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An Impulse

 
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Fliss
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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2018 9:23 am    Post subject: An Impulse Reply with quote

The treehouse outside the Storm house on the Grove had seen a lot in its short life. Sleepovers, laughter, tears, pranks, romantic declarations, you name it. With most of the Storm family temporarily up ate the big house while Liv recovered, however, it was quiet now, but not forgotten. It was the one place where a certain group could talk without fear of being overheard.

Fliss leaned on the railing outside the treehouse, watching as Matt and Cas clambered up the ladder to join them.

"You're late," she pointed out with a tight smile - a smile that relaxed into a snort of laughter when the familiar sound of Dani's voice called up from the bottom of the tree.

"So're we, are we gonna get sent home? I brought lemonade!"

Lucas was already there, peeking over Fliss' shoulder at his younger brother and their friends, his wings carefully tucked close to his back, so that they wouldn't knock anyone out in the small confines of the treehouse. "Did you bring cookies, too?" he called back in a teasing, but slightly strained tone of voice, upset as everyone else at the attack on Fliss' mom.

"No one said this was a sleepover," Cas pointed out, hauling herself up onto the decking and shuffling out of Matt's way. "Should've asked for pizza if that was the idea."

Lucas being Lucas, he glanced knowingly at Fliss, knowing she hadn't asked them here today for a social visit. No, it was much more serious than that. "It's not a sleepover," he replied simply. It was more like a war council.

"What's this all about then?" Matt asked as he climbed up onto the deck after Cas, with Dani and Zach taking up the rear.

Fliss straightened up, folding her arms tight across her chest. "Mom," she said simply. "They're gonna retaliate. I want to be part of it, but I can't convince them on my own. I think the four of us could be a team." She glanced at Cas and Dani with a faint wince. "Sorry."

There was a pause as Dani exchanged a look with Cas, both of them fully aware that they were definitely support roles in this conversation.

"I'll get the cups," Dani offered, ducking into the treehouse with the big jug of lemonade.

"Retaliate?" Matt echoed. "That's putting it lightly. If I were them, I'd wipe Hydra out of existence."

"It's not that easy," Lucas interjected. "They have to find them first."

"That could take years," Zach remarked, the eldest of the group and the last to join them.

"It'll take a day, if that," Fliss told them. "I talked to Nat - Natasha Romanoff, she's one of Uncle Steve's team. Hydra almost killed my mom just to try and distract the team from the data they took from Russia, and the people they captured say that the location of at least one Hydra base is in that data. She says the tech guys know what they're looking for, and they'll have it by tonight. The mission could start tomorrow."

"One base?" Zach echoed, frowning dubiously. He had already been considering volunteering to help, but he had a feeling attacking one base would only serve to anger Hydra and maybe slow them down, not wipe them out.

"We can't just stand here and do nothing!" Lucas pointed out. "That's why we called you all here today."

"It starts with one base," Fliss said quietly. "One base at a time, until they're all gone."

Cas raised her hand to interject, not entirely sure her opinion would be welcomed, given that she had no powers or mutations herself. "Um ... they won't let you," she pointed out a little nervously. "We're just kids to them."

"They weren't much older than us when they started," Lucas pointed out, having done his homework, which was pretty easy with a girlfriend who had easy access to her father's comic book collection.

"Speak for yourself, Cas. I'm in my twenties if you measure time in Rhy'Din years," Zach interjected. The eldest among them, he was hardly a kid and no longer a teenager, but still at least ten years younger than those who made up the Avengers.

Cas shrugged, subsiding rather than invite an argument. "It was just a comment," she defended herself quietly, choosing to go and join Dani inside the treehouse at that point.

"They tried to kill my mom," Fliss said, very quiet but very clear. "I'm going on those missions, whether they want me to or not. There's no one I trust more than you guys, and I think we could be useful. But I won't push it, if you don't agree. No one's being forced here."

"I didn't say I didn't agree," Zach said, frowning as Cas retreated.

He hadn't meant anything by his remark, other than that he wasn't a kid anymore - and for that matter, neither were they - but he understood her point. Lucas had a point, too. Both Johnny and Steve hadn't been much older than them when they'd become more than human, and they hadn't wasted much time putting them to good use.

"I've been thinking about this a lot actually," he said, moving further into the treehouse so that Cas and Dani weren't left out. Even if they didn't have any special abilities, they still had a say in what they decided.

Dani glanced up as the rest of them filed in, catching the end of what Zach was saying. She grinned, pretty sure she knew where this was going. "He has charts," she told them, handing out cups of lemonade. "It'd work."

"Charts?" Matt interjected looking doubtful. "Charts of what? All I can do is breathe underwater. How's that gonna help?" he asked, sounding almost as frustrated as Cas as he moved over to help her pour lemonade. At least, he could be useful that way.

"If my theory is correct," Zach started, looking pointedly at Matt, "you can do a lot more than that."

"What do you mean?" Fliss asked, finally settling to sit down. She was never out of contact with Lucas, even more so since the attack on Liv, one hand curled over his knee as she leaned into him. Her eyes were glowing ever so slightly in the dimness of the treehouse, emitting a crackling glow reminiscent of flame as she looked over at Zach. "What theory?"

"It's kind of hard to explain," Zach started, frowning as he looked from one to the other. "But I was thinking ... What if we were all connected? If we could link our minds?" He didn't bother to wait for a response, but forged on. "Each of us has an element of power. Fliss, you're obviously Fire. Lucas is Air, and Matt is Water. I'm Earth. But what if we could somehow link ourselves together?" He paused there to let that sink in and see what they thought of the idea.

The air of confusion lingered for a moment as they absorbed the idea as a group. But it was Cas who spoke, daring to interject with a little intuition.

"You're talking about combining the basic elements to make a fifth element," she guessed. "Like ... a state where Fire and Water can exist in the same space and time without cancelling each other out."

Lucas exchanged a curious glance with Fliss. He wasn't stupid by any means, but it had never occurred to him before now to take the elements into consideration. If Zach's theory was correct, was it pure chance that he and Fliss ended up together, with him being Air and her being Fire?
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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2018 9:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Yes, exactly!" Zach said, a grin on his face for Cas' intuition. At least, someone was grasping what he was trying to say. "Where we feed off each other's powers and combine them to create new abilities. For example, let's say Lucas borrows some of Fliss' Fire to make flaming wings. Or Matt borrows some of Lucas' Air to make ice shards. If it works, the possibilities are endless!"

"You're kidding me, right?" Matt asked, still not so sure.

Fliss was just as surprised and intrigued as Lucas was. She'd taken Magicial Theory in her last year at Bristle Crios, but the professor had never mentioned anything like this. "So if it works," she said thoughtfully, "we'd - we'd be a team. But you're the only one with the head stuff going on, so we'd have to keep you safe, right?"

"Well ..." Zach murmured with another frown. "Yeah, but if anything happens to me, you'd all still have your own powers to fall back on," he reasoned. They certainly wouldn't helpless by any means, but together, they'd make a much more formidable team.

"Are you saying I could do more than blow bubbles under water?" Matt queried, brows furrowed.

"Much more," Zach replied with a grin.

"Flaming ice shards," Cas murmured, nudging her boyfriend with teasing affection.

Dani eased into a seat beside Zach. "Maybe you should test it a little?" she suggested. "Someone link up with Zach and see if you can play with your powers a bit."

"I'm not sure we should do that here," Zach said, though he agreed that his theory needed testing. "We don't want to set the treehouse on fire," he added with an ironic smile.

"Flaming ice shards! Hell, yeah!" Matt echoed with a grin at Cas. Of the six of them, he seemed the most enthusiastic. "Let's put it to the test," he said, hopping to his feet.

"Well, I won't be one of the ones testing," Fliss pointed out carefully. "I could do serious damage to one of you guys if this doesn't work, so maybe Matt and Zach first? And link Luc in to see if you can make your water splats turn to ice?" It wasn't unusual for Fliss to be cautious when it came to her flame, but she couldn't deny she was very curious to see how this would work. She glanced at Luc. "What do you think?"

Up until now, Lucas hadn't said much, not because he had nothing to say, but because he tended to be the most quiet and thoughtful of the bunch. "I think it could work," he replied, reaching over to link his fingers to hers. And if it did, it just might make them Avengers - or at the very least, Avengers in training.

"Finish your lemonade, then, and we'll give it a try," Zach urged the small group, with a smile at Dani. Without her, this might have never happened.

She might have argued with that, if he'd said it aloud, pretty sure he wouldn't have needed her to meet the Storms just when they needed someone who could tutor the smaller children. But Dani was proud of Zach for integrating so quickly when he had been so sure he was doomed to be an outsider for life. She really had to convince him to come to Oakham Mount and meet her parents at some point soon.

"So what is it you can actually do, Zach?" Cas asked curiously, half an eye on Matt downing his lemonade like his life depended on it.

"I'm a telepath," Zach replied, though that was a vast simplification of his abilities. "I'm, uh, I'm not a Rhy'Din native. I mean, my mother was from Rhy'Din, but my father was ..." He hesitated for a brief moment before continuing, "... from somewhere else." And it wasn't Earth. But that wasn't really what Cas was asking, and he was much more than just telepathic.

"He's telekinetic, too," Dani added. She didn't know the full extent of Zach's abilities, but she figured that was the one that would come in most handy in this scenario.

"This could work," Fliss mused, meeting Lucas' gaze hopefully. If they could prove they wouldn't be a liability, she couldn't see many arguments ahead of them.

"Your father isn't going to like it," Lucas pointed out quietly. Especially when the Storms had just come so close to losing Liv. "Maybe we should talk to Captain Rogers first," he suggested. If they could convince Fliss' uncle, maybe he'd be able to help convince her father that they could be of some use.

"I am going to volunteer, either way," Zach said, with a shrug of his shoulders. It was a very small way of repaying a debt to those who had done so much for him in welcoming him into their fold.

"Actually, I was thinking of telling Nat first," Fliss admitted, setting her empty cup aside. Luc knew who she meant, anyway. "And letting her tell Uncle Steve and Dad. I mean, they might be a little hurt I didn't tell them first, but they'll get why. If they know ahead of time, they'll find a way to stop us finding out if this is possible."

"Then, what are we waiting for?" Matt countered with an eager grin. He drained his glass of lemonade and slammed the cup down, as though he'd just thrown back a shot of whiskey. "Come on, Luc. Let's see if this works!" he said, giving his brother's foot a playful kick before grabbing Cas' hand to drag her back toward the ladder.

Dragged along behind him, Cas managed a faint yelp before they disappeared down the ladder, her laughter rising from below when they landed.

Fliss chuckled faintly, offering up a shrug. "He's gonna start asking us to call him SuperMatt again, isn't he?" she asked Luc in amusement, letting Zach and Dani edge out ahead of them. Hopefully Alexei wouldn't be too put out by the fact that his big sister was doing something she'd been pretty clear she wouldn't do a year ago.

Lucas rolled his eyes. "I hope not. This doesn't mean we have to come up with silly sounding superhero names, does it?" he asked. He wasn't sure what kind of name they'd dub him with. Flyboy? Birdman? He winced at the thought of those.

"If we don't, Dad might," she warned him with a faint grin. "He's the one who got Aunt Sue with The Invisible Girl - it took her years to get people calling her The Invisible Woman." She squeezed his hand, pausing at the top of the ladder. "You're sure you want to be a part of this? You're not just going along with it because I'm mad?"

Lucas paused with Fliss, turning to face her. This girl he had met by pure chance a few years ago had come to mean more to him than life itself, and he'd learned something else, too. "No ... I mean, sort of, but not really. It's something your dad said once ... With great power comes great responsibility. We have a responsibility, Fliss. Matt is right. We can't just stand by and do nothing, when we can do something. If we don't try and Hydra wins, we have no one but ourselves to blame."

"Well, you're a lot more noble than I am," she assured him. "I just want to kick them where it hurts because they hurt my mom. She never did anything to them, and they almost killed her." Just saying it aloud brought her anger out again, flame flickering over her hair and in her eyes before she got hold of herself once more. "Sorry."

Lucas leaned back a little so that his feathers wouldn't catch fire, but he smiled. "There's that, too," he agreed. "But we're not just doing this for your mom. We're doing this for Alex and Maria and Martin and Lianne and everyone else Hydra has tried to hurt over the years or might hurt in the future," he pointed out. "We're old enough now to make our own decisions, and if this works, I don't think your dad will even be able to tell us no."

"That's what I'm hoping," she agreed. "And it's not like it'll be all our lives. You'll still be an EMT, and I'm still going to go to school and become a counselor. Just ... it'll be better being able to actually respond when we can do something, won't it?"
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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2018 9:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A whoop from below them suggested that Zach and Matt had achieved success.

"LUCAS!" Matt's voice called from somewhere below them. "Get your ass down here and try this. It's awesome!"

Lucas couldn't help but chuckle at his younger brother's enthusiasm. "I'm never gonna hear the end of this, you know," he warned her, but he didn't seem too upset about it. "Just promise me you'll be careful, okay?" he asked her, turning into the concerned boyfriend he was.

"I will," she promised, a certainty that was easy to give. Her hand stroked his cheek. "And you better be careful, too. You and me, we're in this for the long haul. No getting a hero complex on me." She smiled, leaning up to kiss him affectionately. "I think your brother is going to spank you if we don't go down quick."

He smiled into her kiss, as she reminded him to be careful, too. "Fliss, there's something I want to ask you ..." he started, but was interrupted yet again by a familiar voice from somewhere below them.

"Lucas! What is taking so long? Get down here now!" his brother called.

Fliss snorted with laughter at the yell from below. "I say we jump on him from here," she suggested, a last brush of her fingers to Luc's cheek before she stepped back.

Lucas grinned back. "I'm game if you are," he said, his heart pounding in anticipation of her answer to a question he hadn't had a chance to finish asking. But he would, just not now.

"Oh, Matt?" Fliss called down to her boyfriend's brother, waiting until the moment he was just raising his head before jumping over the railing to plummet down directly on top of him, vaguely aware of Cas lurching out of the way with a loud laugh.

Instead of merely jumping down from the treehouse, Lucas spread his wings wide, gliding down to the ground to land beside his brother, who had been tackled to the ground with an audible groan by Fliss.

"Who's fooling around now, little brother?" Lucas said with a smirk, as he leaned down to offer both Fliss and Matt a hand.

"You just had to interrupt the smooching, didn't you?" Fliss told Matt cheerfully, climbing back onto her feet with a pat to his cheek. "Well, don't just lie there. Show us what you got!"

Behind her, Dani was murmuring a quick explanation of this slightly raucous behavior so Zach wouldn't immediately rethink the whole prospect of making a team out of these three.

It was a good thing Dani was explaining things to Zach as he looked a little confused by it all. It didn't help that he was still fairly new to Rhy'Din and was still learning about the culture there.

Matt glared at both Fliss and Lucas, but the mood didn't last. "Show them, Zach!" he urged, playfully shoving Fliss away. "You better get out of the way or you might get hurt!" he warned.

Leaning into Lucas' side, Fliss turned her attention to split between Matt and Zach, curious to see what it was they had managed to come up with in such a short time.

Matt and Zach squared off, not so much like opponents as like partners in a game of a water balloon toss. Zach raised his hands, a look of mild concentration on his face, while Matt cupped his hands in front of him. It took a few minutes, but before long, Matt was grinning as he produced a water droplet the size of an orange, which he held between his hands.

"See?" he said, "And that's just for starters!"

Lucas wasn't quite sure what he was seeing in front of him. He knew his brother had certain aquatic abilities, but he'd never known him to be able to draw water right out of the air around them. Meanwhile, the globe of water was expanding in Matt's hands, until it was about the size of a watermelon, at which point, he lobbed it at his brother.

"Whoah!" Without thinking, Fliss threw up her hand to protect Lucas from getting water-logged feathers. Flame flared from her palm, turning that massive globule into steam instantly. "Play nice," she told Matt, but she was grinning. "How did you do that?"

Lucas threw up a wing to deflect the water, but as it happened Fliss was faster, turning the water to steam before it reached him.

Matt chuckled at the two of them, shrugging his shoulders at her question. "I'm not sure. Ask him!" he said, gesturing toward Zach.

Slinging an arm about Matt's neck, Cas leaned back into the conversation. "I'm more interested in where the water came from," she pointed out curiously. "It's not, you know ... pee, is it?"

"No!" Matt exclaimed, looking horrified at her suggestion, even if she was his girlfriend. "It wasn't yellow, was it?" he pointed out, for one thing. "No, I-I think I pulled it out of the air, but ..." he looked to Zach again, a puzzled expression on his face. "I thought you said Lucas was Air and you're Earth."

Zach took Dani's hand before stepping forward. "Yes, but all I did was enhance an innate ability," he tried to explain.

"Innate?" Matt echoed, looking even more perplexed. "You mean I could do that already?"

Squeezing Zach's hand, Dani decided to interject. "There's water everywhere, right?" she pointed out. "So I guess you did kind of pull it out of the air. Or maybe you absorbed it from the earth you're standing on, and used it like that. Elements aren't separate, after all. They're always combined."

Zach remained quiet, allowing Dani to jump in and help explain. He didn't think he was very good at that sort of thing, despite the fact that he was slowly teaching the Storm and Rogers children how to control their abilities. "Dani's right," he confirmed. "They're all connected in a way. There is oxygen in water, and fire needs oxygen to thrive. Growing things need carbon-dioxide, and Earth encompasses all the elements - air, fire, and water."

"So let's see if getting Lucas linked in adds the ability to manipulate air, too," Dani suggested, on board with Fliss' initial decision not to leap in with fire straight away. "You should be able to cool the air enough to create ice out of the water, if the theory holds."

"I've never done that before," Lucas said, with a dubious frown - and yet, it seemed Matt had never pulled water out of the air or earth before either. "I don't understand how we're doing this," he said, still confused.

"It's hard to explain," Zach replied, with a frown of his own. "But I am using my own abilities to enhance and manipulate yours," he tried to explain.

"Come on, Luc," Matt urged his brother with a playful shove. "It won't hurt to try!"

"Okay," Lucas replied, needing to know if it was possible. "What do I do?"

Zach turned to the younger of the two brothers first. "Matt, first you gather some water, like you did before. And then, Lucas, you focus on the water and will it to freeze," he instructed.
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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2018 9:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Will it?" Lucas echoed. "Don't I have to touch it or something?" he asked curiously.

Zach shrugged. "Maybe. I guess we'll find out."

"You're breathing air, Luc," Cas pointed out. "You're already touching it. I guess you just have to focus on the bit of air in the water Matt'll be wobbling around."

Fliss smiled, squeezing Luc's shoulder gently. "You can do this."

Lucas nodded his head, both at Fliss' encouragement and Cas' explanation. "Okay, I'll try," he said, though he still wasn't too sure what it was he was supposed to do. Yes, he had wings on his back, but that didn't mean he could manipulate air, did it?

Zach was the first to start, lifting his hands again, the air visibly vibrating in front of him as he worked to toss up a shield of energy that encompassed himself and Lucas and Matt.

Lucas still looked a bit skeptical, but he'd seen what Matt had accomplished and how easy it had looked. He waited, watching again as his brother drew water out of thin air and cradled it in his hands.

"Now, Lucas," Matt urged, worrying his hold on the water might be precarious. This was something that was going to take some practice.

Lucas furrowed his brows, unsure just what to do, but then he seemed to hear Zach's voice in his head, and he gave himself over to the young man's instructions, letting him take the lead. Lucas suddenly grew aware of everything around him, especially the molecules that made up the air that they breathed. He became aware of the clouds over their heads, moving slowly across the sky, some of them full of rain droplets. But no, he wasn't looking to make it rain. What he wanted was cold. He let Zach draw his awareness farther, higher, past the clouds, to where the atmosphere got thinner and the air got colder. Lucas felt himself shiver with the cold and then that cold was moving through him, through his body, his very essence, until it came exploding out of his fingertips to turn the water in Matt's hands to a solid globe of ice.

"Oh my gods, it worked!" Cas exclaimed, more delighted than they were, it seemed. She bounced on her toes, reaching over to try and prod at the ice, only to find herself held back by the shield Zach was holding around himself and the other boys. She pressed her palm flat to that invisible barrier, fascinated. "So ... does that mean that Luc can do something watery now, too?"

"Possibly," Zach replied, the barrier wavering a little as his concentration was temporarily broken. "Try turning the ice back into water and making it float," he suggested. Lucas had the dubious expression on his face again, but Matt looked eager.

"Float ... like on air?" he inquired.

"That's generally the meaning of the word float," Dani pointed out with a smile from where she was leaning against the tree comfortably. "You're sharing abilities here. So Lucas should be able to manipulate water, and you should be able to at least levitate, Matt."

Or vice versa, since Matt's element was Water and Lucas' was air.

"What about Fliss?" Lucas asked, the look of puzzled concern still on his face.

"We'll get to Fliss in a minute," promised Zach. "Go ahead and try, Lucas," he encouraged him.

Lucas might have declined if he hadn't already seen with his own eyes what was possible, but had he really done that, or had it all been Zach? He knew he wasn't going to find out if he didn't try and so, Lucas once again focused his mind - his will - on the ball of ice in his brother's hand. As it happened, it was a lot easier turning it back to water, than it had been turning it to ice.

"Now, make it float!" Matt urged him.

"No, you make it float," Zach interjected.

"But ... Lucas is Air. I'm Water," Matt argued.

"Yeah, and if this linky thing is really working, then you can do Air things, just like he did a Water thing," Cas pointed out to her boyfriend, eager to see if it really would work.

Behind Lucas, Fliss was watching with interest, her own eagerness to join in piqued a little more with each successful experiment.

"Does that mean I'll be able to do a Fire thing?" Lucas inquired, unsure how he felt about that. As much as he adored Fliss, he was always a little wary of her Flame. Fire and feathers didn't mix well, after all, and he didn't want to get singed.

"We'll be very careful when I join in with this," Fliss assured her boyfriend firmly. She knew only too well the damage her power could do, after all. "Go on, Matt. You can do this."

"Okay, if you say so!" Matt replied, turning his attention to the orb of water he was balancing between his hands. He gave the orb a very careful nudge upwards, watching as it dipped a moment before a stream of air caught it and lifted it upwards, floating on air like a bubble or balloon. Lucas was watching, too, and got the sense that even though he wasn't controlling it, some part of him was being drawn upon to control the orb. It was almost like their abilities were linked, each one complementing the other. The only element they had yet to add was Fire - the most dangerous of the four.

Cas let out another whoop, deeply excited that this was working at all. She might not have been a part of it, but it was exciting all the same. Her wild grin was infectious, finding an echo in Dani's smile.

"Looks good to me," the oldest of the girls said approvingly. "Ready for the last act?"

Fliss hesitated, glancing between them all. "Can-can you test one more thing for me?" she asked worriedly.

Matt echoed Cas' whoop, losing focus for a moment, so that the orb dipped dangerously low, before Lucas swept an arm upwards, and the orb soared high into the air to disappear into the clouds high above them.

"Wow, Luc! That's awesome!" Matt praised his older brother, while Zach looked on with a smile before turning to Fliss.

"What's that?"

Despite a small smile at the smooth way Lucas saved the moment, Fliss still looked worried as Zach turned to her. "You said ... you said all linked in, that we'd be immune to each other's powers," she said uncertainly. "I, uh ... I need you to prove that. I don't want to set any of you on fire."

"Fliss!" Matt called with a grin. "Didn't you see what we just did?" he asked, as though he couldn't believe she wasn't convinced yet.

"We have to be sure," Luc said, in complete agreement with Fliss. If they were going to add Fire to the equation, they had to be sure.

"Step into the circle, Fliss," Zach encouraged. "I want to show you something."

Wary of causing harm to anyone she cared about, Fliss did as Zach told her, taking the space left open between Matt and Lucas, facing Zach. Passing through the barrier was a strange sensation - not unpleasant, just strange. "What are you going to do?"

"Nothing that has anything to do with Fire," Zach promised, closing his eyes this time as he focused his mind. Nothing happened at first, though the link between them seemed to strengthen, along with the barrier. At first, it was only a subtle vibration coming from somewhere beneath their feet, and then it strengthened until they could feel the Earth shaking beneath them, like a slight tremor in a minor earthquake.
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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2018 9:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fliss stared down at the ground around her feet. She could see it shaking; see stones jumping in the grass, tufts of soil bouncing with violent motion. She could hear the rumbling ... but she stood firm and upright, barely even aware of the gentle vibration in the soles of her feet. "*** me ..."

"That's awesome!" Matt laughed again, in complete awe of what they were accomplishing together, while his brother looked a little alarmed. Originally from California, the brothers were used to tremors, but had lived in constant fear of the ground shaking beneath them.

"Stop it, Zach!" he shouted. Though it had only been a small tremor, he was sure it had been strong enough for the other residents of the Grove to notice.

As soon as Zach heard the urgency in Lucas' voice, the ground stilled, peaceful and calm again like nothing had happened.

"Did you see what happened there?" Matt asked. "The ground was shaking, but we weren't affected."

Fliss reached out, gently touching Lucas' hand, uneasy with Matt's exultant reaction to everything happening. "This isn't a game," she said quietly. "What doesn't hurt us will hurt other people. We're going to scare people, Matt. Even people who otherwise trust us might not after they see us doing this."

"Well, duh!" Matt replied, with a slight roll of his eyes. "I know that, Fliss, but the fact that we can even do this is pretty amazing, don't you think?"

"What the hell is going on here?" This was a new voice, though not one unknown to most of the young group gathered there. Drawn by the sensation of powers being used before the earth started shaking, Rufus Bennett was approaching across the grass, flashlight in one hand ... crossbow in the other.

Zach lowered his hands, immediately dropping the barrier, as well as the link that connected them. His Uncle Dominic had warned him that Rufus Bennett was one of those people you didn't want to cross.

"Sorry, Mr. Bennett," Matt was quick to jump in and apologize for the group. "We were just, uh ..." He trailed off, failing to offer a believable explanation on such short notice and unsure if he should just tell the truth.

"Practicing what we can do," Fliss finished Matt's explanation. She had a little more experience with Rufus than the others - only a little - but she knew he would respond better to honesty than a half-thought out lie.

"And why would you be doing that?" Rufus asked, lowering his weapon to his side as the flashlight swept over each of them in turn, noting who was here and who was not.

"Because we want to help take down Hydra," Lucas replied, without hesitation or reservation, knowing honesty really was the best policy. He was betting the man was already aware of what had happened to Fliss' mother, and who had been responsible for it. Word traveled quickly at Maple Grove, especially between family members.

"Indeed?" Rufus considered them for a long moment. "And you think that half an hour or so of playing will prepare you for that fight, do you?" he asked, not intentionally dismissive but knowing more about what they proposed than they did. "Think you can look into the eyes of someone who wants to kill you - someone with friends, a family, people who will miss and mourn them - and be able to kill them first? Because that's what you're proposing. Keep on down this path, you will all be killers."

"They tried to kill Fliss' mother!" Matt was quick to point out, his face flushing with anger, though that anger was not directed at Rufus, so much as at Hydra.

Lucas laid a hand on his brother's shoulder, as if to calm him down. "We just want to help," he explained, in an imploring tone of voice.

"I'm not saying you shouldn't," Rufus said, moving closer with careful steps. "But you don't know what you are walking toward. You aren't prepared, and no amount of waving your abilities around can prepare you for the moment that will be waiting for you." He looked each of them in the eye, finally focusing on Matt now barely more than two feet away. "Not until you stand this close to your enemy and watch their life fade from their eyes at your hands."

For once in his life, Matt had nothing to say, his face paling a little, his eyes widening. He obviously hadn't taken that into consideration, and he wasn't sure he wanted to now. He didn't bother to point out that they were no longer children or that they were trying to figure out how to work together. Rufus wasn't telling them no exactly. The question was what was he telling them?

Even Zach had nothing to say in their defense, though of the four of them, he was the one among them who knew a little something about combat.

It was Lucas again - the quiet one - who spoke for them. "Then teach us," he said, knowing enough about Rufus to know he was a capable teacher.

Rufus considered them for a long moment. He knew, intimately, what they were proposing to throw themselves into - not Hydra, but the fight itself. "How long do you have before you intend to get involved in all this?" he asked.

Fliss hesitated, glancing at the others. "Maybe four days?" she answered. "Maybe more. I'll know better when Dad gets more information."

Rufus nodded to himself. "Then keep playing tonight," he told them. "And if you want to be a team, to be able to handle what you're looking into ... be at the moldy oaks at ten tomorrow morning. You might regret asking me to do this."

Four days wasn't much time to learn how to become a team, but it was all the time they had. They were all aware that the Avengers might still tell them no. If, under Rufus' tutelage, they could prove they were a cohesive team, then maybe they'd prove their worth. Even if they were only back-ups, it was better than being left completely behind.

"We'll be there," Lucas said, once again replying for the group, though he wasn't the eldest or the team leader.

"Good." Shouldering his crossbow, Rufus turned away, pausing to look over his shoulder. "And if anyone doesn't take this seriously, it doesn't happen and your various parents and guardians will be informed. Have a good night."

As he walked away into the darkness, they turned to look at one another.

"Did ... did an adult with an actual kill count just offer to keep this a secret until you're ready to share it?" Cas asked in amazement.

"Was he talking about me?" Matt asked, watching as Rufus fading from view. "I take it seriously! I just ... never thought I'd be able to do anything but blow bubbles before," he pointed out, a little defensively.

"Not only that," Lucas replied to Cas' inquiry. "I think he just offered to train us."

Fliss was staring after the retreating figure. "He didn't say no," she murmured, stunned. "He thinks we can do this." She looked back at the rest of the group. "We can do this, can't we?"

"I think we can," Zach replied. He wouldn't have suggested it if he didn't. "It is something that was done on my home world. I do not see why it wouldn't work here."

"Look, you two called this meeting because you thought we could be a team," Matt said, indicating Fliss and Lucas with a wave of his hand. "We've only got four days to figure this out," he said. "We're gonna need all the help we can get."
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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2018 9:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"You're right," Fliss agreed with both of them, taking deep breath. "Okay, link me in. Time to play with fire."

Matt still seemed a bit annoyed that Rufus would accuse him of not taking all this seriously, something that could have an effect on all of them once Zach re-established that link.

"Matt, you need to calm down," he told the teenager.

"I am calm," Matt insisted. "This is me calm!"

"Matt ..." Cas touched his back gently. "Teachers, real teachers, don't mean it to be cruel or unkind. They mean it to help. And Mr. Bennett is a real teacher. He doesn't want you dead, and neither do I."

"Jeez, Cas, I'm not gonna ..." Matt started, frowning a little as if he was just realizing exactly what it was they were getting themselves into. "I mean, it's dangerous. I know it's dangerous, but none of us are going into this alone. We'll be together. We're a team. We'll have each other's backs, right?" he asked, looking from one to the other.

Fliss was already nodding even as she looked at Zach and Lucas, her hand finding Luc's grasp to hold on as the real implications of what they were proposing sank in. "Yeah," she said quietly, meeting Matt's gaze. "All the way."

"We have to be doing this for the right reasons," Lucas pointed out. "Not for revenge and not to be heroes."

"Agreed," Zach replied. "But we all have been gifted with special abilities, and unless we put those abilities to good use, what's the point?" he added.

"I don't want this to be my whole life," Fliss said quietly. "But if they need us, if Steve and his team need us to help protect innocent people? I'll fight. I'm tired of being afraid of myself."

Matt reached for Cas' hand, worried he was worrying her now and glancing her way. Though they were the youngest ones there, they'd made plans, too, and those plans didn't include throwing away his life to fight Hydra. "I don't either," he said, but there has to be some way we can help. Zach is right. If we don't put our abilities to good use, what's the point of having them?"

It was becoming something of a repetitive point, but one that seemed important.

"So you learn the linking thing tonight, and tomorrow you find out what goes into becoming a real team," Dani said, feeling that they needed a nudge forward. "Fliss, are you happy to let the boys play with fire?"

Fliss managed a half-smile as she nodded. "Yeah," she agreed. "Let's find out what we can do."

"All right, then! Link us up, Zach. Ready when you are!" Matt said, that grin back on his face, though not quite as cocky as it had been before Rufus had given them a lecture.

"Be careful," Lucas whispered to Fliss. "If you feel like anything is going wrong, step away from the circle," he told her, knowing that playing with fire was never a good idea.

"Same goes for you," Fliss murmured back to Lucas. She knew her flame, how it felt when it was under control and when it was not. The others didn't, not yet. This would be the biggest test of their control. She nodded to Zach. "Whenever you're ready."

Zach returned the nod, turning to look at Cas and Dani. "Better step back. This could be dangerous," he warned them both.

Dani nodded in agreement, taking a few steps back without needing to be told again. Cas squeezed Matt's hand before she did the same, moving to stand next to Dani. She was as eager as any of them to see what would happen ... and as worried that it might go wrong.

Zach paused a moment to make sure everyone was in place, and that Dani and Cas were safely out of range before he threw up a barrier, that should keep them safe anyway. While the barrier was mostly invisible, his hands moved through the air to manipulate it, as if it were a real, tangible thing. Once he was satisfied with that, he opened his mind to establish a link, telepathically connecting the four of them and their abilities.

It was a ... strange feeling. Not telepathy, not exactly; Fliss couldn't hear what Lucas, or Matt, or Zach were thinking. But she could feel them. She knew where they were without needing to look at them. It felt natural.

"All right," she said, raising her hand. "Here goes nothing." Fire blossomed on her palm, shaping itself into a picture-perfect flame. With just a little concentration, she lifted it from her own skin to hover in the center of their circle. "Your turn."

"What should we do with it?" Matt asked, uncertainly, always a little in awe of Fliss' flame.

"Maybe try moving it around?" Lucas suggested, also unsure.

"You or me?" Matt countered, but almost before the words left his mouth, he saw that the flame was flickering and brightening, if only a little.

"You could try separating it out," Fliss suggested, surprised by how confident she felt to shut it down if she needed to. She had thought she would be terrified by this point. "All of you holding a little piece of it, maybe."

Matt had fallen silent, so that he could focus his attention on the flame and what Fliss was telling them to do. As practiced as he was, it was easy for Zach, but not so easy for Lucas and Matt. Lucas felt something or someone prickling at his mind, encouraging, urging, leading, and he instinctively knew it was Zach, but instead of closing off his mind, he followed his instincts, raising a hand to almost beckon a bit of that flame toward him and away from the original source of fire.

Again, it was the strangest feeling. Fliss knew she still had control of that flame, but she was also ... handing control of part of it over to Lucas. She watched as a portion broke free of the whole, dancing toward his outstretched hand, and felt her mouth drop open as it changed color. Where it had been orange and red, now it burned white. "Wow ..."

It took a little more effort on Matt's part, but whether that was because his element was water or not was uncertain. Even so, it was only a few minutes before he had duplicated Lucas' efforts, part of the original flame resting in the palm of his hand.

And just as it had for Lucas, the flame changed color for Matt, burning blue as it flickered on his palm. Fliss raised her eyes to Zach. "You try," she said, curious to see what color her flame would burn for him.

There was no try as far as Zach was concerned. He had no trouble at all splitting the flame, though instead of it floating toward him, like it had with the other two, the flame merely flickered a moment and then its twin merely appeared in front of him, like out of thin air.

Fliss almost laughed, impressed with Zach's finesse. And the color of the flame he held was different, too ... green. The remaining flame returned to her hand, redder than it had been before they had each taken a piece.

"That is so cool," she heard Cas whisper behind Matt, grinning.
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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2018 9:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Yeah, but what do we do with it now?" Matt asked. "It's not like we can throw them at ..." He broke off, blinking as he realized what he'd been about to say. "If we can make balls out of water and ice, why can't we make fireballs?"

"It takes a little bit more to hold fire together, especially if it's independently burning," Fliss told him. "There's no fuel, the flame is just happening. So you have to hold its shape if you want to throw it at someone."

"So, how do you do that?" he asked further. They'd had no problem holding the water molecules together to form a shape. Why wouldn't it work the same for fire?

"Um ..." Fliss frowned for a moment. "Well, I just sort of make the shape in my head and the flame sort of turns into it. But you have to hold the concentration right up to the point where it hits - that's the hard part."

"Not if one of us concentrates for the rest," Zach pointed out. That was what this was all about, after all, at least in part - not just sharing their abilities, but working together.

"What if someone makes a target out of water for you to practise throwing fire at?" Dani suggested from behind Zach. She wasn't sure the Storms or the Rogers would appreciate finding charred holes in the trees and lawn in the morning.

"That might work," Lucas admitted. "But then one of us will have to let our flame go."

"I will," Matt volunteered. "Water's kind of my thing," he said, with a grin. "Fliss, take my flame!"

Unable to resist a chance to show off, Fliss whistled, and the flame on Matt's palm turned red, somersaulting back to join the flame on her own hand. "Like that?" she asked innocently.

"Yeah, something like that!" Matt said, laughing. Now it was his turn to show off, though without Zach's help and the link that connected them, he wasn't sure he'd have been able to summon water the way he had a little while ago. "I feel like a real superhero!" he exclaimed, with another chuckle, opening his arms wide and looking up at the sky, where there was water aplenty. Somewhere deep inside him, he seemed to feel a tug in response, and then, much to his surprise, he heard a rumble of thunder and the sky opened up above them to a torrent of rain.

"Matt!" Cas was the one who instantly blamed him, laughing even as she was drenched.

Fliss didn't even think; aware of Lucas linked to her, she cherry-picked his connection with Air and threw a disc of superheated air up to hover above the now dripping group and provide some kind of cover.

"Oops! Sorry, guys!" Matt apologized, looking a little sheepish. The water didn't bother him, but once he'd turned it on, he wasn't quite sure how to turn it off. It seemed Fliss had things under control though, and there was now plenty of water for him to draw on. Lifting a hand upwards, he summoned water to him, the same way he had before, but holding it in place, like a big water balloon, but without the balloon.

"Looks like you and Zach are the ones practising throwing," Fliss pointed out to Lucas. She'd never had to split her focus like this before, surprised by how much effort it took to keep the flames intact and hold the invisible disc above their heads.

"I'm not sure this is going to work, Fliss," Lucas pointed out. "I mean, what if the fireballs miss their target?" he asked. "There's a barrier around us, Luc," Zach reminded him, his voice in their heads, instead of spoken aloud. It was almost easier for him to communicate this way, and it was something they were going to have to practice, too. "Fliss, you can let the shield go. I'll extend the barrier so that it's covering our heads."

It was just as well Zach had it covered, because the sudden sound of his voice in her head was enough to make Fliss lose focus and drop the disc above them. "What the hell ...?"

"I told you, I'm a telepath," Zach reminded them further. Could they hear him because they were sharing abilities or because they were linked or because he was able to project his thoughts into their heads?

"Dude, a little warning next time!" Matt exclaimed, the orb of water wavering a moment before he regained control.

"We're going to have to communicate quickly and easily, if we're going to make this work," Lucas pointed out, in defense of Zach.

"No, I get that, I just wasn't expecting it," Fliss admitted apologetically. Shw frowned in fierce concentration. "So you guys can all hear me like this?"

Outside the barrier, Cas leaned over to Dani. "I think we're missing context here," she murmured.

Dani grinned back at her. "They're talking with their heads."

"Loud and clear!" Matt confirmed, giving Fliss a thumbs up, forgetting to reply in his head.

"I can hear you. Can you hear me?" Lucas projected, hoping they couldn't hear everything he was thinking.

"No mushy stuff!" Matt warned with a grin, getting the hang of it.

"We just need to be able to communicate with each other," Zach said aloud. "We won't be going deep enough into each other's minds to hear everything we're all thinking."

"That's a relief," Fliss said aloud. "Not sure I want to know everything that's going on in Matt's filthy little mind." She flashed her boyfriend's brother a wicked grin, painting a smiley face in the flame on her hand just for him before forming it into a ball once again.

Matt smirked at Fliss' teasing, but instead of defending himself, he conjured a ball of water and tossed it her way, just like one might a water balloon. Whatever it was Zach was hoping to accomplish was in danger of turning into a duel of sorts.

Thankfully, however, it didn't even wet her when that water balloon hit Fliss. She stuck her tongue out at Matt. "Behave, or we stop right now," she warned him.

Matt was about to open his mouth and accuse her of starting it, but from the look on his brother's face, he knew he better quit while he was ahead. "Okay, okay!" he said. "Just having a little fun."

"Let's finish this last test and we'll call it a night," Lucas suggested, as it wasn't getting any earlier, and he figured they were probably going to have a long day tomorrow under Rufus' tutelage.

"Sorry," Fliss mouthed to Matt, straightening her expression to give Zach her attention. "So ... that target ready to go? You boys ready to play darts with fire?"

Zach could go her one better, but he thought they should probably start with slow first and build trust between each other before they moved on to more difficult tasks. Matt threw the water bubble back up, and Lucas worked to keep it there, while Zach kept the link that connected them in place.

"Ready when you are, Flame Girl!" Matt called.

"Okay." Though there was no need for the hand motion, Fliss curled her fingers to flick her handful of flame into the center of the target, grinning as it sizzled into steam. "Nice!"
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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2018 9:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Matt, you're next," Zach instructed.

Matt grinned, turning his attention to the flame that he'd split off of Fliss' original flame. He was tempted to get fancy with it and show off a little, but even Matt knew that one shouldn't play with fire. Instead, he hurled the flame toward the target, like a pitcher might throw a baseball. His aim was spot-on, and it, too, sizzled into steam.

"Awesome!" he shouted, triumphantly. "I can't believe I can do that!"

Outside the barrier, Cas was bouncing on her toes, clapping enthusiastically. It was only too easy to be infected with Matt's cheerful enthusiasm. Dani, on the other hand, was huddled in on herself, since they were still on the receiving end of the downpour Matt had inadvertently called down on them. She, personally, was hoping the practise would come to an end pretty soon.

"Your turn, Lucas!" Matt called to his brother, who took up the challenge, flinging his own little ball of flame at the globe of water. Though his aim was a little off, he waved a hand in the air to guide the flame back toward the target, and it, too, sizzled as it hit the target. It was almost too easy.

"Impressive," Fliss complimented him, though her focus was set on holding the fireballs together as they were manipulated. "Zach, your turn. Then we'll call it a night?"

"It's okay," Zach replied, waving away both the globe of water and the last remaining flame with a wave of his hand. "I think you've got the idea," he said. "Matt, could you turn off the rain showers, and Lucas, maybe you should dry the girls out a little?" he asked. This wasn't part of the test, but if the more they practiced using their abilities, the better they'd get.

"Dry them out?" Lucas echoed, uncertainly.

"We're all linked in, you should be able to push the water out of their clothes," Fliss pointed out. "I wouldn't recommend heating the air, though. Steam burns."

"Push the water out of their clothes?" Lucas echoed again, unsure just how he'd do that, but it was probably just a matter of directing a flow of air.

In the meantime, Matt was staring up at the sky, brows furrowed in concentration as he tried to make the rain stop.

Fliss shrugged. "I don't know," she admitted. "I've never had a problem getting wet, I run hotter than everyone but Dad so I dry out quick."

Cas raised her hand. "Maybe Fliss should dry us out and you guys pay close attention to how it's done?"

"But Fliss just said that steam burns," Lucas pointed out. So, wasn't using heat out of the question?

"I can't get it to stop!" Matt admitted, scowling up at the storm clouds above them.

"Maybe they should step into the circle," Lucas suggested. At least, that way they wouldn't get any wetter.

"Can't Lucas disperse the clouds?" Dani suggested. "Rain falls when the moisture builds up too much to stay up, as far as I know. Separating the water droplets should fix it, right?"

Zach was reluctant to suggest anything just yet, wanting them to figure it out for themselves, as much as they could, but he didn't want Dani or Cas catching cold either. "Give it a try, Lucas!" he called over encouragement. Rain was not one of the elements under his control.

"I'm not sure how, but I'll try," Lucas agreed, gazing up at the sky, his wings unfurling at his back. And then, he was off the ground, white wings carrying him high above them, where he disappeared momentarily into the clouds. Whether or not he was still linked to the others, the clouds above them started to disperse, the rain slowing to a drizzle before it stopped all together.

"Damn, that's sexy."

And evidently Fliss didn't care who heard her compliment her boyfriend these days. Rubbing a hand over her hair, she turned to concentrate on Cas and Dani, that strange connection to Lucas, Matt, and Zach enabling her to warm their clothing, remove the water from them, and send it down to be soaked into the ground at their feet.

"We need superhero names," Matt mused aloud. "Like Ironman and Torch and Black Widow, but names that work for us," he suggested, watching with envy as his brother soared downward through the sky to touch down beside Fliss. "We need uniforms, too," Matt mused further. "What kind of superhero goes to battle in jeans and a hoodie?"

"We aren't superheroes," Lucas pointed out, folding his wings back onto his back.

"I'm going to break the connection," warned Zach, once Fliss had dried Cas and Dani's clothes.

"We're superheroes in training," Matt corrected.

"If - if - they let us get involved," Fliss said thoughtfully, "Miranda will probably make something up for you guys. I mean ... I kind of already have a suit." Because living with fire everyday made clothing particularly susceptible to the rigors of PMS, for a start.

"More like when," Matt said with a frown, all too aware that his age might be a problem. "But we're a team, right? All for one and one for all and all that?" he asked, looking around.

"That's the Three Musketeers, Matt," Lucas pointed out.

"Technically, there were four of them though," Matt argued.

"All in, or no one goes," Fliss said, despite her own eagerness to stick it to Hydra. She could be patient, despite how it seemed to everyone else. "You guys okay?" This was directed to the other girls, who were moving to join them as Zach dropped the barrier.

Dani nodded. "Toasty warm, thanks."

As the oldest among them, Zach could have vetoed Matt and Fliss' sentiment. He had originally intended to volunteer himself, before Fliss and Lucas had summoned them here. He had honed his own abilities long ago and didn't really need their help, but it seemed they needed his. "Agreed, all of us or none of us," he told the others, as he moved closer to Dani.

"Sorry about the rain," Matt said, slinging an arm around Cas' shoulders, claiming her for his own.

"It's my own fault for having a soggy boyfriend," Cas answered Matt impishly, hugging her arms about his waist. She looked about the little group. "I'm guessing we're done for the night? Because Mr. Bennett is going to ride you like hogs tomorrow, I'll bet."

"What a fascinating mental image," Dani commented with a grin, nudging her shoulder to Zach's.

"I never made it rain before," Matt said in his own defense, relieved Cas wasn't mad at him and was warm and dry again.

"We should all probably get a good night's sleep," Lucas said. He had a feeling Rufus wasn't going to go easy on them in the morning.

Zach's hand found Dani's, his fingers tangling with hers. "See you all in the morning, then?" he asked the others. None of them seemed to want to take Cas' remark literally.
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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2018 9:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fliss leaned against Lucas, feeling strangely lethargic after their experimenting. "Yeah," she nodded. "Ten o'clock at the moldy oaks ... gods, that sounds like a really seedy bar somewhere."

Cas snorted with laughter. "You guys hang out at the best places."

"Let's just hope they're not really moldy," Matt said with a chuckle.

"Right now, I'm all about going to bed," Dani declared, squeezing Zach's hand. "But this was good, right? You got what you needed out of it, and a teacher ... this is working."

Zach finally allowed himself to smile as Dani gave his hand a squeeze, reminding him he wasn't alone.

"We still need a lot of practice," Lucas said. With only four days or so until the attack on Hydra, they were going to need all the help they could get.

"We will," Matt replied. "We'll spend all our free time practicing as much as we can."

"We got a lot of work to do," Fliss agreed, tucking her arm about Lucas' waist. "But right now? I need to see my mom, eat dinner, and sleep."

"Do you mind if I come along?" Lucas asked, as he slid an arm around Fliss' waist. "I'd, uh-I'd like to see her, too," he admitted, somewhat shyly, though he'd been part of the family almost since they'd first met.

"I bet she'd like to see you, too," she assured him with a smile. "Of course you can come." Squeezing him fondly, she looked at the others. "Tomorrow. And, uh ... thank you."

"Thanks for inviting us!" Matt said, with a wave to the others as he and Cas turned to go. "See you later!" "We should be going, too," Zach said. "I have to tuck someone in," he added with a small smile at Dani.

"See you, guys!" Cas waved as she and Matt wandered off. Dani smiled back at Zach, bumping her shoulder into his. "Staying over tonight?" she asked him hopefully. They hadn't quite gone all the way yet, but they were definitely getting closer to it together.

"If you want me to," Zach replied - no argument there. If he and Dani kept on the way they were going, he might be the next one to move out of the garage apartment and in with his girlfriend.

"I want you to," she assured him with a smile, offering a wave of her own to Fliss and Lucas as she steered Zach across the lawn, leaving the other couple lingering together.

Fliss hugged Lucas tight for a moment, lifting her eyes to his. "You really think they'll let us help?" she asked softly.

"If they see how hard we've worked and how well prepared we are, maybe," Lucas replied, unsure but hopeful. "I'm a little worried about Matt though," he admitted with a frown, as he turned to face her, his arms circling her waist.

"If Mr. Bennett thinks any of us are a liability, he'll try and put it right," Fliss mused. "He trained a Vampire Slayer; he killed demons for a living. I think he can handle your brother."

"He didn't train anyone in four days," Lucas pointed out. "Do you think we did the right thing in inviting them?" he asked. Neither of them could have predicted that Zach would be able to enhance their abilities and connect them to each other, nor the fact that Rufus Bennett would volunteer to train them.

"I think we stand a better chance together than apart," Fliss admitted reluctantly. "And maybe with actual proof that there are people our age who want to take on this fight when we're needed, Uncle Steve won't turn back into a tin soldier."

"Captain Rogers can't defeat Hydra all by himself," Lucas pointed out, no matter how much the man might want to. He wasn't even sure if they could defeat Hydra, but maybe they could at least slow them down.

"I know." She sighed, resting her cheek on his shoulder for a moment before straightening. "C'mon, Mom'll be awake again by now. "

They'd already discussed and debated this to death before deciding to invite their friends to the tree house to ask if they wanted to join the fight. Lucas was pretty sure the Avengers weren't going to let them get too deep into the fighting, but maybe they could find a use for them. That's all they wanted really. No matter how small their role, they just wanted to help take Hydra down.

Lucas smiled as Fliss rested her cheek on his shoulder, remembering that he'd been about to ask her something earlier. That question could probably wait a little while longer, but not too long. "Let's go see your Mom. I'm sure she'll be happy to see you," he agreed, brushing a very gentle kiss against her forehead.

She smiled, lifting her head to kiss him properly. "She'll be happy to see you, too," she pointed out. "You're practically an honorary Storm by this point, darlin'."

"I guess they won't mind when we get married then," he said, trying hard to hide the very Matt-like smirk from his face. He hadn't planned on asking her this way, but he couldn't keep it to himself anymore. He knew they'd have to wait a little while yet, but he hoped she shared his dream of spending a lifetime together.

For a fraction of a second, Fliss looked totally stunned, mouth open, eyes wide, the works. Then she laughed, up on her toes to kiss his cheek affectionately. "Guess we won't know until you ask me, will we?" she pointed out sweetly.

Lucas frowned, though he was encouraged by her reaction to his remark. "I'm serious, Fliss. I know we're too young, but ... I love you. I have for a long time. I can't imagine my life without you in it." He simply looked at her a moment before pulling gently away and going down on one knee, taking her hands in his. "This isn't the way I was going to do it, but Felicity Storm, would you marry me?"

She hadn't expected him to rise to the challenge right then and there, but Fliss knew her own mind. She knew her own heart. They'd been together for three years or more, through some awful experiences, and had only grown closer. Yes, they might be young, but she couldn't see a life without Lucas in it. "What makes you think I'm gonna say no?" she asked, her smile soft with delight. "I love you. Yeah, I'll marry you!"

Shy and quiet as he was, it wasn't often Lucas said those three little words, but he needed Fliss to hear them and to know just how he felt. "I know we're too young and ..." He broke off, brows arching upwards. "Did you say yes?"

She nodded, her smile deepening all the while, bright and warm. The flames in her eyes danced happily. "Yeah, I did," she told him. "You were expecting me to say something else?"

"No, I ..." He broke into a grin. Unfurling his wings, he caught her in his arms and soared into the sky to spin her around, whooping with joy.
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Fliss
Adult Wyrm
Adult Wyrm


Joined: 25 May 2014
Posts: 200
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Can Be Found: Maple Grove
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PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2018 9:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fliss squealed as he lifted her into the air, wrapping her arms about his neck as he flew upward with her in his grasp. Giggling, she kissed him once, twice, over and over again, sharing her grin with him as he soared over the Grove. "I love you so much."

"I love you, too," he replied, grinning happily from ear to ear and returning each and every one of her kisses, even as they hovered high up over the Grove. He knew she wanted to see her mother, but he couldn't help but keep her all to himself for just a while longer. "You mean everything to me, Fliss."

"You're not the only one who feels that way in this relationship," she promised him affectionately, teasing her fingers through his hair. "I mean, I feel that way about you, not about me. That would be weird."

Lucas laughed. "I was going to ask for your dad's permission first, but I couldn't wait anymore," he admitted. With everything that was going on and the attack on her mother, maybe they both needed something to smile about.

"You can still ask him," she allowed impishly. "And I'll bully him into saying yes if he dares to say no." Not that she thought Johnny would say no. He might pout a little about his eldest getting engaged, but an engagement did not mean marriage right away.

"Think we should ask your mom?" he asked, as his wings carried them back toward the Storm house before they got too far away. He wasn't sure the time was right to mention it to her mother, especially considering what they were about to undertake in a few days' time. He dreaded to think what she'd have to say about that.

"Maybe we should hold onto this until after the main event," she suggested gently, nuzzling to him as he bore her through the air. "Our secret, just for a little while."

"She isn't going to like our volunteering to fight," he reminded her, though they'd discussed this already. "But we can't just stand by and do nothing, when we can do something," he said, though he was repeating himself now, saying something he'd said earlier. They slowly descended, until they were both back on solid ground.

"I think she'll understand," Fliss considered. "She'll worry, but she always worries. And you and I both know Uncle Steve won't throw us onto the front line, not right away. Matt's gonna be so pissed when he realises that."

"Matt is going to pee himself when he realizes he's part of the Avengers," Lucas countered with a chuckle. "He'll probably be so busy asking them for selfies, he won't even realize he's not on the front line."

"You know that Dr. Banner and Thor are coming this time, too?" she pointed out, taking her own weight on her feet as he let her down. "Hell, Thor might even have been to Zach's home planet."

"Why would he go there?" he asked, taking Fliss' hand again and starting toward her home in hopes of seeing her mother before she fell asleep for the night. Lucas didn't know too much about Zach or his home planet, mostly because Zach hardly ever talked about it. He knew Zach's mother had been a Granger, but he didn't know much more about their friend than that.

She shrugged. "I don't know, he's an alien," she pointed out. "Why did he visit Earth in the first place? Space is weird, dude."

"I have no idea," Lucas replied, knowing as much about Thor as he did about Zach - probably less. "Maybe we should borrow your dad's comic books," he suggested with a grin.

Fliss giggled, hugging him close for a moment. "Maybe we should stop worrying about everyone else for one night," she suggested in answer. "Just us, once we've seen Mom. I have this little engagement thing I want to celebrate, after all."

"Well, it's not really official until I put a ring on your finger," he reminded her, his smile softening, though he didn't say whether or not he already had a ring waiting for her.

"Your mom is going to freak," she laughed suddenly, imagining Jessica's reaction to suddenly having a mother of the groom moment looming in her future. Leaning close into him, she smiled, nudging her nose to his. "I do love you, so much."

"Well, it's not like it's going to happen today ... unless you want it to," he added, with a teasing grin. There was a certain appeal to the idea of getting married before they went off on their mission to help rid the Earth of Hydra, but Lucas had a feeling Fliss would never go for it. He couldn't help but smile, his heart soaring to hear her declare her love for him again. He had waited a long time to hear her say it. "Love you, too, Flame Girl," he teased further, brushing his nose against hers.

"Flame Girl, huh?" She grinned, easing back onto her heels to drag her hands fondly over his chest to his hips. "I guess that makes you Wind Rider, then. Since you didn't like Angel."

"I'm not an angel though," he pointed out, not for the first time. "Maybe we should let your dad gives us names," he suggested, though he doubted her father would come up with anything better. "Wind Rider is better than Bird Boy anyway," he said, chuckling. "Shall we go say hi to your mom, Fire Girl?"

She laughed again, tucking her hand into his, teasing her fingertip over the base of his ring finger for just a moment. "The nickname is changing already," she pointed out. "I'm gonna end up with Firebird or Phoenix or something, aren't I?" She kissed his hand, turning to pull him toward the house. "C'mon. Sooner we talk to Mom, the sooner you can feed me."

"Too cliched," he replied. "We can do better than that." Better than Flame or Fire Girl, too, but to him, she'd always just be his Fliss. He didn't seem to notice that fact that she was teasing his ring finger, his fingers tangling with hers as she took his hand. "Okay, Seymour," he teased further. Now that it was just the two of them, he had relaxed and felt more like himself.

Giggling, Fliss tugged him into the house, far more herself now than she had been all riled up with anger and upset. If she could hold onto herself, if they could hold onto each other ... this young Avengers idea might not be such a bad call after all. They just had to endure whatever training Rufus Bennett had in store for them, and Hydra would be a walk in the park.
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