1965-05-23 - Concrete Jungle
Summary: Maria has an eventful night, Flash happens to be in the right place at the right time.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
flash-thompson jaguar 

Maria burst from the hotel, tears streaming. She is dressed in her street clothing—green dress, low heels, but no jewelry except for the locket around her neck. No purse, either.
She doesn't seem to have a destination in mind, just wanting to flee the hotel and the horrible events within. She crosses the street, unmindful of the honking horns. She just wants to get AWAY, any way she can!

Flash happened to be passing the hotel by when Maria exploded out the front doors and started to run into the street. Now let's be clear; upset women coming out of hotels isn't something Flash is entirely unfamiliar with, but there's something about this one that seems off to him. He watches the girl for a moment, but quickly sprints after her, across the street as well, weaving nimbly through the cars as they took blare their horns at him. "Hey!" he shouts after the girl to get her attention. "What happened? Someone hurt you?" She seems a bit young for.. well, they come in any age, really. "Do you need help, Miss?" Concerned Citizen Thompson.

Maria turns, a sudden flood of Portuguese issuing from her lips as she turns to see the man…and she stops, her hand rising to cover her mouth. The look is almost comical. Her tanned skin looks dusky in the dim light, and she looks horrified…but not at Flash, but in some distracted way, like she coughed into someone's face, or just asked a widower how his wife was doing.
"Oh, sweet Mary, Mother of God…! I'm so sorry!" She looks at Flash, startled by his handsome face, the face of every recruiting poster she has seen. She backs up as she realizes how close to the traffic she is, her back to the green expanse of Central Park. "I…I should not burden you with my troubles, sir…!"

Flash raises his hands up in front of him in a 'calm down, lady' kind of gesture, which he verbally echoes. "Hey, just take a breath, okay?" He walks toward her a bit, slowly. "Wouldn't have come after you if I didn't want to help, right? Tell me what happened, what you're running from." She's not bleeding, which is a good sign, but Flash knows fear and panic when he sees it. Saw plenty of that in his short time overseas.

The girl hugs herself, looking very lost for long seconds, before she looks up to him. "Sir…I am sorry. I just received…some terrible news. It…sir, may I have your name?" She gives him a searching look. "My…name is Maria de Guzman."

"Flash Thompson," says the man, continuing his slow and steady, decided non-threatening approach. He won't get too close for comfort, but it beats shouting across several feet, right? Her explanation of 'terrible news' gets a bit of a nod, but he remains skeptical that it wasn't something more material. "You tore out of the hotel like someone was trying to hurt you. Call me old-fashioned, I guess, but I don't like the idea of a girl being mistreated. You sure it's just.. bad news?" There's a part of him that would very much like if it were more serious.. something he could physically act on. Someone who deserved some retribution, who Flash wouldn't feel so bad about letting Venom loose on. It's been a slow couple of weeks.

Maria looks around. "Can we…can we walk? I feel a little foolish here. Perhaps we can walk through the park? The city seems stifling, and it would be…better." She pauses. "Flash? Your mother named you Flash?" She looks owlishly puzzled.

Flash gives a nod. To the request to walk, rather than the name issue. He'll offer his arm if she'll take it, but otherwise is happy to just walk beside the girl. "No, Flash is a nickname. Got it back in high school.. not really important, just what I go by." He smiles. His real name isn't something he likes to discuss particularly. "How long have you been in New York?" The slew of Portuguese, though chances are good Flash would just think it were Spanish, paints her as a non-local. Probably not the first time someone would jump to such a conclusion, though.

She doesn't take his hand, but she doesn't seem to mind walking with a complete stranger, no matter how handsome he may be. Definitely not local.
"I came to America with my father. An ambassador, from Rio de Janiero, Brazil. We have been here for a month. I just…found out some terrible things." She takes a deep breath, seeming to relax at the smell of trees. "I just found out my aunt…on my mother's side…died five hours ago. My father won't tell me how it happened…"

Flash doesn't push her to take his arm or anything, and just walks alongside matching her pace. "Sorry to hear that, Maria. Were you two very close?" Yeah, it's a bit of a letdown that it wasn't some jerkoff trying to force himself on her.. but Flash manages to quiet that voice in his head without letting on.

Maria looks troubled. "We…hadn't talked much. There had been one Hallowe'en, seven years ago. I was all dressed to go out and trick-or-treat with my friends from school, and she…"
He voice drifted off.
*…what's a few boneyards?*
"…she had frightened me, very badly. We…didn't talk much since then. But she had been…a very vocal supporter of the rebel faction in Brazil." She looks around, then smiles. "I like this park of yours. It is very comforting…"

Flash nods along as Maria speaks. "I had an aunt kind of like that.. old Aunt Norma. Scared me more than my old man ever could," he says. "She died a few years back, I think." Flash kind of lost track after his parents passed on, and he hasn't really worried about keeping touch with his extended family. Other concerns. "Central Park is one of the better parts of the city.. doesn't have the greatest reputation as a night-time hangout, though. But don't worry, no-one will bother you while you're walking with me." Despite his nice, pretty-boy appearance, Flash can get pretty mean..

And then the little tingle starts at the nape of Flash's neck. Not immediately. Central Park seems to take the space of a breath before making him out to be a liar.
Six…no, eight of them. All of them wearing leather jackets and motorcycle boots and pegged jeans. The backs of the jackets all match—the outline of a thick boot, around which is displayed 34TH STREET STOMPERS.
Maria shrinks back as four strangers seem to appear out of nowhere. She turns to run and sees another four behind them. Classic pincer flanking attack.
"Well, well, well…ain't they the lovin' couple?" A switchblade appears in his hand with the flick of his wrist., the blade snapping to attentinon.

Flash perks up at the tingle, even before the thugs make themselves known, and his eyes lift to the first of them before they even speak. He tries to suppress a bit of a smirk as the switchblade makes an appearance, and moves to shield Maria from the others with a chivarlous sweep of his arm. "Evenin' boys," he says. "You probably want to put that away, and move on." Or, chimes in the voice in Flash's head, we could just break their necks and feast on the remains.. Whatever happens, Flash is on high alert, and ready to act. As much as the symbiote wants to get some action, Flash doesn't want to terrify the locals, or Maria.

"Wrong, college boy. Big Man on Campus. You're on our turf. And you have to pay the fee." He grins and points to Maria. "She'll do. Ten minutes."
Well, tne minutes per person, but why tell College Boy that?
Maria is overwhelmed, and she runs. Two grab for her but only get a scrap of her dress.
"GET HER!" the leader yells, and three of them peel away to chase after her. The leader chuckles. "Too bad, golden boy. Guess we get to take it out of your HIDE."

In the dark, it might be hard to notice the rippling of Flash's suit. He moves with incredible speed, crossing the distance between himself and the group which remains faster than they could react to, He doesn't need the alien symbiote's powers to handle thugs like this, but it does make it more fun.. just don't kill them. Just don't kill them. Flash takes hold of the nearest man, pulling him close, and with a sharp kick breaks the thug's leg. 'Break' is rather a tame word; a skilled surgeon wouldn't be able to put it back together, but it's still attached, at least inside the skin. Another quick turn brings an elbow to the jaw of another, striking him with superhuman power and shattering that jaw beyond repair. And within another second, a tendril of some black, inky substance shoots out from Flash's hand, wrapping around the neck of a third and squeezing; the man's face may turn purple, but he'll let go after a moment, just long enough to leave him unconscious, possibly with permanent damage to his trachea. Oops, wasn't supposed to do that.. Bad Venom.

"You idiots," he mutters under his breath, jumping on the next man to smash his head into the pavement before looking up at the final, remaining thug. "City full of powered folks.. mutants, superhumans, freakin' aliens, and you're still mugging random people in the Park? Jesus H. Christ." Another tendril shoots out, grabbing the man by the neck and pulling him forward to Flash, who doesn't waste any more time and merely head-butts him hard enough to both break his nose, and knock him out. All in the space of.. what, 30 seconds? Maybe?

"Maria!" He calls out, setting off in the direction she ran. Three to go. Don't kill these ones, either. Of course, a couple of the first group might never breathe on their own again, but that's a technicality. They're still alive. Flash runs -fast-, owning up to his nickname. Superpowered alien organism helps, but dude's pretty fast on his own. It won't take him long to catch up to the thugs.

Maria had fled. She wanted to just run away, run away from everything, but she could feel the trio closing in her.
And then everything went green.
Flash and the symbiote heard a sudden scream…then another one. But the pitches were different. More than one screamer.
And then the body of one of the trio is ejected from the treeline, flying OVER him to land on the pavement path, moaning.
And then Venom has a sense of some…MONSTROUS presence, looking at him with green feline eyes.
And then the feeling passes and Maria stumbles out of the thicket, her dress torn, her eyes unfocused, her hair a mess. But not a mark on her.

Flash catches up just in time to hear the screams, and then see the body flying from the bushes. He knows those kinds of screams. He's caused those kinds of screams. And the tingly feeling he knows well, but it doesn't amount to imminent danger. At least not directed at him. And then Maria emerges, without the three thugs who had been after her. Well, one of them is right there.. but he's not getting up, right? "Maria?" He strides toward her, looking her over for marks. "What.. what happened? What was that.. thing?" As a fellow 'thing', maybe he shouldn't use such language, but there it is.

Maria blinks as she looks at him. "It was…I…oh, God, I think I'm going to be siii…"
And then she bolts over to the nearest hedge and retches quietly for a few moments.
A few seconds later, she staggers back, her eyes a little too bright with shock. "Please…just…take me back to the hotel…please, sir, if you're any kind of gentleman at all…"

Flash has the good sense to at least give the girl some space while she heaves. "Gentleman might be a stretch, considering…" what he just did back there. "If you really want to go back there.. alright." He gets the feeling she doesn't really want to go back there, though. "I live in Queens. It's a bit of a trip, but.. there's a spare room, if you want another option." Offer's on the table, but he won't push her in one direction or another. Whatever creature she just turned into and back from doesn't seem to bother him particularly? As an added bonus, Flash isn't allergic to cats, and he's not under any kind of 'no pets' restriction, since it's his own house. Just saying.

She shakes her head. "I have to get back. If I go missing, my father will turn it into an international incident. Besides…I have to confront him…about MANY things." She looks up to him, then says, "I will be all right."

Flash gives a nod to her explanation. "Alright. Listen, if you need anything," he pulls a card out of his pocket. It's not his business card, but it's got a blank back. Where he keeps picking these things up is a mystery. He also draws up a pen and scribbles a number on the back. "That's my phone number. Anything at all." Bodies disposed of, for example. He hands the card over to her, though where she'll put it is a mystery, considering the dress. That done though, he's happy to walk her back to the hotel. Wouldn't want to keep a lady up past curfew, after all.

She takes the card, but still seems to be shaking a little. Only it's hard to tell if it's fear…or excitement.

*…What have I become?* she thinks to herself, and has no answer.

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