Be Better Than Yourself


vf_elspeth_icon2.gif bf_magnes_icon.gif

Scene Title Be Better Than Yourself
Synopsis The right words, the wrong man.
Date January 20th, 2012

New York City

Being in an alternate universe is probably an odd thing to have to get used to, for Elspeth or anyone else. Seeing one of the people who contributed to getting her out of here on the street, looking totally different, is probably one of those jarring possible experiences that comes with being in said alternate universe.

And, well, here we are.

Magnes is in a dirty white suit, probably a few days dirty, holding up fliers that he drew himself but got printed out. He's handing them out to people, and some get a good laugh, while others, drop the flier back to the ground. They say:

'The Task Masters: Super Heroes For Hire!', and then there's a phone number and email address.

A big difference between him and the Magnes she knows is that he has a brow piercing on the side, a very long rattail, and the sides of his head are a bit shaved. It's like a bizarre curly mullet almost. "Hey, come on, I can totally beat up anyone causing trouble in your neighborhood, check this out!"

He suddenly runs up the side of a wall, in front of the store he's decided to stand in front of. He doesn't spill his Irish cream whiskey at all.

Oh, right, he has alcohol, that's important to note, by the time he lands on his feet and stumbles a little, in broad daylight.

Elspeth stares at this display, her head cocking to the side as she watches. She had been prepared for the idea of meet people who looked like those she had known in her world - or that she had come here with.

She just didn't think ti would happen so soon.

She blink, wrinkling her nose at him, at the alcohol he has, at the rattail, and she huffs out a breath. "Oh my God," she breathes out as he stumbles. "You're insane everywhere, aren't you?" It low, under her breath - but certainly not inaudible.

"The Task Masters?" she inquires incredulously. "So you beat up people for a living here? I never could have guessed!" She feigns a smile, watching him carefully. She's imagining howw many times this has ended poorly for him, and how each one went, which is probably why there's a small smile creeping up in the corners of her mouth.

"I never got a client yet! But Eileen keeps telling me to get a job, so when a shadow bird gave me some advice, I decided that I'd start a business! The Task Masters!" Magnes says, dramatically holding out the flier before he burps. "If I get a job, Eileen and Gabriel won't care that I sleep on their couch anymore."

"Come on, you should hire me. I used to be a pizza boy, you know, I could cook pizza, upside down!" He jumps up, and rotates himself around, until he's, well, upside down, staring at her in the air, taking a sip of his drink that doesn't spill. "My name's Magnes J. Varlane!"

It's hard to tell if the look on Elspeth's face is amazement or disgust. People move up and down the street, something that causes her nervousness to climb a bit as she watches Magnes.

"I'm new t' town," is a remark that comes out sounding flatter than she intends. It's true, even if not in any traditional sense. "I don't really have money for anythin' like that, sorry." That much, also, is true.

"Your friends - what, Eileen and Gabriel?" Neither name tickles any sort of familiarity in Elspeth. "If they're kind enough t' let y' sleep on their couch, Magnes, maybe do 'em somethin' better for a job than beggin' in the streets."

She huffs the words out, looking him in the eyes. "Or at least find a more respectable way t' go about all a' this."

"I'm not begging! I'm offering a service, it's a good surface!" Magnes rotates back around, landing onto his feet again. He's a bit wobbly. "If there's a better way to make money, then you tell me! I can't do the stupid job interviews, so I just said screw it! I have super powers, I should be able to make money with super powers!"

Elspeth stares at him for so long. Or at least, what feels like a long time. She spends that time thinking about the brash young man who had just… appeared in their home in the Hub, made them promises of salvation, woo'd the woman she was closest to besides her sister, and then had only partially delivered on any of it. There's a weight in her eyes and on her shoulders as she stares at him.

"Stop talkin' so damn desperate," is the first thing she tells him. "Slow it down a notch. I dunno how y' interview, but stop lettin' your words get ahead a' your brain." She narrows her eyes for a moment, looking him up and down. "Christ. I dunno. Y' like t' help people," which is at least a logical thought given that he's asking to help her. "Maybe do it more productively?" She gives a small shrug. "More professionally f'r sure. Task Masters. Sounds like a bad cop name."

"I'm not good with people, that's why my life sucks in the first place!" Magnes tosses the papers to the ground, then he just leans against the wall, and slides down until he's sitting, and drinking. "I thought I was gonna be a superhero, and save the world, and go out and, I don't know, have a girlfriend, and punch villains, and have tons of people who love me!"

"But look, I can't even start a superhero group, or get a job!" He points his bottle at her, looking a little irritable, even though he isn't getting up from where he stands. "Well, you know what! I don't need to be special! I'm gonna sit on this sidewalk and drink this Irish cream whiskey. That worked for Deckard, Deckard got everything he wanted in life I bet, or he died, I don't know, fuck Deckard!"

"Why couldn't I have a more useful ability, like telekinesis? What kind of stupid power needs you to touch people to use it?" he asks, just sounding kind of bitter about the entire world right now.

"Hey, jackass." It actually surprises her a little when that comes out - she's not one to call people names, but she's been understandably irritable the last few days. "I said slow it down. This isn't slowing it down." She looks down at him, a glower on her face. "You want t' help people?" She points at the papers. "That isn't helpin' people."

She takes a deep breath, and crouches down. "Y' want t' know 'bout the greatest hero I ever knew?" She looks him in the eyes, her own half lidded. "Didn't get that way goin' out t' fight villains an' all that crap. She helped her community, with their health. With food. With watching after people. She was a nurse and a friend and the one time she goes out t' fight villain's she- fucking died!"

Okay, so, she's not quite shouting, but suddenly Elspeth seems riled up. "You woulda liked her too, y' asshole, if you'd actually gotten t' know her!" She suddenly reaches out and pushes Magnes in the shoulder, slightly unbalancing herself in the progress. "How- How- How-"

A hand claps over her mouth, and she rises back to her feet. "I'm so sorry," are words that - despite how little she wants to, she barely manages to choke out. She knows this isn't the Magnes Varlane she knows. She takes a deep breath, tries to calm herself.

Magnes listens to all of this, and, despite how drunken and full of bitterness and self-pity he is, he's still, at the end of the day, Magnes. He slowly pushes himself up, leaving his bottle sitting on the ground, then he holds his hand out to her. "Are you okay?" he asks, looking genuinely concerned. "Don't… don't apologize to me. I know I suck, I know I'm not trying hard enough…"

"I don't know how to be better, I'm just… fuck…" He tries to keep eye contact, but it's clearly difficult. "I don't know you… and this is completely fucking stupid, but… you wanna be friends? Like… fuck, I don't know, I just wanna be better, I don't wanna piss off good people…"

Elspeth stands still, hand still over her mouth. Her instinct is to run, he desire is to take all of her anger out on this man who isn't actually the man she's angry at., a flash of red in the corner of her vision as she trembles. "You're a fuckin' lunatic," is partially muffled behind her hand. She takes a deep breath, hand over her mouth curling into a fist before falling to her side. "Friends?" She stares at him in disbelief.

"You want to be better," she chokes out, "be better than yourself." Which might sound profound, but actually has a much simpler meaning with the right knowledge. "At least you're not sitting on the ground anymore." More words boil under the surface, waiting to be unleashed at a simulacrum of her anger. She shakes, locking her eyes with his, before finally looks upwards and screams out a perfect summation of her current feelings.


She's been doing a well enough job of keeping it together in the days since their arrival. Are you okay, concern shown for her by the doppelganger of the man who had forever altered the course of her life is what finally gets her to take a half step back from him, tears welling up in her eyes. That should answer the question well enough.

A hand reaches up, wiping at her eyes. "I-I'm sorry," she repeats, and then immediately wonders why she apologising."I-" She swallows, looking back up at him as she smears makeup rubbing at her eyes. She stops, takes in a deep breath. "Friends?" she repeats, disbelieving still. "You really do just want to help people, don't you?"

"I didn't mean to make you cry. I've been feeling pretty bad for years. It's… I guess complicated." Magnes lowers his hand, apparently not bothering with his whiskey anymore. He looks around, then points at a nearby bench. "What else would I wanna do? Helping people be happy, and have happy lives… I know I can't have that, why not help other people have it? I don't like seeing people in pain, and I've felt a lot of pain…"

"I don't know if it's me that made you cry or something else, but…" He starts to walk to the bench, motioning for her to follow, before he takes a seat. "You seem like a nice person. You're not the kind of person I'd want to see cry. I don't really like to see anyone cry. But I just… I never know the right thing to do. When I do the right thing, it's not the exact right thing, or it's not the right thing at all, and… I got tired of it." He lays his head back against the wall that the bench is pressed against. "I got tired of being wrong, so, here I am, with no one to help but myself, and I'm not even doing that…"

Elspeth eyes Magnes for a moment, watches him as he makes his way over to the bench. Her mouth clenches shut, teeth grid as she thinks. Fingers curl back into a fist, clench tight, release, and repeat. "Fine," she says flatly, making her way over to the bench, sitting down with him but not quite beside him. "You want t' know how t' help people?"

She sits down, staring out ahead. "I know someone like you," she starts, pensively. One hand grabs at the fabric of her jeans, lips quirking side to side. "Wanted t' help people back, uh- back… home?" She furrows her brow, thinking to herself got a moment. "But he bit off more than he could chew. Hurt more people than he ended up helpin'. Got people's heads full a' ideas."

She huffs out a breath, hand reaching up to run down her face. "You want t' help people? Don't be selfish. Actually think about them. 'Bout the lives your changin', good an' bad. Don't worry about fightin' the villain. People don't need someone t' fight the villain. We have people for that. People need someone t' actually help 'em. Be that person. Not the asshole who gets everyone riled up about some shit."

A beat. "An' definitely don't do whatever that Deckard person does. He sounds like a jerk."

"Deckard sucks." Magnes agrees, looking over at her. "Hey, if I find somewhere to take a shower and put on clean clothes, and like, I guess sober up a little, you wanna go somewhere?" he asks, though still considers her story, staring down at his feet. "I don't want all that responsibility, not anymore. It's… too hard to make decisions even for myself. I wanna find a way to help people where there's rules, so I know what to do…"

He laughs a little, considering what he asked. "Fuck, I'm drunk and filthy and asking a girl out who just yelled at me. That should tell you everything about how I make decisions."

Elspeth is also, if she remembers right, at least eight years older than Magnes. "I-" She seems absolutely stunned, finally looking over at him. Is this happening? This is happening. Another bizarre occurrence in the wellspring of strangeness and regret that has been the last month. She closes her eyes, fingers pinching the bridge of her nose as she sighs. "No, I- no."

She sits up a bit straighter. "Look, kid, y' have a better heart than th' guy I was talkin' about, at least. Start there. I dunno. Rules? New York has security. Cops? S-Super Cops?" She gives a small shrug. She's still not familiar with this world, it's politics, or how law enforcement works in the face of people with superpowers all over the place. They were having a hard time with it before the virus back home.

She reaches a hand up, rubbing at her face. "Structure is good. I'm a teacher, so- Maybe that'd do y' some good, t' have some structure like that." She leans back a bit, looking up towards the sky. "Find somewhere, take a shower. Clean up. Not f'r me, f'r you. You can be selfish about that." Please. "Get your shit together, an' then maybe look me up." Not that she has any intention of going out with any Magnes Varlane. But she doesn't want to see history repeat itself.

"I don't know, I'll think about it. But I'll do the shower for sure, and look for you." Magnes slowly stands, up, and burps. "I like the idea of suddenly falling in love. It's stupid, but I like to try and see what happens. But, I make bad decisions, so…" He shakes his head. "I'm not much of anyone's type." He starts to walk, nodding to her. "I'll find you. We'll be friends."

"We'll see." Elspeth cringes when he burps, taking in a deep breath. "If you know you make bad decisions… maybe think about why. Maybe try not to, next time." She eyes him for a moment, deciding to choke back her scathing rejoinder on the comment of //not being anyone's type. "And next time?" She watches him walk off, smirking. "Remember to ask the woman your asking out her name."

Knowing what she does about herself on this world, a part of her wonders what he would find if he looked her up on face alone.

Magnes suddenly stops, then turns around, facing her. "I'm sorry, I'm drunk. What was your name?" he asks, smiling a bit apologetically.

She hadn't actually expected him to turn back, leaving her at a bit of a loss as she watches him. "Els-" She stops, closing her eyes. This was the hardest part of all of this, having to be a new person. New name, new life. They had come all of this way so that they could live again, and they couldn't even go back to being the people they were before.

She grits her teeth again.

"Dawn. Dawn Carrington." She levels her gaze with her, expression stiff. "Don't you dare ever forget it." The right words, the wrong man - not matter how much like him he looks. Still, it makes her feel the slightest big better, at least for the moment. She didn't really care if he did look her up - she doubts she's in any phone books or anything. Yet.

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