The phone's been off the hook and I'm not sure what to make of the reactions I get.
I'm conflicted and confused. Once again, I feel the walls closing in and I can't summon wings or speed to get myself out of it. Once again, I feel trapped, and I know there isn't a rational reason for it.
The degree on my wall is the closing of a chapter, a constant that was with me longer than anything else. I left the Commune wanting to make a difference in the world. It was expected of me to come back, to take my oaths. I was supposed to marry Aslan Bryant and tend a farm. Maybe I would take Brother Joseph's place on the Founder's Council. He seemed to want that very much for me, since I cannot remember a week where he was not trying to watch over my shoulder. I thought nothing of it at the time, but after Gar told me about the shed...
It didn't work that way. I knew I didn't want to go back to the Commune after my year was up. I knew I could do more by taking the fight to the outside world, by trying to live the ideals I was raised with out into a world I was taught was hopelessly steeped in greed, sadism, the need to bully and dominate or be dominated. The costumed heroes and villains were considered paragons of this dog-eat-dog power worship.
I never pictured it would take this form. It really could have been anyone that Luthor took. I was just one of the few who survived and the fewer who got out. I saw the one they called Fledermaus. I still pray for him on occasion. Aslan died in the Plague, while my changes kept me perfectly healthy. The Irregulars
were scum. Lady Luck and Sledgehammer were kept in their place because Travis Blake and Wattage were good at bullying them and they were not about to endanger themselves for my sake. I had a shard of glass in my hand and was ready to cut my arm open. I did not want to live with what I'd become - an animal, a freak, something to be chained up in the yard. Ash was the one who convinced me not to, who said it wasn't time to meet his boss. I stole from them and I ran.
And literally found more capes. They turned out to be the most wonderful people. Ms. Lance, who gave me a job in her shop, and put me up in an apartment. Black Knight One, who tipped off Ms. Lance when Luthor got me again. There was Ma and Mid-Nite, at the Brownstone...all of them dedicating their lives to others.
I love the Titans as people. They are the kindest and most generous people I have ever met. But I can never forget that they were raised as child soldiers
. I hear the excuses they make for people that should have known better, and I end up biting my tongue hard. "Special Gifts" or not, there is no excuse for using someone who isn't old enough to consent. There's this hall of statues downstairs. It's a cemetery for people who weren't old enough to vote, but who died in many horrible ways, and I saw Lian and Ceridian whispering about codenames and costumes. Because their parents found this life normal, they find it normal, and I wonder if some of that is because it's expected of them.
I daydream sometimes about having kids, wondering if they'll have blonde hair or green skin...but I get nightmares about Donna carving a little statue for them, or having a son who insists on putting on a mask, calling himself the second Beast Boy, and getting carved up like a Christmas turkey by someone like Deathstroke. Or I worry that the child will have no idea how to relate to people without "powers" or costumes.
I know many people adore the capes with a love that borders on worship, but I walk in the worlds where the capes are feared - where people wonder quietly about whether the capes are preventing humanity from solving their own problems and making us lazy, or wondering if we are anything to them other than faceless numbers to "save" in a day's work. Some folks operate on the "absolute power corrupts absolutely" adage and remember well the times a cape went nuts and killed a lot of people, only to be forgiven by their own.
Yes, I've joined their ranks. Yes, I'm a damn hypocrite for hiding behind a mask and a code name. But, yes. I still ask those questions and question myself. Just because the ones I have met are kind, generous people personally does not mean that what they are doing is without ethical and moral quandaries as gray as San Francisco fog.
Cutting ties with "civilian" life, becoming one of the "out" capes means choosing one method of aiding the world over another. It means being divorced from the folks who worry about bills and if they'll become collateral damage in a cape brawl. It means I'll be treated differently than others over something I had zero control over, save how to put it to use.
That line was crossed and Fauna is always going to be there. I do this because it needs to be done and take no special pride in it. Just because I cannot go back to the Commune does not mean I want to leave the rest of the world.