Another factor has to do with pain and power exchange. Gray is kinky. So are several other members of his gang, in various ways. The storyline shows how Gray starts picking up the skills that will, a few years down the line, make him an amazing top. One of the folks who has gotten to see the backchannel copies suggested that I highlight this stuff as a more positive representation of kink than the stalkery mess that is 50 Shades of Gray. (No, the names aren't related. My character's first name is Gray, and his cape name is a riff on the paint color Payne's grey.) Here's what I've written so far ...
Note: These poems range from dark and heavy to fluff with chocolate frosting. Some are sexy/kinky, some nonsexual kink and sensation, some about other things altogether. Below the cut are spoilers and excerpts.
"Down New Paths"
This poem introduces a couple of new characters I've wanted to get to for some time now. This is actually set a few years before the nominal now for Polychrome Heroics. So Lupê Hêdonê has her superpowers, but she hasn't learned good dominatrix skills yet; and Gray hasn't even gotten his superpowers so far. What starts out as a fun scene ends very, very badly. It's probably the nastiest case of subdrop that I've written. And Gray, gods bless him, can still make astute relationship decisions while utterly wrecked. He makes it back home, where his friends Ricasso and Thriver take care of him. This is hardcore hurt/comfort.
304 lines, Buy It Now = $152
Gray liked working for supervillains.
They appreciated his toughness,
even though it wasn't at their level,
and they paid him well.
Ricasso took good care of him, always
treating Gray like something special, and
frowned whenever Gray demurred
with, "I'm just an ordinary guy."
Ricasso didn't think of anyone as ordinary.
"The Breaking of the Shell"
Gray's friend Marcus gets him into a world of trouble with a rival gang, which starts out with a beating in the street, moves into outright torture, and ends with the traumatic manifestation of Gray's superpower. Gray decides that he has had enough of that shit from Marcus. Ricasso and Thriver come to the rescue.
402 lines, Buy It Now = $201
Gray had been running errands
for Ricasso all morning, working
in tandem with Marcus. As he
scrolled through the project list on
his smartphone, his stomach growled.
"What say you make the last delivery alone,
and I'll go steal us some lunch," Marcus offered.
"Sure," Gray said with a nod. His friend was
fast enough not to get caught, and it would be
nice to have lunch waiting after the errand.
"Strong at the Broken Places"
This poem features Gray's recovery from the beating, Thriver helping him cope with two broken arms, and Ricasso giving Gray his first lessons in how to control his superpower. Gray worries about it getting out of hand, but other than that, this is mostly fluff.
510 lines, Buy It Now = $255
A low buzz at his wrists
woke Gray from a heavy sleep.
"Who set my alarm?" he grumbled,
trying to sit up and shut it off.
Moving his arms hurt like hell.
Oh right ... he'd gotten tortured, and
gotten superpowers, and you'd think
they'd let a guy sleep it off after that.
Ricasso calls Gray and Marcus into his office to resolve what Marcus did to Gray. It does not go well. Although the setup heavily implies corporal punishment, it never quite comes to that. It's just a lot of emotional whump in which Marcus stomps on Gray's heart some more, because Marcus is a clueless douchenozzle. Oh look, I wrote another crying man. Fortunately Ricasso knows how to cope with that.
478 lines, Buy It Now = $239
It took several days after the beating
before Gray recovered enough to regain
his focus and leave his bed for more
than a few minutes at a time.
He spent most of those early days
sleeping, eating, watching television, and
trying to get a handle on his new superpower.
Ricasso waited until Gray started
moving around their current headquarters
and chatting casually with his friends.
"How You Combine Them"
Gray deals with the aftermath of his situation, struggles with sleep disturbances, and decides to take a class on pastry cooking. All the fluffy fluffness, with frosting on it! And cream filling! But they are still supervillains.
202 lines, Buy It Now = $101
Gray healed amazingly fast,
and he wasn't sure how much of it
was due to his new superpower
just because soups often healed well,
and how much of it was because of
the lacy black casts encasing his forearms.
He could move around without wincing,
and his arms no longer ached
when he used his hands.
"I love these casts," he told Thriver.
"What Makes a Team Work"
While recovering, Gray works in Ricasso's office until the casts come off. Then he celebrates by baking chocolate macarons, and mulls over how to fit his new superpower into the gang's operations. More fluff.
212 lines, Buy It Now = $106
Gray sat at the secretary desk
in Ricasso's office that served as
a spare work station for anyone
too injured to go out in the field but
recovered enough for light tasks.
As soon as his arms healed enough
that moving his fingers no longer hurt,
Thriver had cleared him for desk duty,
first in short spans, then longer, and
now Gray could get through a full shift.
The work wasn't exciting, but he liked
the rows of little cubbyholes that made it
easy for him to keep the desk tidy.
"No Feeling of Being Alive"
With the casts finally off, Gray is allowed back into the gym. After that, though, Ricasso wants his help with another gang member, because Side-eye's blunted feelings make him crave intense stimulation. Gray discovers a few other things besides pure pain that get through to him. One of them is hand-feeding spicy pastries, in which the hurt and the comfort are the same thing. Another is sensation play. So it's kind of sparring, kind of kink, and takes a while for Side-eye to settle because he still doesn't understand his feelings very well. But it's all about people taking care of each other.
810 lines, Buy It Now = $405
In the morning, Gray went to the gym
and worked through the short set of
exercises that Thriver recommended.
There were elbow bends, wrist bends,
and forearm rotations. Thriver had also
stuck a note reading, Take a hike!
onto the treadmill and another
that said, Don't even think about it,
on the weightlifting equipment.
Gray soon discovered even that
much wore him out quickly.
Thriver had warned him to push
only as far as discomfort, not pain.
Gray felt grateful for the excuse
to quit and go see Ricasso instead.
Currently we have three epics open for microfunding, so I'd rather not launch a new one until after closing at least one of these. Gray's set also needs to be posted in sequence, which ideally means the introductory poem will get sponsored first. But I thought folks would enjoy a peek at the lineup.