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kicking ass and taking names (and falling in love)

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“Force, behind you!”

Xion turned just in time to deflect a car – or, well, a piece of a car – coming his way. “Thanks, Sharpshooter!”

She might have been too far away for him to actually see her, but Xion just knew Rina was rolling her eyes at him. “Could you stop ogling Firestorm’s ass for just a second and concentrate on this actual real battle we are in right now?”

“I am not-“

“Yes you are!” Dorro burst in from nowhere, as he usually does, just to disappear again and reappear at the other edge of the park they were currently fighting some D-list villain in. “If you had pockets in that bodysuit I could have pickpocketed you twice AND return all your stuff and you wouldn’t have even notice, that’s how badly you are ogling him”.

“I am not – I am assessing his powers, okay? If we want him on the team we need to know what he can do, that’s all!” Xion knew that it was only by virtue of his mask that no one could see him blushing. He ducked behind a nearby tree to catch his breath, and definitely not to get a better view at the new guy’s ass.

“You kids and your new slang. In my days we called it ‘getting laid’ and not ‘assessing powers’”, Torrvic, who for some reason was just sitting on a fucking tree doing nothing, felt the need to jump in. Xion could feel his eyebrow twitching.

“Why are you not turning into an eagle? You know, like we planned?”

Torrvic shrugged, “Eh, doesn’t seem like we need that. But hey, actually, Blink, if you could maybe drop me on this asshole’s head I would really like to hit something”.

“Hell yeah, I can do that!” Dorro, who has just finished tying up some minions in truly impressive rope work, jumped in and then out, carrying Torrvic with him to where said asshole was currently raving about… something. Xion wasn’t quite sure who the guy was – Sirena briefed them before they headed out, but, well, the new guy’s ass was pretty fantastic, and anyway, after a while most of the bad guys seemed to blur together.

“Sure, just leave me to finish all of the minions on my own, why not” muttered Rina into the earpiece, “Why do we even bother to plan if we never stick to, you know, the plan?”

“Makes me feel better about our chances of survival, I guess”, Xion shrugged, swerving around the tree and force pushing two guys who were sneaking up on Firestorm, who was now literally on fire. Xion wasn’t a pun sort of guy, but hot damn.

“I’m pretty sure I can see the drool evaporating from your face even from here, Force”.

“Fuck off”, Xion muttered, “Sharpshooter, how many left?”

Xion could hear three sharp “thwunks” in succession, and then, “Three less now”.

Xion surveyed the scene. A number of bodies spread on the ground, most of them curtesy of force-pushes and force-shoves and force-whatevers (he really needs to find a better name for his attacks. At least a cooler one). On the far end there was a swarm of bodies all tied together, thanks to Dorro’s handiwork, and Rina herself took out at least two dozen minions with various sleeping arrows. And Firestorm…

When Sirena first told them about a kid who can control actual fire, Xion was a bit skeptical about his ability to do so non-lethally. It wasn’t a question of morals, per ce – Xion was pragmatic enough to realize that sometimes lethal force was necessary, and there was no sugar coating it. But using their powers non-lethally was the only thing granting them superhero status and not vigilante, and Xion was determined to keep it that way for as long as possible.

(Phryane saw it differently, but Phryane was also no longer part of the team, so. Whatever. Xion was done with considering her opinion ever again.)

But clearly the new kid was more capable than he thought, since the bodies sprawled around him were all alive. Burnt, but not badly so – and… healing? Somehow?

“How are you doing that?” Xion found himself asking, moving closer to the other guy.

Firestorm startled, raising mask covered eyes (and holy shit, was his mask actually made out of fire? How fucking bad ass was that?) to look at him, “Erm, I thought you were briefed?”

“About the fire, not about whatever this is”, Xion said, waving his hand at the healing minions.

“Oh, well, I can heal? Sort of? It’s pretty painful, although I’ve been getting better at making it less so! And this is really the only way I can be sure I’m not killing anyone, since fire is… pretty dangerous”, he mumbled nervously, one hand raising to scratch at his cheek.

“Oh, I’ve noticed”, Xion said, and immediately regretted it. Did he have to sound so desperate, oh my god. He could hear Rina laughing at him through the earpiece.

“Look, I know it’s not your decision, or anything, but do you think I did… good?”

This kid. This kid. This kid could control one of the most dangerous elements in the world with a thought, and he looked at Xion for validation. Xion, who on a good day could maybe use his powers for half an hour straight without tiring.

“Yeah bud, I think you did good”, and Xion must have lost his goddamn mind because he found himself reaching with one hand to touch, and parts of Firestorm were still actually on fire and this would surely lead to a second degree burn and a lot of embarrassment but –

‘Thank god for Torrvic and Dorro’s joint tendency for mayhem and destruction’ is probably not a thought that anyone had, ever, but Xion found himself thinking exactly that as he, Rina, and Firestorm, raced towards the lake where Torrvic apparently summoned a giant dragon turtle, Torrvic, what the actual fuck.

“Torrvic, what the actual fuck” Xion yelled. Why did nothing ever go according to the fucking plan.

He could hear Dorro cackling madly somewhere in front of him, and Rina swearing frantically behind him, and Firestorm, already igniting once again, besides him, and figured there were worst people to fight a giant dragon turtle with.

 

Sirena did not quite see it that way.

“Do you even know how much collateral damage you’ve caused in this city?” she fumed, pacing in front of them. Xion and the other four stood in front of her, soaking wet and acting very ashamed of themselves. Well, Firestorm was already dry, and Dorro wouldn’t know shame if It broke into his house and robbed him blind, but the sentiment was there. Maybe. A little.

Xion startled when he realized Sirena stopped, apparently waiting for an answer. “Erm, a lot?” he ventured a guess. He could hear Firestorm snorting besides him, a sound that was quickly stifled by the poisonous glare Sirena sent their way. He quickly rushed and added, “We are really sorry, your majesty. We tried to keep the majority of the fight out of big urban areas, but dragon turtles are just… kind of big”.

“Something you maybe should have figured out before summoning one, hmm?”

“Oh, yeah, my bad”, Torrvic mumbled, and maybe Xion needed to re-evaluate the state of their party because he didn’t seem to be that ashamed either. Honestly, those two.

Sirena seemed to come to the same conclusion, since she just huffed and seemingly gave up, “Augh, fine. Beast, you are on tower duties for the next two weeks. The rest of you, go get cleaned up, you smell like fish. Firestorm, stay”.

As they left the room, Rina and Dorro already made plans for dinner, but Xion trailed behind them until he was left alone, loitering near the command center. It wasn’t that he felt responsible for the new guy, but he wanted to know if they are going to get a new addition to the team. It would change their strategy, after all, and Xion was sort of their strategist, by virtue of being the only person who actually cares about strategy in the first place. Not to mention that if he stays they needed to figure out the extent of his capabilities, and plan out a training regime, and…

And Xion really needed to find out if there were any restrictions about fraternization in the workplace. You know, for science.

After about half an hour, Xion was just about ready to give up. He was reasonably sure Firestorm was in, Sirena would be blind not to see what a huge asset he would be to their firepower (Another pun, maybe attraction just brings out his inner punster), and he really wanted a shower. But just as he was about to head for the showers the door swung open, and out came Firestorm and Sirena, both looking very surprised to see him creeping there.

Sirena recovered first, “Oh, still here? Good. Give Firestorm a tour of the facilities, will you? He’s in. I’ve got something I need to take care of”. And with that she stalked away.

The two boys were left in an awkward silence for a moment. “Just letting you know that when she says ‘something she needs to take care of’ she really means ‘punching out my frustrations about Blink and Beast in the rec room’”, Xion finally said.

Firestorm blinked at him, before a grin spread out on his face. It was very distracting. “Ah, I take it that happens a lot?”

Xion sighed dramatically, only half exaggerated, “Probably more than should be healthy. C’mon, I will show you around”. He moved a few steps down the hall, before stopping and turning back to face him. “Should probably introduce myself properly, now that you are part of the team. Xion, nice to meet you”, he said, and raised up his mask, showing his face.

“Just like that?” Firestorm asked, a bit nonplussed.

“Believe me, if her majesty vetoed you in, you can be trusted. She is extremely paranoid, nowadays”, Xion shrugged, not elaborating, still holding up his hand. Phryane was a story for another day.

“Right…” Firestorm exhaled, his fire mask just vanishing, before grabbing Xion’s head with his. “I’m Pera”.

If Pera’s ass looked fantastic, it was nothing compared to his face (and yes, shut up, Xion knew how lame that sounds, god). It just seemed… to glow, okay, smooth skin and dark eyes and high cheekbones. Xion was already gone on him and he only just learned his name.

“Right!” he squeaked out, his voice a few octaves higher than usual, and quickly dropped his hand, sure that if he spent one more second holding Firestorm- No, Pera’s – hand, he would be the one to catch on fire, and he was pretty sure he wasn’t resistant to it the way the other superhero was. “So, a tour, yes?”

“You should probably start with the showers”, Pera said, and Xion had the immeasurable pleasure of seeing him just turn completely red, “I – I mean – not for – that is – you smell pretty bad”. His eyes widened in panic, “Not your fault, of course, I’m sure you usually smell good, well, not in a creepy way, in a normal way? I’m sure you smell good in a normal way! I’m going to shut up now”.

Xion just had to laugh. They were both pretty embarrassing, weren’t they? Out there saving the world, and barely able to string up a sentence in the presence of someone they liked. Well, Xion was reasonably sure Pera liked him. It was either that or he turned into an incoherent mess whenever he talked to someone, and Xion didn’t think Sirena would let someone like that through the door, let alone into the team.

“Alright, how about this? I will show you to the entertainment room, then I will go shower, and when I get back I can give you the tour. And later I can give you a tour of town? The turtle festival is in town”.

Pera blinked at him (Xion tried not to find it adorable every time he did that, and failed miserably), “Are you… are you asking me on a date?”

Xion blushed, “Maybe? If you say yes then definitely, if you say no then absolutely not”.

Pera just stared at him for a second before smiling, “Sounds like a plan”.

Xion grinned back at him, terrifyingly relieved, “Let’s hope that it works better than my other plans”.

“I don’t think Beast is going to summon another dragon turtle today, so it should at least go better than this afternoon did”, Pera bantered back, his smile spreading into a grin.

“Dude, don’t say that, you don’t know him like I do, the guy never met a commonsense he didn’t beat with a stick”, Xion shuddered, remembering one too many plans going awry because of his teammates.

Pera just laughed. Xion really liked the sound of that.

“Okay, shower, then tour, then date”, he said decisively, already starting to head in the direction of the entertainment room. He considered grabbing Pera’s hand, but ultimately decided against that, since he wasn’t quite confident enough in his ability to let go once they actually reach the room.

“Shower, then tour, then date”, Pera agreed, “And hopefully, no dragon turtles involved”.

“Or D-list villains trying to conquer the world”.

“Or D-List villains trying to conquer the world”.

(Of course there was a D-list villain trying to conquer the world at the festival, because that’s just how things usually go for Xion, but considering they managed to kick ass and get an ice-cream afterwards, he still considered the date a success. And considering Pera almost burned him with his kiss afterwards, he thought Pera might agree with that assessment as well.

Ha, assessment. Eat that, Torrvic).