"Where are we?" Nik's eyes suddenly widened as he ducked to avoid Benjamin's wide swing, not fearing the sudden realization by the force of the attack that Benjamin was far stronger than him physically. This fact only served to amaze Nik as he patted on Benjamin's forearm and blasted it with a shockwave of compressed space, surprisingly, only making a tiny piece of the rock break off but Nik instantly stored the piece of Benjamin's body into Lola's world while jumping away. "Calm down, genius. I just saved you from pretty stuck up cops shooting at you. It would be like annoying flies buzzing around you, the gunshots, I mean."
Nik's words did calm Benjamin a bit, the man failed to realize slight changes in the empty plot that served to comfort Benjamin unconsciously as Nik continued to use his abilities and keep Ben from panicking. "Oh..." Ben mumbled while Nik focused on Benjamin. He was in close contact with the man for a single moment and while the strange entity posed the wildest threat Nik had faced after Lucifer, he did got a pretty basic understanding of Ben's body. The dude was rock hard, everywhere. Miraculously enough, his body was layered with different structures of rock of the same color which denoted as his muscles. Rock muscles.
"I'm... sorry for swinging at you," Ben grunted before sighing deeply and sitting on the ground. "No harm, no foul. So I take it that you... cannot return to being normal?" Nik inquired as Ben rubbed his head with his four-fingered hand. "I wish!" He scoffed, "I can't taste any food. I find rocks tasty. And... my fiancee isn't willing to even look at me."
"What does a pebble taste like?" Nik inquired while sitting in front of Ben.
"... like meatballs. Swedish." He smiled before looking at Nik, "Thanks, that did cheer me up."
'I didn't have that intention but sure...' Nik continued to let Lola process the sample while Nik decided to lead Ben along.
"They taste like meatballs?!" Gwen seemed appropriately shocked.
"You're not a New Yorker?"
"I shouldn't really be talking about this. I've got one jerk of a... partner that pointed out that I don't have ears and it just snapped me."
'Oh, wow... I did not notice that one explicitly,' Nik stared the sides of Ben's head for a few seconds.
"Interesting," he uttered, "So you have a partner that isn't afraid of you. That is good news," Nik smiled.
"No, it isn't," Benjamin shook his head. "Anyways," he looked around, "Where are we?"
"This plot was used as a buy-off grounds for the four mafia gangs. It's said that the body of the founder of the large group which eventually split into four is buried right beneath us with his dying will. Turns out that Mafia's kids are usually not trustworthy," Nik shrugged as Ben looked at his crossed legs with his mouth gaping.
'Also a lie,' Nik chuckled to himself, 'Lola, is this going to take long?'
"Yes," Lola replied, "The 'skin' is mutated from substances with rare matches within my database. So, I am not comparing the simulations with changes once the radiation of the skin is allowed into your body and compiling results. It will take a day, most probably."
'That's good news. I can feel you smiling,' Nik replied to which he got a prompt return.
'I don't smile at results. These are facts.'
"Anyway, you want me to drop you off somewhere, Ben? I'll even meet up with you every few days if you want to. Getting permanent mutations like these can be rough."
"If only there was a Get-help group for people like me," Ben sighed, "But if you can help me move silently, one of my partners purchased the Baxter Building. You can drop me off there."
"A building?" Nik looked impressed, "Sure, which floor?"
"The top one," Ben replied.
"Richard, this is bad. First Nick Fury, and now the hero codenamed Vanish," Susan shook her head as Reed took out the locater from the pocket of his lab coat. "Vanish, that name sounds so"
"Amazing? Jaw-dropping? Some good pick-up material? Hey, let's vanish from here?" A sudden voice interrupted the duo's moment of Panic as Nik waved at them while sitting on a small chamber in the middle of the living room. Ben had already destroyed the couch but still held a few pebbles in the bag of ch.i.p.s, a courtesy from Nik while the two turned instantly with Ben waving at them, his tone disinterested, "Guys, I'm back... ugh," and a tone of disgust when he found the two human-looking friends of his.
"This container is amazing, by the way," Nik pointed at the box beneath his butt, "Able to contain an astounding degree of temperature. I mean, the materials are completely illegal, too," Nik appraised as he gave the laboratory/house stuffed with military-grade research tools a casual glance. "The view, ooh, that is the best. I have to admit, despite seeing my neighbors active on the balcony is a sight to make fun of, you guys have a real beauty here," Nik pointed at their balcony while giving Susan another glance of interest.
"V... anish," the man termed as 'Richards' spoke up. Of course, Nik knew him as the Reed Richards and Susan Storm, the topic of conversation between Mary and Natasha the other night, and now Nik knew that the hard monstrosity with a surprisingly soft heart is a man known as Benjamin Grimm.
"In the external flesh," Nik jumped down from the container. "Hmm, I have to ask," without giving them the time to process the situation, Nik continued, "Did you really punch Tony Stark?"
"Say, what?" Gwen gasped as Nik waited for an explanation while allowing Gwen to understand everything by communicating with her telepathically.
"I did," Reed processed that quickly while Susan seemed more embarrassed than anything else. Nik knew this look. This was the look when every single one of his partners would admit that they enjoyed the fact that they didn't have to bear his physical needs all by themselves. They felt guilty and embarrassed!
"Wow," Nik commented, "Anyway, I brought Benjamin back due to the lack of... strange events in my life. I now have to run off for lunch." Nik nodded as Ben hurriedly stood up, accidentally stomping on the floor and cracking it, making Reed extend his arms towards his study, surprising Nik once again as Ben grunted, "Eat with me! Not stones, of course, but you helped me. Can't let you go without a proper hosting... er, without a proper thank you lunch," he corrected himself while Nik waited for Reed's arms to return as he held a notepad in his arms alongside a pen. "Reinforce the flooring design of the building," he mumbled while writing.
"Amazing," Nik muttered as he felt strange, minute undulations from Susan when Nik stared at her. "You can do some stuff, too, right?" He inquired while she nodded silently.
"Do you guys eat rubber and some other strange things, too?" Nik continued as Susan finally spoke up, "Oh, no, that's an understandable misunderstanding."
"Then I guess, I can stay," Nik shrugged as Ben inquired, "Can you change to normal, or do you eat some rats?"
Pickle seemed offended and ready to go. She loved brains, kidneys, and most importantly, chocolates!
"I am normal, for the most part, and my favorite dish is french fries. So, no. Not rats," Nik looked at Ben as Pickle snorted within his body.
"But since a superhero cannot reveal his identity as comparable to a magician andhis trick," he smiled, "you guys would have to just look at my current face!"
"Oh, so you are eating with us," Reed looked at Nik, more surprised by the person itself than the stay, just like Susan as Nik gazed at Reed with a slight furrow of his brows.
"That's what the previous conversation about my pallet led me to."
"Ah, yes, of course. Let me order something!" Reed placed the locater on the desk while Susan took her cell phone out, "I should be calling Johnny. He's far more dangerous to others outside."
As Ben slumped back on his broken couch, Nik walked up to him and sat near him, taking out another packet of potato ch.i.p.s while smiling at him, "Still, this is a cool place."
"I know. It will be cooler if I can walk without cracking floors easily."
"Don't worry, big guy, you'll start to love cracking things," Nik shrugged. He was the guest this time so he had no intention of continuing consoling his host.
"Natalie, can you come in here," Pepper's voice passed through the intercom as Nat stood up, her body now sporting a tight shirt with the top two buttons open to give her a breather while a pair of simple black pants now traced her lovely bottoms. "Yes, Ms. Potts?" Natasha entered the current Stark Industries' CEO's office Pepper Potts. Seeing the middle-aged ginger-head, Natasha, now Natalie Rushman, put on a professional smile and walked closer to the table. "I need a company to California so that I can finalize the transfer with Tony. And I also need you to clear my schedule for the remainder of my time after."
"Of course, Ms. Potts. Would you like me to reserve you a seat in Morgia Lau?"
"Just two. Tony will not be joining us."
"Right," Nat nodded and returned to her tasteful office once again. The job in Stark Industries has been an easy one after Tony decided to take a step back from the management but her infiltration into the Industries had been to realize a way to get the major tech under Tony's roof, instead. This was just one step amongst many and this position itself allowed nat to get Brandon a job itself. Of course, her involvement with Ava and others had been kept secretive but it was her years of experience that led her to believe that... well, smart playboys are one of the tougher targets.
The only way a person can be smart, astoundingly successful, and a playboy is by sorting out the gals to dip into. To prove her point, Natalie ran a database check on every single girl Tony slept with and found that not a single one was a female spy. Not one. They did buzz around Tony but the man surprisingly could just avoid them.
After sending out a text that she wouldn't be able to make it to their places, to which, Brandon and Mary replied with the same emote of full smile and happiness, Natalie got back to her work.
"I could pay Nik for bringing me right into the man's workshop," Nat continued to think other ways. She could commission anyone from the avengers initiative after having a chat with Coulson. Of course, she would be the one losing out since Phil had made his stance clear, he wanted her on his team and surprisingly, Director wasn't getting involved at all, which meant he wasn't against the idea at all. Supportive, even.
Unable to dine in with the group temporarily, Ben reluctantly went off to enjoy television, leaving Reed, Susan, and Nik on the table with Indian cuisine.
"I would not have realized that a student could save so many people. We watched the live interviews," Reed spoke up as Nik nodded in acknowledgment, nothing to add to his words as Reed continued, "If it's not too much, I would like to run some tests on your symbiote. You must know that I am under Shield in the name. It's a mutually beneficial partnership. The Director agreed to share with us the knowledge of the enhanced individuals and known extra-terrestrial lifeforms while we help them redesign their tech. So, I did know that Vanish worked for the Shield but never knew about your real identity would be a student."
"It's comforting that Director Fury takes the terms regarding privacy seriously and doesn't spam my mobile with consumer-oriented advertis.e.m.e.nts. And no, she doesn't like being tested on."
Nik gulped while looking at Gwen dancing in front of Reed. "I always wanted to do this!" she squeaked, "Most of the Reed I have seen are more stuck up and this one is on the same path so this is my only chance!" Her mood finally seemed pleasant enough.
"She?" Reed looked surprised, "The symbiotes do have a system of gender. So do the females only bond with males and vice versa?" He inquired.
"Yep, that's exactly it," Nik smiled while looking at Susan, "And I am really curious what you can do. My... sources did not describe what your powers are."
"She can turn invisible," Reed stated without waiting, "And it's just more than that. She is able"
"I can answer him, too," Susan coughed as she looked at Nik once again, "I don't turn invisible per se. My body can just bend light and other forms of waves which allow me to..."
"Turn invisible?" Nik inquired as Susan sighed, "Yes."
"Oh..." realization struck Nik, "You... can't turn your clothes invisible, at least, not presently, right?"
While Susan didn't answer, Reed's expression stated that Nik was on point. Thinking for a moment, Nik smiled, "Ha! And your brother?" Nik inquired, seriously wishing to hear about even more stranger things.
"He can create fire out of his body, in layman's term," Susan muttered, playing with her spoon, "And he still isn't here. We should really check on him." She looked at Reed as Nik took a deep breath and brought Gwen back on his shoulder. It just wasn't the same without her on his shoulder.
"I should also leave," Nik stood up, between Reed awkwardly containing his need to question and understand Nik's very existence while Susan's powers turning out to be more than just invisibility, as testified by a gentle telekinetic force unconsciously reaching out for his knees time and again, the apostle decided he wasn't just ready to get harrassed by powers just yet. This was his third date event.
"Anyway, if you want my help or want to hang out, just message me here," Writing his number on a piece of paper and bidding his farewell to Benjamin, Nik disappeared with tips of Susan's and Reed's hair now present in Lola's space. Since she wanted to compare data, it was only fair to get her more pieces of research material from the same source of mutation.