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The Conceited Crusader

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Jon sticks a couple of quarters in the pay phone with fumbling fingers and dials the number of the Eagle's hotline. "Thank goodness I caught you!" he exclaims, when the familiar voice answers. "We need you in the park. There's a supervillain in purple zapping everyone with some kind of energy beam and cackling!"

"The park?" echoes the Eagle. "What are you doing in the park? There's no story to cover there today."

"I didn't come here to cover a story! I came here to feed the pigeons."

"Oh," says the Eagle. Like he's never imagined that Jon has a life outside of news. (Doesn't the caped hero have his own life outside saving people and getting merchandise deals? Jon sure hopes he does.) "Well, stay put, citizen. I'll be right over!"

Jon hangs up the phone and, even though he's not on the clock, starts creeping back toward the center of the action anyway.

The people who get zapped with the beam aren't screaming or crying, there's no electric sparking or smell of burns, but it has to be doing something dastardly, or else the violet-haired villain in the fabulous purple outfit wouldn't be laughing so evilly about it. Jon stops at a bench where a couple of people are sitting, faces flushed, breathing heavily. "How do you feel? Any pain? Do you need medical attention?"

Of the pair, the woman looks blankly at him — not blank like she's been mindwiped or anything, just blank like she can't believe this putz has the nerve to think she'd want to talk to him — and turns away in a huff. Jon might have guessed she was dating the man, but he has to be a couple of decades older — sort of an Ian McKellen type, an impression that gets unexpectedly reinforced when he rises to his feet and cups Jon's face in his hands. "You're beautiful," he murmurs, and tries to kiss Jon full on the mouth.

Jon flails. "No thank you — excuse me — you're not my type!" he babbles, scrambling out of the guy's grasp and backing down the path.

He hasn't gone more than a few steps when he spots a pair of younger men with no such inhibitions, furiously making out. Not far beyond them, a woman of around Jon's age is gazing dreamily at a slightly older lady, and, while he watches, pushes her up against a tree and grinds their hips together. Now that he knows what to look for, they're everywhere: either dazed single people wandering alone, or same-sex couples pairing up and going at it.

Above the trees, an eagle screech rings out, followed by a heroic voice: "Stop right there!"

"So, the Eagle finally arrives!" cackles the villain. He's frighteningly close, at the edge of the pond; Jon ducks behind one of the last of the trees and peeks through the branches to watch. "How do you like my new and upgraded Homomenator? 233% more effective, with 69% farther range!"

"When will you learn, Lavender Menace?" demands the Eagle. He and his sidekick are silhouetted against the blue sky, framed by a dusting of fluffy white clouds. "You will never get the numbers you need to force your agenda down the throat of America!"

"Oh, won't I?" says Lavender Menace. "What if I told you that this version...goes through forcefields!"

He aims squarely at the Eagle, and a burst of rainbow light explodes from the end of his ray gun, enveloping his target dead-on.

Jon's mind races trying to come up with a plan. Maybe he can lure the dazed Eagle down to earth and dunk him in the pond. And if cold water doesn't work...there's gotta be a physical limit to how much lust that beam can induce, right? Maybe if Jon just gets the Eagle to kiss him for a while, it'll burn itself out and he'll be back in the game. That's a sacrifice Jon is willing to make. Purely for the good of the city, of course.

But wait — the Eagle doesn't look dazed at all. He touches down, sharp as ever, and dissolves his forcefield to cast a new one keeping the Lavender Menace from fleeing.

"What? No!" shrieks the villain. "It's not possible! You should be transported by throes of homoerotic passion!" He fires again and again, some of the shots going wild, none of them making any difference to the approaching hero.

"The joke's on you, Menace!" exclaims the Eagle. "My other superpower is being 100% unshakably heterosexual!"

He's close enough to switch off the forcefield and grapple with the Lavender Menace over the gun. In the struggle, rainbow beams go off in completely random directions. One of them has passed through Jon before he has time to duck.



The next thing Jon's aware of is a soft, harmonious voice saying, "What is it, boy? Did you find something?"

"Scrawk!" declares the bird in the branches above him.

Jon realizes he's sitting aimlessly in the grass. How long it's been, he doesn't know. His eyes finally see that he's being approached by the most handsome, suave, desirable man he's ever seen in his life.

"Jon!" exclaims the Eagle, whose lusciousness Jon has never truly appreciated until now. "There you are! It's okay, I took the bad guy out. He won't be destroying any more marriages today. Good job doing your civic duty and calling me in!"

"Mmm," says Jon, letting his stunning rescuer help him up. "Happy to call you in any time." Wrapping his arms around the Eagle's waist, he presses their lips together.

"Mmph!" says the Eagle.

"Your confusion is really hot," Jon tells him, nuzzling his spandex-clad neck.

"With my keen intellect and eagle-eyed powers of observation," says the Eagle, wriggling in Jon's grip, "I am deducing that you may be a victim of the Homomenator ray."

"Oh, I don't know about 'victim'," purrs Jon, working his hands through the feathers that run down the Eagle's back. "Unless that's what you're into? In which case, sure, I'm a helpless citizen in distress. Someone better come rescue me."

"Junior!" wails the Eagle. "Help!"

His sidekick drops out of the sky and lands — on the hero's padded shoulder, thankfully, as Jon still has talon scars from their last adventure. He's still not going to get away from this one unscathed, though: Junior ducks forward like a pigeon going after crumbs and gives Jon a sharp nip on the ear. Jon yelps and hides his face against the Eagle's chest. "Please, beautiful, call off your bird!"

"Okay, that didn't work," says the costumed crusader. "Don't bite him again...yet. Is this temporary? Please tell me this is temporary."


"Is it wearing off of other people yet?"


"Great!" The Eagle cups Jon's face in gloved hands and holds it away from his. A shiver runs through Jon at the touch. "Hear that? You'll be okay in a couple of minutes. Until then, you've just got to fight it! Fight it like the sweet and tender temptation of baby carrots!"

"I know a guy who's scared of baby carrots," remarks Jon dreamily. "It isn't sexy with him, though." And he tries to hook one leg around the Eagle's waist.

They overbalance almost instantly and go toppling backward. (Junior takes off in a flap of feathers as his nice perch tips over.) Instead of hitting the park's grounds, Jon lands against the bottom of a wide, shallow forcefield, with the Eagle on top of him, pinning him down.

"Mmm, pushy," says Jon, as the forcefield skims lightly across the top of the grass. "You know, I like that in a man."

He arches his hips upward in invitation...

...and the field under him disappears, dropping him without warning into the cold water of the pond.

It's close to the edge — he plants both hands in the muddy bottom and shoves his head up through the surface — soaked through, spitting algae, hair plastered across his face. When he's coughed and wheezed and blinked the brackish water out of his eyes, he glares at the figure hovering in front of him: a dripping Eagle sitting cross-legged in a bowl-shaped half-forcefield, small holes opened around the bottom to let the water pour out.

"Are you better now?" demands the sopping hero.

"Must be!" snaps Jon, coughing some more. "You're not looking appealing at all right now!"

"Well, good!" cries the Eagle. He pauses. "Wait, not even a little?"