Monday, October 24, 2011

Bloodstained Beast

A child's scream is what finally stopped it. Sent it crawling back into me wounded but very much alive. And it was only then that I knew the true danger of the beast within. Everyone from Teach to Tai warned me of the danger, but I had never listened.

The night had started off well enough. Lunch with the Kevins and Mom as we partied in the Gquen and Teach's honor. Then a movie with Hank, he solved the mystery before I did. Finally dinner at The Victorious Hero where Mom thrilled Hank with tales of The Victor and her. It was at his memorial that things went bad.

Hank had fallen asleep in my arms, so I decided to cut across the park to get him to bed as soon as possible. I noticed something was off as I got nearer to the memorial. Normally I would have been able to see the lights surrounding The Victor's Memorial, but it was darker than ever. Getting closer I found a group of ten men drinking and disfiguring the statue. All but one of the surrounding lights had been broken. My blood started to boil.

I laid Hank down on a bench and called out to them demanding to know what they were doing. Their leader stepped forward and made a few offensive comments about The Victor, then about me. I encouraged him to leave before something happened that they would regret. He threatened Hank and told me to run away. I could feel my whole body turning hot.

The leader started towards me and his men began to follow. I grabbed one of their discarded beer bottles and eased my way towards my target. The leader jokingly told me that the bottle was useless against them. I agreed with him, took a quick look at my surroundings, closed my eyes, and smashed the last light.

As expected, the flash of destroying the bulb left the gang members temporarily blinded; I could hear them arguing and trying to find their way in the darkness. I slowly opened my eyes letting them adjust to the blackness around me. Finding my first opponent I ran up to and quickly took him out with two moves. Well not too quickly I allowed him to cry out before I knocked him out. It had the desired effect of making the rest of his friends suddenly tense.

As they realized that they weren't against someone normal, I let out a cackle and sprinted around the group. As they headed to where I had been seconds before I grabbed the one farthest from the crowd and repeated what I had done to his friend, again letting him scream in pain before letting darkness take him.

Now as they stood confused, I began to taunt them with facts I had gleamed from first seeing them. Mom still sick, Joe? You know Kate hates you talking to other women, Mac. How far into debt are you, Steve?

Finally it was time to start having fun; I pulled out my knife and ran through the crowd, laughing like a mad man. Slashing at their clothes, I let them know I could've easily done the same to them. It also covered me stealing their guns and/or just the clips. Holding my knife in my teeth, I broke the guns down, emptied the clips, and scattered the bullets as I ran back into the darkness. I had been lucky so far that they hadn't remembered they were armed, but I wasn't going to press it by being stupid. Taking a quick stock of the firearms, I soon realized that one of the fools had drawn their gun. Even better.

Settling into a dark corner, I returned my knife to my pocket and took a deep breath and started to throw my voice. Here I am. As expected, my new ally quickly shot where at he thought I was and hit one of his friends. Nice shooting, Tex. Again he fired and hit another one of the gang members. Speaking up from my hiding spot I asked him why he would fall for the same trick twice. Just as I knew he would, the gunman fired away from where I was and into yet another of his friends. Using the final gunfire to locate him, I stalked up and knocked him out, this time making sure he didn't make a sound. Six down, four to go. It was time to teach these fools how badly they had screwed up.

I searched the night for my next opponent. Finally finding one, I slowly circled around him. I sprinted when he could see me and barely moved when he couldn't. I would give a mocking howl whenever I was behind him and flashed him a slasher smile as I ran by. As soon as I thought he had enough, I charged at him laughing. Then just when he was about to react, I leapt over him, and vanished into the treetops. I watched him call out to his friends as I climbed down the back of a nearby tree. Just as I planned. Slowly pulling out my knife, I eased up behind him and slashed at his arm, drawing blood causing the fool to cry out in pain. Grabbing his throat, I choked the sound out of him, but eased my grip enough to keep him awake. I slowly started to trace my knife against his face, never drawing blood, but making it clear that I could at any moment. I told him to mind his manners, to respect those who came before, and to never threaten another man's child. Then I spun and throw him into a tree, knocking him out.

Wiping the blood off on my clothes, I put my knife away, quickly climbed a tree, and watched as the finally three arrived. Taking a deep breath, I throw my voice around them. Run and hide like good little prey. Run and hide. Then I laughed. They scattered in fear. Good.

Running from tree branch to tree branch, I took off my belt and looped it. Spotting the next rabbit, I leapt to the tree above him and lowered the makeshift noose. Snagging the terrified animal I made sure he could breath, and just that, and tied off the other end to the branch I was on. Landing in front of him, I easily dodged his panicked swings and delivered two quick jabs to his kidneys. He tried to cry out in pain, but the noose turned it into a silent whiz. Snapping out my knife, I let what little light there was reflect off it. Again I told him to mind his manners, respect those who came before, and never threaten a child. Then I went behind him and made two long, but shallow, cuts into his back, and tightened the noose until he passed out. Then I loosened the noose and let him hit the ground with a small groan. Unlooping my belt I put it back on and disappeared back into the trees.

I began to circle around seeking the final two, when I realized how much I had overreacted. They had disrespected The Victor and threated my son, but they didn’t need to be hunted down and treated like animals. I needed to get them medical attention before someone was permanently hurt or worse. I reached for my phone when the moonlight touched my hands. Blood from the last gang member had covered my hands. Breathing deep, I could smell the iron. It was intoxicating. No. No, it was clarifying. It helped us decide what was needed to be done.

Putting away my phone, he began to hunt our next target. I should have known that this would happen, my darker half is better at the hunt than me and he enjoys it more than I do. As we leapt from tree to tree circling the area, I marveled at the ease he found the next one. As we dropped out of the tree on to our next opponent, he pulled out our knife and stuck it into the gang member’s left shoulder blade. Then he spun the terrified man, no rabbit, terrified rabbit around and delivered punch after punch making sure to cause the most damage but keeping the man, creature, creature from falling unconscious. Beaten and bloody, we dragged our prey to his feet and twisting his arm made him cry out in pain. Then we called out to his boss, that if he knew what was good for him, he would show himself. He did, but he wasn’t alone, he had my son with him.

Hank was scared, shaking, crying for me. I felt my grip tighten on my hostage, prey, my hostage. He was human and I’m going to treat him as one. So be it, fool. I tried to tell the leader to let him go, but a small growl came out instead. My darker half pulled our hostage closer to his and lowered our knife to his throat. I had never killed anyone, but there was times where I had come close. Gunner, Emerald Elf, and some of the men that I faced when training with Tai could have died by my hand, but my promise to The Victor had stopped me each time; but then, with the blade pressed so close to the man’s throat it was clear that my darker half wanted to break that promise, it only so that he could feel the thrill of the kill. I willed us to wait, to see if the there was another way. My darkness eased the knife, if only for a second.

The gang leader laughed said and said we had a standoff. That even thou I was fast and good, having taken out nine men I must be very good, that I couldn’t get to him before he hurt my son. And because I was so good, he couldn’t get to his man before I gave him a new mouth. I didn’t correct him that it wasn’t me but my darkness holding the blade. A quick look at the man told me everything I need to know. The terror of me taking out the rest of his men was clear on his face. He could snap at any moment. I had to end this quickly but carefully. When I opened my mouth to offer a trade, the beast inside instead told the man to do what he will with the boy, he was of no use to him. Maybe not to you, but he’s my son and I can’t let him die. Quiet you. I sudden felt very light and removed from my body, like something in a dream.

The leader laughed again and told me he wouldn’t fall for a bluff. He didn’t know it wasn’t a bluff. The beast that had been me cackled and threw our hostage straight towards the leader. Either the cackle or sight of his bloody man coming at him, or maybe both, caused the leader to shove Hank to the side as he leapt out of the way. The beast used this split second to knock out our former hostage and to jump onto the now gangless leader. I almost didn’t fell the punches it delivered to the man over and over. I almost didn’t hear the man beg for it, for me, to stop, that he would leave and never tell anyone what happened, if only I would let him go. But it kept hitting even after the man stopped moving and would have killed him if it wasn’t for Hank starting to cry.

Hank was lying on the ground; bruises from hitting the ground had already started to form. I wanted to comfort him, but I couldn’t move the beast wouldn’t let me; instead it moved to Hank and started to yell at him. It yelled about how he had held it back; about how, because of a promise made by a weak willed man it had now been saddled with a child barely out of his teens. I shouted for Hank to not listen to it, to run and hide from the beast in front of him. But I knew it was in vain, the beast was in control and it wasn’t listening. It continued with it’s tirade, about how The Victor had thrown his life away on a nobody, an ungrateful kid gifted with greatness but burdened with a conscience, someone supposedly destined for some importance but would never accomplish it because of feelings of inadequateness. But all that will change with Hank’s death. His death would free it of the weak morality that had chained it for so long.

Snapping out the knife, it let the moonlight shine across. Instead of feeling the normal thrill at the sight, my heart began to pump faster with horror. My son was about to die and was going to be by my hand. I forced everything I had to stop it, to stop me. I focused on the positive that the beast had overlooked. Tai had given me Hank because, of everyone in the world, she trusted me the most. The Victor died saving the son of his partner, and if the rumors were believed, the only woman he had ever loved. While he had been there dying, The Victor had told me to do something with my life. And I had, in the last year alone I had helped a couple of runaways escape their abusive owners, a psychic start a new life, and found a kidnapped child.

Then I started to remember Teach and Gquen, two people that the beast hadn’t mentioned. Gquen had been my first love and probably the only person who always knew just exactly what I had been thinking before I even thought it. The beast hadn’t said anything because it had also loved her, even in my darkest moments I had never acted against my beautiful queen. She had encouraged my darkness, no not encouraged, guided it, directed it, towards helping people and having a little fun at the same time. I might not have been able to prevent her death, but from what I had heard her murderer still jumped at the mention of my name because of the beating I had given him.

Teach. I knew why the beast hadn’t mentioned him, it had been afraid of him. Feared the very thought him because while Gquen had tried to get me to use my darkness, Teach had taught me that I didn’t need it to help others. Use your mind before your fist. Plans could beat an army if you do it right. Violence isn’t always the answer. He would always say this while dodging my attacks and using my on force against me. In fact in the whole five years I knew him, he never threw one punch or kick either during one of my aikido lessons or when we argued about how I was living my life. Turns out a kindergarten teacher with a hobby in criminology isn’t someone prone to violence.

As the memories of Gquen and Teach ran through my head, I could feel the beast’s hold on me weaken, but I knew the fight wasn’t over. As I gained more of solidness I could feel it fighting back all the bad memories that haunt my dreams even now. Gunner calmly leveling the shotgun at Gquen, ending her life even as she fights him. Him turning it on me, only for The Victor to jump in front of the blast screaming my name. The fear that ran through me while I was getting Hank out of Israel. I fought back with the memories of Hank meeting his grandmother. Of Gquen, my queen, calling me her avian knight with her dying breath. The Victor smiling as he died, telling me he wouldn’t have it any other way.

The beast within me took this moment to lunge for Hank, knowing that his death would break me, ending the fight forever in his favor. But Hank screamed and that was all I need to break the last of the beast’s hold. I spun and threw the knife into a nearby tree, imbedding it into the trunk. I turned to see if Hank was okay only to find him unconscious, the stress of the last five minutes proving too much for him.

Picking him up, I cradled him in one arm, while I called 911. I told them there had been a gang fight near The Victor memorial. The operator told me someone would there in minutes; hanging up my cell I could already hear the sirens. I wasn’t surprised by that, even if The Victor hadn’t been the biggest supporter of police, while alive he had helped raise a couple million dollars a year, or left some of his equipment for them use, he had died protecting a cop and her son and that’s not something easily forgotten.

I shifted Hank in my arms and kicked myself into a run heading back to The Victorious Hero. The police would have questions I didn’t want to answer and I needed to found out if Hank was okay. Reaching the restaurant I caught Connor just before he closed up. Not even thinking twice he let us in and went into the back to get his first aid kit. Returning he had me take off my shirt and started to check for wounds. He only found a few busted knuckles the blood rest of the blood had been from my victims.

As I had waited, I had looked at a glass case of one The Victor’s uniforms and caught my reflection. My shirt and fist were soaked in blood and my long hair had been undone giving me a somewhat wild. But what send a small shiver down my spine was the half grin on my face and the darkness whispering in my ear that it will be back and next time it plans to stay around for a while.

A few days later I checked to see what had happened to the gang members. Luckily all had survived, but some, the ones that had been shot, had lost the use of one limb of another. Others, the ones I had knocked out quickly were fine, but had taken the blame for fight. The man I thrown into a tree now walked with a limp and the man I had sliced the back of was on his stomach healing and refusing to speak. The gang leader was still getting surgery for his face and he starts screaming whenever someone turns off the lights at night.

Hank? Hank has barely slept since his “nightmare” and is still afraid the Smiling Man is going to get him. I don’t have the heart to tell him the truth. I may never tell him the truth of what happened that night.

And me? As odd as it sounds, I have had an epiphany about my life. Because of Stile’s Decree, there haven’t been any heroes, but I’m going to change that. I’ve been denying it for too long that I can do more than I have, and because of that the darkness in me has grown, feeding on my fears and doubts. I’m going to become a nonviolent hero that hopefully as will bring light back to the city and destroy the beast inside me; that bloodstained beast that is the true me.

Will I be this generation’s The Victor or its Archie Mage? Maybe I’ll barely be remembered at all like the Bailiff or the Screaming Scud. So I ask you is this an origin story or a horror story? Or is it both? Maybe only time will tell.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Ten Signs of His Love

The first of the Dancing With Danger series. It chronclies how The Victor and Officier Huntre went from friends to a couple.

Alicia Huntre never took her hand off her lips as she watched her fellow officers load police vans with Red Rogue and her lackeys. The Thorny Thief had kidnapped the officer but Alicia had gotten herself free and turned the table on the supervillain. But Alicia wasn’t thinking of Red Rogue or her goons; she was trying to figure out how she hadn’t known that her best friend was in love with her. The more Alicia thought about it, the more she realized the clues had been there, all she had had to do was look.

10. The kiss had been her first clue, actually it was the last clue, it just was the hardest for her to ignore. When he had seen her he just ran over and pulled her into a deep embrace.

09. He had run. The brave, unwavering Victor had ran. When they had come up for air, his face had filled with shame and fear. He had apologized for his action and asked her to forget that it had happen. Then, not waiting for an answer, he had left to find Red Rogue and the rest of her thugs. In the ten years that she had known him, The Victor had never left a room without making sure everything and everyone was all right, but this time he had just left.

08. He had yelled. He never yelled. Sometimes he would have to raise his voice to make sure everyone heard him, but he had never shouted. But when she had found him had had one of Red Rogue’s minions by the collar and was screaming into the henchman’s face demanding to know where she was being held.

07. He had said her name. In all the time they had known each other, he had never said her first name. He always called her Officer Huntre or just Huntre. When he teased her he would call her Valkyrie or Val, but he never used her first name. But when he had demanded to know where she was, he had called her Alicia, not Officer Huntre.

06. He let her touch him. The Victor had always been a very out going person. A hand on a shoulder giving support, a thumb wiping away a tear, a hug if needed, but he would always be the one to make first contact. If someone looked like they were going to touch him, he would beat them to it. It was one of the reasons why he was called the Untouchable Man. But not with her, if she thought he was goofing off or needed a good pounding she would hit him or give him a shove and he would let her. She had seen him dodge a fury of punches; he could easily have evaded her, but never did.

05. He made time for her. Alicia didn’t know who was under the mask, but she knows he had to be a very busy man. Between patrolling the city and his charity work, he had to have only enough time for maybe a day job and getting some sleep. But he never complained if she needed help on a case or to vent about her life. He would just lean back and let her cut loose. Then he would give whatever advice he could think of and wave off any thanks before getting back to work.

04. He listened to her. Kind of hard to believe with The Victor, he was renown for his stubbornness. But if she thought he was being na├»ve or just refusing to see all the facts, she would call him on it. He would ask her why she believed that and nod his head to any problems she might have. Even if he didn’t change his plans or agree with her, he would admit she had a point and let others know of her concerns.

03. He couldn’t stand to see her upset. If she was sick or in a bad mood, he would crack a joke, make a funny face, talk in a goofy voice, honk her nose, or throw a few silly moves in when solving the problem at hand. If all else failed, he would use his dreaded one finger tickle. She didn’t know how he did it but it worked. One minute she would be yelling and the next she would be overcome by a fit of giggles.

02. He smiled when he saw her. Sure, as The Victor he always was grinning, but after getting to know him, she could tell when he was forcing one because it was expected and when he was genuinely happy. Whenever she walked into the room his eyes would light up and his lips would curve up even more.

01. He looked after her. Shortly after they started to work together, he had bugged her to try to have a social life; he even gave her tickets to a show she had wanted to see. She had taken his advice and asked out someone she knew from her neighborhood. The outing had turned sour when on the way home when her date had tried to force a kiss. Before she could react, The Victor had pulled him off her and sent him into the nearest wall. The Victor apologized, saying he only wanted to make sure she was relaxing but had overreacted. He then walked her home and asked her to try again.

That’s it. When The Victor had asked her to try again, she had posed the question of why it was so important to him. He had just looked down and said that at least one of them should be happy then had left before she could respond. Lowering her hand, Alicia decided ten years was a long enough wait. Smiling brightly she raced into the night after a friend who is so much more than that to her.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

I Was There

The Victor breathed slowly as he tried to gather his thoughts. Even though he was an optimistic man, he was about to write a very cynical letter. He wanted to believe that he was going to live to a ripe old age with the red head that lay in his bed, but a hero's job was risky at the best of times and he felt there was trouble in the wings. He had to leave something for Virgil, Alicia's son, in case he wasn't around to give advice.

Finally with his thoughts collected, he began to write:

If you are reading this then the worst has happened.
It doesn't matter how I died, only that I am no longer there to give advice and to pull your ass from the fire.
But know this, I was there in the beginning when you started down this road.
I was there when you started to take responsibility for your actions.
I was there when you started to use your head more and your fists less.
I was there when you started to stand up for others less fortunate.
I was there when you started to give your time to others instead of taking up theirs.
I was there when you knowingly or not started to become a man and less of a boy.
I may not be here now, but I was there when you needed me.
You need only to think of the time we spent together working on my bike or talking,
to know that even though I'm not here anymore in body I will always be there in your memories and in your heart.

Folding up the letter The Victor put it into his war chest and headed back to bed. Dark days may be ahead, but The Victor knew that no matter what his son, Virgil, would continue the fight. And with that thought in mind he could sleep peacefully not knowing what tomorrow might bring.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Midnight Heroes, Late Night Partiers

This follows the events of The Victor's first teamup with Quiver as told by celebrity columnist Holly Jayne. Again like Thanksgiving with the Patrol and Hope in the Shadows, this is a time when heroes were outlaws, but as this story shows the public loves their outlaws. If anyone is interested in the events that preceded this story, I'll most likely recount the teamup next year's New Year's Eve. Now Miss Jayne's account as seen in the Daily Review, January 1st 1988.


Midnight Heroes, Late Night Partiers

By Holly R. Jayne

Following the exciting events of The Victor's first thrilling team-up with that Captivating Crimefighter, that Bold Brunette, that Amazing Archer, Quiver, The Arrow Queen, against the Neon Knights*, the two heroes were invited by Dick Clark to the Rocking Eve Party. While The Victor turned down all refreshments, save milk and what looked to be vodka, but turned out to be water, the Daring Damsel, Quiver, sampled anything and everything and wowed the partygoers with her extensive knowledge of beverages. The duo danced most of the night away with many of high-profile guests. Again this showed a difference in the pair as The Victor was more stiff and formal with his dancing, even as that Perky Partier, Quiver threw caution to the wind with daring displays of acrobatic skill.

But the biggest surprise of the even came from no other than from The Victor himself. Thou the events that led up to it are unknown to this reporter, The Victor found himself on stage with the crowd cheering for a performance. The hero repeatedly tried to talk them out it until one of the celebrities offered to pay any amount to the charity of The Victor’s chose. After a check for a quarter million was written for the Police Fund, the hero finally relented and stepped up the mike. What followed can not, by any stretch of the imagination, be called singing. The Victor almost seemed to be in pain as he screeched thru whatever the song was. That’s right people; The Flawless Fighter has an imperfection, complete and total lack of music talent. May he never have to use it; if he does the police will be after him for more than vigilantism, but assault with a deadly weapon.

*My overage of the daring encounter can be found in the Daily Review’s sister paper The Daily Reporter.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Dear Santa

Here's another Victor Holiday Special. This one is told by an eight year old so the spelling and grammar mistakes are on purpose. At least that's the story I'm sticking with.

Dear Santa,

It's Marty again. Thank you for all the gifts you gave every one here. Penny liked her doll and Bryan liked his train set and I liked my bike. But that's not what I'm writing you about. I saw your bodyguard last night. Everyone at the house was asleep, probably dreaming of what they were going to get Christmas morning. Well, everyone but me. Marty snores in his sleep. When he finally rolled over and I was about to get some doze off when I heard a crash. Running downstairs I found a car in the living room. The hole that the snow was blowing in from had to be the way it got in. Two crooks, one really fat and the other really skinny, climbed out and started to argue with each other. After a minute, I was able to figure out that the fatty's name was Travis and his partner's name was Lee. They were arguing over whose idea it was to rob an orphanage on Christmas Eve and if they had lost whoever was chasing them or not. I started to wonder who they were talking about when we got our answers. The chimney exploded with ash making Travis, Lee, and me cough. After the cloud cleared I saw a man seven feet tall wearing a red costume and mask. He throw light from his hands that blinded every body. When I stop seeing stars I saw him tieing up the bad guys. After tossing them into the backseat he pushed the car out of the house. Giving me a friendly wink, he started to wave his hands around the hole making it fill up with some kind of mushy stuff. Turning to me he asked my name as he went around the room and started fixing the decarations and setting the tree back up. The car had made a mess of the place. I told him my name and asked who he was. Checking the gifts to see if they were okay he told me he was the Victor and tonight he was your little helper. Wishing me a good night he went out the door and let out a loud whistle. I ran to the window just in time to see a bright red motercyle pull up out of nowhere with no one driving it. Somehow hooking the car to it he jumped on the hood and whistled. As he rode off I heard him exclaim with a laugh, “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good-night.” I don’t know when I fell a sleep but Miss Casey woke me up in the morning. Everything was just like it was last night but there was a bike beside the tree with a note for me. The bad guys had ran over mine and the Victor had replaced it for you. So next year I don’t want anything just send the Victor again.

Marty

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving with the Patrol

This story takes place before the events of the on going story. Masked heroes were still wanted by the law and The Victor is still alive and well, but dealing with his first supercriminal The Dungeon Master.

Officer Alicia Huntre presented herself at the front desk of the Royal Hotel at six o’clock sharp Thanksgiving night. She wore a simple blue dress and had her chestnut hair up in a bun. The Victor had told her that it was a causal get-together and that she didn’t need to worry about how she looked, but Alicia had felt that if she was going to dine with the New York Patrol she should dress nice.

She hadn’t known how to react when The Victor had given her the invite. On one hand she should have tipped off her captain to the gathering of a know vigilante group, on the other hand she had been working with The Victor and his allies since shortly after he had began his heroic crusade and had seen enough to know that most of their intentions were noble even if their actions were illegal. Besides she wasn’t sure which of her superiors were in Dungeon Master’s pouch and with the New York Patrol were on the top of his vanquish list, it was better to risk her career than their lives.

Feeling the concierge’s eyes studying her, her mind returned to the task at hand. Returning his gaze, Alicia found him to be a man in his fifty’s with a kind round face and light blond hair, the name tag over his left breast pocket showed that his name was Thomas. Moving around to lead the way, he apologized and explained that she was the first normal guest he had seen all day.

As Thomas talked, Alicia ticked off the guest list and noted things the man didn’t know. "First there was Mr. Victor and with that blue metallic woman (The Victor and Light N Blue) who had blown out all the lights on the top floor last year." Getting on the elevator Alicia had remember The Victor had telling her about that, between fits of laughter. Apparently Blue had been so excited about her first holiday that she had lost controlled of her powers and overcharged and exploded the bulbs. Vic had paid for the damages and had put twice that up front for this year incase something happens. The concierge continued, "Next was a woman wearing a fedora and sunglasses who asked me if I wouldn’t mind being interviewed by her reporter friend, a Miss Jayne. Mr. Victor had asked me already to inform the staff that he preferred no talked to the press, but wouldn’t fault them if they did. I, of course, turned her down." Quiver is always seeking more press Alicia mused to herself. "Even if I hadn’t, that silent man put an end to it by shepherding her into the elevator." And Omni can be a little paranoid, she added.

Getting off the elevator, Thomas led her down a long hallway of rooms, before stopping before one of them. Looking around, Alicia asked, "Did The Victor rent the whole floor for today?"

Giving her a surprised look, the concierge said, "Rent? Mister Victor owns the top floor." To prove his point he nodded towards the door in front of them, instead of a room number there was the stylized V that was The Victor's trademark.

As if on cue, the door opened and the man himself appeared. The Victor hadn't been kidding when he told Alicia that this was a causal gathering. He wore a plain white shirt and a pair of blue jeans, but the image of normalize ended with his face, he still wore his red half mask. Grinning at the two, The Victor pulled out a pair of bills from his back pocket and handed them to the concierge. Alicia noted that they were both hundreds. "Thank you Tom, I can take Officer Huntre from here."

Taking the tip, Thomas responded, "Thomas, sir."

Closing the door behind him, The Victor moved into the hall. "Thomas, of course, Excuse my informality for a moment longer. How is your daughter, Karan? Last we spoke she was still recovering from her surgery."

Thomas' faced lighted up a little. "She's back to her old self, sir. She just got the lead in her school's Nutcracker."

"Nice to hear. Your shift is almost over, why don't you leave early? I'm sure that Karan will love to see you. I'll smooth everything over with the manager."

Thomas thanked him and headed back to the elevator. After watching him get on, The Victor turned to Alicia, "I'm sorry, Officer Huntre, but this was the first time I've had to talk to Tom all day. I normally don't talk about other people's business in public. Now would you like a tour before dinner?" With at he gestured to the end of the hall.

Alicia just crossed her arms and leaned against the opposite wall. "So you own the top floor of one of the most expensive hotels in New York. Why didn't you tell me you were inviting me to your home when you invited me?"

The Victor stepped back as if she had slapped him. A look of embarrassment crossed his face as he recovered and walked towards her with his hands out an apologetic gesture. "This isn't my home, Huntre. I just thought that you might feel compelled to report to your captain if you had known that you had been invited to the New York Patrol's headquarters."

Alicia pointed to the insignia on the door behind The Victor, "So everyone has a room here?"

"Of course, to change or rest up before heading back to their lives or cases." To prove his point he gestured towards down the hall, which Alicia noticed for the first time had the insignias of each of the Patrolman.

Still angry about being deceived, but curious Alicia let The Victor lead her into his room. No, not deceived, The Victor never lies, he just told her that the New York Patrol was having a get-to-gather at the Royal Hotel and let her come to her own conclusions. Whatever anger she had however turned into awe as she looked around his room. Despite being an ordinary sized room, Vic had some managed to turn it into a gymnasium and lab, with room for someone to use either equipment without disturbing the other. Moving to the bed, Alicia found a sketch book that The Victor must have been working in before she had arrived. Picking the book up she noticed that The Victor seemed almost nervous about her having it. Must be like a journal to him, she thought to herself. Getting ready to put it back, The Victor stopped her. "You can look at it if you want."

Flipping through pages, Alicia found designs for equipment, including something called a gravity rope, drawings of his teammates, and several half finished sketches of a beautiful woman that Alicia didn't recognize. Apparently The Victor was human after all.

Before she could ask who the woman was, the lights began to flicker. Following The Victor out to the hall, Alicia found that the lights had brought both Quiver and Omnifarious out of their rooms. While Quiver seemed to be taking notes, Omni seemed to be just glaring at the two of them. Or at least Alicia thought he was glaring at them, his pitch black face mask made it hard to tell what was going on underneath. The Victor just smiled at both of them, "Everything is fine. Dinner will be served in a few minutes, so please finish up."

With that he led to Alicia to the room next door to his. The insignia was of a blue lighting bolt linking two white tesla coils. Knocking as he came in, "Blue is everything okay? The lights are flicking again." Leaving the door open, he went inside. Alicia followed and was suddenly overwhelmed by streaming lights and techno music. The room looked like an arcade, with games lining all the walls. On any space that was open between the games were posters of various sci-fi movies. At one of the games stood Light N Blue intensely playing. Alicia suppressed a grin as she noticed that even Blue was causally dressed with a pair of black jeans and a t-shirt for the movie Tron.

The Victor calmly walked over to Blue and tapped her on the shoulder. Like someone had flipped a switch, the lights turned to normal and the music stopped. After moment Light N Blue turned around and smiled at the two of them, "Greetings Red and Other Red. Is dinner ready?" Other Red, Alicia wasn't fond of the name but it was better than the original Old Red. Old, she was barely twenty-seven.

The Victor just chuckled, "Almost Blue. But I'm here because the lights were flicking again."

Blue appeared to became a little embarrassed, "Sorry, the higher levels of this game was proving difficult. Next time I'm remember to turn on the power vacuum."

Noticing the confused look on Alicia's face, Light N Blue pointed to a red box plugged in the corner. "Something Red designed to balance out my electrical field when my emotional circuits start to cause problems."

Before Alicia could ask more questions, there was a knock on the door. Blue opened it to show Quiver. The famed archer wore a brown trench coat over a purple blouse and slacks. Her eyes were covered by a large pair of sunglasses. "Dinner's ready everyone."

Leading Blue and Alicia out, The Victor turned to Quiver as he shut the door, "Is Conan here yet?"

"Not yet. Why don't you go see what's keeping him while I have a word with Officer Huntre."

Turning to Alicia to he said, "If you don't mind. I also have to see the staff about something."

Alicia just shrugged, "The duties of being a host. I can handle her."

After The Victor was gone, Quiver turned to ask Alicia something only to have her cut her off, "No comment." And pointed to the hidden mike on Quiver's trench coat. "I don't like being interviewed without my consent."

"At least we have something in common," said a grainy voice behind her. Alicia turned to see Omni. Of all the members he was the only one to be dressed in his costume. A pitch black suit and full face mask. To say that he made her uneasy would have been putting it lightly.

"I didn't want you to be here, but," gesturing towards Light N Blue and Quiver, "they thought it would be nice to see the other woman in The Victor's life in a less combative location. I know you can hold your own in a fight. That's all I need to know about you, Delilah."

Uneasy feeling a side, Alicia doesn't take being talk down to very well. Getting into Omni's face, "The name is Officer Alicia Huntre. Talk to me like that again and you'll know how well I am in a fight."

Whatever Omni would have said next, it was lost as a joyous voice boomed down the hallway, "Sorry I'm late folks, but Isaac just couldn't decide what to wear." The whole group turned to see Professor Nice walk off the elevator. With him was a tall dark man of vague origins. His voice had the desired affected as the tense evaporated. While Nice was dressed in trademark vest and khakis, his friend wore a plaid shirt and jeans.

Taking the lead, Conan led the group down the hall towards the dining room. Walking by the door, Alicia noted that insignia of the New York Patrol. Under it was the group's motto, "A hand when needed, a fist when required." The Victor had told her that he had suggested it as joke, but it had stuck. Walking into the room, she realized that this was normally the Patrol's meeting/trophy room. The wall to the right was lined with framed clippings of their various exploits. To her left was a case with what almost looked like a tool belt inside. The words First Case and Professor Mechanic's Tool belt were printed on the side, showed that it was indeed a tool belt.

"One of the few good things he's ever done and it was an accident," Alicia turned to see Light N Blue staring at the belt. Looking at Blue, she realized how human the android could be at times. Right now she seemed like a daughter dealing something she didn't want to.

Before Alicia could think of anything to say, Quiver walked over and led Blue toward her seat saying, "We all know honey, its okay. You're not an accident." Alicia normally didn't see Quiver comfort someone. She was either trying to get people to talk to the press or buy one of her products.

Omni bumped passed Alicia before turning back and giving her what she took to be a dirty look, "The kid's been through a lot. Leave her only." He moved to a darkened part of the room before she could respond.

Thinking it was best to sit down before there was any more problems, Alicia turned to see Professor Nice waiting for her. "Don't mind him. He might be rough around the edges but he means well. Vic wanted me to show you to your seat. Its right beside mine." Raising his hand to stop Alicia from responding, "And please call me Conan."

Taking her seat, Alicia started to admire the setting. The turkey took up a third of the table. Surrounding it was deviled eggs, macaroni, three different kinds of stuffing. and green beans. Even with all the food cover it, Alicia noticed that the table was a work of art. Big and round made of wood with the letters N Y P carved stylishly into the middle. It looked like someone had put a lot of time and effort into the construction of it. She wondered who it was, only for Conan to answer her unasked question. "Our Vic is a talented one." He nodded towards The Victor as he walked in and took his seat. "He spent weeks just trying to figure out what kind of wood to use." Seeing the confused look on her face, he added, "Sorry. One of the drawbacks of being an empath. Always know what someone is feeling."

Turning to greet Vic, she asked, "Did you get everything settled with the staff?"

Looking towards the darkened part of part the table, The Victor said, "I needed them sent a few more meals home with Omni." Noticing the stunned look on her face he added, "He's a skilled detective but sometime he forgets to buy food for himself. Whatever he doesn't want, he'll give to the shelter."

Obviously not wanting to talk about anymore, The Victor called out, "Quiver, why you start us off with what you're thankful for. After, of course, you turn of the mikes." The embarrassed look on Quiver's face sent a small chuckle around the table.

As everyone talked about what were grateful for, Alicia realized that The Victor was wrong earlier. This was his home. A place where he was the father figure of a weird family that did care about each other even as they fought. A family with Omni as the overly protective big brother, Quiver and Blue as the loving but very different sisters, and Conan as the middle child that helped balanced them out. New York was honored to have these protectors call it home, and she was honored to be a part of their family, if only for a little while.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Kiss My Lips

Even thou they had only been dating for a month, Alicia knew she loved Vic and that he loved her. Despite being ten-years his senior, they didn’t have any problems. In fact, unless someone pointed it out she would complete forget the age gap. But if there was one thing that Alicia could have to complain about it was the way Vic kissed her. He would kiss her hair as they sat together and watched old movies, the back of her hand whenever he held it, her cheek when one of them had to leave, but he never kissed her on her lips.

When Alicia would confront Vic about it, he just shrug his shoulders and say, “I guess I haven’t earned it yet.” What did that mean? He sent her flowers everyday; her fellow officers even asked if she was starting a floral shop with the amount that covered her squad car. Everyday he would take her to lunch; never anything expensive just different from what she was used to. After work he would pick her up and lead her on a private tour of one of the various galleries and museums; always checking with her to see if it was something she would be interested in. Every night they would grab takeout and head over to one of their apartments to watch a couple of movies, swashbucklers if his, musicals or gangsters if hers. If she fell asleep before the movies were over, he would awake her with a kiss to her forehead or if he was in a humorous mood, her nose. And every third sentence he spoke seemed to be either of affection or in search of her wants and needs.

So how did he not earn a kiss? That question bugged her for days, her coworkers, cop and tight alike, even teased her about her obvious distraction. She began to doubt his affection and thought that he might have just been toying with her. But each time, Alicia would just shake her head. No, she saw the way Vic looked at her and what would Vic have to gain from such a game?

Enough was enough, Alicia decided. When Vic showed her his latest charity invention, an indoor park for kids to play in on rainy day, she confronted him again and said that if he didn’t her kiss on her lips they were over. He just nodded his head and said fine. Alicia closed her eyes as she saw Vic lean in for the kiss, but snapped them back open when he kissed her top then her bottom lips separately instead of together. Anger overtook Alicia as she grabbed her boyfriend and pulled him into a deep kiss.

As they parted, Vic mumbled something. If Alicia hadn’t been listening for a reaction, she would have missed it. “Finally” With that word everything became clear. Vic had told her many times that her boldness and independence was what he loved about her the most and would never do anything that he was sure she wanted to do herself. So while she had been waiting for Vic, Vic had been waiting for her. Proving to Alicia that love had a sense of humor, and she was willing to learn more about its hilarity with her golden boy.

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