Source material: Worm, Insinuation 2.1
Originally blogged: February 18, 2017
Alright, let’s do this thing. Time to find out what the second arc is called!
Insinuation? Interesting. What is going to be insinuated, and by whom? I guess it could be referring to the Bitches making some nasty comment about Taylor? I don’t know.
Let’s read and maybe find out!
I woke to the muffled sound of the radio in the bathroom. Reaching over to my alarm clock, I turned it around. 6:28. Which made today a weekday like any other. My alarm was set for six thirty, but I almost never needed it, because my dad was always in the shower at the same time. Routines defined us.
Time to deal with the fact that most heroes need sleep too. Arguably even more so than most people, actually; one of the downsides of running around on rooftops all night.
And so do dads who stay up at night worrying about their missing daughter. Arguably even more so than most dads; one of the downsides of worrying about your daughter all night.
Basically I expect both Taylor and Danny to be making this expression by the breakfast table.
As a wave of fatigue swept over me, I wondered if I might be sick. It took me a few moments of staring up at the ceiling to remember the events of last night.
“Oh right, I stayed up late and fought a supervillain.”
Small wonder I was tired. I had gotten home, snuck inside and gone to bed at close to three thirty, just three hours ago. With all that had happened, I hadn’t slept those full three hours, either.
Yeah, I can imagine she’d have a lot to think about that night.
I forced myself out of bed. As a slave to my routine, it would be wrong to do otherwise.
It would probably make Danny even more worried, too. At least he’d know you were up late, though.
I made myself change into sweats and walk down to the kitchen sink to wash my face, fighting to keep awake.
I really like the use of wording that has to do with coercion here. It really captures the feeling of being sleepy as fuck and still having to do stuff.
I was sitting at the kitchen table, pulling on my sneakers, when my dad came downstairs in his bathrobe.
I wonder if Taylor’s going to notice right away that Danny is about as sleepy as she is, and if Danny is going to clue her into the fact that he was awake when she came home.
My dad is not what you’d call an attractive man. Beanpole thin, weak chin, thinning dark hair that was on the cusp of baldness, big eyes and glasses that magnified those eyes further.
You need to work on your pitch if you want a step-mom.
Incidentally, I don’t actually imagine Danny as Danny DeVito, like I may have seemed to imply in the Interlude – he’s too “beanpole thin” for that, and the personality doesn’t seem right. The hair and the name do make me think of him, though.
As he entered the kitchen, he looked surprised to see me there. That’s just the way my dad always looked: constantly bewildered.
…He more and more reminds me of a teacher at my school, actually.
In this case, he might be surprised that she’s awake enough to beat him to the table.
That, and a little defeated.
“You’ve won the race this time, kid.”
Poor Danny. Worried, helpless, missing his wife, just trying to get through life and help his daughter do the same.
“Good morning, kiddo,” he said, entering the kitchen and leaning down to kiss the crown of my head.
Both, internally: “You have no idea how much I want to go back to bed right now.”
He was already stepping towards the fridge as I replied. He looked over his shoulder, “A little glum?”
“You sound down,” he said.
I shook my head, “Tired. I didn’t sleep well.”
Of course, Danny knows exactly why Taylor is sleepy. He’s testing the waters here, seeing how much she’s willing to volunteer, without implying that he knows anything.
There was the slap of bacon hitting the frying pan. It was sizzling by the time he spoke, “You know, you could go back to bed, sleep in for another hour or so. You don’t have to go on your run.”
He just wants the best for his daughter, and if he thinks that’s another hour of sleep, he’s going to suggest that.
So the routine is get up, breakfast, go for the daily run (did she mention that it was in the mornings when it was first brought up?), then school. I guess those runs are rather long if cutting it gives her an entire hour.
Or maybe I’m just a lazy sack of potatoes.
I smiled. It was equal parts annoying and sweet, that my dad hated me running. He worried about my safety, and couldn’t turn down a chance to drop hints that I should stop, or be safer, or join a gym.
Oh right, there’s that too. I’m glad Taylor understands her dad’s motivation, at least.
I wasn’t sure if he’d worry more or less if I told him about my powers.
Well. It might make him worry less about those runs…
“You know I do, dad. If I don’t go today, it’ll be that much harder to make myself get up and do it tomorrow.”
Slave to routine.
“You’ve got the, uh…”
“I’ve got the tube of pepper spray in my pocket,” I said. He bobbed his head in acknowledgement.
“bobbed” just makes me think of Bobblehead figurines, and I can’t help but imagine Danny as a giant Bobblehead right now.
That said, I think Danny has more on his mind right now than just pepper spray.
It was only moments later that I realized I didn’t have it. The pepper spray was with my costume, in the coal chute in the basement. I felt a pang of guilt at realizing I’d lied to my dad.
Not really a lie if you forgot you weren’t telling the truth. As far as I’m concerned, a lie has to be intentional and said with awareness of the falsehood.
As for lies of omission… Well, the concept is a very human one.
“O.J.?” he asked.
“I’ll get it,” I said, heading to the fridge for the orange juice.
Oh, huh. I wasn’t expecting it to actually be orange juice; I thought it was another safety thing Danny was asking if Taylor had ready for her run.
…but yeah, bring something to drink.
While I was at the fridge, I also grabbed some applesauce.
How come “applesauce” doesn’t have a space in it? I don’t mean just here in Worm – I don’t think anywhere I’ve seen the word had it spelled “apple sauce”.
As a speaker of a language where all correctly spelled compounds are in one word like that, I’m not complaining about it. It just seems… inconsistent. Which I guess is a word that characterizes the English language in a lot of ways.
As I returned to the table, my dad slapped some french toast on the frying pan to join the bacon. The room filled with the aroma of the cooking food. I helped myself to the applesauce.
“You know Gerry?” my dad asked.
Hm, new character? Last name Attrix?
“You met him once or twice when you’ve visited me at work. Big guy, burly, Black Irish?”
While this can’t be him due to the race difference, the description of Gerry as big and burly made me think of the fact that people like Lung and the Mozart would have civilian identities too. Anyone around you could be a superhero, but they could also be a supervillain.
Shrugging again, I took a bite of french toast. My dad was part of the Dockworkers Association, as the Union spokesperson and head of hiring.
No wonder the layoffs hit him hard.
With the state of the Docks being what they were, that meant my dad was pretty much in charge of telling everyone that there were no jobs to be had, day after day.
Damn, what a harsh job for someone like Danny. Continuing the trend of being in positions where he sees pain and can’t help.
“Rumor’s going around he found work. Guess with who.”
Um, let’s take a guess… The supe store, selling parahuman costumes for a living?
“Dunno,” I said, around a mouthful of food.
“He’s going to be one of Über and Leet’s henchmen.”
Those are some interesting names. Über means “Over” and carries similar connotations to “super” (which also means “over”), and the name of the “Leet” internet subculture comes from “elite”, so I guess these two have high thoughts about themselves.
Not sure how to feel about the word “henchmen”, because in this world, Danny could well be literal here: Über and Leet could be a duo of supervillains, with rumors circulating that Gerry has decided to join them as a henchman.
WHY ARE YOU BUYING COSTUMES AT THE SUPE STORE
I raised my eyebrows. Über and Leet were local villains with a video game theme. They were pretty much as incompetent as villains could be while staying out of jail. They barely even rated as B-list.
Oh hell yes, incompetent villains! Competent villains are great, but there’s a lot of fun to be had with incompetent ones.
“They going to make him wear a uniform? Bright primary colors, Tron style?”
My dad chuckled, “Probably.”
That’s not how I remember Tron outfits…
Yeah, black with neon lines… That are admittedly in bright primary colors, I’ll give you that one.
“We’re supposed to talk about how the powers thing has influenced our lives in class today. Maybe I’ll mention that.”
“The powers thing” certainly is a way to describe it.
I guess we’re in for a serious round of “lies of omission”, but I doubt that’s gonna be a problem for Taylor.
We ate in silence for a minute or two.
“I heard you come in late last night,” he said.
Oh man, the charades are over on Danny’s side, at least partially. Let’s see how Taylor handles this.
I just gave him a small nod and took another bite of french toast, even as my heart rate tripled and my mind searched for excuses.
Taylor, externally: “Ah, yes, quite.”
Taylor, internally: “SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT”
“Like I said,” I finally opened my mouth, looking down at my plate, “I just couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t get my thoughts to settle down. I got out of bed and tried pacing, but it didn’t help, so I stepped outside and walked around the neighborhood.”
Unfortunately, Taylor doesn’t know that Danny is aware of when she left the house in the first place. And now Danny will know that she’s lying, at least in part, because of course it doesn’t take three hours to walk around the neighborhood.
I wasn’t totally lying. I’d had nights like that. Last night just hadn’t been one of them, and I had gone walking around the neighborhood, even if it was in a different way than I’d implied.
Lies that are close to the truth are easier to maintain, or at least to rationalize, but you’re already busted.
“Christ, Taylor,” my father answered, “This isn’t the kind of area where you can walk around in the middle of the night.”
But of course Danny doesn’t want to tell her that he knows more. As he sees it, he’d risk alienating her further if he started prying too much.
“I had the pepper spray,” I protested, lamely. That wasn’t a lie, at least.
“What if you get caught off guard? What if the guy has a knife, or a gun?” my father asked.
Or the ability to grow armor and control fire?
Honestly, it’s a wonder Danny doesn’t seem to have thought of that possibility.
Or pyrokinesis and the ability to grow armor plating and claws?
I JUST MADE THAT JOKE
I felt a little knot of ugliness in the pit of my stomach at my father’s concern for me. It was all the more intense because it was so justified. I had almost died last night.
Danny is right; it’s a dangerous city. And that’s a lot more real to Taylor all of a sudden, now that she’s personally fought one of the forces making it that dangerous.
“What’s going on, that has you so anxious you can’t sleep?” he questioned me.
That’s the other drawback of her explanation – by claiming she couldn’t sleep, she invites the question of why she couldn’t sleep. Especially if she tries to use that excuse more than once.
Also, I like the use of “questioned” instead of “asked”. It subtly gives the reader the feeling of an interrogation, and through that, indicates how Taylor feels about the question.
“School,” I said, swallowing around a lump in my throat, “Friends, the lack thereof.”
“It’s not better?” he asked, carefully stepping around the elephant in the room, the bullies.
Those pesky elephants always gotta stand in the way of the TV.
I think it’s good that they’re talking about this, even if it’s only as an excuse and a diversion tactic.
If it was, I wouldn’t be having problems, would I? I just gave him a one shoulder shrug and forced myself to take another bite of french toast. My shoulder twinged a little as it made the bruises from last night felt.
I wonder if the Protectorate has an anonymity-friendly doctor’s/healer’s office for heroes. Either way, Taylor should probably get that shoulder looked at – these painful shrugs are getting frequent.
As much as I didn’t feel like eating, I knew my stomach would be growling at me before lunch if I didn’t. That was even without accounting for the energy I burned running, let alone the escapades of last night.
There’s a saying here in Norway that goes “Without food and drink, the hero isn’t good enough.”
…it sounds better in Norwegian, with a rhyme and a single word for “to be good enough”. Point is it specifically mentions “the hero”. Gotta eat, Taylor!
When my dad realized I didn’t have an answer for him, he resumed eating. He only had one bite before he put his fork down again with a clink on the plate.
“No more going out in the middle of the night,” he said, “Or I’m putting a bell on the doors.”
That’s fair. And honestly, there’s probably more use for daytime heroes anyway. Not all villains run around at night, and I’d imagine the number of daytime villains would increase with the hero presence at nighttime.
Then again, Taylor has a nighttime hero aesthetic.
He would, too. I just nodded and promised myself I would be more careful. When I had come in, I had been so tired and sore that I hadn’t given any thought to the click of the door, the rattle of the lock or the creaks of floorboards that were older than me.
Forbidding something just makes some people get more creative about doing it anyway.
Also, she still doesn’t realize that he caught her on the way out too.
“Okay,” I said, adding, “I’m sorry.” Even with that, I felt a twinge of guilt. My apology was sincere in feeling, but I was making it with the knowledge that I would probably do the same thing again. It felt wrong.
The problem with secret heroics, besides the danger: the web of lies.
He gave me a smile that seemed almost like an unspoken ‘I’m sorry too’.
But for what, exactly? We know Danny has a lot of things he’s sorry about – there’s not doing anything with the bullies, there’s the way he just had to threaten to put an alarm bell on the door, there’s how he might feel like he’s prying too much… There’s “I’m sorry” of sympathy for Taylor’s problems, there’s “I’m sorry” of guilt over interrogating her over it…
“I’m sorry too.”
I think it might be for all of those things.
I finished off my plate and stood up to put it in the sink and run water over it.
“Going on your run?”
“Yeah,” I said, put my dishes in the beaten up old dishwasher and bent down to give my dad a hug on my way to the door.
What isn’t old in this house, other than Taylor and the food?
“Taylor, have you been smoking?”
I shook my head.
“Your hair is, uh, burnt. At the ends, there.”
Ahaha! Explain this one away, Taylor!
I thought back to the previous night. Getting hit in the back by one of Lung’s blasts of flame.
Shrugging, I suggested, “Stove, maybe?”
That’s about the least believable answer you could’ve given that’s still somewhat reasonable.
Danny is probably thinking that the Bitch Trio set fire to her hair with a lighter or something.
“Be safe,” my dad said, emphasizing each word. I took that as my cue to go, heading out the side door and breaking into an all out run the moment I was past the chain link gate at the side of the house.
I think Danny knows he won’t get a straight answer out of Taylor, and he understands that there’s more to it. And if Taylor won’t tell him what it is she’s been up to, then at least he can remind her to be safe while she does it. It’s the one moral he can impart, the one thing he can do for her with the limited information he has.
End of Insinuation 2.1
That was a largely uneventful chapter, but an important one regardless. We got to see the confrontation between sleepy Taylor and sleepy Danny, and watch how they interact when Taylor has something to hide and Danny knows that.
The breakfast was somewhat awkward on both sides – which is exactly how it should be in this situation – but it was also filled with love. Everything we’ve seen Danny do so far is motivated by love for his daughter, and it’s readily apparent that Taylor really appreciates her old man in return. We see it, for instance, in how bad she feels about lying to him, and how she finds his concern for her runs “annoying and sweet”.
Danny remains one of my favorite characters so far.
In the next chapter, I’m guessing we’ll start off with the daily run, if we don’t skip straight to high school drama town. See you there!