Oh. My. Donut.
*passes out from awesome feedback*
I can't believe you guys! Those who reviewed the last chapter that is. I can't tell you how much I appreciated all the encouragement and comments! I think I just about cried in happiness when some of you told me my writing style looked like Val's, which is a gigantic compliment to me, because I really respect and admire her a lot.
I'm happy to present you the ninth chapter of Dakota Noir, which I hope will live up to your expectations. Also, very sorry about the delay, hopefully I shall be able to post chapters more frequently. Also, Val-A has updated Through a Glass, Darkly! And it is awesome…
Disclaimer: I do not own Virgil Ovid Hawkins, nor do I own Richard Osgood Foley. They are characters that WB has taken from the comic books (Except Richie, who is a merge between the original's two best friends). Anything you read below is un-sueable, so don't try. Really. Trust me; there are more interesting ways to lose a lawsuit. (Like belly dancing in the court, you'll probably lose terribly but at least the youtube videos will get loads of hits)
The phone's ringing shrilled through the small apartment, effectively waking its sole occupant. The Detective blinked blearily, his hand fumbling around the small, round bedside table, and closing around the offending device.
"Detective Foley," he mumbled, sitting up and reaching for his glasses. He slid them on and glanced at his alarm clock, the glowing numbers telling him it was three in the morning.
"Sorry to bother you so early in the morning, Rich," Shenise said. "Just thought you'd like to know about a recent development in your case.
"Shoot," Richie said, suddenly awake and attentive. He was all ears for what his colleague had to say.
Shenise and her parents, along with Gareth Francoft, worked in the lab which catered to Richie's needs. Namely the things he couldn't do that labs, with their equipment and further knowledge of the sciences, could.
The reason why he was so effective as a Detective was because he could easily see things the Dakota police couldn't. Clues that they overlooked were picked up with his sharp analytical eyes, and sent to the lab for testing, examination, that helped him get a deeper insight on his cases that the police could never do in their lifetime.
He was a natural loner, and preferred to keep to himself and his limited circle of friends.
"A body's been found near the slums," she said. "Seizures, hallucinations, purple welts, the works."
"And how did you know about this?" Richie asked, even as he cradled the phone between his shoulder and ear to free his hands, reaching down to the floor and pulling on a pair of pants.
"Confidential," she sing-songed into the phone. "A certain Rubberband Man told me where to find them." So saying, she quickly gave him the directions the meta-human had given her.
Richie chuckled softly; he'd known Adam was a bang baby a long time ago. Deciding to spare his ego, Richie had never let his ex-partner know that he knew. He'd spent too long with the older man not to notice, and he wasn't stupid or blind when it came to the people he knew. Shenise knew as well…it was their secret they kept for Adam's sake. Richie had worked with Adam for years, was one of his best friends. It was obvious when it came down to it. It didn't hurt that Richie had once caught Adam in the act of using his powers, confirming his suspicions.
"I'm on my way," he replied, before hanging up. He pulled on a loose polo shirt, grabbed his gun-just in case-and slipped into a pair of sneakers before quietly letting himself out.
The walk to the slums took about twenty minutes. Twenty minutes to clear his mind, and get his brain working in its usual speed. He knew he had arrived when he saw the telltale electrical signs that Static was there.
The meta-human appeared to be talking with Rubberband Man, but broke off immediately when he saw the Detective, giving him a wave. Richie groaned. Not Static again.
After the drama of the day before, and having had only about five hours of sleep, the Detective was in no mood at all to deal with the so-called 'hero' of Dakota. Fate decided otherwise, because said hero was already coming up to him, Rubberband Man alongside him, a somewhat pleased expression on his face. If not a bit tired.
Richie winced and massaged the bridge of his nose, succumbing to the inevitable. When Static had reached him he asked, "What happened?"
"Well! Hello to you too," Static sighed, pretending to be insulted "What am I? Chopped liver?"
"Its three-thirty in the morning, I've only had five hours of sleep, and I'm still tired out from yesterday. I am in no mood for mind games, and I'd really like to get back to sleep. So either tell me what happened or step aside and let me see the body," Richie said sweetly, even if the glare he aimed at Static actually got the hero to step back a little.
"Ah, sorry Detective," Rubberband Man said, drawing Richie's attention to the other meta-human. "We haven't called the police yet, thought you might have liked to check it out before the fuzz arrived. Since it's your case and everything."
"How'd you know it was my case?" Richie asked, amused to see his ex-partner caught off guard. One of these days, if Adam ever decided to come clean about his nightly crusading, Richie would take much pleasure in revealing that he already knew a long time ago about his 'secret' (air quotes and everything) identity. The face Adam would make promised to be priceless.
"I told him of course." Static slid into the conversation smoothly "I figured y'know, since the Ferret and Kangorr cases were similar, you were the best bet."
Dropping the subject, Richie nodded. "Fine. Before I take a look at the woman, I need your statements."
The two heroes quickly, and as briefly as possible, filled the Detective in. Richie was not surprised when he heard that the woman had acted like she was drunk or on drugs.
He went over to the body. The dress had been opened at the front to reveal the woman's chest, covered in only a skimpy bra. Purple welts crisscrossed her chest, and further inspection showed that the welts were thinner than the other two victims.
"Static, could I have a little light please?" The Detective asked of the hero grudgingly. Static complied, shooting the Detective a grin as he crouched down next to him, sidling closer to the blond, and his hand crackling with electricity.
Static whistled "Is it just me, or does the purple nasties look a little thinner to you? Feminine? Maybe it's a girl thing," he said, breaking both the silence, and the Detective out of his thoughts.
Richie started, seeming to just only notice that someone was there too. He nodded vaguely, quickly squashing down any signs that he was impressed with Static's observation. Didn't need anyone inflating his ego that was for sure.
"That's what I thought too. You've got a point though, maybe it affects females differently?" Richie mused aloud. The chemical makeup of a male and a female was different, which was why it probably affected whatever drug both gender took. This should make some head-way into the case. Finding out the components used in the drug by crossing out common factors, and finding new ones, should be possible.
Added to the grim confirmation that whoever was dealing the Ice, as Static and Rubberband Man had informed him was probably the amber liquid's name, was starting to deal it to the slum people. And if not stopped, they could move on to the public general. That was a terrible thought.
"Hey, I recognize her," Static said suddenly. He had been trying to discover why the girl was so familiar since he'd shed some light on the situation earlier when Rubberband Man had knelt to check her pulse. Why he thought he'd seen her before.
"She's one of Madelyn's girls," Static breathed.
"Madelyn Spaulding? As in the control freak overlady wannabe Mad Madelyn?!" Richie's surprise was written all over his face.
"The one and only, man. Damn, this is some shit if someone went and offed one of Mad Madelyn's angels without her knowing." Static shook his head, his hands on his hips. "See, Mad' Lyn's got this fighter force of chicks who work for her. Does all the dirty work and all that," Static added, before Rubberband Man could ask.
"How'd you know she didn't just overdose? Why say its murder?" Rubberband Man said questioningly.
"Well," Richie began "Madelyn has this rule y'see. It's either to be completely clean of toot, pot, you name it, or they get kicked out. Mad's a control freak. She manages all their food, liquids, and training. Everything, down to how they chew. Mad doesn't tolerate toots, and never let herself or her cronies touch it. So it's a safe bet it's a homicide."
"Her gang's not a very big thing in Dakota; I'm not surprised you've never heard of it," Static said, "She's powerful yeah, but her methods are whacked. An amateur next to gangs like Ebon's."
"So Detective, do we put Spaulding on the suspect list?" Adam asked, after processing the new information presented to him.
Richie shook his head. "If I know Mad, and trust me--I unfortunately do, it's not her style. If she wanted to do away with her own, she would do it quietly, and dispose of the body with everyone none the wiser. She doesn't want word getting out that she can't even control her own subordinates. She's a bang baby, so she can easily do it."
"So Mad's out," Static agreed "Who else do we have on the list?"
"We?" Richie frowned "We have no one on the list. I don't even work with you two."
"Aw c'mon." Static grinned "We could be a great team! The three musketeers, the. . .the. . .We'd be a great team!"
"Look, I don't need your help--although, if I know anyone who wants to be almost blown up by a superhero, I'll be sure to get him to you," Richie said sarcastically.
"I'm fine on my own. Thanks for the heads-up though, and I do appreciate you two calling me before the police. But I work alone fine by myself." Richie hoped his sincerity was clear, and that Static would take the hint.
Rubberband nodded and went a ways away, where a pay phone was, to call the police, leaving the two to their own devices.
"Can't you just let it go? It was an accident! The operative word is almost y'know," Static sighed. "Hey, do you need a lift back to your place?"
"What makes you think I can't get back by myself?"
"No car, bike, motorbike, nothing. Damn man, you walked here didn't you? Don't you know how dangerous this place is at night? You coulda gotten gangbanged, or worse," Static pointed out.
"Coulda. Didn't," Richie retorted, glancing at his watch, four-fifty two. He'd been there for an hour plus. Counting the time to walk there of course. By the time he'd get back, it would be almost five-thirty. Well, at least it was Sunday. "I also have a gun."
Static frowned when his words got thrown back in his face. "Hey, at least let me give you a ride back. It's safer and faster. I'll bet your pal, Adam Evans, wouldn't want you walking around a place like this on your own. And a gun hardly helps against five bastards comin' for you at once." Rubberband man, who was coming up to them, stiffened slightly at his name.
Richie hardly noticed, although his brain had already copied and pasted the fact in the photo album inside his mind people called a photographic memory.
"You two should go," Rubberband Man said, "I'll handle the cops when they come." Richie nodded, even as Static asked if he was sure. Rubberband Man waved them off easily, saying he had some experience dealing with the fuzz.
Richie declined the ride, remembering what happened last time, so Static walked him home instead. The twenty minutes journey was spent in silence. Richie thinking about the case, and Static admiring the Detective blatantly.
Static had tried to cut down on the flirting and stuff but, juvenile as it was, he couldn't cut it all out completely. He knew he didn't want to anyway. It was too fun, enjoyable, and satisfying to get a rise out of the Detective. Any sort of reaction really.
Static gave a half-grin when they arrived at the apartment. "I know where you live," he said in a falsely menacing voice.
Richie rolled his eyes ."Good for you. This is where I say goodbye then, Static. So, goodbye."
Static grinned and winked. "For now."
He laughed when the door slammed in his face.
Static ran a tired hand through his face as he flew into an old abandoned gas station. It was his private place. It was where he came to think when he had a problem, or was facing a tough case, or even when the world became too much for him and he wanted to be alone. Now was all of the above.
"Hey V, you comin' to play' with us?"
Children, young kids barely in their preteens, some toddlers still.
Peeling off his mask and sweat soaked costume, he pulled on some loose fitting civilian clothes. His Static activities always made him ravenous. And just because he had just about lost his appetite because of the night's happenings, didn't mean it made him any less hungry.
"A gang fight at the docks. It's us or them Hawkins. Be there."
Helicopters. Purple smoke. Power lines.
A take-out box of chop suey in one hand, a soda can in the other, the black hero slumped down onto the old used sofa he had once scavenged out of the junkyard. A little tattered, a little beat up, but after he had fixed it up some, still usable.
"Burning!" "It hurts!" "Help us!" "AHHHHH!!!!"
"Don't you dare hurt them!"
"Wade, Wade, Wade. Where they are now, no one can hurt them anymore. Rest their souls." A sneer. Implications. Realization.
Having worked as a volunteer at his father's centre, he had seen a lot of messed up stuff. There were the kids whose parents were drug addicts, and neglected their children in favor of coke or meth. Those kids had to do anything they could to stay alive.
The need to survive could do horrible things to a child. Teenagers, barely out of their preteens, smoking pot and stealing. Mothers so young they were barely into high school.
Girls selling themselves, to scrape what little they could to feed themselves and their siblings. He's seen kids so hard in their hearts, apathetic to the point of unfeeling, that it broke his own.
"Why!? They were children! THEY WERE ONLY CHILDREN!"
This was some shit alright. This was serious shit. Ice. What was ice? Virgil thought he'd known everything about street drugs. Meth, coke, mary-js, barbs, opium. . .heck, there were a whole list of those damned FADs. Or, frequently abused drugs. Ice? It wasn't a slang he'd ever heard, and working with street kids like those in his dad's centre, he knew most all of them.
"You'll pay for that. I'll kill you. I'll kill you all!!"
"Let go of me Hawkins!"
Tip off. Police sirens. Finding out about his powers. The hard way.
A long time ago. Damn, it felt like a lifetime ago. He had been in a street gang, when he was a highschooler. His mother had just passed away, and he had hated the world. Hated himself. He was just, was just so lost without her.
"I'm sorry Pops. I'm so, so sorry."
Ever since his mother's death he had drawn the line at killing another human being. No, that was wrong, he had always drawn the line at murder. Even if he had wanted to turn a complete one-eighty around, he knew he couldn't. Not completely. Because of his mother. Always his mother. His father too.
His father had been an anchor when Jean Hawkins had died-but it had not been enough. Perhaps if there had been somebody else to help him, he wouldn't have even entertained thoughts of the gang, but there hadn't been. And he knew there was no one to blame but himself.
"I've. . .I've got to be there. T-the funeral. It's the least I can do for them kids, Pops. I'm gonna be straight from now on."
He had been a pretty big thing back then, second in command in Wade's gang, and renowned to be a tough fighter. He had been bad. Really bad. He hadn't been a tooter, though, some deep down concrete respect for his pop had prevented that. His pop, and his sister, they'd both tried to turn him back to the straight and narrow. He hadn't listened. Until something happened, something so big and terrible it rocked his world completely off the axis he had known.
It had shaken him up violently. Had made him take a good look at himself, and what he was, and what he wanted to be. This was where he was now.
He made quick work of his meal, using his powers to discard the rubbish in the nearby waste bin.
He jogged to his apartment, the early morning air waking him up. Ah morning, time for him to sleep. He felt his lips curl up in a small smile, yeah-sleep sounded great. His watch told him it was six-thirty in the AM.
The sun rose almost lazily, its colors painting the surroundings orange. His sneakers slapped the asphalt in a steady staccato rhythm as he let his body settle into the pace.
It was another fifteen minutes to his apartment. He was looking forward to a shower and then bed. He knew that if he hadn't eaten at the old abandoned gas station of solitude (Hey, Superman never actually patented the name) he wouldn't have at home.
Even if he brought home takeout, he would just collapse into bed and let it go cold. At least in the gas station he could force himself to at least have a meal. His cell rang, and he slowed to a walk, digging into his pocket and grabbing his hand phone, sparing a quick glance at the caller ID.
"Hello, you've reached Virgil Hawkins. You know the drill," he joked, "naw I'm just kidding. Hey Francis."
"You're just a freakin' barrel of laughs aren't you?" Francis growled. "You want your car or what?"
"You fixed it already?" Virgil couldn't help but ask, already wincing at the stupid question. Duh, of course Francis would be done. He was one of the best mechanics around.
A snort could be heard from the other end "No. Of course not. I just want you to take away your hunk'er junk outta my garage, it's a friggin eyesore," Francis said sarcastically.
"Okay, okay. Stupid question, wasn't thinkin' straight," Virgil said appeasingly.
"Got other things on your mind, ey fairy-boy?" Francis's smirk could practically be heard from the other line. "Like a certain date with Dakota's criminal-catchin' finest?"
Virgil's eyes widened, how did Francis. . ."'Course not," he wisecracked easily, his mouth taking over while his brain caught up from its 'how the hell did-' state. "I like guys and all, but Static's not my type."
"You know what I meant. I just wonder how the hell a dumbass like you could end up with a guy like Foley."
"Okay, I give. How'd you know?" Virgil asked, ignoring the jibe.
"My girl, Maria, told me," Francis said smugly. "She works for Foley and Joe."
"That's. . .nice to know." Virgil scratched the back of his neck ."I'll pick it up at two."
"Oh yeah, and dipstick?" Francis said when Virgil was about to hang up.
"Foley's a good guy. A really good guy. He and I aren't all that tight, but he watches out for my girl, an' he watches out for me so I owe him a favor or two," Francis said pleasantly, with an edge to his voice. "So you'd better treat him right, 'else I'll pound you in so hard no one's gonna recognize your corpse," Francis growled the last sentence warningly.
He hung up abruptly, not giving Virgil the chance to answer.
Richie was just about to get up and leave the restaurant when in walked the person who was supposed to have been there an hour ago. Virgil Hawkins's eyes swept across the place quickly, trying to find his date, whom he hoped had not left already. He spotted the Detective and hurried towards him, a sheepish smile working its way across his face. Another person was sitting across Richie, chatting with the man. He paused mid-way when he spotted Virgil and seemed to recognize that the black man was the errant date. He sort of glared at him as he went pass. He was probably a waiter or something.
"Ah-Sorry I'm late. I had to, um, rescue a cat. Poor creature was stuck up a tree?" Virgil offered. Richie stared at him in silence, the look on his face said he didn't believe him in the slightest. Virgil slid into the seat across the blond, carefully.
"Rescuing a cat wouldn't take an hour, would it?" Richie asked, his tone conversational "I mean, unless you were rescuing, I don't know, a tiger." Virgil knew that look, having been on its receiving end many times as his costumed alter-ego, it was the look that said 'I'm being very pleasant right now so I don't lose it in a public place and make a spectacle, I would have you know, however, that I am very, very pissed.'
Virgil, recognizing the look, groaned mentally. Great. Just great. Blowing his only shot with Richie would just be icing on the top of his crappy day. First, he'd gotten up at two-fifteen. And had been given the evil-eye from Francis for being an hour late.
Then, he'd gotten stuck in traffic as he was coming back from the supermarket because a bang-baby decided it didn't like rush-hour traffic either. Then, he had to duke it out with the bang-baby, who looked like the purple version of the Hulk. Then, he'd found out that his car had been towed away, because when he'd parked it to change into Static, he'd apparently parked it in the 'no-parking' area.
Then, to make matters worse, the bang-baby got away while the police were taking him/her (you couldn't tell, since when the bang-baby spoke, it sounded like a girl and a guy speaking at once) in because one of them-a rookie probably-hadn't cuffed him/her properly, allowing him/her to escape.
Static had to re-capture him/her, which took some time, since cars and people where everywhere and Static had to do it without any civilian casualties.
All in all, yes, one of the crappiest day in the history of crap-shit days.
It must have shown on his face, because Richie's face softened slightly "Bad day?" he asked, understandingly.
Virgil smiled ruefully. "The worse. Truth is, I was really looking forward to tonight. Could we, I dunno, start over?" he asked tentatively.
"Well, aside from my ego battered from being almost stood up, I guess I'm fine with that. I guess this is probably pay-back from all the other times I've stood up my other dates. At least James came over--that's the waiter--to make me seem less desperate." Richie grinned lightly. Then smirked. "Dinner's your treat of course," he said.
Virgil winked. "I was gonna, if you must know. A gentleman must always treat a lady proper 'yknow." A sharp kick from under the table silenced his ensuing laughter, although there was still a grin on his face.
"So, what happened?" Richie asked, after they had ordered. Their waiter James, the same one keeping Richie company, was the second to give Virgil the evil eye that day. Probably for making the Detective wait.
Virgil described his day, editing out those funny little details that would have given him away as Static. Richie was adequately sympathetic, even though he visibly grimaced when he got to the part about Static fighting the bang-baby (Virgil being a spectator of course). The Detective muttered something about wondering how the human sparkplug had so much energy. Obviously referring to the night before, the event Virgil was supposed to have no idea of. Virgil offered that Static seemed a little tired when he was fighting.
They were way too late for the movie, and decided to ditch that idea in lieu of staying in the restaurant and talking. It was ten o' clock before they finally remembered the time.
"Ah, it's getting late." Richie said, looking at his watch. Virgil's disappointment was evident, as he and the Detective got up. Virgil paid for the food, and they were out of there.
Richie fumbled to open the door of his apartment. It was quite a challenge when your back was pressed to it, and your mouth was otherwise occupied.
"Stay for coffee?" he murmured into Virgil's mouth, in the brief times they actually had to come up for air.
"Why not?" Virgil said amused, since it was an obvious given. Richie finally got the door open, and they stumbled in, the thought of letting go seeming to have never occurred to either of them.
"Oh damn, I just remembered I'm out of coffee," Richie muttered. Virgil gave a bark of laughter.
"Oh, screw coffee," he replied, helpfully closing the apartment door with his foot. Hopefully the noise wouldn't wake anyone.
"Interesting. A fantasy of yours?" Richie teased, pulling away for a second to give the other a wide smirk. Virgil laughed again. It appeared the Detective's brain was clear enough to make snarky remarks.
Something Virgil promised to amend immediately, as he forcefully claimed with his own that oh-so-seductive pair of lips again.