A/N: Part of the CATverse. But you probably already knew that already, didn't you? You can find the timeline at: http/ www . freewebs . com / bitemetechie / catverse . html (just get rid of the spaces!).

Mark my words, some day we'll publish these in order...-sigh-

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A lit match in the hands of the Captain was a well known one way ticket to disaster. It followed, then, that when Jonathan Crane discovered this fact, he made certain that the woman wasn't allowed near any devices that could conceivably result in a fire. Lighters, matches and dry sticks--if found in her possession--were immediately confiscated just in case. Aside from his own experiences with the mistress of flamey death, both Techie and Al had many a tale to tell about her innate ability to start and sustain fires with as much skill as a gourmet chef had with a spatula.

And let's not revisit the time she tried to create something en flambé.

That was the one time that the Captain declared, should she ever want to try that again, her full permission was given to her comrades to tie her up and keep her from it.

Techie heartily agreed and had the rope on standby.

Crane could hardly blame her...after all, it had taken her eyebrows close to a month to grow back in after the flaming baked Alaska debacle.

The same way that the Captain wasn't allowed near anything flammable, Al wasn't allowed in the kitchen. Many a microwave had exploded under her expert attentions and several blenders, toasters and miscellaneous other household items had met their doom at her hands. The Captain may have had an innate ability, but Al had a God given gift for making things--kitchen related things--explode.

Techie on the other hand, didn't seem to have any peculiar 'gifts' that could lead to disaster...

No, she was a thinker. She fired off random thoughts at random intervals whenever they struck her.

Ordinarily, this would make her a babbling idiot--an annoyance, but nothing of any consequence; but the fact of the matter is, if you put a babbling, thinking idiot in the same room with two doing idiots, the results were nothing short of spectacular.

Techie was the master planner, the others were the ones who latched onto an idea and made it happen.

He should have known better than to let the Captain and Al stay in the room when Techie suddenly stopped chewing her salami, pastrami and corned beef sandwich at the table to stare off into space. Her brows creased and her eyebrows made a valiant struggle to meet in the middle of her forehead, eyes narrowing and lips turning downwards ever so slightly.

This was the 'idea' face. This was the face that launched a thousand take-over-the-world-with-the-combined-power-of-squirrel-minions plans (that one had almost worked, too).

Techie swallowed her bite of sandwich loudly. "What day is it?"

The other two glanced at each other and Crane felt the cloud of impending doom come to rest over his head. He knew what day it was--had seen on the calendar that morning--but he'd taken no more notice of it than usual. So long as there wasn't any trace of red marker on the day in question, he didn't pay it any heed. It was the same as any other day, in his opinion...

But they would care what day it was...oh yes, they would care.

What day was it?

The fourth.

Of July.

Oh God, how did he let this sneak up on him?

With as little fanfare as possible, Crane wiped his mouth, folded his paper and slipped from his chair, even as the other occupants of the lair were huddling around a calendar on the wall, trying to discern what day it was.

Techie gasped. "It's the fourth of July!"

"Fireworks!"

"Mom!"

"Apple pie!" They squealed in unison as he slammed his bedroom door shut, glad he'd escaped their clutches before they got any ideas…like, picnicking or camping or--God forbid--fireworks.

He stayed in his room all day, save for the one time when he poked his head outside to make sure nothing had been blown sky high in his absence.

The Captain was instructing her roomies on the finer points of explosives.

"Now, this is an M80. Two M80s equal a KKK. Four KKKs is a stick of dynamite."

Techie gaped. "And they can sell these legally? In Gotham?"

"No wonder the place is always in shambles."

"No kidding, this can blow your arm off."

"We should try that!"

Crane wisely returned (not retreated, he was not retreating!) back to his work in his nice, quiet, safe lab and stayed in there for the remainder of the afternoon.

It was around six thirty when his stomach decided to rumble, reminding him that he hadn't finished his breakfast and that dinnertime was here…

He could have ignored the growling that was insistently coming from his abdomen, but he knew from experience that if he didn't go out there to eat, the beastly women would bust down his door with platters of whatever food was handy in hopes of stuffing it down his gullet.

It was better to relent in this small matter than it was to have to spend all night trying to force them out of his private space, so he opened his door a crack and was surprised to find that the lair was empty. There was no sound coming from the television, no noise of clanging pots and pans, nothing.

Perhaps nothing was a bit of a stretch, there was a note stuck to his door which told him--in the Captain's handwriting (thank God for that; the other two had penmanship that was reminiscent of a spider being dropped into an ink pot and then being allowed to skitter haphazardly across a page)--that they'd gone outside to blow things up.

There was also a sloppily drawn arrow pointing down that caught his attention when he was done reading the more literate part of the note and he glanced at the floor.

A piece of apple pie (or perhaps it was fairer to call it a quarter of an apple pie) sat on a blindingly bright blue plate next to his door, and a small army of ants was quickly making their way across the carpet to their chosen repast.

Normally, he might have let it sit there, lest the girls got it into their heads that he actually liked these little signs of their affection for him, but he was hungry and it was sitting right there…

He scooped up the plate and carried it back into his lab, silently reminding himself that this was not for their benefit and that he most certainly did not like the Captain's apple pie.

The only solid excuse he was able to come up with as he dug into the pastry with vigor was:

Well, better me than the ants.