|I'm gunna be a super hero. (i_littlebeastie) wrote in we_coexist,|
@ 2013-10-16 19:28:00
|Entry tags:||hoban washburne, maxine baker, tony stark, zz:status complete|
Wash could do terse. (Maxine, Wash + Tony)
Wash could do terse. Mal would be proud of how much terse he was doing right now as he led a small, defenseless 5 year old girl into a massive tower to a laboratory with the possibility of needles and scans and radiation. Hell, Zoe would be impressed with the terseness he was exhibiting. His eyes were set and cold and a sweaty hand held to the smaller one numbly guiding her through the hallways to where Tony had told them to meet.
He didn’t reply to Jarvis except to look up at where the sound of the voice was coming from with a glare that would drive the tersest person to scatter under their covers. Maxine’s imploring voice was still in his mind. The ‘please’s and the begging still hung in his last memory. And so, terse, he took the small girl to the extravagant tower to settle once and for all what Tony had planned for his charge.
“I don’t like this,” he said lowly in a grumble that was a mix of some sort of carnivorous animal’s growl and a small whining child. He didn’t look down at Maxine to wait for a reply but just kept walking. Tersely.
- - -
“Why?” Maxine asked. It wasn’t an atypical question for a child. Why? Are we there yet? How much longer? Wash’s hand was getting sweaty in hers, but she barely seemed to notice. He seemed unhappy and it made Maxine uncomfortable, even if she didn’t have the emotional intelligence to fully explain why.
“I can protect you.”
Maybe Wash was just scared. Although Maxine’s faith in super heroes was badly shaken, that didn’t mean she didn’t have some heroic tendencies herself. She thought about telling him the time she’d given a mean neighbor yelling at her dad a chicken hand but Maxine had also gotten into trouble that night and so she decided not to bring it up.
It may have also had something to do with rescuing all the dead and buried neighborhood pets that had crawled out of their graves in various states of decay to hide behind the Avatar of the Red. Maxine was particularly fond of a skeletal small breed dog she called Mrs. Pickles.
“You don’t have to be nervous,” she offered.
- - -
Tony was not terse, or tense, or anything, really. He was interested, which perhaps would give most other people a reason to be on their guard. Not that Tony hurt or scared people when he was investigating something new. Well, not often. And certainly never intentionally.
Well, usually not intentionally. Definitely not on kids.
When Wash came in holding Maxine’s hand Tony turned to look at them, a snack size bag of chocolate covered raisins in his hand. He could see that Wash wasn’t pleased, but he didn’t bother mulling it over too much. Other people’s feelings were never on the short list of things he cared about.
“Hey Max,” he walked over to greet them, offering her the opening of the bag without relinquishing control of his snack bag. His gaze flickered back to Wash for a moment.
“You get food poisoning?” he asked. It seemed like a practical explanation for that face. “You look like something’s about to explode out of one end or another.”
- - -
Maxine reached her hand delicately into the open bag and pulled out a single chocolate covered raisin. To her credit, she chewed with her mouth closed.
- - -
Wash had appreciated Maxine’s attempts to solace him. It would have even been sweet and cute had he not had a cloud of doom hanging over his head.
“I’m worried about you,” Wash said looking down and into her eyes. He offered no more further explanation as they continued their trek.
When Tony became visible Wash’s tense posture tightened greater. He held his chin high and straightened his back making his six foot frame more evident. None of this was on purpose, of course. None of his posturing was conscious. The change in position more came from a natural urge programmed deep within his brain that moved him to protect Maxine.
Logically, Tony wasn’t a threat. He didn’t intend to hurt the kid, Wash knew that. But when the word ‘experiment’ was used, well, Wash had enough experience with that word to second guess its standard meaning.
“Nope,” Wash clipped. “I’m just peachy. It’s just that the strangest thing happened the other day. Maxine said that you wanted to investigate her. And you texted me confirming it! Okay. That’s great! But she’s five, Tony. She’s a kid. And, I dunno, maybe I’m old fashion, but experimenting on five year old girls isn’t really very ethical. So, being her...legalish guardian I think it’s completely logical that I would get the final say in this.
“I gave you all rights to do whatever you want to with me and your technology. That’s fine. Throw me off a building. Implant me with mind control. Radiate me until I glow in the dark. Might be hard to fall asleep the first few nights, but hey! For science! Go team science, right?” Wash said, all of this in a sardonic, bitter grate.
“I don’t want Maxine experimented on. But...it seems you’ve brainwashed her to thinking this is a really swell idea to poke and prod her and expose her to whatever you’re going to expose her to. So. And I ask this with full intent of getting a detailed reply. What are you going to do to my kid?” he asked.
“You want to glow in the dark?” Maxine stared up at Wash, who was much more serious than normal. There were certain kinds of jellyfish that did just that. Maxine wasn’t especially good with her abilities, but she was pretty sure she knew how to make people glow in the dark if they wanted.
It sounded like he was joking, but his tone was serious. She looked between both grownups trying to puzzle it out.
Tony let Wash say his peace. It was obviously bothering him a great deal, so it would be best to allow him to air everything out.
When the blonde seemed like he was done Tony offered him a chocolate covered raisin, looking at Maxine. "That true? You want to be experimented on?" he said, intrigued by that mindset. He shrugged. "Maybe we can figure something out. As for what I'm going to do to your legalish kid, I was mostly just going to ask her questions about her powers. Figure out what she can do. You know, because generally being able to do something special should be studied for your own benefit, as well as everybody else's."
He sat on a stool, looking at her. "You mentioned something about the Red. And your studies indicate it's what you're focused on, and what's giving you trouble. I just want to know what it is, and if it gives you any powers. And if it does, if you can control them."
He glanced at Wash. "There are people who work here who can tell you how much trouble it can be if you can't control your own powers. It's not a normal control issue like being thirteen and popping boners every ten minutes."
Wash’s fingers twitched and his shoulders began to sag a little with every word Tony said. Eventually the aggressive look turned a little sheepish. He didn’t realize outright that Maxine was having trouble with her ‘powers’. He realized she was depressed and though he tried to reach her she was also aloof. Perhaps she wasn’t even able to explain her mood. That didn’t quell his guilt on the matter, though.
He had denied the chocolate raisin. He’d never had one and it didn’t look too appetizing. Even if it did, his stomach had tightened enough to not give him much of an appetite.
Wash then bent down to Maxine’s level.
“You’ve been having trouble with the Red thing you told me about? Why didn’t you tell me...or Jo?” Wash asked, his voice especially soft sounding after blowing up before learning of Tony’s sudden honorable intentions.
Maxine’s guilt was immediate.
“It’s not that. I just…” Maxine tried to collect her thoughts. “Mr. Socks says I have to learn how to be the avatar but I don’t even know if I want to anymore. The Black isn’t bad here like it was at home.”
“Super heroes are supposed to save people, but we’re the ones that have to be saved, aren’t we?”
Tony didn’t quite manage to reign in his eye roll at the change in Wash’s demeanor. He knew he was considered by many to be reckless, but although he pushed himself constantly he also had an idea for when he was out of his depth, and he never pushed anybody else like he did himself. Well, perhaps their patience.
He looked at the kid. “Super heroes have to be saved all the time, kid. If they didn’t I’d be out of a job. And whatever being an avatar entails, don’t be dismissive about it. If you have an ability you should hone it as best you can. You’ll never know when you’ll need a bit of extra juice, to take care of yourself or the people you love. Especially in a place like this.”
Wash ignored the eyeroll because he was humbled enough without being antagonized because of it. He took a breath when Maxine spoke of Mr. Socks, which he had learned was a cat. It was also, presumably, why he sneezed when he washed Maxine’s clothes.
“That’s why you asked me what avatars were a few months back?” he asked.
The term “super hero” was bothering him. And it wasn’t just because he wasn’t one. It was because of all of the baggage and responsibility it came with. All of that to put on a 5 year old kid was a little too much.
He was still crouched beside her.
“I...agree with Tony. Even if you never have to use your abilities it’s good to know what they are or could be. And it sounds like this avatar thing is going to help you with that. It’s like a muscle. If you never used your legs they’d get really weak. Then if you ever had to run you’d just fall down. And then you’d have to crawl. And your elbows would get dirty and your legs would be really tiny. They’d probably call you toothpick legs. I had a friend with that nickname. Wasn’t about his legs though…” he was getting off topic, “Didn’t you promise to give me a real dinosaur once?”
He poked her side playfully.
“Mr. Plates would probably feel really inadequate…” he said.
“There aren’t any dinosaurs in this Red. At least I don’t think so. It’s not like the Red back home. This Red is like a baby Red. It’s why all the people from here are different than the places with bigger Reds.”
Maxine looked down at her hands, feeling unhappy with her own explanation.
Tony moved forward. Regardless of Wash’s own opinion, he knew what he felt was right, and was going to follow that. And, for a child with unknown powers, it seemed that the right course was to explore them further, and see if or how they could assist in the general cause of getting home, for everybody.
He knelt by her, though a distance away, since he was still a touch paranoid about being touched. “I’m just here to help you figure out what the Red is,” he said, and meant it. “I’m here to make it work for getting us all home. This guy is here to make sure that you’re taken care of. That cat is apparently here to teach you the proper way to go about it all…. whatever. Point is, we all want to get home, and we all want to do it with nobody getting hurt. Especially you. So it’s up to you how we explore this.”
He paused, and looked at the girl. She was a child, after all, but not far from the age he left his family and began studying his own particular talents in earnest. He saw potential in her.
“Ready?” he asked, standing up and holding out his hand to her. “Most of the beginning’s boring. A lot of talk and explanation. But we’ll have fun eventually, promise.”
- - -
“I’m coming too,” Wash replied in a tiny voice though full of earnest. He didn’t know what Tony had planned on how to get to know the ‘Red’ or control it or how to get them home but he wanted to be privy to it. He was, after all, her caretaker as Tony had pointed out.