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Title: Underneath

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Fandom: Static Shock

Pairing: can be read as schmoopy gen, or a really comfortably established Virgil/Richie

Warnings: none

Beta: Thank you ibear, for my flail-filled, last minute send in. I appreciate you going over it in the final hours!

Notes: Takes place shortly after the series, and ignores the ‘fused Ebon/Hot Streak’ thing. Everyone has their powers back and life goes on as normal in Dakota.

Word Count: roughly 3,100

Summary:      wanted body swapping! I’ve never done this before, so I hope it meets your requirement!

 

o0o     o0o     o0o      o0o     o0o     o0o     o0o      o0o

 

“It’ll work, just trust me,” Virgil said mockingly. “Am I still supposed to trust you now?” His voice sounded so strange to him – which was unsurprising, since it was currently coming out of his best friend Richie’s mouth.

 

“Well, it did work,” Richie argued weakly, pushing a limp dreadlock out of his eyes. “It just worked on the wrong people.” He pushed at another dreadlock. “Man, how do you keep these things out of your eyes?”

 

“A little bit o’ static magic,” Virgil said curtly. “Keeps it hanging high! And hey - no side-tracking!” He flailed his – Richie’s – arms, plucking at the green fabric of Gear’s costume. “What do we do now?”

 

“It is NOT side-tracking if I can’t see,” Richie grumbled, ignoring Virgil’s question. “Somehow I doubt you’d enjoy me flying your body straight into a building.”

 

Virgil bit back a growl. Yelling and sniping at each other wouldn’t help them at this point, and they’d already had one heck of a bad night as it was.

 

It had started out as a typical battle with Ebon except this time, Richie brought along a new invention of his to take for a test run. Supposedly, it would temporarily drain away another Bang Baby’s powers and let someone else wield them for a short time. Richie had sold Virgil on it with the idea of trapping Ebon in his own darkness. At least up to that point, Virgil was willing to share the blame. But that was it. He certainly hadn’t expected this.

 

He glared across the rooftop at his own body, currently being strutted around by one, obviously amused Richie. The super-genius was apparently taking the body-swapping in stride. “Richie?”

 

“Hmm?”

 

“What are we going to do?!?” Ebon had managed to shatter the weapon in his attempt to steal it for himself, before taking off to parts unknown. As much as Virgil adored his best friend and partner, he really wanted his own body back. His own body and his own clothing – he made a mental note to snark at Richie later about his penchant for spandex and forced his hands to stop picking at the clinging material.

 

“Chill out, V!” Richie held up his hands – make that ‘my hands’, Virgil groused silently – and waved them at his partner. “I just have to go back and bring the second prototype online. I didn’t change anything so it should work the same way this one does – err, did.” He gave a sheepish smile, and Virgil felt himself relenting a bit.

 

“How long will that take?”

 

Richie frowned. “About twelve hours, or so,” he said slowly, amusement suddenly draining away from him. “I just have to program it and let it cycle through. But that means we’re going to be stuck like this until at least eleven or so tomorrow.”

 

“That’s not so bad,” Virgil said, considering the alternatives. “Man, am I glad it’s the weekend. I would not wanna try switching places at school.”

 

“So we just chill at your place until then, yeah?” Richie rubbed his hands together. “I remember seeing spicy chicken vindaloo in your fridge before we left tonight. That and a monster-mashing marathon sound like a perfect combo to me.”

 

“You’re on!” Virgil grinned. Then he folded his – Richie’s – arms and grinned at the sight of his best friend suddenly peering nervously over the side of the building. “Um.. you do realize you’re gonna have to at least fly us down to street level?” He lifted one foot and tried to get the rockets to fire – they were clearly jammed. Backpack had taken a direct hit from Hotstreak who had joined in the festivities, and while he wasn’t completely offline, he wouldn’t be able to help either.

 

“No prob. Gimme a second,” Richie murmured, closing his eyes. Virgil watched, his own eyes narrowed as Richie focused, trying to bring out his host body’s powers. “I think… uh… yeah – here we go!”

 

Glowing blue and white beams of static electricity suddenly erupted from his body, lashing the roof with sparking streamers. Virgil yelped and dove for cover behind a ramshackle shed that had been put there decades before and had probably been long forgotten about. “Amp down there, Richie! You almost turned me into a crispy critter!”

 

“Sorry!” The glow faded, and Virgil risked lifting his head, squinting into the brightness. Richie’s glasses had fallen off his face when he dove, and he felt around for them carefully. “Man, I don’t know how you survive being this blind,” he muttered, fingers snagging an arm. He checked them out closely to make sure they weren’t cracked or broken, and then slid them back on. Everything came back into focus and he blinked.

 

Richie stood there in Virgil’s body, a corona of blue and white energy swirling around him as he worked on tamping it down to manageable levels. The look of awe on his face made Virgil wonder if he ever looked like that to people when he was working with his powers.

 

He cleared his throat. “Hey Rich – you okay now?”

 

Richie beamed at him – a dopey, goofy grin that was one-hundred percent Richie Foley even if it was wrapped up in Virgil packaging. “This is so awesome, man!”

 

“Yeah,” Virgil said, giving him a small smile. “In some ways, it sure is.” But it was weird to watch his powers and not be the one focusing them. He’d lost his powers once before and he hadn’t liked the feeling then either.

 

Richie frowned, and suddenly the power shut off as quickly as if someone had thrown a switch. “Virg?” He took a step forward. “Virgil, you’ll get your powers back, I promise.”

 

Trust Richie to know what his issue was. “I’d better,” Virgil mock-growled. “C’mon Static – let’s get back to my place and chill for a bit. Besides, Backpack is getting heavy.”

 

“Sure.” Richie hesitated, giving him a funny look. “By the way, Virg - how do you feel?”

 

Virgil flicked him a surprised look. “I feel fine, Rich. Why?”

 

Richie shook his head quickly. “Nothing. Just checking, you know.” He grinned again. “C’mon – I think I can fly us home without too much trouble.”

 

The flight home was relatively uneventful. Richie only dumped him once – an ‘accident’, he claimed – and despite Richie’s shouts of ‘I got it now!’, they hit one tree and did a crash-land on Virgil’s lawn. Virgil was positive he was going to be blamed for the two foot trench now gracing their flower bed.  Between the ringing in his ears from the fall and the thrum of near-continuous energy flowing from Richie’s borrowed body, he was developing a massive headache. “You are so banned from flying ever again while in my body,” Virgil stated as they picked themselves up. “I am taking away all of your flight privileges.”

 

“Hey, manipulating electronic particles is a bit more difficult than firing a few booster rockets,” Richie protested good-naturedly, brushing dirt and grass off Static’s baggy pants. “I did better than you did on your first attempt. What was that about two face-plants into buildings?” He stopped and looked at Virgil again. “You’re squinting. Are you okay?”

 

Virgil gave a tired laugh. “I’m squinting because I’m not used to coke-bottle glasses, Rich.” He reached up and rubbed his temple with one finger. “I’ve just got a bit of a headache. No big deal.”

 

“Ah.” Richie’s face – his face – looked apologetic. “Yeah. Sorry about that Virg. I should have—“

 

Virgil cut him off with a wave of his hand, already dismissing it. He’d crashed much harder himself dozens of time – blaming Richie was pointless. “No biggie Rich. You’re right – I did crash more than you did on my first try. It’ll be fine in the morning.”

 

Richie suddenly had Virgil’s patented Look of Determination aimed at him. That was SO not fair. “Virgil, I mean—“

 

“Boys?” The front door opened and Robert Hawkins stepped out, looking at them curiously. “Boys, are you all right?” He opened the door wider. “Get inside, before anyone sees you two.” He winked at them. “It’s okay – Sharon’s out with Adam.”

 

“Okay, Pops.”  Oops. His father was staring at him. “Um.. make that, ‘hi Pops?’” Virgil adjusted Richie’s glasses and tried to stamp down the full-body blush he knew Richie was capable of and that he could feel creeping over him.

 

“Hey Mr H!” Richie waved.

 

A few minutes later they were both comfortably ensconced on the Hawkins’ big sofa with mugs of hot chocolate in their cold, chapped hands. It didn’t take much more than a Look to get them to tell Mr Hawkins everything that had happened. Upon hearing the end of their story, Robert gave both of the boys a stern look. “So this will be over tomorrow? You’ll be back to normal?”

 

“Or at least what passes for it,” Richie said with a shrug. He had foamy white chocolate rimming his upper lip. It was about to drip.

 

Virgil glowered at him and reached out, thumbing part of it off. “You get that on my costume and you are so going to be paying for dry cleaning.” He stuck his thumb in his mouth, sucking the chocolate off with a slurp.

 

“I thought you wore your costumes until they rotted off and just replaced them,” Richie kidded.

 

“As long as this is only temporary,” Robert said, finally giving in and smiling at them both in amusement. “Only with you two could this be your typical super-hero-happening and not a moment to panic.”


“We’re special that way, Pops,” Virgil said. He yawned – and winced. There was that thrumming again. Or a kind of humming. Maybe both? He had attributed it to being the passenger on Richie’s inaugural flight home, simply unused to the magnetic waves that were buffeting Richie’s body as they flew, but this was something else – something painful, and Richie had never complained about flying with him before. “Pops, we got any Tylenol?”

 

“Body aches?”

 

“Nah, headache. I figure our first-class landing on the lawn knocked something loose in Richie’s brain,” Virgil chuckled.

 

“Medicine cabinet, son. And you two should be going to bed anyway – it’s late.” Robert eyed both of the boys. “Just because it’s the weekend and you’ve been mind-swapped doesn’t mean you don’t need sleep.” He blinked. “Now there’s something I sure don’t get to say every day.”

 

“Yeah, right. Night Pops.” Virgil looked at Richie – who was biting his lip. “Rich?”

 

“I gotta tell you something, Virg. I—“

 

“Hang on a sec, man.” Virgil got to his feet and headed for the bathroom. “My head is killin’ me.” Inside the bathroom, Virgil rummaged through the large, white cabinet hanging on the wall. His hand wandered over his father’s shaving kit and his sister’s makeup case before snatching up the familiar red-capped bottle. “Gotcha!” Closing the cabinet, he jumped to see Richie’s face in the mirror looking back at him. He blinked, pain momentarily forgotten, and then moved in for a closer look.

 

White-blond hair, spiked up on top, framed an oval face with a strong jaw that could take a decent punch when it had to. Virgil tugged off the glasses and leaned in even closer, warm breath causing condensation to form on the mirror. His eyes were green, flecked with bits of honey gold, with long sweeping eyelashes that probably should belong to a girl instead of a young man. Virgil turned his head this way and that, tugging lightly on one of the yellow spikes. Then he winced again – the pain was slowly growing in intensity, the thrumming turning into a steady pounding against his temples. The weird hum he’d been picking up was starting to sound almost like whispers in his brain. He looked down at the bottle and the two tablets he’d shaken into his hand. It didn’t seem like enough, somehow. Maybe three. Or even four.

 

“Those won’t help,” came his own quiet voice. Virgil jumped as he took in his own face behind him in the cabinet mirror. Richie was holding up a bottle of his own, unmarked by any pharmacy  label. “You’ll need these.”

 

“What are you—“

 

“For the headache.” Richie arched Virgil’s eyebrow. “Are you hearing voices yet? At the back of your mind?”

 

“Voices?” Was that what the humming was? He closed his eyes and concentrated, focusing on the whispers, urging them forward… and then gasped as ideas suddenly began to slam through his brain at a hundred miles an hour. Mathematical formulas, scientific facts, new inventions dreamed up, plotted out, and then discarded for a new one before he could even take a breath. “Richie?” He stumbled, completely disoriented.

 

“I’m here, Virg,” came a soothing voice. Cocoa-skinned arms wrapped gently around him, guiding him to the toilet seat. “I shouldn’t have made you pay attention to it. Sorry Virg… here.” Two large tablets were put into his hand; Virgil dry-swallowed them blindly and gratefully followed up with a sip of water from the glass Richie held to his lips. “Easy – these’ll work fast… real fast. I promise.”

 

Sure enough, a few minutes later the murmurs were back to a manageable humming, and the pain was almost gone. Virgil gingerly shook his head, and then looked up at Richie’s – his – face. “Rich? What was that, man?”

 

Richie shrugged and gave him a half-hearted smile of semi-reassurance. “That’s what happens when you have a brain that works too fast for the average human to keep up with.”

 

“That’s what it’s like for you?” Virgil wanted to throw up from just a few minutes of exposure to that never-ending stream of relentless information hammering his skull like a battering ram. Did Richie live with this every day?

 

“Me? Not so much anymore.” Richie rubbed his arm gently, still soothing him. “In the beginning, though, yeah. But Backpack filters a lot of my thought processes for me now. I think I built him as a form of self-preservation – s’why I was able to make something so sophisticated before I could manage a decent Zap-Cap.” He shrugged. “I still get headaches from overwork, but not nearly as bad. Not like that.”

 

“And the pills?” Virgil felt a warm pulse go through him, slowly relaxing him. “What are these?”

 

“They’re really strong painkillers I came up with,” Richie said. “I’ve built up a kind of tolerance to them but they’ll probably knock you out. Sorry V. I didn’t know what else to do.”

 

“No prob,” Virgil yawned. His eyes lids were drooping. “But man, we’d better get switched back ASAP.” He shook his head, trying to shake off the fog. “I can’t fight like this.” A small tendril of fear curled through him, and he clutched at Richie’s arm still wrapped around him. “I’m freaking helpless like this.”

 

“That’s why I’m here,” Richie said firmly. His voice reached through the fog and calmed him down quicker than anything else he could have done. Virgil nodded sleepily, accepting that as fact, and trusting his partner to take care of him. Then the world was tilting to the right and he was out.

 

 

+++++++

 

Virgil opened his eyes slowly. Warm air from the heater drifted up from the vents and washed over his face. He was toasty warm underneath all of his blankets, and he was wearing his pajama bottoms, and yet he didn’t remember actually getting into bed. Automatically, he turned to see if Richie was curled up next to him but the other half of the bed was empty. Nothing.

 

Hmm. Virgil yawned and sat up, stretching his arms wide and letting the blankets fall to his waist. He blinked as he took in the pale skin tone of his arms – and all his memories from the day before came rushing back.

 

The invention of Richie’s. Getting mind-swapped. Crash-landing on the front lawn. The pain from Richie’s super-brain going into over-drive. Virgil hunched over in expected pain as he recalled those particular memories, but the humming stayed in the background for some reason. Well, he certainly wasn’t going to complain about that.

 

A tap on the door and Virgil’s head poked through the doorway. “Mornin’ Sleeping Beauty!” Richie chirped.

 

“Shut up,” Virgil replied automatically. “Where’d you go?”

 

Richie held up a familiar metal box. “To the gas station to get this. It’s all ready, Virg.”

 

“But you said it wouldn’t be ready until…” Virgil picked up his clock and squinted blearily at the numbers until he could make out the time. “It’s…twelve-thirty?”

 

Richie nodded sheepishly. “Those pills… uh, they pack a heavy blow when you’re not used to them.” He perked up. “But hey, they block the background out for a good day or two if you’re lucky.”

 

Virgil stared at him. “How often do you take these things?”

 

“Not often. Once, maybe twice a week?” Richie pursed Virgil’s lips in thought. “If that. Usually once. Though there was after Brainiac hijacked me – I think I took them every night for a week to help me sleep.” He shuddered. “Not fun.” Virgil stared at his partner. He didn’t know what to say. It hadn’t occurred to him that Richie’s transition to a Bang Baby hadn’t been as, relatively, easy as his own. But before he could say anything, Richie stopped him with a pointed look. “Never mind, Virg. Backpack helps keep me sane – you don’t need to worry about that. I was hoping we’d be switched back before you ever found out.”

 

“I’m glad I did find out,” Virgil said firmly. “And believe you me, we are gonna talk about this. But for now – “ he eyed the machine eagerly. “Can I please be returned back to my handsome self?”

 

“Sure thing,” Richie said with a grin. “I’m kinda anxious to get back to my own, low-maintenance self.”

 

“Low maintenance?”

 

Richie picked at a dreadlock. “You have more hair products than your sister.”

 

“I do not!”

 

“Do too!” And on that note, Richie pressed a button on the box. There was a hum, and then the same flash of light that had preceded their predicament the night before. When the light cleared, Virgil was a bit disoriented to see himself standing by the door with the box in hand. So much so that he dropped it, shattering parts of it with a loud crash. “Oops?”

 

“Man, you did that on purpose,” Richie said – and it was Richie getting out of Virgil’s bed.

 

Virgil whooped and ran for the bathroom, flicking the light on and peering into the mirror eagerly. The transfer had worked!

 

“See? No problem,” Richie commented from behind him, squinting through his glasses at his reflection.

 

Virgil smiled tightly and nodded. They went down to lunch and joked with Virgil’s father who was relieved to see them back to normal, and all was good. But Virgil glanced at his partner, and saw the tell-tale sign of a wince in slightly-squinted eyes and tension in a suddenly corded neck muscle, and knew that they’d have to discuss what Virgil had learned about Richie during their experience. They couldn’t just ignore the kind of problems that lay like a ticking bomb underneath your skin – they had a habit of exploding when you weren’t ready.

 

But that could wait until later. Virgil whooped again, turned and tackled his partner. For now, he’d enjoy the fact they’d come through none the worse for wear once more. He couldn’t ask for more than that.

 

 

End