Capes billowing dramatically in the strong wind of an oncoming storm, self-proclaimed heroes X-Ray and Vav stood atop one of the tall buildings that jutted up into Austin’s skyline. X-Ray was scanning the building just ahead. Trying to find the best way inside the well protected building. Vav fiddled with his gloves, pacing about impatiently as he waited for his partner to finish.
"Come on, X-Ray, what’s taking you?" He went and stood just behind his friend, squinting as if he could see what Ray saw.
Ray was silent for a moment before bringing his fingers down from his temple and deactivating his power. “It’s a big building; it takes a while.” He adjusted his glasses before turning to his partner. “Ready?”
Gavin grinned, finally ready to go. He held his arms back for Ray to hop on his back, which his partner did with practiced ease. “There has got to be a better way to do this,” Ray griped. Gavin giggled a bit before he took off, swooping around and doing unnecessary aerial stunts just to bother his team mate. He finally made his way towards the roof of the other building, Ray clinging tightly and fearing for his life, as usual. He so loathed flying.
They landed without incident and Ray did a quick scan as he walked across the roof, still a bit wobbly from the ride over. “They went this way.” He gestured at the roof, even though he knew Gavin couldn’t see what he saw. “If we head through that vent,” he gestured again, “We could intercept them before they reach their objective.”
"Alright, follow me, X-Ray!" Gavin went to the vent and tried to pry the cover off, only for Ray to blast it off with his laser sight.
Gavin lowered them down the long, vertical descent, and slowly floated behind Ray as Ray army crawled through the vents. They weaved their way through at what felt like a snail’s pace to Gavin, until Ray stopped at a fork in the vents.
"You’ve got your earpiece in, right?"
Gavin double checked his ear, making sure it was still there before giving a curt nod.
"I’ll guide you through the vents. We can do a kind of pincer attack." Ray brought his hands up like crab claws, trying to help explain what he meant.
Gavin frowned, “You’re always making the plans, I want to be in charge for once!”
"What are you—" Ray had to lower his voice when he remembered just how well sound travelled through the echoey vents. "What the hell are you talking about? You’ve been in charge plenty of times."
Gavin made a noise of annoyance, “Alright, fine. It’s not the time to be arguing anyways. I take left?”
"I thought you were taking right."
"No, I meant that you were right about going left."
"Are we really fucking doing this? Just go left!"
Gavin made one of his trademark gurgled noises of mild frustration before flying down the left vent. Ray gave a little huff of laughter before he began to make his way down the right one as quickly and quietly as he could. They couldn’t afford to waste any more time than they already had.
After about 5 minutes of speed crawling, Ray finally got into position. He put his fingers to his temple, looking through the bottom of the vent and through the ceiling beneath him into the room where the armed robbers had 9 people held hostage at gunpoint as they, presumably, spoke with the negotiator outside. Ray could pinpoint 5 middle aged adults, 2 seniors, and a couple that looked about his and Gavin’s age. He scanned over the opposite wall where Gavin was waiting for his signal. He switched modes and contacted his partner.
'Alright, if you think you can reach them give me a thumbs up.'
Ray switched modes again and saw Gavin giving a double thumbs up, accompanied by a cheeky little wiggle-dance.
'Count to 10 and then boggle them.'
Ray held onto the vent cover and slowly, quietly as he could, began to melt the fastenings of the vent cover. Right as he was finishing with the last one, he noticed the first signs of Gavin’s confusion ability. One of the thugs started stumbling about, gun waving about. The others looked on with furrowed brows, not understanding what was going on until suddenly their minds were in a muddle as well.
The masked vigilantes seized their moment. Ray popped out the vent cover, quickly shooting off Gavin’s vent cover before shooting the guns from the robbers’ hands, missing on occasion. Gavin flew out of the opposing vent and got to work carrying the injured hostages to safety while the others ran beside him. His area ability only lasted a little over a minute, so they had to move fast. X-Ray sent out a signal to the police radios outside, letting them know that the hostages were clear and they could now intervene.
Gavin’s mind boggle wore off, and Ray quickly realized that he was in a right pickle. Gavin was still escorting hostages to the exit while Ray was left, a sitting duck, in the ceiling with 4 very angry men beneath him. He quietly started scooting back out of sight, but one of them had noticed him.
"Shoot the fucker!" Ray heard one of them shout. There was lots of angered screaming about the ruined weapons, but luckily for them they’d brought a couple spares. They began shooting the ceiling where they thought ray was. A couple bullets went zinging past, one of them grazing his arm and another his hip. Ray had never been more afraid for his life.
Suddenly, hands were around his ankles, dragging him speedily backwards. “Don’t worry, X-Ray, I’ve got you!”
Ray heaved a huge sigh of relief as Gavin dragged him back out of the vents. Granted, getting scraped by the joints in the metal vents was uncomfortable, and going around corners was anything but fun, but the two of them made it out relatively unscathed. Gavin hoisted Ray onto his back and lowered them both down by the police cars.
Three of the robbers had been successfully apprehended, but not without a fight. The men cursed the heroes as they were cuffed and taken away. An ambulance arrived for the injured hostages, who were taken away on stretchers.
The lieutenant approached them with an expression of clear disapproval. “That was quite a mess you guys made. Nearly lost 2 civilians and an officer. You had the chance to take them out and you failed to take advantage of that. If you had, I wouldn’t’ have an officer lying in the back of an ambulance right now. Oh, and did I mention that one of the crooks even managed to escape?”
Gavin and Ray exchanged a look of confusion before turning back to look at her. “But…we saved the hostages.”
"We had everything under control. I know you superheroes only want to help, but if you lot just jump in without coordinating with the professionals it’s only going to make things worse. So either work with us, or stay out of our way."
Ray was clearly annoyed with this, but he kept his mouth shut, looking down at the hand that was covering the wound on his arm. Gavin, on the other hand, was not so silent.
"That is bollocks! Complete and total nonsense! Without us, you’d be negotiating,” he did air quotes to emphasize his point, “till you were blue in the mouth! If X-Ray and I hadn’t been there, the hostages could’ve been dead, or worse! And you didn’t do a da—”
Ray covered his friend’s mouth before starting to drag him away. He didn’t apologize for him though, he just tossed a, “We’ll make sure to apprehend the guy that escaped,” over his shoulder as the two walked away.
"Don’t bother!" She called after them before turning back to her squad.
When they were finally a safe distance from the lieutenant, Ray let go of Gavin, who heaved a large sigh as soon as he was free. “Man, that suuucks! What’s the point of even bein a superhero when no one ever thanks you for what you did?”
Ray scratched the back of his neck, “Well, I get how it could turn into a disaster if people didn’t know what they were doing. I mean, to be fair, we’re kinda not exactly pros in the way of saving people.”
"Uhm, s’cuse me?"
Ray and Gavin’s attention was brought to the young man they’d saved. They pulled themselves erect, trying to look a bit bigger than the 130 pound twigs they were.
"I, uh, just wanted to say that that was really cool what you did." The guy scratched the back of his head, clearly not used to doing this sort of thing, "So, thanks. Like, really, thank you for saving me and my fiancée . If there’s anything I could do to repay you, I would, you know?"
Gavin and Ray were touched; their first ever earnest thank you. They didn’t know how to respond. “W-Well we…we do our best.” Ray looked over at Vav, nodding as if to affirm what he said.
"Just wish there were more people like you that appreciated us though," Gavin answered honestly. He almost went on to question why it mattered that they even try when it struck him. To this man, without them, he could possibly be dead, but then the self-doubt returned, questioning whether the hostages would’ve been fine even without the amateur duo.
"Well, I’ve got to get back to my fiancée. Thanks again, guys." The young man waved goodbye before hurrying back to the young woman wrapped in a shock blanket.
Ray put his hands on Gavin’s shoulders and hopped aboard. “Wanna order pizza?”
Gavin took off, somewhat dejectedly, “Sounds great.”
- - -
The two arrived home at the apartment they roomed together in, stripped themselves of their hero costumes and changed into the soft comfort of pajamas. Gavin took the first shower while Ray ordered for the two of them. They were going to feast that night.
As he let the water cascade down his back, the gears in Gavin’s mind slowly began to turn, speeding up until they where whirring almost out of control. He picked his legs up off the admittedly rather dirty floor of the tub and floated cross-legged as he thought. He was interrupted when Ray knocked on the door.
"Pizza’s on its way. Make sure to leave me some hot water."
Gavin shut off the shower, grabbing a towel before stepping out and drying off. He slipped back into his pjs and got comfy on the sofa with a drink while Ray hopped into the shower. It wasn’t long until the pizza arrived, and the two heroes commenced an evening of pizza and their favorite show. The only thing unusual about that evening was the silence that loomed between them. It wasn’t until Gavin was sufficiently drunk that he opened his mouth.
"Why even are we super heroes?"
Ray was preoccupied with trying to sever a long strand of cheese when his friend posed the question. “Cause that’s what people with powers should do? You’ve read the comics, seen the movies, played the games, you know what happens to the bad guy.”
"But how often do the good guys get thanked? The bad guy gets money, girls—"
"Except Team Rocket, though."
"—They do what they want. We haven’t gotten a single sausage for everything we’ve done."
"Got sausage on our pizza."
"God dammit, Ray! You know what I mean!” Gavin slid down on the couch, “Hero-ing doesn’t turn a profit.”
"It’d be nice if we got paid to do it, but the police aren’t exactly looking to hire us. Not unless we become their personal bitches." Ray put his food down and turned in his seat to look at Gavin with a slightly concerned expression etched into his face. "I really hope it’s just your drunk side that’s seriously thinking about becoming a villain."
"But just think of it, Ray!" Gavin sat up with all new excitement. "We’re the only heroes in town—"
"You don’t know that."
"—no one could stop us! If I get better at my mind boggle, no one would ever have to know we were there! And you could figure out the best routes to take! Be all sneakin around. We would be unstoppable!" Gavin threw his fists in the air, filled with excitement, before falling back onto the couch cushions with a drunken giggle.
"Go to bed, man, you’re completely hammered." Ray had managed to translate the drunken slurs and stutters into recognizable English, but he wasn’t sure he liked what he heard. He watched as Gavin slowly followed the wall back to his room while Ray decided to stay up a little later. Even though he didn’t like what typically came alongside villainy—the frightening innocent people, threatening them, or even being in a situation where he might have to kill someone—the appeal of a reward for his hard work was…alarmingly tempting.