I own *EVERYTHING*! Ha ha ha HA!… Shoot. Didn’t believe that did you? *mutters* That’s what I get for having such smart readers. *shrug* On with the usual. I own nothing. I have no money. Please don’t waste your money suing because frustration is all you’ll generate.
Summary: After Virgil and Richie leave Alva’s private little island they find that being good Samaritans has some side effects. Long lasting side effects that open a *whole* nother can o’worms. WARNING SLASH.
I looked at the long scrape of ugly army green paint that Hotstreak had left on the bricks and crumpled black railing that used to be the bars of someone’s balcony and silently wondered if I was doing the right thing. Francis was right now flying into the sunset with a vehicle he could barely drive that had… well I wasn’t sure if it was armed since during the long silent flight I couldn’t make heads or tails of all the flashing buttons but- knowing Alva I’d bet on it. I was the superhero of this piece and I’m pretty sure the superhero isn’t supposed to allow the bad guy to ride off with enough hardware to hold up a bank. Several banks.
There was a whisper of sound and I turned in time to see Talon take flight. I just watched her winging away into the darkness. My head was saying I should go after her; take her in, just like Francis, but my heart kept me rooted to the asphalt. They’d done good today. Remembering the searing heat that caressed my cheek when Hotstreak had threatened to fry me if we didn’t turn around I revised that to mostly good. Besides who knows how long Alva’s mad scientists had her for? I hadn’t seen her around for a while. Might have just been her laying low, might not have been. Shivering at the thought I turned to Gear and Rubberbandman.
Gear. Richie. He’d gone out to a science seminar two days ago. Did he even make it to Metropolis? Or had Alva’s pet science freaks grabbed him the moment he stepped out of the gas station. God, I was scared when I saw him strapped to that table. I took a step towards my friend overcome with the desired to run my hands over him to make sure nothing was out of place, ripped, or bruised. If Alva’s goons had given him so much as a scraped knee I was going to throw the greedy CEO out a window damn the good guy rules. Richie just looked at me, eyes wide. I couldn’t identify what was shining out at me from those depths. Somehow it made me feel warm and fuzzy yet just as scared as I’d felt back at Alva’s little compound.
“Thanks for the rescue Static.” Rubberbandman’s wry comment broke through the spell. I released a necessary breath I hadn’t realized I was holding and looked at my one time nemesis.
He looked a little worn around the edges but a whole lot more relaxed than his usual slightly hostile slightly superior attitude. Maybe he was finally starting to let go of his anger. ^Wow look at the flying piggies mommy.^
“It was no prob.” My voice was full of my usual cheer as I made a dismissing motion with my right hand. Adam gave me a nod and started off in the direction of his apartment. He was hard to spot in his new costume, and I imagine that was the point, besides the much better look. Part of me was amused that I knew exactly where he lived and another annoyed at my paranoia. I knew RB wasn’t going to go bad again, Sharon would beat him to death if he even tried, but I’d still gone out of my way to make sure I knew where the reformed rapper lived. It made me feel sort of guilty especially since the guy seemed to trust me more these days. Some times being a superhero sucked.
Turning back to Richie I was both relieved and oddly disappointed that the intensity from before didn’t return. Richie gave me an easy grin. “I don’t know about you partner but I need a shower. I swear I can feel the bacteria having a party on my skin.”
I frowned. “Thanks ever so for the image.” I pulled my disk from my pocket. Then with a practiced flick I unfolded it. Charging it was a little more a chore than usual, but I ignored it. It had been one hell of a day.
Leaving the dirty alley with its new green strip, dented brick, and cherry red sports car I headed for what I’d recently learned with chagrin was the exact center of Dakota, our old abandoned gas station/headquarters. The familiar roar of Gear’s jet powered skates provided the only noise as we zoomed along the skyline. It eased nerves I hadn’t noticed were raw.
By the time we’d arrived I was drooping with exhaustion. Fatigue seemed to have settled in all of my limbs. I hadn’t felt this wasted since I pull four all-nighters in a row. Dimly I recognized the familiar effects of adrenaline drop off but it was a far away kind of knowledge. Moving on autopilot I made my way to the back of the station barely remembering to collapse and collect my ride.
The back room of our clubhouse looked more like a laundry room than the lair of a couple of superheroes. But fighting crime can be a dirty business. And no villain is gonna respect a guy with grease stains on his costume from his last dive into a dumpster courtesy of the last supervillian. Yet how’s a hero supposed to keep his secret identity if he’s gotta risk leaving his costume in the dryer? So the matching dented old washer and dryer set Richie had salvaged from the junkyard were a must. The twin shower stalls next to them, non-matching ones since the second gray one was joined my whitish one when Gear came into being, were just another practicality we’d learned the hard way. Parents are funny about noticing crusted blood and dirt on their kids. Then there’s just the luxury of being able to walk home with shoes not squishing from slime the newest metahuman put out.
Stripping unashamedly I threw my clothes in the washer. It joined a few other sets of identical costumes. Another thing I never would have thought of before the big bang. Heroes should buy in bulk. Eyes half closed I jumped into the three sided metal box of my shower. Turning the knobs I leaned my forehead against the steel under the showerhead as the steamy jets caressed my back. The patter of feet and the sudden whooshing of the washer running barely registered. The sudden increase in temperature when Richie began his shower jolted me back to reality though. I winced and fumbled for the soap in its little tray on my right. Soaping down all the important parts quickly then stepping back into the spray I heard the water on my right shut off. Richie had beaten me, as usual. Twisting the knobs I stepped out of the alcove.
Beside the dryer was a basket of clean clothes. Neither of us were big neat freaks so nothing was folded but we did draw the line on dumping things on the floor. I made my way over. Richie already had boxers and a t-shirt on. He was having a hard time getting his pants on though. He kept picking up his foot and missing the pant leg. His closed eyes probably weren’t helping. Normally I’d be laughing or at least teasing my best bud about his lack of coordination but right now all I could feel was sympathy.
I dug around through the basket till I found enough of my civilian clothes to be considered an outfit. I managed to get dressed fairly quickly luckily avoiding Richie’s pant problem.
“Virgil. Going to collapse. Your place is closer.” I blinked at my friend sleepily vaguely amazed that he’d been capable to string two sentences together. They’d been strained but they were definitely sentences.
“ok” I nodded and my head felt like it was disconnected from my neck.
How we made it to my house I’ll never know. The next thing I knew my covers were scratching over my skin and I was in my bed. Then there was a creak and dip and suddenly a solid warmth pressed against me. I turned and snuggled deeper into that reassuring presence. Arms wrapped around me. Then everything went dark.
Of all the things I miss about Mom her cooking is one of the things that I miss the most. At least in the mornings. Standing outside of Virgil’s door I shook my head. ^Dang it! I don’t even like my cooking but when he starts complaining… It makes me so mad! If he dosen't like the way I make things he should make his own. I know what I should do. Get lessons then surprise him with a gourmet meal- Sigh. But then I’d have to admit that my food *really* is barely edible. I’ve spent so much time spitefully defending my skills that it’d look like Virgil was right. I’m not about to let that happen. A big sister’s got to keep the upper hand.^
Shaking my thoughts off I swing little bro’s door open. For today anyway it’s another round of soupy eggs and burned toast.
The room’s a mess as usual and without Daddy here this weekend I know it’s going to stay that way until at least next Sunday. With a couple quick steps I was beside the twin bed Virgil has had shoved up against the wall since he was eight and worried that without his safety bars he fall off the bed and break his neck.
^Oh my. ^
Virgil wasn’t alone in his bed. That wasn’t all that bizarre. Richie lives at our house more than his own as I pointed out that one time that resulted in him running away. Something I still feel guilty about. Richie is Virgil’s best friend and has slept over plenty of nights. So the pale blond hair glinting in the sunlight on my brother’s bed wasn’t a shock. No. What took my breath away was the heartbreakingly cute *cuddling* they were doing. My little brother was tucked up under Richie’s chin, his arms were wrapped around and I could swear *under* the other boy’s white t-shirt, he was pressed so close that any closer and he’d have been on the other side, and he had the dopiest happiest all-round sweetest wistful smile on his lips. It looked like a smile I’d seen before, in my mirror when I thought about Adam. It looked like… love.
I don’t think I’ve ever had an epiphany before- well, except for that time I thought Virgil was Static, but I was wrong so that obviously dosen't count- but I sure as shooting was having one now.
Dazed and more than a little breathless I turned and slowly walked out of my brother’s room. I gently shut the door behind me and headed for the kitchen. Somehow the stairs, which I’d descended thousands of times before, seemed to take forever to walk down. Swinging the door open revealed the kitchen was just as I left it. The eggs were sitting in the pan waiting to be cracked and cooked. The bread was piled on a plate next to the toaster. The sight sent a wave of ridiculous relief through me. A semi hysterical laugh bubbled out of my mouth. Quickly I slapped my hand over it but the sound still echoed in my ears.
^Get a hold of yourself Sharon girl.^
I released my mouth, took a deep breath, walked to the closest chair, and sat.
I knew I should be thinking about what I’d just discovered but all I could do was stare at the tabletop. My mind was whirling around and before I could settle on one thought it would be slammed away by another.
I closed my eyes and let out a cleansing breath. “Okay.” My jiggling thoughts crystallized and stopped trying to jam out my ears. Opening my eyes I let out breathily my shocked realization, “Oh, boy. My brother’s in love. With his best friend. His best *male* friend.” I knew I’d basically repeated myself, to myself, but damn it bore repeating. I’d never even contemplated my brother being gay. For a minute I wavered, was what I saw real? Had I maybe misread the situation? The memory of my brother snuggled up next to Richie flashed through my mind and the feeling of absolute certainty that had struck me replayed. It had felt solid. Solid like ‘I know the sky is blue’ solid. No, I was right. That was a dopey ‘I’m in loooove. I’ve got it so baddd.’ look. Even if he didn’t know it yet Virgil was in love. ^Wait. Didn’t know it yet? Of course he didn’t know it yet. When it comes to emotions my brother is as dense as a wall of concrete.^
I frowned. “But what about said friend?” ^ Was Richie in love with my brother? What should I do if he wasn’t? Play matchmaker? We argue a lot but I love my little bro’, should I try and clue him in? Give him tips on how to let a guy know you’re interested?^ I giggled at the thought of Virgil with his hair in curlers in a pink bathrobe on my bed hovering over the latest Cosmo talking about boys in those high girly tones that all self-respecting women deny even exist.
Getting up I went over to the coffee maker, picked up my mug from beside it, pulled out the pot, and filled my cup. Relief had relaxed me. I wasn’t a bigot. I didn’t have a problem with my brother being gay. It was a good thing to know I was right about myself. I was understandably shocked though. His first love, wow, this was much bigger than his first crush, that wimpy infatuation he had for Frieda. It was hard to imagine that he’d found it at just seventeen. Look how long it took me! ^And they say girls mature faster. Ha.^