Flash 2000: Someone who cares if you come home

Image from the Internet Hive Mind (original art pointed to an Amazon product, but it has been discontinued)

“Are you sure you don’t want stitches Cage?” Miracle Worker waved the large bandage over the wound, fanning the disinfectant she just sprayed to get it dry enough the adhesive would stick around the abrasion larger than both of her hands side by side, the dark circles under her eyes a testament to why she had switched from her superpowers to her medical training. The Gray Gremlin hadn’t come quietly, and the acquisition team had received a beating during the retrieval.

No civilians injured and minimal property damage, all of which had been owned by the unregistered Rarus, so a successful mission as far as their government bean counters were concerned.

Cage’s dark half rose up from behind the hero to examine the lacerations clawed into his host’s shoulders by the Gremlin’s mech suit, then shook his head before returning to his normal position attached to Cage opposite the light. “No, I should be good to heal them in a few days. But cover them up to prevent infection doc.”

“Don’t do anything to pull at them until they have closed.” She removed the protection off the adhesive and applied the bandage to the left arm Cage had skidded on after being tossed across the icy parking lot. “Two days at least, three would be better.”

“If you can get the universe to agree not to have any more Emergents and the admin keep me benched, I won’t have any problems.”

She laughed bitterly at the joke. “I might be able to order around the universe, but the board still hadn’t created the medical leave forms I have requested six zillion times.”

Cage knew it was on her Outlook program to send a request for all the medical needs once every four days, and it looks like she was wearing down before the governing board of normals. They must figure since Miracle Worker was available, actual planning for the medical needs of the supers in the Mid-Atlantic Region, or, really, anywhere since healer variations seemed to be the second most common form of super after basic physical enhancements like strength and agility and so all the regions had some healer coverage, was unnecessary. But the truth was the healers still hadn’t recovered for the COVID death watches. So many Emerged during the height of the pandemic to watch patient after patient die in cytokine storms. Physical trauma healers like Miracle Workers never stood a chance, and micro-specialists leaned more toward bacterial than viral invaders. People like GreenBread can stop pneumonia, but not the flu and certainly not COVID.

If the Rarus Asset Oversight Department and related Regional Boards didn’t get their heads out of their asses, the healers would figure out a way to leave America in droves despite Rarus travel restrictions. Doctor and nurses couldn’t keep up, even after a personal choice and years of training, how did they expect random adults who won the genetic lottery do any better?

“Well, if you can put a word in with the universe, I would appreciate it.”  Cage reached for his bright orange Malhalt armor jacket, but the healer jerked it away.

“No. Nothing tonight. Sleep sitting up, a soft blanket is you must have something cover you, and let your back, shoulders, and arm heal. Your uniform is half torn to shreds, you can get a new one in the morning.”

“Come on, Miracle.” He managed to keep the whine out of his voice but it was a near thing. “Don’t make me go through headquarters without a shirt.”

“Mighty Dude is already in bed. You should be fine.” She eyed his chest. “Besides under all the other bandages your scar is barely visible. And some girls like scars.”

“It’s the South.”

“Southern belles really like scars.” Red Chains injected from his elevated position in a hospital bed, with his newly healed rib cage and reinflated lung thanks to Miracle’s magic hands. He would be staying the night for observation since his primary and secondary powers didn’t include any healing abilities of his own.

“You should know Chain.” Cage responded.

“And you shouldn’t collect any more. You are hot enough.” Miracle walked over to the acquisition’s team restraint specialist, before glancing one last time to where Cage filled the doorway for her small nursing ward. “You too. Get yourself someone to distract you from all this. Someone who cares if you come home.”


Once back in their quarters, Shadow detached fully, gaining a glowing mouth and eyes while remaining silent. Sound only traveled from him while on the Dark Side; most of the time Cage and he were limited to a combination of charades and lip reading. He could hear just fine, just not speak. But he always had plenty to say.

Sliding around the room, he settled on the bed, gaining substance in the deeper shadows of the poorly lit room, while Cage dragged himself to his gaming recliner. His glowing smirk made Cage bark, “What?”

Shadow tapped his left inner arm, where a gray symbol showed up slightly lighter than the surrounding dark flesh.

“Shit, that’s still there?” Cage twisted his bandaged arm to look at the inner flat area. A matching symbol glowed on his arm, about the same level of gray, but against his Caucasian skin looking dark. “How did Miracle not notice?”

Shadow rolled his eyes and stood up. He had spent most of the fight inside Cage, so had received no injuries of his own and his host had opted not to transfer any. Going over, he touched Cage, attaching himself to his host as a true shadow and the symbol disappeared from the both of them.

“That’s impressive.” Shadow became his own being again, and Cage frowned at his arm as the symbol reappeared. “How the fuck did Pa-ah-Vector do that?”

Shadow shrugged, then held his left hand to his head with his thumb extended to his ear and his pinky extended to his bright mouth.

“I am not going to call her, it’s after three in the morning.”

Shadow shifted, throwing out a hip and putting his fists on the edges of his form, his glowing mouth downturned with sass, head tilted at an angle like he was leaning forward if he wasn’t basically two dimensional on the Light Side.

“You’re kidding me.”

Shadow crossed his arms.

“Dude, she has to be an unregistered.” Another body motion on his superpower-with-agency’s part gave a very definite if rather vulgar answer. “I know you don’t care. You don’t ever give a shit about rules and regulations. But–”

Cage’s dark half waved his arms around, his hands become undefined, making Cage stop talking, before the shadow form slid across to where their backup equipment was stored and pulled out their secondary, or was it tertiary phone, Cage didn’t remember replacing it after helping the North Atlantic Region squash Ringmaster. Shadow drew the device to the Dark Side, turning the orange trimmed phone grayscale, and threw it at him.

Only Cage’s increased reflexes kept it from hitting him in the face when it popped back to his present reality. “Fuck.” The hero leaned back in his chair, after dropping the phone in his lap, he shifted his Taco Cat fuzzy blanket higher, moaning a soft, “Ouch. Moved too fast.”

Fisting his right hand, Shadow held it high on his chest and brought it around in a circle twice.

“Yeah, well, don’t do that shit.”

The dark creature slinked to reattached to Cage, settling inside the host body. Cage felt the apology sink into his bones, but also the determination. His other half was intrigued by the woman who had helped them at the party. Her deep blue pupils shading to green centers looking up at them saying “Call me tonight, I want to know you are safe.” left an impression. Shadow retrieved another memory, this one of Miracle saying find someone who cares if you come home.

Loneliness dragged Cage toward depression. Yes, he had someone who shared his body, but Shadow wasn’t really another person. He was a manifestation of Cage’s power, a strange, unique manifestation capable of independent action which drove the scientists completely nuts because no theory of how powers worked when adding id-driven aspects like Shadow. Cage wasn’t the only one with a power-with-agency, but they were rare and his was the strongest on record.

“I’m in a lonely for one person kind-of mood,” he picked up the cell phone with his left hand and held the button down until the boot-up screen lit. “Think she will forgive me for calling her at four o’clock on a Saturday morning?”

His self-center id-driven Shadow sent calming emotions forward, smoothing the tatter hurts of injury and having no one but a few coworkers in his life who tolerated him and several who didn’t. Tears leaked as he waited for the chimes of the cell phone activation to cycle through.

“Lights night. Wake-up at eight.” The room darken to pure blackness, which he could still see in, especially with the glowing screen where logo after logo appeared. He was so tired and his eyes drifted close. An image of a clawed mech hand slashed at his face, startling Cage awake with a rush of adrenaline. “Fuck Shadow, can you not?” A blacker than the darkness arm separated from his right arm to pull his chin toward his chest. Cage blinked looking down as the symbol he had seen on his arm appeared on the screen. “What do I do now? Hit send?” Getting no answer from the asshole who shared his brain, Cage hit the green button, then, because of the bandages wrapping his arm making it impossible to lift the phone to his ear, he hit speaker phone.

“Hello?” came a sleepy moan.

“Sorry, did I wake you?” Cage asked the device, her voice doing strange things to his heart rate. Or maybe it was Shadow’s heart rate.

“No, well, yes,” He heard bedsheet move, then her voice became much louder, like she had tucked the phone beside her head. “But no. When you transferred the symbol to your phone I woke up. I lost track of your vitals.”

“You were, you were monitoring me?” Shadow took over control of Cage’s right arm to lift the device and place it in a secure spot higher up on the host’s body, and for once Cage didn’t fight for control.

“Hmm.” Came the sleepy reply. “Just making sure you stayed alive, nothing big.”


“Why what?”

“Why would you do that?”

“I could.” Vector didn’t continue right away but her sentence ended with a heaviness indicating more words would follow.

He pictured her moving, snuggling deeper in the covers. Cage wondered if she slept in a long nightgown or pajamas or maybe some ex-boyfriend’s oversized t-shirt against the cold December night air.

“After, you know, meeting, I felt responsible for how we… And I wanted to … I’m glad you called. Are you okay?”

“Yeah.” He lied.

“Good. Doc Peterson looked really tough in that robot suit.”

“You saw that?”

“Um, remember that big wide window overlooking the parking lot? Everyone at the party got a front row seat. It wasn’t like anyone was leaving until you guys were done.”

He chuckled. “So you saw him wipe the floor with me.”

“Your face did not make the best snow plow, but it did help us when we left. Most of the lot was cleared of snow.” Her voice softened and deepened, making his toes curl in a pleasant way. “Really, are you okay?”

“Not really, but I will be.” He rotated the gaming chair controls to move it back until gravity put pressure on the back wounds, then he edged it up. It was as comfortable as he was going to get tonight. “One aspect of my quirks allow for quick healing. Give me a few days and I will be right as rain.”

“Quirks? So you are a My Hero Academia fan?”

“Oh my god, you actually know the anime?”

“Not really, but one set of niblings – nieces and nephews – adore them, so I, as a dutiful aunt, have listened to them talk endlessly, and even read their fanfic of their favorite heroes.”

“You, you have read fanfic?”

She laughed sleepily. “Wrote some too, but the My Hero stuff has only been what twelve- and thirteen- year-olds will write so nothing really spectacular.”

“So what fanfic have you written?”

A mumbled word come over the phone.


“Supernatural. Specifically Dean-Castiel. Some Les Miserable and Avengers, but I started with the Wheel of Time.”

“What’s your tag?”

“Oh no you don’t. Don’t you dare!” Vector sounded much more awake.

“Ah, so you write THAT type of fanfic.”

“I do not, and even if I did, which I don’t—”

“You so do.”

“Ugh, alright. I do.” She inhaled deeply, “but I suck at it.”

“Because you don’t have much experience writing or,” Cage smiled and dropped his voice, “you don’t have much inspiration.”

“Oh god, you can talk to me in that voice forever. Just to let you know.”

“Anddddd… Vector my sweet?”

“I um, right, what was the question? Inspiration. I haven’t had much in the way of lovers but I read a lot. Which means I can fake a lot of things. Still choreography is tough.”

“What does dancing have to do with it?”

“Choreography is about writing fight scenes and love scene. Keeping track of the characters, the number of characters, where they are, what they are doing, what they are … armed … with.”

Cage chuckled, and the new lower position placed pressure below the shoulder blades. “Ow, don’t do that.”

“Sorry, sorry. Should we be even talking?”

“Yes, absolutely we should. But now that you know I’m safe, do I get a real number this time so I can call you back tomorrow after we both get the sleep we need?”

Vector sighed. “No, but you should be able to call me on that phone whenever you want. I should be the first programmed name. This way the tracers you have on the phone can’t backtrack to me.”

“The what now?”

(words 2,360, first published 1/14/2024)


Hold Me Against the Dark series

  1. I want you beside me… (12/31/2023)
  2. Someone who cares if you come home (3/31/2024)
  3. F is for First and Foremost (4/7/2024)


  1. Bridesmaid (6/30/2024)

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