Daysed and Confused Part 2
Well, by a vote of five to three, The Other came out on top for whose heroines will be coming to visit this universe. That means Dawn and company will be meeting Callista and a plantified Cordelia at the end of this fic… and won't that be fun, considering this universe already has a male Xander floating around? Whose girlfriend goes both ways and doesn't mind straying? Mwa ha ha.
Reaching back, Dawn tried to bat at her tormentor but found only air.
Poke poke poke.
"What?!" Dawn rolled off of Cassie, hitting the floor beside the couch with a thump before jumping to her knees, fingertips glowing green as she whirled around to find Vi standing there with a bizarre looking staff… scythe… thing… in hand. "What is so fucking important that you had to wake me up from my nap?"
Resting one end of her staff on the floor, Vi leaned on it and grinned. "If I was a bitch, I'd say, like, 'Hey, we're all going down the street to the hot dog wagon, wanna come?' or something stupid like that. But since I'm not Regan… I'm bored and I was hoping I could talk you into giving me a real challenge as far as a superhero fight goes?"
Dawn groaned, raking her fingers through her hair to pull it back out of her face. "You woke me up because you want to fight with me." Vi nodded and sighing, Dawn led the redhead out of the living room so Cassie could continue snoring away on the couch. She snorted; that girl could probably sleep through having a marching band parade past her. Still, no reason to risk waking her up just because Vi was being inconsiderate. "You do know the other girls have had powers longer than me and actually know how to fight, right?"
"And your mom's been the Wasp for how many years with no actual training? Or substitute the words 'step-dad' and 'Yellowjacket' into the appropriate spots, same end result?" She had a point there, Dawn had to admit. Vi reached up to tap her temple as she continued. "You forget, I helped design the training regimens for a Slayer cell, which was based off the same basic plans that they're using for training in Cleveland, London, South Africa, and Vietnam. They all fight pretty much the same, and I end up trouncing them because I actually had a Watcher who gave me some different training before the 'one size fits most' approach became the norm."
Entering the kitchen, Dawn flung the fridge door open and leaned in, one hand questing deep inside to where she'd hidden some soda behind a watermelon. Cracking the can open, she guzzled half the Mountain Dew inside, sighing as the sugary liquid hit her system with a jolt. "So I should let you throw me around the training room because you're tired of throwing them around the training room?"
Vi shook her head. "Actually, I was hoping you'd be able to blast me around the training room. See, the Slayers fight like Slayers. But you don't have our powers. You have to fight with your Hornet powers. And so the way I see it, you're probably closer to the villains we'll end up facing because they probably have powers that mean they can do something other than just run at us and start swinging." She paused, thought for a second, and amended her statement. "Well, apart from the Juggernaut and shit. But I really hope we don't end up facing him because I'm pretty sure we'd end up paste. Him or the Hulk."
"Yeeeeah, no offense but I'm pretty sure the Hulk would turn you from a pretty redheaded Slayer into a pretty redheaded smear on the pavement." Polishing off her soda, Dawn shot a weak pulse of energy at the trashcan, hitting the foot pedal just hard enough to pop the lid up. Tossing her soda can, she bounced it off the inside of the lid and into the bag. The lid flopped closed and Dawn turned to find Vi staring at her oddly. "What?"
"I was going to tease you about the pretty comment. Now I'm just in awe of your skills. You didn't even think or hesitate. Just… pew! Blast of energy." Crossing the kitchen, Vi crouched down and peered at the trashcan. "And the pedal's plastic isn't even blackened or anything. You put the perfect amount of power behind it. See, this is why I want to train with you."
Dawn shook her head incredulously. "Yeah, let's stick with the 'you're more like the superhumans we'll face' excuse, okay? Because you idolizing my ability to be too lazy to go stomp on the pedal is kinda freaky." Yawning, Dawn stretched and winced as her back cracked oddly. "Alright, fine. I'll do it, seeing as how I'm awake and Cassie's not and I'm nice enough to let sleeping people sleep. But if I get hurt, you're the one who gets to explain to Cassie why Sophie's giving me a massage."
Straightening up, Vi let the end of her staff thump against the floor with each stride as she followed Dawn down the hall towards her room. "Dawn, you have more money than God. Or at least it feels like it sometimes. Why don't you just go out for a massage? It'd be easier than dealing with Cassie's jealousy over her hetero British not-really-a-twin touching you, wouldn't it?"
"Well yeah. But then I wouldn't have the joy of making you deal with defusing her jealousy as punishment for injuring me." Coming to a halt in the doorway to her room, Dawn turned and held up one hand. "Err, this is where you stop following. I need to change and so unless you want to learn how to fight superhumans by trying to keep Cassie from dismembering you…"
Vi winced and stepped back as Dawn closed the door, calling out to continue their conversation through the wall. "Take a pass on that. And I see what you did there. With the jealous Cassie thing. Although how am I supposed to actually spar with you if I'm not allowed to hurt you?"
Digging through her dresser, Dawn found a black sports bra and some shorts and began stripping out of her around the house clothes. "Not my problem, Vi. You're the one who wanted to do this. Those are my conditions, like it or lump it."
"Wait a second. If I lump you, won't I end up getting in trouble?"
Dawn blinked and stared at the door before shaking her head in disbelief. How had she never heard of… oh, whatever. She was here to act as an intermediary between her family - and Astrid, who was in the same basic category but most assuredly did not fall under that particular header - and the Slayers in the Wasp Corps, not teach remedial English. "Totally not what that saying means, but at least you're catching on."
"I'm swinging in the rain. Just swinging in the rain. What a glorious feeling, I'm hap-hap-happy aga-oof!"
Astrid's raucous singing was cut off as something blindsided her from the right, sending her spinning through the air and snapping the webline she'd been using. Spinning, she wrapped her arms and legs around the object before adding an extra rotation to point herself face down, extending her spare legs as she hit a gravel roof hard. Her legs flexed with the impact, bleeding off her momentum, and she released her cargo so it hit the roof with a heavy thump. It let out a soft, feminine moan of pain and Astrid blinked before grinning, her black and white facemask disappearing with a quick mental command. "Daddy!"
Beneath her, Felicia Hardy stared up in confusion. "Daddy?" She shifted her gaze down, eyeing the exposed tops of her breasts for a moment before meeting Astrid's eyes again. "Do I even want to know how that warped brain of yours decided that was my new nickname?"
"Simple. Venom said that Jessica's got more of a neglectful mom vibe, with the pretending I don't exist thing. You actively avoid me or ignore me when we've ended up somewhere together. You're so a deadbeat dad." Felicia's jaw dropped and Astrid waved a hand back and forth in front of the white-haired woman's face. "What? I know I didn't break you; I've said worse to you in the past."
Felicia's one-word reply made Astrid realize she'd fucked up but good. "Venom?"
A peculiar prickling sensation washed across Astrid's eyes and then her mouth began to move of its own volition. "Hiya, Felicia! Long time, no see. Actually, I don't think we've ever really sat down and talked… apart from that one time I tormented you about Peter and MJ hooking up. Although I really do have to thank you. Do you know how much fun it's been tormenting Astrid with the memories I sucked out of Peter's head? Like you screwing 'her' on rooftops and in dirty alleys?"
"Gack!" Contorting to bring her knees up to her chest, Felicia lashed out with her feet and caught Astrid in the stomach, lifting her up and throwing her across the roof. Hopping to her feet, she opened a pouch on her belt and slipped on a device that Astrid didn't recognize: some sort of metal disk held to her palm by a band that wrapped around the back of her hand. "I saw the fight on television… wondered where you'd gotten off to, Venom. Now, we both know you'd beat me in a straight fight… but I'm pretty sure I can point this sonic blaster straight enough to force you off her body. So why don't you just move along and find another body to hijack?"
Rolling her eyes, Astrid let Venom slither up to cover her face again purely as a safety precaution. The last thing she needed was to get blasted in the face or something before she managed to talk Felicia down. "Venom isn't using me, Dad. We're partners. We've got an understanding: I give her a home and eat lots of chocolate, and she gives me… well, you know what the symbiote does. And we're going to be more actually symbiotic, the whole give and take thing, instead of that bizarre hive mind thing Eddie Brock succumbed to."
Venom took a moment to seize her vocal cords again, letting out a groan of disgust. "Ugh. Eddie. Don't remind me. I don't know what I was thinking there. Well, other than 'he's here, I need to heal'. Still, I should have separated from him a lot earlier than I did. There's a few years of my life I'm never getting back."
"You know I can't take that chance, right? For what it's worth… if you are telling the truth? I'm sorry about how bad this is going to hurt." Astrid tensed as Felicia pointed the sonic blaster her way, legs coiling as she prepared to spring out of the way. Between Peter's memories of fighting beside her, Venom's memories of seeing her fight, and her own semantic memories of Felicia, Astrid knew all the woman's tells and before Felicia's thumb had even hit the trigger on the device, the redhead was already dodging to the right to avoid the forthcoming blast. Rolling in midair, she bounced off a nearby air conditioning unit and threw herself at Felicia, slamming into the older woman.
The pair hit the roof together but Astrid was too quick for her mother, slamming a quick punch into Felicia's face before webbing both wrists down. "Right then. Well, since you can't seem to discuss this like a reasonable adult… I'm just gonna mosey on along. Go back to webslinging, kinda like I was doing before you decided to run that red and t-boned me." Cocking her head to one side, Astrid pondered that. "Do you think they make traffic school for superheroes?"
Shrugging away the idle thought, Astrid stared down at Felicia. "Oh, and Dad? If anyone finds out about this? I'll know who to blame…" Finally giving in to Venom's endless nagging, she let the symbiote cover her face, forming into the trademark fanged visage it had used for so many years on its previous hosts. "…and I will beat you to death with a shovel." Just as quickly it was gone, leaving her bare faced long enough to smile angelically at the white-haired woman before the symbiote shaped itself back into her customary mask. "After all, a vague disclaimer is nobody's friend."
"Even if I don't tell, they'll find out eventually. You can't hide it forever."
"Yeah yeah, I know. Oh, and Dad? You might wanna go on a diet. Because I can lift cars for fun, and… well, I dropped you, didn't I?"
"…okay, forget the symbiote. For calling me fat? I'm going to hunt you down and beat you like… like…"
"Ike beat Tina? Bobby on Whitney? A disobedient housewife?"
"Yeah, see, I was trying to be a tad bit more politically correct, but that sums it up nicely."
Staring at the doorways in disbelief, Cassie groaned and buried her head in her hands. Each one was marked with two brass numbers separated by a dash: the three doors on the left side of the hall had odd numbers for the first digit, while the right side's doors were even. But the second digit in each pair appeared to be totally random, the end result being an odd jumble… 1 - 1, 2 - 6, and so on. Suddenly she was regretting not getting to know her fellow heroines, because she was about to end up looking like a total idiot knocking on random doors. Or… maybe not.
Some deity up there evidently liked her, it turned out, and the door marked 5 - 2 swung open. Sophie looked down the hall at her and blinked, coming to a halt in the doorway of her apartment. "Cassie. Err… afternoon. Do they need us upstairs or something? Dawn lost her mobile and she needs one of us to give it a bell?"
"No and I have my own cell now, remember?" Cassie twiddled her thumbs nervously as she tried to figure out the best way to broach the subject, eyes sweeping up and down Sophie's body as her fellow blonde stepped fully into sight. She had a feeling 'you're like me but with a better body and I wanna look like you so my girlfriend doesn't look at you instead' would get her laughed at. But, considering that was pretty much where things stood… "Um, I was wondering if you'd be able to help me out with something. Now that Dawn's got me in front of a computer all day… and I wasn't really an athletic type before that either…"
Comprehension dawned and Sophie took pity on her. "You want a hand getting in shape?" Cassie nodded, letting out a sigh of relief. Okay, hard part accomplished. It was out there. Sophie could still refuse her request, sure, but at least she'd be able to say she tried when she hit up one of the other Slayers. "You're asking me because of the whole 'twin' thing, aren't you? Figure what works for me will work for you because everyone swears we were separated at birth?" Another nod. "You do know we're not actually the same, right? I mean, gene pool aside, I'm a Slayer and you're a Cassie. You'll need to work harder and longer than I do to get the same results. And eat better. Less visits to the hot dog stands, more salads and grilled chicken and turkey burgers. Is it worth it?"
Cassie snorted, reaching down to poke her stomach. While it wasn't too bad yet, she definitely had a slightly more concave swell to it than she'd had when she and Dawn had met. And while she ate the same - occasionally unhealthy - food as the rest, she spent less time patrolling, more of her off time sitting, and none of her time working out. "Give me another month and, if I can even fit into my costume without those waist mandibles killing me, the result won't be something you'd want to look at."
"True enough. I've been wondering whether or not you were going to try and do something about it, or maybe get Mrs. Pym to pad your chest more to try and keep people from noticing." Cassie scowled and Sophie gave a defensive shrug. "What? We look identical in normal clothes, but your Ant-Girl self was almost a full cup bigger than my Wasp-Six self. Even if Mrs. Pym hadn't said something, it's not rocket science." The girl had a point. Wait a minute. Bigger than her Wasp-Six self? Why would she specifically mention her old identity instead of saying 'my costume' or something… unless… had Sophie asked Janet to pad her new costume similarly? Cassie had been too busy being annoyed at Sophie copying Dawn's costume as her own to notice in the past… she'd have to make a point of looking next time the group was together.
Unaware of Cassie's train of thought, Sophie jerked her thumb towards the far end of the hall, where the Slayers' workout room resided. "You're better off this way, though. A healthy life is a long life, at least when you're not saddled with a destiny that pretty much guarantees a young and grisly death fighting demons. And you can still get padded out more if you feel the need; you'll just be healthy, skinny, and busty instead of chubby and busty."
Cassie nodded. "So, if I cut back on the junk food and start nagging our lovely chef to serve healthier food, does that mean you'll help me get… well, I don't think I was ever really in shape, so to speak, so it's not 'back in shape'. Just plain in shape?"
"Eh, I guess. It’s not like I'm doing anything else with my free time. We all do our schoolwork electronically… you just got set up with that, right?" Cassie nodded; it was a bit odd to do everything from the comfort of wherever she plunked down with her laptop, but she was definitely enjoying being able to work at her own pace. "Yeah, I'm done for at least the next three weeks. I’ve been taking advantage of not needing to do vamp patrols because Vi's former minions run that here. But that means all I have to do is cook, work out, and respond when it's my turn to sit with the police scanner. I might as well find something productive to do with my time." Sophie looked Cassie up and down before frowning. "Okay, you run upstairs and change while I dig out some exercise clothes. Whatever's comfortable for you… we'll start with the basic DVD. Think I usually wore a t-shirt and leggings for that."
The basic DVD? Sophie hadn't struck her as the workout video type, but then again, what the hell did she know about physical fitness? No questions, Cassie decided; this was Sophie's workout routine and she knew what she was doing. "Okie doke. Meet you in the workout room in five minutes?" Sophie nodded and Cassie turned away, heading back down the hall towards the elevator as the door to Sophie's apartment closed behind her.
Passing through the door into the tiny elevator lobby, Cassie ran through a mental inventory of her wardrobe as she ascended a floor. She had a few sports bras and matching boy shorts tucked into a corner of her dresser, bought but never really used. Sophie hadn't mentioned either, but it was probably a 'if you can't figure that out for yourself, you probably have to be reminded to breathe' thing. T-shirts, she had plenty of. Sweat pants? She had a pair somewhere for those particularly awful periods… but if this was going to be a regular thing and she'd be working up a sweat, they'd probably get pretty funky in a hurry. Maybe she could go shopping later?
Returning to the top floor, Cassie shrank down and passed under the door rather than enter the traditional way, patting herself on the back for her foresight when she heard Dawn singing along with the radio in the kitchen. Not that she thought she was doing anything the least bit wrong or anything, but she really didn't need empty platitudes from Dawn about how she was 'just right' and didn't need to start working out. What Dawn didn't know would only make her drool when she started getting all fit and trim, Cassie figured.
Ducking into her room the same way she entered the apartment itself, Cassie was careful to lift her dresser drawer up and to the left a bit to keep it from sticking and needing a good solid - and noisy - tug to free. She found her sports bra with a little difficulty but what was underneath it made her blink. It was white and lightweight cotton, and definitely too big to be a bra. Lifting it out, Cassie could only stare as it unfurled into a pair of pants. Resting high up on the right thigh - her right at the moment, she realized, her left thigh when she put them on - was a rather angry looking green and black hornet, with the word 'HORNETS' printed above it and '1948' below.
Wait. Cassie looked closer. No, there was an apostrophe there. 'HORNET'S' the possessive, rather than the plural.
Cassie peered into her dresser and wasn't too terribly surprised to find another piece of clothing she hadn't bought or placed there: a t-shirt folded so the chest was easily visible. It too read 'HORNET'S' in bold green letters on white, arranged in an arc over '1948'. Well, at least she'd match?
Resolving to ask Dawn about it later, Cassie quickly changed and slipped back out of the apartment, making her way back downstairs and heading down the hall past the Wasps' individual apartments to reach the large workout room that took up a goodly portion of the floor. With four of the six apartments reduced to nothing more than combined bed-living rooms with private bathrooms and the remaining two being full units albeit with slightly more cramped floorplans than the originals, they'd freed up nearly half the floor's square footage for a massive room that contained treadmills, weights, punching bags, a mat for sparring, a wall-mounted barre, and… "Are those what I think they are?"
"Hmm?" Following Cassie's gaze, Sophie's eyes settled on a pair of cloudy white poles at the far end of the room. "If you're thinking strippers' poles, then yes. If you're not… no. No they're not."
Suddenly, Cassie had a sinking suspicion she knew what was on the DVD Sophie liked to work out to. She'd seen the commercials, after all, and even heard a few of the cheerleaders at school gossiping about them. "Please tell me that's not how you work out. Anything but that."
Sophie grinned as she held up a remote, poking a few buttons and causing a section of the wall to split and reveal a previously hidden television and DVD player. "Nope. Even I'm not that adventurous. No, don't worry, I've got something much tamer in mind for you." Reaching into the narrow space between the television and the edge of the housing, Sophie fished out a DVD case and tossed it through the air to Cassie. "Tada."
"Carmen Electra's Aerobic Striptease, Disc 1. Strip your way to fitness." Cassie looked from the case and the familiar and famous woman gracing its cover to Sophie. "Surely you can't be serious."
Sophie's lips quirked upward. "I am serious. And don't call me Shirley."