Title: Tuesday Night
Author: Harper Kingsley
Genre: superhero, mm
WARNING: Some spoilers for “Pulse of the City”
The first time Carrie saw Teen Steel, it felt as though everything stopped moving in her chest. Her heart froze mid-beat and her breath caught in a gasp.
He was beautiful. Just this tall, gorgeous guy standing there, his black mask not hiding much of his face. His chest was so broad she thought that if she stood behind him she would disappear. Broad shoulders, narrow waist, and long muscled legs.
When she was a little girl she’d had fantasies of her “prince,” the man that would sweep her off her feet and that she would marry. He’d always been a rather indistinct figure in her mind, until now.
Teen Steel was the man she was going to marry. She didn’t have a single doubt.
Finding out that she was too late had to be the worst feeling she’d ever experienced. To come in one day and discover that the man of her dreams had already found someone else.
Every smile he gave *HER* made Carrie want to punch throats and rip out still beating hearts. Too bad she always had to be in control of herself, always had to pretend that everything was going to be okay even when she wanted to scream the world down.
Her brother Nathan kept giving her glances out of the corner of his eye like he wanted to ask her what was going on in her head. She ignored him and pretended like her world hadn’t been knocked off its axis when she wasn’t looking.
She maintained her control for as long as she could. Right up until things got to be too much. And in that moment, when chance presented itself, she’d already acted and there was no taking it back. She had to keep moving forward and if she was lucky it would be like it had never happened.
The blood would dry on her hands and fade away. And with it would go the memory of that *bitch* that had tried to keep Teen Steel for her own.
Because Carrie loved him the most, and she was going to make him hers.
* * *
Sometimes the loneliness ate away at him like a cancer. It made him writhe and scream and more than anything Tony wanted everything to be okay again. But that so rarely happened in life.
He cried himself to sleep on the bad nights. When everything was depressed and gray and so horrible it made him shake in misery, his whole body aching with loss. With every breath he took, he got farther and farther away from his center, becoming something else.
Her name beat the sound of his heart: *Ashley*. The only girl he had or would ever love.
When he got too melodramatic, Sunfire would toss something at him and tell him to “Get over it. I know it’s hard, but she’s gone and you’re still here. You need to live.” And it would be like someone had hit a switch deep inside and Tony would come back alive again. He’d been given the permission he needed to get past the death of her.
Loss was a swirling vortex beneath his feet trying to pull him down. He would fight it for a while, but there was no way he was going to be able to withstand such force for long. So one day he would slip and down he would go into the depths that only despair could take him, and who knew what would happen then? What could total loss get him to do?
Tony was grateful that Sunfire always seemed to show up when he was losing control of himself. And just having his friend around lightened the pressure on him, seeming to give him the air he needed to breathe.
Sunfire made him feel that everything was going to be all right, if not immediately, in the future at least.
They played video games and watched movies and Sunfire never seemed to mind when Tony wasn’t in the mood to talk. He seemed to make allowances in their relationship for times when Tony would be silent and moody.
It was funny how such a tragedy could have led to him realizing how great a friend Sunfire was. Always before he’d thought the man was irresponsible. He’d seemed the kind of guy that would forget birthdays and would never be around when he was really needed.
Tony had had his eyes pried open when he realized how thoughtful Sunfire was. Sure, Sunfire said dumb things sometimes, but he always remembered a promise and he always seemed to know what to say and what not to say during the emotional moments. It was actually pretty great.
But sometimes Tony wanted something more. He wanted the warmth of physical sensation. He wanted to bury himself balls deep in moist heat and let go of everything that had ever troubled him. Even if it wasn’t for forever, he needed that little bit of breathing room.
Which was how Tony found himself lounging on the couch in the common area with Solar writhing in his lap. She rubbed her naked breasts against his lips and her breath came in moaning gasps.
He’d never been overly fond of Solar–she was a little too chirpy for his tastes–but it had been a long time since he’d had anyone to hold onto. So he shrugged his mental shoulders and set about making love to her.
She made a high, keening noise in the back of her throat as he tongued her pussy. He had to use close to his full strength to keep her flexing thighs from crushing his head.
She was one of those people that could only make love to another metahuman. Anyone normal, she would kill in the heat of passion, which he figured might be a deal breaker for most guys. So he could understand why she’d been aggressive in approaching him earlier, her eyes heavy-lidded with lust as her small hands explored his biceps. And when she’d asked, he hadn’t seen any reason to say no.
They were two people using each other. He was using her to silence the screaming emptiness inside of him, and she was using him for sex. Though he wasn’t enjoying having to hold her back from crushing him. It took away from his enjoyment in the situation, though the sounds she made were almost worth it.
Tony had to consciously activate his ability, otherwise he was basically a normal human. It sucked during surprise attacks, but meant that he could otherwise have a normal life. He didn’t have to worry about killing someone in the heat of passion.
Ashley had only had normal human strength, so he’d never had to worry about her losing control. As long as she didn’t let one of her sonic vocalizations off in his face, there wasn’t much chance that she would hurt him. With Solar he didn’t have any kind of guarantee.
The danger wasn’t as exciting as he’d thought it would be.
Solar came with a ululating moan, then flopped sideways in a curve. Her legs were still splayed wide, her pussy shiny and wet from his saliva and her own natural juices. Her belly shivered with her shuddering breaths.
“You’re kind of beautiful like this,” he said.
She blinked heavy-lidded eyes at him. A catlike smile curved her kiss-swollen lips and her tongue flicked out for a second. Her white blond hair had flopped over one eye. She looked wild and wanton.
“I’ll be right back.” Tony got up from between her legs to walk toward the bathroom. It was just his luck that the elevator door entrance slipped open and Sunfire walked in at that moment.
Sunfire dropped the bags he was carrying and his mouth flopped open in surprise. His black sunglasses slipped down his nose as he stared over the top. “Y-y-you’re totally naked.”
“Yeah.” Tony dropped his hands in front of his crotch. “Sorry you had to get such an eyeful. I wasn’t expecting anyone to be here for a couple more hours.”
“S-so you want me to leave and come back later?” Sunfire asked.
Tony shrugged, then nodded. “Yeah. Do you think you can do that for me?”
Sunfire’s mouth closed with a snap, then he gathered the shopping bags and put them together by the door. “I will be back to put these away later,” he said briskly, looking anywhere but at Tony. “Make sure you disinfect the couch and anywhere else you’ve been.”
Tony couldn’t help laughing. “I promise.”
“Hmph.” Sunfire snorted, then walked right back into the elevator. “I’ll see you later.”
“See you!” Tony called. He caught Sunfire’s eye as the elevator doors slid shut and for a second he thought he saw hurt feelings there. It must have been a trick of the light.
He shook his head and continued his walk to the bathroom. He still had to pee and get some wash cloths for Solar.
Ashley had taught him to be thoughtful.
When he came back with a couple of damp face towels in his hands, he was surprised to see that Solar hadn’t moved. She was still sprawled on the couch, her legs splayed wide.
She’d looked sexy and beautiful while in the throes of passion, but now, in the cold light of sanity, he couldn’t help feeling bad for her.
If there was one thing he’d learned since Ashley’s death, it was how to read the level of sincerity someone expressed. Which made him realize that Solar had strong feelings for him. Like actual love feelings, which went way beyond the crush he’d thought she’d had.
All he’d ever felt for her were the emotions of an older teammate, but now she was grown up and she wanted more from him than he was willing to give. Except loneliness and desperation had eaten away at his scruples. He’d let himself do something he probably should regret.
And that was why he felt bad for her. Because she was so insignificant that he didn’t even feel guilty about taking advantage of her. In fact, he didn’t feel bad at all. She’d been the one to approach him; all he’d done was say “Okay.”
He should have hated the thought of being a user, but all he wanted right now was something to fill the awful emptiness at his core. The place where Ashley had been ripped from his heart in one act of mindless violence.
“Hey, I brought these,” he said, holding up the towels.
She opened one eye to look at him, then closed it and moved her head a little to the side, turning her neck into a long stretch of tendon.
“What’s wrong?” he asked. He took one of the cloths and began wiping her body clean.
“You’re not into me,” Solar said.
“What do you mean?” he asked.
Her large gray eyes opened to look at him. He felt as though he’d been stabbed in the chest. “I’m not stupid,” she said. “I can tell that you don’t really like me. And I like you enough that it doesn’t matter.”
“I’m sorry,” he said, not knowing what else to say.
She smiled, though it wasn’t a happy expression. “It’s all right. I’m a big girl.”
Tony chewed on his lower lip for a minute, then handed her the other towel he held. “Here, I want to get dressed. It was pretty awkward having Sunfire walk in.”
He picked up his clothes and began pulling them on. He could feel her looking at him, and it wasn’t as pleasant an experience as it had seemed before.
He felt like he’d made a big mistake.
Solar gave a bitter sounding laugh and stood with exquisite grace. “I’m gonna go take a shower. Why don’t you do whatever it is you do?”
“Okay,” he said.
He watched her leave the room, completely unselfconscious in her nakedness. She was well formed, tiny and pale with legs that seemed to go on forever, or maybe until they reached the floor.
Tony finished zipping his pants, then stumbled over to one of the recliners. He didn’t want to sit on the couch where they had just had their assignation.
He flopped down on the leather chair and gave a heavy sigh.
He’d thought that having sex with her would somehow make him feel better, but that hadn’t been the case. He still felt empty inside, drained of everything that had made his life worth living.
“Ashley,” he whispered, tasting tears he refused to let fall. He cradled his head in his hands, hunching his shoulders small.
She’d been dead for close to a year and it still felt as fresh and horrible as when he’d seen her limp and broken body cradled in her father’s arms. There’d been so much blood and bruised flesh that he hadn’t recognized her at first, until all of a sudden she was all that he saw. It was like some strange optical illusion, everything clicking into horrible clarity.
“Ashley,” he repeated, the sound of her name bringing him a terrible pain in his chest.
* * *
She’d never planned on feeling regret, but that was exactly what was flooding through her. No guilt, just the horror of disillusioned dreams.
Carrie scrubbed her body clean, wiping away every trace of *him*. The water was hot enough to burn her tender flesh, but she didn’t care.
From the minute she’d first seen him, she’d been sure that he was everything she ever wanted. Now she knew that she’d made one of the worst mistakes of her life. Not that there was anything she could do about it, not with Ashley firmly in the grave.
*I doubt her dad’s going to accept me just saying “Whoops.” There’s no way he would ever let it go if he ever suspected what I did*, she thought.
She curled her lip and rinsed the shampoo from her blond hair. Regrets were for losers, and there was no way she was ever going to fall into that trap.
As long as she pretended that everything was all right, eventually her lies would become the truth. Everyone would forget about Ashley and her lonely grave. And Carrie would never have to feel sorry.
Opening her mouth in a silent scream, she allowed herself one single moment of complete despair. Then she shut off the water, wrapped a towel around her body, and stepped out of the shower with perfect aplomb. Her bare toes flexed against the nubby green mat.
She dried off before pulling on her pale blue robe and leaving the bathroom.
She didn’t even glance toward the living room as she padded down the hallway toward her bedroom. It was attached to Nathan’s, something he’d insisted on. He was paranoid that something was going to happen to her, which was ridiculous.
If anyone tried anything she didn’t like, she would have no problem crushing every bone in his or her body. It was all about respect.
* * *
If there was one thing Seth had learned, it was to hide his complete and utter surprise when something crazy happened. Like seeing his best friend walking around the Demi Lair naked.
Seth walked down the street, ignoring the admiring glances he received. It wasn’t like he didn’t know that he was completely gorgeous, in costume and out. Genetics had been kind to the members of his family.
It would have been easy for him to pick someone up for a wild tumble. Unfortunately, the one person he wanted was completely oblivious and obviously straight.
Seth sighed. It was only strength of will that kept him from slumping his shoulders. He was Sunfire, and Sunfire never looked defeated and sad.
*Especially* when he felt defeated and sad.
He’d never wanted anything in his life as badly as he wanted Tony. The fact that he knew it was never going to happen only made it worse.
He wandered the streets for what felt like hours before he judged it safe enough to return to the Lair. He hoped he wasn’t going to walk in on anything truly horrifying. Though he couldn’t help the slight quirk of his lips at the thought of naked Tony. That was something he wouldn’t mind seeing again.
Sighing, he had to shake his head. Keeping secrets had never been something he was good at.
He paused for a moment in front of the elevator, fighting the urge to run in the opposite direction. He’d never thought he was a coward, but his hand trembled a little when he reached out to push the button.
It was with a sense of relief tinged with disappointment that he found Tony fully dressed. The air smelled of cleaning products, a lemony cleanser mixed with a floral air freshener.
He couldn’t help looking around. “Well, at least you did a good cleaning job. I’m not going to have to worry about catching something when I sit on the furniture.” He flopped down in his usual chair. “So where’d Solar go? Did she get all embarrassed about me seeing you guys and run off to hide?”
Tony shrugged despondently. “I don’t know. I think she’s in her room if she didn’t go out a window or something.”
Seth furrowed his brow. “What’s going on with you? Why are you so down?”
Tony sighed and hunched on the couch, his hands covering his nose and mouth. “I totally thought I was having a good time until it was all over and I realized that nothing was real. She’s not Ashley. And she’s not what I want. So how could I have had sex with her like it was perfectly all right?”
Seth sighed. “Why do you always have to feel things so deeply or whatever? You have to turn every situation into a soap opera, just all this drama and angst. Why do you have to do that to yourself? Why can’t you ever just be happy?”
“I wasn’t always like this.” Tony flopped sideways on the couch, bringing his legs up in a half curl that had Seth wondering if he should yell at him about shoes on the upholstery. Then he remembered that he didn’t care. “Everything was different when Ashley was alive.”
“No it wasn’t,” Seth disagreed. “You’ve always been a moody motherfucker. It’s like you can’t be happy for any length of time before you decide to wreck everything. Even when Ashley was alive, you guys were so on again, off again that we actually started a calendar listing your relationship status. And say what you will about Ashley–she could be a real, bullheaded bitch–she wasn’t the one that was always chafing at you guys having a relationship. That was all you, buddy.”
Tony gave him such a hurt look that Seth felt a stab of guilt, but he knew this was something that needed to be done. There was no way Tony was ever going to straighten himself out if everyone kept coddling him. He would keep insisting that he used to be different and he wasn’t always such a moody bastard.
“She was the one that broke up with me,” Tony said.
“Yeah, that last time,” Seth said. “All the times before that were all you. It was like you would reach a point of too much happiness and suddenly feel a desperate need to wallow in misery. So you would wreck everything, spend a few weeks bathing in angst and woe, then you’d be back scratching at Ashley’s door, desperate to get her back. Why did you always want to get her back?”
“Because she was the love of my life,” Tony said. He seemed shocked that Seth would come back at him.
“I don’t think that’s true,” Seth said. “I mean, sure, you loved her a lot. But at the end of the day, all she was was your enabler. She always came back to you no matter how much of a jerk you were. She’d take all your abuse and still come running when you called her name.” He shook his head, giving Tony a sad look. “I’m sorry, but your relationship was the farthest from a healthy one that I have ever seen in my life.”
“I can’t believe you would say something like that to me,” Tony said.
Seth shrugged. “It’s been a long time coming. And this whole thing with Solar… that’s a super bad idea right there. She’s on your team and you and I both know that you don’t really feel all that much for her, do you?”
Tony at least had the grace to look guilty. “I can already tell that things are going to be bad.”
“What do you mean?” Seth asked.
“She ran off, which isn’t a good sign.” Tony sighed. “I think I screwed up.”
Seth was surprised. He hadn’t expected Tony to accept being criticized, but here he was already moving past it as though it didn’t mean a thing to him. Which either showed a growing maturity, or more realistically meant that he was going to come back later ten times as hard.
If there was one gigantic flaw in Tony’s makeup, it was the way he refused to let things go even when he should. Hopefully it wasn’t going to be something that got him killed someday.
“It’ll be all right,” Seth said. “Solar is a big girl, and I’m pretty sure she’ll be able to handle everything. The one you’re going to have to worry about is Pulsar. Once he realizes what you’ve done with his sister… well, it’s not going to be too pretty.”
Tony grimaced. “I hardly thought of him at all. He’s going to try and kick my ass, isn’t he?”
“You did sleep with his precious sister.” Seth shook his head. “That dude’s gonna make you wish you were never born. He seems the type to hold a grudge too.”
“Great.” Tony scrubbed a hand down his face. “Why can’t everything be simple?”
“Because it’s never simple when you’re trying to replace someone with someone else. There was no possible way that Solar could ever take the place of Ashley, so all you did was end up hurting someone, which was kind of a dick move.”
“Well, my apologies your holiness, in the future I’ll maintain your crazy strict ideal.” Tony leaned his head back against the couch.
Seth couldn’t help running his eyes down Tony’s bared throat to his muscled chest and all the way down his long legs which were spread in casual abandon. He had to fight to keep from superimposing the image of naked Tony over the clothed one he was seeing now. That way only lay trouble.
“You just gotta be more considerate,” Seth said.
“*You’re* telling me to be more considerate?” Tony lifted his head to look at him in surprise.
“What?” Seth shrugged. “Have you ever seen anyone get so mad at me over something I’ve done that they’ve tried to beat me to death or anything? No. Why? Because I don’t mess around with peoples’ feelings. If you’re going to have mindless sex, stick to people that aren’t totally in love with you.”
“Wait, so Solar really is in love with me?”
Seth stared at him for a long moment. “You’re joking with me, aren’t you?”
Tony still looked confused. “You’re the one that said it.”
“Oh my God, you honestly didn’t know that Solar’s been panting after you from the first time she saw you? Where have you been living, underneath a rock?” Seth couldn’t help a twinge of pity for Solar, even though she wasn’t one of his most favorite of people. “How could you not have realized that she’s been trying to get into your pants for years? Her jealousy of Ashley could have melted steel with the heat of her passions.”
“Well, that’s pretty melodramatic.”
“Melodramatic, but true.” Seth reached into his pocket and pulled out a roll of Tropical Fruit Mentos. “Want one?” He offered the roll.
Tony scoffed. “No thanks. I’ve screwed everything up and you think eating a bunch of candy is going to make things better?”
“Hey, it can’t make things much worse.” Seth peeled the wrapper and ate the first candy off the roll. “They’re tasty.”
“Fine, give me one.” Tony held out his hand. Seth smiled a little and dropped a couple of candies into his palm. “Just watch everything get worse.”
“Who ever thought the great Teen Steel would be such a pessimist? I feel so disillusioned.” He shook his head mock-regretfully. “My dreams have been burst like soap bubbles.”
“Have you thought about being a poet or something?” Tony asked.
“That’s my fall-back job,” Seth said, “you know, if the whole being a superhero thing doesn’t work out.”
“Well, at least you have job opportunities. If things don’t work out for me, I’ll probably end up flipping burgers or something.”
Seth couldn’t help laughing, covering his mouth with his fingers.
“It wasn’t that funny,” Tony said.
“No, no, it was just that I had this sudden image of you in a paper hat slinging burgers. So funny.” He shook his head. “You’d be ridiculous.”
“Well, I’m glad that at least one of us is having a good time.” Tony laughed. “How do you do that?”
“Do what?” Seth asked.
Tony shrugged. “Make even the most God-awful days seem as though they can somehow be all right.”
“It’s a gift.” Seth licked his lips. “Look, I know you screwed up with Solar and all that, but I’m not going to hold it against you. And maybe someday she’s going to get over it. You better hope that Pulsar doesn’t end up killing you in the meantime.”
Tony grimaced, looking around. “Do you really think he’s going to come after me?”
Seth snorted. “You don’t? He’s obsessed with his sister. I doubt that anything would be able to stand in the way of him ‘guarding her honor.’ Least of all whatever excuses you could come up with.”
“Oh crap, I really screwed up, didn’t I?” Tony rubbed his face.
“I won’t let him seriously hurt you,” Seth promised, “but it’s going to be pretty awkward around here for a while. There’s a reason why you’re not supposed to mess around with your co-workers. One night stands are for people you’re never going to meet again. It’s to keep things from getting too ugly.”
Tony groaned. It looked like it was starting to sink in that he had screwed up. He looked so dejected that Seth wanted to reassure him that things were going to be all right. He knew he couldn’t, not if Tony was going to learn a valuable lesson anyway.
Seth didn’t plan on going anywhere, but sometimes things didn’t work out as expected. He wanted to know that Tony could handle himself. It was a lot better than having to scramble around cleaning up his mess afterward. Just because he liked the guy–probably more than he should–didn’t mean he was going to let himself be snow jobbed.
Seth sat beside Tony in silence. He knew there was going to be trouble and there wasn’t a whole lot he could do about it.
Tony had made his bed. Now they were all going to have to deal with it.
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