Author: Summer Starr

Disclaimer: I don't own Static Shock. (Though, if DC wants to take this and run with it, I'd buy it.)

Warnings: Slash (Virgil/Richie), Alternate Universe, slight Cross Over (with Justice League)

Author's Note: I'm new to this fandom, though I've been writing fanfiction since 1998. Just… how can anyone see these two and think that they –aren't- gay? I mean, seriously.

Ratings: R

Title: Like A Dream

Like A Dream

Richie sighed as he ran his soapy hands over his skin. The steam from his bath rose up, through the maze of suds from the water's surface. He closed his eyes as he sank down, below the water's line to let as much of the glorious heat wash over him.

He felt more relaxed than he had in a long time, which was probably the reason he was being given all the time he needed for the bath. They wanted him to be calm. They wanted him to be relaxed. They didn't want him to be afraid.

Blond hair spiked up from the water, a quick herald before the rest of him emerged. He didn't get out just yet, instead he took the time to caress the bare skin of his arms and legs again. He felt so smooth. He felt so soft.

That was probably another reason.

Blue eyes closed briefly as he smirked to himself. He was cynical, true, but it had helped him survive.

That was all behind him, though. The streets of Dakota. Going hungry occasionally. Running as one of his school mates changed in front of his eyes into some monster. His father. It was all behind him. He just hoped the fear was behind him, as well. It didn't matter, though. He wasn't going back.

He had been chosen. He had been chosen to… serve one of the Defenders.

It was at once the best day, and the worst day of his life. Like a dream. Being chosen was considered a high honor by many, but others considered it another kind of hell. Some people believed it meant being a mistress or lover to one of the Defenders, while others thought it meant being a glorified butler, or an apprentice. Rumors abounded about what it meant to –be- a chosen one, though very few had been substantiated. None of the governmental powers were allowed in the Defender's Fortress to investigate, but none of the chosen had ever complained loud enough for an investigation.

Getting out of the tub, Richie took another deep breath. It was time. He couldn't put this off any longer. The more he dawdled, the more he waited, the more anxious he was going to get. That was the way his mind worked. He could think of a hundred different scenarios, each one of them ten times worse than the last one, and very few of them starting off all that pleasant to begin with.

He began to dry himself off, thinking about who might be the one to Choose him. With a big "C".

The Defenders were the guardians of Earth, and sometimes they acted as policemen for other parts of the galaxy. But most were human, so they stuck close to home. They also had an… affection for the human body. Which, depending upon which Defender choose him, could be a bad thing or a good thing.

Richie knew he was young. And he knew from many of the rumors that there was a specific Defender who appreciated the younger men. He was Vengeance. He was Darkness. He was Night Terror.

Batman…

The blond shivered slightly. He was called "Night Terror" for a reason. He was… terrifying.

Then there was his direct opposite. A man with a thousand kinds of vision, who was blind to so much of the world's ugliness. A man whose physical strength was nothing compared to the strength of his character. He was the last son of a dead race. He was the first everyone called when they called for help. He was the Defender's Leader, their hero, their hope.

Superman…

But Richie seriously doubted Superman would choose him. The raven-haired man preferred joy, and happiness, and laughter. He enjoyed the brighter, lighter side of life. The only bright thing to ever come out of Dakota, and there really was only ONE bright light, and he was brighter than a night full of stars, was Static Shock.

Static…

He was…

Richie shook his head. There were too many words he knew that could describe his hometown's hero, and yet, there wasn't near enough. Did he have a touch of hero worship? Yes. But it was justified.

Static showed up in Dakota, just around the time that all the Bang Babies started to. Children gifted with powers that, more often than not, turned them insane, turned them into monsters, turned them… turned them into things that should be feared. What was worse though, was that the Bang Babies were typically people he knew, people he went to school with, or passed on the street, or that his family bought groceries from. Once they got that power, though… it was as if all the slights that they had suffered, all the pain and anguish and resentment, intensified.

And as a result, people died.

Like Virgil.

No one really knew what happened to Virgil Hawkins, his late, best friend. No body was ever found. But when there are people on the street that can melt cars by touching them; that can cut through light posts as if it was melting butter; that can walk through shadows… Well, no one really –expects- to find bodies anymore. 'But Static fights them. Captures them. Gets the Bang Babies off the streets. Makes life just a little more simple, a little more normal, a little more bearable.'

If only Static had somehow managed to capture his father, take him away… If the Defender had been able to do that, then Richie would have called him a god, not just a hero.

Finished with drying, he placed the towel neatly on the towel bar and went out of the bathing chamber where several people were waiting for him. They began to groom him, dressing him, brushing his hair. They removed the little studs he had in his ears, and replaced them with gold hoops. Around his wrists, they placed gold bands. Instead of pants, he was given a small white cloth to wrap around his waist like a bath towel, or skirt.

Richie grimaced, but didn't complain. They were trying to expose as much of him as they could while still remaining decent. With as many other people that were there to become a Chosen themselves, he needed any advantage he could find.

There was always the chance that no one would want him. But, if that was the case, he wouldn't be sent back to Dakota. Instead, he would be sent somewhere where he could start a new life, maybe attend school. Get a real job, as far away from Dakota as he could get. Maybe he could learn Swedish...

Lastly, they handed back the blonde's glasses. The 17 year old took them gratefully, finally able to see again. He wasn't given time to look at himself in the mirror, though, as they were pushing him towards the door. Towards his fate.

The young man took a deep breath and walked forward, meeting his guide at the door. It was just his luck that his guide was a mute. As they walked, Richie bit his lower lip, still worried over who might Choose him. The grandeur around him was lost in the haze as his thoughts whirled in a prism of colors and drama.

He knew most of the Defender's pretty well, if only by names and powers, but that was how everyone on Earth knew them. Only their Chosen ones knew more than that. Only the Chosen knew their secrets.

Which was probably why those Chosen never left the Defender's Fortress, and never complained.

There was the Traveler, the Emerald Guardian, the one who –never- took the time to even bother with choosing someone, as he was always, well, traveling.

Green Lantern…

There was also the one that was as fast as thought, as fast as lightning. But he never kept interest in anyone long enough to Choose them. He lived life twice as fast as anyone else, so he was easily bored with anything new that came to his attention.

The Flash…

Truth of the matter was, most people understood that the only thing that really kept The Flash's attention was going on a trip with the Green Lantern. The dark skinned Defender was the only one who really seemed to keep the red suited speed freak in line while still being his friend.

Richie took another deep breath, approaching the large entrance to the grand hall, where the Defenders were gathered to choose a new Chosen among the many, many, many new prospects.

The blond had no idea what to expect as he waited outside the doors, but he certainly didn't expect to see a familiar face walking up to him. Well, as familiar as one can be with a visage that had only been seen on a television set.

Static…

"Hey Richie, I didn't expect to see you here!" Static said that bordered on overly bright, and insanely familiar. Familiar, even though no one had been able to actually hear Static speak. Defenders weren't known for giving press conferences. The electric youth smiled, approaching the hopeful candidate. He tossed his head to the side, sending a few of his long dreadlocks out of his face. He picked up his shield, which sometimes doubled for his mode of transportation as he slid through the air on magnetic currents, and slung it over his shoulder like a backpack. Static was wearing his usual attire of a black shirt with a gold circle and lightning bold blazingly displayed, a blue and yellow trench coat, blue pants, and sneakers. And gloves, of course.

The bespectacled youth was momentarily speechless. First, Static knew his name. Second, Static called him –by- his name. Third, Static was smiling at him. Smiling! At him! Richie opened his mouth to comment, but all that came out were a few unintelligent syllables.

Static, being the hero that the blond knew him to be, didn't even notice. Instead, the African American Defender tilted his head to the side and began to look Richie up and down in a way that left the blond even more flustered than before. "And hey, what –are- you doing here?"

"He's here to become someone's Chosen." A low and menacing voice said. From the shadows beside the door, a figure emerged, cloaked in shadows so dark that Ebon, the local terror of the streets in Dakota, would have been more than envious. Richie automatically took a fearful step back, his eyes going wide as he tried to think of somewhere else to be, somewhere to run to. His heart was filled with ice as Batman stepped completely into the light.

"What? You're kidding me!" Static turned to the shadowy figure, stepping between the pale youth and the caped Defender, surprise written all over his face. While the white mask and blue shades were decent at hiding his identity, as no one really knew –who- Static was, the dark skinned Defender's face was far to expressive to be hindered by them. Dark eyes turned to regard Richie again, and there was another emotion, one that the blue-eyed male had no understanding of.

Richie lowered his eyes to Static's feet, taking notice that he wore regular sneakers, and not some formal, fancy suit. "It's true. I'm… I'm here to become someone's Chosen."

Even as the last syllable was said, the doors to the main hall opened, and Richie's blue eyes darted that way, his cheeks flushed. The light, though… The light was blinding! This was it. He turned and bowed slightly to the two Defenders in front of him, and then walked into the great hall.

He was excited, and scared, and nervous, and terrified, and intimidated, and… and… and a slew of other things that he didn't bother to pinpoint or to catalog. He knew, though, that his skin was flushed, and his mouth was dry, and he wasn't completely sure that the gravity in the room was as it should have been. His head felt light while his feet felt heavy as his guide directed him where to go….

Behind him the doors closed, leaving Richie standing in a large, pale circle on the floor, a light shining directly down on him. Around him, sitting on what seemed to be apitheatre seats, the Defenders were gathered; some were lounging, some were sitting, some were standing. Blue eyes quickly took notice that Green Lantern was talking with The Flash up in the higher rows; the two of them were leaning towards each other, obviously talking softly about something very important. Superman was surrounded by some of his other Chosen people, doting on him.

There was the Amazon, the woman-lover, the man-hater. The one who was rumored to be as strong as Superman, but had the temperament of an avenger.

Wonder Woman…

There was also the Martian, the shape shifter, the mind reader. The last of his kind, just like Superman, but who did less to fit in with a race he barely understood. He was a detective, just like Batman, but… somehow, even though was so much more than Batman, he still wasn't as absolutely terrifying as the Night Terror.

Martian ManHunter…

There was also the King of the Sea, the merman, the one who was more tolerated as a Defender than actually sought out as a hero. The one who was as likely to bomb the mainland, as he was to defend it.

Aquaman…

There were others there, others that Richie barely knew, or knew enough about that he didn't care to know more. Though, if any of them chose him, he was going to be learning a great deal about them. His eyes easily caught SuperGirl, Green Arrow, Hawk and Dove, Captain Atom, and Cyborg.

Since his guide had motioned for him to stand there, Richie did as he was told, wondering what was going to happen next. It was as if he was standing on an auction block, with the way the rest of the room was either looking at him, or pointedly ignoring him. From outside the ring of light surrounding him, the blond made out a figure walking towards him. He perked up slightly, straightening as he thought that someone was going to either dismiss him or bring him into his or her fold.

To his utter amazement, an arm draped over his shoulder and a familiar voice stated, loud enough that the entire room could hear it, "I don't think so, Geeves. This boy is from my hood. And I'm plannin' on keeping what's mine."

"Are you sure, young Master Static?" The stranger asked in a thick, English accent.

"Oh, yeah." The young Defender grinned, tightening his arm around Richie's shoulders.

Wide, blue eyes turned to stare at the dark skinned hero. There was no doubt that Static was being very serious, but Richie still found it incredible that his hometown hero… Static's –arm- was around –him-. Static Shock wanted to Choose -HIM-!

Around the room there was a mild chuckle, and even soft laughter, as Richie was led out of the room. As far as the blond knew, Static hadn't ever Chosen anyone. EVER. So, this was a new thing, a thing that Richie was very pleased about. Quiet and quick, the blond followed the dark-skinned Defender out of the main hall, to… wherever.

"So… wow." Static said, "You're really willing to just sign yourself over to being someone's Chosen? I mean, I know… I know you didn't have it good in Dakota, but… still. To take that kind of chance?"

"What chance?" Richie asked. "The worse thing that could happen would be I'd be beaten bloody. You know Dakota. That's a daily 'chance' for most, and for some of us, it's a daily reality. The best… well…"

"The best, you get to be… mine!" The young Defender said, sounding about as old as the rumors suggested he was. They traveled down long, well lit corridors, twisting through a maze of labyrinth like hallways, until they finally arrived at what seemed to be their destination.

"Well…" Richie stated quietly, "I had no idea who was going to pick me or what was going to happen. There was always the chance that I'd just be shipped off and written off."

"Hardly." Static snorted, pushing against a seemingly invisible panel. "Defenders… Defenders are like everyone else. We love our comforts."

"Yeah?" The blond asked as he followed the masked male into the room. There was no fear in his voice, just pure curiosity as he asked, "I take it, that's what I'm here for? To… comfort you?"

"In a manner of speaking." Static agreed. "If you want to."

If he said anything after that, Richie wasn't sure. He was too busy looking around his new surroundings. He knew, from what others had told him and from what he had been instructed when he first arrived at the Fortress, that he was going to live here, with Static, now that he had been Chosen. The room, if it could really be described as such, was a cross between a war zone, and every shop in the mall. Music discs, movie discs, clothes, knickknacks, memorabilia, autographed posters, bedding, old food, and other assortments that the blond was unable to identify without a biology lab on hand, littered the floor and every other surface that was eye level. He smiled softly as he shook his head. Quietly, his heart dying all over again with the pain of not quite faded memories, he said, "You're room reminds me of a friend's."

"Yeah?"

"Yeah…" And Richie wasn't able to keep the sadness out of his voice as he moved deeper into the chaos. It had been over two years since he had last seen Virgil, but just thinking about the other male made his heart hurt. He missed him… "How do you find anything in here?"

"Mostly luck." The other male replied, coming up to stand behind and to the side of the blond. "So… you gonna tell me what friend you're talking about?"

"Hm?" The bespectacled male murmured, turning to regard the masked male. "Why?"

"Because you sound so sad when you mentioned him." Static replied, crossing his arms over his chest.

"Oh…" Richie shrugged. He turned away from Static to focus on something, anything close at hand. It just happened to be his reflection in the television. It wasn't just the similarities in the room that made Richie's heart hurt; he was beginning to notice other things. "It doesn't matter."

"Sure it does." The other male replied, waving a hand at his futile attempt at dodging the subject.

Taking a deep breath, Richie looked around the room, but this time he didn't see any of the mess. He only saw memories. Not for the first time, he wondered how tall Virgil would have grown if he would have been allowed to grow up. He wondered if they would still be friends. He wondered if Frieda and Virgil would have gone to the prom, or if Virgil might have been willing to go with him. He wondered a hundred different things. But mostly, he wondered what Virgel would think of him. "He… was my best friend. Really, the only one I had in high school. Kinda didn't make that many friends. But, he… He was awesome."

"Was?"

"He's dead." Richie answered, staring at the top layer of … stuff covering the floor. He swallowed past a spike of pain in his throat. "A Bang Baby, we think."

"You think?"

"No body was ever found."

"So… he could still be alive, right?" Static asked, his voice raising in pitch at the end. Not in the way that a young teenager's voice would crack, but in the way that someone who's under a lot of stress or anxiety sometimes did. "I mean, what if he's still alive?"

"No." The blond shook his head sadly. "If he was alive, his old man would know. But… no… he's already started trying to move on."

"Oh…" Static whispered. "I'm sorry."

"Oh, huh? What? Oh, don't worry. You're still our hero. Even Sharon, who isn't easy to impress at all, is a big fan. I mean, you're always there to take care of the situation, and to make sure that no one else gets hurt." Richie said in a rush, turning quickly to try to comfort his hero. His eyes caught sight of another door, off to the side. Distracted, he finished lamely, "You… just came too late to help Virgil."

"Richie…" Static began, raising his hand to put it on the blond's shoulder, but the new Chosen one was already moving towards the nearest doorway, and the hand fell on empty air.

"It's cool. Like I said before, don't worry about it." Richie shrugged, his interest focusing on the darkness in the room. It was so dark inside the room that he almost expected Batman to materialize out of the shadows, but once he stepped inside…

It was the bedroom.

And judging by the lack of other doors, it was the –only- bedroom. And while it was large, and filled with a seemingly bare minimum of objects and artifacts, there was one thing that no one who passed through it wouldn't notice. The bed.

It. Was. Huge!

And messy, but he expected that after seeing the disaster zone that was the living room. But the bed itself… Large oak posts, that were an easy foot in diameter, had heavy wrought iron decorations crossing them at the top, so that over the mattress itself, there was a huge "X" shaped decoration, not to mention that they were joined at the sides to increase stability. The top mattress came up to Richie's midsection, though there was thankfully a stepping stool close at hand. There were pillows thrown about, and piles of blankets falling off the bed, in more colors than Richie had seen in one room.

It was on the tip of his tongue to ask if they would be sharing the bed, but Richie was an intelligent young man. He didn't bother to ask the obvious. He heard the electric Defender come up behind him, but he didn't say anything. Richie guessed that he was waiting for some kind of question or response to the room.

Not for the first time today, Richie was struck speechless. He was going to be sharing Static Shock's bed. He was going to be sleeping with Static! He didn't bother to stop the idiot grin that slipped into place, and the all body flush that crept up on him went unchecked as well. Butterflies danced merrily in his stomach even as his heart took residence in his mouth, pounding thickly

Yeah, there were definitely worse fates than the one he was faced with. Definitely.

Before anything could come of it, though, a strange chiming noise was heard. Both males turned to the front door, but it was Static who called out, "Enter."

Into the disaster zone that was Static's living room, they both went to greet their visitor. The doors slid open to reveal Green Lantern. "Hey kid, hope you've had time to introduce your … friend to his new home."

"Why? What's up Lantern?" Static asked, immediately transforming from a youthful host to an interested Defender.

"There's an uprising in the MegaZone." The green-eyed veteran said, jerking his head toward the door, and another day in the glamorous life of a hero.

"Right. Be there in a second." Static nodded. They both watched as Green Lantern spun on his heels and left the messy living room. Some of Static's dreadlocks fell in his face as he turned to look at Richie, but he swiped them out of his way before he pointed in the direction of the kitchen. "There's food in there, the bathroom is connected to the bedroom, and if you need anything, just push the panel by the door. Other than that, the place is yours. I'll be back… whenever."

"Okay." Richie replied, crossing his arms over his bare chest. "What about…"

"What about what?"

"Uhm… never mind." Richie shook his head as he looked at the ground. He wanted to ask if he really was supposed to sleep with the young superhero, but decided that instead of asking, he could always sleep on the sofa and be told later that he was supposed to. Save him some embarrassment if he wasn't.

"Okay." Static nodded. And with a flare of light, the electrical defender was racing out the door and to lords only knew where.

-+-

Richie shifted where he slept, slowly becoming conscious to the dark world around him. Frowning slightly, he realized that there was something touching his face. He swatted at the disturbance, trying to rid himself of it so that he could return to the blissful realm of dreams.

For a moment, the distraction left, but it quickly returned.

Blue eyes blinked open, still cloudy with sleep. Leaning over the couch, and therefore over him, a dark blob, with yellow and white and blue blobs decorating it, waited. Richie blinked his eyes a few more times, trying to figure out what, or who, he was staring at.

"Hey, Richie…" Static's voice was soft, and eerily familiar to the still sleepy blond. "What are you doing out here? There –is- a bed."

"Mmn, yeah." Richie replied. "Didn't… know if. If you wanted me to sleep there. 'cuz, ya know, it's your bed."

"Heh." He obviously shook his head. Richie fumbled for his glasses, placing them on just in time to watch Static brush more of his dreadlocks back. Again, there was a sense of familiarity. "C'mon. The bed is –way- more comfortable than the sofa."

"M'kay." Richie replied. He rolled off the sofa, and landed unceremoniously to the ground. He picked himself up and trudged to the bedroom. Before he could flip on the light, the other male flipped his hand and the lights snapped on. With a small shrug, the blond climbed into the bed, pulling the covers up to his lap. But instead of going back to sleep, he watched the doorway that led to the bathroom, where Static had disappeared through.

He heard the shower running after a moment, and he had to smile to himself. He couldn't imagine, yet, what the Defender looked like sans clothes, but that didn't stop him from trying. While his imagination was given free reign, it also took the time to show him some very… interesting ideas about what the supercharged hero might want from him later. And none of those ideas were at all that bad. Just the idea of his pale skin pressed up against Static's dark was enough to send blood running from his brain to a more neglected part of his anatomy.

The sound of the water cutting off cut off the stream of heated daydreams playing through Richie's mind. A few more moments, and the unmasked, un-costumed form came out of the bathroom, wearing only a pair of light blue sleep pants.

Blue eyes blinked.

The dark figure smiled and started to walk forward.

Blue eyes blinked again.

The young hero laughed softly, shaking his head, and sending his long dreadlocks twitching over dark skin.

Richie's entire body twitched.

"So, first off, I'm not dead." Virgil said as he walked over to the other side of the bed. He jumped up and landed on his knees on the top of the covers. "Second, no one is allowed to know."

Richie stared at him, too mind-numb to listen. Carefully, he leaned forward with one hand extended. His eyes were wide behind his glasses, but he couldn't bring himself to actually –touch- the other male. He watched as Virgil reached out and grabbed his hesitant, shaking hand.

One dark thumb fit perfectly in the cup of Richie's palm as he pulled the paler male's hand against his chest. "I'm real, Richie. Seriously, I'm not dead. See."

"You're… you're not dead." Richie repeated. "I'm not dreaming. You're real. And you're not dead."

Virgil had the nerve to smile, as if he was pleased that Richie had come to realize such a simple truth. If it had been any other time, and if Richie had been able to get his heart from hammering so fast that the blood never managed to get any oxygen to his head, he might have hit the darker male. Might have made Virgil eat those words. As it was, he merely grabbed the super hero by the neck and pulled him forward for a hug that denied either one of the chance to breathe.

At first, Virgil was hesitant, but he was soon returning the hug for all he was worth, pulling the blond against him tight enough to crack bones. He buried his head in the curve of his Chosen's neck, his lips caressing bare flesh. "I missed you."

The next thing Virgil knew, Richie was pushing him away, the blood finally able to get some oxygen to his brain to figure out more of the situation. "You missed me? You –MISSED- me! V! Do you have ANY idea what kind of hell you up and leaving put me through? Do you know what kind of hell your DAD has been going through! And Sharon! Sharon's turned into an old maid, ordering your dad around and making sure he eats and she's even stopped complaining that I sleep in YOUR room more often than I sleep at my place. Hell, she's even started to have a running dialog with my MOM about MY school work!"

Virgil's eyes flew wide at the sudden, and unprovoked, or so he though, attack. The verbal attack was nothing compared to the sudden, and unmistakable feel of a strong right hook that hit him square in the jaw.

"You –MISSED- me? You jackass!" Richie hissed, tears in his eyes. "You've been up here, playing hero, while we've been down there, trying to just –survive- as just about everyone and their GRANDMA turns into a… a… freak hell bent on KILLING US!"

Virgil's eyes narrowed as he blocked several more sloppy punches that Richie threw at him, before he finally managed to get his hands around the blonde's wrists. He pinned the paler figure to the bed, and straddled the other boy's torso. Dark eyes flashed with electricity and anger, meeting a hurt and angry blue gaze, as he snapped back, "Is that what I am, Richie? Am I one of those…freaks!"

Just hearing the darker male say it had a lot of Richie's anger deflating. He broke the staring contest and looked away, the tension in his body turning liquid and spilling away from him. "No."

"Yeah? Funny. Somehow I don't believe you." Virgil snapped back. He pushed up and away from the other male, and crossed his arms over his chest. "I… I –know- I'm a freak. I've known it since my powers… manifested. I… I just never expected YOU to hold it against me."

As Virgil made his way to climb off his friend, but Richie surprised him again. The blond sat up and hugged him, around the waist, his forehead pressed against the darker male's sternum. They sat that way for a moment, before the silence was broken by Richie's soft, "'m sorry."

Virgil sighed, surrendering. Carefully, aware of what happened last time he returned one of Richie's hugs, he wrapped his arms around the blonde's shoulders. "Yeah, well…"

"You aren't a freak. A jerk, yes. A jackass, yes. A royal prick for not telling us you were alive, yes." Richie informed him, his voice still quiet. "But you're not a freak. You're… just Virgil."

"And you're an idiot." The super powered teen snorted and shook his head. But he lowered his head, so that he was able to rub his nose against the top of Richie's head. They stayed like that for a few heartbeats longer, as they tried to figure their own thoughts out. But, Virgil's exhaustion, momentarily delayed from the shower and quick fight, ambushed him and sapped him of what little strength he had left. "C'mon, let's sleep. Tomorrow… tomorrow I can explain everything."

"Okay." Richie replied, not the least bit tired.

Virgil was the first to find sleep, curled up behind Richie with both arms wrapped around the blonde's waist. For the first time in a long time, Richie felt safe as he relaxed into the embrace. As he drifted off, he was almost certain he felt the softest brush of lips against the nape of his neck.

But it could have been a dream…