Chapter 3: "Burning Chrome"
Disclaimer: Street Fighter and Resident Evil both belong to Capcom and to their initial creators. Alloy is the property of my good friend Cloud Link Zero and an OC from the Marvel Universe. Any characters referenced from Marvel Comics belong to Marvel Comics and not me or Cloud Link Zero. Similarly, characters referenced from Resident Evil and Street Fighter, as well as other Capcom properties, belong to Capcom and neither me nor Cloud Link Zero. This story is written as collaboration between myself and Cloud Link Zero and as a present from me to him.
Author's note: Been a while, hasn't it? A whole year, in fact. In that year, a lot has happened for both Marvel and Capcom. For Capcom, Resident Evil 6 has come out, DmC: Devil May Cry has arrived on game store shelves, Project X Zone will be coming out, and most thrillingly – Darkstalkers are not dead! For Marvel, Avengers Vs. X-Men has come and gone, leaving the setting with mutant numbers greater than ever before and a new Avengers team comprised of both X-Men and veteran Avengers to protect those new mutants and fight for peaceful human-mutant coexistence. Also in Marvel, Spider-Man is dead and yet not dead; specifically, Spider-Man endures, but the man behind his mask is not Peter Parker, yet he is marked by Peter Parker's memory and will. Yeah, 2013's such a trip so far.
Speaking of trips, it's time to usher in the summer of 2013, and I'll do so by finishing up this story, or at least the main body of it. There will be a bonus lemon chapter, but on a different site since I'm not up to chancing the punitive hand of the administrators here. Better safe than sorry, as you never know when something like Critics United or whatever might start up all over again. Beyond that, it is time to see how Alloy adjusts to his new world after the heroic sacrifice detailed in the last chapter, and how his new world adjusts to him, particularly two lovely and gutsy fighters named Chun-Li and Jill Valentine.
Is everyone ready? It's time to spread the word, and the word is . . . Alloy.
Lee Williams, alias Alloy, was following Jill and Chun-Li on a tour of their hotel base's restaurants. Their first stop was in one that served authentic Chinese food, and Lee decided he might as well try it out, with Chun-Li happy at his choice and Jill sticking around to be near her friend and their new acquaintance. As they ate, Jill started to say, in a hushed tone, "Your world is really strange."
"Really?" Lee asked. Then he chuckled. "I suppose it would be."
"I mean, real gods, real magic . . ." Jill uttered. "I'm still trying to get used to this 'ki-channeling' Chun-Li can do and . . ."
"You fight bioengineered horrors every day, as far as I've been told," Lee remarked with a wry grin.
Jill chuckled. "I deserved that, I guess. Sorry. It's just a lot to get used to, particularly since your friends seem to think nothing of going out in those outfits . . ."
"And what's wrong with their outfits?" Lee teased, raising an eyebrow.
Jill let out another, sheepish chuckle. "They seem more like the kind of outfits you'd wear to a Halloween party, not for saving the world."
Lee chuckled. "Standing out is pretty important in the superhero biz, and Wasp was a fashion designer."
Chun-Li smirked. "You ever see her for tips?"
"Nah . . . not my style," Lee replied. "Besides, my fashion needs were taken care of the moment I bonded with the Alloy."
"So it makes clothing for you, too?" Chun-Li surmised.
"Kind of," Lee admitted. "I just accepted the clothes here because the armor's in Safe Mode right now, meaning it won't be making me any clothes for the time being."
Jill smirked at Lee. "You ever think of hiring yourself out to a fashion designer? Since the Alloy could model any design you wanted and save lots of fabric."
"The practical uses of superpowers," Lee commented with a snicker. "Yeah, Jan tried to convince me once or twice. I wasn't really sold on it."
"Not your style, huh?" Chun-Li echoed with a teasing smirk. "What is your style, anyway?"
"Simple. Practical. Effective," Lee replied. "It's how I dress and how I fight."
"For someone claiming to be such a simple guy, your combat dress is very complicated," Chun-Li rejoined, still smirking teasingly at him.
"Bonding to an extra-dimensional alien suit will do that," Lee admitted. "At least mine's not trying to eat my brain."
Jill blanched at that, bad memories of the undead horrors of Umbrella springing to mind almost immediately. Catching this, Lee put a gentle hand over hers in reassurance. "Sorry. Didn't mean to trip you up."
"It's all right," Jill assured him. "It's just one of those things that stay with you, you know?"
Lee's eyes grew more somber as he related what she'd just said to his own bad memories, one in particular. "Yeah. I get it."
"So what did you mean by your suit not eating your brain?" Chun-Li wondered.
"Little story about my friend Spider-Man," Lee replied. "When he and other superheroes were dragged onto an alien planet to fight a bunch of super-villains for some omnipotent lunatic's idea of a chess match between good and evil, he found what he thought was just some kind of alien cloth that responded to his thoughts, creating clothes for him and producing its own webbing. It bonded with him, and he brought it back to Earth with him once the battle was over. However, it started trying to subvert his mind, taking his body out joy-swinging when he was asleep, and it affected his waking mind for the worse; how'd you react to not getting any real sleep in weeks? It made him angrier, more temperamental and combative, and he even nearly killed some crooks while the suit had him in some kind of fugue state.
"After he realized something was wrong with him, Spidey went to the Fantastic Four, specifically Reed Richards, to figure out what the hell was up with him and his costume. After analyzing a bit of the costume that he'd managed to tear off, Reed revealed that the suit was not just alive, but capable of thought and learning, and it would soon bond so completely with Spider-Man that they'd become effectively one entity, which freaked Spidey out. He tried to separate, but the suit was too attached in more ways than one and refused to let him go until he finally used the ringing bells of a nearby church to force it off him. Of course, that wasn't the end, not by a long shot."
"You mean it came back?" Jill deduced.
"Worse, it found a new host, someone who hated Spider-Man every bit as much as it did, and their combined hate created a monster, a monster named Venom. A monster that had every bit of Spider-Man's powers, but stronger, and knew every last one of his secrets, and one that wouldn't stop until he was dead – or, for the symbiote, back as its host. It's gone on to trade hosts every now and again, but every time, it's still fixated on Spider-Man, like the ex from hell."
Chun-Li shivered. "Sounds like a guy I fought who works for Bison. Vega, stone-cold killer, vainer than a peacock, and obsessed with me because he thinks I'm prettier than him."
Lee's eyes widened. "Wow. This guy sounds bent."
"In more ways than one," Chun-Li replied. "You bringing up Venom reminded me of him."
Lee sighed. "I keep doing that, don't I? Bringing up bad memories for the both of you . . ."
"You didn't know," Chun-Li said. "So don't beat yourself up so much."
"Can't help it," Lee admitted sardonically. "It's what being a superhero boils down to, an overwhelming sense of moral responsibility – and guilt. Can't forget the guilt."
Surprisingly, this drew chortles and giggles from Chun-Li and Jill. "At least you're self-aware," Jill remarked.
"So what about you two?" Lee asked. "We've talked plenty about me, but I'd like to know more about you both. Like, what got you into this in the first place?"
Chun-Li's eyes took on a more steely sheen. "My father was killed by Bison for trying to bring down his Shadaloo syndicate. I spent my life after that training in the martial arts, developing my control over my ki – and when I was old enough, I joined Interpol so I could find Bison and bring him to justice. Along the way, I ended up competing in a street fighting tournament or two, mostly because that was how Bison recruited his fighters and it would lead to him if I kept my nose to the pavement – or put other people's noses there."
Lee chuckled slightly at Chun-Li's quip. "Make any friends?"
"A few," Chun-Li replied with a smile. "You've met a few of them."
Lee smiled back. "Oh, yeah?"
"Cammy, Jill, and Guile, mainly," Chun-Li said. "Viper and I, not so much."
"She does seem like a hardass," Lee remarked.
Chun-Li let out a slight giggle from that. "She's a softie, deep down – she just doesn't want us knowing that."
"I'll bet," Lee commented, before turning to Jill. "What about you, Miss Valentine?"
Jill smirked at Lee. "You're not the first guy to play with my name like that."
"Then I hope you're not too pissed off with me," Lee answered.
Jill smirked and gestured to her face. "Does this look like the face of a pissed-off woman?"
Lee chuckled. "No, but go ahead."
"Chris and I were part of a special police unit in Raccoon City called S.T.A.R.S.," Jill explained. "That was where we met, and we've been pretty close since, especially after what happened in that mansion. We went in to investigate after our Bravo team never made it back from their investigation, and what we found . . . it was hideous. Bio-weaponization experiments run wild throughout the mansion, trying to kill and eat anything they got their hands on, and our captain, Albert Wesker, had sent us in there as guinea pigs. He should have died in there after trying to unleash one of the worst monsters, the Tyrant, on us . . . but he had something in him already, something that brought him back as some kind of superhuman – stronger, faster, tougher, all-around 'better' than the average human, at least in his sick mind."
"What happened after that?" Lee asked.
Jill closed her eyes and drew a breath before continuing. "We tried to get the truth out, but there was a smear campaign launched against us from within the RPD and by the media, calling us liars and lunatics and drug addicts who'd cooked up this insane story as a cover for our own conduct. We were ostracized, scorned, and Umbrella, Wesker's true employer and the effective owner of Raccoon City, covered it all up . . . all the atrocities they'd committed . . .
". . . until the infection spread so thoroughly that the U.S. government had to nuke the city to keep it from reaching the rest of the country. That was when we were able to gather enough evidence, Chris and I and others like us who'd seen the truth about Umbrella for ourselves, to expose their crimes to the world. Umbrella was shut down, but the genie was out of the bottle, so to speak; there were people actually crazy enough to think they could harness these living bio-weapons for their own goals, and each time they nearly destroyed the world. And Wesker, that bastard . . . he's still out there, still experimenting with his weapons and viruses to make himself some kind of new god for his brave new world."
The pain and rage in Jill's voice as she told her story struck a chord with Lee, reminding him of all the criminals and monsters in his own world that had destroyed so many lives and then relied on their status and influence to keep them free and clear of consequences for those actions. Monsters and criminals like Norman Osborn, Wilson Fisk, the Hammers, Victor Von Doom, the Hellfire Club . . . so many who would just destroy and corrupt and ruin everything they touched, and with the law subverted to their advantage, there was nothing that could be done about them without becoming an outlaw oneself.
"Guess we're even," Jill mused, catching Lee's grim expression. "I brought up bad memories for you, too."
Lee snorted ironically. "Yeah, guess we are." He looked at his plate, noticing that it was empty. "Wow. I didn't even notice I was eating."
"Did you like it?" Chun-Li asked, since it had been her idea to come to this restaurant.
"Yeah," Lee replied, before flagging a waitress. "Check, please."
As Chun-Li, Jill, and Lee returned to the base, Lee gave Jill a glance. "I'm not mad, Jill. It's just . . . what you said reminded me that some things are the same everywhere you go, the same kind of pain, the same kind of corruption, the same kind of . . . evil. No matter where you go, there are just people who are drunk on their own power and want more and more, and they don't care who they hurt because they think everyone else is a bunch of insects compared to them."
"You must have fought a lot of people like that back in your world," Jill mused.
"Yeah," Lee admitted. "And the thing is, since we don't have any real force of law sanctioning our actions, we're technically vigilantes, and they're the ones with the law on their side."
"It's the same with Bison," Chun-Li confessed. "He's a murderer and a sadistic, power-hungry monster, but Shadaloo has its tentacles so deep in nearly every hall of power in this world that the law's almost a sick joke."
"Yeah . . . laws always seem to have a hard time with guys like him," Lee somberly agreed.
As the three reentered the base, they were confronted by a lurking Crimson Viper, whose green eyes were aimed at Lee in a piercingly curious stare behind her yellow-tinted glasses. "It's rude to stare, you know," Lee commented.
"Your suit," Viper responded. "I want to test it against mine. See how well it compares."
"That a challenge?" Lee asked with a raised eyebrow.
"It is," Viper replied bluntly.
"All right," Lee conceded.
"Are you sure?" Chun-Li asked concernedly.
"Yeah, isn't the Alloy still regenerating?" Jill reminded him.
"It's charged up enough for the basics, which is good enough for me right now," Lee replied.
Crimson Viper chuckled amusedly. "You two seem to be falling fast."
Chun-Li aimed a sidelong glare at Crimson Viper, who just kept her confident smirk. "Well, guess I'll have to take him for a test drive first, won't I?"
The tension between the three women in the room was so thick Lee thought he could cut it with his katana, but he refrained from speaking up. Generally a better idea for his long-term health, he'd realized over time, as Viper's green eyes felt like they were burning a hole in him. "You ready to go?" she taunted him.
"Anytime you are," Lee replied with a smirk, masking the nervousness from the way Viper was staring at him.
"Smart boy," Viper remarked, her taunting smirk still in place.
Lee and Viper found themselves facing off in the suite's practice area, while Chris, Guile, Leon, Cammy, Jill, and Chun-Li surrounded them in the background. Viper had changed her outfit, from a three-piece suit with the upper buttons sans neck button undone but the tie still in place to a skintight black suit with armor on the shoulders as well as her midsection and outer thighs and a badge that looked like a yellow star in a black circle on her left breast. The strange suit also had neon red inset piping down the front and pants and around her shoulder guards and down her sleeves. Completing this unique ensemble was a pair of knee-high heeled boots and black gloves with studded cuffs for her forearms and lines of circuitry running up the backs of her hands to the studs on her knuckles.
"That the suit you were talking about?" Lee asked. "You'd fit in quite well back in my world."
Crimson Viper let out a low snort. "We're not in your world, now are we? So let's see your suit."
"Fine," Lee replied, concentrating on forming the Alloy. Within a mere few seconds, writhing liquid metal cords began to slither out from the hidden nodes under his skin, wrapping around his body to manifest the armor. However, it was in a slightly more basic form than the one Jill and Chun-Li had seen the night before, more like a skintight metal body-glove than an armored suit. It retained the features of the suit Jill and Chun-Li were slightly more familiar with, specifically the blue-and-gray coloring and the parallel slits that served as his visor. In all, it looked more like tactical armor with a metallic sheen than a "proper" metal suit. "Hope you're not too disappointed."
"You don't want to see me disappointed," Viper taunted him, smirking, though her eyes gave his armored visage an appreciative onceover. "So don't disappoint me."
"I make no promises," Alloy replied, his voice somewhat distorted by his armor's voice filters.
Were it not for the Alloy's sensors, Lee wouldn't have been able to react in time to Crimson Viper's charge . . . or her lightning-wreathed fist. With a single jump back, he'd launched himself into the air and a backward somersault to evade her attack, only for her to rocket jump after him and land a whirling kick on his side while they were both still in midair and her foot was still wreathed in flames. As Lee began to fall, a simple contortion turned said fall into a somersault that ended with him agilely landing on the ground, right before he jumped back from a lightning-charged diving punch by Crimson Viper.
Better stay off the ground for a while, Lee thought, knowing just how conductive electricity could be after a few rounds with Electro. With a twist of his torso, he moved into an aerial cartwheel, only to end up catching a flaming kick from Crimson Viper's heeled boot. No longer willing to just dodge, Lee grabbed Viper's ankle and twisted around again to ground himself with his free hand while tossing her by her leg. Viper twisted about in midair to regain control of her body and land agilely on the ground, but Lee had charged up to her with a fast strike that forced her to block with both arms crossed, the electrical charge from her gloves throwing off his attack.
Lee jumped back from Crimson Viper, as the cobra-braided fighter pressed her advantage with a flaming roundhouse kick. Lee raised his arm to block her kick and then used her ankle as a fulcrum to lift and twist his own body into a double-footed kick that would put even a professional contortionist to shame. Crimson Viper was certainly surprised, not just at the agility Lee had displayed but also from the force of his kick, as she found herself once again tumbling in midair. Displaying his agility again, Lee flipped into the air right over Crimson Viper just as she was beginning to regain control of her movements, and drop-kicked her to the ground. He landed next to her and whirled into a low spin with his leg out, kicking hers from underneath her just as she was regaining her bearings.
This time, though, Viper twisted herself around for another kick, right at Lee's head, which Lee barely twisted away from in time. As both combatants moved back onto their feet, Viper smirked at him. "Sure your suit's still recharging?" she asked.
Lee smirked back behind his helm. "I knew how to fight long before I got this suit, Viper. How about you? You were getting ready to take the gloves off once I started kicking your ass."
Viper chuckled. "Don't flatter yourself, punk."
Just off the training field, Chris, Jill, Chun-Li, Cammy, Leon, and Guile were staring with shock and awe at the fight they were witnessing. "Shit . . ." Guile uttered. "I knew Viper's suit was powerful, but going head-to-head with a kid that was able to fight Wesker on even ground . . . damn."
"Yeah, she is pretty impressive," Cammy agreed, while unconsciously rubbing herself due to an old ache caused by a previous encounter with Crimson Viper.
"Suit or no suit, kid's a pretty good fighter," Chris remarked. "Going up against Viper like that and holding his own."
"Holding his own?" Jill echoed with a slight snort. "I'd say he's got the upper hand so far."
"Sure you're not just saying that because you like him?" Chris jibed her playfully, prompting an embarrassed flush from his partner. Chun-Li blushed as well, if only because she was having the same thoughts and so Chris's jibe could apply to her, too.
"Your point?" Jill asked.
On the training field, Viper looked at Lee through her yellow glasses. "Where are your swords?"
"Hand-to-hand only," Lee replied. "It wouldn't be fair otherwise."
Viper snorted. "And they say chivalry's dead."
"On life support isn't quite the same as dead," Lee joked back.
"Enough kidding around," Viper declared, and punched the ground, sending a seismic charge through it, knocking Lee off-balance. While he was struggling to regain his bearings, Viper charged up to him and delivered another flaming roundhouse kick, propelling him quite far back. Lee twisted himself around to regain control of his body, only to find Crimson Viper behind him and ready to kick him again almost as soon as he'd landed. Barely dodging her kick, he rolled out of the way and twisted on his hand for a kick to her midsection, only for her to catch him by his ankle. Lee sprung off his hand to kick her with his free leg, forcing her to dodge and thus loosen her grip on his leg, enabling him to twist loose and contort himself for another kick, one that hit its mark this time.
As Crimson Viper stumbled back from his kick, Lee landed and went for the kill with another charge, only to be met with another kick from her. Twisting under her leg, Lee thrust his knee into Crimson Viper's midsection, knocking her back and off-balance. However, she turned it into a handstand on which she spun herself around for a whirling kick that looked more like a tornado that had been lit on fire. Were it not for the protective properties of the Alloy, Lee would have certainly been incinerated by the blazing hurricane that was Viper's kick. With an agile twist of her body, Viper had flipped into the air and was now coming down for a burning drop-kick, one that Lee barely managed to block. Undeterred, she sprung off Lee's forearm and flipped behind him before they both whirled to face each other, Viper to punch him with an electrically charged fist and Lee to block her again.
"Having fun?" Lee taunted her.
"Are you?" Viper retorted before kneeing him in the stomach. As he crumpled from the unexpected force of her strike, Viper slammed her lightning-covered fists into his back and kneed him in his helmeted face before knocking him to the ground with an electrically charged chop.
"Oh, you really are pulling out all the stops, aren't you?" came Lee's somewhat staggered rejoinder.
"You're able to talk, you're not that badly hurt," Viper taunted him.
"You're right, I'm not that badly hurt," Lee admitted, rising to his feet in a combat stance. "Come on!"
Crimson Viper gritted her teeth and clanged her knuckles together for a massive electrical charge. The arc of lightning coming off her fists as she sped toward Lee was so visible it was almost blinding, but Lee seemed completely unfazed by it. Then Crimson Viper struck with an electrically charged blow even more powerful than her previous . . . and the electricity danced around Lee's Alloyed body, as the parallel slits that served as his visor glowed.
Viper barely had time to widen her eyes with shock at what she was seeing before Lee struck back with a roundhouse kick that knocked her back some ways before she hit the ground. "Good spar," Lee said tersely but amiably, "but you were holding back."
"Wasn't a real fight," Crimson Viper amended as she rose to her feet. "If it were, you wouldn't be talking so calmly right now."
"I'll admit, I'd be a little more pressed for breath if it were," Lee said. "But you're good . . . damn good."
"So are you," Crimson Viper admitted. "You mind coming over some time to see if we can try incorporating some of your Alloy into our own suits?"
"If you don't mind having your systems permanently corrupted by the alien viral code the Alloy will use to protect itself from being exploited by someone else," Lee replied, his voice both snarky and wary. "Back in my world, governments have a very bad habit of trying to turn any useful technology they find into a weapon of some kind or other, even going so far as to try to use it to weaponize people, turn them into super-soldiers. Pretty much every time that's happened, it's just come out as another super-villain to be put down by superheroes like the Avengers or the X-Men or the Fantastic Four or Spider-Man. It's how we ended up with a brilliant scientist recurrently turning into a green-skinned rampaging monster called the Hulk. He was trying to make a gamma bomb for the military and he got caught in the blast trying to save a kid who'd wandered onto the test site."
"And that didn't kill him?" Viper asked, raising an eyebrow.
"He had a mutagenic factor in his biochemistry that assimilated the gamma radiation somehow and transformed him into the Hulk," Lee explained. "It hasn't been the most pleasant experience for him over these years, to say the least."
"And you say there are others like him?" Chris mentioned.
"Not quite, but like I said, governments in my world look at things like the Alloy and they don't see something that could benefit humanity at large, they see a weapon they can wield against their enemies real or perceived or in service to their own agendas," Lee clarified. "It's that mindset that keeps a lot of the brighter minds in our little community of super-powered do-gooders from putting their stuff on the market, the reality that it will at some point be turned into a weapon or used for causes that they don't morally agree with."
"So no go on the Alloy?" Viper deduced.
Lee looked her dead in the eye. "No go. The Alloy stays with me. It's what we both want."
"Forgot, it's got a mind, too," Viper remarked dryly.
"It does," Lee confirmed with a smile. "We're good to each other, and for each other, and that's how it'll stay."
"A boy and his dog," Guile remarked. "Or a boy and his suit of bio-armor."
Lee chuckled. "Nice one, Guile." He turned back to Crimson Viper. "Speaking of armor, if that's your suit, you'd fit in very well back in my world."
"Yeah, you guys have a real penchant for flashy costumes," Crimson Viper jibed. "Anyway, this is a test platform for an upgrade to the suit I already use. Looks like your everyday business suit, but it has many of the same functions as what I'm wearing now."
"So I'm guessing what you're wearing now is just more specifically adapted for combat, whereas the other one enables you to go out in public without being noticed," Lee deduced.
"Or causing a scene like you and your super-friends," Viper mocked, though her eyes were surprisingly friendly.
"Speaking of causing a scene, that was some spar you had," Cammy remarked.
"And to think that was you when the Alloy's not at full power," Chun-Li added.
Lee chuckled sheepishly. "Yeah, thanks to Viper's electrical gloves, the Alloy's bio-circuitry got an extra charge and it'll be at full power sooner than I was expecting."
"That's a good thing, if you're gonna be up against Wesker and Bison in the future," Leon commented.
Lee scowled at the mention of Wesker and Bison, remembering what Jill and Chun-Li had told him about their reasons for their antagonism toward those two men. "Anytime, anyplace."
"Whoa, kid, you look like you're ready to go to war," Guile observed.
"I am," Lee replied honestly, his eyes cold with fury. "Wesker used, manipulated, and betrayed people who put their faith and trust in him, all in the name of turning himself into some kind of perverse god. Bison's no different. They're both going down if I have anything to say about it."
Chris smiled slightly, as did Cammy. "You must care about them a lot, to be as angry as you are about those two," Chris observed.
"Welcome aboard," Cammy remarked, her slight smile turning into a challenging smirk.
After that bit of conversation, Lee was in the shower washing off the detritus of the spar between him and Crimson Viper. The Alloy could have easily taken care of that for him, but he liked showers. They had quite the psychologically cleansing effect, and there was nothing like warm water cascading on one's skin. Quickly finishing up, he dried himself off and headed into his room to redress himself.
"Hey," he heard Chris's voice.
"Hi, Chris," Lee greeted him, almost finished dressing. "Come to give me the 'if you ever do anything to hurt her, I'll kill you' speech?"
"We would," Guile remarked, "but that'd be an insult."
"Why, because you're so sure I wouldn't hurt them?" Lee wondered.
"No, because Chun-Li would kick your ass herself if you did anything she didn't like," Guile rejoined with a smirk.
"Same for Jill," Chris added. "Believe me, she can throw a punch."
Lee chuckled. "Speaking from experience?"
"Yeah," Chris admitted. "For your sake, be careful with them. Or it's not gonna be me and Guile you have to worry about." Then Guile and Chris left Lee's room, leaving him with his bemused thoughts. When he finally came out, he passed by Cammy, who looked quite amused.
"They gave you the speech, didn't they?" she surmised.
"It was actually more of a 'we don't need to do anything, because if you do anything, they'll take care of you themselves' speech," Lee confessed.
Cammy chuckled. "They'd be right. You're a sweet boy, Lee. You'll make someone very happy, hopefully the same someone I'm hoping to see very happy."
Lee smiled warmly. "You're a good friend, Cammy, you know that?"
Cammy let out a delighted giggle. "Are you always this charming with women?" When Lee shrugged, she just smiled at him. "You'd better hurry. They're waiting for you."
"Sure, where?" Lee wondered.
Somewhat earlier, Jill and Chun-Li had met face to face, both women rather somber and serious. "We have the same thing on our minds," Jill said, breaking the silence. "Or rather, the same person."
"Lee?" Chun-Li deduced.
"Yeah," Jill replied. "I can see it whenever you look at him, and I'm sure you can see it whenever I look at him. We're both . . ."
"We're both drawn to him," Chun-Li finished. "It's not too hard to see why."
"He got his power by accident," Jill said, "and he still used it to protect people, just because it was the right thing to do. He sacrificed so much of himself, even, just to save everyone he could . . . He's a good man, no matter how young he is."
"That is the problem, though," Chun-Li admitted. "How young he is. I understand in some places, that wouldn't be so much of a problem, but here . . ."
"Yeah," Jill agreed. "But it's him . . . and somehow, I think he feels the same way about us that we do about him."
"Then why hasn't he said anything?" Chun-Li wondered.
"Men are terrible at admitting their feelings," Jill replied. "And well, if it really is both of us he has feelings for, he might be too scared of pitting us against each other to say anything. Would be just like him."
Chun-Li let out a soft chuckle. "If he did feel the same way about us as we do him . . . how would we solve that?"
"Ménage à trois?" Jill suggested sardonically.
"Share him?" Chun-Li concluded, a blush highlighting her features. "But how?"
"We'd have to ask him," Jill replied, trying her best not to stammer from how seriously Chun-Li had taken her jibe. Now that she thought about it, though, it had its benefits . . . namely that neither she nor Chun-Li would have to have their hearts broken or regret their "win," let alone leave Lee to feel guilty about breaking one of their hearts. "See how he feels before we get too ahead of ourselves."
That was how Cammy had ended up talking to Lee about seeing Jill and Chun-Li, and how Lee had found them waiting for him, sitting with very contemplative expressions on their faces. "Cammy said you wanted to see me," he said, trying to break what he could see was an awkward silence.
"Yeah," Jill confirmed.
"You might want to sit down, Lee," Chun-Li added.
Lee looked around, trying to find a good spot to sit without seeming to reject either of them or inciting unnecessary jealousy. Finally, he split the difference by sitting between them, yet facing them. "All right."
"We've been talking, Jill and I," Chun-Li admitted. "And we realized that we both have feelings for you. Strong feelings. At the same time, we'd rather not damage our partnership by ending up competing for you to choose one of us."
"So what does that amount to?" Lee wondered. "Am I off-limits to you both, or vice versa?"
"Not quite," Jill corrected. "We were thinking of a more . . . radical solution."
The radical solution in question was demonstrated by Jill and Chun-Li both taking one of Lee's hands. "That kind of radical?" Lee wondered.
Chun-Li smiled at him, her eyes twinkling. "If you're up for it."
"With the both of you . . . I might take that chance," Lee replied. "I'm not sure where this is going to go, between the three of us . . . but I'm all right with finding out if you are."
"We wouldn't have gotten you to come see us if we weren't," Jill said.
Lee blushed slightly. "Point taken. I'm just not the best at this sort of thing."
"Nobody is," Jill replied, "but we want you . . . so that's our best." She smiled reassuringly at him.
Chun-Li squeezed Lee's hand reassuringly, to reinforce Jill's words. Lee smiled back at them both. "Yeah, we can definitely try."
Endnotes: Not quite the end. There'll actually be four chapters in this, with the fourth developing their relationship more, bringing them into another confrontation with the united forces of Wesker and Bison – and even delivering a way back to the Marvel Universe for Lee?! All apologies to everyone who had to wait nine months for me to update this story, and it's not quite over yet, as the fourth chapter mentioned above will tell you. Is the lemon chapter still on? Yes, yes, it is, but it will be posted to a different site whose name I'd rather not speak for fear of it being blocked when I post this chapter. Thanks to everyone who's still reading and not yet so disgusted with my year of dereliction that they've just given up, and hang in there for the fourth chapter!