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Mystery Workings

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Oregon - 2011

"I'm writing a Promethea story for Yuletide," Jessica said to her roommate.

Danica put her finger in her copy of the sixth Ultimate Spider-Man trade and looked up over the top of the pages at Jessica. They were perched on opposite ends of the huge green couch they'd lugged home from Goodwill last spring, Jessica curled up with her netbook on her knees and Danica sitting up against the armrest. "Alan Moore's book?"


"Mmm," Danica said noncommittally.

Jessica raised an eyebrow. "What, you don't like Promethea?"

"I found it a little, you know. Woo-woo." Danica turned back to her book. "I mean, it was nice, the art was gorgeous, but it kinda felt... I dunno. It didn't click for me."

"Well, it clicked for me," Jessica said. She put her hands back on the keyboard. "I just hope I can do it justice."

New York - 1939

Bill gasped into his pillow and closed his eyes against the pain. He'd heard tell it got easier with practice, getting fucked, but he'd never found that. It just got that he needed it more, if he waited too long. He hissed between his teeth and arched his back and waited for the stinging to subside.

"All right?" the guy behind him--fuck, should remember his name, should really stop picking up guys and not remembering their names--asked, and Bill nodded. "Okay, here goes."

Bill pressed his elbows into the mattress to brace himself against the guy's thrusts, and it got better and better after a minute, good enough he could close his eyes and almost jump straight off into another universe. Good enough he could stop thinking with his brain and just feel everything, nerves on in, down to his soul. Good enough--

"Huh--uhhh," the guy started panting, and Bill squinched his eyes shut--no, not now, not yet! "Fuck, I--"

Bill reached between his own legs and grabbed his dick, and it was over, like that, sharp and beautiful and quick.

The guy collapsed on the bed next to him, and Bill blinked blearily at his face. Gary? Fred? Something like that?

"You really think..." the other guy asked, and Bill's ears perked up. "You really think we're going to hell for this?"

Bill puffed his cheeks out and then sighed. "Honey, if we're going to hell, I'm getting in as much heaven as I can first."

Oregon - 2011

"I'm just saying, I think Promethea is beyond gender."

Danica poked at her chow mein with her chopsticks and frowned. "I just don't know if we can totally toss out artist's intent if Alan Moore only writes her as manifesting as a woman. And there's his whole 'all female goddesses in one' thing, and the whole tantric sex dual male-female thing."

Jessica put her chopsticks down on her plate and picked up her water glass. "Yeah, but Promethea is also defined by and recreated by stories. Who says all those stories have to cleave to the same interpretation?"

"Alan Moore."

"Author's dead, Danica. Postmodernism said so."

Danica rolled her eyes. "There's only so much interpretation you can get away with. Every universe has rules."

"I dunno, though," Jessica said. She picked up her chopsticks again and delicately picked up a single slice of water chestnut. "That's the great thing about imagination. You can figure out ways around anything."

New York - 1945

He'd never wanted to be in love, never expected he'd be in love, and never known how intoxicatingly terrifying being in love could be. And how stupid it could make him.

Bill wrote stories every chance he got. Good ones, happy ones, ones where he got the ending he deserved--the ending that everyone deserved. And just because he had to step into the stories to get his own happy ending--had to step inside Promethea to love Dennis--well, that didn't prove anything but that stories came from an inherently female place, and that Bill was very in touch with his feminine side.

He loved being Promethea, loved being her... loved putting on the magic and the mystery, loved feeling Dennis loving him. Loved the way their bodies fit together like they were made to, perfectly.

But some days, selfishly, he wished he could have Dennis when he wasn't Promethea, too.

Oregon - 2011

"I just mean," Jessica said.

Danica paused the DVD player on a two-shot of Ancelyn and Brigadier Bambera about to start trying to beat the crap out of each other. "Yeah?"

"I write slash," Jessica said. "So, you know, the whole thing about slash is that it's about coming up with new interpretations of already-extant stories. And it's also about rejecting the idea that men don't have the same emotional capacity that women do, the same way feminism rejects the idea that women don't have the intellectual and physical capacity that men do."

"It's also about guys being hot," Danica said.

Jessica rolled her eyes. "Yes, of course it's about guys being hot. It is definitely about guys being hot. I mean, yes. But that's the thing, right?" She adjusted the screen on her netbook to avoid the glare and sat back to start writing again. "Can't forget why we do this stuff."

New York - 19?? / Oregon - 2011

"I'm dreaming," Jessica said.

"Oh, honey," Promethea said. She sat on the edge of Jessica's bed and kicked her sandaled feet in the air. "Don't you understand by now? Dreaming's just another word for understanding reality. And I think you're starting to get it."

Jessica shook her head. "But... I... that's just a story. I mean, Promethea's just a comic book. I can't--"

"But you can, darling." Promethea--Bill--reached down and picked up her netbook from where she'd put it on the floor before going to sleep. "I really like what you've done with the girl. Not to mention the pornography. Darling! If I could have put these adventures in the book, well... we might have gone up in circulation. If you know what I mean."

"That was a bit of a weak double-entendre," Jessica said, head spinning.

Bill-Promethea laughed. "Oh, dear. You're going to be a cranky one. And stop worrying, you'll be fine." She jumped up from the bed, set down the netbook, and put her hands on Jessica's shoulders. "Now, dear. Close your eyes, and become..."

Jessica closed her eyes. Unbidden, her story started floating through her head, images flickering like pages in a comic book, frames on a screen. She gasped.

"Just like that, dear..."

And suddenly everything flooded through her, words and music and light, from the mother-womb of the universe up through her feet and into her center, and she could feel every nerve and every muscle fiber light up with celestial wonder.

And when she was done, she blinked her eyes open and stared down at Bill, who was looking her up and down with an appraising gaze.

"That," Bill finally said, "Was definitely not standard model when I was Promethea."

Jessica looked down, startled, at the penis hanging between her legs. "Um," she said. "I've never had one of those before."

Bill pouted. "That would have made certain things more difficult, sure, but let me tell you, sitting down to pee--"

"I've always wondered," Jessica said, then reached down to touch herself along the phallus. "... Ooooh, that is interesting."

Bill clapped her on the shoulder. "You know, dear, there's a whole bit in the introductory materials about the union of the male and the female and the universal spirit," she said, "But I have a feeling you're going to do just fine."