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It was a exhausting four hour flight up to Davis. Hero worried about how Divine would look, what he would say, and to a small extent, why he was going. They were both still a world apart. She would recover and go back to her beautiful world, while he would never be able to take his mask off. He worried about them even while he knew there was no 'them'. He worried.

The light grey eufiber with the black crossguard over the eyes drew notice as he landed. It also drew immediate action.

"Mr. Hero, you are here for Divine right," a medical person/woman in green surgical scrubs and a white coat said. A quick look at the name tag identified her as a Doctor Lorenzo.

"Dr. Lorenzo, yes ... ummm. Is she up to visitors right now?"

"Yes," the doctor smiled. "She needs some friends coming by. No family made it out with her."

"Oh," Hero responded. He hadn't realized she had a family. Maybe she hadn't. She had never mentioned one. Something else they shared.

"This way," the Lorenzo said, confusing Hero's fatigue for hesitation. Hero came along with quick step. Lorenzo chatted about Divine's condition as they walked together inside the hospital. It was cleaner than any one he had seen recently. LA had dust and dirt everywhere.

Lorenzo asked him a question.

"How close are you two?"

"Close," he stalled for a good answer. "We've talked a bit and we went to a party together. We weren't close, but, " but I flew nearly 400 miles to see her, "we had a closeness when we were together."

"Oh," Lorenzo spoke, unclear were to go with that. She changed the subject.

"Becareful were you touch her, Hero. Her hands were very badly damaged, so no hand-holding. Keep eye contact. It's easiest, and try not to upset her."

"Okay. I'll try," Hero swallowed hard. This was only getting tougher.

Lorenzo left him at the door. Hero held back, building up his courage.

Okay, I can do this. She needs me - this.

Hero opened the door, forcing his eyes past the bandages, the smell, and the scars, holding her eyes in his gaze.

"Hey Divine. Glad to see me?"

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Bandage changing was supposed a painful process. She had wimpered throughout the 3 hour ordeal. Every day they repeated it. St least she had not screamed like the other residents, when their dressings were changed. Being a Nova seemed like a blessing at times like this. Other times, however, she regretted not dying in the fire. If she was a baseline, her suffering would have ended a month ago.

The room had soft blue walls, and was over a 100 degrees F. The entire floor was sterile, and there were no flowers to be seen. In her room, next to her bed, a machine pumped fluids, drugs and medicine through a femoral line. Other tubes poked from underneath the sheets on the side of the bed. One was a foley catheter that gathered her urine into a bag, and the other a colostomy bag.

The television taunted her with images of beautiful celebrities. Taunting videos reminded her that she was once like them. Now, she was nothing but a scarred and withered husk, with months of recovery ahead of her. Even after that, she would still show the scars from that day.

A nurse came in and smiled at her. "How are you feeling?"

"I feel like a piece of cooked bacon wrapped in cloth. I hate how these bandages stick to me." Her husky voice had a sexy roughness to it, but was nothing like it was before the fire. She did speak better than when she first awoke, however. Back then, her voice was hoarse and she croaked through a tongue that swelled like a hotdog. Eventually, the dead skin sloughed of of it, and her tongue healed.

"How would you feel about a visitor?" The nurse smiled back, as she changed the IV bag next to her.

"I have a visitor?" Diine said half excited, and half embarassed as she closed the laptop on the tray in front of her with mittened hands. She placed the stylus she used to peck on the keys, on top of the laptop. She looked over at the nurse. "Could you put this on the other table."

She could hear Dr. Lorenzo speaking quietly with someone. She raised her bed up a little more in anticipation. I may be burned and disfigured, but I will not look slovenly, she told herself, as she smoothed the sheet covering her.

The door opened and she recognized the masked figure standing next to the Dr. It was Hero.

"Hey Divine. Glad to see me?" She was glad. That someone actually cared enough to come see her, was uplifting.

"Hey yourself, stranger." She smiled as best she could without lips.

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"Hey yourself, stranger."

A smile came to his lips. Somehow the bandages made it all seem less ... burnt. They gave the promise of things getting better.

"Stranger", he mocked. "The phone works both ways."

Hero leaned/sat beside her the smile easily staying on his face. Her eyes held the same, beautiful light in them that he remembered. She always had such clever eyes.

"Wait," a hand rubbed his chin, "that would require me to give you the number to the Hero Crib ... and," he winked at her, "that means I'd have to get a phone in the Hero Crib. Damn, you got me there."

Hero's smile slipped a little.

"Seriously, how have you been - inside? I can see you getting better outside already."

He avoided saying she would be good as new. That wasn't a hope he could give her.

"I could go down to your old home and salvage stuff, or maybe see if I have enough pull to get you a home back in LA."

His grin took on heroic proportions.

"See, I'm starting to get a rep down in LA ... as a glorified bulldozer, but its a start."

Hero leaned in,

"I want to help."

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Divine tried not to grimace as he sat next to her. He body was sensitive to the slightest vibration, and the pressure he put on the sheet as he sat, felt like needles being stabbed in her hip. She adjusted herself to comfort.

"I am having a hard time looking into the mirror. To many reminders of..." She broke off in mid sentence, she couldn't go on with that line of thought. "I am OK. I have been talking with a counselor." she decided to say. She wasn't really, but at this point in time, she was not into opening up.

"I doubt there is anything left of my home. What the fire didn't take, the looters probably did." A lost look appeared in her eyes. "My father bought me all that stuff anyways." He did too, before he disowned me!

"I don't know if there is much you can do to help. You might get me a cell phone, since we are talking about pnones." She held up her mittened hands. "With hands free please."

"What is it like down there? In LA?" She finally asked. "You were there after the quake."

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"Phone, got it."

"LA is dusty. Gritty and dusty and I didn't realize how much until I came to see you today. It's not ready to have you back quite yet." He grins. "Don't rush us, okay?"

"Now, do you need a lawyer, or someone like that? You should have all your home and stuff ready when you get out."

He almost shifts and catches the hint of pain in her eyes, stopping himself. Instead, he puts his hands in his lap.

"LA is different now. No parties and it gets so dark now at night. We are missing our stars."

He looks down at his hands.

"I'm so glad you are alive. You were so nice to me and I never got to pay you back. Maybe when you get a bit better, I can take you out flying around; let you get some of your old nova self back."

Looking back into those deep, green eyes,

"I want to help. There's not too much I can do, but I'll do what I can."

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As Hero spoke of LA, Divine turned her head away. She could not bear for him to see the tears that were pooling in her eyes. She really missed her home town and all the memories it contained.

"I would do anything to go to a party." She murmured quitely. "Even if the stars are gone." Her voice sounded like it had lost the most important thing in her life. For Divine, parties were her life. "My lawyer is probably dead too, along with all his files." All of her friends wer probably dead too.

She reached a hand out and put it on top of Hero's; the movement causing a slightly pained grimace. "Thank you for helping me. I...I would not have thought that you cared enough. Growing up in LA we learn to smile to everyone, but not to care about them." Her chest rose and fell deeply. "I guess in situations like these, we remember what it is like to be kind to others." Divine was not sure if she believed what she was saying, but it made her feel better.

"Get me that phone, and I will be grateful." She would owe him for his kindness, but now was not the time or place with which to pay him back for his kindness. "When I get out of here, you can take me flying too."

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"Hey now, you're a good person, Dee. You were good to me and I'm sure you were nice to a bunch of people. I've never had a friend like you before, so I'm not about to lose you."

With a final, upbeat twist, "You're Unique!"

Keeping a gentle hold on Divine's hand, Hero stood. He leaned down and brushed his lips acoss her mittened appendage.

"I'm off to get that phone for you - hands free. Do you have a favorite color?"

He could do something concrete for Divine now, and that made him feel better, even though he knew that was a bit selfish. Divine had been so full of life and now she was so sad and the felt helpless to change her back. Still, he was her friend and would do what he could.

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Dee. That was sure an interesting variation of her Nova name. He was her friend and he needed to know what to call her in private. "Please, call me Kate."

"We are all unique, even you Hero." She gave him a lipless smile, as she responded to his gentle kiss of her hand. "You are such a sweetie."

"I'm off to get that phone for you - hands free. Do you have a favorite color?" He said to her.

"I guess black..or purple." she said to him. "See you in a bit, and...thanks for coming by and helping."

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"Gotchya Kate," Hero said as he moved to leave. He didn't find himself running away as he was afraid he might. Sure this place was sad, but it also had the promise of things getting better. Divine - Kate kept getting better and hoping for tomorrow. She had that kind of strength.

So, instead of running away, he strode out with borrowed confidence. The tiny tale of how he got the sparkly purple phone - hands-free and pre-paid - on the street and thus untraceable wasn't worth telling. Nor the few words they exchanged when he came back and delivered it to her hand and ear worth more than being noted for having passed. Perhaps it was enough for each that they were friends.

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