Her first solo mission had totally tanked.
Or, rather, she had totally tanked her first solo mission.
Looking with despair at the singed and water-damaged padded manila envelope that held the information Babs had sent her to retrieve, Charlie fervently hoped that whatever was inside it was okay. Maybe that would make up for the fact that she'd tripped and set off the fire alarm (which worked really damn well for being in an abandoned warehouse), and the aging sprinklers had gone off with enough force to knock over a can of turpentine right over some guy's cigarette butt.
Consequently, she'd gotten drenched while trying to put out a lake of fire, before realizing it was futile.
Thinking that at least she'd managed to save her contact (well, Oracle's contact) and said contact's thugs (actually, they'd run off like scared little bunny rabbits, leaving their boss behind) and the homeless man camping out in the corner (who had wanted to stay to take a shower, the poor guy), Misfit bounced to the top of her favorite building, and settled down on top of her favorite gargoyle for a good sulk. Well, a middling sulk; she could only spare ten minutes before she absolutely, positively, needed to be back.
Eight of those minutes went by before Charlie started feeling more like her usual bouncy self, but she still wasn't quite ready to leave.
Her timing, as always, was not quite impeccable. For just as she got to her feet and prepared to bounce, she heard a voice behind her.
"Hey. Um, hi. I was wondering if you could help me?"
Misfit had never been approached by someone before, but she tried her best to appear approachable, so she wasn't exactly surprised that someone needing help would seek her out. She was a whole bunch less gloomy than, say, Batgirl.
The part that gave her pause was that she – and her mystery questioner – were twenty-five stories up.
Whirling around and half-falling into a fighting stance, Charlie came face to waist with some overly-muscled hunk who hung in mid-air. He was obviously a meta, and had a confused look on his face, dust covering him from top to toe. "Sure I could help you. That's my job!" Charlie chirped, pasting a smile on her face as she dropped out of her stance. Maybe if she helped this guy then Babs wouldn't be so mad about her package.
She could hope, anyway.
"'Cause you're a superhero…right?" the guy said, running his fingers through his shaggy hair. "I don't think I recognize you, though."
Charlie bristled, suddenly mad. The guy came to her for help and didn't even know her name? Fisting her hands on her hips, she glared up at the guy. "I'm Misfit. And I may not have been around as long as Oracle or Black Canary, or– or Batman, but I've been working in Gotham for over a year, tough guy." Admittedly, most of that time had been spent training, but still.
The guy did have the grace to look properly chastised. "Yeah, well, I, uh…I think I've been gone for longer than that," he said, an apologetic smile creasing his tired, worn face.
It was only when Charlie rocked back on her heels to take in the guy's hangdog expression that she saw the S on his shirt. Her mouth and eyes both widened into perfect circles, and after a moment of mental jibbering, she squeaked out, "You're Superboy!"
She used to have one of those spaghetti-strap tanktop and boyshorts sets of pajamas with his name on them. How embarrassing.
Wait… "Weren't you dead?" Charlie asked with her usual less-than-tactful bluntness. She blushed at her faux pas, grateful her red freckled face couldn't be seen in the dark.
"I'm not sure," Superboy replied thoughtfully. "I mean, I kinda remember dying, but I don't remember being dead…" He winced, flinched, and generally looked as if that memory was very unpleasant, before pointedly continuing with his explanation. "But Superman did it, so I guess I came back, too." He shook his head wonderingly, and (finally) deigned to float down and land.
Charlie's neck got a chance to rest, but she felt kind of closed in (seeing as how she was on the gargoyle with no place to go without her powers or a jumpline), and the guy who could fly was on the roof, with all its access and egress points. Totally unfair.
But the guy had been dead, so she could cut him some slack. Especially since he was really really cute.
Hoping the night once again hid her blush, Charlie smiled weakly at Superboy and said, "Yeah, I guess you did. Um…you know you're in Gotham, right? I mean, not that it's not great that you're back and everything, but aren't all of your…family…in Metropolis?"
Superboy gave her a look, one that she'd never seen on the face of someone her age – except in her mirror. "Yeah, well…there's family, and then there's family, ya know?" He sighed and looked away, out over the city towards the bay. "Besides, I woke up in San Francisco, and it looked like there'd been a fight at the Tower. I tried to find B– Kid Flash, but I couldn't, so I was just gonna try and find Robin and find out what's been goin' on."
Charlie winced. She'd heard about Deathstroke and his Evil Titans. Not exactly a good time for Superboy to be coming back from the dead.
Or maybe it was the best time. Before things got so much worse his being back couldn't help fix things.
"I don't know how to reach Robin, but I know who can," Charlie told Superboy, determined to help him. She'd heard Babs talk about how well Robin wasn't dealing with all the death he'd been dealt, and she knew the older woman was equally anxious over her currently AWOL protégé Batgirl. Superboy would be someone she could help, who could maybe help her help Robin and search for Batgirl. "I'm Misfit, and I work for Oracle; she'll know how to get in touch with him for you."
"Misfit, huh?" Superboy gave her a warm, slow smile, and Charlie was suddenly, viscerally reminded of why this cocky, somewhat immature meta had been the biggest teen heartthrob since River Phoenix. "I like it." She blushed again, mentally cursing whatever cosmic entity decided to give some people both looks and charisma. "And you're really one of the Birds of Prey?" Superboy looked impressed, and Charlie flushed deeper, even as she felt puffed up with pride. "That's cool. I've heard Oracle even secretly runs the JLA."
His searching look coupled with his overly-dramatic stage whisper caused Charlie to giggle. Babs was larger than life to her, but she kept forgetting that Oracle was the same for most of the rest of the heroes. "Actually, that's Black Canary now. But Oracle's still a member."
Superboy blinked, looking more confused than he had since the start of their conversation. "Whoa. I get the feeling a lot's changed while I've been gone."
Charlie was abruptly reminded of why she shouldn't be chitchatting with a (supposedly) returned from the dead sidekick. Hero, really; he'd saved the multiverse, that deserved full hero status to her mind. Thinking about how Robin had changed his costume to Superboy's colors, how Wonder Girl had struck up a suspiciously tight friendship with Supergirl, and in particular how Kid Flash was now the Flash, Charlie hid a wince and muttered, "You don't know the half of it."
"I'd like to," Superboy said, and if that wasn't completely obvious from his expression of hopeful yearning, Charlie didn't know what was. He looked so cute like that, almost vulnerable. It made her want to take care of him.
Instead of, like, just making out with him for a couple hours.
Charlie managed to not blush as she said, "Well, if you come back with me to HQ, I could introduce you to Oracle," her cyber persona, anyway, "and she could get started on that." As well as giving him a medical checkup to end all medical checkups, and making sure that this was the actual Superboy and not (another) clone.
Maybe, if Babs wasn't too cheesed off about her file – or at least more mollified by Charlie's bringing Superboy back with her – once Babs had cleared Superboy (for actually being Superboy), Charlie could be the one to fill him in on everything that had happened in the past two years.
He was devastatingly hot, exceedingly nice, semi-smart (from what she'd heard) and tremendously heroic. Charlotte Gage-Radcliffe was going to make it her personal mission in life to see lots of Superboy.