Originally this was supposed to be about 25% old content/75% new content by word count. Yeah, it's pretty much all new; the only thing the first scene has in common with its predecessor is that Peter and Felicia are in it. The rest is completely and totally new, if the bits of the first scene carried over from the original mean it's not quite original enough for your tastes. Enjoy. Oh, and review.
November 1, 2011
Random Convenient Rooftop
New York, New York
"Hiya Spider!" A warm body slammed into Peter Parker's back and he grunted as he stumbled forward from the impact, tripping and falling face-first onto the gravel of the rooftop he'd been waiting on. Holy… he'd been actively watching for her this time, and she'd still managed to sneak up on him somehow. It was official: he'd become far, far too dependent on his precognitive 'spider sense' to keep him safe. And so until he either retrained it to perceive flirtatious, mischievous college girls as 'danger' or he developed another way of detecting his stealthy partner, she was going to continue to get the best of him. Which was especially galling given that she was about as superhuman as the pigeon currently perched on the nearby air conditioner vent. "Oh hey, you're wearing the costume I helped Red design. Cool!"
Waiting until after the weight on his back disappeared, Peter rolled over and then leapt nimbly back to his feet before stretching. "Yeah. Not too sure about changing my look, to be honest, but I… actually, I didn't really have a choice. I showed up at the warehouse today and all my red and blues were conveniently missing." Glancing down at the chest of his new costume, which sported a large white spider stretched over pure black, he frowned. "And exactly how much 'designing' went into this? You took Julia's old costume and put it on me."
Felicia Hardy, dubbed the Black Cat by his rather unimaginative boss, just grinned in response as she invaded his personal space, running her hands along his shoulders. "Well, putting it on you so you'd match the rest of us was my idea. And then once Red agreed to that, I was the one who convinced her that it'd look better without the white arms and legs." Rubbing her cheek against his chest, she made a soft purring noise. "And I was right. Did Dexter get to see you tonight before you left?" Peter shook his head, amused as always by Felicia's tendency to avoid real names as part of her efforts to keep her real and costumed lives separate. "I'll take a few for her if she's not there when we get back. She helped break the tie when we were arguing about whether you needed a new costume, and then rallied the runts to our side so it was five against one when Red tried to turn it into a majority rule thing."
"So wait, six different people got to vote on this… and none of you thought it might be a good idea to make me one of them?"
"…well in our defense? Look at your old costume. You thought that was cool." Felicia grinned, reaching up to poke his nose. "And don't even think about pouting, Spider. That thing was a hot mess and you know it. Now, what's on the agenda for tonight?"
Pulling away from her, Peter let out an exaggerated groan as he reached over his shoulder and rubbed his back. "Recovering from your abuse, to start. And then… well, same thing we do every third night a month, Cat: try to keep people from taking over Manhattan. Or at least whatever part of it Gwen sends us to play guardian angel for tonight."
Felicia let out a throaty chuckle as she closed the distance between them again, wrapping one leg around his waist and letting her body swing around behind him before reemerging on the other side in a way that left Peter with a sudden, intimate understanding of what it was like to be a stripper pole. "Only you, Spider." Peter raised an eyebrow as she wrapped her arms around his neck and snuggled up against his chest again, which evidently produced enough movement to be noticeable even with his mask. "Only you could take something as exciting as swinging between skyscrapers as we run around fighting crime and make it sound so… boring."
"Well, I have been at this for longer than you have, you know. After a while, it stops feeling quite so exciting and becomes… well, my nightly routine. Get dressed, head out, hook up with you and the girls, fight crime, swing back to the dorms, study for tomorrow's classes." Peter blinked. Huh. She was right. When had he managed to take a gig where he routinely fought supervillains and turn it into something so monotonous? Maybe he needed to get a better class of villain? Shaking his head, he did his best to focus on the present, rather than such thoughts… or Felicia's bountiful cleavage. "Speaking of routines, though… you're a lot better at remembering to read Gwen's daily status reports. Do we have anything outstanding, or is tonight just normal patrolling?"
Fingers tapped against the back of his neck for a few seconds and then Felicia unwound her arms from around Peter so she could spin around, pressing the entire length of her body back against his firmly as one hand returned to the back of his neck and the other pointed off into the distance. "It'd be a bit of a commute for me, but if you're willing to give me a piggyback ride all the way down there… City Pier A. Pretty sure the bribes are flowing thick and quick to keep the right sort from noticing, but someone's using it as the hub of a pretty big drug smuggling operation. Subway and I stumbled onto it last week; had her put on her IR mask and do a few flyovers to take some scans while I snuck in and took a look around. There's more coke in that place than Charlie Sheen's mansion, plus a few things that even Dexter came up empty on when I showed her the pics I took. It was still on the outstanding list as of today if you want to hit it with me. Or do you want to take it with one of the girls, or maybe hand it off to them? I mean, they have powers and I-"
While he usually preferred to remain hands-off when it came to Felicia, knowing that nothing good could come from getting too attached to someone who seemed dead set on ignoring that there was a real person under his mask, Peter also knew that every rule needed exceptions. Wrapping his arms around her waist, he gave her a careful squeeze. "You contribute just as much as the others, Felicia, even if you don't have any powers of your own. If you didn't, I would have tossed you out on your butt after your trial run instead of taking you on as the partner you insisted I needed. Which opened the door for the three of them to squeeze in, might I add, so them being here is all your fault. And so okay, you might not be as strong or fast as me, and you may swing on steel cables instead of organic webbing, but you do your part. And you're definitely handy to have around when I need someone to serve as a distraction."
"Wait a minute, I have a nice sneaky black costume while until tonight, you've been running around in that ridiculous red and blue getup of yours. How am I the one who's good at being dis-" Felicia pulled away and out of his arms, turning to stare at him in disbelief before pausing and slowly looking down at her chest. "Oh. I see what you did there. Yeah, they are amazing, aren't they? Worth every penny I paid for them."
Peter let out an awkward chuckle at that. While he was capable of making a joke using an offhanded reference, having a conversation with a girl about her breasts - be they real or augmented - wasn't something he wanted any part of. "If you say so, Felicia."
Continuing to stare at her breasts, Felicia began toying with the zipper of her catsuit, inching it up and down as she tried to figure out… exactly how much of herself she wanted exposed that night? Peter wasn't sure. He also wasn't sure how she was keeping herself from spilling out with it unzipped that far. Maybe she did have some sort of superhuman power and didn't even realize it..? "Well, considering I was going to get stared at anyway because of the whole albino thing? I think I'm happier now with the predictable 'wow your chest is huge' staring from guys than with the 'wow you're a pink-eyed freak' staring I used to get from everyone."
"So. Um. Yeah. How 'bout them Yankees?"
"They haven't played in twenty-six days, Peter. And lost to Detroit on the 6th, sending the Tigers to the ALCS."
"Oh. Right." Peter rubbed the back of his neck as he stood there awkwardly, trying to figure out a safe direction to push the conversation in, when a question he'd been nursing for hours came back to the front of his mind. "Oh, hey, do you remember anything more from last night? I was really worried when you collapsed on us. So were the others, even if they were hiding it by cracking jokes."
Felicia looked up from her work at that one. "Mmm, yes, because nothing says 'I care' like jokes about dumping my corpse in the East River." One last tweak - an infinitesimal tug upward - later, she was done and ready to give him her full attention. "But yes. A little. I was definitely in someone else's body. Don't ask me how, I just know I was. They'd done a good job of trying to dress themselves up as me, but the face in the mirror wasn't mine. At least a year younger, probably two or three. Her catsuit wasn't a perfect clone of mine, either. Wish I could have found the name of who'd made it, because I'm pretty sure it was actually nicer than what I've got. And the most important detail? I remember wandering past a school at one point. Sunnydale High School. There's only one Sunnydale in all of America: Sunnydale, California."
Huh. Peter… actually had no idea what to do with that. Bodily possession was so far outside of anything even approaching a realm of expertise for him, it wasn't even funny. It sounded - and made her sound - borderline crazy, even. Still, she was his partner and friend. He had to be supportive. Somehow. "Let's keep our ears open around campus. Maybe we can find ourselves a hacker and then… I don't know. The school's computers have got to be networked. Maybe once we can get ourselves into the building, we can find one with pictures of all the current students? They've got to have a yearbook committee or something, right?"
"Well, there are two other public high schools in town. Just because I walked past it doesn't mean she goes there. And there's a private school. Considering she could afford the outfit she was wearing, isn't it more likely she's a-" Further contemplation of her doppelgänger's identity was cut off by the wail of a siren, Felicia bounding over to the edge of the roof to investigate. "Sirens! In New York! My Kitty Sense is tingling!"
From behind Peter came a pair of thumps - one considerably heavier than the other - and then a soft rustle of displaced gravel as the last person they'd been waiting for arrived. Sidling up on his right, a blonde clad in her own black and white costume let out a soft chuckle. "…Kitty Sense? Seriously?" Astrid Jansen shook her head in resigned amusement. "Someone remind me again why I asked her out back when we first met?"
Before Peter could think of a reply - witty or factual - a taller, strawberry blond girl moved to stand on the other side of Astrid and threw her arm around the blonde's shoulders. "Wasn't it something about how you'd 'get capsized trying to motorboat that chick'?"
"Heh. Yeah." Astrid let her head loll to the side, resting it on Julia Carpenter's shoulder. "Those tits are amazing. Definitely qualify as the Eighth Wonder of the World. Shame her ass isn't man-made too, or it might be able to give them some competition…"
Sighing, the youngest of the Spider-Clan's members floated past Peter on his left before touching down beside Felicia and peering over the edge of the roof. "So, four cop cars chasing a white sedan. Are we going to stand here perving on Felicia, or are we going to actually act like the superheroes we supposedly are?"
Astrid let out a sigh of her own as she strode over to where Jessica Drew stood at the edge of the roof, one hand flashing out to give the black-haired girl a slap on the ass. "One of these days, I'm going to find out if one of my powers is super-stick-from-ass-removal." Before Jessica could reply, Astrid reached up and tapped at the corner of her mask. Her next words were crystal clear in Peter's ear despite her facing away from him, thanks to the earbud he wore. "Chelicera online. And one of these days, I really need to come up with a better codename, because this one sucks." Four bony white spider legs erupted from her back and then she bent her human legs before launching herself out and across the gulf between their building and the next, spinning in midair and hitting the building feet-first before pushing off and plummeting to the street, landing on the trunk of the last police cruiser involved in the chase. "Anyone else coming, or am I a solo act tonight?"
"Arachne online. Come up with something better on your own and then you won't be stuck with the one Peter gave you."
"Recluse online. Eyes on the prize, people. You two go low and I'll go high." Julia and Jessica departed almost as one, the former firing off a pink psi-web that then began to reel itself in, yanking her off the roof and toward her destination even as the latter tipped forward and fell over the edge, gliding off in pursuit of her prey.
Taking two steps forward, Peter thrust out his arm… and then paused before looking over at Felicia. "I think five-on-one is overkill, don't you?"
Felicia thought about that for a moment before nodding slowly. "Just a bit. Three-on-one might be a bit much, even, but if it gives the kids something to play nicely over…" Trailing off, she glanced over at him. "City Pier A?"
"Want a lift?" Peter barely got the words out before Felicia was jumping towards him, wrapping her legs around his waist as her arms encircled his neck. Letting out a nervous chuckle, Peter nodded back over his shoulder. "How about a lift that won't leave me so distracted I end up swinging into a traffic light?"
With a sigh, Felicia dropped to the rooftop before circling around and hopping onto his back. "Most men would kill to get that close to me."
"Most men enjoy being called by their name, too."
November 1, 2011
New York, New York
Special Agent Carol Danvers, previously Second Lieutenant Carol Danvers of the United States Air Force, sighed as she stood with her arms out away from her sides, letting the 'aircraft maintenance technicians' fuss over her. Or at least that was what she thought they were most of the time; she'd seen them working on the Triskelion's complement of assorted F-35 variants. Maybe that was why she was feeling strangely akin to a twenty-four-ton fighter at the moment.
Except she wasn't a two hundred and twenty-million dollar fifth-generation multirole fighter. She was a mutant capable of self-propelled flight, into low Earth orbit if she so chose, and durable enough to survive there for hours at a time. Sure, she enjoyed being the center of attention as much as the next woman, but didn't these people have something better to do? She could almost - almost - understand the hair stylist and the makeup artist; SHIELD wanted her looking good when she represented them and she couldn't style a fauxhawk right to save her life. But seriously, she literally had a young woman whose job responsibilities as an AMT had been expanded to include inspecting, cleaning, repairing, and sometimes replacing her red gloves. Who was separate from the woman who did the same for her matching boots. Who was in turn separate from the woman who maintained the black catsuit that Carol tended to tear, burn holes in, or otherwise damage on a regular basis, as well as inspecting it on Carol before each 'launch' to ensure its integrity.
Okay, maybe the last one made sense, considering there were a few spots that were hard to see in the mirror or reach with her own hand to check. But the others? No wonder the Pentagon needed a five hundred and fifty-billion dollar budget to keep itself running these days. But hey, if this is what SHIELD wanted of her? She was game. It was certainly better than the alternative… Carol did her best not to twitch as she stood rigidly at attention, staring at a spot over the head of the man seated in front of her. While she had no clue exactly who this 'Nick Fury' was, the fact that he had the clout to pick up an officer sitting in the brig pending the conclusion of an investigation regarding the spontaneous explosion - and total loss - of a T-38 meant he was important and therefore deserving of her respect. "At ease, Lieutenant Danvers." Carol shifted position and looked down at Fury, who was closing the folder in his hands as he stared up at her with his one remaining eye. "I suppose congratulations are in order. This morning, you were granted an honorable discharge from the United States Air Force and the official investigation into your little… accident… has been closed. Well, assuming you'd rather come work for me than sit in the brig while they try to figure out how you managed that particular feat, that is." Jaw working, Carol tried to articulate a coherent thought but couldn't. She was out of the Air Force? Four years at the Academy, along with a bit more than half of the year-long JSUPT program… gone. Then again, considering how she'd come to this man's attention, she likely wouldn't have been allowed to finish out her training and go on to a combat posting. Or any posting, for that matter. But still. Wanting to buy herself some time to think so she wouldn't say anything that might come back to bite her at a later date, Carol turned her attention to the panoramic window behind Fury, slowly looking from left to right as she took in the gorgeous view of the New York City skyline. She'd seen the base on approach in the chopper: a massive artificial island floating in New York Harbor. She'd had questions about it then, questions she still had now. Excellent delaying tactic, if she did say so herself… "Exactly what is this place? Sir?" Leaning back, Fury spread his arms. "This? This is the Triskelion, soon to be home to our nation's first, last, and only line of defense against whatever genetic curveball Mother Nature chooses to throw at the American people next. Most of our world's leadership would be dead right now if not for the fact that there's a mutant out there who likes us as much as Magneto hates us. I don't know about you, but that's embarrassing as hell from where I'm sitting. We shouldn't have to cross our fingers and pray someone comes along to save our sorry asses from mutant terrorists or armored lunatics on gliders. So from now on? We're not. If you see a bank getting robbed, you call the cops. If you see a bank getting robbed by an angry green monster, you call us." "Oh." Carol waited for a moment but when Fury offered no additional information, she gathered her courage and asked the big question. "So that's why you came and… helped… me? You want me to be Officer Danvers of the Mutant Police?" Fury arched the brow over his remaining eye for a moment before opening the folder again. "You were up for a tandem flight in a T-38 Talon training aircraft with Major Roy Thomas. Major Thomas ejected after the plane began to nosedive following a, and I quote, 'blinding flash of light' from your portion of the cockpit. According to both him and the recovered black box, you failed to eject and the jet exploded with you still inside. Soon after, Major Thomas spotted you 'floating buck naked in midair but otherwise all right'. You then proceeded to utilize an unknown method to control your descent and touched down near Major Thomas before proceeding to tear off a piece of his parachute so you could fashion a garment similar to a toga from it." Closing the folder, he set it on his desk before leaning forward to rest his elbows on his desk, chin in his hands. "Do you really need to ask why we're interested in you, Lieutenant?"
"If I didn't know any better, I'd think Nicholas was trying to replace me with someone younger and blonder." Suddenly, the AMTs decided their work was done and rushed off to find better things to do, leaving Carol to turn and find Natalia Romanova walking towards her. The redhead pouted and shook her head as she approached. "Aren't men supposed to wait until you're at least thirty before doing that?" Then she came to a stop and let out a soft chuckle. "Well, actually, I turned thirty back when your mother was your age. But I don't look it, do I?"
Well wasn't that the mother of all loaded questions? A reply that wasn't properly complimentary might leave Romanova feeling insulted, and insulting your superior was hardly conducive to a long and happy career in the military. On the other hand, being overly complimentary might give Romanova the impression that she was a brown noser… or worse. Granted the repeal of DADT meant that expressing homosexual tendencies was no longer a career-ending offense, but certain things were still no-nos under the UCMJ. Being rung up on sexual harassment charges involving another woman when she wasn't even a… not that there was anything wrong with… best to avoid the matter entirely, Carol decided. "I wasn't aware you could fly, ma'am. Does that mean today's flight training will be a, err, tandem flight?"
Romanova blinked a few times before comprehension dawned and she laughed again. "Ah. You were a bit too literal with my joke. No, Warbird, for now you're the only SHIELD agent capable of self-propelled flight. I was referring to what the Public Affairs division decided was a good costume for you."
'Warbird'? Well, at least that one made more sense than some of the other potential names that various members of the Triskelion's staff had been trying to sell her on for the past few weeks. After all, warbirds were military aircraft that were no longer in military service. Granted the 'aircraft' part wasn't quite accurate, but she could fake it well enough. And it was definitely better than 'Miss Marvel' - a suggestion that Doctor Lawson had been unwilling to explain the reasoning behind - or the AMTs' favorite: 'Power Girl'. The latter especially, since she was terrified that DC might actually be willing to license the name and likeness to SHIELD, and she had no desire to fly around in a white leotard with a hole cut into the chest so guys could ogle her cleavage.
The bob didn't really appeal to her either.
Actually… did the fact that Romanova had nicknamed her mean that discussion was at an end? Carol had noticed that the redhead's nicknames had a habit of sticking; Agent Barton was now going by 'Hawkeye' and Agent Morse would be using 'Mockingbird' if she ended up operating as part of the team in the future. Carol shook her head, forcing herself to focus on the present, and the statement that had sparked her introspection. Looking from her catsuit to the one Romanova herself was wearing and back, Carol furrowed her brow. "Erm, well, they're not entirely similar, ma'am. I mean, I'm black with red boots and gloves. You're almost entirely black. And you have the big red hourglass on yours while I have the smaller golden lightning bolt." Romanova merely raised an eyebrow at that, and then Carol scowled as she realized something. "No offense, but they didn't exactly ask me for my opinion when they were putting together this for me. And even if they had, there's only so many ways you can dress up a basic black catsuit. Ma'am."
"I shot you in the back once with an M107. You reached back, scratched the spot, and kept talking to Nicholas. You could fly around in a black bathing suit and pretty red sash if you felt like it, Warbird, and be none the worse for wear. It'd probably be better for our budget, too; you're especially hard on the legs of your catsuits. Just something to think about." Reaching behind her back, Romanova pulled an iPhone out of… Carol wasn't sure where, nor was she sure she wanted to know. Her iPhone, it turned out, as she pushed the home button to wake it. How had the redhead… oh, right, super spy. "Your orders for tonight. And for the record? While Public Affairs encourages you to use your social network accounts, FAR 91.21 does apply to you while in the field."
Carol racked her brain as she tried to figure out what Romanova might be referring to; considering Federal Aviation Regulations consisted of a lot of common sense things that evidently had to be spelled out because common sense was no longer common, she'd never put much effort into rote memorization of them. Part 91, Section 21… "Portable electronic devices?"
Leaning forward, Romanova poked at Carol's iPhone with one finger, bringing up the Settings window before dragging her fingertip across the slider that enabled Airplane Mode. "Mmm. As amusing as your followers might find posts written while in mid-flight, SHIELD would be considerably less amused if you managed to fly into the side of a building while typing. Vy ponimaete?"