Familiarity - part one

By Forbidden Donut

Summary: Two New Warriors find their friendship take on a new form as they ponder love and loss.

Author Note: Set during the events of Civil War, this is an old story and I've given it a bit of a rewrite.

Disclaimer: Characters not owned by me nor do I profit from their use.

In no small way, they were all being blamed for the actions of their dead team mates. He wanted to be in the thick of the action but something held him back, a feeling of being watched, being judged, being held to account. In a moment of weakness and paranoia he'd asked the other Warriors about it, and they'd all admitted that they felt the same eyes on them.

So Justice stood watching from the rail as the Secret Avengers returned from the mission to rescue Captain America. They had come out badly in this lastest sortie. Lost people to the other side, lost people to SHIELD, and then there was Goliath.

Debrii stood close to him and they watched silently as Captain America rallied the troops from a seat he perched on while they healed his wounds.

"It's not fair. I didn't do a damn thing but they're treating me like I killed those people, those kids."

He didn't look at her, despite on some level agreeing with her sentiment. Debrii was not a New Warrior he knew well and there was no camaraderie between them, not like he'd shared with Night Thrasher, Nova, Namorita, Firestar and Speedball. The first Warriors had been more than just team mates, they'd been his family when he'd needed one, and no team since had felt the same.

Despite the fact she was not his team mate, there were many responses he could have made, any number would have been friendly and supportive, but he was tired and numb and unable to share even a trace of sympathy with her. He just didn't believe her unhappiness was driven by the same emotions as his.

Ultra Girl chose that moment to appear between them. "Life's unfair, Deb," someone muttered behind them. "Get over yourself, other people are hurting more than you."

"The hell? Who do you think you are to tell me that, Barbie?" said Debrii to the blonde Californian.

Justice sighed and stepped in before it came to anything. All of the Warriors were on edge. More than any of the other heroes realised or seemed to care. "Not here, not now," he said sharply under his breath to the two girls. "We don't need anyone seeing the New Warriors scrap. Just step away from each other and cool off, both of you."

He walked away feeling their eyes on his back.

Later, he sought out an unoccupied bed but slept uneasily, visions of his friends playing out parts from horrific scenarios in his mind. He woke with a cry suspended on his lips which he quickly repressed into a low gasp. The room had been half full when he'd first come in but now it was mostly empty.

"Are you okay? You seemed a bit on edge earlier..." Suzanna Sherman sat cross-legged on the next bed, watching him.

"Just tired. I'm sorry if I was a little abrupt." He sat up and rubbed his face.

She shook her head, "No, it was a fair comment. It's good someone is policing us. Better you than Cap." She gave him a wry smile.

He nodded. Encouraged, she unfolded her legs and stood up, moving to sit next to him, bumping his hip so he would move over. "Trouble sleeping?" she asked.

"I can sleep... it's just the dreams that..." His voice trailed off. She placed her hands on either side of his face, thumbs on his cheeks and slid the partial mask down, his dark hair tousled from sleep and his face tired and troubled. He looked disapprovingly at her.


Her smile turned slightly mischievous. "I like it when you say my name, not too many men call me that." She leaned sideways until her lips were very close to his right ear, their cheeks millimetres apart, then whispered in his ear, "I feel like you're scolding me, Vance. I'm a grown woman, not that much younger than you so you make me feel a little naughty when you say my name that way and I like it, I like it a lot."

He blushed and took a breath to reply but she put a finger on his lips, shaking her head, cutting off anything he might have said.

"Turn around so I can rub your shoulders, you're so tense."

Vance turned his back to her as ordered, mostly to hide how confused that confession had made him feel. He'd been told more than once that he wore his emotions too readily, visible to everyone and anyone. It wasn't so long ago that Angel had broken his heart, Suzanna was as different from Angel as any woman could be. She rubbed his shoulders tenderly, using hands strong enough to crack his body in half to sooth the tension from his strung out muscles. He closed his eyes, yielding to the small intimacy, and she ran her slim fingers through his hair, massaging his temples.

"You knew Debrii was getting to me..." he said suddenly, feeling foolish for not having seen it earlier.

"This is what you're thinking about? My touch must be slipping." She snorted in amusement then murmured, "It's pretty obvious you and Rage are going through hell. I'm just trying to run a little interference where I can."

She slid her arms around him, resting her hands lightly on his stomach. He didn't push her away but nor did he invite further contact so she pulled him closer, feeling him resist, until her cheek pressed up against his broad shoulders.

"Vance, let me in. Tell me what you're thinking."

He shook his head. "Can't."

Sitting back, she urged him to turn so she could look him in the face and see the raw emotion there.

"I want to help. I want to do more than help..."

He took her into his arms, embracing her benignly. "Suzanna... Suzie, I'm not ready yet. I'm fond of you, it's just..."

She took his face in her hands and drew him down, kissing him. He tried to jerk away but she held him until he responded finally, returning a kiss of his own.

"Was that so hard?" she said, smiling.

"You have no idea," he murmured, a slight smile playing at the corners of his mouth.