They had to wait a little while before they could turn any of their plans into realities.
The next day, Penny convinced Billy to get the cut on his arm checked out via offers of strawberry ice cream and skillful deployment of eyelashes.
Apparently, he had massive, untreated internal injuries from a multiple-year history of getting cars thrown at his head, being smashed up against walls, tossed off bridges and out of buildings and windows, receiving superpowered punches, et cetera.
"Think of it this way," Penny said brightly, leaning against the gurney. "It's not a setback, just… a thing that'll give us some time to plan our next move. There's no way the ELE would think of looking for you here."
"It's a setback."
"A mandatory waiting period? You have to wait this many days before you can attempt to solve L.A.'s problems?"
"…a minor setback."
They gave him her old room, and he grinned every time he found the little notes and doodles she left for the next occupant- under the bed, on the windowsill, inside the pillowcase. They were more than friends, but a bit less than anything else; not caring about the definition, she texted him between shifts.
("Moist, I need you to cover for me."
"Will it be dangerous?"
Shifty eyes. "Nope."
Moist saw through the lie in an instant; however, wanting his friend to be happy, he played along.)
Via cellphone, he convinced the ELE that he would take over Australia.
"Did it work?" Penny asks. She wore a floral-print dress, and her eyes seemed as bright as the day outside.
He grinned. "I think so."
They shared a high-five on the third try.
After a few weeks, he started tinkering with inventions again.
A pair of heels that didn't give people blisters (Penny, at five-foot-short, refused to wear flats.)
A heated jacket that, despite its thin fabric, provided body-temperature warmth on the coldest of days (the shelter's employees did this thing where, during the winter, they go out and deliver food and clothes to the homeless, and the idea of Penny shivering just made him uncomfortable.)
Okay, a supervillain wouldn't invent things just to make his laundry buddy happy. So… what was he?
What with learning how to use her new powers and keeping the new, larger shelter running smoothly, Penny couldn't remember ever being so busy. Nevertheless, she still found time to visit her friend. She brought Chinese takeout, Ethiopian mishmoshes of tomato-lentil paste and pitas that they ate with their hands, enormous banana spilts with chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. They debated over crossword puzzles and, on one weekend that Penny had been forced to take off- apparently 'normal girl by day, superhero by night' only works if you don't pull too many consecutive all-nighters- listened to most of The Hobbit in audiobook form.
Moist mailed soggy postcards from Australia, Hourglass left answering-machine warnings about how many days he had before the ELE uncovered the ruse (the total: not many at all,) and Billy had never been so happy in his life.
"What are we going to do?" Lucky Penny sat on the edge of his desk, flipping a coin. It came up heads nine times out of ten.
"Dunno." It felt good to be back in the lab with his gloves on, even if he had no idea how to resolve his problems. "We've got the ELE on one side of us, the HLH on the other, and they both hate our guts for making them look bad. If only we weren't so outnumbered, we could stand up to them." He wore the hood of his sweatshirt up whenever he was out in public; similarly, Penny had taken to wearing an enormous sunhat to and from work to hide her distinctive hair.
If only we weren't so outnumbered, Penny echoed silently. Frowning in thought, she turned the phrase over in her mind, examining it. Then she grinned. "I have an idea."
When she finished, he looked at her, an almost manic energy suffusing his smile. "Penny? That's perfect."
You're perfect, the subtext conveyed. Inside her head, a little mini-Penny did cartwheels and flips.
There was a new post up on 's video blog. This time, the goggled mad scientist shared the screen with a sunny-looking redhead in a lavender dress, her face familiar to anyone who read the 'Superheroes' section of the L.A. times.
"Hi, so… umm, yeah. " waved at the camera, a little awkwardly. "I lost interest in this blog for a few months, but I have an important message which is important and stuff. This is my laundry buddy, Penny. And, yes, she does know I exist. We've recently started spending time with each other in non-fabric-softener-related contexts."
Penny's mouth quirked as if trying to hold back a full-sized grin. She picked up where he'd left off: "While that's important, it's not the purpose of our announcement-" and nodded at him to continue.
Billy cleared his throat. "Are you tired of trying to fit in with the strict immoral codes of the Evil League of Evil?"
Penny leaned in. "Fed up with the publicity-obsessed jerks in the HLH?"
At that, Penny sureptitiously kicked the CD player beneath the desk, and a hum-along-to-able piano melody kicked in. (This was, after all, a singalong blog.)
She began: "Call us good-"
"Call us bad-"
"We just do-"
"What we can," they sang, finishing the line together.
"Use our brains, fix the town-"
"Status quo, turn it round!"
He put an arm around her in a way that suggested easy familiarity; the way she leaned into him, however, conveyed much more than that.
"Forming the League of Chaotic Good," the two continued in unison.
"We won't tell you what you should or shouldn't do, cause we
Just want to fix society!
If you think
Send an app
Through the mail
And we'll work to fix the world-"
In the last seconds of the video, before Doctor Horrible flails at the webcam, covering it with his hand, then hitting half the keyboard before he manages to find ALT+F4- well, it was a source of near-infinite fan debate, arguing over blurry screencaps in message-board flame wars, but the blog's more shipping-inclined fangirls insist that, right before the video cut out, Doctor Horrible pulled Lucky Penny into an adorkably passionate kiss. They bumped noses on the first attempt, but the second went perfectly.
The first application came five minutes later. It was from Hourglass- apparently, she'd known that they were going to form a league of their own "three weeks in advance." (She also included a note for Penny- "He likes being handcuffed. Oh, and wear something slinky." Penny snorted, trying not to crack up, and tucked the note into her pocket. She'd have to investigate that at some point.)
The slightly damp envelope with 'From Moist' scribbled on it in smudged, cheap ink went in the Accepted pile, no questions asked.
And then Johnny Snow, the corners of his application brittle with delicate frost- "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em," he added as a postscript.
Conflict Diamond sent in an application on designer stationery, her handwriting erratic and angular. Switch wrote in round bubble letters, even dotting her I's with hearts.
And then they went viral.
A third of the Henchman's League defected to the League of Chaotic Good, and nearly a fourth of the Sidekicks' Union volunteered to donate their services.
Yeah, they were still outnumbered. Yeah, the chances of having cars flung at their heads increased exponentially every time someone clicked on Lucky Penny and 's Singalong Blog. And, yeah, Captain Hammer had returned to L.A.
Nevertheless, they had a chance.
And they worked well together. The same unshakeable idealism, the same quirkiness, the same unique love of unflavored frozen yogurt. Together, they planned on changing the world.
Or maybe ruling it. But probably just changing it. And kind of ruling it, but not exactly. Just in a metaphorical way.
Billy was more than fine with that.