"You know," said Jerry as Piotr landed with his bag, "We can't get drunk anymore."
Piotr Visnuska grinned his big, russian grin and replied in his barely accented english, "We are a thousand miles from any camera, comrade. I think even your harsh-minded leader would not be upset if we enjoyed ourselves here."
Jerome Garland chuckled at the joke. The last time the pair had shared a bottle of Vodka, it had been on the roof of the Musee de l'Armee, and someone managed a very unflattering picture of Piotr taking a swig. "Fusionaut and Novaman get drunk in Paris," had been the headline in the New York Times, while the tabloids went wild with everything from conspiracy theories to gay sex scandals. Fortunately, an American writer living in Paris - one Cathy Travis - wrote a very flattering piece about how it's a basic human right for two war-buddies to enjoy each others' company.
Lightning Shard still got pissed.
This time, the two old friends took the hint and met on a secluded mountain in the Rockies, but that wasn't what Jerry had meant. "I mean we can't. Your body's a fusion reactor so it vaporizes in your stomach, and ... well, I don't know what my body does to it, but it doesn't get me buzzed either."
Piotr sat down and handed Jerry the bottle, anyway. "We do not need to eat, either, but if you forgot to bring your wife's bread, I will be very upset." Jerry conceded the point by pulling out a loaf of braided bread Carrie had made earlier that day. "Ah. The Garland home is truly blessed." Jerry nodded in complete agreement. When he'd first met his wife, he had not pegged her for a good baker. Showed how much super-sight can really show you.
The pair ate, drank, and enjoyed each other's company in silence, watching the wind rustle the pines on the slopes that bristled like rough fur on the back of some mammoth, slumbering beast. Finally, Jerry spoke. "Have you talked with Protanya, yet?" Piotr conveniently crammed some bread into his mouth and busied himself with brushing the crumbs out of his beard. "I'll wait."
Piotr rolled his eyes. "My instructors back in the KGB would be very upset with me. I should have known you would ask about that."
Jerry wasn't letting up. "Well?"
"Alright, I surrender. You are as persistent Jew as I ever met." Piotr paused and sighed before continuing. "No, Jerry. I have not. I know nothing of the girl, only that she underwent a similar process to the one that gave me my powers, and thus, understandably, has powers similar to my own. She flies, can lift buildings, and is nigh indestructible."
"She also does that eye-beam thing. More of an eye-blast, actually ..."
"The focused beams I project now are the result of endless practice. I too had more of an 'eye-blast' when I was as new to these powers as she is."
"That's my point, Pete," Jerry said, and found himself standing. "Protanya has a rare chance- one that most of us could only dream of. There is someone out there who has been through exactly what she's going through, right now. Sure, I could talk to her, but I gained my powers at birth from an intergalactic super-being. Blur might be a good choice, too, but NO one knows how he got HIS powers. You could teach her about what she is now better than anyone."
"'What?'" Piotr stood and faced his friend. "Jerry, Protanya is not a 'what.' She is a young girl. She has a family, friends, most likely a boyfriend. These people know her, who she is. All she is to me is a newer model. I will not break her down to a set of abilities like ..." Piotr cut himself off.
"Like ... what, Pete?" Jerry and Piotr stood in a quiet stand-off. "Like your government did to you?"
"... yes, Jerome," Piotr admitted with a sigh, looking down. "Like my government did to me."
Jerry put his hand on his friend's shoulder. "You never had a little sister, did you?" Piotr looked up, puzzled by the question. Jerry laughed. "Astro Woman. Remember her?" Piotr nodded. "Her powers are different, but they come from the same source as mine - kind of. It was hard at first ... but teaching her about where they came from ... what it was like to first hear that voice ...
"The point is, Pete, that you may not know who she is now, but all those people who DO know who she is have no idea what she's going through. You do. So get to know her. Find out who she is while teaching her about the 'what.'"
Piotr nodded slowly, and Jerry smiled. "But why," asked Piotr as they both sat back down, "did you ask if I had a little sister?"
"Ah. Two reasons. First, when it started to get rough with Astro Woman, I talked with my mom about it. She reminded me that I shouldn't try to be her father, because she has one of those, already. I needed to act like a big brother."
"And it worked?"
Jerry laughed and raised the bottle in a toast before taking a swig. "Well enough. Siblings don't always get along, but they know how to get things done."
Piotr laughed aloud as Jerry passed the bottle. He toasted and drank as well, then asked, "So what is the second reason?"
"Not that you could tell now, what with that new beard of yours. But Protanya? She has your chin."