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Let It Snow

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    It doesn't snow very often in Stern Bild, so when it starts coming down heavily around noon, everyone's excited and curious.  By three when it still hasn't stopped, things are starting to be canceled and closed; photo shoots, interviews, meetings.  At four, they're all hanging around the training center, checking phones and PDAs for messages. 

    "That's it for my appointment," Karina says, snapping her phone shut.  "Honestly.  It's just a little snow."

    "You don't drive yet, do you, honey?" Nathan asks.  "If you did, you'd know why everything shuts down.  People here don't know how to drive on ice."

    "Welp, I'm heading home," Kotetsu says, standing up and stretching.  "I'd like to get home before the roads ice over."

    That sort of prompts the rest of them, and they stand, don coats and pull out gloves, and troop out to the elevators together.  Outside, Pao-lin runs ahead, kicking snow into the air, and Ivan, without actually running or anything, manages to get ahead of the others and follow her. 

    "Hey, Ivan," she calls out, and then she bends down, scoops up a handful of snow, and continues "Think fast!"

    The snowball disintegrates against his chest, and over her laughter, he puts together one of his own and throws it at her.  Her next snowball arcs toward the group, and while it falls short, that's good enough for Kotetsu to stop, grab himself a handful of snow, and toss a few hasty snowballs at the duo, and then one at his partner.  Barnaby turns, glaring, but his expression softens at the sight of Kotetsu's grin, and he heads over to the drifted snow on the lawn instead.  Antonio and Keith head in opposite directions, Antonio seeking cover (behind a tree) and snow, Keith just looking for snow. 

    "Honestly!" Karina says, but her eyes are sparkling.

    "You should be a natural at this," Nathan points out, and then he darts away as he sees the blue glow of her powers. 

    Pretty soon it's a free-for-all.  Karina makes herself an ice barricade; Nathan sends out dollops of flame to melt incoming snowballs before they can reach him, but melts half the ones he makes. Kotetsu and Barnaby spend more time pelting each other than anyone else, but Kotetsu still has plenty of time to try to dump snow down Antonio's neck.  Keith's snowballs have more range than anyone else's, and when he manages to land a few on Karina, she upgrades her barricade to a full-fledged fort and sends a volley back at him, only to have them veer away before they can strike him.  Kotetsu, whose aim is a lot worse than his partner's, starts begging to take shelter in the fort; when she relents, he ruffles her hair and then gets doused in snow she created just to dump on him.  Pao-lin and Ivan decide to target him while he's trying to scramble out of the fort, and Keith, tired of being untouchable and left out, runs up to join in.  Kotetsu powers up and starts flinging super-fast snowballs left and right, and they scatter, but then Barnaby has to power up too.  It's more or less a three-way showdown between those two and Keith, for a little while.  Pao-lin doesn't want to yield, but she's too busy leaping and dodging, now that powers have entered the game in earnest, to throw many missiles of her own, while Ivan just hunkers down by Karina's fort until she notices him and starts dropping snowballs on his head.  And then Nathan gets the hang of not melting snowballs and decides to pepper Antonio with snow, and Pao-lin decides those two are much safer targets.

    When it starts to get dark, Nathan sets up a huge fire that he floats on his hand - no need to set public property aflame - and everyone gathers around to warm up.  "Can I have some hot chocolate, Mom?" Kotetsu asks.

    "If you're a good boy I'll even add the little marshmallows," Nathan agrees. 

    "There's a really good cafe near here," Ivan suggests, shyly.  "Hot chocolate really does sound good."

    "To the cafe!  And again, the cafe!" Keith declares, like a rallying cry.  Nathan closes his hand to wipe the fire out, and they all head off, Ivan in the lead.