I think this means I'm down to three Barricade Day drabbles that I owe people. Plus I need to get back into posting my long works. Plus I now really want to write Romulan!Amis, thanks to a certain someone. I see a lot of writing still in my future, though you guys will be spared from me posting anything for a few days, probably.
A Simple Plot
"Enjolras, hold still." Jehan waves a pin menacingly in front of Enjolras' face. "If you don't, I am going to end up pinning this fabric directly to your body. I'll make sure the bloodstains end up on the red fabric."
Enjolras considers continuing to fidget, studies Jehan's eyes for a moment, and then stands perfectly still. He can remembering dying multiple times in revolutions, but somehow he suspects that Jehan could still make him regret moving. "How much longer is this going to take?"
"It will take as long as it takes." It's clear from the small smile that blooms on Jehan's face and the peaceful lilt to his voice that he doesn't find the possibility of this taking a long time distressing at all. "I did as much of the costume as I could based on the measurements that Courfeyrac acquired—"
"He got those under false pretenses." Enjolras lodges the protest quietly, knowing that it's going to be ignored. "I still haven't agreed to this."
"Enjolras, just go along with it." Enjolras looks up to find that Combeferre has entered Jehan's room of torture, as well, and is eyeing Enjolras' half-dressed blue-and-red-fabric clad form with a smile. "Courfeyrac and Bahorel already paid our entrance fees, Grantaire has made fliers with some rather colorful and loving detail, and it's for a good cause."
"I still feel I should have been asked before being included." He isn't whining, truly. He's just asserting his right to make decisions about his own life and body.
"All right." Jehan continues to work, his expression blissful. "Are you doing anything this afternoon?"
Enjolras sighs. "You know I'm not. You already asked."
Jehan nods. "Would you like to help make some money for the local youth shelter?"
This is decidedly unfair. It's tantamount to emotional blackmail. "Yes."
"Then stand there and let us dress you up as a superhero." Jehan's voice is firm. "It's going to be fun, I promise. We've given you a role that you can play without having to change a single word that comes out of your mouth."
"Just my clothes." Enjolras sighs. "How long have you known about this, Combeferre?"
"Long enough." Combeferre's still smiling, stripping out of his own clothes and donning something that looks suspiciously like a blue unitard. "Courfeyrac wanted my help proof-reading Grantaire's script."
"There's a script?" Enjlolras looks between his two friends, his hesitancy about this endeavor increasing again. "This is sounding decidedly less simple with every bit of information that I learn."
"It's an easy script. It's a standard super-hero meet-up." Combeferre positions himself in front of a mirror and begins working something into his hair to lighten the bottom half on either side of his head to almost white.
"The only superhero comics I've read have been the ones that you passed off to me. Which I thoroughly enjoyed, like I said, but I'm…" Enjolras considers raising his palms to show how lost he is, looks at Jehan, and then settles for just looking miserably at Combeferre. "I'm completely out of my depth."
Combeferre turns around, studies him for a moment, and then clearly takes pity on him. "You're going to be leading one team, from the DC universe. I'm going to be leading another, from the Marvel universe. We're going to meet up, fight briefly, and then team up to take down the villain who caused our worlds to collide in the first place. It's simple. You'll have your lines and the choreography down in minutes."
"All right." Enjolras decides that there's no point in resisting what's happening. It's for a good cause, even if he doesn't really understand the appeal of seeing others dressed as characters from comic books, or why someone would pay to see it and take pictures with the actors. This will likely even be fun, getting to spend an afternoon and evening with the Amis. If only the costume wasn't quite so… bright. Or tight-fitting. "Are the DC and Marvel universes different, then?"
"As different as night and day." Grantaire is the one who answers, ambling into the room with what must be his own costume tucked under his arm. "The DC universe came first. It's the one with most of the extremely iconic heroes—Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, they're all from DC. The universe tends to be a bit more… epic and mythic, positive in its portrayal of humanity, with the general populace of the world a bit more like sheep than like angry blood-thirsty mobs."
"That's exceedingly reductionist, Grantaire." Combeferre has turned back to the mirror, continuing to work on his hair. "There are instances in both universes of mob mentality, as well as instances of positive portrayals of people en masse."
"Yes, but Marvel's big cash cow is the X-men, that team of mutants that the entire world hates despite the fact that they will literally commit suicide rather than willingly endanger people. Multiple mutants are introduced through being rescued from mobs of angry villagers, including Nightcrawler. Meanwhile, the citizens of the DC universe just decide that Lex Luthor would make a good president. And really, he wasn't all that much worse than some of our real-world politicians."
"Commit suici—are you talking about Jean Grey's second death? Because she had eaten a sun and thus destroyed all the populated planets around there prior to committing suicide." Combeferre is frowning as he turns back around. "And that was a good thirty years ago, while the Lex Luthor debacle was, what, a decade ago? Are we talking the current age of comics, the bronze age, the hideous disaster that was the nineties, or all of the above?"
Enjolras watches the two men as they continue to debate back and forth. He's never quite sure which of the words that are coming from their mouths are the names of people, places, universes, teams, or books, but they clearly understand what the other is saying.
"Um…" Enjolras hesitates as both men turn to look at him. "Where does Watchmen fit into these universes?"
They both answer in unison, and then turn to face each other again, Combeferre with a grim look and Grantaire with a smug grin.
"Watchmen is in a universe of its own." Combeferre crosses his arms over his chest. "It mirrors characters from other universes, but it's not a part of anything else. And is decidedly over-rated. Did I give you that one to read?"
Enjolras nods. "As well as Kingdom Come."
"That one's a DC alternate universe title. It—" Combeferre stops, smiling again, clearly seeing how lost Enjolras is. "Alternate universe means something that didn't happen in the mainline universe. So characters who died in that book didn't really die in the main book. Does that make any sense?"
Enjolras considers for a moment and then nods.
"I must have been in quite the mood to give you both Watchmen and Kingdom Come. Remind me to give you some less dire and dark ones—though at least Kingdom Come is all about reconstructing the deconstruction. Rather like—"
Enjolras is quite sure whatever conversation Combeferre is embarking on would be fascinating. He's also certain he won't understand it. "What about I Kill Giants? Which universe is that?"
"Independent." Grantaire answers, turning his smile on Enjolras. "You've read that one? Maybe we should have used that in our skit. You would make the best female protagonist with rabbit ears that's ever lived."
"As much fun as it would be to give a good independent work some limelight, for this we wanted it to be characters people have a better chance of recognizing." Combeferre sighs. "Using Marvel and DC characters was the best chance of that."
"Right." Enjolras looks down at the fabric Jehan has now finished fitting to him, having a sneaking suspicion about who he's being dressed as. "Do I get to know who I'm going to be now?"
Jehan shrugs, standing up and speaking around a mouthful of pins. "If it's not obvious now, it will be when we put the wig on."
Enjolras looks down at the emblem that Jehan has just pinned to his chest. "It's fairly obvious now."
"Such a pity we have to use a wig. You've got such gorgeous blond hair, we tried to think of someone who would fit you, but there just wasn't anyone that worked quite as well as this." Grantaire seems honestly, almost distressingly, perturbed at the thought of Enjolras in a wig.
Jehan just shrugs, continuing to mumble around his mouthful of pins. "I said we could use the Plutonian, but—"
"No." Combeferre's negation is fierce. "We are not dressing him up as the Plutonian. He's already on half a dozen government watch lists."
"The Plutonian redeems himself in the end, despite the rather brusque title of his book." Jehan shrugs, moving over to a sewing machine and taking the pins out of his mouth. "He becomes the inspiration for Superman, after all."
"We're not dressing Enjolras up as the 'inspiration' for anything. He's the original, not a clever duplicate or repaint or deconstruction." There's a firmness in Grantaire's voice that matches his suddenly-serious face. "He is not going to be the Plutonian, though Irredeemable was fascinating. He would never do the things that the Plutonian did. And he's not going to be the Sentry, because he's not crazy. He's going to be the real deal, the ideal that spawned all of the universes, the embodiment of freedom and honor, with enough mutability to survive through decades worth of changes but enough strength and fortitude and sheer perfect beauty to maintain a recognizable personality as the embodiment of love, faith, generosity, courage, and human decency."
Combeferre's smile is almost gentle as he comes and lays a hand on Grantaire's shoulder. "I think you're forgetting a few bits of the Silver Age. And some of the nineties. And, very sadly, some of Straczynski's run, because even good writers can sometimes not understand primal characters. But yes. You're right. It was a good choice."
Enjolras steps down from the stool that Jehan had him standing on, moving carefully so as not to stab himself with any of the pins, and studies himself in the mirror. The blue and red costume doesn't look quite like he remembers it looking when he saw it in the movies as a child, but there's no mistaking the S-shaped symbol in the center.
Combeferre whisks a black wig off a stack of strangely-colored hair pieces in front of the mirror and places it on Enjolras' head, tucking Enjolras' blond hair up into it until only the black strands of the wig show. A single black curl hangs down between Enjolras' eyes. "Nice work, Jean. It even does the S-curl."
"When you tell me to do something, I do it well. Especially when pictures and symbolism are involved." Jehan's grin is fierce and proud. "Bossuet as Domino, I can do—and appreciate the irony of him choosing a character with good luck as her mutant power. Feuilly as Shazaam I can do. Joly as Doctor Strange I can do, though that is one hell of a cape that the man chose. Bahorel as Orion I can do, and laugh at him making himself a god of war. You as Mr. Fantastic I can do. Grantaire as Batman I can do, though I don't understand why you didn't want to be the Green Lantern."
Grantaire shrugs. "My artwork isn't going to change the world. My imagination isn't that big. Give me a ring that runs on imagination, and my mind won't be able to think of anything to create. No, I think Batman's a much more fitting character for me, and a bit more recognizable."
Enjolras watches Grantaire as the man answers, watches the way he turns away from Enjolras and Combeferre as he speaks. He suspects there's more to Grantaire's reasoning than what he said. Perhaps he'll need to read a few more Batman comics in the future.
"It was a fun enough costume to help you with. Though now I've lost my train of thought. Oh, yes. Myself as the Scarlet Witch I can be very excited about doing." Jehan comes to stand on Enjolras' other side, studying Enjolras in the mirror. "And you as Superman, well, that just makes too much sense to possibly pass up."
The costume isn't complete. It's clearly going to take Jehan the rest of the morning and probably some of the afternoon to finish it off. But the red cape, the blue base, the unmistakable S-symbol, they're all there in loving detail.
"A very fitting choice for you." Combeferre's smile is gentle and genuine as he squeezes Enjolras' shoulder. "I do believe we outdid ourselves with this one, Grantaire."
"It wasn't that hard to come up with the idea." Grantaire shrugs, his hand hovering over the wig, over the cape, never actually touching Enjolras. "But it's worked out perfectly."
Enjolras doesn't know what to say, so he simply allows the silence to stretch, his two friends clearly enjoying and understanding things on a symbolic level that he disconcertingly can't quite reach due to a lack of knowledge.
After a half a minute or so the moment fades, though, and Enjolras turns to ask Jehan the next question that's occurred to him. "You listed everyone but Courfeyrac. Did you not help him with the costume, or—"
The door opens once more, and Courfeyrac's voice rings out from behind a metal mask. "Bow before me, Richards!"
Courfeyrac's entire body seems to be coated in either metallic plating or green fabric, and Enjolras finds himself staring in undisguised awe as he considers the amount of work that went into the costume.
"Courfeyrac." Combeferre places a hand to his forehead. "How did you even…"
Courfeyrac pulls off the faceplate, revealing a broad, infectious grin. "A piece is only as good as its villain, right? And I intend to have fun playing this villain. Besides, this way you can take me one of those comics conventions with you and show me off."
Not for the first time, Enjolras considers that his friends have strange hobbies.
They're hobbies that don't take away from their dedication to the betterment of mankind, though, hobbies that hurt no one, and clearly the stories that they love can have deep and impactful messages and morals embedded within them.
So if his friends really want him to dress up as Superman and pretend to lead a team of superheroes, he can do that.
Especially when the team he's leading is made up of his real-life superheroes, the people who have stood by his side through thick and thin, lives and deaths, and never faltered in their determination or heroism.