LNH20: LNH20 Comics Presents #23: "Whispers in the Library"
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Mon Jun 22 17:40:56 PDT 2020
LNH20 Comics Presents #23
"Whispers in the Library"
by Drew Nilium
[December 1st, 2019.]
In a sense, the Library of Infinite Stories is all libraries; the spaces where
all stories touch upon all other stories, and more importantly, the spaces
between stories, the cream-white page surrounding the brown-black ink. And
between the aisles of shelves, packed to the brim with every book imaginable and
many that leap past the borders of human imagination, there are wide, open
spaces, places to relax, to read, and to find solace from the drama and conflict
that so many stories require.
It is in just such a clearing that the Legion of Net.Heroes has made their
temporary home, pitching cozy tents for a sense of privacy in this busy public
resource. It is night, and the great overhead lights are turned off, the small
reading lamps over heavy oak reference desks standing in for campfires.
Some of these tents are large, and contain several Legionnaires. Captain
Minority, Lurking Girl, Manga Girl and the Bard of the Battle Theme have long,
involved conversations deep into the night. Agent Mephitidae shares space with
the few people she trusts in the world. Tori, Private Eye, and Matilda Briggs
have a tent that they share with anyone who feels the needs of unusual body
plans; the Router stops by on cosmic occasion to simply Be the energy of deeper
Some tents contain just one. Mentus the Mouse has his own miniature tent,
perched atop a display of Boudrillard, Wittgenstein, Heidegger, and other nigh-
incomprehensible philosophers. The Public Defender brings another tome of law to
her tent every night, looking for angles to fight W.H.A.T.E.V.E.R. in the
courts. Pantra's tent is often empty, as she curls up in whatever nice hidden
space she can find, but is stuffed to the brim full of toys and interesting things.
Some tents are more focused on the practical matters of the team. Fearless
Leader has a big one he shares with Evelyn the Receptionist, full of paperwork
and always left open. The Sous-Chef Supreme summons magickal stoves and griddles
each day, making deals with the in-library cafes of many worlds for the
provisions to keep the Legion fed. One big tent is just for mail, whisked in
through thoughtful magic to the people it's intended for.
And some tents are the domain of couples, who seek to steal moments of intimacy
in an alienating world.
One such couple is snuggled up on a tatami mattress, spooning comfortably
underneath a pile of warm blankets. A soft person with deep strength, a tough
person with an inner softness, sharing their warmth in the night.
"Mmmmm..." One body stirs, restless, thoughts churning.
The other drifts out of a light sleep, rubs a beloved back, murmurs, "What's
The blankets are pushed back, and Otherkin Lad sits up. He pushes his shaggy
hair out of his eyes - it's been hard to get to a barber lately - and says,
"Hon... d'you ever feel like we could be doing more?"
Cheap Costume Man rises from his blankety snuggle and streeeeetches. "Mmmmm...
well, I admit, there are things I'd love for us to experiment with..."
Otherkin Lad flushes and shakes his head, shag bouncing adorably. "I mean, in
"Ahhhhh. Mm." Cheap Costume Man smacks his lips and straightens, shifting into a
thoughtful pose. "Well, as an organization, definitely. We've got this
concentrated institutional power - there's so much we could do for the world. I
understand that Fearless Leader and the other Elders are concerned about
overstepping our bounds, and I respect that, especially given the backlash we've
suffered lately. But I feel there are a number of avenues that the net.hero
teams of the past have never taken that we still could, and I plan to continue
pushing for them."
Otherkin Lad gives a sleepy smile as his boyfriend starts pontificating, and
rubs his scruff when he's done, harvesting a little happy noise. "Right, but I
was just thinking about... if me and you are doing enough, just ourselves."
"Ahhhhh, individual responsibility, that old saw..." Cheap Costume Man presses
his hands to the sides of his head and slides his fingers forward, squishing his
cheeks and making a duckface for just a moment. "Honestly? As much as I push the
LNH as an organization - as individuals, I think we're doing well. Our actions
are ever hampered by systems designed to hem us in, but within those systems,
you and I are using our energy effectively, as are most of the net.heroes we
share our bond with."
"Huh..." Otherkin Lad scratches the back of his head, eyes sliding off Cheap
Costume Man's face to stare off into space. "Fair, I guess..."
Cheap Costume Man reaches out to put his finger on his boyfriend's chin and
gently turn his face back to him. "But?"
Otherkin Lad giggles and blushes. "But, well..." He sighs, deep and melancholy.
"It just doesn't feel like it sometimes. It feels like I'm not doing enough,
"Oh, yes." Cheap Costume Man nods firmly. "I understand that feeling. It's what
lead me to join the Legion. But then I realized - that's what the things, the
systems, we're fighting want."
Otherkin Lad pauses, a touch bemused. "...the things we're fighting want us to
fight them harder?"
"They want us to feel inadequate." Cheap Costume Man straightens, his voice
taking on a stentorian (tho still hushed) tone. "They want everyday people to
feel inadequate, so they'll spend money. They want powerful people to feel
inadequate, so they'll keep taking power away from the weak. But especially,
they want helpful, supportive people to feel inadequate, so they fritter their
energies away in worrying, cannot focus their attention for fear it will be
misspent, and blame themselves instead of the systems they fight."
"...I mean." Otherkin Lad puts his hand to the back of his neck and rubs it,
grinning sheepishly. (You know. Like Phoenix Wright.) "I guess that makes
sense." But he bites his lip... "But what if... how do you know if you *are*
"Oh, my love." Cheap Costume Man leans forward, placing one hand on the floor,
and puts the other on Otherkin Lad's warm cheek. His face tilts up, and their
lips meet, warmly, and he sits back. "You are *far* more than adequate."
Otherkin Lad flushes bright, a li'l sweet smile on his tingling lips. "Yeah, but
you're biased, you love me."
"So I do, for a lot of very good reasons, because you're a very good boy." Cheap
Costume Man slides his hand into Otherkin Lad's hair and scritches
affectionately, and Otherkin Lad can't help but wiggle his leg in delight.
They lay back down, cuddling close, sharing their warmth. Their breath becomes
even, and one of them falls back asleep... and one of them does not.
Cheap Costume Man had calmed the swirling thoughts in Otherkin Lad's head, but
in the quiet, they swirl back up again. In his breast, there's a spot of cold
uncertainty, despite the warm embrace.
Cheap Costume Man's right, he was telling the truth... but... most LNHers, most
net.heroes, most *people* didn't have to go very far to be adequate - they could
just be themselves. But Otherkin Lad had never been the self he knew he could
be. The legends of Cauliflower showed that. With his Christmas powers...
Before sleep comes to Otherkin Lad, a plan forms in his mind...
Drew "meant to post this yesterday, apologies" Nilium
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