Space Time for Singers

From the Story Arc: The Death of CCCP

Previous Story in the Arc: Epilogue by Red Saviour (Tuesday, June 07, 2005)

(posted Monday, November 07, 2005)

((Note: This takes place the same night Red Saviour and Mosca got married in Vegas (Story Arc Death of CCCP, Can’t Help Falling in Love With You posted 05/19/05). I know, it’s a trip in the way-back machine but I never posted it as my own writing makes me cringe. However, since I feel the need to explain Gato’s, “transformation” I’m throwing the slop against the wall. It also predates the Respec where Gato switched from Super Leap to Teleport – this story shows the first instance of Gato using Teleport. Bonus points for the first person to figure out from whence I liberated the story title.))

*****

Every day was the same, sleep late into the afternoon, get up, refrain from turning on her CCCP communication unit, bust some bad guys into little pieces and head to the liquor store. Once home, take a shower and get well and truly cooked in an attempt to dull the loneliness and pain of being abandoned by the person who’d brought her here in the first place. As Gato Rojo lay on her side on the floor of her apartment she was almost coherent enough to regret skipping the shower and wish she’d changed out of her uniform before she started drinking. The men she encountered in her line of work were normally hard pressed to describe who or what made them loose consciousness but all of them, upon waking, had a distinct olfactory memory of spiced oranges and fresh hay. Tonight Gato smelled like a sewer, no doubt because she’s been standing in one a few hours earlier.

Gato slowly dragged herself up from the floor to lean against the wall. Most drunks encountering a bad case of the spins put one foot flat on the floor to stop the world from tilting off its axis, Gato pushed out with her mind and made the empty bottles littering her apartment spin in time with her brain. Her head nodded against her chest, eyes barely registering the hairpin clutched in her right hand. This was the hairpin that changed her from a little Spanish girl with operatic dreams into the woman who could make others dance to her will. It was about to change her again.

"What is life, sitting here drunk in rat-hole apartment while person who brought me here plays house with commissar?"

Knocking down mobsters and knocking back booze didn't even begin to make a dent in the emptiness she'd felt since answering Mosca's call to arms. They had been inseparable as children - not even his exile to South America had really parted them. But all it took was a woman to put more distance between them than oceans ever had. One fish faced, ham hocked Russian women out of all the dozens of women he'd used and discarded over the years. When she would tease him about his women he’s laugh and tell her they meant nothing. He'd say she was the only real women in his life, his sweet sister who knew him like none of these women he'd slept with ever would. But now there was the Russian and he didn’t discard her like the rest. It was an endless loop of pain in her mind and in her heart. For someone who stopped the minds of others with no more thought than most people used to breathe the anguish was maddening. Why was her own mind the only one she couldn't stop? She desperately wanted it to stop. He was all she ever had.

Sometimes the only way to forget a pain was to create a greater pain. The hairpin arc-flashed in the dim apartment lights and five tiny pikes and embedded themselves in the back of one well manicured left hand.

"I should have never left that stink-hole known as France!"

Another flash and the dingy apartment was gone.

Gato was threw her hands up to brace against the fall and was surprised to find herself resting upright against a grey stone wall, palms flat to its grainy surface. She winced as her injured hand scolded her loudly and pulled hairpin from her flesh, not even bothering to heal the wound. Blood ran down her arm and splattered on the toe of her boot.

"Where in all of this hell am I?"

She took a deep breath, and knew instantly.

"Paris..... but how?"

Gato turned around to get her bearings. She was in an alley behind an opera house she knew well from her days in this godforsaken city of lights. She touched the wall again to make sure it was real and was strangely comforted by the bloody handprint she left behind. Finally numb, she walked towards the mouth of the alley and out onto the street in front of the opera house.

The numbness she had spent so much effort obtaining left her in a flash. Mosca wasn't all she'd ever had after all.

"Franco."

Coming down the steps of the opera house was a tall dark man perfectly foiled by the tall pale blond he escorted. In shock, Gato backed up until her progress was stopped by a newspaper stand.

"Franco."

It was unbelievable. This could not be real. The couple was actually coming down the steps towards her. Gato closed her eyes in disbelief, squeezing them shut like a child convinced that nothing she couldn’t see could ever hurt her.

"Gezana?"

Gato trembled but refused to open her eyes. It couldn't be him. It could not possibly be him. It smelled like him.

"Gezana Rey?"

Gato opened her eyes and choked out the first inane thing that came to mind.

"Hola Franco. Enjoying the opera?"

Franco’s look of surprise was quickly replaced with a sneer.

"Actually, Gezana, WE are here for rehearsals. This is Chantal, my wife, who is singing the lead role in their production of Samson et Dalila. ¿Un papel que usted ha desempeñado ya, sí? ("A role you have already played, yes?") So the question is, what are you doing here in Paris?"

Chantal spoke no Spanish and was obviously bored. She said something quickly to her husband in French, which Gato could not follow, and laughed at the response she got back. Her eyes swept over Gezana, both amused and dismissing at the same time, before moving on to study the trees.

So the icy blond was his wife. Yes, it was another role she had played, in a fashion. She had no answer for his last question. Convenient, considering he didn't really want one.

"Well, in any case," he said, eyeing her bleeding hand with a sniff, "it looks as if my escape from sharing fates with you was lucky indeed. Here, if you can get yourself cleaned up enough perhaps you'd enjoy seeing a real performance instead of just walking the streets this evening."

Franco reached into his suit pocket and pulled out an elegant invitation for tonight's preview prominently featuring Chantal in all her glittering glory as Dalila.

"A beautiful star of a wife over a bleeding cat! Yes, I am a lucky man. Have better luck in your next life, Gezana."

Just as quickly as he was there he was gone, sweeping his Parisian wife before him.

Franco.

She was all of eighteen when he'd proposed to her. She'd immediately said yes. She'd secretly been in love with her voice instructor for a long time but had never told anyone, even Mosca, for fear of her family not approving on account of her age. But she was a woman now, and she knew her parents would be nothing but happy. She immediately wrote to Mosca in South America to share her joy and expected to get a letter back in about 2 months. She knew he'd be happy for her - he loved her more than anyone else in the world.

But he had called not a week after he'd gotten her letter. In a jungle with no phones for miles he had called. He was furious.

He accused her of abandoning him, of breaking the pact they'd made before he left, of all kinds of horrible things. There was no such thing as that type of love, he said. There was only used and being used where the rest of the world was concerned. They were family of the only true sort. Had she even told Franco about her strange new powers? She hadn’t, she had only told Mosca. She didn’t think anyone else would understand. She didn’t want to frighten Franco. To Mosca this was proof positive that she was making the biggest mistake of her life.

So she'd broken it off with Franco. Or at least she’d caught the next train to Paris without telling anyone where she was going or that she was even leaving. Franco would figure it out. Her parents would figure it out. She spent a few months crying for Franco and eventually wrote him a letter. He responded by sending her an envelope full of thorns. He was always dramatic. She made her new life singing in nightclubs and using her powers to bilk Frenchmen out of their cash, waiting for Mosca to send for her like he said he would - soon. A few years later he actually did and she showed up in Paragon City with more hope than she'd had since the night Franco had proposed. She and Mosca would be together. It would be just like it was before. They would always be there for each other.

Gato stumbled blindly back into the alley coming to rest against the bloody proof that this wasn’t a dream.

"Oh Mosca, Mosca," she pleaded, "where are you this time?"

And then it happened again.

The blinding flash left her in a pile of houseplants so thick she thought she's landed in the middle of a battle with the Devouring Earth. Gato stumbled and came to rest against a potted palm in some sort of courtyard. Then she heard music – it was Elvis. She knew all his songs by heart - she had to. Mosca loved Elvis.

Wise men say only fools rush in,
But I can't help falling in love with you –

Gato moved some foliage to peer in the direction of the music. There was a man in a horrible Hawaiian shirt, and a man and women offering only views of their backsides. What was this? Had whatever force pulling her through space actually landed her at some cheesy Vegas style Elvis wedding?

“Is like ghost of Christmas past, only is ghost of wedding spirit showing me what I did not have,” Gato muttered in a daze.

She looked closer at the back of the man. She knew that back, so straight and proud.

The man in the ugly shirt cleared his throat.

"Friends, we are gathered here tonight to witness the exchange of solemn vows between Santiago Ferrer and Natalya Shostakovich.”

“It cannot be. He would not!”

Blindly Gato threw up her hand to put the minister to sleep like she'd done with a thousand criminals before… and nothing happened. Nothing at all. She stared at her hand in disbelief. Since that first jab of the hairpin so many years ago her powers had never failed.

"Natalya Shostakovich, repeat after me: Santiago, any place is paradise as long as I have you. You're always on my mind, and a hundred years from now, I'll still be loving you."

“Please, please don’t make me watch this,” Gato whispered. “Please. I want to go home.”

Gato fell onto her hands and knees, back in the dubious comfort of her Paragon city apartment. She stared blankly into space for a moment and then began to retch.