Disclaimer: The words are mine, the dialogue—save for the pop culture references—is mine, some of the characters are even mine, but the world they reside in…isn't.
CATverse A/N: This story is part of the CATverse. Don't know what that is? Check out catverse. com to find out. This story occurs in arc five.
Regular Old A/N: So, any of you kids ever read Justice League International? No? What do you MEAN no? I…but…that…IT'S MADE OF WIN AND AWESOME!
Okay, okay, reading JLI isn't necessary to understand this story. Everything works out of context, even if you've never read a comic and are only aware of the Batman universe because of the movies. Isn't it nice of me to make stories saturated in DC lore so easily accessible? But seriously, if you're a fan of mine and are even a casual comics reader…track down as much JLI as you possibly can. If you like me, you will worship Giffen and Dematteis, this I promise.
And thanks to Cap'n, for being an argumentative, stubborn bitch, as well as Michigan J. Bowler, for taking me to the real Arcade. You made the six year old inside me the happiest girl in the world. And even though you go red next year, remember: You don't have to die! You can live! LIIIIIIIVE!
"I beg your pardon?"
"People watching," the Captain repeated, tipping her head and looking at Jonathan Crane as though he were showing signs of growing another head. "Didn't you hear me the first time? Are you coming down with an ear infection? Do you need soup?"
"I do not need soup," he snapped irritably, and in true ironic fashion he found that he wanted soup the moment that the words had left his lips--he ignored it, "and my hearing isn't failing me. I simply couldn't believe my ears. Now, if you had said people poaching…"
"Who huh?" Techie poked her head out of the motel bathroom, her toothbrush sticking out from between her lips, foam dripping down her chin. "Someone say poaching? You going funky poaching, Cap'n? I didn't bring my gear…"
"No, Ops, I'm going people watching."
"Oooh!" The Harley Quinn quality to Techie's voice would have made her hand Crane his lungs if he'd dared to point out the similarities. She ducked back into the bathroom long enough to spit noisily and then popped back out again with a washcloth in hand. "We haven't been people watching since Central City! Do you have a bus schedule? Where's Al? Should I pack a lunch?"
The Captain smiled fondly. "Yes to the schedule, Al's in the lobby and no, no lunches."
Techie wiped the toothpaste bubbles from her face and tossed the washcloth behind her as she exited the bathroom. "Are we bringing Squishy?"
Crane was about to snipe at her not to call him by that infernal nickname when the Captain cut him off. "No. No lunch and no Squishykins."
'Squishykins' jaw dropped open at this vehement statement but he snapped his mouth shut with an audible click once he realized he must've been gaping like a fish. Usually, the three hellions would attempt to drag him everywhere with them…it was highly suspicious when they didn't. His eyes narrowed, darting from one woman to the other warily, even as Techie shrugged carelessly.
"Okay. Al coming?"
"She's not not coming," Captain said distractedly, unaware of the way Crane was eyeing her askance, as she reached into the coat closet and retrieved what had been ever-so-appropriately dubbed the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man Coat--a huge, down filled bright white coat that Techie had 'bought' for her commanding officer during their first truly harsh winter in Gotham. All three girls had identical vestments, but after being mistaken for some of Captain Cold's minions the last time they had run into the Flash, they no longer wore them in tandem.
After slithering into her coat, the Captain withdrew Techie's worn black leather jacket from the closet. The thing was in such sad shape that the seams had been sloppily repaired countless times with thick, white cotton thread to keep it from falling apart. She threw it at Techie, who fumbled it and then scooped it up from the floor.
"I don't know why you keep that piece of junk," the Captain said as she zipped up her coat. "It looks like the victim of an amateur taxidermist."
Techie slid the coat on and popped the collar. Jonathan was forcibly reminded of James Dean--or at the very least, a parody of him. "It's a Wisconsin coat. This thing will survive a nuclear winter."
The Captain put her hands on her hips. The gesture made her resemble an over inflated Marshmallow Peep. "Do you even know what nuclear winter is?"
"I know the general gist of the thing. I've seen Fail Safe," Techie replied, "and Dr. Strangelove."
A roll of her eyes was the Captain's response. "Sometimes I wonder how you passed high school history."
"Who says I did?" Techie buttoned her coat. "You sure we shouldn't bring Squishums?"
"I'm sure." Jonathan was starting to get irritated about the fact they insisted on talking about him as though he weren't in the room--like a child who had to be spoken over. "He'd just be bored."
"I think I should like to make that decision for myself," Jonathan said flatly, without a single ounce of passion.
The Captain looked at him. "Oh, come on, Squishmeister, you know you don't want to go on a silly little outing with us. You stay here and do your research or whatever. We'll be back before you know it. C'mon, Ops."
More suspicious than ever, Jonathan swatted Techie's hand away when she tried to pat him on the head as a gesture of goodbye and watched them leave the motel room. Once they slammed the door behind them, he sprang towards the window, slid into his jacket in one fluid motion and clawed his way out onto the fire escape. He skidded on the slippery metal but made it to the parking lot with a minimum of fuss. He sprinted across the icy pavement as quick as he dared, only slipped on black ice once and reached the Frohike. The girls were nowhere to be seen, so he slid behind the wheel and settled down to watch the motel's office doors.
If they didn't want him along, they were surely up to something. He'd be damned if he'd let them start keeping secrets from him now…
The Captain and Techie emerged from the motel lobby with a beleaguered Al trailing behind, chatting amicably. They didn't look particularly devious, but then again, it could be argued that they hardly ever did.
(Those who would argue such a point were fools, plebeians and otherwise unworthy of drawing breath.)
He watched them intently as they walked to the bus stop—slipping on the ice only once or twice in the process—and continued his surveillance right up until the number thirty-two bus pulled to a stop in front of them. They hopped aboard, the Captain and Techie looking considerably more cheerful about it than Al, and as the doors slipped shut behind them, Jonathan slammed his keys in the ignition of the Frohike, starting the engine with a violent twist of his wrist.
He was about to put the van into gear when he stopped himself. Now, this was just ridiculous. They could go on an outing all by themselves, couldn't they? They were grown women, weren't they? They didn't need a chaperone…
After all, how much trouble could they possibly get into, just…people watching?