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[personal profile] lb_lee
This story is a leftover from Journeython, and was prompted by [ profile] chaoticevil.  It was sponsored by both [ profile] chaoticevil and [ profile] brin_bellway.  It takes place in Battle the Universe, but requires no context and by the time you finish reading it, it will be retconned out of continuity.  Enjoy!

Better Luck Next Time

Crista is fourteen, and she is hiding in the school bathroom.  The stall door is locked, and she’s perched on the toilet, legs up to hide her feet.

The door creaks open.  Crista holds her breath.  Go away, she says in her head.  Nobody’s here, go away…

From outside, someone goes, “Cristaaaaa—” all singsong; she hears giggles.  They’re coming inside.  No one’s going to save her.

Crista closes her eyes.  Better luck next time, she tells herself.

Crista is eighteen, and she’s just been disowned.  Her girlfriend has also decided that Crista is “too much drama,” and dumped her for that white butch who runs the vegan group.

Crista can finish out her semester, if she wants, but she cancels her classes instead to get some of the money back.  Technically, it’s her mother’s money, but Crista figures she needs it more.

As she packs, she curses.  This could’ve all been prevented with proper planning, with strategy, but no, she’d blown it all in a fit of sappy honesty.

She’ll do better next time.

Crista is nineteen when her powers manifest, but she doesn’t get them figured out till she’s twenty.  She’s a time-traveler, with provisos: there can only be one Crista, and she can only go backward, not forward.  Which means that whatever she does, she replaces her past self and then has to relive everything, one second at a time, until reaching the present again.

At first, she binges on ‘fixing’ her life—going back, not coming out to her mother, finishing college.  But it doesn’t work.  She still remembers her original history, is still furious, but now unable to explain to her mother why, because this woman hasn’t disowned her yet.  But she will.  Eventually.

Also, Crista’s aging doesn’t lurch back, which limits how far back she can go without being caught.  She’s only twenty legally, but she’s redone her college mistake so many times now that there are lines developing on her face.  Not good.

Crista makes a rule: no more ‘fixing’ years.  No more living in the past.  Focus on the present.

She’ll find a use for her powers.  They must be good for something.

Crista is twenty-five, she has some gray hair, and she’s an accomplished supervillain.  Turns out that one-way time travel is terrible for life management, but fantastic for bank robbery.  Five minutes make all the difference in the world.

They call her Chrone.  She likes it.

Crista looks at her money and she smiles.  The college mistake feels far away now.  She doesn’t need her mother.  She doesn’t need anyone.

Crista is twenty-eight and needs reading glasses when she meets Paradoxia.  She’s young, shy, with a brown ponytail and sparkling eyes that light up a room.  How she got into supervillainy is anyone’s guess, but she’s fantastic at lock picking and combat, which is how they first team up.

“No powers?” Crista asks her.

Paradoxia grimaces as she twirls the safe lock. “Only dumb ones.”

“Oh?” Crista has a soft spot for dumb powers, considering her own.

“I prevent paradox.” She rolls her eyes. “Useless, right?  I only found out about them when Father Time tried to take me out and instantly blipped out of existence.  They still haven’t found him.  It’s good protection against chronoheroes, I guess?” Click. “Got it!”

“Hmm.” Crista tugs at the white streak in her hair and thinks about the Hourglass, who’s been dogging her for years now. “How do you feel about partnerships?”

Paradoxia grins. “Only if I can take you out to dinner first.”

Oh my.

Crista is thirty-two, menopausal, and she’s never been happier.

The team of Chrone and Paradoxia seems unstoppable.  Together, they can slip into the past fearlessly, and no chronohero can follow them.  They disappear into the eternal night, laughing and full of adrenaline, and they make love on piles of money.  They’re in love.  They’re happy.

Until Paradoxia is killed by Martial Law.  Accident, they say.

Crista goes back to save her, only to find that she can’t.  Paradoxia’s powers won’t let her.

Crista cries and burns the money.  Then she abandons the present.

Crista is thirty-one and uses a cane when Paradoxia asks, “How long have I been dead, sweetie?”

Crista freezes with her head in Paradoxia’s lap.  For a moment, she considers denying, no, nothing’s wrong, nothing… “How did you know?”

Paradoxia just pets Crista’s white hair. “No one ages that fast, not even you, Chrone.”

Crista refuses to tell her, but the end is inevitable.  Paradoxia stays forever young, while she gets older and older.

Crista is thirty-two when Malpractice tells her that the stomach pain and jaundice are end-stage pancreatic cancer.  Malpractice offers the services of a local witch doctor, but his voice is full of doubt and Crista declines.  She knows that she’s nearing the end of her short/long lifespan, and yet it feels like she’s accomplished nothing but endless replays.  She won’t even have anyone to grieve at her funeral, with Paradoxia gone.

After a long time thinking, she goes to a man that they call Dr. Impossible.  He’s involved with neither villains nor heroes, and his powers are… confusing.  Even Paradoxia was unable to pin him down.  But he’ll do anything if he’s paid to, and Crista didn’t burn the money this go-around.

She goes to Dr. Impossible, and she says, “I want a paradox.”

And Dr. Impossible smiles with his gold teeth, and he says, “of course.”

Crista is fourteen and she is hiding in the school bathroom.  The door creaks open, and she holds her breath.

Someone knocks on the stall door.  Crista jumps, but the voice is an adult’s. “It’s safe to come out now.”

Crista gets down and opens the door, and finds an old woman with an aluminum cane and two watches on her left wrist.  Her hair is white, and her eyes are sad.

“Who are you?” Crista asks.

“I’m Chrone,” the woman says. “And I’m saving you.”

Date: 2014-08-12 11:13 pm (UTC)
brin_bellway: forget-me-not flowers (Default)
From: [personal profile] brin_bellway
It was prompted by both chaoticevil and

You mean sponsored for that one, and could you please replace my legal name with my LJ name? (Sorry, I should have mentioned that earlier.)

Now to go read the story.

Date: 2014-08-12 11:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oops, sorry about that! I didn't realize it was you! It's been fixed.
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