They say that with great powers come great responsibility.
And I suppose that's true.
But responsibilities can be many things, and not all of them are as simple as they seem.
This tells the story of two who took on different responsibilities.
For that, we must look [i Behind the Mask].
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[tab ] [b [#284f09 "Hello Vladamir."]] Eleonora cooed gently to the cat, stooping down and offering a hand, palm up, to the cat. [b [#284f09 "Do you impale with your claws much like your namesake~?"]] She added a bit jokingly, watching the cat decide whether it was worth it to sniff her hand and allow pets, forgetting that she had a few band-aids covering her palm from the scratches of the last fight. She knew she was lucky to not get terribly hurt.
[tab ] She glanced back upwards to Val and Chadwick. [b [#284f09 "I often wish that the world was different, and that heroes were not required. There is such a delicate balance that gets upheld each time, but I find myself questioning whether it is worth it. But society has come to expect it. Doesn't know how to function without it..."]] She trailed off quietly, glancing down. Not the best time to have yet another existential crisis.
[right [pic https://i.pinimg.com/564x/5c/5c/f8/5c5cf840b9eb88e442223d03a7ea79e2.jpg]] [font "Times" [size15 Val felt a bit of a flush heat their face and worsen their headache, eyes dropping. Yes, usually their battles never got so out of hand. There were so very many reason they tried to stay inside buildings. It wouldn't do to wreck a huge part of town during their plans. But, they supposed, that's what they got with partnering with someone like Hellhead.
"[B It's hard,]" Val said, pulling their eyes toward the newcomer, peering above their glasses frames, eyes empty, tired. "[B There are too many heroes, and battles and stuff like that everywhere. But thank goodness for insurance.]" They dropped their eyes again, after glancing briefly at Chad who gave a soft smile.
Val had to crack a bit of as smile, pushing against a very bruised, very sore part of their face.
"[B His name is Vladimir,]" they said, stroking over him, as the cat's tail went upppp- in response to the movement of their palm. "[B But we just call him Tep for short.]"
"[B Wanna offer your hand? He's social, but it takes time to get to know someone, yknow.]" they said, bringing their hand up and away from the cat, in an inviting gesture.
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[tab ] [b [#284f09 "Ah yes, gotta love a house that doesn't 'look like you'll get murdered in'."]] Eleonora said chuckling a bit at the response. She could see that they were confused by her implying the situation was temporary. [b [#284f09 "You're landlord is working with the Hero Insurance program-- basically my insurance is letting me crash here until I find an apartment that hasn't been crushed to rubble like my last one."]] She said quite cheerfully, trying not to feel embarrassed that she had in fact ruined her own living quarters.
[tab ] [b [#284f09 "It is very nice to meet you, Chadwick and Valerie. Thank you for the offer of help, but I really only have the one bag for now."]] She said cheerfully-- before stopping fully in her tracks. Why?
[tab ] There. Was. A. Cat! [i This is not a drill-- repeat not a drill!] There were hardly any cats in the city. Immediately, her brain went into full 'pretty itty bitty kitty witty' mode as she zeroed in on the adorable fluffball in Valerie's lap. [b [#284f09 "A very lovely cat you have."]] She had to stop herself from reaching out to it. [b [#284f09 "Sorry to come off a bit pshyco, they don't really have cats in high urban downtown areas unless you go to the side streets or something."]] She added in a brief attempt to explain. [i Way to go Elle, now you sound like a total freak....]
[right [pic https://i.pinimg.com/564x/5c/5c/f8/5c5cf840b9eb88e442223d03a7ea79e2.jpg]] [font "Times" [size15 Val tipped their head a bit at the answer. A few days at least? They weren't told it was going to be an impermanent situation, which kind of shocked them but whatever. They glanced at Chad who arched his brows.
"[+crimson Oh, yeah, our landlord has done wonders making this place look, quote 'like no one will get murdered here'.]" he said, grinning a bit as he perched his hip on the edge of the railing, letting his hands hang, relaxed, in front of him.
Val sank their fingers back into the cat's fur, making massaging strokes over the purring body. The connection to the animal was relaxing. No thrumming anxiety, at least not on the human level. He wasn't super comfortable with a stranger, but had a comfortable lap to be on, so he was content not to move, it seemed.
Chad opened his mouth, pressing a hand to his chest, "[+crimson Why, thank you! We always appreciate the darkly inclined.]"
Val nodded, "[B You get a pass. It kind of works with the look.]"
"[+crimson Can I help you carry anything in?]" Chad stood up. "[+crimson Officially, I'm Chadwick, by the way, and that's Valerie.]"
Val raised their wrist, arm unmoving. "[B Greetings.]"
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[tab ] Eleonora was so wrapped up in looking around the gorgeous amounts of potential in the yard at the front of the property, she was caught a bit off guard to suddenly hear a voice from in front of her, and looked up to see two black-clad individuals sitting on the front part of the porch of the house. [b [i "Hi! Are you the new neighbor?"]] Came from the one who had a face painted in black and white and was extending a hand, which Elle happily shook.
[tab ] [b [i "I can't get up, but it's nice to meet you,"]] Came from the other, and Elle took brief notice of a cane and wondered if it was temporary or a permanent fixture, but also knew that it was far too rude a question to ask upon on just first meeting, so instead she shouldered her bag a bit more and gave the both of them a beaming, genuine smile.
[tab ] [b [#284f09 "It's nice to meet you two as well! I am Eleonora Matthews. I'm probably going to stay for at least a few days but honestly this house is gorgeous."]] She introduced, letting a bit of a bounce come into her heels as she came to stand on the front porch with the two. [b [#284f09 "I'd say I feel a tad under-dressed compared to both of y'all's wonderfully dark attire, but I think I get a pass having slept in my truck last night."]] She added jokingly, doing her best to lighten the potentially awkward situation before it became awkward at all. She thoroughly enjoyed seeing people find an aesthetic that they absolutely loved and stick to it-- and even [i having] slept in her truck while she waited out information from her insurance agent, she did feel like she kept to her own, with her pale red hair in a mess of waves and liner dark around her eyes, she shuffled a bit in her thin not-really-meant-for hiking boots and messed up jeans and slightly-too-big jacket.
[right [pic https://i.pinimg.com/564x/5c/5c/f8/5c5cf840b9eb88e442223d03a7ea79e2.jpg]] [font "Times" [size15 It was a feat of immense self discipline and the cramping anxiety that went with making a bad impression on new neighbor for Valerie Kemp to get up that day and make an effort at looking presentable. Every part of their body hurt. It felt like they had been beaten up. Oh, wait. That actually happened.
By the time they managed to get up and going it was about noon, which made them sick with guilt. But at this point they were proud of managing this far, leaning on a cane for the day. Wearing all black and aiming for villainous casual gentleman sometimes had its perks: useful accessories.
Valerie pushed their big, black glasses up their nose, putting the perscription up over their eyes better and peered out over their nose off of the porch, sat down low in one of the chairs they put on the porch. Next to her, Chad the neighbor in the basement was next to her. Adorondack chairs were expensive. But. Cheap, plastic ones in the [i shapes] of adirondack chairs with a couple cushions and some seasonal baths look almost as good. And so the two black-clad individuals were sat on the wraparound porch in the cool breeze.
The two people that Ellie could see on the porch as the truck came to a halt in front of the house were both relatively tall. One was notably bigger: Chad. He was one of the rare few men who didn't skip leg day in his pursuit of a toned body. No abs, just toned. He was in a black sleeveless top, and his face was painted in white, brows colored in, arched high. Black around the eyes, weepentagram on the forehead, between said brows, black pants, boots, and a pink Apple watch in amongst black leather cuffs and chain bracelets and occult rings.
Beside him, Valerie. Platinum blonde hair with a dark root shadow, clear, pale face, and black glasses. They were in a black t shirt with a tiny embroidered gravestone with a skeleton coming out of it, reaching, 'Can I pet your dog?'
On their lap was a fluffy cat that looked like it was made of dough, and covered in coffee with so much cream it was almost white, but not just yet colored velvet. Tail tip atwitch, he wasn't going anywhere.
Chad stood up, a smile on his black painted lips, long hair falling over one shoulder.
"[+crimson Hi! Are you the new neighbor?]" He extended a hand, smile on his face.
Valerie raised a hand in a shake when it was their turn. "[B I can't get up, but it's nice to meet you,]" they greeted with a nod and a smile.
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[tab ] It had been one of [i those] days.
[tab ] [i Really though], Eleonora Matthews thought as she glanced around at the rubbled remains of her apartment in the heart of the city, [i you would think that after saving this city the very least I would be afforded to come home and collapse into my bed, lay in the sunlight for a while maybe, drink some water...] But it wasn't so. It never seemed to be so.
[tab ] Because Eleonora Matthews was officially considered by the city as their Superhero. Well, alright, Eleonora wasn't considered a superhero, [i the Green Heroine] was, but that was beside the point. She had just gotten back after a particularly bad fight with her "arch nemesis", [i The Technomancer] which in the end had accidentally wrecked a cellphone tower, a good chunk of the city park, two side streets, the bakery next door, and her apartment building. She tried not to feel too bad about all of it-- everyone in the downtown area were automatically given 'hero' insurance after the rise of the supers in the area some years ago. The only thing she really wished hadn't been destroyed had been the two potted plants she had in her tiny apartment-- everything else was replaceable.
[tab ] Grabbing out her cellphone, she looked up the number of her insurance agent and started up the remainder of the stairs to see what was salvageable. The city was just starting to wake up- they had fought late into the night- and she got a coffee-deprived answer from her insurance agent and they chatted for a while about what had happened before her agent agreed to come look at the damage and then take her to a few places that she might be able to stay for at least a few nights.
[tab ] For all that was wacky with the city, Eleonora could appreciate one thing: Their hero insurance worked really, [i really] well. She had been lucky enough that her truck had been parked near the museum downtown safely in a parking garage, and she was heading off to a smaller off-shoot of town where there was a rental property that she was eligible to move into if she liked it well enough. It came with a few optional furnishings which was perfect because she hadn't been able to pop in to make an order of furniture to replace everything that she had lost yet.
[tab ] Double checking that she had the address correct, she turned down a road and started driving much slower, looking for a large green house. It wasn't terribly long before the house came into sight-- and boy, was it beautiful. [i I might have to actually sign a lease here if it's as nice on all sides as it is from the front..] Sure, the house could use some landscaping, but that wasn't worth giving up on a place.
[tab ] Parking in front, she stepped out and grabbed her bag, looking around the the property for the tenants her agent had said would be waiting to meet her.
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