Disclaimer: Alas and alack, they are not mine. Though I would've treated them better than canon. More sexual tension, for a start.
AN: Requested by Shadow Diva in the Drabble Challenge, who wanted Speedy/Bee and a heat wave. I please to aim. This is quite a bit bigger than the original drabble, but I found myself unable to leave it as it was when there was so much more story to tell. I love these two and don't write them nearly enough as I should.
© Scribbler, June/July 2007
'All's fair in love and war.' – Francis Edwards.
The problem with Steel City was the smog. Not only did it clutter the skyline, and slowly poison the people living under it, but it also reflected heat. On a hot day, Steel City temperatures could rise to eyeball-jelly-boiling inside a few hours. Given the general fiscal state of Steel City inhabitants (indicated by the fact they lived there in the first place and hadn't moved somewhere safer a long time ago), the resident superheroes were obliged to stick around to protect them, too.
"I'd kill for an ice-tea." Bumblebee wriggled uncomfortably. "Even my wings are sweating'."
Speedy glared. His hair was plastered to his head, for once not with gel. "Try wearing a mask. I hate sweaty eyebrows."
"You pluck your eyebrows."
"You've never seen them."
"No, but I'll bet you pluck."
They glared companionably for a whole five seconds before he looked away.
They'd dragged some furniture onto the roof of the Tower, hoping the altitude might entail a breeze. They were sorely mistaken, but by the time they realised, both were too hot to try getting it back indoors again.
Bumblebee thumped the table. "Wax, thread, or tweezers?"
"I will if you get me an ice-tea."
"Get your own."
Sweat trickled ticklishly between her boobs. Her sports bra was damp. She squirmed. Workouts were a necessary evil, even in a heat wave, but they didn't half leave you uncomfortable. Although … she cut her eyes at Speedy. Maybe she could use this to her advantage.
"I ain't begging."
"Good, because I'm to damn hot to move. And I mean that in both senses of the word."
"Arrogant a-hole." She wriggled again, rolling her shoulders. Her shoulder blades were sticky under the gossamer. It was a practised move.
Speedy stood up suddenly. "I hate you."
A wide beam split her face. "Thanks, sugar."
"And don't call me sugar. I'm only doing it because I want a drink myself."
"And because Aqualad and Mas y Menos aren't here to order around."
"It's not for you. You're incidental."
"Sugar," she leaned forward, "just beat feet and get me my tea, or I'll fire your ass."
He paused. "You can't fire me."
"Sure I can. I'm leader."
"And I'm the hot angsty daredevil. Every team needs a hot angsty daredevil."
"We'd manage without one." She thought about it. "Or we'd recruit a new one. We could hold auditions."
Speedy was incensed. "Auditions?"
"Sure. There's hundreds of wannabe Titans out there who'd kill for a place on Titans East. If we put the word out they'd flock to Steel City like ants to a picnic."
"You'd replace me?"
"Sure thing." She laughed. Then she noticed he wasn't laughing with her. "Geez, take a chill pill, sugar. It's just a joke."
Speedy scowled. "Well I didn't find it funny."
"Who put a bug up your butt? It's hot, I'm thirsty, and you're acting like a pre-schooler."
"I just don't like the idea you think you could replace me so easily."
"Okay, okay," Bumblebee sighed, leaning back and wishing Aqualad was here. He wasn't as obnoxious about the little things, or as prone to taking offence if fish weren't involved. Sometimes Seedy was too precious and egotistical to bear. "Even if we held auditions, we couldn't find a replacement as good as you. There, you happy?"
"You don't sound like you mean it."
"Oh for crying out -" She stood up. "Fine, I'll get my own damn tea."
"No, I'll do it. I'd hate to give you any other reason to replace me."
"I'm sorry, okay? I didn't think you'd take it so personally. Did the sun burn off your sense of humour?"
Speedy only grunted and disappeared down the stairs.
Bumblebee flopped back into her chair and then wished she hadn't. Her wings smarted and she spent the next few minutes straightening them out, combing off beads of sweat and wondering why boys were so hard to understand. Girls were supposed to be the oversensitive ones, but Speedy could be so fickle it was sometimes like living with a spoiled princess. A spoiled princess who could shoot a splinter through the eye of a needle at thirty paces, but still a spoiled princess.
When he returned with two glasses she'd worked herself into a royal grump and accepted the clinking mixture of tea, lemon and ice with only mumbled thanks. Speedy's mask narrowed, but he shrugged and sat down, and they spent a good fifteen minutes not speaking to each other.
When the riveting sight of two pigeons pecking at the remains of their breakfast toast was finished, Bumblebee found herself watching Speedy. He'd brought a newspaper up with him and propped it on his feet, which were in turn propped on the table. Nobody else on the team read the papers, not even Aqualad. He preferred to get his info via the kelpline, the underwater version of their grapevine. Mas y Menos had barely enough of an attention span to fight crime, much less keep up to date with the news.
"Anything interesting in there?"
"LexCorp's stock took a dive and Titans North are holding auditions for the comic relief member of their team. I'm thinking of applying."
"Oh ha freaking ha."
Speedy said nothing and turned the page.
It was another five minutes before she spoke again. "Did it really bother you that much, me joking about replacing you?"
Finally he lowered the paper to look at her, but not completely. It was poised to turn back into a barrier between them. "Green Arrow replaced me with a girl three years my junior who doesn't even know which resin to use on a bowstring. How did you think I was going to react to a joke like that?"
Ouch. Bumblebee felt stung. Her fingers, laid flat against the tabletop, curled into her palms. "Oh."
Speedy grunted and made to raise the newspaper again.
He paused. Then he rested it across his knees and folded his arms. "An apology? From you? Who the hell made you, clone, and where's his HQ so I can go rescue my teammate?" It was less funny than it should've been, since it was a real possibility in their world.
"I am sorry," Bumblebee said again. It didn't grind against her palette so much the second time. Apologising meant admitting you were wrong, and admitting she was wrong wasn't something she could often bring herself to do. Still leftover from her days of trying to prove she was more than just a HIVE turncoat, her personality was pervaded with demands for perfection far beyond what any normal person could give. Admitting she was wrong fell way below those lines and cut her to the quick.
Speedy knew that. He was usually the first to tell her to cool her heels, or stop pushing herself so hard about petty things. While for her an exhaustive exercise routine as part of daily training was a requirement, he was the one who understood the importance of taking a break sometimes. At times she forgot that, and her teammates had to remind her, but it was Speedy who was willing (or should that be insane enough) to step in front of a flying kick to make her see sense.
Bumblebee cursed under her breath. "The team wouldn't work with anyone but us in it." It was as close as she could get to what she (thought she) wanted to say.
Speedy's mask narrowed again. Then he nodded. "It wouldn't be Titans East."
"Damn straight." She sat back and took a relieved swig of her tea, before spitting it out again. "What the- This is awful! Did you piss in it or something?"
"No, but I should've since you disrespected me."
"Oh, that's it, flyboy, you are gonna get it now."
Speedy smirked and folded his paper away. "Bring it - " his smirk widened " – sugar."