Written for Femslash February, which is being hosted primarily on tumblr. All characters are owned by Pixar/Disney. Thanks go to my friend Elo for acting as beta.
Confront the problem! Fight! Win!
You shouldn't need a mantra just to make a phone call, but it's not just any mantra and this isn't just any phone call. Her voice sounds in your mind, fierce, harsh, confidant. Pull yourself together, she'd say, imperious as a Goddess. Are you a hero or aren't you?
You are. Or you were. You will be again, if Bob and the kids have their way. You're not sure you want them to have it their way. Bob might get lost in the thrill of it, the adrenaline high that comes from doing good deeds and saving people, but you remember the aftermath. You remember getting hurt, getting tired, getting beaten. You remember all the times you weren't fast enough, weren't strong enough, weren't smart enough. You remember being twenty-one and thinking yourself on top of the world, and you remember being twenty-four and watching it crumble beneath you. (You remember being twenty-eight and standing for hours at the altar, feeling stupider by the second and trying hard not to hear the murmured condolences of the guests as they trickled out.)
You don't want that life for your kids. You want Dash and Violet to grow up normal, to get into good schools, to meet the people of their dreams and live their lives without worrying about powers or secret identities or impossible responsibilities. You were overjoyed when Jack-Jack seemed power-free and it took all your willpower not to try and strangle Bob when he complained about it.
The phone feels heavy in your hand as you start to dial. You almost wish you had to pause to remember the number, but your fingers move across the number pad almost of their own volition. Too soon it's ringing on the other end. You reach across the room and make double sure the door's locked; the kids are at school and Bob's at work, but you learned paranoia early and had it reinforced often.
It rings once, twice, three times. Maybe she's out? Maybe she's busy? (Maybe she knows why you're calling and is too disgusted with you to pick up.)
"Who is it?"
Your heart seems to skip a beat at the sound of her sharp voice. "It's me. Helen."
You should have known she'd do that. She always does. You're not sure why you bother anymore. (She hates normality as much as Bob. Somehow on her it's less infuriating.)
"Darling!" You manage to keep your grip on the phone as her voice increases significantly in volume. "What can I do for you?"
Now or never. She can hear you do it, but you take a deep breath anyway. "I was wondering... that is do you want... are you free on Friday?" God, you sound even less self-assured than Violet. You probably shouldn't think that kind of thing about one of your kids but this is just embarrassing. You're a grown woman, a super.
There's a pause. You hold your breath, uncomfortably aware of your own heartbeat.
"Is there a problem with Robert?"
The question stings like an accusation and you flinch. "Not exactly."
"You wish for a girls' night out?" The disgust with which she says the last three words would illicit admiration from you if you weren't too busy being convinced that this is the worst decision you've ever made.
"Just a conversation. You know, between friends. It's been a while since we've chatted; I was just wondering how you'd been. But you're probably busy. You're always busy. Never mind. I'll just..."
"I will be in Paris on Friday. I'll expect you at Le Meurice at seven."
"E, I can't get to Paris by Friday!"
"Nonsense. It'll be good for you. Get out of the house. See the world. Let someone else pay for dinner."
"I will be waiting. Until Friday darling."
She hangs up. You stare at the phone, breath coming too quickly. The front door slams closed and Dash's voice rings through the entire house. "I'm hoooooome!"
You take a deep breath, letting it out slowly. "I'll be right out," you call back. No more stalling. You hang the phone back up, forcibly relaxing your shoulders and molding your face into a neutral expression. Putting on a show of being all right for the kids is something you learned as soon as Vi could distinguish between facial expressions.
"Mom, I'm hungry!" Dash yells. "Can I have a sandwich?"
"No you may not," you yell back, emerging from the office and hurrying to the kitchen before he takes matters into his own hands. "There's fruit on the table."
"You know the rules. No snacking before dinner."
"I won't ruin my appetite, I promise!"
You run through the familiar argument more or less on auto-pilot, still distracted by the earlier conversation. Do you even have anything to wear to a 5-star restaurant in Paris? There's that little black dress you let Honey talk you into buying years ago. It might still fit.
He sighs, an impressively long suffering sigh that he seems to have picked up from Violet. "If I die from hunger before dinner it'll be all your fault."
"You're not going to die. How was school?"
He shrugs, dropping his backpack on the ground. "All right. Coach said if my grades stay up I can run anchor at State."
"Congratulations!" You move to ruffle his hair and he leans away, face contorting into an expression of disgust. You laugh, letting your hand drop back to your side. "I'm sure you won't want to neglect your homework then, will you?"
"Glad to hear it. Finish quick and you can help me make dinner. How does pizza sound?"
His eyes light up. "That sounds great!" he says enthusiastically. "Can I have some crackers now? I'll study better if I'm not hungry."
"No Dash," you say, shaking your head affectionately. "Have an apple."
He sighs again but grabs an apple anyway and bites into it with gusto. You hover over him long enough to make sure that he actually starts his homework then head towards your room. You have a dress to try on.