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Science is Like a Love Affair

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"You'll get your brother back, it's just a matter of time," Prock says. He hopes he's right.

Hotwire presses her cheek against his chest and sighs. "Thanks," she says after a moment, sounding tired but less upset than before, which he's going to count as a win.

"Uh, you're welcome," Prock says. He tries not to be obvious about sniffing at her hair. Look, she used a different shampoo today, one that smells like apples and cinnamon, and the relationship is new enough that it could be weird to say that he likes it. Or she could find it weirdly sweet. Maybe. He doesn't have the best track record when it comes to these things.

He's about to go for it anyway when Gadget Girl drawls, "Get a room, you two! God, you're as bad as your old men."

When Prock looks up, Gadget Girl is leaning against the nearest wall, staring at them. Her expression somehow manages to be both a smirk and a leer. He frowns at her. "Uh, excuse me, Hotwire and I were just--" Then the second part of what she said registers, and he blinks, confused. "Um, Gadget Girl, I'm going to need some clarification here. You're talking about our dads, right?"

She can't be though, because Prock doesn't think he ever caught his parents being affectionate, ever. Oh, they'd liked each other well enough, but Prock can count on one hand the number of times he saw them even touch. And forget about them kissing! As hard as he tries, he can't imagine his dad holding his mom like he's holding Hotwire right now.

Hotwire straightens. He reluctantly lets go of her as she turns to face Gadget Girl. "You knew my dad?" she asks, surprised.

"Oh yeah, don't you remember...?" Prock begins, and then trails off as realization dawns. He rubs the back of his neck and laughs uncomfortably. "Oh right, that was, uh, when you were still helping your dad and you were sort of...half-bad? Yeah, Gadget Girl knew Dr. Malocchio before he used the serum. He studied super-heroes like my dad."

Gadget Girl snorts. "Studied super-heroes? Is that what they call it these days? I never can keep up with the fancy new sex lingo you kids use. Whatever happened to the boogie woogie or backseat bingo--"

Prock's beginning to get a headache. It's like she's suddenly speaking a whole other language. At least Hotwire looks as baffled as he feels. He clears his throat. He clears it louder when Gadget Girl keeps rattling off slang that was old before he was born. "What are you talking about?" he asks through gritted teeth.

Gadget Girl stops and blinks at him. "Oh, did I forget to mention that little detail when we were talking about your dads? Can't imagine how it slipped my mind. Mr. Awesome and Dr. Malocchio totally did the horizontal tango, if you know what I mean--"

"What?!"

Prock's yell -- not a shriek, no matter how Gadget Girl smirks and Hotwire winces -- brings the rest of the Awesomes out into the hallway. "Ooh, that was Prock's really upset shriek," Muscleman says around a mouthful of potato chips, his eyes bright with curiosity. "What's going on, buddy? Did we run out of Jack Link's Beef Jerky?"

"We'll never run out of Jack Link's Beef Jerky," Prock says automatically. "I went to Costco and bought a six-month supply." He considers how much beef jerky everyone eats, how delicious it is, and amends, "Well, a three-month supply." It's better to calculate the rate at which Muscleman consumes beef jerky than consider Gadget Girl's suggestion. Thinking about his dad having sex, much less with-- He shudders all over, like he can shake loose Gadget Girl's words from his brain if he tries really, really hard. "No, Muscleman. I'm upset because Gadget Girl is spreading some outrageous lies about my dad and Dr. Malocchio!"

Gadget Girl laughs. "Oh come on, kiddo, I'm many things, I'll admit, but I'm a straight-shooter. I wouldn't lie about that. All those hours at the lab, trying to figure out the super gene? You think they spent all that time just doing research? Ha! Besides, I walked in on them once."

Prock watches, horrified, as her expression takes on a dreamy look, as though she's recalling some fond memory. "That can't be true," he sputters, and then turns, betrayed, as Hotwire says thoughtfully, "Actually, that would make a lot of sense, at least about my dad...."

Gadget Girl snorts. "Listen to your gal, Prock. I don't know if your dad swung both ways or was just bored, but Dr. Malocchio was definitely queerer than a two-dollar bill."

"What?" Tim interrupts, blinking. "How can money be gay?"

"Before the LGBT community began using the word queer, it meant rare," Concierge explains. She looks less horrified by Gadget Girl's announcement and more bored than anything else, like she's calculating in her head how much time they're wasting with this conversation. "So it's a play on both two-dollar bills being rare, and the word queer meaning gay."

"But two-dollar bills don't exist!" Tim protests. Everyone stares at him. He stares back. "Wait, two-dollar bills exist? ...Why?"

Impresario pats his shoulder. "I'll explain later."

"Two-dollar bills aren't--" Prock says, and realizes his voice has gone high-pitched in his urgency. He tries to lower it. "Look, Gadget Girl, I don't know what you walked in on, but my dad would never have slept with Dr. Malocchio."

"Kiddo, I've been in enough orgies to know when someone's having sex," Gadget Girl says with another laugh. "And your dad and Dr. Malocchio were going at it like rabbits." She smiles again, even sighs a little. Her voice goes horrifyingly husky. "Now that was a sight to see--"

Prock clamps his hands to his ears. "La, la la, la," he sings desperately, trying to block out her words, even as Frantic claps and says excitedly, "Oooh, flashback time!"

"Well," Gadget Girl says, ignoring Prock, "it was back when Mr. Awesome and Dr. Malocchio were still trying to figure out the super gene--"

"Nooooo," Prock moans, hands still pressed against his ears, but Gadget Girl keeps talking.

 


 

Technically, Gadget Girl shouldn't be in Malocchio Laboratories.

The lab is closed for the night, since Dr. Malocchio insists on his assistants and fellow scientists getting a good night's sleep. Tired scientists make mistakes, after all. But Malocchio promised her an update on modifications he's made on a gadget she put together when they fought the Pink Ladies, and she doesn't want to wait, even though the emergency with that gas leak meant she missed the scheduled appointment. Besides, Malocchio never takes his own advice, working until midnight six nights out of seven. There's a good chance he'll still be here. And if she can break into his lab with only a few hairpins and the help of one or two of her gadgets, then he needs better security anyway. She's being helpful.

Sure enough, once she's broken in, she spots the tell-tale light spilling out from under his office door. She's almost to the door when she hears the stifled moan. For a second she just stares. Then she grins. She knows that sort of moan, and known Malocchio long enough to recognize his voice. The good doctor is having sex.

"Well, well, well, I guess Malocchio isn't as much of a wet rag as I thought," she mutters under her breath. It's an invasion of his privacy, but Gadget Girl weighs that against the likelihood of her dying of curiosity if she doesn't see who's getting that sound out of him. His secretary? She thinks about how he reacted when she made a pass at him, the politely baffled disinterest, and represses a snort. One of his lab assistants is much more likely.

In any case, curiosity wins out over morals. She opens the door as quietly as possible, peeks through the thin crack. For a second she can't believe her eyes. Then she bites down hard on her lip to keep from laughing in delighted astonishment.

Never in a thousand years would she have guessed it'd be Mr. Awesome, but there they are on Malocchio's couch, their clothes scattered on the office floor. Only Malocchio's lab coat is hanging on the coat rack, like that's all he had patience for before he dropped the rest of his clothes to the ground.

Without a pang of remorse, she lets herself look her fill, relishes the sight of Mr. Awesome's broad, bare shoulders flexing, the slow, unhurried movement of his hips. She wishes she could see his expression, but he's got his face pressed against Malocchio's throat. Instead it's Malocchio's face she sees, his eyes closed, his expression flushed with a ravenous wonder.

Even as she watches, Malocchio gasps, his hands tightening on Mr. Awesome's arms, and says breathlessly, "Harder, I will not break, you know--" and Mr. Awesome gives a muffled laugh, like Malocchio's made a joke. Then he does something with his hips that wrests another moan from Malocchio.

The sound goes straight through Gadget Girl. She can't help herself. "Is this a private party, boys, or is anyone invited?"

She doesn't see Mr. Awesome move. One second he's on top of Malocchio and the next he's slamming the door shut in her face. She blinks at it, opens her mouth to protest, when the door swings open again and Mr. Awesome hauls her inside. His hand is tight on her arm and full of repressed strength. She remembers that hand lifting a car with ease just last week and doesn't bother trying to get out of his grip. 

He's wrapped his cape around himself like a toga, though he obviously did it hastily. The knot's in danger of unraveling, but he doesn't seem to notice. Past his shoulder, Gadget Girl sees Malocchio buttoning up his shirt and glaring daggers in her direction, obviously angry about being interrupted.

"You didn't see anything, Gadget Girl," Mr. Awesome growls. "Understand?"

Gadget Girl snorts. "Look, I didn't mean to rattle your cage. I thought you two might want some company, that's all." Mr. Awesome's expression darkens, and she waves her free hand with a dismissive flick of her wrist. "Don't sweat it, I won't tell anyone that you and Malocchio have a thing--"

"We don't," Mr. Awesome says tightly. "It's not a thing. It's nothing. Right, Malocchio?"

Behind him, Malocchio's fingers still on the last button of his shirt, the latter of which is the same blue as his eyes. He's quiet for a second. "Right," he agrees, his voice matter-of-fact. He smiles, but the smile doesn't reach his eyes as he adds, "We were conducting a science experiment, Gadget Girl."

Gadget Girl rolls her eyes. The conversation's boring her now that Mr. Awesome's mostly clothed and Malocchio isn't making that enjoyable moan anymore. She does another dismissive hand gesture. "Whatever. If you're done with your make out for science, can I see whatever modifications Malocchio's done to my gadget?"

 


 

"After that, your dad lit out like he had the fuzz after him," Gadget Girl concludes, nodding towards Prock, who whimpers in response. She shrugs. "Next thing I knew both of your dads were dating some gals I'd never seen before, and the rest is history."

Then she grins wickedly, glancing between Prock and Hotwire. "I guess there's just something about a Malocchio that an Awesome can't resist. Like father, like son!"

Prock whimpers again. Every time he blinks, his imagination provides him with a vision of his dad having sex. He's pretty sure he prefers the headaches and nosebleeds he gets using his powers to this. He rubs at his forehead. "We are never talking about this ever again," he says. "It's not up for discussion."

Frantic pouts. "Awww, but Gadget Girl's story about your dads was so romantic! And tragic! I want to hear it again! Do you think they loved each other but just couldn't say?" He wipes at his eyes. "The past is so sad...."

"What?!" Prock stares at him. "My dad getting bored one night and sleeping with Dr. Malocchio is not some doomed romance--" He stops when Hotwire puts a gentle hand on his arm and says softly, "Prock. Can we talk in private?"

He fights the urge to yell at Frantic some more, even though Frantic is the most wrong he's ever been. It helps that Hotwire doesn't look upset by the story. She's even giving Prock the smile that means she thinks he's being cute but a little ridiculous. He takes a deep breath. "Okay."

They duck into another room. Hotwire shuts the door on Frantic going, "Tell it again, Gadget Girl, please!" and the others taking up the chant of "Tell it again, tell it again!" For a second she just looks at Prock, her hands on her hips and a thoughtful look on her face. "Is it really a big deal if our dads had a one-night stand?" she asks.

Prock stares at her. "Um, yes. It's super weird! Your dad and my dad had sex! How is that not a big deal?!"

"Prock," Hotwire says. "It doesn't really matter now, does it? My dad's--" She takes a deep breath. Some of the sadness from earlier returns to her face. She places her hand on Prock's arm and says, "My dad's dead, and Mr. Awesome's gone. And even if they did have some affair, that was almost fifty years ago, before either of us were born. Does it really matter anymore?"

"I guess you're right," Prock says. He takes her hand, squeezes it lightly until she smiles. "Sorry about freaking out. I just never wanted to think of my dad having sex, and I never, ever wanted to hear Gadget Gal describe his flexing muscles--" He pauses and shudders.

Then he forces himself to think rationally. Hotwire's right, of course. Whatever his dad had with Dr. Malocchio was a long time ago. It's not important. It certainly won't have any important relevance in the near future. He smiles at Hotwire, half-sheepish, half-grateful that she's remained so logical about all this. "Okay, you're right. Discussion is seriously over. Do you want to, uh, I don't know, go and see how your mom's holding up? She must be pretty shaken up that Malocchio Junior's in jail."

Hotwire looks a little doubtful about that, which is kind of weird. Then she smiles and leans in close. Her lips are soft on his cheek when she kisses him. He can smell the apples and cinnamon shampoo in her hair again. "That's really sweet of you to think of her. Thanks, Prock."

"You're welcome," Prock says. He's a little dizzy. He'll have to do research into that. Why does being in love feel so much like vertigo? He swallows. "Do you think she'd like some beef jerky?"

Hotwire laughs and links her arm with his unbroken one. "I'm sure she'd love some. Teriyaki's her favorite."