Update: I think this fits my "Sad/Upset" square for Cotton Candy Bingo, and since I don't feel like writing more sadness on a fluffy bingo, we're using this.
Daniel Brody wiped the last of the greasepaint off his face and double checked his reflection before getting out of his car. Good, he didn’t look a thing like Gloom. He did NOT need to be bringing that into his day job.
“Hello Marsha,” he said to the receptionist. “Everyone ready for me?”
“Yes,” she scolded, “which you’d know if you were on time. It’s 1:32.”
“You know I’m terrible at schedules, Marsha,” Daniel said, opening the door. “I’m pretty sure it would spook people if I showed up at 1:30 on the dot.”
“Damn right it would,” growled Breaker. The former villain-gang member was doing amazingly well at smoothing out his anger issues, but his manner would probably never dip below ‘dangerous but well meaning’. That was okay, Daniel didn’t ask his patients to be perfect, that worked well for exactly nobody.
“So Doc,” Willy the Weasel started. “We were talking before you got here about the difference between reasonable precaution and paranoia. I’m pretty sure some of the stuff on the pamphlet I got from you last week isn’t actually that applicable to me.”
“What sorts of stuff?” Daniel asked.
“Well, it says here that “symptoms of PPD may include concern that other people have hidden motives, and thinking that they will be exploited (used) or harmed by others” but I legit know people want to use me. I can’t help it, that’s my power, seeing hidden motives.”
“What sorts of things does your power say about me?” Daniel asked. It was a risk, asking Willy to turn his truth-vision on someone with a hidden life, but he cared more about helping the guy figure out what he needed.
“You want me to get better, so I can be happy and maybe not break so many laws,” Willy said instantly. “I scanned you before I agreed to make this a regular thing.”
“And that’s super creepy and paranoid!” snapped Horns.
“Hey,” Daniel said firmly. “What’s our rule about judging?”
“We don’t do it,” Horns sighed, running his hand over the curling ram horns on his head. “Sorry Weasel, I just feel really weird that you go around using your powers on people without asking. I didn’t exactly like the last guy who did that to me.”
Willy looked abashed. “I’m not ever going to do that to you, Horns. I know what going up against Protectorate did to you. That guy has some nerve calling himself a hero, when he messes with people’s heads.”
“Moving on,” Daniel said, before he could get angry again over Protectorate’s abuse of power. “Willy, why do you feel that those symptoms don’t apply to you because of your powers?”
“Well, because it’s totally normal not to want to let people use you,” Willy said. “I’m no doormat, I’m not going to stand there and let people hurt me with a smile on my face. No offence, Tommy.”
“None taken,” replied the professional submissive mildly. “I’m always the one in control when I do that. I’m here because of the time it got really badly out of control.”
“I agree with you, Willy,” Daniel said. “It’s normal to avoid people who mean you harm. You don’t have to interact with people who want to use or abuse you. But what you have isn’t so much a fear that people might hurt you, it’s a fear of going outside because people out there do want to hurt you. The irrational part, the paranoia, is rooted in excess. You don’t just avoid the individuals causing you harm, you also avoid people who care. That’s why I suggested this group. Your paranoia comes from, and in fact could itself be, a wonderful tool for survival.”
“Well, what about my ‘hostility problem’?” Hobble asked. “I got plenty to be hostile over.”
“Well, who have you hurt with that recently?” Daniel asked bluntly. Hobble preferred not to be “handled with kid gloves” as he put it.
“Some asshole who tried to bust up Attila the Hungry. Nobody makes my favorite Mongolian barbecue joint pay protection.”
“Hah. Serves 'em right. Good luck walking now, suckers!” crowed Breaker. “See, that’s hostile, but I’d say that’s okay. Everyone eats at Attila's, it's one of the only places that has an all you can eat option for supers.”
“I agree,” Daniel said. “For people who start farther back, getting halfway to finish is a major milestone. You all make me so proud.”
“Even if we’re hostile and paranoid?” asked Horns.
“We’re hostile, we’re paranoid, and we’re okay,” said Tommy firmly.
They certainly were, Daniel thought. It summed up his practice perfectly.
Daniel Brody/Gloom: Antihero supernary, using highly trained skills in psy-ops to keep the East Coast criminal element from feeling too comfortable. By day, he works as a moderator for group therapy and peer counseling, specializing in former and reforming supervillains. His focus sometimes brings him into conflict with heroes, because of how some of his clients have been hurt.
Breaker: a supervillain with a destructive strike, he worked with gangs busting up places and things, but he quit when his boss asked him to turn that power on a person. He has trouble communicating and several issues from time in prison, but he’s recovering well.
Willy the Weasel: a professional middleman, Willy ended up with the ability to sense people’s motives after an incident transporting something for a psychic villain. He suddenly realized the actual motives of the people he worked for and had a breakdown.
Horns: an active supervillain with bighorn ram traits. A clash with Protectorate gave him PTSD and he’s trying to recover from that, although he has no plans to stop his life of villainy. He’s actually from Montana, but scarcity of mental health for villains who want to remain villains has driven him to Daniel Brody’s Massachusetts practice.
Protectorate: a superhero in Montana with empathic powers who uses them to “reform” villains by manipulating their subconsciouses. Sometimes this works, allowing a smooth transition from villain to civilian, but more often than not he has to throw more weight into it than is healthy and it crosses into brainwashing.
Tommy: a professional submissive dealing with PTSD from a scene that went exceptionally wrong. He likes the villain group because they don’t care he made his living being slapped, and people closer to societal norms tend to.
Hobble: A former villain who joined Daniel’s group as a part of parole years ago and never left. He’s now much more of an anti-hero than anything, and he uses his magnetic field power to temporarily “chain” people’s legs together as his primary way of handling conflict. Cops dislike him because it’s nearly impossible to undo until the next sunrise and that makes prisoner transport hard. Criminals dislike him because the fields are strong enough that some people injure themselves fighting it, and a few people lost face when they peed their pants.
Attila the Hungry: a Mongolian Barbecue restaurant that caters to people with large or unusual food requirements. They have three grills, one for regular foods (no restrictions), one for vegan food, and one for Halal and Kosher foods. They supplement their ingredient buffet with donations from their fan club, the Ravenous Hoard, who do way more than just receive emails with coupons, including hold bake sales at Attila's and spend days out at the community farm that supplies them. All their All You Can Eat buffets come with a free registration to join the Ravenous Hoard.