Real Men Wear Tights

High school can be tough for everyone. This is especially true when you're hiding a secret that can never be told.

http://archiveofourown.org/works/469179/chapters/811056

0Likes
0Comments
3034Views
AA

16. In Which...Holy Shit, What the Fuck was That?! Part 3

When her body finally stopped its metamorphosis, the only sounds to be heard were Deuce’s pitiful keens and the troll’s heavy, labored breathing. As John stared into the mutated troll’s eyes, what he saw terrified him to the bone. No longer was there a person in those eyes. They revealed no soul, no intelligence, no humanity. In their place was the hunger of a predator, the kind that hunts in the dead of night, the kind that terrorized man’s ancestors in the primeval jungles, the kind of predator that knew not the meaning of mercy.

And it terrified him.

Every instinct John had was screaming at him to flee, to put as much distance between himself and this predator as possible. It wasn’t just his instincts, either. The wind was tugging on his body insistently, either at its own behest or in response to his fear, he knew not which. He didn’t really care at the moment what the reason was. All he knew was that he had to get out of there, and get out of there, fast.

It was Hemogoblin who broke him of his temporary panic. The troll – who was technically standing between himself and this monster because he was about two steps closer than John was – turned slightly, never once taking his vision off the creature in front of him even as he managed to catch John’s eyes with his own. It was the sight of his partner’s luminous eye that broke him of his stupor, as his gaze was drawn like a moth to a flame to examine the rest of the troll’s features. He looked startled, but appeared to be taking it somewhat in stride. When John looked closely, he could tell that the troll’s jaw was clenched tightly, and surmised that he was probably gritting his teeth extremely hard. But he was still facing what was clearly freaking him out, and that gave John the strength to do likewise. After all, Hemogoblin was supposed to be the rookie hero, not him.

And now that he refocused his gaze on the monster the female troll had become, well, she wasn’t really all that scary. He refused to meet her eyes again, but when he looked at her face, he could still tell that she was a troll. She was just a troll hidden underneath a fuckton of deformed muscle and rage. He could deal with that.

Hemogoblin opened his mouth. “Okay, what the fu-”

That was apparently the signal to begin, because the creature let out an absolutely animalistic roar of fury that seemed to shake the entire room. As soon as the roar subsided, she slapped her arms to the ground and kicked off, cracking the wooden panels of the floor and propelling her through the air right towards the heroes like an out of control three hundred pound freight train.

Hemogoblin had the good reflexes to jump out of the way immediately, but John wasn’t as quick. Whereas Hemogoblin’s reaction had been to dodge the danger, John’s first instinct was to immediately concentrate a huge blast of wind into his good hand and to launch it at his attacker.

That part went off without a hitch.

He was completely unprepared for when she shrugged off the attack as if it had been nothing more than a gentle summer’s breeze.

He only had a single moment with which to simultaneously throw up as best a barrier as he could establish and to push himself out of the way, but he wasn’t fast enough to avoid a glancing hit to his right shoulder. The barrier was enough to avoid him immediately having his ribs snap inside his chest, but it wasn’t enough to keep him on his feet or to blunt the surge of pain that seemed to resonate throughout his body. He was going to be super pissed if that just broke his other collarbone.

Plowing through John’s body wasn’t enough of a stopping force for the berserk troll, apparently, because she kept on going past him, straight into the wall. She also impacted a workbench, tossing it onto its side and spilling its delicate contents all over the floor.

John tensed slightly as he felt a hand gently grasp his smarting shoulder, but a brief glance down revealed that it belonged to his partner. Hemogoblin helped him to stand, both of them never taking their eyes off of the creature now struggling to extricate itself from the remains of the workbench.

Hemogoblin grimaced. “This is fucking insane. We can’t fight in here, because she’s going to set something off and then we’re all going to be having a really, really bad day.”

“Agreed.” John tensed, looking around for options. He barely paid attention to the now unconscious Deuce, who had apparently been knocked cold by a piece of debris. Either that, or he’d fainted. His eyes landed on the door Hemogoblin had first entered from when they’d confronted Deuce, now opposite of where the troll had just pulled free of the wreckage and was shaking herself in fury. “Quick! Through the door!”

They bounded towards the door just as the troll hurled a wooden stool at them like it was a baseball, the furniture shattering into innumerable wooden splinters above their heads.

Once in the next room, John took a half a second to look around. The room was large and dark, the ambient light from the city streaming in through the windows along one wall and casting the entire room in shadows. This room was one he hadn’t investigated in his initial sweep because it had been dark and had showed no signs of being inhabited. That had been an enormous mistake, because now that he was inside it, he realized it wasn’t empty.

It was filled with stacks full of boxes marked Semtex.

“Holy shit, this was a terrible idea! Why didn’t you tell me there were even more explosives in here?” he asked, turning towards Hemogoblin. It had been him who had come in this way earlier, after all. John felt justified in believing that the troll should have warned him about this.

Hemogoblin didn’t feel the same, apparently, because instead of answering, he grabbed John by the shoulder and started running towards the door that presumably led back into the main hallway, pulling John after him. “I thought you knew something I didn’t, now run.”

He didn’t need telling twice. They’d only made it a few yards into the room when the door they’d just gone through shattered, along with parts of the doorframe and the surrounding wall. He didn’t look back to see the female troll enter, but he sure as hell heard her as she gave off another bone-rattling roar. At the sound of her careless thumping into the room after them, John offered a silent prayer to whatever deity was listening and racked his brain trying to remember anything his father had ever said about the volatility of Semtex.

Someone must have heard John’s prayers, because he and Hemogoblin made it out the next door and into the hallway without being exploded. That was little comfort, however, because not two seconds after they had cleared the room, the sound of the mutated troll crashing into the wall followed right on their heels.

Now that they were in the hallway, John realized that they’d traded lots of open space with the possibility of fiery explosions for the safety of no explosions but with a very narrow corridor in which to fight. With the troll’s propensity for bull-rushing them, that was not a good thing.

Hemogoblin had apparently had enough of running, because he turned a few yards down the hall and got into a low stance, leading with his right leg and hand outstretched.

Having ended up behind his partner just as he had in the first room, John put some space between them so that he could concentrate on gathering the wind. Now that he wasn’t being pressed to react instantly, he actually had time to build up some force.

When she finally made it through the door, they were prepared. Because his attack was ranged, John took the liberty of acting first. With a grunt of exertion, he threw all of the wind he’d been building up forward, curving it around Hemogoblin to slam into the female.

While he’d expected resistance, he hadn’t expected her to keep on plowing forward, albeit much more slowly. It was like trying to push a damn boulder up a hill. A bead of sweat rolled down the side of his head to be absorbed into his mask as he grunted in exertion, pushing even more power into it. The troll’s progress slowed further, but she was still coming. And if the growls and snarls were any indication, he was only making her angrier.

“Hemogoblin!” he shouted. “You ready? I can’t hold her much longer.” Which was true, because he wasn’t quite willing to dip into the dangerous portion of his power just yet.

But the troll was rock steady, his expression grim as he spoke. “Do it. Let her go.”

John cut the flow of the wind with an audible grunt, and stood back to watch what happened.

To his surprise, Hemogoblin didn’t actually strike at the berserker. He waited until she was mere inches away before he slid forward on his lead foot, his hand latching onto her left shoulder and giving it a sharp jerk, pulling her forward. With her shoulder now over-extended, Hemogoblin’s stance flowed so that he was positioned behind her, his grip never leaving her shoulder so that he was now pushing instead of pulling. All of this resulted in her losing her balance and falling forward, her momentum aided by the hero’s added weight. He followed her down, twisting his body to match her pace. And then she was on the ground, his right knee digging into her back while he pressed down onto her shoulder and wrenched it back with his left hand. It was a textbook redirection, beautiful in its execution. It was also extremely clever, because he’d apparently realized that with her muscles as they were, her center of gravity would have likewise been shifted upwards, making her vulnerable to takedown moves.

 

 

 

That position was also extremely painful, of that John knew from experience. Hemogoblin could actually dislocate or even break her arm almost effortlessly, like that.

It didn’t seem to matter to the female troll, however, because instead of howling in pain like one would expect, her snarling seemed to increase in volume. As he watched, the muscles in her arm actually seemed to bulge again, and she started breaking the hold through sheer strength.

Hemogoblin only held for another three seconds before he was forced to abandon the hold and retreat, though he didn’t get away unscathed. In another surprising burst of speed, the female troll twisted from her prone position, her arm flashing out to catch Hemogoblin along the midsection, driving the air from his lungs in a muffled whoosh and sending him sprawling.

John was already on the move as soon as he saw the hold failing, so that he was just in time to intervene as she went for a second vicious swipe. Taking advantage of the fact that she now had her back to him, John threw caution to the (metaphorical) wind and wrapped his right arm tightly around her neck, his left coming up to complete a very stiff rear naked hold.

He was almost immediately thrown off as the troll thrashed backwardds, actually causing John’s feet to leave the ground. That worked in his favor, however, as he drew on the wind and found purchase in the air, which now gave him a significant positioning advantage with which to execute the hold.

That didn’t stop her from trying to smack at him, so it was with a grunt of physical exertion that John let his restraint slip and started to apply more and more of his genuine strength, the strength that could bend steel in his fist and break bones without effort.

The deal was pretty much sealed when Hemogoblin struggled back to his feet and grabbed onto her flailing limbs, keeping them pinned to her sides so that she couldn’t hit either of them. Still, it took her quite a bit longer than it would for a normal person to fade into unconsciousness from the lack of blood flow to the brain. John held it for a good two seconds after she’d stopped moving, just to be sure, and then let her go, her body dropping to the floor like a particularly ugly sack of bricks.

As he backed away and leaned against the wall, the adrenaline draining from his system, Hemogoblin likewise slid down to the ground against the opposite wall.

“Goddamn. She hits a hell of a lot harder than Boxcars did.”

John looked at the troll in undisguised concern. “You okay? It looked like she got you pretty good.”

Hemogoblin nodded, though he winced when he brought a glove-covered hand up to touch his chest. “Thankfully, I anticipated the hit and hardened the blood around there to dissipate some of the impact. I think she would have broken some ribs if I hadn’t, and then we’d be playing ‘lets re-inflate our troll friend’s lungs.’ It’s not a very fun game, I’ve been told.”

John smiled weakly, doing his best to get that image out of his head. “No, I’d suspect not. What do we do with her?”

His partner frowned, gently nudging her hand with his foot. “We could tie her up, I guess, but I don’t think I have anything that could hold her. You?”

John shook his head. “I only carry zipties. Maybe we could go back and look for-”

He was interrupted by Hemogoblin’s hand blindly reaching for his right shoulder. John looked over to the troll’s face, but he was staring at the mutated woman, his features depicting something between awe and disgust. “Look, Heir.”

As John’s gaze joined his partner’s, he was just in time to witness the female troll almost shrinking as her muscles deflated into something that was more or less normal. The heroes watched in sick fascination as, over the course of an entire minute, her body returned to what it had been before, looking not much worse for wear beyond a handful of angry blue welts on her skin, and only shredded rags to cover her modesty.

The two shared a long look of silence before John sighed, his hand already dipping into the pouch by his hip. He withdrew both his cellphone and a ziptie. “At least now we don’t have to find rope,” he joked, handing his phone over to Hemogoblin. “Go ahead and call this in. I was going to earlier, but didn’t get the chance. Tell them to send all the bomb disposal units they can find.” He looked down at the female troll consideringly, his thoughts churning as he took advantage of her prostrate position to bind her arms together behind her back, where it would be considerably more difficult to escape were she to gain consciousness before the cops got there. But he didn’t see that happening anytime soon. “Tell them to bring hazmat, as well. While you’re doing that, we should go check back on Deuce, then get out of here.”

The troll nodded before he flipped the phone open and dialed the police, his feet mindlessly leading the way back down the hallway they’d come from as he effortlessly sidestepped the various indentations and scars in the floor left by the woman’s uncontrolled rampage.

The phone conversation was brief, with Hemogoblin relaying John’s message and their current location, as well as the fact that the man responsible for the police station bombing was unconscious on the third floor. As he hung up and passed the phone back to him, John mulled that over.

Deuce was a dangerous man. Not just because of what he was capable of when given the proper materials, but because of the information that he had on the Crew’s inner workings. He’d given them their best lead yet, with concrete information on how to strike at the cobra’s head and completely dismantle the Crew’s operations in his city. And now they were facing the exact same dilemma as they had the previous night: if Deuce’s bosses found out that he had been captured, with his head full of dangerous information, they were likely to completely change their routines and operations, and then they’d be back at square one. Even worse, there was the possibility that the Crew would repeat what they had done that morning and seek to silence Deuce before he was able to tell the cops anything. And the last thing they needed was yet another bombed police precinct. That left only one option.

They had to strike. Now. He just hoped he could convince Hemogoblin of as much.

John sighed. So much to do before the night was over. Still, if it meant that his city would be at peace, then it was well worth it. Which was another thought: his city had forgotten what peace tasted like, and the Midnight Crew had only been openly acting for maybe a single week, if that. Already, it felt like months had passed.

Passing through the room of explosives was just as nerve-wracking as it had been the first time, but he figured that if nothing had gone off with all the destruction that that woman had wreaked, then there probably wouldn’t be anything going off, period.

The door to Deuce’s workshop was gone, bits and pieces of it strewn everywhere. Deuce himself was curled up in the foetal position in the corner where John had last seen him cowering, a small puddle of blood surrounding his head. As he walked over to the man and kneeled to check his pulse, Hemogoblin found something else to occupy his attention on the floor.

“Deuce is fine. Looks like he has a pretty nasty gash, probably from the shrapnel from when our friend in the hallway bulldozed that workbench. I hate how much head wounds bleed,” John sneered, his nose wrinkling in distaste as he relieved Deuce of the handkerchief in his breast pocket and pressed it firmly to the wound.

Hemogoblin made a noise of interest in the back of his throat, though his eyes never left the object that was now in his hands. “Take a look at this, Heir,” he said, a gloved finger pointing to a small, handwritten label attached to the injection gun’s vial. “You ever heard of anything called ‘Red Miles’?”

John stood up and crossed the room to his partner, coming to stand right next to him as he looked over the empty vial. “No. You’d think we’d have heard of it before if it did that to someone.”

Hemogoblin nodded, twisting the injection gun around in his hands as he looked for any other identifying marks. “No kidding. That was some straight up comic book shit, right there. Incredible Hulk level, though I doubt the Midnight Crew was able to get its hands on some type of gamma ray device. But maybe the super soldier serum isn’t that far of a stretch. Do you think that’s what this Red Miles is?”

John’s eyebrows raised of their own accord at his partner’s reasoning. While almost anyone could tell you that the Hulk was a product of gamma radiation, the fact that he was sometimes considered a product of a failed super soldier serum was a bit more esoteric.** He was impressed. “It’s possible, I guess? That seems like a really advanced piece of science for a criminal organization to be in possession of, but I guess anything is possible. I can’t really think of anything else that could explain whatever the hell that was, though if it’s a super soldier serum, it’s a pretty shitty one. It only lasted a few minutes, and she clearly had no control over herself whatsoever.”

Hemogoblin let out a “hmm” and set the injection gun down on a table before looking back up at him with those incredibly expressive eyes. “That’s true. I suppose that if we want answers, we’ll have to go straight to the source, huh?”

John straightened. “You mean you want to go tonight? I was just thinking of a way to ask you, but I wasn’t sure if you were up for it after what we’ve already experienced.”

Hemogoblin snorted, that playful look of his finding its way onto his face as he stared at John appreciatively. “I’m fine. Thanks for the concern. But are you okay? How’s that left side of yours doing? That fight couldn’t have helped whatever is wrong with it.”

John lifted his left arm up slowly and held it level, showing that it was steady. The movement wasn’t without pain, but it did prove that he wasn’t actually physically limited in his movements. “It’s my shoulder that’s bothering me, but it’s not that much of a hindrance. I think we need to strike tonight, or else we won’t get another chance this easily.”

“If you’re hurting, we could always inform the cops and let them take care of this?” the troll suggested, the playfulness in his smile now being replaced by concern.

That was touching, but John shook his head. “That’s not an option. The police take time. Time to get a warrant, time to do surveillance, time to gather a team. We can be there in ten minutes, stake them out for half an hour, strike immediately after, and be rid of the Midnight Crew by the time dawn arrives.”

Hemogoblin stared at his partner for several long, drawn-out moments, to the point that John was starting to feel a little awkward under the troll’s scrutiny. Finally, he nodded, conceding that John had a point. “However,” he started, his left hand reaching up to gently rest against John’s right shoulder, “if your shoulder starts giving you any trouble the rest of the night, you tell me, got it? We’re partners now, and partners support each other. You asked me earlier if I’d watch your side, and I do intend to do that. Clear?”

Though John was being greatly distracted by the pleasant warmth that accompanied the troll’s contact, he had enough wherewithal to nod. “Clear.”

“Good,” Hemogoblin grinned, his mouth stretching again into the playful smirk that John was almost definitely falling for. “Now, let’s go visit a strip club.”

 

///

Notes:

Be sure to scroll to the end of the page for bonus comics.
*Naked Pizza is a real pizza place actually located 20 minutes drive from where we put John’s house. We are thorough.
**I know that is only true in the Marvel Movie universe and not the main comic universe, but bear with me, here. It was a great way to bridge the topic from Hulk to super serums.

 

Yes. You read that correctly. Our boys are going to a strip club. One can only imagine the kind of shenanigans that are going to ensue. Also, I can't be the only one who is starting to get frustrated with John, right? Make a move on one of those trolls already, yeesh. Selora (the female troll who Hulked out) belongs to Stelera, who requested her OC get a cameo as a birthday gift. We also have a very special cameo from a contest winner in one of these panels. Can you spot him?

If you don't follow us on our tumblr, then you might have missed the announcement that Panic has had to step down from this project, in which case you were probably really confused as to why all of the panels look different from their normal style. We are very pleased to welcome Jove to the team, and extremely excited to showcase her excellent work. I think she did an absolutely wonderful job here, and I am more excited than ever to have her on the team. Speaking of Jove being amazing and us being smitten with her, she has also done up three yonkoma for the chapter:

   

 

Join MovellasFind out what all the buzz is about. Join now to start sharing your creativity and passion
Loading ...