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 White Picket Fence, Tag: Sue Storm
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February 2017

Reed had never shared the usual distaste for lawyers; at least, not until then. After their return, between handling matters of their return from the dead, their newly acquired powers, and sudden military contracts, Reed felt like he spent all his time around them, and barely got a chance to be in his labs, which meant he was only managing up to 13 hours of work a day, instead of the usual 18 to 20. 'Familiarity breeds contempt' went the proverb, that seemed to be proving itself right, and took ominous contours as he considered what they were doing.

Picking a place where all four of them could live in and work at, together, was about as hard as it seemed. Especially as now everything seemed to be voted on, Reed found himself on the losing time more times than he cared for. He had wanted to go back to California, find an isolated, roomy house they could renovate at will. Instead, they were looking at something in a New York building.

This one had been the first one they all seemed to agree with, at least on paper. An old industrial site retrofitted for high tech offices, many of them with connections with the military themselves, they wouldn't have much room, or hopefully interest, in complaining about their presence. They, themselves, would be on the upper floors, an overambitious addition made by a company that made a lot of money in one bubble or another, and went down when it burst, leaving behind their hopes of ever becoming the New Yorker Google.

Still, Reed wanted to see it for himself. Of course, he could manage to turn everything into a lab, but, now, it was a matter of doing so according to strict zoning laws and military oversight. He was not the type to give up midway, and part of that was not starting doomed enterprises.

Still, he had to admit, he was impressed. The ceilings were high, the floors were wide, the foundation was solid. He could definitely see himself living there. Seeing himself sharing it with three other people was a little harder.

"Well?" Reed turned to his companion. "What do you think?"



@SUE STORM
Sorry, is a month too early to move in together?
Posted: Feb 13 2018, 06:54 PM
The Invisible Woman
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Sue was many things. She was smart and stubborn, she was kind and and strong, she was bold and daring. But she was not invincible. She’d kept her spirits up as long as she could as they traipsed from property to property, yet as the day wore on, as they toured property after property, it felt like reality was beginning to set in. The reality that this was their reality, that they were staying here because there was no going back. It was like they had crash landed on another planet, one almost like their own, and now they were doomed to stay here forever, so close to home and yet immeasurably different. And they had no option but to live out the rest of their lives.

“It’s fine. Just like the last one was fine. And the one before that. Really, any of them will do.”

She couldn’t help the exasperated, tired notes that had crept into her voice; the pain was just so fresh, still. When she was with Ben or Johnny or the investors, she could pull herself together, put on a facade of calm and slap on a smile, pretend like everything was okay. There were people counting on her, after all. Yet with Reed, it was different, since he didn’t need her as much. As least not emotionally. There was a certain comfort in knowing she didn’t have to pretend with him, that she didn’t have to do the emotional labor for him too. His lack of emotion balanced well with her over empathetic nature. Perhaps that’s why she liked him so much, though she really wasn’t in the mood to unpack that baggage. She took a seat on a piece of furniture covered with a white sheet, her eyes dropping down to her hands as she forced herself to take a deep breath.

“So this is it, huh? We’re really doing this? We’re really staying?”

It felt so...final. Like, by moving in here, by finding a place to live in this century, they were accepting that they were never going home. If there was any home for them to go back to. And if their return didn’t tear a hole in the fabric of space time, since if they’d been able to go back, shouldn’t they already know how to get back, since it they’d gotten back, they would’ve left materials to help them get back that they would have already found in the future...god, Sue had been thinking about it so much she had a headache. And she still wasn’t certain any of it made sense. And while there was no doubt that a home would be more comfortable than some government issued, military grade lab while they tried to sort out this mess, Sue couldn’t help it feeling like the floor of her stomach had fallen out, like they were in freefall and she couldn’t see when they would hit the ground.


@REED RICHARDS
Posted: Feb 18 2018, 11:55 PM
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It wasn't like Reed had been completely oblivious to Sue's frustration. He had been feeling it, too. House hunting was taxing, physically and emotionally, worth of being made into an spectator sport in this new age. Their realtor was trying to approach it more as a negotiation than a search, and Reed couldn’t completely blame them, when they had such specific needs, and their budget was more of an interrogation point than a number.

That Reed had started off by passing the ball to Sue, instead of listing out a litany of issues, or giving a definitive no had certainly perked her up, but, at Sue’s response, she deflated once more. The last one had definitely not been fine. As Sue slumped into a visibly soft, covered, oddly shaped piece of furniture that Reed could only assume was a contemporary take on a chair, as opposed to the hard ones that he took for tables, the realtor tried to make eye contact with Reed, which he failed to notice, and, left to make a decision for herself, she slunk away, her professionally upbeat clacking of heels completely gone, as she went up the stairs to give them some privacy.

Reed remained locked in place, as he tried to make the best he could of the incomplete puzzle, until he could either figure it out as it were, of be given more pieces. Sue recentered herself, and, either because she needed to unburden herself, of because she took pity on him, she offered him a question. Reed was momentarily thankful it wasn’t about the place, because he really didn’t think they’d find a better one.

There were many answers to Sue’s question. It was the sort of thing Reed disliked about personal issues; there were so many circumstances involved, it was impossible to know what was the right one. Reed could make a poorly-timed joke about how California was still on the table, which would definitely set her off, but anger was a feeling that tired itself out. He could give her the technical answer of how, no, they were not, all they needed was a new ship, and some rework to his theory, and he could figure it out in a few weeks (a few dozen and a few hundred, he couldn’t tell). He could tell his own personal answer, which was to ask why would she want to go back.

Reed was not an empathetic man, that was for certain, but he could still sympathize with others. He could consider their situation, and understand their behavior. “Yes.” His tone wasn’t lecturing, or demanding, but obliging. “It’s...”

Most people considered Reed a restrained man. He was not stiff, but, instead, carried himself with an enviable ease. There were no wasted gestures, as if he always knew what to say, and his words were all he needed to express himself. If you didn’t understand them, it was your fault, it was the implication, for being so limited. Inside, however, Reed was a constant whirlwind. He had so many ideas and concepts shuffling around, and he worked tirelessly to make them fit together, to have them all make sense, to make it whole. When he worked, when he gave himself into it, he quickly shifted between going completely still, lost in his own thoughts, and moving around endlessly, as if he tried to use his body to grasp what his mind was failing to.

Instead of sitting by Sue, all he could do was look around, trying to find that one, nonexistent, perfect answer, the one that would make everything okay for her. For all of them. The one answer that would make them as happy as he was.

He raised his arms midway, then lowered them down, the idea stuck between his brain and his mouth. “It’s not so bad, is it?” He tried, his arms lifting again to point around them, at the floor, at the building, at the world. “It’s...” They fell down again.

When he invited them in, he had been completely honest, to the best of his abilities, about the dangers of the situation. As completely sure as he was of his theory, his ship, his calculations, accidents were always a possibility. Injury, maiming, death, he warned them, in as many different ways as he could conceive, and ‘other possibilities not yet considered’, it finished. Well, he hadn't considered this. He hadn’t considered turning them to stone, moving them through time. They had signed off for something else, not for this.

He couldn’t do anything about this. He couldn’t have warned them about this, and, when it happened, he couldn’t stop this. This was not the real problem. This had always been, as predictable and as understandable as everything else in the multiverse. He was the problem. I...” They were doing this, they were staying, because he had brought them here, and he turned them into what they’d become, and he couldn’t do anything about it. “I’m sorry.” He said, for the first time since it all happened.


@SUE STORM
Posted: Feb 19 2018, 11:41 AM
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Sue heard the sharp click clack click clack of the realtor’s retreating heels and for once didn’t care that a stranger had seen her as anything less than composed. She deserved one moment to fall apart, didn’t she? She’d spent years keeping it together, fighting uphill in her career, smiling through clenched teeth as lesser men were pushed ahead of her, patiently waiting for her recognition. Now that her life was a part of history, she deserved a moment to not be okay. She managed a weak, sardonic chuckle at Reed’s attempt to be...comforting, she was assuming? There were times when she envied Reed’s uncanny ability to compartmentalize, to focus so intently and completely on the task and hand and put all else out of mind. Her own felt like it had been lost somewhere in space and was having a helluva time finding its way back to her. Still, her head rose to look at Reed as words he didn’t utter often slipped from his lips.

What would sorry do? What good would sorry do now? Here? Sorry wouldn’t change anything. And yet, Sue had been waiting for those words since the moment she opened her eyes on that examining table, heart pounding, wondering where she was. She needed Reed to look her in her eyes and tell her that it had been an accident. Truly. Because the true thing that was weighing on her, the thing that kept her awake at night, that plagued her dreams, what if Reed had done this on purpose?

She knew Reed like she knew few other people. She trusted Reed with her life, and being in his presence was familiar and comforting, if not exactly warm. Reed was a good man. A good man with a dream to change the world. And she hated that even though she knew all of this, she couldn’t quiet the question in the back of her mind. It wasn’t fair to him. He had not sugarcoated the truth. He’d told them what they were getting into. They had agreed to the dangers. But not these dangers. These danger were unfathomable. And heartbreaking. And unquestionably scientifically revolutionary.

And therein lay another damining thing about this entire experience. Because she knew, absolutely knew, Reed was loving this. That it was, while not the planned outcome and however devastating, a new realm of intense research for him to delve into, another mystery for the great Reed Richards to unravel. She knew because she felt the same way. Her fear and uncertainty were matched only by her wonder and intense fascination with what had happened. She grieved for Ben, as she grieved for those who they had left behind, friends, colleagues, her Aunt Marygay. Their father. Gone. Stripped away in a flash. And yet she marveled at the new world they lived in, and she didn’t know how to marry the conflicting emotions. Perhaps in time they’d come to some agreement.

“Thank you, Reed,” she said, carefully, measured, “truly. But it’s not your fault.” Despite her underlying misgivings, she believed that, truly Reed would never have done this on purpose. He would have told them, if he’d thought this was a possibility, in that blunt, no-nonsense way he had of laying out incontrovertible facts. He was not to blame for this. Still, it was nice to hear and her voice was stronger, steadier, when she asked,

“Reed, what are we going to do?”

The scope of her question was far too broad for her to even imagine what she asking. Sue always worked better with a plan. She liked organization and order and effective time management. She liked knowing where she was and where she was going. Step one, find a place to call home, some lab space where they could work. Check. This place would do as well as any of them. Probably better than most of the places they’d seen today. At least there was no exposed electrical wiring. Plus the location was prime. But then what? Were they going to live out the rest of their days here, in this decade, silently working on their failed experiment? Figure out what went wrong, hopefully find some way to fix Ben. Maybe one day they’d reach Mars, or maybe they’d jump through time again. Since they couldn’t go home, why not keep going, see if they couldn’t see the end of the universe. And these powers? What were they going to with them?

“Find the right space, okay, we’ve done that. Figure out what went wrong, okay, but then what? What’s next? What are we going to do?”

She needed to know what was going on inside that brain of his, the smartest man in the world, or so they said. He was always thinking twelve steps ahead of everyone else. He always had a plan, even when she didn’t. There was a part of her that knew she would be fine, that knew Sue Storm would soldier through this and come out the other side stronger than when she’d fallen. It’s what she’d done her entire life, put her head down, square her shoulders, and force her way through that glass ceiling, break down barriers. She would be fine. She had to be fine. There were people counting on her. And she was counting on Reed.

@REED RICHARDS will he laugh when she's like "lez b superheroes" lol
Posted: Feb 26 2018, 11:45 AM
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Reed didn't fail often. Of course, things went wrong, but they were wrong within parameters. This fell outside everything Reed had considered possible. He had spent the past month of their arrival scribbling furiously on notebooks, boards, typing away on computers, trying to understand what had happened. It was exhilarating

He hadn't noticed until pointed out to him how his colleagues weren't faring the same. They were struggling, with their appearance, their ability, their missing time. He hadn’t known how to answer them. He was used to justifying these unwanted results with facts, and, at that moment, faced with no facts, he hadn’t known what to do. Apologizing had been a last resort, an admission of temporary defeat. He had no answer for her then. He could only believe that was temporary. He would have an answer soon. That Sue would accept his apology by excusing him of responsibility had been unexpectedly disheartening. If he wasn’t to blame, then he wasn’t in control.

If, before, his mind had been a maelstrom, it quieted with her words. There was suddenly no urge to find an answer, because an answer that didn’t exist couldn’t be found. He went quiet, and then slowly shuffled around trying to recompose himself around this new information. He tried to make it fit, a new piece of the puzzle, or, maybe, a different puzzle, and it still didn’t make sense.

At her next question, he momentarily pushed it all to the background (to be certainly resumed later), as he worked to give her an answer. He felt compelled to give her at least one answer, but that one was to broad, beyond his ability. Reed was having trouble with the physics at this point, and delving into the metaphysical felt both dauting and alluring. What Sue could have meant with it, what should Reed’s answer be? Should he interpret this himself? Was it a trap? Was it…? Sue took pity on him, offering him a start. Yes, practical matters, then. He supposed he could be practical about it. He couldn’t help a small smile at hearing her speak so casually about understanding what had happened. She truly believed he could. They could. They were supposed to work together, now, and Reed could not be expected to do it all on his own. He wasn’t expected to, Sue made it clear, by no one but himself. He walked the few steps towards the chair next to hers, and sat down. He played with the words in his head for a while, with the numbers, before he settled with an answer.

“We don’t go back. None of us do.” He said, and he knew she had to have thought of that, too. They had no idea how time travel ever possibly worked. They had been the (first) ones to have demonstrably, successfully travelled in time, and they’d done so by accident, so they had no framework for it, but Occam’s Razor made that the proper answer. He opened one hand, his palm unconsciously spreading into a larger canvas he could draw on, his finger of the other hand drawing grooves into it as he spoke “Which means that, either travelling backwards isn’t possible, but that would make no sense, becau-” he stopped himself, seeing what he had done, and shook his hands back into a human shape. There were maybe other reasons why they chose not to go back.

But Sue didn’t want an explanation, she wanted a course of action. “We have to assume this means we live the remainder of our lives on this timeframe.” Because it was the most likely answer at that point, and the idea that they would have done it once, and only once, probably hurt him as much as the idea of not going back did the rest.

“We have to stop thinking about it as temporary.” He sat back letting his head rest against the frame, watching the empty space around him. “This is next.” He sighed, realizing that he didn’t really have an answer for her, because he couldn't’t answer for her. “What do you want to do?”


@SUE STORM
Sue, you were supposed to be the reasonable one!
Posted: Feb 26 2018, 03:07 PM
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There was just so much left to do. If you thought moving to a new state was hard, try moving to a new decade. She had known for a long time, perhaps even when she had first opened her eyes, subconsciously, that they weren’t going back, but hearing Reed say it aloud felt like the final nail in that coffin. They didn’t know how they got here and reverse engineering the cosmic storm that had resulted in this would no doubt prove to be incredibly difficult, if only because they didn’t know what it was. Her head was still spinning with numbers and figures that made no sense, and she could feel her headache beginning to creep back. She was grateful that he cut himself off. She really wasn’t in the mood for him to explain, in extreme detail, just why it wasn’t possible for them to go back to the lives they had once lived. There had been a certain amount of hope when they had first awakened; after all, it was twenty years in the future, some advanced technology must exist that could help them replicate the experiment. And yet, as always, Reed had lead them far ahead of anything humanity was capable of, even in their twenty year absence.

She had unconsciously leaned in towards Reed as he sat down next to her, her shoulder brushing his lightly against his, not quite leaning on him, but letting him feel her presence. He was right, of course, as always. She wondered if she’d ever get fully used to it, but Reed was right. There would be no more smiles, no more pretending everything was alright, no more glossing over the facts that were right in from of their eyes. It was time to dig down and accept the inevitable and hunker in deep to weather it. This was their reality now. She had to learn to love it, or at least live with it.

“What do I want to do?” The laugh that bubbled out of her wasn’t completely devoid of mirth, yet it couldn’t exactly have been classified as joyful. “Besides go home? I genuinely don’t know.”

She didn’t need him to tell her again that that wish was dead. It had once felt like there were two pathways before them, to stay here or to find out how to get back. And yet, with each passing day, that second pathway grew dimmer in her mind’s eye. The two roads diverging in this yellow wood seemed to double back and reconnect and lead to only one possible outcome. They would have to walk this path to wherever it would take them, and they didn’t have a map or a GPS or a guide or any sort of clue as to where they were going. It was almost unconsciously that the next words came out, maybe in some desperate bid to get closer to Reed, to bind herself more tightly to those she had left.

“We’re going to have to go see our father. Johnny and I. You know he’s out of prison? In a nursing home now. Haven’t had a chance to go see him yet. Johnny says he won’t come. Can you blame him?”

She couldn’t. It was a stark admission, bringing this up with Reed, born out of her inner turmoil. She couldn’t keep her emotions to herself anymore. She couldn’t bear them in silence. Sue loved her father more than anything; he had largely been her inspiration to press towards her dreams, seeing the work he did every day as a doctor helping people. And yet he was a human like anyone else, one who had made a terrible mistake that had snatched them from their pleasant lives and thrust them down a path that lead here, and beyond. Did she blame him for what he did, of course. But she had forgiven him long ago. But Johnny had barely known him, even then. He’d been a child when he went to jail and a grown man who didn’t need a father when they’d travelled through time. Now to come to terms with the old man who they’d left behind, the only family they had left.

“We’re going to have to register.”

That wasn’t even a question. The military people who had “saved” them made it clear that that was the only route open to them. They were strangers in a foreign land, with no capital and nothing to their names, and unless they wanted to be thrown in prison and forgotten, in this decade just like they were in their own, they were going to have to go along with it. There were many things she didn’t agree with in terms of the registration of superhumans; it was a slippery slope and you didn’t have to look hard to see it. You could point to Germany during World War II but you didn’t have to travel that far to witness atrocities against humanity. Japanese internment camps had been right here on American shores, and ICE, while an agency that had formed in their twenty year absence, was more than poised to continue America’s long history of xenophobia. And yet, what other choice did they have?

“Are you ready for that? Are we about to become soldiers too?”

They had been assured that they wouldn’t be called on in that capacity, that it was merely a formality, that they’d be able to continue their research unperturbed, but how long would hat last? How long before they were called on to counter a threat that “only they could handle,” before they became some advanced paramilitary superhuman strike team? It felt likely, again, given the US’s track record with exploiting whatever resources were at its disposal. And more importantly, Sue wasn’t sure if she was completely against the idea, for some reason.

@REED RICHARDS Reason's out the window! Buckle up for this emotional ride bucko!!
Posted: Feb 26 2018, 05:07 PM
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Sue’s answer came out in cryptic tones. Reed supposed it wasn’t to be unexpected, even when he didn’t share her uncertainty. Still, there was not much he could do, but give her the chance to figure it out for herself. His only option was to understand her, and Reed hadn’t had much luck with that endeavour in the past. Going home was still her first choice, even when it was impossible. Reed tried to convince himself that, given the choice, he would never have launched the Fantastic in the first place.

They waited in a moment of silence, Reed wondering if he should go find the realtor; at least, the choice of place seemed to have been done. He knew better, thought, than to make the first movement. Sue spoke again, almost a non-sequitur, and it took him a moment to connect the ends. Reed knew very little about what had happened, only the facts of the case, and the inevitable gossip from common acquaintances; he didn’t ask, and Sue never offered much about it. He knew Sue owed her father nothing. “You don’t hav-” he started, and stopped himself. She didn’t have to, not by law nor by morals. Except she wanted to. A piece of home.

He didn’t know how to answer. He didn’t know what it was to feel such ambivalence about his family. His life had been, for lack of a better word - and he did lack a better word, a more expressive and meaningful word - neat. His mother had passed when he was young, much like Sue’s. But, in her passing, his father had taken over the duties of a primary caretaker without ever even complaining of it. He had come to accept his father as a man with flaws - few, but enough, and plenty that he shared - eventually, but he could never fault the man for being unloving, or uncaring. Could he have loved the man if he had abandoned him, like Sue’s father did her? “I don’t think neither Johnny or you can be blamed about anything in that situation.” He answered, and as non-committal as it might have sounded, it had been an honest one.

Reed imagined that bringing up the so-called registration was Sue’s way of looking at the next. It seemed inevitable, yes. “Yes.” Reed said, in agreement and commiseration. It felt like an invasion of his privacy, to have his newfound changes being catalogued and marked; more than that, it felt like a waste. Clearly, if anyone would ever be able to understand what had happened, it would be Sue, and himself. But Reed had long learned to condescend to others. Considering how dependent they were of the goodwill of the government and the military to be able to reestablish themselves, it felt like an acceptable compromise.

Her next words, however, gave him a moment of pause. “You think?” They had grown up with the Vietnam War. His father had never been conscripted, and Reed and Ben had barely been old enough by the time the war was over, but he knew of many others who hadn’t. Schoolmates who had gone off to war without wishing to, and never returned. Or returned never the same. He couldn’t say it wasn’t a risk. Reed and Sue were certainly safe, but Ben, especially, and Johnny? His memory was fresher in his mind than the recent history. “We should get ahead of it.” Ben was uncomfortable enough with his new form without being forced to use it against others, and Johnny was just not built for the discipline.


@SUE STORM
Posted: Feb 26 2018, 07:38 PM
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Sue’s eyes flashed to Reed beside her, just for a second, as he cut himself off. Still, she could guess what he had been about to say. Johnny had said just as much, if not more. She didn’t have to do anything. Quite frankly, the more things settled in, the less it felt like there were any boundaries holding her in place. The life she knew was slowly fading away into the past, no matter how much she tried to hold tight to what she had once known. Things still felt so surreal, like this was just a game they were playing, where the stakes, though high, were made up and it would all end. Though she knew it would not end, there was a feeling of freedom nestled beneath the fear, a kind of, if she were to be so crude, ‘fuck it’ mentality. She was thankful that he had cut himself off, as she was far beyond people telling her what she did and didn’t have to do. She was going to get through this in her own way, and she wasn’t going to let anyone shame her for her tears.

“I do. I honestly don’t know what good will come of it but I do have to do it.”

It would be so easy not to go, to emulate Johnny and flat out refuse to. Why did she want to see him? It was like ripping a bandaid off a wound that would never heal, no matter how much you tried to convince yourself. As much as she loved her father, as many mistakes as he had made (god knows there were many), as entangled as all her emotions were, she knew that seeing him, seeing this last link to the past, to the life she’d once led, was going to break her. There would be more tears (god, she felt like she’d lost most of her body’s fluids just through her eyes), there may even be strong words, if Johnny came, and she wasn’t sure what purpose it would serve. But she was going to do it. She needed to be strong, and she would be, eventually, but she deserved her chance to break down and not be okay.

“It’s not about who’s to blame. Pointing fingers isn’t going to serve any purpose. It’s about doing what we have to next.”

It was so easy to fall into the habit of pointing fingers. Sue was angry. Sad, heartbroken, confused, but still very angry that the chips had fallen like this, that the universe had chosen to plunge them into this cosmically incalculable probability. And yet, she couldn’t let that anger get her down, anymore than crying would get them back to 1995. She funneled that anger into action, into the next step, into closing doors on the past, coming to terms with her new life. Her father was one of those doors, something she had to do before she could move forward. She needed the closure before she could move onto the next step, whatever it may be.

“Do you honestly think the military would see us using our powers, enter into a contract with us, and then say ‘you have complete control over your own actions, it’s fine.’ They were already all over us when we started the project. Thank god for Tony Stark.”

Her tone was biting and sarcastic and the slight smile on her face didn’t quite radiate joy as it usually did. She had no quarrel with Tony; he had given them most of their funding when they were starting out and had been instrumental in their transition to the modern world. Still, he worked much closely with the military as a registered Avenger than he had even back then as a private citizen arms dealer. They had found a way to weaponize powerful citizens doing their best to make the world a better place, it was only so long before they came for the four of them, no matter what they may say.

“Ahead of it? What, form our own group before they can force us onto the front lines?”

The sarcasm was light this time, as the thought hadn’t just been born from Sue’s capacious mind. It was something that had been nagging at the back of her thoughts, right next to picking out colors for the new wall paint. What were they going to do with these powers? The first answer was to get rid of them, especially in Ben’s case. There was still so much they didn’t know about what they were or what these abilities were doing to them. And then there the more obvious, if more laughable, answer: use them. The world was strife with superheroes nowadays, but it was also strife with superhuman problems. Now that they counted themselves amongst the superhuman population, was there more they could be doing to help the world rather than holing themselves up in a lab? So when she asked Reed what he meant by ‘ahead of it,’ part of her was asking if he thought he could do that, if any of them had it in them, if he thought he could be someone who stood up in front of humanity against the evils of the world as their last line of defense.

@REED RICHARDS
Posted: Mar 1 2018, 04:05 PM
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A little close to two months, and it was amazing how much they had changed. A few weeks and twenty years ago, Reed wouldn’t have stopped himself before shutting down someone’s concerns; Sue certainly wouldn’t have looked at him with such open viciousness - her anger had been much more subdued - and, certainly, she wouldn’t be coming to him for support. Reed was aware of that; the four of them were the only persons each of them truly knew in this new world. They were going to have to rely on each other, and that meant they needed to be able to rely on each other.

Sue’s words were deep, and heartfelt, and they still got an involuntary chuckle out of him. “I’m sorry.” He apologized immediately, but there was still a shadow of a smirk when he explained himself. “I just remember thinking something a lot like it when I decided to make that trip.”

Reed understood what Sue meant; it was a way of thinking that he had met many times before. He knew many people who truly thought like that, kind people, the sort of people who got taken advantage of. Assigning blame meant something. Accidents happened, but that was why the system had to have redundancies. If something failed, someone - or a list of someones - failed to catch it. Sometimes, he understood, there was nothing to be learned. But, sometimes, the system broke somewhere. One couldn’t know what was next without knowing what went wrong before, so they could fix it. He frowned, trying to do it her way. He couldn’t. “Okay.” He couldn’t empathize, but he could sympathize. He only needed more points for a line, and more lines for a plan. “What is next?”

“I guess not.” He agreed, weakly. He was momentarily more concerned about the venom in Sue’s tone than the looming threat of military conscription. “It’s just...” Reed had his own ideas about the matter, of course. “There’s a difference between regulation and obligation.” They certainly couldn’t force them to use their powers, right? Reed was aware of the S.A.T.F., condemned prisoners being offered to work their sentence. “And it’s hardly Stark’s fault.” Reed felt oddly compelled to defend him. Maybe it was the awareness that he was their most likely ally in case they did need help to figure a way out.

“I meant getting them some sort of protection against having to join in.” If Sue’s tone had been light, Reed’s complete opposition to the idea provided the necessary missing weight. The only thing keeping him from being offended at her thinking he would ever consider something as stupid as that, was the fact that she was clearly emotional from the whole situation and the fact that he had been careless enough to get them in that situation in the first place. Blame, it was important. Either way, they weren’t heroes; they weren’t soldiers. Well, Ben was a soldier, but he was also a highly trained pilot, and Johnny was… well, he was around machines a lot, he could learn.

“We incorporate the Fantastic Four.” Muddle the waters, make them unable to tell the four of them apart. “Make it so legally difficult to separate all four of us from our work, that, if they want to receive their contracts, they have to leave us alone.” Reed had already given it some thought, before. “People will buy our stock, we can get enough financing overnight to buy out this whole building.” They were a risky bet, and they were a novelty. People would want to be a part of the show. “All of us get equal voting rights, and we always vote together.” Reed sighed loudly after that. He was going to lose so. many. times. But, maybe, he didn’t always make the best decisions. “We agreed to stick together, no matter what, and we both know we are splitting all we make with Johnny and Ben, anyway.” It was all a matter of making it all official. “Why be a hero when we can be a legal nightmare?”


@SUE STORM
Posted: Mar 2 2018, 04:06 PM
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This was a side of Sue that she more often than not kept pushed down. She had been taught to push it down, molded to keep her agonies private and her breakdowns short, for risk of being labeled hysterical or overbearing. She endured silently in the background, keeping her criticisms to herself, keeping her anger, her doubts, her fears, all to herself. And she was done with that; she was ready for the world to see the raw, unfiltered, emotional Sue Storm. And yet, that happy, joyfilled girl still lurked ever beneath the surface, as even in her state of wretched despondency, she couldn’t help the peal of laughter that bubbled out of her. It was loud and slightly manic, but still the most genuine show of delight she had shown in a while.

“Oh my god,” she gasped between laughs. Leave it to Reed Richards to take her heartfelt, gutwrenching admission and turn it back towards science. Part of her was glad that at least Reed, oblivious, socially inept Reed, was a constant, no matter the decade, powers or not. Sometimes it was easy to forget that Reed didn’t have some big, Machiavellian plan in place; he had always seemed to be driving forwards towards something huge and groundbreaking that it was difficult to remember that he didn’t have an end goal with his research. He did what he did simply for the love of his work and the love of discovery. He was the smartest man in the world and that was good enough for him. And he was stumbling through the dark just like the rest of the world. Just a few steps ahead of everyone else.

The hand she placed almost unconsciously on his knee to steady herself as she laughed lingered perhaps a second too long. But the feel of him was comfortable; as emotionally distant as he could be, as he was, Sue knew she could trust him to always be there, for her, to be the one constant in her life that she could count on. Because Reed was Reed, yesterday, today, tomorrow, in 1995 or in 2018. Her feelings for Reed were difficult to untangle but she knew that if there was anyone she was glad she was in this situation with, it was Reed. He was the only one who could’ve gotten them into this situation. And he’d be here, always. Even as the laughter died down and she pulled back her hand, she couldn’t help leaning even further into Reed, letting his frame support her as she thought.

“I guess we can only take it one day at a time now. Keep going with the mission, or whatever we want to call it. We’ve changed the world once, why not do it again?”

Her chuckle was much gentler but no less genuine. Their work was hardly finished; there was so much yet to do, so much yet to uncover. A daunting path, to say the least. Her brow furrowed as she considered whether Stark was truly to blame for the Sokovian Act, for the registry of people just trying to lives their lives, who just happened to have extraordinary powers.

“Perhaps. But he’s shaped this world into what it is, you can’t deny that.” In getting caught up with their new reality, she’d managed to touch on the big events of the past few years, and none were perhaps bigger than the birth of Iron Man. The past decade alone had seen the rise of the age of superhumans and their big reveal almost seemed to have been brought about by four almost careless words. I am Iron Man. What followed was a hailstorm of epic proportions and the Sokovia Accords were the culmination. Ally or no, Sue would not begrudge Tony Stark his place in history. “And now that we’re here, we have to deal with that reality. We’re a part of Stark’s ‘grand plan.’ You signed the Accords, just like I did.”

And they would have to deal with that. There was no telling if it would come to them being a strike force for the military. There was no telling what this new world held for four powered individuals who didn’t belong here. But Reed did present a compelling argument.

“Beat them at their own game? They do love their bureaucratic imbroglio.” The amount of paperwork that it had taken just for them to legally live in the United States in this decade. But it worked both ways; they’d all signed the contracts, both the Fantastic Four and their military contacts. And she didn’t mean to be braggadocious, but they were considerably smarter than their military contracts.

“That’s going to take branding. We’ll need public opinion on our side. If anything, the Sokovia Accords show how quickly people can turn on their heroes.”

No matter how much legalese they brought in, if they really wanted to keep their operation from being engulfed by the military, they needed to show the world that they were a separate entity, get people on their side. They already had the benefit of being popular; everybody loved space and everybody loved comeback stories. An unsolvable mystery and four relics of the nostalgic past. They’d have to capitalize on that.

“Public outreach, community investment. We could set up a scholarship program for aspiring scientists, maybe an internship. We’ll probably have to do a few interviews, a talk show or two. I’ve always wanted to be on Oprah.” She chuckled again. Another thing different about 2017, Oprah wasn’t on the air anymore, yet she was bigger than ever. “Patent everything before we show it to them, patent our name, patent our faces.”

There was a spark of the old Sue shining through, the Sue that took care of the nitty-gritty, who did the jobs no one else wanted to do, who smiled in the face of investors while they handed her checks and ranted about their less than reputable sources of income behind their backs. She always worked better when she had a clear cut goal in mind. Reed may be able to work just for the sake of work, but Sue needed to know she was making a difference, that she was producing a bit of good in the world, that she was protecting someone, even if it was just the three people who had suddenly become her whole world. If they were all she had left to protect, she would move heaven and earth to make sure that no harm would come to them. She would shake hands with politicians, sign contracts, smile at investor, anything it took. Still, it didn’t put all her fears to rest.

“That’s all good and well, Reed, but we’re going to have to use our powers. And not just in the lab either. If we’re going to be ‘the Fantastic Four,’ we can’t just flout our scientific prowess in front of the public to draw in their money and then not use our powers for people. Investors are going to come for the show. We have to give it to them.”

Reed may be the smartest man in the world, but Sue understood, more than he ever would, “give the people what they want.” And even in her saddened state, she still knew what it took to get them what they needed from the public; throughout history, it had always been the same thing: a show, a spectacle, something to write home about. Or to write a twit about, it seemed nowadays. They couldn’t just be scientists. They had to be the Fantastic Four that everyone thought they were.

“We’re going to have to give up a lot of privacy. Are you ready for that?”

Every time she asked him that question, she was searching for the answer within herself.

@REED RICHARDS she's going crazy! don't be scared Reed, it means she likes you!
Posted: Mar 7 2018, 11:09 PM
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There was a pretty good reason why people didn't come to Reed with their personal problems. There was also a reason why Reed never went to anyone with his:
Reed Richards had none. Everything about him was intrinsically connected to his work, to the point that he was the work. To the point, now, that he had become the work.

He couldn't give her any suggestions when it came to her visiting her father, though he could maybe speak of something similar, as similar as he ever got. Now, Reed wasn't a funny man. Sure, he was quick witted, but his wit was focused somewhere else. Any joke of his that elicited more than a chuckle meant either his interlocutor was faking it, or that they were truly joking about something else. At least Reed got a laugh out of Sue. He could only hope, however, she could heed the warning that he himself hadn't been able to fully realize: be careful with the unintended consequences.

Reed mirrored her action, leaning closer to her, a natural reaction to their proximity at that moment. They were, more than two people thrown into an unconscionable situation, confidants. He knew that the blame - and so, the responsibility - fell on him, and he knew that part of his job was the handle it himself. But, more than anyone else, Sue understood. She could understand their stakes. She was the most like him, in many ways. That meant that, even if Reed didn't want to weigh Ben, or Johnny, or Sue, there was a decision to be made here, and Reed realized that he couldn't do it alone. It wasn't about sharing the blame, it was about not taking away her choice.

"Did we?" It was something other than wounded pride that Reed felt. The world seemed to have gone on so completely fine without them. He had always hoped he would build something, but what had he left? Reed conceded her next point with a look, without saying anything else. Tony Stark helped shape the world; certain people just had a certain ability to make whatever they did be completely fundamental. To be fundamental. Great men. Reed knew, he wasn't great. He might be the most intelligent man on Earth, but it wouldn't be him who changed it. Still, Reed snorted. "I don't think Stark has a plan. I think he's winging it, just like we are." One could be great without being very good at it.

When Sue spoke like that, his plan sounded a lot less solid. But he admitted, it was the gist of it. "Yes." Still, Sue seemed to think it was worth pursuing. Though, no, he hadn't particularly thought of that part. Sue was right; this was the sort of power struggle that had to be played publicly. His only argument against it was to throw his head in his hands and groan loudly. Reed was not a people person, and that was the understatement of the century. "I don't interview well." Reed warned. He knew he couldn't not be there. They were the Fantastic Four, not the Fantastic Three, plus that one guy. "I was going to leave the estate as it is anyways, hopefully that will help." After his death, his estate had become The Reed Richards Foundation, who oversaw the museum his family home in California had been turned into, and offered donations and grants for science projects. He hadn't even considered going after it, but maybe that would get them some good publicity.

"'Power' is a loaded word." They did things, sure, but Reed couldn't guarantee they had them under control. "But, yes, I get it." It wasn't like he hadn't been taking advantage of them anyway. It wasn't a pretty sight, but it was so easy to just reach out and get whatever he wanted from meters away, or move his head away from his body. Reed supposed if he was going to do it, he had to start treating it less like a shame. But to give up his privacy? There was very little Reed liked more than to be left alone. "Yes." Reed answered with a conviction he didn't feel. "Yes, we can do it."


@SUE STORM
Posted: Mar 8 2018, 03:44 PM
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“Well, we changed our world, at least. Now we just need to do it again, on a larger scale. No biggie.”

She had to hold on to some delusions, to think it was all for something. There’s was the first verified case of legitimate time travel and the scientific journals on the process would be astounding, if they could ever discern exactly how they did it, and replicate the process without the drawback of once again being lost in time. She was barely adjusting to 2017, she didn’t think she was ready to skip ahead to 2039. But hopefully something good would come of it all. There was no way for her to know what, sitting here at the beginning of this chapter, but she could hope.

”I don’t know what’s more comforting, the thought that he has a plan or the reality that he has none.”

Again, Sue had nothing personally against Stark, but he’d always had a certain cavalier attitude from what she remembered, unconcerned with consequences or personal image, flying high above the ramifications and repercussions of his actions. In many ways, he reminded her of Johnny, but with Reed’s genius and a virtually unlimited budget, he was far more dangerous than her kid brother.

“Oh, believe me, I know.” She laughed out loud at Reed’s genuine horror at being asked to be in front of people, continuing to giggle a bit just at the thought of Reed’s interview skills. There was a reason she did had done the vast majority of the talking whenever any talking had been necessary in the preparation for their space flight. Reed could rattle off lengthy, obscure equations at the drop of a hat but ask him to name his latest celebrity crush and you could watch the light die just a little bit in his eyes. There was going to be a lot of fluff pieces about them that had nothing to do with their work. They were going to have to shake a lot of hands and smile far too wide and laugh far too loud at jokes that weren’t even remotely funny. They were going to have to become celebrities, give in to the fickle nature of the human obsession with the extraordinary. God, that sounded horrible. “Just stand there and look pretty. And try not to talk about quantum mechanics, it doesn’t sell well.”

She tapped a finger playfully on his chin. They were the product now. Sue had never wanted the spotlight, had never asked for it. All she wanted was the credit due her for her years of scientific study, doing her best behind the scenes to slowly yet surely make the world a better place. But now that they had it, these powers, this platform, now that they were here, they were going to have to make the best of this situation. Perhaps part of her wanted this, to be a hero, to finally have some power at her fingertips; a lifetime lived in the background, fading into the shadows, did give one a thirst for recognition, to receive their just desserts. And now that she could literally fade into the background, was she ready to use them? Did just having these fantastic powers mean they had a responsibility to use them? Reed’s assurance that they could do this didn’t quite strike through the fear and uncertainty that lurked in her heart.

“If you say so, Stretch.”

She sighed deeply. She didn’t feel better, per se; there was still far too much to work out and too many unknown variables for her to feel better. But her mind was set on a list of tasks; a vague, amorphous, set-in-sandstone list of tasks, but a list nonetheless. She didn’t know which way was right anymore and she didn’t have the energy to try to figure it out right now. Now, she would mourn for the world she left behind and turn to walk boldly into this new one thrust upon. They may have had little choice in the carpet being ripped out from under them, but they didn’t have to lie on the floor, bemoaning their fate. She stood to her feet and stretched her arms above her head, breathing new life into her tight limbs. No use sitting and pretending like the inevitable wouldn’t come.

“Shall we call the realtor back? Do you think she’ll give us a discount if she thinks I was crying?”

@REED RICHARDS
Posted: Mar 14 2018, 09:20 AM
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"No biggie." Reed agreed, with a smile. It was too late to turn back now anyways, nowhere to go but forwards. The plan was still the same in many ways. They just had more to do, now.

He couldn't comfort Sue in return, especially when it came to Tony Stark. That Reed didn't see a bigger picture in it wasn't reassuring in the least. They were all going to be the first ones in a societal revolution, and that was never clean, or simple. A lot had happened in the time they'd gone, sure, but most of it had been just in the past few years; most people were caught about as much off-guard as they had. Stark felt like it, too. He doubted Stark was planning more than just reacting.

Yes, Reed could just stand there quietly. He thought so, at least. "It should." He still added, only proving Sue's point. There was a lot Reed could say about how people were being willfully ignorant in refusing to study the abilities these enhanced people presented with, which he managed not to say out loud just because he was sure Sue knew it, as well. There was no doubt he had a problem letting misinformation go unchallenged. Standing there would be a lot harder than Sue made it sound.

They sat a moment in silence. Nothing new had come up from that conversation, and Reed didn't think it would do much to lift Sue's spirits. Still, it was good to put things out in the open, to be aware of each other's expectations, even if it was almost disheartening to realize they were low for both of them. Sue was the one to get up first. If it were up to him, he would have taken a few more minutes before having to go face the world again, but they didn't have time to lose. He got up after her, and took a few steps ahead, signaling his willingness to go call her himself, give Sue a few more moments. "She works on commission." He reminded her. Even though he knew she was making light of what had happened, he couldn't help but think even the simplest jokes through. "She'll probably try to charge us for it."


@SUE STORM
Posted: Mar 15 2018, 12:46 PM
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“Probably gonna charge us for water damage from my tears. Tell her to send the bill to Tony.”

As Reed walked away to call back the realtor, Sue cast her eyes about the space once more, struggling to imagine the possibilities and yet knowing that they would bring them into reality. They had survived the impossible and would do it again, she knew. Still, she couldn’t help but let her eyes slide closed to send up a silent prayer to a God she hoped was watching down over them all. As a scientist, she often struggled with her faith. How, as the miracles of the universe were reduced to mere scientific processes, could one continue to believe in a higher power who had lovingly stitched it all together? Despite her intense love of science, even could find it to be cold and uncaring, and still she clung to the belief that a higher power ruled over them all, that someone out there, bigger than Tony Stark, or Reed, or any of them, had some sort of plan for the better that would be revealed in time. She often kept it to herself, as most in the scientific community would probably ridicule her for her belief. Reed perhaps most of all. Not intentionally, but he’d point out where and why and exactly how she was wrong, just as a statement of fact and she didn’t think she’d ever be in the mood for Reed to lecture her about it. She didn’t even talk to Johnny about it; it was her own personal bulwark in times of trial and she kept it close to her heart.

Finishing her silent entreaty, she took a moment to take a deep breath, pushing a few strands of hair from her face as she composed herself, putting on her game face once again. No big decision had been come to; talk of their plans for the future was one thing, putting them into action would be another ball game entirely. There was much work to do before she could ever think that she was prepared to face the obstacles that were surely lying in wait upon their path, but she would face them head-on, as best she could.

@REED RICHARDS that's a good place to end it!
Posted: Mar 27 2018, 10:59 AM
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