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Dr Archeville

Fractures [IC]

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Date: September 15th, 2010 (Wednesday). After Welcome to The Interceptors, Jill O'Cure!

The cool, clear summer day perfectly reflected Doktor Archeville's mood as he flew along the Waterfront. He had flown over the coastline all the way up from Wading Way, twisting, spiraling, and barrel-rolling through the air, much to the delight of the children (and some of the ladies) along the shore.

"Ha ha! I cannot wait to tell her!"

"Her," of course, would be Mona Teymourian, his lover of the past eight months, better known as Fulcrum. Which is why he was headed for her loft apartment northeast of the Freedom Aquarium. Though, had he been thinking more clearly, he would have just teleported there.

I am free! Frrreeeeee!!!

"Liebchen?," he called as he landed on her balcony, "are you home?"

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Ah, 1313 Pelican Lane. An old brick warehouse, long past it's prime at commercial traffic. Judging from the art decor, folding chairs and garden plots, something more domestic had refurbished the old beauty. The balcony doors were open to a living room with an unfinished ceiling.

"In here, Viktor. I'm in the kitchen," called a familiar voice. The smell of spiced tea wafted on the air. The speaker herself leaned against a cabinet, watching lazily as the tea steeped. Looking up to him, she smiled, "Hi, sweetie. How are you?"

Her abode was startlingly minimalist. Sure, certain ubiquitous items were featured: comfy couch, chair, breakfast set, entertainment center. Beyond that only a couple of paintings and a picture of her family added character. Oh and a picture of Mona and Viktor. Her bedroom/studio lay hidden behind a plain screen.

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He practically slammed into her, he flew into her, open-armed, with such force, and gave her a deep, long kiss. The impact, she barely felt, but the kiss, well...

Still just me!

"Oh, liebchen," he said when he finally pulled back, then spun around in the spacious loft. "I-" He paused a moment, and put both hands on his chest, "whoa, I... ran into you a bit harder than I had anticipated..." His smile returned, and he resumed rolling and spinning about in the air, though a bit slower now. "Oh, but that does not matter, my flesh can heal..."

He stopped again, and zipped back to Mona, "as has my mind!"

Ha ha!

He circled her, "I had never dared hope -- dreamed, yes, but that as all -- that this day might come! But it has! And it seems real, permanent; I have been testing myself for four weeks now! And it is gone!"

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"Viktor, what has gotten into you?" she reeled back, yes, not from the impact, but the force of the kiss. Running a hand through her hair, she watched his acrobatics and asked in a more level tone, "What exactly is gone?"

For the moment the exact implications were lost to her. The whole situation was flustering and appeared so quickly! Process the conversation, flip into reverse and review. Not but a few seconds past when her eyes lit up. She seized Viktor, gently, gently, but seized him as tightly as she thought practical and gave him the biggest bear hug.

"Really!? You mean...really? That's wonderful! How...how did this happen?" she nearly yelled, as she sniffed back tears.

Fulcrum was a master of the bear hug.

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"Believe it or not... magic!" He squeezed her tight and laughed again, "and... and, I think... you."

Love is a balm for a troubled soul!

He leaned back a bit in her arms, "I was up at Jack & Taylor's home, a house call for their baby, back in mid-August, and while I was there Jack and I talked about my supernatural research projects. I picked up one of Taylor's books and... read a bit aloud, and... well... " He began giggling again, "these squids appeared in the air! Fortunately, Erin was there babysitting so she helped stop them from rampaging too much, and the 'Kid Cthulhu' lad happened by and assisted, too."

"But once I got home, I realized that I was... alone in my thoughts." He smiled, "and after nearly a month of waiting and testing, and no signs, it appears my Other has been, for lack of a better term, exorcised!"


flashback

Five months ago. April 13th, 2010 (Tuesday). A dark and stormy night.

Fulcrum had just touched down from her nightly patrol, and was about to open her balcony door. A quiet night so far: a few weather-related traffic accidents to help with, but not crime per se; seems even the crooks didn't want to be out on a night like this. And while nothing she'd done had been truly taxing for her phenomenal strength, and the cool, driving rain didn't physically discomfort her, she still looked forward to a hot shower.

But that would have to wait, for when she opened the door, she found Viktor Archeville standing in the dining room. Several bottles of beer, wine, and stronger liquors sat on the table, and he had already downed three shots of something from a dark bottle with a stag's head on it.

He looked up at her, chewing his lower lip nervously, and in a weak voice said, "Liebchen? Ve... ve need to talk..."

You seriously did not open with that, did you?

What? We do need to talk!

Even you should know that you never start a conversation with a mate like that!

She is not a 'mate'!

Whatever. Just let me get drunk enough so I don't have to listen to you bawl your eyes out.

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Mona chuckled, "Me? What did I do?"

For the moment she was content to stay in his arms and take in his unbridled joy. Moments of joy in their relationship were common enough, especially at this early interval, but sheer transcendent joy was something entirely different. Judging from her careful examination, she was pretty certain Viktor Archeville sat at the happiest moment of his life thus far.

Made her feel great.


flashback

"My kingdom for a cup of tea and a trashy romance novel," muttered the super heroine as she landed. The new suit, thankfully, came waterproofed, but her hair certainly was not. If not for her quick dash through the thunderhead, the whole evening would have been a wash, pun intended. Thankfully the few accidents were minor.

Lost in her own thoughts, she nearly missed Viktor until motion tracked in her peripheral vision. Blinking, she exclaimed, "Viktor! I didn't expect you tonight." Eyeing the bottles, she added, "Have you been drinking?"

The question was, for the most part, rhetorical. She'd never seen him looking so downtrodden. Sitting down across from him, she leaned over and cupped a hand over one cheek, "Sure. Whatever you want to talk about," she consoled.

Smiling weakly, she asked, "You're not pregnant, are you?"

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"More than words can say, liebchen," he replied dreamily, before bending in to give her another good, long kiss.

Mmmmmm....


flashback

"A little... but not nearly enough to feel anyding. Mein tolerance is... impressive, even by German standards."

Oh, hurry up and end this, I have things to do.

Give me a moment, please!

"Mona, I-" he began, looking up at her with wet eyes, then stumbled at her pregnancy joke.

Get on with it!

I am! I am!

"Mona..." He let out a sigh, then took in a deep breath.

And a stream of words came flooding out, so fast she had to switch to her super-speed to parse it out.

"There are aspects of my personality that I cannot control I try but it is so difficult it is like you know how people think that they have a single unified consciousness but really it is a dozen dozen conflicting voices, and sometimes those get strong enough or combine into a separate personality, as in dissociate identity disorder (which used to be called multiple personality disorder), well I have that or something like that"

No! Archie, this is not what we agreed on!

No, Kavil, but it is what I wanted you to believe.

He wobbled a bit, "I first noticed it in college I thought at first it was just normal stress but my rage rage and irritations built up and up I saw everyone around me as inferior fools and potential minions or threats -- I'd show them I'd show them all AH HAH HAH HAH HAH! -- but I forced myself to not think like that but I kept slipping but eventually I stopped but found it better to let that Other side out because its energy helped me in my inventing it's the energy and drive while my 'higher' personality gives that energy focus and purpose"

Stop this! Sop it now!

No!

Now he fell to one knee, "but sometimes I haff to let it out, haff to, but just a bit, or de Other vill come out vhen it vants to, so to appease it speak in dis exaggerated German aksent -- because my Other vants to speak only in German de Father-Tongue but I vould prefer speaking mit people in deir own tongue -- und I let it out some during Oktoberfest, mit all dose vomen, all dose vomen who meant nothing to me, or to it, and even with all that my Other sometimes still slips out I will awake in th morning and found I have sleep-invented a death ray or a mind control crown or a horrendous bioweapon but den, Mona, oh, Mona, you came into mein life und shown me so much"

You fool! What do you think you're accomplishing with this confession?

She deserves to know!

No, she does not!

He cradled is head, straining more and more as he spoke, "even now it fights me... tries to get out, to stop me... it did not want dis revealed, und... I had to... to trick it... into dinking I vas... vas going to... break up mit you tonight be... before it gave me... some room to... speak... but I could... never..."

Viktor passed out.

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She felt bad for interrupting him. At least temporarily, as he seemed so stressed and agonized. Those thoughts quickly vanished and were replaced with equal looks of shock, horror and sympathy. No pity. She wouldn't pity him. That wouldn't help him or lend any support.

As if all of these revelations weren't bad enough, capping them off with the thought that his darker half actively disliked her was a punch to the gut. Few people could actually hit her hard enough to knock her breath out, but that one fragment did more damage than he could possibly imagine. She'd really come to love him over the months. All she could do was sit there agape throughout and flinch at those four words.

...break up mit you

Mona did what she does. She reached out to him, as the pain of the mental battle reached its crescendo. But then he passed out and she leaped, not reached, to him. He was obviously out cold, so his pulse and breathing were assessed as she cradled his head in one huge hand. "Oh, Viktor..."

Cradled in her arms, Viktor came to rest on her couch. She covered him in a sheet, a cold towel on his forehead and gently stroked his hair. With nothing more aid possible at the moment, and Viktor stable, a quick but hot shower beckoned. Would give her a few minutes to ponder this new scandal.

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How... how did you do that?

With a small degree of satisfaction. And, really, you should be thanking me.

And how in Newton's name do you figure that?

Because now we've seen what she really thinks about us.

What? What are you on about?

Is she by your side now, holding you close to her bosom, cradling you and waiting for you to come to? Did she call anyone when she saw you drop, paramedics or any of the dozens of superheroes we know?

... no...

No! For all she knows, we could've just suffered a stroke. We could be bleeding out right now... but what's she doing? She's taking a shower! For all she knows, we'll be dead or have suffered severe brain damage by the time she gets back from freshening up!

On the couch, Archeville thrashed, tossed, and turned.

She is likely in shock, not fully cognizant of all that has transpired.

Oh, so it's not that she doesn't care, it's that she's too weak-minded to comprehend it all?

That is not what I said!

No, but it's what I'm saying, and why I kept telling you this wouldn't, couldn't work!

But it was working! It can still work out! I know you were enjoying it as much as I was!

Yeah, the sex was good-

'Good'?!

Fine, it was great, but-

It was the best we have ever had, because she is the only one we have allowed to get close to us, the only woman I have allowed myself to get close to!

Yeah, and look where it's gotten ya. Alone... unwanted...

"Noo..."

She will be back, you will see. And she is not going to leave me... us.

Oh really? And what pie-in-the-sky notion gives you that impression?

Because she did not run. Because she did not call anyone. Because she knows me well enough, knows us well enough, that she likely suspected the truth for some time, and this only confirmed those suspicions. She has been an active hero for some time, it would take a lot to phase her.

Oh? And which of those would be applicable in this case? What might she have been through to prepare her for what she was just subjected to?

I... she... that is not the point! The point is, she is a lot stronger than you give her credit for, and I do not just mean physically!

... yeah... maybe....

When Mona emerged, Viktor was slowly propping himself up on the couch.

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Turned out the shower was super fast, just long enough to adjust the temperature, clear her thoughts and prepare a plan of action. Too many things were happening too fast, and frankly, leaving Viktor or being alone with her thoughts were both right out. Far too many 'what ifs' and tangential scenarios kept her from thinking clearly. If she kept at that speed, she would probably end up overloading as well.

She'd suspected something was wrong with Viktor, and she didn't mean Eccentric Genius Personality. At first the changes were subtle, so subtle in fact she started mentally tallying the tics and mood swings. She understood why he was warmly professional, yet distant, with everyone. Socialize for lengths of time with him, and people would begin to notice his idiosyncrasies were more than simply eccentric. They had a pattern, a structure all their own, that he seemed to have only limited control over.

The attack at the castle, early in their relationship, provided a big part of the puzzle. Language barriers or not, he had been beyond furious during that PA rant. Meeting him again, the sudden coldness to his demeanor, was so out-of-place from what she expected, and in fact, had read of his superhero persona. He seemed to swing from moods of social anxiety to extreme fitfulness, be they inventive or angry, when put under stress.

She had suspected he was bipolar, and for fear of further stigmatization had determined to keep his illness under wraps. Which made sense. Society still held tremendous bias against the mentally ill. Lumping that burden on a Nazi grandfather, super genius intelligence and mad scientist prejudices could have been the straw that broke the camel's back. She would not have that.

Her thoughts turned to the Interceptors, which she'd later consider, pleased her a great deal. Those thoughts lasted a whole millisecond before being discarded. Viktor went to incredible lengths, be it his good or evil side, to keep this secret just that. She wasn't about to blow his cover, even to people he could trust. Now the automated lab equipment at ArcheTech, there was a possibility. Which brought her back to reality.

"Viktor!" barely registered his ears before she was there, kneeling in front him, gently helping him up. "Easy there. Thank goodness you're awake. How do you feel?"

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"Almost human. Mit... just a bit... of a headache"

A Next Gen quote? Really?

Quoting sci-fi works is one of my defense mechanisms, you know that.

Viktor did not refuse Mona's aid, but he only sat up, he did not rise from the couch. "You... haff questions, I am sure. I will... try to answer dem as best I can."

When he looked up at her, it was a face she'd never seen before. He was vulnerable, completely open to her... or, at least, as open as he'd ever allowed himself to be.

"I..." he turned away slightly, "I cannot imagine vhat you must be dinking of me... but..."

Oh, for the love of... where's that brandy?

I will give you three whole bottles if you give me one hour alone with her tonight.

... fifteen minutes.

Forty five.

Thirty.

... fi-

And I am allowed an equal amount of time with her, by myself.

What?!

You heard me.

But... but why? You barely tolerate her!

True, but... she's more tolerable than most. Plus, I want to... play with her.

I will warn her.

Go right ahead.

... fine. I get 30 minutes alone with her, now, then you get 30 minutes alone with her later.

And the three bottles of brandy. The good stuff, mind you.

Yes, fine.

Deal.

Newton save me...

He turned back to her, "but please know, Mona, that I love you, and I would never, ever want to -- want my Other Self to -- to hurt you. You are one of the few people who knows about my... condition, and the only one whom I have actually volunteered that secret to. I will tell you whatever you wish to know, whatever I can... while I am still of a mind to do so."

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The moment was truly touching. And for all the heart felt sentiments and emotional tenderness, all Mona could do was smile. Not a cheeky smile, no, a warm, accepting, long-suffering smile. She sat down heavily next to the couch and put a long arm around his shoulders.

Sighing, she leaned gently against him and gazed across the room. "I know, sweetie. I know. Don't worry about me. I'm a big girl. I'm more worried about you. I can take you to Archetech for a check up if you want."

A long moment of silence followed before she asked, still not looking at him, "How long do you have?"

Turning to look him, her smile grew wider and even more loving. "You're full of surprises, Viktor Archeville.

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Archeville shook his head slowly, "no, nothing at ArcheTech that can help me, and believe me, this is something I have worked on for many years. Besides, all the work I have done on my condition is in my home laboratory; I have kept all research on it off the ArcheTech servers."

Tick, tock, tick, tock.

That is a breach of contract.

....

"I have worked with an assortment of psychiatrists and therapists," he said while running his fingers through her hair, "but all were of no help. My vast knowledge includes the behavioral sciences, and as such I know the techniques they would try to use in diagnosing and treating me... and thus know how to skew them in order to evade any real help. Which is what, on some level, I would do, preventing any therapist from even getting a solid diagnosis on exactly what my problems are in the first place. I have also tried a number of psychopharmacological treatments; I am currently on a mixture of carbamazepine, clonazepam, fluoxetine, and lithium carbonate -- all anti-anxiety agents, most used in the treatment of bipolar disorder, though that is not quite what my condition is. They seem to have little effect, though I believe that is due to the unique tolerance to chemicals and drugs I have built up over the years from both work in my laboratories and in fighting assorted supervillains. I even started some telepathic therapy," he gently touched his head to hers, "with Scarab, a month ago. She has known of my condition for some time -- we were on a short-lived team, and still keep in touch -- but so far there has been no real progress."

When she looked at him, he felt that rarest of things: hope. "You have a few yourself, Mona Teymourian. You seem to be taking all this far better that I had anticipated. No, no, that is not the right word," he shook his head, then locked eyes on hers again, "you are taking it far better than I feared you would, but, deep down, I knew you could handle this. Which is one reason why I told you."

"And... to answer your question..." He bit his lower lip, "we have twenty six minutes and thirty two seconds left. I..." He turned away slightly, "... had to broker a deal. 30 minutes uninterrupted time with you now, in return my Other gets three bottles of my good brandy..." He chewed his lower lip more, and exhaled slowly, "and thirty minutes uninterrupted time with you. And my Other did not indicate when it would take those 30 minutes."

I told you! I told you I would warn her!

As if it mattered.

He winced, briefly.

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Truth be known, Mona would have herself a good cry long after they parted. The reasons were numerous and the motives expansive. But for the moment Mona sat and listened intently.

Running her fingers through his hair, she replied sadly, "How else can I handle the situation? You're a wonderfully sweet man with a gift of which frankly I'm jealous. That you have an equivalent flaw does not diminish my respect for you. Thank you for sharing your secret with me. It means so much."

"30 minutes huh? That is a bit troubling, but we cross that bridge when we come to it." Taking a deep breath, she continued, "I want to help you in any way I can. If that means simply being there for moral support, so be it."

Looking around the loft again, a half-smile formed. "Can't you just clone a body or something and give the Other that one? Battle it out or something? Yeah, too campy, I know."

Her face turned more serious and she asked, "What were the other reasons?"

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He leaned into her hand, and took her other in his. He looked up at her with eyes full of sad joy. "Knowing you could handle this is one reason why I told you. That you deserved to know is another. That I wanted to tell you, that I have wanted to tell you, to let you in an share my innermost -- and... darkest -- secret with you, for months, is another. You mean the world to me, Mona, and I have wanted to let you into mine -- fully into mine -- for so long."

And the hopes you would stay and we can work this all out.

He kissed her hand, "your support has been invaluable, dearest, moreso than anything else I have tried. Just... knowing you are there, wanting nothing yet giving everything... even now, seeing how you are taking this, shows you have this boundless strength that I find... grounding. I... hrm... " He looked a bit flustered, "I am sorry, I am trying to talk with only half my mind... and that is the damnedest thing about it all. As much as it is a constant struggle, having that part of me, that struggle is where much of my vitality and energy comes from. It is not quite like the Id/Ego/Super-Ego divide, there are aspects of Jung's Shadow there, which makes it all the more difficult to diagnose, but... ah, no, I am getting off on a tangent. And complaining about that bad is a poor way to spend the good times."

So much to say, not enough time! And what is he going to do? What?!

He was quiet a moment, then his face split into a grin. "Splitting... that actually is something I had toyed with. But... too many variables there... transferring a mind to another body is tricky enough, but transferring only parts of a mind, such that the original is still intact... is something that is, so far, out of even my league. And even if I could, and it escaped... a version of myself, with all my knowledge and skill, but none of my ethics or morals..." He shuddered.

"Twenty two minutes and seven seconds left," he said in a hollow tone.

Heh heh heh.

Quiet, you.

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By this point, Mona wasn't entirely sure of what to say. She loved him very much, yes, both in the romantic and companionship sense. Which meant that she would do whatever was necessary to help him. Just being there for him was obviously very important to him, but at the same time, Mona wasn't the type to remain passive. In some unconscious way, she felt helpless and powerless.

Something had to be possible! But what? If one of the world's greatest minds couldn't figure out this problem, then she didn't have a chance. Even thinking at super speeds didn't diminish the fact that she was not a scientist, nor did she have much propensity to learn the discipline effectively. But these thoughts weren't helping, and she pushed them away as nothing more than a minor droop to her face.

Which occurred after he announced their remaining time. She sighed and squeezed his hand, "That doesn't matter. We'll get through this one day at a time. Together. Remember the good times when everything seems so hopeless. They'll pull you through. Do you best to do right and know I will do the same. You brought me into your world, and you into mine, and I'll be damned if some wannabe-Nazi, mad-scientist psyche is going to undo that."

"Besides," she added, whispering into his ear, and switching to German, <"I have ideas.">

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Ha! She has been paying attention!

A smile spread across Archeville's face, and he squeezed her had and he leaned back into her. "," he switched back to English, "and I am most eager to hear them. You..."

He twisted in her arms so he could look her in the eye, "Your love for me, and mine for you, has done much good for my soul. And all the ideas you have come up with, all the things you have shown me, the world you have introduced me to -- things I likely would never have thought of -- has not only enriched my life, but I think it keeps my Other a bit off-balance. I an eager and anxious and terrified at all the new things we will see together -- I know there is much more I wish to show you. to share with you..."

He wrapped his arms around her neck and leaned in, first tentatively brushing his lips against hers then going in for a deep and passionate kiss.

Mmmm... she is the one, I know it... at least, I hope she is... it is all well and good for her to say how she will react, but we will not really know until she actually faces it. And- no. No, she is strong, and compassionate, and can handle it all. She can, I know it. I know it.

When the kiss finally broke, he sighed -- first contentedly, but with a twinge of sadness at the end. "Seventeen minutes and thirty-five seconds left..."

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Long arms still wrapped around his shoulders, she sighed contentedly, "How you've enriched my life is hard to overstate, Viktor. I knew the world, the universe, was a vast and awesome place, far beyond the pale of the workaday. But you showed me these wonders, and even more so, explained them. I can't wait for what we experience together next. Something about you has brought up new wellsprings of creativity, of delight, that staggers my imagination. It's as if a missing part of me has finally been found. A completion I never even knew I was missing."

She rested her forehead against his and gazed into his eyes. Her voice barely registered a whisper, "What I mean to say is that you're not just my lover and friend, but love. That part of you that is most decent and good and optimistic, the Viktor I'm addressing right now, should not feel guilty for any harm that the Other causes. I know you will regardless."

"You'll find forgiveness with me," she finished with a sad smile.

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It pains me so to see here so sad... but this needed to be said!

He looked on her with a sad smile and hurt-yet-hopeful eyes, "I just... hope," he said, his voice ever-so-slightly strained, "that I -- that it -- never does anything that requires your forgiveness. And..."

He paused, took a deep breath, and exhaled slowly. "And in case that ever should happen -- unlikely, I would like to believe, but I do believe in preparing for the worst -- there are a few people I would like you to talk to, both here in Freedom City and back home in Baden-Württemberg. A small handful of allies-" He stopped and corrected himself, "of friends, who know of my condition, and who have plans on how to react should... should something happen."

Elena is the only one here who knows, though I would not be surprised if John had some contingencies in place for me, even though he does not know of my condition. Then again, I am not sure John is really the 'meet the girlfriend' type.

Heh, I just referred to her as my girlfriend.

He gave a weak smile, "I have actually been meaning to get them all to met one another, see if they wold want to collaborate on their 'Mad Archeville Protocols'."

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"I hope not too, Viktor. Again we will cross that bridge if it comes," replied Mona. She nodded to his suggestion, "That's a good idea. Best to prepare for the worst. I'm sure you have already briefed them not to reveal the plans to you, and I'll honor that agreement as well."

Sighing, her gaze fell to the floor. "I'll set up a meeting with them as soon as I have their contact information. I will feel more confident once everything is worked out." She squeezed her eyes closed and took a long breath. Whatever she was about to say was replaced by a reassuring smile. "All in good time."

"Besides, I may not know when the Other has full control, even when his 30 minutes has started."

She turned to him suddenly with a half smile, "Who are your friends here?"

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He managed a chuckle, "yes, telling me of the plans you all come up with to stop me would somewhat defeat the purpose."

I am sure she did not mean for that to be said in jest, but... that is funny!

"Although," he added, still grinning, "I have come up with a few things myself -- items that, ironically, my Other designed to take out other gadgeteers -- that could be of use in stopping any 'mad rampages' I go on. But since I know of them, I would be expecting them, so... heh, well, you see how difficult this is. Which is why I have called on a select few to help."

He stretched, arching his back and slipping one hand up to play with her hair. "Locally, the only one who knows -- well, who I know knows -- is the Scarab. Like I said, I started some deep telepathic therapy with her, about a month ago, though so far it does not seem to be doing much good. But," he nodded, "I have hope that it will. She found out... almost a year and a half ago. Do you remember hearing about the time the Power Corps attacked Pharos, the Egyptian-themed restaurant at the top of the Pyramid Plaza? She was there, and gave some invaluable help, but that was also her first telepathic contact with me. At least, the first one of which I am aware."

WIIITCH!!!

I still have over twelve minutes left!

"There are others who do not know, but may suspect, like Grimalkin and Jack of all Blades. Or who do not know but have likely made preparations should I go rogue anyway -- like Arrowhawk." He sighed, but his face was not a sad one, but rather a resolved one, "I have not told any of them about my condition -- nothing specific, at least -- because, well, for one it is a delicate matter, but for another, there are times when, in order to stop a villain or some catastrophe, I must act on information I have rapidly processed, or enact procedures that are so far above their technical ability to understand, that I am unable to tell them what I am doing, and they may erroneously suspect that my 'mysterious' actions are the result of me being under the influence of my Other."

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Mona just smiled and gave him a playful bap on the cheek. "Now don't get fresh with me, young man. You know as well as I do how charismatic you can be. Who knows what the Other would pull if it had a chance to learn those plans. Still..." she laughed lightly.

"Yes, hard to plan contingencies against yourself. Like trying to kick your own ass," she continued, only half seriously. "Unfortunately I don't recall the Power Corps attack. Then again we have lots of super villain rampages don't we?"

"I do remember you mentioning her therapy. She is the only one locally? I'm...pleased that she decided to provide her services. Nothing personal, but I do not much trust psychics. The temptation must be tremendous. Still I'm glad you have a least one person nearby that knows the full story."

Leaning gently against him, she gazed off across the room, "I wouldn't be surprised if Jack had a suspicion. He is much more intelligent and perceptive than people give him credit. Plus that energy sense of his is disturbingly effective. Do you give off any signature I wonder?" She turned and gave him a searching look before continuing, "Specific circumstances aside, I could see Grim wondering too. She's a sneaky little shapeshifter in the best possible way. Gotta know your surroundings."

"As for Arrowhawk...I've never met the man, but from what I've heard, he is crazy prepared. I wouldn't be surprised if he had a contingency or two for every metahuman ever to hit the news."

Mulling things over, she finished more seriously, "If the time comes, I'll tell the Interceptors. It'll hurt but I know they'll do the right thing too."

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"I think that may actually be why Scarab and I get along so well," Viktor mused. "The fact we have both faced fear and prejudice due to our abilities, our natures. Even without knowing of the full breadth and depths of my mental problems, the simple fact of whose grandson I am, and my so-good-it-is-scary faculty with science and technology of all stripes; my fabulous wealth and movie star looks only mitigate some of the prejudice," he chuckled.

To recognize and laugh at one's faults can be healthy!

To laugh at the faults and shortcomings of others is better!

"As for Jack, heh, I know exactly how intelligent and perceptive he is." He gave her a wink, "I am the one who recruited him, remember? Him and Lynn and Billy. There were some others, gone their own way, but those three have established a fine dynamic. I was surprised they took the initiative to reach out to others, like you and Dynamo, and offered a place on the team." He stroked his chin with his free hand, "you know, I never have asked him if he gets any 'vibes' off me. I would think not -- he detects energies, but I am not sure if that extends to mental energies. I have been meaning to go see him, see if he would be interested in doing some sparring. Not that I think I am anywhere in his league, but seeing some new moves would be useful. William, too, for some firearms training... and a closer look at those guns of his!"

I think I shall skip the one-on-one meetings I have had with Lynn, and the observations I have asked her to do on certain Claremont students.

"I have worked with Arrowhawk, briefly. We were on a team, with Scarab and some others, though it did not last long. Too many..."

Exploded residential areas? Dead civilians? Lies upon lies to cover it all up!

Be quiet!

"... internal conflicts. Too many alpha personalities, not enough sharing. But, yes, you are right, he is the type to be 'crazy prepared'. I... appreciate the foresight for having those, though there is always the danger of those contingencies being confiscated by another. Which is why I myself do not make those types of plans -- I know there is another -- an Other -- who could easily access them and do terrible, terrible things with them." His smile had faded, as he began reflexively thinking about all the ways his Other would use his scientific and technical skills to incapacitate or kill other people.

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"Don't forget humble, dear," Fulcrum teased, "I'm sure you know all about them. Yes, I'm a bit surprised myself. Dynamo and I still feel like fifth wheels around the place. Although you do make a good point. I think they would all like to spend a little more time with you. Really get to know their boss." Although she didn't express it, the Avenger Incident was still a sore spot for her.

The dressing down had been understandable, and she accepted her own role in the issue. She had felt at the time uneasy, later guilty, for the apparent abuse of their relationship to let the team's feelings be heard. Still she stuck to her guns. The issue was very clear: Avenger was a bad, bad choice. His reputation as a hero aside, his level of trustworthiness seemed (still seems) questionable and his personality left a lot to be desired. One reason for the phone call, a big reason, was losing control of the situation. Yes, she was actually worried about violence.

"I just wonder where Billy gets that ammunition. My knowledge of guns is limited and even I know that those calibers are not mainstream. Plus one time he used EMP bullets. Where does he obtain those things?" she chatted long. Serious discussions needed a bit of brevity and tangents. Not to mention a little quality time, whatever was left.

Still the fiasco with Avenger bothered her. Forgiving herself took a bit, but in due time, there existed inner peace. But the deeper issues of trust amongst the team, their boss and her were more complicated. Perhaps he had noticed, or perhaps not, but Mona didn't entirely embrace the Interceptors after that Incident. Sure, she hung out with them, shared stories and family photos even, but she rarely told them anything specific about her private life or schedule. If she was honest with herself, she felt hurt that both her boyfriend/boss and team mates neglected to mention the team was a superhero version of Big Brother. She had enough privacy issues being 8 feet tall to not need anyone monitoring her in the comfort of the brownstone.

Shaking her head, she smiled lightly, "You're drifting again, sweetie. Just like I am. Now let's focus. Who else knows about your problems?"

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"The guns themselves make new ammunition as nee-," he said before suddenly stopping. "Yes, drifting. There is time for that later."

Soon...

But not yet!

"In Potsdam, in the German state of Brandenburg, there is a woman, Hexen. She is a... well, that is, she claims to be a witch, a magic user. Sees and communes with spirits, controls the elements, that sort of thing." His tone was an odd mix of respect and distaste. "She and I have worked together on a few cases. She was... difficult to work with, due to our radically different worldviews, but I never questioned her dedication or her spirit. She-"

Time's up, and not soon enough!

No, wai-

His face contorted in rage as he abruptly switched to German, "" He turned his head and grimaced, ""

Gotcha.

Enjoy this small victory while you can.

Viktor-that-was-not-Viktor turned and looked at Mona with cold, cold eyes. He leaned back on the opposite end of the couch, and smiled a sharky grin. "

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