Fandom: Marvel AU
Rating: PG13, although a bit on the disturbing side
Author Notes: Just because you come back from space without superpowers, it doesn't mean it hasn't changed you.
I can feel the air getting hotter. Johnny and his explosives. Johnny and his gasoline. Johnny and everything and anything that burns or can be fucked or both. He's no longer staying on mission, but lost in his world of flames, trying to burn down the city. You couldn't ask for a better diversion.
Inside the palace there's Ben, and as much as the people running from the fires might wish to take refuge in here, I'm sure it's not only the more cowardly of the guards who are trying to escape outside. We are the only ones who call him Ben anymore. He has been given many nicknames since we came back, but a forensic doctor who had seen his work firsthand came up with the one he prefers the most. This cannot be the work of a man, sick or not, the good doctor had told the press, the smell of his vomit implicit in his words. We are dealing with a thing.
But Ben is a distraction, too, distant screams notwithstanding. The important part is happening here.
I open the door, and I'm greeted by the tiniest smile from my wife. Three days she has lived in here, in this paranoid architectural reflection of the terrified mind that lives inside, and her target had never seen her until she wanted to, right before she plunged a transparent plastic knife in his gut.
Victor, my friend, I say as I crouch down next to him. You should know by now that you can't escape us. He doesn't say anything. Sue has disabled the speech synthesizers in his mask, and we cut his tongue a year ago. That was most of the non-cosmetic work we did on his face, and if he weren't a vain person who dislikes people fainting out of disgust in front of him, he wouldn't need to use a mask all the time. And if he stopped being so afraid of us, he wouldn't need to live inside an armor.
I want him out of that armor. I want us to be friends again, to share with him what space gave the four of us. But that has to be his choice, not mine, and I can read in his eyes that his answer is still 'no.'
It's a conundrum. He's my friend, and the smartest person I know after myself, and he would be an incredible ally. But I don't want to force him to work with us, and I can't kill him, and I don't want to let him go. Smart as I am, before my encounter with the void of space I wouldn't have been able to find a solution.
But my thinking has become much more flexible. With the long, steady fingers of a neurosurgeon (I'm many things, and fantastic at all of them), I point to Sue where I want her to cut first. Victor screams voicelessly and trashes inside the armor he has built to house the parts of his body we have allowed him to keep, but it's pointless and he knows it.
Either in this operation or the next, I will somehow figure out a way to fix him. I can fix anything. And with my family at my side, I will.