Song recommendation: Throwing Muses - Furious

Author's note: So this chapter's not likely to make anyone a fan of Martha. It may also make people think less of Alvin, but maybe not. I don't really consider Martha a bad person, but she's definitely not noble. Also, the resolution of the fight with the villain actually struck me as being completely reasonable. I'm posting this a day early because I 'll be away from the Internet tomorrow. Remember Aegis and Runaways. All feedback is appreciated. hotwing: Yeah, Faith leaving probably won't make a big difference.

April 18, 2013

Alvin was alone in the weight room, engaging in a light workout. He was sticking to 300 lbs, not wanting to strain himself when he had no one there to spot him. He heard the door open, and slow footsteps entering the room.

"My my," Martha said. "I love a man who looks after his body."

"We heroes need to stay in shape," Alvin replied.

"So diligent. You're a model for us all."

"I guess that's what leaders do."

"That they do." Martha was at the side of the bench. He noticed she was wearing her workout clothes, black shorts and a white tank top. "And it makes me glad to know you work so hard. It makes me feel safe."

"Um. That's good. I guess." He set the weight down and started to sit up, but she stopped him with her hand.

"But with how hard you work, I think you need to take a break every once in a while."

"Erm, I do. I hang out with you guys, and I go out with Melissa and stuff. Plenty of relaxing. Relaxation for the win. Can I get up now?"

"With all you do for us," she put her knee on the bench, "I wanted to do something nice for you. Or to you. Whichever."

"Uh, that's really not necessary." He tried to move, but found it difficult. "No reward needed. I'm just doing what I can."

"But I insist." She leaned closer to him.

"But, uh, Melissa."

"Isn't here." She swung her leg over his waist.

"I can't do this. I love Melissa."

"So who's talking about love? This is sex. Pure, simple, raw sex." He could feel her breath on his face as her lips were inches from his.

"No," he protested weakly.

"Your lips says no, but your body doesn't seem to agree," she whispered as she rubbed her body against his. "You know you want me. Melissa never has to know. It can just be our little secret."

"Please, stop," he begged.

"Do you really want me to? Don't you want to see where this goes?"

"Why are you doing this?"

"Because I want you. And we both know you want me, too. Even your little girlfriend knows it, and she knows she can't compete with me. Just say yes, and I'll rock your world. I'll do things to you that you haven't imagined in your wild fantasies."

"I . . . I. . . ."

"Sorry to interrupt," STACI said harshly.

"What?" Alvin was startled. He sat up quickly, accidentally pushing Martha onto the floor. She scowled, angry at the computer's awful timing.

"There is a situation you may want to take care of," STACI told him coolly.

"Of course. Right. Get everyone to the plane, and brief us there. Martha, get into costume."

"Of course," she said bitterly as she left the gym. Alvin stayed behind a moment to clear his head.

"Would you have gone through with it?" STACI asked him.

"I honestly don't know," he replied.

"So, computer," Martha said as she went to change. "I don't think anyone needs to know about what was happening in the gym."

"Including your use of your pheromones?" STACI asked pointedly.

"Exactly. Let's just keep it between us girls."

"For now," STACI agreed. "But no more. Next time you try to seduce Alvin, I will tell everyone what you're doing."

"Fine, fine. He'll probably come crawling to me on his own now."

Everyone was soon gathered in the plane, except for Nick, who had a flu, and Victor, who was in Hawaii, helping the Protectors deal with some pirate who'd managed to steal the horn Victor had found a year earlier.

"So what's the situation?" Valour asked STACI. He tried to sound casual, and avoided looking at anyone else. Psyche looked smug, and kept glancing towards him. None of the others noticed it, but Elastic Woman looked back and forth between them, and frowned.

"A simple bank robbery," STACI explained. "The man responsible is just leaving the bank now. It appears to be a known supercriminal by the name of Fury. Super-tough, energy absorption, and an energy field."

"It'll be nice going after just a simple supercriminal," Valour said. "Instead of demons and gods and whatever the hell else."

"Kinda feels like a step down," Elastic Woman said. "Like it's beneath our pay grade these days. We shouldn't get out of bed for anyone that doesn't threaten at the very least a city."

"I'll take on anyone, any time, anywhere," Tiny boasted. "I'll kick this guy's ass up and down Sunset Strip."

"Well, we're nowhere near the Strip," Valour said, "but I do see the crook below us. So let's take him out, quick and clean."

He opened the hatch and flew out. The others followed in their own ways, with Tiny dropping, Elastic Woman stretching down herself and Psyche, and Ferro levitating down. "Hey, guy," Valour said to Fury. "You wanna do the smart thing and just surrender?"

"Not a chance, punk," Fury replied. "Bring it on." He was an average-looking man, with brown hair and eyes, wearing a black costume with an image of a fireball on the chest.

"You asked for it," Valour said. He fired an energy blast at Fury.

"Wait!" Elastic Woman shouted, too late. The blast hit Fury, who didn't even flinch. "Energy absorption!"

"Oh, right," Valour remembered. "Staci did mention something about that, didn't she?"

"Hey, don't stop!" Fury laughed. "Gimme some more!"

"Think I can hit him with enough energy it overloads him?" Valour asked.

"No!" Elastic Woman put her hand over her face. "Don't even try it!"

"I don't see what the problem is with this guy," Tiny said as he walked towards Fury. "I'll just clobber him. Piece of cake."

He reached with his left hand to grab Fury, but it met some sort of force field. Whatever the energy was, it was extremely painful, and Tiny pulled his hand back with an angered yell. He looked at his hand. It was badly burned. "Oh, you son of a bitch."

"Aww, does baby have a boo-boo?" Fury taunted him. "Come on, tough guy, that all you got?"

"Don't let him-" Psyche started to say.

"You're dead!" Tiny shouted. He swung at Fury, then pulled his fist back, burned again.

"Goad you," Psyche finished. "Dammit. Come here, Tiny." He returned to her side.

"Nice force field," Valour landed in front of Fury. "Let's see how it compares to mine."

He punched Fury, his own force field protecting him from Fury's. But even though he connected with Fury's jaw, the criminal was barely phased and hit Valour back, without getting through the force field. Valour punched him again, and Fury punched him back, with neither being hurt.

"So this could go on for a while," Valour said. "Well, as long as you're stuck here, you're not escaping with the money. So let's do this thing."

"With pleasure, dillhole."

"Dillhole? Really? That's your great insult? Dillhole?"

"You wanna fight, or you wanna bitch?"

"I can do both," Valour said as he delivered a solid uppercut, and followed with a solid punch.

Fury stumbled as a result of being taken off-guard, but recovered and took a swing. Valour ducked under it and punched him twice in the gut, then once more in the face. "I can't believe you called me a dillhole. Hey, fifth grade called, it wants its insult back."

"Fuck off," Fury grunted, charging Valour. Valour dodged, and Fury tripped and fell face-first into the road.

"This is getting boring," Ferro said. "Let's wrap this up." A street lamp wrapped around Fury.

"'Wrap this up'?" Psyche asked sarcastically.

"I honestly didn't mean to make a pun," Ferro said. "I'm sorry."

"Your gift-wrap isn't doing much anyway," Elastic Woman told him. Ferro looked, and saw that Fury was burning right through the lamp post with his field.

"Well, crap," Ferro said. "So what now? Suggestions?"

"I got a suggestion," Fury said as he slipped loose. "I'll just kick all your asses."

"That's a terrible suggestion," Valour flew down and slammed into him from behind.

"You're getting on my nerves, asshole," Fury said.

"I think you might be making things worse, Valour," Elastic Woman said. "You're not hitting him physically, you're hitting him with your force field. He's absorbing the energy when you do it."

"Really?" Valour replied. "Shit. So what do we do instead?"

"I'm thinking."

"Well, while you're thinking," Fury said. "I'm gonna knock your head off."

"You have to touch me first," Elastic Woman said. "And I don't let anyone touch me on the first date." She dodged his clumsy charge, and flowed around his punches.

"You people are annoying!" Fury shouted. "All right, fine! I'll kill Muscles over there!"

"You'll have to get past me, first," Psyche got between Fury and Tiny.

"And what do you do?"

"You'll find out, if you don't back down," she said in a threatening tone, pumping him full of fear. He stepped back.

"Whatever," he tried to sound nonchalant. "I'll just grab my money and get out of here."

"Why do you want the money, anyway?" Psyche asked.

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, is there are reason you need it?"

"Sure there is. Money makes the world go round, doesn't it? I figure I can get plenty of money and then live somewhere tropical."

"So this is just greed? No sick relative? No Mob debt? Nothing like that?"

"No. Why would there be?"

"Well, that's disappointing. OK, Ferro, go ahead."

"Huh?" Fury looked around. A car hit him from the side and slammed him into a wall. "Urg. I'm through playing around. Now, you all die."

"You should think about who you're hurting by stealing this money," Psyche told him. "A kid who just opened his first account. A single mom who won't have money for groceries. A cancer patient who won't be able to pay for chemo. These are the people whose money you're taking." She filled him with an overwhelming sadness.

"I . . . I don't want to hurt those people," Fury said sadly. "I'm not trying to rip them off. I'm sorry! I won't take the money! I'll just leave peacefully."

"Works for me," Psyche shrugged.

"Can we actually let him go?" Valour asked the others. "I mean, he did try to rob a bank."

"There are risks either way," Elastic Woman said. "But fighting him now risks property damage, as well as injury to us or others."

Valour nodded. "Right. OK, Fury, we won't pursue you – this time. But next time you break the law, we're coming down on you hard."

"Like I give a shit about you losers?" Fury waved dismissively. "I'm outta here."

"Your suspect's getting away," the police chief pointed out while walking over.

"Without the money," Valour replied. "There was no reason to keep fighting."

"You can have him followed and catch him later," Elastic Woman told the chief. "We'd be glad to help with the arrest. But a fight in downtown should be avoided when possible."

"So you people are just letting the guy go," the chief grumped. "What happens when he attacks again? You guys couldn't beat him this time, you think you'll do better next time he shows up?"

"We're not at full strength this time," Valour told him. "Next time, we will be, and we'll know what to expect going in. We'll have the advantage."

"Five-to-one isn't enough of an advantage? You're a bunch of amateurs."

"If you think you can do better," Ferro said, "then go arrest him now. Until then, fuck off."

"All right, everyone, let's head back," Valour rose into the air.

"Yeah, get outta here!" the chief said. "How about getting right outta my city? Save the taxpayers the cost of repairing all the damage you lunatics cause."

"Don't ever change, sir," Elastic Woman wrapped around and gave him a kiss on the cheek, then stretched up to the jet.

They were all soon back in the headquarters, their masks off. As they got off the jet, Martha glanced at Alvin out of the corner of her eye. "I'm feeling a little dirty," she said coyly. "I think I'll go take a shower, if anyone needs me." She winked at him. Alvin looked away.

"Martha, can I talk to you for a second?" Susan asked.

"No."

"Tough." She walked next to Martha. "You should stop flirting with Alvin."

"It's not really any of your business, is it?"

"I consider you a friend, so I'm making it my business. This won't end well for anyone. If he gives in and sleeps with you, then you're going to make most of the team mad at the two of you. That might be enough to break the team up. Is that what you want?"

". . . No. I don't want that," Martha replied reluctantly. "Dammit."

"Besides," Susan said more playfully, "the other option is you end up actually falling in love with him and get all that drama."

"Yeah, I definitely don't want that happening. You're right, I need to stop flirting with him."

"Of course, that doesn't mean we can't tease him. That's just good, clean fun."

"Hey, Stace?" Alvin said as he sat in the comm room. "Any word from Victor yet?"

"No," STACI replied, "but there are media reports on the ongoing battles with the monsters. Aside from being swallowed twice, Victor appears to be doing well."

"Great. Thanks."

"There have also been some media reports about you letting Fury go. General opinion seems to be that you 'chickened out'. Sorry."

"Don't worry about it. It'll pass. Once we've beaten up a few more criminals, we'll get everyone on our side again."

"If it makes you feel better," Melissa said as she entered, "I'm still on your side."

"Thanks. That does help."

She leaned into kiss him. "Even if did chicken out," she added with a wink.

"Bitch," he replied playfully. He squeezed her sides, making her fidget. "I would think someone named Mercy would appreciate it when people show some."

"Hell no. I'm all about the violence. I demand blood."

"I'll see what I can do next time. You here to check up on Nick?"

"Yeah. It was a pretty bad flu he had, but thanks to my fantastic bedside manner, he should be fine in a couple days. Good thing I came, too. It could've killed him."

"That bad? Shit."

"Well, it probably wouldn't have killed him. I just said it could have. Would've lasted a lot longer, though, and been a lot less fun."

"Didn't you have class today?"

"Yeah, but I'm the top of the class. I can get away with skipping once in a while."

"Oh yeah? So as long as you're playing hookie, why don't I'm not even going to finish that sentence because I was about to go somewhere totally wrong."

"Should I be punching you on principle?"

"You really should. I deserve it."

"OK. But let's go have sex anyway. I'm feeling a little frisky today."

"Woo! Today rocks!"

Next: The Knights do Hollywood!