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Crime Doesn't Pay


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Claremont Academy, Freedom City

Early November



Once again, Claremont had invited a guest to the lecture hall, and again it was going to be someone a bit controversial. Serena Mustafic, known to the hero community both as Corona and formerly as Revolt, had been asked to come to give a lecture on being an ex-supervillain and how crime didn’t pay. After a few questions, she had found out she hadn’t been their first pick, but the first had referred them to her. Which made her suspect who it was, but she couldn’t be sure because they weren’t telling.


Attendance wasn’t mandatory, which meant that Corona’s daughter Mia was off hiding in her room, away from the potential embarrassment. Not that Serena knew that. Instead, she was more focused on the sudden crowd in front of her. She wondered, briefly, if she had gone insane agreeing to do this. She forced the thought back down and approached the podium.


She was dressed in full costume, complete with grey tights, black trunks and leather jacket. She figured if she was talking as a superhero, she should look the part. Rubbing the back of her neck, she waited for the introduction to happen.


“Alright, everyone, this is Corona. She is here to talk to you all today about what makes a supervillain, how bad it was to be one, and how you shouldn’t become one. If you want to ask a question, please wait in turn and try not to interrupt,” said the host.


Corona sighed, and leaned up to the microphone. “Hi, everyone. I’m Corona. Some of you might know me as Mia’s mom, others might not know me at all. I’m a superhero now, but back in the early 90s I was a supervillain called Revolt,” she said. “I was a member of a team called the Delinquents. We were formed basically right after the Terminus Invasion in ‘93.”


“Uhm, some background. Before I got my powers, I was in and out of the foster system and I was pretty poor as a kid. I drifted from home to home, and started committing crimes when I was… Jeez. I don’t know. 10? I was angry at the world. Everyone, really, and I ran away a lot. It made me pretty ideal fodder for being turned into a villain. I was kidnapped by a man named Will Wu when I was 15 years old, and I was given superpowers. In exchange, I was expected to commit crimes for him along with four other teenagers.”


“Before you get the idea I was entirely the victim in this, I was pretty into it. For most of my life, I had felt powerless, and suddenly having powers and the ability to act on a lot of anger I was harbouring… It felt good. It let me be blind to the fact that I was causing a lot of people a lot of pain. I think there’s a very large subset of super-villains who are people who felt powerless and then when they did gain extraordinary abilities they just… Got drunk on it. That’s not… I don’t want it to sound like I am making excuses for myself. But I think it’s important to remember that a lot of these people out there are people who are hurting in some way, and there might be a chance for you to make a breakthrough to them.”


“Uh, but getting back to my story here. I was a supervillain for around three years. I fought with groups like the Freedom League, there’s a very embarrassing photo of me fighting Lady Li…” she paused, and looked up at the projector screen behind her, and sighed as she saw a teenage version of her attacking the Lady Liberty of the 90s. It was a newspaper clipping, underneath a headline of ‘DELINQUENTS AND FREEDOM LEAGUE CLASH’.


“Yeah. Not proud of that one. Anyway,” she said as the image switched off. “I was caught at the end of those three years and sentenced to several years in jail, which was kind of a wakeup call for me. Once I got out, I made the decision that I was going to go straight. Most of my compatriots went straight along with me… Some didn’t. I am still dealing with the fallout of that today. I never finished high school, so I was really limited in my job choices, which meant after I had my daughter, money was tight as ever, and a few members of the super community paid me a few unwanted visits to let me know that I was being watched, which was a little spooky, not going to lie. Recently, I made the decision to return to the super world, but as a superhero. It’s been difficult at times, but it’s a lot more rewarding.”


She paused. “Well, that’s the short version of my life story. One thing I really feel the need to say is that I know a lot of you are probably in a similarly crummy point in your life, and you might want to lash out. Your powers might make it easy to lash out. And for a time, it might even feel good. But consequences always catch up to you, and more than that, you’re not just hurting the people you think you’re lashing out at. Your actions tend to ring outwards. Which is why I think if you are angry at injustice, or the way you’ve been treated, what you should be doing is using your abilities to make the world better. Yes, I understand a lot of you are angry at the world and you probably have a lot of right to be. But the world does not need another super-powered jerk bullying people because they’ve been abused, or hurt… or whatever has happened to you. What it does need is more people doing good. That doesn’t necessarily mean going out and punching bad guys, either. There are a lot of really good organizations out there that can benefit from people who are super strong or can fly. Disaster relief really benefits from metahuman help. Like, unimaginably so. So… Just try to use that outrage for good, I guess.”


She looked over at the host. “How was that? Was that good? Should I start taking questions?” She nodded at the answer. “Alright, if anyone has any questions, I can answer a few.”

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This was all fascinating to Lulu, who felt a certain kinship with Corona in experiencing poverty and being exploited once her powers manifested. The redheaded psychic hung on every word, and when it was time to ask questions, hers was the first to shoot up. Once she was recognized, she once again used her powers to make her voice louder so it would carry better.


"Hi, Miss Mustafic, ah'm Lulu Beaumont? Ah'm actually friends with your daughter, who is great, by the way. Ah was wonderin' if you could describe the kinds of messages or techniques that Mr. Wu used to keep you and other Delinquents loyal or in line? In case we ever encounter kids in the same same situation. Thank you!"


She returned to her seat, happy to have gotten the ball rolling.

Edited by Heritage
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Serena immediately broke into a smile at the mention of the young woman's name. Mia had talked a fair bit about the girl in her phone calls, and was nothing but positive about it. And she had a fairly interesting question, too. She thought about her answer for a moment, before leaning into the microphone.


"Okay so, content warning here, this answer is going to have some discussion of pretty common abuse techniques so if anyone needs to excuse themselves or..." she paused, waiting, and when she saw no one leave, continued. "Okay so it was pretty carrot and stick with Wu. Wu liked to lavish gifts in order to ensure loyalty. Sometimes it was small things like pizza after a successful mission, sometimes it was a new TV. That was when you were doing good. He'd also give out praise occasionally, but never very much, and liked to reinforce that the whole world was against you. When you did something he didn't like though... Sometimes you'd be forced to skip meals, or be confined to your room, but what he really liked to do was insult you in a way that encouraged the others to join in. And while we were close, the problem was that if you didn't join in, you tended to catch stuff yourself. He'd belittle your intelligence, your capabilities, or make it sound like you were planning to sell the others out to try and turn them against you. It felt awful, but it definitely sort of encouraged this sense of forced obedience. Of course, there was also that implied threat of him having you sent to jail or him just killing you."


Brushing a stray strand of hair behind her ear, she continued. "From what I understand, it's pretty common in groups like ours, younger ones. The same sort of tactics are used in cults, terrorist cells... Basically any group that aggressively enforces social cohesion and has an us vs. them mentality."


Then came another question asking how to combat those tactics.


"Ah, jeez. So, that's hard because it's not the same for everyone. Multiple people attempted to reach out to me during that time but I was not receptive for a lot of reasons. In my particular case, I really do think my going to jail was what I needed. But for a lot of other people, just extending a lifeline and some compassion can go along way, especially if they're not entirely programmed yet."


"What I do want to emphasize is that while these people might be victims in their own way, if they are trying to hurt you, you aren't wrong for deciding that you are not the person to handle whatever problems put them in that position. You don't have to be their therapist or a martyr to their redemption. But if you see an opening and think you can do something, then great. Great, that's good."

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"Separate question," said Ashley. The teen hooligan radiated cocky confidence, a smirk on her face as she studied Mia's mom. She actually had no real beef with the older woman, who had served her time and was now a functioning member of society. If she was going to play the part of the cocky delinquent forced into being socially responsible, she had to give her a little bit of a hard time. "What's a good gay bar in town that serves metas? Maybe doesn't check IDs?" She spread her arms, conscious of Judy's blush. She'd talked to her about the question in advance, but it still wasn't her favorite thing to overhear! 

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Serena paused in surprise at the question, and then immediately began to cackle. Judging by the pink hair, she figured she was talking to the girl ‘Ashley’ who Mia brought up, and used as reference for wanting to dye her own hair some strange colour and shave it into a chelsea hawk. Which she was fine with, but it was fun to put a face to the name.


Leaning into the microphone, she stifled more giggles. “Okay, I wasn’t ready for that. So for anyone who is confused, I’m pretty active in the LGBT community and make no secret of it. I actually attended a pride parade in costume recently. Ahhh, so, no I can’t tell you about any of those because I really don’t want to get kicked out, but I can recommend a few more age appropriate places. If you’re looking for places to meet people in person, there’s a group called Power Pride which is a group for people with powers who are members of the LGBT community. It’s open to people 16 and older, and they meet every Sunday at the Matheson Community Centre. That’s near the City Centre, if you take number 9 bus it takes you right there. They have services for younger people like helping kids come out to their parents, and if they’re not into that, finding them somewhere temporary to stay. We’re always looking for new people, so feel free to come. There’s also a group for female-identifying queer heroes that meets at the Blue Jewel Cafe down in the Theatre District on alternating Fridays, where they mostly just gather to talk and sometimes share experience or anything really. If you don’t like meeting people in person, there’s also the forum Super Gay. It’s just name plus a dot com. It’s been running since like, 2001 and it’s a great place since you can be totally anonymous if you want to. A lot of people choose to be. It has specific subforums for trans people, for lesbians, for POC, since not everything fits everyone.”


She giggled again. “So, yeah, no bars but hopefully if you’re looking for a space, I hope that helps you out.”

Edited by Shofet
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Max looked uncomfortable in her seat. Sure it was nice to see Corona again, but the story of her life brought back too many memories of the Shadow Academy to the forefront. But she stayed none the less. There was bound to be much to learn and the guidance councillor was adamant she attend and stay.


Once Ashleys question had been answered, and Max had some time to recover from laughing, she raised her hand. "So how your old friends from your supervillain days taking your switch away from the dark side? Imagine some of them are not happy about it." The hair and voice would no doubt be familiar to her.

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Serena looked over at Max when she started speaking, and smiled. It was good to see that she was sticking with the Claremont thing. She had helped the girl get off that track and move towards doing hero stuff, so she felt a bit of protectiveness for the girl. The fact that Max reminded her a lot of Mia helped too. But then the question finished, and Serena’s smiled faltered. She went quiet for a moment, looking down at the podium.


“...There’s… This summer. This summer, this summer. Back in August, I finally caught up with one of the members of the Delinquents who hadn’t gone straight. Heather Romano. Back then she was Tantrum. Back when I got caught, she was one of the two members who had gotten away. In that time, her sanity degraded and she ended up blaming me for abandoning her. The result was that she attempted to use her children to force me to rejoin her family and fully intended to brainwash me back into being ‘on her side’ again with her powers. Thanks to the help of a lot of people, some of whom I am now on a super-team with, we were able to stop her, but it was immensely painful experience for everyone involved. Especially the kids she had, one of whom used my DNA.”


She frowned deeply. “There’s a very painful lesson ex-supervillains have to learn, and that is that not everyone can be saved like you were. Not everyone can come back from the Abyss. And when you have to confront, and you almost certainly will, it is one of the most painful experiences in your life. I am going to be straight with, I am still not over it. There’s no easy way to cope with the knowledge that you got out and they never did and maybe never will.”


“The best thing you can do, when you have to deal with that, is just to find someone who is willing to listen afterwards. That’s all I can really offer,” she said softly.

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Claude had snuck in as they had closed the doors, hovering in the back during the discussion. Over time, he had taken a seat but was still oddly quiet.


"Yeah, I uh, have a question." Claude piped up from the back row. "And, if you don't wanna answer it, that's fine."


Totally absent was his normal wiseacre demeanor with his eyes firmly locked on Serena. "Were you ever able to forgive yourself?"  He asked, his normally omnipresent Southie drawl gone completely. 

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Serena looked over at Claude sympathetically. She instantly clocked what he was getting at, and her heart bled for him a little bit. Rubbing the back of her neck, she nodded at him.


“Wow, two real hard balls, right after each other. For a long time, the answer was no. I spent a very long time feeling like I could never properly atone for causing a city that had just gone through the worst moments in its existence even more pain. I avoided using my powers entirely, and even making my daughter not use her powers out of… a lot of emotions. Fear that someone would track us down, shame at how those powers had come about… Just a lot of stuff.”


She gripped the podium. “I think I have come to forgive myself, yes. A lot of that comes with making amends. There was this girl, Centuria, back in the 90s that the Delinquents basically… We basically bullied her out of being a superhero. She’s back to it now, she’s protecting Salt Lake City, and we’ve finally started talking by email. We’re sort of on a path right now towards me trying to make up what I did to her, and I’m gonna be visiting her pretty soon, actually. There are some people who still don’t want anything to do with me. There are certain heroes who were active at the time who have made it clear in no uncertain terms that I am to leave them alone, and I understand that too.”


“But the best thing to start forgiving yourself is reaching out to the people you hurt, and seeing if you can make amends. Sometimes that’s not possible, and you’ll have to live with that. Otherwise, just try to be a better person than you were. That’s what I have been doing.”

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Nick sat quietly, as well, he usually did. Down front but off to the right side had been seat of choice. Mixed with the crowd, he was another student in attendance. He listened carefully and with obvious interest, and addressed his restlessness with a stress ball shaped like a 20-side die.


He appreciated Corona appearing. The menace of public speaking had to be enough, but appearing as a reformed supervillain must take the stress to a new level. The topic, however, held utmost importance. Maybe not to Nick but someone in the school. He smiled warmly at the end of her opening remarks.


Personally, the small teen doubted he could lash out at anyone. He hesitated even during Doom Room exercises against holograms of non-human foes. He understood crummy though. He sighed that silent sigh and turned his attention to the first question, from Lulu.


The questions and Corona's answers both were excellent. Well, maybe not Ashley's per say. Although props to Corona for fielding the question perfectly. That one aside, heavier questions could be expected for such a speaker. Kind of the point really.


His ears perked at a familiar voice. He didn't need to look to recognize Claude, or that him speaking without his accent meant a very serious mood. Nick slumped a bit at the question. He knew what that question meant to Claude too.


The first ideas of questions of his own began forming. He just wasn't sure if he wanted to ask.


Edited by Dariusprime
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Benny was a fidgeter.  His prodigious dexterity and agility seemed to always need an outlet. Sometimes it was flipping coins or bouncing balls off things at odd angles, today it was quieter, it was practicing on doing the handwraps, between his fingers, around the backs of them, and his wrists.  Doing, then undoing, over and over.  

The backstory that was known was that he was something of a delinquent, and got his powers from a chemical spill.  So it resonated, to some degree, or it should.  Though he had the rep as a beefy idiot.  "So, ya got away from Wu and everythin' is hunky dory?"  He finally spoke in that rumbly teenage baritone.  His head lifting and his gaze was brought level to Corona's face, "I mean..."  He frowned, his lips pressing flat together in thought, as he scrunched his nose, and worked through the question, searching for the right words.

"Like, what about Wu?   The others?  What about yourself? Not just forgiveness..." the was a pause as he licked his lips, feeling perhaps  but when I first learned to box coach said it changes things, it becomes an option, harder to see it as a tool to use.  Yanno when ya get annoyed it's easier to just knock their block off, 'specially once ya do it. How do yooze stop that?"  He clenched his wrapped hand, hard enough for the material to creak, though it didn't show on his face.

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Serena looked over at Benny, and nodded along as he asked his question. The process of unlearning things was something she was fairly familiar with, so she got what he was driving at. Or, at least she thought she did.


“I mean, no, it wasn’t hunky dory. For me personally, yeah there was a lot of unlearning. When I was in prison, I had some opportunity to get a bit of therapy for my anger which did a lot of help for me. I couldn’t really afford that getting out, but I had been so scared to go back that I clamped down on it. But I really don’t think I stopped being the person I was as a teenager until I had my daughter. There was this realization, I think, that I had brought this beautiful little girl into the world and I wanted it to be the best possible place for her. And… that meant I had to change. Not because I was scared of going back to prison, but because I never, ever wanted to let this child I had just given birth to down.”


She gestured, her hand spinning open in a circle. “A lot of it was self-taught. I’d go to book sales and pick up stuff on how to manage anger healthily. But there was also just a lot of self-reflection, too. I mean during the first few years out, it was tough. There were times when I was thinking ‘oh, this would be so much easier if I just whipped out my powers and showed people what’s what.”


She laughed slightly. “There are a loooot of diner owners out in Freedom City who are super lucky I had those books. To answer your question, though, unlearning’s a big process and you will mess up a few times, but you have to have the real will to do it. You have to keep reminding yourself that you’re not just doing this because it will make your life easier, you’re doing it because don’t want to be the person you were. There was a thing for me that made it easier in Mia, because love’s such a powerful motivator and I do think that’s a great tool to use, but self-love should also come into that. You don’t want to let your self down, either, or all the people supporting you. Support networks are also really good for that sort of thing.”


“As for the others… Well, I recently clashed with Wu and Heather, like I said. Lester, also known as Beastfreak runs a small business and has four lovely daughters, and Rachel, known back then as Heathen, is working for ASTRO Labs and is in a much healthier place than she was back in the 90s. She’s actually Mia’s godmom and my best friend, so yeah. Also a very devoted pacifist and Buddhist, which I think really helped her find her own peace. Kombat… We’re kind of not friends anymore, and I’m not at liberty to talk about his job for legal reasons. Rachel and Lester, they’ve gone through the same things I have, and I think they’d tell you the same answer.”

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Another good question. Nick didn't know Benny well. He didn't treat the big guy any differently than other students, but their paths had never really crossed. Nick had learned quickly how reputations worked, or didn't. They did visit the tech lab together though. Plus he looked like a fellow fidgeter. He made a mental note to really have a chat with Benny sometime.


In the meantime, a quick message appeared on his omnipresent tablet. Looking at the screen made him realize that even with a large font reading the question would be a challenge. Thankfully, a down front seat proved advantageous. He held up a hand and scurried within Corona's reading distance.


The tablet read, "What made you decide to become a superhero?" Once she read the message, he scurried back. He listened while turning the stress ball over in his hands.


Her transition to superhero interested him for several reasons. She touched on some factors, perhaps, perhaps not, but what really helped her make the decision intrigued the small teen. She probably could have simplified her life by not returning to the super world. For someone having doubts by powers and superheroics, any answer from her would be enlightening.

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Serena furrowed her brow in confusion as she saw the small young man scurrying up to her, holding a tablet. For a moment, she had expected him to try and show her a YouTube video. What he ended up doing made a whole lot more sense to her, all things considered. Her eyes flicked across the text on the screen, and then she nodded.


"Ohhh. So for people who can't read the screen, he's asking me why I chose to become a superhero. And the answer is my daughter. I mentioned that I had made Mia conceal her powers for a while, which had put a pretty severe strain on our relationship, and events happened recently that made me realize I was failing her. Basically, I chose to be a superhero because I wanted to be a good example for her when it came to using her powers. Unfortunately..."


She held out her arm, and suddenly a flare of plasma came to life. She had cleared with the school that she was going to make a small demonstration of powers if necessary, so she had no expectation of being tackled by security or anything like that.


"My powers aren't really suited to humanitarian work. I was the thug of the Delinquents, which means my powers are mostly based around things like melting bank vault doors or knocking people on their butts. Or taking a grenade to the face and being fine afterwards. Which, by the way? Happens more often than I'd like. So I figured superhero was probably the best way to go about things. That and it's a lot easier to hide your identity when you fight crime, rather than... I don't know, welding steel?"


"And of course, I like helping people and protecting the little guy. You can do a lot of good for people as a superhero. So yeah, that's why I am one."

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Shrugging off her momentary embarrassment about Ashley's question about sex, Judy folded her hands on her lap and watched as Serena spoke. She felt things twisting inside her at the older woman's words about sacrifice on behalf of her child, thoughts tumbling through her head. She thought of her own mother, and all the lessons she'd learned about making sacrifices on behalf of her family. 


"But what if you needed it?" she asked suddenly, earning her a distinctly odd look from Ashley for a moment. "What if you had needed to keep your powers secret, because...Ah don't know, to keep your family safe, or something..." Blushing, she looked down at her hands. 

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Serena's mouth quirked into a sympathetic sort of smile, the kind mothers gave when their kids talked about having a hard day at school. She could tell there was something going on here. Her tone became a little softer.


"Well... That was what I was doing for a very long time. I asked Mia to hide her powers because I thought the enemies that I had made might come for her if they knew that she had powers like me, if somehow drew attention to herself. But… what I realized was that it wasn’t fair of me to ask that of her. Yes, her safety was and is one of the most important things in the world to me, but you can’t just ask someone to hide away a really important part of themselves from everyone. Especially not when they’re at your age, when you’re all figuring out stuff out about themselves. I always loved Mia. She’s my daughter. But as a parent, sometimes the things you think you’re doing to protect your child end up hurting them without you realizing. Love’s funny like that, it doesn’t always lead to you making the right decisions,” she said.


“Look, I don’t know everyone’s situation here. I am sure there can entirely valid reasons for hiding yout . I mean, I use a secret identity. But I also think it’s not something you should impose on someone else. I chose to have a secret identity, and if Mia wanted to be open to the world about her powers and who she is, then it is my duty as a mother to stand by that. What comes after is… We’ll figure it out. We always do.”

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"W-wait! Wait a moment!" One of the students lurched suddenly to his feet, utter confoundment stamped all over his handsomely scarred face. "Ah. Hello. Leroy Ransome-Conte, I am a subordinate of your daughter, Mia."


"Having an only imperfect understanding of your criminal justice system, your description is troublng. You are all put into the same box, and isolated from wider society, and this is intended to be so dire you would do anything to return and be accepted?"


"That cannot be good for criminal recidivism. Good speaker, what happens to the prisoners who do not choose what you did? To them, surely social removal would simply be meaningless misery?"

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Serena stared at the young man for a moment, and her mouth became a crooked line as she debated how to best answer this question without being kicked out. She was pretty sure she was being paid for this talk, and not to mention getting kicked out would probably lead to Mia getting made fun of which she really didn’t want.


“WELL! Okay, I’m… Yeaaahhh…” she stumbled as she sucked on her teeth. “So the prison system in this country is not the best. There are a lot of issues, especially in who is being sent to prison and how long… There are a lot of people whose lives prison does not help. I was a case in which I needed to be removed from the environment I was in. I’m not really smart enough to address how we’re supposed to reform the prison system…”


She bit her tongue at the thought of maybe we should abolish them…


“Uh… Yes. Prisons focused on retributive justice over rehabilitation have been proven time and time again to cause drastically increased rates of recidivism. But there are prisons, especially ones meant to hold powered individuals, that currently focus on a rehabilitative model, and right now there is a huge push to make things like therapy and counselling a larger part of the sentence for those who want. There’s plenty of literature on prison reform out there that you can easily find all over the web.”


“As for me… It was what worked. I don’t think it was just the fear. The therapy in juvie really did help… I… Yeah.

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And it was then that Benny lifted a hand, the one he had bound up with the athletic tape.  "S'cool and all.  But this' the kinda pretty words ya hear all the the time.  I get, I get youse not being allowed to really be open and share.  I guess maybe I ain't bein' clear, and I get that, words ain't really my strong suit, ya?  So, I'll do tha rundown on this.  How do you turn it off?  Some mug gets fresh wit me, and I gotta watch out from givin' the goof a two or three piece."  He was on his feet in a movement that could be described as sudden before he gave a leading left flicker jab, followed by a low body hook with his right, and follow-up punch that was a tight inside uppercut.

"Bada-boom-pow!  Most mooks ain't gettin' up from that.  Ta be honest, like the Padre's say, color of yer soul's between you and the big guy upstairs.  But, the rest, well, how do we not do the same?  How do ya not fall back?  Buncha us grew up rough, I'm only an accident with some superscience chemicals from bein' in juvy right now, and boostin' cars."

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Serena looked over at Benny, happy to be way from the fairly precarious question. But now she was back to this one. As Benny clarified, she nodded and thought about it.


“Well… What works for me. These days, I don’t need it as much. But… It’s not… For me, it really is just a practice of self-control. It’s taking a moment to step back from what’s making you feel that way and breathing and just asking yourself ‘is this what I want to be doing’? It’s not… It’s something you have to practice. You have to practice being aware of what you’re doing and what could happen if you lose control. It started with the little victories for me. Managing to recognize I was about to get in an argument and just leaving the area. Eventually that became defusing, which worked out better. Catching myself thinking spiteful things and recognizing that was bad. Mindfulness, basically.”


“I think the same thing applied for crime stuff. Just stopping and analyzing when I was thinking about stealing something, about why I wanted to do it and why I shouldn’t. And yeah, sometimes you’re thinking faster than that, but I genuinely believe that you can change instinct by affecting the more… aware part of you, I guess, first. My instincts were trained to be criminal at first, but that meant they could be trained again, so I did. ”


“Like does that answer your question? I think I got it this time but…” She gestured her hand in a circle.

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  • 2 weeks later...

He shrugged a bit, as he looked at her, his lips pressed tight, and that loutish face of the thick necked teeth was placid, but there were wheels spinning.  "I s'pose. I mean, most mooks I've punched ain't nothin' but punchin' the clock themselfs.  Anger ain't pretty, but it's not the common thing.  Most... what?  At-risk yoots ain't gonna be offered a devil's deal often.  Mostly it's the way for them to make ends meet.  Been there, hustled on the street.  Got lucky, and fast enough hands to get out of that."


He punched his other palm with his wrapped hand, grinding, and testing the wrap there.  "I ain't sayin' yoose words is wrong.  Just, I dunno.  I ain't much for ethics really.  I guess more ways I see it from the ground.  Sometimes lookin' down from the rooftop.  Either way, I gotsta tell myself that I'm right when I'm knockin' skulls, yanno?"

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