"It's still stuck!"

"Really guys, it's fine, this happens all the time. I'll be back to normal in a few days."

"Or," Annex called, his head materializing out of the hunk of metal I-beam grafted to Weld's chest, "You could stop fidgeting and let us help."

As he pushed against the wall of the Wards' breakroom with two dark grey metal arms that jutted out of either side of the I-beam, Golem couldn't help but feel responsible for the situation. After all, it was his reflexes (or lack thereof) that prompted Weld to rush forward during the joint training exercise, breaking Golem's fall from the second story of an abandoned construction site and running chest-first into that I-beam. Having thoroughly embarrassed himself in front of one of the more popular and renowned Wards in the country, Golem wished there was something he could do to make it up to the metal man.

"Hmm," Annex mused from his awkward perch mere millimeters from Weld's face. "I could try to thin it out so there's less surface area where it's stuck to you."

Weld stopped struggling as he considered. "That might actually work. Okay, how about if-"

A sound of grinding metal interrupted the conversation as the I-beam lurched forward and away from Weld. With a noise of alarm, Annex's form leaped from the I-beam to stand off to the side. The I-beam stopped about a foot from Weld's chest and hung there for a beat, before it sagged and fell to the ground with a heavy clang.

There was utter silence as Annex and Weld tried to process what had just happened.

Two undersized chrome arms protruded from Weld's chest, roughly where his nipples had been, with their index fingers extended outward. A bit of dark metal adorned each index finger where gravity had torn the I-beam away.

In eerie synchrony, Weld and Annex turned to look at Golem, whose arms were extended elbow-deep into chrome plates at his hips, and whose face bore an expression of dumb shock.

"Huh," he said lamely. "Didn't think that would work."

Weld opened his mouth to respond, but was immediately cut off by the thud of Annex's body hitting the floor as the Ward convulsed with hysterical laughter. Golem blushed, his face screwed up with humiliation, and withdrew his arms from the metal plates. He'd waited too long, however, and the tiny arms remained where they were.

Annex's howls redoubled at this, and Weld's dumbfounded stare gave way to a wry, if self-conscious, smile.

"I am so sorry," Golem cried, mortified. "My power doesn't usually work on organics, but I didn't know if...I mean, I didn't-" He turned on Annex suddenly. "Will you shut up?!"

"THAT IS THE FUNNIEST THING...I HAVE EVER SEEN...IN MY ENTIRE LIFE," Annex managed between heaving fits of laughter, before breaking into one long, shaking wheeze.

Weld approached Golem and put a hand on his shoulder. "Really, Golem, it's okay. See?" He gestured at his chest, where the tiny arms were slowly retreating back into his body.

"Right," Golem breathed, wiping sweat from his brow. "Changer rating."

"No harm, no foul!" Weld's friendly cheeriness seemed to exacerbate Annex's condition, and the Ward leaned against a wall to maintain his balance as his laughter finally began to trail off.

Golem smiled timidly. "If you say so." He addressed Annex once again. "Swear you won't tell anyone about this? Please?"

"Seconded," Weld intoned, rubbing at his now-ordinary-looking nipples.

"I don't even care," Annex sighed, wiping at his eyes. "Nobody would believe me anyway. I can die happy now."

"Good," Golem replied, as a smile made its way to his cheeks because he had to admit, it was pretty funny.


Weld stepped into the Wards' conference room. "Good afternoon," he said by way of greeting to the assembled Brockton Bay and Chicago Wards. "I know it's been a while since our last joint exercise, but I'm hoping we can build on what we worked on the last time. Let's talk about expectations. I was hoping..."

As he spoke and clicked through a dull but very polished PowerPoint presentation, two young men near the back tuned him out, whispering nervously under their breath.

"...I don't think I can do this."

"No! You promised, and I already told you, there's five hundred bucks in it for you if you do it."

"Okay, okay, but shut up, I want to time it right." The two turned their attention back to the presentation at the front.

"And that's basically it," Weld was saying. "Questions?" A hand shot up from one of the seats in the front. "Yes, Weaver?"

The ex-villain straightened her posture and rose her voice so as to be heard. "I've been thinking, and I had some ideas for ways to combine our individual powers. I think some of these combinations could give us a huge combat advantage. Can we devote some time to that?"

Weld nodded, grateful for the question. "Sure, Weaver. Let's maybe tackle that after we...break for...lunch..." He trailed off as he felt a disturbing sensation coming from his chest, somewhere between a tickle and an itch.

He looked down to see two life-sized chrome fingers protruding from his nipples.

After a beat, the fingers began to waggle up and down suggestively. Other than a high metallic creaking, not a sound was heard.

"...God fucking damn it, Golem," Weld ground out, before the room descended into chaos.