Chapter Five

-Two Instances-

Kaze looked down at his palms and frowned, clenching his hands until his nails nearly tore through the leather that sheathed them. Ever since he and Nami had arrived in the new dimension, something had been decidedly... off about their chakra. He wasn't really sure what it was, but the feeling one got when one exerted the energy from one's core was... different, to say the least. Something just wasn't right with it all. It almost felt as if the coils were shifting inside of them, and even Kurama had sometimes complained about feeling as if he was being squeezed through a straw from point A and hadn't reached point B yet—which, admittedly, went with the rest of what he and Nami were feeling, since Kurama was literally one of the personifications of chakra.

It had began, they reasoned, when they first landed in the new plain of existence—but they hadn't really noticed anything at all until they'd tried to meditate for the first time since they became unagitated enough to begin training again, which had been about a month into their new life. Back then, it had only been a vague tingle that wasn't exactly centered anywhere—in fact, Kaze had thought he was sensing some other chakra system besides them, since the feeling was just on the edges of their collective senses. But, after a quick search, they'd come up with nothing and had to concede to the idea that maybe it was just them. Which had been, to say the least, disheartening.

And it was them, they realized, when the feeling grew, almost as if it was invading their chakra systems. But it wasn't invading—it was their own chakra doing... something. Or being affected by something. The tingle sort of surrounded them, becoming a sharp tinge before moving in closer to their cores. It was about halfway there, at the present moment in time, barely two years since they'd arrived here, and now brought striking migraines and hot muscles pains with it.

What the problem was, however, remained elusive to both shinobi. It was just a feeling, as if their guts were twisting uncomfortably. But ninja only lived as long as they did because they paid attention to such things. And it frustrated all three of the realm-travelers, that they hadn't been able to figure it out yet. Even Kurama remained clueless—well, not so clueless as he was pissed off. He had a vague idea, he'd told them. It was on the tip of his tongue, but he just couldn't figure it out.

Kaze didn't blame the kitsune for it's bitter attitude, really lately, both he and Nami themselves had been feeling a bit under the weather because of the discomfort; and the pain. It had gotten to the point where Jubi had become concerned for them—she thought Nami was sick, because she caught him curled up on the couch in the lounge, still in his cycling gear with his arms wrapped around his stomach and his eyes squeezed shut, waiting out a sudden migraine. She thought Kaze was sick, too, because she'd found him kneeling alone in one of the corridors, one hand braced against the wall while he took deep, slow breaths as if he thought all the world's oxygen would suddenly abandon him in the near future.

And when Jubi was worried, it hurt to see, because her eyes would go round and fill with that look, and she'd alternate between pressing her lips together and biting the bottom one—and seeing such unbridled concern on a face that so resembled Anko Mitarashi's, albeit a younger version of the kunoichi, was... jarring.

Anko hadn't shown such emotions freely, and when she did, you knew things were bad. The last either of them had seen of the strong woman, she'd been wearing that look, and had been preparing herself for a suicide mission. And then she was gone, and never came back—or, she did come back, but... They still had nightmares about it.

Kaze fisted his hands even tighter, and pressed them against his temples as his vision blurred further. He'd known today would be a horrible day to go out. Nami had stayed back at the base, curled up in his bed, snug against the mattress as if he would never leave the confines of the covers again. Kaze wasn't sure why he'd left Jubilee pacing worriedly outside his room, kneading her hands like they were clay, but he had. He'd jumped on his bike and raced out into Manhattan like a man fleeing a woman scorned; and he was regretting it—oh, he was regretting it.

He reasoned that he had it worse than Nami even did—after all, he was the one with the bijuu sealed into his very soul; a being made of chakra, who was experiencing the symptoms over a thousand times more intensely than they were—thus, Kaze felt that intensity as well.

He'd always been more... durable, though. He was used to ignoring feelings of weakness, and plowing on with whatever things he had planned for that moment.

And now, he was curled up on the roof of one of the city's tallest skyscrapers, an office building near the waterfront(he hadn't made it very far before the pain in his head had spiked in such a dangerous manner that even he couldn't ignore it), his bike propped against the chest high concrete wall that rimmed the top of the tower and helmet tossed carelessly aside, hands covering his ears so tightly that he could hear his blood rushing beneath them. His heartbeat was rather fast-paced and losing any sense of rhythm—which would have been worrying if he'd actually been paying it any mind.

And then a hand hesitantly touched his shoulder, and shinobi instinct screamed at him to whip out a kunai and bisect the enemy that dare touch him when he was down. His arm muscles spasmed painfully, but the limb was only able to reach down and grasp his weapons pouch in a death grip, before the rest of his body seized up and went unnaturally still.

The hand flew away at the violent reaction, and stayed away for about fifteen seconds—Kaze figured that, whoever it was, they were either incredibly impulsive with little self preservation, or they were just that dense—before coming back and resting once again on his shoulder. Except, this time it was a feather-light touch.

"Hey, man... Are you alright?"

Kaze really just wanted to gut the bastard and be done with it, but he and Nami had made a promise not to kill anyone in this world unless they were wearing the Ying/Yang henge. But since he was dressed in the leathers of the Namikaze Rider White, he instead slowly lifted his head from where he'd pressed it into his knees, and blinked at the red and blue abomination blearily.

His first, admittedly hazy thought, was that any ninja worth their dullest shuriken would have had the same exact reaction as him.

"What the fuck are you wearing?"

The guy stepped back to look as affronted and hurt as a guy wearing spandex over every inch of his skin, including his face, could. And, in his defense, he pulled it off very well, theatrical hand gestures and poses to the letter, portraying each and every one of the guy's thoughts.

Which really irked Kaze, who'd spent almost his entire life wearing a mask, for the purpose of hiding all of that. It didn't help that he had the skills of reading facial expressions beneath such stretched fabric, having had Hatake Kakashi as a sensei.

"I'm sorry?" The guy asked, voice dramatically offended. "Here I am, a concerned, innocent stranger, asking after your health—you look horrible, by the way, are you sure you're okay?—and you find it permissible to insult me over my choice of wardrobe?"

Kaze's eyebrow twitched downward, into what others would see as a gently pensive frown—and what Nami would see as the closest his friend could come to a pissed-off scowl. The guy's eyebrows rose curiously beneath his gaudy mask.

"I don't think it's an insult," he replied, slowly. "You American's value honesty, don't you? So I'll tell you the truth—your wardrobe is literally the worst thing that could happen to my migraine right now, besides blaring neon signs and Macy's Thanksgiving parade."

He and Nami had seen that, a few months ago. It had confused the hell out of them until Jubi had taken it upon herself to explain to them the finer point of American culture.

They still didn't understand it, but they now knew enough to tolerate the strangeness. Too bad they hadn't crash landed over in Japan—at least there, the culture was the most familiar.

The kumo—that's honestly what this fashion disaster reminded Kaze of—stared at him for a moment. He seemed to weigh acting even more offended, acting overly exasperated, and tossing it all out the window before giving a decisive nod and apparently going with the last.

"Hi, I'm Spiderman," the kid(he really was just a kid, probably only a few years younger than Kaze and without any of the training) announced, holding out his red and blue clad hand. "Nice to meet you."

Kaze blinked dazedly, staring up at the hand for a long, silent minute and twenty seconds before he suddenly remembered that this was how Americans greeted one another—Jubi had told him. He reached out his own gloved hand and grasped the other's, giving it a quick shake before curling back up again.

Kumoko(because he was a child) crouched down beside him, head tilted to the side in a way that was more reminiscent of a cat than an arachnid. "So, migraine, was it? That really sucks—I thought you'd gotten hit by some super-villain death ray and that's why you were all hurt-looking, but..."

Kaze closed his eyes, and then opened them slowly. No, the guy was still there. He shifted his head so that he could see the other and still rest it on his knees, before licking his lips. "They have... death rays?"

The other paused, considering him for a moment before speaking again. "Well, I wouldn't know—or, I would, actually, but I haven't seen any instant death rays just yet. There is Electro's electricity, and Scorpion's acid lasers, but I don't think those really count."

Kaze regarded the strangely-dressed boy with a hint of incredulity. "E-lec-tro? Sasori? You American fighters—why do you all have such weird names?"

Kumoko blinked at him. "Well... I guess they're names are kind of weird—"

"No, no," Kaze turned back and pressed his eyes into his kneed again, the heat behind them feeling like fire-pokers and the throbbing sensation doing nothing to help it. "Your name, too. Kumoko? Spider-child? Why?"

"It's Spiderman!" The child yelped, taking a short leap back, in a dramatic show of hurt feelings. Who the hell was he fooling—this kid belonged on Broadway, not fighting crime in the streets wearing Spandex.

"No, you're a kid," Kaze shook his head.

"Have you even seen me fight, huh? I can—"

"You're a kid." Kaze repeated, shakily standing up. It took nearly three second before his legs stopped shaking and all of body functions submitted to his commands—far too long. "Have you seen me fight? I know 200 ways to kill you, using your own spinal cord. Please stop playing games. If I were you, and still had a chance at being a kid, I'd take it without a doubt." Kaze shook his head at the suddenly frozen teen and reigned in his K.I. He hadn't meant to let it loose like that. It was acting oddly, along with the chakra problem.

"I'm sorry," he sighed. "It's difficult."

Kumoko seemed like he wanted to ask what was difficult, but Kaze was gone, his bike and helmet vanishing along with him in a silent fume of barely-there smoke.

-switch-

"He didn't seem like much at first—I found him kind of curled up in a ball on top of Craigalan Controls office building three. Said he had a migraine, but I didn't really ask why or how. He didn't seem interested in talking."

Steve frowned thoughtfully as he used the knife to spread the butter out on his toast. "What makes you say he has some type of artificial intimidation power?"

From his place over on the sofa, before the TV that showed the morning news, Clint snorted. "Kid's just embarrassed that the new guy scared him, Cap."

"I'm not!" Peter insisted stubbornly, hoping down onto the flat, white couch that encircled the lounge area. "I didn't feel anything, I'm telling you. And all of a sudden I can't move and I feel like he's looking at me like he wants to skin me alive and devour my still warm flesh! It's creepy, you parakeet!"

"I'm not a—" The dangerous assassin disappeared under the pillow the high-schooler tossed at him with an oomph.

"I wanna know why you found the big bad ninja Rider Kaze curled up like some injured kitten." Tasha, beautiful, stunning, intelligent Tasha spoke up from where she was oiling a very nice blade, sitting lotus-style on a yoga mat near the wet bar.

"What I want to know," a loud voice echoed through the room, announcing the arrival of the beast from deep beneath the Tower, coming out into the daylight once more—and Peter wasn't referring to the lovely Bruce Banner, who followed after the flamboyant Tony Stark as he entered the room with a flourish and a wave—"is how the hell Bug-boy here found one of our mysterious ghost riders when I send JARVIS to search through the goddamn satellites and received not even a single tire-mark on pavement for the effort."

"I wasn't even looking," the teen shrugged, sitting upside down on the couch, feet swinging up in the air. "I kind of just... swung right instead of left and turned a corner and—bam—there he was."

"That's not fair," the billionaire pouted, pouring himself a shot of some alcohol that Peter didn't know the name of—he was getting there, though, through the ramblings that Tony sometimes directed at him due to his 'sorrowful, uncultured intellect of the finer things in life.' "You didn't even do anything."

"Neither did you," Bruce pointed out, taking hold of the orange juice and passing it across the island when Steve asked for it. "All you did was put JARVIS to work."

"His work counts as my work, I made him."

"Just 'cause you're his daddy doesn't mean his achievements are your own," Clint grunted, finally giving up on getting the lint out of his mouth and chucking the pillow at peter's head. "You really need to get your couch cleaned. There're all sorts of microscopic creepy-crawlies eating at my tongue right now."

"It's hardly my fault that you're desperate enough to make-out with my furniture," the Stark sniffed, and Peter stifled a bark of laughter when Hawkeye shot both him and Tony a poisonous glare.

"Did you see where Kaze went off to?" Tasha, ever the focused one, reiterated, and Peter focused on her.

He shrugged sheepishly. "No. I thought he was heading toward the bay-side, but I can't be sure. He got on that bike of his and kind of just disappeared like a ghost, or something."

"Helpful," Clint snorted, but cowed under the redhead woman's narrowed eyes. Peter tilted his lips downward and worked his jaw in an effort not to smirk at the bastard.

Tasha turned to him, and Peter straightened, wiping the look off his face. "Peter, I want you to start carrying around trackers with you. Next time you run into a Rider, try and sneak one on their jacket or something."

"Ugh," the highschooler shifted uncomfortably, "are we sure we wanna do that? I don't claim to be a Namikaze expert or anything, but I'm pretty sure us showing up at their hideout unannounced, even unarmed, isn't gonna exactly endear us to either of them."

"Why didn't you ask him to come with you?" Steve frowned pensively, twisting the cap to the orange juice and walking over to stash it back in the fridge. Tony's eyes followed his progress absentmindedly, and Peter knew the genius was probably making half-hearted plans of building a robot that could put the juice away for him.

"Didn't really have time," The teen coughed, his downcast expression betraying his white lie.

Tony and Clint peered over at him with sly smiles on their faces, and Spiderman twisted around to take Steve's spot in the refrigerator door, rifling through it for a snack.

"What did you guys talk about?" Hawkeye leered.

"You know, Legolas," Tony began thoughtfully. "I think our bug boy here might have a crush on the mysterious ghost rider."

Peter spluttered, especially when Tasha only hid a smile and went back to oiling her blade. It was wicked sharp. "I do not! I just- -he-"

"I bet he made an insect comment and Spidey couldn't hold his head." Sam Wilson piped up from where he was emerging from the elevator. The African American man carried a potted plant in his arms and walked over to set it on a table by one of the floor-to-ceiling length windows that were the norm for rooms in the Stark Tower.

"Spiders are arachnids," Peter muttered beneath his breath, before shaking his head in irritation.

Bruce tossed him a knowing smile, accepting a plate of scrambled eggs from their resident mother hen, Captain America. "Either that, or he teased Peter about his hero name."

"No, he…" The teen paused, before running his hands over his face. "Ugh, he kind of- -he kind of did."

"Oh, oh! What did he say?" Tony chirped, hopping up on a bar stool and placing his elbow on the counter, chin resting on his palm.

Peter's shoulders slumped and he took a stool for himself, reaching over for the glass of milk Steve had just set down for him. He mumbled under his breath.

"What was that? Can't hear you, ladybug." Clint grinned.

"Don't call me that!" Peter whined, before clearing his throat. "Um, he… he called me 'spider-child.'"
Clint, Sam, and Tony all paused, took a drink, and spluttered the mouthful back into their glasses in a dramatic show of over exaggerated laughter. Peter crossed his arms and scowled.

"That's disgusting." The teen informed them, before spinning around on his stool. "Anyway, he's got a bit of an accent, but not so much that you can tell right off the bat. Seemed confused when I made a joke about 'enemy death-rays' and called Scorpion 'sassowy' or something."

"But what did he say about you?" Clint pressed, and Peter leaned back with a groan.

"He… well, the first thing he said was "What the fuck are you wearing?"" Peter supplied reluctantly, pitching his voice a bit lower, and every single Avenger in the room cracked a smile.

"Annnnd…?" Tony nudged him. "There's more, I can smell it."

"You're a freaking hellhound." Peter rolled his eyes, face red. "He said my outfit was worse than neon signs and the Macy's Day Thanksgiving parade."

Clint and Tony snickered, and Peter felt horribly betrayed when he realized that even Steve was covering a laugh with his hand. The teen hopped off the chair and made his way to the door, head held high.

"You people exist only to make my life miserable, don't you?" He shook his head, grabbing his backpack from where it had been thrown beside the elevator doors. "Thanks for breakfast, Cap. I'm going now before I'm late for school. When's Thor getting back again?"

"Saturday," Bruce called back, flipping the morning paper open with a flourish. "Sam's picking you up from school today since Fury wants us all at that meeting on the Helicarrier this afternoon. Don't forget your notes for the chemistry test today." He reminded.

"Right here," Peter waved them in the air before stashing the back in his pocket.

Tony perked up, and turned to holler after him as the elevator doors began to close. "Remember, I'll kill you if you get anything below an A++ on that thing!"

"I know, I know!"

"I didn't take time out of my busy life to tutor you for nothing," Peter heard the billionaire muttered from behind his glass of alcohol as the doors slid shut. The teen rolled his eyes and adjusted the strap on his shoulder as he jabbed a finger at the button for the Lobby.

"Right."

-switch-

"I should have taken one of those classes on medical jutsu that Tsunade-sama offered before things got bad," Nami moaned, curled up on his side on the rec room sofa. Kaze sat beside him, body angled around the arm of the couch as he absently flipped through the selections of Netflix.

The blonde shinobi grunted softly in agreement, before squeezing his eyes shut tightly and letting his head fall back against the cushion. "Un, Jubi'll be back with those pain killers soon. Hopefully they'll do something."

"With our pain tolerance?" The raven asked, incredulously. "'Ru, that medicine is meant for civilians. We've been trained to withstand torture. I doubt it'll work."

"Well, what else are we suppose to do?"

"Has Kurama found anything else?"

Kaze shook his head, bangs flatten down against his sticky, damp skin. "He's still looking. Can't- -can't figure how what's going on, yet."

They both knew that 'yet' was more wishful thinking than anything.

Kaze squinted against the light of the TV and the moving image of the show he'd accidentally clicked on, before groaning and shutting the machine off. He laid back and threw the remote at the light switch, and both ninja sighed quietly as the room was plunged into darkness.

"I wish Sakura was here," Kaze mumbled, curling up to put his head between his knees. Nami shifted on the couch next to him, pressing the back of his head against his comrade's shoulder. The other man made a vague sound of agreement before they both fell silent.

Meanwhile, Jubilee was immensely grateful for the driving lessons Kaze had given her on the afternoons neither of them had anything to do. She squeezed the bike between her legs with her knees, feeling the warmth of the engine seep into the touch material of her shorts and boots. The stiff zipper of the black leather jacket she only wore when out for a ride cut into the bottom of her chin uncomfortably. It usually didn't bother her.

Riding a motorcycle was exhilarating, but driving one was terrifying. And thrilling, but mostly terrifying. She was so used to having one of the Riders directing the vehicle while she hugged them from behind that riding the bike alone was jarring and unnerving.

She'd taken Kaze's bike, if only because he wouldn't be too angry with her if she accidentally got it scratched or something. Nami would most likely blow up at a small dent in the least.

Except, lately, Nami was much less himself. Both of the Riders were, actually. Jubilee had noticed it just a little while after she began staying with them. Sometimes Nami would abruptly cease talking in the middle of a sentence and rub at his temples, or Kaze would have to call off a sparr because he was too out of breath. And that was just what they let her see. She'd once gotten up in the middle of the night for a glass of water and had heard Nami throwing up in the bathroom at the end of the hall where all their bedrooms were located. One time Kaze had come home from a bike patrol early because he was too dizzy to drive the motorcycle straight anymore. Nami had come home an hour later and had heated up some instant ramen instead the four-course meal Kaze would usually make, because the White Rider had been out cold on the rec room sofa.

Jubilee bit her lip as she carefully guided the bike through the busy New York traffic. The bike she was riding was drawing lots of attention to her, making her even more nervous, and she wished she'd taken one of the other, nondescript bikes that the Rider's kept in the garage instead. But she didn't know where the keys for those ones were, and the Namikaze bikes were the only viable option.

She should have hotwired one of them. She knew how to hotwire a bike. But then Nami would kill her when he found out. She liked living.

Jubilee finally saw her destination, and slowly released the throttle with stiff fingers. The muscles in her hand were beginning to ache. She jerked the bike to the side and sidled up alongside the curb of the convenience store with an inaudible grunt. Multiple pedestrians paused to stare at her as she tore the stuffy helmet off her head.

She tossed them all a glare and was silently smug to see several of them wince. She turned to look down at Kaze's bike apprehensively to check if she'd parked it correctly. She held her hands out toward the bike, and gave an explosive sigh, still tense from the drive over.

"Okay," she said aloud, slightly breathless. Jubilee stared at the bike and, hesitantly raising her hands a bit, tacked on, "Um. Just... stay."

Slightly embarrassed at the odd stared she was getting from bystanders, Jubilee hurried off into the convenience store, wallet held tightly in her hands. She ducked her head when the cashier turned his wide, stunned eyes from where he'd been staring out the window onto her, and hurried down the medicine aisle, looking quickly.

"So you're the mutant chick the Riders took in, huh?" Jubilee stopped, took a deep breath, and let out a slow sigh, turning round to see a tall blond guy grinning over at her. He had basketball shoes and a gray hoodie on, schoolbag slung over his shoulder.

"Unless you know where the aspirin is," she sneered impatiently, "then I have no reason to talk to you."

The jock- -and he was definitely a jock, probably even the team quarterback- -raised his hands defensively. "Whoa. Was just asking a question, mutant-girl." He adjusted the large bag of flour that he was hugging to his chest like a giant teddy-bear in a paper sack. It was actually kind of cute…

But, no. Jubilee lived with Kaze. She was desensitized from "cute." It was just a trap. It would drag you into its clutches and never let go.

Speaking of Kaze…

"Don't call me that." Jubilee narrowed her eyes and poked the bag of flour. "Painkillers!"

The guy rolled his eyes, and leaned back to balance the sack on his stomach with one hand as he used the other to jerk a thumb behind him. "That aisle there. The one with all the drugs on the shelves."

"Thanks," she grunted. The mutant pushed past him and grabbed the first advil she saw, before pausing and turning back to consider the bottle in her hand. She glanced up at the other brands hesitantly, wondering whether the store had any stronger painkillers to offer. Nami and Kaze just never seemed to get frazzled by anything, and seeing them so obviously in pain worried her. That meant it had to be way bad. Would the everyday drugstore advil even do anything for them?

A tall figure leaned against the shelf beside her with a huff.

"Well?" The blond asked her, raising an eyebrow.

She narrowed her eyes at him. "What?"

He gestured with a short wave of his wrist at the bottle she held, before tilting back to void dropping the flour sack. "You have your painkillers. Thought that was what you wanted; they not good enough for you?"

"They're not for me," she blurted, before cringing. It probably wasn't a good idea, she belatedly realized, to imply to anyone that the Riders weren't doing too well. Even if no one but her knew where the hell they were, the anti-mutant movements could plan a lot of terrible things in a short amount of time if they realized the Riders might not be able to make it to the rescue. Mutants could get hurt!

The boy tilted his head, gaze sharpening. "For the Riders, then?"

She winced. "No! I mean, yes. But- -not right- -not right now!"

He stared at her, lips curling upward just a hint, and she glowered at him heatedly. "Just, for when they do, I mean. They'll need some stronger stuff than this, cuz they have high pain tolerance and stuff and- -and why am I even telling you this?!"

Jubilee scrunched up her face and pulled her skullcap down over her forehead, reaching out to replace the bottle of advil with a bottle of Ketoprofen, before pausing and grabbing two more bottles and a bottle of Ketoprofen as well, which she'd heard about on a commercial as being great for migraines, which was just about the only thing she'd heard Nami complain of. Nami never complained, so she knew his migraine had to be moderately murderous for him to even mention it.

Turning on her heel, she made her way over to the cashier, who was still staring out the window at Kaze's bike with an open mouth(she rolled her eyes), and set the bottles on the counter in order to pull her wallet out from her pockets. Nami generally tossed cash at her whenever he saw spare change and told her to save up for whenever she did want to go shopping, and Nami and Kaze were kind of really secretly rich, somehow(she had no idea what they did for a living other than save mutants, which admittedly didn't pay much, but she figured it might have something to do with the times they sneak out late at night and the illegal-looking documents she sometimes saw them flipping through.), so she had a few hundred to spare.

It was a lot of money, but Jubilee was growing accustomed to it. At first, it had made her drool because she wasn't used to having more than five dollars in her pockets, in quarters and dimes. The Rider's spoiled her, honestly.

The blond guy followed her over the the counter, and Jubilee growled under her breath, avidly keeping her icy gaze the cashier who was nervously ringing up her items.

The teen leaned against the counter next to her, still hugging that flour sack. "So what's your name?"

Jubilee glared at him.

He shrugged. "I can go first if you want." he nodded his head toward her with a tiny grin twisting his lips, and Jubilee stopped herself before she moved to strangle him because, dammit, it was cute.

And she didn't have time for cute, her Riders needed her to bring back some painkillers that may or may not even work on them!

"I'm Flash," the guy continued, as if he hadn't noticed Jubilee's aborted murder attempt on his self. Which he probably hadn't, really. She'd picked up a thing or two about hiding your inner thoughts from Nami. And Kaze, because Kaze was a genius with masks no matter how slightly disheartening it was to know. "Flash Thompson."

"Jubi," she pushed out through clenched teeth. Might as well be passed a twenty over to the cashier, who began to dig through the register for her change. She didn't even realize that she'd given him the Rider's nickname for her instead of her actual name until Flash's eyes brightened and he gave a half shrug, mouth quirking.

"Nice to meet you, Jubi," he said, and Jubilee forced a tense breath of air from her lungs. She didn't like it when Flash said it. Hearing her boys' nickname for her uttered with an American accent didn't sound right.

"So, where do you go to school?" The blonde asked, setting his sack of flour down on the ground and picking her motorcycle helmet up from where she'd set it on a stand by the door. he followed her out, and Jubilee only thought that he looked a bit strange without his flour sack teddy bear. She shook her head and pushed the convenience store door open. There were a few people hovering around Kaze's bike, examining it. One guy was even hesitantly petting it. She shooed them all away and gave the guy a strange look- -he was suitably embarrassed, so she pulled out the keys. Flash had followed her out, and she puffed her cheeks out annoyance.

"Where do you think." She drawled, in the most sarcastic, 'are-you-kidding-me' voice she could muster. She unlatched the compartment in front of the seat and stashed away her wallet and the painkillers before slamming it shut.

"Right," the guy realized sheepishly, handing her her helmet as she tossed a leg over the seat. "You probably don't go to school…"

Jubi was so annoyed at him, and so worried for how her brother figures were doing back hoe that she didn't even remember to be nervous about driving the bike all the way back. "Okay. Flash, I just really need to get home right now, so if you could just…?"

He coughed, looking vaguely embarrassed, and neither of them seemed to notice the fact that the people around them were watching them avidly. Flash dug into his pocket and handed her a slip of paper. "Here- -it's my number. Call me if you want- -or don't. Whatever, right?"

Jubilee took the offered note with an absent minded grab. She stared at him though, as she stuffed it into her pocket. She didn't even have a cell phone. "You carry around your phone number and give it to people? What, is it your business card or something?"

Flash rubbed the back of his neck. "W-ell... I had a date tonight and it didn't go as planned. And you're nice, so…"

She blinked incredulously at him, before giving a frustrated sigh, pulling out the key and revving the bike to life. "You're impossible, Thompson."

He laughed, then waved cheerfully after her as she rode off, before- -she noticed when she looked back- -returning to the store to gather his sack of flour. Whatever he needed it for.

Good, she thought as she absently took the bike down a random, zig-zag path in order to lose anyone who might have tried to follow her back home and find out where the Rider's lived. He looked better carrying the bag anyway.

-switch-

Much apologies for lying to you guys and not updating earlier like I said I would *hides*

Life blindsided me and I was overwhelmed by responsibility. Still am, I guess. Looking for my first job, going in tomorrow for my driving permit test. Sister just had a baby so I was just over there for a month without any internet whatsoever helping her out.

In all honesty, I've had this chapter half-written since I last updated. I just never got around to writing the last half and finishing it until now.

I just watched the Amazing Spiderman 2 movie last weekend and I loved it- -especially Flash Thompson's character. They really did an amazing job with him. And Andrew Garfield plays an(excuse the pun) amazing Spiderman. I'm in love.

Spiderman had always been my first favorite superhero in my entire life and you kind of can't ever get rid of that. And Andrew did such a fantastic job portraying him. I thought he was perfect. Not to diss on Toby Macquire, who played Peter Parker's character pretty damn well- -he just didn't quite have what I imagined my Spiderman to be. But Andrew? Nailed it.

I felt so bad to Max Dillan(Electro) though. Just wanted to hug him. Except for his creepy Spiderman stalking thing. That was, no. Max, why.

Ahem, excuse my rambling. So I gave Flash a little screentime here, and I hope I didn't write my Spiderman too terribly *hides* I'll be super disappointed in myself if I screwed him up.

I hope you liked, anyway. Please review and tell me what you think! I'll try my best to update as soon as possible, since my life has seemed to quiet down a bit. Plus, it's summer. Time is abounding, sorta.

Love you, darlings!

~Skye