Alex. Where'd you go, Alex?
Down the rabbit hole...You can't fit down a rabbit hole. I miss my best friend. Dragon's nice, but he isn't you.
You don't need me, you goober. There's plenty of excitement out there. I miss you, Alex. I haven't seen you since the building thing with the giant. I thought you'd be bothering me with questions about Dragon and dinner and all that.
I've been.... Preoccupied. Had another meeting with Guilt. And i useless at the battle. Who's Guilt? And you weren't useless. You helped me.
That woman from last time. Guess the Island told her something big was coming. And I was useless. I couldn't do anything. You need a hug. No arguments. Get here now and have a hug.
I can't. Didn't I just say no excuses? You know where my place is.
No, Rox, I literally can't. I, uh, I can't use my powers.
😳 What? Why?
I never told you my weakness, did I?No... You said it was boring rich-people parties once, but I thought that was a joke.
It was. Truthfully, I can't do anything past three stories above or below ground. I'm currently on top of a skyscraper. Why? Want me to come fetch you then give you a hug? You're getting a hug whether you like it or not.
I... Needed to think.... Be alone, away from everything. Nuh uh. I'm fetching you first and then we're doing this over chocolate chocolate chip ice cream. A big tub.
So spill, what happened?
Alright, alright. I'm on top of the hotel thing like just north of my place. Don't ask how I got up here. Stairs.
The building is locked down at night.
Alex looked up at the incoming blue light, smiling softly. "I guess you were serious?"
"Yes." Spectrum landed lightly on the roof and fiercely hugged her. "I miss my best friend. And I have ice cream at home."
"But what about Dragon?"
Spectrum shifted a little. "My legs are sore and he's got to sort out lawyer things."
"Lawyer?" Alex asked with a raised eyebrow. "The fuck happened?"
"Ice cream!" Spectrum replied, slowly lowering them down the side of the building. "Then we talk about boys."
"I'm assuming that was 'later after ice cream.' You really shouldn't talk with your hands full, Spec." The frown on her mask didn't need translation. As they touched down, Spectrum waved her hand in a circle. Alex giggled. "Sorry, sorry. I couldn't resist." Her mirth faded as she glanced up at the towering building. "You said your place, right?" She asked quietly.
"Yep." Spectrum nodded. "Dragon's place is nice, but it's full of Dragon." She signed as she said it.
Alex nodded, taking a deep breath, and opened a portal. Spectrum pulled Alex through the portal, dropping her armour almost before portal could be closed. "In a rush?" Alex asked, amused.
Roxana ducked into her room, coming back out with a simple dress. "Ice cream," she explained, holding up a big tub. "Chocolate caramel vanilla chocolate chip!"
"You had me at 'chocolate', Rox," Alex smiled.
"But there's also caramel and vanilla and chocolate chips."
"Chocolate is this girl's best friend that isn't alive," Alex winked. "So, dish. What happened?"
Bringing two large spoons, Roxana came to the couch. "We did it."
"I figured, from the comment earlier."
Roxana blinked with the spoon still in her mouth. She swallowed, then said, "Which one?"
"You basically said you needed a break. Sore legs or something."
"Oh," she said. "Well, I do." Roxana spent a minute or two chasing a specific chip with her spoon, then added. "But he's really good at it, and I can't really have him too much in a row. But that's not what I wanna talk about. That Blacklight guy also showed up."
Alex put her spoon down. "What?"
"Blacklight showed up," Roxana repeated in a very careful, even voice. "He broke into the apartment, I threw him out, and he got killed. He's gone."
Alex blinked. "There is a lot missing in that synopsis, Rox." Roxana took another spoonful of ice cream, remaining silent. Alex shook her head. "Understood. Things that shouldn't be discussed. At least he's dead."
"There's cops and lawyers and all I wanted was to have my time with Dragon."
"Sacrifices are made by the great, to ensure the ongoing of the not so great," Alex muttered.
Roxana pouted. "What's that supposed to mean? Sounds like fancy university stuff."
"Cause it is. I forget the exact wording, but it's something Mass said in the early years. I think."
"Oh." Roxana licked her spoon. "But I'm worried that all of this will get in the way. With the cops and now Charlotte's trouble..."
"Don't know a Charlotte, Rox. And don't worry about it. It'll work out, if both sides want it to."
"I don't know anymore." Rox sighed. "She shot him, but her dummy wants to take the blame and there's lawyers." She wiped her eyes. "I'm not smart, I know that. But why can't everything just be fine? Why can't I just have nice things?"
"Diamonds before as ugly, rough rocks and turn into beautiful things under pressure. Will you let this pressure crack and break what you love, or make it even more beautiful?" Alex asked quietly. "Nothing in this City is easy anymore, Rox. Barely anywhere in the world is. We fight and we die. Make the most of the wonder you have, because most of us can't even see a hint of it." She tilted her head a little. "I'm sounding patronising, aren't I?"
Roxana stuck her spoon in the ice cream. "You're sounding like you haven't had enough ice cream. I don't think life is supposed to be easy, but it should be simpler. I like Dragon. I like being with him. Charlotte is cute and should be a little girl like she's supposed to."
"Seems simple enough. So there's extra baggage, who cares?" Alex replied. "I'm just saying, nothing is simple anymore."
"Ice cream is simple," Roxana said. "Eat lots, get big boobs." She giggled. "Dragon really likes my boobs. Almost as much as I like his..."
Alex rolled her eyes. "I could've told you that would be the case, goober."
"He does this thing with his hands and tongue." She shivered. "But that's why I need a break. Or I'll just forget about stuff and turn into a raisin."
Alex snorted, then laughed. "So what you're telling me is, is that you ruined his bedsheets."
"Noo..." Roxana smiled. "That was his fault."
Alex poked her tongue out. "Semantics."
"Bet you made a mess on bedsheets more often than I have." Roxana stuck her tongue out. "You do something when you let the boys take you home."
"Lady has to keep her secrets," Alex said with a wink. "And not as often as you would think. Most men suck."
Waggling her spoon so that a scoop fell back into the bucket, Roxana replied, "But you did tell me all about that one guy who kept you going for fifteen minutes. That's a secret."
"He was special." Alex sighed. "Pretty sure he's dead."
Roxana stuck her spoon into the ice cream tub. "OK. You're not allowed to be so sad. I don't like it. Tell me what's wrong, and then we fix it, and then Alex is happy and funny again."
"What Guilt said is bothering me. I don't know if it was a personal warning or, as she thinks, a warning for all of us. And I was useless with the Harpies and Behir. How often will I be useless when it matters, again?"
"You're not useless," Roxana took Alex' hand. "You just found a place where you couldn't help. I know that feeling. Have I told you I only got my armour after high school? Before then, I was just a light bulb. I was supposed to be an Epic, but I couldn't do anything except cause trouble for people. Now I can help, and I want to."
"I've been useless in much worse situations, Rox....too often."
"Alex!" Roxana took her friend by the shoulders. "You're not useless. You saved the city more than once. The whole rat thing you won almost on your own. And you're my best friend."
"I didn't win the rats. I merely helped offer the means to. I do what I can because I must. I can't be weak like... Before. But I still am, Rox. I just hide it very well. Why do you think I let them see me as a Trickster?" Alex sounded incredibly stressed.
Roxana started to look slightly panicked, but she swallowed her anxiety. Alex had helped her through all sorts of things, so now it was her turn. "Because you want them to focus on Traveler, not Alex. And so Traveler doesn't have to have all of Alex' troubles."
"... Because Traveler is stronger than Alex..." She murmured.
"And Spectrum is stronger than Roxana," She replied, putting the ice cream aside and hugging Alex. "But Alex and Roxana are strongest together. Best friends, remember?"
"And when I'm alone?" Alex sighed. "I'm sorry, Rox. I've been thinking too much about... The past."
Roxana hugged her harder. "You're not alone. I'm here. And when I'm not here I will be there for you, like you have been for me." She sniffed. "You're my best friend that I ever had. Don't ever say you're useless, because that means I'm worse than useless because you had to help me and I can't be that bad."
There was a weird look on Alex's face. "Have people died because of you, Rox? Because you didn't act when you could've? That is why part of why I'm useless."
"I don't know." Roxana sniffled again on Alex's shoulder. "I couldn't even help myself for years, I was so scared. Then I got my armour and you helped me and I'm all OK. You're not useless. You saved me. You save people. The past is horrible and dark and I hate it. We're friends and we go forward, OK?"
"Yeah, you're right, I guess." Alex sighed again. "Thank you, Rox."
Roxana leaned back and wiped her nose. "That was scary, Alex." "Don't be all sad and sighy. It's not you. You're awesome and funny and everybody likes you."
" I've got an ugly past, Rox. I just try hard is all," Alex laughed lightly. "I'm not as great as you think."