The Nature of a Rainbow
Re-Write from Past Upon Lies and Illusions
Summary: AU Tenni Stronghold. Will Stronghold's sister, and all-together unremarkable teenager. At least, that's what she wishes her life were like.
Disclaimer: I don't own Sky High. Saddest truth of my life. But Tenni is mine.
Pairings: Warren/OC, Lash/OC (one-sided), Will/Layla, Zach/Magenta, Steve/Josie
Prologue: Beginning Anew
The sun beat down upon her so hot. Her body slicked with sweat all over, she felt grimy in the most unpleasant places possible. Walking was leisurely moving from one place to another at a comfortable pace in comfortable conditions. This wasn't walking. This was torture, plain and simple. In the hot sun, with no water, laden with a single, heavily loaded bag, and wearing layer upon layer of clothing she couldn't fit into the bag. It was no wonder she was fairing poorly. The only one she could truly blame for her miserable state was herself. There were plenty of things she could've done to avoid going it on her own.
It had all started with her parents' untimely demise. Normally, kids were supposed to be devastated by the deaths of their beloved parents. The girl, Tenni Sieve, probably would've been really upset if she actually cared for her beloved parents. There was a time when things were actually good and she remembered being happy around them. It was amazing what seven years of inner family cold war could do to family ties. As it turned out, her father and mother had come from opposite ends of the super being spectrum. Her father was a hero, her mother a villain. They'd married each other not knowing the other's loyalties. When the truth surfaced, the relationship, the family unit, disintegrated. Sure, they tried for her in the beginning, but soon, they just stopped caring. There was only good and evil, black and white, and sooner or later, they had to end one another.
After sitting on the sidelines for so long watching them needle each other with hateful things both super related and not, she was surprise they hadn't killed each other sooner.
That was, of course, what happened. They killed each other. She was orphaned because her stupid parents were stupid enough to get each other stupidly killed. There was no concern over who would go home to their daughter at the end of the battle. Of all the things that had hurt most, being called a mistake was what really did it for her. The first time it happened, she was willing to live in denial. Seven years old, she didn't want to believe that the parents she loved thought she was a mistake. Mistakes were broken vases or doing a math problem wrong. When she heard the statement reused by both of her parents, she finally had to accept the fact that they were too far-gone to care about her anymore. The last couple of years, she'd lived under the same roof, but stayed away from them. In a way, they'd died a long time ago for her.
Most of her upbringing had been left to the caretakers hired to look after her. She supposed that appearances had to be kept up. Didn't want to be accused of neglect and abuse when someone found out your daughter was illiterate and poorly fed. Home schooled and kept away from the outside, all she really knew about the world was what she saw on the TV and what Rhonda, her tutor, told her about. There was a lot out there she missed out on while alone, stuck in her prison house with its two indifferent wardens.
After their death, Tenni had tried to get Rhonda to adopt her. Rhonda had unfortunately not been able to. Her life had also been upset by the death of the Sieves. She no longer had work and Tenni couldn't compensate Rhonda because the government had seized her parents' assets. With the loss of her source of income, she couldn't afford to take in the orphaned preteen. Tenni had been really upset by that, but knew there was nothing she could do to change it. She was refused the right to get herself emancipated because the government's further interference. They'd deemed her unfit to live on her own after the tragedy. She wasn't naïve enough to just believe this excuse. The real reason was that she was a risk. Her mother was evil. They were concerned that the apple didn't fall very far from the tree.
She, Tenni Sieve, was a potential threat.
Of course, they couldn't completely write her off or take custody of her themselves. She was still a minor and had relatives somewhere out there in the world. Apparently, these so called relatives had fought for the right to adopt her into their family. The convenience of the whole arrangement made Tenni suspicious. She couldn't easily believe, after being rejected by so many people, that there were people out there who genuinely wanted her to come live with them. Not only that, she didn't know how she felt about having to go live with people other than the ones she'd grown up with. Rhonda was her first choice because she was nice to her and the closest thing she'd ever had to someone treating her like a human being.
Unfortunately, today was the day she'd been told to meet her new family. Of course, she'd had the option of asking Rhonda for a ride to the address she'd been provided. She'd refused to do so partially because she didn't want to be an inconvenience, and partially because she really was irrationally mad at Rhonda for not being able to adopt her. If she were forced to be around the woman, she'd probably say something she'd regret and ruin the only relationship she had. So she decided to try and assert some independence (she felt it was as good a time as any to practice) and tried to take a bus to Maxville.
All had gone well until she'd gotten to the Maxville station. She didn't have enough money to get on the next bus to take her to the stop near where her relatives lived. With Herculean effort, Tenni had had to force herself to speak to one of the strangers waiting for the bus if they could tell her how to get there on foot. The person luckily knew where she meant and gave her the right directions. Before leaving the station, she made sure she committed them perfectly to memory before heading off the way she'd been told to go. Only a couple of blocks in, she had already felt exhausted and was only a quarter of the way there. Her feet, her back, her arms, all killing her. All of the clothing she was wearing was soiled by the sweat and dirt that had been blown into her by light gusts of wind. If someone were to see her on the street, they'd probably think her some sort of homeless beggar or runaway. This really wasn't the impression she needed to be giving to her relatives when they were graciously taking her in.
Her eyes began to sting and water as the sweat started leaking into her eyes. Tenni was ready to cry for real, she was just getting so tired of being tired and filthy and feeling sorry for herself. That was why when she was done rubbing her eyes dry, she was overcome by such joy and relief at the sight of the street sign half a block down reading the name of the street the house was on. Her exhaustion near forgotten in the excitement, she bolted forward rounded the corner, making a right. The sight of perfectly uniform white houses was what she was met with. Lawns were trimmed and there weren't any brown patches anywhere. Some of them had sprinklers running, and she felt the tempted to run through them but fought it down reminding herself now wasn't the time to goof around.
She did, however, use her power to pull a bit of the water into her hand to splash her face with so it didn't look so dirty.
Sooner than she'd expected, she found herself in front of the house with the address that matched what was written on the little scrap of paper in her hand. All previous concerns were wiped away as she stared at the door in front of her with great trepidation. She was still unsure about this whole relative business. Deep down, she really wanted this family to like her and want her like her other hadn't. She wanted it so bad with all of her heart. But even more than that, she was afraid of being hurt by their reaction if it turned out they didn't like her. Would they judge her based on the crimes of her mother? Would they be resentful of her coming into their home and disrupting their life?
Knowing she had no choice, she swallowed down her fear and reached forward with a shaky hand to ring the doorbell. It made a light, pleasant sound, though it was muffled from where she stood on the other side. Her anxiety peaked when there was immediate response to the sound within the house. Footsteps thundered towards the front door before it was thrown wide open revealing a brunet boy her age standing opposite her in the doorway. He stared back at her a little dumbstruck.
So this was the son, her cousin. They'd told her that her relative was the sister of her mother. Apparently, she was also an international superhero who was married to a hero as well. For a second, Tenni couldn't help but laugh at the joke that was her mother's life. With a hero sister and a hero husband, all of that good in her life, how had she turned out so bad? It was just one of those mysteries, Tenni guessed. Big god damn mystery.
"Um, hi?" the boy finally said.
"Hi," Tenni unsurely echoed.
"Are you okay?"
"Why?" she asked back, defensively.
"Well," he stuttered back a little nervously, "You just seem, I don't know, kind of sad. Like you need a hug."
That struck her a little speechless. She really didn't know how to feel about the comment.
"So um, why is it you're here?"
"I'm here to see Josie Stronghold."
"Oh. Okay. Mom!" he called into the house, "There's someone here to see you!" He returned his attention to her, "So what's your name? How come you need to see my mom?"
Her answer was interrupted when a gorgeous auburn-haired woman stepped into view. Tenni was struck by deja vu. The coloring was all wrong, but the woman was the just about the spitting image of her own mother. It was eerie. The minute she made eye contact with her, Tenni's eyes shot back down to her feet uncomfortably.
"Tennille?" she heard the woman whisper with a hint of wonder.
"It's Tenni," she corrected a little petulantly, but with no real bite, "It's nice to finally meet you Aunt Josie."
The boy jerked in surprise.
"Oh sweetie, I'm so sorry for your loss," the woman said, tears starting to spill out of the corners of her eyes. She stepped forward and pulled Tenni into a hug. The girl simply patted her aunt on the back soothingly.
"It's alright Aunt Josie. You lost something too."
Her aunt seemed to cry even harder that. They stood there for a while, the woman crying into her shoulder as she awkward stood there consoling her. Her cousin kept on sneaking peeks at her, trying to figure out this new cousin that had come out of nowhere. Eventually, Aunt Josie had to let go of her, sniffing and snuffling a little and she lead the girl into her home. On their way in, she was formally introduced to Will Stronghold as his cousin and also her uncle, Aunt Josie's husband Steven Stronghold. Aunt Josie gave the two a run down of Tenni's situation. She watched as their expressions changed from confused to compassionate and sympathetic. The adults decided to have a private discussion and so Will pulled her and her bag along to give her a tour of the house.
The rest of the say seemed to fly by at an alarming rate. Tenni was beginning to become overwhelmed by everything going on in the Stronghold home. Aunt Josie put on a strong front for her even though she looked like she was barely containing her own grief. Uncle Steve was trying, not very smoothly, to keep everything light and humorous for not only her sake but for Aunt Josie's as well. The only person who she could really stand to be around was her cousin Will. He intrigued her because he was the first person she had ever met who was her age. All her life, the only people she'd ever known were adults. It was refreshing being around someone who wasn't an authority figure. He actually seemed interested in getting to know her and had such interesting things to tell her about or show her. It made her feel like an actual twelve year-old for once.
When night came, he told her she could have his bed. She protested at first, she didn't feel right taking it, but he told her the guest room wasn't ready for her yet and that he'd be fine taking the fold out bed in his couch. They spent the whole night wide-awake, Will just talking and talking about school, and about his best friend Layla. He'd even called out from his window and a redheaded girl with short pig tails appeared in the window across the way. Will excitedly introduced her as the best friend, and she got so excited by the news that Tenni was a relative of Will's she babbled incoherently for a couple of minutes about how awesome it was, her pigtails bouncing with every exclamation.
By the time they felt sleep creeping in on them, the sun looked like it was rising.
"I guess it's time to really go to bed," Will said, with some chagrin.
Tenni fought a yawn.
"Can you tell me about Sky High one more time?"
So he did. She fell asleep, cuddled in his ridiculously patriotic themed pillows and comforter, to the sound of his voice telling her all about the school in the sky. At Sky High, the both of them and Layla would all become superheroes. It was a nice thought, a place where she could be normal, maybe even something extraordinary. Something more than a mistake like her parents thought she was. She imagined Will and Layla being great heroes and she at their side, as part of their family.
It was really nice.
Prologue: Beginning Anew – End
AN: This rewrite is prompted by the fact that I started writing Past Upon Lies and Illusions almost five years ago. I was really immature and didn't really know what I was doing. My writing style and tastes have changed over time, and looking back on the fic, I know I can write better. So this is my challenge to myself. The plot will follow PULaI with some changes, nothing too big. Thank you anyone who still has faith in this story and me after all the crap and waiting I put you guys through.
Chapter One: Up in the Air