"I don't want to be here."
"Yes, Nova. You have made that quite clear during several of our sessions." Dr Thomas Drew sighed tiredly. I am pretty certain that I am one of his least favorite patients. I was never very cooperative but he seemed to have the patience of a saint over the past twelve months. There were times that he just spoke to me while I had refused to answer any questions he directed my way. His patience seemed to be wearing thin lately though.
My errand boy, Kane had shown up on my door step early this morning to take me to my therapy appointment with orders from Justice Girl not to take no for an answer. Natalie had been sleeping on my couch and had offered to kick both their asses for me. I had politely declined but sometimes I wondered if Kane actually worked for me or Jennifer. He seemed to be reporting to her quite a bit lately. Why is loyalty so hard to find?
"Nova, if you don't want my help, there really isn't much more I can do for you at this point." Dr Drew informed me.
"That's fine." I shrugged in response. Maybe now he would finally leave me the hell alone.
"Do you feel like you don't deserve help?" He questioned. "You lived your life dedicated to rescuing other people. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to save yourself. Feeling helpless can be one of the worst feelings in the world but asking for help is not a weakness, Nova. It's the first step to being able to stand on your own again."
"I don't get anything from these sessions. Can you tell the League that I am fine so we can both do more productive things in our time?" I snickered as I leaned back into the over stuffed couch I was sitting on. The couch had molded to my body and seemed to be trying to eat me whole. Dr Drew had gone through a lot of work to try and make his office look as cozy as possible. The furniture was fluffy and inviting. So was the shaggy white carpet that I have laid on a few times when I have refused to cooperate with him. He had several diplomas above his desk but most of the pictures on the walls were water colors of hot air balloons, calming ocean waves and lush green meadows. I think he told me once that his sister had painted them. He was currently sitting across from me with his leg crossed over the other with his notebook resting on his knee. He was wearing khakis with a white button down shirt. His outfits were very carefully selected to look professional but not too professional. He wanted to look in charge of the situation but also approachable.
He pushed his black glasses back up the bridge of his nose as he shook his head at me. "No." He answered simply.
I flipped his sturdy oak coffee table over with my powers as I angrily stood up. Pink energy surged around my hands.
My therapist didn't even flinch. "Your temper is getting worse, Nova. Have you been taking your medication?"
"What does my medication even do?"
"It controls your moods." He informed me. "It also helps with your anxiety."
"I feel fine."
"Nova... I just witnessed one of your outbursts. Do you really feel fine or are you angry?" He questioned.
I let the energy sizzle away. " ...okay, I recognize that I shouldn't have flipped your table." I grabbed onto it's legs as I tried to put it back right side up. It was actually quite heavy.
Dr Drew watched me struggle with it. "How often do you lash out without thinking about your actions?"
"In the last 24 hours?" I muttered to myself as I finally got the table back where it belonged.
"What have you been up to in the last 24 hours?" Dr Drew questioned as he clearly heard what I had mumbled. "Jennifer tells me that recently you've been outside your apartment for the first time in months."
"Uh, Taco Bell..." I shrugged innocently. "Are we done now?"
He let out a frustrated sigh. He had apparently thought that we had been going somewhere with that line of dialogue. "Alright, Nova, let's make a deal."
"What kind of deal?" I questioned suspiciously.
"If you tell me about one of the topics you refuse to speak about, then you won't have to see me for a month. How does that sound?" He offered as he gestured for me to sit back down.
I adjusted the table one last time so it was perfectly straight before sitting now. "I won't have to see you for a month?"
"You seem to be on some sort of path of self-discovery. I think going out and finding out things on your own will be good for you. I don't want to hinder your progress." He explained.
"You just want me to relive the most traumatic event in my life? Yeah, that sounds progressive." I rolled my eyes.
"Nova, there is no question that you keep a lot bottled inside. I want to help you release some of the burdens and pain that you carry with you. You can either talk about Desmond-"
"No." I interrupted quickly. I felt a sick sensation at just the thought of it.
"Okay. We don't need to talk about that today. What about the end of your rein as Dark Starburst?"
I flickered pink energy in my hands as felt the tidal wave of anxiety sweep over me. "I don't-"
"What topic would you like to talk about, Nova?" He interrupted my protest.
I shrugged as I look down into the energy flickering in my hands. I was hoping that if I didn't answer then he would just drop it and I could go home.
"Nova, the question isn't going to just go away this time." He informed me. "I am giving you the choice of topic."
"Okay..." I replied softly. "Let's talk about the fall of Dark Starburst."
I leaned against the ledge of the balcony as I watched the city that I had once loved and protected burn below me. All of the emergency services of the city were in complete disarray after my attacks on League Headquarters and various other city buildings. It would take a while for them to get reorganized. I almost felt sorry for them. Well, no, not really. I should have felt sorry for them. I should have felt bad for the things that I had done. I recognized that. I just didn't care. If anything, I felt amusement at their torment.
The autumn night was brisk and I pulled my long white fur jacket closer around my shoulders. I didn't know what I had been missing when I had been vegan. I guess, I had really liked bunnies or something. Whatever. Angora fur felt so good against my naked skin.
Lazarus wrapped his arms around my waist from behind and roughly nipped at my neck. "Come back to bed." He growled in my ear.
I rolled my eyes but allowed him to paw at me. I was indifferent at best towards Lazarus. He was currently useful to me and worshiped the ground I walked on because I had freed him from Desmond's mind prison. My former boyfriend was too choked up at the loss of my former self to put up much of a fight against his alter-ego. It looked like Lazarus was here to stay. He was just as intelligent as Desmond but liked to make fun toys instead of trying to save mankind or whatever the hell it was Desmond did all day. The only issue was that Lazarus was created from the greed and lust of men. He was constantly touching me. It was super annoying. I also knew better then to completely trust him. If it was in his best interests, he would betray me. I was going to have to get rid of him when he was no longer useful.
He grinded up against me so I would know what he had to offer, as if I didn't already know. "I have a present for you." He told me.
"I am sure you do..." I muttered. I stopped mid-eye roll as he dangled a set of small electronic remotes on a Starburst logo key chain by my face. They looked like the key-less start remotes that are used for vehicles. I made a grab for them and he quickly pulled them from my reach. Star energy flared up in my hands as my temper surged. Fear flickered across his face as I turned to face him. He realized that he had just messed up by denying me something I wanted and quickly tossed me the keys.
I caught them midair. "What are these?" I demanded.
"You asked me to make you doomsday machines. That's what I did, my dark angel." He winked at me. "But in return-"
I let out a huff of annoyance, partially at his possessive pet name for me and partially at his audacity to ask me for something in return.
"Relax, it's nothing too crazy. Before you completely destroy headquarters, I want to get inside. The machine Desmond used to create me is in there. With a few adjustments, I can be rid of him permanently." He informed me.
I shrugged with indifference. I could care less about the struggle between Desmond and Lazarus but I suppose Desmond could cause problems for me if he were to gain control again. It would probably be best to prevent that from becoming an issue.
"Fine." I agreed. "I guess I can start my demolition of the city with the town hall."
"Have I ever told you how sexy you are when you plotting?" He smirked at me. "You are so much hotter then your previous self."
"Flattery will get you...well, everywhere." I winked as I wrapped my arms around him and kissed him roughly. He shoved the fur jacket off from my shoulders as he picked me up and carried me back into his bedroom.
About an hour later I was sitting on the front steps of City Hall sipping on a glass of red wine as I watched Lazarus's doomsday devices ravage the city around me. He did good work. They were large jellyfish looking robots with some major War of the World vibes going on. Their weapons of destruction ranged from lasers to flamethrowers. It was enough to make a girl shiver. After leading a life of innocent ignorant bliss, who knew that mass chaos and screams of the innocent would be such a huge turn on?
Justice Girl squealed up in her sports car half parking on the street and half parking on the sidewalk in front of me. She didn't seem to be too concerned with parking violations at the moment. Flare was in the passenger seat beside her and they both jumped out of the car before it was fully in park.
"Nova! Stop this!" Justice Girl commanded. Her words dripped with raw emotion. Dark circles lined her eyes like a panda. She had apparently not been getting much sleep. I had never seen anything more pathetic in my life. I didn't understand how we could have possibly been best friends. My former self had terrible taste in friends and well, let's be honest, everything.
"But I am having so much fun." I smirked as I took a sip of my wine and basked in the glory of Auburn City's destruction.
"This isn't you!" She pleaded with a trembling lip.
"Oh my god. Are you going to cry?" I snickered at her. "You are beyond pathetic, you know that?" I rolled my eyes. "You both are."
"At least we don't get our clothes from a fetish shop." Flare muttered at me. Her voice sounded flat like she was trying to keep her emotions at bay.
"Oh, burn." I rolled my eyes as I set my wine aside and stood up. I knew that she was jealous of me and of how much hotter I looked that she did. She could never pull off the black leather cat suit that I was wearing. It was tight against my curves and I had it zipped down pretty low. If you have it, flaunt it, right? I think I used to be kind of self conscious, probably from the years of having my mind molded like Play Dough by the League. I didn't understand how I could have been so self conscious though, especially with the idiots I had worked with. I was better then them in every way. Overall the League had been holding me back. I had plans to permanently solve that problem.
"We can help you, Nova." Jennifer pleaded. "We know that Switch altered your personality. This isn't who you are. Let us help you. We can turn you back into who you used to be."
I just raised an eyebrow at her. "Why would I want that? She was weak. No, this-" I flared up my star energy in my hands. "This is who I was meant to be."
Justice Girl bit her lip and looked over at Flare. With a sad sigh, Flare fired up silvery flames in her hands. "We don't want to fight you." She told me.
"I wouldn't want to fight me either." I agreed.
"Nova, you are my best friend." Jennifer seemed to barely be keeping it together. "It's not too late to fix this. If we could just-" She yelped out as my star bolt threw her off her feet.
"You talk way too damn much." I informed her.
Natalie tossed a ball of fire at me in retaliation and I blocked it easily with a shield of star power. I blocked the series of fiery punches that she sent my way. I gracefully sidestepped her fury and punched her hard in the face with a star powered fist. She fell hard to the ground spitting out a mouthful of blood along the way down.
I blocked a public bench that Jennifer threw my way. I tossed it back into her with a burst of power. It slammed into her, throwing her into the street.
Flare was struggling to get back up onto her feet. I kicked her hard across the face and heard a satisfying cracking sound. I pressed out with a shield of star energy and pressed it down against her chest pinning her to the ground. She screamed out as I put more and more pressure against her ribs and vital organs.
"Nova! Stop it!" She pleaded with a sharp whimper. If she could still scream and beg, I obviously wasn't applying enough pressure. I pressed down harder and focused on adding more heat to the star energy.
I yelped out as Justice Girl tackled me hard into the ground at the waist. She grabbed my arms to try and point my powers away from her.
"Get off me, bitch!" I snarled out at her as I kicked and bucked under her like a wild bronco to no avail. Her super human grip on me was like a vice.
"Nova..." Tears glimmered in her eyes as she shook her head. "It's okay. Everything is going to be okay. There is a cure in progress. We are going to be able to change you back."
"No. You aren't." I informed her before biting her hard on her arm. She let out a surprised yelp as she lost her grip on me. I slammed my elbow up into her face and shoved her off from me. Before she could recover I rolled over on top of her and hit her in the face with a star powered fist. I ignored her whimpers and pleas as I hit her several more times in the face. Once I grew bored of this I wrapped my hands around her throat, pressing with my star energy. I kept my hold as she struggled in my grip, watching as the light dimmed in her eyes.
"No! Please! Nova, don't do this!" Flare pleaded out with a sob. She was struggling to get up but I had done some damage to her ribs. She was forced to watch from just barely out of reach as I slowly choked Jennifer.
I let out a yelp of surprise as I was thrown off from Justice Girl by a ball of red energy similar to mine.
"This... is different..." Scarlet Strike commented with a concerned frown. She was wearing her usual red uniform with a large gun slung over her shoulder. Gun? Since when has she ever used a weapon?
"Scarlet, if you want to join my crew, you are going to have to submit a resume like everybody else." I informed her as I rose back up to my feet.
"That is a tempting offer but I am going to have to pass." She rolled her eyes. "Completely obliterating the city is a little much for me."
"I guess that's the difference between a villain and super villain." I informed her. "Why don't you go hold up some convenience stores or something before the city is completely demolished?"
Scarlet Strike rolled her eyes again. "Ironically, I am here with the League. They offered me some cash to resolve this situation."
"The League?" I scoffed. "Did they lower their standards and finally accept a lowlife like you?"
She shrugged as she lowered her gun from her shoulder. I now saw that it was some kind of ray gun. "Desmond actually vouched for me. He knew that I would be the only one that could get close to you."
"Desmond?" I snickered as I watched her power up the ray gun. Whatever it was, I was just going to block it and throw it back at her. "Desmond is dead."
"Actually, he took control of Lazarus as soon as they entered Liberty League Headquarters. He finished up this ray gun made from Switch's DNA or something and then sent for me." She shrugged. "Honestly, I was considering leaving you as you are but... holy shit." She shook her head as she looked at Justice Girl laying on the ground making harsh breathing sounds. I had probably at the very least partially crushed her windpipe.
"That's adorable. Are you loosing your nerve, Scarlet?" I snickered in return. "You were too weak to be a hero and you are too weak to be a villain. Maybe you should just shoot yourself with that ray gun. It would be an improvement."
She grit her teeth at that as I struck a nerve. She opened her mouth to respond but changed her mind and looked down at the gun as it made a slight beeping noise. It was apparently fired up and ready to go. I wasn't worried though. Desmond had put it together in made twenty minutes. Most likely it was going to just backfire into Scarlet's hands.
I blocked out with my star shield as soon as she fired it at me. The shield held for a moment before shattering back into me. I was knocked off my feet as the green plasma from the ray gun slammed me in the chest. I let out a scream as a sharp burning sensation ripped through my body. The burn spread deeper then just my body. I felt it scorch my very core. It ripped me apart yet once again. All of the pieces of me that had already been shattered and rearranged once, shattered again and were clumsily glued back together. I knew some pieces were missing or put back on wrong. I was missing pieces of myself that I would never get back. Once a mirror is broken the pieces can be put back together but the cracks will always be there.
The hatred melted away and was replaced with regret and shame. Compassion and guilt replaced my vanity and selfishness. The complete disregard that I previously had towards everyone else was unbearable to even think about. My knuckles were bleeding and couldn't even imagine using them against my friends... but I had see it all too well. The whole thing felt like a bad dream. The memories were mine but they were surreal, like waking in the middle of a dream and walking the line between what was real and what wasn't.
Scarlet pointed the ray gun at me as she nudged me with her foot. "Nova?" She questioned.
"Hannah, I don't actually think you are weak..." I told her quietly.
"Starburst, welcome back." She sounded pleased with herself.
"Are they...?" I couldn't bring myself to look at what I had done to my best friends. I couldn't even find the strength to get up off the ground.
"They are going to be okay." She told me gently. It kind of worried me how nice my archenemy was being. Her heart had either grown three sizes or I had really screwed up. Well, you tried to murder your friends, destroy the city, nearly killed Hyena and had done unspeakable things to your boyfriend. "Really screwed up" is an understatement. I sneered harshly at myself. The reality of what I had done slammed into me like a car crash. I started to sob and I didn't stop for a very long time.
"Is that how you feel, Nova?" Dr Drew questioned. He had remained quiet and listened intently to my story in it's entirety. "You feel like you are broken?"
"I am not who I used to be." I informed him from behind a pillow that I had buried my face into mid-story.
"You have been through a lot." He replied as he reached out and yanked the pillow away from me. "You had your personality ripped from you and rearranged then given back. It's understandable you are having a crisis of identity but Dark Starburst is gone. You are Nova and the path that you choose is your own. You are mourning the loss of who you claim you once were but life experiences change us. You are not dead. You have a lot to live for. You have a lot of people that care about you. You wouldn't even be here today if Jennifer didn't force you to go to your sessions. It's because she cares about your well-being."
"I know..." I replied quietly with sigh. "It's just... hard..." I finished lamely.
"I know it is. It's going to take some time."
"No. Seeing Jennifer. Every time I see that scar on her face... knowing what I did to her...I just...can't..." I told him softly. I closed my eyes as I felt tears well up.
"That scar is a symbol of something that she survived. Something that you both survived." He replied back. "Your scars are just less visible then hers."
"I guess that's true..."
"You can focus on the scars and focus on the past or you can look to the future. You both went through a very traumatic experience that you both survived. Shunning Jennifer away isn't going to make your hurt any less. She is an ally, not an enemy." He told me sternly. "You should talk to her. She is your best friend."
"I know... I have been bonding with N-...uh, Flare lately." I almost used her real name. I had doctor-patient confidentiality going but I still wasn't going to reveal her name to him. That wasn't my secret to tell. "She has been having boyfriend issues and we have been getting along lately. I thought she hated me so it's kind of weird but I don't know, I can kind of relax around her. Sometimes with Jennifer we tried too hard to be our superhero personas and it's kind of a lot of pressure to always be a good person."
"You can be yourself around Flare." He concluded.
"I can be myself around Jennifer too. It's just different..." I tried to explain.
He nodded with understanding. "Different people can bring out different sides of your personality."
"Can that be bad?" I questioned.
"What do you mean?"
"What if you spend a lot time around bad people, like I don't know... villains?" I questioned innocently. I didn't like the way Hyena had been stroking my temper lately.
"Have you been hanging around villains?" He wanted to know.
"Well, no but... Hyena has been in contact lately..."
"I see." Dr Drew's lips were in a tight line and I couldn't judge his expression. He didn't sound happy but I wasn't entirely certain if he was upset with me or not.
"At one point he pissed me off to the point of nearly killing him. He has always been able to push my buttons but lately... It's a lot worse..." I explained.
"Excuse my language, but Hyena is a manipulative son of a bitch. Angering you to the point of no return is what he wants. I doubt he wants you to actually kill him but there is a line that if you cross there is no going back. He wants to bring you down to his level where he can control you. It's no secret that his is obsessed with you." Dr Drew told me sternly. He sounded genuinely concerned. "Next time you hear from him, you need to tell the League."
"I can handle Hyena." I snorted.
"I don't doubt that but there is no reason for you to risk your sanity with the games he plays. You are not alone in this. You are never alone, Nova. You have the rest of your team and the rest of the League. You don't have to always face the world on your own." He replied.
"Hyena suggested that you have been sedating me." I informed him. "He also seems to have access to all of my personal files. How does that happen?"
"I haven't given you sedatives in a while. In the beginning you were suicidal and with you being a powerful super, I didn't really have any other options to keep you from hurting yourself. I have weened you off from them though. As I told you earlier, what I give you now is for the moods and anxiety. You do have your sleeping pills for night as well. As for him having your files... I apologize. We had a data leak. It's been taken care of but your files were duplicated. No one else's, just yours." This was the first time I had ever heard an angry tone in his voice. He sounded pissed, which was the appropriate response. The leak could cost him all of integrity as a therapist for supers.
"Why is this the first I am hearing about this?" I demanded.
"The leak was at the League and the director didn't want you to know about it. He was afraid that with your anxiety, it would do you more harm then good. It didn't appear to be leaked to the media so I went along with his demands but since you brought it up I am going to give you a truthful answer. I have never told you anything but the truth, Nova." He told me.
"Do they know it was Hyena?" I questioned.
"Justice Girl was part of the investigation. You might want to ask her." He shrugged. "Last I knew though was that a minor thief had stolen it on a contract. They sold it to the middleman and never actually knew who the client was."
"Well, this explains a lot..." I muttered unhappily.
"I am sorry..." Dr Drew readjusted his glasses. I have noticed that it's something he does when he is uncomfortable. "It looks like it was mostly medical records and the media from your hearings. Everything from our sessions are physical notes that I take and sometimes audio. None of that was in the servers that were broken into. All that came from my end on there are your progress reports to the League and your prescriptions. Everything that you say to me, stays strictly between me and you."
"It's still not exactly comforting knowing that my arch-nemesis knows all about my anxiety, night terrors and post traumatic stress." I grumble. "But I guess those aren't very deep secrets at this point..."
"You have nothing to be ashamed of. You have made a lot of progress since the first time we met." Dr Drew replied. "And if Hyena is giving you a hard time about it, send him my way and I will punch him in the throat."
I let out a loud laugh of surprise. I had never heard him say anything like that.
"There's that smile. I almost believed that it was something that only existed in pictures." He smiled softly at me. "Well, that's about it for our time today. I will see you in a month. You are welcome to come in sooner though or call me if you need to." He stood up from his chair and offered me his hand to help me out of the couch I was embedded in. "I very strongly advise you to keep your distance from Hyena and to contact the League if you need help."
"Okay." I humored him as he lead me to the door.
"I will try to stay away from him." I agreed.
As I left Dr Drew's office I saw that I had several missed calls from Hyena. Well, avoiding my enemies was clearly working out.