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“So, who do we have here?” Gerard closed the door and took a look at the patient. A teenage boy – probably around 16 or 17 – lay in the bed. The boy turned around, his body jerked up, and his expression started to resemble someone who had seen an alien.

“Y…You’re Gerard Donnnerschlag and Rory Skyfrost,“ he said. “What are you doing here?”

“I was hospitalized.” Rory leaned against the door and pointed at her brother. “And he decided to pay his cute little sister a visit.”

“I…I…see.” Within seconds, Ethan’s face had turned red, and he looked into the other direction.

That’s a strange reaction. Gerard retracted Ethan’s gaze and saw the reason for his flustering. From his position, the poor boy had no other choice but to stare at Rory’s chest. The hospital gown did its best to pronounce them and barely fit her. The staff had probably given her the clothes while she was still a man. No wonder Ethan looked away. The last thing he needed was people accusing him of perving on a woman.

“I thought why not wish my fans to get well soon, Ethan,” Gerard added.

“You know my name?” Ethan looked at them again. The surprise in his face was visible and washed away any awareness or shyness he had because of Rory's chest.

“I try to remember as many as possible,” Gerard said. “I really liked your comment under my photo with Brittney Minogue. It made me really think. Why is it okay for me to go around with an open jacket and no shirt? But she gets called a slut for showing some cleavage.”

“And he doesn’t think often,” Rory added.

“Hey.” Gerard glanced at her sister showing her tongue, but then he returned his attention towards Ethan. “If it’s okay, can I ask why you’re here?”

Ethan didn't answer. Not that Gerard needed an answer. He already saw the patient's data. It didn't speak in favor of the integrity of Midgard's system, but it was convenient that, in certain aspects, Valkyries were above the law.

“I promise I won’t tell.”

“Really?”

Gerard nodded.

“I took too many anabolics.”

“Are you crazy?” Rory tapped her temple. Her eyes brimmed with exasperation. “You almost killed yourself for some muscles? How stu-“

Gerard raised his hand, and Rory stopped talking. He sat on the edge of Ethan’s bed. “I get it. You want muscles. But what good are they when you are dead?”

“What good am I without?”

What could he say to him? That muscles didn’t matter? Ethan would never believe that. It was easy to say that you didn’t need anything when you had it. Would anyone listen to a supermodel if they said it’s okay to be ugly?

“You know that’s not true,” Gerard said.

Rory facepalmed, and Ethan sneered. “That’s easy for you to say.” He blew his nose. A chuckle escaped Ethan’s lips.

“Look at you. You’re tall and have a ten-pack.” He pointed at his abs. “How can I compete? I’m 1,60, and I’m built like a leek. What girl wants a midget? They all want someone tall, handsome, and muscular. I’m short. I’m ugly and weak. No one wants me. They want people like you or Captain Graswald.”

Could he blame Ethan for his attitude? When images of him or Marcus or the other Valkyries hung everywhere. On every bus station. At the mall. On the internet. It’s already bad for girls, but in the past years there had been at least some awareness, that made things better if slightly, like the increased acceptance of plus-size models. Boys didn’t have the same luck, especially if it came to height. They saw his body and became conscious of everything different. They started to train to gain muscles, they wished to be tall like him. Because only then could they get whatever they wanted. But what could he say to him? If he just tried hard enough, Ethan would be happy? Ethan wouldn’t grow much taller, and his body was probably not made for a good muscle definition. If he said it didn’t matter, Ethan wouldn’t believe him. If he said it did matter, it would only get worse. What if Ethan tried to kill himself?

“FYI, do you want to become a Valkyrie?” Rory asked.

“What does that-”

“Just answer my question.”

“Eh…I mean it would be cool,” Ethan said. “But not really.”

“I see, I see.” She stepped forward. “Then, I’m going to be harsh.”

Oh, no. What’s Rory doing?

“Being sexy like my brother or Captain Graswald,” she said. “It matters. More girls – or boys – want to date you. You’re more likely to become famous. They’re more likely to respect you or give you higher pay. And that baseball or modeling career…if you’re short, you can forget it.”

She walked towards the bed and sat next to Gerard. He looked at her in disbelief, his body frozen. Ethan had dropped his shoulders and hung his head. His eyes didn’t bother to look Rory in the eyes and stared at his lap.

“But even if you’re tall, strong, or whatever you think you’re not, no one would like or respect you. Why would they, if even you can’t yourself?”

“How can I when no one else can? I would be just lying to myself.” Ethan’s lips and body trembled. He started to blink rapidly, and every word he spoke sounded like it was about to die.

“Then let me show you the opposite,” Rory said.

“So, you will just lie to me?”

“How about this? If you let me, then…” She leaned towards him and whispered in Ethan’s ear. His face became red, and his body perked up.

“Y…You would really do that?”

Rory nodded. “If it works, you’ll be happy and see something nice. And if it doesn’t work, then you’ll see something nice, and you’ll be really happy.”

“You’re not going to back off?” Ethan asked.

“She won’t,” Gerard said. “By my honor as a Valkyrie, I swear Rory will keep her promise.”

He didn’t know what she had said to Ethan, but as her brother, he'd to trust and support her.

֎

Thirty minutes later, a man opened the door. His eyes were closed, and under his arm, he had a sketch board.

“Ah. Hello, Mr. Possible,” said Rory. “Thank you for coming on such short notice.”

“No problem.” Mr. Possible nodded. “It's always nice to help out.”

“Please sit there, and don’t look into the other direction.” Rory turned towards Ethan. “Mr. Possible is going to sketch you. He works for the IBM and is one of their best forensic artists. So, he's really good at drawing profile sketches and stuff like that. He doesn’t know what you look like, so you’ve to tell him. Okay?”

Ethan nodded. It was apparent from his face that he didn’t like the idea of listing everything about him- not even a bit, but the promise Rory had made would make him comply and endure the Hel.

“Tell me about your hair.” Agent Possible took out a pencil.

“It’s brown.” Ethan played with his locks. “It’s all over the place. No matter what I do, I can never get it straight. I’ve a giant bush on my head.”

Agent Possible started to draw, and every time he asked Ethan to describe his features. Every little detail, every aspect of himself he hated. Rory had to admit that even doing this required courage. Knowing that you’ve flaws was one thing, but having to confront every single aspect, you hate about yourself, it could easily break someone. Now that she thought about it, it could be an effective training method for the students at the academy in the Valkyrie Program.

“My eyes are brown. Kinda blackish and dull…”

“I’ve got a big forehead, and it feels like oil’s on it.”

“There are pimples everywhere.”

“My nose’s flat and long. It looks like an arrow.”

“I’ve a prominent chin.”

“My cheeks are fat and bloated. When I smile, it gets even fatter.”

“My…”

Eventually, Agent Possible stopped asking questions and left the room with the sketch. Time passed and he returned with Gerard and handed Rory two drawings.

“This is the sketch Agent Possible drew when you described yourself.” Rory showed the first sketch to Ethan. “What do you think?”

Ethan averted his eyes. “I can’t even look at it. It’s horrible.”

“That’s true.” Rory nodded. “The person on the sketch is a pathetic, ugly creature. Just looking at him, makes me want to kill myself. But there’s another sketch.” Rory showed Ethan the second one. His eyes started to glow, and his hand brushed over the sketch. “Is…Is that me?”

“When Agent Possible left the room, he asked my brother to describe you and sketched it. I’ve recorded it actually.”

Agent Possible gave Rory her phone. She tapped the screen, and the recording started to play.

“Please describe his hair.”

“He had a really cool afro."

“...very expressive, and his face lit up whenever it was happy. Reminded me of Rory when she got her first pony.”

“His chin is square. Manly. Like mine, actually. Well, maybe not that manly, but manly enough.”

“He's thin so you could see his cheekbones. My nana would still have loved to pinch them.”

Rory tapped the screen again, and the recording stopped. “This person...” She pointed at the sketch. “I like him. He’s cool. I would want to hang with and take a selfie.”

With a gesture of her hand, she ordered Gerard and Agent Possible to sit with her and Ethan. Gerard pulled out his phone and shot a photo.

“Having a selfie with two Valkyries, you will be trending in seconds.” She winked. “You think so much about your negative aspects, that you forget about all the good. You’re literally better than you think you are.”

“Thank you.” Tears started to build at the corner of Ethan’s eyes.

Rory smiled. “You don’t have to. And don’t forget, we had a deal. I promised you'll see something nice. So, look closely and engrave this image into your brain for all eternity.”

Rory stood up and turned around. Facing the three men sitting on the bed, she grabbed her shirt, pulled it up, and all three men dropped their jaws.”

֎

“Thanks again for your help,” said Gerard.

“No, problem. Making people smile makes me happy. Though next time, warn me before you flash me.” Agent Possible waved them goodbye and left the building.

“Was that really necessary?” Gerard asked. “There are things a brother doesn’t want to see. His sister’s tits are high on that list.”

"Twice gave me these wonderful gifts, and since I've them only half the time, I've to make the best use of them, and boobs have power."

"Not over your brother."

Rory chuckled. “Oh, don’t be such a baby. We used to bath together. I saw your peepee many times, and you mine.”

“You know, half the time, I talk with my therapist, it’s about you.” Gerard sighed and took a cup from the water cooler.

“What? Only half. Guess, I’ve to up my game. But seriously, you’re actually going? No other Valkyrie does.”

"I prefer it if my job doesn’t drain everything of me, and I stay healthy."

“Well, I guess you can afford it to be happier in life,” Rory said. “But don’t give me this crap. I would never become a Captain.”

“Anyway, why did you agree to flash him if it didn’t work?” Gerard took a sip.

“Oh, no. I told Ethan I would flash him if he agreed to do the sketch,” said Rory. “If it didn’t work, I promised to fuck him.”

Gerard spat out all the water in his mouth. “What the…?”

“It’s my body. As long as it's consensual, I can fuck whoever I want to fuck.”

“Again, your brother doesn’t want to know that.” Gerard’s voice grew higher. He pulled up his hands, widening his arms. “And you can’t just flash this kid.”

“Oh, please. How old do you think Ethan is?” Rory rolled her eyes. “He’s watched months worth of porn. I bet you he probably has jerked off to that video of Princess Aurelia banging a dog.”

“That deep-fake is also on the list of things I don’t want to see,” Gerard said, narrowing his eyes as he remembered the scandal. “Seriously, that’s disgusting.”

Rory nodded.

“Anyway. Thanks for helping me out, sis. I would have never come up with that plan.”

Rory shook her head. “That’s the least I can do. You’ve helped me many times in the past. There are fights you can win and fights I can win. We’re siblings. We fight what the other can't fight.”

“Yeah, and I will fight your fight. Together, we will catch Drake and Ragna Griffin and clear your name.”

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YAK Edge

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