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60.1 - Jalycia, Part 2

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Edited 1542441082
This follows the events of 59.3 by a few weeks Pillow Talk I talked to my mom last week. Oh? Okay, that was a guarded "Oh." That was a very out-of-left-field announcement. Yeah, I was -- well, I was at Harvard for this research grant thing the Foundation is sponsoring, last Tuesday, and, well, I thought I'd drop by her office.  Mm-hmm. And ... ask ... casually ... if she was my mom. And? Aaaaaaand she was a bit flustered to see me, but, yeah, she confirmed it, and most of the major details out of the story Hecate told Aria. Huh. We had a good talk. I mean, kind of formal and stilted. She didn't burst into tears and run over and hug me. Did you? No. Though. It was just ... weird. Like this was a person who was really important to me, but on the other hand really wasn't important to me. I mean, as-a-person important, but as-an-influence-on-me, just ... genes.  Was that disappointing? No. No, not disappointing. Maybe ... anticlimactic? I mean, we got along okay for spending half an hour in her office before she had a lunch she had to run to and I had an appointment with the Science Department head anyway, but it was a whole lot less ... dramatic, I guess, than I was expecting. Or worried about. Or hoping for. And you both went your separate ways. Well, I made arrangements to fly up there for lunch next week, and she wants me to meet her wife, and like that. And I invited her down to Halcyon over the summer, when she doesn't have class stuff. So she's a hands-on academic? Kind of, I guess. I mean, she writes books, and she composes music, but she keeps office hours and goes in to lecture undergrads at least a couple of times a week. What's she like? Smart. I mean, really, really smart. Hyper-genius, I guess. Interested in a lot of things. Curiosity. But she has a dry sense of humor that was a lot of fun. And she's done -- done -- a lot. She -- Yes? She has a life. Aaaand, at best, I might be an add-on, now that I've approached her. I find that hard to believe. That I'm not even an add-on? Dolt. Hey! You are far more than an add-on in any life. Nobody of hyper-intelligence could make that error. Dad used to say being smart didn't make people wise. And look where he ended up. My point is that she's probably intimidated about you . What? Why? Look at you. She's published a book or two. Popular science trash.  Hey! She wrote the libretto of an opera -- way overrated.  Um, this is my mother -- She teaches at Harvard, the very emblem of academic institution reputation inflation.  I was actually thinking -- And look at you in comparison. You've traveled the world -- and over it and beneath it. You have science foundation, you have a world-famous name, you mingle with super-heroes, you've had articles about you over the last month in Ars Technica, CNBC, and Forbes , and you're only 18. Okay, well, maybe, but -- Jason, trust me. You are highly intimidating. Um, thanks? Especially to those who don't know you well. Okay, well, then -- wait a sec -- And remember, she gave you up. I mean, certainly, for all the right reasons and according to consensual and quite considerate plans. But she has to be wondering what would be different -- for her, for you -- if she hadn't.  She's not the only one. Well, you're intimidated, too. Insecure. Maybe guilty for not having reached out sooner, and guilty for intruding in her life now. Mmmmmaybe. I would worry if you weren't. You're baring your soul, opening up thoughts about the very basis of your being, laying aside your ego to worry about someone else -- and how they might think of you. It would be a terrifying experience, I should think. Um ... we're talking about me right now, right? Highly probably. Riiiiight. Just -- you can take it slowly, Jason. Don't rush in expecting instant embraces or instant rejection. You have something tying the two of you together that is both huge and delicate. And she's just as aware of it. Unless she's a heartless bitch, and it doesn't sound like that's the case. Huh. Yeah, I guess. Maybe. I hope. I'm, um, having lunch with her, like I said. And she's going to be in Halcyon next month for that thing at the Convention Center. I thought maybe -- well, I could show her around. Show her this place. Maybe ... um ... Uh ... yes, that would be fine. I'd welcome the chance to meet your, ah, mother.  And I'd love to introduce you to her. I mean, introducing the girlfriend to the parental unit is sort of a rite of passage that neither of us got, right? Contraindicated in my case, even adjusting for gender. Father would have been unamused. Probably lethally. Did -- you ever ... The opportunity didn't arise. Father was also effective about that. Oh. Well, that sucks. It worked out well in the end. At least for us. And you weren't exactly the dating machine yourself.  Yeah, when you grow up and most of the possible love interests you see turn out to be killer robots or aliens in masks or spies for a foreign power ... it's sort of tough on the love life. Even when I got out of the game, after DC, it was -- different. Yes, I read your People interview last year . Yyyeah. The one where you called me crazy. No, wait, to be accurate it was "fucking crazy." To be fair ... I wasn't disputing it, just letting you know I read it. I wasn't in a real good place during that interview.  I know. Me, neither. And -- wait, you my mother's books? Um ... of course. And listened to her opera? Naturally. I'm not a fan of Western opera, mind you -- Stop distracting. Why? Because -- well, why wouldn't I? C'mon. Straight answer. Very well. I've ... been researching. You've been researching my mother? No, you idiot. I've been researching ... you. I'm -- Surprised? Flattered? Confused?  -- trying to decide if that's a bit creepy. I mean, you can ask me any questions you have. Some things I might not want to ask directly. Some things I might want to learn the best way to approach. Some ways are just ... research.  There's not a sniper rifle at the end of this research, is there? ... Okay, that was ... maybe ... in bad taste? Yeah, just. Maybe. I mean, you talk about -- I talk about a lot of things. And I talk about combat situations. That's ... not ... this. I know. I'm ... Look, I just want to learn more about you. I -- understand. That's even kind of touching. But you could just ... I dunno, ask me? Obviously going to the primary source is the most sensible for most things. I know that, Jason. But some topics may be more sensitive. Others may provide a more ... peripheral approach -- your mother's creative efforts might provide some insight into you, yourself, even at a great remove. More directly, there may be value in seeing you from others' perspectives. Wait, have you been interviewing people about me? That makes it sound ... creepy. I agree. Yes, I've talked with some folk. Most of them, in general, just in conversation. Nothing formal and sit-down and recording equipment and bright lights and an ampule of sodium pentathol standing by if needed. Nothing like that. ... for "most of them"? Hmm. No, I never actually brought any sodium pentathol along to any discussions. No, I mean, for example, I've learned a lot about you from the rest of the Menagerie. From working with you in various ways, and telling anecdotes about same, they provide insights into your motivation, your sense of humor, your leadership, your heroism, etc. It's basic intelligence process, Spycraft 101 if you will. Wait, they tell anecdotes about me? Jason, they tell anecdotes about me, too. Well, sure, but -- But? Never mind. But, you're certainly anecdote-worthy, Alycia. I mean, you're a walking set of anecdotes. I -- withdraw the ... poorly framed observation. Very poorly framed. ... Go on. Please. Fine. So I've made a point of correlating that information to add to my understanding of you. Okay, that's maybe a little more organized than most people -- but, hey, I wouldn't expect any less from you. Thank you. Um ... What? I -- don't want to -- Spit it out, Jason. Now, what about the exceptions? Exceptions? Lots of "most of"s and "for example"s in there. Which says there are some exceptions to the rule. Any I should know about? ... Prrrrobably. Okay. You want to tell me? I'd have rather not, but now that you've figured their existence out, I don't want you wondering. That's gracious of you. ... I mean, if it's too stressful or something, we don't have to. I trust you.  You ... do? Of course. Even though I just admitted keeping secrets from you? Well, they're not really secrets. You just didn't tell me everything until I asked. I guess. You ... make it ethically very difficult to be discreet. You mean sneaky. I went and chatted with Amir. You ... WHAT? I know, Sepia!Amir, not -- not your Amir . I thought it might be illuminating, though, both what he knew of your counterpart in the Sepiaverse and what he'd been briefed on about you by whomever set him up there. I ... um ... how did that go? Not as well as I'd hoped. He was deeply suspicious of me. Given his background in the Sepiaverse, that's not surprising, even knowing I must be this universe's Alycia Chin. I'm surprised he okayed you onto the island. ... Jeez. Okay, did you defeat the air defenses, or did you infiltrate the island and wake him in his bed at night, holding a dagger to his throat? ... That's a dangerous trick, if they jerk awake. Better to sedate them while asleep, then tie them to a chair. Alycia! What? Shutting down the air defenses themselves wouldn't have been difficult, but doing it without your becoming aware of it would have been. And I didn't hurt him. He never did cooperate, but I didn't leave any lasting marks or ... well, I didn't torture him. And, yes, I'm including "enhanced interrogation" in that denial. I -- okay. I did poke around a bit while he was bound -- found some interesting papers probably dating back to your tenancy on the island -- but when I left him he was alive, well, and slowly kicking the chair across the room to get to the knife I'd left there for him to cut his own bonds. That's ... kind of over the top, Alycia. I didn't hurt him. And, remember, he was almost certainly part of a plot against you. He deserves a little fear of blades in the night, dammit. I -- look I appreciate ... just, if you're going down there again, let me know. I mean, if nothing else, I'd like to chat with him again some time, too. I'm -- actually sort of surprised you haven't followed up already. I guess, maybe ... ... Yes? I guess finding out he wasn't the real Amir -- my real Amir -- wasn't easy to do. It was easier to -- to let that status remain quo and just keep kicking that to-do item into the "Next Month" queue. I ... understand. But don't wait too long, Jason. Amir is a loose end. He's reasonably well protected there, but, well, clearly not invulnerable to attack. I can think of several people who might be relieved or pleased should he suddenly be silenced. Yyyeah. Okay, I'll take that as a professional recommendation. Yikes. I'll beef up the passive defenses tomorrow. I have some ideas there. And, maybe, plan on a trip down there in the next week, sometime. Good. You know, I don't hate him. No reason you should. He was your brother, in a weird way. The desire to align with him, make him your brother in truth ... it would be ... tempting. You sound wistful. I hardly need any siblings. Given my family, that would be a bad thing . Well, you have me. Yes, but 'I love you like a sister' is probably not the direction you're looking for this relationship to go, right? Oh. Yeah, um, ugh. No. Precisely. I don't think even you are a big enough Star Wars fan to want that. No! Uh, I mean, definitely not. Me neither. To wit ... Agh! Ahhhh -- Alycia -- you're -- aaah, distracting -- from -- the conversation. Would you really prefer not to be distracted? I -- aye-yi-yi -- would -- like to be distracted ... in a bit. This is ... aaaaaah-important. ... Fine. But, I definitely want to be distracted! Just -- how did you learn to do --? Research. That's -- some research. (Snort) Now, you have something more important to talk about? Don't be pissed, Alycia, I just -- No, I understand. You have interrogation to complete. Business before, or perhaps in lieu of, pleasure. Very diligent, Mr. Quill. Alycia -- Proceed. What are you hiding? Me? Nothing being hidden here. Go ahead ... pat me down. That's -- that's not what I meant. I -- jeez. It's just, you're laying on the the, um, hands-on approach a bit heavily. Which tells me you really are trying to distract me from something. Rats. I'm being appallingly transparent.  Well, I'm an SGHG, too, so -- Thus my impulse to to drain your brain of needed bloodflow, through  -- Lycia! You have ... aaaaaah, twenty minutes to stah-ah-ahp that. As if it would take more than two, tops. Very well, I'll stop. I'm (whoosh) so ... happy? Fine. I broke into the Quill Foundation computers and downloaded the 'Travelyicia' program and have been grilling it over her conversations with or about you. You -- oh, jeez. Y'know, that stuff is private. It's like -- I dunno, reading my diary. You have a diary? No! I thought it unlikely. But in principle -- In my defense, a lot of Travelycia is based on me and my work. So I should have access to her. I -- Plus there are the elements about her that you don't know about. What do you --? But most of all because it was ... interesting to watch you flirting with her. What? No I didn't! I mean, nothing like that. We ended up arguing more often than not. Exactly.  What, arguing is --? "The opposite of love isn't hate ..." "... it's indifference." Elie Wiesel. Huh. Are you saying that arguing and anger and threatening and all that ... is love? I'm saying it's engagement . Your conflict with the the AI was illustrative of your continued engagement with me. That's a good thing. If you ignored or dismissed it, it would be a sign you didn't care.  Well ... yeah. I ... okay. Your father was worried you'd seen too many movies as a kid about the noble enemy who becomes a friend, or, given the appropriate gender roles and Hollywood tropes, lover. That's one reason he wanted so much to break us up. Did he tell you that? Indirectly. Via the AI of him you put together. That AI also had a number of interesting chats with Travelycia. So ...?  So, in this, at least, Byron Quill was correct. Being enemies made us friends -- Frenemies. I will break your arm if you use that awful portmanteau. Oh, come on, it's -- OW, hey, how did you -- I can break it before you summon back the nanobots, so don't even think of it. Oh -- OKAY , no use of -- AH! Right, I -- I wasn't going to say the word. Fine. Ow. That hurt. Bah. You got beat up worse in your Rusty's self-defense classes. Yeah, but I didn't want to sleep with Rusty. That's ... yeah, that's a good thing. So, was that an example of the friend-enemy thing? Because there was aggression and pain involved. More of a dominance display, I think. Okay, I can see -- hey! My point is ... dammit, now I've lost the point. Except, maybe, that we've been together for a long time, and even if that didn't involve us holding hands and taking walks on the beach and having little hearts floating around our heads, we've been engaged and ... well, no vortex blasters got fired, or fired on target, so it's all good. I thought you thought that sort of thing was an unstable foundation for a relationship. Oh, hell, yes. But it's a foundation nevertheless. And ... maybe an honest one. I think we've both grown past that. Except for the whole arm-breaking-threat-thing. Well ... maybe that's not ... Lycia? ... The ... um ... healthiest thing.  But it's you . And I don't think you'd actually injure me unless I was an actual danger to you. ... Lycia? I don't want to hurt you at all. Ever. Even as a joke. I know. Dammit. I literally just put together an argument for physically abusive relationships. I'm just -- I can't -- Shhh. Shhh. It's okay. We just need to redirect your competitive dominance displays into something more productive. If that's an suggestion for sex, your timing sucks. I just ... could use. A. Hug. That, I'm probably competent to do. You're pretty competent at a lot of things. I'll take that as a complement, vs. damning with faint praise. I -- thanks. No worries. You're ... a lot more patient with me ... than I deserve. Nah. I just want to get in your pants. I'm not wearing any pants. Well, damn. I'm such a dolt. ... Okay, that kind of made me smile. Which is good, because I like your smile. I -- okay, this is getting too sappy. I've reached my limit of vapid sentimentality. I haven't -- can I say sappy things? If you do, I'll -- make a biting comment. Oooh. Okay, I'll hold off. For now. Because ... I don't want any biting. Good. My dominance display has worked. I will just hug you. More victory. I ... win. I think we both win. I'm willing to compromise to that. ... ... ...  Lycia, all this talk about my mom ... Do you ever wonder about your -- No. Okay. Um, if you ever want to talk about it -- Not -- now, Jason. Just ... keep hugging me. #Cutscene
So a few things this does: Most importantly (and by intent), addresses some outstanding threads both for Jason and for Alycia -- both kinda closing down some of them, and acknowledging others that are open.  Shows where Jason really kind of depends on Alycia. And shows where Alycia really kind of depends on Jason. And shows where their relationship is working, and where it's still rocky. Shows where Alycia has some room for ... growth and healing, even with all the growth and healing she's already completed. Her story isn't done.
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When I was going to talk to my biological mother, I thought about what I'd want to say, or ask. I wasn't going to be part of her life, but I felt something ought to be said. I settled for letting her know that I was doing good, things worked out, and that she shouldn't doubt that she made a good decision. For that conversation, it worked out great. Hopefully it does for Jason too.
Bill G. said: When I was going to talk to my biological mother, I thought about what I'd want to say, or ask. I wasn't going to be part of her life, but I felt something ought to be said. I settled for letting her know that I was doing good, things worked out, and that she shouldn't doubt that she made a good decision. For that conversation, it worked out great. Hopefully it does for Jason too. My thought is that it will, and I suspect that Jason is good-willed enough that the initial awkwardness that he felt will be gotten over, with time. And, yeah, I don't expect that they will suddenly have some great bond that leads to spending the holidays with each other or something, but they will both find that the blend of both the past and their separate presents will end up with something more than acquaintance and less than family. (There's an unwritten scene where Jason circles back to Summer about this, since he really learned a lot of it while in her company down at the family island. It's an experience he'd want to share with her.) (There's an also an unwritten scene where Alycia tells Summer that she took advantage of their conversation about Jason and the jaunt down to Palm Key to do her own field trip down there. And she feels kid of guilty about it, but not enough that she'd not do it again, but she wanted Summer to know.)
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Whether those discussions get written or not, for whatever it's worth, Jason would please Summer by involving Aria in that talk. Motherhood is her jam, and she'd be keenly interested in how her talk with Hecate eventually paid off.
They likely won't get written, but stranger things have happened. 
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Dat new avatar though