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A Mystery in a Mask (but Not Out of It)

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Roman woke up a little bit sore and a lot a bit hungover. He cracked open his eyes to stare at the light shining from the window onto the bedroom roof. Ugh. What time was it?

He turned over, intending to grab his phone, when he realized there was another person in his bed.

Oh, right. His regular bar. His regular drink. The getting to be regular guy he’d brought home for the 5th time last night.

Damien. He’d been told the man’s name on the third night and given a phone number on the fourth.

Roman eyed him lazily. Dark brown hair was thoroughly mused, and his mouth was naturally set in a frown even in sleep. When awake, he’d always have a sharp tongue and sharper eyes and unlike most people, the sharpness of his face didn’t gentle when his mouth and eyes were closed in sleep. His skin was a maze of patters: vitiligo, if he remembered right. He was very pretty, Roman thought. He reached out a hand to trace the line just next to his nose where darker skin met lighter skin.

The peace of the morning was suddenly interrupted by a harsh insistent beeping. The man’s eyes shot open and he sat straight up. Roman opened his mouth to apologize and explain, but he beat him to it.

“That’s my work. Sorry.” He grabbed his device from the desk and silenced it, but the beeping persisted, though a bit quieter. Roman reached for his own device and silenced it. They stared at each other for a long moment.

“Oh,” said Roman.

“Shit.”

“So… who?”

“Nope, we’re not doing that,” the man said, stumbling to his feet. “I’ll see you in 10 minutes and also never.”

“Wait…” but he was gone, out of the door before Roman could blink. If any of his teammates had superspeed, he’d have known who he’d just slept with, but as it was, he had no idea. He glanced down at the notification and his eyes widened. Well, that discounted one member of the superhero team. (Remus had ever been in the running.) Roman hopped to his feet and threw on his costume as quickly as possible before teleporting to base. Roman was, of course, the first one there other than Remus (or The Invincible in this case) who had sent the alert out.

Osprey arrived a moment later since he could fly with his typical serious expression and Battery Pack a few moments after that, probably using one of his fancy vehicles. Optic Blast arrived last and out of breath. “I hate every last one of you,” he panted, glaring at them all. Then he turned to Remus. “Also, what the fuck do you mean The Wall got kidnapped.”

“He got kidnapped,” Remus replied with a casual shrug.

Before Optic Blast could launch himself at him, Osprey stepped between them. “Invincible would you please care to be more specific. As in, how do you know that The Wall was kidnapped?”

“Oh, yeah, sure,” Remus agreed. “So, he flipped his emergency alarm, but you know he does that on accident all the time so I tried to call him, and he wouldn’t pick up. So, I went out to look for him at his last known location, got bonked in the head, and when I woke up could only find his mask on the ground.”

Osprey nodded at him. “We will split up and start an investigation. Since Optic Blast and I know The Wall’s secret identity, we will go check his apartment for clues.”

“Wait! Since when has Optic Blast known The Wall’s secret identity?!” Roman asked. “I don’t even know his secret identity and we’re partners 80% of the time.”

“They used to be roommates,” Osprey answered.

“What?!”

“You’re very observant, are you?” Battery Pack asked dryly.

Roman opened his mouth to defend himself, but Osprey cut him off. “Enough! This is a serious issue and we cannot waste time squabbling. Goneboy since The Wall isn’t here, you can go with Battery Pack and Invincible to recheck his last known location.”

“Erm, actually, I might have a concussion… so…” Remus said.

“Right,” Osprey said, pinching the bridge of his nose. “You go get that checked out and Battery Pack and Goneboy will go together.”

Everyone nodded. “Okay, get supplies.”

           Roman found himself alone with Osprey for a moment, both being the quickest to gather their supplies and get back to the main room since Roman could teleport and Osprey was always very organized. Roman eyed him carefully “Hey, do you feel awkward around the team today for some certain reason?” he asked.

“Is this a meme?”

“What?” Roman asked.

“If I answer in a certain way are you going to quote some meme at me that I don’t understand and laugh?”

“No…”

“Then no.”

Roman squinted at him. “Hmm… Okay.”

“Why?” Osprey asked.

“No reason,” Osprey cocked an eyebrow. “I might have slept with a guy and then he got the alert about The Wall at the same time as me so he’s someone on the team.”

“Ah,” Osprey thought for a moment. “Ah.

“What Ah. Do you know who?”

“By simple process of elimination, it’s quite obvious.”

“Who then?”

Osprey considered him for a moment but didn’t say anything and the other’s entered a few moments later. “We’ll all talk about it once we find The Wall,” Osprey decided.

“Talk about what?” Optic Blast asked suspiciously.

“You don’t need to worry about it,” replied Osprey.

“Well now I am worried about it!”

“Let’s just go, Optic Blast,” Logan said yanking him out of the room and leaving Roman and Battery Pack alone.

“Shall we?” Battery Pack asked Roman.

“Sure,” Roman replied.

Roman and Battery Pack searched through the little alleyway between two houses in a nice suburban neighborhood. “What was The Wall even doing here?” Roman asked.

“I have no idea, I’m sure,” Battery Pack drawled.

“Yeah, me either!”

Battery Pack glanced at him briefly. “Nothing seems to be out of the ordinary.”

“Nothing is even being picked up by this thingy Osprey gave me.”

“That’s because it’s a heat sensor and The Wall is kidnapped. Not invisible.”

“…You don’t know that.”

“Why did it have to be you,” he whispered under his breath.

“Because The Wall’s gone and The Invincible is injured. I mean, I guess you could have worked with Optic Blast or Osprey, but for some reason they’ve been insisting on going together all of the time anymore.”

“Ah, yes. Silly me. I don’t know how I didn’t think of that.”

Roman continued to look down at the ground intently for any clues. “By the way. Do you have any say… awkward feelings around your teammates today?”

“Not at all.”

Roman just nodded in reply and continued to use the device in his hands.

Osprey landed in front of them suddenly, Optic Blast held in his arms. “Did you two find anything?” Optic Blast ask as he was set down.

“No,” Roman replied, with a frown.

“His car is missing from his house,” Osprey said, “but his keys aren’t which implies it was stolen.”

“What? They went back to his house and stole his car?”

Osprey and Optic Blast exchanged a look.

“Oh, I see,” Roman said, eyes narrowed. “That’s his house, isn’t it?”

“You are a clueless moron, aren’t you?” Optic Blast asked.

“Let’s not start a fight,” Osprey smoothly interjected. “The lucky thing is that The Wall agreed to allow me to put a tracker on his car after he lost it in the Walmart parking lot three times. Goneboy, could you teleport us all there?”

“Sure,” Roman replied. Logan gave him the location and he teleported them all there one by one. They all fanned out to surround the small cabin they found there with barely a word between them.

Roman crept forward to glance in one of the windows. “I see someone,” Roman said. “He’s in the kitchen. No one else is around. I’m going to apprehend him.”

“Goneboy wait!” Osprey ordered.

Roman teleported into the kitchen behind the man and grabbed him, putting his hand over his mouth to muffle any screaming. To Roman’s surprise he was immediately thrown back by… by a forcefield?

“Goneboy?” the man who must be The Wall asked, putting his hand over his chest like a startled old lady.

Osprey had hopped through the kitchen window the next second. “Are you alright?” he asked.

“Yeah…” The Wall said, eyebrows drawn together. “Why?”

“He’s fine; stand down,” Osprey said into the coms.

“Wall, what the hell?” Virgil asked barreling through the front door. Battery Pack followed behind him at a more sedate pace.

“What do you… what do you mean? What are you all doing here?”

“You were kidnapped,” Osprey said, arms crossed. “Allegedly.

“I… what?” The Wall asked.

“Oh, hey, guys,” Remus said walking in from the living room. “You found us! I’m impressed.”

“Remus,” The Wall hissed. “You were supposed to give them an excuse.”

“I did!” he replied. “The excuse was you got kidnapped. I even put your spare car keys in your house so they’d think your car was stolen.”

There was a moment of silence. “You motherfucker,” Roman finally said.

“I’m so sorry,” The Wall said to them before turning back to Remus with a frown. “Remus, honey, that is not what I meant.”

Optic Blast looked between the two of them for a moment. “Oh my god, you’re sleeping together.”

“They’re what?!” Roman asked.

“Well,” Osprey said. “Goneboy and Battery Pack shouldn’t feel embarrassed about screwing then.”

“What?!” Roman said, spinning around to face the other man.

Battery Pack didn’t seem surprised by the revelation that his bedfellow was Roman. Instead, he narrowed his eyes at Osprey. “You’re screwing Virgil.”

“Who the hell is Virgil?!” Roman asked but got his answer the same moment as Optic Blast hissed at Battery Pack or Damien or… ah?

“Virgil’s right. You are a clueless moron,” Deceit replied.

“A clueless moron you let…”

‘Virgil’ covered The Wall’s ears. “Not in front of Patton!”

“‘Patton’s’ fucking my brother!” Roman replied.

“He’s your brother?” Patton asked.

Remus looked around himself. “I was not expecting this much chaos, but I am incredibly pleased.”

Roman teleported next to him and smacked him upside the head. “Put a lid on it, Remus.”

“I think we’re overdue for a reevaluation of the decision to keep our secret identities secret,” said Osprey.

“His name’s Logan,” Patton said pointing cheerfully. ‘Logan’ sighed.