[Project 13 / Seasonfluff]
[Lukas Smith / The-masked-ottsel]
13 walked down the stairs. He had returned the night before, and eaten and had ice cream and now he was clean after a nice long shower. That was something he really liked. Showers. It was a luxury he would never again take for granted. He looked around for the yellow eyed Second in Command. It was time to do some training.
The last Lukas'd seen of 13, he had passed him on his way to his room last night; 'hellos' had been exchanged but the other leader seemed too tired to do much talking and had gone to sleep. That was fine; he'd been gone all week, and he had little idea of what had gone on, and supposed it had been a busy time for the older shifter. When 13 walked down the stairs, Lukas had been drinking some coffee down in the kitchen already, toying absentmindedly with his own dogtags while waiting to return 13's to him. He looked up, giving him a nod when they made eye contact. "Mornin'."
13 yawned, his sharp teeth showing as he did so. He nodded at Lukas "morning" he mumbled as he poured himself a cup of coffee as well. "I assume everything went well while I was gone?" he looked over at him and took a sip of his drink, using his other hand to brush back his bed hair.
"Yep. No walls got broke this time, anyway." He sipped his coffee, still watching 13 idly. He'd been up for about half an hour or so, and it was still kind of early. He reached up to his neck and looped the lighter chain resting there over his head; he'd been wearing 13's dogtags all week after he'd been given them - mostly to keep track of them easily - and now it was time to give them back. "I believe these are yours?" He held them out to the other super with one hand, the other on his coffee.
13 sipped from his mug as Lukas told him about keeping the Marina house intact during his absence. Then he reached out and put his dog tag back around his neck, and it was as if he could feel all his responsibilities being set back down on his shoulders again. He gave a small sigh "Well I had a feeling you'd do alright. You have a knack for this leading stuff." he took another drink and trained his grey eyes on his second in command. "When I name someone my Second in Command I dont mean it lightly" he looked up at the steam from his coffee mug. "I know Ive sucked at leading here and there but I've learned a lot of things." he felt the warmth ebb from the mug into his cold hands and he took another drink. "You and I are going to start training." Looking over at him, he continued. "I have a feeling you are used to military training right?" he raised his eyebrows a little. He could already see the mark of war in the younger super's eyes. He knew the feeling well.
Lukas listened to 13's mini-speech with a level expression, noting once again that 13 was bringing up his 'horrible leading skills' again; honestly, he didn't think the other Super's leadership tactics weren't bad so much as unpracticed, but it would be like trying to convince an old Southern woman that casual cursing was OK if he tried to refute 13's claims. He looked up at the mention of training, giving a short nod at 13's guess. "It's been a few years or more since I did anything in the military, but yeah. What do you have in mind?" And while he waited for 13's response, he finished off his mug of coffee.
13 leaned back at his words. "Well actually, I want you to forget everything they taught you, really," He said, laughing and moving himself from the counter dumping the mug into the sink and walking away from him towards the door. "Follow me, Smith."
"Way ahead of you, big guy," he said with a shrug, putting his own cup in the sink as well and following the shifter towards the door. He only really half-remembered his initial military training since it had felt like a lifetime since he'd been 'discharged' anyway.
13 looked over to him. "Good, cause those people are idiots, and anything they told you is pretty much useless. You and I have a large job ahead of us. We have people to take care of. I decided to take a second in command because I need someone I can trust, someone that knows my weakness, my strengths. Someone that I can trust my life with. Lukas, I picked you because you care about these people. You want to be here, plus you have nothing left to lose. I'm going to tell you now. Training with me will not be easy. But if you agree to train with me you have to be ready to do this, no backing out. Got it?"
13's speech was half out of nowhere and at the same time Lukas was half-expecting it; he /was/ second in command now, after all. It was important for anyone backing up a leader in a really /confrontational/ situation like theirs to be able to cover for the other when push came to shove. And even if it was weird admitting it... he knew he'd take a bullet for any of the RA members any day of the week with the exception of maybe Allegan. He'd felt awful after failing to do so during the raid. And as far as training went... he didn't know what to expect. He crossed his arms. "I've got it. Anything you want to throw at me as far as training... I can take it." He had thought about it momentarily and honestly he couldn't think of a reason /not/ to agree. He'd had worse...
13 nodded at him. He felt nervous, a huge nervousness rising in him. It was against anything he had ever been taught. Never trust anyone, never admit weakness, fend for yourself, your safety is above everyone else's. The words ran through his head as fresh as the day he had been told them. He had never questioned them until recently. He would go through this training with Lukas, even if it would be hell. It was something that would help the both of them get to know each others idiosyncrasies. He tucked his hands into his Jacket "good. You better not chicken out now, cause I'm not going to let you.
"Wouldn't dream of it," he replied coolly, noting again that the shifter seemed to be on edge. He would have had to be stupid not to sense something deeper when 13 meant 'training' that was probably not what Lukas had in mind, but it wouldn't matter. He'd agreed to it, he was going to go through with it... no matter what 'it' was.
13 stood up straight feeling a little more confident of Lukas' answer. "Ok then, lets get going. We're going for a run." And with that he picked up a bag that was sitting against a tree and handed it to Lukas. "Here, put that on." And then he jogged ahead of him and looked back for a second, but turned back not caring if he was behind or not. He knew he'd catch up eventually.
Lukas took the bag with little question, nothing that it was full of /something/ before 13 ran off. Running a bit to catch up while shrugging on the pack over his jacket, it didn't take much to catch up with 13. It was weird, running with a backpack since he hadn't done it in a while, but it wasn't much heavier than the canteens full of sand that he wore most outing anyway. And it didn't bounce as terribly when he ran, that was a plus. "So what, laps around the island?" he asked when he came level with the shifter.
13 looked over at him his breathing focused. "Either that or we go for a swim," he teased. He was already kind of eager to start training again, straining his limits. It had been a long time since he had, and he was a little bit out of shape compared to what he used to be. "So where exactly did you come from anyway, Lukas?" he asked, picking up the pace a little bit.
"No, running is cool," he said as offhandedly as possible. He hadn't told anyone that he couldn't swim, not yet anyway. And hopefully it would stay that way; he didn't like talking about it and he /certainly/ didn't like demonstrating why he wouldn't. "I came from Oregon. Pretty small town, pretty quiet. Haven't been there in ages, no real reason to go back." He picked up his pace alongside 13. He was far from winded, and would be for a while yet.
13 could sense something was wrong, even if Lukas was obviously trying to mask it. He focused himself back onto their course of running, which was now wooded, which required the two of them to climb over pieces of fallen trees. Oregon. He made a mental note about that. He felt a small tick when he mentioned that he really would never want to go back. His breath came evenly as he ran. "I see, no family then to return to?"
When it came to a particularly large piece of fallen tree, Lukas used a bit of his power to push up some surrounding dust in the area and vault over the fallen wood smoothly. He'd developed a certain style of pseudo-parkour with his power for running through treacherous terrain just like this. "Not anymore," he said, briefly thinking back. It had been a while since he'd really thought about it, and he quickly pushed the thoughts aside so that he wouldn't get distracted.
Now Lukas was in front of him, because unlike the other super, he didnt really have much power when he was in this form. He took an extra deep breath and pushed himself until he had caught back up with him. He would have lapped him by now if in cat form, but that didn't matter. It was not about winning track records it was about the exercise. So Lukas didnt have family anymore? "What happened to them?" he pushed a little more.
All of these questions were making Lukas think about things he hadn't thought of in ages, and honestly he wasn't sure if he was comfortable with talking about it. But 13 had asked, and he had no real reason to not tell. "They died," he said simply and rather shortly, still running alongside 13. "Sometime when I was in the labs." He didn't really know much about their deaths besides that they were at a protest alongside some superhumans. They'd supported him 'till the very end; it was kind of poetic but at the same time their passing was old news and he stuck to his stoic air. He vaulted over another tree, looking back over his shoulder to make sure he wasn't leaving 13 behind again.
This time 13 caught a branch before the log and swung himself over the log keeping pace with him. He let Lukass words sink in. His family had died, as he had thought. He had never had a family and therefore would never know what it would be like to lose the, then again, the pain of never knowing where you came from was a whole different kind. He narrowed his eyes a little. Amber was the closest thing he had to any kind of family now, and here, running beside him was the second person he ever trusted in his life. He took another long breath, remembering when Lukas mentioned being in a lab before. He kind of fell silent after that and just ran, the two of them making a circle around the island.
It was kind of predictable that mentioning the L word would murder the sparse conversation that they'd had going, considering its implications. 13 probably had twenty times the reason to hate it than he had; it was kind of dumb of him to mention it, he reflected, except that it would explain his lack of knowledge about his parents' deaths faster than anything else. Once they neared the Marina after circling most of the island, Lukas was starting to feel slightly winded. They had been jogging at a pretty good pace the whole time, and usually when he went for anything endurance wise he took it a bit slower. That and Belle Isle was /not/ a small track to run around. He looked to 13 to see if the other was any semblance of tired before saying anything about slowing down, though.
13 kept his pace, not really minding the sudden silence, allowing him to focus just on his running. He still wondered more about Lukas, about the things he saw and did. He hated his nagging curiosity he had about people, but was able to bite his tongue for the time being. He did not slow down as they rounded back to the marina house again. "If you have any questions I'd speak up now" he said, his eyes trained forwards as they hit the sandy dirt near the shore of the island, his combat boots sinking down making it harder to run. If the RA leader was tired he wasn't showing it.
When they hit the beach, Lukas didn't have the same trouble 13 did with the sand, since he just made the drier sand stiffer when he ran on it, and after a moment did so for 13 too so it was more like they were running on solid ground than murky beach. "Not got much for you... 'cept I was wondering how your second mini-vacation went, this past week."
He looked over at him "Mini-vacation?" he kind of got a kick out of that one. "Uh, well
It was interesting to say the least. I think I found out a lot more about my powers at least. It's weird to be around so many others that are like you....even If I wasnt born into these powers its all I've ever known." He gave a small shrug. "It was interesting to say the least. Got to kick some ass as well, and there was food and stuff." He felt the sand grow stiffer under his feet and realized that Lukas was doing this. This was probably the most he had talked in over a week.
He nodded as 13 related a short version of his week. At least it sounded better than the way the last one went for him. "Kicking ass makes everything better," he said with a somewhat wry grin. "Sounds like you had fun. That's good." While his hold on the sandy dirt that they were running on was limited, he would be able to keep up the effect so long as he ran level with 13, and he focused on that for the time being.
He couldnt but help but catch Lukas' contagious grin. He gave a small shake of his head. "Yes it does". It was so weird how much Lukas reminded him of himself. In fact the RA leader couldn't help but actually wish he was a little bit more like the laid back younger super. But then again, someone had to do his job. He took another long breath, there was still quite a lot of running for the two of them to do, which they did. 13 continued to push them to run, and only stopped on one or two occasions to drink, but it was short lived and he forced the two of them to run again. Even he was running out of steam, his legs and body sore and weary but he would just push himself some more.
If 13's intent was to run them ragged, that was fine; Lukas may have cheated a little bit at one point by taking a passing plant or three's energy to back up his own, but it helped his endurance. It was odd, doing distance runnning after a while without doing so. As they ran, he did notice how tired even 13 was starting to look, and decided to help by building up some more excess energy from plants on the trail and tagging him briefly to pass off the excess energy. The trail would be a tiny bit more trimmed without a patch or two of tall grass, but hey; this meant that they could keep running. That, and he could practice his newer, weirder ability for a second.
13 continued to push himself harder and harder. He was going to keep running until he or Lukas collapsed. It actually felt kind of good to push himself like this, all his aggression and anger was kind of poured out into this. It was around this time that Lukas gave him energy and he felt a small twitch run through his body and his vision sharpened. He was sure his eyes were probably yellow now, as he accidently partial shifted just a little bit. He was able to keep running again with less struggle. He gave him a weird look. He hadn't really known that Lukas had any control over energy past his faster rate of healing that he'd noticed after Lukas had healed his bullet wounds rather fast after the raid. "That's new."
Lukas noticed that maybe he'd put a /little/ too much energy into that attempt to give 13 a break, having seen the other Super's eyes go to yellow. He turned back to face their path ahead after 13 noted what he'd done. "Yeah... Something weird happened with my powers after the raid. I've been trying to figure it out. It's good for doing shit like that, though." Actually, he realized he'd never really embellished on his subpower to anyone before besides Cian the day after the raid. He hoped 13 wouldn't be /too/ freaked out if he brought up his change now, after the fact.
13 gave a small twitch of a smile. "Powers are like that," he said. It was easier to talk now that he wasn't short on breath. It was obvious that Lukas hadn't really learned a lot about powers, unlike he had. The lab had taught him a lot about how powers worked and about all the different kinds as well. He had even done a little of his own research. It was around this time that he had gained a passion for supers, and his first kindled ideas of super superiority came about. "Powers grow as a person does, as when we are younger we are not yet physically or mentally ready to take on that of a fully mature power. Sometimes these powers have growth spurts during certain times of our lives. The scientists and other supers dub these as power changes since they change or expand on the powers you had before. Sometimes new powers pop up out of nowhere. Before I was captured by the DSR with Amber, I had problems shifting, even worse than I do now. And after a few days I was able to shift into a new form." He had to take a break from talking to catch back up on his breathing.
"Christ, I didn't think you were an expert on this stuff." He hadn't known much about powers at all besides what he'd learned himself, and had assumed that his powers becoming more acute at around 20 was the fault of the people who had him locked up for it. Maybe he just had fantastically terrible timing. "That makes a certain degree of sense, though. I haven't really spent much time around supers before this year, so I really don't know much about powers." The part of him that liked knowing tons of odd knowledge wanted to ask 13 about pretty much everything he knew about them, but that would be kind of weird. The thought of doing so also reminded him of other /similarly curious/ people who had made life for Superhumans a living hell.
He gave a bit of a cocky smile. "Wouldn't call myself an expert, but at a certain point in time in the Labs I had gained the freedom to do what I wanted in the facility. I had almost complete free roam of the building. I would take some of my free time and study different things." He took a couple moments to keep his breath while they ran; he was slowly burning through all his energy, as he as sure Lukas was doing fine with his whole energy absorbing thing. 13 would just have to get his adrenaline pumping again was all. "Well, powers are interesting subjects to study. How they can turn a seemingly normal being into something extraordinary. Each one is a special case, and no two people will ever have powers that are exactly the same." hHe hadnt really meant to make it sound so poetic, but it was a fascination of his on how powers worked. 13 just wished that his last power change had at least yielded better results than a kitten form.
"Kind of wish I'd had the opportunity for that kind of casual reading." He laughed, but it was kind of awkward because of the source of the information. "Is there, like, a way to figure out how to better use a certain kind of power? One of mine got stronger, like I said, and... to be honest I'm not sure what to do with it, or what I /can/ do with it." That and maybe finding out if he could extend his range on his sand would be awesome, since seven feet and an inch or so give or take was a tight boundary to work with. He was trying to avoid taking energy now, since it was starting to give him a headache and that was one of the things that his healing didn't affect.
Yeah, he kind of missed those days in a way too. When he was treated right and given everything. But then again, he was still a puppet in those days. "Just keep using it... find someone else with powers like yours. Or-" he gave a small shrug. "Practice," he said shortly, as he was started to get a little winded and it was making it hard to talk. It hadn't been that long ago that he had run clear across three states to get back home. But his endurance was different on foot compared to being shifted. He continued to push the two of them to run until they both collapsed back home.
Lukas nodded at 13's advice, though he had been kind of half-hoping for something a little more than what he basically did anyway, short of finding someone with similar powers. At least it was something. He didn't say anything else as his postponement of his exhaustion was catching up with him and he had to preserve his energy; the Marina was a ways away still. By the time the two of them reached it, Lukas was panting heavily, having pushed himself the last half-mile or so to keep up without 'cheating' any more. When they stopped, he doubled over, hands on his legs while he got his breath back. That was a long ass run. He looked up after a few seconds to 13, still catching his breath.
13 doubled over as well, his lungs searing and his whole body shaking. But he wasnt going to just plop himself on the ground just yet; instead he took a moment to pace around and catch his breath. God, he couldnt remember the last time he felt this way. It felt good to get going again and do some serious training. He looked over at Lukas who was also struggling to breathe. Once he finally caught his breath he flopped down onto the ground and pulled out a water bottle and drank from it. "Well /that/ was fun," he said sarcastically.
Lukas focused on taking slow, deep breaths in order to recover faster from their run. He looked up when 13 commented from the ground. "Was it not supposed to be?" he asked just as dryly between breaths, smirking a bit. It was great practice for cross-country running... that, or running for your life. He'd done that a time or two. After thinking about it for a second or two, he sat down in the sandy grass as well to rest his legs. After doing several laps around Belle Isle it felt reeealllly good to sit down for once. "Pretty good, for a morning jog, heh."
13 watched as Lukas asked him if it was supposed to be fun. "It was the point," he said back, mimicking his voice just a little bit and then closing his eyes and leaning his back against a boulder sitting there. He gave him a similar smirk as well. Well for once it was nice to be around someone who wouldnt complain every couple of seconds. Then again the thought angered him to see such a good kid who had to go through something so terrible. He tried to shake away the thought, as it would rekindle his own memories of labs. Besides, it wasn't like he had the energy to get upset about it right now. "Yeah Pretty good jog... better than running under other circumstances."
Lukas laughed a bit breathlessly at 13's change of voice. He leaned back as well, more to rest his weight on his arms than on anything else in the vicinity, his back to the river. He looked up, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath as the adrenaline from the run subsided. He opened one eye at 13's comment, looking back at him halfway. "Yeah. Like when McDonalds is only serving breakfast for five more minutes and you're a fifteen minute walk away? That's killer." He had in mind what 13 did when he said that, he'd just chosen to take it a little lightheartedly. It took less energy to laugh than it did to sober up and acknowledge reality for a few seconds more.
The leader let out a long breath at Lukas' comment. "Oh yeah, killer." He still had a sarcastic tone to his voice. This was probably the most relaxed he had been in a long, long time. Well, off of catnip that is. HIs arms were tucked back behind his head, his legs stretched out in front of him. He shook his head back and forth slowly. And even so deep in his stomach he still had a pit there, something that made him feel it was wrong to trust someone. He easily pushed the feeling away. No...he was going to trust his own judgment this time. Working along in the past never went well. Running from the DSR After going AWOL, all alone, with no one to be responsible for but himself. While he was on the run, McDonalds had been a good staple of his diet, and he absolutely loved hamburgers. Damn....he should have gotten some while he was out.
"Come on, you know there are moments when you really /need/ an egg mcmuffin. And the place never serves them." Honestly, it had been ages since he'd had anything at McDonalds, but it was fun remembering back when little things like that were priorities. He sighed, closing his eyes for a moment. It was a nice morning, he was in a good mood and as far as he could tell, so was 13. "So... you were talking about today like it was some grave undertaking. I take it there's still plenty to do?" Back down to business.
13 gave him a little bit of a 'wtf are you talking about' look and then shook his head a little bit, know that it was supposed to be a joke, but still. "Yeah well fast food is pretty good when you're on the move". He took a long breath feeling the burning in his lungs going away. "Yeah there is plenty to do. Its only apparent the DSR have more planned. We have to get this reverse cure made, and prepare ourselves for any future attacks. And right about now, we pretty pathetic when it comes to team work. Thats why we need strong leadership around here...which is what I'm trying to do. Because I can't do this alone." He looked up at the sun, still low in the sky. "I have a feeling there is another war brewing and we're being led into it like sheep to the slaughter." He felt kind of bad for letting reality crash back down on their lighthearted mood. "I've been out of training for a while and I have a feeling that Cian, Xave, and Lily have probably never trained a day in their lives. And you and I are going to keep training together until we can work as a team. We have to keep them safe." I dont want them to all die again....not like last time....not like the last war.
Lukas listened quietly as 13 explained his reasoning behind his methods, opening his eyes and looking up at the sky while the other super spoke. While he hadn't had much in the way of activity within the Superhuman community before this year, since the raid he had noticed things around the reserve getting more unsettled, and with how the raid had gone it was obvious there needed to be more organization to their defense than just 'stay alive and keep the DSR out'. Especially now that the DSR was going to start packing more dangerous heat. "There's a lot to do. We can handle it, though. Just involves getting down to business." He personally wasn't about to have a repeat performance if the DSR struck again. The only people who were going to get hurt in that case were overpaid government agents toting Tasers.
13 looked over at the other super. It was apparent he was right on track with the plan. At least the two of them were on the same page. He looked over at him for a second "Speaking of getting down to business. If it came down to it, would you give up your life to save one of us?" he asked rather bluntly. Its not like he ever beat around a bush. There was a small list of things he still had to ask him.
Lukas actually raised his head at 13's question. He hadn't really expected it to be asked in such a straightforward manner, but after his initial surprise his expression sobered, and he met 13's gaze. "Yeah, I would." Even Allegan; after all, they still needed the creepy bastard to fix his mess. "Even if I've been shit at it in practice thus far." He lowered his head a bit, sitting up straighter and shifting his weight so that he wasn't leaning back as much.
13 lifted his chin, satisfied with his answer, even more satisfied that he could look him straight in the eye and tell him so. He once again turned his gaze back to the channel of water that separated them from the mainland, leaning his head against his arms. "Good" was all he said in return. But he kind of surprised him with his next statement. "I think you've done a better job than most. I would know. I've seen many cowards serve beneath me. You have a good solid head on your shoulders."
The older super seemed happy with his answer; Lukas followed his line of sight to the river for a second before turning back to him again. His next statement made him blink, since he hadn't been expecting it. He was also sure he'd heard 13 mention it a few times before. "I think most of the cowards are gone; you've got a good group of people following you. And it's gonna stay that way." Because like /hell/ he was going to let anything else happen to them.
13 took a long deep breath through his nose, focusing on all the crisp smells of autumn. Winter was well on its way. He could tell that Lukas was a little taken aback by his statement, which was funny, because he had told him before. He just guessed he probably wasn't used to hearing it. "I better hope so cause if another one of those lazy asses shows up at my door again I'm kicking them right back out," he said with a toothy grin. He found his own words to be amusing. He took a moment sitting there contemplating on how nice it was to just relax and be himself. And once again that realization struck him. Be himself. He wasn't sure who he was but he didn't really mind the person he was becoming. He looked over at the determined look on Lukas' face. Good... he'd need his determination; in fact Lukas would need that stubbornness here soon.
Lukas's grin came back at 13's affirmation of his statement. Of course, 13 was probably more than serious, since the RA wasn't exactly a place to take in hapless stray Supers. He shrugged off the backpack he'd been carrying during the run and pulled out a bottled water and started to down it. He was quite thirsty; it was just that he had been too out of breath to actually want to get some water before. After he drained that water bottle, he crushed it in his hand and looked back at 13. "So what are we doing next, then?" he asked.
13 looked over at him. Oh yeah next, he shook his head a little bit and got his head back on track. What was next? Well the marina house was pretty much all repaired. Really, he thought about taking him on a patrol, to check out the Red Arrow and their movements. They would find his contact, ask them about any recent news in the city and then come back for food and more training. He pulled himself to his feet and stretched. "Well, its getting late now, and we need to make sure the Red Arrow isnt anywhere near here. Plus we should go and get the newspaper." He said the last part with a bit of a smirk.
Lukas nodded, and got to his feet himself. He was feeling a lot better after chilling for a few moments after the run. "Sounds good. Are we gonna check the island or the coast side of the city?" So far he was pretty sure he hadn't run into any Red Arrow members, but that was mostly because he hadn't gone out as much as 13 had. Still, they were dangerous and causing trouble.
13 ran his hand through his hair real quick and put his more icy demeanor back on again. "Yeah, on the other side of the channel, we'll take the boat....or you know my swimming proposition still stands." He gave him a small look. He grabbed his leather jacket from the bag, and pulled it on and the keys for the boat from his leather jacket pocket and started to the Docks. "Unless you want an arrow through the shoulder I suggest you keep your eyes open."
"No, still cool with the boat." And hopefully that wouldn't come up again. He nodded at 13's warning, and then something occurred to him. "Hold on, I'm gonna go grab my sand," he said, and quickly ran inside to the barracks and looped the strap with the sand canteens on it over his shoulder. As the weather got wetter and colder, useable sand and dust would be harder to find. He met 13 at the docks, waiting for the other super to get the boat ready before he actually got in.