I'm feeling the need to get back to my decluttering and organizing projects. Yesterday I started on something I've been putting off for a long time, my dad's coin collection. I realized one reason I was procrastinating was the bag it was housed in, a nasty, decaying plastic duffle bag. The vinyl dust crumbling off of it made my sinuses swell and my hands itch. So I pulled everything out (a bit of a process as a lot of the collection was tucked into the torn linings and I didn't want to miss anything). Took the bag to the dumpster and washed my hands and face, changed my shirt etc.
Sometimes you just have to identify what's blocking you and deal with it. I hadn't consciously realized the duffle bag was an issue till I stopped and thought about it. There was also an emotional component, but it's been a few years since he died so that has eased.
I've started a basic inventory. I don't think any of it's very valuable; there are a few pieces mounted in books or plastic cases, but most of it's in ziplocks or brittle, ancient envelopes. There are rolls and rolls of wheat pennies, which he saved from pocket change all his life, so they're all well worn. There are a few steel pennies. Some $2 bills. A bag of mixed silver dollars and Susan B Anthony's. That kind of thing. I haven't gotten into all the envelopes and little plastic cases yet.
I don't really know what to do with it all. I suppose I'll try to locate a coin dealer and see how much they'll take off my hands. I don't know anything about coin collecting.
None of it sparks joy, and my mom wants me to turn it to cash, so.
I say none of it sparks joy but that's not entirely true. There was a small cardboard box at the bottom. I knew it was some of his war memorabilia, but I hadn't gotten much of a look last time I saw it, years ago. I carefully lifted the lid so its split seams wouldn't tear further, and started leafing through. Little pamphlets he must have been issued in the Merchant Marines. He'd pick up currency in foreign ports, so there are envelopes of coins carefully labeled like "Ceylon" and "India" in his block lettering. Fragile paper prayer cards of various saints. I wonder why he saved them? We aren't Catholic. Did he go through a Catholic phase? I kept thinking, he was nineteen years old when he collected this stuff. Just a boy from a small Indiana town. He'd send it to his dad from all over the world, along with letters that have long vanished. I got a little verklempt while looking through it, and had to put it away.
That stuff I'm not selling, though I want to organize it and store it better. It doesn't spark joy, but it sparks something.
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The problem I have with the KonMari method is that I have a lot of clothes that don't spark joy and I would happily throw away, but that would probably mean that I would end up with like 3 tshirts. And I don't have the money to spend on new clothes so I just keep them and wear them even though I don't like them.
My closet is quite small to begin with as I already try to be a bit of a minimalist so getting rid of clothes means that I'll have very few left.
And shopping is such a stressful experience for me, especially in this pandemic environment, that I don't even know where to begin.
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Well my latest attempt to do KonMari with my stuff has been put on hold due to everything being half packed for the move. It would’ve been tricky anyways with how my things are so entangled with my sister’s and our other roommate’s things as well. (Last time I tried I failed at paper.) Still intend to do it properly once things are settled with the move. I’m also still getting rid of a lot of stuff as I’m packing, but this is in no way with the same thoughtfulness that’s required for KonMari.
It did prompt an interesting discussion with my roommates about how wildly different our clothing needs are and how I’m pretty much able to get away with 2-3 formal outfits but 18 tshirts (not including my long sleeves, sweaters, and polos) because I work with maggots and need to change tshirts as soon as I get home from work but they have jobs they need to dress nicely for. Glad I’m not in that line of work.
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In Folge 23 hört ihr, wie Jasmine Dünker nach der weltbekannten KonMari-Methode meine Küche revolutioniert hat (Interview Teil 3). Null Sterne Deluxe ist 100% kostenlos und jede Folge bringt dich weiter!
In Folge 22 hört ihr, wie Jasmine Dünker nach der weltbekannten KonMari-Methode meine Küche revolutioniert hat (Interview Teil 2). Null Sterne Deluxe ist 100% kostenlos und jede Folge bringt dich weiter!
12 NEW ideas of MARIE KONDO for ideal home | OrgaNatic
Review Buku “The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up”
Tertarik beli buku ini karna waktu itu lagi seneng-senengnya hidup rapih, pas baca bukunya sambal nyari Marie Kondo di youtube, ternyata buku ini ada misi tersembunyi yang dekat-dekat ini lagi digandrungi masyarakat yaitu hidup minimalis. Tapi setelah baca isi seluruh bukunya, Marie Kondo ini lebih ngefokusin bahwa ketika lingkungan sekitar kita bersih, rapih, dan tertata dengan baik itu akan mengubah hidup kita loh. Singkatnya, kalo kita mempraktekkan metode KonMari dalam kehidupan sehari-sehari kita, kita otomatis bakal mempraktekkan gaya hidup minimalis juga. Buy 1 get 1 gak tuh?
Buku ini terbagi ke dalam 5 Bab, Bab 1 yaitu Kenapa Kita Tidak bisa Menjaga Kerapian, Bab 2 yaitu Membuang Sampai Tuntas Terlebih Dahulu, Bab 3 yaitu Berbenah Berdasarkan Kategori Ajaibnya Bukan Main, Bab 4 yaitu Mencerahkan Hidup dengan Menyimpan Secara Apik, dan Bab terakhir yaitu Keajaiban Berbenah Mengubah Hidup Anda Secara Dramatis.
1. Kenapa Kita Tidak Bisa Menjaga Kerapian
Berdasarkan pengalaman pribadi dan sepertinya pengalaman kebanyakan orang, ada saat dimana kita sangat rapih, tetapi kemudian beberapa hari berselang, kerapihan itu hilang kembali dan rumah atau kamar kita kembali seperti kapal pecah. Betul?
Menurut buku ini, salah satu alasan kenapa kita tidak bisa menjaga kerapian kita adalah karena kita tidak pernah mempelajari caranya. Deg! Langsung berasa ditampar-tampar aku. Mungkin sebagian orang akan berpikir ‘beres-beres doang, gak perlu belajar, liat aja orangtua kita, kakak kita atau belajar dari pengalaman pribadi kita aja’. Nyatanya, kebiasaan beres-beres yang kita lakukan belum tentu benar, bukankah kita sseharusnya membiasakan kebenaran, bukan membenarkan kebiasaan?.
2. Membuang Sampai Tuntas Terlebih Dahulu
Pernahkah kalian mempunyai baju yang jarang dipakai? Kalian ingin membuangnya tapi tidak tega karna keadaan baju tersebut masih bagus. Atau pernahkah kalian mempunyai sepatu yang saking lamanya tidak terpakai sampai tertutup debu setebal 1 cm? Kalian ingin membuangnya tapi teringat harga sepatu tersebut yang menguras banyak uang, dan kalian membelinya hanya karena ngetrend, kemudian berhenti memakainya karna merasa kalian tidak cocok memakai sepatu tersebut.
Contoh-contoh diatas adalah hal yang sepertinya akan dialami banyak orang, dan metode beres-beres KonMari akan mengajarkan kalian untuk membuang barang-barang yang tidak kalian butuhkan, tidak kalian sukai, dan tidak membangkitkan semangat kalian sehingga semua barang yang kalian punya hanyalah barang-barang favorit kalian. Yang pastinya akan sering kalian gunakan karna semua barang yang kalian punya setelah membuang sampai tuntas cocok dengan selera kalian.
3. Berbenah Berdasarkan Kategori Ajaibnya Bukan Main
Masih pengalaman pribadi, setiap beres-beres, aku selalu beres-beres berdasarkan tempat, hari ini beres-beres kamar, besok beres-beres dapur, lusa beres-beres ruang tamu dan seterusnya. Ternyata, itu salah besar, menurut metode KonMarie sebaiknya kita berbenah berdasarkan kateogir, missal hari ini beres-beres baju, semua baju dari mulai baju kita, baju adik, baju orangtua kita, dan semua baju yang ada di rumah. Kemudian misal besok beres-beres buku, semua buku yang ada di rumah, milik siapapun itu. Kemudian lusanya kita membereskan semua perabot rumah tangga yang ada di rumah kita. Begitu seterusnya.
Setelah baca buku ini, aku jadi tau kenapa rumahku berantakan lagi dan lagi padahal aku adalah orang yang termasuk rajin beres-beres (sungguh!) wkwk
4. Mencerahkan Hidup Dengan Menyimpan Secara Apik
Pernahkan kalian menyimpan barang A-Z dalam satu wadah yang sama? Sepertinya jawaban kita sama, ya, pernah! Ternyata hal ini juga yang membuat sesi beres-beres kita terlihat tidak berguna karna akan berantakan lagi pada akhirnya. Metode KonMari menyarankan agar kita menyimpan semua barang secara apik, tidaak menaruh barang A-Z ke dalam satu wadah yang sama, meski terkesan merepotkan, metode ini akan membuat sesi beres-beres kita terasa manfaatnya karena kerapihan barang-barang kita akan bertahan lama bahkan selamanya. Ketika kita sudah menyimpan barang secara apik, tidak menyatukannya ke dalam satu wadah, maka kita pun akan mengembalikan dan menaruh barang tersebut dengan sepenuh hati dan tidak menganiayanya dengan menyatukannya bersama barang lain yang bisa ‘menyakiti’ barang tersebut.
5. Keajaiban Berbenah Mengubah Hidup Anda Secara Dramatis
Ibaratkan otak dan hati yang sudah tertata rapih, hari-hari yang kita lewati pun akan terasa berbeda dan kita akan merasakan kegembiraan dalam menjalani aktifitas sehari-hari. Begitu juga dengan rumah, kamar dan lingkungan kita yang sudah tertata rapih, hidup kita pun akan tertata rapih dengan perlahan, disadari atau tidak. Karena ketika lingkungan kita telah tertata rapih, otak kita bisa berpikir lebih jernih untuk bekerja atau membuat karya, hati kita akan lebih bahagia dalam merespon segala kejadian yang ada sehingga kita menjalani hari dengan berpikir lebih positif. Bahkan ketika kita mengalami hari buruk pun, kita akan merasa mendapatkan ketenangan ketika kita sudah sampai di rumah dan mendapatkan suasana yang rapih, bersih bahkan wangi. Sebuah treatment yang sederhana namun bermakna ketika seharian kita menjalani kehidupan yang berat. Ketika kita sudah merasa tenang saat kembali ke rumah, keesokan harinya pun kita akan merasa seperti ter ‘charge’ kembali dan menjalani kehidupan dengan pikiran positf lagi, membayangkannya saja sudah menyenangkan bukan?
Banyak sub bab yang gak aku tulis di review kali ini, biar lebih jelas, kalian bisa baca bukunya secara lengkap dengan membeli atau meminjam buku ini ya 😊 aku belinya di Toga Mas Bandung seharga Rp. 50.150,-. Di marketplace juga banyak sih kayaknya.
Remember when the book fandom criticised the Marie Kondo method and then got solidly shut down by the rest of the internet? It might have been a big misunderstanding.
I looked into it more and this might be the fault of family blogs. There’s one with a listicle “16 Things Marie Kondo Says Everyone Should Discard”, which included unread books and reference books.
If you know one thing about book fandom culture, it’s that having unread books is a big deal. Having unread books on hand is somewhere between a status symbol, an emergency food supply, and a part of your identity. If you hear that someone is telling you that something integral to your identity needs to go, you’re not going to react well.
Marie Kondo (and I assume most of the people she’s worked with, I haven’t watched the show) don’t tie their identity to reading. She treats books as utilitarian objects, not keepsakes. That’s a disconnect. Maybe the backlash here wasn’t just racism or hating the popular thing, maybe it was a value clash.
I’m not going to say it’s not that deep, because obviously it took a lot of explaining to get here, but maybe the depth isn’t in the first place we thought to look.
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Week 4 of Declutter Challenge
During the last week (actually nine days) of my 30-day decluttering challenge, I sorted out 234 items. Most of them were hobby and art supplies, but some stuff got weeded out from the kitchen and from my stash of magazines.
All in all, I sorted out a total of 465 items while playing the minimalism game!
Doing this challenge has really freed up space for the things I really use, especially in the library where most of the unused hobby stuff was hogging up room in drawers and collecting dust on shelves.
Looking for some inspiration to start your own declutter challenge? Check out all the stuff I let go over the course of 30 days ➡ here!
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Decluttering: Day 30
Whelp. Another stack of pulp!
This is a really nice lot of collectors' issues from Hermès, Polaroid, and Rubber Stamp Madness. Off to eBay they go. If nobody takes them after ten days, they'll be hitting the paper recycling.
Whew, that was 30 days of decluttering! And I didn't even really start on the closet... 😅
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10 Things You Can Declutter Today
Does doing a 30-day decluttering challenge sound kind of enticing to you, yet you don't know where to start?
Feel like you're suffocating in stuff and just want to do a quick tidy-up?
Here are ten ideas for areas and categories you can easily declutter today:
Expired staples in the kitchen and pantry
Ripped, stained or tattered underwear
Socks with holes, or tights with runs (unless they're from Gucci 😅)
Product pamphlets and brochures
Dried up art supplies like paints, markers, ink pads
Clothes that make you feel bad
Cables and adapters you don't know what they belong to
Broken costume jewellery
Have some more ideas for easy wins in the decluttering department? Have you done the 30-day minimalism game? Let us know in the comments!
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The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up Review!
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing
By Marie Kondo
Translated by Cathy Hirano
Ten Speed Press, 2014
The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.
Here we go: let’s dive into the KonMari method and talk about the book that sparks joy! The tiny hardcover has no images, only text, and does stray from the “design” lean of the media I’ve reviewed thus far. However, it certainly is found in the Home section of many libraries, and ultimately does respond to one of my main queries with the DesignMod page, that is: how do we relate to the material objects around us, and how do they relate to us? The space of a home is certainly connected to your heart space and mental space.
Overall, this book gets 5 of 6 joyful geese. Without pictures, I got a little cerebral while reading, taking notes and asking questions like I do when I’m researching for a paper/article. This isn’t what threw me off, however. While Marie Kondo is ridiculously charming and her acknowledgement of the precious relationship between people and our things is truly key (*chef’s kiss), I can’t help but get frustrated at how she talks about throwing things ‘away’. More on this after the positives.
Many people around the world are familiar with the name Marie Kondo. The first things that come to mind are often a) neat folding techniques, and b) the question, “does it spark joy?”. There are many nuggets of wisdom across these pages. Here are some of my faves:
Do not even think about putting your things away until you have finished the process of discarding.
...we should be choosing what we want to keep, not what we want to get rid of.
...always think in terms of category, not place.
To quietly work away at disposing of your own excess is actually the best way of dealing with a family that doesn’t tidy.
The key is to store things standing up rather than laid flat.
The point in deciding specific places to keep things is to designate a spot for every thing.
Clutter is caused by a failure to return things to where they belong. Therefore, storage should reduce the effort needed to put things away, not the effort needed to get them out.
...arrange your storage so that you can tell at a glance where everything is…
As someone who grew up in the USA, I appreciate the KonMari method’s attention to reducing excess. Kondo also discusses the benefit of individually honing decision making skills as well as the ability to articulate your preferences. Her process asks that you hold each of your possessions one by one, an incredibly intimate opportunity to listen to why you are holding onto it. Being able to do this is definitely a skill; I’m sure you know someone who “loves” practically anything, or perhaps someone who is rarely satisfied. Asking if an item sparks joy is a good alternative to more proscriptive decluttering solutions, which necessitate that you keep a fixed number of items, or that you buy specific items. The KonMari method instead is very subjective, which I think is fab.
The book includes biographical anecdotes from Kondo in addition to a detailed explanation of the very specific process that is the KonMari method. She doesn’t shy from bragging about her business’s success, which leads me to my first critique. It must be understood that the KonMari method is heavily branded. She is a true phenomenon, starting from working with clients in Japan to a series on Netflix, a collection with The Container Store, and beyond. The website includes items like storage bins that one should purchase for a tidy home, even though her content suggests using old shoeboxes. This is something that she has worked very hard to develop. I think this book is a good resource for people wanting to learn about Kondo’s story as well as the particulars of her approach to tidying. However, I can’t help but notice capitalist vibes in how much is being sold.
My main critique lies in the discussion of waste, or lack thereof. It is positive that the method focuses on deciding what to keep in contrast to what to get rid of. The process is definitely more joyful that way. However, a huge part of the excess we possess is the excess we discard. We can consume so much because it’s so commonplace to throw things away, whether it’s because they are broken or because we now like something else. I’ve learned a lot about the institutionalized systems profiting off of waste production from the Slow Factory Foundation. Simply “recycling” or even “donating” items does not assume much responsibility, especially because many items designated for ‘charity’ end up in landfills, burned, or shipped to poorer countries to deal with.
Maybe you’ve heard the term fast fashion, which refers to business models in which inexpensive clothing is produced rapidly by mass-market retailers to keep up with trends. These systems exist in the Global North and usurp communities in the Global South by ways of landfills, under-paid labor, and general pollution. In many ways, the production behind any home item has become fast. Ask yourself, “how many items do I own that I can name the person who made it?” It’s a tough question for the average American. I’m Italian, and the situation there is similar, although home spaces in Italy are much much smaller.
I’m curious about the perspective on waste in Japan. Kondo developed her method when working with Japanese clients, primarily middle-aged, professional women. My point with this criticism is simply a worry regarding people living in the Global North who are less invested in minimizing waste, that they will take this book and discard things without acknowledging that there is no “away” when you throw something out. Kondo briefly touches upon how discerning what sparks joy should also be considered before buying anything after the big tidy. Nonetheless, I wish there were more consideration of class and economic status, that for many people with limited resources, they don’t have the luxury of getting rid of things they simply don’t like.
Once you learn to choose your belongings properly, you will be left only with the amount that fits perfectly in the space you currently own.
Overall, the book is very helpful and easy to read. Kondo’s approach is clear but also subjective, an excellent recipe for a deep transformation to restore balance and harmony in the home.
With loving curiosity,
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Welcome to Konmari with kids Master Class - https://youtu.be/tV6z2F_PVQE
Capturing a Dream
Chapter 10 – Who Do You Trust
Chapter 1 Chapter 9
*Note – Savage is working with Klarion for his plan. Klarion is the one controlling everyone, but the Team doesn’t know that.
After a prolonged encounter with Firestorm, Chimera ran out onto the platform freshly recharged and ready to fight. She had already used Mullo, Roaar, and Stompp and was now on Pollen. She was beyond curious to see what cataclysm would do to one of Green Lantern’s creations but she was afraid of what it would do to his ring and, well, the power of cataclysm on a floating rock in space seemed like a poor decision, so Plagg had stayed with Adrien.
She hadn’t had time to feed any of the kwami after using them except Trixx, who she needed to keep up the illusion of her suit, so for now, each kwami was only used once then put back in the flute. She’d make sure to give them all extra treats and thanks after the fight. Taking the time to recharge Trixx had been risky and time consuming, but necessary. Didn’t mean she liked it. She had to hide and do nothing while the rest of the team were getting attacked. She hated it.
Taking time to hide and recharge meant her team had to fight on their own and cover their own backs. It lead to situations like the one she ran in on, a possessed Batman throwing Robin across the platform and kicking Rocket into a buttress. The force bubble that had been around Wonder Woman disappeared as Rocket’s focus was forcibly removed. Robin’s focus remained squarely on the threat in front of him. He stood, facing Batman, the apprehension in his stance was clear to Chimera. It likely would have been clear to Batman as well, but hopefully whoever was controlling him only saw confident defiance. Despite the façade, Chimera knew this particular fight was the worst for Robin; fighting the man who had become like a father to him. Even knowing he was being controlled, she could see the strain in Robin’s eyes.
She rushed forward to assist Robin. He threw a handful of smoke pellets before jumping at Batman, kicking at where he knew he had been, the kick designed to deliver maximum impact to sensitive areas. He landed roughly in an empty space instead. Robin turned around just in time for Batman to punch him with enough force to knock him back a considerable distance.
Chimera took advantage of the distraction to attack from behind. She almost made contact with the still distracted mentor when she was roughly yanked to the side. She landed on the concrete with a grunt. She looked down to see Wonder Woman’s lasso around her chest, pinning her arms to her side. Her eyes trailed the lasso back to Wonder Woman’s hands. An unnatural predatory glint was in Wonder Woman’s eyes. “Now, tell me,” she implored in an eerily cheery voice. “Who. Are. You?” She pulled the lasso tighter, drawing Chimera closer. “The Lasso of Hestia compels you.”
Chimera’s breath hitched as she took in the lasso. Wonder Woman’s eyes narrowed in glee. She would not be able to resist the Lasso of Truth. Any second now Klarion would know who Chimera really was, and more importantly, what she was. And once he knew that, he would know how to defeat her. Their next encounter would go very differently with that information.
Chimera looked over her shoulder to gauge the fight between Batman and Robin. When she looked back toward Wonder Woman, it was more a look of amusement than fear. Whoever was controlling them was clumsy. A novice at UMS could do better than this amateur. Their strikes were wild and indelicate. Not taking full advantage of the fighter they chose. She raised an eyebrow at Wonder Woman. “A weapon of subjection and dispelling illusions? Really? You think this has power over me?” She pulled on the lasso, easily pulling the normally well prepared Wonder Woman off balance, causing her to stumble toward Chimera as the lasso fell uselessly at her feet. Wonder Woman kicked off Chimera, using the momentum she gained to flip away from her, putting necessary distance between them.
But, the movement caused her to lose sight of Chimera for a few seconds. A few precious seconds that were all an expert UMS player, like Chimera needed. She spun her top out, just barely grazing Wonder Woman’s exposed upper arm. But, a touch was all she needed. Wonder Woman froze in the last moments of the flip. Unable to adjust to land, she crashed inelegantly onto the concrete in a way that Chimera was sure was going to bruise in the morning. Chimera slowly walked up to her, confident the person controlling her was still listening. She knelt down next to Wonder Woman’s ear and whispered, “You want to know who I am?” She pulled Wonder Woman’s face toward her so whoever was controlling her could see Chimera. “I’m a goddamned goddess.”
She dropped Wonder Woman’s face so she could no longer see Chimera and winced. It was kind of true in the cock your head to the side and squint kind of way. Like a 3-D picture, you had to look really hard and focus on what was behind what was presented. Okay, it wasn’t true, but there was a goddess involved somewhere and whoever was controlling the Justice League was listening. It would be nothing but beneficial for their enemies to have the wrong idea about her. It meant they not only didn’t know about the miraculous, but they would focus on the entirely wrong weaknesses, making them less able to figure out how to fight her.
Chimera gently laid the inoculation patch on Wonder Woman, watching it as it merged into her body. Chimera let out a small breath, laying her hand on Wonder Woman and wishing a silent apology for the pain she would feel in the morning. She looked over her shoulder, Robin was still holding his own against Batman. He still had some tricks he could pull out. She however was on a timer. Trixx would time out any second now. She looked toward where Rocket had been thrown earlier to see if she was moving yet. She could see some movement, but not much.
Chimera rushed over to her to see if anything was seriously wrong. “I think my head’s going to be ringing for a few hours, but I’ll be okay. I can still create bubbles. Just point me where to go,” Rocket stated confidently, but the urge to hold her head in her hands was evident.
Chimera gave her an understanding smile. “No. You’ve already taken out quite a few members. Go hide somewhere until you feel better. We have almost everyone by now, just a few more. It wouldn’t help anyone if they caught you in this state. Once you feel up to it, check with Aqualad to see where he wants you,” Chimera ordered her. Rocket nodded and shuffled to another room to recover.
Chimera let out a breath and found an alcove and hid herself… again. She huffed at the thought and vowed to make the transition as quick as possible. “Trixx, Pollen, separate,” she whispered, causing Trixx to come spiraling out of her necklace. She tossed a cookie to Trixx. “Eat quickly. Robin needs us. And I have no idea where Superboy is.” She tried to glance back nervously.
“Done, Guardian,” Trixx chirped after only a few seconds.
Chimera gave her a relieved smile. “I think you’re getting faster. Thank you so much, Trixx. Trixx, Pollen, unite.” Before the wave of light had completely engulfed her, she was already pulling Longg’s choker out of the flute. “Pollen, Trixx, separate. Great job, Pollen. I will feed you as soon as this is all over,” she promised, moving to tuck the comb into the flute. Pollen nodded in understanding and disappeared into the comb. Longg spun out of the choker to face her the moment it was secure around her neck. “Good evening, Guardian.” Longg bowed to her.
“Good evening, Longg. I hope you’re ready to fight. Longg, Trixx, unite.” She was blowing her melody in the flute before the light was done. “Mirage.” She was running the instant the word left her lips, her costume changing as soon as she finished the word.
She narrowed her eyes at the still ongoing fight between Robin and Batman. She corrected her course toward their fight but skidded to a stop just in time to see Superboy burst through the ceiling and the floor right in front of her. “Superboy!” She tensed to jump down to check on him, but got hit by Superman and knocked through the wall into the main meeting room before she could. She shook her head to clear away the fog and moved quickly back to the fight, still a bit hazy from the hit.
She got to the hole she had created in the wall just in time to see Batman kick Robin through the hole in the floor Superboy had created. She quirked her lips to the side as the unbidden thought that they were going to be doing a lot of reconstruction when this is all done occurred to her. Seriously, she and Superboy alone had been thrown through at least four objects, leaving gaping holes.
She jumped when Wolf hit the wall next to her with a loud thump. She whipped her head around to see Martian Manhunter stalking toward them. She will deny to her death that she yelped when Sphere came out of nowhere to knock him out of the way. She shook her head again to focus on Batman and Superman. She crawled through the hole in the wall and ran to the floor hole.
She peeked over the edge in time to catch Superboy swing Robin in a circle before launching him into Batman. Robin deftly placed the patch on Batman as they fell, rendering him unconscious before he hit the ground. Chimera took the distraction as an opportunity to drop down through the hole, landing behind Superman, who was charging at Superboy.
He heard her land and twisted mid-charge to swing at her instead. She jumped back at the unexpected move, just barely missing the hit. She dropped to miss his next kick and kicked her leg out instead to sweep his legs out from under him, but he floated up just enough to miss her leg, without having to resettle himself as he would if he had jumped. Instead, he could leverage his new height into a dangerous body slam. “Cheater,” she grumbled, flipping out of the way before he landed with enough force to create a crater right where she had been a second before.
Whoever was controlling them was clearly more familiar with Superman’s strengths than he had been with the others’ she’d come across already. She flipped out of the way his punch, but it passed by closely enough that the low pressure created interfered with her trajectory just slightly, throwing her a bit off balance, just enough for him to grab her arm and throw her into Robin. They landed in a heap of tangled arms and legs and bruises.
Superboy punched Superman from the side, knocking him over a few feet. Superman returned the punch, but Superboy blocked it. He kicked Superman in the stomach, causing him to double over, but not as much as Superboy had been hoping. Superman used the change to add power to his uppercut that connected with Superboy’s jaw with a sickening smack. Superman kicked him, launching him into a wall. The wall folded under the pressure, a spider web of cracks emanating from his point of contact. Superboy fell, landing on his hands and knees, muscles shaking with the strain to get up again.
Chimera kicked Superman’s knee from behind, forcing him to fall back slightly. She was at his side in an instant with a well-placed punch, knocking him to the side. She rose up her leg to kick him back, but he grabbed her leg. She tried to kick him with her other leg but he floated up into the air with her. He spun around a few times and let go of her, launching her through a buttress and out of Superboy’s sight.
“Chimera!” Superboy screamed, searching for any indication of her status. Not seeing any, he switched his focus back to Superman, who was still watching her to see what she would do. Superboy’s face was contorted in a dangerous grimace, eyes narrowed and glaring at Superman. He kicked Superman in the back, sending him sprawling forward just enough to almost put him off balance. He whirled on Superboy, using the momentum to increase the impact of his punch. Superboy deflected the punch only allowing it to graze him. Superboy delivered an uppercut of his own, knocking Superman back a few feet. Superman stopped his backward momentum and flew forward with both fists in front of him, sending Superboy flying into the wall.
Robin tried to sneak up on Superman but he sent his fist out behind him, swinging his body after it, to backhand him. Robin flipped back in a series of perfectly executed back handsprings. Missing the entire volley of punches Superman sent his way. The distraction gave Superboy the opportunity to grab Superman from behind and latch onto him, pinning down his arms.
“Sure about this?” Robin double checked, pulling a box out of his belt. Conner had agreed to it when he’d gotten it out of the Batcave, but now it was actually happening. Now he would have to actually feel the pain of it. Now it was real.
“Do it!” Superboy yelled in confirmation, bracing himself for the pain. His face was set in a determined frown. He needed to check on Chimera and this was taking too long.
Robin nodded and opened the box, slowly advancing on the two supers as the tell-tale green glow of kryptonite emitted from the box. Superman and Superboy both groaned in pain and slowly started curling in on themselves. Robin had almost reached them when he was knocked into the wall by Martian Manhunter. He reached down and placed the shard of kryptonite back in the box, easing the drain on the two supers before turning back to Robin. He moved quickly to attack, but Robin had jumped away before he could reach him.
Superman recovered quicker than Superboy. He grabbed onto Superboy’s arms, which were still wrapped around his chest, securing them and Superboy, into place. He launched himself, or more precisely Superboy, into the wall behind them over and over again until Superboy was barely standing. Superman turned and kicked Superboy in his sternum with enough force to knock out the already weakened super.
“Superboy!” Chimera screamed. She watched him, waiting for him to show any indication of movement. Seeing none, she turned her focus to Superman, glaring at him with an intensity that would have put Batman to shame. Superboy just couldn’t get a break from Superman. It didn’t matter if he was being controlled or fully in control of himself. No matter the situation, Superman kept making Superboy suffer, and for what?
She stood slowly, her entire body tensed like she was bracing for an impact, her arms hanging by her sides, but ready to spring at a moment’s notice. She started walking slowly toward him. She looked down so Superman couldn’t read her lips and silently mouthed “lightning dragon”. She slowly twisted her wrists as lightning crawled over her hands. Her fingers crackled with the electricity surging over them. Yellow sparks flared dangerously from her fingers, in short, controlled bursts. “How bad can I make him hurt?” she asked sharply.
Robin’s eyes widened in surprise, almost not jumping out of the way to miss Martian Manhunter’s grab for him. He’d never heard Chimera speak with such coldness. Even when facing enemies, she was rational and never used excessive force. The look in her eyes showed she was holding back now, the desire to hurt him warring with her natural inclination to protect. “He’s still our friend,” he cautioned her between jumps and kicks. “He’s being controlled.”
“Right. Just don’t kill him,” she nodded curtly. She brought her hands in front of her, wrapping them around each other, forming a large ball of yellow lightning coursing through it. Veins of electricity traced the invisible barrier she’d created and reinforced with her movements. She controlled the power’s path. She set the route and the destination.
Superman’s eyes narrowed and his body tensed to rush her. She gave him a second to demonstrate his super speed, allowing him to get closer to her before she struck, flicking her hands forward to direct the lightning at him. He froze in pain. He tried to move through the force of the lightning, but couldn’t get his body to function properly. Electricity trailed over his body, around his legs and arms, over his chest, holding him in place, interfering with the internal electrical impulses controlling the muscles, pushing them to contract. He screamed out in frustration and pain, trying to push through the restraints, but barely able to keep all his muscles from contracting and forcing him to curl into a ball.
Chimera’s face contorted in concentration and strain. She had not used Lightning Dragon before and utilizing it at full strength while maintaining an illusion of her regular costume, was quickly draining her energy. She focused her full attention to Superman, trying to increase the strength until he passed out. Her focus was distracted when Robin grunted loudly. Chimera spared a quick glance to Robin.
Her lightning almost faltered when she saw Martian Manhunter holding Robin strong enough to break bones. She looked back to Superman, trying to run through her options. She couldn’t drop lightning. Once she dropped it, Superman would start moving. She faltered for a second before deciding on her only option. She moved her right hand toward Martian Manhunter, splitting the impact of her lightning.
Martian Manhunter immediately dropped Robin in surprise and pain. Robin fell into a crouch, quickly moving away from Martian Manhunter while he regained his breath. He watched the scene before him. Chimera was holding the two heroes at bay, but just barely. Sweat had started dripping down her forehead from the exertion. With the force of her lightening split, Superman had started making progress toward her, though it slowed as he got closer and the strength of the lightning increased. But, even slowed, it was still there. He needed to act quickly to get to Superman before he got to Chimera. Martian Manhunter was closer, so he would have to be first.
“Hurry up, bird boy,” she grunted. “I’m starting to feel like the Emperor.”
“Drop Manhunter’s!” Robin called out as soon as he had positioned himself behind him.
Chimera moved her hand so they were both directed toward Superman, halting his progress only a few feet away. Robin quickly placed himself behind Superman as well. “Cut it!” He yelled out.
Chimera turned her hands up with a sharp flick, cutting the lightning’s path. She gasped for air, her chest finally feeling like it could fully inflate, as Superman collapsed on his hands and knees. Before she could take a full breath, she was already on the move to check on Conner, trusting that Robin had placed the patch on Superman’s neck the moment the lightning cut.
“Conner!” she called to him, gently repositioning him to lay down on his back and lifting his head into her lap. She gave him a quick check over to see if she could see any grievous injuries. There was nothing that stuck out, but he would likely have bruises and maybe a concussion. He may be invulnerable, but she wasn’t at all sure if that still that still held true against another Kryptonian. They could kill one another after all, that had to mean it didn’t, right?
Robin crouched next to her. “How’s he doing?”
“I’m not sure yet. X-ray vision is his thing, not mine,” she motioned toward Superman. “But he’s breathing, so there’s that. Go, help the others get Savage. I’ll stay here with Superboy. I’m going to need to recharge anyway. Let me know if you guys need help.”
Robin nodded in agreement. He laid his hand on her shoulder, gently squeezing it to give her silent comfort before running toward the Observation deck, where he was sure the rest of the team was heading as well.
Chimera brushed Superboy’s hair away from his forehead. She quietly cooed at him, trying to urge him to wake up. “It’s okay, Conner. You’ll be okay. We’re not done yet,” she reassured more for herself than for him. She anxiously ran her hands through his hair, in what she hoped was a comforting ministration. “I just need you to come back now. Come back… to me… please.”
She took a deep breath and looked around her to make sure nobody was looking before pulling out a few treats from her flute. “Trixx, Longg separate.” Trixx twirled out of her necklace with a tired smile.
“Guardian,” he nodded at her.
Chimera smiled back at him and tossed him a cookie. “Thank you, Trixx. Eat up. We might have more fighting before we rest.” Trixx nodded and started eating the cookie. “You did really well again, Trixx.”
Trixx smiled at her and twirled in the air. “It’s al…”
“Was that a light?” Conner muttered, scrunching his face and clamping his eyes shut to block out the light.
“Conner!” Chimera immediately brightened. “How are you feeling? Are you okay?”
“I feel like a human hit by a truck,” he groaned. “Repeatedly.”
Chimera chuckled. “That’s probably about accurate. Hopefully fewer broken bones though.”
“How are you?” He tried to open his eyes but the brightness hurt. Instead he slowly sat up and hunched over, trying to put as little strain on his aching muscles as possible.
“I’m fine,” she assured him. “That spin move definitely looked a lot more fun when you did it to Robin than when Superman did it to me, but he didn’t hit me nearly as hard as he hit you, or as much.”
He hummed noncommittally. He didn’t believe her, but he was in no position to argue currently. He needed to focus on opening his eyes. “Is it over?” he asked, rubbing his eyes with the heels of his hands. He slowly opened his eyes just a bit, blinking repeatedly to try to make them accustomed them to the light.
“I think so. I haven’t heard anything over the coms yet. The League have all been immunized. The Team is just making sure Vandal is gone.” Trixx floated in front of her with an urgent look, glancing back and forth between Superboy and Chimera. Chimera’s eyes widened in realization. She looked down at her suit, her distinctly not normal suit. Once Superboy turned her way, he would see her in a very different suit from normal. He would know that her powers made her appear differently.
She looked down at Superboy again and let out a long breath. Would that be so bad? Would it be so bad for Conner to know that her suit looked different depending on what power she was using? She wasn’t going to tell him everything, just… more. And this was Conner. She trusted him with her life, and more importantly, she trusted him with her loved ones’ lives. She trusted him and he deserved to know that, in a way that he would understand. And there were just so many lies, she really needed there to be fewer. She needed someone to know more, someone who could understand her.
She motioned to the kwami to hide and looked back at Superboy. “Hey, Conner?”
“Yes?” He kept his eyes closed, but inclined his face toward her to show her he was listening.
“Want to see something nobody else has ever seen?” There was a distinctive edge of vulnerability in her voice.
He scrunched up his face in confusion. What could there possibly be on the Watchtower that nobody had seen. “Okay?”
“Open your eyes,” she softly instructed.
He slowly opened his eyes and looked at her. His brows furrowed for a few seconds in confusion, letting his vision adjust before realization set in. His eyes widened and he snapped up into a sitting position, swaying slightly from the change in blood pressure. She reached out to steady him, watching him carefully to read his reaction. He was staring at her in awe, mouth slightly agape.
When he didn’t react for more than a few seconds, she looked to the side, nervous under his scrutiny. “It isn’t… I can’t drop…” She took a deep breath and looked back at him with a nervous smile. “You know I said I draw on different powers?” He nodded mutely, too shocked by the change to be able to formulate words. “I draw on two main ones, but occasionally add a new one if I need it. Each new power changes my appearance to enable the power. I use mirage to hide it so nobody knows. But I’m not doing that now.”
His eyes raked over the new costume and hair. He reached out to touch her face dumbfounded. His fingers traced her mask. The new shape felt odd, but didn’t seem out of place. Her hair was still pulled back, but in an elaborate French braid, that trailed down her back and flared out like a tail. The red and black of her current suit seemed to fit her much better than the brown and orange or her regular suit.
But the thing that absolutely captivated him was her eyes. They were blindingly, brilliantly, beautiful and visible. For the first time since he’d met her, he could see her eyes. “Your eyes are blue,” he breathed out. She smiled gently at him and nodded. He stared at her entranced trying to memorize every aspect of her like it might be the last time he would ever see it, which if what she said was true, it very well could be. “Why?”
“Why what?” she cocked her head to the side. “Why are they blue?”
“Why are you showing me? I thought… I thought you couldn’t,” he answered breathily, still staring in her eyes, trying to memorize the exact color, a deeper shade of blue than his own yet still bright.
“I’m not supposed to. It’s still not me, not me me. It’s another suit,” she babbled. Superboy nodded distractedly, only partially taking in everything she was saying. His eyes kept jumping from one detail to another, subconsciously comparing what she looked like now to what she looked like normally, searching for commonalities and differences to come up with a more complete picture of what she looked like.
“Nobody has ever seen me in just this suit,” she continued. “You’re the only one. I wanted you to see… well, I want you to see more, but…” she furrowed her brow in consideration, trying to force out the words she wanted to say while at the same time trying to keep the tears in. “There’s too many secrets. I hate it. I can’t… How close can I get to anyone when it’s all lies?” she stuttered out, trying to organize her thoughts, but there were too many coming too quickly for her to divulge them in an orderly manner. “How can you build trust when everything is built on lies? How can I expect you guys to trust me when you don’t know me?”
Superboy shook his head adamantly. His eyes became hard. “You’re being stupid again,” he growled.
She looked up at him shocked and furrowed her brow. “You know calling someone stupid, isn’t as comforting as you seem to think it is.”
“Then stop being stupid.” He flicked her forehead. She pouted at him and rubbed her forehead. “You don’t get to blame yourself because I screwed up.” She opened her mouth to object but he cut her off before she could say some ridiculous, insane reason it was her fault. “And what lies? What you look like? You’ve never lied about it. We know that isn’t what you look like. I know this isn’t what you look like.”
She opened her mouth again, but he cut her off again, more aggressively this time. “No! That was Savage’s mistake,” he argued, brows furrowed in frustration. “He underestimated us. We may not know the details, but we know what we need to know. I know you. And you do know me. You knew what drove me to use the shields. I didn’t have to tell you. You never suspected me of making a deal to get them. You never doubted me. Because you do know me.
“And I know you.” At some point during his speech he had started yelling, but he couldn’t stop now. It was too important that she understood this. “I don’t know who your parents are, but I know they love you and you love them. I don’t know your friends’ names, but I know you think of them like family and would give everything you have for them, for us, without hesitation. I don’t know what you want to do for a career, but I know you’re creative and have a drive and determination that whatever it is you want to do, you’ll succeed. And I know that you’ll drive yourself into the ground doing it unless you have someone there forcing you to sleep and take care of yourself.” He gave her an annoyed look.
“I don’t know how powerful you are or will be, but I know you’re scared because you want to protect people from getting hurt, not cause it. And I don’t know the names of all the people who broke your heart, but I know you use it to guide you in everything you do.” He took a deep, calming breath and looked at her tenderly. “I don’t know everything, but I trust you.”
She stared at him, frozen as she tried to process his words. He started to question if he had broken her somehow when she launched herself at him, wrapping her arms around him in a tight hug. The hug both calmed her and set her skin on fire. She buried her face in his shoulder to hide her blush and so she didn’t have to look in his eyes, because if she looked in his eyes, all of her resolve would fade and she would do something dangerous, for her and Conner and everyone else.
They broke apart before at the sound of Robin’s voice over the coms. “Savage is gone. How is Superboy?”
Chimera took a deep breath and pulled away, keeping her eyes on the ground. “He’s awake. I’ll send him over while I recharge.” Superboy frowned at her, but nodded in understanding. He didn’t want to leave. It felt like they were close to something, but he wouldn’t force her into anything.
“Come on, our other teammates are waiting on you.” She gave him a strained smile, swallowing down the bile that pushed up her throat. The word was bitter on her tongue and she hated it. She reached out her hand to help him stand up, keeping a close eye on him to make sure he was stable enough to stand on his own. While he kept his eyes on her to make sure she was okay as well.
She nearly jumped when the New Year was announced over the internal system. “Happy New Year, Justice League.”
She let out a breath and chuckle. She looked up at Superboy, feeling vulnerable under his soft gaze. She smiled ruefully and leaned up to kiss his cheek. “Happy New Year, Conner.” She patted his chest and walked away to a more private area to recharge and catch her breath.
Recharged, refocused, and back in her normal suit, she joined Superboy on the observation deck, standing on the other side of Wolf from him, letting Wolf act as an emotional barrier for her. She crouched down to pet Wolf and quickly check him over for injuries. She cooed at him a few times and fell over laughing when Wolf accidentally knocked her over in his excitement.
Superboy smiled at her as he watched her play with Wolf. Laughing, he helped her up after Wolf knocked her down. His arm twitched to be slung over her shoulders, but she seemed like she needed space and as much as it killed him not to touch her right now, he would never not give her the space she needed. She suddenly straightened up. “Oh my God! How much did I miss?”
Superboy looked down at her, a confused furrow in his brow. “What do you mean?”
“Look at Robin and Zatanna. The way they’re standing. Their body language is completely different now. There’s no way they didn’t kiss at midnight. Look at those goofy smiles and blushes. And look at Kid Flash with his arms around Artemis. They must have gotten together too!”
Chimera was jumping with excitement and tugging on his arm. Superboy grinned at her enthusiasm and closeness. He looked back to the group. “Aqualad is looking a bit flustered too.”
Chimera cocked her head to the side to examine him, her eyes widening. “Oh my god, you’re right. Do you think Rocket kissed him, too?” She grinned at the couples, but suddenly wrinkled her nose in disgust. “They’re all going to be making out all over the Cave now, aren’t they?” She looked back at Superboy. “I’m happy for them and all, but I have no interest in seeing them making out.” Especially when she wasn’t able to herself.
Superboy laughed for a moment before he stilled, the idea hitting him too. He scrunched up his face. “Me either,” he agreed. He wouldn’t want to see that in the first place, but seeing them do it and knowing he couldn’t do the same with Chimera was going to suck. “We could always start carrying water guns around for whenever we see them making out,” he offered with a smirk.
Chimera’s eyes went wide, a mischievous smile spreading on her lips. “Next time I go to the store I’ll get a few super soakers and a ton of water balloons.” They started giggling at the idea until they felt a presence behind them.
They turned around slowly, eyes widening at the sight of Superman, standing stiffly behind them. “Hello Mr… Man,” Chimera scrunched up her nose. “You know, you supers really have a problem with your names. You make it hard to mock you based on your name. It’s rather annoying.”
Superman chuckled awkwardly. “Sorry about that… I guess. I’ll try to work on it.”
“Wouldn’t be my priority of things to work on, but you do you, I guess,” she muttered wryly, knowing full well both of them could hear her. Superboy smirked, but hid it with a downturned face. Chimera looked back and forth between Superman and Superboy, almost laughing at the awkwardness. They both looked extremely apprehensive and nervous, looking anywhere but each other’s eyes. She was starting to wonder if the inability to process emotions was genetic.
She studied Superman closely as she waited for him to say why he had approached them. He kept tensing his jaw like he was getting ready to say something before sending her a furtive glance and looking away. “Riiiiight,” she drawled, rocking back and forth from her toes to her heels. “Oh look! It’s Red Arrow… all alone… I should go check on him. Let me know if you want me.” She gave Superboy a supportive pat on the back and walked over toward Red Arrow.
She felt slightly guilty about abandoning Superboy to speak with Superman, but it looked like Superman really wanted to talk with him and wouldn’t with her around. He looked contrite, which was a really good sign for them starting to move toward a relationship, and that was something that Conner desperately needed. She grimaced slightly at the thought that it might be all in her head, just wishful thinking that Superman had finally realized how much he was hurting Conner and that he was blaming Conner for being created. If that was the case and he wasn’t going to try to make amends, she would personally recreate their earlier interaction… for scientific purposes, of course.
She glanced over her shoulder to check on their progress. Her steps faltered as she saw Superboy reel back in mortification. Superman reached out and laid a hand on his shoulder with an awkward smile, calming Superboy immediately. They spoke a bit more then both looked her direction. Superman’s expression was indecipherable. Bemusement, maybe? But Superboy was giving her a proud smile. She squeaked and turned back to Red Arrow, focusing on the task at hand.
She smiled slightly as she sat next to him on the steps. “Hey. Good job earlier. You were really brave going in like that, serving yourselves up like that for Savage.”
He shrugged and looked up with a wry smile. “It’s what I was programmed to do.”
“No, you were programmed to betray us,” she corrected him. “You chose to help us. You chose to protect the innocents from Savage and whoever he was working with. You chose to risk your life. That was all you,” she insisted firmly. She watched him for a few moments. Her determined set lips turned sympathetic. “How are you feeling now that all the adrenaline is wearing off?”
He huffed out a bitter laugh. “I have no idea. I don’t know what is me and what is programming.”
Chimera nodded looking away, staring at the great abyss of space beyond the barriers of the Watchtower. Her brow slowly furrowed in deep thought until the lines seemed etched deep enough they would never leave. “I mean… we’re all programmed in a way. Most of us not so literally, or so malevolently” she granted. “But memories we wish we didn’t have. Events we wish we could forget. Involuntary reactions we wish we could control.” She looked down at her hands, glancing over to him furtively every so often. “I break out into sweats and start hyperventilating when I see either a butt… certain insects. I can no longer function correctly. It’s in my head now and I can’t get it out no matter how hard I try or how logical I am about it. I can’t control the reaction. It’s just there and I can’t make it go away. I can never see them the same anymore. Which is terrible because I used to love them. They used to make me feel calm one kind of insect used to make me feel powerful.”
He stared at her for a few moments. “What happened?”
She shifted her gaze to the floor for a few moments considering her answer before waving her hands like she was waving away his concern. She looked back at him with a supportive smile. “It doesn’t matter. My point is we all have things in our heads we can’t control and can’t get out no matter how hard we try. Things that were put there against our will. But… that’s what makes us who we are. It’s all a part of us. We wouldn’t be ourselves if we didn’t have it there.” She looked at him for a second before her face fell. “But, I mean… that’s a stupidly simplified comparison. Sorry, I didn’t mean to be dismissive of what you’re going through. I do realize it is much worse than that. And if you wanted it out, I’m sure Martian Manhunter could work with you to get it out.”
Red Arrow shook his head and laid his hand on her shoulder. “No, no. That helped. Thanks.”
She gave him a supportive smile. “You know, if you need a place to stay while you’re dealing with everything, you can stay with us. Even if you’re staying somewhere else but need a break, we’re always there. Aqualad, Robin, and Kid Flash are there all the time so they’d be there to hang out with. Or, if you need space, Superboy and I can run interference,” she rushed to assure him. The Cave was a sanctuary for her. She wanted him to know it could be one for him as well.
“And you?” he asked quietly.
She quirked her head at him. “Me?”
“Will you be there to hang out with?”
“Oh! Yeah, well, mostly. I mean, I have school and other obligations, but yeah. I live there so I’ll be there. We’ve tried to make the Cave home for all the Team members. Even if you aren’t technically a member of the Team, you’re still our teammate and we watch out for each other.” She offered him a bright, reassuring smile.
From across the room, Superboy let out a satisfied laugh, his concerned frown from a few moments before turning into a smirk. Roy had just been teammate zoned, and he didn’t even realize it. He could continue to flirt with Chimera as much as he wanted, he wasn’t going to get anywhere. He made his way over to Chimera and Red Arrow. He took a seat next to Chimera, close enough that their hips were touching.
“Couldn’t help but overhear…” he started.
“Was that because you were eavesdropping?” Chimera asked with a pointed look.
He avoided her eyes, leaning forward to look past her toward Red Arrow. “Super hearing, can’t control it.” He pointed to his ear and shrugged innocently.
“Uh huh,” Chimera mumbled, rolling her eyes.
“Anyway, we have lots of rooms in the Cave. If you want one permanently or for a short term, feel free to take one,” he offered.
Red Arrow noted how close they were sitting and nodded, looking away. “Thanks. I don’t think I can rest yet though.”
Batman walked over to the trio, focusing on Chimera. He opened his mouth but quickly closed it, seeming to think better of whatever he was going to say before trying again. “You did good today.” He glanced over to Superboy. “You both did. You two… work well together.” Chimera blushed and looked down, not noticing Superboy do the same and Red Arrow roll his eyes and look away.
“Red Arrow?” Batman stepped forward to catch his attention. “We would like to discuss today’s revelations with you.”
Chimera could see Roy tense at the invitation. He nodded to Batman. “I understand.” He stood and started following him, but Chimera stopped him, grabbing his wrist as she stood and pulling him into a tight hug. “Good Luck,” she whispered. “Don’t forget if you need us, we’re here. That goes beyond just a room.” The corner of Roy’s lips quirked up in a reluctant smile as he hugged her back. He nodded to Superboy and followed Batman out of the room.
Chimera sighed deeply, watching him leave with Batman. She wrapped her arms around herself feeling impotent. “I can’t imagine how hard this has to be for him. I really hope he asks for help if he needs it.”
Conner stood and joined her, watching her with concern rather than Red Arrow. “He knows we’re here. You made sure. Now it’s up to him to decide what he wants to do.”
“I hate it,” she grumbled. She watched the spot where he disappeared for a few more seconds. If the Team hadn’t rescued Conner when they did, that could have been him, or worse. They could have made him into anything they wanted. He would have had nobody there for him, no support, just people criticizing him. Speaking of which, “Oh, hey! How’d it go with Superman?”
He startled for a moment with the new topic. “It went okay. He said we did good,” he hesitated before continuing. “His last name is Kent, too.”
Chimera reeled on him in surprise. “That must be why Martian Manhunter suggested it… He didn’t seem mad that you had the same name,” she hedged.
“He wasn’t. He said it fit,” he assured her with an uncertain smile.
Chimera squealed in excitement. “That’s great Conner!”
His smile turned bright at her excitement. “Yeah, I guess it is. He said he likes you.”
Chimera stared at him wide eyed. “Seriously?”
Superboy nodded with a chuckle. “He said he’s glad I have someone like you watching out for me.”
She looked away at nothing. “Who knew Mr.… Wait… Kent? Like Clark Kent? He’s Clark Kent?” she whisper shouted.
“Yeah? You know him?” He cocked his head to the side in confusion.
“I know of him. Oh my God, if my best friend ever found out I electrocuted Clark Kent, she’d flay me.” She looked toward where Superman had been standing and grimaced at the thought of Alya finding out.
Superboy furrowed his brow. “Is he famous?”
“Eh,” she made a so so gesture with her hand. “He’s famous in journalism. Especially among those who report on superheroes.” She quirked her lips to the side in thought. “Huh, I guess that’s how he gets all those exclusives with Superman. Cheater,” she grumbled but with no real heat behind it. She knew exactly why Alya had gotten all the exclusives she had gotten with the miraculous team so she really had no right criticizing someone else.
Superboy chuckled and looked over their teammates. He let out a long breath. It had been an extremely long few weeks and he was ready to do something relaxing for as long as they were allowed to. “Ready to go home? Maybe watch a movie or just… sleep for a few days?”
Chimera slumped against his shoulder. “That sounds amazing. I just want to sleep until school starts in a few days. What do you think are the odds they’ll let us?”
Superboy chuckled and shook his head, not wanting to admit the very low likelihood of it happening. He slung his arm over Chimera’s shoulder and pulled her into his side as they walked. “So… fall asleep watching a movie?”
She smiled up at him and hugged him around the waist as they walked. “Definitely.”
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Decluttering: Day 28
Twenty-eight oil paints and supplies.
These are ancient! And gunky! And dirty! And hardened up! They were all part of a kit my dad bought in the 1960s, which I previously decluttered. I have not used them since the late 1980s (🙈) and it’s time to get rid of them.
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sorting out my books Marie Kondo style, and the last one in my hands is the one my former english teacher wrote, with an autograph, and the message that he’s waiting for my debut novel. from 10 years ago.
like damn, stop putting pressure on me
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I KonMari’d my clothes
I went from this many clothes (minus a Leafs jersey plus the hoodie and skirt I’m wearing):
To this many (half of the white bin is towels and dog sweaters and UnClothing things):
The black garbage bag is actual garbage; I did not register how many items of my clothing I was still wearing that are BEYOND expired. Stains, ill-fitting, unflattering, smelly or ripped. No wander I felt bad, I hated the trash I was wearing.
Now it’s clear for me to make my wizard clothing!
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Decluttering: Day 27
Twenty-seven hobby and art supply items.
Almost all of the paints, fimos, stamp pads and pens here are dried up and unusable! No idea why I still had them.
The model paints are still new but I don't need them after all, so my fave kids' charity is getting them with their next batch of donations I’ve been putting together during my 30-day challenge.
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marie kondo: when you tidy up once, you'll never have to tidy again! my clients never rebound!
me: ... i rebounded. is she wrong? did i do it wrong?
me: oh. yeah, i kinda did, because the reason im not tidy right now is that i moved somewhere and my mom wound up giving me all the stuff id been keeping in storage in her garage. so i wasnt tidying by category, but rather by location, even though when i last tidied i couldn't physically *get* the stuff at that location. it's not my fault, but it wasn't a complete tidying up.
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Capturing a Dream
Chapter 9 – Who Do You Know
Chapter 1 Chapter 8
*Note: Most of Batman’s dialogue and all of Red Tornado’s is from the show, so, not my words.
This had passed frustrating several rooms ago. Now, Conner was straight up annoyed. He searched each room as they passed by them from the hanger to the communications center, searching for any indication of what time it was. Had there always been this jarring lack of clocks in the Cave? He could swear he had always been able to tell the time before. Or maybe it was just that time hadn’t mattered until he was counting down the minutes to Chimera’s return. As soon as he got the chance, he was going to put a clock in every room in the Cave and start wearing a watch.
She was supposed to be back anytime now. She was scheduled to fly ridiculously early that morning into whichever city she was supposedly staying in instead of the Cave and Zeta tube into the Cave as soon as she could. He absolutely had not been pushing to get the Team back as soon as possible after their mission wrapped up so they would be there in time to greet her. Okay, so maybe ‘absolutely’ was not the correct word there… or ‘not’.
He hadn’t seen Chimera in person for a little over a week now and he missed her, so nobody can really blame him for being excited to see her again. But more than missing her, he was worried about her. She had been extremely apprehensive going home. She had tried to cover it, but he knew her better. And eventually, after much wearing down as a result of a coordinated effort by him and Robin, she admitted she was nervous of being reminded of the final battle. He didn’t know how bad the battle was or exactly how badly it had scarred her, just that it had, but if her reaction to the failure exercise was any indication, it was severe. Being back there without anyone to talk to about it, anyone who could understand her reactions, could be devastating for her.
On top of that, the trip came within a few weeks of Robin’s breakdown after the Haley’s Circus mission and her discovering that Conner had been using shields Lex Luther had given him to enhance his powers. He had never seen her so angry. He didn’t think she was capable of that amount of rage and he prayed to whatever god or goddess responsible for watching over them, that she never directed that anger toward him. He was honestly concerned for Superman the next time she saw him and Conner had kept a close eye on her after she found out to make sure she didn’t go after Lex by herself. After the anger receded, he could see the disappointment set in. That was more disturbing than the anger. While the anger had been jarring, seeing the disappointment in herself for having missed that he had turned to the shields was heartbreaking.
She looked like she was barely holding it together before she left. Her phone call on Christmas had done nothing to calm his fears. She had tried to cover, but he could hear how empty her voice sounded no matter how cheery she tried to make it sound. He could almost convince himself he imagined it but Robin had been there for the call too and he heard it as well. He needed her to get back so he could be assured she was okay. Conner wanted to see her, hold her, feel her in his arms, hear her laugh, so he could make sure she was okay. He wouldn’t believe she was okay until he could.
Superboy was knocked out of his concentration by Batman’s gravely voice. “… The mole was Red Arrow.”
“Rolly?” Robin exclaimed in shock.
“No way,” Kid Flash insisted.
“Batman that cannot be,” Aqualad spoke up. Roy was his best friend. He would more easily believe himself capable of betrayal than Roy. “He was Green Arrow’s protégé. We have all known him for years.”
“Unfortunately, the Roy Harper we have known for the last three years is another Project Cadmus clone,” Batman informed them calmly. Superboy froze, staring at Batman in shock. Roy was another clone, like him.
“We have learned the real Speedy was abducted and replaced immediately after becoming the Green Arrow’s sidekick. The clone was preprogrammed with the drive to become a member of the League.” Superboy furrowed his brow. Had that been their plan for him as well? If the Team hadn’t rescued him when they had, who knows what they could have made him do.
“We believe when his mission was taking too long, they enlisted someone to help him speed up the process. With her help, he was finally admitted into the League, at which point his secondary programming kicked in and he attempted to betray the League to Savage,” Batman continued.
“Who was helping him? Was there a second mole or was it someone assisting from the outside?” Aqualad asked.
“It was a second mole. His girlfriend, Chimera,” Batman answered unemotionally.
“What?” Superboy exclaimed louder than he meant to, shock and hurt quickly flashing over his face before turning to a glower.
“I was unaware they had started a relationship,” Aqualad stated carefully, a slight furrow in his brow. Roy had mentioned he was getting very close to Chimera, but had not mentioned that it had progressed to that level. Not to mention he had thought Chimera was closer with Conner than Roy, but then again, he tended to misread romantic overtures. But, the idea that Chimera may have betrayed them was disturbing, but then again if Roy could be a mole, could he really be certain of anyone. Certainly the timing of Chimera’s introduction to the Team coinciding with evidence of the mole arising was suspect.
“Chimera isn’t a mole and she isn’t dating Roy,” Robin insisted, whirling on Batman in shock.
Batman nodded. “We are not certain she was assisting him, but there is more than a little evidence to support the idea that she was. I’ve been keeping an eye on her since she joined and facts seem to match up. As for dating, I’m sorry to say she is. We didn’t tell anyone because she claimed she didn't want to cause strife within the Team, but with this new information, it seems like there was something more to it. We believe she may have been his handler. She joined the Team to help Red Arrow get into the League and sabotage the Team’s missions subtly.” His voice was cold. “Red Arrow has gone into hiding, but we don’t think he’s been able to contact Chimera about it yet. When she comes back let us know immediately. Do not alert her that we are aware.”
“There is no way…” Artemis interjected loudly.
“She would never!” Kid Flash exclaimed at the same time.
“Chimera would never betray us like that,” Conner insisted angrily. How dare Batman suggest Chimera would betray them! She was like a daughter to him. She might not realize their relationship was like that, Hell, Batman might not realize it was like that, but Batman treated her like he treated Robin and Conner wasn’t blind enough to miss the protective pats and hair ruffling. He certainly hadn’t missed how Robin treated her like a sister. And after all that, Batman would so easily believe the worst of her.
“The clone Roy and Chimera, the Team will apprehend them,” Aqualad stated gravely.
“Negative. Red Arrow is a member of the Justice League and Chimera was working with him to betray us. We will handle them both,” Batman answered. He suddenly turned away, bringing his hand to his ear. “I’m needed in the Watchtower. Tornado, watch the kids.” He strode away without further discussion.
“Okay, but we’re going to get to them first, right?” Kid Flash spoke up quietly, so Red Tornado couldn’t hear him.
He looked up quickly, apprehension on his face when Red Tornado hurried toward them before suddenly stopping midstride. They all stared in confusion. “Tornado!” Kid Flash exclaimed, moving to check for any outward signs of a cause.
“What happened to him?” Rocket asked.
Zatanna raised her hands to her temples. She could feel something strange. Something was off about the whole situation. “I’m sensing a low level mystic force at play. I don’t know if it caused his shutdown, but… come to think about it I was getting the same buzz off Batman.”
“Magic… like Chimera?” Artemis asked.
Zatanna shook her head. “No. It feels different than Chimera’s magic.”
“Could it be different because it’s a trace, not the full impact?” Aqualad asked.
“No. I’ve sensed Chimera’s faded magic. All the Cave is steeped in it. I haven’t sensed this before. Not to mention, Batman said he hadn’t been around Chimera. How would her magic be on him if he wasn’t and why would she implicate herself?”
“That wasn’t Batman,” Robin said aggressively.
“Robin…” Aqualad started calmly.
“He can still be Batman and wrong,” Superboy growled. “We don’t know if he is being lied to. We just know Chimera isn’t betraying us.”
“Maybe she doesn’t know she’s doing it…” Rocket hedged. “Batman said Red Arrow didn’t know.”
“That might be an option except he said she’s his handler. That means she knows what she’s doing. She’s aware. It isn’t programming. And he said she’s dating Roy. Chimera isn’t dating Roy and she isn’t a traitor… And Batman never calls us ‘kids’,” Robin insisted, turning his focus back to examining readouts on Red Tornado.
Aqualad shook his head sympathetically but firmly. “Roy has said he and Chimera were getting close and they wanted to keep the fact secret, which confirms at least that part of what Batman said. We know very little about her personal life.”
“You know less about mine,” Robin challenged, brooking no resistance. He knew Chimera. Maybe he had only known her for a few months, but he knew her and trusted her. She couldn’t do this. She just couldn’t. “I would know if she were dating, especially a team member or hero. There's a reason she told us she doesn't date teammates. There's…” He furrowed his brow, trying to figure out how to phrase what he was thinking without revealing Chimera’s secrets. She did not like to talk about this part of her life. “…deep seeded trauma there. She didn't just get over that in a few days. She wouldn't start dating Roy without talking to someone. Without NEEDING to talk to someone. Since it's a hero, that means taking to one of us, specifically me or Conner or Artemis. She didn't talk to me. Conner?”
Conner shook his head. “She’s only ever repeated that she can’t date teammates.”
“Artemis?” Robin prompted.
Artemis shook her head and sent a smug look to Aqualad. “Never said a word. Never even indicated. Zatanna, Chi, and I had a girl’s night the other day and we had a long talk about dating. She never mentioned him.” She glanced over at Zatanna. “Did she give any indication of dating anybody or liking anyo… Roy?” she quickly corrected herself.
Zatanna looked between the Team anxiously before swallowing and straightening her back. “No. No, she didn’t talk about Roy. And Robin’s right. She doesn’t date teammates. Even if she wanted to,” her eyes flicked over to Superboy so quickly anyone not looking for it would miss it, “she doesn’t. We would know if she went against that.”
Superboy’s head whipped over to them, eyes wide. Artemis said him, meaning she had mentioned someone else. Zatanna emphasized that she didn’t talk about Roy, meaning she talked about someone else. He silently urged either of them to continue talking about that night, release some clues on who she may have mentioned. Instead Artemis cocked her head to the side and thought for a moment. “She hasn't been acting different either. Chi can't keep a secret, other than her identity, to save her life. Remember Kid Flash’s ‘surprise’ party? And let’s be honest the identity is probably only still a secret because we haven’t met her in person. We would know something was going on, even if we didn't know what.”
“Not if she’s been deceiving us from the beginning, if her whole supposed personality was an illusion,” Aqualad noted stoically.
Conner’s brow furrowed in frustration. Aqualad was seriously proposing Chimera was their enemy. Chimera had almost died for them. She’d risked her life and her sanity for them, more than once. And Aqualad was just turning on her. One statement and none of what she had done for them mattered. He clenched his fists and stepped forward to yell at Aqualad when Kid Flash’s voice interrupted his movement. “He’s taken her to the Batcave hasn’t he? Multiple times?” He glanced up from staring intently at a spot on the floor to look at Robin inquisitively.
Robin nodded in agreement. “He has. And he doesn’t let anyone he doesn’t trust completely come into the Cave.”
“So,” Kid Flash started, “he’s trusted her deeply from the beginning. He hasn’t ‘been keeping an eye on her’. And her behavior hasn’t changed… but his has.”
Conner nodded in agreement. “Which means she’s not the one we have to worry about.” He glared pointedly at Aqualad, making sure he understood their point.
“Maybe not about her but for her,” Zatanna offered carefully. All eyes turned to her waiting for her to explain. “He singled out Chimera for a reason. So either they want our whole team here so they can do to us what they did to Batman, or they are targeting Chimera specifically.”
“Why would they target her?” Rocket spoke up again.
Superboy kept his glare at Aqualad. “If we’re being honest, she has more power than the rest of us. They could want to put her at a disadvantage, isolate her.”
“Isolate who?” The voice floated into the chamber like a kitten’s purr, but cut through the air like a fog horn.
“Chi!” Superboy exclaimed, rushing over to her.
“Hey.” Her smile beamed as she hugged him.
He examined her face quickly. She was smiling, but she looked exhausted, like she’d been through a grueling mission, one that isn’t dangerous, just draining. His expression turned concerned. “How was the trip? You look tired.”
Her smile weakened. “It was good. I missed my friends and family so much.” She slumped against his chest. “Being back was just… a lot.” She took a deep breath and straightened up. “But it was good. I’m good. It’s all… good.” She let out a defeated sigh, but looked back up with a plastered on smile that lasted until she examined his face, morphing into a concerned frown at the sight. She raised her hand to run it over his face, but quickly realized what she was doing and dropped it to his shoulder instead with a faint blush. “How was it here? How have you been? How is Robin? How was the mission?”
“I’m fine. Robin’s fine. It was fine,” Superboy hedged with a strained smile, slinging his arm over her shoulders and guiding her over to the group.
“That was too many ‘fines’ to be true,” Chimera commented apprehensively, looking at him questioningly.
“You really want to throw that stone Ms. ‘all good’?” he commented back with a pointed look.
Her face went slack, her eyes widened at the call out. “Uh… no,” she admitted turning back toward the group, eyes flicking between them under her lashes. “Can we not discuss this… now?”
“Later?” Superboy asked hopefully. He knew her natural inclination was to bury things deep down, until they were so hard to see, she could pretend they never existed. Internalizing every emotion, every let down. It was the opposite of his way of handling things. Letting them simmer on the surface, where the slightest touch sent them radiating out into the world around him, usually with screaming or punching. Chimera hummed noncommittally in response, absolutely no intention of bringing up memories and emotions she wished would disappear.
“It was after the mission that was enlightening,” Aqualad stepped forward. “We need to talk about Roy.”
His voice was serious and laced with a significance that Chimera didn’t understand. Superboy’s arm tightened incrementally on her shoulder, pulling her closer to him. She looked up in time to catch the dark look he was giving Aqualad. She turned back to Aqualad with a quizzical expression. “Like, Rogers?”
“Rogers?” Aqualad repeated.
Artemis tried to stifle her laugh. “No, Chi. Not like Roy Rogers.”
Aqualad looked between them, his brow furrowing in confusion, before he returned his gaze back to Chimera. “No, Roy Harper.”
“Oh!” Chimera nodded in understanding. “Okay…” Her brow furrowed faintly and she looked to the side in thought before looking back at Aqualad with a wince. “Is that… another actor? I haven’t really seen many… any westerns. I really only know who Roy Rogers, John Wayne, and Woody Strode are. Well, know is a stretch. I’ve heard their names.”
Aqualad blinked at her a few times, unsure what she was talking about. “No. Red Arrow.”
Realization rippled across Chimera’s face. She nodded, her eyes going wide. “Oh! Okay. Yeah.” Robin and Kid Flash talked about Red Arrow a lot, but by his code name, rarely by his real name. She would never have been able to remember it if she wasn’t prompted first. Her eyes darted over to Robin to see if he held any answers, but instead of looking back at her, he was glaring at Aqualad as well. She looked back at Aqualad, noticeably more apprehensively. Her brows furrowed in confusion. “What about him?”
“Batman said he’s the mole,” Aqualad informed her, watching her reaction carefully.
Chimera’s face immediately fell, her eyes darted back to Robin again. “Robin,” she whispered. Her eyes moved over to Kid Flash, next to Robin, and turn pained. She looked back to Aqualad. “Is he sure?”
Aqualad nodded. “Batman said he’s actually a clone of the real Roy Harper programmed to infiltrate the Justice League, but was discovered by Batman before he could do any damage.
Chimera gasped, eyes entirely focused on Robin and Kid Flash. “What happened to the real Roy Harper?”
“He didn’t say.” Aqualad answered. She tensed to go over to hug Robin and Kid Flash. Robin and Kid Flash always talked about Roy like he was one of them. They understood each other in a way few others could. They would tell stories about him and laugh like their lives weren’t constantly at risk, like they were just normal teenagers. Those times were some of the few she got to see Robin like the kid he was.
Artemis’ voice cut through her thoughts before she could move. “But we have reason to believe that isn’t true.”
Chimera turned to her with a hopeful smile. “Really?” A flash of relief appeared in her eyes. She couldn’t imagine the toll it would take on Robin and Kid Flash if it was true and she didn’t want to have to see it. They’d all been in this for a long time together, grew up in it together. They were like family. Not to mention she knew he and Aqualad were close as well. If there was a chance Batman was wrong, they had to investigate it.
“I wanted to let you know because… we know you're dating him.” Aqualad informed her carefully.
Chimera’s eyes snapped back to Aqualad, her mouth hanging open in shock and her body turned rigid. “That I’m what?” Her voice came out an octave higher than normal.
“Batman told us,” Aqualad informed her calmly. “And Roy has mentioned it as well.”
Chimera flinched back and shook her head. “What? I've never even met Red Arrow. Why would he say that? Why would Batman?”
“That’s why we have reason to believe Roy isn’t the mole. Because Batman told us you were dating Roy at the same time he said Roy was the mole. He said they thought you were his handler,” Robin bit out bitterly.
Chimera’s heart stopped. She gaped at Robin. Batman… Batman said he thought she was betraying them. Batman thought she was a traitor. Batman was her mentor, as much as she had one, or at least she had thought of him as hers. She had thought he might be more than just a mentor as well, but that must have just been her. More than that, he was a League founder. If he thought it, the rest of the League must as well. They would all believe she was a traitor. They would all turn on her, even her team.
Her breathing picked up. She couldn’t handle this. But she couldn’t even blame them for it. This was her fault. This is the price of anonymity. This was the tradeoff of keeping yourself guarded. You keep people from knowing you, but then they don’t know you. They don’t know who you are, so they don’t know who you are and who you’re not. She never let them know who she is, so of course her team will believe Batman.
She was going to lose them and even if she proves herself, there will always be that doubt and once you’ve lost that trust, it never fully recovers… as her trip home proved. Everything seems the same on the surface, but if you pause to examine it more closely, everything is different. The way they look at you, the way they relate to you, the way they see you, has changed. Robin wouldn’t trust her anymore. He’d put up a wall between them, the same one he put up with anyone he didn’t fully trust, keeping them at a distance with a false smile. And Conner! He’d pull away too. Still friendly, but not friends. Still there, but not the same…
Chimera felt a squeeze on her shoulder and a hand on her cheek, bringing her back to reality, stopping her descent into panic. She slowly moved her eyes to the arm belonging to the hand on her face and followed it back to its owner, looking up to see Superboy’s soft, concerned eyes. He gave her a supportive smile and nod to let her know they were on her side. “That’s why we knew he was lying,” Superboy assured her.
Chimera let out a shuttering breath and buried her face in Superboy’s chest. He wrapped his arms around her protectively, nuzzling into her hair. “We know you better. We know you would never do that. No matter what he said, we know you,” he whispered into her hair.
Aqualad looked between them and nodded once, satisfied for now with her innocence. “Roy… Red Arrow is the key. We need to find him and see what he can tell us. If Chimera is innocent then he may be as well. Regardless, we need to find him before the League does. Artemis, Superboy, Zatanna, you’re with me. The rest of you, see what you can do about Tornado.”
“Wait, what’s wrong with Red Tornado?” Chimera’s eyes peeked out from Superboy’s chest.
“I’ll stay here,” Superboy responded with a sharp edge to his voice.
“We’re potentially going up against Red Arrow. We need you with us to bring him in if…” Aqualad took a breath. “If he decides to fight us.”
“I thought you didn’t think he was the mole,” Chimera asked uncertainly, subconsciously clinging a bit closer to Superboy. If they still thought Red Arrow was the mole, did they really still think she was his handler as well?
“I don’t…” he looked away in contemplation. “I don’t know. But we need to speak with him to figure out what is going on. Hopefully peacefully and it is best to be cautious,” he added. His voice was even, but anybody familiar with him could hear the strain in it.
Chimera gave him an understanding smile. Although he didn’t speak about Red Arrow often, and almost never with Chimera, she knew they were close. Believing his friend capable of something like this must be hurting him deeply. She looked up to Superboy. “You should go,” she whispered.
“They can handle Red Arrow,” he argued back quietly. “I can stay until you’re… I can help with Tornado.”
Chimera shook her head. “I’ll have Robin. I’ll be okay until you come home.” She glanced subtly over to Aqualad. His shoulders were more tense than usual, his grimace more pronounced. He was trying to hold it together, but he was suffering. “Aqualad needs you more right now.
Superboy huffed and looked over to Aqualad and the others Aqualad had singled out for a moment before looking back into Chimera’s eyes. “Fine. But I don’t like it.”
Chimera rested her head back on his chest, watching the rest of the Team. “Nobody likes what’s happening right now.” She closed her eyes and squeezed him for a moment. “Be safe.”
She stepped away from him, avoiding his eyes. “You too,” he whispered, letting his fingers linger on her as she walked away to join Robin, Kid Flash, and Rocket.
“The problem’s hardware, not software,” Robin mused, examining schematics on a holographic display. He didn’t even look up when Chimera stopped next to him. He reached out, giving her a one armed hug. She slung her arm around his shoulders, returning the squeeze. “But where do we start?”
Zatanna paused on her way out of the room. “I have an idea.” She glanced quickly behind her to see how far away the rest of her group had gotten. She bit her lip nervously, not wanting to upset Aqualad with her tardiness. “Chimera, you remember the android he had in his quarters?”
Chimera perked up immediately. “Yes! New hardware for his existing software. Brilliant idea, Zatanna. Good luck with your mission,” she called to Zatanna as she ran to catch up with the rest of her group. “Hey, Rocket, do your force bubbles move? Might make moving the body easier.”
“I heard we’re dating,” Chimera started out with a sarcastic smile, extending her hand to shake Red Arrow’s. “It must have been a terrible relationship if I can’t even remember you. I don’t mean to hurt your feelings, but I don’t think this relationship is working out for me. I think we should see other people.”
Red Arrow huffed out a laugh and smiled against his will. He shook his head and rubbed the back of his neck. He looked up at her sheepishly. “Yeah, sorry about that.”
Chimera shrugged and moved past him to sit on a bulkhead. “Not your fault. And not the worst end to one of my relationships, so...” She offered him a smile. Red Arrow smiled back and moved to sit next to her for the planning meeting, but was cut off by Superboy taking the spot before Red Arrow could sit.
Red Arrow raised an eyebrow at him, but backed down. He wasn’t looking to start a fight with the only heroes he knew that weren’t under mind control. Instead, he took a seat between Robin and Kid Flash.
“Would anyone care to enlighten us as to why you have Black Canary tied up and gagged?” Aqualad asked, bringing the conversation back to the issue at hand.
“Yeah, about that…” Kid Flash started with a grimace, warily eying the hero that was bound and gagged at their feet.
“Can we start from the beginning? I don’t think I’m the only one who doesn’t have a clear picture of everything that’s going on,” Chimera requested.
“The entire Justice League is under the complete mental domination of Vandal Savage,” Red Tornado spoke up from his android body. “Red Arrow seems to have been his means. His method was something Savage referred to as Starotech. An alien bio organism infused with nano technology and magic. It shuts down the mind’s autonomy allowing Savage to reprogram the individual to suit his needs. Even my inorganic brain was not immune.”
Chimera straightened up in surprise. “Wait, so Red Arrow was the mole?”
“I was the mole,” Red Arrow confirmed with a grimace. “I just don’t know why. If it was the Starotech, then they wouldn’t have needed to have a handler for me or key phrases that would shut me down and ready me for new orders.”
Superboy watched him curiously. “Batman and Tornado said you were a Cadmus clone, like me.”
Red Arrow sighed and looked down. “That explains it. I must have been pre-programmed to infiltrate the League. I was probably given occasional new orders as well. I think one of those orders was to focus suspicion on Artemis and Superboy. More recently, I think Chimera was added to the list, in a much more explicit way.”
“Why?” Superboy straightened, glaring at Red Arrow. His arms twitched to circle around Chimera and pull her closer to him.
“They didn’t tell me,” he shrugged. “I never knew why I did any of it. I wasn’t part of the team, I was a tool.”
“I’m an easy target,” Chimera spoke up quietly. “He was already implicating Superboy and Artemis. Robin, Kid Flash, and Kaldur have known each other or of each other for years and see each other regularly enough to know if something was off. Zatanna and Rocket joined after Kaldur started noticing indications of a mole. That leaves me. And since you know almost nothing about me, I don’t even have a mentor to vouch for me, it makes doubting me easy.”
Superboy ran his hands up and down her arm to comfort her. Chimera leaned into his side slightly, keeping her focus on the conversation. Superboy looked over to Kid Flash and Red Tornado. “So where does Black Canary fit in?”
“Oh! Riiiiiight.” Kid Flash awkwardly rubbed the back of his neck. “We were transferring Red Tornado’s consciousness from his regular body to his android body when she interrupted us. She attacked us and we had to stop her.”
“So she’s infected as well,” Artemis observed.
Aqualad frowned at the ground in concentration. “If it’s an infection, then we need a cure. I will contact Queen Mera about creating an immunization based on Starotech. We have Black Canary we can test the cure on. Let’s move.”
Robin wormed his way next to Chimera as they moved to the communications hub for the ship. He pulled her into a quick side hug. “You know, we don’t need to know everything about each other to trust each other. And I do trust you.” He spoke quietly so only she could hear him.
Chimera closed her eyes as she hugged him back. “I trust you too, birdbrain.”
Robin rolled his eyes and shoved her away. “I take it back. I hate you.” Chimera cackled with laughter. Robin reluctantly joined her, trying to keep his annoyed facade. They tried unsuccessfully to school their expressions when Aqualad glared at them until Queen Mera answered, drawing his attention away.
Waiting was torture. It always was. Waiting for something to happen when there was nothing you could do until then except think about the upcoming event, was agony. Chimera looked around the room. The Team was scattered each in their own space, waiting for Black Canary and Red Tornado to finish their preparations so they and Red Arrow could go in first and distract Savage, while the Team put the vaccine patches on the rest of the Justice League one member at a time.
Everyone was in their own head, bodies tense, and emotions on edge. They were going up against people they’d looked up to their whole superhero careers, parental figures, mentors. People who taught them how to fight, how to strategize. They knew more than the Team did and it was still unclear how much of their previous fighting knowledge they retained or if the person controlling them would have to come up with their own moves and techniques.
The Team was clearly dreading the former option, including Chimera. With so many different powers to go up against, she had cleared out the miracle box so she would have options for which powers to utilize. Changing was going to be tricky and she was going to have to keep Trixx well fed so she would be able to keep up her illusion of her suit not changing, but there was too much of a possibility for failure not to at least try.
She hoped she was hiding her apprehension better than the rest of the Team. No matter how much they tried to hide it, Chimera knew their tells. She knew Artemis set her jaw like that when she was anxious. She knew Aqualad clenched and reclenched his fists like that when he was nervous. She knew Kid Flash held his arm like that with his other hand when he was afraid. She knew Robin stared intently like that when he was apprehensive. She knew Zatanna bit her lip like that when she was unsure. She knew Superboy glowered like that when he was worried. It was slightly different from his many other glowers. And she didn’t need to know Rocket and Red Arrow to see their nerves in the darting of their eyes.
She looked between them and furrowed her brow until she perked up, something occurring to her. “So… it’s like a video game, right?” All the eyes in the room darted to her with a mixture of curiosity and annoyance, but she continued on undeterred. “I mean, they’re like characters in a video game, being controlled. That means there’s someone with some kind of controller.” She looked over to Aqualad. “Do you think there's any way that we could get our hands on that controller?” she asked with a devious glint in her eyes. “Just for a few minutes?”
“Oh my God! Yes!” Kid Flash exclaimed, immediately seeing where she was going and excitedly bouncing. “Can we? Can we, please?”
“We will not take advantage of our compatriots and mentors in such a demeaning way,” Aqualad answered sternly.
“Yeah, yeah morally reprehensible reshmensible. But, do you think we could?” Kid Flash asked again, his eyes bright. In an instant he was next to Chimera, both giving Aqualad overly wide smiles.
“No,” Aqualad said firmly.
“Angelic smiles aren’t working,” Chimera noted in a stage whisper. “Deploy kitten eyes.” She and Kid Flash immediately switched to sad, pleading eyes, aimed directly at Aqualad who barely noted them before rolling his eyes. Chimera harrumphed when she realized hers wouldn’t work since she had sunglasses hiding her eyes. Instead, she elbowed Zatanna who looked confused for a second before grinning and schooling her face to offer her own kitten eyes.
Superboy quickly looked to the ground to hide his smirk, but Artemis and Robin made no attempts to hide her laugh that echoed throughout the room. “Oh my God, you guys are such dorks,” Artemis eked out between laughs.
“Yes,” Kid Flash agreed, “dorks who love video games.” He turned back to Aqualad. “Pleeeeeeeeease.” He held his hands out in front of him in supplication.
“Are you two going to take this seriously?” Red Arrow snapped.
Chimera rolled her eyes and offered a kind smile. “Come on, tell me you don't want to see Batman punch Green Arrow.” Her smile turned enticing. “We can make that happen,” she singsonged at him.
Red Arrow scoffed. “I don't need remote control to do that. I just have to tell Batman any of the things Green Arrow has said behind his back and then suggest a spar between them.”
Chimera waved him off. “Fine. Green Lantern or Wonder Woman punch Green Arrow,” she offered instead with a knowing smirk. “I’m not even a protégé and I definitely have JL members I’d like to see get punched a few times.” She shrugged in an overly casual way. “Or, you know, one member anyway.”
Red Arrow cocked his head to the side considering the image of Wonder Woman decking Oliver. “Now that you mention it...”
“Oh my God!” Chimera exclaimed, eyes widening in excitement. “Dance Party!”
“Yes!” Kid Flash jumped on to her thought process, mirroring her excitement. “The Flash breakdancing. Hawkman doing the Carlton.”
Red Arrow looked over to Chimera with an analytical look. After a few seconds, his face broke into a reluctant smile. “Batman doing a scene from Phantom of the Opera, that’s angsty, he’d like it.”
“Yes!!” Chimera exclaimed, jumping with excitement that he had joined.
“Green Lantern and Aquaman doing the Kid ‘n Play,” Robin gave a small smirk, nerves still there, but lessening.
“Do you think we can get Martian Manhunter to do the Macarena?” Superboy pondered, coming up behind Chimera and resting his arm on her shoulders.
“It’s our imagination. We can get them to do whatever we want,” Chimera laughed.
“I would pay to see Wonder Woman do the worm,” Artemis smiled coming up next to Zatanna and bumping her hip with her own.
“Can we get my dad to do something? What should we get him to do?” Zatanna added with a hesitant smile.
“How about the Running Man?” Rocket offered, joining the rest.
“Green Arrow doing Gangnam Style dance,” Red Arrow gave Chimera a playful smile, joining the group to stand next to Chimera.
“My flute records. I can take video for posterity,” Chimera grinned back conspiratorially.
“I’ll take you up on that,” Black Canary grinned as she came up behind them. “I think it sounds like fun. Plus, I need more blackmail material. If I come across the opportunity, I’ll let you know.” She winked at them before turning to Aqualad with a serious expression. “We’re ready to go.”
Aqualad’s expression immediately transformed from light to serious. He stepped forward to address his team. “It is time. Are we ready?” He looked around to the Team waiting for nods from the group. Once he received them he watched Black Canary, Red Tornado, and Red Arrow step up to the Zeta tube. With them in position, he turned to Chimera. “Open the portal.”
*Note 2: The android body is from the show as is Queen Mera and some scientists coming up with a vaccine in a few hours, so those cheap cop outs are theirs not mine.
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