The Replacements, Part Seven: Candycane

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Shion Mitsugi rose from her table as Lucky entered the quiet cafe. “Lucky! Good morning!” Stepping forwards, she gave her old friend a hug, then took a step back. “Heard you got in last night. How was your flight?”

“Good morning, Shion.” Lucky smiled. “Flight was pretty good. New look – I like it.” It was true. Shion's hair, which had been bubblegum pink for all the time that Lucky had known here, was now a deep shade of almost-black brown, smoothed back into a ponytail. She smiled in response, brushing her business suit with a laugh.

“Crazy colours work for superheroes, but doctors with candy-floss hair don't get taken that seriously.” She brushed a strand out of her eye for emphasis. “Have a seat. How are things going in Patchwork City? I heard your team got battered.”

“Yeah, it was unpleasant.” Lucky shook his head, setting down his coat on the chair he pulled out, and paused to get a cup of tea from the counter. When he returned, he continued. “Nadia's adapting pretty well to a civilian life, I think, but I know she misses the excitement. Maybe you could give her a few pointers.”

“Doubt it. I never really liked the superhero lifestyle.” Shion made a face. “All that running around, throwing cars at people. It gave me migranes, you know. And ulcers.”

Lucky's eyebrows rose. “I knew you were having some troubles, but…”

“Yeah, Karen just made me realize it with her last rant. She was right, I wasn't made for heroing. I just didn't want to upset my parents.” Shion smiled lopsidedly. “They were pretty happy about me as a doctor, though. And compared to my last career, the stress is nothing.”

Lucky laughed. “Different sort of hero, but you're still out there saving lives.”

“Will be, anyway.” Shion set down her coffee, and looked up at Lucky seriously. “Why are you here, Lucky?”

“I wanted to help.” Lucky raised an eyebrow.

“No, I mean really. Going around, talking to us? You could do that over the phone.” She shook her head. “Getting out there and saving people. I know that's what you do, but why here? You have more than enough problems back home.”

There was a long pause. Lucky looked down at his tea. “I felt responsible. I worked myself into the Victors, started to help out, and then dumped you without a second glance. I figured, if there was anything I could do to fix things…”

Shion sighed. “Oh, Lucky. Did you think that you could just pop back here, have a few chats with people, and your powers would make everything better?” When Lucky didn't answer, she shook her head with a sad smile. “You're not used to things going wrong, are you?”

Lucky laughed sourly. “What, because of my powers? You might be a doctor, but you're not much of a psychiatrist.” When Shion held up her hands in surrender, he sighed. “Sorry. Maybe you're right, I'm not helping much here. I think I might just be making things worse.”

“Don't blame yourself.” Shion took a sip of coffee. “Look, Mistral and Strategos were spiralling towards an explosion for ages now. They never worked well together. I'm sorry that I was the trigger, but I wasn't the cause, and neither were you. As for Joe…” She paused. “Well, he'll figure something out, and they'll stop hating each other eventually.”

“But you don't think the Victors should reform.”

“Not as they – as we were. I'm a lot happier being this kind of hero than that kind, and Mistral's happier giving orders than taking them.” Shion smiled. “Things will work out, Lucky. You just have to give them some time.”

“I hate waiting.”

“I remember that about you.” Shion finished her coffee and stood. “Go home, Lucky. Stay long enough that everyone feels like you appreciate them here, and then go back and deal with your own crises, and your own disasters. This isn't your story, and you can't rush in and make everything better.”

“Is that your professional opinion, Doctor?”

Shion favoured Lucky with a mock-glare. “Yes, and if you want a second opinion, I'll be happy to introduce you to my palm.”

Lucky blinked. “Uh, I'm not sure I follow…” Before he could say anything else, Shion slapped him upside the head.

“There. Second opinion. Would you like a third?”

“I'll pass, thanks.” Lucky laughed, finishing his tea. “Let's just take a walk, and you can tell me all about the peaceful world of medicine.”


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