Phone Calls & Presents
Well, the last four chapters have happened in that few hours that Dawn assumed she'd have before the Scoobies started looking for her. Even if they didn't realize she's missing? Celebrities can't belch without people talking about it on the news. What kind of airtime do you think a pair of giant vomiting girls will get?
"Yes, Xander." Dawn let out a loud sigh, running her free hand through her black hair just to keep from punching something. "I know you just saw me on television growing into a giant and puking all over Central Park. I promise I'll explain everything as soon as I get back." She rolled her eyes as the younger of her two self-appointed father-esque figure went off into another ramble. "No, Xander, it's not demon or magic-related at all. It turns out I'm a sorta mutant because I inherited weird DNA from the other side of my family tree."
Then came the question Dawn had been dreading ever since she retrieved her cell phone from her pants in the Baxter Building and phoned the school. "No, I don't know when I'll be home." Xander's response was so loud that Dawn jerked the phone away from her head, swearing softly under her breath. When the volume died off enough for her to feel safe again, Dawn warily brought the phone back up to her ear. "Well, if you want me to come home before I figure out how to control these powers and accidentally destroy the school, I guess I can."
That shut Xander up but good and Dawn took advantage of his silence to take control of the conversation. "You saw the blonde girl next to me in the park, right? The one puking brown instead of orange? She has the same powers as me, obviously, and you know what? If she's not careful, she grows when she gets mad. So if I come home before I have a handle on this, I'm going to be this ticking time bomb threatening to put a skylight in the school. Or, you know, just bringing it down on everyone's heads." Yeah, yeah, worried about you, only want what's best, blah blah blah. "Relax, Xander, I'm staying with my father. No, not Hank Summers. Remember how we figured out that I had a different father from Buffy?" She had a different mother from Buffy, too, but that wasn't a conversation she was going to have over the phone. "Well, that's where I got these powers from. Who is it? Janet Pym."
A new voice popped up on the other end and Dawn laughed. "Yes, Faith, that Janet Pym. The Wasp. You know, the Janet Pym you have naughty fantasies about?" Janet blushed violently at that even as Faith cursed loudly enough that Dawn was forced to pull the phone away from her ear again.
Finally, Faith quieted down enough that Dawn could talk again. "That's why you're not supposed to wander the common areas when you're drunk. You also shouldn't have loud discussions with an equally drunk Xander about all the dirty things you want to do to a celebrity you have a crush on when there are plenty of people awake and listening." She paused. "Faith, I don't want to hear about how that makes her a MILF." Suddenly, she found herself empathizing with how Janet must have felt earlier when Dawn had gone on her little Ode to Cassie. Hearing someone talking about a family member in sexual terms was just… gahh.
Dawn rolled her eyes again as Faith continued to ramble on and looked at Janet. "Seriously, she's standing right here. And I'm still sorta queasy-ish from before. I really don't want to hear that shit. Can I go? I'm going to get settled in; she and Hank are putting me up in one of their guest rooms for now. No, I'm not planning to go visit the New York cell. Can they… well yeah, if something's going down that they need my help, of course I'll help them. I'm here training and getting to know Janet; can't really do either if the world gets destroyed. Alright. Talk to you guys later. Wait, what? Who? Oh, hi Spike. Why do you… you're joking, right? No, I don't know what would happen if you tried to bite one of us while we were giant-sized. But considering everything about me is eighteen times bigger, my blood would probably give you a stomachache. If you could even bite deep enough to get any. Are we done with the stupid questions now? Alright. Bye."
Sighing, Dawn flipped her cell phone shut and tucked it into her pocket, reaching up to rub her temples for a moment before turning her gaze back upon her… they'd decided on mother, for simplicity's sake. "They know where I am and I need to check in regularly, but they're not going to come knocking the door down on some stupid rescue mission. You'd think I was still fourteen or something, the way I get treated."
Janet chuckled, reaching out to wrap one arm around Dawn's shoulders. "Well, how would you feel if the shoe was on the other foot and you'd just found out one of them had superhuman powers by turning on the news? They have a right to be a bit worried about you. Although yeah, have to agree… glad there won't be any door knocking down in the near future. It doesn't matter how famous you are, landlords tend to get pissed about that kind of thing."
"And I'd hate to piss off your landlord and get you kicked out. This place is swanky." Compared to the house she'd grown up in, Janet's place was huge. And at the top of a New York City apartment building to boot. Dawn didn't know much about real estate, but she did know from when the Council established a cell in the city that even small apartments in the Big Apple were expensive. She didn't even want to think about how much money the Pyms must have had to plunk down to secure the entire top floor of a building as their own, and that was before the cost of remodeling it into a single giant unit and then decorating it came into play. Dawn had respected Janet's privacy enough not to poke her head into the master suite without an invitation, but the guest rooms she'd been directed towards were positively gorgeous. And the living room… BluRay player, a monster plasma television that was probably wider than her ex-girlfriend was tall, a surround sound system, couches and chairs galore… it was a mix of high tech and warm home that put Dawn at ease and made her never want to leave.
Or rather, she would have been content to stay there forever if there was something decent on television. Dawn looked over at the television and scowled. After turning on the television and discovering they'd made the local news - on every single channel - Janet had switched to DirecTV's news mix channel. Out of the eight channels displayed, the clip of Dawn and Cassie vomiting in Central Park was playing on four of them. Three of the others were business channels and the last was the Weather Channel. Before today, Dawn had thought the most embarrassing moment she'd ever suffer through was Xander meeting her first girlfriend by way of walking in on the two of them. Millions of people getting to see her puke partially digested hot wings, though? So much worse. "I'm never going to try that again."
Wandering over to the television, Janet crossed her arms over her chest as she leaned in, staring at the screen intently. "Does my hair really look that red in real life? I swear to God, I told the stylist to just match my auburn to cover up the grays. Now… now I look like that little twit from Paramore who was bugging me about doing some design work for her stage wardrobe. And…" Janet looked back at Dawn, trailing off at the incredulous look Dawn was offering her. "Right. I'm going to shut up before I make myself sound any more narcissistic. Quick! Distracting conversation change! If you're iffy on your powers, on me, and so forth and so on, why did you agree to show up for the training event I'm organizing for the Young Avengers this Saturday?"
"Well first of all, you're organizing it so it'd be pretty weird if I didn't show up, being your kid and all." Janet nodded to concede that point before suddenly perking up and wandering off. Dawn shrugged it off, recognizing the same 'ah ha!' expression she used whenever she figured out something that was troubling her, and hopped the back of one sofa, pulling up the channel guide and scrolling down to see what her other viewing options were. "Second of all, you volunteering yourself for stuff like this kinda means I have to do it if I want to get to know you. Or I could just sit around your apartment each day, waiting for you to get home from adventures in living vicariously."
"Sorry! And shut up, I'm not that old. I don't need to live vicariously through some teenagers, I can go out there and kick ass myself, thank you very much."
Yeahsureyoubetcha. Lacking a better option, Dawn resorted to her old fallback and put it on Food Network, dropping the remote on the cushion next to her as she leaned back into the couch. "Thirdly…" Screw it, if the giant puking incident wasn't going to scare Janet off, nothing was. "I assume you're familiar with magic from Doctor Strange and stuff… are you familiar with the International Council of Watchers?"
"Some group that hunts vampires, right?"
Dawn nodded before realizing that Janet couldn't see it. "Yeah. I work for them and so does my sister. I figure even if I decide not to run around in spandex beating up crooks and stuff, the powers can be useful for other things. Like punching demons into the pavement or shooting them with bolts of energy. Assuming I can sting too, which seems to be a safe bet since I have all your other powers."
"Yeah, that makes sense. The demon killing bit and the assumption about your powers, that is." Wandering back in with a few pictures in hand, Janet froze. "Sister? Do you know… uh… is she likely to be mine too?"
"Actually, she's my other mother. Well, one of them. She's my other blood mother, opposite you, and then there's a mystical asexual figure that I call a third mother because she's female-shaped these days, plus the adoptive mother who raised me." Janet's jaw dropped and Dawn couldn't help but laugh. "I told you my parental situation was kinda complicated. I'll explain it to you once I'm old enough to drink, because that's the only way it'll be halfway believable."
Janet shook her head. "I'll second that one. Your sister is your mother and I'm your other mother. And there's another parent in there somewhere, but that one's mystical. Wow. And I thought the weirdest thing I'd ever experience was when Ultron downloaded my brain to make himself a robot bride. You know, we should see if Jerry Springer will do a superhero episode…"
"Her husband is sleeping with her teenaged clone! Next time on Springer!" That got a laugh out of Janet and Dawn leaned forward to see what Janet had brought back. "So, whatcha got there?"
Dropping to sit on the couch next to Dawn, Janet surrendered the pictures in her possession. "Well, I was thinking that even though you're not sure about where you're going as far as adventuring is concerned… adventuring being our politically correct term for being a superhero, by the way… we really do need to get you set up with your own identity. Surprisingly enough, contrary to Britney and Paris's beliefs otherwise, there is such a thing as bad press and a Wasp look-a-like being seen with the original while creating an environmental catastrophe in Central Park? Not the way I wanted to end up back in the public eye."
Dawn looked over at Janet, fixing her mother with the best approximation of Buffy's Thousand Yard Glare she could manage. "So sorry my upset stomach made you look bad. I'll try not to vomit profusely for reasons beyond my control in the future."
"It's okay, I know you didn't mean to make me look bad." Wow. Missing the sarcasm much? "Now, I did a little searching while you were cleaning up at the Baxter Building, and the name Hornet is free at the moment. I suggest you grab it before someone else comes along; it's already been used at least three times. And since you're not used to adventuring yet, I want to give you a bit more protection than the others have; until you learn to avoid it, I want to make sure you survive the hits. So…" Janet gestured to the pictures. "…what do you think of this?"
"I see your point, even if I don't… oh hey, this is kinda cool." The pictures were of Janet wearing a suit of glossy black armor over a matte black skinsuit, the pieces of armor splashed here and there with yellow to break up the monotony and maintain a wasp motif. It was sleek and feminine, but looked incredibly badass at the same time. And it matched the rest of her wardrobe. Dawn heartily approved. "I don't think I've ever seen this design before. What is it?"
Janet took the pictures back when Dawn offered them. "Well, you were right when you were making that crack at Kate about her costume. I can admit that most superheroes are a bit too confident about their powers sometimes. In that whole mess that caused the Avengers to disband, I got put into a coma. So Hank started working on a better costume for me while he was sitting with me in the hospital, but with us both retired from adventuring - for the moment, mind you, I'll probably come back because I'm not that old - there's nobody to use it. And so I'd like you to take it, so I know you're safe, even if the most you ever do is train in it."
Biting her lip, Dawn considered it. "It sticks out like a sore thumb, but I suppose I'll stick out whenever I use my powers. You know what? I bet it'd be easier to pass off vampire slaying as 'superhero stuff', instead of trying to make up lame excuses to try and explain to someone why they just saw a person disintegrate. Oooh, I bet Hank could build in an automatic stake launcher or something into one of the arms…" She sighed. Stupid superheroes with their stupid, too cool toys that she wanted to play with. Despite what Janet said about it being maybe just for training, Dawn was smart enough to realize this was another step into a world she wasn't sure she wanted to enter in the first place… but it looked so damn cool! "So… what do I need to do so I can get that armor? Do you need to take measurements or do I need to go see Hank?"
"Actually, you were probably too busy to notice, but Hank was using the visor to run some scans while you were shifting. Something about the way the fields the Pym Particles generate around your body shift? I don't know, I just know we've been using it for years because it produces perfect measurements. I just need to text over to Hank's cell phone and tell them to get to work when they're done with their little meeting." Dawn's jaw dropped, causing Janet to smirk in reply. "What? You were either going to be mine or his. Either way, you're an Avenger by blood. Very few people with the power to do good are able to just sit on their hands, and so we thought it'd be needed eventually. Personally, I was guessing it'd take longer to talk you into it."
Scowling, Dawn dropped the photos back in Janet's lap and crossed her arms over her chest, sinking back into the squishy couch as she watched three contestants unpack baskets to see what they'd be making an entrée out of. "And here I thought I got rid of the know-it-all in my life when Buffy ran off to Rome."
Janet chuckled and gave Dawn a pat on the knee before rising and heading off to return the pictures to… wherever they'd come from. "You do realize that if Cassie wasn't jealous before, she's going to be now. Sure she gets a helmet from Hank, but you're getting a real superhero costume from me. I know she's got a whole 'homage to Scott' vibe going, but it'll be her in a designer's imitation of a hero costume versus you in the armor Hank came up with."
That could prove problematic, Dawn realized as she watched the three contestants fuss over rainbow chard, papaya, granola, parsnip, and calamari. Her seduction of a certain blonde superheroine was going to be difficult enough; adding a new layer of jealousy to any Cassie might already be feeling would just make things more complicated. But… maybe if she played her cards right, she could distract Cassie away from any jealousy she might feel over Dawn's armor while making a good view even better? "How long would it take you to make a simple catsuit? Could you get one done, say, by the end of the week?"
"Uh… yeah? Most of my costumes have been catsuit designs. I could probably put one out in a day, and that's with one hand tied behind my back." Janet reappeared, iPhone in hand as she tapped away at the screen. "Why?"
Dawn thought back to the red and black costume Cassie wore. It was mostly black with a red torso, a black circle on her chest connecting to the arms with a pair of lines that made a 'Y' shape and then another black line extending down from the bottom of the circle… just because? It wasn't really ant-y in any way. But with Janet's help, she could fix that but good. "So if I sketch out a design for a new catsuit as a present for Cassie, you can have it ready in time for when we pick her up?"
"Oh. Yeah. Huh. Why didn't I think of that?"
"Well, they say the mind is the first thing to go as you get older…"