For everyone that wanted a continuation of Rookie or Desert Phoenix: this is the closest that I'll get. I've tried to finish the other stories, and it just won't happen. Personal reasons.
This story has been undergoing revisions to the plot for over a year. I'm assuming basic knowledge of the characters for this plot to work smoothly (real names, powers, a little about their background), but will try to give some introduction for each character. My canon background is going to be eclectic. The cartoon is the main source, but I'll draw on facts from the comics, modern biological research, history, mythology, and whatever else adds to the plot.
I try to reply to all reviews, but if your entire review is 'great chapter!' I won't have much to say. Let me know what worked and what didn't.
This story is for all the annoying people who refused to give up and let me be a 24/7 science geek. (Thank you.)
Friday June 12, 11:48 P.M.
Jump City's small airport was busy, even at the late hour. Three flights had just arrived, and the crowd of passengers was moving slowly towards the baggage claim area. Two bleary-eyed passengers barely noticed the other people. After a nonstop flight from London to Los Angeles, they had sprinted across LAX to catch their connecting plane. Garfield Logan and Victor Stone were back in Jump City, and things like crowds were not nearly as important as catching up on sleep.
The terminal was packed with people, but they still had a little room to move. Strangers to Jump City had never heard of Dr. Mark and Marie Logan's only son. They saw that Garfield was solid green, and tended to leave space in case he was contagious. Jump City natives weren't nearly so cautious. Locals knew him by name, and Garfield tried to return the favor. The odds were against him, but that had never stopped him before.
"Garfield! How was London?"
Garfield saw an airport security officer waving to him. He pushed through the crowd in her direction, glancing over his shoulder occasionally to make sure he hadn't lost Victor. He ducked under the rope stretched to the side of the VIP lounge area, reasoning that she'd waved to him first.
"I didn't see anything but science this time, Kathleen. The conference kept us running from one presentation to the other."
"You and your friend look exhausted." She had been guarding a small opening in the roped-off area, but stepped aside so Victor could pass through. "Your parents have been on our VIP list since their flight to Stockholm."
Garfield grinned. "Hey, winning a Nobel is good for something! Thanks, Kathleen. The shortcut will help us get home before Victor bites someone's head off." She went back to her post, and Garfield and Victor walked into the wide, quiet corridor that never became crowded. Garfield glanced over his shoulder again. Usually, Victor would introduce himself when Gar was talking to one of the many Jump City citizens that recognized Gar by the green.
Victor hadn't been able to catch a few hours of sleep on the plane. He needed an electrical outlet, which wasn't provided on planes.
Running across an airport had not agreed with Victor Stone. He had given up on endurance running years ago. Most of his body was cybernetic, metal, and extremely heavy. Beyond that, he had gone thirty-one hours without recharging. Theoretically, he could go thirty-eight without impairing function and ninety-six hours before switching solely to vital functions. After this experiment, he didn't want to test it.
"Low batteries?" Garfield teased.
"Literally." Victor was too tired to be annoyed. "My body's fine, my brain is tired." He didn't say anything more. As far as anyone could tell, he was a completely normal twenty-two year old man who happened to have a pea-green best friend. Unless someone in the crowd had come in direct contact with him, they'd never know that most of his skin had been replaced with metal. One of his first inventions had been a hologram generator that worked through two thick rings. It showed how he would look if an accident in his father's lab hadn't put him in intensive care. The fourth and current model was an imitation of his class ring, and the fifth would be a part of his CPU. If the illusion was internal, he couldn't lose the ring or forget to change the hologram generator's batteries.
They passed a secluded lounge in the quiet hallway. Victor kept walking, but Garfield couldn't help looking. To his disappointment, there were no movie stars or famous people. The lounge area of the airport was only available to the famous and the rich, but Garfield wasn't interested in the rich. He was almost past the room when his internal tally came up strange.
Two dark-haired people in the back corner of the room had been speaking quietly, while a very competent-looking bodyguard in a purple tube top and miniskirt had been watching the hallway with her arms crossed. The miniskirt combo wasn't all that surprising, and the orange skin could have been a horrible accident with a self-tanner, but—
Victor tugged on his arm. "I thought the plan was to go home, grass stain. Let's go."
"Victor, the girl in the room was floating!"
"And you say my batteries are low. Move, Gar." Victor didn't slow as he continued to walk down the hallway.
Garfield gave up when Victor almost tugged him into someone with spiky black hair. "Excuse me, my friend's cranky when needs his beauty sleep," Gar said.
"No problem. Do you know where I can get reception?" The man pulled a cell phone from his suit pocket. "My personal phone would get better reception, but my company likes to keep business and private lines separate."
"Where are you calling?"
Garfield checked his watch. "Isn't it about four in the morning there?"
The stranger grinned. "My boss keeps weird hours. He's up."
Garfield really wanted to ask, but Victor really wanted to leave. Being the considerate friend won out, mostly because Victor was not a night owl unless he was fully charged. "I'd try using the lounge, closer to the south side."
"You're boring when you're tired, you know that?" Gar asked Victor when the guy in the suit had left.
"And the easiest way to fix that…"
"Is to head to the baggage claim and go to the car and go home," Garfield recited, already bored. He didn't like being bored. If he was bored, he had time to think. If he had time to think, he started to wonder if he shouldn't be bored so often. He loved his parents, and understood that the research they did was extremely important, but he didn't love research. He was tired of working with DNA. All the protocols ever involved were clear liquids, and maybe some blue once in a while.
Caught up in a daydream about whether lab work would be improved with red and yellow food coloring, Garfield didn't notice when they rejoined the crowd at the baggage claim area until another Jump City native said hello. When he actually paid attention, several more people waved to him. His parents were Jump City's celebrities, but he was much easier to recognize on the street.
"I swear, half the city knows you," Victor said. "I would say that we could split up to make this faster, but I won't let you drive my car and don't think you want to pull two suitcases through all this."
"Once is enough, Garfield. You hit two mailboxes and a curb."
"You didn't tell me that there was a third pedal, and that it had something to do with rockets," Garfield retorted, his eyes on the suitcases. He wasn't sure who had come up with the idea to put a giant snaking conveyor belt in the baggage claim area, but the setup reminded Gar of a video game or a weird sushi restaurant. "I have a perfect record with normal cars."
"You didn't look at how many pedals there were, just like you didn't look at where the labels on the gear shift fell. You drive a beater car with an automatic transmission. You could run that thing into a wall and no one would be able to tell."
"At least I don't act like it's my girlfriend."
"Good thing, because that car's older than you."
Garfield changed the subject, since he wasn't going to win that argument. He could point out that Victor had made several incriminating statements about "his baby," but Victor had been on the last successful date. Any mentions of "baby" would lead straight into a public retelling of the Terra Disaster. Victor might even try imitating voices again.
"It's weird being back home. I was starting to get used to the accents after two weeks," Garfield said.
"The accents didn't bother me. Two weeks at a science conference was weird. I'll need time to get used to speaking English again."
"Instead of British English?"
"DNA biology's not my top subject, you know that. Two weeks of top-of-the-line DNA research was interesting, but I think any of the interns in the lab would have killed to be at that conference." Victor reached onto the conveyor belt and snagged Garfield's bag before his friend had noticed it. "Still, it's a job in research."
"Something in biomechanics will open up." Garfield was too tired to be very encouraging, but he did his best. "Your name will be at the top of the list, even if you don't patent the hologram generator until you're thirty."
"I've told you, Gar, it's—"
"Not ready," Gar chorused with Victor.
"It'd break you into any electronics research and development company," Garfield said. "DNA's not really my favorite topic, either. The research my parents are doing doesn't kill animals, but we're next to the top killer in STAR Labs. I feel like I know when they're having a kill day, even before I see anything."
"You've mentioned that. Would you stay in research?"
"Probably not. Short attention span, you know? I don't have to make money, my parents have more than they can track. I can do nonprofit work if I want, something with animals. I'm just getting cross-eyed looking at microcentrifuge tubes," Garfield admitted.
Victor grabbed his bag, which was considerably smaller than Garfield's. He had only brought a few tangible outfits, and generated the rest via hologram. All of his clothes had to be custom ordered, as no store in Jump City stocked clothing that fit his specifications. If he wasn't careful, clothes could become caught in the smaller metal joints. He checked over the condition of both suitcases briefly, using a few of the more selective modifications of his cybernetic eye. He was about to head towards the parking lot when someone tapped his elbow.
"Excuse me, but would you please help me find my bag? I've been looking for the last twenty minutes." The speaker was an Asian woman about his age. She smiled hopefully when she finished speaking, and Victor only hesitated for a moment.
"Sure," Victor said. "What color are we looking for?" Garfield gave him a thumbs up and pointed to one of the benches at the edges of the area. Gar even dragged the two suitcases with him, leaving Victor to search for luggage.
"It's bright red, but I've already seen a few in that shade. If it hasn't fallen off, a gold ribbon is tied to the handle."
His companion apologized several times during their half-hour search for her bag. Victor finally saw it across the concourse floor, leaning against a pillar. Someone had apparently taken the bag halfway to the exit before realizing that it was the wrong piece of luggage. Victor could see the telltale glint of gold ribbon, and he was at least as relieved as the woman with the missing bag.
"Thank you." She beamed at him, as if he had just passed some kind of test by finding a suitcase. "Will you please accept a small something? Half an hour of your time, when you obviously want to be home… it's worth a token of appreciation, at the very least."
"You're welcome, but it wasn't any trouble. Someone must have grabbed your bag by mistake."
The woman shook her head, and pulled a bright red box from the outer compartment of the wheeled red suitcase. It was tied with an equally red ribbon, and had no other markings. "Open this when you get home. You look like you could use some sleep."
Garfield dragged their bags over in time to hear the last few words. "I'll agree with that." He yawned, as if to second his own point. "You've done your good deed for the day, Victor, let's head home."
Victor was too tired to fight, or to insist that anyone else could have done the same. He accepted the box, which was large enough to cover the palm of his hand. "Thank you."
"You're welcome," she replied with a smile. "Red is the color for good luck, in China, and you certainly deserve it. Good night, gentlemen."
"That's weird," Garfield pronounced when he and Victor were walking across the parking lot. "Nice, though. She gave you a present, and it smells okay."
"Nothing comes up strange on all the optical scanners I can run." Victor was still exhausted, even if his mind had taken the chance to think over a new puzzle. He would figure it out in the morning. "Ready to go?"
"Ready to sleep," Garfield said vehemently. "For a week."
Victor understood the feeling, but he wouldn't sleep for a week. He'd "sleep" for six hours, the same as always. The two-bedroom apartment they had shared since high school could more accurately be called a one-bedroom, one-workroom apartment. He would recharge for six hours, then start tinkering with one of his projects.
"I'm too tired for you to be brooding about stuff, Vic," Garfield complained as Victor loaded the suitcases into the back of the car. "I can't help you out if I can't walk in a straight line."
"I'll be better in the morning, Gar. Promise."
Garfield studied him when they both were in the T-car, finally heading back to the apartment. "Alright. If you aren't, I'll make a plan, and we both know what happened last time."
It was 1:39 A.M., they were both exhausted, and they both were still arguing about who had caused the apartment's second dishwasher to explode. By the time they reached the apartment at 1:52 A.M., they again agreed to disagree. They left the suitcases in the front room, and Victor left the bright red box on the kitchen counter.
Saturday June 13, 2:08 A.M.
Both residents were fast asleep, and the doors to their bedrooms were tightly closed. Neither had noticed that the ribbon on the box had become lopsided during the trip from the airport, and neither would have cared. After a flash of light, however, the problem was remedied. A bright red box, tied neatly with a perfectly symmetric bright red bow, remained exactly where Victor Stone had set it on the counter.
The apartment was quiet enough to imagine the sound of an impatient genie tapping her foot.