Plenty of Wishes
Callan | Brent 𝕄: 𝕊𝕖𝕡𝕥. 𝟙𝟜, 𝟚𝟘𝟚𝟘 / / 𝕃𝕒 ℙ𝕝𝕒𝕥𝕒, 𝕄𝕒𝕣𝕪𝕝𝕒𝕟𝕕 / / 𝕋𝕠𝕨𝕟 / / ~𝟚𝟚𝟘𝟘Collab with @Baklava @ERode
Sleep was a pipe dream at this point. Callan slid out of bed, setting her phone on the nightstand as she pulled the blanket off with her, gently tugging until the fabric had untucked itself from beneath the mattress. Dried blood and dirt didn't exactly keep her shoulders warm. She thought again, for the umpteenth time, of her hoodie and how quickly it had been vaporized by that monstrous machine. Pulling the blanket over her shoulders and the bottom portion of her hair, Callan took note of her room number and left, hoping to find a distraction from her thoughts. One that might last long enough for her come back and finally sleep.
Wandering out into the halls, she noticed the looks she got from several of the nurses as they edged by. She self-consciously held the blanket a tad closer to her face as she kept walking. There was no energy left to burn and yet she couldn't get to sleep.
Several minutes of mindless wandering later, Callan happened upon what she assumed might be the lobby. Or a
lobby, considering it was on one of the higher floors. It was remarkably uncrowded and provided a stunning view of the stars through a high, glass ceiling. A few small trees-- were those real?
-- stood upright amidst several park-style benches that offered a view of the small town outside of several more large windows. Relieved as well as awe-struck by the sight, Callan sighed and took a seat, tucking her feet up underneath her as she leaned on the armrest and stared out at the expanse of lights. "You're a hard woman to find, Callan Webb."
A voice called out from the shadows of the atrium, a thin object poking out. A gun? No, a fruity kebab, held inbetween his clenched index and middle finger in the imitation of one. Leaning out of the way of a branch as he approached, Brent allowed a friendly smile to emerge as he offered it to the turquoise-haired supergirl.
Taking a seat beside her, he asked nonchalantly, "Had anything to eat yet?"
Callan bristled at the sudden, unfamiliar voice, swiveling her head towards the tall, athletic figure in the shadows. Oh.
She sighed. Brent.
Callan flashed a weary smile at his kebab-gun. She shifted into a more upright position as Brent moved to sit down next to her.
"Just some snacks, but that's alright,
" Callan chuckled weakly, "I'm sure you haven't been wandering around with a second kebab just for me. I can always bug the staff for a sandwich or something later.
he replied, lifting up a bag that was still sorta full, "I've actually been wandering around with a hell lot more than that."
Like a peddler, he pulled out his wares once more, which composed largely of a couple of packaged tuna sandwiches and a box of definitely cold chicken before deciding that Callan didn't deserve to chew on that trash, and putting the cold chicken back in the bag."Eat up,"
the arbiter gestured, "I didn't brave the aisles of 7-11 in order to feed my fellow classmates only to get rejected at this stage, after all."
Callan sat up a little more as Brent displayed the contents of his bag. That was a lot of food. Was he going around delivering food to everybody? "Ok,
" she laughed incredulously, shaking her head as she accepted the kebab. "Definitely beats hospital food, so thanks. That's awfully generous of you.
" Maybe even too
generous. She wasn't usually the suspicious type, but her interactions with Brent had so far left her wondering what the guy was all about. She turned the kebab over in her hand for a brief moment before modestly nibbling on a skewered strawberry.
"Am I your last stop then?
" she asked between bites. "Basically, yeah,"
Brent admitted, "Though I didn't get to make a visit to Hazel's place. Apparently, she's still unconscious or something.""And don't worry about it. It's not like I worked for the money I just burnt through, right?"
He scratched the back of his neck. "And it's not like there's anything more constructive to do here than be the delivery guy no one asked for."
Callan nodded somberly at the mention of Hazel’s name. Either she was unconscious or they weren’t letting people in. But that was only a guess. She’d barely caught a glimpse of the girl through the swarm of guards that surrounded her once they were all shuffled into the hospital.
Callan smiled, “I guess you’re right. Still— time spent when you could be doing literally anything else, though.
” Another small bite. “Anyway— isn’t it kind of late? Aren’t you tired?
”"Not like we're in USARILN, with all their gyms and their not-as-racist neighboring town and their lack of news reporters hunting for subs,"
he replied, glad that Callan was eating, if nothing else, "The motels don't even come with PCs, you know? And the TVs only show the news."
"So hey, in absence of all that I can't do, passing some time with my classmates is better than holing up in a room by myself, eh?"
He snorted at her comment about how late it was. "Mhmm, as if any teenager these days sleep before 12. Guess it differs from role to role, but I spent most of my time sitting on my ass. I'm more curious as to why you're up, considering all the work you put in."
Oh, that’s right. The news reporters. Callan had seen their vans lurking around outside. She was grateful she hadn’t had to deal with anything like that. Maybe if the fight had gone a bit better….
She shot him a weird look as he mentioned just sitting on his ass, but he seemed intent on finding out why she was still up. Callan laughed uncomfortably. All the work she put in? Yeah. All the brain dead work. He wasn’t wrong though.
“Heh, I don’t usually turn in this early either. Ability seems to burn me out pretty quickly,
” she shrugged, looking out the windows, “Can’t get to sleep for some reason.
Hoping to avoid being asked to elaborate on that, Callan quickly added, “Anyway, what do you mean you just sat on your ass? Seems like nobody would’ve had any idea what the hell was going on if you hadn’t been there.
”"The price of being able to benchlift cars, I suppose,"
Brent said, turning his gaze skywards, towards the stars that were the same as the ones above USARILN East, above his home. "And you're right, but..."
He chose his next words carefully."...I can tell people what I see even while sitting on my ass."
And it wasn't like he did anything more than that. Nor was it like he didn't have the opportunity to do more."Looks like there's a clear sky tonight,"
he said, "You ever do much stargazing?"
Hm. At least you didn’t get anybody killed, Brent.
The surprisingly dark thought faded as Brent shifted the subject towards the stars. Callan followed his line of sight.
“I’ve tried. Can’t usually see them very clearly in a big city like Atlanta… you?
”"Used to look for shooting stars all the time as a kid,"
he replied, "Stopped after I... don't remember when I stopped, actually."
He let his breathing slow, watching those transient, eternal lights from within the dim atrium."Recognize any constellations?"
"No way. Aren’t shooting stars supposed to be super rare?
” Callan smiled tentatively. “As much as I ike stars, I know jack all about them.
""Mid July to early August,"
he replied, "Couldn't wait for it back as a kid, but the Perseids meteor shower is an annual event. Probably should have marked that date somewhere, cause I kept on forgetting about it until it was over."
A wistful gaze descended upon him, the day's activities finally taking its toll."Something to look forward to next year though. Got plenty of wishes stockpiled now."
“Mid July to early August,
” Callan repeated to herself. “Yeah— I’ll have to check it out…,
” she grew quiet, feeling a little more optimistic. Lost in thought, she nearly forgot Brent was still there.
“Wouldn’t have pegged you for an astrology nerd, Brent,
” she teased."Please, Callan, were you too busy playing with your phone during classes to notice?"
Brent grinned, "I don't just flex my biceps and chug protein shakes, you know? Gotta flex that gray matter too."
"And even meatheads like pretty things. Stars, flowers, clouds, lots of nice stuff in the world if you take the time to look around."
But he rarely did, even though he was aware of that. It couldn't improve him in any manner. Couldn't make a career out of it, couldn't make a degree out of it, couldn't make a life out of it.
His fists clenched, knuckles turning bone-white before that dislikeable emotion exhausted itself.
She laughed, “Probably was, to be honest. But hey, my grades are alright.
” Callan slowly twirled the empty kebab stick between her fingers. Glancing at Brent, she noted the sudden fist clenching, figuring it was just a weird habit. He did look like he was thinking hard about something, though.
“It’s kinda nice,
” she spoke up, “Just focusing on the little things sometimes.
” She was all too guilty of doing that a bit too much, but it seemed to help when the going got tough. “Er— well, I guess stars aren’t exactly small. But you get what I mean.
”"Yeah, I do."
Only the box of stale, cold chicken remained, Callan finished with the sandwiches. He gave one last look at the stars up above, before turning to the superhuman."Hey, you up for a small adventure?"
She blinked back at him in surprise. "Uh.
" Amethyst eyes scanned the empty atrium, trying to guess at what Brent might have in mind, "N-now? What did you want to do?
" Callan asked, curious as she was wary."Well, if you're not tired, was thinking of heading off to the rooftops,"
he said, "Do some exploring and get some fresh air."
"Can't see the moon from here, after all."
Callan recoiled a bit. The invitation was grossly reminiscent of one she’d heard before. She knew she shouldn’t be so quick to judge. Just because Brent gave off that ‘jock’ vibe didn’t mean he was inherently an asshole with a hidden agenda. Nonetheless, she hesitated.
“Oh… uh. I don’t know, Brent,
” she shrugged, trying to sound casual as she pulled her blanket a little tighter.
A flash of disappointment crossed his face, before being replaced by one of realization. Shit, did it sound like that? Aghhh..."It's not like that,"
he said, an awkward half-smile forming, "though I did need you in particular. Was thinking of heading off to the roof and then having you throw me upwards as high as you could.""With that blanket as a 'parachute',"
Brent explained, "I was thinking of getting a nice view of everything. Still got too much energy to burn through, and..."
He wanted to cap off the night with something exciting."...yeah...it's fine if you don't want to though. Seeing how superstrength mode just makes you more tired and all."
Callan's eyebrows shot up as Brent went on to explain, tossing all her preconceived notions out the window about as hard as he possibly could. Was he serious?
" she furrowed her brow, thinking for a moment before shaking her head with yet another incredulous laugh, "sounds insanely dangerous, Brent.
"Uh. If you want to go check out the roof, I guess I'll go with you, but I'd like to avoid potentially throwing anyone out of the ozone.
""Probably would need a couple more pieces to pull this off well, yeah,"
Brent admitted, glad that he had, at the very least, shifted her perception of him from 'this dude's a creeper' to 'this dude is a madman'. "And hey, is your throwing strength currently either 0 or ozone, Callan? Nothing inbetween?"
" Callan stood up and stretched, "It's more that I sometimes have trouble gauging my strength. Er-- like that day with Kusari... for example.
Still? Brent stopped himself before he could go there. Callan's 'magic' was super strength, and it was an absurd amount of it as well. He had no idea how long she had such power, and thus...
A month may not be nearly enough to adjust to that."Well, perhaps I'll visit outer space another time then. Gotta consider the Gs as well,"
the arbiter replied with a laugh. "Have you been getting progressively stronger or something?"
" Callan considered her ability's most recent development, a sour frown spreading across her face, "No. Not really.
She hadn't spared much thought towards the change she sensed in Misery. Of course, she hadn't pulled the abomination out to check. Not with so many people around-- somebody would get hurt. She'd have to save that mystery for later. "That's pretty good then,"
he replied, "Easier to get a handle on your strength if it stays consistent and all."
A pause."What was that black thing though? The one that made you fall?"
"Yeah, I guess you're right,
" Callan mused, thoughtfully considering his point.
" she smiled, feeling just about as keen on showing it off as she had at Ground Zero, "I'll have to show you on the roof. Might get everyone in a panic if I start pulling giant hammers out of the ground in here.
""Giant hammers? Oh geez, you have a materialization power too now?"
There was a tinge of jealousy in his voice, buried beneath the surprise and enthusiasm. What sort of theme even was this, that she got both massively superhuman stats AND the power to summon weapons."Guess we'll head off on an adventure after all!"
Hopping off the seat, Brent gathered up the garbage and tossed it into the plastic bag, intent on carrying it until there was a trash can to dispose of it in.
"Heh, yeah. Guess so...
" Materialization was one term for it. Shifting the form of a ferocious monster into a heavy-as-hell weapon would be another.
The pair eventually found a stairwell that led all the way up to the roof. A heavy lock secured the door, but one silver jolt of static later, it was open. Approaching their destination, the scene still felt somewhat uncomfortable in spite of Brent's earlier explanation. Though whether it was because she was outside alone with a guy late at night or because this was almost as high as that helicopter had been when it exploded-- she wasn't entirely sure.
" she said resolvedly, balling up the blanket she'd brought with her and setting it aside, "Here we go.
" Bracing herself for the inevitable increase in weight, Callan crouched down to begin pulling the long shaft of the hammer from her shadow. Dark smoky tendrils squirmed reluctantly as they had before. With a visible snap, the weapon solidified and her body dipped, arms straining to keep it off the ground.
"Yep. There it is,
" she said through grit teeth. She was really feeling the exhaustion from earlier now. "Woah...some sort of shadow magic?"
Brent looked at the hammer, definitely impressed by just how...wait, what? Callan, the girl who benched one thousand pounds like it was nothing actually had to exert herself in order to keep it off the ground?"Wait, how heavy even is this thing?"
He asked, curiosity piqued. "And is it like...just a hammer? Or can you turn it into something else as well?"
"Uh-- can't give you any numbers, but it's pretty damn heavy,
" she strained, "I can turn it into just about any melee weapon, but the weight always stays the same.[/color]""Any melee weapon imaginable?"
Brent whistled. "So...have you tried extending it super fast? Like a pile driver?"
Callan thought for a moment, looking down at the weapon. "No, I haven't. I'm not sure how that'd work out. You want me to give it a try?
he reasoned, taking a step back, "Just because it's a melee weapon doesn't mean it can't also become a ranged weapon. While you're at it, see if you can extend it to a realllllly long distance."
Pivoting away from Brent for extra safety, Callan nodded and started to focus, concentrating hard on the form she wanted it to take. Omitting any fancy details, she tried to do so quickly. The shape writhed back into its originally unstable form just before the shape of the hammer's head stretched forward, snapping back into solid form. Now holding a rod that measured out to nearly 3 meters, the longer end immediately fell in spite of Callan's best efforts to keep it up.
The entire transformation lasted roughly a second or two-- a little slower than Callan was hoping for. Slower than a pile driver anyway.
Three meters maximum, at a rate that was fairly fast, but not fast enough.
It was not disappointment that emerged, but relief. At such a speed, her weapon couldn't be used as 'projectile' after all. It couldn't be used as something that could take the gargoyle by surprise and instantly kill her before she could snap Sav's neck.
There wasn't any sort of horrible miscommunication that occurred that tossed away a method of quickly saving that blonde aberration."Wow, that's seriously cool,"
he beamed, all smiles, "Now you're like Superman and Green Lantern fused, Callan! Think this would work well as a shield as well? Or did you never put its durability up to the test?"If only.
"No, I haven't actually,
" Callan replied. Geez, she hadn't really given much thought to any of the stuff. "Might as well find out." Concentrating again, the shadow rod snapped into the form of a round shield. The awkward shape turned out to be too difficult for her to hold and one end suddenly slipped out of her grasp, landing squarely on her foot.
Callan froze for a moment as the pain spiked, the color draining from her face while the heavy black shield remained stubbornly in place despite her reflexive effort to pull her foot out from under it. Regaining her sense, she quickly desummoned the ridiculously heavy shield and fell down onto one knee, gripping the offended foot with both hands. "Ow,
" she croaked, folding over herself as a shudder ran through her.
She could immediately tell that nothing was broken, but it still throbbed fierce.
Brent's own toes instinctively curled as the shadowy shield slipped out of her grasp, smashing into the dark skinned girl's foot. By some miracle, the roof itself hadn't given in from the sudden impact or weight, and once the shadows disappeared, he ran over, not sure what he could overclock to ice the injury."Shit, are you alright?"
he asked, kneeling, "Anything broken? Gah, shouldn't have asked you to do so much when you were already tired. Real sorry about that."
” Callan winced massaging the top of her foot through her dirty tennis shoes, “Nah, it’s fine. Don’t worry about it. Nothing’s broken.
” She flashed Brent a reassuring smile, “Did you want to see anything else?
”"No, I think this is fine for now,"
he said, "But really, it's amazing what sort of options you have! You can get yourself a wide shield to protect everyone behind you, a sharp weapon to massively increase how much damage you can do, or even just create platforms with it by pinning it to a wall or something!"
Amethyst eyes gazed skywards, before two different ideas clicked."Imagine how badass it'd be if Chris like, flew you up super high, you turned your shadow thing into a pyramid, and then jumped off! The Cal-ris Meteor Impact combo!"
Brent seemed lost in a world of his own as he rambled off several different uses for her new shadow trick. Her mind reeled for a moment, considering how each idea could work and how she might go about executing each one. Her train of thought faltered as he mentioned Chris flying her up real high so she could jump off. She wasn’t too keen on experiencing something like that free fall from the helicopter again, but she said nothing. Admitting that heights still made her nervous despite her extra durability seemed like quite a step back from all the praise she was suddenly getting—whether she felt it was entirely deserved or not.
She shrugged and laughed, pushing herself back onto her feet, “Sounds like you got it all figured out. I've only been able to summon that thing since this morning, so I'm still kinda figuring out how it works.
""Ah, makes sense then,"
Brent replied, his smile faltering momentarily. Given just an extra day, would their chances of DOING something dramatically improve? No, not even that. If he had known about that new change in Callan's power, if she had something like that and he had spent his time with the Strikers instead of with Grego, could they have figured out a way to destroy Factory much more effectively?
And if they destroyed Factory that fast, the Strikers could have returned just as fast, and perhaps those rogue subnaturals would be handled much more effectively. Maybe those subnaturals wouldn't even have had an opening if it was Chris, Sander, and Callan guarding the Evac truck as it drove back to the drop off point.
But 'what ifs' were meaningless. He recalled his own words that he had thrown at Angelic. Regrets about the past should only be used as fuel for the future."Well, at least you have a starting point for your investigations now,"
Brent said, offering Callan a hand to pull herself up, "Guess trying to push the limits of new things is just what I'm used to. Can't get complacent if your powers are super versatile, after all."
He was forcing himself."Cause the more prepared you are, the more scenarios you can effectively respond to!"The more lives you can save.But you still can't win.
Callan stared. For a moment she almost wondered if Brent was hinting at something, but she brushed it off as paranoia. She wasn’t even sure he’d seen what happened. Even if he had, he hadn’t brought it up and she sure as hell wasn’t going to.
She gave a small smile, shifting her gaze towards the sparse assemblage of city lights below. “Yeah. I’m definitely due for some more practice when we all get back.
”"Give me a heads up when you are then,"
he replied, "Considering how fast our powers seem to be growing, it's probably a good idea to keep track of these upgrades, you know? Know all the pieces on your board and all."
"Yeah, that sounds like a good idea.
" Callan nodded, though she knew she definitely wouldn't be sharing anything about her most recent 'upgrade' any time soon. Feeling the creeping guilt of her dishonesty, she kept her eyes on the town lights. "Sure thing.
Brent nodded. "Guess we should head down now though...unless you changed your mind about sending me off into the stratosphere?"
Callan scoffed, picking up her blanket before making her way back towards the stairs, "Sorry, Brent. No space exploration for you.""No space exploration?"
He grinned goodnaturedly. "I'll take that as a 'for now', thank you very much."
"Yeah. Don't hold your breath,
" she smirked.
The walk back to Callan's room was riddled with similar pleasantries. Between the awkward passings of anxious hospital staff, the conversation wound its way to hobbies. The emblem on Callan's shirt was barely visible through the bloodstains, but Brent evidently had no trouble recognizing it.
"Yep! I played power forward,
" Callan boasted confidently, "I'm pretty good at it, too. Or at least I was... Haven't really tried shooting around since the whole super strength thing started. What about you? You have a sport, right?
""I like them all, really. Recently picked up kickboxing with Angelic. If I were to pick something I'm particularly interested in though...I really wanted to try the decathlon."
"Apparently if you won first place in that, you'd be known as the greatest athlete, you know?"
"Alright, well this is my stop!
" Callan declared with a tired sigh. She hadn't been expecting it, but she was glad she ran into Brent when she did. The loop that had been playing in her head over and over again had been sufficiently numbed by the distraction."Yeah,"
Brent waved, "It's been a nice talk, Call. Get a good rest, eh?""I'll do my best,
" she grinned, "You get some rest, too.
he replied, walking off.
Was he really going to just walk it off? Brisk steps brought him further away, but his fists remained clenched, his mind boiling beneath the happiness and energy he displayed. Callan was a good person. She could laugh, went along with his unreasonable requests, and carried a conversation fairly well, even though they were more or less strangers. She too displayed a degree of gratitude towards his own actions during that day's battle, and, no doubt, she'd rather let her own wounds scab over and disappear rather than remain fresh.
Hell, she lost an arm during that fight, which was much more than what he lost, ever.
So he held back, just a little bit. At an intersection in the hallway, Brent stopped and turned."Hey Call? It wasn't your fault." She fucking barreled into the gargoyle and broke Sav's neck. "....but you could have done better."
His lips curled in self-loathing as he walked off. That wasn't necessary. God, that wasn't necessary
But, once more, Brent felt like he had burned down a bridge.
And, once more, Brent wasn't wholly certain if he minded.
Callan turned away from the door as Brent addressed her. Her breathing stopped for a moment as any semblance of a smile immediately faded away. Though he hadn't said so, she thought she could feel it in his tone. He'd known her.
The idea of saying nothing came to mind, but she found that to be grossly unappealing. If Brent had been Savannah's friend, then he deserved a proper apology. "Brent...
" she said, not quite loud enough.
" she took several hurried steps after him.
Don't. He didn't need her to chase him, didn't need her to apologize or whatever else. He just nee-
He couldn't even cry
for Sav! He wasn't the one that Callan should be apologizing to! Sophia must have been hit way harder by that! He hadn't even seen
her outside the motel!
Brent pressed on. Callan was fast. She could outpace him in an instant. But he was accustomed to losing, and he would try anyways.
He didn't pause for even a second. A lump rose in her throat when she realized he wasn't going to stop at all. For a second she picked up the pace as well, but stopped herself. She wasn't going to force him to listen to her, but the apology welling up inside still felt like it needed to come out somehow. She apologized to Marcus, but it wasn't enough.
She wasn't done. Everyone needed to know. They needed to know how truly sorry she was. Or perhaps she just wanted
them to know.
But even if she did apologize to Brent, it wouldn't fix anything. Savannah was dead and Brent was right. She not only should've
done better-- she COULD have done better. And that was the worst part of all.
" she said anyway-- too quiet for him to hear. I'm sorry.
The phrase was back on repeat, but Brent's words stung sharply in the foreground. He must've been holding that in the whole time they'd been talking. Was that why he'd sought her out in the first place?
Despair was deafening. Even the fluorescent lighting almost seemed darker than it was before. Without another word, she stared after Brent until he rounded another corner and disappeared from view.I'm sorry.
She ran back to her room.