"Dr. Octavius," Harry greeted a brown-haired man who leaned towards the plumper side with a white lab coat covering his shirt and pants. The scientist in question wore tinted glasses as he enthusiastically shook Harry's hand. "Mr. Osborn, I really cannot thank you enough to fund my research with your personal property and funds. I admired your father's work and still cannot believe that he disappeared so quickly."
"I see that you are as awkward socially as you warned in your email," Harry looked a little creeped out as the paunchy scientist discussed his father's death with an eager grin. But Harry knew the tale behind the curtains dr.a.p.ed by the secret agencies. As Otto stated, Harry had sublet one of the many properties Norman left in his name alongside a sizeable donation so that Otto could conduct his experiments in peace and even dive into the code Norman sent him through a letter.
"You said that there's been a breakthrough in the research of discovering a new self-sustaining element? Can you describe the process further, Doctor?" Harry inquired while pulling over a chair as Otto squeaked with a renewed vigor, something far more energetic than loads of caffeine as testified by Otto's breath. It smelled. Worse than armpits, in some cases. Harry grew up to like some strange fetishes in absence of a loving father after all.
"Oh, yes! It's a beauty," Otto remarked as he turned back and wore a metallic backpack of sorts that extended into four mechanical limbs in a flexible, cylindrical shape ending to three-finger mechanical holders. "This is your development of extra limbs, right?" Harry stated while seeing the man now operating with mechanical tentacles as Otto smiled even wider. "This is nothing compared to the element I am on the verge of discovering, in fact, I am sure you are well aware of New York's famous superhero, Iron Man. While his arc reactor is a fascinating piece of technology, it actually builds up on the true element of a self-sustaining nature that would go right on the Elemental table."
The top two tentacles moved the table filled with various tools aside and the remaining two pulled over a small prototype of a spherical shape and placed it near Harry. While Harry didn't understand the nature of the machinery, even his untrained eyes could see the thinner details that made him feel amazed. "What is this, Doctor?" Harry inquired. "The incubator which will produce the element. If the element can never be found in our given nature then, of course, we need to produce it and this wouldn't have been possible if you didn't have provided me with the genetic sequence. I checked it. That sequence, surprisingly, is of an absolutely neutral nature and is the core subject of the element."
Before Harry could ask Otto to dumb it down, the man explained, "The self-sustaining element will make us stop being dependent on nature!" His voice grew louder by the second, "The element isn't just a product of physics and chemistry but biology, too. This would truly be an evolutionary breakthrough in all aspects."
"So," Harry nodded, "We need a better security detail. Keep up the good work, Doctor. I will tackle the issue of us accidentally stepping on a few toes which we shouldn't." With that, Harry stood up and bade his farewell to the doctor.
"Man, this punk is a weird one. Out of any place... literally! He chose sewers!" A bearded hunk with a mohawk scratched his bicep in frustration as his partner let out a breath of exhaustion. "I know! It stinks! It's hot! And you even said the word literally! If I wanted to go through this torture, I would've f.u.c.k.i.e.d my Aunt Cassidy. She's all those things. With rat eyes to the boot!"
"Hey man," the mohawk spoke up, "Is your aunt hot?"
"The f.u.c.k is wrong with you?" The other man clearly felt offended, "I just said she smells! Like sewers. You need to get laid. And not with my Aunt, she's having it enough with her neighbor Bobby. You need to find a chick for yourself. Ignite that passion in you, let a girl know how your warm hugs can fill her"
"Are we still talking about s.e.x?"
"Yeah! That's how you have s.e.x, you dumb f.u.c.k!"
"I don't know man... you sound gay. Maybe you need to get laid... and not with me!"
Meanwhile, deeper within the sewers, a slightly haggard man sat with his face layered with sweat. Not the most optimal condition to conduct experiments and research but after ingesting some equally questionable drugs like his decisions, Curt Connors started to enjoy the atmosphere in here. It was a good thing that Kingpin had so many men to keep him under control the first time he tested the drugs.
"Log 2," he looked into the camera and reported his finding in a video logbook, "The code developed by the persona Goblin is extremely similar to mine. I have found the filters in the equation unnecessary but I have been also unable to keep the effects permanent. I do not mind the changes in my physique. The temperamental issues can be changed, too. A reptile's genetic sequence has had amazing effects on my body and could be categorized as physical trauma of permanent nature."
After doing so, Curt touched his right shoulder, his right arm detached once again. Sighing to himself, Curt closed the video and began researching the code once again.
"Listen to me," Nik firmly held Mary's shoulders, "I'm not into saving people to become some sort of hero. You should know this about me." Nik looked into Mary's eyes for a few silent moments as Mary nodded, "I understand. After I took a bit of time for myself with the interviews concluded, I did cool off."
"Oh, I could tell that even if you weren't here," Nik suddenly grinned, "But how good was my acting?" Nik leaned forward and embraced Mary warmly, his lips pecking Mary as his hands held her close, "And I would have enjoyed continuing the act if not for the fact that Nat is two flights below."
"Yeah, she has groceries in her hands," Mary hotly whispered into Nik's ears, "She offered to carry it and I let her!"
"Sweetheart, you are everything a man can need. Making others work for you, ooh!" Nik snickered as he slowly let Mary go while she scoffed, "Apparently, not enough for you."
"Come on, now. That argument would've held more meaning if I wouldn't out-sleep the both of you and FYI, I had the 'f' word prepared before."
"Hey, s.e.x is not everything!" Mary punched Nik on the shoulder with an embarrassed expression, "And you do not out-f.u.c.k us."
"Oh, you said the proper term, nice. Anyway, I totally do. Now, since I got my next big pay, I had already prepared a feast for you guys. Oh, good... it's not just Nat..." Nik and Mary stopped as the guy looked back, "And the number keeps increasing. Interesting. Why is... Luke here?"
"Luke Cage?" Mary squeaked, "We need to prepare more. I once saw him eat three plates of chicken."
"Yeah, I eat way more than that," Nik shook his head, "Ann, we have guests. So... maybe not wear the rave skirt?" Nik called out towards Ann's room as the sound of her stumbling instantly echoed out, making Mary chuckle.
"Anyway, till they question each other on the stairs itself, let me get you a glass of chilled mountain dew. It's surprisingly good," Nik smiled and led Mary in with their arms locked together.
As Nik expected, not only Nat, but Cindy, Ava, and Luke came up to the doors with Ava doing the knocking. And when Nik opened the doors, he could easily tell that the group was not pleased to meet each other. If Nik had to speculate, it would be that Natasha wanted to have a peaceful and private dinner and enjoy her time with Anna. Word from Brandon is that Natasha would often crash into his apartment just to check up on him and clean his place clean from any drugs.
And it would have been a comfort for Brandon if he did have any in the first place which would book his entire night to clean the mess his aunt would cause. As for Cindy and Ava, they were probably charmed by him completely and totally wanted to have some of him. Well, that was his recurring egoistic self's speech but Nik really had no idea why Cindy, Ava, and Luke would ever come to this place since he hadn't gone out of his way to actually develop any feelings with them. With his objective being rather long-term, he had already thought of taking things slowly. Relatively.
As everyone made their way into the living room, with Nik bringing in two chairs from the dining table to actually let everyone have a seat, he easily drifted into the kitchen. As he stated, dinner was on him and the glass of mountain dew in Mary's hand was the last. It was now either warm lemonade or warm beers, which Nat brought in.
"Huh, we really need to start spending the money on food," Nik muttered to himself as he prepared the noodles.
"Hey, Nik, sorry for dropping unannounced. I saw Ava on the streets with Cindy and thought they were going in for some bust," Luke shouted. The most amazing thing about Luke was that he was easily overlooked. Turns out, the city eas full of chunky black dudes in a hoody so Luke really doesn't catch much attention and with Shield covering his tracks, it had become even more apparent.
"Ugh, no worries. Sorry, I hadn't prepared anything for the three of you. I kinda knew Natasha would drop by... cause she has nothing else to do."
"Hey," Nat crunched a piece of cheetos and spread her arms with a blaming tone, "Since everyone here knows the type of job I do, I can say that I have been very busy. Excuse me for the details or I can be sentenced for life... and that's not even worse."
"I'm sorry, too," Before Cindy could finish, Anna hurriedly closed her mouth, "Don't be silly. At least you aren't looking like you ran out of hell this time," she grinned as Cindy's lips twitched.
"Anyway, I know you," Luke looked at Mary while crossing his arms, "I didn't know the popular Mary would actually know about the Shield. Is that why you got to the scenes so quickly?"
"Hah! No," Mary smiled, "I am just a better news reporter."
"She totally used somebody's help at first. I know that smile, she's lying," Natasha scoffed while Mary glared at her with a wide smile. "We came here to thank you," Ava spoke up, "Phil told us after you left that you kept an eye out for us not just to rub it in our faces. And as it turns out, Kraven's nails were laced with poison so you taking care of our injuries really made things easier."
"Don't worry about it," Nik walked out with a tray of food. It was supposed to simply cater to a single person's dinner. Placing the tray on the table, Nik smiled at everybody. "Alright, I just thought of something new. Now, it has a considerably high chance of success but I need you guys to stay calm even if it fails."
"What are you going to do?" Natasha inquired.
"Multiplying the food," Nik presented the tray and focused silently.
"And just like that, he ascends to being a Messiah," Natasha raised her glass of water.
"And..." instantly snapping his fingers, eight more identical trays appeared midair, shocking everybody to their core. "Holy..." Luke whispered, "And just like that..." Cindy reiterated Natasha's words.
"Look at your faces," Nik smiled, "I would feel bad if I didn't tell you how I did it."
"Really?" Ava shouted instantly.
"Nah, I feel wonderful." Smirking, Nik let the tray on everybody's laps as he took a chair for himself, too.
"I didn't watch what Nik did," Sky stated, "since I am also busy tutoring him but I'm going out a limb and say that he had already prepared those food trays."
"Exactly," Nik replied back, "But how cool it would be if I could manipulate the natural forces and actually produce food in the blink of an eye."
"Actually..." Sky continued after a stunned silence.
"That is totally possible and we should really find a way to do that," Nik completed her sentence.
As the group was greeted with a tasteful dinner which they enjoyed reluctantly. After all, it was only so many times that Cindy, Ava, Luke, and Natasha could ask the same question with their tones being desperate each time. As for Mary and Anna, it was their dinner last week and all they needed to do was simply ask with the sweetest smile they could muster.
"So," With Nik taking away the dishes in the most 'efficient' manner, he looked at the group, "You guys really didn't have to come all the way here just to greet me. We could have done it on our next assignment." Nik smiled as Luke furrowed his brows. He was well aware of the Avengers initiative. "Next assignment?" He inquired while Ava cut him off, "Did you know Captain left the initiative? Phil wouldn't even explain anything."
"So what?" Nik shrugged before taking out his phone, "Phil messaged me this evening regarding a new mission. He'll probably message you guys later, too."
"You know, I never liked this initiative. Feels like a circus. What do you say, Mary? Should the enhanced human beings get an agent's uniform and act through the same protocols?"
"It's the Red Riot missions all over again," Mary matched Natasha's glare as she continued, "Anyway, I know that what you guys doing isn't just a circus act. Unlike people who never get recognized for what they are great at, I have known to enjoy bringing light to heroes like you and the occasional defaming for publicity if you accidentally cause public damage while saving human life," Mary raised her own glass, offending the entire squad that popped up unannounced.
But that was it for the most part. With Cindy having a curfew after 10, Ava had her part-time job still not disclosed to the school, Natasha having an overnight, and Luke... as he said, having a car to lift, the group left after a few minutes of chat.
"So what's with the new mission?" Mary inquired while dusting off the living room while Ann entered into her room, preparing her outfit once again. "It's really nothing. I told you that one symbiote wasn't accounted for in San Francisco, right. Well, aside from the one that actually escaped, there's another one named Riot. Both of the symbiotes were seen on the streets of New York and Phil thinks I should tag along Danny to take them on."
"Hmm," Mary pursed her lips before sighing, "Nik, I don't want to be the kind of woman who always worries. I met with those cultivators and yes, they don't worry because they have a different upbringing. And I know I can't get into superhuman fights"
"Actually, you can. I still have that spider and I can enhance you the same way Cindy is."
"Let me rephrase it. I don't want to fight supervillains all the time," Mary sighed and sat on the couch.
"You really have nothing to worry about. Yes, if I were a little more reckless with my life and risk myself impulsively, and let me tell you, I have done it before and know the difference now, then you are right to worry. But..." Nik sat down and scooched closer to Mary, "As you said, I don't like being good at things where I am not recognized. Fighting battles, like... say, Tony Stark, with my identity revealed is risky and worrisome. And I would never have taken the responsibilities like accompanying Anna to her classes and even cleaning the house when you are out."
"I know you mean everything... but it literally takes you a snap of fingers to clean the house."
"I know, I'm the best," Nik smiled as Mary finally giggled softly while standing up. "Alright, then, Nik. Let's see if you can tire us out today."
"Just for today, I'll reinforce you guys with vitality," Nik shrugged, "Let's go all night long!"
A/n: Sorry for the delay. Had a cold :'(