Title: Tuesday Night
Author: Harper Kingsley
Genre: superhero, mm
Chapter Eleven was split into two posts due to size. This is the part two.
CHAPTER ELEVEN continued…
Following Seth was like second nature. Tony had to admit that the guy had fallen into the role of leader as natural as breathing. Probably a result of the leadership courses he’d received at the Training Center as a teenager. Tony had only managed summer classes until the CMPF scholarship, but Seth had been training to be a superhero from the time he was fourteen years old.
Part of Tony would always wonder what his life would have been like if he’d had the money for the intensive training Seth had received. But that was an old regret, one that he couldn’t do anything about now.
They were jogging a winding path that cut through side streets and down alleys, keeping an eye out for any people. Everything seemed deserted. It was eerie to see no people bustling about during the day. It gave a horror movie vibe that made the patch of skin between his shoulders itch.
Seth must have shared his unease, because they were moving at a good clip. It wouldn’t take them too long to reach Triangle Park, maybe another twenty minutes.
Tony was starting to think things were looking like cake. They’d reach the Park, lay the charges, and be out of range before the fireworks started. They were going to make it.
A flicker of warning. He body-slammed Seth out of the way with a flying tackle. “Get down!”
The ground they would have passed through exploded with a rain of pulverized asphalt and burning debris.
Tony rolled off Seth, his rifle already firing. He was in that headspace where everything seemed to move slowly and his targets were limned by some inexplicable brightness, drawing his attention. The squeeze of the trigger was like breathing, and he felt nothing as unarmored human bodies exploded into blood and vaporized bone.
He felt Seth at his back and heard the echoing discharge of another gauss rifle. They moved in sync, a crabwalk that carried them through the crowd of zombified civilians. There were a few AR-15s, an RPG here and there, but most of them had only small arms, knives, and makeshift clubs–baseball bats, hockey sticks, golf clubs, and a few cricket bats notable mostly for their “Huh” value.
Dozens of people quickly became hundreds, maybe even thousands, until they crammed the streets in a mass of blank-eyed aggression. The alien controllers didn’t care if their human meat puppets were hurt or killed. They kept feeding them out onto the street in an overwhelming mass.
Tony was questioning the hive mind’s plans when the first cape arrived. Flying low to avoid the overhead air patrols and the ion cannons mounted on the satellite weapon’s platforms. The hive had learned not to tempt the airspace quarantine.
Tony wondered how many flying metahumans had to reach the height limit and be vaporized before the aliens had learned to keep their drones below twenty feet. He tried not to think of how many of them had been people he’d known.
Now wasn’t the time to think about all that. He had to focus on the battle in front of him and the trouble flying up on them. Monteressa, the Iron Woman of Prague. Her flesh gleamed like silver nitrate and her hair was writhing coils of living metal.
Her origin story was mostly rumors and speculation. She was a foreign national that had fallen in love with an American superheroine named Hartache. They rotated their residency with six months in America and six months in Prague, and they were lauded as a great example of international cooperation. It didn’t hurt that Hartache was sexy in form-fitting reddish-brown leather and the exposed portions of her face looked like they belonged to an equally attractive face. They were a power couple in every sense of the word.
“Keep an eye out for Hartache,” Seth advised.
“Roger.” Tony was already scanning roof tops and vantage points where the crossbow wielding shapechanger could be crouching.
Hartache could transform herself into a white hart–a beautiful doe with hooves she’d had specially shod to enable her to punch through human flesh even easier than a natural deer. She was also a deadly shot with a crossbow and had won a bronze medal at the Meta Olympics. It was where she’d met Monteressa, who’d won the silver in the Mid-Range Strength category by lifting and crushing a tank within the thirty second time limit.
There was a crawling sensation between Tony’s shoulder blades and he whirled around to see Hartache take the shot. She was firing between the safety rails of an apartment’s balcony, her mouth a tight line and her movements sure.
Time seemed to slow down as the arrow came toward him. Over the shouts and growls of the crowding drones, he thought he could heard the buzzing thrum of the arrow’s flight, but that had to be pure imagination.
It seemed natural to grab the nearest drone–he refused to think of it as a man with a family and a life, with children and an everyday existence–and pulled it in front of him just as the arrow struck.
The razor-tipped arrowhead jutted obscenely through the drone’s chest. The drone made a gasping, gurgling sound, blood pouring from its mouth as it died.
Tony threw the body toward Monteressa and dodged Hartache’s follow-up shot. There was the dull whump of the drone’s body exploding as the charge in the shaft released. Monteressa disappeared from view.
Time was moving and jerking and he was seeing things in snapshot movements, but he didn’t let himself hesitate. He kicked a woman in the face and made a linebacker’s charge through the crowd.
“Come on!” he shouted, thundering through bodies with a single minded purpose. They needed to get away before Monteressa recovered. Before Hartache took her next shot. Before the already approaching flyers reached them, capes a trailing point in the sky, painting a rainbow above the street.
The only thing saving them was the height of the buildings and the flyers’ inability to go above twenty feet. But it was only a matter of time before the flyers made it through the maze to their location. They needed to get under cover and evade, otherwise they’d be overwhelmed.
Tony could feel the warm rush of Seth’s power against his back. The white glow reflected around him even as his helm automatically adjusted the brightness level. He didn’t look back, trusting that Seth was following. He could hear the screams and cries as drones got too close and were burned by Seth’s aura; he didn’t need to see it.
There was the sound of Seth’s gauss rifle firing, clearing some of the path ahead, but it was Tony that slammed his way through the crush of bodies. It was Tony that broke bones and smashed delicate human flesh with a single-minded forward charge.
The flyers were closing in, but Tony reached the nearest building and plowed through the door with glass shattering around him. He charged through aisles stocked with baby toys and clothes, maternity wear, and furniture that broke with startling ease. He kept going, Seth keeping the following drones from crowding around them, slowing them down with their breakable human bodies.
All Tony knew was that he needed to keep them moving before the drones manages to clear the pile up of bodies from the door. Or before Monteressa knocked down the wall, letting in the swarm.
Tony suddenly cut left and plowed through the side wall into the neighboring store. It looked like some kind of Scottish supply place, smelling of leather polish and wool, framed tartans mounted on the walls.
Tony kept moving, shoving what he could out of his way, but mostly crashing through it. His heart sounded a steady beat in his ears, faster than normal, but a tempo that he could move to.
He focused on putting one foot in front of the other as he crashed through three more buildings before judging from the map that breaking through the back wall of the furniture store would put them on Fuller Avenue. The other shops would have opened on a narrow alley of tight-squeezes.
Breaking through that final wall, he staggered a little dazedly before shaking it off. Even with his near invulnerability, he was going to be aching tomorrow.
Like in most big cities, the buildings were reinforced to prevent the average metahuman with superstrength from being able to blow through the walls. So while the adjoining walls had been rebar laced cinder blocks filled with concrete, the back wall of the furniture store had been reinforced with plastisteel. Which would be dangerous if a fire broke out, as the firefighters would have a hard time breaking through it, but it was more than enough to stop most thieves.
“You okay?” Seth asked.
“I’m good,” he growled through gritted teeth, not slowing down. They were running at speed, boots pounding the pavement.
Already he could hear the shouts of the mob changing direction, closing in. He was glad the hive mind had been too dumb to pack the neighboring streets with bodies, but he wasn’t going to underestimate its ability to learn. If they slowed down, they’d be hedged in, trapped for the metahumans with superstrength and offensive capabilities to handle.
They had to keep moving or they were done. There were too many people in the city for them to fight every single one and survive.
“Take the lead,” he said, moving back so Seth was in front. Even with his helm adjusted, he was blinded for the seconds until Seth’s bright aura blinked out.
Tony knew himself well enough to recognize when he needed to pass off command. He had no idea where they should go next, which meant it was time for Seth to step up.
“We’ll lose our pursuers,” Seth said, “then get back on track with our mission.”
“*Roger, roger*,” Seth said in imitation of a B1 battle droid.
Tony rolled his eyes and felt some of the tension leave his shoulders. As long as there were jokes, then there was hope they would see things through. They would complete the mission and make it home.
He followed Seth and held onto his belief that they weren’t going to fail. Not today.
* * *
Stealing a car would have been an option worth exploring if there had been other vehicles driving around. It was eerie with no motors running and empty streets in which to run down. He wondered if maybe the hive mind couldn’t use enough control to get groups of people driving.
It was the telecontroller’s dilemma. Being able to remote control human beings, but only able to move them like action figures. Because the more bodies one mind tried to control, the harder it was, and the more jerky and unnatural the motions.
Setting a bunch of mindcontrolled people to a single task was easier than trying to focus on too many minds at once. There was a reason Mindswap walked around in one meatsuit at a time. Suppressing the native mind without causing the body to die from shock was a talent.
Still, having millions of bodies that responded to the same attack command was hard to beat. Even if they couldn’t drive cars and act autonomously, they were able to converge on the same location and clog up escape routes. It gave the drones with metabilities the time to gather.
Part of Seth was panicking at the near to impossible task in front of him. Most of him kept moving forward, ducking and dodging down streets and running through buildings as needed. The rest of him was a gibbering mess praying they made it through alive and unmaimed.
“This is the last circle round,” he said. “We’re in it to win it after this.”
“Good. We’ve run more today than I’ve run in months. I might possibly be out of shape.” The sound of Tony’s voice belied his words. His breath wasn’t coming too fast and he was wasn’t straining to keep up with Seth.
“You’ve got longer legs than me. I have to have run *twice* as much as your lazy ass.” Seth held his left hand out at his side, counting down three fingers before flipping his thumb in the down direction.
“Let’s do this,” was all Tony said. It made Seth wonder if he was really worth all the trust Tony was showing him. Then he decided that he was grateful for it.
They ran through a series of building and jumped between one parking garage to the next before getting back on track to their target.
There were no pursuers in sight, proof that they’d thrown off the hive mind. It wasn’t going to take very long before they were tracked down, but by then they should have set off their charges and would be free to hole up until the end of the world was over.
Triangle Park was a bright green beacon on their maps. The mileage counter at the corner of his map told Seth they were only 4.6 miles away from their goal.
They were almost there. Almost ready to do or die.
“When we get home, I’m going to make an ice cream sandwich cake with raspberry jam filling and chocolate cream cheese frosting. I’ve been wanting to try it for a while.”
“What are you talking about?” Tony asked.
Seth’s lips quirked, though he couldn’t quite manage a real smile at the moment. “I saw some pictures. Three ice cream sandwiches lined up one way, then three more on top in a cross hatch, then another three on top, all slathered with frosting before being sliced. It’s all chocolate graham crackers and vanilla ice cream. I almost licked the screen, the pictures looked so good. I don’t want to die without trying it first.”
“Hey, don’t talk like that. We’re not going to die,” Tony said.
“I know,” Seth said. “I refuse to die before I’ve eaten an ice cream sandwich cake. So we’re going to have to live through today. Deal?”
Seth turned his face forward and focused on running. He was feeling the burn in his legs and there was blood drying stiff on his sleeves, but he wrapped himself in the moment. Holding tight to the thought that they were going to go home and they would have something to celebrate when they got there.
All they had to do was complete their part of the master plan. It was simple.
Triangle Park had recently gone through a redevelopment. Millions of dollars had been poured into transforming it into the park version of paradise, with a splashing fountain, decorative fish pond, exercise area, children’s playground, and the kind of groundskeeping marvels that had seen the park featured in magazines. Only now there was a makeshift circus tent shrouding whatever project the drones were working on. Thousands of sheets had been sewn together into a rippling wall of white, red, and Spongebob Squarepants.
It should have been whimsical. Serious adult bedsheets interspersed with the sheets of childhood. An apparatus looming high in the sky to hold up a tent made out of bedsheets. It should have been a hint of the strange in an otherwise normal world, and instead it made Seth feel threatened.
Because whatever was behind that sheet tent, it was dangerous. It was something a single-focused hive mind had gone out of its way to hide from human satellites and their cameras. It was some secret weapon that was waiting to be unleashed.
Which was why Seth and Tony had been tasked with blowing it up.
Aliens were trying to get a foothold on Earth. There was a lot of suspicious activity happening in Star City, but the aliens were smart enough to keep things obscured. Which meant dozens of superhero groups had been given lists of probable targets before being sent out.
Any target could be the one that stopped the aliens. Any mission could be the one that stopped giant killer aliens from making Earth their new home. Each target had a chance of being the one that stopped a war. And no one knew which missions and which group was the important one.
So right now, examining the scene that was Triangle Park, Seth felt his focus tightening. This could be for all the marbles, and he refused to be the one to fuck things up.
“Good luck,” he breathed.
“You too,” Tony said.
Then they were moving in opposite directions, Seth headed toward the swan-topped fountain, Tony toward the gazebo. If they survived, they were to meet up past the East Gate on the far end of the park. If they didn’t survive… well, then they’d be dining in Valhalla and none of this mattered anyway.
There were drones moving around the big tent. Carrying planks of wood and coils of wire, tromping around in their own little world. Seth was glad not to be noticed.
He stayed to the peripherals, moving amongst the trees. He wanted to use the cover as long as possible before he was forced to expose himself. He felt like he had a target painted on his skin. One drone catching sight of him too soon and everything would be over.
As he walked, he dropped tiny thumbtack charges. Unless they were being shoved into a keyhole to blow the lock on a door, they were mostly a popping firecracker sound and a bit of light. But they could be activated with a simple remote, and he figured a bit of distraction would do him good.
Ghosting amongst the trees, he set the camera on his helm to 360-degrees and hoped it was recording everything. No matter what happened, Overwatch would appreciate the enemy intel. Even if they got it from a satellite transmission after he was already dead.
He knelt down to pile the last of the thumbtack charges on the ground and smoothed a handful of loose dirt on top of them.
He wasn’t looking to start a fire, but the surrounding brush was dry and he could hope a little. It would make the perfect distraction while he made his getaway.
Seth rose to his feet, slipping his pack into his arms, and moseyed around the edge of the park, trying to remain unnoticed. He was glad the aliens were in their own personal world for the most part. It let him walk right past the fountain and drop the pack under one of the benches.
He kept walking at a steady pace, ignoring the nerves crawling along his spine. He wondered how Tony was doing and hoped that he’d gotten away.
He drew even with a public restroom and reached into his pocket to toggle the detonator.
The thumbtack charges went off with a series of popping cracks that culminated in a mass detonation that was surprisingly loud. He saw drones running passed the bathroom and took the opportunity to head toward the East Gate.
* * *
Sweat was soaking through Tony’s shirt and paranoia made him think that he was being watched. He could be caught at any moment, though he kept walking.
*Five minutes*, he thought. That was how much time he had to get away before the bombs blew.
Seth had set up some kind of distraction, and how Tony hadn’t wet himself when the crackling-pops had gone off was a pure miracle. But the drones were still occupied, a gathering crowd circling the distant tree-line.
If Tony had a grenade launcher, they’d all be dead in two shots. The brain controlling the drones wasn’t very smart, or at least hadn’t learned human tactics yet.
There was a reason the precogs were saying this was the only time to prevent a foothold. Because once the Gate was open, the more dangerous minds would come through and straightforward guerrilla tactics would no longer work.
It was with a sigh of relief that he spotted Seth lingering at the East Gate. The drones wouldn’t have spotted him under the brush cover he was ducked behind, but to Tony’s HUD he glowed friendly green.
Tony walked past, not breaking stride, and Seth appeared at his side. They kept moving at an even pace as the clock in the corner of the HUD counted down to 00:00.
There was a flash of light behind them and the sound of a million birds chirping. Instinct had them breaking into a run, the noise dampening on their helms not enough to completely block the *sound*. To unprotected ears it must have been agony.
“What was that? I though those were bombs–you know, ones that go bang–but whatever that was did not seem like an explosion.”
“No clue. Keep moving.”
There was the echo of wailing cries around them, a harsh counterpoint to the shrilling bird chirp. Tony risked a glance back and saw drones writhing on the ground, hands clutching ears that bled red.
He spotted something shiny and metallic rising from behind one man and that was enough for him.
He faced forward and ran until his lungs ached. Fled the memory of whatever that thing had been, with spiderlike legs on a centipede body and a needle-ridged maw gaping where a mouth should be. All he knew was that he didn’t want whatever that was to touch him. Didn’t want it to find a home in his body, nestled snug along his spine as it fed through into his mind.
He ran as though his life depended on it and didn’t stop until the sound of birds was a distant memory.
They were squatting in a small two bedroom apartment. Wordlessly they shared the master bedroom, huddled around each other on the queen-sized bed. The door to the second room stayed firmly shut, the child’s single bed with its cartoon sheets undisturbed.
Tony hadn’t let himself dwell on the rust-colored stains on the playmat or the drag marks on the carpet. Definitely didn’t focus on the small size of the fingers that had made those marks, desperate and clawing.
There wasn’t a lot of food in the kitchen, but they had ration bars in their pockets and they made do. The last thing they wanted was to be wandering the city streets scavenging, not when the hive mind seemed to have changed tactics.
Drones had taken to the streets in roving packs. They hadn’t quite gotten to the point of doing building-by-building searches, but Tony figured it was only a matter of time. The hive mind was adapting.
They’d watched as a family of four was run out into the middle of the street. The woman had bucked and screamed as her husband was pressed facedown on the ground. The angle was bad, keeping Tony from seeing the details, but within moments the man was up, helping to hold down the two terrified children, then his wife.
Fifteen minutes later, the drone pack had four new members. They slunk off into the dusk in search of prey, gliding together as though they shared one spine. It had been a chilling display, one he couldn’t look away from.
“I feel like I’m trapped in a horror movie,” he said. They had fallen into whispers since leaving Triangle Park. It felt strange to be so afraid all the time, but Tony thought that he had forgotten any other way to be.
“There’s a reason why I don’t like horror movies.” Seth turned off the burner and carried the pot of ramen to their nest of couch cushions and blankets. He settled opposite Tony in a crosslegged position.
Tony blinked at him. “Uh, why don’t you like horror movies?”
Seth passed him a fork and an oddly shallow blue bowl. “Because they’re too much like my real life and I don’t need that kind of drama. Eat up. We’re supposed to call in tonight.”
Tony used his fork to scoop noodles into his bowl. At Seth’s frown he took some of the cut cabbage too. He was worried about the call in; it would be their first contact with command in two days.
They would find out how many of their comrades had died or been subverted by the enemy. He didn’t want to hear that they were alone, that the mission was a failure.
“When did saving the world get so hard?” he muttered.
“About the same time we actually started saving *the world* and not just a few people living on it. I mean, if saving the world were easy, then everyone would be doing it.”
Tony ate some ramen, careful not to slurp juice everywhere. “Saving the world is important. I think I’m going to ask for a raise when we get out of here. Like a cost of living increase or something.”
“Do you want me to go in with you? That way we’ll present a united front.”
Sitting in the darkened living room of the apartment, the curtains drawn tight over the windows to increase the cavelike intensity, Tony got an erection.
He was only half-hard, but it was accompanied by the realization that Seth was beautiful. Not soft and pretty like a girl, but beautiful in the way of a handsome man that was healthy and who took care of himself.
It wasn’t a sudden realization–Seth *had* been voted #5 on the list of Magnificent Metas–but Tony had never thought about it. He’d never had the reality of Seth’s beauty strike him like this, a burst of raw arousal, of *want*.
They could die at any moment, or worse. They were alone in a hostile city with no backup and no easy escape.
*I would fuck him*, Tony thought. He lowered his face over his noodles, hoping the steam would hide his blush. But the thought was in his head, the idea had been planted.
He wasn’t blind, he’d caught the interest in Seth’s gaze before, the speculation. There’d been times when he’d wondered what it would be like–who’d do what, touch where, how Seth’s mouth would taste–but he’d already fucked one teammate and had things turn bad. It wasn’t something he wanted to risk with Seth, who was his friend and had been so awesome and supportive.
Except here they were, Tony’s dick was hard, and they could be attacked at any moment.
It was stupid and dangerous. It was a risk that distracted from the danger.
But Seth’s lips were made for kisses. His shoulders were broad and his body was all lean muscle. And though Tony winced away from the idea of sucking Seth’s dick, he’d seen it enough times in the locker room to be curious about the feel of it in his hand. Would it be weird touching someone else’s dick, or would it be like handling his own from a new angle?
*What is wrong with me?* he thought. *Nothing*, the answer floated back.
It felt like a mistake, but it was something he wanted more than anything. If he was going to die, he was going to taste Seth’s mouth first. One kiss, one firm press of lips, one brush of tongue. *One time with his mouth wrapped around my cock*.
“Can I kiss you?” he blurted. His cheeks were burning hot, but he forced himself to meet Seth’s eyes.
“Can I kiss you?” Tony repeated.
Seth wore a disbelieving expression and he stared at Tony long enough to be uncomfortable. Then, “Okay.”
Tony’s heart was trip-thumping, but he didn’t hesitate. He set his plate on the floor and crawled close to Seth on his hands and knees.
He licked his chapped lips before leaning forward to press his mouth to Seth’s. He kept his eyes open and saw Seth’s lashes flutter as they kissed. Their tongues brushed and tangled.
Tony pressed close and closer to Seth, finally pushing Seth onto his back so he could straddle his thighs. Tony leaned over Seth, their kisses turning into a furious clash of teeth and tongue. He ground his hard on against Seth and felt an answering hardness as Seth rocked up against him with a desperate moan.
It was dumb to do this with danger so close, but Tony wasn’t going to miss this chance. They could die or be captured at any time. This could be their last opportunity.
*And maybe you’re fooling yourself*, he thought. *Who cares? I want this*.
Tony fumbled at the front of Seth’s shirt before remembering how the seals worked. He wanted to feel naked flesh against his own.
“Wait,” Seth said. He pressed his palms flat against Tony’s chest and pushed him away. “What are we doing?”
“We’re having sex,” Tony said. He wanted to grab Seth and grind their dicks together. He wanted more heady kisses. He wanted to come all over Seth’s face.
“But you’re straight.” Seth’s fingers caressed the front of Tony’s uniform shirt.
“I think I could better be described as bi-curious,” Tony said. “And the person I want to explore this curiosity with is you. Do you not want to?” If Seth said No, he would go to the bathroom and finish himself off, then they could pretend that nothing had happened.
“Well, I …” Seth chewed his lower lip, his gaze roving over Tony’s face. “If we do this, are you going to freak out?”
“Of course not,” Tony said. “We’re friends. If it doesn’t work out, then we can treat it as a lesson learned. But if it does work out, well, we can have great sex before dying.”
Seth snorted a laugh. “This is going to be a disaster,” he said, but his hands slid across Tony’s chest to grab his shoulders, pulling him down against him.
They kissed and touched, and somewhere in there they ended up naked and it was good. Seth’s skin was warm, almost hot, and Tony loved the feel of so much heat wrapped around him.
There was no penetration–Tony wasn’t ready for that step and they didn’t have any lube anyway–but they rubbed off against each other, Seth’s hand wrapped around both of their dicks.
There were kisses and caresses and the feel of Seth’s mouth sucking on his balls helped Tony’s decision to have sex with Seth again when they had more time and lube.
“Wow. That was awesome,” Tony said. He was splayed on the floor, his head resting on Seth’s shoulder.
“No gay freak out then?” Seth asked. He stroked his fingers down Tony’s side.
“Why would I freak out? That was great. I was a little afraid that I wouldn’t like the idea of another penis, but it was you, so whatever. Was it good for you?”
“Yeah. It was good.”
Tony tipped his chin so he could get a clear view of Seth’s face. It was a relief to see Seth’s pleased smile and know that he hadn’t managed to ruin everything.
Tony closed his eyes and relaxed, his body going limp. He’d been wound tight for days, fearing attack at any moment. It felt good to have the tension release his muscles.
Having sex with Seth should have bothered him. He’d never been attracted to another man before. He *should* be having a big gay freak out, except Seth was his friend. The orgasm had felt great and he wanted to have more with Seth.
*I’m not gay*, he thought. *I still like women a lot. But I can accept that I’m bisexual*.
Tony smiled and curled his body closer against Seth. He would nap before they called in to headquarters.
*And if I’m lucky, maybe I can get Seth to give me a handjob later*. Tony smiled contentedly.
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“Hush” has to be one of the greatest Buffy episodes ever made. Seriously. It’s creepy and compelling, and even considering the lack of dialogue, it has an amazing storyline.
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