Word count: 2,597
Warnings: Mild language
Fandom: City of Heroes/Sunday 9s
Characters: Ray "Heat Lightning" Jeffries, Vicky "Winged Vixen" Wilson, Iain "Emerald Flames" Bennett, Eric "Boneshatter" Serling.
Timeline: Takes place after "Sounds Like a Plan" and slightly after "The Alarm Sounds." Yep, a lot of stuff is happening at once now.
If you've read the previous fics, you know who these people are and what's going on. If you haven't, you might want to go read them first, 'cause this will make lots more sense after you read the other ones. Check the Memories section, under "CoH Fiction" in my LJ info.
Copyrightage: The City of Heroes universe is copyright Cryptic Studios/NCSoft. The individual characters of the Sunday 9s were created by their players. I created Heat Lightning, Boneshatter, most of the NPCs, the shard and all of the Aligned and their concepts.
As always, comments are very welcome and appreciated. ^_^
They found Vixen 'guarding' Boneshatter in his room. Ray wondered how much guarding had actually been going on; the two of them looked up, startled as he and Flames entered, and Ray wondered if Vix actually looked just a tad guilty. Because in that instant while the door was opening, it sure looked to Ray like the two scrappers were getting on like a house on fire.
Meaning no survivors, he mentally tacked onto the end of the phrase. (Of course, most men might want to get along well with a young blonde in a leather costume, complete with bustier and spiked dog collar.) He certainly hoped it wouldn't come to that; Vix was regenerative too, thanks to her nanites, and these two were most likely to be the only survivors in any given battle.
Flames spoke first. "Hey Boner! Remember me?"
Bone looked at him. "...No...?" he said uncertainly, as though he guessed he was supposed to know who they were. "You're, um," he continued, looking at Flames' tattoos, "the Heat guy?"
"Nope. I'm your drinking and whoring buddy, and resident healer. We gotta run one more test on you that the doctors didn't think of, because they are just normals after all. When I woke up and checked your chart I realized they skipped a special magic based test, 'cause well, they skipped it on me too and I'm magical. You mind one more test?"
Ray let Flames talk. The food had helped, but he still felt stiff and tired.
"Uh, I guess not," Bone said slowly. "Your name is?..."
"I'm Heat," Ray said. "This is Flames." And we sound like a dynamic duo, don't we?
Flames looked surprised at Bone's question. "Oh. Iain. My hero name is Emerald Flames. Sorry, your not knowing things is going to take getting used to."
"Oh. Like a partner, sidekick thing?" Bone asked. Vixen bit her lip, trying not to laugh.
"Um, yeah. You were my wingman out scoring on chicks. You were great at it. Into the chair," he added, nodding at the wheelchair thoughtfully left behind by the room's previous occupant.
"I can walk," Bone protested.
After some convincing, Bone finally allowed himself to be wheeled along, pushed by Flames. Ray fell in step beside Vix, following. He'd never really thought about it before, but regenerative abilities sounded very useful. Too bad his genotype probably wouldn’t allow tweaking for it; the tanks in his family would have a better chance. Still, something to look into...
When the group reached the right room, Boneshatter looking askance at the signs and artwork hinting at 'family' oriented medicine, the technician looked at them skeptically. "This the one?" She wasn't at all like the nurse Flames had charmed earlier.
"Yup. We need to scan this area just under the sternum, and around the chest cavity," Flames said.
"Don't know what kind of results you'll get. Not the usual place we scan. Take your shirt off," she told Bone.
"I... I don't want to do this." Bone looked around nervously and started to rise. Vix stood ready, just in case.
"Boner, you gotta trust us on this. It's necessary. Look, she can do me first if you want." Flames showed remarkable restraint as the tech squirted some cold blue gel on his chest ("Makes for a better contact," she explained). "Icy! Besides, Eric. I'm a healer. See?" He gestured, and the green glow briefly surrounded the ex-Skull. "I make stuff better, not worse."
For reasons best known to whoever designed it, the ultrasound screen was angled so whoever was on the couch couldn't see the screen itself. Vix helped Bone onto the couch; Ray leaned on the doorframe. If anything bad happened, he wanted to be a little farther back. He'd had plenty of problems already today. Plus, from here he could see the screen just fine.
The tech placed the scanner on Flames' chest and moved it around, stopping here and there to check the screen. After a short while, Flames – who, standing, could also see the results on the monochromatic screen – said, "Yep, that's exactly what should be there. Thanks! You're up next, Boner! Take off that shirt and show off your muscles."
Not without some visible trepidation, Bone removed his jacket and Skull T-shirt. He looked pretty healthy, being a regen. Wiry type. Ray made sure to look somewhere else, just to make sure nobody got the wrong idea. Bone also looked nervous, like he expected to have to make a break for it.
"Eric," said Flames as Bone partially undressed, "I know this must be scary for you, not remembering us, and all the bad stuff going on around you. We want to help you, and you are surrounded by friends here. We really did go out a lot, and you really were a great wingman. Heat is the person that sponsored you into the 9's."
Boy, don't remind me, Ray thought, worrying at a fingernail.
"And you and Vixie here... well, let's just say that you used to flirt and tease her a lot."
Ray looked up at Vix, but she was looking into Bone's eyes, and vice versa. Oh, man, I hope this doesn't come back to bite us somehow. Does she know about Teff? I mean, I guess Bone doesn’t anymore...
"As strange as it is for you, it's stranger for us, because of all the stuff you did but don't remember. But even if you don't believe that we care, believe this. I killed myself today saving Heat's life, and I'll kill myself again to save yours again if I have to. I don't let people die or get hurt if I can help it."
"But they said I tried to kill - " Bone started, while the tech squirted some gel onto him.
Flames nodded. "You did. You tried to kill Heat and me. And you don't remember it and your memories are fried like an egg. On top of that you were pumped up with enough drugs to kill a horse, and you never did drugs in the year or so we've been hanging out. We've got the rest of the team following leads to try and figure out what happened, but the people that love you and want you to heal are right here in this room, man." He stopped and cocked his head for a second. "Oh, and that's like brotherly love and shit. No homo stuff here, not even Heat, even though he plays one on TV."
"I do not!" Ray barked.
Vixen smirked as Flames laughed out loud. "You gotta chill, man! We all know you're straight. Maybe you gotta release a sex tape like that fugly Paris chick. Besides the only total fags on the team are drew and Zoom, and drew is more butch than all of us." A pained expression came over his face:: "Well.... was, now, I guess..."
"Then why does everyone keep bringing it up about me?" Ray grumbled. Bone was looking him over curiously. "I gotta get Jamie to the warehouse, then you'll see."
"Because you act like a girl, man," Flames grinned. "Because we all love you an're teasing you like a brother. You're the only one with a hang up about it. Hell, when drew hit on me I accepted it as a compliment, you... you got insulted. And I live.... lived with Zoomer and his place was covered in gay stuff. No one cares about it much but you." He turned back to Bone. "See, just like a family, we are. A family of misfits with superpowers. Welcome back to it." He winked and smiled.
"Here goes," said the tech, before Bone could answer, and started the scan.
Bone shrieked and arched his back, scaring the crap out of the tech, who yanked her hand away and the scanner with it.
Flames grabbed the device and put it back on him. "Hold him down Vixie!" he yelled, unnecessarily as it turned out. Vixen pinned Bone's upper half, her huge robotic gloves apparently heavier than they looked. Ray jumped forward to grab Bone's legs and force them back down onto the couch, while Flames began spamming the area with healing auras.
Bone's eyes were clamped tightly shut, his teeth bared, and if it weren't for Vix he'd probably be trying to get the device off him. As it was, he fought her. Ray thought he saw Vix flicking one of the buttons on her gloves before slamming it back down on Bone's arm.
"Try to calm down, Eric," Flames said. "This means there's something evil inside you, and we're trying to get it out. You'll be ok!" He kept throwing the healing onto Bone, and holding the scanner against his chest as best as possible.
Ray threw what weight he had across Bone's legs, glad he wasn't anywhere near the ex-Skull's fists. He looked over at the tech, cowering in a corner, and tried his best to give an "It's okay, really" smile.
"Get it off!" Bone howled, and broke one leg free enough to knee Ray in the jaw, hard. Ray saw stars, tasted blood, and immediately felt better as another heal kicked in, so he pinned Bone's legs a second time.
"I will, as soon as it stops hurting." Flames narrowly dodged a fist. "Then we'll be done."
"Fuck you! Get it off it's burning for God's sake dammit!"
Flames shook his head. "Dude, as str8 as I am I'll let you fuck me later if you just stop fighting. It's hurting you because it doesn't want to leave your body. It didn't happen to me because I'm not possessed." He looked over at the tech. "Up the strength of the scan. Now."
The tech finally moved from the corner, trying to keep the ultrasound machine between her and the fight. In this position, Ray had his back to her, so he couldn't see what she did, but she must've done something, because Bone shrieked like a banshee and then fell back against the couch before curling up into a fetal position as best he could.
Ray realized the scrapper had gone limp. He looked up as Vix turned him back onto his back. "Is he – "
"Does his chest look like mine now?" Flames asked the tech. "Is the thing on his sternum gone?"
The tech, still nervous about all this, checked the machine. "No, it doesn't look like your scan. There's something in there."
Ray's heart sank. What, they'd done all this for nothing, then?
Flames stared at Bone, concentrating. "Still... Does this hurt, Bone?"
"Go 'way," was the mumbled reply, as the ex-Skull kept trying to curl up.
"I can't, Bone, I wish I could. If I didn't care, I would. Sometimes you have to hurt to heal, though... does the scanner still hurt you?"
Ray gingerly stood up, since it looked like the fighting was over. Vixen relaxed her grip, but didn't release Bone's arms. Looks like things are under control, Ray guessed, and bent to look at the screen. The tech helpfully pointed to certain parts. "See? It's like there's bits of metal or glass in his chest."
Vixen sighed. "It exploded... and since he didn't get shredded from within, it looks like he's still got his powers. You were right, Heat. Thank God."
"Opals," Ray said. "The thing's... was sensitive to sonics. But he's fought Council before without problem, hasn't he? And the shard's there, but broken. We should tell the others."
"Have to go outside the hospital for that," Vixen said. "Heat, you have to stay, and Eric needs rest. I'll get him back to his room."
Flames held up a hand. "Wait. Eric... do you remember me now?"
Flames tried casting another heal. "Eric, it's important. I'm sorry I hurt you... I really am. Do you remember stuff better now?"
"No. I don't. Stop talking to me. Magic'll fuck you up, Eric. Leave me alone. Why're they here. Got one too. Better this way, Eric. Always with you..." Bone's speech degenerated into mumbling.
"Oh, God...." Ray breathed. "He's really messed up now, isn't he?" He looked at Vixen, who stared back at him with worried eyes.
"He's..." Flames' eyes stopped glowing for a second, and they looked more pale blue and tired than his usual green. "He's healing. You were right, Ray, to a degree. He needs time to heal now. Let him be." The normal green glow returned to his eyes. "He's delirious, man... probably from the pain. We should let him rest like Vixie said. I'll call Lapis and fill him in."
"I'll watch him," Vix said. "I don't think he'll be much threat to anyone for a while, though."
Ray suddenly remembered the tech, who looked very much like she wished they'd get out of here. "Thanks for your help," he said, trying to keep his tone light.
"Yeah, sorry about this. We didn't expect it to be so... dramatic," Flames added.
"It's all right," the tech said, her voice and expression indicating otherwise. Ray helped Vixen get Bone back into the wheelchair; she put his jacket and Skull shirt on his lap. "I'll get him cleaned up back at his room," she said quietly.
"Nurse Vixen to the rescue," Ray said, and saluted. She blushed.
Once Vixen and her charge had left, Flames said quietly, "Um... I'm not sure if we made things better or worse now..."
"I know what you mean." Ray chewed on a different fingernail. It wasn't a habit he normally followed, but it seemed 'right' at the moment. "If his memory's still gone... well, we can try to piece things back together that way. He's still got his powers. I hope that's all." He looked sideways at Flames as they made their way to the exit. "You said something about possession?..."
Flames looked confused. "I did?"
"I thought you did. When we were fighting in there. Something about it didn't want to leave his body?"
Flames looked blank, and shrugged. "No clue. Maybe it was a magic-knowing-magic thing? Although, possession does make sense... It's what the Thorns do, they sacrifice people to the spirits of their demons and elder magicians for power, and they use crystals. It could be that there was a spirit or something in the stone."
Ray nodded. "Which would explain why he didn't want to get scanned. He, or the spirit, realized something was up, maybe. And we broke or defeated it - not sure if you can say 'killed' a spirit."
"Well, depends on what happens when you break it. If he still has his powers does that mean he's still possessed? And with the crystal being all broken like that hurt him more?"
Ray shook his head. "I don't know. I wish I did. Guess it depends on when he comes to himself." He stopped walking; he had to stay in the hospital, for his own safety, and his chest was beginning to twinge again. Reluctantly, he said, "Guess you'd better go tell Lapis."
"Will do. Then I'll come back in and give you some heals. Can't hurt anyway."
"Okay." Ray tried to shrug it off like being confined to hospital was nothing. "I'll be back in my room, I guess. Maybe I'll get lucky and they'll deliver another meal."
"They will." Flames winked, and headed outside, leaving Ray watching through the thick glass doors. A moment later, Ray turned and headed back to the elevators.
~ ~ ~
Once outside, Flames flicked on his communicator. "Blue? You there?"
There was no answer.