|Meet Me Half Way
Author: spoodle monkey PM
Prequel to 'Hands Held High'. Heroes are disappearing, the worlds smartest men can't figure it out. Maybe Johnny can. JohnnyBen SteveTony PeterMJ LukeJessicaDanny lightWolverineCyclops CompleteRated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Mystery - Chapters: 2 - Words: 11,101 - Reviews: 11 - Favs: 26 - Follows: 3 - Updated: 04-06-10 - Published: 01-20-10 - Status: Complete - id: 5682102
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: Nope, don't own...any of it...
A/N- First of all- Star Wars kicks ass. This statement will makes sense later on in the story. Second of all, woot! I finished it! It's kinda open ended, in a way, but I'm going to write another story (eventually) that will come after this, but before 'With Hands Held High in Surrender' and that should explain a few things in 'Hands held high'. Same warnings, pairings etc apply...enjoy!
Time passes really slowly, he decides, when one is stuck in a box.
Not that he can tell how much time has passed considering they took his watch, which he'd better be getting back after all this is over.
"What are you doing?" Johnny finally gets fed up with the silence after it becomes clear that no one is actually coming to gloat over their capture.
A little into what Johnny is calling 'hour two', because it feels like it's been much longer but probably hasn't been, Tony had stopped talking to him. It's not that he's feeling ignored (except he kind of is, but only a little), it's just that the other man is white as a sheet, with a pinched expression on his face and has not moved since before they stopped talking. He figures that gives him a reason to worry.
This is Tony Stark, where the hell is the incredible invention to get them out?
So Johnny figures he's got to be doing something. Tony is either about to pass out (or worse) or has come up with some ingenious plan that he is just waiting for the perfect moment to unleash. It could be both.
"I'm trying to access Extremis."
Tony's voice comes out sounding hoarse and pained and he doesn't even bother to open his eyes to look at Johnny. Looks like its both then.
"Is that safe?" Johnny asks cautiously and moves to the edge of the cell to peer down at the other man.
"Probably not. No." Stark smirks but it comes out as more of a grimace.
Johnny frowns and crosses his arms.
"You know, I'm thinking we should go with plan B." Which is not usually his first choice but in this case he apparently has to look after another genius with a slight death wish. What was it with geniuses anyways? "As in, the one where we sit down and wait for the others to find us."
The way he sees it, there's no way they won't be rescued soon. Whoever this bad guy is, they aren't very smart. Nabbing Johnny from Reed's lab while his equipment was on? There's no way all of it wasn't recorded and analyzed and whatever else it is that happens up there.
Yup, they'll be out of there in no time.
"I would rather be doing something than nothing at all."
"Well, waiting to be rescued is doing something." Johnny argues.
Now he just has to convince himself as well, seeing as all he wants to do is melt the box and get the hell out of there. He can't access his flame though (which is freaking him out) so he can't really do much.
Tony finally cracks open a tired blue eye to glare at him half heartedly.
Johnny runs a hand through his hair and turns to resume his pacing of the cell.
"I have to at least try to help them find us." It's said so quietly that Johnny almost misses it.
"I get that," He turns and faces Tony again, this time with the other man actually looking at him. "But you're hurting yourself in the process. There has to be someone for them to rescue right?"
That's something Sue taught him after one too many times being captured by Doom. Of course, if it were just him here, he'd been doing the same thing Tony is doing, except without the computers.
"Steve says that a-"
Johnny blinks, disoriented.
Where there had been a clear box seconds before, there is now a large field of some sort. There's dirt under his feet and stone walls surrounding him in every direction, reaching all the way up to the ceiling. It feels like one of those coliseums that Ben had tried to build out of marshmallow's one time. There aren't any seats but there is a large screen hanging over head.
What has he gotten himself into?
He spins around, surprise and relief flooding through him.
Spiderman stands a few feet away, looking just as confused as he feels, even through the mask. It takes Johnny an extra minute to realize that he's now in his Fantastic Four uniform.
"Welcome to the third match!" A booming voice announces from the screen. Johnny glares up at the screen as an image of a cloaked figure appears. It figures that even when they meet their bad guy, they don't even get to know what he looks like.
"Johnny!" Peter hisses urgently, tugging on his arm to get his attention. "Cyclops is here too and She-Hulk."
She-Hulk? He hadn't even known she was missing.
"This round we have Spiderman versus The Human Torch!" The ground shakes with the noise of applause but Johnny cannot see the crowd.
"What is he talking about?" Johnny glares up at the screen. "Hey! Come down here and talk to me yourself!"
"Johnny- pay attention!" The desperate note in Peter's voice draws Johnny's attention back to his friend. "They made me fight She Hulk."
"How could they make you-"
"I don't know," Peter cuts him off. "I'm just…really sorry and I totally don't mean it."
Johnny officially has no idea what's going on and really wishes someone would fill him in already. But it doesn't matter. Right now he has to get himself and Peter out of there and work on finding the others. If She Hulk is here too, who knows how many heroes have been kidnapped.
It's on the tip of his tongue to tell this guy where he can shove it when the world spins and everything kind of goes sideways.
He blinks and he's flamed on without even realizing it.
He's in the air, circling around high above.
He's throwing fireballs at a figure darting around below him. He tries to make out who it is but then,
Something hard hits him and he falls and falls and his flame is out and,
There's a pain but he can't place it. He's in the air again, flying low and he spots his target.
He melts the webbing that surrounds him but cannot take to the air again before he's attacked.
And the flame grows larger and larger and he unleashes the fire inside with a harsh cry,
The world turns sideways again and everything goes black.
"Johnny!" Someone's calling him. "Torch, come on, wake up! Damn, can't do anything from this cell…Johnny!"
He rolls his head to the side and opens his eyes. Tony stares at him from the other cell, crouched up against the wall closest to Johnny. Sheer relief floods his face when Johnny looks at him and he settles back onto his heels.
"Peter?" Johnny rolls his head the other way, searching for his friend but he's back in the cell. All he has is the disjointed memories floating around in his head. The fight, his flames- oh god, he'd fought Peter- what had he been thinking?
"You found Spiderman?"
Johnny sits up quickly, too quickly apparently as he nearly falls back down. His head is spinning and his arm is throbbing. The fight had been real. He'd hurt his friend.
Johnny raises a hand to his face and squeezes his eyes shut to try to stop the spinning. It works after a few minutes and he lowers the hand again before facing Tony.
"They made me fight Peter."
He wishes he were talking to Ben, that Ben were there with him. It's a selfish thought but he holds onto it. Ben would tell him that everything was going to be okay, that Peter's tough and that when they bust out they'd find the bad guy and clobber him.
"Did you use your powers?" Tony asks. Johnny nods and shifts until he's leaning against the far wall. He certainly feels like he's been in a fight. This is what it feels like to not hold back.
He hopes Peter is okay. God, he'd better be alright.
"It must be some kind of mind control."
Great, so they have magic and mind control to deal with. His week just keeps on getting better.
"Any luck with Extremis?" Johnny asks, not really all that surprised when Tony just shakes his head.
"I tried everything I could think of." He admits with a rueful smile. "So, I'm going to take your advice, at least for now."
Johnny nods, head against the cool wall, then claps his hands together.
"Well, the others should be here soon."
He blinks and Tony is gone.
Johnny isn't sure how long he sits there watching the spot where Tony Stark has just disappeared from but he knows it's longer than he probably should.
It's not like he knows how long he was gone from his cell, so he has no idea how long Tony will be gone. And he's fairly sure he knows where the other man is.
The coliseum, he has to be there.
Probably fighting someone they know.
Johnny spends the next little while searching the edges of the box for some weakness that they could have missed. When that doesn't work he tries to flame on. He can feel the fire burning inside and knows what he wants it to do but it's like something is blocking it.
Reed would probably come up with some really long formula and have it figured out in no time.
He figures this is what he gets for tempting fate or something.
"Hey! Why don't you come down here and fight me yourself! Or are you too scared?!"
Yelling at an unseen foe helps a bit. He nearly punches the wall again before he remembers the jolt and catches himself in time. There's no point in hurting himself.
Right, it's been at least twenty minutes (and this is just a guess) and he hasn't gotten anywhere.
So with a final glare at the ceiling he sits back down and continues to stare at the spot where Tony had disappeared from.
Ben will be there soon. It's not just wishful thinking, he can feel it.
He blinks and Tony is back.
The man appears, lying on his back and unconscious.
His shirt is soaked with sweat and something that looks suspiciously like blood but Johnny can see the steady rise and fall of his chest, so that's something at least. He tries calling his name but the other man doesn't so much as twitch, so Johnny lets it be for the moment.
He's not sure how much longer he sits there before Tony does begin to wake up, letting out a low groan before blue eyes flutter open.
"Hey." Johnny crawls over to the wall closest to the man and crosses his legs, leaning forwards. "I'd ask how you feel but I think I already know."
He watches as dark brows draw together in confusion momentarily before clearing. Instead there's suddenly a tired, but blinding smile on the other man's face and Johnny starts to worry about concussions. He can't see any bumps but that doesn't mean they're not there.
"I did it."
Johnny frowns, unsure as to what he's talking about.
"I had to fight Iron Fist, but I did it."
At least they found another one of the missing heroes. He's worried about Tony though, he seems delirious and Johnny's no doctor but he gets the feeling that that's not good.
"Don't worry, we'll get out of here soon." Johnny tells him, trying to find the injuries that Tony must have. Oh god, is that blood on his ear? That's really bad.
Tony frowns again, and then sits up before Johnny can tell him to lay still.
"I know that." The other man tells him, and then looks down at his soaked shirt with a grimace. "I got a message out."
Johnny is pretty sure that his mouth just dropped open in shock but he doesn't care much at the moment. This had better not be some sort of joke; he'd better understand Tony properly.
Tony grins again, a shark like grin.
"When I was fighting Iron Fist, they gave me back my armor. And I got a bit of Extremis back."
Johnny's feeling pretty light headed at the moment and he can't quite believe it, but it has to be true.
"It only worked for a couple of seconds before I lost control." Tony continues and runs a hand through his hair, pushing back the damp strands. "But it's enough for Reed to get a lock."
Helps coming. Help is coming. Johnny can't wait to get out of the cell and kick some bad guy ass.
Ben will be there in no time and normally Johnny has slight issues with being the damsel in distress, but hey- if Ben's his prince charming then he's all for it. And he may not be able to get Ben to go on a date with him, or admit that he really does like him, but he knows without a doubt that Ben will be the one crashing through the door to get to him.
"See, told you that help would be coming." Johnny informs the other man, grinning. "We've just gotta wait now."
Not much longer.
He blinks, for the second time today, disoriented. He'd hate to make it into a habit.
The coliseum swims back into focus. Johnny grits his teeth, clenches his fists and faces whoever they think he's going to be fighting this time.
He recognizes the girl standing in front of him, it's not Kitty Pryde, he remembers her photo, but he's pretty sure that she is part of the X-Men.
"What's going on?" She demands in a southern drawl and Johnny remembers who she is. Rogue, Bobby had introduced them once.
Johnny turns from her, the screen lights up and their hooded bad guy appears again.
"Welcome to the sixth match!"
Not this time.
Johnny closes his eyes, breathes deep and reaches deep down into himself.
"Flame on!" He shouts.
The fire grows and grows inside his chest until it's begging to be let out but it's trapped.
"Flame on!" He shouts again, louder, with desperation. "Flame on!" He can do this- he can do this- come on!
"Rogue versus the Human Torch!"
No, no, no- he will not fight again.
The world turns sideways. There's a light touch on his arm and it feels like his soul is being sucked right out of his body. He screams but cannot move, cannot do anything but stand there and let it happen until suddenly it's gone.
His flames cocoon him as he shakes and tries to recover.
A fireball hits him and it hurts, it actually hurts. He can feel the heat.
He's in the air, circling, throwing balls of fire but his opponent is in the air as well blocking his every move and returning with her own.
He's falling and falling and hits the ground. His flames go out and for a moment he has perfect clarity- what is he doing? He shouldn't be fighting Rogue; they need to get out of there, save the others. Ben's coming. Ben. He opens his mouth but all that comes out is,
And he's in the air, fighting again.
He's getting hotter and his opponent is getting hotter and together they clash. The walls rumble and the floor shakes.
Blue lightning fills the room, knocking them apart and down below there are more people but he ignores them and dives back in, driving up his flame and getting closer and closer to nova.
There's shouting and more blue lightning and then suddenly something surrounds him, caging him in a bubble that he cannot see.
He burns brighter, hotter and tries to force his way out.
Someone is yelling at him, calling out to him. He's going nova, he's-
There's no more air.
His flames are dying and he's gasping and with one more push he burns as bright as he can and he's free. But his flames are out and darkness is pulling at him as he falls.
"It's okay kid, I got'ya. You're okay."
He's being carried, cradled against a body that he would recognize anywhere. Finally.
He smiles and tries to open his eyes but it's too much and he's safe so he just lets go and lets the darkness drag him under.
He doesn't know how much later it is when he resurfaces. He does know that he's still cradled, protectively in large, rocky arms. The pounding in his head is catching up to him and wrecking the moment, however. He raises a shaky hand and rubs at his eyes and suddenly everyone is talking at once.
He pries his eyes open in time for his sister to launch herself at him and suddenly he's squished between Ben's chest and his sister. He's pretty sure that that is Reed completing the hug and pushed up against his feet.
"Sis, kinda can't breath here." Johnny protests lightly without really any heat.
"Sorry." She apologizes, then pulls back and frowns at him. "Jonathan Spencer Storm, if you ever get yourself kidnapped like this again, I'll- I'll-"
She trails off a little and kind of sags and Johnny squeezes her hand.
"Yeah, me too." He offers.
Ben waits for Reed and Sue to step back before setting Johnny down onto his own feet but keeps one large hand on his back, as though he's keeping Johnny from falling over but Johnny's balance is slightly better and he knows that Ben just isn't ready to let him get too far away again.
"What happened to the others?" Johnny asks. It's only the four of them at the moment and he's fairly certain that there were more people before. He knows for a fact that none of the Fantastic Four can control lightning. Blue lightning at that.
"We had to split up to search all the rooms." Sue explains, eyeing him critically. If he looks any where near as bad as he feels then he can understand it.
He finally takes the time to look around and realizes that they're back in the room where Johnny's cell is. It doesn't take him long to spot Captain America crouching next to another one of the cells, Tony Stark wrapped up in his arms and their foreheads touching. It's an entrancing sight, watching the emotions play across their faces. Apparently Tony's absolute faith in Steve hadn't been faked at all.
"How did you get here?" Johnny tares his eyes away from the scene and looks back at his team. His sister has kind of a soft look on her face as she spots what he was watching, while Reed is watching Sue with the same look. For the first time Johnny cannot read the look on Ben's face. "Better yet, where is here?"
His family exchanges a look and he knows he isn't going to like the answer.
"You are in a sub dimension of the basement apartment of a forty-two year old warlock who lives in his mother's basement." Reed explains with a completely straight face.
Johnny first isn't sure whether Reed's joking or not, but Ben is smirking at him; so instead he tries to decide between being embarrassed and pissed off or just melting all of the action figures their previous captor probably has. The second sounds like much more fun.
"You've got to be joking."
" 'Fraid not matchstick." Ben claps a hand on his shoulder and pulls him against his side. Johnny takes a moment to be confused, but pleased with how he is now plastered against Ben, and then glares up at the still present smirk. "You were kidnapped by a geek."
He's ready to start spouting off insults at the comment but he looks closer and- huh. The smirk is looking rather strained. No matter what Ben says Johnny knows he was worried.
"So, how'd you get here then?" He asks instead. "Did Doctor Strange finally return your call?"
Reed gets an odd, sheepish look on his face and returns to playing with a hand held computer that he swears wasn't there before.
"We called the Young Avengers." Sue explains. "And Wiccan teleported us here."
Johnny may just die of embarrassment before he makes it home.
They meet up with Wolverine, Cyclops, Rogue and Kitty Pryde in the next room over, which is just as large as the previous room and identical except for the claw marks tearing through two of the cells.
Johnny's going to be dreaming of those cells for weeks.
Kitty doesn't look too worse for wear but Sue still hovers by her side like the mother hen she refuses to admit she is.
Johnny casts a quick glance at Rogue, but she refuses to meet his eyes so he looks away just as quickly.
Wolverine has Cyclops' arm over his shoulders and an arm around his waist and it looks like they're arguing quietly at the back of the group as they make their way hopefully towards the exit. Or the rest of their group- whichever comes first.
They have to stop for a few minutes when Luke Cage comes barreling through one of the walls, some suspicious looking slime dripping from his shirt.
Johnny pulls himself away from Ben (with some difficulty as the man in question doesn't seem to want to let go) and rushes over as another group of heroes steps through behind Cage.
"Pete!" And Johnny feels a large rush of relief that makes him weak at the knees when his friend appears, unscathed and not horribly burned. Oh god- he'd been convinced he'd burned one of his best friends.
"Hey!" Pete grins and wraps his knuckles against the proffered fist. "Looks like we're busting out!"
"You ever notice you're always being kidnapped?" Luke is grinning along with them as he pulls Danny Rand through the hole in the wall. "Jess is gonna kick your ass when we get home."
She-Hulk and Wiccan are last to step through the hole, the same strange slime sticking to their clothes as well.
She-Hulk catches his odd look but just shrugs. He gets the feeling that there is a long story to go with the slime.
"If we're all here," Johnny looks around. "Then where's the bad guy?"
"Wiccan left him with the other Young Avengers." Cap explains. He has his shield in one hand and is holding Tony up with the other arm and looks like he could probably still kick ass without a problem.
"It was rather ingenious," Reed pops up, slipping into scientist mode. "He worked in the bakery on the street you all disappeared from and he somehow managed to construct a system that detected heroes."
"But he could only grab one at a time." Tony ads on, straightening up and Johnny just knows they're about to go into full lecture mode. "Which was why he didn't grab Cap when he grabbed me."
"Uh, the spell I cast on him probably won't last too much longer and I don't think the other Young Avengers will be happy if he gets free and we're not there." Wiccan pipes up, stopping the two geniuses' from continuing. "We should probably be getting back to them."
Ben's hand lands on his shoulder again and Johnny doesn't have the chance to be really confused because Wiccan starts chanting.
"I want us to be back in the basement, I want us to be back in the basement, I want…"
Johnny's honestly not sure what to make of the situation. A large part of him feels offended and kind of embarrassed when they reappear in the basement. He's going to be tormented for months over the fact that his captor sleeps on Star Wars sheets and has a life sized poster of him in one corner of the basement apartment. A smaller part of him that he's not letting anyone know about ever is nervously glancing around, making sure that their bad guy, a guy apparently named Frank Wallace, is still secure and isn't about to make him lose control again.
He's terrified of losing control again.
Just in case he keeps a bit of distance between himself and, well, everyone else while they're there.
Except Ben who seems to know exactly what he's thinking and plants himself firmly between Johnny and Wallace. Ben doesn't need to know how grateful he is for the small act.
And he's back to being embarrassed about being kidnapped by some guy named Frank Wallace. He doesn't even have a super villain name!
Or a costume for that matter.
The man who managed to give Reed Richards a run for his money is dressed in jeans and an X-man shirt and sulking. Johnny still can't wrap his head around the fact that this is the guy who made him lose control of his flame.
Franks not talking but he gets the feeling that he was collecting heroes, like he collected the figurines on his shelf.
It sends a cold shiver down Johnny's spine and he automatically steps closer to Ben, breathing a light sigh of relief when a rocky hand pulls him closer.
The Baxter building is finally quiet hours later. Reed has all of the heroes that had been captured sleeping in various places all over the building, monitoring them for any sign that something isn't right.
Johnny hadn't been the only one to flat out refuse to sleep in the lab. He'd watched as Tony and Steve had ducked into one of the empty rooms down the hall and, slightly surprised when Wolverine had dragged Cyclops down another corridor. He'd never taken Wolverine as the mother hen type.
So, everyone is tucked away in their beds (most borrowed), sound asleep- except Johnny.
The firm mattress and soft sheets feel great in comparison to the hard floor he'd been stuck with for close to two days apparently. His room is warm and quiet and best of all not see through. He still cannot sleep.
There's nothing wrong with his room, or the building- it's him.
Every time he closes his eyes he can't help but see the cell, or Peter or Rogue or someone else being swallowed up by his flame.
He can't fall asleep, he can't let himself. Part of him is terrified he'll lost control of his flame.
With a sigh that sounds loud in the quiet room he shoves back his blankets and swings his legs over the side of the bed. The hallway is just as silent and dark as it was a few nights ago, the only change being that this time he's dressed in a loose pair of sweat pants and a t-shirt. He's jumping at every thing too- every little shadow or noise and this time there's no one sitting in the kitchen to calm him.
A glass of water doesn't help either.
He pads silently back down the hall towards his room and somehow finds himself in front of Ben's door.
It'd be easy to just slide the door open and slip inside. He raises a hand to the door and pauses, inches away.
Ben had all but disappeared during Reed's various tests- in fact, for someone who had been so worried and clingy in the sub dimension, he'd been absent for quite a lot of the night.
Maybe Ben had realized he was getting Johnny's hopes up and didn't want to deal with him?
He pulls his hand away from the door and makes to head back down the hall to his own room.
The door slides open.
"Johnny?" Ben stands on the other side, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. Johnny knows he wasn't being loud, that he can't be the reason Ben's up.
"Hey Benjy" He rubs the back of his head awkwardly, searching for some good reason to be lurking outside of Ben's room at four in the morning.
Ben watches him for a moment then turns and heads back into his room, sitting on the edge of his bed, leaving the door open for Johnny to come in.
"Couldn't sleep?" His voice rumbles throughout the room and the door slides shut behind Johnny.
He's been in Ben's room tons of times, mostly to pull his newest prank. This is different.
Johnny shakes his head and stands awkwardly in the middle of the room.
"I was just about to come and see if you were up." Ben admits.
He raises an eyebrow at this; it figures Ben would be the one to know he wasn't asleep.
An awkward silence descends upon them, Johnny rocks back and forth on his feet while Ben picks absently at the blankets.
"I should be getting ba-" Johnny starts as Ben says,
"Oh screw it."
They both pause and then start snickering and Johnny feels better than he has in hours.
"C'mere." Ben suddenly slides back on the bed and holds up the blankets in what can only be a clear invitation and Johnny freezes. There's no way- he can't mean it. "Before I change my mind Matchstick."
Johnny crosses the room in three steps and slides under the blankets. Ben settles in next to him, in the impossibly large bed and Johnny is left even more confused. Something has changed, he knows, something major.
Then an arm slips around his waist and pulls him flush against a smooth, rocky chest with an explosive sigh and he decides to just go with it.
He can feel the tension seeping out of his body and while the images of the cell are still there, he knows that it won't be able to get him, he's safe with Ben.
"Don't do it again." Ben orders and Johnny takes a moment to figure out what he's missed.
"Aww, were you worried about me?" He teases lightly and the arm around his waist tightens fractionally.
"Yeah." Ben rumbles and Johnny can feel the vibrations. "So don't do it again."
He can't promise not to get kidnapped again because it really does happen a lot, just like Ben can't promise him the same thing. But,
"I promise to try not to get kidnapped by nerds putting on gladiator shows for their friends." Because it would be really embarrassing if it were to happen again.
Ending on a slightly happy note! Love it? Hate it? Want to become Frank and collect super heroes too? :)