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what tangled webs we weave (Epilogue)

Title: What Tangled Webs We Weave
Chapter 9: Epilogue
Fandom: Static Shock
Pairings: Hotstreak/Virgil (Static)
Word Count: 2744 (39,950 total)
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Summary: When Virgil accidentally offers to help his worst enemy turn his life around, he soon finds himself juggling far too many secrets and an inconvenient crush.

Chapter 1: Blame the Rain
Chapter 2: Insults, Doubt & Aggravation
Chapter 3: Skepticism
Chapter 4: A Rhythm of Sorts
Chapter 5: Bullets and Flame
Chapter 6: A Coward at Heart
Chapter 7: Sometimes Love Hurts
Chapter 8: The Truth Comes Out

Dakota's Elemental Duo Saves the Day Again
An exclusive scoop from the Times' best gossip columnist!

Another petty supervillain learned the error of his ways on Friday when he tried to take this very paper hostage in some kind of mad scheme. He called himself the Reckoning, spouting off a ream of nonsense about evening the scales of justice but, in truth, he was just a nut with a bomb. A rather eye-blinding nut with a costume tackier than the Riddler's and at least twice as unattractive. This man, later identified as Mark Rachett of Gotham, wasn't even a Bang Baby and he was woefully unprepared for the ass-kicking that he was about to receive.

Pardon this reporter's language, but I've never enjoyed having my life threatened and I must admit that I cheered a little when our homegrown heroes appeared. Static took out the bomb while Hotstreak took out Rachett and watching the two of them work was sheer luxury.

The firestarter's delinquent past is visible in his fighting style, all brutal efficiency and snark, but he's come a long way from the days when he was Static's #1 nemesis. Everyone knows that they work well as partners, after all crime has dropped by 15% since Hotstreak changed his ways, but now that this columnist has seen them in action, I can say with absolute certainty that they are friends as well.

Rather like Static and Gear used to be and Dakota has feared the worst since our superhero's techie sidekick disappeared. However, when the dust had settled slightly, the duo agreed to answer a few of their fans' most burning questions and I'm pleased to announce that Gear is fine.

Static was actually rather sheepish about it when I explained the city's worry, although Hotstreak seemed to find the idea hilarious. “I didn't even think about that,” The electric superhero told me, blushing adorably beneath his mask. “I guess I'm still not used to being famous even after all these years. But Gear's always been happier on the tech side of things and now that Hotstreak's seen the light, he can spend his time inventing instead of out with me. Though you may still see him once in awhile if I manage to drag him away from his toys.”

The two superheroes were obviously still kids at heart, the conversation devolving into jibes and snarking for a minute, and it reminded me of nothing more than my own two sons bickering. But for all their laughter, they were still professional and Rachett was never without a watchful eye.

Indeed, Static barely blinked when the fool tried to make a break for it, electricity shooting out to pin the guy against a wall. Let me tell you, standing next to the lightning user right then was like licking an electric fence (not something for you kids to try at home) and Dakota is very lucky that this Bang Baby chose the side of angels instead of crime.

And yet I'm pretty sure that he never even considered the other option because there is something so wholesome about Static that it's almost ridiculous. Yes, he's still young but beneath the snarky veneer is a guy who was given superpowers and instead of making his own situation better, decided to dedicate his life to us instead.

Can any of us truly say that we would have done the same? I mean, I'll be the first to admit that I probably would have used my powers selfishly if not for any actual evil scheming, tormenting people who use their cell phones during dinner and making sure that my traffic lights were always green.

But talking to Static made me want to be a better person even as Hotstreak proved that I'm not the only one. Because when I asked the pyro how he managed to change his life around, he simply shrugged and said, “Sparky's damn convincing when he wants to be. Besides, it's not like my future was going anywhere. Honestly, most of the Bang Babies were hardly criminal masterminds, they're just dumb kids who didn't know any other way to be.”

Sounds like he was speaking from experience to me but the former Meta Breed wouldn't say anymore about it and from there our conversation turned to much lighter things.

So for those girls out there who have been dreaming of being carried off into the sunset, I have good and bad news for you. Yes, Static is still single (and evener finer in person, I promise you), though he claims that his superhero duties don't leave him time to date.

“It's that whole secret identity thing. I can't tell them who I am because that would put them in danger and yet no girl worth chasing is going to accept it if I bail on her all the time.”

Valid arguments I'm sure and he spoke with the tone of one who'd learned all this the hard way – which means, ladies, this is your chance to prove him wrong. But for those of you who prefer your men a little badder or just have a thing for redheads, you're about to be very disappointed. Because Hotstreak responded to my question rather differently.

“Yeah, I've got someone and it's serious, although his name is none of your business. So you can tell my fans to stop throwing clothes at me – it's creepy and nothing's ever going to come of it.”

Yes, you read that right: apparently Hotstreak plays for the other team and he's disgustingly in love as well if Static is to be believed.

“Totally whipped,” The superhero fake whispered to me before his friend smacked him on the shoulder, rolling his eyes at the firestarter's growl. Though there may have been some truth in Hotstreak's retort of, “You're just jealous that I found someone who's willing to put up with me,” because Static brought the interview to a halt rather quickly after that.

Or maybe that was just the police, arriving too late to be of any real use but always ready to cart a criminal off to jail. They took charge of Rachett with the ease of long practice, Static and Hotstreak greeting many of them by name, and if our heroes signed a few autographs before flying off, my lips are sealed.

So there you have it: this columnist's brush with death and a supervillain who had to be seen to be believed. And I know no one reads my articles for any kind of deep insight but when you gossip with your friends about our heroes' love lives, try to remember that they're doing this for free and while Dakota's protectors aren't as well known as Batman or the members of the Justice League, they've served us well. Even Hotstreak, who has been making up for his younger years with a vengeance is doing a job you couldn't pay most people to take on and so they don't owe us anything. We like to think otherwise, but superheroes are a luxury not some fundamental right, particularly such attractive boys as ours.

And, of course, always remember that you heard it all here firs -



“Are you going to buy that, sir?”

Robert Hawkins looks up from the paper that he's reading to meet the store owner's slightly irate glare. Apparently the line had moved on while he was distracted and it's his turn to pay right now, something which he would have realized if he'd bothered to look up.

So the man mumbles an awkward apology as he sets down his groceries, almost more embarrassed to have been caught reading Cindi Lauren's column than he is about blocking the line.

But while the woman usually covers celebrity wardrobe malfunctions with an unholy glee, Robert had seen the mention of Static and been intrigued. Particularly since the boys had told him of their plan to have Hotstreak come out over last week's dinner and he had been worried about how the media would react.

Though I guess I should have trusted Richie's spreadsheets after all, the man muses as he leaves the store, newspaper tucked under one arm. Because if even an airhead like Cindi is already coming to the pyro's defense then everything should be fine. Sure a few people may still flip out but the boys can take care of themselves as long as the entire city doesn't turn against them, and no one seems to have noticed that they're closer than most friends might be.

This article will certainly help to sell the illusion that Hotstreak's boyfriend and Static are two different people and Robert's actually somewhat surprised by how well their ruse has worked. But then again, he rarely sees the two in their superhero personae and that probably makes all the difference.

Because he can't look at Static without seeing Virgil, who routinely passes out on the couch with his head on Francis' shoulder and greets him with a lazy kiss before they head to school. Really the two are so deliriously in love that it's hard to believe anyone could mistake the emotion for anything less powerful.

But apparently they've managed to pass their relationship off as no more than deep friendship and maybe now he'll be able to sleep more easily at night. After all, it's a father's job to worry: about the safety of his children, their futures and their happiness, and Virgil has given him more grief than Sharon ever did. However, while Robert still hates the idea of Static risking his life constantly, he can't forbid his son his calling and it actually helps to know that Hotstreak is right there to watch his back.

Which is not something I ever thought I'd say. How did Francis Stone become a comfort instead of a thorn in my boy's side? But he is, because the pyro has a vested interest in bringing Virgil back uninjured and a ruthless streak to balance Static's selflessness.

Besides, Robert cannot deny that his son is happier now than he's been for quite awhile, the burden of his powers laying more lightly on his mind. So despite whatever minor soul searching he had to do when he first realized where Virgil's heart was leaning - I had been expecting grandchildren, all right? - these days the Francis is a Hawkins in all but name.

Certainly the young man spends more time at their house than he does his court-appointed foster home and even Sharon doesn't mind his presence anymore. Robert's not actually sure when his daughter found out the truth of the boys' relationship, though there was a week some months ago when she couldn't look them in the eye, but she treats the pyro just like another brother now. Sharon is actually the one who asked Francis if he was okay with hiding, dating Virgil while pretending that he and Static were nothing more than friends.

“I'm fine, I promise,” Hotstreak had told her with a shrug. “It might be nice to tell everyone eventually but right now that would put too many people in danger and this actually helps keep us professional.”

“Yeah, can you imagine Batman's reaction if we let someone get away because we were too busy making out?” Virgil put in over his boyfriend's shoulder. “He'd probably string us up by our ears somewhere.”

“Though it would probably be worth it,” The firestarter replied, sending a wicked smirk the other's way. “Do you have any idea how hot you look in that costume? There's a reason I was obsessed with Static back in the day and let me tell you, it wasn't all revenge.”

“Well... I do have a spare upstairs if you'd ever like to play out a fantasy or three. I might have some ideas of my own about your-”

“Keep your kinky sex ideas to yourself,” Sharon had shouted, throwing up in her hands as her brother laughed and their father had ducked back into the kitchen with a chuckle of his own. It was good to see the three of them so relaxed together now that the boys had worked things out, that rough spot in the beginning little more than memory.

Honestly he wouldn't be surprised if they were still together in twenty years or forty because Robert knows what love looks like and while it may not be official yet, they're definitely a family now. A family that's going to kill me if I doesn't get back soon, he realizes as he checks the time.

He and Sharon are supposed to leave for the school at four and he still has to get dressed so he's already cutting it close. Indeed his daughter frowns at him when he rushes through the door, shoving a suit into his hands as she tells him to hurry up. She looks amazing, of course, just the perfect image of her mother, and Robert truly wishes that Jean were here to see this day.

Because she would have clapped the loudest of anyone in the auditorium, her smile beaming with pride as she watched her son cross the stage. But instead it's only Robert and Sharon cheering when Virgil steps forward to take his diploma and there is a gap between them where he wife should have stood.

She would have been proud of all three boys and so he claps for Richie and Francis in her stead, ignoring the strange looks some of the other parents send his way. It's not as though the redhead has anyone else to cheer for him and someone should acknowledge that he's worked hard to earn his place. Though Robert is pleased to see that Francis has also made some friends among his classmates, a number of students slapping his shoulder in congratulation as he walks off the stage.

Some time later, after the various speeches and photo ops are over, the man takes everyone out for a celebratory dinner over at Caligari's, the expensive new restaurant that just opened downtown. It's a bit more high class than his kids are used to but this is a special occasion and Robert gets a slightly twisted amusement from watching Francis try to navigate seven forks.

So they wine and dine and laugh together, Richie expounding on his college plans while Mrs. Foley grills Virgil on his future and the waiter keeps everyone well supplied with drinks. He did a slight double-take when he recognized Hotstreak, probably reads Miss Lauren's column, but thankfully he remained professional. Actually Billy there seems to find it rather cute when Francis and Virgil relax enough to get a little handsy, nothing too risque but enough to make their feelings obvious.

I guess times really have changed after all, Robert thinks, knowing that in his day such actions would have been met with scorn at best. So when the waiter gives them a little wink and dessert on the house, he feels the last of his tension slip away.

“To your futures,” He says, raising a glass to toast his son and his friends. “You've all become fine young men and watching you grow has been one of the great joys of my life, even when you were driving me absolutely crazy. I know you're going to change the world before you're done and I can't wait to see it.”

“Thanks dad,” Virgil replies as they all clink their drinks together, though his smile turns a bit embarrassed when Robert can't resist continuing.

“Just remember, I don't want to know about what happens in your bedroom, or anywhere else for that matter, and you should never be ashamed of a little groveling when either of you screws up. Though you should also know, Francis, that despite how much I like you, if you don't take good care of Virgil, I am going to carve you into tiny little pieces and feed you to my cat. Just FYI.”

Dad!” His son protests with a groan, in truth more at the slang than the threatening, and he smacks his boyfriend on the shoulder when he starts to laugh.

“I will, Mr. Hawkins. No worries there.” The redhead says through his guffaws before leaning down to kiss the protest off Virgil's lips. “I don't plan on going anywhere.”


The End