Kyoshi had never been a fan of the phrase “sucking face”. It took all the romance out of kissing. But as she sat in the front seat of the car the sounds coming from the back seat were the perfect example of the euphemism.
<I just hope that is all that’s being sucked.> She couldn’t stop the giggle that escaped her throat and became a small burp.
She tasted champagne.
The residents of townhouse #117, and guests, had partied all night long in the literal sense. They’d hung out in their VIP booth at Club Spark and had a steady flow of booze served to them. The only people who were still sober after it all were Mason, because of his strongman nature, Anika, and Becca.
Mason was driving Seth’s car home with Kyoshi in the passenger’s seat while Seth and Liz practically went at it in the back. Kyoshi didn’t dare turn around. There were too many “yes”, “Oh God” and grunting noises coming from just behind her. It made her uncomfortable, and she was drunk. She couldn’t imagine the awkwardness factor for Mason.
<My big, strong, manly man.> Before Kyoshi knew what she was doing her drunken brain was sending commands to her body. Her hand reached over the cup holders and started rubbing his thigh.
“Jesus Christ!” The car jerked so hard that Kyoshi almost smashed her head against the window, and there were more complaints coming from the backseat.
Despite all of that she couldn’t stop from giggling.
“I need you to let me drive, babe.” Mason’s rebuke was half-hearted but firm. “Hold on until we get home.”
As if on command traffic heading out the city came to a sudden stop.
“Whasssss goin’ on?” Seth’s face appeared with lipstick smudges all over it.
“I don’t know,” Mason opened the window, letting the cool daybreak breeze stream in, and stuck his head out to see what was happening.
Kyoshi had a panicked moment when she imagined a car tearing by and smacking into Mason’s head. In her drunk mental state her boyfriend got decapitated, and that had her freaking out for a second. But then she remembered Mason was a living, breathing tank. Sure he’d probably get a migraine out of it, but his head would do more damage to the car than vice versa.
“There’s a lot of flashing lights up ahead, and they’re detouring people.” Mason pulled his head back in the car, and swiveled to face Seth. “So I suggest you put your pants back on or we’re all going to get into trouble.”
Kyoshi couldn’t stop the giggle, and Liz chimed in too as Seth started pulling his clothes back on.
Mason pulled his phone from his pocket and dialed a number. By the time Kyoshi got her champagne giggling under control he was talking on the other end.
“You two ok?”
“Yeah, we’re just stopped and there are a bunch or cops. Think it might be an accident.”
“Ok, drive safe.”
Kyoshi couldn’t hear the other end of the conversation, so Mason enlightened her.
“Becca and Anika are fine. Whatever this is it doesn’t have to do with them.”
<Oh, that’s right.> Kyoshi remembered that Anika and Becca had driven home Mason’s truck. <And it can’t be Angela and what’s-his-name, they left hours ago.>
The car started to inch forward as they got closer and closer to the police lines. <He’s so sweet.> Kyoshi’s mind was still on Mason. <He’s calling to make sure everyone gets home safe. That’s so considerate. He’s going to make a great father one day.>
It had to be the booze, because Kyoshi didn’t find anything wrong with thinking that.
“You want to have kids one day, Mason?” Kyoshi did more than think it, she straight up asked him.
“Um. . .” Mason looked over at her with a deer in the headlights look. “Yeah. . .someday with the right woman.”
<Good.> Kyoshi could have stopped there but she didn’t.
“Am I the right woman?”
Kyoshi had to remember for the future that five glasses of champagne removed any filter that she normally had. Not that it mattered now. The question was already out there.
“Don’t you think we should talk about this later when you’re sober and. . . ” Mason trailed off while motioning with his head to the back seat.
The sounds of sucking face had resumed.
“What!” Instead of taking the hint Kyoshi went the opposite direction and got insulted. “I’m not good enough to have your babies?”
“That’s not what I said!” Mason gripped the steering wheel hard in frustration.
“No, I get it.” Kyoshi crossed her arms and turned as far away from Mason as she could in the luxury sports car; which was about an inch for someone her size.
“Kyoshi, come on.” Mason pleaded. “Of course you’re the right woman. You’re the perfect woman. I can’t imagine having little Mason juniors with anyone else. But there are slightly more important things in the short and long-term that we need to consider.”
Kyoshi would definitely be considering them if she wasn’t drunk, but instead she giggled. “Was that so hard?”
“Huh huh. . .hard,” Seth laughed from the backseat, and quickly received a punch to the gut by Liz, who seemed to at least understand the gravity of the moment through her drunken haze.
“Yes and no.” Mason replied, his attention on something far away, and Kyoshi didn’t think it was the slowly approaching police cars.
It was at the point that she realized she might have inserted her foot into her mouth. Whatever the case might be, she quickly forgot about it as they approached the police line. After all, they were all underage and drunk as skunks.
<Just let Mason do all the talking.> She held in another champagne burp as Mason rolled down the window.
“Good morning, officers. What’s going on?” Mason pointed past the line of patrol cars with flashing lights.
“Accident up ahead ruptured a gas line, so we’ve cleared out the entire area until the gas company get everything squared away.” The policeman waved his flashlight over the car’s occupants.
Kyoshi flinched away at the light. <That’s so bright.>
“Have you had anything to drink this evening?”
“No, Sir.” It was a lie, but a lie of necessity.
If Mason told them he had been drinking they’d all get arrested for underage drinking. On top of that Mason would have to give a breathalyzer or a blood test. When those tests came back negative for anything, because his superhuman physique had already done god knows what to the puny alcohol, people would start to ask questions. The police would call the school, and the incident would eventually reach Dean Ditmar’s desk. Then he’d tell Coach Meyers who’d probably just kill them and that would be the end of that.
Kyoshi stifled another giggle because now was the worst possible time to be giggling.
Either way being truthful was bound to jeopardize their HCP prospects. And the alcohol wasn’t impairing Mason’s ability to drive so if it was a lie it was a pseudo-lie. Nobody was going to be hurt by it.
What the officer saw was a designated driver driving back college kids who obviously been drinking. Since this was a town with one of the biggest party schools in the country, this was what the local police wanted to happen. They weren’t going to stop the drinking, but they wanted to make sure people were safe. If the officer busted Mason he’d be going against everything their department was trying to achieve.
“Get home, drink plenty of water, and get them in bed.” The officer withdrew his flashlight and waved them on.
“Yes, Sir.” Mason nodded, and accelerated down the detour that was clearly marked by luminescent orange signs.
They drove half a block before Seth broke the silence. “Whew,” he exhaled loudly. “I think we held it together pretty well.”
If anyone held it together it was Kyoshi, not Liz, and certainly not Seth.
“Let’s just get home.” Mason’s tone was exasperated, and he clearly wasn’t having as good a time and Seth and Liz, who were back to going at it again.
That made Kyoshi feel bad. After all, she was the one who asked him to come out instead of getting his solo man-time.
“Hey.” She gently placed her hand on Mason’s shoulder. “I don’t know if I’ve said thanks yet, but thanks for coming.” She smiled, a smile that seemed to melt the irritation right off Mason’s face.
“No problem.” The big strongman shrugged. “Maybe next time we just grab a bite to eat and avoid all the booze.”
“Sure.” Kyoshi smiled back. “But don’t knock the booze just yet.” Kyoshi’s smile grew broader.
Mason just looked confused.
“Let’s just say when we get back home we aren’t just going to sleep.”
A few seconds went by as Mason read between the lines, and then the sports car started to accelerate back towards campus.
The light shone through the cracks in the blinds, and there were quite a few cracks from where they were bent, out of place, or just plain missing. Whatever the condition of the blinds they failed to stop the sunlight from striking Angela directly in the face.
“Whaaa?” She started to raise her head and then grimaced.
It felt like some light manipulator was repeatedly attacking her while a strongman smashed her in the head with a giant hammer.
For a second Angela thought about shifting. It would eliminate the vicious hangover and allow her to get on with her day.
<Not a good idea.> Her mind was so foggy it was hard to come up with even that simple thought.
A brilliant flash of light coming out of the townhouse was going to lead to questions no one wanted to answer, so Angela gritted her teeth and dealt with it. Slowly, she sat up and fought the churning in her stomach and the wave of nausea that nearly had her bending over the side of the bed to puke. She took several deep breaths to settle it, and then slowly swung her feet over the side of the bed.
<Huh,> she finished swinging her legs over and her feet weren’t touching the ground.
Angela turned away from the window, squinted, and opened her eyes.
She was not in her room.
Panic, anger, and her fight or flight instinct kicked in immediately. Her hangover symptoms nearly vanished as she dealt with her new unknown situation.
<I’ve got to shift.> It was the only thing she could think of to prepare for whatever unknown was about to happen.
There was a creak to her right as the door started to open. Angela reached for her power to start her shift.
“Hey,” Alec walked into the room carrying a bag that smelled like doughnuts and coffee.
It was the only time Angela would be able to think this, but at that moment alcohol saved her from getting expelled from the HCP for an SI infraction. Of course, that thought was at the very back of her mind as the realization that she was in another boy’s bed, in the morning, possibly after losing her virginity.
She quickly did a self-inventory. She was wearing the white undershirt she’d been wearing the night before. Her bra was still on, so were her panties, and she didn’t feel sore.
Angela breathed a sigh of relief before turning her attention back to Alec. “Thanks,” she accepted the coffee and took two pastries. “So um…”
“Why are you half-naked in my bed.” Alec supplied with a blush. “I swear I didn’t do anything to you.”
“I guessed as much. But if you don’t mind me asking what did happen?” The coffee was clearing Angela’s mind and now she really wanted answers.
“It was all very Animal House.” Alec shrugged, referring to the classic college party moving. “You invited me out to the club with your friends. One of them must be seriously rich because we were drinking expensive stuff in a VIP booth. I didn’t drink much because I’m not much of a drinker.” Alec waved his hands over his small, skinny body. “But you were really putting those drinks away. After about a dozen, I called a cab and brought you back here. Where you quickly went to sleep. I tried to get some water into you, but you’re a surprisingly uncooperative drunk.”
Angela couldn’t help but laugh at the last part. The laugh felt good.
“I slept on the couch.” Alec pointed through the door into the common area where some extra sheets were laid out on the piece of furniture. “And then I woke up a little early and decided to grab some food. I’m sorry I wasn’t here when you first got up.”
“No, food was a good idea.” Angela was starting to feel better. The doughnuts were settling her stomach and the coffee was making her sane again.
There was a loud bang as the door to the common room flew open and impacted the doorstopper attached to the wall. A group of three guys with three girls in tow walked in talking loudly and gesturing wildly with their arms.
They were all more athletic and better looking than Alec.
“Shoot, sorry.” Alec quickly rushed to his door while Angela pulled the blankets up to cover herself, even though she was wearing her t-shirt. The way the guys stopped and stared at her made her feel dirty.
“I’m so sorry.” Alec shook his head as he placed his back against the door. “My roommates are. . .”
“Stereotypical jocks.” Angela wagered a guess.
“Yes, exactly,” Alec gave an awkward smile.
The three guys were talking loudly on the other side of the thin dorm walls, and most of the conversation had to do with the “nerd” finally getting some ass. The only slightly muted conversation made Alec blush deep crimson.
“So yeah. . .uh. . .”
“I think I should get going.” Angela finished the statement for him.
Alec looked like he wanted to say something, but he slowly nodded. “Again I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be.” Angela got up, let the covers fall off her, took a few steps to reach the smaller man, and then kissed him.
Alec stiffened in surprise but that didn’t last long. On the other hand, Angela felt like someone had shot an electric current through her body. She felt hot and tingly all over, and by the time she pulled away from him she was out of breath.
<God that felt good.> Angela’s hands lingered on Alec’s small chest for a little too long, just like his lingered on her hips.
“Yeah. . .um. . .need to. . .”
“Yeah, got to find your pants.”
The two now clumsy and awkward teenagers started tearing the room apart looking for the rest of Angela’s clothes. In a few minutes Angela was fully dressed again, and by the smell of it, she’d spilled at least one glass of champagne on herself last night.
“So.” Alec stood awkwardly in front of the door. “We found your pants.”
“Yeah, we did,” Angela smiled back at him before getting close to him. “Alec.”
“Yeah,” he had to pull his eyes away from her breasts to look up at her.
“Don’t listen to those guys.” She motioned toward the door with her eyes. “Good looking faces, stupid man-buns, and muscles don’t make a man. It’s how you treated me last night that shows what a real man should be.”
If Alec had been blushing before his face was practically on fire now. “Well, you deserve it.”
Now it was Angela’s turn to blush. That and the warm feeling that was spreading through her heart.
“You better call me,” she stated, giving him one last kiss on the cheek. “I like burgers, action movies, outdoor activities, and a good study session.”
“Ok,” Alec replied, his face scrunched up as he memorized her likes.
“And don’t worry about those guys, I’ll deal with them for you.” Angela moved around Alec, grabbed the handle and let herself out.
The three guys and three girls looked over at her as she exited. The boys leered and the girls silently judged in the way that was so common in high school but many hoped would end in college.
“Whew,” Angela audibly sighed before walking toward to door to the hallway.
She made eye contact with the three other woman and mouthed “oh my god” while placing her hands about a foot apart in front of her.
Two of the other women blushed and one’s jaw dropped a little.
Without another word or gesture Angela left the room and started heading back toward her townhouse.
<Easiest way to give a guy a boost is to infer he has a big penis.> She smiled to herself as she took the elevator to the ground floor.
And in Alec’s case it wasn’t totally untrue. She’d felt him get excited when she kissed him, and that boy was more a man than those three other guys in his dorm. Their girlfriends’ expressions proved that.
<Focus, Angela.> She dragged her thoughts away from the gutter and reoriented them on everything she had to get done today.
“Just kill me now,” Liz groaned, pulling the high thread count sheets over her head.
Liz had been in bed all day, and not for the good reason. Sure there had been a few rounds of the no pants dance, but it couldn’t last too long after the gallon of champagne and quart of vodka she’d drank caught up with her. Now she was in hangover city and ready to take the express elevator to hell.
“I know.” Seth was sitting on the edge of the bed vigorously massaging his temples. “But I’ve got to go and do stuff, and if I have to suffer so do you.”
“Solidarity.” Liz thrust a closed fist out from beneath the covers before throwing them off of her.
<Besides, I’ve got stuff to do to.> Liz kept the thought to herself as she groaned and sat upright.
She only had a couple of hours to get this hangover under control before she had to go and meet with the Fist. It was a regular, routine meet; but with everything that had been happening lately there was nothing routine about doing business in Orlando.
“I’m gonna hit the shower and then go. I’ll see you for dinner?” Seth leaned in and kissed her deeply. Deeply enough that it made her toes curl.
“Late dinner,” Liz replied. “I’ve got a study group thing.”
“Fine by me,” Seth smiled and then left.
Aside from the upcoming meeting Liz didn’t have anything on her plate for today, so she threw on some loose, unattractive jammies, walked down to the kitchen, grabbed some Gatorade, chicken noodle soup, crackers, and returned back to nurse her ailing body.
She flipped on the TV to a local news station. She found it a good idea to be abreast of local issues and how they could affect her business.
Special Breaking News flashed across the bottom of the screen, replacing the anchor who spent too much time in a tanning bed.
“We’re here a Club Velocity which was the scene of a shootout between local gang members and the police. Not much is known at this time due to the ongoing investigation, but we can tell our viewers that members of the Protectorate participated. Casualties are still coming in but there are four confirmed dead, all customers at the club at the time of the raid. One super powered member of the Fist, codenamed Torch, was injured during the attack but is in stable condition at an undisclosed hospital. We will continue to keep our viewers apprised of any updates as they become available. This is Gloria…” Liz tuned out the reporters sign off and frowned.
<Well that definitely won’t be good for business.> She switched channels to another station, which was also covering the police raid.
<I’d better go in heavy tonight.>
Liz’s last couple meetings with the Fist she’d gone in lightly armored and armed. If they’re nightclubs were now getting raided, and they were getting taken down by the cops, she needed to come prepared. She vaguely remembered the woman the media called Torch. Liz had never liked her.
The next few hours were spent watching TV, getting caught up on anything she thought pertinent, and nursing the hangover. She only threw up once, so that was a bonus; and now that the Gatorade was rehydrating her she felt a lot better.
An hour before the scheduled meeting time Liz left the townhouse, walked to her alley, and teleported away. After killing Hunter, Liz made sure that none of her Wraith equipment could be found anywhere near Orlando. She appeared in a small flat in a foreign country where it was late morning instead of just approaching dinner time. It was the same flat she had the cage set up in the center to catch anyone that tried to follow her. Not that it was much of an issue anymore. There were still trackers out there, but the only tracker, teleporter combo that was registered in the Eastern US had been Hunter.
Liz still wouldn’t willingly put herself in danger of being followed, the protocols her father put into place were there and had worked for a reason. Still, it was better to have one less weight pressing down on her.
Liz walked across the small flat and opened up the closet. There were some dresses, nice blouses, skirts, and pants in the small space. She pushed them all aside and pressed down on the corner of the back wall. With a soft pop it moved outward and Liz removed it carefully. She set it beside the closet and started to remove her Wraith costume from its rack.
Then she stripped down naked and put it on.
It had been a long time since she’d worn the full costume, and she couldn’t stop the rush of adrenaline that filled her as she slipped the different parts on. Her tight tactical turtleneck and combat pants, her vest, the gelatinous, ballistic, tech genius armored plates to protect her body, the scarf she’d seen the SpecOps guys wear and thought was super cool, and last but not least her mask. A black volto mask with a face frozen in a wicked grin.
After the top layer came the deadlier parts. She had guns and knives coming out of everywhere and ammo consisting of everything from tranquilizers to explosive rounds. Then there were the grenades. When she was all loaded up; cocked, locked, and ready to rock there wasn’t much that could take her down.
Now all she had to do was wait, and waiting was always the worst part.
A full thirty minutes before the designated meeting time Liz, now fully in the persona of the notorious supervillain Wraith, teleported into the parking garage where she always met with the Fist.
After seeing the news, she was a little worried by the attack. It was always possible that someone had opened their stupid mouth and blabbed about tonight’s meeting. That’s why she was here early, and why she was going to stay in the shadows. The initial blast of darkness from her teleport didn’t show anything as it expanded outward from her point of arrival. So far she was totally alone.
<Good,> she thought as she lay down on a metal beam.
The beam offered her cover, concealment, and a good vantage point to watch the entrance to the meeting point without being seen. It was the perfect place to do more waiting, but at least this time she had her Glock 40s to play with.
<Right on time.> Wraith watched as a few recognized members of the Fist entered the lowest level of the garage.
Being on time meant five minutes late for them, so she knew this wasn’t some type of ambush. Undercover cops would have shown up on time.
She let the Fist members sit there uncomfortably for a few minutes. She always liked them to make the first move. Giving away your position and the element of surprise was never a good tactic.
“Yo, Shadow?” A man Wraith recognized as a low level lieutenant called uncertainly.
“Yes.” She answered before teleporting to another pre-scouted location among the ceiling beams.
Now the Fist members were talking to the wrong location.
“We’re here for our money.” The guy was trying to look tough in front of his people, but even from her perch thirty feet away and fifteen feet up Wraith could see his knees were shaking.
Wraith pulled out the stack of hundreds tied together with a large, thick rubber band. With a thought she teleported the wad of cash to a spot over the guy’s head. The small bloom of darkness was concealed by the rafters, but she almost gave away her position by laughing when the Fist lieutenant jumped a foot in the air when the cash landed on his head.
“Mother…” the guy stopped short as he picked up the sum of ten thousand dollars.
It was a lot of money to hold in your hand, and Wraith doubted the man would ever again.
“Thanks, Shadow. I guess…” the man’s voice was drowned out by a loud crunching noise.
Wraith was far enough away to see it all happen. There was a crunch, the Fist lieutenant looked up, and a slab of concrete a few feet thick smashed into him; splitting him open like a rotten pumpkin a week after Halloween and spilling his guts all over the floor.
Normally, a simple chunk of concrete wouldn’t do so much damage. It would only do that if there was something or someone adding force on top of gravity’s normal pull. In this instance, that extra force was a winged monstrosity that stepped off the concrete and into a growing pool of blood without a second thought.
The remaining Fist members were frozen at their leader’s sudden, explosive demise; but the winged creature wasn’t paying any attention. Her eyes were searching the shadows around her looking for something.
“WRAITH!” Seraphim screamed with fangs barred.
<What to do what to do,> Wraith mused before deciding on a course of action. <This was bound to happen sooner or later. Might as well get it over with.>
If anything it was an opportunity.
Wraith didn’t have to fight to win. Any fight that she came away from at all as going to thoroughly humiliate the veteran Hero. All Wraith needed to do was jump around, shoot the winged bitch a few times and get the hell out of dodge. All she had to prove was that she wasn’t someone to be fucked with. That would be easy enough.
Wraith’s smile was hidden by her mask as she teleported and the garage was blanketed in darkness.