Chapter 1: Blame the Rain
Fandom: Static Shock
Word Count: 3282
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.
Static hates the rain, even though Virgil used to love it.
In the days before the Bang, the teen would always toss his umbrella aside to stand beneath the torrent and let the water wash his worries clean. It seemed like nothing could hurt him then, wrapped in the wildness of nature and the world always looked brighter after a storm had passed.
Sometimes Virgil misses that boy he used to be because now rain just means that he cannot use his powers. A storm is only an annoyance which keeps Static grounded, useless, and worst of all, vulnerable to every criminal who might want a piece of him. It leaves the teen with no weapons but his fists and while Virgil is in better shape than he was before, he's the first to admit that his fighting skills are weak.
Therefore on days like this, when it seems like everything has decided to go wrong, the rain is the easiest thing to blame.
Static had been out late the night before, rounding up a group of robbers who had the bright idea to dress in rubber suits. While it hadn't stopped the superhero, it made catching them an aggravation and he had been thankful to strip off his costume and collapse into his bed. Of course then Virgil had accidentally zapped his alarm clock into smoking pieces in his sleep and only Richie on the Shock Vox had woken him up at all.
He was already running late by then and with the rain pouring down outside, the teen couldn't just fly to school and save everyone some trouble. So one long sprint later, Virgil is soaked to the bone and wishing he'd remembered his umbrella as his high school finally comes into view.
And when he walks through the gate to see Hotstreak standing in the courtyard, jailed and suspended but somehow still causing trouble, all he wants to do is groan. Seriously, I do not need this right now, Virgil thinks, tired and cold and ten minutes late for class.
The teen almost wants to just give up and go home or head over to the Gas Station, but his grades have already suffered enough because of Static and he knows his father will kill him if they get any worse. No, pops won't kill me. He'll simply give me that disappointed stare instead, the one that makes me feel like dirt. Ah hell, I guess I've got to suck it up.
There are enough people gathered around Hotstreak that Virgil hopes he might be able to slip by unnoticed so the teen starts carefully shoving his way through the crowd of cops, teachers, and gawking students as he tries to reach the door.
Unfortunately lady luck turns her back on him because just when he thinks he's home free, a hand grabs his backpack and jerks him to a stop. Virgil turns warily to see Hotstreak grinning down at him as the other teen wraps a vice-like arm around his neck and drags him to the center of the crowd. It's almost like the old days when the worst Francis could do was punch him and the best he could do was run away, except back then there were never cops involved.
“Play along Hawkins or I'll break your legs.” Hotstreak hisses in his ear as he pulls him in front of the two policemen and plasters a smile on his face. “See I found him so all of you can leave now,” the pyrokinetic says, shifting his arm to wrap around Virgil's shoulder as though they're friends.
Although the cops seemingly take him at his word, a few of the teachers look suspicious and Mr. Fredrickson steps forward with a frown. The biology teacher had caught Hotstreak trying to dent the wall with Virgil's head a few times back in the day and he looks honestly concerned as he asks, “Are you sure about this Mr. Hawkins? It would be a big responsibility.”
However, with the redhead's arm locked tight around his back and the rain still pouring down, Virgil really wants to be anywhere but here so he mumbles vague reassurances and nods. “Sure, whatever. Look I'm late for class already and my homework's probably getting wet so can we just wrap this up?”
That's enough for the policemen who shove a packet of papers in his hands and tell him to call 911 if things go sour before booking it to the relative shelter of their car. Virgil stares after them in disgust, remembering similar unimpressive encounters with them as Static, until Mr. Fredrickson calls his attention back.
“So it seems that Mr. Stone will be attending classes with you for now; stop by the office at lunch and they'll sort your schedules out. You and your family do Dakota proud by being so forgiving and I hope your example will turn this delinquent around but if he gives you any trouble at all don't hesitate to turn him in. 'Hotstreak' here is walking on thin ice.”
Wait what about my family? The teen wonders in confusion as the teacher walks away, but before he can ask, the pyro is dragging him inside. While it is nice to be out of the rain, Virgil would really like some answers so he grabs Hotstreak and shoves the redhead into the boy's bathroom when no one else is looking.
“Okay, mind explaining what the hell is going on?” He asks in frustration as soon as the door shuts behind them, and then dumps his backpack out on the counter to see what he can salvage.
“Hawkins, I thought you were supposed to be a good student. Skipping class already, what kind of example is that?” Hotstreak laughs, starting to wring out his clothes.
“I already missed half of first period because of you so it won't make much difference now and I am seriously not in the mood for this.” Virgil growls. He was right and his homework was getting wet, but thankfully most of it is only damp around the edges. His calculator on the other hand, looks like a total loss. Fuck, that was expensive. Maybe Richie can fix it for me.
“It's all in that packet the cops handed you. Not my fault if you haven't read it yet.” The older metahuman replies with a smirk.
“This packet?” Virgil waves the sodden mess of paper in disgust before tossing it in the trash. “Seriously, Francis, just explain. Why are you even back here anyway, shouldn't you have graduated already or been expelled?”
“Yeah well, turns out juvie isn't so good for your GPA.” Hotstreak snarks before lighting up his hands. Virgil can't help but flinch back at the sight, remembering a few too many burns from Static's encounters with the pyrokinetic. However, the other teen doesn't attack him, just clenches his fists tightly and soon steam starts rising from his clothes. Oh that is so unfair, Virgil thinks in annoyance for Hotstreak is dry in moments while he has to stand here and drip instead.
But the younger metahuman shakes the jealousy from his mind and continues with his questioning, still trying to figure out what exactly he agreed to. “Yeah well maybe you should have thought of that before you went around robbing people. But seriously, they actually let you out just so you could graduate?”
“More or less.” The redhead shrugs. “I spun some sob story about never getting to go to college and make something of myself and they all ate it up. So here I am, ready to hit the books.”
“Right,” Virgil scoffs. “Why do I get the feeling that this is total bullshit?”
“Hey! I really do plan to graduate, or at least get my GED. No one ever said I had to be nice about it, but I'm actually going straight this time. 'Channeling my anger into more productive outlets' like my counselor loved to say.” Hotstreak looks almost offended as he crosses his arms across his chest, daring the other to challenge this claim.
But at the moment the younger teen is too tired to bother and this whole conversation is becoming rather surreal. “Okay, whatever. Say I do believe you, why now? You've had two years to change your mind and you still haven't told me how I fit in.”
“I turned eighteen last month, which means that if I get caught again I'm not going back to juvie, they're locking me up and throwing away the key. They've got some of Alva's power dampeners to keep me there and I ain't cool with that.” The other metahuman explains and Virgil has to admit that this almost makes sense. However, he's not ready to let Hotstreak off the hook that easily.
“And this never occurred to you earlier?” He asks as he starts shoving things back into his bag.
“Hey, gotta have your fun while you can, right?” The pyro responds with a smirk. “But since I'm a repeat offender, blah, blah, blah, they don't trust me out on my own, which is why you're going to vouch for me.”
“I'm what?” Virgil can't keep his mouth from dropping open in shock, turning wide eyes on the other teen. “Why exactly would I do something like that?”
“Well you kinda already volunteered outside.” Hotstreak tells him with a grin. “I follow you around school, you help me graduate and then we go our separate ways and you never have to see me again. It'll be a year tops.”
“A year?” He shrieks, slightly embarrassed by the pitch he reaches. I wonder if it's too late to change my mind?
“Hey if you help me get my GED it'll be less. I just gotta prove myself to be a productive member of society and all that.” The redhead tells him with a laugh. “It'll be fun, Hawkins, just like old times.”
“The old times where you used to kick my ass.” Virgil reminds him. “And what exactly do I get from all this?”
“The joy of being the better person.” Hotstreak retorts, raising an eyebrow. “Aren't you goody two-shoes all about the moral victory? It's not like I'm going to be pounding you again when you can stick the cops on my ass for screwing up.”
Damn it all, he's right. Pops is always saying that everyone deserves a second chance and he wasn't so bad when Alva kidnapped us. Still a jerk, but that ain't illegal.
“Fine.” The younger teen sighs. “You can be my shadow or whatever and I'll help you study when I can. But that's another thing- what the hell are the cops thinking just handing you to me? What exactly do they expect me to do if you are faking it?”
“Well, you could always follow their example,” The redhead drawls, “Run away and hide til Sparky gets there.” However, at Virgil's glare he drops the crap. “Look I may have talked up your family a little, what with your dad and sister working with troubled youths and shit. And seriously Hawkins, if you change your mind I'm pretty much screwed since there weren't exactly a lot of volunteers to help me out.”
As far as Virgil can tell the other teen isn't lying and Hotstreak's never been one for subtle planning; he's more the type to charge ahead and burn everything in sight. This is a really bad idea, he tells himself halfheartedly but he knows that it's already too late. He's never been able to resist people in need, even annoying ones- it's part of why he became a superhero, well that and it was cool.
“You're lucky I'm too nice for my own good.” He says with a sigh, shivering at the feel of his damp and clammy clothes. “But fine, I guess I can talk to my pops and see if he can help you out or something, just don't make me regret it. Now if we're going to do this we should go because I need to get to my locker before our next class. Maybe I can wear my gym clothes all day while these dry.”
“Thanks Hawkins, really,” Hotstreak says, sounding almost sincere before his standard smirk returns.
“While you're at it maybe your dad can find me another place to live too. The court stuck me with the squarest overbearing losers they could find.”
He adds this last as he throws his arm back around the other's shoulders and steers him through the door, his skin a burning line across Virgil's back. To the younger teen's surprise Hotstreak remembers exactly where his locker is and leads him there, though I suppose he shoved me into it often enough.
Richie is waiting for him, having just gotten out of class and his eyes widen when he sees the pair of them together. “Um, bro? Something you want to tell me?”
Hotstreak grins at the blond's confusion and pulls Virgil in tighter, adopting a dramatic air. “Didn't he tell you, Foley? Hawkins and I have been secret BFFs for years and we decided it was time to finally come clean.”
“Ok, seriously, just go stand over there or something.” Virgil shoves the redhead off him and when the other teen strolls a few feet away to lean on a locker, he sighs with relief before turning back to Richie. His friend is giving him an expectant stare, eyebrows raised and clearly asking what the heck is going on and Virgil winces beneath that gazes.
“I may have sorta accidentally volunteered to keep Hotstreak on the straight and narrow this morning.” He says in an embarrassed whisper, hiding behind the open door of his locker so that no one else can hear. To avoid looking at his friend he focuses on grabbing his books, noticing with disappointment that his P.E. clothes aren't there. Must be in the gym lockers, he thinks optimistically, ignoring the distinct possibility that he lost them somewhere and will have to buy another set.
“You what?” Richie hisses, and grabs the other's arm. “What were you thinking, V? It's Hotstreak, he was a criminal even before he got his powers.”
“Well yeah, but he seems serious this time and pops always says that everyone deserves a second chance. Or like a thirtieth in his case. And I said it was an accident- he volunteered me outside and I didn't know what I was saying yes to; I just wanted to get out of the rain.” Virgil replies, shrugging at his friend's incredulous stare. “You know how I am when I'm wet these days and I can't back out now; I don't think Hotstreak has anyone else to ask, so it's either me or prison.”
“I still say you should have picked prison, but I know you're a sucker for those in need so I'll help you out.” The blond tells him, sighing and patting him on the back. “It isn't going to interfere with our 'movie marathons' though, right?”
“No more than school does anyway. And you're the best, man, I don't know what I would do without you.”
“Crash and burn, V, you'd crash and burn.” Richie says, laughing. “Now we should get to class, you know Mrs. Dietrich hates me and she promised dire injury if you were late again.”
The other teen nods, comforted to know that his best friend will support him even in this madness and turns back to Hotstreak where he's still leaning against the wall. “You heard the man, let's go to class.”
The redhead just smirks as he swaggers over to them, giving an exaggerated bow. “Well lead the way then ladies, I haven't got all day.”
Virgil rolls his eyes at this, grabbing the pyro's arm and pulling him along. He's incredibly thankful that he shares his next class with Richie so he doesn't have to face the horror of voluntarily spending time with Hotstreak on his own. Although to his surprise, the experience is actually pleasant enough if not entirely comfortable.
While the other metahuman is obviously lost, understandable since this is a literature class and Virgil doubts he's read the book, he does at least seem to be paying attention and refrains from insulting anyone for the entire period. However, the greatest surprise is not that the redhead might actually be serious, but something else entirely.
Due to the unfortunate misplacement of his gym uniform, Virgil is still wearing the same soaked clothes and his mind wanders from the discussion as he watches a puddle spread beneath his arm. He tries to subtly wring out his shirt but it doesn't seem to do much good and before long he's shivering beneath the chill. The metahuman doesn't think that he can still get sick because he hasn't caught so much as a cold since the Bang, but he also really doesn't want to find out the hard way that he's wrong. There's no telling what kind of strange side effects being ill could have on his powers and now that Hotstreak will be hanging around, the last thing Virgil needs is to lose control.
Besides it's incredibly unpleasant and the teen hunkers down in misery, promising himself that he'll change as soon as he gets the chance. He's concentrating so hard on trying to pay attention that he doesn't notice the redhead gradually shifting his chair closer and Virgil nearly shrieks when a hot hand presses against his back.
However, he manages to restrain himself from jumping wildly across the room and instead just twitches violently, turning to look at Hotstreak with a dubious stare as heat spreads through his clothes.
“What are you doing?” Virgil hisses at him, before straightening up to smile innocently beneath Mrs. Dietrich's piercing eyes.
But Hotstreak doesn't move his hand and when the teacher finally turns away the redhead leans in to whisper with a smirk. “Your sniffling was annoying me and if I have to hang around you, I'd prefer you not be gross.”
“Well then, thanks I think,” the younger teen says sarcastically and goes back to his book, shifting awkwardly in his chair. Virgil can't deny that the redhead's powers work and he has to fight to keep himself from sinking into the warmth of the other metahuman's hand. This is weird. Really, really weird. I don't think I've ever actually spent this much time with Hotstreak without one of us getting hurt. And it does feel nice...
The teen feels himself flush and ducks his head to hide it from Richie's curious glance. He still isn't sure what exactly happened this morning, but he blames the rain for it all.
If not for the rain he wouldn't have been late, if not for the rain he probably wouldn't have agreed to watch Hotstreak, and he certainly wouldn't be sitting here with a hand on his back, warmth on his cheeks and his skin. Even if the pyrokinetic is sincere about his change of heart and Virgil still has some doubts about that, this is seriously going to complicate his life. The teen already has enough trouble balancing his secret identities as a student and a superhero without adding the redhead to the mix.
What have I gotten myself into now?
Chapter 2: Insults, Doubt & Aggravation