Derek's On Top Of The World Isn't He

Date: October 05, 2009, 5:01 PM
Participants: Aleksie, Linus, Derek
Summary: The other boys finally get to see where Derek lives.

After months of hesitation, Derek finally invites some friends over to his condo. Well, his parents' condo. It's one of the larger penthouses, high atop John Wayne Towers, and Derek looks more than a little embarrassed when he opens the door to admit the visitors. The entry is huge, with marble floors and a vaulted ceiling. Sliding doors with stained glass panels open off either side of the hall to various parlors and other rooms, but Derek leads the way to the red-carpeted staircase, up to his room on the second floor. "I got, like, sodas and stuff already," he says, trying to hide his blush behind his bangs, like always.

On his own, Linus' family has some money. Within reason. So, he's used to his own neighborhood, which has some pretty nice houses and neighbors in various states of conspicuous consumption. Linus keeps his clothes clean, but doesn't really ask for much in general. So, he's steeling himself because Derek has mentioned his place before. Still, when the door opens, the young mystic's eyes bug out just a little. His face then rushes with shame for his reaction. "It's all right. You sure you didn't want us to bring anything?"

Aleksei adjusts his glasses and whistles softly before he sees Derek is blushing, and cuts off. "No need to be embarrassed, dude. Very nice place," he says quietly, conspicuous of his sneakers on the marble flooring. He turns around to look at the entranceway as he follows Derek up the stairs to the penthouse second floor. "I did not think the man downstairs was going to let us up, for a minute," he says. "Sodas, thank you," he beams to Derek.

Derek's bedroom isn't quite the size of the school's gymnasium, but not from lack of effort. He has a king-sized canopy bed with heavy drapes, all pulled back, with matching dressers and wardrobes. There's also a leather sofa and pair of chairs clustered around the gigantic plasma screen TV, with all the latest gadgets and video game consoles. Despite his own generally unkempt appearance, the room is immaculate — obviously the maid visits frequently. "It's obscene," he mutters, walking to the small fridge and tossing bottles of soda to the others. "It's three times as big as the place we had in Sacramento, and we don't -need- this much space. You could land a freakin' jet on my bed. I wasn't allowed to pick out any of the furniture. Uh…you didn't bring any girls, did you?"

The entire outer wall of the room is a bank of floor-to-ceiling windows, though long, heavy drapes are pulled shut at the moment, blocking out what would otherwise be a spectacular view of the city. There's also a sliding glass door to the balcony, which runs around the entire length of the apartment, connected to the other two bedrooms upstairs, with stairs down to the larger, lower balcony, which has a small swimming pool. Derek's large desk is dominated by a state-of-the-art computer, with excellent photo and video editing software. Naturally, there are dozens of cameras scattered around, and while most are digital, there are a few old fashioned film models as well. Nearly every inch of wallspace is covered in framed photos of various sizes, all apparently Derek's work. Many are action shots of superheroes, but a larger number of more artistic endeavors of landscapes and candids. These are the only true indications that this otherwise spotless room belongs to emoboy Derek.

At the mention of girls, Linus just gives Derek a look with a raised eyebrow. "Whatever you think of my powers…no, never happen." He lets out a breath as he takes in the room. "Look, we're all friends, here, Derek. You just happen to have more crash space. Don't beat yourself up over it." He rubs at his chin. "Been wanting to talk to you about a few things anyway."

Aleksei tries to suppress his awe at the room, especially that TV/Game combo, looking around at the place.. and it hits him about the time that Derek says what he does that there is very little Derek here save for that amazing wall. It just doesn't.. feel like the room of a teenaged boy, at least in his experience. Save for Piotr. Dirt never seemed to ever stick to him. "No, no girls," he says. "We are safely able to burp, scratch and such." He moves over to look at the pictures more closely, studying them, then at the mention of talking he finds a seat in one of the chairs.

Derek flops onto the large sectional couch, stretching out, yet leaving plenty of room for others. "Man, you guys never have any girls. None of us do. People are gonna start to talk, ya know." He cracks open his soda and takes a long pull, then brings his gaze to Linus. "Something you wanna get off your chest, Linus, man?"

He stops before he fully twists the cap off on his own soda. People are going to start to talk. Sigh. Linus sits down, tapping the bottle top with a finger. "Well, for starters, I got picked up by the cope on Friday. They have a forensic mage on the force, and she picked up my…well, aura, I guess. It's noticeable to those who can sense magic. She's supportive, but she's a little ticked at us because we removed those glass shards from the crime scene, which leaves holes in the chain of evidence to convict Thomas Wyatt…that's the Summoner. So, when we go out again, keep me in check, all right?"

Aleksei sips at his own soda, and shrugs. "I have just started meeting people, here," he says. He nods at what Linus says, having heard it before earlier, and looks back to Derek. "Is probably luck that we are not all in jail and our identities blown. We must tread more carefully than I had previously thought," he says, clearly worried.

Derek sits up, eyes widening. "Shi—oot," Derek catches himself before saying a very non-classic-comic-book word. "You got picked up by the cops? Man! Now they know your secret identity and everything. Are they sending you to brainwashing camp? Did they make you tell them our identities, too?" He calms himself, shaking his head. "Okay, obviously not, since we're all still here. Still, man, that's really bad. We definitely gotta be more careful in the future."

Aleksei flashes a smile. "Maybe we should think about masks, or.. or some kind of costume," he says, then drinks a bit more. Ahh caffiene. Chicken soup for the teenaged soul.

Holding up a hand, Linus tries to radiate calm. Powerless calm, but…something Aleksei said. You led us. Oh…dear. "I spilled no names," he says. "Officer Hernandez didn't blab mine, but she followed my aura. I apparently, in the small magic community in San Angeles, are an unknown talent, and I ping their radars big time." Major talent, Hernandez told him. And he's only been doing this for a few months. "Hell, she knew about the Tate Witch Hunter bloodline. I already plan to register when I turn eighteen, and told her this. She's not going to stop us from going out there, but we have to all be careful next time." Still, the idea he could have someone to talk to? Linus is okay with that. "And I am masked. She found me by other means. Spec can do illusions, Derek here is all shadowy, you look very different Aleksei, and Daybreak wears a mask as well." He opens his soda. "Which brings me to my next point. You meet a girl named Diana?"

Derek visibly relaxes, sinking back into the buttersoft leather once more. "I wear a ninja mask," he says with a grin. "Plus the whole shadow-gloom-deal. Still can't get over Leigh being a superhero though, that just blows my mind." He pauses, scratching idly at his chin thoughtfully for a few moments. "Diana, name rings a bell. Is she the redheaded cheerleader with the big…uh, pompoms? I hear she's seeing the quarterback. Jocks get all the chicks."

Aleksei cannot help it. He mentally pictures Diana with big pom-poms cheerfully snacking on a quarterback's neck. Only a heroic effort keeps soda off that carpet. "No, no, that's not her," he says simply. "Very dark and gothy; doesn't go to school yet because, well, she's dead."

"She surprised me, too. She's proclaimed friendship. And I did not tell her about you yet, Derek. That's your job." Linus takes a pull from the soda. "She might have gone to school before, and Leigh and I are committing ourselves to finding out who…made her. She's not alive, but she's animate. She's superhumanly strong, but I haven't seen her demonstrate how much. And she…has some interesting skills." Like Removing Body Parts! Linus, for all his mystic knowledge? Slightly creeped out. "But, she wants to go to school with us. She's been staying with Leigh, but I think it'd be good to have her around." To keep an eye on her, as well. "Now…the thing is, she has no identity. No ID, no Social Security, no birth Certificate, no records…" The magic kid takes a breath. "I…Derek. I figured if anyone would know how to get that set up, you would."

Derek's face drains of color, and he slowly sits up again. "You two are serious, aren't you? I mean, she's a…a zombie or something? Night of the Living Dead, Resident Evil, clawed-her-way-outta-a-grave dead person? And she wants to go to -school-?" A shudder overcomes him, then a light dawns in his eyes. "Hang on, dark and gothy? I think I met her once, at the mall. She's a little…uh, creepy. Not in a bad way, just…creepy. Um. Well. That is…Yeah, my cousin Vinnie is a criminal lawyer, in both senses of the word. He got a fake ID for Gene, so he can probably get one for Diana, too. Birth certificates and Social Security are gonna cost a little more though, and school records to transfer, I dunno how long that'd take. Does she have any, ya know, money? Vinnie'll give me the family discount, but nothing's free." Especially in Derek's family. All his electronic toys came with a price, though he's not letting on what it might be.

Aleksei is quiet, hearing such things discussed so openly, and he drinks his soda and looks uncomfortable. But it's for a good cause, right? Because none of the girls at school are going to tease Diana about her looks or actions and subsequently have their gut split open like a pig. OK, OK, enough.. he takes a breath and sips some more soda. "How much do you figure?"

"Yep. Actual zombie. One of the nicest people I've ever met, too. She's…perky." A perky Zombie. God help us all, Linus thinks. "And technically, she woke up on a table. No grave-clawing was done on her part. "I…want to help people. I have some money, so I can donate. That's not much of a problem. I didn't tell the girls /how/ I have contacts that might know how to get a fake ID; that secret is not mine to tell. I think she's lonely, when Leigh's off at school." He pauses. "Either that, or she uses an eyeball to hitch a ride with Leigh through her school day."

Derek suddenly coughs and chokes on the soda he was trying to drink, then tosses a throwpillow in Linus' direction. "Dude, that better be a joke. Yuck. Uh, I dunno, maybe around five K? I can probably cover it, if she doesn't have money and stuff. I mean, must be hard to get a job when you're not technically alive. You say she's, like, super strong and stuff? Is she gonna put on the spandex and join our little club, too? 'Cuz then we'd only barely outnumber the girls. Remember what happened in Young Justice when there were too many girls — Wonder Girl took over as leader. It totally shoulda been Robin."

"Dem straight," Alek mutters over that last. "I assume she will, but unfortunately 'Dead Girl' is taken as a name, which would have been awesome. But.. good lord, five thousand. I.. could not even approach one, honestly." He almost says it. Says 'maybe we could do him a favor', but.. no, not going there.

Whether Linus might or might not have voted for Cassie back then is irrelevant at the present moment. "No, she can detach body parts. That move independently. Need to listen to something secret? Pop off an ear…" He sighs. "I feel bad about saying any of this. It's really her story to tell." He pales, so much. "I have a couple hundred," he says. But, there's much to do. "And…yeah, if we're going to do a team, I trust them both. Not just because they're girls. Leigh is…cool."

Derek's cheeks pink again, and he quickly glances away. "Yeah, way cool. If you like popular girls." Then he's trying to shift his mind back to the subject at hand. "Guys, five thousand isn't that much. I mean, I never spend my own money anyway, so I'll just cover it, okay? And uh…let's not talk anymore about detatchable body parts, 'kay? Ew." He shudders again, more visibly this time. "If we're gonna do a team, I am -so- not gonna be the mascot. I get to be a full member, like everyone else."

Aleksei looks at Derek, eyes owlishly accentuated by his glasses. "Whoever said you were not? We are all equal in this, Derek," he says. "You're our /friend/," he says as if this explains everything. Well, to him it does.

This elicits a audible snort from Linus. He sounds almost offended. "No mascot, Derek. You're our bud. You're one of us. Where the hell did that line of thought come from?" He actually stiffens; school's been hell, so he's a touch over-defensive.

Derek hides his blush again behind his hair, turning away from both boys. "Just sayin', is all," he mutters. He finally manages to look first at Alek, then Linus. "You know the best thing about what happened to me at that big atom smasher place? When I turned into dark matter, or whatever it was? Gene wasn't there. So not only did I get superpowers, and he didn't, but he wasn't there to tell me what a loser I am for getting superpowers in the first place."

Aleksei sips his drink for a second. "I am not meaning this, perhaps, for I never meet your big brother. But he sounds like a, how you say, dick? You have cool powers," the youth says.

"And without those powers, that kid might not be alive," Linus says, a little sternly. More than he intends, anyway. "Don't let what he might have said get to you; you do good work and I'm happy to have you on this team." He drinks from his soda. Brood, brood.

Derek grins a bit sheepishly. "Thanks, guys. If I get too emo, just gimme a kick in the butt, okay? I'm still getting used to, ya know, having friends and all. I mean, friends whose fathers don't pack heat alla time."

Aleksei smiles at Derek. "I think it's hit most of us as something.. unexpected, finding so many friends like this," he says. "I was thinking I would be lonely for a year or more before I started to make new friends," he says, smiling happily, sunk down in the couch.

Derek grins again, slugging back more soda. "You guys are really cool, you know that? And not just 'cuz you both have superpowers and stuff. You're just cool in general. How come nobody at school realizes it? Why're you both still single? I mean, I know why -I- am, 'cuz I can't talk to a girl without about swallowing my tongue."

Aleksei shrugs. "I guess because I never.. really thought about it much, really. I mean.. some, but.. not to point of having girlfriend," he says. "I am glad you think us cool. Most at school think of us as geek," he smiles.

Derek rolls his eyes. "You're not trying hard enough, man. I keep telling you, chicks dig a sexy, exotic accent. You're already hot to start with. Have you even -tried- to ask a girl out?"

Aleksei blushes. "I have not actually, here, no," he says. "Not.. as such." He shifts a little on the couch, and drinks down the last of his soda to have an excuse not to talk for a second.

Derek frowns a little. "Well, why not? Don't you like girls? I mean, it's totally cool if you don't! That is, I mean, you know, there's nothing wrong with…you do like girls though, don't you? If it's none of my business, just tell me to shut up."

Aleksei gets a Look on his face, and he pauses. "I am not sure, perhaps," he says in a quiet voice. "It is not something that has come up, really." He gets up for another soda, toys with the bottle and then drinks some as he walks back over. "I.. do not know, OK?" he says, looking at least a little uncomfortable.

Derek squirms on the couch, looking perhaps more uncomfortable than even Alek at the moment. "I'm sorry, man. No, really, it's your business, not mine. And it really is cool with me, if you don't like girls or whatever. Seriously. 'Cuz, uh…that is…." He leans a bit closer, lowering his voice to a whisper, as his eyes dart to the distant door, which is firmly closed. "Can I tell you a secret?"

Aleksei looks, then looks back to Derek and nods. The boy adjusts his glasses and puts down his soda. "Certainly, what?" he says.

Derek bites his lower lip nervously, but forces himself to look Alek in the eye. "I'm not all that sure either. All my talk about wanting chicks and stuff? That's mostly for show, 'cuz I really don't know what I want. But honestly, girls scare the piss outta me most of the time."

Aleksei looks a little surprised, but nods to his friend. "They do me, too, at times. Leigh did; she is so beautiful and yet she talks to us," he smiles. "But.. I wonder, sometimes.." he sighs. "Is not bad thing, though. It does not matter to me if you are or are not. You are still friend I trust at my back and with my life," he says, a little amazed at the quick, deep friendship he has with all his 'teammates'. Being in a do-or-die situation will do that do you, he thinks.

Derek relaxes again, a rare smile spreading on his face. "Thanks, Alek. You don't know what it means to me to hear you say that. I totally trust you, too. You're, like, a true superhero, in every sense of the word, you know? All honest and loyal and trustworthy. You'll probably end up being the leader of the Justice League someday…or whatever we call it."

Aleksei snorts, a more normal expression on his face now. "No, I think that will be Linus. He has the brains for it," he says, relaxing back into the couch, soda in hand. "He is smarter than me."

Derek grins again, settling back on the couch again as well. "Yeah, he's smarter'n all of us put together. Except maybe Timo. He's smarter than he lets on sometimes. Still, the leader isn't the brainiest. He's the one with…I dunno, leadership and stuff. You've got the look."

Aleksei snorts. "Just because I become older - or something - when I change? No, I don't think so," he says. "Still.. I think brains is what it takes, mostly. Being able to figure things out is what we need most."

Derek shakes his head again. "Nah, not just because you look older. You look -heroic-. Like Superman or Green Lantern or Captain Marvel. When someone says 'superhero', you're what pops into everyone's heads. Me, I'm the bastard child of Raven and Green Lantern. With maybe some Batman thrown in for the emo. Timo looks too young and enthusiastic. Linus is all mysterious and mystical. Leigh is…well, she's a girl, and no offense to girls, she just doesn't look like a leader. I'm telling you, man, -you're- the one. Linus may be the brains, but you're gonna be the face we show the public, once we're ready to make our official debut and stuff."

Aleksei blushes and shakes his head. "Please, no, I don't think so.. is too much responsibility, I would mess it up," he says. "I think all will be good models for superheroes when we are a bit more seasoned, perhaps. Maybe new costumes or something, like that movie with Sphinx."

Derek grins and shrugs. "See, there ya go. You've got the first big element of leadership down already: modesty. Me, I'm not the least bit modest, so I'd never make a good leader."

Aleksei pushes Derek with his free hand, the other having a soda in it. "No! I refuse to believe this," he grins. "Eh, perhaps we do not have real 'leader'. We just.. all work together."

Derek blushes a bit, for some reason, giving a soft, nervous giggle. "Well, sure, among -us-. But to the unwashed masses, we hafta have a leader. That's how superhero teams work. Everyone expects it. Maybe we can get Timo to make an illusion of a leader for us or something. Some big guy with a giant, square jaw and muscles rippling under his too-tight spandex. And no crotch, because superheroes don't have any."

Aleksei laughs quietly, and finishes off his soda. "Maybe that, but I am not getting neutered for the good of the team," he warns.

Derek snorts a chuckle of his own. "Me too neither. If they ever make a comic book of us, I'm gonna insist they make my bulge -bigger-."

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