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The Team

Written by castor :: [Saturday, 22 August 2015 05:51] Last updated by :: [Wednesday, 26 August 2015 21:05]

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The Team

by Castor

There is an expression with great power comes great responsibility. I think Stan Lee or maybe Steve Ditko said that.

Janey liked to sleep in my arms, effectively using my bicep as a pillow.

I couldn’t imagine quite a more literal expression of that now.

Here’s something you may not think: She was a deep sleeper, and she slept a lot. Most night when something didn’t happen she went to bed around 9 and wouldn’t stir until about 7 Am -10 good hours nestled in my arms content as a bug in a rug. She was also was a little warm, but I didn’t mind that-I slept with a light blanket anyway. I had taken to reading books as I slept with her there, and hoped it wasn’t the occasional time I had to pee in the middle of the night.

Ah well.

I looked at her a lot.

She was on TV quite a bit … and it didn’t do her justice in a good ways and small ways. In her costume which she wore a lot, but just in general she looked huge- and she was big. Nearly 5’11 … but when you’re 6’2 that’s still comfortably short. I heard lines like she could have been a model-and while that’s flattering, I knew models-no. She was a little to muscular, but not as fitness models do. She was a touch too broad at the shoulders, her hips not broad enough. She had some of the muscles, but not all of them, it was as if she stopped exercising some where around the top of her midsection. She had a great upper four pack … the rest of her stomach was flat as a pancake.

Still she was pretty with her wide eyes that slept, her dimpled chin, and her freckled face, the kind of skin of cream that never look liked it saw the sun. Her red blond hair that was messy over my shoulders. There was something full of mischief about the face, something tantalizing questioning and excited about it all. When we would go to the museum and she would point at a dinosaur, or to the harbor and she would point at a big boat, or when we just went to a restaurant and point at something she never had-just the wonder at it all even if it was just a type of blue cheese on a burger.

Of course this was just with me. And that wasn’t at 7 am. I had been up for about 15 minutes reading a guide to Travel in Africa when she began the ritual of waking up.

“Hmmmmmmmmm.” she said and I quote “Oregon.”

she yawned and stirred. Moving her limbs in slow motion. Moving around me as if this was a difficult proposition. She was strong and you would feel that in odd places like now. A hand that wasn’t moving anywhere moved-and despite having no particular place to go moved you with it. If I struggled it may move somewhere else-but well …

She turned her head and opened her eyes. She looked up at me and smiled. I was the first thing she looked at and the first thing she smiled at and that is enough to make a day.

“Hmmmmmmmm.” she said “North Dakota”

she eventually dis-tangled from me and sat up, and trudged over to the shower not saying a word that made sense.

I got up I was ready to, and listened to the shower.

I started on the sit-ups and crunches. I did about 150 of each, about 100 push-ups. We had a small 40 pound dumbbell and I did curls. Not the hardest workout in the world but something I liked to start my morning off with. 3 days a week I went to the small company gym. 3 days I went for a run. Today was leg day in the gym. Ahh well.

She worked out a lot more than I did – not at a normal gym – but at there gym to, and did stuff and training that …

As I did the sound of the shower continued. Despite taking about 20 minutes to do my morning routine the shower kept going. She took 15 minute shower before bed to most nights. Oh also after she worked out, or went on a mission.Very clean person.

I got up and walked to the bathroom and looked in. She was smiling and soaping up her face looking relaxed, happy and very nude.

There is the line describing Esther Williams “Dry she’s not much, but wet she’s a star” and well … not true … but. There was something how sleek she was, how her skin reflected water , how the light played off her breasts and her nipples dripped water down. Her breasts where pendulous and stuck out a bit from her chest-and wow you could see in the light of a bathroom. She smiled at me and man.

“Sleep well?” she asked

“Yeah.” I said “You?”

“Pretty good.” she said “Shoulder still a little tense, but I can deal with it. It’s getting better.”

“Hmmm” I said I start to brush my teeth “Want something special for breakfast?”

“Ooooh, do we have bacon, waffles and more waffles, and those little potato things that kinkle up? What are those called?”

“Hash browns.”

“Do we have those?”

“No.” I said.

“We could get those,” she said “like at a Denny’s?”

“Do you want to go this morning ?”

“That sounds like a lot of work,” she said “but it was a good thought.”

“It was.”

I looked at her and smiled … and she looked at me … and I noticed her eyes seeing that particular part of me that.

“Come in with me.” she said “Let’s get you washed up.”

So I climbed in and, as I wordlessly started washing her back, she wordlessly bent over a touch. As I wordlessly explored her body for a few minutes … her eyes closed as she bent her head … when I took her from behind. Filling her up as we made love.

It wasn’t incredibly long or passionate. She honestly didn’t do much other than a few low moans and bracing herself, which was helpful in shower sex (one of the benefits you may not think of with a super powered girlfirend is that making love in any kind of standing up position could be a lot easier, she even let me lift one of her legs without falling over). We made love and, if it was not the most passionate thing, it felt hot. It felt alive, electricity down my spine as I felt her around me, felt the warm hot set of her ass … felt …

I felt and, in a world that can be numb, that meant something.

We had done it a thousand times before, but it felt fresh and alive, as I grabbed her, pushed inside with all my strength … which was a pure sensation, even for normal people – and I am fairly normal … they live in a world of bubbles, where they can’t quite go far, limits pushes …

She calmly and serenity took all that I had, with only a slight smile visible from behind.

That smile inspired the final rush.

We had breakfast (which turned out to be some eggs and toast) and got dressed. Now you may think her … but, well, she wore a fairly conservative blue blouse that you would wear to the office. I wore a dressy blazer with no tie.

We both worked in the building we lived in. Security, not so much for us, but the rest of the city. Give them a target. Twice they had made a big show of it attacking it in force. Twice more people had attempted to sneak in, getting past the elaborate multimillion dollar security system and, once, succeeded without much effort. Well … best laid plans …

This meant that, as I left the apartment on fourth floor and went to my general office on the first floor … I had a commute of about 200 steps and 4 minutes.

This had good points: security check took up to 20 minutes to come into buildings on most days – with lots of weird metal detectors and retinal scanners – it was rather involved … which I avoided. That was good and bad. When people go to work, you may go to the dry cleaning or to the store, or the Starbucks, or just stop and look at a bird. You may listen to the radio for a few minutes. I could theoretically do all these things too, but I had to go out through the security check and then come back again – which meant it took about 25 minutes not going to work. Some way or another, in the modern age of 2015 in New York City, New York the nearest Starbuck was about a mile and a half away. How could that be?

Well, I kind of knew. When tourists would come to see the Defenders building and gasps at the marvels of New York … they would assume it was in the 12 block radius that most of things were in Manhattan. We were in a fairly industrial sector of Queens. It was easy to get around, but not so much – if the previously mentioned attack happened, we didn’t have to loose much other than an auto body shop (which had the plus side of giving Saber something cool to throw around). It also meant … it could be isolating. The building itself was a small 6 story building that was a little squat and almost like a sloped pyramid. This made it sound grander than it was, for the building was fairly ordinary looking with not a lot of bells and whistles to it other than an attached garage. No parks, no gardens just some flag pools out front and an entrance which my office was near … but took quite awhile to get from the street.

This meant I was almost always the first one at my desk.

My job? Public relation for the Defenders Foundation & Task Force. It’s a job that’s different than you might think. The first part of it was something people don’t think about: to look at every story published about the team the night before. You may think this was part of a sophisticated supercomputer … and I suppose it was but, well, we had a clipping service that logged all the newspaper in the city and the nation that reported anything about us. Most major websites to. This wasn’t because of the heroic elements-but well pretty much anyone with a PR guy did the same thing.

Any Doozies? This morning, no.

The New York Post didn’t like us all that much or was inclined to call us on stuff – fair enough. However, not much had happened. Loverboy hadn’t done anything socially untoward. The rest were quiet. Some chatter about the Samaritan (who, last month, said some stuff in a magazine that some people called bullshit on), but basically nothing.

The Defenders where the main heroes of New York, which meant … what precisely? When you think of superheroes, you think of big battles in the street, monsters, villains etc. That happened … maybe 3-4 times a year. Sometimes they used them as a super swat team, which she didn’t particularly like, but went along with it (and with the power the team provided dealer were never dangerous, I think she pitied them more than anything). There was an occasional fire but, honestly, they didn’t do all that much on a day to day basis. Comics are written month to month and that was it.

So my job was to listen to the low level chatte:, an article on the website, a comment by Dr. Caryle from the entomology press. Granite or Samaritan talking to a school group that I set up getting a mention (they liked to do that, saber did to a point, but only to a point).

And the rest? Well, you may think making the headlines of the New York Times was a priority but … well … so much of it was just keeping it going. The organization employed 50 people, who did surprisingly a lot. Fundraisers, charity appearances, awareness events happened just from the people on the ground – we kept busy, as did our liaison with the city government – we had a budget of nearly 35 million a year and a capitol drive that was going to stuff on the base … that was in the process of trying to raise 20 more.

To be honest, a lot of it came from 4 corporations – which didn’t have name rights, but got to have special thanks on the website – and 3 millionaires – who occasionally liked to hang out with the team (and no weren’t members of the team, I saw them all in the same room). This was sausage making (and Janey could describe if not being hit on by a billionaire a conversation that she wasn’t exactly comfortable with). My job is to make it seem more transparent and clear – ‘and we want your help citizen!’ – then just a couple of calls for checks. The transparency, in a windowless office in a concrete building, was my job.

We kept busy.

While considering that the team leader Shadowraptor made it a point never to be photographed when she wasn’t wearing a costume that functional wings, a lot of stuff happened. A lot of requests for interviews (Secret tip: Sometimes pretty low level organizations like your high school newspaper could get an interview if you asked nicely). A lot of that was keeping them not sounding like idiots. And Saber was good about that- I am glad to say . She know how to sound friendly occasionally funny if maybe a touch bland.

Lover Boy had the reputation of the outrageous says what he wants party dude member of the team-the bad boy that kids love-but while it grated on people in here-he was media savvy. Give em that. He knew what he was doing, and if didn’t follow your rules … yeah yeah he was good about it. Samaritan was a stoic champion and if I found his stuff very caned and the same twenty lines repeated well it was decent stuff (the aforementioned people who didn’t like his interview were the kind of people who found fault with everything-what can you do?). Granite was not the most communicative to the press and tended to avoid them, but could give a speech. Shadowraptor – well, she didn’t talk to anyone – mystery of the night and all that. But I could deal with it. Honestly the Problem was with Dr Caryle, Bee Girl who was a little bit terse and mean if she wasn’t interested, so I tried to field them away. Shine-Shine Tried- and she wanted to … but I never got a perfect sense that she understood social cues or morays and while she wanted to help-oh yes she did-the world, us, me someone carrying a box of pies across the street – it didn’t work that well. I would say she was on some kind of autism spectrum … but Autism is a condition of humans … and really …

Well nothing like that this morning. A couple of emails. A couple of updates to the site to keep it fresh, if not changing, work on the fall calendar. Watch people come in. I work in the same office as the Graphics person and the fund raising girl, in the 7 people who work in something that maybe considered the front office off the building. They look at me sometimes. George the graphics guy- he gives me a big smile everyday, and then proceeds to tell me 10 minutes about his night when he comes in around 9. He never asks me about mine though I occasionally chip in about a game or something that I watched-but never if I went out, or what the home life was. Well he knows.

The Defenders is really the “Team” and what’s commonly called the “civilian” section (though well no one’s a police officer or army or anything). I am a civilian. Saber is a member of the team. Which puts me am in the uncomfortable middle. I am sure plenty of the civilians knew the team-some maybe have friends. … but well … I was the only person who actually slept here at night. I was the only one with the team-though whenever they met or anything I wasn’t included and while had perhaps a better understanding of their internal politics (and boy howdy) than most … I wasn’t one one of them. I was the one Janey would eat lunch with in the space that our kind of cafeteria-people would come over and we would chat, and I would almost force her to be social … But Well Saber would pass me in hall and nod. When she would come back from missions she would make it a point to come down still in her elaborate armor to show that I was okay. Like a good girlfriend … but in the context of an office weird.

Of course a question where did it put her? I don’t think she ever brought up if it was brought up. Saber was pretty honest about things. There were several office romances of the one night and forever variety and they weren’t forbidden or anything (I think it may be illegal to do so). And the civilian Team thing didn’t exist in HR land so. But the team provided accommodation to its members and their significant others. Saber was the only person to take them up on the Significant other part, which after dating her at work for about a year was a bit of a shock when she brought the subject up.

Of course it was a bigger shock when I realized that these lunch time encounters mostly at work cafeteria and sometime going out … were less I want to be friends at work, and more hey I want to be ‘friends’. There exists the concept of Superheroic romance as this grand gesture this big thing-but for me at least the big shock was simply realizing it was there. Janey saw me, and spent time with me and started to like me. I had no concept a girl that special that powerful would ever be interested in a chump like me. I had been in College football and knew I was handsome, had been the star and big man on campus-but that was over, and well not in the same league. To think someone like her one of the literally most powerful people in the world. Yeah. But here’s the thing: when I realized I stopped thinking of how much weight she could bench press or how far she could jump or how she could cut me in half-and thought about the sweet, cute Funny kind of shy but wanting to be friendly Woman. Who wanted to do good, and who wanted to see the world or just look at a sparrow with wonder for like 5 minutes. When I thought of her and not Saber. Yeah that was someone, and the second I learned it was romantic, I felt it.

But well Queen Victoria used to say she asked Albert to marry her because no way does one request that of a queen. One doesn’t even think it Every step of our relationship she came up with.

Meanwhile back in the office: it was around 10:30. I was bored. I checked the Facebook group of fans, which I wanted and dreaded getting really active because on the internet people got active they got racist … and I did not want to deal with that. It was usually pretty quiet, but it gave me an excuse to check my own, the Pinterst board that I kept going despite zero interest … and bored.

How someone got a picture of himself with Loverboy somewhere doing the selfie thing, at I am guessing a bar. Didn’t have to be that granual to log it.

When my phone popped. I got an IM from Janey.

“How you doing”

“Fine” said Janey or the mysterious Saber.

Who was Saber? She was strong. She was able to lift about 20ish tons of weight on a gym but that was misleading as while all part of her strength were super, they weren’t quite super in different ways. She could lift about 10 tons over her head, but she could throw a 100 pound weight 20 miles which did not compute with that math wise (she couldn’t aim a 100 pound weight that far but that’s beside the point). She was good at quick movements with heavy weights-she was quite spry and lithe like that-she could toss cars around, or lift boulders, and jump about 100 feet in the air. But landing. Tis lead to her major problem-while she was strong she wasn’t incredibly tough. Somewhat … she was tougher than you or me … but not all that tough. Bullets from a handgun she could probably deal with bullets from a rifle not so much. So she wore armor when she went out-nearly 900 pounds of it that I couldn’t so much lif. It was the kind of armor they put on battleships.

She also well could produce energy swords from her hands. How were they were related? You want a theme? They varied from about 5 inches to nearly 6 feet of suspended kind of blue energy that had something to do with gravity fields and controlled lights-they weren’t lasers per-say … but well I dunno they happened. And with her mighty arm behind it she could cut through diamond with it. It was not something you wanted to be on the other end … however well she never really used them against living people. She didn’t kill people-she had a good heart like that.

She was a master fencer-she learned it in college-and studied kendo- but when she wore her costume of silver and read that kind of metal look l she wore a million pounds … she could be a little awkward. She could jump high and far … but wasn’t accurate about it. Landing was hard. She could run (kinda fast), but she couldn’t hide. There was a kind of clipped ness of how she moved. If she got into position she could do as much damage as anything in the world to something … but well a lot of the stuff in this business was to simply get her into position.

And most times she was in the same boat, of waiting.

Her powers while powerful did not lend themselves to the kind of patrol the city flying about type- she maybe could have, but felt conscious just driving around and things like that-she preferred to well … come when needed. Which meant that she often came into situations … where things were already going badly. The villain had already destroyed a building which at the very least set back people’s lives months – people were frightened – and rarely that good-it was a rare battle when someone didn’t die. It was rare when she saved the day completely.

That was one of the things of heroism. No sane person would want it. But if it happened you had to prepare.

Training Working on the computers of the system. The news reporters (which I help write) tended to portray her as a computer genius, a scientist. And that was true … to a point.

Really they had five people on payroll who did something with computers which in the weird structure of the team’s hierarchy she did and did not have control over (officially with the superteam, and the civilian team-and the org chart was and wasn’t separate) though she herself would say that two of them where probably better at then she was doing different things.

(oh and the computers: Windows 8. Planning on updating but there’s questions about networking software somewhere).

It was a point of weird contention of the team. There were seven members five of which had day to day jobs … two didn’t … which was a political point in a political team. Shadowraptor was the team leader and she was good enough in the field … but not great manager. No one had the courage (or people) to vote her off. Samaritan was the Second in command and he was a decent organizer … but kind of resented it and the work, and didn’t like Francis Marcus who was the head of the teams civilian team, and theoretical president (though he had very little actual power and he knew it). Granite handled training, and was quietly competent about it. Bee Girl was a biologist who had her own lab … that rarely had much to do (her specialty was entomology: She once told me-if it tastes sour it’s an acid. If it’s bitter it’s a base: that’s about it for general science).

Shine was maybe the most powerful member of the team in an abstract sense (she could make the entire city of New York bright as day in the middle of the night) but didn’t do much outside of missions and Lover Boy was the maybe the least powerful-he was good at press interviews (I have heard it was bandied about making him charge of me: ugg), but I got the sense nobody much liked him (despite his name).

Actually what Loverboy brought to the equation-not entirely sure. But something. He was a bit Like James Bond if he couldn’t shoot and was only a decent hand to hand combatant but He brought an X factor with his poorly defined and possibly non existent powerset. He could drink and gamble. I had numerous stories about that, particularly the latter.

But well they trained well enough together and they worked well enough together … and Saber … saber was kind of in the middle of it all. Typically they would send Shadowraptor would reconnoiter from the air-figure out what the situation was. Bee Girl would use her mastery of bees to provide a distraction, Lover boy would go off to deal with stragglers or villains snipping or something he was good at showing up when you needed him. Shine would act as laser artillery (she was pretty bad at hand to hand combat) if needed or sometimes use her power for something else. Leaving Granite, Saber and Samaritan to … well do the actual fighting. Granite-was the invulnerable martial arts bad ass. Samaritan was pretty strong and quick, but not all that powerful. And Saber … Saber was in the middle.

Of a Team of 7, she was probably number 4 or 5 in the useful power department (Shadowraptor Granite and Shine were definitely more usefully powerful, probably not Bee Girl but who’s to say). In terms of forward facing popularity to the public at large … 6 maybe even 7. As stated-Lover Boy was popular … and Samaritan knew how to sound heroic.

She not so much. She tended to drift into the backgrounds in group interviews. She was pretty, but not the most expressive. When she first showed up about 4 years ago she got a lot of good press and a great article in the New Yorker … since then … well she’s dependable. She handles computers. She has a nice smile. She occasionally says something funny to the press, though calling her the joker would be a mistake. She’s part of it all. Not the star.

And she’s my girlfriend. I often kind of think of maybe taking it more seriously … but well it’s kind of already serious. We live together in the apartment they provide in the building. They have my collection of Japanese prints to decorate it.

And she shared with me a cute video of Squirrel playing with a cat (though the cat looked kind of old and sad abstractly)

cute five minutes.

I thought about lunch. We normally ate it together, but didn’t make it a point. Thought about going out today-kind of just wanted to leave the building. I was going to suggest we go out for a bit and maybe walk along the waterfront – but if she wasn’t interested do it myself. Just felt cooped up today and wanted to go out (another danger of working living with your girlfriend in the same building-you spent time together more than you needed).

I got to admit my mind was drifting a bit when it happened. Now there isn’t actually an alarm. In our department at least … nothing really. What does it matter if graphic design knows about something … but there’s a sense of movement. Something was happening.

They got around in a craft that was more or less a Vtol Jet but sturdier, that I heard the sound of the roof the building opening … it was even here, loud but muted.

I walked to the hallway. People were gathering around

“Whats going on?” someone else had the cutesy to ask.

“Apartment fire in Yonkers. Could be an explosion” was the answer from the head of security.

I nodded. And looked at the door-because well per standard procedure whenever the group was on a mission the building was locked down. No one was going to go out for lunch today (though because of some labor law the cafeteria is then free)

I went back to my office. And it started.

There is some logic for me to come out with the team to go to the site to act as their liaison on the ground-they had that person in fallows who handled the police but at some point they thought it would look bad for the image if a slick pr person (c’est moi) came with them to oil it all. Well such was life.

And well I could more or less do that from the ground. Cause within 5 minutes the phone calls and emails started coming in: where are the defenders? Are they going to show up? I told the NYT they were on there way as we speak. Pretty soon my email box filled up, and I drafted a very preliminary release for it.

The response form of what they were doing was a program on my computer-it gave real time data that was fed back here to the security and response teams on staff as well as research data … and me.

The team was all accounted for and flying there. It would take them about 15 minutes to get there by air. A lot quicker then by road (Yonkers for don’t know isn’t technically part of new York but the kind of suburb, kind of part of the city at the edge of the Bronx. By freeway you would take at least an hour to get there, but as the bird flies across the harbor they were pretty close.

Meanwhile in the plane they got ready There is a joke somewhere. Spiderman in the movies took 7 people to get him into his costume. Superman had 5. How do people get into some of these stupid silly costumes. She had a team of two to help her get in one of whom yes had a drill to screw the bolts in. – but that didn’t change the fact that she was scared, did fear for things-including me worried thinking about her.

My preliminary release mentioned the disaster and that defender team was on rout to see how they could help. Two paragraphs I emailed out by ccing.

I waited.

Got data on what was happening which was very prosaic. Large building 120 apartments sound of a large explosion and a fire from it. People on the top floor but people were evacuating normally.

Shadowraptor was probably forming a plan of action. She could Fly as could and Shine-potentially rescue people from the upper stories. Bee Girl Could Fly but not carry another person’s weight-still she was good at finding her control of bees do interesting things. Granite was invulnerable and just barrel in to rescue people. Samaritan was good at making himself useful in disasters if his powers didn’t necessarily lend themselves-and lover boy he did stuff.

Saber could go into a building and she wasn’t above putting on a breath mask. But she wasn’t fireproof-and in fact in extreme heat, the costume was not a place to be (actually any heat: it sweated like a pig). She was good at carrying out rubble or breaking through things … but … well maybe that simply wouldn’t come up. There was a chance that when she got there she would simply sit around and do very little. Super strength and fighting power could be incredibly useful or not.

And … not, but in fairness no one really did. They got there 16 minutes after the call … to find that the apartment building had largely been empty. One of the stairwells was damaged, the other two were not and people where coming from the very top smoothly. The explosion if that what it was was in a part of the apartment where no one was there … and as they arrived they found not a lot to do. The fire was still burning but a water crew was on it. Granite volunteered to go in … but there wasn’t much of a need … they just waited a half an hour as the fire burned down. I did hear reports that Shine took a kid whose apartment was in the building on a fly in the sky which he liked … and got some pictures showing up on the wire of the other hero’s among the group …

But well the maintenance room and four apartments were heavily damaged. Two people were injured one enough to go to the hospital. Beyond that not much. Though there wasn’t a lot of data about what had happened … people were talking as if it was something with the gas line. And I had been in the game enough to suspect that was about it. Didn’t include the last bit as that wasn’t my job

And about half an hour after they arrived they left, flying away as a live news crew covering it watched there jet go away. Huh well not much of an event.

But still more stories still more appearances of the Defenders and people kept talking about them. Even as they flew away. Huh well such as life

about half way through the flight though my personal phone went off with a text.

It was a picture of what looked to be a small community garden. With what looked I am going to say Tomato plants and lots of tomatoes. Pretty tomatoes. Rather a beautiful simple little picture if maybe the light wasn’t perfect. Janey took it somehow and well … shared it. Via the messenger.

It was a moment of beauty. She wanted to share it.

I took a second and smiled at it. Then I took a second and typed a smile into it and responded back.

Then I banged out several more updates and worked up a more elaborate press release about the events, and field a few questions on Shines flight, which I didn’t know the immediate answer to, but well gave what I could.

And as I was typing it up fielding several comments about the flight for any quotes about it “not at this time, maybe in a couple of hours”.

When she came in person. “Hey how are you” still wearing her costume in all its all its bulky shiny glory

“Hey”

“Was out in Yonkers … but I’m fine now. Not a scratch on me”

“Hmm let me check”

She put her gauntlet I took off her gloves

“Someone needs to wash their hands” I replied

She laughed and smiled and leaned in and kissed me on the cheek-when I realized about 4 or 5 people where looking at me. Huh, well there goes the secret identity.

“I want to take a nap … you know a nap nap” she said “ … I am just … just something about it makes me tired”

“I have got a lot of stuff to do here”

“Okay” she smiled … and got going forward.

I smiled and looked around … and shrugged what can you do.

She walked away. Its strange. An article on TMZ (of course I read that once put it “It looks like someone was taking a costume from the early 90s of comics and was asked to make it today, but was kind of embarrassed by it” – and not wrong. The costume is frankly designed to make her look sexy all in silver with clever lines highlighting her body-and yes for those counting it exaggerates it a touch (bigger boobies). But being silver metallic it caught the light weird. It was a touch to wide to thick as 3 inches of solid metal in most of it adds up to something big and impenetrable. And the way it sound. It’s not so much a creakiness of a rattle but there is a precise sound of metal moving of gears going against each other in massive weights … but no engines. That’s one of the thing you notice. The only engine holding up the massive object is her.

A girl with a happy smile on her face looking cheerful. She waves at Nancy in accounting and they briefly chat, like its the most normal thing in the world. It would be funny, but …

actually its pretty funny if you didn’t work here …

Got back to work. I knew technically this wasn’t true but over the next couple of hours as we moved forward and the police and fire and there was investigations … but I felt the only on the organization still working on this not just moving on.

I got a quote from shine “The kid looked kind of bummed-I mean his apartment isn’t going to be inhabitable for 3.2 weeks, with the lack of gas and other services such as sewage, so I wanted to cheer him up. I find flying young people and occasionally older people does a lot to improve their disposition and increase the flow of endorphins.”

Oh that Shine. I rewrote it a touch to make it sound English.

I eventually got lunch a sandwich at my desk (its more like a meal between lunch and dinner). it wasn’t as things go a bad sandwich. They had a nice little food here. Bee Girl and Samaritan where both health nuts and Bee Girl was a vegan so they tried there-and even if the food isn’t always great as a steak, when people try vegan they try harder then normal crap. It distracted me from work … though as I filled out reports and returned emails my mind wandered.

Thought about weekend, or more precisely our day off on Saturday. I got two days she got one-ehh what can you do when the world needs you. We were thinking of going hiking in Long Island on the coast. We were both outdoorsy people, and loved nature. She was very fit and athletic, but none of her powers really leant itself to getting around all that quickly when she wasn’t in a costume. If anything actually I was a little more fit on trails, but we kept up with each other, and if I think I liked the pace of moving up a mountain and she more for getting out of the damn lab … well if we had different 40/60s it was the same. I got distracted thinking about a local Long island paper …

I checked the group Facebook page-which wasn’t very active at all. Huh. Someone did post a youtube video with the title “Saber Versus Tank.”

I clicked on it though I think I have seen it before. It was from a user who took lots of news videos and reorganized them into something like a mini movie. Wellish done. I think we could flag em for copyright, except the news stations technically owned all the footage, and I didn’t want to overstep that-and from the videos I had seen before didn’t see the harm-though I suppose in a cosmic sense as there was a commercial before hand there was some harm.

But Saber.

About six months ago a villain who I am not going to name as I am pretty sure publicity was his main goal, thought it would be cool to build a gigantic tank, and drive it through jersey.

And when I say gigantic I mean it. It was 30 feet tall, and 40 feet long, weighing 210 tons, bigger than any tank the US ever manufactured-as its primary weapon it had a cannon that you would put on a battleship, and an array of missiles, batteries, even a rail gun to make it really bad news.

And the video starts with Saber About a 100 feet in front of it seemingly alone in an abandoned street in hoboken. She looks grim and determined, powerful. The tank has its gun pointed at something else and is shooting as saber runs down the street towards it, towards all that destruction.

I watch it for a second, thinking of the woman in there probably afraid , but well that’s to infantilize her. Despite everything I have said or perhaps because of it, she is a competent intelligent and above all brave warrior.

When she’s about 50 feet away the tank hears her, and turns it main gun to face her, setting off instantly a barrage of gunfire. None of which does anything to stop her, nothing. She doesn’t even stop for it in the gas.

The main gun comes towards her lowers its head and shoots …

But the second it does she jumps, jumps high in the air in a giant arch 40 feet forward. As she does a giant blade of energy Appears on her wrist, a giant blade that as she comes down even as the tank head tries to rise …

Slashes it in two cutting the metal,

The tank tries to do something aim a missile something

But in an instant she stands on the main tank. With a blade of infinite sharpness cuts the front off it off.

This one must have something important as vast plumes of engine smoke come out.

And she slashes and she slashes and more damage to the tanks artillery and guns and missiles and …

A group of riot police come forward.

The video ends

(it has 20,000 hits which is a respectable number)

I watch it and think about her some more. It’s hard not to …

but …

I think about the strategy involved here. Shadowraptor inevitably made it. The guy who did this setup several bombs in the 3 block area-which Samaritan and Loverboy where dealing with, letting her come in.

. The reason the tanks head was turned the other way was that Granite was there proving distraction on a side street making noise. Shine was shooting what you might call laser covering fire before the video to keep the tank in place, leaving saber to be there to get the killing blow.

And of course the riot police who were the guys who actually arrested the poor idiot in the tank.

And the pilot of the plane who flew into the area considering extreme flak fire and the risk of the main tank. There was quite an amazing pilot actually Lois Pataniki.

And the guys who watched computer monitors and satellites.

And yeah even the two people who took the time to put her in her costume, which if it wasn’t properly she would have broken her leg with that jump. And the people who designed the costume in the first place.

Plus the various people who helped them trained worked in the gym, the computers, the labs, all of it-coordinated with the state and local police, and yeah administered it all and got purchase orders, cooked lunch, and yeah put together press releases about it. I wasn’t a hero (I am not going to claim that), but I was part of them.

It was a gigantic team effort, incredible work and skill to make it happen and even if it was Tank Vs. Saber … well … I could acknowledge it.

Though today s story was quite different-I kept plugging away as requests came in and stories developed. What a day

even though by and by everyone in my circle left.

I stayed to watch the news, though I suppose I could have done it the morning. If you’re watching the news for a story it’s a very tricky thing. We weren’t the top story of anyone, but the local new york news all put it on around number 5 story of the day-got some b roll of the flight. It’s interesting watching a story 10 different times from ABC to the very indie broadcasts. This was News, and you couldn’t slant an apartment fire all that much-but some pushed the fear of terrorism, The word some didn’t. Some pushed the heroism of the team, some didn’t- some did human interest stuff about the flight-some didn’t. One of the local stations managed to get a quote from the Samaritan which I wasn’t aware of (praising local fire departments), and I had to write down. It was interesting.

Then the national news did it again.

Oh also cable.

According to my clipping service by national what ever service, 110 different local news stations were covering it across America, and already it had been mentioned in 300 local newspapers (though most of this just took the AP wire which was easy).

And the vast majority of them lied. Most reported or intonated that they had done more than they actually did there- The words “Help” where technically a lie-they had offered to help the fire department. It wasn’t needed or an issue-but just offered. Some made the distinction-but well … I never lied in my releases.

Probably categorizing and organizing all of this would take me the rest of the week. And if they did follow up stories (and by now it was pretty clear from local investigators it was just an old gas line that had worn out and nothing suspicious) it would take all the longer if they mentioned the defenders. It should be noted: While I hoped these stories where positive, whether they were or not wasn’t directly important-merely that we cataloged them.

Ahh well. Good honest work.

By now it was around 9 pm, and I was still getting calls and emails from people I think putting the last touches on the morning paper. I had a nice chat with the Times about it, and I knew the reporter enough to make sure everything was pleasant enough. The Calls were starting to slow down and I took a break to get a coke in the restaurant

When Shine was there eating what looked to be a late dinner. Out of her costume she habitually wore the same kind of turtle neck jeans combo that made her look like something from the hip early 90s. She smiled at me.

“Anything interesting to report in the media good sir”

“You flying the kid around made the news” I told her.

“oh okay” she said as if she didn’t care “How are you doing Sabers boyfriend”

I shook my head “Fine just keeping track”

“Good. If you need any help don’t hesitate to call the Defenders” a line that she delivered without a hint of irony

“I kind of know the number already”

“Good Sabers Boyfriend. Keep up the good work, now I am going to my room and watch a documentary on Bats”

And she walked off taking her tray to the cleaning receptacle.

As I did I looked at her. She was pretty in the kind of way someone would pick in a magazine pretty (the only pure blond on the team) … but had a strangeness to her eyes. But at the same time there was something about her. It wasn’t precisely good but something.

Of course she had a weird long distance relationship with someone. One of those relationships that almost never was more than internet messaging. I didn’t pry, and it wasn’t in Canada … but it was weird. Relationships where weird.

Loverboy lived up to his name. What I haven’t mentioned is that he was handsome-very handsome, that was part of the power set apparently. He was a charmer … and well he wasn’t above using that (plus fame) with sometimes a couple of girls a night. As someone whose job it was to see what kind of scamps he got into I found it amusing I guess. Though talking to him once or twice, there was the kind of misogyny of the rake it behind it and a lot of stereotyping of women that made it ehh … oh someday a woman will tame him.

But at least he had the decency not to shit where you eat.

Shadowraptor. Out of her costume (which she never did in public. She was a very pretty very serene Japanese woman. I talked to her a bit-and if she didn’t quite look like a model her eyes … they were gorgeous. Something about her skin to. She was a looker, and from what I gathered occasionally a heartbreaker. The words from the staff, when people talk of such things was that while these dalliances where often with fans and strangers she picked up-she was not above calling say rick from accounting to come up to her office for a nightcap particularly after a big day or something. These dalliances (reportedly with both sex even once Lois who would not prefer such labels be used). I think HR would have preferred this not happen … but never quite got harassment. She was simply something who liked an easy pool and had the body and the fame to make it happen.

Meanwhile. Granite was gay but had broken up with his boyfriend a couple of months ago maybe. The gay part was common knowledge. The breakup was on the hush hush, and he had expressed to me a desire to keep it hush hush. By this point it probably was. The talk about it was as much emotion as I really saw the man of stone give-which wasn’t much.

Bee Girl and Samaritan where an item, which somehow suited them. That’s about that. I Samaritan as mentioned could be a bit of a winner when not the champion of decency … and so could she, though less snippy about it, and rarely to one’s face. So well she was off the market. .

Aah well.

I sat down for a coke. I realized that I hadn’t left the building today so much as been outside. Hadn’t really worked out, so much as taken a walk. I felt it my muscles. Just the urge to get out. Of course it was the time of night in new york where that was kind of asking for trouble.

I made it a diet coke and I walked to the front of the building which had a large glass door overlooking the street. I nodded to the security guards at the door, and asked if I could take a brief walk around the neighborhood without making a national case of it. The nodded sympathetically-but well the building was still technically on high alert since the day, and it would be pretty quick for me to get back in as there wasn’t a line but …

it didn’t seem worth the effort.

I walked back towards my office, taking a kind of long route. I could go up to bed … but I didn’t feel like sleep or tv or any of it … I felt like action like doing something. There was a small employee gym and thought about going there … but that felt … I didn’t feel it.

I found the stairs up to the second floor, which housed a lot of the training facilities, labs and what not-basically the actual superhero stuff. It was generally a bustle of activity-and at this time of night it wasn’t empty … but it was quiet. I saw a couple of technicians in the science labs, some cleaning staff cleaning the main gym

I walked around. It was a massive room-big, and even though there was a team of five people moving it felt so alone and empty. I walked there-about half of it was empty into something like a dojo- which was a massive room with the kind of equipment that looked scary to anyone. Not so much free weights but there where stalks of those, 100s of them some going up 1 ton weights … but also just massive machines that stimulated weight with hydrolics … just presses. I had been in here a couple of times when janey was working out … and it was weird. To watch her smile at you while holding the weight of plane in one hand, as often as not with headphones on listening to music.

But with no one here …

It just felt eerie.

She was the only one who used that kind of weight. I mentioned she wasn’t the most powerful-but she was the most strong-hell maybe she was the most powerful well … if she ever turned evil or lost all compunctions or morality which is pretty much the same thing … then probably she was number one-those blades she produced could kill most anything destroy most anything. Granite was invulnerable-but as a couple accidents in training suggests not that invulnerable. If she got a full head of steam going she would be extremely extremely dangerous-but well that’s dependent on a lot of things. A sword that does not want to go into someone’s gut no matter how sharp isn’t much of a sword. Power without the will to use it. Was pointless

of course power without responsibility is equally pointless . And if nothing else she was responsible.

I walked around it. Somehow or other there where also the kind of smith machines you find at normal gyms to one side, though even they had settings for massive weights that Samaritan could kind of lift., even if the more normally powered members of the team probably used them (and I suspected I was stronger than several of the members).

I sat on one of them a hip abductor- the machine that you use to push the inner muscles of your thigh together. I absently tried to use it. It budged.

I looked. The machine had been set to 500 pounds.

I put my hands on them and with all might tried to close them … and to be honest I actually kind of did. With every breath of my force … but just everything I had. And this was a muscle group that most people didn’t do that that seriously …

I felt a tap on my shoulder

I froze like a guy in a cookie store , and turned to see Nighthawk.

She was wearing the kind of casual sweats and tank top, and the wet hair of someone just coming out the shower-which is how she looked. Relaxed casual, catching her breath.

“Sorry Kevin”she said somewhat sheepishly “just finishing a workout … did you come in for one”

“Not supposed to use the equipment here” I admitted “just stretching my feet”

“You can if you want” she said “I wouldn’t mind.

She was pretty as I mentioned. She had a kind of soft radiant glow about her face-it was normally always masked, which added intimidation factor to a face that looked if anything but … however her body. She looked like something out of a comic book a maze of muscle and well formed lats and traps. Of breasts that rested ever so slightly on her chest in a slightly awkward bra … she looked. Like 20 million bucks.

“its okay”I said looking down. I had the precise awareness that she was looking at herself that she was aware of this as well.

Well she deserved it. She spent I don’t know how many hours here training and working and becoming. If she felt some vanity, well that was between her and whatever.

“This 500 pounds here … that you?”

She just chuckled- though honestly not sure which was the answer was. “Hey Kevin … you made me think of something. Been thinking for awhile … I was wondering we could talk about it”

“What?”

“Team blogs” she said “We could keep blogs, you know show them to the public … what’s that service people use. Twitter?”

“you don’t normally do that kind of thing” I said “you’re the mysterious hide in the shadows”

“Well” she said looking side to side “think about it. Want to talk about now”

That wasn’t a question that was a command.

“O think I want to go to bed” I said

“No no, if you got time I mean … I want to talk about it tonight. While it’s on my mind. You know as team leader that’s my problem sometime-I have ideas … but if I don’t get them out, they just kind of stay ideas”

I nodded and got up. She was after all well …

We took an elevator. Her office was on the fifth floor just below the main aircraft hanger in the sixth. It was quite large, decorated in the kind of quilted look you don’t see much out of james bond movies-except the quilting was of dark Satin.

It looked very … dark. With a strange desk in the middle that you could imagine an interior designer making.

I mentioned that the Foundation was funded by millionaires who weren’t on the team. Well that didn’t stop her from being a millionaire who was on the team. The exact nature of her wealth and connections were kept secret … but they existed. Oh did they exist. Sometime someone inherited 350 million dollars and decided to go nuts with it.

She sat behind her desk and put up her feet on it. She leaned down

“oh wait Kevin-would you like something to drink

“Sure any water”

“Wine, spirits-I like to drink a little after hours, and frankly I feel a little ashamed when I do it myself”

I nodded “okay”

“She leaned down and got out a bottle from a cabinet … then stepped over to a wall and got two glasses that you could also have been designed “its 2014 Bordeaux. You know people always talk about very old wine and bottles … but I have always prefered young wine, young vintages. They have a life in them. You can almost taste the sun … yeah it gets more complex as it gets older … but well I am not that sophisticated a palette”

I nodded as I took the glass. But didn’t drink just letting it sit on the table.

“So blogs”

“We need to communicate more with the communities” she said “show them where not threatening. And not boring. We have been together a couple of years … and while you’re doing a good job … where humdrum. Just part of the scene of New York. We need to be active again. Back when I was just by myself patrolling … I felt like I could communicate through action-you develop a team an infrastructure … you get complacent”

“Well blogs … they have the effect of making you human

She laughed “Aren’t I?”

“Well yes”

She stood up and lifted up her shirt to reveal her shredded beyond sanity abs, sticking out as hard points on her chest “ I can pose for selfies showing off my tum tum”

“Well is that what you want for the image of knighthawk”

“Maybe not me” she admitted “But the others. Shine … shine … would enjoy that I think. Lover … well fuck him.”

She then started chuckling in the kind of way that she thought was very funny, and I instantly learned a lot of things.

“What about Saber. You know her right?”

“Yes”

“What would she think?”

“I think she would be okay with it”I said “But she’s a little shy”

(actually she did have a facebook, twitter, pinterest board and somehow another a myspace page for friends family and one or two very determined and not at all weird fans.

“maybe it would be a good way to improve her image. Let her be human, you know show off the world the little introvert inside of her”

“Shes not really introverted” I said “Shes just not … as demonstrative as some of the others”

“Well she’s lucky” she smiled “She got the most handsome guy on staff to be her boyfriend”

“Well”

“I mean let’s face facts” said Shadowraptor tenting her fingers on the table “Greek God isn’t the word but …”

“I work for a team of superheros” I said looking down my muscular body. Yes I did play football in College, and yes I still looked like it 5 years latter.

“Samaritan looks like he went to the steroid factory which – don’t tell anyone – ain’t that far from the truth” she took a glass of wine and swirled it to drink “Loverboy. The hair. God the hair, and it’s everywhere. Granite … well he’s not bad … but well … who has a chance with him”

“Well, we’re not doing a who’s hot or not blog”

she stood up. “Which am I?”

“what?”

“Am I hot” she smiled as she put her body on the table … and arched her back rolling up a bit of her tank top over her taunt stomach arching her heaving breasts and wiggling her tight ass”or … not”

I looked at her for a second … and then it completely hit me what was going on.

Ooooooohhhhhh.

In previous conversations about this I know several of the rumored people she had invited up to meetings in her office in the middle of the night, suspiciously were married but …

oooooh.

She smiled and arched her back practically pushing her breasts into my face

“Would you like to feel how hot they are … in the most literal sense possible?”

Oh.

I looked up at her. She smiled at me.

How long I spent looking at her, those eyes that devious grin. How long … was …

“No” I said getting up.

I thought about saying thank you for the wine, but in truth no was the last word I said

“Come on I just playing I know you have a girlfriend”

I walked away.

“Come let’s talk more about the blog”

I opened the door and walked out.

“Come on please …”

As I walked down the hallway I heard “it was just a joke”

It took me to the time I got to the elevator to realize I was in a daze-just action a disgusting daze that made the world seem dark and grey and I didn’t know what to do. The smell of her perfume and the sexiness of her skin turned to …

It was power. Not the kind that lifted up a truck or flew for the air. And she got off on it. It wasn’t the sex, just the sense of being superior to all in her office.

It was power she had, and if it was the kind that didn’t throw you in jail … And that was still wrong.

But as I walked I was scared and frightened of what would happen. Because that kind of power did demand that she take some of my own-just as a human being.

What a fucking asshole.

And I thought about what would happen.

I had to tell Janey about all of this-it would be cheating otherwise and somehow just as bad- but that filled me with dread. She probably would get mad-not at me I think, though maybe there would be that … but mainly at her. I had resisted and been good … but well this was problem what would happen.

A fight? Janey was not the type to take things physical-being super strong and tough since jr high had the effect of making her want to avoid physical confrontation-but argue, fight … leave the team or get Shadowraptor off it

Shadowraptor was a genius tactician and leader. She was smart capable and knew what she wanted. Which made this silly-cause politically this was dumb. If you were to divide up the team-there Was Shadowraptor who was the leader, and Samaritan who was the lancer nipping at her heals. Bee Girl Supported him. Prior to this I think Saber liked Nighthawk. They were not super close but they were friends. Granite Also support her, but I think if something sexual untoward happened especially if it got to the press I felt he may bolt her side. Loverboy was a wild card but he would go where the wind went, and Shine was pretty neutral … so if things went south badly for Shadow .things may go badly with one nights stupidity.

(of course if it got out to the press and it was a scandal … I would be bad at my job. Oh fuck)

Maybe it was genius, I honestly couldn’t say. Shadowraptor was good at doing that.

Maybe nothing would happen. This would all go under the rug as part of the resentment and folly that made the team a fun soap opera appropriate for Stan Lee. This would make things all the funner, and make the times when I had to interact with Shadowraptor all the better. I realized I probably could file some kind of HR action, but I didn’t want to tonight.

I exited the elevator to a surprisingly dark hall.

And maybe this would go with Saber leaving the team.

And what then?

Before the Defenders formed, there wasn’t really a Saber- just a Computer Science Grad student who showed up at a few fights. She didn’t have the costume-technically it was the property of the team … and well … probably they would let her have it but.

And what then?

She couldn’t be Superman – she couldn’t fly around and save people. She couldn’t be Batman either-well maybe she could … get those silk ropes maybe a lighter armor learned to jump around and be Spiderman … but I don’t think she wanted to. She didn’t want to beat up muggers, or any of that …

I opened the door to our apartment, and walked inside. She was already asleep.

She was destined to be a member of a team. She really didn’t make sense otherwise.

Or just be Jane Roarke, maybe programmer or something. It was a scary thought I knew she had. Just a person in the crowd, just a Young woman with a couple of tricks in an anonymous world.

But that didn’t matter.

Cause I realized something then … that no matter where we went, what we would do … I would be there for her. We were a team the pair of us. We would support each other and care for each other and love each other, and I wanted to marry her, have children and grow old- have the kind of adventure where you spend 50 years. And no matter what fancy name or incredible feats …

I saw her lying in bed sleeping peacefully. Not bothering to undress, I climbed underneath her and watched as her head moved to gently nestle on my shoulder.

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