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alderwitch

A Different Kind of Hero [IC]

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It wasn't long after the chat in Alex and Erin's room that she stopped on by the boys room. She knew Mike would be out just as she knew Mark would be around. Alex knew lots of things, some of them more useful than others, and ESP was helpful to confirm that he was still in there as he had been when Mike had left. Dressed down in an older pair of jeans and a faded sweatshirt that had once been a much brighter shade of pink, Alex knocked on the door cheerfully.

When Mark came to the door she greeted him with a bright smile and said simply, "Come on, we've got some work to do. You're going to need your shoes, though."

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In a black T-shirt and black jeans, Mark was almost unrecognizable. For a second she thought he'd somehow managed to dye his hair in the seconds before she came upstairs, before he pulled off the wig and blinked. "Okay, sure. Where are we going?" he asked her, automatically bending down to pull on his black sneakers. He'd evidently been clothes-shopping. "Do you need Mike or Erin?"

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"The Fens," Alex replied, blinking once and peering past him. It was a good thing that Mike was out of his black phase as the room would have probably been draped in crepe, "And, no, I think we'll be more help for this particular problem than either of them would be able to provide. You might want to put the wig back on, though."

When he was dressed, Alex touched her communicator belt buckle to port them back to the base and then to a corner of the run down section of the Fens, outside a relatively new soup kitchen that had a line out the door and stretching round the block. The people in it were of all ages and sizes and shapes but all in the same economic demographic of the poorest of the poor. There were certainly drunks and junkies and gangbangers of course but also there were families and a lot of elderly as well. "Here's our stop. Come on, follow me."

Alex guided them up to the door and exchanged pleasantries with the volunteer on the door, explaining on their way up, "She's one of my new employees."

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Mark's friends, or at least his frenemies, often assumed Mark wasn't terribly bright, and it was true that he lived life in his own world. But he wasn't dumb, really, and it wasn't hard to figure out (or at least guess) what Alex had in mind. "So you want to work here?" he murmured to her. "That'd be okay, I guess," he said, falling back on his usual agreeability. "But why me?"

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"Because you have powers like mine, where some day you'll have to decide how to use them for things that aren't as simple as smacking a supervillain in the face. This is a good place to kinda test run those sorts of things out," Alex said pragmatically, "I do mending. A lot of these folks don't have a lot of things and it takes me about three seconds to make something work again that was broken. Fix clothes to be like new. Stuff like that but, I mean, I could spend all day every day here doing that and it wouldn't ever be enough."

She led him on through to the back, introducing him to the volunteers. "And I think it'll help you understand just how strong people can really be."

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Mark made his introductions with the usual slight awkwardness he had with people when he wasn't in costume and they weren't aware of his identity. "Okay, what do you want me to do here, Alex?" he asked, leaning close to murmur when people were distracted. "I mean I can probably help them all win the lottery if you want, but that's not legal in New Jersey..."

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"Probably nothing, today. But these people are just hungry. You can make ham sandwiches out of thin air if you want to. Without me prodding, this would occur to you in time. I'm not saying that you should make sandwiches for all these people but you should probably start thinking about the fact that you can and whether or not you should. You're the only one who can decide the cost of those powers. I'm just here to help you work through that. Does that make sense?" Alex asked as she guided him over to the area she used for mending peoples belongings.

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"I don't know," said Mark, looking doubtful. "I've never really had to think about the cost of my powers. I just sort of reach out and do them, and that just makes everything better." He demonstrated on the belongings, glancing around to make sure no one was watching before he slowly began knitting things together all at once. "I'm working with Mr. Dark Star's friend Fleur de Joie to learn how to fix things up, and she told me it's important to respect what you make. I'm trying that, I guess."

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"It is important." Alex agreed solemnly as she watched him mend things with a wave of his hand and then pulled the clothing out to gently refold it. "But just now, one wave of your hand and everything in this pile is like new. Its a little thing, certainly not on the scale of making giant balloons to hold back the sun, but that little thing makes a giant difference to just one person. Now, you could spend the rest of your life doing this, just this, and still you couldn't save everyone. So you have to figure out what you can do, what you should do and what you need to do and try to make them all intersect. Does that make sense?"

Alex held out the folded sweater to him and pointed out the family it belonged to along with a child's much loved and formerly almost tattered stuffed animal, "Here, go give them their things back. You fixed them, so you should get the smile for it."

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