lb_lee: A happy little brain with a bandage on it, surrounded by a circle and the words LB Lee. (#59428217)
[personal profile] lb_lee
Scraps from Battle the Universe.  In a nutshell: T is a college student with celiac disease and a liking for auto parts, and a newbie to the vigilante circuit.  Zambi is his more experienced partner who loves her work and has inherited an auto junkyard.  Both trans, they try and do justice while staying out of the way of both cops and legit superheroes. 

Fighting the D

“Cops!” T shouts. “Go, go!”

Zambi doesn’t need to be told twice; she can already hear the sirens. She drops the guy she’s holding, kicks the purse in the general direction of the old lady, and bolts. Everyone’s scattering; nobody wants to be around when the police arrive.

Unfortunately, it’s daylight, and this part of the city is sadly lacking in hideaways or friendly stops. So Zambi runs.

She passes T in short time; they duck into an alley and—

“Shit!” She hisses, and they about-face at full speed.

“Law and Justice?” T wheezes. “They sent Law and Justice? It’s a purse-snatching!”

“Must be something else; we’re in the middle,” Zambi pants, and pauses to vault a trashcan. Behind again, T follows, less smoothly.

She sees a flash of red ahead.

“Shit!” she says again, and panics, barreling through a door on her right, which smashes in a cloud of splinters and sawdust. Luckily, the building’s condemned. Panting and wheezing, T follows, and leans on his knees, chest heaving. Zambi presses herself to the wall and listens. Voices approach.

“Go, go!”

She takes off running, and T staggers to his feet to follow. Zambi pauses only to smash through the opposite door, and they’re in luck; they’re in a service alley, alone for the moment.

T collapses against the brick wall, gasping. He’s carrying maybe fifteen, twenty pounds of scrap-gun, but still, he’s not that frail.

“You’re wearing that binder again,” Zambi hisses. She doesn’t bother with the ‘aren’t you?’

T doesn’t answer.

Zambi looks, sees a Dumpster, and hears the crack of a rocket punch. She grabs T’s scrap harness, lobs him into the Dumpster, and vaults in after him. She’s lucky; there’s nothing in there but a sticky gunk that pulls at her boots and an awful smell. She pulls the lid down closed, and they wait.

For a few minutes, they’re silent, except for T’s labored breathing. They hear voices and footsteps approach, then depart. They sigh.

“We’ll stay here until everyone’s gone,” Zambi whispers.

“Ah, the glamorous life of superheroes,” T whispers, and does something that makes something squish. “Parkour rolls don’t work when you’ve got a fire extinguisher strapped to your back, by the way.”

“If you hadn’t been wearing that damn binder, I wouldn’t have had to throw you in here,” Zambi mutters back.

T is silent.

Zambi sighs. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry. Stress. But—”

There’s the sound of a door opening, and they freeze, listening. The footsteps walk past, and Zambi picks up again.

“But you can’t wear that thing, carry a twenty pound junker, and run full-speed! That could kill you!”

“I’m sorry,” T mutters. “I had a bad day. I needed it.”

“I know the D’s bad, T, believe me, I hate having to fight in pants and boots, because people look at me and think ‘man’ when I do it. But I don’t want you to get killed because of that binder, because of your D, okay? If you can’t go out without that thing, you shouldn’t be in this business.”

She’s being harsh, she knows that, but she’d rather T dysphoric or out of the business than caught. She can brawl her way out of a cop car and break handcuffs if necessary; T can’t.

After a moment, T says, “You’re right. I let you down. It won’t happen again.”

Zambi smiles and puts her arm around him. They way for the scene outside to blow over.

“Zambi?” T asks.

“Mm?”

“Good thing you don’t tuck, right?”

And Zambi has to smother her snorts or give the game away.


Lady Luck

“Hey Zambi! Look!” T stands up from behind the dilapidated TV set, needle-nosed pliers in one hand, wire-cutters in the other. He gestures theatrically at his baggy T-shirt sleeves. “Nothing up my left sleeve, nothing up my right sleeve, but hey presto!” He smacks the TV, and it pops on with a buzz. “Basic service!”

“All right!” Zambi says, flopping onto the futon. “Go T!”

T shrugs. “It’s not cable, but I got analog basic at least. Least we can check the news.”

“Awesome,” Zambi says. “Let’s check what the normal folks are saying.”

T bends down to fiddle with the nods. “God, we’re like a gender resource center,” he says, “we got the MtF, the FtM, now the TV…”

Zambi laughs and throws a pillow at him.

The first channel the TV manages happens to be Hero News. T squats back on his haunches, already opening his mouth to say, “Flash, flash, no substance,” but he sees the headline and his jaw goes slack. “Holy shit,” he breathes. Next to him, Zambi goes stiff.

On-screen, Blind Justice and Law are shaking hand of a tall white woman dressed in red and black. Everyone’s smiling into the flashbulbs.

“In a move transgender activists are calling a huge step forward, Lady Luck has joined the team of Law and Justice, becoming the first transgender superhero today,” said the voice-over.

A sound bite of Blind Justice: “Lady Luck has proved her qualifications; we’re honored to have her on the team, and we’re sure she has many skills to contribute.”

Back to the faceless reporter showing a photo of a man in an army uniform with a broad smile and haunted eyes. “Lady Luck was born Ronald Cheadle in—”

Zambi shoves the futon back screeching across the floor and storms out.

“Zambi?” But she doesn’t answer. T jumps up and runs out to the auto junkyard, slapping the TV off on the way.

Outside, Zambi is packing, clenching and unclenching her fists. Her breathing is harsh. She looks on the verge of punching a hole in a semi.

“Hey, what is, I mean, sure the press sucks, but we’re getting visibility here, this is a good thing…”

“It’s bullcrap!” Zambi shouts, and then she’s crying. She turns, charges off, and starts laying into a Ford Fiesta, caving in body panels, tearing off a door and flinging it.

For a moment, T is stunned; then he rushes over and tries to soothe her. Zambi’ strong, but her durability lags behind, and upset as she is, he’s not sure she remembers. Or cares.

“Hey, whoa, stop it, you’ll hurt yourself—” He ducks a bumper and grabs Zambi by the biceps, forcing her to pause. She stares at him, breathing hard, nostrils flared, and for a moment, T is worried she’ll shove him without checking her strength. But then her face crumples and she starts to sob.

T hugs her. He still doesn’t know what’s upset her so much, but whatever, at least she’s not tearing her hands up on cars.

“Hey, hey, it’s okay, Law and Justice are tools, we know that,” he says, patting her back, but she’s shaking them.

“No, no, it’s not them…” she hiccups.

“Here, come back inside, let me fix up your hands, don’t waste them on a Ford Fiesta, woman, it’s not worth it…”

It makes her smile, anyway, and she follows him back in. T sets the water on, then sits down to clean up the cuts. Zambi lets him.

“Hey,” T says, daubing her fingers with antiseptic. “It’s okay. Whatever it is, it’s okay.”

Zambi sniffs.

T presses ice to her knuckles. “Wanna talk about it?”

Zambi sighs. “T, who many trans woman crime fighters do you think there are in this city?”

“Um… not many?”

“Yeah. Exactly.”

The kettle whistles, and T gets up to fix a couple of mugs of chamomile tea with honey. He comes back, and Zambi warms her hands on the mug.

“So, did you know her?” He asks.

Zambi snorts. “Know her? I did the beat with her. Dated her.”

T blinks. “Whoa. Really?”

“She was trans, powered, and lesbian. I thought, what were the odds? It had to mean something, right?” Zambi shakes her head, making her dreadlocks brush against her face. “Stupid.”

T waits while she takes a drink. Whether it’s the tea or just her solid nature reasserting itself, she looks calmer.

“We didn’t last long. Just a few months. We didn’t complement each other on the street, or together. Powers, personalities… all clash. She kept pushing me to go on estrogen, try and act more femme…”

“That’s bull,” T said.

“I know. She thought it was self-loathing holding me back or something. Fear.” Zambi takes another sip. “When she finally got around to dumping me, she said it was because if she wanted to date a woman, she would date one that actually tried.”

“Bitch,” T says, which makes Zambi laugh.

“I know, right? She said I didn’t want to take the risks of giving up being a man, so I was riding the fence.”

“Yeah, you know, the moment I met you, that time you had to beat a guy off with you shoe, that’s exactly what I thought, you were far too cozy to transition.” T shook his head. “God, what the hell?”

“Exactly! Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to go on estrogen, stop having to shave every day, but I love my powers more. I love being able to tear off car doors, to get people out who need to. I was able to bear the load of a house once, for just long enough for everyone to get out. I love it, T. When I’m on the beat, doing what comes naturally, everything fits together.” She squeezes her fists together, looks at the bruises. “It’s the only time I always feel like everything in me is perfect. I need that upper body strength, T. I can’t give it up, not even for that.”

“I know.” T pats her back. “I know.”

Zambi hangs her head. “And she gets into Law and Justice.” She rubs her face. “I’m sorry, T. I thought I was over that, but when I saw… god, I could’ve gotten you crushed by Ford Fiesta parts, I’m sorry. You don’t deserve a death that bad.”

“It’s okay. Auto parts and I have an understanding, and you weren’t throwing them my direction, mostly.” T snorts and emulates the news anchor. “‘First trans superhero.’ Like how would they know?”

Zambi wiggles her hands dramatically. “The All-Seeing Eye, wooo…”

Her impression is so dead on that T breaks up laughing.

They don’t touch the TV again for a while.

Date: 2010-11-24 05:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aubergine-pilot.livejournal.com
I would read the hell out of a comic starring these two, just so you know.

(And oh god. Running while bound. I HAVE BEEN THERE. IT'S WORSE THAN RUNNING IN A CORSET.)

Date: 2010-11-24 08:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lb-lee.livejournal.com
Yeah. I've never been able to bind tight enough for it to impact my breathing, but I'd imagine it'd screw it up pretty badly.

There are a few other Battle the Universe things on the 'btu' tag. Check it out if you like!

--Rogan

Date: 2010-11-24 06:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pyraxis.livejournal.com
Ok I absolutely love this. Totally totally identify - this is why I have zero interest in transitioning.
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