Masks Issue 21.1 - Holy Day [Cutscene]

Leo is pretty sure this was, properly speaking, their first kiss. She’d broken up with him before the gen two rebuild, back when she was clearly mechanical. She had an articulated mouth and could form recognizable human expressions, but on the artificial side of the uncanny valley. She looked like a cute robot, rather than a pretty human girl. By some unspoken mutual agreement, the pair had never properly kissed, never pushed the illusion past its breaking point. Hugged, cuddled, shown awkward affection in a dozen ways, as kids will do. Just not anything serious.

Today has been beyond words. The showdown in the cemetery, Leo’s return to his normal body, the pain, the fear, the surprise of seeing an Alycia-like kid hanging around Jason’s stuff (well, not surprised that there was some Alycia…), the moments in which it could have all gone wrong, and Harry, Charlotte, and Adam made it all go right. Seeing Jason like that, face to face, being unsure of what to say. Cleaning up the city made it easy, there was plenty to distract everyone.

And then, the mistletoe, the kiss, the moment, the sublime peace, the sudden sobbing, having Pneuma cradle him as pent-up tears erupted from the floodgates of his self-control. Hearing her join in as well, and wiping her shining eyes with his fingers. The feeling of relief, the weight lifting from both of them.

Leo doesn’t think the pair of them have broken contact once since the kiss. Ever since then, she’s been tracing the outline of his ears, or lightly scratching the back of his neck, or tracing circles through the fabric of his shirt. He’s been massaging her neck, feeling the unique texture of the skin on her cheeks, running his fingers through her hair. One hand is enough to maintain contact, as he devotes the other to sending out a series of texts, emails, and tweets on his phone. She watches through lazy, half-closed eyes, whispering suggestions to him from time to time. Her breath is warm, and curiously minty, and comforting beyond all measure.

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/5978440

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#LeoMeetsTheInternet](https://s3.amazonaws.com/files.d20.io/images/45834123/_4bDNSWZwSefL3eJ0wJJlw/original.png?1516179470)

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/5978441

Jason,

This will be a long mail and my fingers are cold so I am using auto correct. Please take good care of Numina when she is at your house. You know that I am concerned about your security. I know you will not let her get hurt.

Pneuma and I are back together. I could not have done it without having you around. Playing Jason Quill for the hero team meeting was also very helpful. I have misjudged you and I apologize. You are a better man than anybody gives you credit for. That includes yourself.

You are going to be busy in the next few days. If anything I said as you was useful, people will see Jason Quill for a wise leader. If I ducked up, then they will blame you for being awful. I did what I could to take care of your body. I was not able to do much to protect your reputation though. If you need to yell at me for anything I did there, I will accept it.

Life is perfect right now. I am smiling more than I have ever smiled. I don’t say this to rub it in your face. I think that you will find your own happiness. Maybe it is already near you and you don’t see it yet. Don’t be the thing that stands in your own way. You deserve better than you have gotten in your life.

Leo.

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/5978453

Charlotte,

You did an amazing job as yourself. You did great as me as well. I am going to have to work harder to keep up. You and Harry saved the city. That is very amazing.

Trading bodies was very eye opening. I wonder if everyone else feels the same way. I was hoping to have more time with Jason in your body so I could ask some key questions. Do you breathe? Do you have a pulse? If you were material in the other dimension, would that change those things? We will have to find these answers later. It may be important, if you suddenly materialize and suffocate or starve or something. But honestly I am also glad it ended when it did.

You talked to me a few days ago about your wail or sonic effect. You were wondering about being a monster, I think. I want to say that no perfectly ordinary people are on this team. It is our differences that make us useful to the public. It also makes us comfortable with each other. Whether you were a ghost or a demon or a space alien or an elf or a space elf demon whatever, you would still be Charlotte to me. You showed great leadership on this issue, and I think you will do so again for other issues. And you are my friend. I am forever grateful for both of those things.

Leo.

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/5978465

Harry,

You saved the city. I know you know, but I want to acknowledge it too. I won’t be the last. I don’t know if they give statues for saving the city. Maybe it happens often enough that everyone is chill about it. But if that were the case, I think people would move, because nobody wants to live in an active danger zone. So I think you will get a statue sooner or later. That is the Mercury that everybody knows. Statues and saving lives.

But there is the Harry that is snarky and sarcastic and funny. You are one of those guys that’s fun to be around because I don’t think you say stuff to be hurtful. I think you point out when things are ridiculous. It means you aren’t afraid to speak your mind. And it means you are paying attention.

I said over the link that I think your parents sold us out. Now I know what that meant. I was disappointed in your parents for going along with whatever happened. I’m grateful that you let me couch surf for a few days here. I don’t know if I am still comfortable here or not. When you have time, let’s talk about it.

I think there are more things for a speedster to be than just fast. I think you are some of those things now. I think you will become more of them. It makes me proud to call you a friend.

Leo.

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/5978478

Adam,

Whatever you did to shut down that big demon cat was amazing. I think if Sablestar ever appears again, she is going to regret tangling with you.

It feels like you are three people. You are a smart and capable guy I can relate to as a peer and trust with my life. You are a younger kid who sometimes needs help or protecting. And you can be a scary alien guy too. I know that is Sol, but if he ever speaks through you, it will affect how I think of you too if I don’t know that.

I cannot imagine how tough it is to manage those three things. I hope you are getting support at home as well. If there is ever a problem you are facing, please bring it to me if you think I can help. I get that there are some problems I am probably bad at fixing. But if it can be punched, I am your man.

Pneuma and I are back together. I am still convinced that you played a huge part in helping that happen. I will be forever grateful for that. I don’t know if girls or boys or whatever are something you have ever thought about. When you get to that age, it is going to be amazing and terrifying and totally screwed up. If you think having alien impulses in your head is a problem now, it will just get worse once you start dating.

Leo.

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/5978487

Leo rubs his hands together. His phone is already numbing to touch. Yes, he could technically go into the carriage house and warm up. That’d technically involve moving, which he privately thinks might break the spell and cause him to wake up from this intensely vivid dream.

Pneuma encloses his hands in hers, then leans in and blows gently. The heat is enough to dispel any chill he might have felt. Condensation makes her breath visible.

Leo realizes something. “Wait a minute. When did you…?”

The girl wrinkles her nose at him, grinning like a madwoman, suddenly bursting with pride that her work was recognized. “Respiration is part of my cooling system now. I breathe heavily when I’m running hot. I switched my coolant from ethanol to an antifreeze glycoprotein, similar to what Notothenioidei use in Antarctic waters. Water vapor is a byproduct of the reaction.”

“That’s amazing!” Leo grins back, thinking through the chemical reactions, marveling anew at the girl beside him. “And it’s all organic, biochemically neutral I assume?”

“It’s perfectly safe.” Pneuma closes her eyes halfway, leans close, and whispers the rest. “I’ll show you…”

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/5978545

This is excellent. Thank you!

author: Doyce T.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/5979282

Wow. Lovely.

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/5982043

TO: Snow, Leo
FROM: Quill, Jason
SUBJECT: RE: Freaky Friday

I almost didn’t want to open this email this morning. This was … I’m trying to think of a pun for “insane” that implies an out of body experience, and it all sounds lame, so …

But I opened it first (sorry Agent Waters, sorry Mr Gale, sorry Tasha Starr, sorry Barbara). Because, yeah, probably ego to wonder what the guy who was riding around in my body is wanting to email me about so late-early.

Anyway, thanks. Thanks for not letting my body get eaten by a giant cat, etc. The weird thing was, I trusted you completely not to. I wouldn’t have just a short time ago, but having seen you really care about people – both your own immediate “family” and your teammates – makes me realize how strong that impulse is in you. It’s – well, really awesome.

So here’s something I’ve never said, and it’s kind of chickenshit to say it in an email, but if I wait until the right moment it might be months. So here it is: when everyone was talking about who should be in charge of the Menagerie (which is a fucking crazy name, but keeps feeling more and more right), I was sure they were going to vote for you, and that would have been fine with me. I didn’t want the job, I didn’t think I could do the job, and I thought you were the best pick, even if I didn’t completely trust you.

And while I actually think I can do the job now, which is kind of crazy in and of itself, I’m even more certain you’re the right person to really lead, whatever it says on the paperwork. Because you care, and you back that up with action and focus and dedication and proving yourself. I can’t imagine anything you would have said that would lead to problems. I just hope in return I haven’t ruined Charlotte’s reputation by making her some grim, grinning ghost.

Actually, I take something back – the only thing I was worried about when you were in my body in terms of your getting yourself/me injured or dead, was that you would do it in a heartbeat if it was necessary to save someone else, on the team or a civilian. And I would hate to lose my body and to lose you, even if I thought it was the right thing to do. In fact, I would be more worried that you wouldn’t save someone because you were being so careful of my body.

This is a crazy world you and I live in, ennit?

I’m freaking overjoyed over you and Pneuma being together. I mean, at the risk of sounding like a Pony, I’ve been shipping that for a while now. You are clearly so dedicated to each other that it’s been painful to watch. If I’ve had anything to do with that, it’s been a pleasure. Even if it’s been serving as a counter-example in how to have a healthy emotional relationship thing, because – well, yeah, we can go over that some time. I envy you, and am really happy for you. Don’t fuck it up. If I can help in any way, let me know.

About Numina – well, anything I can do for her, too, of course. I’ve had a weird relationship with AI over the past months, and another thing I have to confess was that I kind of thought your whole “making a set of toys to play with” thing was kind of weird. Which I put in quotes, because I was completely off-base. The people you have made are real in a way that I could never have dreamed of. I would say you’re a fricking genius, except that would seem to take away from their achievements, which is not what I would want to do.

Anything I can do for Numina, let me know. Or she can let me know. I mean, I’m not assuming anything her about me and Numina or you and Numina, or you and Pneuma and Numina, or anything. But she’s – well, if nothing else, hospitality laws: she’s under my roof, and I take that very seriously. I’ve got some shit to get in order to ensure some of that, but this whole experience has kind of – well, it’s weird, but being in someone else’s body has given me a chance to better appreciate some things. I’m going to try not to be such a freak show over some stuff going forward. We’ll see how that goes.

So, ha, you apologized for the long mail and here I am, twice the length. Because I talk too much, or so I’ve been told. I be ridiculous. It also be ridiculous that this sort of thing is easier to do in email than in person, but (a) asynchronous communication rocks, and (b) hey, post-Millennialism for the win.

Thanks for the note. Keep smiling, man.

Jason

[Apologies for Any Bad Grammar: Dictated with QTalk.]

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/5982101

author: Bill G.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/5982187

Bill G. said:

HA!

Btw, I really liked this method (the letters) to process some conversational stuff from the goings-on, and will probably riff off it elsethread to cover some conversations that Jason will try to have with Adam, Harry, and Charlotte, likely consolidated into a single thread like this.

author: *** Dave H.
url: https://app.roll20.net/forum/permalink/5983357