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TheAbsurdist

Naming Conventions

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The Liberty Dome was situated between Midtown and the Theater District.  A large events complex where the city’s major sports teams play. The 80,000-seat stadium also plays host to other sporting events as well as major concerts and shows during the year. It modern and modular and able host something like the high end charity concert (a couple grand for the privilege), as well as have facilities for the after party.

 

It also had a dumb name. Well Amir felt that was the case, it felt so dated, but then he supposed that was better than auctioning off the naming rights every five to ten years.  At least the Europeans had that right with their naming conventions for such buildings, sports economics notwithstanding.

 

As per usual he had arrived in high fashion, in his latest acquisition a 1937 Bugatti Type 57SC Atalante, sky blue with white trim.  It cost him quite a bit, and he wondered, precisely, how much was the car for himself or the image he had cultivated carefully.  He still liked it, however.

 

What he didn't like was this concert, he was here to support the charity, something... he couldn't remember which one as he did so many. He couldn't get away with spending money on one of these things and then disappearing.  He'd eat it in the press, and the rumor mill.  It didn't help that Agnus was performing.

 

So... here he was, trying to not interact with Agnus, while doing his best to be personable.  Fortunately her hair made her easy to track, and adjust his path and everything accordingly, managing to come across extra 'not entirely present' tonight, while simultaneously wishing he could get three sheets to the wind.

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Agnus knew the way the game was played as well as Asad and made her best efforts, from above an omnipotent viewer could watch the dance the two played as they tried to stay the minimum safe distance from each other. Unfortunately for both of them Agnus had invited some people who didn't follow the rules, in fact they were proud that they hadn't in the past.

 

The first Asad knew was he had an angry woman in his face, someone he recognized from before. Her face was pale and sprinkled with freckles with a few more years on Agnus, obviously, but the resemblance was there. Her curly red hair though tied up in an elaborate style still had a few unruly strands. It was Agnus's mother and she was apparently not happy.

 

"What exactly are you, and my idiot daughter doing?"

 

Her father put a gentle hand on her shoulder and gave Asad and guilt little shrug, but knew better than to try and stop his wife when something wound her up.

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Amir stopped, and he looked at her, Agnus' mother.  The billionaire had mastered tatemae, Agnus has seen him shrug off questions that were beyond invasive, that bordered as transgressive.  Of course he was used to people using a conversation with him to further an agenda, to push their ploys.  "Attending a social event, while trying to avoid each other?  I thought that was clear."

 

Winning smile, check.  Indolent retort, double check.

 

"Were you meaning more specific than that?  If that is the case, we broke up.  Our differing schedules, my status as superhero and a billionaire, and the age gap made the relationship untenable.  Presently we are trying to be civil.  Was there something I missed?"   An owlish blink then as he looked at her, and then glanced up to her husband.

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One thing that even a suave sophisticated business couldn’t deal with was an enraged mama bear, especially one that was apparently on a mission of some type.

 

“Well she’s an idiot as well, but she wouldn’t listen to me either.”

 

“Geri I’m sure he’s got more important things to deal with now.” Mr Stone voice was soft and calming,but obviously not calming enough for Mrs Stone it seemed

 

“It’s obvious that the two of you still having feelings for each other, you’ve both been moping about it for a whole year. I’d slap some sense into both of you if you both weren’t invulnerable!” there was anger and frustration in her voice.

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He blinked, his mild expression not changing in the slightest as he watched her, silently for several moments.  He folded his arms across his chest, at the moment where one would realize how big Amir was, though he wasn't clearly not leaning on that impression, or trying to to intimidate her.  "I see.  I am not moping, Mrs. Stone.  If I was, I'd be home, drinking a lot of expensive scotch, attempting to get drunk, and failing to do so because I am 'invulnerable.' I cannot afford to mope in public, because I have a media tail the moment I leave the house."

 

He sighed softly, and then lifted a hand up and pinched the bridge of his nose, rubbing as he closed his eyes.  "Listen...  I understand ma'am, I do.  The fact is that despite whatever feelings we may have, things didn't work out.  Not everyone is as lucky as you and your husband.  Love doesn't conquer all, as often as not things fall apart, they fizzle, they don't work out."

 

"You heard him you ignorant harridan!"  Came the heavily accented voice that Amir knew too well.

 

"Oh sweet-"  And he hung his head forward, the headache was stronger now, pulsing, throbbing, and he snatched a passing drink on a tray and he downed it a gulp, and put it back on the server's tray.  "I am going to need five more, now...  Mr. and Mrs. Stone, allow me to introduce my mother Amatullah al-Misri."

 

A tall woman, imperious, and unbowed with age, her silver shot dark hair held back and up in an elegant arrangement, Amatulla moved to stand beside her son, looking at Mrs. Stone as if she were an insect.  "You slatternly thing, you and your ilk should be fortunate that my son is even willing to entertain your foolishness."

Edited by TheAbsurdist

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For a few seconds deliberately ignore the senior al-Misri  as Geri scowled at Asad suggesting that he maybe had chosen the wrong words to describe the situation.

 

“You should know that we’re not one of those wishy washy New Agers types who believe the universe will provide a happy ending if you wish enough. God... help us against such people.” Agnus had carefully, and slightly worried, explained that her family were Pagan, though mostly accepting of anyone really

 

“Any relationship takes work through the good times and especially the bad, and you shouldn’t just give up because both sides are being stubborn about something. Trust me the Stone women are stubborn women indeed.”

 

Her still quiet for now husband couldn't help but give a little nod and a smile at this.

 

Then she turned her attention back to Amatullah she was all cold smiles,the Stones might appear easy going but Asad was well aware that they had steel inside.

 

"Salaam Amatullah al-Misri , it's a pleasure to meet you, you've raised a wonderful son."

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Amir's smile faltered as Geri Stone tried to correct him, his expression flagged, especially with his mother being there. There was a tightness to his expression that hadn't been there moments ago.

 

"I swear to Allah, I am going to throw all of you people to the sun."  He said it, before downing another drink and he shook his head and he set it back on the tray and gave a gentle shrug to the waiter.  "You are going to want to leave, quick.  Like a bunny."  And then he looked to the Stones and his mother as it they should somehow get the reference he made, and then he waved his hand and shook his head.  "Philistines."

 

"Amir I fail to see how this is amusing to you!"  His mother snapped back at her son who seemed to only be growing more and more flippant.

 

For his part, Amir was raking his fingers through his glossy black hair, before stepping so that he could express his words quietly and sharply just to the Stones' ears.  "Perhaps it is the fact you are so upset you are willing to out your daughter as being in to community in public."  And then he rocked back so he could talk louder, as surely people had inexorable fallen into orbit from the gravity of his fame and personality, and he had to make it a show now.  "Or... or... it is amusing because I, a billionaire man at the age of forty-five, am being demanded justification of from two women who would have likely attacked their own maternal figures if they deigned to involve themselves in their love lives.  Really, descended upon them as though they were maenads deep into their cups.  Speaking of which!  Barkeep, another!"  Raising a hand to gesture for another waiter and more alcohol, he would glance over his shoulder at them, "Don't look so surprised that I read."

 

"Amir!"  Another sharp bark of the word, Amatullah's face pinched as she glared at her son, approaching him with the intent on doing.  Something.

 

Taking the glass, he knocked it back, and then he promptly did another glass, before he urged the waiter away.  "That is my name, don't wear it out!  Now... where were we?  Ah yes.  So, I lied before, she broke it off with me.  Despite my money, and ruggedly handsome countenance.  Some might say even stunning good looks.  Clearly I don't have a winning personality.  Or might be that my work day is somewhere between twenty-nine and fifty-six hours long.  That probably plays into it.  However..."  And then he turned to his mother, "And this... this is the kicker, yes?"  Wheeling back to Geri Stone, "... The kicker is that despite my contentious relationship with my mother, and lothario reputation, I would say I do respect women.  So when one I have been dating, breaks off a relationship I assent to it."  He wrinkled his nose, making a face as if he had tasted something revolting.  "I know, right?  How dare I!"

 

Amatullah went from upset, to shocked, to incensed, her hands balling at her sides as she stared at her son.  "You... you.  What the hell is wrong with you Amir!?"  Propriety be damned at this point, her son had just goaded her with a diatribe, and she was staring at him in near breathless anger. "I was defending you from this... this... this..."

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For her credit Geri didn’t gloat or look particularly smug, instead she looked rather concerned and stepped forward to touch Asad gently on the chest.


“Oh honey you did nothing wrong, perfect gentleman and all, but I know my daughter and she’s still loves you. She just go frightened by things moving too fast, you know how tough she had things before you meet her.” she shot Amatullah a side look “We only want what’s best for the two of you, not what’s politically or socially acceptable.”

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He looked at Geri, his expression mild.  "I would argue that things didn't move fast , but I am not really going to dither over that.  I mean I was help captive for like six months and experimented upon, or something.  So I am not really moping, I don't get to really get the luxury of doing that.  What with being out in the open on the hero thing, and somewhat caring what the press thinks of me."  He shrugged a little bit and he laughed and smiled at his mother with unabashed wickedness.  "No this was aimed at her, and to you at a lesser degree.  We are adults, most of the time, and honestly... well I kind of done airing my laundry in public."

Amatullah just stared at her son, as she set her jaw.  Muscles bunching and unclenching in her face as she smoothed herself out.  Having to pause and close her eyes.  "I only wish happiness for you my son."  Her tone light, cool, even humble..

Edited by TheAbsurdist

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“Of cause that’s what mother do, I’d hug you but I figure you’re not the hugging type.” Geri wasn’t the type to gloat about such things.

 

And obviously with some form of peace accord worked out Agnus choose that moment to arrive!

 

She’d been working the crowd making small talk and playing the part of the popstar, old school habits from earlier days. She was decked out in a designer blue dress with red heels and her hair tied back with a white ribbon, if she wasn’t paying attention she tended to end up in those specific colours those of her alter ego.

 

“Mum have you been causing trouble again? What have I told you about starting arguments...” as she glanced around she finally realised who she was talking with “Oh hey it’s you! It’s good to see you again!” caught completely off guard she was being completely genuine.

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Amir's smile was tight.  He could continue to rant, especially when someone who wasn't terribly older than him was trying to force life lessons or some such nonsense on him.  He wasn't angry, and he hid his discomfort when Agnus entered the fray, as it were.  "Statistically it was bound to happen again."  His tone light and he offered a small smile, though he was keeping himself largely reserved, because that was the wisest course of action.

 

His mother was still stiff, all ice and cast iron.  Her aquiline features, relatively unbowed by age, and regarding them almost askance, before sniffing a bit.  "I fail to see-"

 

Her son did not give her a chance to continue.  She disapproved of someone like Agnus not for entirely the reasons one would expect, more that it was endemic (in her mind) to a feckless pattern that Amir had engaged in since college.  "Of course, of course.  Manners, my how I forget."  He stepped forward, and smiled broader, more genially and he moved in to give her that hug one gives in a social situation like this, where taking a hand would be a little too formal, but didn't want to be too intimate.

 

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Agnus had no such reserve and took Asad in a full hug, and it helped that she knew she could apply her full strength without any harm, and pulled him in closely. She also pushed her luck by giving him a little peck on the cheek.

 

“Would it cause a scene if I gave you a kiss right now?” she whispered into Asad’s ear

 

She leant back a little,but still kept him in a hug.

 

“It’s great to see you again, it’s been too long really.I hope my folks haven’t been giving you too much trouble.” there a was a easy smile on her face and it couldn’t be the drink as she could drink gallons without any ill affect.

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Agnus had minimal chill.  It would seem.  As he looked at her, before she pulled back from the whisper.  She knew the look, he had given it to her a lot.  He responded to a hug, a light, cordial thing.  "About what I expected, if I am honest."  He put it mildly, because frankly this was likely not the worst social embarrassment he would field today.  As that tended to be the case, especially given there was no paparazzi inside of the event.

 

His mother made an indelicate cough as she looked at them both.  Clear that she did not approve of Agnus in the slightest.

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Agnus pulled back with a smile on her face, she’d forgotten how much she missed this until right now. Not that she’d ever considered they’d be such a audience when they met again, and it wasn’t going to be back to business as usual by any means. But at least Asad’s mother's reaction was as consistent as usual.

 

<”It is good to see that you are well and in good health,god has been generous to both you and you wonderful family.”> her Arabic was flawless with just the right inflection for someone of her position, one advantage of being the host of the Spirit of Justice

 

“Hi mum, dad you’re looking well sorry I missed you earlier.” she dropped right back into her North London accent “So what was everyone talking about?”

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Of course he was a prep and boarding school kid, so at best his parents were the submarine type, and he seemed antagonistic to their involvement in his life choices now.  He folded his arms across his chest, no longer drinking, not that it did anything for him, much like her.

 

"Why must you drag my son through the muck and mire of decadent perfidy, pop star?"  Her tone cool as she went for the throat on Agnus.  Given the younger woman's perceived effort at gracefully sidestepping her ire.  That chill, steely gaze aimed as a dagger to her.

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Strangely being criticized for her musical style was less galling than many of the other insults that could have been used.Maybe it was because she’d defending them for at least the last decade or so.

 

“I don’t just sing pop songs I’ve also done some Electronica and a little Jazz I can turn my hand to just about any music you want really. Besides...” she kept things pretty neutral and matter of fact

 

She reached into the tiny purse and pulled out a business card and offered it to the woman

 

“I’m a successful business woman,I’ve been managing two recording studio’s for almost five years now. I manage to turn a healthy profit by offering the studio’s services to almost everyone.” there was a trace of pride in her voice as she spoke, especially for the kicker “But I’m sure a careful woman like yourself would know about important details like that!”

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Amatullah looked at her, like she was an insect.  "I am sure it thinks that somehow such references redeems it's abominations of human endeavor."  Her tone became even more frigid, more hostile, before turning her head.  "Amir, we must talk.  Now."

 

For his part, Amir, just raised his eyebrows.  "I am forty five.  You are aware of that right?"  His face settling on one brow being arched as he eyed her skeptically, before he started looking for a source of more alcohol.  Even if his body burned it off as fast as he drank it, but he was old enough to not care.  Plus he was reminding his vain mother of her age.

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Agnus and the others had bore the mantle of the Spirit of Justice had faced view like this, and worse, over the many centuries that it had existed. She had weathered the assaults physical and mental and had endured, thrived even, despite all this. Though that didn’t mean that Agnus wasn’t slightly irked by the woman comments. But she had a lot of practice with dealing with this kind of thing just over her years with Asad. The first thing was to wave away her mother, who she knew was about to jump to her defense, being a mother always trumped being a superhero.

 

“Does this mean we can treat her a supervillain now? That something I know I can deal with easily.” she whispered into Asad’s ear

 

Out of pride or hopefully out of friendship, and maybe still a little love, Asad was defending her honour (and his own she wasn’t a romantic idiot). And that was something to be respected, not that she’d ever lost respect for him. And if she was honest there was still some feeling of love for him.

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"You had me at that mindset during the fourth year of boarding school, for not tucking in my shirt."  Came Amir's offhand response to Agnus' question, as he seized a glass, and then gestured to the waiter to get him a bottle.

 

"Oh, holding petty grudges of a child, but my attempts at reining you, so you would not ruin your life went awry, due to your dogged persistence in your stubborn, and shameful acts."  Amatullah's words having grown dangerously calm, despite the icy hate almost coming off of her.  Akin to the rattle of a snake.

 

"Have you seen Archer?  Would you be surprised to know there is a fictional character inspired by you?"  He shrugged, while asking a rhetorical question.

 

"Why Ms. van Cleef didn't follow her end of our bargain and arrange your ousting.  Oh, does it know you have children?  From your many, many indiscretions.  Of which it is one of many.  Like that other pathetic little pop star who robs banks now?  Always a taste for those unseemly younger than you, my son?  Those broken birds.  Tell me, do you even call them when you leave them?  I wonder if there are a larger number of your former lovers now turned to crime, because it couldn't be more shameful than what are."  The elder al-Misri plied a wound that she knew was there.

 

It was like the record skip sound effect played out.  As their corner of the party came to a catastrophic halt.  There was almost a palpable pulse off of Amir, a tremor on his face, before he smoothed himself out.  Setting the now empty glass of an offered up tray, and he ran his hands over the front of his suit.  His expression mild, before asking in a low, steady tone.  "Children?"

 

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Agnus hadn’t gone into any relationship blind, not since she’d gained a modicum of fame, and she’d done her homework on Asad and his family. It was probably part of the reason she’d said no to his proposal of marriage, that and she wasn’t ready to commit to that long term a relationship. And she’d know all about his many dalliances in the past and the potential consequences of said relationship, though no actual results until now.

 

“Well if it ever goes really bad I’d probably just right a bitchy song about it all, it’s work pretty well for Taylor Swift." she was surprised as he was about his kids but for now she'd roll with it until she could figure out how she really felt  "If we did take it further I accept his kids like my family if that’s what they want. I’m the daughter of ex-travellers I’m use to dealing with a very large extended family.”

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Amir stopped, that smile still there, practiced and easy.  But there was nothing behind it in the slightest.  All cast iron and brittle.  "What?"  It was asked evenly, even softly.  He lowered his right hand, tumbler glass in tow.  That was where the crack to the mask was.  A flicker, and sound that didn't carry over the ambient sound of the party, and it was obliterated in his hand.

 

"What are you talking about, mommy dearest?  Wait... before you answer that, are you still a strong swimmer?"  There was a small narrowing of his eyes, as he shifted a bit closer than before.

 

Amatullah looked at her son, her own expression switching from a self-satisfied smile to something more neutral as she looked back at him, "Come now?  You didn't expect your shameful behavior to not get you?  Two.  In point of fact.  I am sure you are not surprised by that, hm?"

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One moments you were trying to stop you parents haranguing you former boyfriends, the next you were learning startling details about them. Was all superheroes lives as complicated as hers? And how did you deal with duch  revelation when you weren’t even sure of the relationship with said person?

 

It’s complicated did even begin to cover it.

 

She wished she could still get drunk but her superhuman constitution meant it would take a lot of effort just to get a happy buzz, so she’d have to deal with all this unfortunately sober. She stepped closer to Asad, just to be there for moral support.


“You okay there?” was all she could think to say right now.

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Amir, however, was clear about the relationship.  He really could afford to dwell on it, as he could literally price out his time by the minute, as some people were apt to do whenever he went out a-heroing, calling it a waste of resources.  His mouth remained set in a frown, as he looked at his mother, and he didn't respond, he just sighed wearily, and he turned to get another drink, "You're going to want to bring a bottle," he said to the waiter, putting a folded bill on the man's tray.

 

In the moment he didn't care about his mother's smugness, he was more concerned about other things like why wasn't he told about them?  Did he piss off the women that much?  Who could it be...  His eyes raised upward, seeking, searching, so that he almost didn't notice Agnus touching his shoulder.

 

A blink, maybe two, and he turned his head to look at her, frowning a little bit.  "Hm.  As best as I can be... admittedly I wish my mother had superpowers so I could haul off and slug her."

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Agnus had mixed feeling about the whole thing and if anyone could understand the past coming back to hurt them it was her. She wouldn’t be who she was right now if it wasn’t for her chequered past, wouldn’t have met Asad...

 

Still if she knew him as well as she did then she knew that he’d want to follow up on this, and maybe do what was right with his kids. With a mixed of a falling heart and relief she realised that this would probably be it them now, he had more interested in them now as it should.

 

“If you need a friend to help process this, or even punch our new supervillain, I’ll be here for you.”


This might need some thinking later, maybe a space trip to think in silence, buy Agnus was genuinely pleased and wanting to help Asad out.

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Amir didn't think they were a possibility anymore.  Yes, he was waiting for her to make a move towards that end, though as of right now he really did.  "Huh."  He blinked a bit a Agnus stepped in, he frowned a little, seeing the expression on her face.  "Pity we never got to play poker, I could show you how to not show your cards better."  His voice a touch distant, his eyes on her, but not entirely focused on her, or even seeing her.

 

"Not, of course, that I need you.  Dad."  Came voice with a bit of a sneer, and a slight accent.  A tall man, hair cut in a way that that would normally be up in a mohawk, though he had not bothered to do that, instead it was slicked back and dyed red, though the black at the roots were showing.  He had on a studded leather bomber jacket, over a dress shirt, black and red keffiyeh around his neck, slim dress slacks, and a crisp red and white canvas vintage sneakers on.  He was hardly a kid, looking closer to Agnus's age, and he had his father's grin, though a nose that looked like it had been broken and fixed, and a goatee.  "Dalir, should it matter."  A tilt, and that grin became more sarcastic as he squinted a little with, "Want to start catching up now?"

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