By Valerie_Huntington 13 Comments
Even with nothing on her itinerary but lunch with an old friend, the Huntington heiress refused the concept of casual dress. Resting under the gilded sunlight of Glade City, like a muse unknowingly waiting for an artist to turn her into art, Valerie donned a caliber of couture comprehension that could have mistaken her for a runaway model still wearing the latest look from Paris. A white Emilio Pucci stretch-crepe dress hung adoringly over her provocative figure, while the pastel pink Stella McCartney blazer resting on her shoulders added to the elegance innately held by the White Queen. Disarming blue eyes gazed around the utopian city from behind a pair of Barton Perreira ‘Ronette’ sunglasses, her curiosity toward the buzz of activity around her merely a means to pass the time as her Christian Louboutan ‘Galata Cutout’ pumps continued to tap impatiently on the concrete beneath her.
The sun’s yellow light played in her golden hair with jaunty glory, highlighting its every silky lock that fell in artful tousles around the irreproachable beauty of her face: Lofty, noble cheekbones and the fine structure of her nose resembled the cold, unapproachable perfection of a marble statue, however, the full, rosy appearance of her lips and a pair of sultry almond-shaped eyes made her an inimitable sex symbol full of life and allure. The enchanting balance of these features created the ethereal, unreal beauty of Valerie’s face—but it was the childlike luster in her powder blue eyes, the charming livelihood in the rare moments she truly smiled, and the effortless and uninhibited grace in which she moved that truly made her the portrait of a siren.
Lifting her arm to check the time on an Everose gold and diamond Rolex, Valerie scanned the area around her in search of the face she had been expecting to meet over ten minutes ago. Instead, she found nothing but the exuberantly content faces of those who lived in Glade City. They moved without purpose or concern—from the city’s waterfalls, to the famous Glade City Super-Mall, and all about the innumerous amenities the resort-like city offered—it was as though Glade City’s citizens had adapted a state of permanent vacation. While Valerie watched them with a mildly haughty indifference hidden behind an expressionless visage, she remained focused solely on the business she had come to carry out.
“Valerie Huntington. How long has it been?” a man’s voice materialized behind her, the greeting exuberantly friendly.
Turning over her shoulder to discover the voice’s origin, a genuine smile washed over the socialite’s face as she stood to greet her lunch date with an intimate hug. As she settled back into her seat and he took the one across from her, Valerie was able to study his various differences since the last time she saw him.
Valerie had first met Andrew Coates when they were both kids attending summer camp at Lake Geneva. His family owned a piece of the oil sands up in Alberta, a piece the size of Florida, and were among the wealthy elite living in Greenwich, Connecticut. Valerie had been attracted to Andrew’s unknowing charm and lack of a superiority complex, a welcomed change from the boys her mother usually made her play with back home on the Upper East Side. They became fast friend, spending the summer swimming under the sun and exchanging licorice wedding rings. As summer came to an end, Valerie returned to New York and Andrew to Connecticut, where they stayed in touch for several years before they both grew into teenagers and other priorities eventually dissolved their communications.
However, to both their surprise, they were reunited Valerie’s senior year of high school. A chance encounter at a charity gala revealed Andrew had decided to move to New York after high school to chase a political career, which allowed them to reassume their friendship as well as ignite a short-lived romance. After not having spoken since, Valerie spontaneously reached out to her old summer camp companion for lunch in Glade City.
“Andrew, if I had known you were going to grow up to be so handsome, I would have saved that licorice ring from camp,” she teased charmingly. A waitress appeared to offer them drinks, Valerie ordering a mint mojito and Andrew a glass of red wine, before Andrew responded to her remark.
“Alright, alright, sure. I think we both know who turned into the swan here, miss ‘being a supermodel was too easy for me,’” he poked back at her with a flash of white teeth. He still had that same quality of goodness about him that she remembered, the same charming wholesomeness. Except now he had the jawline and biceps to really back it up. “If I found that old ring, would you still accept a proposal?” he chuckled, the playful light in his hazel eyes giving away a glimmer of actual hope. It seemed every man Valerie had dated, no matter how many years had gone bye, still held onto a piece of their love for her—her inimitable charm never truly wearing off.
She brushed several strands of light blonde hair from her face before responding with a coy smile. “Those licorice have to be expired by now, Andy. And besides, Mr. Coates, from what I’ve heard you have a beautiful wife and daughter now. As well as that successful political career you always wanted. Seems everything worked out for the golden boy,” she smiled, the glowing sunlight highlighting the enchanting visage of her face.
Shrugging off the loss with a grin, Andrew took a sip from the glass of wine their waitress had delivered a few moments earlier. “Eh, worth a shot. But, yeah, life’s not too bad. Work’s been kicking my ass with this whole Mutant Registration ordeal, but I don’t have too much to complain about,” taking another casual sip of his drink, he suddenly rushed to swallow so he could add, “Oh, and don’t worry about that, by the way. They’re cracking the whip pretty hard on this registering stuff, but they’d never come for a Huntington. Too many connections, too many resources. Is that what you called to see me for?” he asked her, suddenly disheartened at the thought of her wanting to see him solely for political matters. Staring at her while waiting for his answer, his eyes held the same expression as a child’s waiting for their parent to reassure them Santa Clause is real.
Across from him, Valerie’s previous demeanor of cordiality had faded considerably. She now sat more frigid, her lips no longer upturned in a smile, and her eyes filled with an aloof lack of expression. She allowed the silence between them to linger, taking a small sip from her drink and keeping her gaze steady on him. Finally, she spoke with a cold distance in her voice.
“I was never worried about the Registration, Andrew. That isn’t why I wanted to see you,” his face lightened again, but she hadn't finished. “However I do need your help in other ways. I need you to give me every superhuman profile the U.S. government has gathered since this project started,” she stated coolly, no room for discussion in her tone.
Andrew’s brows furrowed in confusion as he leaned back in his seat, his mind trying to accept her request while still struggling to adjust from the shift in the warm, charming woman he had been talking to a minute before, into the ice queen sitting in front of him now.
“Val, I don’t know where this is coming from, but you know I can’t do something like that. I know more about the details of your Hellfire Club than you might think, and I don’t care about that, but this…I just can’t do it,” his voice still dripping with disbelief. Andrew had never been able to see the ugly truth in people, always chose to see the good.
Tilting her head slightly to the side, Valerie said nothing. She merely gazed at him with an unsettling apathetic expression. Suddenly she turned her head to the side, looking out at the family’s blissfully enjoying the sunny day in Glade City. Birds chirped, children called behind them for their parents to hurry up, and men carried the bags of clothes they had purchased for their sweethearts. Without explanation she looked back at Andrew, into his eyes, without any insight to her thoughts crossing her unreadable visage.
“Did I ever explain my mutant gifts to you, Andrew?”
“No,” his voice was puzzled, not sure where she was taking the conversation.
“I’m a telepath. A good one, too. I can read minds, control them, project illusions, and more. Maybe it’s better if I show you.”
Without warning she had entered his mind, both of them sharing the same mental image as the scenery of Glade City melted around them.
They stood in the backyard of a stately home in Washington DC, the one Andrew lived in with his wife and daughter. Valerie and Andrew watched as his wife chatted on the phone from the patio, watching as their fifteen-year-old daughter ran across the soccer field they had built for her to help progress her promising career in the sport. It was the very picture of domestic bliss—both women excitedly waiting to see their loving husband and father return home after his extended business trip.
“Lily! Lily!” Andrew called, beginning to move toward his wife.
“She won’t hear you, and she won’t see you,” Valerie interrupted him, sharing none of her old friend’s warm sentiments. “Only our minds are here,” she explained, stepping forward to stand beside him and witness disappointment wash across his face.
“Your daughter is an impressive athlete,” the White Queen continued with a cold poise. “But you see, Andrew, with telepathy, a single thought can…”
Suddenly the peaceful vision was shattered by a shrill cry of pain, originating from Andrew’s daughter, who dropped to the ground in agonized sobs. Andrew lunged with his wife toward their daughter, before realizing, with a sharp horror, that only one of them could do anything to help her. Trying to comprehend what he had just seen, he merely watched, frozen in horror.
“Paralyzed from the waist down,” Valerie said. “And with another thought—”
“No! please, don’t do this,” he tried to beg. Suddenly, his daughter’s crying stopped, leaving the Coate’s backyard in complete silence until the cries were replaced by Andrew’s wife—hers not of physical pain, but of heartbreaking loss.
Andrew merely stared at the ground beneath him, his shoulders rising and falling as silent tears rolled down his face. After several moments he turned, his eyes red and expression hopeless, to look at Valerie. “Why are you doing this?”
Stepping toward him, Valerie’s face assumed an expression of mock sympathy, the first sign of any emotion she had displayed since their meeting began. Lifting a hand she wrapped it around the back of his head, running her fingers through his hair as she tilted her head to the side in a patronizing version of concern. “Because I can, Andrew. Because I know who you love. And I know how to hurt them.”
In an instant the scene of the Coates’ backyard dissolved around them, and they were back under the bright, jaunty light of Glade City. Their drinks were as they left them, people continued walking and chatting around them, and all was as if they had never left the city at all; except for Andrew, who held his head in his hands while silent tears rolled down his cheeks. As his cries became more audible, Valerie rolled her eyes, as though annoyed by his lack of public composure.
“Enough with the waterworks, Andrew. That was just an illusion—your daughter and wife are both perfectly fine. Enjoying a sunny day at home oblivious to the fact you’re having lunch with your ex-girlfriend,” she consoled him without empathy. She had come for one thing, and her patience was running thin.
“Why, Val? Why would you do that to me?” his voice sounded broken, shattered by the rollercoasters of experiences and emotions she had inflicted on him in such a short period of time.
“I told you, darling. I want what I want, Andrew, and I don’t care who I have to hurt to get it. My list of victims is a long one, and I have no problem adding two more names to that list,” her voice was laced with ice. She was beautiful—but especially she was without mercy. “Now, the data on every superhuman you and the government have collected since Registration started. Getting that to me shouldn’t be a problem anymore, should it?” she instructed him, her emotionless exterior never faltering despite her increasing desire to wrap up their conversation.
“No, Val. I’ll find a way to get it to you. Just don't hurt them,” He had given up. His voice was barely a whisper now, any fight left in him having been forcibly extracted.
“Wonderful, darling,” finishing the last of her mojito before gathering her white leather Hermes Birkin bag and standing with a finely polished poise from her seat. “It really was lovely catching up with you, Andrew. We’ll have to do it again soon—if that list doesn’t get to me,” she said coldly. Turning away from him, her heels clacked against the pavement as she headed toward the limousine that would be waiting to take her to the airport.
“Valerie,” Andrew unexpectedly called out, causing her golden head to look back over her shoulder at him. “You wouldn’t have killed my daughter. I know you wouldn’t have.”
A faint expression crossed over the White Queen’s cold, beautiful face. Not quite nostalgia or regret, not quite compassion or sympathy, and not entirely haughty or aloof. Something resembling a combination of all of them flashed across her otherwise inexpressive visage in a brief second. And then, as though they had never existed in the first place, they were gone—cast away to be replaced by a delicate half-smile tainted with condescending pity.
“If you ever try to get in my way, Andy, we’ll test that theory.”
She turned away from him again, leaving him to gaze at nothing but the glamorous light of her golden hair until the White Queen dissolved into the crowd.