For a woman with a Name as evocative as Hellfire, the woman herself was pretty normal.
Hair colored the too-black that spoke of a dye job, a steel stud piercing the crease between her upper lip and cheek – a Monroe, Aiyana remembered vaguely – clothes that were trendy but covered more than current fashion normally called for. White, like the boards insisted, with gold-flecked brown eyes as the only truly striking part of her. She was on the attractive side of average, Aiyana supposed, but not anyone that turned heads on the street.
“I’m Hellfire,” the woman said, when it became apparent that Anna would not be introducing her to Aiyana.
“Aiyana,” Aiyana replied, shaking the proffered hand. She nearly started when she realized Hellfire didn’t run as hot as Predator or Flare; she’d honestly just assumed it was a Named thing.
Hellfire blinked in surprise. “That’s a pretty Name. What language is it in?”
Hearing the capitalization in her inflection, Aiyana shook her head. “My Name is Mirror, I just prefer my birth name.”
The other woman’s eyes flicked to Anna, and the two of them shared a moment of silent communication too fast for Aiyana to make out.
“Aiyana, then,” Hellfire said amiably, dropping Aiyana’s hand. “I ordered appetizers in advance, since this place takes forever.” She flashed a quick, almost-apologetic smile. “I hope you don’t have any common allergies Predator somehow forgot to tell me about.”
Anna scoffed, Aiyana reassured her that she wasn’t allergic to anything she knew about, and the three woman made their way to the table Hellfire had gotten for them.
After a few casual introductory questions from Hellfire – how had she met Predator, what was she studying and did she like it, the usual icebreakers – Aiyana let herself fade out of the conversation, watching the two of them interact.
With Flare, Anna challenged, poked at him, and he let it roll off of his back. She tried to push his buttons unsuccessfully, and he successfully pushed hers by not letting it get to him. With Hellfire, every time Anna flashed her teeth, Hellfire responded with something subtly cutting in return, only the light in her eyes letting on that what she’d said was a slight. Anna was the flash, the open threat, Hellfire the subtle danger, the power behind the scenes, only acquiring a warning tinge in Aiyana’s mind after she’d watched her for a while.
Just when it seemed like lunch was heading toward a wrap without any of the seriousness Anna had implied when she’s said Aiyana had to meet Hellfire, Anna stood, pushing in her chair.
“Call me when you’re done,” she said shortly. She bent over to press a lingering kiss to Aiyana’s lips, dazing her long enough that she could slip away without protest.
Aiyana blinked, trying to shrug it off, and turned to Hellfire.
“Not the subtlest, your girl,” Hellfire commented wryly. She tapped the menus she’d apparently snagged off of a waitress when Aiyana had been busy with Anna’s goodbye. “Dessert?”
The two of them ordered small desserts, and Hellfire fixed Aiyana with a steady gaze when the waitress left.
“Knowing Predator, she brought you in out of the dark as little as possible,” Hellfire started calmly, folding her hands in front of her, “and only brought you to see me because she couldn’t keep you out of the loop any longer.”
Aiyana frowned, torn between wanting to say yes, to get answers, but not wanting to slight her girlfriend.
Hellfire waved a hand. “It’s fine, you don’t have to say anything. It doesn’t really matter how it happened, she asked me to be your guide, so I will. I’m guessing she hasn’t told you what a guide is, or what they do?”
At that, Aiyana shook her head.
“I teach you what the Named are about, what the new world is, and generally serve as a mentor while you’re getting used to our world.” A flashed smile, brighter than Aiyana thought she was capable of. “You can ask me anything, and I’ll either answer or explain why I can’t.”
“So, since I can ask you anything…” Aiyana trailed off, then resumed when Hellfire nodded encouragingly, “what can you do?”
“You’ve met Flare, seen his stuff?”
“I can do everything he can, but better.” Hellfire paused for a second. “Well, not the emotional part.”
“Emotional part?” Aiyana pursed her lips, not liking the sound of that in the slightest.
“You should ask him for details, but the simple answer is that he can cause brief, intense flashes of emotion.” Hellfire waved a hand. “They don’t last long, but they don’t need to.”
“When you say everything he can, but better-”
“Everything.” Hellfire said firmly. She gave Aiyana a half-smile when she saw the almost-affronted look on her face. “It doesn’t sound fair, I know, but real life isn’t like the comics, where almost nobody has directly overlapping powers.”
“You read comics?” Aiyana asked, blinking.
“If you’re smart, you will too,” Hellfire advised. “Chances are, someone in a comic somewhere can do something like what you can, and they’ll have thought of different uses for it than you have.” Anticipating Aiyana’s question, she continued, “I’ve picked up a few tricks myself.”
“I wouldn’t have thought hellfire would be a common power.”
“It’s really common among villains, actually, and even a few of the minor heroes have it. They don’t really channel it the way I do – unless you take a look at an actual devil from hell – but they put it to creative uses.” A small, not-very-nice smile crossed Hellfire’s face for a few seconds. “I can’t really show you here, and I try not to call on it unless it’s necessary, anyway.”
“Have you seen anyone blink themselves through mirrors?” Aiyana asked wryly.
“No, but there are a lot of shapeshifters.” Hellfire flashed another half-smile at Aiyana’s surprise. “Predator told me what she could about what you can do, hon.”
“Alright,” Aiyana leaned back in her chair, “so tell me about these shapeshifters.”
“First and best is Mystique….”