me up. And truth be told, I should probably get a little work in, myself. I'm not exactly in prime fighting condition."

    Leaning back ever so slightly, her eyes moving to his. Slowly, the corner of her lip twitched up in a smile, and she tiptoed her fingertips down the stem of his neck, and collar, down his chest, "...And I can think of one or two other really good incentives for getting you all healed up..."

    Fisher Hawkins

    At her not so subtle flirt, Fisher smirked. “I heartily agree.” He murmured, voice husky as he intertwined his fingers in his hair. They could start some other time..


    And so it began. After a couple more weeks of recovery, they started their training regimen, and Fisher went back to work. He was astounded by the warm welcome, with there not only being pizza and beer, but out in the back, his beautiful truck, restored to absolute perfection, a new coat of blue paint, every dent smoothed, systems running like never before. Tears had truly welled in his eyes.

    Before and after work they trained, hitting them gym in the early and late hours of the day. It was incredibly hard for him at first, trying to find his strength all over again, pushing past the worry and emotional barriers, hearing Solomon in the back of his head. But he pushed through it.

    A friend of Doc’s offered them new suits.. And when they finally arrived, the signature stripe of red matching on each piece of clothing, Fish knew they were ready.

    “Armed robbery occuring downtown! Authorities are on their way.. What about those inside? Stay with Channel 7 news for more updates.”

    Delilah Buress

    It was time. After all the training, all the healing... the many tireless hours of talking Fisher down from denim, it was finally time. Delilah's debut... Wisp hitting the streets. And never before in her entire life had she wanted to throw up more than she did, sitting in the truck as they approached the scene of the crime. Her hands quivered as she looked down at the mask they clutched. Never in a million years would she have thought she'd ever put one on... yet here they were, and it was time.

    Looking over to Fisher, she grinned slyly, shaking her head, "I can't believe you talked me into this. I can't believe I let you talk me into this. And I ended up in spandex, anyway." Leaning across the bench, she pressed a kiss to his lips, before sinking back, "Whatever happens, I love you more today than yesterday... and probably a little less than tomorrow." Grasping the handle, she pushed the door open and stepped out.

    They had it planned out, already. Since it was her first time, she would hang back and provide cover... backup, keeping Fisher defended and preventing anyone from sneaking past. It was, to Fisher, probably a cut and paste task, but her nerves were frayed and as they closed in on the building, her heart hammered hard in her chest as anxiety and adrenaline curled around her like a blanket. Sliding on her mask, she glanced over to him and winked, then bending low, reached out with both arms, and from the smog-like exhaust of the cars, jammed around the street where traffic had been blocked off, she began to provide a covering for Fisher's entrance.

    "Knock 'em dead, baby..."

    Fisher Hawkins

    He could feel anxiety radiating off of her, but he knew that it was for the best. Over the course of those years.. he had learned to turn his anxiousness into excitement, translate it into his power. He'd teach her.. show her everything he'd learned. It was only occurring to him now, as they pulled near the site of the robbery, that he had so much to give to her. That he, alone, had learned so much. And now, he was glimmering with pride all over again, in better shape, in a better state, living a better life.

    The new suits were not as comfortable as his beloved denim jumpsuit, but he did enjoy matching with Lilah. He was thrilled just to have her by his side. Leaning into the kiss and then pulling away with an eager grin, he flipped the mask on and burst out of the car, black and red gloves slipping on, shoes shined to perfection.

    "You'll be perfect." He chirped, and briskly walked into the building.

    He'd done this plenty of times. An air of confidence surrounding him, one that could not be defeated. They were going with the very classic beanie-pulled-over-head look, eye holes cut out. Fisher snorted as the first man he encountered, the one posing watch near the bank windows, cursed under his breath as he watched the smoke swarm, and then spun on his heels as Fisher appeared.

    "Get the fuck down!" The man growled, pointing his gun.

    "Hey, quick question. You got any hostages?" Fisher purred, paying no mind to the thread that meant nothing to him. To answer his question, a muffled cry came from behind one of the desks. "Ah. Got it." Fish announced.

    He took a taunting step forward, and the man fired his gun. The bullet ricocheted effortlessly off of his new suit as Fisher filled it with strength, and then transferred that strength into his fist and drove it through his jaw. The robber crumpled to the floor.

    Suppressing a gleeful squeal, Fisher strode over to the desk from which he had heard the cry, bending down to meet a bank teller who had been unceremoniously tied and gagged. He pulled out the gag first and set out to untying the knots around the woman's wrists.

    "How many other men are there?" He asked as he pulled the knot free. "T-two." She coughed, trying to make out a face between his white mask. Fisher nodded. "Get out of there. There's police. I'll handle the rest."

    Knockout. He was back… Fallen off the face of the earth. There was talk he died. No such luck, apparently. But they'd been planning this heist for months now, and there was no way this spandex-wearing cheeseball was gonna ruin it. Carefully setting down the bag of cash, Dwayne signalled across the bank to Paul, who had crouched down at the gunshot. Tim was out of commission, but the two of them could still get a clean break if they could sneak up on him.

    As Paul followed from the opposite direction, Dwayne moved. Inching forward, he readied the gun at his hip, when suddenly thin tendrils of mist began to sweep along his arms and down the barrel. Slow and languid, the mist curled and curved and transfixed, Dwayne stared, “What the…”

    “Anyone ever tell you it's rude… sneaking up on people?” the voice came from behind, and whirling around, Dwayne took in the sight of the fine-figured blonde, staring at him through holes in a black mask.

    Whistling through his teeth, he smirked. “Damn. You wait there. Lemme finish up with Ali back there and you and me can have us a little fun…”

    “Oh…” Making a face, she shook her head, “Sorry. I'm in a relationship. Knockout, sweetie? Behind you…”

    As she called, the other man froze in place and swearing, Dwayne pulled the gun upright, pointing it at the woman. But as he raised his arms, the mist became thicker, and the weight brought his hands back down.

    “What the…”

    “Now then. How about you get down on your knees, so I don't have to embrasse you in front of your friends?”

    Spinning around, Fisher turned to face the criminal, a grin on his face. “Oh. Almost had me there.” He quipped, watching the man stumble for something to do, he glanced over to Lilah, beaming. “Thanks, babe. I’ll get this one.”

    Turning his gaze back to dear old Paul, he put out his hand. “Do you wanna give me the gun? Or am I really gonna have to make it hurt. ”

    Grinning right back, Lil held out her hand and without having to ask, the gun slipped from Dwayne’s grasp. He fumbled for it, but it sailed across the wave of smoke and plucking it up, Delilah slid her finger across the grip, to release the cartridge, before popping out the chamber. The single bullet clattered to the floor, “Sounds like the police are on their way, boys. You’re probably gonna have a lot of time to think about your actions. Might I recommend you consider a new career path when you get out of prison?”

    Growling, Paul slowly turned his gun over. Fish took it happily, releasing the contents as Lilah had just done. “Congrats, guys. Pretty compliant. Maybe you’ll get lucky.” He hummed, grabbing Paul’s arms from the back and crossing them, using the rope he had used on the poor bank teller to tie him up. “Cameras are waiting. Smile for them?”

    Delilah gave a wiggle of her fingers and the smoke tightened on Dwayne’s wrists, as she stepped back, “That’ll hold you a few minutes. You heard my man. Big smile…”

    Ushering the two out, the reporters around the scene suddenly began to swarm the line, trying to shout questions and steal closeups as Knockout and Wisp brought the robbers out to the waiting hands of the police. “There’s a third one inside. Out cold.” Fisher told the police, dusting his hands off.

    With a squeeze on her shoulder, Fisher smiled at Lilah through the mask. “Wanna take some questions?”

    The flash of lights, the shouts from the crowd… it was all new, and not exactly exciting, and whatever confidence she had held onto in the bank seemed to suffer greatly with the sudden throng of people. But she knew this was where Fish had always thrived… the public eye. He was a beacon, and they needed him now, more than ever… given how long he’d been away.

    Smiling, she nodded to him, her shoulders popping in a shrug, “...Sure. Why not.”

    Reaching down to intertwine their fingers, Fisher squeezed them together, trying to instill some of his confidence within her. “This is the easiest part.” He insisted, stepping forward.

    There were a million voices asking a million things, but he knew what they really wanted to hear. Clearing his throat, waiting until they stopped shouting questions, Fish leaned forward.

    “I know I’ve been gone a while,” he started, never letting go of her hand. “I got hurt in the line of fire. And it took some time to recover.. but I never dreamed of leaving my post. I knew I was coming back.”

    “Who’s your new friend?” Someone in the back called, and Fisher grinned. “I think she’d like to introduce herself.”

    Shooting him a look, Delilah shook her head. He was a sneak, and he knew it… and he was gonna hear about it later. Clearing her throat, she stepped forward, though not entirely out from behind Fisher’s back, her gaze scanning the crowd of excited reporters, “I guess you can call me Wisp…”

    A flurry of questions came forth at that statement, asking about permanent partnership, relationship status, costume..

    “You, sir, mind asking that again?”

    A timid reporter reached up on his toes. “Can you explain the new costume?”

    Fisher smiled. “Creative differences. I think that’s all for now… we’ll be seeing you around.”

    Laughing softly at his response, Delilah nodded and as Fisher turned away, she turned as well, to follow, sliding her fingers through his without another word. Only when they’d made it a safe distance away and could remove the masks did she speak, with an air of amusement, as she peeled away the black fabric from her eyes, “Creative difference, Trout? Really..? That jumpsuit was one step away from being your personal nemesis…”

    Laughing heartily as he pulled off the mask, pulling his hair back. “Stooop. I loved it and you know that.” Stopping, he turned to her with the brightest look on his face. “Babe, you did it.” He exclaimed, wrapping his arms around her waist and pulling her up off her feet, without any trace of a wince this time.

    Arms around his shoulders, she hugged him in return and laughed softly, nodding, “We did it, baby. Knockout and Wisp.” As her feet touched the ground again, she reached for his hand and grinning, stepped back, eying him with a devil’s smirk, “Know what I wanna do now…?”

    Laughter spilled from his lips as he spun he around, hardly wanting the moment to end. He felt himself on cloud nine, doing the thing he loved with the woman he loved. When he finally put her down, he took both her hands a beamed, brows lifting at her question and that devilish smirk. “...what?” He murmured with uncertainty.

    Pressing onto her toes, she rested a hand against the brunt of his chest to lean in close and her lips brushed the shell of his ear as she lowered her voice to a sultry whisper, “Go home… get out of this spandex… and watch the news.”

    A different kind of smile rose on his lips, and he lifted her up again, this time carrying her to the car. “Sounds like a wonderful plan to me,” he purred, pressing their noses together, pulling her into him. “Let’s get home.”
  15. Delilah Buress

    Wisp and Knockout were a hit… pun fully intended, according to the latest reporter to pull that particular joke. The media coverage wasn't her favorite part of the job, certainly, and while it was intriguing to see the youtube videos and read the articles, it was a little exhausting and more than a little trying. Fame was, decidedly, not her cup of tea, but for the opportunity to work alongside Fisher, she would endure anything.

    But sometimes, the days off were really the ones she looked forward to the most. The days off, when it was just her and Fish and there was no one to rescue or protect or battle against.

    That particular day, her shift at the restaurant had been covered so she could surprise Fisher at work, and as her cab pulled up outside of the mechanics shop, she did her best to ignore the radio, buzzing about their latest escapade the night prior and paying the driver, slipped out. Crossing the street, she stepped through the open garage door, “Hello? Anyone home?”

    The garage was filled with the hum of tools and parts, engines roaring and revving and screws and saws buzzing. Fisher was bent over an older station wagon, face in buried in the front of the car, the hood shielding him. He was covered in grime and dirt, so much that he almost looked like another person, until he peeked up at the sound of a familiar voice.

    “Lil!” He exclaimed gleefully, waving her over.

    Seeing him in his other element was always a little strange for Delilah… Both in a good way, and a bittersweet one. The life that he had carved out for himself… the normal, healthy life… she had come back into it and thrown him for such a wild loop. And maybe he was used to that as Knockout, but as Fish? Just Fish…? It was nice to see him in coveralls, wearing buckets of grease… and a part of her wished that was all he ever had to deal with.

    “Hey, baby…” She cooed pleasantly, as she approached the wagon he was working on, “There’s a car for ya… You fixing it? Or putting it out of its misery?”

    If he wasn’t so dirty he would have pulled her into him, but a quick peck on the cheek would do. “Well, I’m trying to extend its lifespan. Don’t know if it wants to comply.” He said with a chuckle. “What brings you here? If it’s something important might have to get it out quick before one of the guys comes out to say hi.” Fisher laughed.

    “You should let it die... “ She teased, eyeing the car, before looking back to him, “I just missed you. Corny, I know. But we've both been so busy… I thought I'd surprise you…”

    He grinned, eyes shining. “Best surprise ever.” He brushed his hands off on a dirty rag, only to be ambushed by Diego. Though Fish was tall, Diego was so much taller, and put his height to use by putting Fish in a headlock and rustling his hair with a smirk. There was a momentary flash in Fish’s eyes, one of panic and determination, but Diego’s bubbling laugh seemed to quell that starting look. “Oh.. Diego.” Fisher said and managed a laugh too, pushing him off.

    “What brings your fine lady here, Fisherman?” Diego said with a smirk towards Lil.

    Chuckling at the pair, Delilah smiled, “Just popping in for a visit. We both work so much anymore… I figured I'd take the day off and steal Fish for lunch.”

    Giving Fisher’s hair one last fluff, making Fisher grumble in protest, Diego smiled back. “Aw. Cute.” He hummed. “Well, you two love birds, don’t be long. Else I’ll snitch on ya.” He winked and slapped Fisher on the back. The assault didn’t seem to end, but Fisher seemed unbothered by this attack. “I’ll go wash up, gimme a min? Diego can keep you company.” Fisher smiled and turned to go clean up.

    Nodding as Fisher turned away, Delilah took a lean against the garage column, before she glanced to Diego with another smile, “So… I met your dad.”

    The first look that came upon Diego was one of shock. He stared at Delilah open mouthed and wide eyes for a moment, before clearing his throat and trying to regain composure. “Y-you.. Oh.. wh-where?”

    “His work…” She mused, a brow lifting at Diego’s reaction, “Small world, I guess. A lot smaller than I expected, anyway.”

    It was at this Diego’s eyebrow raised, his look of shock fading away in place of one of confusion. “Small world?” He echoed. “He’s a doctor. I don’t understand how it’s a small world.”

    Straightening up, Delilah blinked, before recognition hit and shaking her head, she gave as nonchalant a shrug as she could manage, “Oh, just… You know. You workin’ with Fish, and him bein’ my doctor.”

    Diego’s lips pursed, searching Delilah’s face as if he could pull something out of her expression. “R..right.” He mumbled. “We haven’t spoken in a long time.” He admitted.

    “No kidding?” Shifting again, she frowned a little, “Why not? I mean… if I’m prying, don’t feel obligated. Just… he spoke pretty highly of you.”

    Diego sighed, putting his fingertips to his chin. “We disagree on a lot of things. He doesn’t like my lifestyle. I don’t like his attitude.” Diego chuckled. “He keeps on saying.. I’ll understand when the time comes. But I’m twenty five and nothing’s happened, so I don’t really know what he’s waiting for.” He rolled his eyes.

    “He seems like a pretty serious guy…” Delilah said with a chuckle, “But sounds like he’s just lookin’ out for you. I get it, though. It’s hard, when you don’t see eye to eye with someone who cares about you. Easier just to avoid them.”

    Diego laughed. “Well, you sure know a thing or two. Maybe he’ll come around someday. Maybe I will too.”

    “Don’t wait, too long.” She said, and the amusement faded from her voice, “It’s a rough world, Diego. And you never know what’ll happen day to day.”

    Diego nodded with uncertainty in his eyes, opening his mouth to say something else but being interrupted as Fisher reappeared, face and arms squeaky clean. “We’ll be back in a bit, Diego. I haven’t given up on this rust bucket, by the way.” Fisher said with a smile, patting the hood of the car he’d been working on and then intertwined his fingers with Lil’s.

    Looking to Fisher, Delilah smiled, before giving Diego a nod, “See you around…”

    As she turned with Fisher to leave, she gave him a nudge with her shoulder, glancing up at him when they had neared the truck, “I didn’t realize they weren’t talking. Doc and Diego.”

    “Lilah!” Fisher hissed once they had gotten out of the garage, a slight hint of laughter in his otherwise serious tone. “Did you rat me out? Does he know about me and Doc? Crap. I should’ve told you sooner..”

    Laughing, she shook her head, “No… I figured out pretty quick he had no idea what the connection was, so I just fudged one. But I had no clue he didn’t know about.. You know. I dunno, I guess I just figured with where Doc worked, and you and Diego being buddies. Lucky I’m quick on my feet.”

    Fish exhaled. “Thank god. Doc insists on him “finding it out on his own”... I don’t know why, but he does. He’s already got powers. Idiot just doesn’t even know it.” Fish laughed. “Part of why I love him..”

    “Oh geez…” Smacking her forehead with her palm, Delilah grinned, “I almost blew it, too. This, Fish, is why you need to officially tell me everything, ever. Poor Doc. He’s gonna freak out if he finds out I said anything. Thank God I caught on to the confusion there. What can he do? Diego? Do you know?”

    Fish grinned at Lilah. “Alright, alright.. I’ll tell you more. It slipped my mind, I swear.” He shook his head. “Something telepathic.. influence people into doing what he wants.. He and Doc has an argument, and Diego told him to stay away or something like that. Doc hasn’t been able to get anywhere near Diego, physically, ever since.” The whole situation was absurd, especially with how powerful Diego seemed to be, but Doc was adamant. “I told him I could probably ask Diego to call him off, but he insists.”

    “Oh Lord. You’re joking…” Pinching the bridge of her nose, Delilah shook her head, “For a smart guy like Doc… that’s pretty dumb. Especially if you’re right that Diego doesn’t even know he did it.” Looking over at him, she smirked, “...You know what I’m gonna suggest, right?”

    “I dunno, maybe? You want me to tell him? Want me to tell Doc? I don’t know, Lil, I’ve been stuck in between them for too damn long, but I still feel like it’s not my place.”

    “What? No… Are you crazy? They’re men. Men hate meddling, even if it’s for their own good.” Smiling, she shook her head, “I mean… we’re still gonna meddle. But we’re gonna make them think they’re the ones fixing it.”

    Fish sighed with a smile on his lips, leaning in to kiss her hand. “My evil genius. If you want to meddle, well… I kinda agree it’s time to do something about it, but god help me if you mess this up… I won’t have anywhere to land when I get all banged up, or have a job.”

    Laughing, she nudged him again, “Doc took an oath, baby. He has to help you, even if he ends up hating you. But don’t worry… this’ll work out. I feel it. Question is, who do we start with?”

    “Oh, Diego. Definitely. So much more susceptible, despite the susceptibility powers. What’s the plan?” He said, squeezing Lil’s hand with a smirk.

    “I think maybe he just needs to see his dad… Hear him talk about Diego. Kid needs to know his old man is proud of him, you know? And I think he’ll open up.. Be more willing to let Doc in. If we could find a way to get them in the same place… without either one knowing…”

    Fisher sighed deeply, brows furrowed in thought. “Yeah… we’ll have to get Diego to reverse his “curse” before they can get anywhere near each other. I could probably get it to slip out of him, though… he doesn’t know that when he says things like that they stick. If I can get him to say he wants Doc to come, then it’ll probably work out.” Fisher blinked. “I wonder if.. Diego was the one who insisted that it would happen on his own time? And because of his powers.. Doc believes he’s the one who said it?”

    Blinking, Delilah paused, “...If I didn’t know about metahumans, what you just said would make me pretty convinced you were a crazy person. In fact, I do know about metahumans, and I’m not entirely sure what you said.” But with a small laugh, she nodded, “But if you think it’ll work, it’s worth a shot. So I guess that leaves me to work on Doc?”

    Fisher groaned. “This is a mess I should have involved myself in way sooner.” He muttered. “I’ll take Diego. But, uh.. Lunch first, right?” Fish patted his stomach. “A boy’s gotta eat.”

    Laughing, Delilah nodded, “I didn’t take off work to help Diego and Doc repair their relationship. As nice as that sounds. I miss you, too much for that. Where you wanna go?”

    Fisher grinned. “Are you in the mood for tacos? I know a good place. Coincidentally Diego’s favorite. I’ll bring him back something and we can get the ball rolling. Two birds with one stone.”

    Smiling right back, she nodded, “Oh… that’s my evil genius. Also… tacos are the single best food on the planet. Are you aware you’re incredible?”

    “I do consider it every now and then, yes. My incredible ness. But only the best for my lady, hmm?” Fish grinned. “I missed you too. It’s fun, actually.. living without a serial killer foster brother on your back. I like this.”

    “Hm…” Nodding, she looped her arm through his, “There is a certain relief to it, yeah… But I don’t think it’d be quite the same, without you, Fish… and all jokes aside? I’m glad we got another chance at this.”

    With a smirk, Fisher looked ahead. “I’m glad too. I’m saying.. I’m saying I like our life, Lil. I don’t feel so.. incomplete.” His smile was gleaming, golden. “I’m still.. sorry I ran, back then. I really am.” Now it wavered as he thought about those times, but it could not fully penetrate his true happiness.

    “I know… But hey, it’s not exactly like I fought to keep you around. But I’m going to now… you can count on that, Fisher. I’m never gonna let you go.” Grinning, she brushed her fingers through her hair with a small chuckle, “That sounded creepier than I meant it to…”

    “Just a liiitle bit, maybe.” He said with a smirk. “I get what you mean, though. So I won’t take it too hard. I’m gonna fight for you too, Lil. I swear it.” He pointed to the small joint at the end of the street. “There we go. What are you thinking? Carnitas, asada…”

    “He speaks spanish… and tacos. My guy… Fully of surprise.” With a smirk, she shook her head, “As long as there’s no anchovies involved, I’m not picky. And that gives me a genius idea on how to get Doc to meet with me.”

    Fisher rolled his eyes. “Oh, come on. I speak like.. a few words.” Glancing up at the menu for a moment, he turned to the cashier and spoke their order and spoke their order in fluent Spanish. When that was done, he turned to Lil with a lopsided smirk. “So maybe I know a little bit more. And anchovies aren’t that bad, really. But cmon, gimme your plan.”

    “Oh, babe. If you knew how sexy that was…” Delilah said with a small amused smirk, “All I ca . say is ‘get the dog off the table’... And I don't see how that'll ever come in handy.” Leaning against the counter as they waited, she shrugged, “Doc’s known you for a while now… And you and me? We only just reconnected. So maybe I tell Doc I wanna know you better… through the eyes the people who care about you.”

    Fisher tapped his chin. “Hmm.. could work, but then he’s going to blab about all my unfortunate injuries for an hour before you even scratch the surface of Diego. Besides.. I’m more a security detail. Do. hardly talks about him. It’s just like, asking me if he is still alive and well. Again, weird.. but i’d do anything for the guy after the countless times he’s patched me up.”

    “Oh, but see… I'm not gonna ask about Diego. Because that'll just put him on guard. The last time he and I talked… he was the one who broached the subject and I can bet he'd do it again this time. He wants to talk about it… but sometimes those conversations are easier with a stranger.”

    “Oh, my.” Fisher hummed with a smile. “You’ve got it all planned out, huh? Maybe you’re a bit too good at this, hmm?” He teased, and then gave a false gasp of shock. “Did you put your spell on me too, Delilah Buress!”

    Wiggling a finger at him, she winked, “Hey now. Don't give away all my secrets.” Chuckling, she reached out to take his hand, “Want me to release you?”

    He squeezed her hand, leaning in for a kiss. “I don’t think so. I think I’m too deep in. Don’t really mind it, though, If i’m being honest.” He smirked, and turned around as one of the servers waved him over to pick up the order. The tacos smelled amazing, and Fisher waved Lilah over to an open table. “I got carnitas, asada, pollo and pastor. A tasting flight, if you will. Dig in.”

    “Hmm.” The smile that formed after the kiss only broadened when their food arrived and they moved to a table, “Man… trouble with this whole plan of ours is I'm not gonna wanna bring any of this back to Diego…”

    “Eh. I’ll just order more once we finish. I’m hungry.” He said with a laugh, picking up a taco. “All this evil genius planning is making my stomach growl. Come meet me more often for lunch, hmm?”

    Wiggling her eyebrows, Delilah grinned, “I plan to… and not just for lunch if I can help it. I miss you too damn much, us working all the time, now.”

    “Yeah, but maybe it’s in the interest of moving out of my small apartment?” Fisher hummed with a gentle smile. “Besides… I really enjoy our other line of work, too.”

    “I like your small apartment..” She mused, with a small smile, “It’s cozy. Even the couch is cozy. But I do like the… other job.” With a chuckle, she shrugged, “It’s just… I feel like I see you-know-who more than Fisher, these days.”

    “You know who is still me,” He said, almost a bit too quickly. “But I.. I see what you mean. We’ll do this more often, okay? I promise.” He nodded to affirm the promise. “And I’m glad you like my place. I wasn’t sure if you wanted to stay there for long, but.. I like it too.”

    “I’ll hold you to it…” She grinned, nodding, “And of course I want to stay… I mean. I’ll go wherever you want, Fish. I just wanna be with you. But you know I don’t mind small. Small with you is better than huge and alone…”

    He smiled. “Me too.” She was absolutely right.. and just the same, he’d follow her anywhere. “I was thinking about Gallant lately. Did you talk to him again after I whined about it?” Fisher asked.

    Chuckling, she shook her head, “Nah… Didn’t get much of a chance to, honestly. Once you were up and about, I didn’t exactly need to go to the vending machines for lunch, anymore. Why? You want me to ask for his autograph…” Nudging his calf with her foot, she winked.

    Fisher snorted. “So he only eats vending machine food? Typical.” He rolled his eyes. “No, I don’t need his autograph.. Just was thinking about our relationship. It’s for PR purposes, mostly. Turned into a friendly rivalry. Felt bad about his leg.”

    Laughing, she shrugged, “I mean… I didn’t ask about his diet or anything, but I figure it was probably just cause the hospital cafeteria’s more danger than it’s worth. That is pretty cute though… PR purposes. It’s still weird to think about it all… The PR stuff… Just… all of it.”

    Fisher laughed, taking a sip of the sprite he had ordered. “I guess it’d be weird of me to say it’s kind of how I grew up. Like a second childhood, after the whole foster houses mess. Gallant and I are both PR heavy because… we get our reach out there, I guess. He’s got his gimmick, obviously. But it’s about… portraying metahumans as more than just heroes, I guess? He’s still pretty into his suit and armor.”

    “I mean… It’s a pretty cool get up.” She said with a smirk, “It’s not a jumpsuit, anyway. But seriously… I think it’s good. People need to see us, Fish. Not just as heroes, but as… humans. So they’re not so afraid of us. So they understand…”

    He nodded with pursed lips. “I think it’s coming.” He murmured. “A time when we’re.. Accepted. Everyone in the Underground says so.. They say they feel it. I.. I really hope so. I can’t imagine what kinda life it’d be like.. When metas can just.. Walk the streets without a costume.”

    “...But you think it’s possible, Fish? To ever really accepted? Fully? I mean… Just look at history. Look at people who were different. How they’ve always been treated.” Shaking her head, she sighed and sank back in her seat, “Just doesn’t give me a lot of comfort, the way the human mind works. Anyway… who knows. Maybe humanity will surprise us for once.”

    “I know, but they can’t.. The can’t keep denying us when we’re the heroes they buy comic books of, you know? Something is going to happen. I don’t know if it’ll be pretty.. But soon enough, I don’t think we’ll have to hide. We won’t have to make up alter egos just to use our powers, you know? I want that.”

    “I mean… the world could definitely benefit from a few less spandex outfits and cheesy taglines. I just… I want it too, Fish. But only if it's to make things better. Not worse. But someone like you? You could really change things for good… People look up to you. Hell… I look up to you. And if anyone deserves the chance to step out of the costume and into the light it's you.”

    Fisher blushed. The redness in his cheeks was quickly hidden as he turned his gaze away, scratching the back of his neck. “I-I don’t want fame. I don’t need to be in the light. I want to be Fisher.. Without Knockout. I want to be strong, on the streets with you on my arm and not worried about who I am. I don’t mind Knockout. I like him, even. But I wish, sometimes.. I didn’t need him.” He sighed. “So much for saying that Fish and Knockout are the same.”

    Chuckling, she reached out to take his hand, “Baby. You gotta know they aren't. That you and Knockout have been two different people since we thought up those names as kids. He's your shield. Protects you from what they think. But maybe that’s the problem… Maybe we care too much about what they think, Fish. Maybe that’s where it starts? What if we just.. Stopped hiding? What then?”

    Fisher’s posture tensed, visibly. “Then we get registered, and people start getting afraid.” Fisher whispered. “They see us as dangerous. Criminal, even if we’re not. Everyone will start treating us differently. Guys at the shop.. they’ll be afraid of me.” He shivered. It was the most horrible thought to him.

    “But only because we let it happen. We let people fear us because we keep ourselves hidden like some dirty little secret. If they see who we are… That we're like them. Real and flawed, then maybe…” Frowning, she shook her head, “People fear what they don't understand… but if we could just show them…” …”

    “It doesn’t work like that.” Fisher muttered. “It.. I.. I can’t risk that. I can’t risk.. you.” He whispered.

    “You can't protect me from everything, Fish. This isn't rottweilers and crappy foster families. This is our lives. What happens if we get found out… when it isn't our choice? What do we do then?”

    “It won’t happen.” He said, firmly. Angrily. “I know people who got found out.. I knew them, actually, because they had to leave. Disappear. It won’t happen, Lil. We’re careful.. and it’s not something I plan to do myself.”

    “But what do we do if it does, Fish? You can't will away things you have no control over and it's a very real possibility that they'll find a way to locate us… And if that happens? We need a plan. These are things we need to think about no matter how much it sucks…”…

    “What do you want me to do, Lil?” He muttered. “I don’t have any family we can run too, if that’s we’re talking about.” He glanced off to the side, lip curled, gaze jumping around. Maybe he wasn’t saying the whole truth.

    “I know we've been doing this whole secret identity thing for a while now...But did you forget for a second there who I am? Why would I ever think that? But it's not about relying on others… it's just not relying on disguises to last forever.”

    “Can we please just talk about this later?” He begged, intertwining his fingers behind his head, cheeks absolutely flushed. “I didn’t forget. It’s just..” He let out an exhale, as if letting off steam. “Nothing. I should probably get back to work.”

    “Woah. Hey…” Frowning, Delilah shifted closer, “What aren't you telling me? I've known you too damn long not to know when you're full of it…”

    “Lil, please. I’ve had enough.” He whined. “I should really get back to work, okay?” His words were quick, and his leg began to bounce under the table.

    Sitting back, Delilah’s expression shifted, cooled, as she crossed her arms, “Fine. Thanks for lunch, Fisher. I'll see you at home.”

    “Lil!” He cried, grabbing her hand to stop her from leaving. “Okay. Okay, fine. I’m sorry. Doc told me.. he said he thought a lady came in to the hospital.. c-could be my aunt.” Fisher mumbled. “I don’t know what made him think it, but he said she let some stuff slip.. about a brother who went on the run, had a child.. had to.. give it up..” He glanced downwards. “I don’t know if I’m ready to believe him.”

    Swearing, Delilah pushed back from the table, “And you didn't think this was information you needed to share with me? What the hell, Fish… That's… Why would you keep this from me?”

    “I’m not ready, Lilah. I couldn’t handle it. I can’t handle it.” He muttered. “I can’t deal with this. I can’t.. I cant start looking for every person that says they left a child on a doorstep. I don’t want to believe it’s true.. I don’t want to get my hopes up. And what if I.. what if they… I just.. I barely have myself figured out. I’m not ready to find out everything else.”

    “I didn't ask why you didn't look into it, Fisher. I asked why you didn't tell me...” Shaking her head, she sank back into her chair again, “I thought we were past secrets…”

    “It’s not.. I didn’t.. I didn’t want to make it true. I didn’t want to think about it. If I told you.. we’d have to.. I don’t know. I didn’t want to say it out loud. Lil, I’m sorry. I’m really sorry. Please, I just.. I don’t want to do anything about it. I just want to forget it.”

    “No.” Frowning again, Delilah shook her head, “No. You don't get to forget, Fisher. Do you know… do you know what I would give… For one connection? One hint of someone who… who cared? You have that, and you wanna let fear scare you away from it? I cannot let you throw that away… not when I know how hard you looked. How long. I love you too damn much to let you let this go…”

    He sighed. “But that’s what I’m saying.. I’m saying it could be nothing. You and I would look forever only for nothing.” He shook his head. “But.. you can go talk to Doc about it, alright? If you’re going there anyway. Might help you on your quest.. kill two birds with one stone. I barely asked him.. too much in shock.”

    “You deserve a family, Fish.” She murmured, picking at the edge of her nail, “Even if it's just one person… you deserve it.”

    “You’re my family.” Fisher said firmly. “And Doc, and Diego, and Willow, and Sapphire.. that’s my family. I built it myself.. but you’re the one who’s going to see Doc, alright? You tell me if it’s worth going after.”

    “I’ll talk to him… see what he says.” She agreed with a nod, “Just… you have to trust me. I know it’s hard… but I need you to trust me.”

    “I trust you more than anyone else, Lil.” Fisher swore. “It’s.. It’s me, I don’t trust.” There came upon him a wavering smile, one that he held as he called a server over to order another round of tacos to go. “I’ve got Diego to work on, right?” He said quietly

    Nodding, she rose to her feet, with a small touch of apprehension, “Yeah… and I’ve got Doc. We’ll figure this out, Fish. All of it. Just promise me you won’t keep me in the dark, okay? I don’t like it… feeling like I’m missing parts of the puzzle. No more, okay?”

    He nodded in response, a moment of hesitation preceding it. “Okay. No more.” He insisted, and stood. A moment later he was handed the bag of tacos, and they were on their way.

    Outside of the restaurant, Delilah reached for his arm and pausing, lifted onto her toes to press a kiss to his cheek, “I love you, Fish. Even if sometimes you are just a big dummy…”

    As she pressed her lips against his cheek, his posture seemed to relax. He leaned and met the kiss, before leaning away and brushing a lock of hair behind her ear. “I love you too.” He murmured.

    Thank god she could tolerate him..