Fic: Legacy (short)

MoS

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I was cleaning the hard drive this weekend and found this mostly-written story an decided to finish it and post it here.

Title: Legacy
Rated: G
Notes: Set vaguely in the Marvel universe, a few years into the future. The parents aren't any specific characters.

I guess what most people want to know about me is that my parents were heroes. And not just heroes, but superheroes. Most people have issues living up to parental expectations, but my parents had statues and parades dedicated to them and a national day of mourning declared when they were killed. That was a long time ago, when I was 8, but when people find out who my real parents were, they get all misty-eyed and talk about how brave and heroic and wonderful they were and how proud I must be to be their daughter.

And if that wasn't hard enough to live up to, my older brother is a sort of superhero, too. He doesn't wear a costume or fight aliens, he's an officer up on the orbital Earthwatch Station, which is supposed to be dedicated to keeping the peace and safeguarding the planet, but all you need to do is pick up a newspaper to see how well that is working out. Got war much? Looks like plenty to me.

My brother can fly, like Mom could - though what good that does him on a space station I dunno - and he's stronger than your average human, like Dad was. He's five years older than I am, and because of his "special needs," we were raised by two different families after our parents died. He got training in using his superpowers, went to the country's top engineering school at 16, spent time at Stark Labs as an intern and, on graduation with his PhD, was hand-picked for Earthwatch.

I did normal kid stuff. Was normal. Am normal, I guess, whatever it is that normal is supposed to be. Which would explain why I am in college at 24 and on my third major, not any closer to graduating than I was when I started and not likely to be any time soon. Because, really, what would the point be? I have plenty of money, the Stark Foundation and the Van Dyne Foundation and half a dozen national and international groups organized trust funds for us, since our parents were killed saving the world. Wash away any sense of guilt with money, a time-honored solution.

Not that my parents would have wanted anyone to feel guilty, they always said that they knew the risks they were taking. It makes me feel a little disloyal and self-centered, but I wonder about that one. If they knew it was so likely that they would be killed, why did they have children? When I was 13, I asked my foster mother and she misunderstood and started off into a lecture about the birds and the bees, and I had to flee the room before she talked about my parents and sex in the same sentence. So I don't really have an answer.

Once a year I go to the Remembrance Day and I see my parents' former teammates and friends. It's a strange day, spent walking around costumed superheroes and calling the living incarnation of a Norse god "Uncle" and a woman who can shrink to the size of an ant "Aunt" and watch as everyone gets maudlin and sad about the ever-growing number of dead comrades. Even though the first Remembrance Day was in honor of my parents, it's become about all of them now. There aren't a lot of families or kids at Remembrance Day and I don’t know if it's because most superheroes won’t or can’t have kids.

At this point there are an awful lot of dead superheroes to be remembered. And many of the living superheroes are looking a little old and a little tired, because replacements don’t seem to be coming forward. Maybe it's because they don't call people with special abilities superheroes anymore, they call them mutants instead. No one ever called my brother a mutant, not with the family name behind him, but that was an exception. Really, "mutant" is just a word that refers to a genetic change, but there is an awful lot of connotation packed into that one short word, most of it very unpleasant. Step up, reveal your abilities and be branded "mutant" - apparently a lot of people don’t think it's worth it.

Or maybe it's just like my family: two superheroes produced only one potential superhero, and he turned down his shot at the superhero business to go into space instead. My brother doesn’t come to Remembrance Day anymore. I think they'd all still be glad to see him, especially since he looks so much like Dad, but he isn’t interested. Too busy. That's what he says, anyway. I think he might feel a little guilty about it. If I have problems with the legacy my parents left, what must it be like for him, when he could actually pick that legacy up, when he could be the kind of hero that they were?

I can’t deal with it and neither can he: the difference between us is that with his abilities he had to run further to get away from it, all the way into space. That's our real legacy.
 

Seldes Katne

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This was the first post I noticed when I logged on this afternoon. The story packed a pretty hefty emotional punch, despite its short length. I don’t think we see enough of this in fanfiction, or superhero comics, either – the price paid by family members, and the thoughts of those who are “less than super” who deal with superheroes. There’s also a lot of wonderful character development here, even though we never learn who the young woman’s parents were or who she and her brother are.

I found the commentary on the dwindling number of superheroes both sad and realistic at the same time, especially when the reason seemed to be because the word “mutant” had gained such a negative perception. Apparently Xavier’s dream of a united mutant/non-mutant world hasn’t materialized here.

Rhyo said:
When I was 13, I asked my foster mother and she misunderstood and started off into a lecture about the birds and the bees, and I had to flee the room before she talked about my parents and sex in the same sentence.
:lol: Yes, it’s amazing how many children really don’t equate the two, even though they’re inundated by sexual images these days. I suspect most of us just feel as though we were the result of a virgin birth or something.

This was great. As soon as I’m done typing this, I’ll add a link to it to the Index. I hope more stories emerge as you continue to clean the hard drive!
 
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MoS

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I read Pulse #11 (I'd ordered #10 for the Hawkeye/House of M tie-in and when I picked up the huge stack o' comics after I got back from vacation, I didn't notice that I'd gotten #11 until I got home), and in it, Carol Danvers arranges a lunch between Sue Storm and Jessica Jones so that they can talk about the issues involved in superheroes having children. In the discussion, Sue Storm says that she (and, by extension, Reed, one assumes) isn't at fault when the children get threatened or even potentially hurt, because they didn't ask for the children to be hurt. I don't buy that, not at all.

A parent who teaches a child to ride a bicycle isn't at fault when the child (riding carefully) is hit by a reckless driver - that is one of the ugly vagaries of life. Yes, you can keep a child home and in the house and safe from that reckless driver, but that's not doing the child any favors.

But a superhero who *stays* a superhero after having children (and especially one whose identity is known, and lives in such a conspicuous place as the Baxter Building or Stark Tower) is almost inviting that reckless driver in.


Seldes Katne said:
Yes, it’s amazing how many children really don’t equate the two, even though they’re inundated by sexual images these days. I suspect most of us just feel as though we were the result of a virgin birth or something.

Every generation (including mine) somehow gets this idea that sex is only for the young and that their own generation "invented" sex as a wild, fun, unihibited thing - that sex between their parents must have been a cold, uninventive, boring occasion. Not quite....
 

ProjectX2

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That was really good. I'm with Seldes - hope to see more stuff soon.
 

compound

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Rhyo said:
But a superhero who *stays* a superhero after having children (and especially one whose identity is known, and lives in such a conspicuous place as the Baxter Building or Stark Tower) is almost inviting that reckless driver in.
Disclaimer: I'm not a parent, and don't imagine myself becoming one in the next 5 years, at least.

Having said that, I must disagree with your reasoning, because it's like saying that qualified professionals who have under-age children should not apply for candidacy to the US Presidency, because the White House is a potential terrorist target. Same would go for Army officals based in the Pentagon. Or UN Representatives for that matter.

Everybody is, of course, entitled to their personal decision about raising a child. If I elaborated further, we'd need to start another thread elsewhere.

It's obvious from your fic that you recognize that a hazardous 'occupation' like being a full-time superhero merits a certain degree of financial security for the families of those who die in 'the service'.

And you also capture its unintended side-effects quite vividly, with the protagonist's slack-off attitude and her brother's desire for (literally) stellar escapism. Their motivations are so well articulated and human, no matter how flawed, that even if you don't agree with their decisions, you at least understand them enough not to judge them for it, which can be a tricky thing to pull off. It's definitely an indication of a competent character writer.

The nods to Marvel continuity work nicely, but there's more than enough context to figure out what's going on, even for readers with no prior knowledge of the MU.

If this is any indication of the rest of the buried treasure on your hard-drive, then I hope you could spare a few moments to dig up more gems.
 
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E.Vi.L.

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compound said:
Disclaimer: I'm not a parent, and don't imagine myself becoming one in the next 5 years, at least.

Having said that, I must disagree with your reasoning, because it's like saying that qualified professionals who have under-age children should not apply for candidacy to the US Presidency, because the White House is a potential terrorist target. Same would go for Army officals based in the Pentagon. Or UN Representatives for that matter.

Well, that makes sense. Yet you have tor recognize that if such a thing as super powers existed, being a super hero of some sort would be dangerous far beyond the ken of any occupations that currently exists on the planet. It deserves special recognition.

Rhyo's reference to teh fact that there were so many dead heroes is an interesting nod to that.

Even the more realistic and violent Ultimate Universe doesn't have anything near the fatality rate it realistically should (But then, the turn over rate would make it hard to tell stories about heroes).

---

It's a good short story, Rhyo. I realize you probably didn't intend for it to go anywhere yet it could. The protagonist could eventually settle in a profession that puts her in semi-regular contact with super heroes and he could keep giving us his insight on the subject.

Anyway, that was an entertaining read.
 
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MoS

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I'm a believer in the concept that when you have children, you make the decision to put their welfare above your own. Not that you live through your children or sacrifice everything for them, but when you have a choice to make, the choice has to come down on the side of what is best for the child.

An offer of a new job, one with higher status/pay but that also means all of your time gets poured into work? That has to be balanced against time with your children. Which is more important in the long run? It might be that you'd find the job so mentally fulfilling that it's in everyone's best interests if you take it, that it would make you a better person - but, boy, is that not likely. Then again, that better paying job might mean the difference between living in a scary neighborhood or a safer one - so it might be the better choice. Notice I'm talking choices, too. You are a single mother/father and you need to take that second job to keep a roof over everyone's head? That's not really a choice, per se, that's a necessity.

In my own case, having children (my own son and a foster child) didn't stop me from going back to school to get my graduate degrees, but it did mean that it took longer than it should have, because I made sure I was home when school got out and did my homework late at night when they were in bed. It made it much harder to get through the program. On the other hand, because my husband had a reasonably good job, we were financially secure enough that I COULD drag it out. Not everyone has that choice.

In the story, the character feels overshadowed by the legacy. That's not necessarily right or true (we only get her POV, after all), but it seems to her that her parents shortchanged her. She's not really whining about it, not exactly, but she's aimlessly drifting, trying to figure out her place in the world. Her brother just decided to walk away from it and do something else far, far away, but she's still stuck there. Children of famous people often have trouble with that and the idea of measuring up to their parents' fame. Someday she'll finally come to some sort of terms with it and get past it all, but she's not there yet.

Anyway, thanks for the comments, all!
 

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