It wasn't supposed to happen.
It was a simple mission. Aaron simply had to stop Helix's minions from stealing some tech. It should have been a quick, one-two punch job. Aaron pretty much wiped the floor with the creatures while STAN made sure nothing was touched.
STAN had only turned his back for a minute. Silence filled the room as Aaron panted for his breath. Aaron straightened up and opened his mouth to say something, but instead of words, shouts of pain left his mouth. STAN turned to see the creatures had attacked Aaron, two pinning him to the ground, and the other two throwing steal boxes at him.
"Aaron!" STAN shouted, surprising the creatures, who ran from the room. Unlike normal situations, Aaron didn't get right up. He didn't move at all.
The only response the android received was a low, pain-filled moan. STAN moved closer, only to see blood dripping from under Aaron's bangs, as well as from a cut under his lip. STAN glanced around, then carefully picked up the teen, carrying him to the SSJ. Aaron never woke.
- - - - -
T. Abner Hall stood next to the hospital bed, his face grim.
When STAN had arrived with the unconscious Aaron, there had been a mad scramble to get him into the bed, as well as get his uniform off of him. The doctor had to stitch up nearly twenty cuts and gouges on his body, most of them had been hidden underneath the uniform.
Aaron had yet to regain consciousness from the attack, and it had Mr. Hall worried. It had been nearly four hours since he had left for his mission.
As if he could hear his mentor's thoughts, Aaron stirred. His eyes flickered open, confusion and pain could easily be seen inside them. Not recognizing the room, he tried to sit up, only to fall back with gasp after only to make it three inches up.
"Aaron." The boy in question fought to focus on Mr. Hall, but he couldn't. He was in just too much pain. Every breath felt like he was inhaling fire. "Aaron, look at me."
"T-trying, si-r," he gasped. He must have gotten better at hiding his pain.
Mr. Hall blinked in surprise. Even hurt, he still tries to be Aaron Stone, instead of Charlie Landers... "Aaron, until you heal, you are on stand-by."
That got Aaron's attention. He opened his mouth to argue, but snapped it shut at the look his mentor gave him.
"You need to rest. You will be able to help again once Emma and STAN have cleared you. Understand?"
The teen gave the barest of nods before passing out again. Mr. Hall left him to his rest.
Outside, both Emma and STAN waited for word. Emma saw her boss first. "Sir? Is he alright?" Her voice shook with worry.
Mr. Hall held in a sigh. "He will be, with rest. Emma, STAN, keep in relaxed and off of his feet as much as you can. According to the doctor, that's what he needs right now."
Both of them nodded.
- - - - -
Nearly two weeks later, Charlie Landers was going crazy sitting in his room waiting for the android and the tech specialist to clear him for active duty.
"Em, I'm fine. At least let me stretch."
Emma, sitting on his windowsill, let out a sigh and relented. "Fine, but I'm sitting right here, just in case."
Charlie gave her a smirk. "You just want to see me with my shirt off," he teased as he pulled the aforementioned piece of clothing over his head without so much of a wince.
The girl rolled her eyes. "I've seen you without your shirt the past too weeks. It's really not that impressive." She laughed when his mouth dropped. "I'm joking!"
"Emma!" he shouted, chasing her around his room, laughing. After four passes, he finally caught her, pinning her to his bed.
They both shared a blink. "Um... oops?" Charlie stuttered, rolling off of her, embarrassed.
Emma's face was bright red, matching his. She averted her eyes, before she noticed that the last bandage on his body, with a stubborn cut underneath that would just not heal, was slowly turning red.
"That cut is bleeding again," she said, groaning in her head.
He had to ask for help. "Em, please?" She nodded and started peeling it for his skin. "Oh, and do you want to go see a movie later?"
She was so surprised that she ripped the bandage from his skin, leaving him to yelp loudly. "Em!"
"Sorry, but did you just ask me out?"
"Um... yeah. What do you say?" Charlie looked relieved that he finally said something, she noted.
"Let me get this bandage on you, and let me go changed. It's my pick." She slapped the bandage on and darted out the window, giggling at the stunned look on his face.
Instead of cheering, Charlie grabbed a clean shirt and started buttoning it up. Who knew that I had to get my butt kicked to get her to go out with me, the teen hero thought to himself with a laugh.
"Maybe now she'll let me protect the world again," Charlie said out loud. Next door, he could hear Emma laugh.
"Not a chance, hero boy!"