MAU: Can't Take The Sky From Me! Chapter -13-

Bridget and Danny goes shopping and it's not for Clothes!

Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. None of the characters, places, or anything else is meant to be represented by anything in reality. Duh! Fiction, get it? I the author reserve the rights, so please don't go posting this anyplace else without my permission. A very special thanks goes out to Cathy who spent the time to make this story readable. Another round of thanks goes out to all the others out there in BCTS land who have encouraged and inspired me to write and keep writing. Any remaining mistakes are all mine.

MAU: Can't Take The Sky From Me!
Chapter 13

Local grocery store

Getting off the motorcycle, Danny didn't think he'd ever had a more exciting, confusing and conflicting experience in his whole life. He was so thankful that his maturing body hadn't reached that 'woody' stage. That would've made riding behind Griff feel even more contradictory, however much it'd been a wild rush as they rode though the storm.

Watching his friend, remove her motorcycle helmet and shake out her hair as she walked inside the strip-mall supermarket, didn't help him at all. Her curves were shining in the wet riding leathers. Okay, he knew she wasn't really wet anymore than he was. Their pseudo motorcycle suits only looked as if they came in from the rain. Considering that with the helmets on they were better than any spacesuit ever made on Earth, a little ride in even Tropical Storm Arthur, didn't tax their 'clothing's' abilities in the slightest.

It only took 'Bridget mode,' Griff's disguise, to turn Danny's world upside down.

Sure he'd suspected Griff's secret, but seeing it was something else, for all that his friend claimed it was just protective camouflage. Hell, he was wearing a realistic mask as well, not only to help himself look normal, but to hide his identity too. The difference was, he wasn't any too sure which one of Griff's 'modes' was really the real one.

It reminded him of getting up in the morning and, while still half asleep without his glasses, and everything was out of focus. Before Dr. Otto had fixed his eyes, he'd often been unsure of just who anyone was until they spoke. They were just all blurs. It was when he put his glasses on that, suddenly, they came into focus, and they weren't who he'd first thought they were sometimes.

Griff was like that in a way. First there was his losing that awkward clumsiness, and now, while in 'Bridget mode,' some of his occasional jarring gestures suddenly seemed to fit. It was as if his friend had come into focus as Bridget, motorcycle chick, instead of Griff, the farm-boy. The same person, but 'better packaged' he stole a phase from that online Transgender site.

He was beginning to get the impression that this entire thing might be Bridget's way of feeling him out about the subject. After all, they were both only in disguise right? Just like a Halloween costume, it really didn't mean anything.

However, in this case, maybe it did.

Well, the blogs suggested that simple acceptance was what she wanted, as did her own very casual donning of her own protective costume. From his own experimenting he knew a great deal of thought had been put into her 'look', although their 'Valets' made taking care of the details much easier. Regardless, 'Bridget' was not off the shelf, or for that matter, the cuff.

Perhaps Danny wasn't in puberty, drowning in hormones, but he knew that his friend's 'disguise' was both beautiful and erotic. Walking into the store people's eyes followed the tall curvy woman dressed in the biker leathers. That red hair should look faked with her dusky complexion, but it didn't. There was something about the tone of her skin that made it work.

Treating Bridget the same as he might Griff was becoming more difficult by the second. It wasn't going to be easy but this was his friend. Like the saying goes, 'Do or do not. There is no try.'

Yoda certainly had that right.

Besides, he'd been though the same thing himself. Oh look, it's the crippled kid in the wheelchair. Only a few seemed to get, that all he wanted was to be treated like everyone else. He didn't want or need their sympathies. Life was too short to worry about should-have-beens or would-have beens. Danny was about overcoming his problems, not wallowing in them.

Now he was on the road to recovery, he felt that way even more strongly.

Full steam ahead, Engine Room! Damn the Torpedoes, Doubters and Nay Sayers beware!

“Hey!” Danny cheerfully called to Bridget. “Hold up! I think you left my stomach at the last red-light.”



Local grocery store

Speaking of stomachs, hers was in a minor knot. She had no idea of how Danny would take her 'disguise.' However, she was starting to relax. Really, the acid test had been his riding tandem behind her.

Being honest she rather enjoyed having his arms around her. It wasn't that she had those kind of feelings for him, but more she'd never had felt this way before. Her sexuality had always been uncertain, but now was most definitely not the time. Even more certain was, her friend wasn't ready for any kind of romance. She knew all too well how challenging puberty could be. For all of his intelligence and maturity at one level, Danny had more growing up to do.

Well, so did she, Bridget smiled as she turned to him.

“What?” She asked, “Did you not want to ride between the drops?”

“Was that what you were trying to do?” Danny took off his own helmet. “I thought we were going for low orbit.”

'In this weather?” She surprised herself by giggling. “Mission Control would've aborted the shot for sure.”

“You'll just have to be content with 'Changing the Laws of Physics.'” She misquoted Scotty from Star Trek, feeling the eyes of the employees and the other patrons upon her. Just like yesterday when she'd run to the corner store for that phone, she didn't feel self-conscious. She simply felt too right and centered within her own self. Sure, she had to be making 'mistakes' in her presentation. Only in fictional stories did a 'gurl' step flawlessly from male to female. There were simply too many things little girls learned that boys didn't, to make that possible.

“So that's what you call it?” He grinned back at her. “I think traffic control officers might have another description.”

“I did not break any laws.” She replied primly, “And as for too fast for conditions, they have to catch me first to prove it.”

Bridget didn't mention Al's radar detector, nor the stealth qualities of not just her Ducati, but their suits as well. Truthfully, she hadn't been reckless. With that 'bike' and its 'engine' she would've had to work a lot harder at pushing the boundaries, before there was a problem. Being on the outskirts of a tropical storm didn't come close to challenging her or her machine.

Of course it being his first time on a motorcycle considering those same conditions, he probably did find it rather … exciting.

Walking together, she led him to the fresh produce aisle. “Let's buy a few of these so it doesn't look too suspicious while we scan everything. Fresh fruit and veggies are the best.”

Right then, Danny's stomach growled like a wild animal.

“Okay, okay. I give.” She held up her hands in surrender. “We can hit the deli too.”

“Very funny.” He glared at her. “Just because I'm about to start stuffing my face right now, it doesn't mean a thing.”

“I had my own turn playing starving wolf right after I changed for the first time.” Bridget confided, leaning over to keep their conversation private. “What your Dr. Otto is doing for you and what my own talent does takes a lot of energy. It has to come from somewhere. I don't think either of us are destined to be fat or even pleasingly plump.”

The rumble from Danny's gut seemed to agree with her, making him blush as people turned to look at them.

She grinned as her friend was nearly salivating, wolfishly eying the wrapped sandwiches in the refrigerated display case. For her part, Bridget was looking for something to eat too before they headed back home. Going into Girl Mode had used quiet a bit of energy.

Still, she made certain that Al scanned the entire selection. She was a little jealous of his naming his 'doctor' Doc Otto. It was the perfect name. However, that didn't change the fact that she needed to have as many food templates loaded into her 'doctor' as Danny did. Like she told him, she needed a lot of food too to fuel her 'Shaper' power. If she had to eat that much, she wanted a wide variety!

Their hands full of their purchases, they headed to the checkout.

It was after they were outside that they had trouble. Sheltering from the rain and wind in the covered area of the strip-mall, they wolfed down their sandwiches and sodas.

Unexpected vulgar remarks in rude Spanish revealed, that she, they, had a problem. Robert and a pair of his Mexican Mafia Posse were also hiding from the weather as they smoked.

Bridget wasn't surprised at their under-aged tobacco addiction. Although she'd avoided that pitfall and still had a sense of smell, she knew a large number of her fellow students had fallen to the habit. Grandpa Joe called it, trying to grow up too fast without considering the consequences. In a way, Robert and those like him had little in the way of choices as she saw it.

Perhaps Urban Hell Acres school served a fairly well off area, but the Hispanic students tended to be from the poorer parts of the neighborhood. Not all of course, but they did seem to share the same, 'It's us against the world' attitude. The strange part about all of that, is that the first victims in their communities were them being preyed upon by their own people.

In that environment, being older and able to stand up for yourself were survival traits. She could sympathize, since she'd had to grow up fast too. Having to watch your every word and reaction, knowing that being the least bit careless meant being scolded, punished or worse ostracized made one much more circumspect.

That did not cut them any slack for the rude sexual remarks that were directed at her. It didn't particularly make her mad or upset, but it did highlight a glaring deficiency in her feminine arsenal. A girl more accustomed to this would know the things to say and do that would shut them down. Bridget, lacking all of that, was clueless. All she could do was to turn away and ignore them, which didn't appear to discourage them or their crude comments.

Unfortunately, they also had the effect of bringing Danny to the boiling point. Like her, this was a situation he didn't know how to defuse. Being the kid stuck with his 'wheels' didn't teach someone how to deal with teenaged punks trying to prove their debatable manhood.

While she understood that his anger was more about his friend being insulted than protecting a woman, Bridget was at a loss again. She just didn't know how to keep the train wreck she saw coming from happening.

While she and Danny wouldn't be in any danger in a fight, the same couldn't be said for Robert and his posse. With their suits, Bridget and her friend were as powerful warriors as any who'd ever walked the Earth. Strong and nearly completely protected from anything Robert and crew could do with just their fists, it wouldn't be any kind of a fair fight.

That meant it would be so easy for Danny or even for her to make a mistake and seriously hurt one of these kids with the big mouths, who were just guilty of trying to be adults with no idea of what that really meant. Or perhaps they had nothing, but bad role-models which, in the end, meant the same thing. They were teens, more than able to screw-up their own and others' lives without really knowing what the hell they were doing.

That's not to say she did either, but Bridget would like to think that just maybe she had more of a clue than they did. Every night when she looked up at the stars, she wondered what mysteries were out there to see and learn. For her, that was what it was all about.

Danny had finally had enough.

“Let's go over there and shut them up.” He growled, angrily wadding up his food wrappers.

“Sure,” She decided to agree with him. “However, may I give some advice first?”

He dumped the remains of his meal in the trashcan. “Sure.”

“I've been bigger and stronger than all of my peers and classmates for years and now out match most adults.” Bridget said, finishing her own food. “Generally speaking, unless you have a very specific aim in mind, it works against you more than it helps.”

She tried to let him see just how much being taller than everyone else made her stand out, giving their peanut gallery more of a show.

“Like you did with Kevin when he tried to push you around?” Danny calmed down as he thought out her statement.

“Exactly.” She smiled. “He learned that I would not put up with his BS, but understood that if I'd wanted to hurt him I could have. He had to ask himself if messing with me was worth being hurt. Lucky for both of us he decided that it wasn't.”

“This is different.” She gave the still annoying Posse a slight nod. “They're all about how things look and that stupid street-cred-respect crap. Going over there won't change a thing, but perhaps push them into making even more bad decisions.

“Besides this is on me,” Bridget explained hoping he could get it. “I should know how to deal with this with just a few well chosen words. However, I'm new at this, and I messed up.”

“No, you didn't.” Danny disagreed. “They started it.”

“But I did.” She replied. “They're acting just like they've been taught by bad TV and even worse role-models. As a girl, a woman, I have to know how to handle stuff like this. I have a lot to learn.”

There was a long pause as they both realized what she just said.

“Bridget.” Her friend said, softly. “You are my friend and I'll always be yours, come what may. Come on. Let's leave these losers. The future is that-a-way!”

Putting on her helmet, and stepping into the wind and rain, she mounted her bike.

“Let's ride!” She grinned, fiercely.

In a rooster tail of water they zoomed out the parking lot defying the laws of physics, while fully enjoying every moment. If the spray soaked a trio under the overhang, well, accidents happen.



Over Upton Heights Acres

He was rather glad JARVIS had inertial navigation. Otherwise it would've been problematic finding his way home in the overcast and that wasn't mentioning how different everything looked from the air even without the clouds obscuring the ground.

Cutting his thrust, he let himself fall until engaging his replusors at the last moment, killing his velocity safely hidden behind the privacy fence surrounding his home. Plus, who was he kidding. It was one hell of a rush.

That was balanced by the disappointment of finding the neighboring kid was not back from school yet. One good whiff of his pheromones and, no matter how big the smart-mouthed high schooler was, the kid should be putty in his hands. After all Steven had … plans.

Then he remembered that his target was friendly with that crippled boy. It made sense that given the unpredictability of that storm off shore that they might sit out it together until their parents came home.

Making one kid disappear wasn't that hard. Steven had made detailed plans to cover not only that, but how to keep his Iron-Man suit collection out of the public eye. Besides, it was well-known that the boy had issues with his mother and step-father. Suggesting the kid had ran away was plausible.

Doing the same to a cripple, who was confined to a wheelchair, screamed foul play and would demand a close search and investigation. It was very possible that discrepancies could be found that would lead back to him. That could uncover his and Brian's changes, which would be traced to the MAU. That would not do!

However, he remembered that masked figure had taken 'two' packs out of Steven's MAU. He'd assumed both were for Griffin's own use, but perhaps one had been for the cripple?

A surge of anger hit him again. He'd worked hard for everything he had after being kicked out by his parents with nothing to his name. If anyone wanted anything from him they had to pay for it, no exceptions.

A glance showed Brian was already up. Damn, he should've still been unconscious. However, that shouldn't be a problem. The MAU was well hidden, and, if anything, Brian probably went in to his florist shop. Perhaps he should check and be sure, but time was counting down.

Working parents and others would soon be on their way home. It was possible they already were, given the unexpectedness of the storm. If he wanted his 'payment' it would have to be collected right now. Making up his mind Steven walked outside.

“Scan for unusual energy sources and anomalies.” He commanded his computer as he lifted off. It was still raining hard enough that it should conceal him. Climbing into the low thick gray clouds, the weather conditions didn't hinder him at all.

“Anomaly detected.” His suit reported.

A target lock bracketed graphic of a motorcycle flashed up on his Heads-Up-Display. Underneath in red it read, “No Infrared signatures detected. Anomaly.”

He winged over to intercept.



Riding tandem

Vicinity of Upton Heights Acres

And he thought the ride to the store had been exciting, he hung onto his friend as they swooped through a curve. Although Danny knew there was no danger of her 'dumping' them, given her 'motorcycle' could hover and fly at need, the illusion was very strong.

It felt as if their very lives were at stake and disaster was only a hair's breath away. It was exhilarating, and yet utterly insane all at once. For all of his sixteen years, he'd been on the very threshold of death, but now that he was healed, here he was risking it all. Perhaps what made it all so exciting was that he now had a life to chance.

He also had to wonder if his parents would be so approving of his friend if they knew what a thrill seeker she really was. Even as Griff, the Farm-boy, he regularly climbed out onto roofs just to stargaze. Bridget however seemed to like living her life even closer to the edge.

However, Danny also could tell, as they zoomed along, that she was carefully evaluating each risk. His helmet display was relaying what her Alfred was telling her about the road conditions and the 'bike's status, which went much further than the old speedometer, gas gauge and oil pressure instrument panel. Their angle of inclination, ground pressure, friction level each tire was experiencing, as well as environmental conditions, were all displayed.

In a way maybe too much information, which was probably why he noticed the problem first. The picture in picture, rear view camera showed a set of red and gold airborne armor above and behind them.

“Heavy on our six.” Danny warned Bridget who, to give her credit, didn't lose control because of their surprise visitor for one instant.

“Hang on!” She sent giving him scant moments to grab on tight as they went to ludicrous speed.

To be continued

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