Maybe Iris should have expected this. It wasn't like any of the famous comic book heroes got to avoid it! If you were special, apparently destiny was just contractually obligated to royally fuck your life. This was what she'd realized when some rich white girl decided to terrorize L.A. and kidnap Doug. It had taken everything in her power not to explode.... so iris did the normal thing.
She bought a new white hoodie and lopped off her hair and dyed it pink, deciding she'd deal with the consequences and secret identities when her friend WASN'T in mortal danger. Maybe it was a shit decision, but she still did it. She yanked on some white jeans and ratty boots and painted a white mask over her cheeks- like all the good DC superheroes had and like every self-respecting identity-having person would- and prayed that Doug wouldn't pull a 'I've seen you naked, covering your cheekbones won't hide anything from me' thing.
Iris swallowed and tensed, her boots hovering... well, roughly 700 feet in the hair. Her neck felt naked and she was starting to completely regret the haircut, but desperate times called for any kind of change she could think of. Besides, who hadn't thought of doing it? Lopping it all off and dyeing it? The only difference was that she'd typically considered dyeing it black, or even just bleaching it white, rather than the show-stopping pink she was currently working with. And oh what Aunt Ellen would do if she saw those blonde curls on her bathroom floor right now... But Iris doesn't have time for this. She takes a deep breath and peeks in through the skylight. Maybe the villainess inside wouldn't notice...
To the new heroine's credit, she'd picked a good window to hover in front of. Monarch was completely unaware of it, and most of her concentration was on her captive. Some random photographer she'd nabbed on a whim, who was blindfolded.
"How's your experience been so far? I mean, I could let you see but I've found people are more uneasy when there's sensory deprivation involved..."
"Couldn't you just let me go?"
"No. Answer my questions, peasant."
He wasn't much of a conversationalist, but that wasn't her problem, was it? Of course not.
Iris couldn't hear anything from below her, and she tenses. Would she hurt either of them with falling glass if she came in through this? She glances around for another skylight and finds one squarely over the piano 15 feet away, a safe enough distance that neither of them would experience a repeat of the honeymoon scene from Bride of Chucky.
Iris raises herself about thirty feet in the air over the skylight and lets herself drop, making sure to slam her heels down into it. The glass breaks upon impact, though it also ends up cutting her calves, thighs, and shredding the sleeves, and the skin just underneath, on her hoodie. Iris then superhero-lands on the piano and breaks it spectacularly, raising her eyes and slowly flipping her hair out of her eyes so she can (hopefully) meet the gaze of the villainess. "Let him go."
Monarch whirled around, a startled curse half-falling from her mouth at the shattering glass and the destruction of her brother's favorite piano. For half a second, she just stares, eyes wide, at the pink-haired menace crouching there.
"What's going on? What just happened?" The photographer asks, alarmed, but all Praxina can think to say is
"You just destroyed my brother's piano! That's worth more than his stupid life- why should I listen to you?!"
"I am so worth more than some piano, lady-"
Iris has to use the 'flying' ability in order to stand up amongst the wreckage, her legs wobbling with the pain but her resolve strong. "I care more about him than I care about that piano. Maybe you shouldn't keep hostages where you keep your belongings." Her voice is powerful and like a comic hero's, which feels so disgustingly appropriate. Iris pushes her chin out. "Who are you?"
She stomps her foot and huffs, stepping away from the hostage and snapping her fingers. One of her brother's interns- the yellow one, Kevin? Karl? K-something- steps forward and hands her a gun. Not one off the market that shoots bullets, one of her brother's experimental weapons he'd been making for fun to test his lasers and how small and portable he could make them while still being powerful. Casually, she rested the tip of the barrel against her hostage's temple. He went carefully still.
"Why should I answer you, little princess, when I still have all the power here?"
Iris froze, mouth opening and eyes focused on the both of them. She swallowed and made a fist, forcing herself just enough into the air that it wasn't noticeable. "Because this is clearly a cry for attention, and I'm the only one who'll answer it without putting you in a body-bag." Iris managed to say it steadily, much to her own surprise. "Put the gun away, the only casualty is that piano and the window."
Monarch arched an eyebrow, and moved the gun from pointing at her hostage to pointing at the princess's feet, and shot off a quick burst. The laser snarled and melted a hole an inch from where the pink-haired girl's feet had been, but Praxina just smiled a little.
"I don't really want attention so much as I want stimulation, Princess."
“Stimulation?" Iris can't help but laugh once, a short burst. "Kinky. If you want it, come and get it." She waves for her to come closer and fake steps back a few paces, a smirk on her lips and her feet hardly touching the floor.
"Sounds fun, are you gonna dance?" She casually spins the gun around her finger, stepping farther away from the photographer. Another snap of her fingers and a motion to where she'd been standing makes K-something stand where she'd been, though, another gun held in his hands like an afterthought.
"I'd love to see a little Princess like you dance." She eyes the blood and cuts littering the girl's legs and arms, still smiling. She isn't so sure how this is going to play out, but she's liking it so far.
Iris is a bit worried by the assistant, so she digs the toes of her boots gently into the wreckage, her knees bending and her body tensing. "Lucky you, I love dancing." She offers a fake smile and shove her bangs out of her face.
“Perfect." She shoots the gun again, still around Princess's feet. She doesn't actually want to kill either of them- not very much, anyway, but it's not like she'd lose sleep over it- so there's no effort to be lethal.
"Let's see you dance." Mephisto will probably be upset by the loss of his window and his piano and the melted bits of this floor, but she doesn't care about that, either.
Iris drops into a crouch and shoves herself off, sailing through the air like a low budget kung fu movie to tackle the assistant and roll, sending the gun sliding across the floor and easily righting herself, legs wrapped around his middle and one hand holding his wrists while the other squishes his chin. "But let's fight fair, 'kay? I've never heard of a dance with three partners."
"He wasn't going to do anything unless I told him to! Karl-"
"My name is Kakos, ma'am"
"Kakos, whatever- was just supposed to keep you from doing anything too drastic! I should shoot picture boy now!"
"Woah, woah, let's not do that! I like not being shot, it's very good for my health!"
Iris used the accomplice- Kakos'- chin to shake his head. "No, you don't need to do that. I'll let him go if you let Dou- the kid go, then we can work this out like adults. Or we can take it to the Dunkin Donuts parking lot, if you still want it to be public." She really, really shouldn't be joking around right now but she can't help it.
"I am not a kid-"
"I don't see why I can't shoot him, you attacked my intern, I should get to take a shot back. Fair's fair, isn't it?"
"What kind of law are you living under, lady? There's no way-" Praxina shot the ground a 6 inches from where the photographer's chair was positioned, and he shut up with a yelp.
Iris lifted both herself and the intern until he could stand, and dropped to the ground behind him. She shoved him in the direction of the door and stepped forward. "Drop the gun and let him go." Yeah, at this rate she'd get Doug killed. How was Iris going to explain that to Nate? 'Sorry, your photographer just has a really killable face'? No, she'd need to figure something else out. Iris pops a hip and rests her fist on it. "Pretty please?"
Monarch raised an eyebrow, and leveled it at his head. "Make me."
Iris pulled her hoodie over her head slowly and tossed it behind her. Underneath she had a gold sports bra with a loose pink tank, and she cracked her knuckles in the accordingly badass way, feeling the glass crunching under her skin. She had a pair of fingerless gloves at home that would have made this look SO much cooler, but she'd been focusing on being inconspicuous when she'd made her way to the hideout. Iris can't help but glance at Doug for half a second, wondering if he could take a laser to the... anything.
She raised an eyebrow, and rolled her eyes a little, deciding to snap her fingers rather than lose her threat against her hostage. Kakos appeared in the room again, a normal gun in hand this time. He doesn't do more than simply stand by the door, but he doesn't really need to.
Iris narrowed her eyes in annoyance. "You're kidding me, right?" She takes a few steps closer, leaving some distance between them but still pointedly coming closer. "Seriously?"
"I know you can fly, and you're pretty strong. Besides my costume, I'm just a wickedly beautiful CEO. Do you really expect me to fight you hand to hand?"
That... was fair. Iris narrowed her eyes and came closer further, until she got close enough to kick Doug's chair across the room, into the henchman. They both go down, but they're luckily out of the way. "Point noted. I still don't approve. If you wanna get in a fight, pick someone your own size."
Kakos cursed in Spanish, and Praxina couldn't help but wince.
"What is with you and breaking my brother's things?" She might whine a little, but it's warranted at this point.
"I didn't want to get into a fight, I wanted to do something that'd prove I'm a supervillain. That's what all of this is for. If I wanted a fight I could pay my brother's interns to do it. I could pay them to fight for my amusement like gladiators. Wait, that actually sounds kinda cool, I should do that later. Kakos! Make a note!"
Iris could hear Kakos' groan at the idea, and shrugged herself. "Fine, you're a supervillain? Mark me down as your designated driver then, because if I hadn't shown up I'm pretty sure you would have driven this situation over a cliff." Iris takes another step closer to the other girl. "But you said you wanted a dance, so put your dukes up pretty girl."
Praxina glances back at her in surprise.
"I'm not going to fight you without some armor, what, are you stupid? Give me like two days and I could maybe have something cobbled together but this," she motions to her costume, "is entirely made to make me look good, not protect me in a fight. There weren't any heroes when I made this costume it's not ready for that kind of test!"
Iris glanced at herself. "I could use a few day's prep too. How do we do this?" She looked back at the villainess. "I mean, I'm not letting you keep the hostage until we can get our makeup done, but I'd be up for a fair fight." Everyone knew how tense she could get, but without the proper attire Iris could easily end up hurting herself. Not that anyone but Aunt Ellen knew she could fly or throw cars, but it was the point that mattered. "Do we swap numbers or something?"
"You girls are both pretty, I'm sure, but I'd really love to go home now!" The hostage sounds a little like he's going to cry. Praxina laughs, and waves him off, not that he can see it.
"I've got a better idea. I'll let you take him, and when I'm ready I'll take another hostage. If you're not ready, then I guess you're just plum outta luck."
Iris sighed, but she'd take it. "Fine. No harming the next one! If I see one scrape or hole, I'll kick your ass." She turned and headed for Doug to untie him from the chair. She'd refrain from taking the blindfold off until they hit the ground, though.
Praxina huffed, but pulled the crown out of her hair, and fluffed it gently. She didn't really care if Princess saw, it wasn't like she was hiding who she was. She'd just refused to introduce herself because she'd felt like it.
Kakos was grumbling to himself, but he'd made a note for 'intern gladiatorial matches' in his tablet, and sent Mephisto a warning about the damage done.
"What name are you going by, anyways?" Iris calls over her shoulder as she tosses Doug over her shoulder. "Because I like the sound of Princess, but it's not fair to me if I don't know your alias."
"Monarch." She grins a little, and winks at her. "I'm glad I got to name you, but you should probably think about making your own crown, Princess."
"A crown? Who has the time for those. Royals wear their titles in the way they talk and act." Iris spares a wink, though, and steps into the elevator as it dings. She passes someone tall, but she's too focused on the getaway to really notice anything else about them.
The elevator door closes and Doug groans. "Can you put me down?"
Mephisto sighed as he made his way into the room, disappointment making his shoulders tilt down and his steps fall harder than necessary.
"Praxina, I told you not to do the supervillain thing."
Praxina had been grinning until she saw her brother. Her face falls and she winces. "I already had the laser, though. And that boy was begging to get kidnapped! I made an enemy." She was heaping on excuses, but could she be blamed. "I made my first enemy, Phisto. Be proud of me."
Mephisto frowned. "You stole the laser from me. If he was begging it would have been more evil to deny him. That's your problem. You got blood all over my piano, and do you have any idea how hard it is to fix melted hardwood floors? Where did all of that glass come from? This is going to cost so much money, Praxina!"
"Listen, she broke the piano all on her own! It's her own fault she came in through the skylight and got her blood everywhere. And just take my money, Phisto, take my money to fix this. Get a new piano that's better than this one, and I'll give the laser back, and we'll talk tomorrow about something else. Why are you home so early?" She wasn't entirely willing to bring up the whole 'make me armor to withstand super strength' thing right now.
"Y- you broke my skylight?" He glanced up at the ceiling then, finally, and couldn't really help the wobbly, watery noise he made at the sight of the broken window. He'd liked that skylight. It was pretty. He'd had it done in just the right kind of glass to be tinted pink at noon when the sun was overhead. It made playing his piano in that spot almost magical. And now it was broken. "I came home early because I heard you would be here, why did I have to come back to this?"
She pulled him into a hug, suddenly feeling gross but not gross enough that she'd quit. "Don't cry! She did it, I'll get her for this. I promise."
He held her close and sniffled. "You wouldn't have a nemesis if you'd listened to me." He might have been needlessly pouty, but he was the younger twin. He could act childish if he wanted.
"But I wanted a nemesis! It... it'll make me happy." She replied, petting his back. "Come on, let's dress down. We can... order chinese?"
He harrumphed. "If I have to repair all of this I want something expensive to eat. What's the point of being rich if I can't needlessly spend my money."
"Fair point. We can order in that expensive sushi you like, and some wine to make us feel better?" Praxina offered, already plotting to use her money for it. Their father had left her so much more.
"Mm." He pressed his face into her hair, nodding a little. "You want something, don't you? You don't share wine unless you want something."
"Me? When don't I want something." She snorts and pulls back a bit. "Go change into something comfortable, I'll do the same. Okay?"
"Yes you do. Tell me, please? Maybe I'll even do it." He steps back too, and brushes her hair out of her face.
Praxina closes her eyes and smiles a little. "Princess- my nemesis- she's super strong and can fly. I need some armor so it'll be a more fair fight, since she hits hard."
"...I'll look into it." He huffs a little. "What name did you go with, again?"
"Monarch. Like the butterfly, and because crown motifs make me look powerful." Praxina shifted, cape brushing the ground. "But really, go change into something comfortable, I need to switch to boxers and a tank stat."
"Fine, fine. You didn't get cut by the glass, did you?" He glances at the blood, and makes a mental note to ask Deinos to help his brother find someone to fix that.
"No, that was all her. She bled a lot, actually..." Praxina suddenly wonders if she should have taken the girl up on the number swapping, but thinks better of it.
He huffs, but nods. "You shouldn't have let her walk off, then. What if she passes out in the street from blood loss? You'd have gotten a nemesis for nothing." He starts walking towards the door, though, and smiles at Kakos slightly, even though the way he's scuffed up and glowering is a little worrying.
"Hey, Kay, could you ask your brother to order sushi for me? I'll handle getting the wine and figure out something to do to start repairing my loft."
Kakos nods but pulls out his phone to begin the order, sore and tense. "Am I being relieved?" He asks, rolling his shoulders. Praxina goes to step into her own room and get changed, pulling on a pair of boxers and a sweater and brushing out her hair.
"Yeah, take a break. For at least a week? It'll be paid leave. You and your brother know how much I love you, right?"
Kakos smiles at Mephisto and nods. "I'll let my brother know. Will he get overtime for covering for me?"
"Yes. If he'd like to enlist a helper or anything he can, too, I'm sure the other interns will be willing to help."
"Sounds good." Kakos sends the text without looking, nodding. "You should get dressed sir, I think she's almost done."
Mephisto huffs, and toes off his shoes, unbuttoning his shirt as he walked. His undershirt and the boxers he was wearing under his slacks were plenty comfortable, he just had to pull clothing off.
"Thanks for the reminder, Kay."
"Anytime, sir." He sends the order for sushi and let's Deinos know to pick it up, and promptly leaves for a hospital visit he would be charging directly to his boss.
Praxina exits her room just as the door to the apartment closes, and she hums. There was a second living room with a TV and a bed, so she went and opened it up and turned on the tv, fully planning on cuddling and binge watching some trashy show until Mephisto was less upset.
Mephisto comes in shortly, hopping out of his pants and carrying his shoes in one hand.
"So, what're we watching today?"
"Hmm.... say yes to the dress? Or another reality TV show, I'm in the mood for garbage. What do you want?"
"Say yes to the dress is exactly the thing I need right now, let's listen to a bunch of white idiots argue with their moms about their dress choices."
"Yess, screw all those white people!" She gained and flopped onto the bed to pull it up on the big screen. "How was work?"
He laughed, and settled next to her, arm draped across the back of the couch.
"It was alright, but sometimes I really, really hate working with the science department so closely. There's always this one white boy, you know?"
"Ugh, white boys. White straight or white gay?" She needed to clarify, being completely honest.
"White Gay. Like, one of The White Gays, you know?"
"Ooooooh myyyyyy gooooood. Ugh. What did he do?" Praxina let her eyebrows rise.
Mephisto laughed through his nose, and leaned forward a little.
"So, this kid comes in 20 minutes late with chipotle..."