A follow-up to this, where Groaner also has to answer for his ‘crimes’ to a higher power. Well, a power higher than his. Well, a power that can fly higher than him, anyway.
Thank Christ for flight belts, thought Groaner. Saturn was like a machine. He might actually have some kind of secret mutant power that was concentrated purely in his dick. It was like refractory periods were only guidelines for Saturn. With what Groaner was carting around, on the other hand, it took him a long time to get the bridge up.
That Bad Dragon premium membership Saturn had was gonna get a real workout if they kept doing this.
Groaner’s musings on what else might happen if they kept doing this distracted him long enough that he nearly slammed into a woman hovering directly in his flight path.
“Hey, Groaner. Having a good night?”
The clown bounced backwards and tumbled in the air, flailing to right himself.“Oh! Hi, Lex. Hi. Yeah, great night, I’m just patrolling around, watching for crime. All that crime.”
Lex set her hands at her hips and gave him a skeptical look.“Really? Seems to me like you were patrolling Saturn’s rings for the last four hours.”
“I wasn’t—oh. Magna-hearing.” Groaner slumped in his flight belt, limbs dangling. “Yeah, I’m not gonna bother coming up with excuses for that. By the way, that whole four thrusts and an apology thing you claimed about him? Total bullshit. The guy’s like one of those inflatable punching bags, he goes down easy but he pops right back up again. I can barely keep up until I’ve gotten him through at least two of them.”
“Yeah. I know.” Lex touched her ear and winced. “He’s very…vocal.”
“Hey, I’ll take positive feedback any way I can get it.” He hovered to the side and Lex darted back into his path again. Groaner frowned.
“What do you want, a play by play? You’re gonna have to pay by the minute if you want that.”
“Does he take the mask off, in bed?”
Groaner tilted his head. The wind ruffled the ball of curls that served as his current hair. “Yyyyeah?”
“He’s showing you his secret identity.” Lex hovered closer, staring into the darkened pits where Groaner’s eyes once used to be. “You.”
“I’ve known it for months. I’m not seducing him to get info off him. Hell, do I look like the seducing type?”
“You know his real identity and you’re just sitting on it?”
“If by it you mean his dick, yes.”
“No! No, I didn’t mean that.”
Narrowed eyes met narrowed orbital ridges. Groaner’s lack of face was a surprisingly small barrier to his emoting abilities.
“Seriously, I know you’re not here to get details for weird fanfiction, and if you want me to say your ex is bad in bed you’re not going to get that. What do you want?”
“Just to talk.” Lex folded her arms. Groaner’s legs waved in the night breeze unsteadily. He looked down at the street, a dozen or two stories below.
“Okay, but you’re paying for drinks.”
“Does he still do the crying thing?”
“Yeah. Some. Honestly, it gives me a chance to rest the old albino anaconda, so it’s sort of a blessing in disguise?”
“Yeah, totally. I have Subtopian invulnerability and I was still worried about getting friction burn.”
“Hah! I knew that you were lying about the four thrusts.”
They were sitting in the Opticorp corporate roof deck, an eight pack of beer between them. Groaner was sprawled out against a vent and Lex sat cross-legged under a steel rose trellis.
“No, but seriously,” he asked. “What was your deal with him?”
“Manipulating him to sow dissent in the League of Freedom and ultimately crippling him by targeting his abandonment issues with a tactical nuke?”
“No, no, that made sense. I mean that whole ‘used my body for pleasure’ thing you were on about with the cattle prod? You were pissed. Like about to tear out his throat pissed. I was getting a little creeped out by it, honestly. He can’t possibly have been so bad in bed that you needed to torture him.”
Lex opened her mouth and stared at Groaner, whose emoting and eyebrows were communicating a sense of deep satisfaction. And deep soreness.
“Almost anyone else, I’d just say that I had to date Black Saturn and leave it at that. Except you’ve been doing store to door service for the last two weeks and you stuck around to cuddle afterward.”
“Why are you using your magnahearing to listen in on my amazing sex life? You know it’s not good to be hung up on your ex.” Groaner sat up, winced, and leaned back again. He pointed out at her and added, “Not that I’m not grateful. You basically laid out the red carpet for me.”
“Oh. Yeah. You’re totally welcome,” said Lex flatly. She drained her beer and then crushed it between her hands. “Nice to know my tactical nuke lasted up until he got in the same room with you.”
Groaner’s jawbone hung slack. On the other side of the building pigeons were arguing with each other over crumbs, cooing as if to join in the mockery. “Are you jealous?”
He pointed at her excitedly. “You are! You’re jealous!”
“Okay! Maybe a little.” Lex curled in on herself, one foot sliding across the hand-cut mulch. She stared at the ground. “I’m not saying I want him back. I just want to know he actually liked me.”
Groaner snorted. “Look, I have had to hear the entire saga of all of his exes. I have called women I will never meet bitches just to make him feel better. Trust me, he liked you.” Groaner put on a graveling tone that was far too accurate. “She came on to me. Sex in the woods? Not my idea! I nearly got murdered by Rex and I got ants in places ants just don’t need to be. If I’d known she was going to betray and torture me I’d have put the kibosh on that right there. Still, that thing in the hot tub? Tooootally worth it, man.”
Lex scoffed. “Seriously? That’s what he called it? Worth it? I stuck him to a rack and put a cattle prod on him!”
“Yeah, that also went into things that make it worth it. He’s into some freaky shit. Thanks for building the rack, by the way, it’s getting quite the work out.”
A beer can flashed by Groaner’s face at the speed of a Subtopian pitching arm, and shattered into beer soaked fragments, sending the pigeons scattering. Lex let out a stifled shriek that echoed off the surrounding buildings.
Groaner waited, heart pounding, until Lex managed to calm down. The last thing he wanted was to be the focus of a temper tantrum by the second most powerful person in the city.
“You…okay?” he asked quietly once Lex settled down again. Lex curled back up, setting her chin on her knees.
“Look, it’s just…I’ve had dates, don’t get me wrong. But I could never be my full self around anyone. The supervillain thing, yeah, that’s not great. And then there’s…” Lex’s face rounded and broke out in pimples as her body broadened, briefly raising Groaner’s supraorbital ridges before they settled again.
“Oh, yeah. That Victor/Victoria thing.” He waggled his fingers back and forth. “I was wondering why you hadn’t done that in a while.”
Lex let out another quiet scream, this one starting at a lower pitch and cracking as her boy’s voice approached high notes. She gestured angrily to her now-masculine body..
“Every guy who’s seen this has flipped out. Every single guy except fucking Black Saturn, the one guy I wanted to flip out about it.”
“It might help if you got the acne thing sorted out, though honestly I’d be happy just to have any skin at all.
Lex waved a hand over her face. “Subtopians age at a reduced rate compared to humans, and boys mature later than girls. It’s why Rex looks 65 and he’s been in the League since World War II–I’m in my twenties and this half of me is still coming out of the ass-end of puberty.”
“Still, they make creams for that.”
“Who gives a fuck? It’s not like anyone’s going to see it.” Her voice took on a cutesy tone.They want pretty girl good girl power girl Titanium Lex. Not boy Lex, not failed villain Lex, not Lex with one half Subtopian and the other half put in a blender with bug DNA!” Another beer can went hurtling by, ending in a squawk and then a meaty thud.
Lex clapped her hands to her mouth. “Oh. Oh god, I didn’t mean to hit it.”
“I didn’t know birds had that much blood.”
“Oh god, the other ones are eating it.”
“The urban bird world is a cruel one.”
Both forced their gazes away from the cannibalistic avian horror going on by the safety fence. Lex’s face slowly slimmed out and smoothed as she returned to her usual body.
“Look,” said Groaner. “I literally don’t have a face. It used to be the only day I could get laid was Halloween, and that’s if I got real lucky.” He fiddled with his bow tie. “Saturn’s hot as hell and he got laid on the regular, he just couldn’t keep anyone. And you’ve met his parents.”
“Douchebags,” Lex chuckled.
“The douchest of bags. They’re trying to turn tearing down their kid’s ego into an Olympic sport and it’s been going on his whole life. He acts like a self-centered guy but honestly, he just wants someone who doesn’t think he’s shoe scum. Yeah, he thinks you’re hot, but you don’t care about him. That’s the kinda thing that breaks him the worst. He cared and you didn’t.”
Lex’s shoulders sank. Groaner drank his final beer.
“And trust me, I’m grateful you didn’t decide to hang on to him. But he needs someone to pay attention and give a shit. You? No shits.”
“It wasn’t a personal thing.”
“Once you got the cattle prod out and started insulting his sexual abilities? Pretty sure it was. I don’t think you two would have been the Brangelina of the superhero world anyway, to be fair. He and me, we just match better.”
Groaner twisted the tab of the last beer around in his fingers, avoiding her gaze while his bare teeth ground together. Lex stayed quiet. In the background there was only the hum of the building’s HVAC and the soft cooing and squishing of the pigeons devouring their late peer.
There was a soft chime from Lex’s phone, mirrored by the sound of a clown horn from Groaner’s. Both looked down and sighed.
“It’s Friday, I thought robots took Friday evenings off.”
“That’s Jews. You’re thinking of Jews.”
“I was wondering why Robobot stopped missing Friday check-ins after he deconverted.” Lex started crumpling the remaining cans and dropped them into the garden’s rubbish bin. Groaner dusted off his knees and stretched, then looked at her.
“We fit. That’s all I got for you. We’ve got baggage but it’s a matched set, even if his comes from Gucci and mine comes from the Goodwill. He gets why I do stupid puns, I get why he puts on the frat boy mask.” He twisted the controls on his flight belt and ascended with an unsteady jerk.
“And I don’t make fun of him for crying after sex.”