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Jul 23, 2019 8:09 PM
lev and sasha pile
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"That sounds weird. Did Hitler win?"

(Noonlight may have noticed by now that no one smells like alphas or omegas.)

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He has noticed that but he's doing his best not to think about it. 

"He did not, but not for ....superhero.... reasons, just because invading Russia in winter is not a good plan." 

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"I guess Marlo Rogers might have been less important than they said in school. --You're going to be staying at Asher Stark's penthouse, he's a superhero too. I live there. He's dating the other you."

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That sounds like it'll be awkward as hell. He does not say this to Chris. 

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"We should probably tell him you're here because he's"-- Chris waves a hand-- "a super genius science dude who can figure out how to get you back."

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"Makes sense." 

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Unless Sasha says something, Chris will be quiet until they get to the skyscraper with STARK TOWER written on it in enormous letters.

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That's a lot. 

He is just going to figure out his feelings once he's in a place and can do that. 

"This the building?" 

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"Yep."

The receptionist does a double-take at Sasha but waves them up. 

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That's chill. This is fine. (Marlo and Z are probably worrying about him, somewhere where he can't reach them and tell them he's okay.) 

It's nice to be inside, his feet hurt. 

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"Hey Jarvis," he says to empty air, "this is Sasha from a different dimension where they don't have superheroes."

"Greetings, Master Mikhailov," says a robot voice with a flawless Russian pronunciation.

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"It's Michaels," he says. (Hopefully it'll be Lane, soon. He doesnt say that out loud.) "Nice to meet you, Jarvis." (Please stop with the calling me Master, he doesn't say.) 

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"My apologies, Master Michaels."

"He read a bunch of P. G. Wodehouse when he was a baby AI," Chris explains, "and now he insists on calling everyone 'Master.' I think it's mostly because it annoys everyone."

"I would never choose to annoy my masters," Jarvis says. "I seek only to follow the rules of proper etiquette."

"Yeah, see, he does that."

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"Okay. Is there a place I can sleep?" 

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"Yeah, there's a spare bedroom over here."

(Asher's apartment has a lot of spare bedrooms for NYC, although maybe not that many for a place owned by a billionaire.)

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Meanwhile--

Let's do this one last time.

My name is Lev Aarons, and I'm a survivor of the nuking of San Francisco.

I grew up homeless, but my mom taught me to read and write and do math and I spent lots of time in libraries, so the only long-term consequence was that I never ever ever want to interact with nature ever again.

My mom remarried when I was a teenager, so I had something approximating a normal youth. Then I went to MIT, where I hated a hot guy for two years straight and then got drunk and hooked up with him and now we're married. I have a job as a forecaster where I predict the outcomes of policies in exchange for way way way too much money, and that meant I could rescue my girlfriend Sasha from Gilead. Now I have three kids and two spouses and a rescue Gileadite and the best job in the world. Other than the fact that I'm probably going to die of cancer sometime in the next five years, I'm doing pretty okay.

And then--

The world turns green and he appears in the middle of New York City.

It occurs to him that this might be some sort of Gileadite plot. But New York City doesn't look like it's full of Gileadites; he sees two men kissing and a triad walking down the street holding hands and holy shit is that man on fire. 

Okay.

Shit.

So he's dreaming or hallucinating or in some kind of different world, where people are on fire, and he can't do anything about the first two possibilities so let's assume it's the third. He should try to figure out some basic facts about this world. (Fortunately, they seem to speak English.) He'll find a newsagent and get his bearings. 

Same basic selection of newspapers, minus the Gileadite ones. According to the New York Times, it's 2016, so he traveled a few decades into the past, which probably explains the men kissing, if not the people on fire. And-- why is there a person who looks like his husband on the cover of Wired magazine.

He opens it. The person who looks like his husband seems to be named Asher, which is a positive sign, even though his Asher's surname isn't Stark. And-- apparently Asher built a robot suit and now he fights crime. That definitely seems like an Asher sort of thing to do. 

"Hey, are you going to pay for that?" the newsagent asks.

Lev decides not to comment on how all his money is from thirty years in the future and a different country. "Do you know where Asher Stark lives?"

The newsagent looks at him like he's stupid. "In the giant building with 'Stark Tower' on it."

Yep, that sounds like Asher. "Could you give me directions?"

The newsagent gives him the 'ugh, tourists' eyeroll, but gives him directions he can follow to Stark Tower. 

On his way over, he thinks about what to say to the Asher from an alternate universe. By the time he gets there, he doesn't have anything better than the truth. 

"Excuse me?" he says to the receptionist. "I have no way of proving this, but I think I'm Asher Stark's husband from an alternate universe."

The receptionist doesn't blink. "What's your name?"

"Lev Aarons."

"Excuse me for a moment." She types something into a computer and a few minutes later says, "I'm sending you up."

Well, that was easy. 

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Having a husband from an alternate universe wasn't even the weirdest thing to happen to him this year.

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He's nervous when the door opens and then Asher Stark stands up and he moves like Asher and--

"You're a baby."

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"I'm a what?"

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That's Asher's smile

"You're an infant-- I don't think I'd even met you yet when you were this young-- sorry, in my home world you're 36 and we have three kids-- uh, this is awkward, sorry." He waves. "Hi! I'm Lev. I'm pretty sure I'm your alternate-universe husband."

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"My Lev," he says, "is my sixteen-year-old ward. We aged up a picture of him and it looked like you."

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"That's pretty fast, I don't think we can do that in Cascadia and we're thirty years in the future compared to you--"

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"I'm very good."

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"It is you! --Can you explain how I got transported to an alternate universe where it's thirty years earlier and people fly down the street while on fire without anyone caring and you're a billionaire flying a giant robot suit and the Gileadites don't publish magazines."

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"What's a Gileadite?"

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