Jack of Many Trades


Originally posted: 2014-07-30

night can’t come quick enough / my faults shine in the sun - Blackwinged Bird by Emm Gryner

I stole her back twice, but that only made it worse.

The first time was a repeat of that stupid prank on the UC San Diego president, this time with Emily seeding the grass in front of the mayor’s house with marijuana. It wasn’t the most brilliant protest for legalization, but it got good press. When the cops showed up, they got her in the car before I grabbed her and we disappeared into a blue-and-red-tinted shadow.

They’d identified her, though, and the trespassing warrant remained on file for Blossom even if they didn’t have a real name attached to the file.

The second time was straight from the paddywagon after the L.A. riot, when they were going to charge everyone with disturbing the peace or something ridiculous like that. I took everyone, because I couldn’t just leave them there. It was nice and dark in there, lots of shadows for me to use.

I pushed myself as hard as I could and made it as far as Pasadena. Some of them thanked me before running off and some of them just left. The disorderly conduct charge ended up attached to the name Blossom as well.

The third time, she went to a demonstration for marijuana legalization in Sacramento while I stayed home with our kid. It was just supposed to be a quiet protest, no supers and no powers, like most of her protest work was after Jacob was born. But one of the cops outside the capital got pushy, and one of the demonstrators pushed back, and when it looked like it was going to get ugly, she asked the grass to hold the cops back.

When they arrested her on the charge of interfering with police business, somebody entered her in the database to see if she was a licensed super, and the power cross-reference brought Blossom up. That was three crimes attached to the use of unlicensed super powers, automatic felonies, and California had just passed a sweeping three strikes supervillainy law that rivaled anything on the east coast.

By the time she used her phone call to reach me, the DSA was involved and she was worried something would happen to Jacob if she outed me too. She told me the charges were ridiculous, she would fight it and get the whole damn supervillainy law brought down. She told me to find her a lawyer.

We didn’t have a lot of money, but I was able to talk to the ACLU and they found us a lawyer who’d take the case pro bono. He was confident, Emily was confident, and I was busy trying to keep the media vultures on my lawn from scaring our son half to death.

It didn’t seem real when the verdict came down, even though the lawyer assured us both that the real challenge would be in the appeals. Emily was to be transferred to a super-class prison despite the fact that her powers were not dangerous.

“Screw nonviolent protest,” I whispered to her as they took her away. “This needs to end.” She nodded. Jacob was crying; he didn’t understand what was going on. I tried to calm him down even as I was fighting to control myself.

That night I put Jacob in his booster seat and drove as close to the prison where she had been moved as I could. I didn’t know what time lights out was, or the schedule of rounds. I waited until midnight just to be sure, made sure our boy was asleep, and then stepped through into the dark shadows cast by the very edges of the security lights.

I wasn’t much good at getting into places I’d never been before, but if someone I knew well stood in the dark, I could fight them. That was what I was counting on to get to Emily, but I couldn’t feel her anywhere. I wondered if it was because of the harsh lights ringing the building, or something built into the prison itself. Whatever it was, I spent two hours in the cold of the shadows, banging against a wall I couldn’t seem to get through.

As soon as I was able to get in to visit her, she explained in a voice barely above a whisper about the lights in her cell, how they never turned off. Someone had been paying attention. I would have grabbed her right there, but the visiting room was shielded with power dampeners.

“The don’t use them everywhere,” she told me when I asked. “Most of the guards are supers, too.”

I wracked my brain for something I could tell her, but she shook her head. “I was scared when I came in here, but nothing’s changed. Someone has to challenge these laws. If that’s me, then so be it.”

“But Jacob-”

“I know you both miss me. I miss you too. But I need you to be strong for me.”

Suddenly there was a guard behind her, and she blew me a kiss as she was led away.

I walked out of the prison, past the edge of the dampener field, and felt my powers wake back up, the shadows washing in around me as I walked into the sunlight. They felt darker than they had before and I wanted to fall into them and disappear, but Jacob was waiting for me. I kept walking instead.