A/N: This fic is for a wonderful series by Drew Melbourne called 'ArchEnemies', which was a four issue mini-series released by Dark Horse comics. It's in trade paperback format now as well, so I encourage you to find it in whatever medium you possibly can. It's really good.
It was a bad night for villainy.
It's not that the Underlord couldn't handle a little old rainstorm, it's that he didn't particularly want to. Let Starfighter and the others of his particular ilk go out and catch pneumonia--
No, wait…damn superheroes and their damn invulnerability. Starfighter probably couldn't even catch a cold…the bastard.
It was hardly fair, a voice in the back of Vincent Darko's head grumbled, as the man himself tore open the coat closet door and--ignoring his uncouth roommate's stack of smelly sneakers--ripped his black slicker off a hanger, sliding his arms into the sleeves and giving the collar a sharp snap. Superheroes, it seemed, had all the advantages. He, with his technological brilliance, had to bend and scrape to gain every possible edge he could in battle; the good guys usually came by it naturally.
No wonder there were usually more enthusiastic heroes than truly dedicated villains. Heroics took less effort.
"What a disgustingly indolent society we live in," Vincent muttered, reaching for the doorknob and bracing himself for the inevitable horror show that would be waiting for him once he stepped out of the apartment building and out into the storm.
His fingertips barely brushed the doorknob before the door swung open, propelled by the man on the other side. There stood Ethan Baxter, Vincent's roommate and thorn in his side second only to Starfighter, sopping wet and dripping all over the hardwood floor in the hallway.
"Forgot my keys," Ethan said, his voice coming out with an unfamiliar nasal twang. He sniffed, the sound disturbingly loud and abrupt in the quiet of the hallway.
"You look like a drowned rat," Vincent replied, stepping aside to allow Ethan entrance into the apartment.
The larger, more athletic man's movements were sluggish and a little slow as he shuffled past. Vincent noted that he was dragging his duffle behind him on the floor, leaving a trail of water behind him.
With an impatient huff, Vincent leaned over and snatched up the bag, carrying it to the radiator and dropping it next to it where it would have a chance to dry.
"Thanks," Ethan said listlessly, flopping down on the couch.
"I just mopped," Vincent answered stiffly, making sure that his 'roomie' realized that it wasn't a personal favor or an act of kindness, just a means of keeping his clean apartment clean. "You're dripping all over the couch."
"Sorry. Did you just mop that too?"
"Very funny. You should take up comedy, Ethan."
Ethan gave a shrug and peeled off his jacket, which Vincent snatched from midair before it could hit the floor.
Vincent narrowed his eyes at the lethargic redhead. "Are you ill?"
"Nah. I'm fine."
The coughing fit that followed only convinced Vincent that it might in fact be possible to defy the laws of medical science and actually cough up a lung.
"Did you walk from work in the rain?" Vincent asked, stripping out of his own rain slicker and returning it to the coat closet. He had planned on going to the store, but he couldn't leave Baxter here in this condition.
The apartment would never survive.
Ethan nodded. "Couldn't get a ca--ACHOO-b."
With a sigh, Vincent started for the linen closet and took out the thickest blanket he could lay his hands on. "Take off your clothes."
That got a slightly sharper reaction. "What? Hey, Darko, I was just kidding before, I didn't think you were actually ga--"
"Oh, would you shut up? You'll get sick if you don't get into dry clothes."
Ethan took a moment to consider this before he started tugging off his damp over shirt. The wife beater beneath was still pretty dry. "I didn't know you cared."
"My reasoning is purely selfish," he said, wriggling the thick blanket in front of Ethan's face. "If you die, I'll have to clean it up."
"Nice to see you still know where your priorities lie," Ethan replied, seizing the coverlet and wrapping it around his shoulders before he started working at his belt. When he was divested of his pants, Vincent collected both articles of clothing.
"I'll put these in the washing machine," he said with another distasteful sniff, holding the clothes as far away from himself as his arms could manage.
"Doin' my laundry for me now, Darko?" Ethan couldn't stifle the smile, though it was obvious he was too worn out to be his usual smartass self.
"If I don't, they'll lie in the hamper for three weeks and mildew," Vincent replied flatly. "Stay there, I'll be right back."
Ethan didn't argue, just pulled the blanket closer around himself. He hadn't been sick in almost…hrm. Well, now that he was thinking on it, he hadn't been sick since he'd been granted his superpowers and taken up the mantle of Starfighter. As point of fact, he'd thought he couldn't get sick. Apparently, six hours of patrol in the pouring rain was out to prove him wrong. He'd stayed out as long as he could but he finally had to give up and go home.
He sneezed violently and his teeth chattered involuntarily in response. Hopefully, the Underlord wouldn't strike tonight. The last thing he needed was facing a climactic battle when he could hardly stand up.
Vincent returned, but didn't stop to speak to Ethan on his way to the kitchen. Instead, he made it through the swinging kitchen door and then poked his head back out again. "Chicken noodle or beef barley?"
"Soup. You need to eat something…and I'm rather in the mood for it myself."
Ethan's brows knit together. "Do you even know how to make soup?"
Vincent glared at his roommate. "It's from a can, I'm sure I can manage that much."
Ethan shrugged again. "Just don't give me food poisoning."
Vincent quirked an eyebrow. "Does the invalid want to starve to death?"
"I could order a pizza," Ethan said in the same tone of a child who was threatening to run away and join the circus.
Vincent grew thoughtful. "You could at that. Fine, I'll have soup. You order a pizza."
Ethan nodded as the kitchen door swung shut again and the gears in his head ground to a slow halt. "Uh, Vincent, can I borrow twenty dollars for the pizza?"
The kitchen door swung out again, revealing the fiercest glare Vincent had ever given Ethan in the history of their acquaintance.
Ethan sank back on the couch, clutching the blanket a little bit tighter to his chest and pouting. "Fine. Chicken noodle."
Vincent continued to look at Ethan, though his glare softened to a look of expectation.
"'And you'll like it, Mister'," Ethan said with a sigh.
The kitchen door swung shut again.