Visions of Sugar Plums

'Twas the night before Christmas and it seemed like everyone was stirring on the streets of New York City. Last-minute shoppers pounded frantically on the doors of stores where employees were trying to get home to assemble their own kids' swing sets and doll houses.

Families filled the streets as they left special holiday performances and the occasional superhero action film. Pedestrians traipsed toward the subways or waved wildly at cabs already full of merry-makers.

Bar customers protested early holiday eviction and police tried to keep everyone moving along.

And then a flying saucer whirred into view and dropped a fetid orange gelatinous mass that began expanding like foam from a soap dispenser. Pedestrians scrambled away, dropping hard-won gifts that were immediately swallowed by the orange goo.

Taxis and buses were frozen in place as soon as the mass surrounded their tires. Passengers and drivers bailed and joined the throng banging at the doors of closed shops. Seeing the chaos outside, shopkeepers hurried to unlock the doors to let the bystanders in to presumed safety.

Theater-goers reversed course and ran back inside or they ran as fast as they could just to get away.

Police stood their ground and fired at the faceless mass, but it absorbed the bullets without seeming to notice.

As they were about to be overwhelmed by the rapidly spreading slime, two cops scrambled to the top of a cab and found themselves on an island surrounded by orange. And the tide kept rising higher. As the cab and the cops were about to be submerged, an amplified voice ordered, "Hands up, coppers!"

They looked up and then raised their arms. Iron Man swooped down and carried the man and woman to safety.

"I always wanted to say that," Tony Stark commented. When he set the officers down safely, he swung back and aimed his repulsors at the goo. The powerful weapons caused a mere ripple in the surface, as if he'd aimed a hair dryer at it. Tony fired a pair of missiles. The mass absorbed them. The explosion made a bit of the mass hump up momentarily, but then it continued expanding.

Lightning flashed and crackled along the "spine" of the creature. It looked impressive, but absolutely nothing happened. Thor threw his hammer. It sank deep into the goo, and did not come back. Thor concentrated. The hammer shivered, then finally pulled free with a loud slurp. But no damage was done. The hole left by Mjolnir filled in like a hole in the ocean.

"What vile creature is this?" Thor demanded.

"Got me, Goldilocks. It's nothing I've ever seen before," Tony answered. He spoke into his coms, "Guys, nothing we've tried has touched it. Not lightning, not missiles, not bullets or repulsors."

"Work on getting civilians clear," answered Captain America. "We'll be there in a minute."

A familiar roar confirmed his statement. Hulk came stomping down the street with Hawkeye in his hand. He set Clint on a nearby roof then stomped straight to the blob. His foot came down with a satisfying squish — and then stuck fast. Hulk roared in anger and aimed a fist at the mass.

"No!" Tony shouted, but it was too late. Hulk was stuck by foot and hand, and the mass began to wash around him, rising toward his bent head.

"It looks like Jell-O. Let's see if it will freeze!" Hawkeye said.

A fire-fighting arrow arced into the center of the mass. Freezing foam spread out. The creature shuddered, but continued to surround Hulk.

A motorcycle carrying two weaved in and out of traffic and slid to a halt. Natasha Romanoff hopped off the back, carrying a flamethrower.

"What to get for the girl who has everything," Clint commented.

"If it won't freeze, maybe it will melt," said Cap, as he vaulted from the motorcycle. He flung his shield sidelong, just cutting a sliver from the edge of the blob. The vibranium cut sure enough, but the piece simply reattached.

Natasha lined up her flame away from her comrades and all trapped civilians. She fired — literally. The spray of flame engulfed the creature. A foul odor arose, but when the flame subsided, the blob seemed uninjured.

Cap grabbed a valve on a fire hydrant. Muscles straining, he turned it, releasing a fountain of water on the creature. It did wash away the smell, but that was all.

"Hahahahaha!" A maniacal laugh came over a loudspeaker in the forgotten flying saucer.

"Oh good, maybe the villain will explain," Tony said dryly.

"I've done it. I've done it!" the voice exulted. "I've created a creature the Avengers cannot touch! Soon the powerful Hulk will be overwhelmed. We'll see how long it lives when its lungs are filled with goo!"

"Not gonna happen," Tony snarled, though he honestly had no clue how to save his big green friend.

"Cap, little girl trapped on your right!" Hawkeye called.

A little girl in a festive velvet dress had been cut off from her family by a swift stream of gel. Her parents screamed from the other side of the street, but she could only cower back against the wall.

Steve leaped over the isthmus of gel to the girl's shrinking safe spot. He hoisted her over his shoulder and climbed up the wall, traversing the storefront above the orange tide until he could reach the girl's family.

The mass reached up toward Cap's boot to pull the super soldier and his passenger down. In a gesture of feeble defiance, the girl flung what she was holding at the deadly finger of goo — a footlong candy cane.

The reaching finger froze at the touch of the holiday treat — then it shattered into a hundred pieces. A keening wail went up from the mass.

"Did you see that?" Hawkeye and Iron Man said simultaneously.

Steve looked down and saw what happened, where the candy cane still imbedded in gel that seemed to be hardened and cracked — like smashed hard candy.

"Was it the sugar or the peppermint?" Black Widow asked practically.

"We'll try both!" Thor said.

He smashed the window of a candy shop and began throwing the sweets on display into the mass. Some of them were artificial, just meant for display, but the ones that were real made the creature crystalize and crack.

Cap reached the safe area ahead of the blob and handed the girl to her father. "Run!" he advised.

"Here," the man said. He offered a handful of sugary snacks from the theater.

"Thanks," Steve said and began pelting the blob with Jujubes, Red Vines and Junior Mints.

Other theater patrons flung their concessions at the blob. The popcorn and pretzels did not help, but the candy and sodas wreaked havoc on the creature that had grown to fill two city blocks. Shoppers sacrificed their sweet gifts to bombard the goo monster.

"No!" cried a voice from the flying saucer.

The edges of the monster began to shrink back, but the center was still swallowing Hulk. It had enveloped his shoulder and was working its way around the side of his face. Hulk scrunched his eyes closed.

The people inside a nearby bakery opened the door and began handing merchandise to Natasha and Tony. They formed a "bucket brigade," passing goodies one by one. Then people in the candy shop and the bakery found the mother lode, when store employees opened the kitchens and passed out bags of sugar.

"I'll take that," Tony demanded. He grabbed a ten-pound bag of granulated sugar and flew above the mass, dumping the sugar all around the Hulk. The slime hardened.

"Hit it, Hulk. Hit it now!" Tony yelled.

The Hulk couldn't see but he trusted his friend and he smashed with the only fist he had free. The substance that had trapped him shattered like glass. Hulk smashed again, roaring in triumph as he broke himself free.

When he stood, shaking shards from his hair, he was no longer stuck, but he was still surrounded by dangerous goo.

"Here, friend Hulk, smash this," Thor called. He hurled a soda vending machine to Hulk. The green Avenger caught it, flung it down in the still slimy mass and jumped on the machine, squishing sugary sodas (and not-health-today water) on the monster.

Theater employees ran out with jugs of the syrup used to make sodas. Clint snagged one with a grappling hook, then slid across the street on a zip line to empty it over the center of the creature. Natasha and Steve ran around the edges of the monster, surrounding it with sugar and preventing it from growing any more.

JARVIS spoke to Tony. "Sir, I have tracked the transmissions emanating from the flying saucer."

"Great, J. Show me where." Iron Man shot into the sky. "Be right back," he told the others.

The villain was, predictably, in a tall building nearby where he could admire the carnage. He was so distraught by his creature's sweet destruction; he didn't put up any fight at all. Iron Man dropped him at the feet of the two cops he'd rescued and then hovered over the remaining gel monster.

The Avengers had gotten it under control, but within the perimeter, it still washed back and forth like an angry sea. And they were running out of ammunition. They worried it might escape before they could bring in more sugar.

Then they heard a quinjet approaching. "Clear out, Avengers. I've got a special delivery." Nick Fury's voice came over the coms.

"Been eavesdropping again, boss?" Clint asked, as they shooed everyone away from the monster. Hulk snorted, gave one last stomp on the crystalized creature, then leaped away.

"Not like I can count on you to file a report, Barton."

The back of the quinjet opened and Fury stood there, black coat flapping like an angry crow.

Clint laughed. "Look, it's a visit from St. Nicholas."

"Heard that, Barton," Fury growled. "Hey slime ball," he called to the monster. "I've got a Christmas present for you!"

Four agents emptied huge bags of sugar and bottles of syrup out of the quinjet, covering the monster.

"It's going to be a dietetic Christmas on the helicarrier," Nick told the Avengers.

"I promise to send a load of goodies tomorrow, Nick. Enough to put everyone in a sugar coma," Tony swore.

"I'll hold you to that, Stark," Fury replied.

"JARVIS, make it so," Tony said grandly.

"Yes, Captain Piccard," JARVIS replied dryly.

When the sugary bombardment ended, most of the monster had solidified and crumbled. Only one small spot still writhed.

Steve hefted the last remaining Christmas cookie in his ammunition supply and, with a flip of his wrist, flung the frosted Santa like a Frisbee it to the exact spot. The last bit of gelatinous monster filmed over and fractured.

Sitting in handcuffs on the sidewalk, the mad scientist wept to see his creation demolished. Clint sauntered over and clapped the man on the shoulder. "Sorry buddy. That's the way the cookie crumbles."

Hulk snorted and brushed monster glass out of his hair. It rained around the mad scientist, who yelped when one sharp shard scratched his arm.

Natasha chuckled. "They do say sugar is bad for your health."

"You know what else they say?" Steve paused for effect and grinned wickedly. "Revenge is sweet."

A/N: Like the Avengers Christmas Song I posted recently, this story was inspired by the TV commercial where Samuel L. Jackson is talking to Santa Claus. My sister pointed out they are both named Nick, so plot bunnies happened. But this bunny took a left turn at Albuquerque and swerved away from Fury for the most part. Came out more creative this way, than my original thought. Hope you enjoy. Happy holidays!