Steve is back, but things aren't quite the same
[Takes place recently, following Steve's return.]
It's very late at Steve Sandvoss' townhome in Hyde Park - getting on towards 3 am. All is quiet, and Steve himself is fast asleep after a long day at the University. Things are mostly covered from his month-long absence, though he's pretty sure that at least a few people don't quite buy it. It's enough, though. Being tenured is definitely a blessing at a time like.this.
The stillness of the room is disrupted for a moment by a quick breeze which has the effect of stripping the single bedsheet away from Steve's sleeping form. He's a pleasing sight, in very good shape as a leftover side effect from his former powers. Steve turns slowly onto his back, arms spread to the sides, and dressed only in a pair of pale blue silk pajama bottoms which have worked rather lower on his hips than he would normally permit.
Steve's eyes begin to move behind their closed lids - he's begun to dream. It's a dream that he's had a few times since his recent strange experience. A dream of brilliant lights and ethereal sounds.
The breeze abruptly returns, stronger now, despite the room's closed windows. The inexplicable events continue as Steve's body raises from the bed, seemingly lifted by the moving air, until it is nearly three feet above the large mattress.
Suddenly, a bright light begins to stream from Steve's chest, increasing in size and intensity until the entire room is completely washed out with it. A cascade of tones, as if from sone huge array of chimes, also fills the area, waking the neighborhood's people and animal alike, dogs howling as the sounds spread outside of the human range of hearing. The light, more intense than the sun, is visible even through the drawn curtains.
Then, as abruptly as it started, the maelstrom of light and sound is gone. The wind also ceases, dropping Steve onto his mattress.
Steve wakes a moment after falling and bouncing off the mattress, limbs flailing in a reflex effort. After coming to rest once again, he sits up and looks around.
"What the hell?" He's disoriented, the memory of his dream already fading. Looking around in the darkened room, he sees the glowing display of his alarm clock and groans. Steve is still getting used to the idea that he can't get ready and get to work in a handful of seconds anymore. Some of his heightened perceptions seem to linger a bit, or maybe it's just a form of muscle memory. Whatever it really is, sometimes things just seem to take forever now. Steve rubs his face tiredly. He is just going to have to take on less than before in a given day. There had been the fear that his intelligence might be affected by the loss of his power, faster neurons and so forth, but Steve is greatly relieved to have discovered that this doesn't seem to be the case. While he can't fill a chalkboard with equations in a half second anymore, Steve's mind and knowledge appears to be intact.
Fumbling with the nightstand a bit, he manages to turn on the bed side lamp. Sliding out of bed, he tugs his pajamas up a bit, tighening the drawstring slightly. He can hear the sound of the neighborhood dogs barking and frowns, wandering what that's all about.
Stepping into the bathroom, he snaps on the light, fumbles again with the drawstring and relieves himself. That done, Steve turns off both lights and climbs slowly back onto the bed. Sleep comes quickly enough.
Later that morning, Steve has made it through the (to him) slow process of getting ready for work, and heads out the door. Pausing on the landing after locking his front door, Steve looks around for a minute. The row of townhomes and well-kept yards seems like it always has, perfectly normal.
Steve is startled out of his brief reverie by a sudden flapping sound and movement from the corner of his eye. He flinches away violently as he notices that a bird of some kind has settled onto his shoulder. "What the fuck?!" The small creature flutters away as he waves his arms. The last thing he needed was to get his suit clawed up or shat upon, but a quick check shows no damage.
Deciding that it's best to get moving, Steve heads down the walkway towards the curb, where his car is parked. Stepping around towards the driver's side, he hits the keyless entry and is about to open the door when he notices that he has an audience. Not the nosy lady across the road, whom he suspects has a bit of a crush on him, but rather her cat. A pretty little orange-striped tabby, who has never shown any interest in him before, but is doing just that now. From the sidewalk on the other side of the street, the little creature is sitting there, staring at him. Glancing around, Steve sees that the animal isn't alone. Another neighbor's dog. A squirrel. Another bird, this one at the ornate birdbath in his yard. All motionless, all seemingly staring at him.
Feeling a bit like a character in a Stephen King movie, Steve gets in his car and pulls away quickly.
The day at the University is fairly normal. His colleague and friend, Famke Janssen, is in town and they have a pleasant lunch together. Being able to keep up in a conversation with Famke is the best sign that his intelligence is still intact. Thankfully, Famke seems to accept his cover story at face value. Steve is definitely relieved -Famke isn't an easy person to deceive and he doubts that he could keep her at bay if she chose to press him on the matter.
Famke does, however, make an odd observation. Steve is surprised, but a few other people confirm it when asked. Steve isn't sure of it himself, until he gets home that evening. He showers thoroughly, checks his shampoo and soap, checks his deodorant. Later that evening, he's sitting on his bed, wearing only a towel, feeling very confused.
There's no denying it, though, and no accounting for it. If anything, showering makes it more obvious. Stephen Sandvoss, physics professor and onetime superhero, smells like apples.
Something weird was definitely going on.
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