rating: pg 13
main character: Greer Nelson (Tigra)
disclaimer: Tigra is the creation of Marvel comics. I hold no legal rights and am making no profit from this.
distribution: Paula, anyone else please ask first.
note: I am attempting to revise things to fit the Avengers into the world of the X-Men movies. So, this will most definitely be AU.
Greer sighed, wondering yet again why there were so many tests that her doctor put her through. Yes, she knew that once upon a time, her mother had participated in some sort of medical research program, and that there was 'some concern that there may be secondary effects on any offspring' but she hated the testing. Every month, they drew blood for exhaustive panels of tests, checked her reflexes, vision, everything. She felt less like they were worried about something from her mother, and more like they were looking for something in her. But she had no idea what that something could be.
She was just Greer Grant-Nelson, after all. The only child of a divorced single mother, and while she had been enough of an athlete in school to win herself some nice scholarships to college, there wasn't that much unusual about her. She was on the tall side of average, and while she did have a nice set of curves and good muscle tone, she'd worked for those muscles. The most unusual things about her that she could tell was the almost orangy red of her hair and her eyes... they looked almost like the yellow green of a cat's eyes.
Her doctor had been assuring he since she was eight years old that she wasn't a mutant, and there was nothing wrong with her eyes. That she was perfectly normal in every respect, and very healthy.
But those assurances would carry a lot more weight if they didn't take blood every month.
The day was beautiful, a few puffy clouds overhead, birds singing, people skating and biking on the campus. It was... almost too perfect. Closing her eyes, she tried to find the flaws in the picture. She could hear the wheels of roller blades squeaking, an assortment of musics from the nearby dorm, sweaty bodies with too much perfume or cologne on... okay, life wasn't perfect. Her day continued, with Professors droning on through their lectures, and students taking notes, or gossiping about plans for Saturday. She frowned, wondering why everything was sounding so much clearer this quarter, hadn't it been frustrating to try to hear the Professor in this room before? Maybe Professor Jackson just projected his voice better than Doctor White?
She was out walking that night, feeling restless. The dorms felt too crowded, the walls so thin that every little noise carried clearly, and a couple of the people down the hall had... company. She really didn't need or want to know what was going on down there... So, she was outside, walking through the park like area. It was supposed to be some sort of campus beatification or botany display, but... that was a small matter. It was open, and quiet.
Glass shattered to the right of her, and she heard someone demanding money...
Where in the hell was the so called Campus Security during this? It wasn't right, and they were supposed to be safe here... Anger surged through her, a hot prickly flood, and then she felt like her body was stretching, almost tearing. Greer screamed, but it came out as a roar, and when she looked at her hands, her nails had become dangerous looking claws, and her hands and the rest of her body seemed to be covered with fur, orange with black stripes, like a tiger. Probing with her tongue, she discovered sharp fangs instead of her normal teeth, and the night seemed so much brighter, everything in sharp focus.
Her outrage felt too powerful, too intense, and she moved towards the sounds of the fight, now easily hearing the two attackers, the frightened student insisting that he didn't have any more money. Very soon, the attackers would become more violent, seeking some form of satisfaction...
Greer didn't intend to let them have that chance. She was on them, like a tiger pouncing on it's prey, and no matter how easy it would have been, she refused to take the easy route and kill them. It would be so easy, with these new sharp claws, and with the amazing strength and reflexes that she seemed to have acquired, but... Killing wasn't a good thing. And if she did kill them, suddenly it would go from 'pair of muggers stopped' to 'students slaughtered in parking lot'. But the freedom that she felt, oh God, it was wonderful.
The pair of muggers were down now, still breathing, but not moving. The near victim was staring at her, his jaw dropped, eyes wide, and he was just... he reeked of fear. That hurt, stinging far more than her change had, and she turned and bolted.
The wind in her face was wonderful, and she couldn't believe how fast she seemed to be moving. Everything was stronger, more intense. She leapt into a tree, making the fifteen foot jump to the lowest branch with ease, her tail helping regain her balance as she landed... Tail? She had a tail and fur? What had happened to her? A frantic self inspection showed that she seemed to have become some sort of humanoid cat. It was... at the same time incredibly liberating and terrifying. Was this... had her doctor been looking for some sign of this all those years? Had they... had someone known that this was possible? Was she stuck like this now, or could she become herself again?
Greer crouched in the tree, eyes closed, and tried to sort out exactly how this had even happened. She had changed, and she had to understand it. Gradually, she regained her calm, and concentrated on herself as she normally looked, with no fur, no tail, human ears and teeth... Greer Nelson, not some tiger woman. Again, she felt like her body was prickling and stretching, and then it was as if everything was muted, muffled and blurred. The smells and sounds were less intense, and her vision wasn't as sharp.
She'd changed back.
She almost felt lightheaded from relief. She had changed back, which meant that that furry shape wasn't permanent. She could still... what? What did she do now? She jumped from the tree, landing carefully on the ground, wondering exactly what she intended to do with her life. Clearly, despite everything her mother and her doctor had been saying, she was not normal. Which meant that becoming a professional athlete would be sort of like cheating. What did she want to do with her life?
She wanted to help people. When she thought about it like that, without worrying about what sort of degree she wanted, or how much income a potential job would give her, she wanted to help people. Greer just wasn't quite certain how to go about it. Legal mattters almost put her to sleep, chemistry was one of her worst classes, which ruled out most of the medical field, she'd never really seen much to support politics as an actual aid to people, and guns gave her a headache, which ruled out police or military if she had a choice. But where did that leave her? She sighed, looking at one of the newspaper boxes on the campus, seeing a headline about Captain America.
Maybe she could be a hero? Try to stop criminals, save people in danger, all that? Could she do that and hold a paying job? What would she call herself? Catwoman? The tiger? Claw? Hmm... that would bear a bit of thinking.
Over the next few weeks, she practiced changing deliberately, and while it was easier if she was experiencing strong anger or fear, she could change more or less at will. The most noticeable effect was that it made her hungrier, she was eating almost twice as much now. Part of that could have been from the fact that she'd been… sort of supplementing the campus security. Taking down muggers, stopping thieves, she'd even dragged off and resisted maiming an attempted rapist. She was trying to get a feel for this, to see if she could really be a hero.
So far, it was looking promising. She had the physical advantages, reflexes, speed, amazing senses, and those claws… But the biggest surprise had come when one of the people that she'd decided to stop, someone outside one of the clubs near the campus had pulled a gun on her. She'd panicked, and had just sort of ducked behind a car, her hands sort of moving in what should have been a motion that would pull her down faster… Except that she'd flipped the car on it's side, and it had nearly toppled on the gunman. She'd grabbed him while he stared at the teetering car, and had only allowed herself to ponder the implications later.
She definitely had the physical qualifications for being a super hero.
With her stomach fluttering, Greer decided that there was only one way to go – ask for proper guidance. Sort of like an internship, only a bit more risky than most business careers. And who better to ask than one of the local super heroes? There were two in the area, Captain America and this… Iron Man, who was some sort of employee of Stark Steel.
She started to search through the city, trying to deal with any criminals that she happened onto, but looking for one of the heroes. Her plan was to ask them to teach her, to help her learn to be a hero. She found their scents several times, but it took her almost another month to find them, and by that time, there was a third hero working with them, a tall blond man calling himself Thor.
She'd dropped onto the street near Captain America, holding up her hands in a gesture of peace as he turned, facing her in a wary stance. He looked even more impressive in person, the uniform glimmering, the embodiment of the American Hero.
"I want you to teach me how to be a hero." Her voice hadn't shaken, although it didn't sound nearly as confident as she'd hoped the statement would. Actually, it had sounded almost like a plea.
"Being a hero isn't easy, young… lady. It can be dangerous, and often thankless." He sounded thoughtful, and had given her this look, as if he was trying to figure out who she was and what she could do.
"I wasn't looking for easy. I want to help people." She wanted to make him understand, to let him know that she wasn't looking for her picture in the paper, or fame.
"Then work with us. Join us, become an Avenger." He sounded so confident, and there was an intensity to his eyes, a rich blue visible through the half mask that covered his face.
"An Avenger?" The name was new to her.
"We can accomplish more together than separate. If we cooperate, we can be more versatile, more effective. We can protect more people more effectively. And we can help each other to learn and adapt to new situations." He offered his hand, as if expecting a handshake.
The offer was everything that she could hope for. A chance to learn, to become a real hero. She accepted his hand, smiling at his grip. "Gladly."