"What Lies Within Us"
[Saturday, December 6, 2014]
Marko fussed with his desk,
moving piles of paper
back and forth.
"Talk to me, boss,"
said Pips. "I can't help
you solve problems if I
don't know what they are."
Marko sighed. "I feel as
if I'm trying to build a friendship
from scratch, but with no pattern,
no tools, and no cheat sheet to see
what it's supposed to look like."
"Ah," Pips said. "Now
I see the problem."
He moved closer, and
Marko closed his eyes
for a moment, tracking
the smaller man with
the telemetry from
his eye glasses and
the tracking chip.
Pips drifted into place
at Marko's side, warm
and familiar as a shadow.
"You just need to match this
with something you already know,"
Pips said. "Then it won't seem
so unfamiliar and confusing."
"Like what?" Marko said.
"Well, you managed
to make friends with me,"
Pips pointed out.
"I was your boss first,"
Marko said, shaking his head.
"That's not the same thing."
"You were Sapphirina's teammate,
and so on," Pips said. "Besides,
you are Genna's boss too."
Marko gave a strangled laugh.
"I somehow forgot that," he said.
"It doesn't feel the same."
"That's because each friendship
is a little different," Pips said.
"I wasn't expecting Genna
to fold me into her family, but
she did. It still doesn't feel
the same as the Tulls."
"Really?" Marko asked.
"Really," Pips said. "Boss,
everyone gets confused about
relationships sometimes. It's why
there are a zillion books on the topic."
Marko blinked, flicking his attention
across the web in a quick search.
There were over 50,000 books
on relationships in general and
another 40,000 on friendship.
It made him feel a little less alone
to know that enough other people
felt confused by this stuff to need
that many books explaining it.
He wondered if any of them
were actually good, though.
"Find anything?" Pips said gently.
"Lots of hits, no filters," Marko said.
"I wouldn't know where to start."
"Let's start a little closer to home,"
Pips said. "What do you want from
a friendship, and what do you bring to it?"
"I just want friends who know who I am --
who I really am -- and don't try to make me
into someone else," Marko admitted.
"Wish granted," Pips murmured.
"Now finish the other part."
"I don't know, money
I suppose," Marko said.
Pips clucked his tongue.
"Not something you have,
boss, something you do."
"I solve problems?" Marko tried.
"Yeah, you're good at that,"
Pips said. "I sure appreciate it."
Marko had gotten him out of
some sticky situations. It was
good to see the boy finding
better ones now, despite
the wretched mess that had
landed him in Genna's lap.
Reaching out, Marko ghosted
a hand along Pip's back in
a rare gesture of affection.
"I'm glad to hear it," Marko said.
"You deserve to be happy."
"So look at what you do well,"
Pips said. "You do research.
You soak up data like a sponge.
You take all these separate bits
and put them together somehow."
"But that's easy," Marko protested.
"Friendship is much harder than that."
"What is Genna's favorite candy bar?"
Pips challenged, leaning into him.
"Genna doesn't like candy bars,"
Marko said instantly. "She bakes
beignets from scratch." He licked
his lips. "And amazing brownies."
"So she does," Pips said. "People
often bring candy for a friend, to show
that they're thinking about each other.
Since you know Genna doesn't like
candy, what else could you give her?"
Marko thought about that. "I don't
know. Maybe a sample batch of
that ruby cocoa powder the girls are
trying to whip up in the lab that they
think Aunt Flo doesn't know about?"
"You should totally do that,"
Pips said with a laugh. "I would
love to taste what she'd do with that.
Probably break someone's economy."
"Probably so," Marko said, then grinned.
"Fortunately, we're supervillains so we
don't have to feel guilty about that."
"I don't feel guilty about anything
that gets me more of Genna's cooking,"
Pips said. "Not even a tiny flicker."
"I'm ... working on it," Marko said.
"Everything is just so new."
"Relationships are like that,"
Pips said. "Trust me, you're
doing fine. Or better yet, trust
Genna. Tell her how you feel
and see what she says."
"I know I should," Marko said.
"I'm trying. It's just hard, after
everything I've been through
and what I'm planning to do."
"What lies before us and
what lies behind us are
small matters compared to
what lies within us," Pips said,
"and when we bring what is within
out into the world, miracles happen."
He brushed against Marko then,
the lightest possible offer of contact.
"You really think it will work?"
Marko said, hardly daring to hope.
"One, it's Genna," said Pips. "If you
tell her that you want to do something
but don't know how, then she will help
you figure out how to do it." Then he
smirked. "Two, you like her cooking."
"Okay," Marko said, taking a deep breath.
"Okay, I can do this. I can do this."
It only took a minute to compose
the message and send it to Genna.
Then he turned his attention
to procuring a sample of
the ruby cocoa powder
for her, because that was
surely the best idea ever.
* * *
"What lies before us and what lies behind us are small matters compared to what lies within us. And when we bring what is within out into the world, miracles happen."
-- Henry David Thoreau
(Some of these links are harsh.)
Fear of exposure is one of many reasons why people don't seek treatment or refuse to talk in treatment or even with friends. Men in particular often avoid talking about problems because they find it pointless or even hazardous.
How much you should tell a therapist or other confidant depends on you, them, and your challenges. There are benefits to talking about your problems, which tend to yield even better results if you have someone like Pips who excels at solving problems.
Consider the qualities of a good friend. This questionnaire invites you to think about them. Marko is actually much better at this than he realizes. His heart is in the right place; he works hard to make people happy and safe, even if some of his methods make some people uncomfortable. (Supervillain.) It's the social nuances that trip him up.
Communication is important in making friends and being a good friend. These are examples of things that best friends should know about each other.
Ruby chocolate has been in development for years, but only recently released on the market in our world. Terramagne has had it a little longer. They still haven't released a good cocoa powder from it, though, because the production process is different than other types of chocolate. Naturally a group of young women are snitching time in Aunt Flo's mad science lab to try making ruby cocoa powder. Marko and Aunt Flo both know about this, but they have not intervened because the girls aren't hurting anything and ruby chocolate is delicious.