by Seishin No Uwagi (精神の上着)
illustrated by enkaiein
Dark Ash checks the download bar: 92% complete and 7.3 minutes remaining. His eyes flick up to the analog display in the upper right corner of the screen. Yep, still got plenty of time. Puta tiempo es todo lo que tengo esta noche…
Ash maximizes his solitaire window and squints at the messy spread that still defies the imposed order of his adjudicating cursor. He cycles through the stockpile, ready to pounce hawk-like on any opportunity that presents itself, but by the third time through he’s forced to accept he’s been dealt a cat’s game. This means there are only two options remaining to him: surrender with grace, or cheat and reshuffle. It’s anybody’s guess what infinite arms of possibility and consequence hinge on this one fundamental decision. The fate of the entire world could very well rest in his hands. He considers his menu options with all due gravity.
The dramatic tension of the moment is slightly cheapened by the chorus of moaning and squelching sounds coming from his speakers. It’s kind of awkward, but he purposely left the audio high, figuring it was a good way to keep tabs on the situation without having to watch the jerky video feed that’s playing around and behind the edges of his game window. Ash knows he’ s a bit of a freak for ignoring what is fundamentally free porn (Amateurs Gone Wild – Date Rape Edition!) in favor of an electronic card game, but the second story ventilation duct of a psychiatric ward undergoing a hostage situation isn’t exactly the best place to jerk off. He can’t spread his knees for one thing.
Speaking of dicks… Ash clicks over to the video feed and gets a brief glimpse of gyrating white flesh and pixelated couplings before switching to the traffic camera view recording from across the street. Yep, looks like SWAT has arrived. The douchebags are trying to batter the front door down. He gives them the proverbial finger, wishing the video resolution wasn’t such crap. He’d love to see their faces when they realize the doors are soldered shut from the inside and the entranceway collapsed to the second hallway. Tendrían más suerte clavando sus madres (to put it delicately), and that’s not even considering the various lethal booby traps and pit falls scattered around and throughout the building. It’s not Ash’s work for once, but he feels no shame in capitalizing on the hard labor of others.
The small chime from his speakers is almost lost in the sharp slapping of flesh on flesh. Time to wrap things up, at least on his end; he has a feeling the party upstairs is just getting started. He closes his game and launches the chem analyzer program he wrote the night before. The download bar shows 100%, so he loads the new files and runs them through his program. While the data compiles he sends a self-destruct command to the air sampler unit he smuggled into the Doctor’s playroom on the seventh story. Even over the audio feed he can hear it fizz and short out, but nobody in the room notices the tiny flash or the bit of smoke; they’re all far too preoccupied. Well, that, and drugged out of their minds.
Doctor Carson Reynolds (or Doctor Disorder, as he has tediously dubbed himself) is quite the piece of work. Trained as a psychiatrist but burdened with the soul of a pompous thespian, Dr. Reynolds didn’t so much turn to a life of crime as neglect to keep his hands and feet inside the moving vehicle of good citizenry. In short, the guy is a grade ‘A’ poseur. Ash didn’t want to come at all, but Echo decided that Disorder’s latest scheme had potential and arguments with Echo have a tendency toward never happening, ergo Ash prepared himself for a horrific waste of time and a rousing date with his computer monitor.
But now, looking at the chem analyzer’s results, Ash admits himself impressed. It’s a devious little molecule, smaller than the microfibers on most gas masks and crafted so as not to alert the body’s natural defense systems. It attacks the nervous and the endocrine system, a nuclear warhead of Fuck-You-Up gift-wrapped in a package ten times smaller than a dust mote. This thing could topple nations, could be programmed as a poison or as a mind control serum, and Dr. Pendejo is using it as an aphrodisiac.
The first naked people appeared a week ago, wandering the streets with absolutely no memory of where they were or what had happened to them. Medical tests show they had engaged in sexual activity, and the memory loss suggests exposure to ecstasy or Rohypnol, but no trace of the drugs can be found in their systems. Echo has a thing for mysteries, or eviscerating them anyway, so it doesn’t take him long to uncover that Doctor Disorder is the agent behind the attacks. This is pretty disappointing to be honest, like finding out there’s a pasty white guy inside Darth Vader’s armor, but if anything the motive is worse. Doctor Disorder’s grand scheme, his dastardly plan of epic evil, is to swamp the world in love, one unwilling victim at a time. Now, whether this is a weak justification for his own personal perversions or a prosaic case of clinical insanity is anybody’s guess, but considering the doctor’s own genitals were bitten off in an alleged rape attempt, Ash is assuming it’s a fair mixture of both.
Ash turns down the volume of the video feed as he runs a few preliminary tests, interested to see what the compound can do. He only has his laptop and wrist computer to work with so these are fairly basic trials by necessity, but the early findings certainly don’t disappoint. When he finishes, he emails the results and the program outputs to Echo and saves a backup copy on his retractable USB drive. Ash is preparing to pull out, closing windows one by one, when a blur on the video feed catches his attention. His cursor hovers over the ‘x’ as Doctor Disorder moves into the frame. They both stare as the blur forms into an angular silhouette, standing just outside the observation window of the Doctor’s playpen. Strange, none of the hall rigs or proximity alarms have been triggered; the guy must be mildly competent. Ash isn’t impressed exactly, but he can concede a bit of interest.
Disorder recognizes the newcomer; it’s obvious in his body language. Ash takes manual control of the camera, rotating it on its axis to center on the window. The silhouette fades in and out of focus before finally resolving itself into an all too-familiar-sight. Ash’s heart jumps in his chest, the blood flow in his veins becoming a thick pulse as he realizes who has crashed the party. And to think, he’d expected the evening to be boring.
Doctor Disorder is talking, Ash knows because of the flamboyant and unnecessary gestures he’s making. Ash turns up the volume on his monitor until it maxes out.
“…wasn’t expecting you, BoyMercury. I’m impressed that you made it this far. But it grieves me to say, your efforts have all been for naught.”
Ash cringes on behalf of all self-respecting supervillains everywhere. He likes ’60s spy flicks as much as the next guy, but that doesn’t mean he takes his fucking lines from them.
“Since you’re here I suppose that Thanatos is lurking close by.” Disorder continues. “Death from the shadows, isn’t that right? Perhaps you sought to mislead me, but I know Thanatos would never send his precious sidekick into danger unaided.”
“Yeah, look, about that,” the voice is muffled and tinny, but still recognizable as Mercury’s. There’s a mocking lilt to his tone and Ash can just imagine the open grin he’s wearing behind his mouthpiece. “Thanatos wanted to come, but then the toilet clogged up and there’re only so many pieces of shit you can deal with in one day. Sorry. You understand.”
It’s obvious that Doctor Disorder is reading from a script he’s worked out in his head, and nowhere on it are the words ‘toilet’ or ‘pieces of shit.’ He’s at a loss, rather angry, and probably wants to stick a gun in Mercury’s face. Ash knows the feeling.
“So, you gonna let me in?” Mercury asks, tapping on the glass.
“You would like that, wouldn’t you, BoyMercury?” Disorder grabs the cue like a lifeline, deciding to carry on as if the last five seconds haven’t just happened. “I must admit I would like that too. Come in, come in please, you will find the door unlocked. Come and join the fun.”
Mercury hesitates, and that’s not like him at all. Ash has seen him leap balcony railings – gleefully – without knowing whether there was anything on the other side to land on. Maybe the jackass has finally learned some self-preservation.
Disorder follows Mercury’s gaze over his shoulder and they both stare at the wanton display occurring off camera. Ever helpful, Ash’s mind flashes him some stills it’s taken from earlier in the evening, his imagination animating them and providing the proper sound effects. Disorder is entertaining maybe three or four couples, mostly patients, but a few doctors and nurses as well – not that you can tell with their clothes ripped off and their hair plastered all over their faces (y aquella mamacita, me cogería a ella). “What’s wrong?” Disorder asks, not taking his eyes from the scene. “Is BoyMercury intimidated by a little adult fun? Don’t worry, sweet child, one breath and all of your inhibitions will fall away.” The doctor demonstrates, releasing the breath with a sigh. “Pure, unadulterated lust. Don’t tell me you’re not curious. Come in, and I’ll teach you.”
Suddenly Mercury is staring at Ash, staring straight into his eyes, and it’s enough to make him jolt and hit his head against the top of the vent. The thin metal buckles and pops back into place with a snap like rumbling thunder. Ash curses as the sound ripples away into the darkness, glad he’s nowhere near the seventh floor.
“Oh dear, you’ve noticed the camera.” Disorder is saying. “That does spoil a bit of the fun. I had hoped to capture the young, wholesome BoyMercury servicing one of my guests.” The leer he drags over the boy’s body is blatant and invasive. “I’m sure you’re a remarkable sight under that armor, and in action, I can only imagine.” Disorder tilts his head back as if he’s doing just that. He doesn’t notice Mercury curling his gauntlets into fists. “But I shouldn’t presume to know your tastes, perhaps this makes the prospect more intriguing for you? No?”
Mercury smashes his fist through the glass, hooking Disorder behind the neck and jerking him forward to bash his face against the window. The doctor stumbles back, leaving behind a spider web of cracks, and Mercury catches him on the rebound, only to smash his face in again. This time the glass shatters, the interior air escaping with an audible hiss. Mercury is standing directly in the stream, and when he takes that first breath, Ash is taking it with him.
Disorder slides to the floor, his face a wreck. Mercury watches him fall, shoulders back, looking every inch a hero. It kind of pisses Ash off; the guy thinks he’s so great because he played bug-on-the-highway with Disorder’s face? Hell, Ash could’ve done that. He’s glad Mercury’s smart enough to drop the act whenever they hang out together, otherwise… habría muchas problemas. When he’s done looking noble, Mercury carefully works at the glass around the hole, breaking off large panes and setting them aside until there’s enough room for him to safely duck through.
Mercury steps into the playpen and Ash finally gets his first clear look at him. He’s not used to seeing Mercury in his hero gear; when they meet up during their off-hours he’s typically sporting his leathers and a motorcycle helmet, or sometimes his visor. Looking at him now it’s no mystery why Mercury ditches the suit whenever they go climbing; the armor must weigh a solid quarter ton. Still, Ash has to admit that he’d bear the weight too if he could walk around looking like that. With the gauntlets, tactical treads, jointed armor and combat helmet, Mercury looks like he just spawned out of a Halo game. It’s pretty fucking awesome.
Meanwhile, the hostages are still going at it like energizer bunnies and, it must be said, pretty cavalier about the whole, sudden liberation thing. Mercury doesn’t seem to take it personally; then again he’s not rushing in with the cavalry either. Eventually, Mercury walks up to one and taps her on the shoulder. Ash scoffs. Mercury has no idea what’s going on; what’s working its way through his system even now. Not getting the desired response, Mercury simply leans over and picks her up. When her partner objects he does the pragmatic thing and punches him in the jaw – not hard, the guy is only dazed, but it gives Mercury enough time to get her out of his general vicinity and that’s all it takes for the guy to decide that ménage à trois is more his style anyway. The woman isn’t too upset about the tag team either. Ash watches as she pushes her breasts against Mercury’s visor, rubbing herself on the molded metal of his breastplate.
Mercury stumbles, his arms flailing, and Ash can’t help grinning at what a doofus he’s being. The guy has to stop to literally peel her off his face. Next he tries a firemen’s carry. It’s a smart move; anybody who’s ever had an armored shoulder shoved in their gut and then proceeds to bounce up and down on it knows it’s a very difficult position from which to maintain one’s libido. Then again… Ash has a great view when the woman suddenly reaches down and grabs Mercury’s ass. The hero almost impales them both on the jagged edges of the observation window. He pulls her higher up his back and she’s left to stroke at his hips and shoulders. Mercury disappears down the hallway.
Ash switches camera views, keeping pace as Mercury makes his way to the front of the building. He reaches an open window, what looks to be his original point of entry, and calls down to the police still spread out below. Whatever he says causes a flurry of activity. The street view camera shows a whole fleet of ambulances and fire trucks being maneuvered into position, but when they bring out the ladders, Mercury waves them away. Vaya, perhaps he hasn’t underestimated the power of the drug after all. Mercury props the woman against the wall while he digs through a pile of gear left under the window, pausing intermittently to remove her wandering hands from various parts of his anatomy. Finally he ties her into a blanket, creating a cradle and harness out of the remaining lengths of rope. He lowers her into the crowd and then he’s off to fetch another one.
Doctor Disorder is the last to have his unconscious ass thrown out the window into the paternal arms of the police below, and by then Ash has used his laptop to hack into the local dispatch frequency. Mercury has ordered a cease-and-desist on the forced entry into the building. He’s going to do a final search for any remaining persons in the ward and then the whole place is going to be boarded up for a week. Fine, whatever, it makes Ash’s life easier.
Mercury is showing a distinct lack of coordination by the time he drags Doctor Disorder out of the playpen. Ash finds this remarkable only insofar as it’s taken the drug so long to manifest itself. The super boy has always been one for impulsive action, always committing himself before thinking things through. It’s why Thanatos keeps him on such a short leash and Ash isn’t surprised that his recklessness has proven to be his downfall. What he can’t decide is whether this falls under poetic justice or if karma is simply a perverted bastard.
Mercury decides to start his sweep in the playpen. He scans the corners of the room and bends to peer under the sparse furniture. Without the chorus of pants and groans, the audio feed is mostly pumping out white noise, but that just makes Mercury’s ragged breathing all the more obvious. The sound affects Ash more than it should, and he realizes that in all their time together – the near-death experiences, the crazy escapades – he’s never once heard Mercury out of breath. He tries to swallow around a dry throat, wishing he’d had the foresight to bring his water pouch, but who would have thought he’d need it sitting in a fucking air vent?
On his monitor, Mercury is looking pretty bad. He stumbles toward the back of the room and Ash gives the camera a few taps to keep him centered. This is a mistake. Mercury’s head shoots up at the sound and for the second time that night Ash is staring straight into the reflective sheen of his visor. It’s a moment frozen in time, Ash under the absurd impression that Mercury can see him and Mercury probably wondering ‘what the fuck is going on with the camera?’. He approaches warily, his gauntleted hand trailing on the wall, and as he reaches toward the camera Ash gets a close up view of the stress lines around his visor, the hummingbird pulse beneath his jaw. The screen goes black.
His eyes dart to the camera status at the bottom of the window. It’s still online, just turned off. With his senses muffled by the sudden darkness, it finally registers how light-headed he feels. Ash tries to find his center, to take in a full, grounding breath, but it lodges in his throat and his stifled coughs can’t seem to make it past the filter of his mask. Ash is choking on his own CO2 and suddenly it’s too much, too smothering. He pushes his hood back and takes hold of the zipper at the back of his neck, unzipping the concealing fabric down to his shoulders, letting in an unimpeded lung-full of the cool, dry air. Years of training mean that his eyes have already adjusted to the darkness of the vent, so he closes them to slits before hitting the key on his laptop that turns the camera back on.
Mercury hasn’t made it far. He’s backed up against the wall, caught as if in mid-slide, his knees bent and head back. His mouth guard is off, and his helmet too, though the visor remains to cover his eyes. Ash guesses that this precaution is probably more from ingrained habit than any conscious decision, especially since Mercury seems well beyond those at the moment. There’s sweat dripping from his chin and when he reaches up to wipe it away his hand is shaking. Ash doesn’t miss when the other one strays down to the join between his legs, pressing ineffectually against the unyielding armor. Mercury leverages himself upright but can only manage a step before he stops and hisses in discomfort. Finally he drops onto a footstool, his legs open and his face in his hands. The muscles under his armor twitch and he lets out a long, low groan.
Ash turns the camera off; turns them all off, one by one, and finally shuts his computer down. He stares into the blackness of the vent, his mind circling around what he’s just seen. He knows Mercury has a hardy constitution – hell, the guy once downed an entire keg without taking a breath or breaking a sweat – but Ash analyzed this compound himself and he knows how pervasive it is. Mercury resisted for an admirable amount of time, but chemistry will out. Carefully, Ash begins to back out of the vent.
It’s not until he’s scaling the inside of the elevator shaft, jumping between the cables and the car tracks three stories up, that he thinks to ask himself ‘qué chingados, just what the fuck are you doing exactly?’. The knee jerk response is ‘one-upping Mercury,’ and that satisfies him for at least another floor.
Ash doesn’t slip exactly, more like he feels his hold weakening and so shifts to another wire, but it’s enough to remind him that his job is technically over and there’s absolutely no reason for him to be risking himself this way. Worse, he’s doing it to seek out an active and unpredictably compromised superhero, a super-powered superhero, to, what? Taunt him when he’s down? But Mercury isn’t just some superhero, Mercury is… Mercury.
The thought makes him angry, and he’s professional enough to take a break to even his breathing before continuing the climb. “Mercury is Mercury?” What the fuck does that mean? They’re friends, sure, for almost a year now, ever since Mercury chased him across the Galatinian church spires and half of West Burro. Ash remembers the thrill of that chase, and the desperation of being only one step ahead of the hero long after he should have been eating Ash’s dust. He had used every trick he knew, had called on all his considerable climbing and acrobatic prowess, and this guy, this n00b, with no technique and no style, made jumps and kept holds that shouldn’t have been physically possible. It wasn’t fucking fair. When Mercury finally cornered him between a sheer wall and a twenty-two-story drop, Ash was prepared to fight for his life. What he wasn’t prepared for was BoyMercury peeling off his helmet and his mouthpiece, giving him that shit-eating grin and saying, “Dude, how did you do that?”
And that’s Mercury. The only reason why it works at all is because Mercury doesn’t take the hero thing seriously. He doesn’t really care about ‘legality’ or ‘justice’ or vanquishing evil. Well, he cares, but not like Thanatos cares. Not like Echo cares about subverting the system or even how Ash cares about following in his mentor’s footsteps. No, it’s just a job to Mercury, a job and a game, and the professional lives they lead are bit parts easily thrown off after the curtain falls.
So, technically, the only problem with his thing with Mercury is that it’s a really fucking bad idea. Sometimes he wonders what Echo would do if he found out. No, strike that. He knows what Echo would do, what he wonders is if he would survive it. Just the thought, just imagining the expression on Echo’s face, is enough to make his stomach clench likes he’s swallowed molten lead and it’s eating its way through his bowels, boiling his blood to steam and fusing his organs to his spine, and there’s flames and acid and lightning bolts and… well, that’s why he doesn’t think about it very often. But reality can only be kept at bay for so long, he’s learned that lesson the hard way (and isn’t that the fucking understatement of the year), and it’s never a bad idea to have a few contingency plans.
The only thing that might, might, save him if Echo ever finds out, is if he can convince him that the whole thing was just a recon mission: learning the secrets of their enemies, uncovering their weaknesses, y tal y cual, yadda yadda bullshit. Of course Echo isn’t stupid enough to believe it, but if he can give him a face, maybe a name, to go along with Mercury’s superhero handle, it might be enough to spare Ash from complete and utter annihilation. There’s even a slim chance that Echo might… approve.
And here – fallen manna from heaven – is just the chance he needs.
He reaches floor seven. Opening the elevator door is a simple matter of lifting up the interior latch the car would trigger upon arrival. Ash shoves at the latch and takes hold of the door counterweights, pulling down with just enough force to create a crack in the seal. He slips his portable air sampler through, waiting for an all clear before hauling the counterweights down the rest of the way and stepping into the hall. The doors close behind him with a soft bang. He heads toward the playroom, keeping half an eye out for the trip wires and detonators he mapped earlier and the other half on the air sampler.
So. It’s a simple plan: go in, unmask Mercury, maybe mock him a bit, get out, and he’s golden. Not bad. The flip side, of course, is that it’s rank betrayal of his friend, but he figures that’s inevitable really. They chose their sides a long time ago and his is by Echo’s. No point in fighting destiny. And as for this particular betrayal, well, Mercury will never know, will he? That’s the beauty of the thing. Ash can get his collateral and keep Mercury too. They’ll keep hanging out as if nothing had ever happened. It’ll be just another one of Mercury’s endless stories, the time he got drugged and blacked out and woke up in a public fountain with his underpants around his head. Hilarious.
The plan seems logical, smart even, so then why is his pulse hammering like he’s facing down the abyss? There’s a heat in his gut, worse then any sucker punch, but instead of a burn it’s an itch, one he would shred to a bloody mess if only he could get his fingers on it. For a moment he thinks it’s conscience, that long forgotten phantom from his past, but there’s nothing to feel guilty about. Mercury isn’t going to know… won’t remember a thing… is probably far-gone already. Ash remembers the way he was shaking, the white-knuckled grip on his leg where even the Kevlar re-enforced padding was buckling under the strain. Mercury is strong. Strong enough to snatch Ash out of the air during a six-story free fall. Ash hadn’t needed the rescue, had already had his grappling gun out and primed, but then Mercury just reached out and grabbed him. His hand had gone white around Ash’s arm but he lifted him without even a tremor. It left a bruise, a deep muscle contusion that lingered for weeks, but Ash doesn’t remember it hurting. It felt…
No. He isn’t gay, he isn’t. And he isn’t insecure about his masculinity either, or whatever the fuck it is that faggots are always accusing people of. Ash gives himself a mental slap. Ponte las pilas, güey. Somehow he’s gotten off his game. Still, it’s the simple truth. When he sizes up a guy he’s looking at his stance, his balance, how quick he is on his feet; not his ass. This has nothing to do with dicks and everything to do with Mercury. That brings him full circle again. What the fuck is the deal with Mercury?
Ash’s head is a hedge maze and he’s so lost in it that it barely registers when he passes the playroom door. He slaps a hand over his mouth and nose, holding them closed, wondering why he didn’t put his mask on when he had the chance. The answer is the immediate burn in his lungs. With his pulse turning over like a hamster wheel, zipping the lycra-blend back over his face is just about the last thing he wants to do. Not that it would make a difference anyway. His eyes lock on the air sampler and he just about sags in relief when it reports back negative. He sticks it through the hole in the observation window as well. All clear. It seems that whatever remained of the drug has fully dissipated since Mercury used Dr. Disorder as a doorknocker.
He hesitates at the gap in the window, broken glass crunching under foot. He doesn’t look in, not yet, waiting for… what? An invitation? Who’s he kidding, nobody invites the bad guys in, nobody’s that stupid. He unclips his street shades from the pouch on his utility belt and slips them over his eyes. Mercury might forget everything he sees tonight, but then again he might not. Not that that’s likely of course, but one of the things he’s learned about assumptions is there’s nothing fate likes better then shoving them up your ass… hmm, there’s a pun in there somewhere. He ducks through the hole.
Mercury is still sitting on the footstool. The deep breaths he’s trying to take sound ragged around the edges and when his body shakes they break down completely. His helmet and mouthpiece are abandoned to the side and his gauntlets are lying in disarray on top of them. The visor still covers his eyes, the rest of his face half-hidden by a hand fisted in his damp hair. As for the other one… Ash’s eyes stray down to where the heel of Mercury’s palm is digging into the padding at his crotch, the creases in the surrounding Kevlar the only hint at the force he’s exerting. It’s a blatant sight with his legs thrown open like that, and it’s clear that he’s not even trying to rub, just continues to press. The clear futility of it makes Ash’s gut roil. Mercury lets out a pathetic, choking sob and the hand in his hair drops down to wrap around his mouth. He takes one of his fingers between his teeth, biting down on the digit as he tries to stifle another moan. The skin dimples, then splits, and Mercury bucks his hips in response; blood spilling over the dusky skin of his hand to shine wetly in the dim light.
“Oh Dios santo.”
Ash is faintly surprised when Mercury jerks up at the breathy whisper, his mouth open and sucking in air. Mercury is staring at him, and it’s only then that Ash realizes that he’s left the window behind, is in fact halfway across the room and not even slowing.
Ash pushes Mercury backwards off the stool with all the force he possesses. He leaps after him, light as cat, and kneels between his legs, getting rid of the stool with a vicious back kick. Then he’s pinning Mercury to the floor, hands around his wrists and his teeth biting into his lip. Mercury’s startled inhalation sticks in his throat, the rest of the air escaping in a throaty choke.
Jesus, Mercury is putting off heat like an open furnace, Ash can feel it through the layers of armor and his own suit. He lets more of his weight drop on top of the body below him, soaking in the warmth, coveting every twitch and tremble of the fever-flushed skin. Ash bites harder just to feel Mercury squirm and when Mercury tries to pull his head back Ash crawls up his body to keep hold of his mouth. The boy’s really fighting him now, straining against him, and it’s a struggle to hold him down. Finally Ash slams a knee between Mercury’s thighs, rocking into him hard and grinding down with enough force to emasculate had Mercury not been wearing padded armor. The boy goes shock still, folding into him, and Ash uses the opportunity to explore the edges of his mouth, sucking and teething, running his tongue against the shallow scrapes he makes. Mercury is in a daze, but his panting gasps only make his mouth more inviting. With his mouth open it feels like Mercury wants it and it’s fucking intoxicating. Ash dips his tongue in to lick at his inner lip. If Mercury has a special taste to him, it’s overwhelmed by the sharp tang of salt and iron. Ash doesn’t mind; he almost prefers it because it’s a flavor he put there himself.
Ash sits up in Mercury’s lap, pressing one hand against the boy’s chest to keep him from following. He uses his teeth to peel off one gauntlet and then switches hands to remove the other. Ash sinks his bare fingers into the material around Mercury’s throat and hauls him up, viciously pressing their mouths together in their first real kiss. The thought of this boy – his confident friend and brash climbing partner, arrogant superhero extraordinaire – writhing helpless beneath his mouth and under his cock is headier than any euphoria. The reality of it, hard and bucking against him, is pure crack cocaine. While he fucks Mercury’s mouth with his teeth and his tongue, he grabs his hands and brings them up between their chests, running his fingers over the scarred and calloused palms. Ash wants Mercury to touch him but the fingers are limp and twitching sporadically in his grip. It’s moronic to even consider draping them around his waist. Ash has some thoughts of rubbing one against his dick, but it’s then that Mercury comes alive in his arms, the reflexive paralysis dropping away as all his muscles engage with the violence of a downed wire.
Mercury’s hands rip free and Ash has a moment to panic before they’re skimming around his waist, the fingers meeting at the small of his back and then sliding up the dip of his spine. There’s a tongue dueling its way into his mouth and teeth clashing with his own. Ash tries to pull back but Mercury’s arms are locked around him now, his hands forcing the heavy material of Ash’s cape to the side as they knead at his upper back and shoulders.
The sudden participation is… unexpected, and like quicksand it’s drawing him in and drawing him under. Ash tries to tell himself that this isn’t really Mercury, that the drug has ravaged its way to his core and the boy he knows is nowhere near the vicinity of his rational mind, but he doesn’t try very hard because ignorance is fucking bliss. It’s a fine line, self-preservation warns him that he needs to keep the upper hand here, but Ash is on cloud nine, fucking cumulonimbus, and he doesn’t object when Mercury abandons the kiss to slide and suck a red line down the side of his throat, pausing seemingly at random to lavish special sections of skin.
Ash’s mind stutters. He didn’t know anything could feel this good. The neck is a place of weakness, of vulnerability, and to have Mercury’s teeth bare centimeters from his open throat… for Ash to allow them to remain there…. He convulsively jerks against his friend, pressing into that sharp, wet mouth, his fingers scrabbling desperately at the joins between Mercury’s armor, unable to find a single point of entry or a bare inch of flesh.
There’s a harsh ripping sound, and Ash’s eyes fly open only to realize that Mercury has found the zipper running up the back of his suit and has yanked it down. Then Mercury is peeling the layers of padding and Kevlar over Ash’s shoulders and down his arms, trapping him briefly as he works the front of the suit down his torso. Ash helps, if only to free his arms again, and he takes the time to unzip his cape for good measure. Mercury follows the unpeeling material with his mouth, arching Ash over backwards, bending his spine into a fucking rainbow, and blazing a wet trail down his chest, pausing only to mark his progress with red welts and harsh rasps of his tongue. The uniform lies open to Ash’s waist and there Mercury abandons it, splaying one hand across Ash’s shoulder blades, the tips like tiny hotplates against his flesh, and forcing the other down into the hollow between his thighs. As Mercury’s rough, hot, delicious hand wraps around his cock, Ash realizes that he’s truly and utterly losing control.
“Espera,” he gasps, digging his fingers into the pressure points above Mercury’s shoulders. “Jesus! Wait, wait, wait.”
Mercury freezes, his mouth pressed against the hollow between Ash’s pecs, his hand stiff around him. Encouraged, Ash loosens his grip and Mercury slowly begins to relax as well, bringing his forehead up to rest against the crook of Ash’s neck. Ash tugs at the offending appendage and Mercury obediently draws his hand from his pants, his arms draping loosely around Ash’s hips as he breathes heavily against his shoulder.
Ash straightens in Mercury’s embrace, the joins of his spine popping in a satisfying fashion, and he leans down to whisper “You want me, don’t you? Me deseas tanto, that seems pretty fucking clear.” Mercury huffs against his skin and Ash can almost imagine he sees steam, can almost feel the burn. “How about my cock, do you want that too?” Mercury’s breath hitches and Ash allows a grin to stretch languidly across his features. “Yeah you do. Look at you, panting and ready for it. You want it bad, pinche puto, and I’m just bad enough to give it to you.”
He reaches around Mercury’s back, looking for a zipper, a catch, anything. He bites at Mercury’s ear, hoping to draw attention away from the fumbling. “So where do you want it? Down your throat? Up your ass?” His free hand cups Mercury’s jaw to thumb at his swollen lips, then down to squeeze the taut muscle of his ass. The area is less heavily armored then the rest of the suit, but he doubts much of the pressure makes it through. Despite that, Mercury jerks and mewls as if Ash had branded him. Ash lets go, but only to get a good grip on the wet strands of Mercury’s soft hair, digging his fingers into his scalp.
“It sounds like we have a winner. Up the ass it is.” He tilts Mercury’s head back so he can breathe directly into his ear. “I’m going to fuck you up muchacho. I’m going to split you open on my cock. I’m going to ride you so hard that I dent the fucking floor with your ass, and I’m not going to stop until you come.”
Mercury is writhing against him now, pressing his face into the side of Ash’s neck and rubbing their groins together; his hands taking a bruising grip on Ash’s hipbones. Ash swallows a hiss as the edges of Mercury’s metal breastplate scratch against his sensitized skin, but that’s nothing to the jolt he gets when Mercury’s callused palm finds its way back around his shaft. Ash abandons his search for the suit’s catch and wraps his hand around Mercury’s throat again, pushing the boy up and off him. He forces Mercury’s chin up, sliding his hand almost tenderly along the curve of his jaw, following it back toward the band that holds his visor in place.
“First things first,” he says, looking down into the unreadable black depths, his own feverbright reflection staring back at him. “I want to see your face.”
Before he can react Mercury’s hand shoots up between them and wraps around his wrist like an iron manacle. Ash’s fingers splay out painfully as his muscles and tendons are crushed together. Mercury shifts him lower on his lap so he can sit up straighter.
“Sorry man, no. Thanatos would kill me. I mean if he doesn’t kill me anyway.”
Ash looks down in disbelief. The voice is a little strained, but it’s steady and all too aware. “Aren’t you… why aren’t you…?” He splutters.
Mercury smiles. “Hey man, what’s up. Yeah, drugs don’t affect me. I’m…” He waves his hand in the air, Ash’s, by extension, coming along for the ride. “Physiologically immune.”
“What, to everything?”
Well, this explains why the bastard is always beating him at drinking games, but wait a fucking minute, “I saw you on the vid, you were trying to get off!”
“Dude,” it’s amazing how much defensive indignation Mercury puts into the word “I’m seventeen and I just walked in on an orgy. I had half the people writhing all over me. Naked.” Mercury shifts beneath him. “And this suit is fucking tight.”
“If you’re not drugged then why is your hand around my dick?” Ash demands.
Mercury looks down at that damning bit of evidence. He seems less than contrite. “I dunno. Why did you push me off a stool and climb into my lap and bite me?” Ash can’t really think of a reply to that, but Mercury isn’t waiting for one anyway. “Oh wait, because you were going to take advantage of me when you thought I was drugged and amnesiatic,” he supplies helpfully. “Classy man, very classy. Do you get all your tail that way?”
Ash stiffens. He begins to push Mercury away, trying to stand, but Mercury tightens his grip, both of them, and Ash reconsiders pretty damn quickly.
“Don’t think so. I just apprehended you in the middle of committing a crime.”
Ash glares at him. “Are you seriously going to arrest me while your hand is down my pants?”
“Nope,” Mercury replies happily. “Better idea. Reap what you sow, man. That’s a lesson you evil geniuses need to be taught more often.”
Ash barely has time to appreciate this sudden reversal in circumstances when his wrist is released. For one naïve moment he thinks that he’s being let go. That’s when Mercury jerks roughly at the material at Ash’s waist, giving his occupied hand more room to maneuver while simultaneously dragging Ash further up his lap and straight into his waiting fist. Ash muffles a curse against Mercury’s padded shoulder, stars exploding behind his eyelids as Mercury’s fingers rub small circles against the base of his shaft, each rotation coming harder and faster than before. The smooth neoprene of Mercury’s sleeve feels like sandpaper against the tender skin of his inner thigh. Ash’s hands scrabble at Mercury’s breastplate. Dimly he feels a nail snag and tear.
“Hands off, man.” He says through gritted teeth.
“You asked me if I wanted your cock.” Mercury lets go of Ash’s suit and the material snaps back to trap his hand against Ash’s groin, the fingers plastered against his throbbing flesh. The sensation is so intense that it feels like he’s been physically wounded, and when Ash tries to throw himself backwards Mercury grabs him around his left shoulder, his forearm an immovable weight across his back.
He uses these dual holds to spin Ash in place, turning him around and pushing up at his waist to make room for Ash’s flailing leg to pass between them. Ash feels a brief chill at the ease with which Mercury maneuvers his body, like he’s a boneless doll, but then he’s being crushed back against the armored chest and Mercury is nibbling the side of his ear.
“Yeah, I want it,” he says. “But first things first. Take off your belt.”
“Fuck you,” Ash says, even as tries to grind against the hand lodged in his pants. “No.”
Mercury grabs Ash’s hand where it’s clenching the plates of his thigh guard and squeezes. Ash’s fingers uncurl under the steady pressure and Mercury pulls them the rest of the way off, leveraging his arm up and to the side. His body follows the pull on instinct but that just gives Mercury access to his neck again. Ash bites his lip to keep in a whimper as Mercury’s teeth draw red lines down his skin, the sharp points morphing into a loving tongue halfway down his shoulder.
“Here,” Mercury says into the base of his neck, “I’ll help.” Mercury’s hand slides over his own and then forces it down between their bodies, turning Ash’s wrist so that it doesn’t snap at the sudden change in angle. Ash curses as his hand is forced over the decoy switch on his utility belt. He tires to pull away but Mercury is crushing his fingers together. Any second now he’s going to trigger the rig and when it detonates his hand will take all the damage. He might even be crippled. Echo’s face flashes in his mind and Ash panics. He throws himself forward, trying to buck out of Mercury’s lap.
“Hijo de puta! Vete a la chingada, pinche culero! Okay, okay, carajo! All right! Jesus, I’m taking it off!”
Mercury relaxes his grip and Ash clenches his fingers into a ball, trying to stop the shaking. Mercury strokes his wrist, somewhere between a warning and an apology. More compelling to Ash is the trash-compacter action taking place in his pants. The pressure is starting to become unendurable, having passed unbearable and ball-crunchingly tortuous about several rejoinders ago. Ash takes a few ragged breaths and then curls his fingers against the hidden switch on his utility belt. There’s a barely audible snick as it falls open. Mercury moves it carefully to the side.
“This doesn’t mean you can fuck me, amigo.” Ash snarls.
Mercury cups his ass and squeezes. Ash thrashes, bruising his elbow and his shoulder blades before Mercury manages to wrap an arm around him and hold him still. “You need to learn how to relax.” Mercury says, and then the suit is being ripped off of him, the zipper forced down on its own as the costume is pushed past his thighs.
Ash screams as the crushing pressure on his dick suddenly disappears, his hips jolting like a stun gun has been shoved up his ass. Mercury is keeping his upper torso immobile but now he’s free to thrust up into his friend’s sweat-slickened grip and he doesn’t even try to stop the sounds that are tearing their way out of his throat. The hand on his cock matches his rhythm, sometimes pausing to force their hips closer together.
The friction is excruciating, everything he touches is hard planes and sharp edges. Even Mercury’s hand reminds him of the rough, weatherworn concrete they so often climb together. Ash falls into a circular litany of profanity, the sounds running together into one jumbled exclamation. Mercury is a wall behind him, his arm an iron band. Ash throws his head back, all he can manage of the full body arch that’s denied him, and Mercury bends to lick the sweat off his jaw.
He would scream as he comes, but his lungs are working off a single gasp that happened sometime around when his pants came off and all that remains is a silent ‘o’ of empty air. Mercury is still pumping his dick, working him through the aftershocks, breathing a gentle question against the side of his mouth. Ash turns into it blindly, reaching up to cling to his friend’s forearm where it crosses his chest. He gives a yank of demand and Mercury obediently brings their mouths together. Ash pants against his lips, unable to catch his breath, and Mercury finally settles on painting out the shapes of his inner mouth with his tongue.
After the room has a chance to cool and settle around them, Ash opens his eyes on the empty blackness of the visor. He knows that his own gaze is similarly hidden but he still can’t help looking away. He makes a move to get up but Mercury has him pinned, and it’s only now that Ash can catalogue the uncomfortable bumps and ridges that are prodding into his back and legs, and the equally uncomfortable sensation of Mercury’s hand stroking his thigh.
“You gonna fuck me now?” Ash asks, staring at their feet.
Mercury is quiet for a long time, and when Ash finally risks a glance his expression is unreadable. Mercury looks down their bodies and then back at Ash’s lips. He draws their faces close together. “Nope.” He says, and gives Ash a quick kiss on the cheek, right beneath the outer corner of his eye.
Ash feels the arm peel off of him and he shudders at the resistant cling of the metal to his skin and the rush of cold air that comes in to replace it. He rolls onto his hands and knees, his suit still tangled around his legs, and watches as Mercury falls backwards with a quiet groan, his head coming to rest on his crossed arms. He doesn’t look up once as Ash cleans himself off and works his suit back on, just absently rocks his foot back and forth. Ash watches the motion out of the corner of his eye. He figures if Mercury ever had to actually lie still his molecules would probably explode in a burst of neon pyrotechnics and space invader noises.
As Ash tugs the zipper over his shoulder blades he feels the first twinges of the bruises that are doubtlessly blossoming even now. A few exploratory motions prove they’re no worse than the ones he gets sparring with Echo and he idly wonders how long these will take to fade. With the zipper up to his neck and his cape pulled over his shoulders it feels like he’s just sealed himself into a sauna, though that’s mostly because his sweat-soaked mask is making breathing an inefficient exercise in snorkeling. Sometimes he wishes Echo had let him design his own suit. The classic villain look is all well and good, but an equally important part of maintaining an image is not collapsing from suffocation mid-felony.
It takes a moment to realize that he’s still wearing his shades. He grips the dark lenses, hesitating. Ash knows he’s going to be desperate for the extra bit of protection they offer during the fallout that’s about to happen, but in the end that’s exactly why he takes them off. He’s indulged enough weaknesses this evening. Masked and hooded, but with eyes uncovered, he stands awkwardly to the side of his friend, noting with mild interest that Mercury’s boots are Government Issue.
“So, uh… What about you?”
Mercury sighs. “Not gonna happen. It takes twenty-five minutes to get this suit off manually and having you fumble around with the buckles for that long would be fucking torture.”
“You make me sound incompetent.”
“Yeah well,” Mercury glances at him, the action made visible by a small tilt of his head. “The thing with the utility belt wasn’t a lucky guess. Thanatos had my suit rigged and I figured Echo must be just as paranoid.”
Ash considers that. “How did you know that the belt was rigged but not the zipper?” Mercury is silent for a moment, then his lip quirks in that way that means he’s cooking up bullshit. “You fucking moron.” Ash says and kicks him in the ribs.
Mercury gives a yelp far disproportionate to the force of the blow and curls over on his side, his hands clenched in his gut. Ash can’t help an empathetic twinge. “Hey, seriously, if you need to,” he beats the air near his crotch, “I can give it a try. I mean, nothing gay, but with the suit.”
Mercury shakes his head and cautiously rocks up into a sitting position. “Generous as that is, it’s not worth the risk. The internal plates are studded with hidden barbs tipped with neurotoxins, and I know you fucking suck at minesweeper.”
“Ah shit, ese. Spare me the noble self-sacrifice.”
“Can’t help it.” Mercury grins. “I’m a superhero, you know.”
Ash rolls his eyes as he joins his friend on the floor. They sit side by side, staring at the broken observation window. It’s the first quiet moment since Mercury released him and Ash notes with some discomfort that his breathing remains ragged and uneven. Mercury is trying to be discreet, but he can’t hide the flushed skin or the frantic ticking of the pulse at his throat. You’d think he would have worked some of this off by now. It’s like they haven’t even touched and, tight suit or not, it seems above and beyond ordinary frustration. Was he lying about his immunity? Either way, Ash suspects Mercury isn’t telling him the full story. Still, this seems an awkward moment to pry…
Echo would disapprove of his reticence. The thought causes a sharp, sudden pain and he doesn’t pursue it.
“You really okay in there?” Ash asks finally.
“Yeah. I’m… used to it.”
“Wait, you mean this happens often? Your patrols sound more exciting than mine.”
“No!” Mercury exclaims. “That’s not what I said!”
“Which part turns you on exactly?” Ash asks. “All the black leather and Kevlar? Stalking criminals through grungy back alleyways? Or maybe just having them on their knees in front of you, broken and bleeding; begging for mercy.”
“That’s really sick, man.” Mercury says, and his tone is serious.
“Yeah I know.” Ash looks away. “Estaba de broma… I mean, I was just dickin’ around with you.” There’s a moment of tense silence. “Hey, uh, about…” he waves his hand, the gesture hinting at both of them and the surrounding room, but then he stalls out as he tries to think of what to say. That he hadn’t meant it? But he had. If Mercury had truly been drugged, Ash would have raped him and never said a word. Hell, he’d probably get off on it later after they hung out, just imagining Mercury’s easy, trusting smile. He supposes he should feel ashamed by that, but all he feels is numb.
Why did he do it? To discover Mercury’s true identity? To prove he doesn’t need super strength or super speed to come out on top? Who is he trying to impress, exactly?
Mercury slides his fingers on top of Ash’s, the gesture surprisingly awkward considering the guy was just jerking him off not too long ago. The touch freezes Ash’s thoughts. He stares down at the small point of contact.
Mercury bumps him gently with his shoulder. “Whatever man. It’s all good.”
Ash clenches his jaw. He is not going to fucking cry.
He jerks his hand away, wrapping his arms around himself. The gesture brings back memories of Mercury’s arms around his waist, his hand holding them together, and despite the cuts and scratches that resulted from that, he can’t remember when he last felt more sure of himself, more right with the world and his place in it.
Shit. He scrubs angrily at his eyes. “No, you don’t fucking get it, okay? The whole thing’s fucked to hell. You get up in the morning and you fuck shit up and you go home and eat dinner like, you know, like whatever. And sometimes Echo’s all, I dunno, in my shit, or too good for my shit and who the fuck cares anyway?” He bites off the tirade before he can embarrass himself further. He doesn’t know what the fuck he’s saying and Mercury probably thinks he’s a complete whack job. And hey, the guy just caught Ash trying to rape him, so why the fuck not?
Mercury is eyeing him from a few feet away. He hasn’t moved to touch him again, probably because he knows Ash will punch him in the face if he tries. Now he gets up and goes to retrieve the rest of their gear, bending over with a grimace that catches Ash’s attention even through his haze of self-loathing. Mercury takes his time putting his gauntlets back on and then walks back to Ash, offering his gloves.
“Yeah, that sounds pretty messed up.” Ash stares as Mercury runs a tongue over his bruised and swollen lips, licking away a few beads of blood. “But I can’t say I mind the way you choose to act out on your emotional trauma.”
It takes a moment to process. “Are you serious?” He asks. Mercury’s only reply is a manic grin and Ash shakes his head. “You’re more fucked-up than I am.”
“You have my number right? Call me when you want to work out more of your issues. I think I’m pretty good at this psycho-therapy shit.”
Ash takes his gauntlets back with a snort. “What-the-fuck-ever man.”
“No, seriously. I’ll work with you during a long session. I’ll ask how that makes you feel, then switch up techniques and ask how that makes you feel again. You’ll have my complete professional attention.”
“Uh huh, and I’m sure you’ll be giving your approach some deep thought when you’re jerking off over me tonight.”
“I see you’re already familiar with my methods.”
Ash scoffs and shoves him toward the window. “Stupid chico, get over yourself and get the fuck out before your blue balls make your head explode. Your adoring public’s waiting to gush over you.”
“Eh, that’d be my second choice, but all right.” Mercury shrugs and ducks out the window. Ash is about to head toward the vents when he pops back into view, thumb and pinky extended near his ear.
Call me he mouths.
Ash notices that Mercury has forgotten his helmet. He returns it to him as hard as he can.