The large car screeches to a halt, halfway on the pavement, halfway off, mere inches away from a fire hydrant.
“Oh god,” Mick says.
Len glares at him over the window. His head is a depressingly short distance above the bottom level of the window pane; he’s clearly slouched down so his still-too-short legs can reach the pedals. “Shut up.”
“I’m never letting you drive ever again,” Mick says, marveling. He hadn’t realized driving that bad was possible. "And I mean ever."
“It’ll be easier once I grow a bit!”
“Hey, you called me. At my house. You called me and told me to come get you and I’m here, so stop ragging on my driving. Best I could do on such short notice, okay?”
“I’m sorry,” Mick says immediately. He doesn't apologize a lot, barely at all anymore, but he does it now because he knows how much trouble Len has at home, and he knew it was a risk, calling Len where his dad could find out. Luckily, he’d caught Len on the first ring. “Thanks for coming. No problem with getting the car?”
“Stole it,” Len says dismissively, which honestly Mick should've guessed. Len's a lot better at the whole crime stuff than Mick is, even if Mick is better at hitting people. Probably due to the fact that Mick's gotten his growth spurt and Len hasn't - that two year age difference is really working in Mick's favor. “C’mon, get in.”
“I’ll drive,” Mick says.
“Thank God,” Len says, because he clearly also realizes how crap of a driver he is, and scoots over. “My back hurts. I can’t wait for my growth spurt.”
"Assuming you get one."
"I will either grow or get stilts," Len growls. "Being this short isn't an option."
Mick rolls his eyes. "You're barely sixteen. You'll get there."
Mick shakes his head at Len's ridiculousness.
“You okay?” Len says, humor fading. “You never call me at home.”
“Needed a quick exit,” Mick says, focusing on the steering wheel. He willingly gave up his place at Etta’s house – his best foster mother, the best of all time, even better than the original – so she could have enough space to legally take in the twins who’d been being starved at their last foster home, but since he wasn't eighteen yet (only a few months more!) that meant he’d had to go back into the system.
And this last home was –
Very much not good.
One of the best things about Len is that he knows when to back off. “I came up with a place for you to stay,” he says instead. “You’re nearly legal age, so we’ll just have to keep you off the radar for those last few months without getting you tossed into the system. Shouldn’t be a problem if we avoid any high-risk heists. ”
Mick smiles. Len is the best. “Just tell me where to drive.”
“Shhh, Kal-El, it’s gonna be okay,” Kara whispers to the child in her arms in their native Kryptonian. She’d learned English at the DEO, she’d had no choice about that, but the DEO, which had come for them when they’d first arrived, hadn’t cared enough to bother with teaching aides for Kal-el. The DEO hadn’t cared about their comfort much at all. And to think she first went with them willingly... “Shhh. It’ll be fine. I promise.”
Kal-El sobs and clings to her.
She twists backwards to see if they were following yet and staggers a little under Kal-el's weight.
It's so cold. She wishes she could get a jacket or something.
She wishes she was home.
She wishes she had her parents with her, or Kal-el's parents, or - or anyone kind.
She wishes –
A car zooming by screeches to a halt a few meters ahead of her.
Literally screeches, with the car twisting a little to account for the sudden deceleration and skid marks on the road under the tires.
Kara freezes in terror; even Kal-el stops sobbing from fear. If it's them – if they’ve found them – they won't forgive another escape attempt -
A boy - no older than Kara - pops his head out the window and glares at them. "Hey, you!" he shouts. "You goddamn crazy or just an asshole?"
"I - what?" Kara isn't even offended; she's just confused. Is he talking to her?
Also, hey! He's the one who nearly crashed into her!
He scowls at her. "I don't care if you think you don't need a coat, but it's just a fucking mean thing to do to a kid. He's probably freezing!"
The driver's side opens and another boy - a few years older at most, but much bigger - steps out. "What my buddy means, in his jackass sorta way," he says, rolling his eyes at his friend, "is - where you headed, and do you want a ride?"
"A ride," Kara says blankly.
"Or a coat," the smaller boy says. "Or - have you ever held a wiggling toddler before? Give 'em here."
He reaches for Kal-el. Kara instinctively tries to resist, but the boy just says, "Now, none of that, I'll give him back in a minute" with such overpowering intensity - it reminds her of her mother, of Kal-el’s mother, of his father - that she automatically lets him take her cousin.
Kal-el stops crying as soon as the boy holds him, blinking a little in that endless curiosity that even the government men hadn't been able to quash. The boy is holding him slightly differently, in a way that even Kara must admit looks notably more comfortable. For both Kal-el and the person carrying him, to be honest.
"Hey, there," the boy coos, his entire demeanor changed now that he's talking to Kal-el. "Hey, hey. You like rock and roll?"
"He's a baby," the other boy, who's come around to stand by Kara, says. "He doesn’t care."
"It ain't ever too early to develop good taste!"
"Sorry for my friend," the second boy says. "He's a jackass all the time, but he's not normally a baby-stealing jackass. He's got a baby sister. Guess it makes him kinda sensitive or something like that."
The first boy manages to maneuver Kal-el into a position that allows him to flip off the second boy without appearing to pay any attention to the second boy at all. Kal-el seems amused by it, though, which is more than Kara can say for any time she tried to move Kal-el around.
"It's okay," Kara says. She's still numb and frozen - but these boys seem way too young to be with the DEO. They’d all been old and awful.
"Hey, you want...?"
It takes Kara a minute to realize the bigger boy is offering her his big shaggy jacket.
"Thanks," she says, her throat suddenly tight. It's been so long since she's met anybody kind - all that time in space, and the last few endless months with the DEO...had it been a year already..?
"So where you heading?" he asks. "We can give you a lift."
"I - I -" Kara looks down, humiliated. She has nowhere to go. She's an alien here - quite literally.
"My name's Mick Rory," the other boy offers after a minute. "I ain't got nowhere to go, either."
Kara blinks. "Then where are you driving to?"
Mick shrugs, grinning sheepishly. "Wherever Lenny says. He's the brains of this unit."
Kara laughs a little. "My name's Kara," she tells him. "Kara Zor-El. I'm an alien."
This isn't the first time she's said it.
“The government is after me,” she adds. They ought to know that before agreeing to help her.
Mick blinks. "That sucks," he says, not without sympathy. "Both of you?"
"Well, don't worry about it. Me and Lenny, we can get you all the papers you need."
Kara nods. "You're - you're taking this very well," she ventures. There wasn't even any disbelief on his face.
"I grew up on a farm," Mick says with a shrug. "We had aliens around every fall, helping with the harvest."
"You did?" Kara asks faintly. The DEO's behavior had made her feel like a freak, with their questions and their tests, and here Mick was, acting like it was nothing.
"Sure did," he says. "Don't let anyone make you feel like crap about it, either. You're still a person, and you got rights, and all that stuff. Fuck the government that doesn’t think so. Just because you weren't born here doesn't mean shit."
Kara swallows. She feels as though she might cry.
"Oh crap. Uh, there, there?" he says, patting her shoulder. It's not very good sympathy, but the sheer awful awkwardness of it is actually a little heartening. "S'okay. Really, I swear, it'll be okay. C'mon, let's just get going before anyone notices where we are. And, uh, let's get your kid brother away from Lenny before he fills out adoption papers. Or, uh, teaches him the entire backlog for the Rolling Stones, since that's apparently what he's spending his valuable time doing."
Kara laughs. "Thanks," she says, smiling at Mick. "Thank you so much."
He smiles back at her, head dipping down and small blush on his cheeks. He's really quite handsome, now that she has the energy to pay attention. "Uh," he says. "No problem?"
"Hey, guys," the first boy - Lenny - calls. "Look at this -" Then he sings, "I can't get no -"
He points at Kal-el.
"Sass-is- falcon!" Kal-el chirps, waving his chubby little arms in glee.
Kara cannot believe that that's Kal-el's first word in English.
"Hell yeah!" Lenny crows. "Up high, little guy!"
He holds up his hand and Kal-el smacks it lightly with his own, looking utterly delighted.
He's smiling. Her little cousin, her responsibility, smiling and laughing - he hasn't had a chance to do that since they first crashed on this terrible planet, not with the cruel men at the DEO...
Kara feels her eyes fill with tears. "Thank you," she whispers again, smiling at Mick so much that her face hurts, and climbs into the car with strangers for the second time in her life.
She hopes she won't regret it this time.
She doesn't regret it at all.
Lenny - "It's Len!" he exclaims, but Mick ignores him and he smiles every time Mick does, so Kara feels free to ignore him as well - directs them to a big city, and to a small apartment in a neighborhood that even Kara can tell is more run-down than most.
"You set up here," he instructs her, charmingly imperious for all that he's only a year older than her, and half a head shorter to boot. "I'll go get you all the stuff you need. Mick! You're with me."
Kara doesn't know what he thinks they might need, because she thinks the bed that she and Kal-el curl up together on is just perfect. It's not as soft as the beds at home on Krypton, not as hard as the DEO beds, but it's right next to a half-open window with a sunbeam and a light breeze, and four stories up, too, so if anyone approaches them, they’ll know in advance.
She wakes up sometime later to hear Kal-el crooning something about bricks in a wall - it's bizarrely atonal, yet pleasant - with Lenny filling in words. He must be teaching Kal-el more songs.
Kara yawns and pads out to the living room, only to blink at the pile of stuff on the floor.
There's clothing, both her size and Kal-el's; there's a scattering of toys, including a stuffed elephant that Kal-el is clutching with the traditional possessiveness of the House of El, an expression of murder in his eyes at the thought of someone taking it away; and there's a handful of boxes, including...
"Hair dye?" she asks, picking up one of the boxes.
"How do you feel about red hair?" Lenny asks. "Both you and Kallel."
"You're aliens," Lenny says. "And you were running. Someone caught you, didn't they?"
Mercifully, he doesn't wait for an answer. "If we want to keep ICE off your back, we gotta make sure they won't spot you in a crowd. Being in a city's good; looking different is better. Your skin's pretty pale, like mine, which will help, but since they already know what your face looks like, we've got to do more than that. Red hair's a good bet for something not associated with aliens, even if that's total stereotypical bullcrap, so people's eyes will glide right over you. Sound good?"
"I...sure? I can do red hair."
"I set up IDs," Lenny continues. "We'll take a photo once your hair's done; the rest should be close to ready at that point."
"Already?" Mick asks, looking up with a frown. "You just got back."
"I told him to make a couple ready to go before I came to get you," Lenny says, evading Mick's gaze and playing it casual. "Ain't too much trouble, telling him to make one a girl and another one a kid instead."
Mick swallows, looking touched. "Thanks, Lenny," he says. The identification papers had clearly been meant for him, in case he were in some sort of trouble as well.
Him and one other - Lenny, perhaps, offering to run away with him? Or did Lenny think there was the chance that Mick would have been running away with someone else?
Lenny waves a hand imperiously and turns away quickly, trying to urge some sort of toy car on Kal-el, which Kal-el accepts without releasing his death grip on the elephant, much to Lenny’s approval. Greed is apparently good on this planet, or so Lenny claims with the air of someone quoting some establish wisdom.
Kara goes over to Mick and takes his hand in hers, squeezing it and smiling at him. He looks worried.
"What's the matter?" she asks him quietly.
"IDs aren't cheap," he tells her in an undertone. "Lenny - I don't know what he promised, what he had to do -"
"He loves you very much," she tells him.
He smiles crookedly. "Yeah," he says. "I figured as much. He’s my best friend. Don't tell him I know; he's shyer than you are."
Kara shakes her head in amusement.
She doesn't let go of Mick's hand, even as Lenny and Kal-el start chasing each other around the room, now both caterwauling something or another that mostly consisted of the words "I wanna be like you-ooh-ooh!" on endless repetition.
"You should stay," Mick says after a while. "If you like."
It's not easy, but it works.
Lenny takes Kal-el - who he's decided to call Kalev, because apparently he got their IDs from the Estonian mob and that's a name there - to the same daycare that his little sister goes to.
On the very first day, Kalev gives Lisa his share of red and yellow Legos in exchange for her blue ones and apparently that’s friendship forever at the toddler age. He learns more English from bossy little Lisa than he ever did from Kara – or the so-called ‘teachers’ at the DEO.
Kara's own ID identifies her as Kaja, which is closer than she thought she'd get to her own name, and Mick's new ID - Lenny insists on him having a spare - lists him as Mihkel. Their last name is Rebane, and they're a family.
Kara asks if she and Mick are supposed to be siblings or married.
Lenny doesn't answer, just mumbles something about Estonians.
...the Estonian mob is surprisingly friendly, actually.
Well, they're actually awful and Kara doesn't want to think about what they're probably making Lenny do, but one of the heads of the mob somehow becomes convinced that Kara and Kal-el actually are Estonian, and lost poor sad orphan Estonians at that, so they get lots of invitiations to dinner and offers to set up jobs, no strings attached, as part of the mob's community service efforts or something like that.
Kara refuses Ms. Kapp's offer as nicely as she can.
Lenny kicks her in the ankle and takes over negotiating from there, which is how Kara ends up being funded to attend high school within a month of her escape. She's a transfer, of course, but she has a well-documented school history behind her.
"They can't stop every Kaja in the city," Lenny says happily. "Never been gladder about Central's Estonian population."
"You're the best," Kara tells him fondly.
Lenny is - special. He's the sort of person her parents would've told her to stay away from - a charismatic thief, witty and sharp and criminal bred so deeply into his bones that he honestly doesn't seem to realize that non-criminal career paths even exist. Not that he'd last long in those anyway, what with the kleptomania that drives him to steal even when he doesn't need to and his increasing fondness of doing stupid things to get an adrenaline rush.
But for all that, he's a good person deep down.
Possibly very deep down.
Lenny’s mischievous, but not cruel. He brings over his little sister Lisa almost all the time – Kal-el loves having a playmate, and they both cry bitter tears whenever Len has to take his sister home – and all in all, it’s easy enough to pretend that they’re just a group of friends. That Mick’s part-time job at the mechanic shop is enough to pay their rent; that the school was just nice enough to let her attend for free; that the food – a lot of food – just appears on the table, no crime involved, even though Kara remembers her manners and thanks Lenny for his generous contributions (even if Mick is the one who does all the cooking).
But Kara still likes Mick better, with his smiles and his rare laugh and his strong shoulders and the delicate way he shows her how to fix motors he brings home from his work, the way he lets her lean against him when they watch movies, the way he gently puts an arm around her shoulders with the assurance that he'll take it back any time she doesn't feel comfortable - and the way he does it, too.
The way he reacts to finding Kal-el floating a foot off the ground next to the pond in the private nature preserve they like to break into (Lenny picks the lock for them) one day with a blink and a “huh, nice.”
Lenny is gaping. Lisa is giggling and clapping.
“So,” Mick says to Kara. His big hand is still wrapped around hers, and he doesn’t seem to be inclined to let go of it. “Aliens, huh?”
“I told you,” she says.
“I gotta say,” Lenny drawls, his usual cool savoir faire restored within moments, “I thought you meant a more local type of alien. Hey, Kalev, wanna know what can get through your super alien defenses?”
Kal-el blinks at him.
“Wanna get some ice cream?” Mick asks her, ignoring Kal-el’s shrieks of laughter and Lisa’s shouts to be next.
“Absolutely,” Kara replies.
“I want vanilla dipped in chocolate,” Lenny orders from where Kal-el and Lisa have tackled him to the ground in what he's termed a vile double-teaming effort that demonstrates the power of friendship to defeat all evil. “Lisa wants double chocolate like she always does. And Kalev wants –”
“Strawberry. With Oreos?”
“Stop encouraging him,” Kara says, but they go to get everyone ice cream.
“So, anything else we should expect?” Mick asks as they stroll down the way. “Tentacles?”
“No! This is what we look like. It's just...the sun’s a lot stronger here. Ours is red, yours is yellow. It makes us stronger than we would be otherwise.”
“So, what, you telling me you guys photosynthesize?”
Kara laughs. “No, no,” she says. “But from I remember from the little bit my mother was able to tell me before I had to go, there are certain traits we develop when we absorb enough light from a yellow sun…”
They wind their way back to the park.
“Hey, look what we did!” Lenny shouts when they get back. He’s somehow managed to wind his arms and legs around Kal-el in such a way that Kal-el’s floating is successfully lifting him, as well. Kal-el is giggling madly. Lisa is applauding. “We can break into buildings from above now!”
Kara shakes her head in amusement. “You’d have to get above three feet, first,” she points out.
“I’ve got ambition!”
Kara snorts. That much is certainly true.
“Any chance I can go for a ride sometime?” Mick asks her in an amused undertone, his eyes twinkling.
“I’ll consider it,” she says, more than accustomed to Mick’s fondness for innuendo by now. “Lenny, Lisa, Kal-el, come get your ice cream.”
They come over at a run, all three of them.
“So how does it work?” Lenny asks, once they're settled down with their ice creams.
“So,” Lenny says. “We should – go to sunbathe by the pool more?”
“Pool!” Kal-el exclaims. He loves the pool.
“Won’t developing more powers make it easier for the bad guys to spot us?” Kara asks Lenny.
He frowns. “Well, yes,” he says. “But on the other hand: the more powers you have, the easier it is for you to fight the bad guys, right?”
“I guess,” Kara says.
“I like the pool,” Mick offers. “But you should do what you feel comfortable with. If you don’t want to use your powers, don’t.”
“According to my mom’s notes to me, I’m probably going to develop heat vision eyes capable of starting fires.”
Mick pauses to the consider that, even as Lenny starts sniggering madly.
“...I mean. I’d be disappointed if you didn’t show that to me at least once,” Mick finally says. “But, you know. Your choice.”
“It means a lot to me that you say that,” Kara tells him.
“For the love of God,” Lenny says. “Just jump each other already.”
“Jump!” Kal-el chimes in as Lisa claps her approval.
Lenny is such a bad influence.
“I can’t believe our first date involves armed robbery,” Kara says, even as she tears open the wall to extract Len. It's no problem, the concrete and bricks falling apart easily in her hands.
“This is definitely not our first date,” Mick objects. “We’ve been on plenty of dates.”
“It’s the first dinner-and-a-movie date that doesn’t involve stolen money or the mob. Or at least, it was supposed to be.”
Mick shrugs. “How was I supposed to know Lenny’d end up in a jam? Not like we can just leave him there.”
Kara concedes the point, smiling a little at the familiar nickname. She's given up on calling Len 'Lenny' except when the moment felt right, same as Mick, but his definition of when the moment felt right was a lot broader than hers.
“Besides, does it really count as not involving stolen money when you’re working as a personal assistant in a shady accounting firm because you got a recommendation from the head of the Estonian mob?”
“Most of the accounts we work with are legitimate...”
“And the rest?”
Kara opens her mouth, then shuts it and shrugs. “Money laundering is a valuable life skill? Especially when you’re saving up to go to college?”
“That’s what I thought,” he says, grinning.
“Just because of that, I’m going to get another job," Kara sniffs. "A real job. Unrelated to any of Ms. Kapp’s connections!”
“Enough talking, more running,” Len says, wiggling through the hole Kara had created.
“Did you get what your old man wanted you to get?”
“Yes,” Len says shortly. He doesn't like to talk about his dad, so they stop asking questions and they go.
Turns out that while he was in there he also picked up a Fabrege egg worth half a million dollars, and which he’d given to Kal-el to play with before any of them knew what it was worth.
And, well, none of them are taking it away from him now.
“I guess we just have to let him keep it?” Kara says uncertainly. “He does love it a lot.”
It was, however, totally unnecessary for Len to go steal a matching one for Lisa, no matter what he says.
Kara isn’t so sure about the college thing at first, less because of finances and more because of having to spend four years of her life doing it, but Mick and Len both want her to go.
Not that they get an opinion, given that they are in prison.
“Look on the bright side!” Len says, giving it his best fake-cheerful smile. “You get out in four years, we get out in four years – it’ll be like we were never gone.”
“Uh-huh,” Kara says, glaring at him. Not too much, though – her heat vision is a lot stronger on Earth, stronger than she’d been anticipating, and she didn’t actually want to break through the glass to get to him. She is not breaking him out.
Though Mick wouldn’t leave Len behind, so she’d end up breaking Len out anyway...
“You sure you don’t want me to…?” she starts, but Len’s already shaking his head.
“College first,” he says firmly. “Same deal as Lisa: you’ve got to get the option of going straight before you can join in with the crime.”
“I’m as old as you two,” Kara argues. “You can’t treat me the same way you do Lisa or Kalev!”
“It’s the same way I treat anyone who doesn’t have a record,” Len corrects. “Please, Kara. You don’t like crime. Leave it be.”
Kara sighs, and goes to have her conjugal visit with Mick. That, at least, would involve less talking.
Thankfully they let girlfriends in, since Kara is definitely not ready for marriage.
(Sex, on the other hand, she is not doing without.)
Kara is absolutely furious, and there is nothing Mick can do to calm her down.
Yes, even when he puts his big warm hands on her shoulders and touches his forehead to the back of her head and brings her lots of things to blow up and hot chocolate. With mini-marshmallows.
“It’s not going to help,” she says, sipping at the hot chocolate resentfully. It's hard to be angry when you have mini-marshmallows.
“I know,” Mick says. “But I’ve sent Len, Lisa, and Kalev on an urgent donut-and-ice-cream run to that place you like.”
“That –” Would do a lot to improve her mood. “- won’t help either.”
“It’s no one’s fault that politicians suck ass,” Mick says.
“Stupid – stupid anti-immigrant assholes –”
“I know, I know.”
“I went to high school here,” she exclaims. “I went to college here! So what if I’m technically ‘undocumented’! It shouldn’t matter! There’s literally nowhere else on Earth for me to go!”
“I’m sorry the fakes weren’t good enough,” Mick says, even though that’s not technically true – they are good enough, just not for some of the jobs or applications Kara really wants. And all the good papers in the world won’t help once they put in place that whole stupid registry system they keep talking about.
“It’s not your fault,” Kara says. “Not you, not Lenny, not Ms. Kapp’s...it’s no one’s fault. Except theirs. Ugh, I just wish we could do something.”
“Well,” Lenny says, coming through the door, Kalev right behind him with several giant cases of donuts in his gawky teenage arms, Lisa right behind him with a gigantic tub of ice cream in hers. “You can eat donuts?”
“I meant something practical,” she says, but she does go eat the donuts.
They're donuts. She's not going to say no.
Len makes a thoughtful noise.
“Uh, oh,” Lisa says.
“That's his ‘I’ve just thought of a crime’ noise,” Kalev agrees. Unlike Kara, who eventually re-converted her papers to say ‘Kara’ instead of ‘Kaja’, he’d grown to rather like his new name and preferred it to Kal-el. Kara isn’t always the best at remembering to call him by his chosen name, but she’s working hard at it.
“I’m just thinking,” Len protests.
“Yeah, we believe you. What are you thinking?” Mick asks.
“Well, the registry ain’t been passed yet, right? So if we could just get enough people to vote against it…”
“But how would we do that?” Kara asks, pausing halfway through her third donut. Yes, she knows she has powdered sugar all over her nose and cheeks – she can see it in Mick’s fond grin – but she doesn’t care. “We’re not politicians.”
“There’s always blackmail.”
“You want to blackmail that many politicians? Even Ms. Kapp doesn’t have pull over enough!”
“She has a few, and we can target the houses of the rest,” Len says. "Break in, search for something that might work. It's Central City; they're not all going to be honest. Hell, if we can find even one honest one, I'd be surprised..."
“You’ll get caught,” Kalev says, frowning at him.
“No,” Kara says thoughtfully. “Not if he has help.” She looks at him. “Sign me up.”
“Kara!” Kalev exclaims.
“It’s not like I’m going to get any other job if this passes,” Kara says bitterly.
“I’m keeping you in reserve,” Len says. “Besides, we need to give an excuse for them to ‘change their minds’...have you heard about the whole superhero thing going on in Gotham? The urban legend bat thing? Or the Hood guy in Gotham?”
“It’s given me an idea,” Len says gleefully, though his smile fades. “Unfortunately, it kind of depends on getting the right news coverage.”
“You’ll blackmail them, then cover their change of heart by doing...what, exactly?” Lisa asks.
“If a supervillain wants a certain project to happen, then all the politicians can safely turn against it because they don’t negotiate with terrorists,” he explains.
“But we don’t even have a superhero in Central, much less a supervillain," Mick objects.
“Irrelevant. The news issue is more of a problem.”
“I think I could help with that,” Kara offers.
“Well...Ms. Kapp knows this newspaper person...do you know Cat Grant?”
They all blink at her.
“No,” Len says dryly. “I ain't never heard of the head of one of the biggest media conglomerates in National City.”
Kara rolls her eyes at him. “She’s thinking of expanding into the Midwest, and she’ll be coming here in person to make sure the expansion into the heartland sticks. She needs a PA.”
“I thought you were working as a proper journalist now…?”
“I still have plenty of experience working as a personal assistant. And if I can get close enough to her to suggest some angles...”
“It could work, though I necessarily don’t like that you’d have to move back to National City for some of it,” Mick says. “But doesn’t that run into the problem of you getting hired again, since you’re undocumented?”
“I was thinking that if I brought her a really juicy article or two, she wouldn’t ask too many questions,” Kara says.
“But if you need to be in position before Len does his supervillain thing...how?” Kalev asks.
“Ms. Kapp’s been meaning to sell out one of the other branches of the local mob for a while,” Kara says. It occurs to her, distantly, that her parents would probably not approve of her criminal habits, but it’s been years since she’s let that bother her. “I could get that story. And then, if that goes off well, we can get Len into position as a supervillain.”
“Lenny and me,” Mick puts in. “No way he’s doing it alone.”
“Fine, fine, both of you.” She pauses. “And if it turns out that you need my help with the supervillain stuff, I can join in after you’ve already become established. I’m sure Ms. Grant wouldn’t object to an undercover story about the...uh...Team Evil Supervillain?”
“Rogues,” Lisa says. “We should call them the Rogues.”
“Let’s go get some politicians!” Len exclaims with a grin.
“Captain Cold,” the Flash says. “Heatwave.”
“Flash,” Len replies, inclining his head with a grin. There’s a reason their supervillian antics have stuck closer to Central and Keystone recently, rather than their usual forays into National City, and their brand new superhero – and Len’s endless attempts to flirt with him in increasingly terrible ways – is it. “How nice to see you.”
“You know, I was really hoping we’d gotten over this,” the Flash says, stepping forward. Len and Mick both step back. They’re on the roof of the Diamond Exchange, filled duffel bags hanging off their shoulders. This heist is going to pay rent for half of their neighborhood for something like a year; it’s been all planned out. This was not meant to be a Flash battle, which is a totally different category of heist.
Somehow, the Flash had caught wind anyway.
Time for Plan B.
Mick surreptitiously clicks a button on his phone while Len grandstands and trades quips with the Flash to buy time.
“Listen,” the Flash says after a few minutes. “Just put your guns down and come in quietly. You’re on a roof, I’ve cut off your exit route, and there’s a whole bunch of policemen coming up behind me. There’s no need for this to be a fight where people might get hurt.”
“There’s always a need for a fight,” Mick opines.
“In this case, Mick, I’m afraid I do have to agree with the Flash,” Len says. “There’s no need for a fight right now. In fact, we really must be going.”
The Flash crosses his arms. “Yeah, I think we’re not really having the same conversation. How, exactly, do you plan to be ‘going’, exactly?”
Len looks him dead in the eye. “Up, up, and away.”
That’s when Kalev and Kara zip up the side of the building, catch their respective favorite supervillains around the waist, and continue upwards into the air.
“Oh, damnit,” the Flash audibly says. “Cisco! There are new Rogues! And they fly!”
“Bye, Flash!” Len calls, waving.
“Thanks for the lift, babe,” Mick tells Kara. Her mask is a little ridiculous, but it looks good on her. Most things do, in Mick’s view.
“Always happy to help,” she replies with a grin, pressing her lips to his cheek. “Especially now that your mysterious rooftop escapes can officially be attributed to metahumans instead of aliens.”
“Won’t this bother Kalev’s Meta-Man superhero plans for college?”
She groans at the reminder. Kalev had reacted to the revelation that they were now free to exercise their powers – if within reasonable limits – by deciding he was going to be the brand new hero of Metropolis when he went back for his next semester of college.
But before he can do that, he needs a nickname. And for nicknames, there’s really only one source.
“I’m sure Cisco will provide,” Len says, his brain working on parallel tracks. “Pity we had to use you for a real heist instead of having a proper revelation next week.”
“I’m sure next week will go fine,” Kalev replies, beaming. “I can’t wait.”
“I can’t believe you’re starting out a career as a hero by being a criminal,” Kara grumbles.
“It’s a classic anti-hero trope,” Kalev protests. “I want to maintain emotional complexity, y’know? It's important for the development of my mythos.”
“You just want to impress that cutie journalism major,” Len teases.
“Leave Lois out of this!”
“Well, I’m definitely staying a Rogue, thanks,” Kara says primly. “Do you know what trouble these guys would get into without me around?”
“Yeah, yeah,” Kalev says. “You’ll be saving cats out of trees in no time.”
“…who told you.”
“No one! It was a guess!”
He has the best family.
The Flash isn’t going to know what hit him.
“Superman?!” Kalev yelps. “Really?! That’s the best he can do?”
“Don’t worry,” Len says comfortingly. “It’ll never stick in Metropolis.”
“Better question,” Kara says, arms crossed. “Why am I Supergirl?”
“Girls are kickass,” Mick objects.
“Girls being kickass doesn’t help when it sounds like I’m half his age!”
“I’ll talk to Cisco about it,” Lisa assures her, tapping the gold gun at her side thoughtfully.
“You’d better. It makes me sound like I’m Kal-el’s sidekick!”
“It’s like a whole theme,” Mick says thoughtfully. “You could easily expand it. Superman. Supergirl. Super-bunny.”
“Mr. Snuzzles is not joining my fight against crime,” Kalev says firmly, his hand protectively perched on his beloved pet rabbit’s cage.
“I’m just saying...”