Oh wow this took me longer than I expected. I was more or less attacked by a plot bunny and this is the result. I hope you enjoy the random idea :)

It wasn't everyday that the city bore witness to exploding piles of garbage.

Buttercup groaned, trying to rise up from the filth surrounding her. A green streak circled above her, laughing manically. She managed to glare at him, but wasn't able to do much else. This fight had lasted for the better part of the night. Even for the toughest Powerpuff Girl, getting smashed face-first into concrete and steel for almost twelve hours took a toll on a body, superhero or otherwise.

Butch wasn't making her suffering any easier. He circled like an immature vulture, cackling and pointing and making lewd gestures. He laughed and laughed, calling her weak and sissy and a little baby girl. She knew enough not to let it get to her, but some of it still stung as bad as her injuries. Still, though, she glared away, occasionally using heat rays to make him falter in flight. It earned her a final kick to the gut, but she punched him in the face hard enough to get him to stagger off and leave.

Buttercup could only fall back limply into the refuse when the Rowdyruff flew off. She looked up at the sky, debating on going home or just hanging out at Him's diner (sure he was a villain, but his flapjacks were phenomenal), how she would explain it to the Professor. First she just had to find the will to get up, lest someone find her -

"Yous okay, kid?" Ace drawled, leaning on the mound below her "Looks like you took a heluva hit."

"Get lost, Ace." The green puff whined, lowering her head. Of all the people she stand to talk to-

The mound suddenly shifted, Ace taking a cozy spot right next to her. He seemed less than affected by her glare though it more often than not had spelled doom for him and his gang. She tied growling at him, but he just rested his chin in his hand and looked at her.

"Didn't I tell you to get lost?" Butter threatened again, raising her fist. Ace smirked.

"And where am I supposedta go, huh? Yous chase me here an' run me outta town all da time. Dis is da only place I can go witout yous girls beatin up on me."

Buttercup snorted and kicked some garbage, scowling at the junk. Ace simply waited, looking at her. She balled her hands into fists, wanting to hit him. But she shook. She had no will to hit him, or to do much of anything really. She was still weak. He could beat up this green jerk but she… just didn't want to right now.

"Yous still wit me, kid?" Ace tried, waving a hand in front of her

"Yeah, yeah."

"What da hell's up wit the Powerpuffs. Yous come in guy now?"

"Rowdyruff boys… That one was Butch. He's my… boyfriend."

"Boyfriend" Ace whistled low, "Damn… yous dat old, huh?"

"Oh shut up."

"Wha'd I say?"

"Just shut up! You're a jerk and he's a jerk and I don't need either one of yah!"

Ace fell quiet. The little puff (God she was like five yesterday- wasn't she?) seemed more pissed off than usual. Not something to willingly mess with. Plus, she was apparently now a hormonal teenage girl – and they could be real bitches about anything and everything. Anything that could potentially magnify Buttercups already rampant anger problem would probably spell his death- or at least an extended hospital stay. But, Ace figured, there was something in her tone, her stance, just something that tipped him off. She wasn't being a teenager – there was something really bugging her about this boyfriend or whatever.

"He ain't… tried tah hurt yah, has he?" The gangster asked, trying to phrase the question carefully. Talking to her was proving a difficult task – he saw her often enough to know how to make small talk and lie but not much else. How much innocence did she, could she have left? The gangster wasn't about to tread on what remained.

"Wha- Oh. Oh! Oh no. Not-" She shook her head and stood up suddenly, raising her fist "I can take care of myself! Stay out of it."

"Stay off my garbage and I'll stay outta it!" He shouted back, covering his face and preparing for a hit. When none came he pushed the question a little more "Seriously though, yous feelin alright?"

Buttercup paused, her fist in the air, ready to beat the Gangreen Gang leader into submission. Her strength was coming back swiftly – kicking some weaklings butt like Ace would be easy. But he didn't get up and run. He flinched a little, but that was probably a reflex by now. He just looked at her, wondering what was to come next. Buttercup wondered too. She could fight him, she could kick him from here to Kingdom Come, she could beat the snot out of the sunglasses wearing green skinned jerkface- but what about after? She'd just be alone with her thoughts again, and that couldn't lead anywhere good. Why did she feel so tired, looking at him looking at her so expectantly?

"No." She whispered, sitting back down. "No. I'm not."

"Den spill."

Much to both their surprise, she did. She told him about the constant fights, the bickering, the insults. The fighting came up a lot but she assured she could handle herself, thank you very much. The verbal torment came up less but it bothered her more to say it. Just once she let slip that it wasn't fair that it came so easily to her sisters and they were so happy and she wasn't… well, not exactly. Ace had stared at her, an eyebrow raised, and she quickly changed the subject. Once she had vented all she felt the need to, silence fell over them for a moment. Ace seemed to be thinking. Buttercup was beginning to regret making the Gangreen think for an extended period.

"C'mon kid." He murmured suddenly, looking at her and chancing a hand on her shoulder. "You're bedda than this, Buddacup."

"Oh, What the hell do you know?"

"I know yous. Yous got so much goin for yah, kid – even iffin yous wanna boyfriend. Don' waste it on trash."

"But I'm not wasting it on you." She shot back, looking at him. He seemed less than moved.

"Least I wouldn't try tah rough you up an' make you feel like hell."

Buttercup huffed and crossed her arms, resting them on her knees and her chin on her arms. The older man looked at her, considering his last words while she huffed and puffed irritably. Ace wasn't exactly a man of conviction. He didn't set out to do much and accomplished even less, even with four other guys to help him. He took it easy. He didn't like to fight all that much. He did what he could to get by and didn't invest much, physically or (God forbid) emotionally into any situation. This was, as far as he was concerned, dangerous turf for him to be stomping all over.

But why did he care at all? After all the times he had beat him to all sorts of hell he should be pointing and laughing at her too. But he wasn't. In some weird way maybe he kinda respected the Puff, if only because she didn't buy into all this goody goody crap her sisters seemed to eager to embrace. She was more down to earth, more understanding, more outcast. More like him. He kinda liked that about her. Still, the Gangster wasn't much willing to risk his hide to save a Powerpuff by standing up to a Rowdyruff. There wasn't much more he could do for the kid but sit and listen to her.

When she didn't find any more things to say, it went quiet again. Ace picked at the ground, pulling up some yellow weeds, peeking at her. The silence was quickly becoming awkward, and it was more than clear that she hadn't wanted him around from the start. His job was done as far as he was concerned. He did he good deed of the day – listened to his mortal enemy spill her guts about some jerk that she was probably too young to date, anyhow. So he got up, tossed her the small assortment of mucked-up weeds, stretched, and started off.

"Take it easy, Buddacup." Ace muttered, sliding off the mound of garbage and ambling off without another word.

Buttercup stared after him, holding the little bouquet in her lap. A part of her was stunned at Ace's gesture. Another part was furious at that jerk for trying to bribe her with cheap weeds. And another part was grateful for the attention – but that part was very small, small enough to be ignored and forgotten (if only to keep her sane for the moment). She picked up the flowers, holding them in her hands. She wanted to toss them away – they were only weeds growing out of toxic gunk, after all. But she didn't. Not yet. She'd toss them back home. In the garbage disposal. Maybe.

The Powerpuff Girl flew off, her green streak lighting the sky, reflecting off a dark pair of sunglasses as they watched her soar away.