by Te
May 2, 2004

Disclaimers: If they were mine, the title would have a
Mature Readers stamp.

Spoilers: Vague ones up through Outsiders #10 or so.
Nothing major.

Summary: Anissa does some thinking about Grace.

Ratings Note: PG-13.

Author's Note: Just dipping a toe into Outsiders,
feeling my way around.

Acknowledgments: To Jack for audiencing and


It's Wednesday, which means that Roy is either off
being a mystery about where he gets their intel or
playing with his daughter. Hopefully not both at
the same time. Metamorpho and Indigo are off
doing their thing, Jade's giving an interview,
Nightwing is hurting people out in Bludhaven, and

Well, she *doesn't*, actually have watch duty,
but she also doesn't have anything special to do
tonight, and anyway Nightwing always looks
slightly less likely to spontaneously combust with
worry and thinly-veiled rage when there's at
least two of them around.

Which means that she's theoretically spelling
Grace while Grace bounces a basketball off the
wall about two inches from the monitors that
she is, actually, paying attention to. It shouldn't
be as much of a shock as it is that Grace is a
professional about this stuff, but... Grace walks
around the world like she thinks she's an alien,
something unique and strange and shocking.
The first part of that is, of course, correct --
everyone is unique -- but Anissa used to think
that, for Grace, it was more.

Bigger than that, deeper.

Grace isn't, actually, all that difficult to get along
with, but for quite some time she'd rubbed Anissa
just a little bit wrong. It's a college thing. Anissa
had spent her first two years at school much like
any halfway thoughtful person would -- trying to
find a place for herself within the small, highly
specialized society her parents had spent a
phenomenal amount of money to make her a
part of.

She'd frankly been prepared for most of the
assorted social difficulties. She'd been enrolled
in various private schools even *before* her
parents could really afford it, because they were
one of *those* Black families, where 'those'
wasn't really a pejorative so much as...

Well. As a child, she'd looked around at the
other two or three -- four, if she was really
lucky -- Black students in her classes and seen
the same thing in every pair of eyes. "My
parents *believe* in education as means to
social advancement, ergo I will get straight As
or give myself a bleeding ulcer. Please don't
ask me how I feel about rap music."

It was one of those things, after all, and she'd
been looking forward to more of the same
when she went off to college -- and had, of
course, gotten it. It was the *other* things
that threw her off her game a bit.

Not necessarily the GBLT communities -- Anissa
is *also* from one of those families where
there was no sin greater than bigotry, period --
but the way so many of the people *were*
within those communities. The anger, the
*righteousness*. And, of course, the chips on
all of the fashionably-clad shoulders.

All of those people, just *waiting* to be
discriminated against. As if it was something
both expected and *true*, as opposed to one
of those things they'd all gone to college to
get *away* from. And it isn't that she's not
sympathetic. One of the benefits to her father
being a part of the Luthor White House was
the fact that she could suddenly go shopping
wherever she wished and *not* have to
stare down security guards -- often.

It's just... it's hard to put into words.

She's spent a great deal of time, lately,
learning as much as she can about the other
superhero teams out there, and how they do
and don't work. It often looks more like
television than anything else, with *that*
superhero being the funny one, and *that*
one being the serious one, and *that* one
being the ladies' man, etc., etc. Within that
context -- and largely within *fact* -- she
knows the others look at her as the prim one,
the conservative one, the one most likely to

She still hasn't decided whether it's better or
worse than being thought of as The Rookie.
*Probably* better, and yet. Rookie would, at
least, be *deserved*.

Because she *had* spent a great deal of time
in the early days disapproving of Grace, but it
didn't have a damned thing to do with her
tattoos or her hairstyle or the fact that Anissa
honestly isn't sure why the woman bothers
to wear underwear -- and she does,
sometimes. Anissa checked. What it *did*
have to do with is the fact that Grace honestly
came off as one of *those* people.

'Professional rebels,' her father had called
them once. People who are so busy being
counter-culture -- whatever *that* means --
that they don't seem to notice that the *actual*
culture they're living in really had long since
caught up.

It isn't the fifties anymore, or the sixties, or even
the *nineties*. What it *is* is now, and New
York City, and no one with half a brain *gives*
a crap how many tattoos you have or where
you have them, and it's long past time to knock
the chip off your shoulder and *relax*.

Save the static and shock-tactics for the places
where they'll matter, for the people with
*whom* they'll matter, and take a breath.

People like that.


She'd thought she'd known a lot of women --
too many -- *just* like Grace in school, but
the fact is... there's a huge difference between
a twenty year old with a nose ring and a few
philosophy classes under her belt and...

Grace isn't playing a role, and Grace has,
apparently, grown out of the phase where
people *play* roles. Grace is just *Grace*,
and that seems to mean that she's an
impatient, slutty, violent, intolerant *bitch*
who also happens to be a hero. And insightful.
And brave, and...

A lot of other things, too.

It puts things into perspective, in kind of a
frightening way. Anissa *still* thinks that
most of those professional rebels are worth
about as much of her time as a daytime talk
show or a bible-thumper, but... maybe some
of them would grow into *people*, too.

People who showed off their tattoos because
they liked them and because they *meant*
something to them.

People who had sex with everything willing
because they just kind of liked having sex.

The scariest thing about it isn't that people like
Grace exist.

The *scariest* thing is that...

Well, the Outsiders are a *good* team. Nightwing
and Arsenal were doing this stuff when she was
still taping pictures of Superman up in her locker.
Jade has seen more alien worlds than Anissa
owns shoes. Rex -- or whatever they're supposed
to call him now -- sort of, kind of, worked with
her *father*, and who *knows* what Indigo
had done -- will do -- two thousand years from
now. They're a good team made up of brave,
intelligent *adults*.

And maybe, just maybe, the fact that they look
at her as the Prude has less to do with the fact
that she doesn't feel the need to curse in every
other breath as it does with the fact that she
really is a *rookie* in more ways than just the
way she doesn't always remember to watch
her own back.

Maybe 'rookie' doesn't mean what she thought
it meant at all.

And, well, there's still a little joy in the fact that
she knows full well Grace had misjudged her,
too, but it's kind of a cold comfort.

This isn't a game for little girls.

This isn't a *game*, at all.

And, in the end, the fact that she has a degree
and a driver's license that says she can drink
doesn't mean anything. Doesn't mean *shit*
if she can't, as a wise woman once said, suck it
up and deal.

The basketball stops thudding against the wall.

"What are *you* smiling about?"

A month ago, maybe even two weeks ago,
Anissa would've taken that amused,
confrontational tone in Grace's voice as an
excuse to get her back up, and think a few
thoughts about what super-density might mean
*against* super-strength, as opposed to *with*.

The truth is, Grace is probably just bored.
Anissa grins a little wider.

"You," she says, and raises her hands to catch
the basketball Grace pegs at her head.

"Oh *really*, princess?" Grace's expression is a
narrow-eyed smirk waiting to happen.

I'm a *queen*, Anissa doesn't say, mainly
because Grace would just point out that her
Daddy had told her that too many times, and be
absolutely correct. "Yep," she says instead, and
pegs the basketball right back.

Grace spins the chair around until she's facing
Anissa and rests the ball on one long, broad
thigh. The smirk on her face is right on time, but
it's coupled with a look that could only be
considered... speculative.

Anissa takes a moment to be glad she's dark
enough that she has to *really* blush before
it shows up on her skin, because it's not as if
she'd be *surprised* if Grace decided to hit
on *her* one day the way she's hit on each
and every last one of the others. Really, it's
probably one of those things that should go
in the eventual Outsiders handbook,
somewhere between "never ask Indigo
rhetorical questions" and "no, Valium in
Nightwing's coffee doesn't make a
difference; Arsenal tried."

Grace cocks her head at Anissa, and drums her
fingers on the console. And *holds* the look for
a long, long moment before snorting and
tossing her head a little, like she'd forgotten it
isn't long enough for that, yet. And then she
spins back to look at the monitors again. "I'm
bored. Entertain me."

"I only lap-dance for tips."

Grace snickers and starts tossing the basketball
at the wall again. "And me without my roll of

Anissa grins, mostly to herself, and settles
herself more comfortably in her chair. They
say -- each and every one of them -- that kids
grow up fast in this business.

She can't wait.