“Hey, Crescent, have you made any friends at school yet?” Amadeus asks.
Crescent looks up at him from her fighting stance in front of Shang-Chi. “I’m not there to make friends,” she says before jumping at Shang-Chi to attack.
“You don’t want friends?” Amadeus asks.
“I don’t need friends,” Crescent replies as Shang-Chi flips her and she lands on her back with a soft thud. She grumbles under her breath. It sounds something like, “Amadeus broke my concentration.”
“I agree with Amadeus. You should have some friends your age,” Shang-Chi says helping her up.
“Why? He doesn’t have any friends his age,” Dan Bi says rolling her eyes.
Amadeus glares at her. “Me and Lin Lie are friends, right?” he glances over at Lin Lie who is stretching across the room.
“Like hell we are.”
“Anyway, I know a superhero around your age and she’s really cool. She has a T-Rex. Her name is Moon Girl and she’s the smartest person on earth.”
“Do I have to?” Dan Bi whines looking over at Shang-Chi.
Shang-Chi smiles. “Of course you do.”
Dan Bi sits down on the mat and grumbles under her breath about how she won’t be friends with this ‘Moon Girl’ no matter what Amadeus says.
A week later Amadeus drops by the Lafayette’s house. He knocks on the door, and instead of Lunella or either of her parents, it’s a blonde girl who was about the same age as Dan Bi and Lunella. She looks vaguely familiar, but Amadeus can’t place her. “Um, are the Lafayette’s home?” he asks.
“You’re Amadeus Cho,” the little girl says, not looking at all impressed.
“Yeah,” Amadeus says smiling.
“Didn’t you attack New York?”
Amadeus’s brow furrows. “Yeah,” he says frowning.
“Mrs. Lafayette, Amadeus Cho is at the door,” the little girl shouts.
Mrs. Lafayette walks to the door and smiles. “Oh, I forgot you were dropping by,” she says.
“Looks like you have your hands full with kids,” Amadeus says chuckling, “Who was that?”
“That’s Valeria Richards. She and her brother are staying with us for a few weeks until their parents come back,” Mrs. Lafayette replies.
“That’s why she looks familiar,” Amadeus says nodding his head. He only saw her a few times when she was much younger, but she looks a lot like the Invisible Woman, “Do you want me to take them off your hands for a few hours?”
“I couldn’t make you do that,” Mrs. Lafayette says.
“It’s really no trouble. I can take them to the park or something,” Amadeus says.
Dan Bi grimaces. “Ew, not the park.”
Mrs. Lafayette thinks for a moment then nods her head. “I’m sure Dr. Richards would be okay with you watching his kids,” she says. He is a superhero after all.
Amadeus smiles. He wasn’t entirely certain if Reed would have agreed to him watching his kids, but he figures since he is much more mature now than the last time Reed saw him Reed would probably at least give him a chance. “Great,” he says, “I’ll get them dinner to so you don’t have to worry about that.”
Mrs. Lafayette smiles. “Thank you so much.”
None of the kids are particularly thrilled to be in Amadeus’s supervision, Val and Franklin least of all. Amadeus introduces Dan Bi to them then asks them where they wanted to go. He can’t get a good answer from them so he resigns to bring them to the park.
“Didn’t you break into our house one time?” Franklin asks looking up from his phone.
Amadeus frowns. “Not physically,” he says shrugging.
Val whispers something to Lunella and Lunella laughs. “You really outsmarted him at two years old?” Lunella scoffs.
Amadeus whips around. “She didn’t outsmart me she just caught me by surprise. How was I supposed to know that Cassie Lang was going to betray us?”
Val rolls her eyes. “Oh please, you’re just mad that I sent a feedback loop through your coding.”
“I did that coding in twenty minutes on a Gameboy, of course, it was easy to mess with,” Amadeus says shaking his head. He groans when he realizes how this looks. “I’m fighting with a ten-year-old over something that happened like four years ago.”
“Sounds kinda pathetic to me,” Dan Bi laughs.
“I bet I could have outsmarted you at two,” Lunella says grinning.
“Probably,” Amadeus says, shrugging, “I’m totally comfortable being number 8.”
“Aren’t you number 9?” Val scoffs.
Amadeus opens his mouth to snap at her, but Dan Bi says, “He’s probably not even in the top 10.”
In his throat, there is the bitter taste of betrayal. “Et Tu, Brute?” Amadeus gasps.
Dan Bi wrinkles her nose. “I don’t know what that means, nerd,” she grumbles before running off towards the playground, obviously tired of the conversation.
Val and Lunella glance at each other before they followed after her. Franklin is already sitting at a park bench so Amadeus joins him. He tries striking up a conversation, but Franklin is too engrossed in his phone to pay any attention to Amadeus.
Dan Bi hangs upside down on the monkey bars and does a few sit-ups. Lunella sits at the edge of the monkey bars and watches.
“Why do you think Amadeus thought we would be friends?” she asks.
Dan Bi looks over at Lunella. The blood is rushing to her face and she flushes. “I don’t know. He’s really pushy. He keeps insisting I need friends.”
“He’s so dumb,” Lunella says shaking her head.
Val plops down next to Lunella. “Maybe it’s because he’s not well adjusted,” she suggests.
“Do you really have a dinosaur?” Dan Bi asks.
Lunella nods her head. “He’s napping in my lab right now.”
“Wow,” Dan Bi says dropping from the monkey bars and landing on her feet.
“What’s your superpower?” Val asks.
Dan Bi grins. “I have a magic bear named Io! He fights alongside me!”
Val wrinkles her nose. “How is he magic?”
“I don’t know. He just is!” Dan Bi exclaims, “but I wouldn’t need him to be a superhero! I’m really strong! I’ve fought Shang-Chi, the Master of Kung Fu! I’m the best Taekwondo prodigy in the world!”
Dan Bi decides she wants to go down the slide so she jumps back onto the monkey bars and then pulls herself up on top of them and walks on one of the side rails like it is a tightrope. She hops over Val and Lunella and walks to the slide then slides down.
“What powers do you guys have?” Dan Bi asks as she walks around to stand in front of them.
Lunella shrugs. “I switch brains with my dinosaur occasionally.”
“I’m super smart.”
Dan Bi shakes her head. “Being smart isn’t a real power,” she says.
Lunella and Val are shocked. “It is so!” Val exclaims.
“Why would I be scared of a nerd?” Dan Bi says shaking her head, “at least Lunella has a dinosaur, but just smarts? It doesn’t make any sense.”
Val frowns. “Being smart definitely counts!”
Lunella starts laughing suddenly. “Ask Amadeus whether he thinks brains count as a superpower,” she says.
“Fine, I will,” Dan Bi says, running over to Amadeus.
“What’s up Crescent?” he asks as she jumps onto the bench between him and Franklin.
“Is being smart a superpower?” Dan Bi demands.
“I think so. Why?”
Dan Bi grimaces. “Why would you think that?” she snaps.
“I helped save the multiverse with just my brain and an adamantine club,” Amadeus says.
Franklin takes one of his headphones out. “I don’t think it counts,” he says.
Dan Bi smiles. “Well at least one of you is right,” she says running back to Val and Lunella.
Amadeus glances over at Franklin. “Are you just saying that to annoy your sister?”
Franklin shrugs, popping his headphone back in his ear.
Val, Lunella, and Dan Bi approach Amadeus after a while of playing on the playground. "We want ice cream," Dan Bi says with her arms crossed on her chest.
"Did you all decide this together?" Amadeus asks grinning to himself.
The three glance at each other and nod as if this is a serious business.
"Well, alright. Let's go get you some ice cream," he says standing up.
Franklin stands up and follows behind without tearing his eyes from his phone screen. Amadeus feels a little bad that he isn’t enjoying himself but he barely knows how to entertain the pre-teens. He has no idea how to keep Franklin entertained.
They reach a popsicle stand, and the kids peer over into the side. Each shout out which ice cream they want and the owner hands them the treats. Franklin seems disinterested, but he also requests ice cream. Amadeus pays for them. He eats his popsicle as they all walked around the park for a few minutes.
Dan Bi's ice cream melts on her hand and she tries to eat it faster only causing her a headache. Dan Bi's face twists into a grimace as she waits for her brain freeze to end.
"Don't eat your ice cream so fast," Val giggles.
"It was melting," Dan Bi says finishing the rest. She stares down at her sticky hands and sighs. “Someone come with me to wash my hands.”
Val and Lunella both finish their ice cream and go with her to the bathroom leaving Amadeus and Franklin alone at the park bench. Franklin wordlessly eats his ice cream until the awkward silence is too much for Amadeus.
“What’re you listening to?” he asks.
Franklin stops. “Nothing,” he lies, turning his phone off.
“Is it that embarrassing?” Amadeus asks, “Is it old music or something?”
“No… It’s Luna Snow…” Franklin mumbles.
“Oh, I’m friends with her!” Amadeus exclaims finally finding something he can talk to Franklin about.
“You are?” Franklin says dubiously.
“Yeah, we’re on a team together. She’s really nice, and so much prettier in person,” Amadeus says.
Meanwhile, the three girls are inside Lunella’s lab. Dan Bi and Io are playing with Devil Dinosaur while Lunella and Val talk as they work on some project that goes way over Dan Bi’s head. Occasionally, Lunella’s Doombot will comment, and Val will talk to it like it is actually Doctor Doom.
“No, that won’t work Uncle Doom,” she sighs.
“You’re working off of old data. It’s not going to work with the new calculations,” Val says pointing to some numbers on the screen.
“Why do you talk to him like that?” Dan Bi asks looking over from her perch on Devil Dinosaur’s head.
“Doctor Doom is my godfather,” Val replies.
“But he’s a robot?” Dan Bi says.
“He doesn’t know that.”
“Your family is so weird. Who let Doctor Doom be your godfather? He’s a villain.”
“I don’t know. He just is,” Val shrugs, “It’s nice to have him here though even if he’s just a Doombot. I would have run away a while ago if he wasn’t on the run,” Val sighs, “I really wish my dad would get back though. I have so many things I want to show him.”
“Was your dad kidnapped too?” Dan Bi asks hanging off Devil Dinosaur’s arm.
Val and Lunella’s heads snap towards Dan Bi.
“Was my dad what?!” Val exclaims.
“Kidnapped? Me and Lin Lie’s dads were kidnapped so I thought maybe yours was too,” Dan Bi says dropping down from Devil Dinosaur.
Lunella’s brow is creased in concern. “That’s not normal Crescent. When was your dad kidnapped?”
“Uh, it’s been at least a year,” Dan Bi replies, “I spent a long time tracking him down before Jimmy found me. I like Jimmy a lot, but him and Shang-Chi aren’t the same as my dad.” She sighs and hugs her knees. Her face is hot, and a tear runs down her cheek. She rubs her nose. “But Shang-Chi teaches me kung-fu and Jimmy got me enrolled in school and Luna lets me go to the studio with her sometimes and even Amadeus and Lin Lie are like big, annoying older brothers.”
A pair of arms wrap around her, then another. Dan Bi looks up and Lunella and Val are hugging her.
“I’m going to help you find your dad,” Val promises.
“Me too,” Lunella says.
Dan Bi smiles and wipes her eyes. “Thank you,” she whispers.
Lunella and Val help her to her feet then they all sit near Lunella’s computer. Lunella turns on a movie, something Dan Bi has never seen. She watches for a while until she realizes the time.
“Amadeus must be freaking out,” Dan Bi says.
“Should one of us text him?” Lunella asks.
“I’ll send him a text,” Dan Bi says pulling out her phone. Her stomach growls. “I’m hungry. We should make him get us food.”
Dan Bi texts Amadeus, “Get us foooooodddddd” then sends him a gif of a crying bear.
“What do you want?” Amadeus texts back immediately.
“What do we want?” Dan Bi asks.
Lunella and Val give her different answers so Dan Bi relays both and tells Amadeus what she wants. He replies with a thumbs-up emoji. About thirty minutes later Amadeus shows up holding a few bags of take-out and Franklin dragging behind him eating.
Amadeus looks over at the metal contraption sitting on Lunella’s desk. “What’re y’all working on?” he asks.
“You wouldn’t get it,” Lunella says as he hands her food.
“When they tried to explain it to me they said space telephone or something,” Dan Bi says shrugging.
“Oh neat. Are you trying to contact the Future Foundation?” Amadeus says handing Val food.
“Yeah,” Val replies.
“There’s probably not much I can add that y’all haven’t thought of,” Amadeus says sitting down and eating.
“Definitely not,” Val agrees.
“What a heavy burden being the smartest people in the world must be,” Amadeus says taking a huge bite out of his burrito. He leans back and checks his phone for any notifications. “I guess after we eat we can go back.”
Dan Bi groans. “I’m actually having a good time, and we have to go so soon?” she grumbles.
“Exchange numbers and I can bring you again some other time,” Amadeus says, smiling to himself.
“We can make a groupchat,” Val says.
Dan Bi nods her head and hands Val her phone. Val and Lunella put their numbers into Dan Bi’s phone.
Amadeus finishes his burrito and shoots his wrapper into the wastebasket then stands up to examine the ‘space telephone’ as Dan Bi called it. “Nice, you guys could have this up and going soon. How do you pinpoint their energy signatures?”
Val puffs out her cheeks. “That’s what we’re having trouble with,” she says.
“Yeah, that stuff can be hard. Maybe you can narrow the search for them down by looking for what their mission is instead of them.”
Lunella sips on her drink. “That isn’t a bad idea,” she says.
“You’ve had one good idea ever. Good job,” Val says.
“Occasionally I have them,” Amadeus says as Dan Bi reaches over and takes some fries from Val.
“It was his idea for me to come here,” Dan Bi says.
“Two good ideas,” Val concedes.
“I’m glad you guys hit it off so well,” Amadeus grins.
We are the Champions starts playing from Amadeus’s phone so he grabs for it and turns it on. “Hey,” he says.
It was Kamala. “We've got a slight emergency. Can you come help us?” she asks.
“I’m sorta babysitting,” Amadeus admits.
“Oh, you don’t need to then…” Kamala says, but she sounds disappointed.
“I can just drop them off. It’s just Moon Girl and Crescent and Reed Richards’s kids,” Amadeus says.
“Why can’t we come?” Lunella asks, “I’m a Champion too!”
“I go on missions all the time!” Dan Bi exclaims.
“I’m the most powerful mutant in the universe,” Franklin says.
“If Franklin gets to go, I want to too!” Val exclaims.
“Whoa, neither of you are going! Your mother would kick my ass!” Amadeus exclaims.
Kamala laughs. “If they want to come they can. I’ll send you our location.”
She hangs up and sends an address.
“I’m coming,” Dan Bi says standing up.
Amadeus shakes his head, but decides not to argue. Whatever the mission is it’s not dangerous. He gestures to the children to follow him and heads in the direction of the address. It’s a soup kitchen.
Amadeus is relieved. After months of hard missions with the Agents of Atlas he finally has something that isn’t life threatening. Dan Bi tugs on his sleeve.
“What’s the sign mean?” she asks in a whisper, “Is it a restaurant?”
“Soup Kitchen?” Amadeus replies, “It’s a place where people come to get free food if they’re hungry.”
Dan Bi’s face lights up. “Oh, volunteering!” she exclaims.
Kamala steps out of the soup kitchen and sees them. “Amadeus go to the back and help Miles with unloading stuff,” she says.
“Did you call me for the heavy lifting?” Amadeus asks.
Kamala smiles sweetly and shoes him away. Dan Bi runs to Kamala and hugs her. “You need to come on more missions with the Agents of Atlas! I never get to see you!” she exclaims.
Kamala looks past Dan Bi, who is still hugging her, at Moon Girl, Franklin, and Val. She smiles at them sheepishly. “Hi, I’m Ms Marvel,” she says for Val and Franklin.
Val and Franklin introduce themselves politely.
“I’m sorry this probably isn’t what you were expecting when I called Amadeus on a mission, but you guys can help if you want,” Kamala says patting Dan Bi’s shoulder.
“What can I do?” Dan Bi asks.
“Uh, you’re a little young to cook so you can bring people their food. Moon Girl and Val too, if they want.”
“What can I do?” Franklin asks, pocketing his phone.
“Sam and Viv probably need help with making the soup if you want to help him,” Kamala says, her face lights up, “I can show you were he is!”
Dan Bi is already bringing people bowls of soup, and Lunella and Val join her. “Do you do a lot of missions like this?” Val asks.
“No, Atlas does bigger things,” Dan Bi says handing a man a bowl of soup. She stops for a moment then shakes her head. “Well, not bigger. Just different. We’re more like secret agents.”
Dan Bi, Val, and Lunella pass out bowls of soup for a few hours until Amadeus comes out from the back of the Soup Kitchen.
“Hey, Lunella, you mom called. We better head back,” he says.
“I’ll go get Franklin!” Val exclaims running to the kitchen.
Franklin is laughing with Spider-man. He has a soft blush on his cheeks.
“We’re going,” Val tells him.
He looks disappointed. “See you some other time, Spider-man,” he says.
When they walk off Val pokes him in the side. “You were blushing.”
“Shut up,” Franklin says turning even brighter red.
Amadeus walks with them back to Yancy Street and back to Lunella’s home. It’s dark by this time, and Dan Bi is falling asleep on her feet so Amadeus carries her in his arms. When they reach the steps Amadeus puts her down and she hugs Val and Lunella and promises to see them again soon.
On the flight back home, Dan Bi snuggles in Amadeus’s lap. “Sometimes you’re not a giant jerk,” she says before she falls asleep.
Amadeus smiles and ruffles her hair.