Roxanne didn't know how she ended up in Mace's arms, and his memory of coming in through her window was hazy. But he knew she was upset and wanted to know why.

When he found her crying, he had known it was the right decision.

Her explanation came slowly, haltingly, but Mace was patient, stroking her hair as she cried into his chest, listening without interruption. His fists clenched momentarily at the unexpected bigotry of her father, but he forced himself to remain calm, making small soothing sounds to calm her.

"It's all right," he whispered, nuzzling the top of her head. "It's all right. Everything will be OK."

"Why don't you just leave?" Roxanne demanded, trying to draw away from him, but Mace wouldn't have that. "All you're going to do is get us both in trouble!"

"Because I don't want to," he announced, drawing himself up in mock self importance, then smiled warmly and relaxed his posture. "And because as much as I hate to see you cry, I hate it more to think about you crying alone."

"Hey!" The door slammed open suddenly, and Mace and Roxanne both jumped and turned startled eyes on the figure in the door. It was Reptung, and Mace's gaze darkened, tightening his grip on Roxanne. "I can hear you two halfway down the dagging staircase. Now, I really don't care to know what you two are up to, and I'm trying to watch the first entertaining thing our parents have ever done, so try to keep it down, will you?"

The corners of Roxanne's mouth twitched up slightly, and she wiped her face and nodded.

"Yeah, Reptung. Whatever pleases his highness."

"Krint. Mace," Reptung added, nodding his head and disappearing through the door, shutting it softly behind him.

Gilda would have shaken her head if it wasn't still broken, but as it was she rolled her eyes, shooting a Minion look that, since his master didn't have siblings, he didn't understood. But he nodded as if he did—no one ever wanted to seem ignorant—and they returned to their background silence, metal fingers clasping metal fingers in the manner of any shy, uncertain minion.

Roxanne and Mace stopped talking for a long time while Roxanne brought herself under control, and Mace continued to stroke her hair. When they finally did speak, it was in whispers.

"I'm not alone," Roxanne said softly. "I have Gilda."

"You know what I mean," Mace insisted. His forehead now rested on hers, and his toes flexed in anticipation of the link that never came—it was frustrating, not having that instant connection, but at the same time, it couldn't help but incite relief—There were things in Mace's memory that he'd rather not share with Roxanne Aida Cerebellum, Earthling-turned-Cerulean, born-human and naturalized to Cerul.

Suddenly, Roxanne laughed, and Mace looked up, startled. Had he heard her laugh before? He wasn't sure—well, maybe once or twice, but…

"What?" he asked, and Roxanne looked down, blushing. She shook her head.


"Nothing? So we've somehow been pulled out of the space-time continuum have we? Well, it looks as if we've all of eternity here, then. Such a terrible, terrible fate—we shall never again see our families! Oh, sweet Temptress, what have you done? Why have you brought upon us the dreadful Nothing?"

He clutched at his heart and fell back upon Roxanne's bed, and she giggled, laughing again when he grabbed her around the waist to pull her down beside him and kiss her adorably tiny forehead. He looked down into her eyes, which sparkled in the dim light, and she smiled shyly back at him and his impossibly green irises.

"There is no nothing," he iterated, and leaned his head back down to meet hers. "What's perched upon that tack of yours?"

"It feels like I've known you forever," Roxanne admitted, face growing slowly redder. "But…" She didn't finish, but she didn't have to.

"Well, there's that Red String of Fate theory," Mace mused. "Multiple planes of exist-ence, the Multiverse, premonitory sensations, chronic dégà-vu, chem-est-tree. Or maybe you're just insane."

"Are you insane, too?"

"The insanenest."

Mace pulled her closer, planting another kiss, this time on her lips, and holding her in his arms as close as he could in this position. And it was a funny thing, really, serving to make him certain he was either completely sane or worthy of being institutionalized, because, of all the things for her to be, she was a perfect fit.


Isst leaned against the doorframe, a melancholy smile planted on her face as she stared in at her daughter, sleeping soundly in Mace's arms, Mace being peacefully at rest himself. From this angle, Isst had to turn her head to see them, but sure enough, there were Gilda and Minion, snoozing in their bowls, their fingers loosely entwined. The melancholy smile widened just slightly, and she turned as robotic footsteps crept toward her. She expected Civ, but received Rit.

Isst turned quickly back to the scene of peace, wanting to forget today's scene of destruction. The kitchenware had been expensive, but would be easily replaced. The pieces still littered floor and carpet alike, and they'd have to walk lightly these next few days to avoid discovering them through the aid of the body's communication and transportation systems, but that wasn't what hurt (or would hurt) most. No, what hurt was the transportation system's close friend and ally, which regulated, controlled, and listened to the transport system with near-perfect accuracy. In simpler terms, it was the heart, not the blood, that would stain today in all their memories in a wash of piercing, colorless, bloodless pain.

"If you're going to tell Loral, then just go and get it over with," Isst commanded, but Rit only came closer, stopping at her side to peer silently into the room with her. His red face was emotionless, but for perhaps the tiny twinkle of his own melancholy showing in the gold-tinted brown of his eyes.

They were silent for a very long time, their thoughts their own, both here and elsewhere, traveling down their own roads and waiting for the time when it seemed natural for them to converge. Isst was the first to reach this intersection and, not looking up, asked,

"We didn't make any mistakes, did we, Rit?"

"No, Mistress," Rit replied.

"Then how can we expect them to?" Isst demanded. There was a long pause before Rit answered.

"You can't." Rit waited for a reply, expecting it, but when none came, he went on. "Mistress, I'm not trying to defend Sir, but you know how he grew up."

"Yes," Isst snapped, crossing her arms over her chest. "I know how he grew up—it's how we all grew up, isn't it? And I know his family had a perfectly good reason to distrust Cryptonians after what they did, but I would have thought he'd have grown out of those prejudices by now, especially against his own daughter, who isn't even Cryptonian!" Another long pause.

"But she looks it."

"It doesn't matter how she looks!" Isst hissed. "She isn't, and never has been! She's not even as strong as we are, let lone them. She so…Cerulean!"

"He can't help how he was raised, Mistress," Rit returned sagely, then added, "none of us can." He was gone soon after, and Isst continued to stand in the doorway, watching the steady rise and fall of the teenagers' chests and noticing, with a small tug at her heartstrings, that they were in sync.

But the night wore on, and Isst supposed she should call Mace's parents—he had a bad habit of forgetting this. Isst could still remember a time when the boy had been ten and had been out past midnight without alerting anyone to where he would be. Nearly everyone in the surrounding area had been out looking for him, and when they'd found him he's been curled up around his minion's portable sphere, some gadget or another clutched in one hand, sleeping in a hollowed-out log.

So, with a sigh, Isst shut the door as softly as she could and ventured downstairs to find her com. chip. She pressed the small button and said, "the Mind household." There was a short pause before Mendje appeared, projected on the nearest wall.

"Isst?" Mendje asked. She looked worried, but smiled all the same. "How are you?"

"Ollo, Mendje," Isst greet. "I'm fine. And you?"

"Much the same. It's awfully late to be calling, don't you think?"

"Perhaps, but I'd rather not wait for morning. I just wanted to call and inform you that Mace will be staying the night."

"Is that…appropriate?" Mendje looked a little frightful, but Isst smiled brightly and shook her head.

"They fell asleep talking and I haven't the heart to wake either one, regardless of appropriation."

"So they enjoyed themselves?" Mendje asked, allowing herself to relax.

"I'd like to think so," Isst replied. "It shames me to admit that I didn't even hear them come home—they must have entered through the window. Well, I'll let you be, Mendje. Be well."

"And you as well, Isst."

"And Mendje?"


"I would appreciate it if word never reached Loral." Mendje nodded sympathetically.

"Of course, Isst. May glass turn to sand beneath your feet." Then the image was gone, and Isst turned to make her way back upstairs in the dark. She paused on the first step and cursed.

Her feet were not alchemists.