5 Ways To Be Incredible
by Jennifer-Oksana

i. super mom

Violet caught her sneaking in at about two in the morning. Which, given what her power was, was kind of inevitable. And at thirteen, Violet was definitely at the age where the mom-halo didn't have the power that it once did.

What was making Helen crazy was how she didn't say anything about it, just stared at her with big eyes, shocked and surprised.

"You told us never to use our powers," she whispered, a very bare accusation at best.

"I know," Helen said. "I know that it's wrong and I'm just trying to relive glory days and it's wrong and I'm sorry. Does that make you happy, Vi?"

"Mom," Vi croaked. "I'm just saying that you told us it was dangerous, that it was arrogant, and that..."

"Well, maybe I was wrong," Helen replied, glowering at her suit. It made her look so dumpy; she definitely needed a new one. "I'm not your father, Violet. I can't fit into this life as easily as he could. He can still help people. I'm not like him."

"Dad said that being super doesn't make you a hero," Violet whispered again, eyes still too big for such a little face.

"It doesn't," Helen agreed. "But if you've got a gift like this. A gift from God...how can you stand by when people need help and you're the only one who can?"

Violet didn't say anything for a long time. Then... "You told us never to use our powers."

There wasn't much else to say to that.


ii. elastigirl rides again!

They meet in Japan, in Tokyo; a white-haired American-born Japanese and Japan's favorite red-haired American star.

"You must get tired of playing minstrel," Mirage purrs over square glasses of sake in a bar that glitters with lights in beat to techno music. Super Stretchy Girl (it's easier to say than Elastigirl, and it keeps in letter if not in spirit, the deal she made with the American government) gives Mirage a pitying smile and nod.

"It's a small price to pay for doing what I love," she says coolly, reaching up to the bar to get them another pair of drinks with no more thought than a leaf falling in the breeze. "What was I going to do, sell out and get a house in the suburbs? That's for cowards. That's for..."

Mirage lifts an eyebrow in surprise.

So she still cannot say his name. That's one for the file.


iii. this taste of dilution

"I can't live like this anymore! I just can't do it!"

Mr. Incredible was always going to have a hard time not being super anymore. Helen had known that from the minute the government had handed them the deal, the day they hung up the supersuits to become Mr. and Mrs. Parr in the suburbs. But she'd tried; she'd genuinely tried to be absolutely normal. Violet and Dash always being reminded not to use their powers; Helen, making brownies and sharing gossip with the women in the neighborhood...it hadn't been easy for her. It never got easier, but Helen told herself that love was worth it. Family was worth it.

Bob clearly didn't think so. She stood on the porch, sunset burning her hair to crimson as she let a long lock of it fall over her eye (just like Violet, really; how could she be anything but the shrinking violet, the invisible girl, which this kind of role model as a mother?) and watched Bob's little car zoom away, the four-cylinder engine protesting mightily.

"Daddy's going to be a superhero again, isn't he?" Dash asked, suddenly leaning against her leg. "Do you think he would stay if we used our powers?"

"There are a lot of ways to be a hero," Helen began, but her heart wasn't in it. "I don't know, baby. I think your dad has to make some decisions on his own, and we're just going to have to do our best no matter what he decides."

Dash considered this. "Powers aren't going to make us happy, are they?" he asked.

"No," said Helen, the sun glinting like fire in her eyes as the tears burned unshed. "That's not something any power on earth can do."


iv. adrenaline junkie

She hadn't meant for it to go so far. But how could you go from saving the world to getting your whites whiter and your brights brighter using Tide With Bleach?

She didn't realize she'd resented Bob so much for ruining everything, either. That had just been unfortunate, Helen had said. Darn world was going crazy when people were suing supers for saving them. Just plain crazy.

"People need superheroes, you know," the redheaded kid had said, looking at her with big eyes as he put down a contract. "And you're not happy, married to an insurance claims adjuster, are you?"

No. She wasn't, she hadn't been, she never could be.

She had never meant for this to happen. To face the man she'd loved so much on the field of battle.

"Elastigirl!" he called, as though he didn't know her name, as though she hadn't shared everything with him. "Surrender now or suffer the consequences!"

Mr. Incredible was waiting to fight her and die. And he would die, because she was the best. She hadn't gone quietly like everyone else, hanging up the suits, giving up the life, letting middle age, balding, and fat wreck what was only a middling physique at best. Smart boy, Buddy. He'd known the best way to defeat a superhero was with a superhero, and that the only thing stronger than hate was love. Nothing made a man quiver like love gone sour.

"Oh, Bob," Elastigirl said, looking down at her prey. "You could have thought of a better opening line than that. After all these years, I mean."

She hadn't meant for it to happen, but she wasn't going to end up dead just for a little sentimental value.


v. speaker for the dead

Bob tells her quietly about the supers Syndrome killed in his pursuit of Mr. Incredible, so Dash and Vi don't hear. His shoulders sag with guilt and embarrassment at what he'd wrought, and she comforts him gently. Her arms wrap all the way around him: half-muscle, half-fat, and all-Bob. They always could and always will.

She doesn't tell him that she already knew.

Not officially, of course, and not about Syndrome. Elastigirl went gentle into that good night, and her whereabouts stayed unknown. But Helen Parr knew where to send Christmas cards, knew what number to dial on birthdays and late at night. And in a world where the news crawls by every moment of every day, she could know details. Instead she relied upon signals. She knew what it meant when letters came back unopened and phone calls were met with harsh dial tones and computerized voices.

Syndrome didn't get all of them, maybe even not most of them. Some walked into nuclear reactors, out thirty-story windows, under Mack trucks. Others were lucky enough to need only a shotgun or a bottle of pills.

Each one she marked in her little book, each one to remind her that being special and super wasn't enough to keep the wolves from the doors.

Someday, when he's ready, Helen will share it with Bob. But not now. Not yet.


Silverlake: Authors / Mediums / Titles / Links / List / About / Updates / Silverlake Remix