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ex3lev3n

Welcome back, Kris (IC)

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April 19, predawn

The taxi pulled up to the brownstone on 83rd Avenue. In the predawn darkness, a young man exited the vehicle. He paid the driver, and slung his duffel bag over his shoulder as he approached the front door. He hadn't thought to bring his keys with him when he left all those months ago. Well, truth be told, he didn't think he'd be coming back, but that's part of the reason he was here now. To explain himself to his former teammates, not just for his sudden disappearance, but to come clean and give them the whole truth of who he is, not just the vague half-truths he had told the rest of the Interceptors.

Ringing the doorbell, he waited silently for the door to open. C'mon, someone open up before I lose my nerve.

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*ding dong* *ding dong*

"What'n the hell?" Colt asked quietly, not wanting to wake Grim. He was awake, but there was no light outside. This was not right.

*ding dong*

Ain't no body I know'd be callin't this hour. he determined. After a glance at Grim, he saw that she hadn't heard the doorbell. Just's well. I reckon she should be sleepin' Colt lifted the covers and climbed out of bed. He pulled on a pair of Pajama pants and hoisted his gun belt from the peg on the wall. Pulling Jericho from the holster he placed the belt back on the rack.

Colt left his room and made his way down the stairs. *ding dong* "I'm comin', I'm comin'." he called.

Colt reached the door, pulled the handle, took a step back and partially raised his gun. He only got it halfway up, before it started to fall once more. "I...Kris?"

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Colt reached the door, pulled the handle, took a step back and partially raised his gun. He only got it halfway up, before it started to fall once more. "I...Kris?"

When the door opened to reveal a gun-toting, pajama-clad Colt, Kristian had thought he made a big mistake coming back until the pistol was lowered. "Uh, hey, Billy," the younger man said cautiously, "I didn't mean to wake you. You mind letting me in?" he asked as he peered past the cowboy into the house.

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Colt smacked himself in the head with the palm of his left hand. "A course!" He sighed as he opened the door the rest of the way, and welcomed Kris into the house. "Where're my manners? I thought y'all're gonna be some kinda trap're somethin'."

Colt led Kris toward the kitchen. "I reckon I'll put on some coffee."

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Still lying in bed, Grim rolled over into the warm zone vacated by Colt, then blearily raised her head. "Hon, is that you?" Her pointed ears twitched this way and that as she picked out two voices, one of which she hadn't heard in quite some time.

"Wing...?" :?

With some effort, she crawled out of bed; due to her resistance to cold, leaving a nice cozy bed wasn't as traumatic for her as it was for some people, but waking up from sound sleep still made her a bit ornery. She summoned a navy blue robe out of the air to cover her t-shirt and sleepy pants and padded downstairs. Her nostrils twitched as she entered the kitchen, a warm grin spreading across her face.

"Yep, that's the smell of Kris alright." She held her arms wide and began to move in, but then frowned and stopped herself. "Wait, I forget; do we do huggsies?" Then she shrugged and gave him a good crushing hug anyway. "God, I haven't seen you in forever, dude! Where the hell have you been?"

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"Coffee sounds good, man," he said as he entered the brownstone. An instant later, Lynn showed up and wrapped her arms around the jet-lagged young hero. Dropping his worn olive drab duffel to the ground he returned the embrace, remembering why he always thought of her as the Interceptor's den mother.

"I've been... places. Let's get some joe in us and I'll tell you all about it", he replied as he picked her up and gave her a squeeze. Setting the pixie-like figure back on her feet, he asked "Is the rest of the crew sleeping?"

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Colt frowned at the question. There was silence for a moment, broken only by the sound of percolating coffee from the machine. "I reckon we got some bad news about that. They're gone." Colt folded his arms and leaned up against the counter near the coffee maker. "When you left, it was like ya opened up all'a th' flood gates fer the rest'a'em. Velocity decided it'd be better if'n she went back ta school. Blink, well, blinked outta'ere. I don't know if'n she ever trusted us'nuff anywho. All-Star didn't keep much longer, neither. Flew off ta fight the next big thing'e saw. Ne'er look'd back."

Colt sighed, and continued weaving the sad tale of the Interceptors breakup. "Reckon we tried recruitin' folk, but that ain't worked worth'a dime. Elektron was the on'y one what bothered signin'. He wuddn't no great fit, neither."

"'Sides us, Jack's the on'y one left. An' I reckon it was hard'nuff keepin' him sane after hell invaded." Colt gave a helpless shrug. He had the look of a man that had done all he could, and seen no returns. But one sideways glance at Grim, and a smile lit up his face that seemed to rekindle every fiber of his being. He called her over to him with a gesture. Kris had gotten a hug, and he seemed to want one too. Kris had known the two were dating before he'd left. But something about the fact that their relationship hadn't failed amidst the stress of super hero work, and their team falling apart was inspiring to say the least. Kris couldn't help but feel better just looking at the two of them.

Colt glanced at the clock above the stove, "This time'a night, Jack'll be out'n patrol. He's been sleepin' days, 'n'wakin' us up if'n there's trouble't night." Colt only now just realized that "night" was rapidly becoming "day," "I woudn't be none to surprised if'n he dropped in any second, naw, though."

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"'Sides us, Jack's the on'y one left. An' I reckon it was hard'nuff keepin' him sane after hell invaded."

Hearing that, Kris shifted uncomfortably. He remembered the Invasion, remembered the carnage and casualties, remembered being torn apart by demonic teeth. He had problems dealing with what he knew was the memory of his own death, and he made a mental note to speak with Jack on the matter when he arrived. It was a shame that the Interceptors broke up, and he felt that he was partly to blame. Had he not set out on his own, maybe they'd all still be together.

But something about the fact that their relationship hadn't failed amidst the stress of super hero work, and their team falling apart was inspiring to say the least. Kris couldn't help but feel better just looking at the two of them.

"You know... Marcus had x-ray vision and super-hearing. I'm just throwing that out there", he joked at the sight of the two lovers sharing a morning embrace.

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As they spoke, the center of the common room shifted to reveal the staircase that descended into the Underground. A young Latino man with dusty brown hair cropped short to his skull traipsed up into the apartment building, still tugging on the last of his civilian clothes. "Man, who even tries mugging somebody in this town?" Jack scoffed as he pulled his t-shirt over his head. "Seriously, at this point - buh?" The swordsman blinked as he registered one more person than he was expecting. "Kris? Kid, what the hell happened to you?!" He pointed a sternly accusatory finger at the teen as he walked over. "I thought you were dead. Or maybe evil. Again."

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"Jack, we were just talking about you, man!" the younger man exclaimed as he hopped the kitchen bar to the living room in one fluid motion.

He pointed a sternly accusatory finger at the teen as he walked over. "I thought you were dead. Or maybe evil. Again."

Kris stopped short. He knew Jack had meant it as a joke, but he had no idea just how true his words were. He did die. He knew it, but never spoke a word to anyone except Lynn, and even then he didn't actually come out and say it. And he had reverted to his old ways after he left, a gun-for-hire selling his services to the highest bidder. He told himself it was for a good reason, but he knew he was lying to himself.

"Well, what can I say? I needn't some 'me' time, you know?" he said sheepishly as he extended his hand.

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Jack went to shake Kris' hand, then ducked around the teen and caught him in a headlock before mussing his hair with the other hand and a laugh. Releasing him, Jack clapped Kris on the back, then paused, giving the youth a sidelong glance with a furrowed brow.

Before he'd disappeared, Razorwing had been the only member of the Interceptors besides Colt without superhuman abilities, and lacking the residue of the cowboy's interdimensional origins, he'd registered to Jack's metahuman senses as simply human, barely distinguishable from the average person on the street. Now, however, it felt like there was a tingling after-image hidden behind Kris, an icy shadow presence, distinct but bonded to the young martial artist. The shrieking cry of a bird of prey echoed with mystic power in the corners of the energy manipulator's mind.

He removed his hand and took a seat. "You got mojo'd up, kid," he observed with a raised eyebrow.

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He removed his hand and took a seat. "You got mojo'd up, kid," he observed with a raised eyebrow.

Running a hand through his hair to even it out after the noogie Jack had laid on him, he replied. "You... you can feel that? I mean, I know you can sniff out fire and electricity, but this?" he says as he lifts his shirt up to expose his well-toned and heavily muscled torso, accented with scars and burns that gave proof of his grueling training, "you can actually see this?" he asked as he laid his hand over his chest. He knew it was there, though it was invisible to others as far as he knew: a soul brand depicting the Razorwing, a great winged terror what haunted the darkest of souls, the beast of legend for what he was named, the demi-spirit that he had defeated in spiritual combat in the mystic lands of Shangri-La to gain his new-found powers of ninjutsu.

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Seeing her boyfriend was in need of some sugar, Lynn literally crawled up Colt to give him a kiss. "Mmm, good morning, handsome." Then she mussed up his hair, dropped back down to ground level, and wrapped her arms around him, tucking her head under his shoulder.

"You know... Marcus had x-ray vision and super-hearing. I'm just throwing that out there",

The tiny shapeshifter snorted and waved her hand dismissively. "Oh, please; with that boy's personality, I'm glad if we gave him a free show, just so he remembers what all the parts are for." :twisted:

Lynn was glad to see Jack made it through the night okay (she knew the guy could take on the whole Crime Syndicate by himself, but she still worried when he went out solo), but was even happier to see there were no hard feeling on any side.

"you can actually see this?".

The young brunette's eyes nearly popped out of her head when Kris took off his shirt; she was much more interested in his finely-toned abs than any of his scars or some mystical whoozit.

"Uh, yeah, I'm reading you loud and clear over here, Kris; y'know, I'm so glad you were able to maintain your rigorous workout schedule while you were, y'know, away and all..." :love:

She turned to Colt and poked him a few times in the chest, eyes still glazed over. "Coffee...now...please...?"

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"Put your clothes back on, kid," Jack drawled, giving Grim a flat look which was clearly meant to remind her that Kris was a few month's younger than the swordsman's own sister, and decidedly underage. "Everybody knows I'm the gratuitous eye candy around here." He crossed his arms and frowned. "I don't know what's supposed to be on you chest exactly, but you got something stuck on you. Deep, too. Feels a bit like the hellfire flu I was sporting until recently." The swashbuckler shrugged. "It's been a busy few months for everybody. You go first." Jack's wry tone suggested that it wasn't entirely a request.

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Letting his shirt fall back into place, the young man knelt down and pulled something from his duffel bag. "Check this out," he said as he tossed the bundle of black cloth on the kitchen counter. "It's called a shinobi shozoko. Those little booties are called tabi," he said with the biggest smile on his face that he rest of them had ever seen from the stoic young man. "I picked those up when I returned to Japan in late January to complete my shinobi training."

He was about to continue with the rest of his story, but then with a sly grin he asked "Quid pro quo, Jack. What's the hellfire flu?

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It was at times like this that Colt unconsciously reverted to his old introverted self. He'd become decidedly more outgoing since coming to Earth, but sometimes, he remember how much he liked to just sit back and watch a situation unfold. He let others do the talking, he preferred to listen. Though he wasn't completely silent. Here and there he chuckled at a joke, and smiled in spite of himself.

"Uh, yeah, I'm reading you loud and clear over here, Kris; y'know, I'm so glad you were able to maintain your rigorous workout schedule while you were, y'know, away and all..." :love:

She turned to Colt and poked him a few times in the chest, eyes still glazed over. "Coffee...now...please...?"

Colt gave Grim's face a playful shove away from him by placing a hand lightly on her cheek. Extricating himself from her grip, he turned to the pot of hot liquid and mugs on the counter. He reached up and pulled one more mug out of the cabinet in case Jack needed a pick-me-up. He began pouring coffee after coffee and handing them out, starting with Grim, "Ma'am," he offered her a mug politely. Pouring more and offering it to the other two members of his team first, he finally settled in with his own after the rest had bee poured.

He was about to continue with the rest of his story, but then with a sly grin he asked "Quid pro quo, Jack. What's the hellfire flu?

"I reckon we all got some long stories, don't we." Colt took a small sip from his piping hot mug. He slurped the back coffee slightly, trying not to burn his mouth.

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"S'like a regular fire flu, but more hell-y," Jack answered glibly. After a moment he sighed and elaborated. "I got all pumped full of demon juice after the whole 'you're dead no wait you're not dead' thing, and went a little 'grr, argh' for a while. Got some soul-antibiotics that cleared it right up, s'all good."

Accepting the coffee from Colt, he looked over Kris' new gear. "So you're a ninja now." He turned to the others and pointed a thumb at the newly returned youth. "Kid's a ninja now."

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While Kris and Jack swapped tales of ancient Japanese martial arts and demonic taint, Grim added an obscene amount of sugar and half-and-half to her coffee, rendering it undrinkable to the average human.

"Kid's a ninja now."

The tiny shapeshifter stirred her coffee and scowled as her voice went all gravelly.

"Ninjas; the lowest form of scum. A blight on the land, parasites in black pajamas killing babies in their cribs."

She brighted and raised her cup a' joe in salute. ;)

"Good to have you back, Kris!" She took a sip, then gave Colt a thumbs up. "Mmm, love it love it love it! So, now that you're back, with all your hard to pronounce powers and skills (which is totally cool, I'm sure we can really use that kinda stuff), how do we know your ass is not gonna bail on us again?"

Her tone started out light, but all of a sudden a bit of edge creeped into it as she stared over the lip of her cup as she took another sip.

"I'm serious, Kris; we had no idea where you went, no way to contact you...for all we knew, you could have been dead, man. And that's not how a good team operates."

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Before Kris had a chance to explain himself, Jack raised a quieting hand. "Step off, Lynn, we're not his parents." He turned to the youth. "Up and leaving like that was a jerk move, but I figure you already know that. You got things you gotta do on your own, fine." The fencer set his mug down largely untouched and folded his arms again. "Next time leave a note on the fridge, huh?" Of any of those who'd left in the weeks after the demonic invasion, they'd been most worried about Kris. Skilled though he might be, it was only a matter of time before the teen ended up in trouble thanks to his anger and rashness. The time and resources they'd spent in their fruitless search for him could have been better used elsewhere. Even so, being in contact at all time had never been part of the original deal, and Kris was close enough to an adult that they had to respect his choices... to a certain extent, anyway.

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"Thank ya much," Colt smiled in response to Grim praising his coffee making skills. Then turned his gaze towards Kris. "I'll be th' first't'admit. I was 'bout as scurred fer ya's Grim, here. But Jack's got'a point." Colt sighed as he sipped from his mug.

"We're yer friends, Kris. Dunno whether'r not ya noticed, but friends have'a habit'a worryin'. But ya deserve yer freedom. We respect that, we just wanna know yer okay. If'n fer no other reason than it sure helps us sleep a mite better."

Colt set his mug down on the counter behind him, and folded his arms. "I reckon I said my peace. But I gotta tell ya, I been dyin' ta hear this here story'a yers."

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Friendship. Hearing how the rest of the Interceptors felt bout his departure he felt a pang of guilt. He hadn't meant to just up-and-go, but that was how it happened, and he didn't think that any of his teammates would care that he was gone. Apparently he was wrong.

"I'm sorry, guys," he said after a sip of coffee. "I just had to get my head right after..." he paused for a moment, "After I got chewed up and spit out by a demon, it made me re-evaluate some things."

Looking Jack-of-all-Blades square in the eye, he continued. "The memory of your own death is nothing to live with easily. I had to force myself to make a decision regarding what to do with the rest of my life. And I figured it out," he said as he met eyes with Colt and Grimalkin. He felt that the rest of the team wouldn't appreciate exactly what that decision was, so he kept it to himself.

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"The memory of your own death is nothing to live with easily. I had to force myself to make a decision regarding what to do with the rest of my life. And I figured it out,"

Grim's big brown eyes went soft, and she laid a hand on Kris' arm. "Hey look, dude, all is forgiven; that was a horrible time, and you had to deal with it your own way. S'cool." She looks down at her feet and sighs. "I've taken off a few times myself, and coming back wasn't always easy. I did't mean to make it any harder for ya." The shapeshifter met his gaze and smiled sheepishly. "So no more crap from me, alright? And you don't have to get all 'encounter therapy' with us, either, if you need more time so sort it all out. We're all cool, as far as I'm concerned."

Then she drummed her hands on the counter and pointed over at the fridge with both hands. "So, you hungry there, big guy? 'Cause Momma Grim can whip you up some grub to go with that coffee."

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"Yeah, scrambled eggs with some cheese, please," he replied to Lynn's offer of breakfast. "Airline food sucks!" He took another sip of his coffee after chuckling at his own comment.

"So, I hitched rides down to the Mexican border. I got into running guns for the Mexican mafia to make some quick cash, then I did some work in South America. Colombia mostly." He looked solemnly into his mug, feeling a pang of shame for his actions. "It wasn't long before I was done with all that, though.

He looked up from his cup of joe, took a deep breath, and downed the rest of the bitter brew. "That's when I decided to I needed to retrace my steps, all the places I traveled when I was with Ronin. I needed answers that he'd never give me."

The young man stood up and took his mug over to the coffee pot, pouring himself another hot beverage. "Anyone else?"

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"I reckon anotha' cup'd be mighty fine." Colt drawled, downing the rest of what was in his cup and holding his out for a refill. "Thanks, partner."

"Grim," Colt addressed the shapeshifter as she prepared the stove, "Ya let me know if'n ya need help with them eggs."

"So where was the next stop'n the trip? Kris?"

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"Yeah, scrambled eggs with some cheese, please,"

Grim nodded and happily complied; cheese omelets were one of her specialties. She waved off the offer of help from Colt with smile, but tensed up a bit when Kris mentioned gun-running; obviously he regreted his actions, but she still couldn't help casting a glance Jack's way to see his reaction to this particular revelation as she whipped four eggs (she made her omelets big) in a metal bowl with a whisk.

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