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Go Oft Awry

(Alternate titles for this story were Mission: Matchmake and Project Get a Date.  It's exactly as ridiculous as it sounds)

Title: Go Oft Awry
Fandom: Static Shock
Pairings: Hotstreak/Virgil (Static)
Warnings: None really.
Word Count: 7537
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Summary: Richie runs the numbers to find Virgil's perfect match and then decides to make it happen. What could possibly go wrong?


“What the Hell? That can't be right. Backpack, run the program again,” Richie ordered, staring at the computer screen in surprise. But when the new calculation finished, the same face was staring back at him. Backpack had selected Francis Stone aka Hotstreak and Richie really didn’t know what to make of that.

He'd written this program because he was worried about Virgil. Daisy had broken up with the other teen before she’d left for college, Sharon had finally found a better job and moved to Gotham, and even most of the other Bang Babies had left town, been imprisoned or gotten the Cure by now. Everyone was moving on but Static couldn't leave Dakota without its protector and Richie knew that Virgil's responsibilities were starting to weigh on him heavily.

The other teen had yet to admit it, but the blond wasn't a supergenius for nothing and a scatter plot of V's recklessness had made the pattern very clear. The metahuman needed to have something in his life besides Static and his father; Richie could only do so much. Particularly since he'd recently received an offer to go work for Wayne Enterprises and he was thinking he'd accept.

Richie hadn't told Virgil yet but he knew what would happen. The other teen would tell him to go with a smile and then work twice as hard to fill the gap Gear's absence left. Sure things had been peaceful lately, but that could change in an instant and Richie couldn't let his best friend work himself into the ground.

Hence his current project. He'd written a program that was supposed to analyze everyone in Dakota and find V the perfect match. Richie was hoping that having someone to date would remind the other metahuman that there was more to life than working but twice now his program had come back with Hotstreak's name.

The problem wasn't that the other teen was a guy. Although Virgil had only dated girls before he'd admitted that he was bisexual a few years ago and he and Richie often talked about guys when they were bored. The problem was that Hotstreak was Hotstreak: criminal, Bang Baby, general asshole, and Static's longtime nemesis.

Although, I suppose he might have changed, Richie thought. We haven't had to bring him in for ages and I could have sworn that I saw him working at Bernie's Auto Shop last week.

A second's research showed that the blond was right. Hotstreak had in fact been working at the mechanic's shop for three months now and while his boss was a little shady, Bernie wasn't an outright criminal.

Another round of digging discovered that the Bang Baby hadn't been arrested in over a year - Man, has it really been that long? - and a good portion of the internet was convinced that the best lovers were always former enemies. In fact, after reading far too much Harry/Draco fanfiction, Richie was convinced that Backpack was probably right about Hotstreak and Virgil after all. The challenge would be making the other teens admit the passion that they had to feel inside.

Richie began his matchmaking mission with Virgil, mostly because they were already scheduled to meet that afternoon. Technically, they were supposed to be patrolling. But on quiet days like this, patrolling was more like an hour-long gossip session anyway.

“I haven't seen Hotstreak lately. Did he finally leave town?” Richie asked with false casualness when they stopped to chat.

“Nah, he's been working. Mechanic's job. I've cased the place a few times but it seems to be legit.”

Clearly V had been keeping a closer eye on the firestarter than Richie had realized. Which, actually, was probably a good thing as far as Mission Matchmake went.

“Mechanics, huh? That must keep him in good shape,” the blond said, just to test the waters, and what he received in response was a downright dreamy sigh.

“Yeah... You should see him when it's hot out and he's been working on the cars,” the other teen murmured, staring off into the distance. “All sweaty and greasy; I just want to lick the dirt right off his skin.”

To be honest, Richie had no idea what to say to that. On the one hand, setting the two metahumans up might be easier than he'd expected. But on the other hand, the blond wasn't sure he wanted such detailed knowledge of his best friend's fantasies. Virgil was like his brother – his admittedly attractive brother – but that wasn't Richie's kink.

However, before the blond managed to think of a good response, his friend realized what he'd just said and starting backpedaling frantically.

“I mean, I wouldn't actually do it. The guy's got great arms but that doesn't mean I want to date him. I just kind of want to sleep with him. Or… shit, I didn't say that,” Virgil groaned, covering his face with one hand. “Pretend I didn't say that. Breaking up with Daisy has made me go insane.”

“Well, why not?”

“Huh?”

“Why not try to date him? You clearly think he's hot – I mean, he is so I can't blame you – and you've got a lot in common,” Richie said with a shrug.

“Have you lost it?” V asked incredulously. “It's Hotstreak. Sure he's cute but he used to beat me up for fun. And did you forget the part where he's a thug? He's given Static more grief than almost anyone.”

“Okay... I admit he was an asshole. But you just said that he's been working legit for a while. Maybe he's turned over a new leaf,” the blond argued, not ready to give up that easily. “And he was never all bad. He did help Alva’s kid a few years back.”

“After we’d gotten kidnapped. That’s not exactly charity,” Virgil retorted. “What's with the sudden interest in Hotstreak anyway?”

“Nothing,” Richie replied quickly, his thoughts racing for a good excuse. “It's nothing. I was just wondering. He was one of the first, you know, and sometimes it feels like we're the only Bang Babies still around.”

“You do know that's a good thing, right?” the other metahuman told him a bit sarcastically. “The Meta-Breed were one giant headache until Ebon disappeared. If things calm down enough, maybe Static can retire and I can actually have a life again.”

“You really want to quit?” the blond asked in surprise. None of his scenarios had mentioned that possibility. Sure Gear was ready to throw in the towel but he'd always been more of a supporting player and he still planned to help out where he could. But V was a different story; he loved being a superhero and indeed, the other teen eventually just sighed.

“Eh, fuck it. I don't know. I'll probably never hang up my cape,” Virgil admitted. “Considering the future, I don't know if I can. But I could use a damn vacation. I think I'm starting to burn out. Sometimes I just want to throw my hands up in the air and tell people to save their own damn selves.”

“I don't blame you,” Richie said. “But that just proves my point.”

“Oh? This conversation had a point?” his friend asked, raising one brow skeptically. “Do tell.”

“My point is that you should do something for yourself. Date Hotstreak or take up stamp collecting, I don't think it really matters. Hell, V, go to college if you want. I'm sure Batman could cover your territory for a few years if you asked. The man has eyes everywhere. Seriously, V, jut think about it, will you?? You're my best friend and I don't want you to regret being Static twenty years from now.”

“Sleeping with Hotstreak sounds more like something that I'd regret,” Virgil grumbled. “And what about you? You're too smart to stay in this town forever and you know it.”

“Yeah, about that...” Richie answered. This seemed as good a time as any to tell the other teen his plans. “I got offered a job with Wayne enterprises last Friday and I think I'm gonna go. I'd rather work than study and they promised me a lab. But I'll have to move to Gotham at the end of the summer so I won't be able to join you on patrols. Not regularly. Although I'll definitely come to visit as often as I can.”

“Oh. That's... unexpected,” V said, clearly at a loss. Richie was actually starting to get a little worried - He wouldn’t really lose it? Would he? - before the other metahuman shook himself, dredging up a smile for the blond. “No, sorry, that's fantastic. This is the kind of opportunity that you've wanted for years and I know that you'll do great. Seriously, man, go change the world.”

“Thanks, bro.”

Richie could tell that Virgil was still a little shaken by his news but the blond wasn't going to call him on it. Not when he knew that Virgil had meant his congratulations honestly and the thought of leaving his best friend was a little terrifying. The two of them had been inseparable since they were kids, since long before the Bang, and Richie didn't want to lose Virgil now.

But he also had faith that their friendship was strong enough to adapt and change was better than stagnation; maybe the shock of separation would pry Virgil from his rut. Because Richie had meant it; V didn't have to date Hotstreak if he really didn't want to. However, it was time for drastic measures and the blond wasn't going to count out the option yet.

So two days later, Richie made a couple minor modifications to his father's car and conveniently broke down two blocks from Bernie's Auto Shop during Hotstreak's shift. Bernie was more than happy to fit Richie into his schedule when he flashed a bit of cash, sending Hotstreak out with the tow truck to drag him in. The other metahuman obviously recognized him but he didn't say anything. He just grunted when Richie pointed out his car and then hopped out of the truck to load it up.

“Damn, V was right,” the blond murmured as he watched the firestarter work. Sweat and overalls was a surprisingly good look for Hotstreak and Richie must have been staring a little too intently because the other metahuman looked over at him with a frown.

“I'm not going to sabotage your ride. You don't have to watch every move I make,” Hotstreak said, crossing his arms over his chest.

This impressive ripple of muscles distracted Richie and by the time he actually registered the other metahuman's words, he probably seemed like a total creeper. So the blond figured, “What the hell?” It was too late for a good second first impression and if Hotstreak was a raging homophobe, he should probably find out now.

“I'm not worried about sabotage,” Richie told the other metahuman with a shrug. “This car is already a piece of junk; I doubt you could make it worse. I was just thinking that my friend Virgil was right. He used to say that you were too fine to be an asshole because damn, the world was missing out. Of course, life isn't fair, but you do seem to be turning over a new leaf.”

“Thanks, I think,” Hotstreak said, his face twisting with frankly adorable confusion. “Seriously, are you hitting on me, Foley? Because you're just not my type.”

“Oh, really?” Richie asked, honestly curious about what the other teen would say.

“Yeah, I mean that bleached blond thing with one earring?” the redhead replied with a smirk. “I can't tell if you're trying to be a hipster or a surfer but it ain't the 90s anymore.”

“You know this is my natural hair color, right?”

“Sure, it is,” Hotstreak said skeptically. “And I'm the president.”

Richie stifled a chuckle, surprised to find that he was enjoying their banter. But he did have to ask, “So it's really not the guy thing?”

“Nah, hot is hot. I don't discriminate,” the firestarter said with a shrug and the blond tried not to jump up and down with glee. That wasn’t actually proof that the other teen was bi – he could just mean that he wasn’t going to judge Richie – but it was a damn good indication that Virgil had a shot.

So the metahuman’s grin might have been a little manic when he said, “You sound just like V. You should come hang with us sometimes. He'd finally have someone to talk about girls with instead of only guys.”

“You are talking about Hawkins, right? You do remember that I used to beat him up for fun?” Hotstreak asked. “I doubt he'd be too happy to spend time with me right now.”

“So apologize. Virgil isn't the type to hold a grudge,” Richie told him bluntly. “It might take a while for him to really trust you, but as long as you don't have some secret plan to steal my lunch money, he'd get over it eventually.”

“I’m not going to touch that with a ten-foot pole. Seriously, just get in the truck, Foley. You're giving me a headache,” the other teen ordered before climbing in the driver's side. Hotstreak drove back to Bernie's Auto Shop in silence, leaving Richie to wonder if he'd pushed a bit too hard. But after the firestarter parked the truck again, he turned back to the blond instead of getting out.

“Look, I just don't get it. Why would you want to hang with me?” Hotstreak asked. “You said it yourself, I was an asshole. I probably owe you six hundred dollars just in jacked up calculators; why would you suddenly want to be friends now?”

“I don't know. Can't people change?”

“Not when their rap sheet is as long as mine,” the redhead snorted dismissively.

“Then why are you here? Why did you start fixing cars instead of stealing them?”

“Because they told me that I'd get the Cure if I got arrested one more time. I don't want to lose my powers but I also don't want to end up like Ebon. That guy is fucked in the head,” Hotstreak shuddered dramatically and Richie was dying to ask him for more details. He remembered Virgil's stories about a two-headed giant made of flame and shadow; that was one of the reasons he'd been so surprised to find the firestarter back to normal. As normal as one of the few remaining Bang Babies could ever be.

However, before Richie could say anything, Hotstreak shook off his moment of vulnerability. “Geez, Foley. Are you a hypnotist or something? I don't know why I'm telling you this shit.”

“Everyone needs someone to talk to and I've been told that I'm a fantastic listener,” the metahuman answered with a shrug. He opened the door and hopped out of the tow truck before looking back at the redhead. “Just think about it, will you? V and I are going to the movies on Saturday. Meet us at the theater if you want.”

Hotstreak didn't reply then but he sought Richie out several hours later after his car was finished and his bill was paid.

“Look, I'm not saying that I'll be there. But what time is your film at, anyway?”

From the firestarter that was practically surrender and Richie's grin was bright when he replied. “It's 90s retro week so we're going to see Backdraft at 2 PM. Ninety minutes of explosions and bad science; should be right up your alley.”

Then the blond drove off, feeling quite proud of his accomplishments. Hotstreak would be there, he was sure of it; now Richie just had to convince V that they should go see Backdraft but it's not like his friend was likely to have made other plans. Indeed, the teen had barely made the suggestion before Virgil said, “Yeah, sure.”

By the time Saturday rolled around, Richie had the whole day planned down to the minute. So, of course, Mission Matchmake nearly derailed as soon as he and Virgil arrived at the theater and found Hotstreak waiting by the door.

“What is he doing here?”

“You didn't tell him?!”

The other two teens made their exclamations almost simultaneously. Then they just stood there gaping at each other until Hotstreak found his voice again.

“Seriously, Foley, this was a bad idea. I don’t know what kind of joke you’re playing but if I'd known that you weren't going to warn him, I’d have told you to fuck off from the start,” the redhead said. He started to walk away but then hesitated, looking over at Virgil instead. “You should know, I really am sorry about everything. I made your life miserable in junior high and high school and there's no excuse for that. I've just been an asshole for the past six years or so.”

With that, Hotstreak shoved his hands in his jacket pockets and turned to go. But he only made it about six steps before V called out to him.

“Wait! You really mean that?”

“Of course. I'd have to be a total psycho to fake an apology,” the firestarter told him. “Honestly, I owe you like a dozen free punches to the face.”

“I almost joined a gang because of you,” Virgil said and Hotstreak winced, his shoulders slumping further. “And you're definitely not forgiven. But I guess that you can stay. Just know that I fully intend to claim all those punches if you piss me off again.”

“Really?” the redhead asked, his whole face lighting up.

“Don't make me regret it,” the metahuman warned but he still waved Hotstreak over and then led the way into the theater. Richie hung back until the other teens had bought their tickets and then pressed a three-button sequence on his phone. It ringed back to him just like he'd programmed and the blond stepped out of line to pick it up.

“Hello. This is Richie.”

There was no one on the other end but he carried on a complete conversation anyway. He talked for a minute and then hung up, turning to Virgil with his best disappointed frown.

“That was the manager from my new job. Apparently they lost some of my paperwork and I need to send new copies to them immediately.”

“Seriously?” V asked. “It's Saturday.”

“Yeah, it sucks, but I don't want to lose my place,” Richie told him. “You guys should stay and watch the movie. You already bought your tickets and I'll try to meet you after if I can.”

“Well, if you're sure,” Hotstreak said with a glance at Virgil. “And it's okay with you? I haven't seen a film in months.”

“Me neither,” the other teen admitted. “I guess we might as well.”

“All right. I'll leave you to it,” Richie said cheerfully. “Call me when you're done.”

He left the theater and walked to the bus stop since V had driven them. The blond didn't actually have any paperwork to resubmit but he went home anyway; he figured he could spend a few hours working on his inventions until the film got out. Indeed, Richie got so lost in his work that he didn't realize how much time had passed until his phone buzzed loudly on his desk.

“Hey, Virge. How was it?” he asked, hitting the speakerphone.

“Awful. The dialogue was stilted, the CGI was dated and Hotstreak spent the entire film saying, 'Fire doesn't work like that.' And then we almost got into a fight over the last bite of popcorn,” his friend said.

“So pretty good then?”

“Actually, yeah,” Virgil responded with a laugh. “Better than I expected, for sure. But since I would've expected a fist fight, that doesn't exactly make us BFFs. Or boyfriends for that matter. Ditch me again and I'm going to be pissed.”

“I don't know what you're talking about. I had paperwork.”

“You're a shitty liar, Richie, and even Wayne Enterprises doesn't work on Saturday,” his friend said and he really did know the blond too well. “So why don't you just tell me about your latest project and leave the matchmaking to someone else.”

Richie was happy to launch into an explanation of his next invention and even happier to change the subject. But even as the metahuman told Virgil about the new conductor that he was designing, part of his mind was still focused on Mission Matchmake anyway. Although the movie hadn't been an unqualified success, it had been a step in the right direction and Richie hadn’t become an inventor by giving up after the first prototype. The metahuman's math said that Virgil and Hotstreak would be great together and math had never lied to him.

This was enough to keep Richie going even though his next few attempts to bring the pair together didn't work out very well. The problem was that Hotstreak and V didn't usually hang out in the same places and Richie needed something good to bridge the gap. However, Virgil shot down the gun show, a side trip to Bernie's to check on windshield wipers, and another movie day flat out, though he did patrol the former as Static just in case.

Richie finally got V to the antique car show through a combination of cajoling, begging, and lying through his teeth - “Of course I like classic cars. I can't believe you didn't know that. I've always wanted a '67 Chevy to put in my garage” - and the look that his friend gave him when he saw Hotstreak was a little bit betrayed.

“I know that you're still scheming something. And it’s still not gonna happen,” the other metahuman muttered. However, Richie just smiled guilelessly and by that point, Virgil was having too much fun to leave.

Instead the teen greeted Hotstreak cordially enough and Richie managed to keep the conversation going until the other metahumans found something to talk about. Soon V and the firestarter were deep in a discussion of combustion engines and the best transmission placement and Richie was preparing to slip off again when some punk gang tried to rob the show and ruined everything. Virgil ran off to become Static with a shout of, “Bathroom troubles” - really, could he have picked an unsexier excuse? - and Hotstreak disappeared shortly after that.

The redhead did drop two of the thieves on his way out and Richie decided to take that as another sign of progress. If the other metahuman was that annoyed by the interruption then he must have been enjoying Virgil's company.

So the blond decided to try another strategy. Instead of bringing the other teens together personally, Richie started manipulating the odds to do it for him – hoping that proximity would let nature take its course. First he sent his friend a bunch of coupons for Hotstreak's favorite coffee shop and mailed the redhead special offers to use at Virgil's work. It took three sets of each before either teen actually used them, but once they did, the results were promising.

Hotstreak almost turned around when saw Virgil – Richie had hacked into the coffee shop's cameras to get a better view – but apparently his double-whip mocha cappuccino was too good to skip. The shop's coffee was actually so good that V raved about it to Richie later, “Apparently Hotstreak goes there, which sucks, but seriously you have to taste this. It's like Heaven in a cup.”

Virgil had a point and the blond was tempted to make his own trip later once his matchmaking worked out. In fact, the coffee was good enough that neither metahuman was willing to give it up and after a week of awkward nodding, V finally just plopped himself down at Hotstreak's table after ordering.

“Look. We might as well just talk,” the teen said with a sigh. “It seems silly to ignore you when I see you everywhere and I haven’t felt the urge to punch you for a while now.”

At least, that's what Richie imagined that his friend might say. The shop's cameras didn't actually pick up audio and the blond tried not to feel like a creeper even as he made a mental note to study lip-reading as soon as possible.

However, while Richie didn't know exactly what Hotstreak and Virgil were saying, he could tell that they were talking and that was enough for now. Indeed, their conversations got longer and longer and soon the other metahumans moved from slightly awkward silences to actively seeking out each other's company.

Not outside The Corner Roast, not yet. But V hadn't missed a single coffee date in the last eleven days and the one time he was late, the firestarter's expression was openly disappointed until he finally showed up.

After another two weeks of this, Richie decided to run a small experiment. He invited his friend to go get lunch at a new restaurant that had opened up downtown, making sure to pick a time when V and Hotstreak were usually at the Coffee Roast instead. He wanted to see what the other teen would choose if he forced the issue now.

“Do you mind if I bring Hotstreak?” Virgil asked and Richie had to stop himself from punching the air in victory. Sure it wouldn't be a date if he came along but this was the first time that his friend had mentioned hanging out with the redhead to Richie instead of the other way around.

So the blond tried to hide his glee as he replied. “That's fine with me. But I didn't think you liked him.”

“He's not my new best friend but you know how we both go to The Coffee Roast a lot? We've been talking there and he really does seem different,” Virgil told him. “I guess I figured that I should give him a real chance.”

“Good for you. I thought his apology sounded sincere back at the theater. But he bullied you much worse than me back in the old days so I'll follow your lead.”

Right. That's what you call scheming to get the two of us together,” the other teen said skeptically.

“Hey, don't look at me,” Richie replied. “Hotstreak wanted to apologize so I gave him the chance, that's all. I haven't been scheming anything since Backdraft. I haven't even talked to him in weeks.”

“If you say so, I still think you're up to something,” Virgil replied and of course, he was more right then he knew.

Richie felt a little guilty about lying to the other teen but he was doing this for V's own good and if his friend ever did find out, he was sure to forgive the metahuman's meddling. So the blond just shrugged and smiled, setting a time with Virgil for the next afternoon.

It was actually a little weird to see Hotstreak in person after so many days just watching him through cameras and Richie intended to spend the meal observing so that the other two could talk. But when the conversation turned to sci-fi technology, he simply had to jump in because everyone knew that Hadrian Colliders were totally a thing. He and V got into an in-depth discussion of anti-matter and wormholes while Hotstreak egged them on, the redhead defending a whole slew of impossible inventions just to make the others twitch.

By the time Richie remembered that he wasn't supposed to dominate the conversation, Virgil had to leave for work and it was too late to change tactics. Sure the firestarter had seemed to be enjoying himself but the blond was probably the only person who found engineering sexy. Seriously, if he ever met another guy who liked to build circuitry for fun then he'd probably fall in love. However, at the moment, Richie and Hotstreak were just left staring at each other as V grabbed his bag and booked it from the restaurant like Killer Croc was on his heels.

“Bye! I'll see you later. Coffee on Monday?” Virgil shouted and then he was gone.

“So... how have you been?” Hotstreak asked after a moment and Richie started; he'd honestly been expecting the other teen to leave.

“Come on, Foley. I just spent an hour listening to you and Virgil argue about quantum physics. You think I can't make nice?” the redhead snorted and he did have a valid point.

“All right then. But you'd better call me Richie,” the blond told him. “Foley makes me feel like we're back in high school again and I'm not calling you Stone or Francis. Both of those sound weird.”

“Yeah, well, my parents were assholes. Who names a kid Francis in the twentieth century?” the firestarter asked. “Why do you think I used to go by F-Stop even before the Bang?”

“Because you were a dickhead?” Richie replied, raising one eyebrow. “Seriously, no one thought F-Stop was a cool nickname. They were just too frightened to say it to your face.”

“Fine... maybe I'll give you that one,” Hotstreak said after a long pause. “But I still think it was better than Francis.”

“Yeah, you just keep telling yourself that.”

“Whatever,” the other teen muttered. “Anyway, Richie then. How have you been? Virge said that you'll be joining Wayne Tech pretty soon.”

“In about a month, yeah,” the blond told him. “I'm pretty excited. They have one of the top labs in the world and I can't wait to start.”

“So... will you be moving to Gotham then?”

“Well, yeah, I guess. It's a bit too far to commute every morning though I'll probably come back on the weekends when I can,” Richie replied, honestly confused by this line of questioning.

However, everything became much clearer when Hotstreak asked, “And what about Virgil? Is he going too?”

“Umm, no. Why would he move?”

“I don't know. Aren't you guys, like, joined at the hip or something?”

“You do know that me and V aren't dating, right?” Richie said, fighting the urge to smirk. “He's my best friend not my boyfriend and we're both good with that.”

“Right. And you're not saying that because you're secretly pining and he just doesn't want you?”

“Seriously? How many soap operas do you watch?” the blond asked incredulously. “But no. I'll admit that V is hot but he's more like my brother than anything. I'd prefer to date someone that I haven't known for half my life. And what's with all the interest in my love life anyway? While I can't speak for Virgil, this -”

Richie waved back and forth between them.

“- really isn't happening.”

“Uggh, no, of course not,” Hotstreak replied and the blond probably would have been offended by his expression if that wasn't exactly what he wished to hear. “I guess you're not bad to hang with but no... You're much too blond and like six multiples too smart for me. I'd need a guy or girl a bit more down to earth.”

“So you really are bi then? I wasn't 100% sure after our last conversation.”

“You know, four years ago I probably would have attacked you just for asking,” the other teen said before shrugging casually. “But now, I like who I like and everyone else can suck it. No one's gonna pick a fight with me. You aren't gonna get all judgy, right? Because you are gay as fuck and I've had a few folks tell me that bi is a fantasy.”

“Right,” Richie winced; he'd heard V complain about that exact same thing before. “Well, every group has assholes. I figure I'm in no position to judge other people's preferences. And while I'm not exactly in the closet, could you maybe keep that to yourself? There are a couple people who don't need to know about my taste in men.”

Specifically, his father. The teen planned to be living under a different roof before he made that announcement and even then he doubted that it would go over very well.

“Hey, I can keep a secret. Don't worry,” Hotstreak told him. “I'm not that much of a bastard anymore. Whoever you want to tell is your business as far as I'm concerned.”

“Thank you,” Richie replied with honest gratitude. He liked this new and improved version of Hotstreak. Not just as a date for Virgil but as someone who might actually become a real friend of his as well. Which should hopefully help him feel less like a third wheel until he found a boyfriend of his own.

Seriously, the blond didn't want Virgil to lose out on this opportunity so he threw caution to the wind and offered this advice. “Hey man, if you're interested in V, just go for it. You're really just his type.”

“You must be joking. There's no way.” the redhead answered with a laugh. “He's much too good for me. Anyway, I didn't say that I was interested. I just wanted to make sure I wasn't gonna lose him as a friend. Even if I was potentially interested, I've only ever seen him date girls before and I ain't one for pining after people I can't have.”

I pretty much told you that he was bi at our first meeting, Richie thought in disbelief. Maybe the other teen simply didn't remember having that conversation because the metahuman had been pretty damn blatant at the time.

However, before he could correct the firestarter's misconception, Hotstreak changed the subject and the blond couldn't find a good place to say, “No really, Virgil's bi,” without sounding utterly insane. Considering the redhead's earlier reaction, he might not believe Richie anyway.

But Virgil and Hotstreak started hanging out more often after that and the blond was positive that both of them were interested in being more than friends by now. Hell, based on their last conversation, Richie was sure that Hotstreak would jump at the opportunity and V was definitely feeling the same attraction; he knew his friend well enough that it was pretty obvious. However, the next few weeks passed without either teen making a move and eventually the blond came to recognize a major flaw in his grand plan.

Because Richie knew that Virgil liked men as well as women and that Hotstreak wasn't picky about gender, but the other teens refused to have that conversation for themselves. Although the metahuman dropped as many hints as he could – sometimes Richie came damn close to just saying it outright – V and Hotstreak didn't get it. The redhead kept assuming he was joking and Virgil was simply deaf to everything.

“Oh, I don't know,” his friend said when Richie urged him to just talk to Hotstreak yet again. “I mean, I like him, sure. But I doubt he'd go for that.”

“You never know until you try. I'm 90% sure that he's bisexual and the other 10% is pan.”

“Nah, it's safer not to risk it. I don't want to lose our friendship,” Virgil decided and Richie had to fight the urge to scream. Hotstreak wasn't any better when the blond tried to sway him. Why was it so difficult for his friends to believe that a romance between the two of them was a possibility?

“Are you kidding? I bullied Virge for years,” the redhead said, shaking his head in denial. “I'm sure he'd never even consider dating me. My best bet is to find someone who just moved to Dakota and has no idea who I am. Otherwise all I ever get are Bang Baby groupies and while they're good for some fun, they tend to be a bit too crazy for my tastes these days. I think for once I'd like to try and have a normal relationship. As normal as I get. And why are you so curious about my love life? You made it pretty clear that you weren't into me.”

“I'm not. Very much not. But you're not exactly bad looking,” Richie told him. “So I guess I'm just surprised that I've never seen you date. I don't want you or V to be lonely when you don't have to... Wait... Bang Babies have groupies? Really?”

“Oh yeah. Girls and boys. Plenty of people have a taste for the exotic or the dangerous and you don't get much more exotic than mutant criminals,” Hotstreak said with a smirk. “And those of us who still look mostly human definitely have the edge. Actually, now that I think about, Sparky must get mobbed. He's cute, exotic, and an actual superhero; plus those lightning powers of his must be fun between the sheets.”

“I'm not sure I needed to know that,” the blond replied. But at least it sounded like the firestarter wouldn't mind V being Static once that truth came out. Assuming that the two teens ever got their act together and started dating properly.

Seriously, the UST was starting to give Richie a headache and he honestly had to fight the urge to shout, “Just kiss already!” every time the three of them were standing in the same room.

Eventually the metahuman got so frustrated that he went back online to look for new ideas; he didn't care if something was cliché as hell if it got his friends paired off. While some common tactics wouldn't work – locking those two in a closet would probably just cost the blond his door – there were several other options that seemed promising.

Honestly, Richie could makes a couple of fake voicemails in two hours tops and one fake confession tape should probably get the other teen on board. However, the blond was still hoping for a more natural outcome so he was keeping that option as a last resort for now.

The metahuman started his internship before reaching that level of desperation and while he didn't forget about his side project, he suddenly had a lot of other things to focus on. Wayne Tech was fascinating; their prototypes were three stages ahead of anything currently in mass production and Richie lost himself in the company's blueprints for whole days at a time.

In fact, the blond disappeared for several weeks straight before coming up for air but even interns got to go home eventually. Richie drove back to his parents' house on Friday and crashed for a good twelve hours before dragging himself out of bed on Saturday. He'd promised to meet Virgil and Hotstreak at the mall and he was sincerely hoping that they had good news to tell him now.

However, the other teens were still stuck in relationship limbo and what Richie did next could probably be blamed on a combination of sleep deprivation and total desperation. The blond got the idea when the trio sat down for lunch at I Hop and their waiter immediately started eyeing Virgil like a three course meal. He introduced himself as Danny with a very sultry wink, explaining the specials in a tone that bordered on indecent for a family place like this. The waiter was clearly interested and as soon as he went to fill their drink order, Richie sought him out.

“I’ll give you twenty dollars to flirt with my friend for this whole meal," he said.

“What? No! Are you trying to get me killed?" the waiter asked to Richie's great surprise. Though his objection made a lot more sense when he added, " I'm not gonna flirt with Hotstreak. He'd probably light me on fire just for smiling."

“You give him too little credit. He may be an ex-criminal but he's not a murderer," Richie replied, a little bit offended on the other teen's behalf. “But no, I meant Virgil, the one you were all but drooling over a little bit ago."

“Oh, him? Not a problem," Danny said, suddenly all smiles. “Do I get an actual date at the end of this?"

“That’s up to Virgil. But I'd say you have a shot," the metahuman told him. The waiter actually was V's general type and the other teen could well decided to date him if Hotstreak didn't bite.

“Great," Danny replied cheerfully. “Because I was a year behind you guys in high school and I always loved that ass."

“You don't really have a filter, do you?" Richie asked with some amusement.

"Nope. Is that gonna be a problem?"

"Not by me. You're perfect. So go get him," the blond said. "I'll pay you afterward."

Richie followed Danny to the table and then sat back to watch the show. The waiter really was perfect; he seemed to have an endless store of innuendo, every word spoken with a wicked smirk that actually made Virgil blush. Danny somehow turned taking the other teen's order into a five minute conversation and despite his earlier protest, he didn't seem afraid of Hotstreak now.

He just waved off the redhead's attempts to interrupt with a casual, “I’ll be with you in a moment, sir. Now, Virgil, did you want that burger dripping or well done? I'd recommend a rarer option; it's such a shame to overcook a juicy piece of meat."

Richie could practically see Hotstreak's jealousy ticking higher and he was actually a little surprised that nothing was on fire yet. The other metahuman had more self control than he'd expected and the blond honestly didn't know if this plan would really work.

"All right, that's a medium-rare Baconator with Swiss cheese, pickles, and tomatoes but no onions, a large order of sweet potato fries, one root beer float with extra float, and my number if you want it," Danny said when Virgil had finally finished ordering. “I would love to take you out on a date sometime."

"Oh, um, sure? That could be fun," Virgil answered after a moment of surprise - the other teen really wasn't the best at this whole dating thing. However, while he didn't sound blown away, he was at least open to the idea and Richie patted himself on the back mentally.

The blond had finally managed to get V a date even if it wasn't with the guy that he'd been aiming for. Not exactly a success for Mission Matchmake but at this point, Richie would take what he could get.

However, just as the metahuman was declaring his project closed, Hotstreak came through in the clutch.

“Hold up, Romeo," the firestarter said and Danny froze halfway through writing down his number; clearly he wasn't completely blasé about Hotstreak after all. The waiter stayed motionless even as the redhead turned to V and asked, "You like guys?"

"Uh, yeah? Some of 'em," Virgil replied watching the other metahuman a little warily.

"What? Since when?"

"Since always," the teen retorted. "You got a problem with that?"

“Yeah, I've got a problem," Hotstreak said. “If I'd known that I would have asked you out on a date weeks ago."

“Seriously? Why didn't you say something?" Virgil asked with a wide grin. Although his expression dimmed a little when he looked back at Danny, "Oh, I mean. It's not..."

"Don't worry about it. I know when I'm beaten," the waiter told him with a shrug. He put his pen away before adding, "I'll be back in five minutes or so to take your other orders. That should give you two enough time to work this out."

"Thank you," Richie said, slipping him the twenty that he'd promised and an extra five for being a good loser. The blond tried to be subtle about it but he needn't have bothered; Hotstreak and Virgil weren't paying them any attention anymore. Honestly, if this were a movie, Richie would expected to hear a grand swell of music and maybe a few Disney birds singing songs as well. Something to show that the other teens were Meant to Be. As it was, Richie barely stopped himself from squeeing in glee when Hotstreak leaned over and gave V a searing kiss.

"How about a date?" the redhead asked with a grin once he'd finally pulled back. "I know this great place that shows bad 90s movies."

“That sounds perfect," Virgil told him before leaning in again.

Richie knew that he was grinning like an idiot - a slightly creepy idiot watching his two best friends make out - but he really didn't care. Mission Matchmake was an unqualified success.

Well, of course it was, the blond thought smugly. I am a genius after all.


Epilogue