JUSTICE LEAGUE

23

Rescues
 

“You know, something seems a bit off,” Rosma commented to Iso as the glanced at the crew piloting the Justice Jet. The others had tried to talk to them (them assumedly being Midnight, Oreo, X-Raytor, and Pinzz) but the four superheroes had cordoned off the pilot’s area and asked them to just stay in the back out of trouble.

“What makes you say that?”

“Hmmm. Maybe it’s just me, but didn’t Pinzz have an unusually deep voice? And Oreo’s Oreo satchel isn’t magenta. And X-Raytor-“

The others nodded. “Yeah, something’s not right,” Raven agreed.

“I don’t think it’s really them,” said Crystal.

“One way to be sure,” Iso said.

He knocked on the cabin door. Midnight peered out through a crack.

“Hey, Midnight, remember that conversation we were having a few days ago? What was it you were telling me about Clyattville?

“Uh…I don’t remember.”

“Ah, come on. Some other town then. Or anything not even related.”

“Uh…I don’t feel like talking. Go away.” He shut the door.

The others just stared at where Midnight had been, mouths gaping in shock. Xiao was the first to recover. “That wasn’t our Midnight Chatter. Couldn’t have been.”

Iso nodded grimly. “Yeah. Question is, what do we do now?”

***

Midnight Chatter (the real Midnight Chatter) and Oreo Avenger walked cautiously up to the front door of the Delivery Men’s Super Ultra Top Secret Hideout right in the middle of downtown. Midnight Chatter turned the door handle.

“It’s unlocked!”

“What idiot leaves their door unlocked in this town?”

Pause.

“Midnight, did I remember to lock the door to the Justice League Headquarters?”

“I don’t think so. But then again, it’s always possible that Pinzz or X-Raytor locked it. Kinda like how the last time I was visiting my friend Ma-“ Oreo put a hand over Midnight’s mouth.

“Shhh. We’re going in.” She uncovered his mouth, then grabbed him by the hand and pulled him inside with her.

But there was nothing for her to worry about. The Delivery Men’s Super Ultra Top Secret Hideout was completely deserted. The inside was rather plain, too. Aside from a wall plastered with posters of The Pizza Boys (though Oreo hadn’t the foggiest idea what possible connection they had with them) and a few boxes of BowFlexx’s that looked like they still needed to be delivered, the one large room that made up the Delivery Men’s Super Ultra Top Secret Hideout was empty.

“Who orders those things, anyways?” asked Midnight.

Oreo looked at the shipping address. “This one says it’s going to John, Lord of Darkness (dum, dumm, dummm!!!)”

“Oh. Can’t say I’m surprised. My uncle always said that people who order-“

“Well, this is certainly most unimpressive,” Oreo interrupted. After scouring every inch of the place and discovering nothing (which took all of two minutes), the two superheroes turned to go out the door. Oreo turned the knob.

“Huh.”

“What?”

“It won’t turn.”

“Let me try.” So Midnight tried turning it, but to no avail.

“Let me try again,” Oreo said, this time turning the handle in the opposite direction. Suddenly, sirens and flashing lights went off. “WARNING! WARNING! INTRUDERS! INTRUDERS!” Three seconds later, steel bars shot up around the two of them, trapping them together in a small five by five square.

“Gah, this sucks.”

“Why does this always happen to us?!”

***

“I…” Scarlett stared at Eli’s pale face; even from across the room, she could see he was unconscious. “Okay. What do you need to know to let them loose?”

The Hot Scottish Guy smiled. “Now tha’s more like it, lassie.” And, imperceptibly to Scarlett, Ewan smiled as well. “So. Ye ken start by tellin’ me what ye know about that X-Raytor lad. Where’s he from?”

Scarlett looked puzzled. “I…I don’t know, exactly. He’s never really told us much about his past.”

“Ye must know something.”

“He...uh…he likes to watch So Weird!”

“Aye know tha already. He’s dating that girl.”

“Fi? I mean, Cara?”

“Yeah.”

“Oh. See, you know more about him than me.” Scarlett was glad to hear X-Raytor’d finally started a stable relationship. Took him long enough to get over those darned Neary Issues.

“Auch, no, lassie. Ye’re not gettin’ off tha easy. Wha about Midnight Chatter?”

Scarlett paled…then realized that despite all the time she’d spent with him, and all the talking he’d done, she really didn’t know much about him, either. This was going to be a piece of cake. She didn’t have to tell them anything if she didn’t want to. “Uh…can’t help you there, either.”

“Oreo Avenger?”

“Nope.”

“Pinzz?”

“Hah! You think I spend my free time with her?”

“Twisk?”

“Ditto.”

“Crystal Freeze?”

“Sorry.”

“Rosma?”

“Zero.”

“Isomorphix?”

“Zip.”

“Raven?”

“Nada.”

“Studmuffin?”

Here Scarlett paused. “Well, supposedly he’s in Segundo, California hiding out in a mansion with Jennifer Anniston, Gary Condit, and O.J., but I don’t know anything for sure. You’d have to check your latest issue of the Inside View to be certain.”

“Never heard ef it.”

“Oh. Well, I wasn’t much of a fan myself until I read this one article in there while I was waiting in the checkout line at the grocery store. Big conspiracy about ESP inducing bakery foods. Journalist even had a tape recording of the bakery owner admitting to the whole thing.”

“Really?” the Hot Scottish Guy seemed interested.

Scarlett glanced at Ewan and winked. If she could just keep holding the Hot Scottish Guy off, get more time, maybe she could figure something else out and get them out of here. Get Eli to a hospital.

Then, to her surprise, Ewan suddenly stood up.

“Alright, that’s enough. I’ll take care of things from here. You obviously don’t know how to handle an interrogation. Now give me that gun, you idiot,” he said, holding out his hand. The Hot Scottish Guy handed it over.

Scarlett was shocked. What had happened to Ewan’s Scottish accent?

…Oh, and what the heck was going on?

Ewan looked over at Scarlett and smiled that gorgeous smile of his. “That’s right, Miss Fyre. I’ve been in charge of this whole thing. From the beginning. You see, anyone can be a celebrity. But can any celebrity just up and become a real life villain through an elaborate plot to destroy a pack of crime-fighting superheroes? No!”

“Your…your voice…” Scarlett was too much in shock to really pay attention to what he’d actually said.

“Ah, right. Well, hate to disappoint you, but I’m not really Scottish. That was just a front to get further in the movies, you know. I needed a gimmick, something to make me more popular. So I invented Scotland.”

“Invented Scotland?”

“Yep. It’s all one big myth Sean Connery started with the help of his wife Nessie a few hundred years ago. I just brought it up to date, really.”

“And the accent?”

“Completely made up.”

“I don’t believe you!”

“Why not? You believed everything I said until just now.”

Silence.

“Okay, I was joking about the accent. It’s real. So is the country. I’m just not from there.”

Scarlett was visibly relieved.

“Now then, let’s get back to the questions.”

Scarlett hardened her face. “I’m not telling you anything!”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes.”

“Then I’m afraid I’ll have to show you just how serious I am about this.” Ewan turned, pointed the gun at the Hot Scottish Guy, and fired two warning shots.

Into his head. The Hot Scottish Guy dropped to the floor, no longer breathing.

“Now you feel like talking?”

“So you killed one of your minions. Haven’t you read your Evil Overlord Handbook? That’s just going to come back to haunt you. Besides, he betrayed me. If I got loose, I was going to kill him.”

“Hmmm. You’re right,” Ewan McGregor mused. “Sure you won’t talk?”

“Never.”

“Okay. Just remember--you’re the one who killed him.”

He shot Eli Woods. Four times.

Scarlett screamed.

“He didn’t do anything! He was innocent!”

“And if you’d talked, he’d still be alive.”

***

Inside the Justice Jet, the chaos had just begun. “AHHHHHH!” yelled Netic and Drew as they body-slammed the Oreo Impersonator onto the dash. Further back, the other three, as well as two additional hijackers they didn’t know about when they’d boarded were in the back fighting the others. To the left of the slumping body, Drew noticed a remote control taped to the dash, with one tiny flashing button. “Power Control”

“Hmm. Wonder what happens if I press this button?” She pressed it. But nothing happened on the ship.

Not that she could tell, that is. But some of the others knew instantly.

“EEE! Hey, watch that ice, Crystal!”

“Wait…”

“Our powers! They’re back!”

In no time the Justice League had subdued their would-be captors. But before they could learn anymore than what their badges labeled “The Delivery Men” told them, Twisk tripped and caught hold of the bottom hatch door release in an attempt to keep her balance. This opened the bottom hatch.

Which then opened right underneath where they’d piled the Delivery Men, and they plummeted to the ground, and the secret of why they’d done it all went with them.

***

“Hey! Stop the MOPED!” X-Raytor yelled.

“What?”

“Someone’s calling me. And I can’t get to my phone.”

“I didn’t hear it ring.”

“It’s on vibrate and I can’t get to it…hmm…mmmm…maybe I’ll just wait and call them back…”

“You put it in the front of your suit again, didn’t you?”

“Oh, yes. Yes-yes--YES!”

“EWW!” Pinzz leaped from the Justice League Moped. “Answer the phone, you creep!”

X-Raytor fumbled and found the phone. “Hello?”

“X-Raytor! It’s Rosma! I’m with the others; we were sent to Antarctica when we ate some pizza, and then the Delivery Men tried to take us somewhere but we don’t know where because they’re plummeting to their deaths as we speak, but anyways---“

“Whoa, there. So you guys are okay?”

“Yeah. And we’re in the Justice Jet!”

“Good!”

“We tried to reach Midnight and Oreo, but they’re not answering. Iso can track them down, though, he says.”

“Okay. Well, then, bring everybody back, we’ll meet you at the headquarters, and then you and Iso go look for them.”

“Copy that. Over and out.” She hung up.

“Say what?” X-Raytor tried to ask, but was too late. He turned to Pinzz. “They worked the situation out themselves. I told them we’ll meet them at the Headquarters.”

“Thank goodness. I think I was about to shoot myself if I had to spend another minute longer cruising around town on this moped with you.

***

Hours passed.

No one came by for Midnight and Oreo. No one.

“It’s like whoever created this thing has just disappeared.”

“Yeah. Weird, isn’t it?”

“You’d think the others would have found us by now.”

“Nah. Unless by some miracle the others escaped from whatever had them, we’ve just got X-Raytor and Pinzz left. And you know how likely that duo is to get anything done. For two people who were so madly in love during that social, they sure don’t get along very well.”

“I’m surprised you even noticed them. You were rather occupied yourself, you know.”

“Who? Me?”

“Yeah. You and Scarlett had quite the…I dunno. You just seemed awfully close.”

“She was a nice person. She would listen to me. Most of you guys just tell me to shut up.”

“I don’t do that, do I?”

“Sometimes.”

“Oh.”

Pause.

“Sorry. I’ll try not to do it so much. I really do like talking to you, you know.”

“No. I didn’t know.”

“I mean, I don’t really know you all that well or anything. You always spent so much time with Scarlett.”

“Well, every time I wandered into the kitchen you wanted me to try out Oreos. That’s not always a fun experience, you know.”

Ann shuddered at the memory of Vin Diesel. “Hmm. You might have something there…” She paused in thought. “How about we start over? Clean slate. I won’t ask you to test out Oreos, and I’ll try not to shut you up, either.”

“Sounds good to me. You know, don’t feel so bad. You do listen sometimes, you know. When you want me to test Oreos out for you afterwards.”

Oreo grinned. “Well, talk away. I’ve got nothing better to do right now, that’s for sure.”

***

Scarlett was alone in the dungeon. The Hot Scottish Guy and Eli Wood’s bodies had been dragged away to be disposed of, leaving a bloody streak on the ground.

Ewan wouldn’t be coming back, either, she guessed. The serenaders were even gone, but that didn’t really mean anything; with everything fire-proof and non-combustible, her powers were pretty worthless. They’d only really been there to protect her interrogators.

But Scarlett was still there. Left to die slowly of hunger or perhaps self-judgment.

“Just remember--you’re the one who killed him.”

***

Iso and Rosma took off on the Justice League Moped from the JL Headquarters in search of Midnight and Oreo. “They should be somewhere close by.”

“Mmmhm,” Rosma said, snuggling up closer to Iso on the Moped.

“Uh…comfortable?”

“Yep!”

They sped off, studiously avoiding the Burger King that had held up Pinzz and X-Raytor. “It’s a conspiracy, I tell you. By the time we left, we’d paid for over $500 worth of fries,” Pinzz had complained to them.

“They’ve got to be around here somewhere. How much trouble could the two of them possibly get into?”

***

“Row, row, row your boat…”

“Row, row, row your boat…”

“Gently down the stream…”

“Gently down the stream…”

“Okay, there has got to be something else we can do besides sing rounds.” Oreo looked frustrated.

“We could always get to know each other better…”

“How would you suggest we do that?”

***

“Mrrrow?”

Scarlett smacked herself. “Well, they always say the brain’s the first thing to go. I never thought I’d get so bad as hearing voices though…”

“MRRROW!”

“Hamlet?”

She turned to look out into the dungeon.

“Hamlet! It’s you! You found me!”

“Meow.”

“Well, I can’t help it if I’m the only one who understands you. At least you didn’t think I was dead.”

“Mrrrow.”

“What? You can’t be serious. Saph joined the Justice League? …It’s got to be a set up. She’d never join. Not unless she was being paid to infiltrate…”

By this time, Hamlet had picked the lock to her door. It swung open.

“I’ve got to warn the others!”

***

At the Justice League Headquarters, Saph looked uneasy.

Things aren’t going the way they were supposed to. I was never supposed to end up there. The Delivery Men weren’t supposed to end up like that…

“I’m getting out of here,” Saph announced to the empty room. The others were huddled around in the living room as X-Raytor checked to make sure his tapes still worked. Saph ducked into the study and grabbed a copy of the blue prints and technical readouts of the HQ.

“This’ll just have to satisfy them.”

She left a quick note explaining how she couldn’t handle the pressure and was going away. And then she ducked out the front door, duffle bag in hand.

On the TV, a very familiar figure walked onto the screen, wearing nothing but see-through shoes.

“Hey, she looks oddly familiar…”

“The blue…the blonde hair…”

“What is she doing with that…oh…I see…”

“SAPH!”

“You know, I knew I recognized her,” X-Raytor mused.

***

Scarlett ran up the stairs, with Hamlet on her heels. Tried to block out what had happened.

I could have stopped it. It could have never happened. I…no. This is not happening again. You’re not going to get anymore people involved with you."You're supposed to be dead, Scarlett," she told herself. "Not them."

“He didn’t do anything! He was innocent!”

“And if you’d talked, he’d still be alive."

Thank God there's a chance Midnight's okay. They would ask me about the rest of the Justice League if they weren't still alive,
she thought. And Midnight knows how to take care of himself.

She finally came up into a large, fairly empty room.

Empty, that is, except for the broken window at one end where Hamlet had broken in, and the small cage w/ Midnight Chatter and Oreo Avenger inside, kissing.

***

It started off innocently. They were laughing about their past romances, sharing a jelly sandwich from Oreo Avenger’s satchel, when Midnight Chatter kissed her quickly on the lips. She blinked a couple times, shocked, but when she didn’t say anything in protest, he did it again. But not so quick this time.

This isn’t right. He loved Scarlett. But he likes me now. He’s still on the rebound. He’s over her. This isn’t right, it’s not right. Is that his tongue? Oh, that is his tongue.

The voices in her head silenced, drowned out by the rush of feelings. The universe existed only for her and Midnight Chatter. She didn’t even notice the bars of their cage were gone until a loud CLANK announced their hitting the floor.

Midnight Chatter pulled away abruptly. “Scarlett!”

Oreo Avenger sat dumbly on the floor as he ran over to the girl standing by a control box. She certainly looked like Scarlett, though a little more tired than the last time Oreo Avenger saw her. She said something to Midnight Chatter, who then hugged her enthusiastically and talked faster than ever.

They seemed to be in their own world, Scarlett, nodding occasionally as Midnight Chatter talked about the rest of the Justice League missing. There was obviously no need for Oreo Avenger to stick around.

"I'm going to go... be... away from here... now..." Oreo Avenger flew out the window before they could react, crashing through the hole Hamlet already made.

She felt stupid. And confused. And just a tiny bit flustered. But mostly stupid. Of course Midnight Chatter would joyfully greet Scarlett. In his eyes, she came back from the dead. Of course he’d run to her. Oreo Avenger picked some glass shards out of her arm. Those two should be together. That’s the way it should be. She wiped some tears from her eyes.

A realization hit, stopping her in the sky. She didn’t even need to stay in that cage! An Oreo and a couple seconds were all she needed to turn Midnight Chatter into a saw and get them out. Stupid! Why didn’t she think of that before? Maybe you wanted to be trapped with him, a traitorous thought said.

If only she could reverse time, back to before. Back when she was drunk! The first gulp had burned all the way down. The second tingled pleasantly. The third was soon followed by the fourth, which was chased by the fifth. After that, Oreo Avenger lost count. Her thoughts were a lovely fog, all purple and glowing. She really wasn’t old enough to drink, still a couple months from her twenty-first birthday, but it felt so nice to float in the glow. High above the city, she reached for the bottle in her satchel.

No.

Getting drunk wouldn’t solve anything. There was only one person who was responsible for this, the same person who kidnapped her Justice League. He was going to pay for trapping her in a cage, making her cry. He made a mistake in writing that note himself, the one left at Justice League Headquarters next to the pizza box. Oreo Avenger was angry, and she knew where he lived.

It was a tall building, not the tallest in the city, but still respectable. Covered in mirrored glass, it reflected the river, the sunset, and for a brief moment, Oreo Avenger before she crashed through the top window.

Shaking the glass out of her cape (which she used to protect her, breaking through the window), and looked around the bedroom. It was purple. The walls were covered with lavender velvet, the bed with a plum blanket, even the chair and table were upholstered in purple. A row of stuffed animals stared at her from a purple shelf, their purple eyes glaring at the mess. It looked like Barney exploded in here.

It was also totally empty. Oreo Avenger walked through the nearest door and found herself in a small hallway. It she remembered correctly, there was a personal office on the right. Yes, there it was. She kicked down the door. Inside, it was all stainless steel and white, hard and cold, like the man behind the desk. He swiveled in his chair and smiled.

“Ah, Anne, I was expecting you,” he said, gesturing to one of the hard silver chairs gathered in a semicircle around his desk. “Please, have a seat.”

“Thank you, but no. I prefer to stay standing.”

“But you’ll make my guests uncomfortable, and we don’t want that.”

For the first time she noticed the silver chairs had occupants. Four other men, black suited, stared as she took a seat in the center of the circle.

“I wouldn’t want to do that.” If he wanted to pretend this was a social call, she’d play along. For now. Her rage could be let out later. “So, Charles, how are your parents? I seem to recall them cutting off all contact with you.”

Charles smoothed down the front of his black suit. “Sadly, they passed away a few years ago. A tragic accident at a llama farm. Lucky we were able to talk things through and as I’m sure you can guess, I inherited their estate.” He turned to the man on the right. “We were childhood friends,” he explained.

“Our parents were friends,” Oreo Avenger corrected. “Chuckles and I…not so much.”

He flinched. “You know I hate that name.”

She smiled sweetly. “I’m so sorry. Old habits and all. Last I heard you ran away with Jonathan Teatime and were planning on moving starting a band.”

“That’s pronounced Te-ah-tim-eh," one of the men said. He was a thin young man with a friendly pink face and blond curly hair.

Oreo Avenger walked to the desk. Planting her fists on its surface, she leaned over it, her face inches away from Charles’. “I thought I told you to stay out of my city,” she whispered.

He stood up and gently pushed her away. “You don’t own this city, dear. I was invited here by the man who does. He needed someone of my--our talents. Why, as we speak your Justice League friends are being herded into one of my strongholds. You must be anxious to see them.” He signaled to the others. “I’m afraid our visit is at an end.”

She felt herself grabbed from behind. Without stopping to think, she threw her head back and hit the man in the nose. Oreo Avenger lunged at Charles.

“Oh dear,” he said, ducking under the desk. Oreo Avenger grabbed on Oreo out of her satchel. Before she could jump over the desk, the other three attacked her. She was able to take one with an Oreo, and another with her fists, but while she was distracted, Mr. Teatime jabbed a needle in her arm. The world blurred around her. The last thing she heard before losing consciousness was Charles, chucking evilly.

***

Rosma and Iso pulled up outside the delivery place and parked the moped. Iso gazed around the deserted street, as if searching for something. Apparently satisfied that it was or wasn't there, he got off the moped to go inside. Or tried to, at least.

"Um...Rosma?"

"Yeah?"

"Could you let go of me?"

"Oh, sorry!" She released him and they both climbed off. "So this is the Underworld, huh? What were you looking for?"

"Nothing of importance. Come on."

He walked towards the front door quickly and Rosma hurried to keep up. He paused to open the door and she latched onto his arm. He glanced at her, but didn't say anything and led the way inside. They immediately heard voices in the back of the building and made their way across the room towards a faint light.

"It would be easier to walk if you let go of me." Iso told her. "If you're afraid, simply become invisible and whoever is back there won't see you or be able to hurt you. Besides, don't you have a rich boyfriend somewhere?"

Rosma froze in midstep and let go of his arm. "What?"

"Oh, that's right. You don't remember him. Aren't you still in love with him, though?"

"What does he have to do with anything?"

"Well, your behavior towards me has been sort of odd lately. I thought perhaps...."

"You thought I liked you?" Rosma laughed, but, even to her, it didn't sound genuine. "Iso, you're great, but I don't want to date you."

"Then I was wrong." He shrugged and started walking again.

Rosma turned invisible so he couldn't see her expression. 'But I do like you. At least I think I do. But you don't really like anyone. And Rob? He's working for them now. I don't remember him. I can't love him, can I? Oh, I don't know.' she thought as they approached the door.

Iso kicked it down and they were greeted with the sight of Scarlett and Midnight, talking excitedly, as usual.

"Scarlett?" Rosma instantly became visible. "You're dead!"

"Yes, you're dead!" Iso agreed.

"No, I'm not." Scarlett said.

"Yes, you are! We saw you!" Rosma insisted.

"I am seriously not dead."

"I am convinced that she's not dead." Midnight said, grinning.

Rosma shrieked and hugged her. "So what happened? And if that wasn't you, who was it? You have a twin sister? We've got to get back and tell everyone!"

Scarlett sighed, suddenly looking tired and sad rather than happy to be back. "I guess I do have some things to explain. Is everyone at headquarters?"

"Yeah, except for us. We came to get Midnight and...Oreo! Where is she?"

"She was just here. We were...." He trailed off, and then noticed the open window. "She must have flown back to headquarters already. Let's go. I think the best route to take would be the one by that shop. You know the one that sells--"

"Yeah, yeah. We know. Come on."

***

Scarlett and the others split up in search of Oreo. Iso had gone with Rosma, leaving Scarlett to go with Midnight.

Who just wouldn't shut up.

"I can't believe you're back, it's like in that movie with that girl and that guy and they're separated by this thing and--" he went on and on.

But Scarlett knew. Midnight might be glad to see her, but he was over her. She didn't know how long he and Oreo had been together, but it had to have been awhile, if they were getting that hot and heavy...

She noticed something as they walked by a large building. One guy was carrying a large duffle bag...large enough to hold someone...

"Midnight! I...I think that might be Oreo!"

***

Meanwhile...

"Looking for some fresh air?"

Saph turned to see X-Raytor, leaning against a lamppost. She frowned. Why did the freaky mask guy have to be the one to follow me? "I quit. I can't- I can't handle this super hero thing."

"Pfft, neither can I," X-Raytor said. "But that's not why I'm here."

Saph began to compose a poem in her head. If the spandex-clad idiot tried anything... "Why are you here, then?"

"Well," X-Raytor said. "It turns out that I actually do know you from somewhere other than here. Sort of. Tell me, what was it like making "Rush My Hour?"

The verses evaporated in Saph's mind. "How- how do- what are you talking about?!"

"Oh, I think you know," X-Raytor said, seeming to inspect his fingers. "You don't exactly forget working with Ronald Schlonger, do you?"

"How would you know?"

X-Raytor blushed behind his mask. "Uh...lucky guess?"

" And I wasn't in Rush My Hour. You're getting that confused w/ the other Ronald Schlonger movie."

"Which one?"

"You know the one."

"Clitty Clitty Gang Bang?"

"Yeah. That's the one. But so what? So I was in some movies. Nothing wrong with that."

"No, I agree," X-Raytor said.

"Well then, why are you here?" Saph demanded.

"Well, I wanted to ask- how did you do that thing. You know, with the legs... you do it on the motorcycle."

"Oh, that," Saph said. "Well, that's very tricky. But practice makes perfect."

"Maybe you could, uh, explain it to me," X-Raytor said, pushing off from the lamp post.

"No, I think it makes more sense to... show you."

Bow-chikka-bow-chikka-bow-chikka-bow-chikka-BOW WOW!

***

Elsewhere...

Midnight and Scarlett subdued the thugs and recovered an unconscious Oreo, though they barely managed to escape.

"You know, she's heavier than I thought she'd be," Scarlett commented. "She looks so petite. Must have dense bones or something."

"Well, milk does go well with Oreos. And milk prevents osteoporosis..."

***

Later...

"Wow." X-Raytor said. He seemed to have lost the ability to say anything other than this.

"See," Saph said. "It isn't that complicated. If you know how, of course."

"I- I still don't get how you do the thing- the thing. With your elbows and your ankles and, um, you know."

"It's all in the bellybutton, darlin', all in the bellybutton."

"Wow... and to think I only did these sorts of things on public streets with Northern girls..."

"You've never been anywhere 'til you've been there with a Southern girl."

"Um, you know," X-Raytor said, "I still have a few questions about, um, cinematic technique."

"Hmm, I'm sure." Saph said. "And will you actually take your mask off this time?"

"Is it necessary?"

"Well, you know, it just might be..."

Bow-chikka-bow-chikka-bow-chikka-bow-chikka-bow-chikka-BOW WOW!

***

In the boy's room at the JL HQ…

X-Raytor opened his eyes. Looked around the room. No more light posts. No pavement. No Saph. No...

Eric walked into the room. Looked at X-Raytor oddly. "Dude, you make the weirdest noises when you sleep."

***

Not too far from the JL HQ…

Scarlett stopped.

"What? We're only a block away from the Hall of Justice," Midnight said.

"Yeah. This is where I leave the two of you. You can get her back there by yourself. I have...stuff...to deal with."

"Oh. But you'll be back soon, right?"

"Probably." Scarlett turned to leave, but stopped. "And Midnight?"

"Yeah?"

"Stay with Oreo. I...I…you moved on."

"But--"

"Things happen for a reason. It's supposed to be this way, or things wouldn't have turned out like this."

"But I--" Midnight tried to follow as Scarlett turned heel and fled, but Oreo moaned, starting to gain consciousness, and he lifted her up and continued the trek to the Hall of Justice.

***

Oreo Avenger stared at the needle coming out of her arm and slowly raised her eyes to Teatime's face.

"E tu, Teatime?"

She fell. The five men gathered around to look at their victim. And then the laughter started. It began hidden within Charles' throat, then roared out, caught by each of them, an epidemic of jeering cackles. She curled into a ball to shut it out, but it found the cracks and burrowed into her brain. There was no way to escape the noise.


On the sidewalk, Midnight Chatter stopped trying to carry Oreo Avenger as she thrashed again. Slowly, he set he down on the pavement. The last of the sunlight slipped away. He leaned over to check her pulse.

They were closer around her now. Too close! Too close! Not enough room to breathe or think or fight. The hands covering her ears curled into fists. There was always room to fight.

She growled, then leapt to her feet. The faceless enemies were too close for punches, but other weapons were available. Oreo Avenger bit down on the first thing she could.


"YARG!"

"Ack!" She backed away from Midnight Chatter. Spit to the side. There was blood in her mouth. His blood, she realized, noticing the cuts on his nose. She bit him!

"You bit me! I can't believe you bit me! In the nose too! It's not my best feature, sure, but I still like it the way it is! Once I saw a girl get bit in the nose and when she came back from the hospital she had a whole different nose. It wasn't even the same shape, but…"

Even the blood dripping from his nose couldn't stifle Midnight Chatter's talk. It was his nervous reaction, giving his brain time to work. Oreo Avenger handed him a handkerchief before digging in her satchel for medicine.

"…so I told them that the yogurt was bad but they ate it anyway. And that's when the first cow hit. Let me tell you, it was a mess."

He stopped talking when the first cold daubs of ointment dropped on his nose. Gently she rubbed it around the cuts and finished it off with a large bandage.

"So," she said, stuffing the ointment back into her satchel, "it's only a block or so to headquarters. Can you make it on your own? I'll go on ahead and make sure, um, the doors aren't locked."

Midnight Chatter gingerly touched the bandage. His nose seemed to be all right. "Don'd you wan tdo walk wid me? You really should'd go off od your own."

Oreo Avenger stood up and backed away. "No, I'm fine, you're fine, we're all fine." She stuck a hand behind her back and tried to conjure an Oreo. Nothing happened. She tried again. Curses. Now she'd have to deal with him the normal way: lying.

"There's this thing I have to do and it's really important that I leave right now, because if I don't then there'll be a giant cookie running around again, but chocolate chip this time, and I really need to do this after wasting all that time in the cage, and--"

"Wasting?" His voice was high and mouth agape. Speech had deserted him.

"What I meant was that…um…Look!" She pointed at the street behind him. "Roseidous in a Speedo!"

When Midnight Chatter turned around, she was off! Into the air where no one could follow. Within seconds she was back at Justice League Headquarters, the lights inside blazing into the night. It was so warm and comfortable and not anyplace she wanted to be. She taped a note to the door telling the League she was fine and not to worry.

Now to find someplace quiet, a deserted area to think. The roof. It would still be warm from the sun on it all day. She could lay back and watch the stars appear.

Flying up, she scanned the rooftops. Raven was on one of them, playing Princess Maker 2 on a tiny laptop. A family of owls had colonized the back roof, and Oreo Avenger had no desire to disturb them. She flew to the last remaining roof, the one above the hangar, and finding a suitable spot, lay down to watch the sky.

The whole thing with Midnight Chatter, well, that was clearly a mistake. Obviously. It must have been the worry, the fear, and the jelly sandwich that brought them to kiss in that cage. It was nothing more at all. Besides, she bit him in the nose. There was clearly some subconscious hostility towards him. Maybe a bit of conscious hostility, too. Ha, that psychology class did come in handy. She could avoid him for a couple days. It would be better for both of them.

She tried to conjure an Oreo. Again, nothing happened. That stuff Teatime injected her with must suppress her powers. It didn't affect her flying, though. It was too much a part of her. Even when she turned into a cat, she could still fly. Unless, and this was a big unless, unless the injection took more time to suppress that power. She'd been born with it, after all. Since her Oreo powers came of a freak accident, maybe they were easier to eliminate.

But if she had no superpowers, she'd have to leave the Justice League. What could she do, be the resident cook? She'd be useless without her superpowers, and Oreo Avenger hated being useless. No superpowers, though…there was something nice about that thought. She could get another job, one where her friends didn't risk death every day.

The moon passed through the sky, the clouds dancing around. The night was half over. Raven went inside hours ago. Midnight Chatter got back safely and found her note. Headquarters was dark. She should probably go to bed, but she didn't feel like dealing with anyone in the morning.

She rose, looking for a comfortable spot to sleep. She flew a couple feet. Yes, it was defiantly harder fly now. Gravity was pulling at her, telling her who was boss. For the first time she noticed how very high up she was, how close the edge was. She walked closer to the center.

A shiny…something by the stairs caught her eye. It reflected the moonlight only slightly, throwing out blue highlights. It was a familiar shape. Oh dear, it was a human shape.

Oreo Avenger tiptoed over. She might not be able to do much damage, but maybe she'd make enough noise for someone to come investigate. The suit the creature wore was very clever. It seemed to be woven out of the night, drawing in all its shadows and letting it blend in perfectly with the black roof. What was it doing here?

There was time enough for questioning after the thing was all tied up. She drew a rope from her satchel and POUNCED!

"Gah!"

For the second time that night, Oreo Avenger had attacked an ally. X-Raytor sat up and glared at her. At least, she thought it was a glare. It was hard to tell through the mask.

"Why'd you jump on me?!"

She returned the rope to her satchel. "You see, I thought you were a bad guy. And that's about it." She sighed. "It's been a rough day. So what are you doing up here?"

"It's nice to watch the stars. Sometimes the Hall is too full."

"Do you sleep up here?"

"Tonight I am."

"Don't you get cold?"

He shrugged. "Spandex keeps me warm. What about you?"

"I've got my cape." She laid on the roof, far enough to be alone, close enough to talk. "Goodnight."

"Goodnight."