Rating/Warnings/Genre: PG-13, Cursing & Violence, Urban Fantasy/MuseFic
Summary: In which powersets are roughed out, notMycroft and notMI6 are introduced, and the fictives are sure Eighth is insanely overpowered and this will all end in tears (and hopefully more explosions).
NOTE: This is a MuseFic in which the Writer, the Muse, and her fictives work to create the rough draft of a story (or just worldbuild). There will be spoilers for the story being drafted, which will most likely contain plot holes, retcons, and other inconsistencies.
Home Sweet, Burn Notice
“So, we’ve got brief introductions and hopefully an interesting enough hook that readers will forgive the chaos. Now we need to build on that.” The Writer grabbed the next rough scene outline and summoned up the Endless Whiteboard so she could start doodling.
“We’re rewarding their slog through the info dumps with…. More info dumps?” James was beginning to think maybe he did have better things to do. Somewhere.
The semi-sentient Comfy Chair offered him another drink in apology.
“Rough drafts are nothing if not messy, messy worldbuilding,” the Muse noted. “Just wait until she starts hopping around in the story’s timeline trying to figure out where things are going.”
“We just started,” objected Alec, who had not had anywhere enough alcohol for this conversation. “She can’t possibly be going off the rails already.”
“Then if we’re back to me, it means I’m in the midst of fleeing the scene,” said Eighth. “At least it does if I’m not an idiot.”
“You’re mostly not an idiot,” admitted the Writer as the sketch of an apartment and a faux-Pinterest collection of images slowly appeared on the board. “So let’s get to it!”
Eighth isn’t quite sure how he made it back to his flat, but he finds himself standing safely in the living room hands shaking and mind oddly numb. He knows it’s just shock, brought on by a combination of the chaos and the use of his power, but it’s terrifying all the same.
Somewhere inside his head Henry has choice words to say about his inability to let people die in the name of self-preservation, but Eighth tunes him out and tries to calm down. This isn’t the first time he’s screwed up and there are plans in place, but it always feels like the end of the world.
Which it is, more or less, for this version of Eighth.
He looks around at the flat, sparsely furnished with comfortable but generic trimmings. There are a few photos on the wall from trips he never took and friends and family he never had, but it’s been home for five years now. It’s the longest he’s been any version of Eighth, and the rut of this life is comfortably numb.
A slip of his powers hasn’t been impossible to hide before, but those were small events with no werewolves involved. Even if the wolves don’t figure out who he is, the fight would have caught the attention of the Agency and there’s little they miss.
If the Agency catches him it’ll mean the end of all of his lives, because what they catch they keep and he’s not willing to accept indentured servitude.
Thankfully that train of thought is broken by the ring of the emergency phone hidden in his bedroom. He digs it out and the crisp efficient tones of his oldest brother bring his world back into focus.
“I heard about the tunnel,” Mycroft is always formally brusk, but there’s a hint of empathy that slips in even with all his control. “We’ve cleared what we can, but it’s time to go to ground, I’m afraid.”
For a moment Eighth hesitates, this life hasn’t been that bad, a bit boring, but tolerable overall. If there’s a chance he can keep it– but it’s not worth the risk. He nods, knowing Mycroft’s cameras will see him, and starts to pack.
“Where am I going?” The phone’s cradled against his ear as he pulls out his firecan and gathers the things from this life that he’ll need to burn.
“Temporary safehouse, the car should be there in half an hour. Don’t linger, there’s more than one group looking for you this time.”
“There were werewolves in the tunnel,” Eighth points out, trying to stay calm. Because there aren’t supposed to be wolves in England anymore.
The way Mycroft says that and nothing more is a very bad sign. Eighth trusts his older brothers with his life, neither of them would hesitate to keep him safe, but if there are werewolves here and Mycroft didn’t tell him… Eighth shoulders his backpack, picks up his suitcase and gets ready to vanish. Again.
“I like how he’s assuming we don’t work for the Agency,” Alec laughed. “As if empaths were the only things the Queen has leashed.”
“He’s met one werewolf when he was a kid and never seen or heard of one since,” said the Writer with a shrug. “As far as he knows they’re just dangerous hotheads, why would he assume there are any left in the UK much less working for the government?”
“If werewolves exist why wouldn’t they be working for the government?” James countered.
“You are a very cynical fuzzball,” said the Muse.
“It’s a cynical sort of story,” James raised an empty glass and the story mists briefly swarmed it and then left, having filled it up again. Hanging out in the faux-living room was… odd, but at least this he could get used to.
“Does it bother anyone else that these are very brief scenes?” asked Eighth. “We’re popping back forth between groups and unreliable narrators– whose POV are we using once the stories combine? Also, is Henry a split personality or something?”
“I was planning on keeping the swapping going,” the Writer frowned at the rough outline. “We’ll see if it works or not. And no, Henry is just you– sort of. People talk to themselves, you just talk to a slightly different version of you.”
Eighth raised an eyebrow and the Writer pointedly ignored him.
“So does that mean we get screentime again?” asked Alec. “Because I feel like this story is seriously lacking explosions.”
“No explosions,” said the Writer.
“No more explosions,” corrected James.
And back they went…
“I don’t know who he or she is,” snapped the reconnaissance tech, with a frustrated tone just shy of insubordination. “As I have told multiple people: the explosion damaged the cameras and something else has scrambled the preceding footage. The best I can give you is the fifty-odd cars that were in the tunnel at the time, most of which are still vaguely smoking wrecks in the impound lot.”
“That’s even assuming the Sink was even in the tunnel,” interjected another tech without looking up from his work. “From the witnesses statements we’ve been able to get, this person has an incredible range.”
“What scrambled the footage?” James asks, not that he’s supposed to ask anything. He’s supposed to stand behind M and look deadly. Which he is, but there’s little that puts the fear of God into the IT department.
“Not the Sink,” said the first tech and James did his best not to roll his eyes.
“Then get me the names of everyone we can prove was in the tunnel,” said M, “and get it to me yesterday.”
“I’ll put time travel on the list,” snarked the second tech and then paled as he remembered who he was snarking at.
M just gave him a very long glare and then stormed out, leaving James behind.
It took the techs a moment to notice he hadn’t left and when they did the werewolf found himself on the receiving end of M-level glares.
“I just– there’s nothing I can do to help is there?” James knew there wasn’t as soon as he said it, but Mother was itching to get back on the scent. His wolf’s been nagging him nonstop about the Sink and once she’s set her mind on something, he’s learned it’s easier not to fight.
“Nah,” said the first tech, expression softening. “Look, we know it’s dangerous for you with it out there, but we’re doing our best. Just stay inside, it’ll blow over. These things always do.”
James managed to look thankful and not insulted at the condescending tone, well-meaning as it was. The werewolves have gone to great lengths to convince the Agency that they needed a strong emotional trigger to transform, which meant a Sink could keep them from shifting.
The techs got back to work and James left, jittery and annoyed at being sidelined.
Alec was waiting for him in the hallway outside and he followed James down to the gym in companionable silence.
After he’d worked out most of his frustration on the treadmill James nodded at the sparring mats and Alec grinned.
“Feeling old and useless then?” Alec teased as James semi-successfully lit into him. “I’m guessing the techs are running rings around old school sniff-ology.”
“Actually, no,” grunted James as he flipped Alec only to have the other man twist free. “They don’t have anything more than we do, hence the… frustration.”
“Really?” Alec knocked James’s legs out from under him, then almost dodged the return blow. “With all their cameras and satellites and general geekery, I would have thought they’d have his whole family tree mapped before we got home.”
“Apparently someone got to it before they could,” growled James as he followed up with a flurry of punches. “Which means he could be working for someone.”
“Well not the rogue,” said Alec, grabbing a punch and pulling James into a judo throw. “All they did was guarantee we caught her.”
“Then who?” James curled back up off the mat and brought Alec down in a tangle of limbs. “Was it just a show of force? Or a mistake?”
“A mistake?” Alec tapped out and James reluctantly let him up. “You think someone accidentally drained a quarter-mile radius?”
“I was busy lurking near interrogations,” Alec grinned. “Heard all sorts of interesting things including that people felt that well outside the tunnel.”
“Peters is our strongest and he’s not even able to do more than five or six hundred feet.” James sidestepped Alec’s not at all subtle attempt to trip him as they walked back towards the dorms. They weren’t supposed to be in the gym unsupervised and he wasn’t willing to risk showering outside of their rooms.
“Plus I lost everything, not just the rush.” Alec shivered a bit, he hated being sunk. “I was actually laughing at how off-guard you were when she lit into you and that went too.”
That… was not good.
Sinks normally took a single emotion or family of emotions. Amusement, even slightly mean, shouldn’t have been in the same sink as James’s frustration or in Alec’s bloodthirsty love of a good fight.
He exchanged looks with Alec as they headed into the werewolves’ common rooms.
Maybe they should be afraid.
“So we’ve just set Eighth up to be much more powerful than everyone else,” said James after a moment. “Isn’t that a bit unbelievable that they haven’t found him before now?”
“The idea is that he was allowed to grow his gift without interference,” said the Muse. “So part of it is that he doesn’t know he shouldn’t be able to do things. There aren’t any self-limiting beliefs holding him back.”
“And yeah, he is that powerful,” admitted the Writer. “I might tone it back later, but for now I want to run with it and see where it goes.”
“The Agency can’t be that thick,” James insisted. “Eighth can’t be the only empath that went into hiding because he didn’t want to work for them. If they really are concerned with unknown empaths running around, they should be keeping a much closer eye on them.”
“I do have Mycroft and Sherlock on my side,” pointed out Eighth. “It’s not like I’m escaping on my own. One of them is well entwined with the government side of things, so he’s already ahead of the Agency and the other is brilliant at coming up with clever plans.”
“Why did your parents bother to hide you at all?” asked Alec.
“They didn’t my great aunt did.”
There was an expectant pause, but Eighth left it at that and the Writer finally gave up with a huff.
“Fine, don’t tell me anything. I’ll figure it out myself!” There was a much longer pause. “Somehow.”
“It’s his POV turn again,” James pointed out dryly. “Just put him in a scene with Sherlock and you won’t have to.”
The Writer perked right up again and Eighth gave the agent a blistering glare.
“Cheers,” said James with a tip of his drink, and they were off.