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Hello, everybody!  This story was prompted and sponsored by Unimaginative of Mammoth!  It's a Battle the Universe story, but requires no context, except that Lucinda is part of a multiple system, and Lorry is their usual front man, and her husband.  I am also sad to say that the White Knight (and his affiliation) is an actual superhero, mentioned in passing in The Falling Machine, by Andrew P. Mayer.  I think it was intended to be a joke, but needless to say, it was not funny.  Regardless, happy Servathon, everyone!

That Guy at the Party


Lucinda did not want to be at this party.  She hated fronting, and anyway, she was worried about Lorry.  But with his recent crash, no one was available for fronting duty but her or the Zombie.

Which meant she was stranded at a classy party with a bunch of people who knew Lorry, but who she didn’t know from a hole in the ground.  She wasn’t even sure whether Lorry was out to all of them or not, which restricted her options considerably.  Great.

So there she was, sipping a mint julep, trying to wear the vessel like it belonged to her, and she got cornered by Jake.  Jake, who ran around in Confederate flag spandex calling himself Cracker Jack.  Jake, who thought this idea was genius, for some reason.  Jake, who had obviously had a couple drinks already and ergo thought it best to espouse upon his genius to her, because he’d mistaken her for a white man.

She’d already tried to ditch him, only for him to follow her into the next corner.  She desperately wished TJ or someone was available to tell her what his relationship to Lorry was, so she could tell him to buzz off with impunity.  As it was, she was too uncertain to make waves.

“I’m just saying,” Jake said, waving his beer around, “you got Black Panther, and Black Lightning, but how come you never see anyone called White Lightning?”

Lucinda’s smile felt frozen to her face.  She hadn’t said anything the entire time, but unfortunately, Jake seemed capable of holding a conversation all by himself.

“It’s cause there’s nothing people feel proud about, being white!  It’s like it doesn’t count for anything!”

Who had invited him?  Why was he here?  How did she get him to go away?

“Black Knight, that’s totally fine, but if you went around calling yourself White Knight, people would call you racist!  What the hell, man?”

“Officials usually get their names chosen by committee,” Lucinda said before she could stop herself. “And White Knight was a Klansman.”

“So?  He fought for the good of everyone!  He wasn’t a racist!  He was a perfectly nice dude who just happened to be a Klansman.”

Oh God, now he would never shut up.  She’d doomed herself.  Damn it, she wished TJ were here; at least zie would supply entertaining commentary.  There were so many interesting people here she could be talking to, but they were all avoiding Jake like the plague.

A man came out of the bathroom, drying his hands.  He immediately saw her talking to Jake, and gave her a raised eyebrow.  Too desperate to care about manners, Lucinda mouthed, ‘help me.’

“See, that’s exactly what I mean,” Jake continued. “People care so much about appearances instead of deeds.  Like me!  People think just because of my skin and my outfit, I’m racist!  I—”

The man came up and took Jake’s arm. “I think you’ve had enough, Jake.”

“Aw, Reg, we’re cool.  Aren’t we cool?” Jake asks her.

With another person around, her freeze was shattered. “No.”

“But—”

“Go home, Jake,” ‘Reg’ said. “Sober up.”

Jake pouted but finally went to get his coat.

Thank you,” Lucinda said. “I swear, I couldn’t get away from him.”

“Sorry about that,” Reg said. “Usually I keep a better eye out.”

“You’re not his babysitter.” Unfortunately, she didn’t know who he was.  She put out a hand. “I’m… Tank.  Nice to meet you.”

He looked startled a moment, then took her hand. “Uh, we already met, actually.  Or rather, I met Lorry.  I’m Reggie.”

“Oh!” Embarrassment at being caught out, and also recognition at the name. “You mean you’re—”

“Black Man.  Yeah.” Resigned. “I did not pick the name.”

“I was going to say, you’re Jake’s partner.”

Still resigned. “Yup.”

How?” Lucinda had barely handled Jake for ten minutes; she couldn’t imagine having to work with him on a daily basis.

Reggie spread his hands. “You know, I’m still figuring that out myself.”

“Please, teach me your secret, oh Zen one.”

“I am not that Zen,” Reggie said, laughing. “He drives me crazy too.  Maybe I work best when I’m annoyed.”

Lucinda was dubious. “If you say so.”

“Look, we just got rid of Jake.  You really want to spend more time on him?  Didn’t think so.  Have you met everyone, or was it all Lorry?”

“All Lorry,” she admitted. “Sorry, memory’s on the fritz today.”

“It’s cool, I’ll introduce you.  Hey, Zambi!  Come meet Lucinda—”

Things got a lot better from there on out.  Incog realized that it wasn’t Lorry fronting and gave quick explanations and introductions to everybody. (“Heavens, my dear, if I’d known you weren’t talking to Jake of your own free will…”) Then everyone was on the same page, and with Jake gone, the conversations got a lot more interesting.  Everyone nestled into armchairs and started talking superhero shop and volunteer work, and the tiny Jewish boy started asking Lucinda about how multiplicity and gender interacted, and the atmosphere got a lot more comfortable.

Maybe fronting wasn’t so bad after all.

Date: 2014-09-10 03:24 am (UTC)

Woot!

Date: 2014-09-11 12:16 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Oh my god, I think I've been to that party! Thanks for the story :) --Unimaginative

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