GypsyRose - To take a thief - Origin story




oc I'm just that bored at work today
"You're such a 'fraidy cat," Jayce sneered at her in that way that was part mocking, part sibling rivalry and Gabriella stuck her tongue out at him. He was her older brother, older by six years, eighteen to her twelve.

"I am not!"

"So get down here and go swimming with us!" The family was in some little back water town, traveling through. Mama and Papa were working at one of the local farms and all their brood knew that the work would be over come August and they'd move again. It wasn't Paragon City. It wasn't even a Paragon City suburb, way out here in the sticks.

That was just how life worked for them. Pure Rom on all sides. Or as pure as you could get really. Her family and extended family had long ago given up most pretenses of being 'gypsy' blooded and since most of any decent festivals were held in Europe there weren't exactly opportunities to run around dressed in traditional clothing. Still, the children were told the old stories, passed on histories of what had happened to the dozens of motley branches of traveling people. It was a childhood filled with idealized dreams of freedom and romance and persecution and all of it indistinguishable from reality for Gabriella. Being the child of vagrant laborers meant that you lived with ideals of freedom and persecution on a daily basis and none of it had to do with her heritage.

"Get down here Gab!"

"No!" The current in the river was too swift for her tastes. She'd never liked water, not ever, not this much of it at least. She was okay if it was a small quiet pond where she could see the bottom but this? She could still remember being much younger and falling into the lake, nearly drowning, the water filling her lungs as she sputtered to stay above. Jason had saved her that day, dragging his baby sister to shore with all the aplomb of a hero. She adored him and idolized him more than any of her other five siblings.

The rest of her brothers and sisters swam around in the shallow eddies of the water, not caring a whit if their second youngest sister joined them or not. Even Kat, only five didn't seem bothered by it. Gabriella contented herself with dangling her feet in the shallows, secure that in doing so she wouldn't be sucked under that cold wet blackness.

Jayce paddled over to her, resting his arms on a rock as he looked up at her. "You need to get over it," he murmured keeping his voice so the rest couldn't hear.

"Too fast. Just go swim, I'm fine here." After all she had a book, one of the precious ones she'd managed to get out of the local library despite the librarian sneering down her nose at the migrant worker's daughter. Of all her siblings only her and Jayce knew how to read. Her current choice was a thick history of the French and Indian war and she was careful to not let water get on the cover. She had to read with her nose pressed to the book since she couldn't see it any other way. Glasses were a frippery that came after food and they could barely afford that.

"You sure? I'll keep you safe..." He held out a hand for her and she stalled again, eyeing the faster moving currents further out. But just the shoreline maybe... Tentatively she put the book aside, and slid into the water, gasping at the cold. Jayce grinned, staying with her as he paddled around and she floated idley. She was not a strong swimmer but she could dog paddle at least and he stayed near her, letting her cling to him when she got too tired.

"Stupid, you're twelve and way old enough to let go of him, or are you just chicken!" Paul, her second oldest brother taunted. His words, as always stung with a venom that was always aimed at Jayce and Gabriella. Thick as thieves they found themselves the targets of others and being the favorites of their parents didn't help any. There was a small war going on in the Rosso family between siblings.

"I am not!" Gabriella clung tighter to Jayce's arm. She could feel him tensing next to her.

"Fraidy cat can't even swim. Has to cling to Jayce because she's too weak. I wonder what would happen if we pushed her under."

She blanched with terror, nails digging into Jayce's arm.

"You wouldn't." But the thing about having so many other siblings was that the petty fighting and rivalry was like attracting a pack of sharks and Paul was the leader of that particular group. Before she could scramble to the safety of shore her brothers had peeled her off her brother's arm and started carrying her to the deep part of the river.

She fought like a wild cat, twisting and trying to get out of their strong grasp as they laughed. For most of them it was just taunting their little sister. For Paul... with terror she realized the gleam of anger and hatred in his eyes and fought harder.

"Jayce!!!!" She screamed and he tried helplessly to reach her, watching as Paul stepped between her would-be rescuer and herself.

Something happened.

She could feel the anger and fear building up inside her, clawing at her insides to be let loose somehow. She made one last desperate leap and slid out of her brothers' hands and tumbled head first into the rushing currents of the river.

Jayce screamed.

Water rushed up to meet her, drowning out her brother's agonized cries as he scratched at his arms, and face. Gabriellea hit bottom, shins scraping along the rocks before she fought her way to the surface. Jayce was screaming about the wounds on his body, about the hurt, stumbling numbly toward the bank with outflung hands like he was blind. Energy flickered and glowed around Gabriella.

She tried to stop it, tried to dampen it somehow but she couldn't. Didn't know how... her brother whimpered once more and collapsed face down into the water.

It was Paul who pulled him out, pounding on Jayce's chest as the lot of children gathered around. They kept a ring around Gabriella, staring between her and their unbreathing brother.
"What happened? What just happened??" She thought. The children backed up further away from her as she dragged herself out of the river.

"You killed him," Paul hissed. The rock he threw nearly hit her head but she ducked and started running. The worst part was she couldn't deny it. Little hiccuping sobs escaped her. Mama would know what to do...surely Mama would know...

"Get out," the matriarch of the Rosso family hissed between clenched teeth. Tears streaked the old woman's face as she held the ruined body of her son. "Get out you little freak...GET OUT."

Mama had known what to do, protect the rest of her brood from the thing that was in their midst. They were outsiders already. There was no room for outsiders within their own family.

Gabriella ran.

She never really stopped running. City to city, town to town. She figured out by default how to use her abilities, how her mental thoughts could hurt and heal and control. Controlers, they called people like her. She made her way toward Paragon City, hoping that someone there could help and teach her, teach her how to use what she could do for help rather than hurt. She woke crying in the night with Jayce's blind and terrified eyes staring at her from her dreams.

Heroes in Paragon City were plentiful though and until she learned her abilities survival was a more important priority.
Card tricks and performances on street corners helped, earning her alias with all the flair and aplomb of one of her ancestors. To survive. But then survival became less of an issue the longer she stayed, the more she practiced her abilities, the more she went from petty thief to Hero. She clothed herself, fed herself, met people who were in on low wave crime sprees and made sure what she stole was put to good use feeding those who couldn't be fed. Because if she could help someone maybe the guilt she felt would go away. Robin Hooding for people less fortunate than herself became her mode of operation.

Slowly, ever so slowly, the fear that everyone would turn on her, would find out what she'd done, ebbed. She was tired of running. SHe missed having a home, even if it was for a few months. She missed having a family - even if they threw you out. Even if you killed the one person you loved most in the world. But gradually the acceptance of what she could do to help, even in tiny ways, won over the older terrors.

Then the Rikti came.

She was out of the city when it happened, surviving by mere chance, but it still changed everything. The city was a war zone and the lower-class areas where she lived weren't much better than anarchy and chaos in those first weeks.

The housing project was hardly what Gabriella would have called luxurious under regular circumstances. Actually it wasn't even comfortable, nearing clean, or even really fit for human habitation but it was where the nineteen year-old woman could both afford to stay. She was a minor helper to heroes at best.

But when even heroes needed help, what did you do? As it became abundantly clear that Paragon city would need more aid than it had available in those early days, even minor heroes like Gabriella, the Gypsy Rose, became more important.

Her hands were shoved deep in the pockets of hip hugger jeans one autumn day, as she avoided the main streets, trying to avoid the gangs that were looting and the invaders as well. Most of them had been cleared out but pockets still cropped up and by herself she wasn't much of a match for them.

The wind picked up, blowing dark red hair into her face and she squinted brown eyes shut to avoid getting grit in them. A wadded up and crumpled page tried to escape by her, wrapping itself around her leg.

She glanced down and paused, picking it up and smoothing it out carefully to read it. "Heroes wanted" was emblazoned in big bold letters across the top. Help those less fortunate hmm? Well the robin hooding and living by the skin of her teeth was wearing a little thin... why not? Robin hooding on a different scale appealed to the rescuer in her, eased some of the guilt and helped far more people than she could do now. But if she were a hero...a real one... maybe just maybe she could help more people than she had ever thought possible.

She folded the paper into her pocket and headed off to help.
Posted by Northern_Minx
GypsyRose, mutant controller on Guardian Server