Bitter Medic’s true power was the ability to do anything as long as the right price was paid. When customers knocked on his door with their requests, he told them the price and left it to them to decide whether to proceed or not.
But not this time.
“I’ll pay anything.”
“I can’t bring back the dead.”
That was a lie. He could do it, but too many lives would be destroyed just to bring one back.
The customer slammed the table and stood over him. “I won’t give up. One day, I’ll make you see it my way.”
Bitter Medic sat unfazed, used to the resentment of disappointed clients.
When they met again, it was as captor and captive.
“Have you changed your mind?” his ex-customer asked.
Bitter Medic ignored the knife at his face. “No.”
The ex-customer grinned. The knife glinted.
“I believe the right answer here is ‘Yes’.”
Genre: fantasy, superpowers
Every year, all registered superhumans were required to choose one of three alignments: superhero, neutral, and supervillain.
There were plenty of superhumans who chose to wield their powers as superheroes or law-abiding citizens, but there were also many who jumped at the chance to cause sanctioned chaos.
The controversial decision to include supervillains as one of the acceptable options sparked debates that never really ended.
On one hand, it was an open invitation for people to abuse their powers and distract the ‘good guys’ from using their powers to help people who actually needed them.
On the other hand, supervillains had to follow a lot of rules (like making sure their plan wasn’t dangerous to the public) to get their funding and their pardon for the crimes they would commit, and the age old fight between good and evil was great for tourism.
Sure there were some bad apples in the bunch, but they were the type that would have become supervillains anyway even without the formal paperwork. At least this way, the battles were more about showing off than life and death, and even made some dreams come true.
And… I came back to Potpourri. The prompt was too hard to resist XP
Takes place after First Kiss.
Genre: fantasy, superpowers
“The trick to a good alter ego,” said Inna AKA Super Scout, “Is not to create a completely different person.”
“Why not?” Patricia asked.
“It’s hard to maintain. And you don’t want to give yourself an identity crisis after pretending to be someone else for a few years.”
“Then what do I do?” Patricia drew random squiggles on the pillow with her fingers.
“Design your alter ego and your civilian identity at the same time. They’ll both be you, but you’ll emphasise different sides of you. Like how some people can be the perfect kid for their parents at home and a giant nightmare for the teachers in school.”
“I can do that.”
“Brainstorming time!” Inna announced and threw a giant sheet of paper over the coffee table. “Let’s start with how you’ll collect kisses from people.”
They decided very quickly that civilian Patricia would be the kind of person who would ask politely for a kiss. For super Patricia, Inna had plenty of outrageous ideas, but Patricia, the one who would actually play the part, had the final say, and her final say was a neutral who treated kisses as a well-known price people had to pay if they wanted her services. One kiss for one minute because her power was worth it, not because she couldn’t do anything without kisses.
Once they settled on that, the rest followed naturally. Civilian Patricia would just be her normal self. Super Patricia’s defining characteristic that set her apart from civilian Patricia was how much she didn’t care about what other people think. If other people got offended or didn’t agree, too bad. She was getting her kisses no matter what.
“We did good,” Inna said as she admired the large paper, now covered with scribbles and drawings from their fruitful brainstorming session.
“Let’s burn it.”
Patricia’s head snapped up to look at Inna.
“Unless you want to leave it around for other people to find it.” Inna shrugged.
“Let’s burn it,” Patricia quickly agreed.
“Knew you’ll see it my way.” Inna grinned and flicked a lighter on cue.
Within minutes, the only evidence left of their brainstorming session was a tray of ashes, which Inna dumped down the sink.
“Just in case there’s someone with a superpower that can turn those ashes back into paper. You never know,” was Inna’s explanation.
Well, this was it. She was going to be a superhuman. One of the special ones. She could do this. She was ready!
~Check out what happens after in Wavering Kisses~
Genre: fantasy, superpowers
There were many things Patricia thought her first kiss would be. Romantic, gentle, loving, maybe a little awkward, but definitely with someone she actually knew.
She didn’t know this stranger.
A rushed apology was the only warning she received before a girl pinned her against the wall and smashed their lips together. Twice. Patricia squirmed and pushed against the other girl but it was like fighting a wall.
“I’m Super Scout,” the girl said in a rush, “You might have heard of me before. My superpower is the ability to identify superpowers in other people. Good news. You have superpowers. You can create illusions. Your price is one kiss to use that ability for one minute.”
Super Scout kissed her twice again, dismissing Patricia’s attempts to dodge her with embarrassing ease.
“I have a second ability. I can use other people’s superpowers at double the price for half the results. Right now, I’m borrowing your powers at two kisses for thirty seconds of an illusion of me leading my pursuers somewhere else. I can’t let them catch me or bad things will happen to people like you.”
Another two kisses.
“I have another illusion around us so it looks like you’re alone on the phone. Can we go somewhere more private? In exchange, I’ll help you. Deal?”
As if the other girl would accept ‘no’ for an answer.
“Great. Let’s go.”
A dozen more kisses later, they were seated at the table in a small cafe. The background noise covered Super Scout’s voice as she briefed Patricia on the many unseen perils of being a superhuman, tips on how to protect herself, organisations to be wary of, how to endear herself to the public…
“What if I don’t want to be a superhero?” Patricia asked.
“You can be neutral. Or a supervillain. If that’s what you want.”
“I mean, what if I just want to be normal?”
Super Scout sent her a look.
“We both know that’s not true. I know there are hundreds of superhumans out there, but superpowers are actually very rare. It’ll be a shame for you to ignore what you have.”
Patricia ran her fingers over the condensation on her glass. Having superpowers was exciting, and she would love to use her special ability, if she didn’t have to turn into a kissing monster to use it. She pressed her lips together, which were still a little swollen from Super Scout’s kiss attacks.
“Kissing isn’t a bad price, you know,” Super Scout said softly, “Better than losing a little more of your future every time you use it.”
Put that way, she certainly had the better deal, but that didn’t mean she had to accept kissing everyone as her new normal just like that.
Super Scout held out a hand. “Your phone. Gimme.”
“Why?” Patricia asked even as she handed her phone over.
“So you can call me when you’re ready. I promised you I’ll help you, and I keep my promises.”
Patricia did need the number in the end. She had jealously guarded her lips in the past because she wanted her first kiss to be special. Her first kiss was already gone, so the rest of her kisses were just another form of physical contact.
If she told herself that long enough, she might actually believe it one day.
Interested in Patricia’s ability? Check out Rescue Kiss.
Genre: superpowers, fantasy
His words slurred in his exhaustion, but she didn’t need to hear the words to know what he wanted to say.
“Don’t be silly. There’s no way I can leave you when you obviously need my help.”
She counted at least 6 enemies surrounding them in all directions, not including the dozen more groaning on the ground. From the looks of it, she had arrived at the end of a long fight.
“Just because I’m helping you doesn’t mean I’ll do it for free. Usual rates apply. One kiss for one minute.”
Their enemies had shaken off their initial shock and started to close in. He mumbled something she assumed meant ‘yes’ (there was no time for objections anyway) and she leaned in.
The kiss activated her usually dormant powers. Without wasting a moment, she twisted the world into something like Escher’s impossible stairs. The illusion lasted for two minutes at most, but they were long gone by then, carried to safety by a griffin that didn’t exist.
Beside her, the dark-haired superhero was completely knocked out. She couldn’t just leave him there, where anyone could walk by and take advantage of him, but she didn’t know where he lived. Her only solution was to get comfortable and wait until he woke up.
He owed her for this, and she knew the perfect way he could repay her.
Check out the related story First Kiss.
Genre: superpowers, fantasy
If there was ever a competition to decide who had the lamest superpower, she would win. Hands down. No contest. What was this super lame superpower she had?
The ability to remove any stain.
Ink stains, grass stains, blood stains, any stains. Sing a short song and they were all gone. It was a useful ability to have, but definitely not superhero material. So when she received the form asking which alignment she would be for the year, she skipped past ‘superhero’ and ‘supervillain’ and chose ‘neutral’.
She hit a rough patch halfway through the year, and in an effort to earn some extra money, she set up a little stall at the local market to offer her stain removal services.
It turned out that people needed amazing stain removal more than they needed superheroes. News of her ability to sing the toughest stains away spread and her little stall exploded into an international business with job requests flying to her from every part of the world. She became a different kind of hero. A saviour of clothes.
That power was still super lame.
The inspiration for this story came from a Miraculous Ladybug/Avengers fanfic What the Cat Dragged In. The incident that sets off an important event in the story is someone’s carefully handcrafted white gown getting stained by wine. Later in the story, the characters offers to try and get the stain out, which I assume means sending it to a professional cleaner. At that point, I wondered what would it be like if someone had the power to remove stains.
And this story was born.
Genre: superpowers, fantasy
The metal egg blurred before his eyes. In the past, he would have ignored his growing exhaustion and pressed on with his project, but that was before, when he still worked with normal tools and the worst he could do was accidentally cut himself.
He left his work desk and flopped onto his bed, pretending not to notice the hidden agents watching his every move.
One slip up. That was all they were waiting for. An accident with his powers so they had an excuse to haul him back into their secret prison and seal his ability to destroy anything with just a touch.
The close watch was suffocating, and was likely to continue for the rest of his life, but he would accept it. A restricted life was better than no life at all.
They really needed to review their modus operandi. Ever since he developed the ability to travel through shadows, all his team did on rescue missions was send him in alone and crack jokes while he worked.
Right now, the topic of interest was his his catchphrase.
“I’m Sunshine. Agent Sunshine.”
“It’s a classic.”
He waited in the shadow under the bed until the girl was left alone.
“When the shadows of the world threaten you, remember that I am there. Who am I? Your sunniest shadow. Agent Sunshine.”
The guard finally left. He stepped out of the shadow. The girl let out a startled cry and hid behind a pillow.
“It’s ok. I’m here to help,” he said.
“Who are you?”
“I am the superhero who shines your way in the darkness. I am… Agent Sunshine!”
“A superhero. Your parents called me to bring you home. Let’s go.”
He slowly scooped the girl into his arms.
“Close your eyes and count to ten,” he said.
“What happens at ten?”
“You’ll see your parents.”
The girl closed her eyes.
He sunk into the shadows.
“I’m Agent Sunshine, and it’s counting time!”
When he got back, he was going to hang everyone upside down on the roof.
The ability to see into the future. Blessing? Or curse?
As someone who had used this ability for a month, he favoured the latter interpretation.
The ability itself wasn’t that big of a deal. He didn’t need to pay some obscene price to look into the future, but that was because the future he saw wasn’t helpful at all. Rather than one definite future, or even just a handful of alternate branches, he saw an infinite combinations of potential futures. He didn’t need future sight to do that. He just needed to be super paranoid and creative.
How was that a curse? Tell people that his superpower was future sight, and he would only attract the wrong kind of crowd holding expectations that he couldn’t possibly meet. He didn’t need future sight to see how badly things would end for him if that happened.
A girl drove past him. Images unfolded in his mind of her on the roof, back against the sunset as a green lion lunged at her and sunk its claws into her body.
Nothing else. Just that. How unusual.
He chased after the car.
I just finished binge reading a comic featuring time travel and the ability to see into the future. The time travel didn’t make the cut (for now), but the future sight did.
Inspired by the prompt treasure.
Genre: fantasy, superpowers
His sister had been the Sweet Medic for a few months before he stepped up to join her as the Bitter Medic. Because of that, most people thought his abilities developed later, when in reality, it was the other way around. In fact, if not for him, his sister might not have realised she had powers when she developed it later.
So why was it his sister who debuted first?
His sister had an ability that was undeniably positive. Who didn’t want a walking miracle cure? His ability, on the other hand, was less straightforward.
The public thought he was an inferior healer who required his patients to sacrifice their treasures in exchange for healing. They were right, and wrong at the same time.
He wasn’t a very powerful healer, because his powers weren’t about healing in the first place. His actual ability allowed him to do anything as long as the right price was paid, similar to the concept of equivalent exchange.
In the wrong hands with the right price, this ability could be catastrophic. So while his sister went ahead and shared her special powers with the world, he held back and spent the extra time to think of a different way to frame his ability.
Finally, he settled with his current persona as the Bitter Medic. For the sake of the world, he was willing to pretend to be an inferior healer who could only heal wounds at a bitter price.
Bitter Medic’s ability is inspired by the owner of the shop which grants wishes in the xxxholic manga and the principle of equivalent exchange from Fullmetal Alchemist. It would be interesting to explore the ability further in future stories.
For those who are interested, Sweet Medic can also be found in Little Acts of Kindness.
Check out The Right Price for more Bitter Medic.