A/N: I cooked this up in less than an hour, so please forgive the... well, everything. Warnings for swearing and sexual innuendo; nothing too graphic. The Storm Hawks are very thankful that I don't own them.
"OW! Leggo my leg!"
It had seemed like such a simple, clever idea at the time.
"If you even touch the earrings, I'll make you eat them!"
Of course, she really should have known better.
"Dude, FOUL! Out of bounds! Out of bounds!"
"You see a referee around here, Finn? You think Talons play fair?"
"Fine, if that's how you're going to be-"
An outraged squawk from the pilot. "Do that again, I DARE you!"
Piper sighed. She'd heard the commotion from the hangar bay long before reaching it. Well, at least they were in the hangar bay. She could think of worse places for them to be doing this. Like, well, basically anywhere else on the ship.
"Okay. That's it. Time out."
She could practically hear Finn's smirk. "Dude, you think a Talon would let you call a timeout?"
"Oh, shut up."
It had all begun with attempts to teach Stork Sky-Fu. Everyone else on the team had learned at least the basic techniques, although some (FINN) didn't practice nearly as often as they should. With Stork becoming more and more active on missions, spending a greater portion of time outside the ship, it seemed only logical for him to practice self-defense too.
Immediately, a problem had become apparent.
WHAM! "Okay, time-out over."
"Hey! A little warning next time!"
"You think a Talon would give warning?"
"That's it - you're going DOWN, Stork!"
It turned out that the pilot actually did know Sky-Fu. In fact, when Piper had proposed the idea to him, he'd demonstrated a few moves for her, culminating in spin-kicking a houseplant down the hall into Finn's room. Which almost distracted her from asking the important question.
But can you use those moves against a person, Stork?
At that, he'd suddenly avoided her eyes.
It certainly wasn't compassion. Or mercy. She wasn't hearing any of that from him now, in the hangar. No, it was the same thing that kept him from acting in so many other situations: Fear.
She'd tried sparring with him. He was fine performing katas together, but then, when she went to "attack" him - nice and slow, easy to block - he seemed to forget everything and flinched, waiting for the blow. Again and again she tried to get him to counter her moves, even just to deflect the mock punches, to no avail. Eventually he started shaking so badly that they had to end the session entirely.
She didn't ask why. She knew enough about him by now that she could form a few guesses... but what really mattered was that, for all intents and purposes, Stork couldn't spar with them. Not with her, and therefore certainly not with Aerrow, who'd worked hard to gain Stork's fragile trust and wasn't about to jeopardize it by throwing punches at his face, for ANY reason. And Junko was out of the question - Stork found the poor wallop intimidating enough as it was. Radarr was a possibility, but they were mismatched in size and anyway, Stork was sometimes afraid of him too. Radarr had bitten him once - long ago, during the early days of tension and misunderstandings on the Condor, but it was enough to sour things between them.
"GAH! What the hell kinda move was that?"
That left Finn. As a sparring partner, he was less than ideal. His technique was shoddy, his attention span limited, and he had a tendency to try to turn Sky-Fu practice into an amateur wrestling match, complete with childish taunts. He also fought dirty, especially when he was losing. Junko went way too easy on him, and Aerrow had a bad tendency to revert to Finn's level of maturity whenever they sparred. As for Piper, she'd all but given up on him in disgust.
But in this case, Finn was the perfect partner, for one simple reason: Stork wasn't intimidated by him. At all. In fact, he and Finn had already gotten into scuffles once or twice, and the normally timid merb had shown absolutely no qualms about hitting back. If he were paired off with Finn for sparring, not only would he be able to hone his abilities against a flesh-and-blood opponent - and hopefully get used to fending off blows so that he might be able to block an enemy's when the time came - but also, the marksman would get some much-needed practice.
It was a brilliant solution. Piper was proud of it. And even now, she had to admit that, for the most part, it had worked. Stork had proven to be a devil of a fighter without that flinching reflex getting in the way, and even Finn's technique was improving. There were just two little problems.
"No, YOUR mother!"
"My mother's dead, asshole!"
"So is mine!"
Problem number one: Stork wasn't much more mature than Finn. In fact, he'd taken the "childish taunts" aspect of their sparring and turned it up to eleven. Finn, naturally, had followed suit, resulting in many exchanges like this one. Furthermore, Stork was just as dirty a fighter as Finn could ever hope to be, and THEN some. The result was that they tended to quickly forget about practicing Sky-Fu entirely, in favor of practicing "whatever the hell I can think of to kick your ass."
"I'm going to shove that thing so far up your-"
"You can't even reach it. Here, boy! Jump for it!"
"You're such a prick!" Crash.
But, as Aerrow had pointed out to her when she brought it up, Cyclonians didn't fight fair either. So okay, maybe the "whatever works" school of dirty fighting was an acceptable substitute for Sky-Fu as far as Storm Hawks were concerned... much as it might annoy a dedicated disciple such as Piper. But then there was the second problem.
"Arrgh! Get OFF!"
"Right here? That would be a bit awkward, don't you think?"
"I'll show you awkward!"
When Piper entered the hangar, she found them both lying on the floor. They were still grappling, after a fashion, but she'd never read about any combat technique that involved neck-sucking. Or ass-squeezing. "Oh, for Atmos' sake."
Finn detached his mouth from the base of the merb's throat to look up at Piper and say, "What?"
Stork didn't look remotely apologetic. "Do you mind?" he said to Piper, while grabbing something that made Finn gasp.
THIS was the second problem. It was one thing for Sky-Fu to devolve into amateur wrestling. It was another for wrestling to turn into... this.
She supposed it really wasn't much of a surprise, at least in Finn's case. His brain was in his crotch at the best of times, and getting his blood pumping only encouraged that. She had no idea what Stork's excuse was. Maybe beating up on Finn aroused him. Piper could perhaps marginally understand the appeal in that, but still...
"Could you two NOT do that here, please? Both of you have rooms. Pick one."
"Two little problems with that idea," Stork said, pushing Finn back down as the sharpshooter started to rise. "One - have you SEEN Finn's room? And two, my room is full of venomous pets. It's not a very good idea to... expose oneself around them." Finn shuddered, either at the thought or because Stork had grabbed something else while he was speaking. "Anyway, do you have a reason for being here, or did you just come in to grouse at us?"
"Maybe she wanted to watch," Finn said with a smirk. Then he considered his own words, and the smirk became a grimace. "...Ugh."
Piper fumed at them, inarticulate for once. In all honesty, she didn't have a reason for being here, other than complaining at them. There were at least a dozen other places she could be right now, any one of them preferable to here. But she felt obligated to tell them, "Just for the record, this is NOT what I had in mind when I suggested you two as sparring partners!"
Stork rolled his eyes. Finn just let out a laugh. "Ha! Yeah, right. This is the most awesome idea you've ever had, and you know it."
If looks could kill, Piper would've set them both on fire. Instead, she turned on her heel and walked out, knowing defeat when she saw it. I swear on the Aurora Stone, next time I have an idea that involves either of them, I'm going to flush it straight down the toilet.
Back in the hangar, Stork shook his head. Finn was staring after Piper, perplexed. "What's her problem?"
"I suspect she's jealous." It couldn't be easy for Piper, being the only female on board. Sometimes Stork almost felt sorry for her. Almost.
Finn obviously did not. "Like it's our fault she doesn't like dick," he said with a snort. "Why's she have to be so picky, anyway?"
Stork didn't bother trying to explain the complexities of sexuality and mind-body conflict to Finn. He just shrugged. "Women," he said, as though it explained everything. It didn't, but Finn wouldn't know any better.
"Tch, totally." Finn looked up at the pilot, who was still pinning him to the floor. "...Not like YOU have room to talk."
Strands of oily hair brushed his face as Stork turned back to him. "Oh, please. You've never complained. Besides, I've seen the way you look at my dresses."
"Dude, no way! Only when you're in 'em. And that's only because you're such a freak!"
Far from insulted, Stork smirked in amusement. "Ahh, male ego. So fragile, so easily pricked..."
"I'll show YOU who's easily pricked!"
"Oh, will you now?"
Stork had had enough of sparring for one day, anyway. Besides, Finn was a lot better at other things.
All's fair in love and war... and whatever these two have, which is somewhere in between.