Disclaimer: I do not own Trixie Belden, nor will this page result in any kind of profit at any point in time.
Dusk was descending over the sprawling city of Sleepyside. The sun was sinking into the horizon, bleeding a trail of orange and pink in its wake, while lilac and periwinkle edged into the sky's corners, as though trying to push past the other colors and hurry through the drudgery of arbitrary twilight. The fiery sun elongated the shadows of various structures into random, mismatched patterns, the extended outlines of shade an early sign of the darkness that accompanied the rising of night.
Heroes frequently glided through the sky on lightning bolts and fire, which the civilians now expected and rarely took notice of, as with the bursts of bright light the size of Independence Day fireworks and flaring comets. Flamboyant villains had attempted daring daylight robberies, but they were now locked away. Tonight, no alien creatures clashed in epic battle over the nighttime sky, as they sometimes did.
The city was relatively peaceful at the given time, considering its unusual inhabitants. Yes, there was the usual evening traffic jams, lines of cars filled with people eager to escape the workplace and return to their homes for dinner; commerce hadn't slowed, the factories weren't yet closed for the night; and politicians argued with talk show hosts on large flatscreen televisions situation high on the outer walls of buildings, for citizens to glance at and catch the news as they hastened through the city's square.
All in all, the lack of conflicts of the superhero sort was a sign that the heroes were doing what the papers proclaimed: ushering in a period of peace. Crime had dropped for the large part, even if there did appear to be more costumed criminals than ever. Statistics for heart problems and anxiety issues were lowering: citizens were reassured by the knowledge that they could rely on heroes to protect them. Investments picked up at the banks, because the heroes would be there to stop any robberies.
Costumed heroes with secret identities had existed for decades, but the Justice Brigade had formed less than forty years ago. The founding members consisted of the vivacious Dutch Blitz, the insightful and spirited Steel Trap, the sensible female wrestler Lady Smackdown, and the grouchy but generous Baron Benevolent.
Together, the four had been history's first superhero team, and their legacy continued to present day. The Justice Brigade had carried on with fresh heroes, ready and willing to preserve the law. Once the team had settled its headquarters in the Sleepyside, citizens from all over the world flocked to the quiet town until the village's denomination became a misnomer: as of now, the city was a colossal metropolis.
At the moment, the sky were relatively empty. No helicopters or advertisment planes circling about. The skies were entirely devoid of any superhuman occupants, as well, with the exception of a single one.
Liberty Belle, a successful sixteen-year-old superhero, soared over skyscrapers, eyes focused on her designated destination. When she drew sufficiently close to that particular building, she angled her body downwards, lowering her altitude. The wind ruffled her sandy curls, cut into a brief bob. Some superheroines wanted long, flowing hair to stream out behind them as they flew about, but to Liberty, that seemed impractical for close combat. She preferred short hair, which suited the corkscrew texture of her tresses, and besides, with a cropped style, it didn't make much of a difference when the wind tousled her curls.
Weaving around the skyscrapers, her china blue eyes scanned the horizon, ascertaining that the church with its Gothic architectural style was the correct place. But there was never any true doubt: the building's unmistakeable towering masonry spire told Liberty that she had arrived. Her quick check was more cursory than anything else: she was determined to continue to prove herself an effective crime-fighter, so she did her best to keep her wits about her at all times.
Realization dawned on Liberty as she touched down onto the narrow space of unoccupied flat area on the roof, located beneath the base of the spire and behind the row of gargoyles that sat like a granite jury.
St. Jude's. Of course. This was where his parents were buried.
The setting sun created many shadows on the roof, but Liberty was able to spot the silhouette of another person, leaning against the spire's base.
"Hello, Liberty Belle," the familiar voice greeted her, low but pleasant. "Nice boots."
Glancing down at her footwear, Liberty suppressed a groan. Her superhero costume consisted of a sky blue, long-sleeved leotard with a large, white, five-pointed star embellished on the front and center. She wore the suit over tights with moderately-sized red and white vertical stripes. The mask that preserved her identity was white with a blue border around the edges; it spanned most of her face, leaving only her upper forehead, lower cheeks, and mouth visible. Her entire costume was fashioned after the American flag.
However, she had lost her matching, blue swashbuckler boots while fighting the smuggler River Rat and his two accomplices, Tooth and Nail and thus, had hastily borrowed shoes from her best friend and fellow superheroine Golden Girl.
Unfortunately, the glittering, metallic gold knee-highs that resembled go-go boots were much too glitzy for the rest of her outfit and somewhat threw off the patriotic theme.
Liberty directed her attention back to her companion. "Hello, yourself, Captain Coldheart."
The individual in question stepped out of the shadows, exposing his visage to the waning rays of sun.
At five-ten, he stood a good six inches above her, but she wasn't exactly intimidated by him. There was a familiarity between them, a bond that hadn't been severed when he, as the hero Arctic Fury, had ceased aiding the Justice Brigade in their unending quest for lawfulness and instead allowed himself to be brought down to the level of the very villains he had once fought against.
It had been months ago, when shortly after the deaths of his parents, Arctic Fury took a leave of absence from the Junior Justice, a collective of teen heroes based in Sleepyside who shared the Justice Brigade's goals and worked side by side with the adult heroes on multiple occasions. Soon, Captain Coldheart surfaced, now no longer a hero and using his ice-based powers for less than noble deeds.
Liberty Belle took a moment to study the appearance of her former colleague and confidant. His sleek black hair, now slightly overgrown, was a sharp contrast to his pale complexion.
However, most of his face was covered by a black mask that hid his eyebrows, eyes, and nose. The design was plain with no decoration, not even the usual change in coloration to indicate where his eyes were: at first glance, this lack of distinction gave the impression that he had no eyes whatsoever. To ascertain that the mask adhered to his face, short flat slats extended further from the four corners of the mask, angled inwards at perhaps forty-five degrees, pressing down against his skin, helping the material remain fixed over his face.
Funny; she had known him for almost two years, but now she couldn't recall the color of his eyes.
His outfit was a mixture of classic and contemporary. Judging by the color scheme, his jacket was reminiscent of the military, but closer study revealed that the style was akin to a motorcycle jacket by way of how the front flaps of the navy blue jacket folded over one another: the left side flap had the buttons while right flap had the buttonholes. Once the jacket was closed, a row of gleaming gold buttons began at each shoulder, slanting diagonally as the lines of button continued down before evening out over his flat stomach, becoming parallel with one another. At the jacket's collar, a blood red silk scarf was pulled to the left, tied in manner that was similar to, but not quite, that of a cowboy's kerchief.
The pants were black, the cut accenting his lean but muscled build. Armored plates were clamped over his knees, hinged to similarly blood red, knee-high boots, so not to interfere with his stride or agility.
Coldheart's smooth voice interrupted Liberty's musings on the switch in his costume, which had been presumably inspired by the beginnings of his descent into villainy. "I heard that Heart's Desire was inducted into the Justice Brigade yesterday. She's the first of our generation to become promoted to their level, you know."
Liberty Belle scowled. Heart's Desire had been the best-looking and most talented superhero of Junior Justice. When Heart's Desire was younger, her superhero name was "Ice Kate," with an ice-skating theme to match. But several years ago, she had changed her name, denouncing the Ice Kate identity and accompanying characteristic themes of heroes in general to be "childish and gimmicky." Liberty Belle was quick to use this as an example when buttressing her argument that the tall, graceful young blonde was snobby and patronizing, but in truth, her disdain for the other superheroine stemmed from jealousy. Though she was unwilling to admit it, she rather envious of Heart's Desire's natural charms and ease with herself.
However, Liberty Belle wouldn't begrudge the strong morals and powers of Heart's Desire. The other young woman was fierce and unwavering in her code of ethics, and she held herself to firm standards, lines she vowed never to cross despite her formidable ability: she could see into the very hearts of individuals, know their deepest aspirations, their clandestine longings. If rumors were to be true, she not only could also see into people's souls, but she had a personal connection with the big guy up in the sky himself, and was one of his avenging angels.
Her partner was Determinator, a master athlete. They both hailed from the Des Moines area, and together, they were an excellent crime-fighting team.
Catching herself lost in her own thoughts, Liberty hurried to reply. "Yeah, everyone was there for the ceremony. Even Lava Lass." Normally a spike of envy would run through her at the mention of her oh-so-perfect cousin's name; yet again, the green-eyed monster engendered Liberty's aversion to the other heroine. But at the moment, Liberty was trying desperately to keep the conversation going, to not allow this meeting to descend into awkward silence.
More than anything, Liberty wanted to speak to her easygoing and witty friend Arctic Fury again, without this sullen and disenfranchised Captain Coldheart getting in the way. Thoughts swirled about in her head, and odd feelings brought her heart to beat faster, but Liberty didn't know how to adequately express her conflicting emotions to her former friend. She recalled the circumstances that had birthed this rendezvous.
"I miss you," she had told him during a chance encounter. "I want to talk you again."
He had smiled at her then, a sharp little smile that appeared so suddenly it was as though someone had slashed his mouth with a knife.
"Why not? As long as I'm the one to name the time and place."
Now, heat rose to her cheeks as she struggled to find the right words, to verbalize the swirling torrent of anger, disappointment, relief, and excitement that left her feeling overwhelmed whenever her eyes fell upon him. Liberty knew she must look like a fool, standing there, tongue-tied at the sight of some boy. She wished her female friends, who were practiced with conversation in unusual circumstances, were there with her: Golden Girl was ever so tactful, and Arachne, despite her uncanny spider-like abilities and her outer appearance, beautiful to the point of intimidating, always knew just what to say to put people at ease.
But right now, they were out on a training exercise with Arachne's younger siblings, the two set of twins that consisted of the Power Pack. Liberty Belle's only younger brother, Creature Kid, had joined the Power Pack in their excursion, as he was already a frequent playmate of theirs.
Liberty was on her own when it came to addressing Coldheart.
"The rest of Junior Justice really misses you," Liberty blurted.
When she said "Junior Justice," she was referring to herself and the six members she was closest to, though that was not the entirety of the ensemble.
Before they had been invited to join Junior Justice, Liberty Belle had been part of a team that consisted of her two older brothers and herself. Wildvine's ability to command any sort of plant or vegetation to his wishes, Darkforce's mastery over the shadows, combined with her own control of fireworks, made them a diverse team with a vast range of talents.
Liberty's specific ability was a low level of pyrokinesis, allowing her to generate bright bursts of multi-colored energy plasmoids, that were very similar to fireworks, from her fingertips. The bursts of light obeyed her mental control, traveling where she directed them, arranging themselves in balls, streamers, and other shapes, and exploding when she wished. The strength of the energy could vary in degrees of power and intensity and could range from a multitude of colorful sparkles vibrant enough to temporarily blind a person, to a powerful detonation capable of smashing objects and destroying property. Liberty could absorb the fireworks back into her own body without harm.
Her second-to-eldest brother, Wildvine, could not only harness plants to his will, but his total control of vegetation had also boosted his immunity to all poisons, viruses, bacteria, and fungi. Though he and Liberty Belle often bickered, deep down, they truly cared for each other's well-being.
Many would think that power over darkness was more befitting to a supervillain than a superhero, but such a belief was simplistic and naive, formed without consideration to the superhero's personality. Despite his aptness with the dark, hiding amongst the gloom, teleporting through shadows and using them to temporarily trap and paralyze villains, Darkforce was a thoughtful and profound young adult. The eldest of the siblings, Darkforce was quiet and serious, regarding his responsibilities as team leader with careful consideration. His advice was always worthwhile, and he was fair and just; Liberty Belle and Wildvine were proud to call him their brother and serve with him.
They weren't the only team of superhero siblings. Dee Sharp and Rocktavian were twins, and the brother and sister used music to fight crime. Rose Redd and Cobalt Blue were another pair of brother and sister, who specialized in investigating crime superhero-style and were the main superhero liaison to the Sleepyside Police Department, officially appointed by the Justice Brigade. Liberty Belle had never particularly cared for either of them, and she suspected that Rose Redd was hatefully jealous of Arachne for winning the lead in the Junior Justice annual amateur theater production year after year.
Sometimes Liberty and her brothers had worked with Arachne to track down criminals and ensure that justice was done, but the three siblings were a team, and prior to joining Junior Justice, Arachne had largely been a solo hero. She had been delighted at Arctic Fury's presence, grateful that there was another solitary superhero in their tight group of friends.
It was no surprise that Liberty and her brothers had developed a close bond with another team that consisted of a family: the sweet and genuine Golden Girl, who possessed everlasting good luck that granted her success at anything as long as she at least tried, and the honorable but hot-tempered White Knight, who could harness light energy to his bidding.
Those two, along with her brothers and Arachne, remained Liberty's closest friends to that very day. And at one point, Arctic Fury had been among them. Arctic Fury, who currently stood in front of her, wearing the name and costume of someone that wasn't quite a supervillain now, but undoubtedly soon would be.
A corner of Coldheart's mouth tugged upward, creating a partial smirk on his face. "Does White Knight miss me, too?"
Liberty grimaced. At one point, she had crushed on White Knight, who had seen her affection for him as permission to ward off any guy who wasn't related to her and so much as spoke to her. This undesired micromanagement of her life had raised Liberty's ire high enough that she quickly overcame her crush and fiercely told him that, no, he had no right to try to control her life, two, she could take care of herself, and three, his amount of insecurity, possessiveness, and jealousy was creepy and weird, not cute, romantic, or endearing at all.
He had been cordial to Arctic Fury when the latter joined Junior Justice, but Liberty's close friendship with Arctic Fury had led to White Knight often glaring at them from across the room whenever they spoke for even a few minutes. Liberty was glad that she had gathered her courage and given White Knight a piece of her mind; frankly, his unwarranted territorial attitude about her indicated that a relationship between them would be unhealthy for both of them.
But then again, White Knight had been dismayed at Arctic Fury's departure, though it was possible he was upset about losing an ally rather than any personal attachment to him.
"Everyone," Liberty Belle stressed, quenching her doubts in hope reassure Coldheart and sway him to her side. "And Firestorm is really upset upset that you left, too. He's worried about you. So is Steel Trap."
Hot-blooded both literally and figuratively, Firestorm was the best example of a fiery redhead Liberty could think of. The young leader of the Justice Brigade, as well as the only living relative and legal guardian of Arctic Fury/Captain Coldheart, Firestorm was torn between the demands of his two separate duties. As a hero, he should have insisted Coldheart be brought in and charged for his crimes, however minor, but in his parental role, he just wanted his nephew to return home safely.
As for Steel Trap, Liberty Belle was uncertain if he was related to Captain Coldheart or not, but he supposedly had assumed the role of a grandfather in Arctic Fury's life. Now retired, he only resurrected his superhero identity in times of dire danger. According to rumor, he now resided in a cabin in the middle of the woods, hunting and fishing, while Baron Benevolent operated a general store not too far away. Also said to be in the area were Dutch Blitz, who may or may not have lived in a yellow-brick house full of antiques, and Lady Smackdown, who was now a governess but still faithfully watched wrestling matches on her television set.
Captain Coldheart seemed extremely skeptical at her impassioned claim. "The only thing Firestorm is worried about is that other superheroes will now think less of him because I quit. Firestorm never wanted to bother with me. He always preferred the rest of the Junior Justice. Right now, he's probably telling the Third Hand Gang to take me out."
The Third Hand Gang was an urban legend, allegedly a shadowy special forces team of highly-trained operatives organized by the Justice Brigade. When there was a less than savory but necessary mission that would give the Justice Brigade bad press if the details were to come to light, the menacing agency of the Third Hand Gang were said to shoulder the job.
"No. Firestorm would never do that," Liberty stated firmly. "And I don't believe all that stuff about the Third Hand Gang. The Justice Brigade is too noble for that kind of secrecy."
Captain Coldheart sent an oblique look in her direction, but Liberty Belle was too focused on devising what she wanted to say to him.
Liberty inhaled deeply, trying to stay calm and reasonable as her heart pounded. "I'm asking you, as a friend, to come back to us."
"I can't do that, not in good conscience," Coldheart returned quietly.
"Please, Arctic Fury, you've got to! You'll be eighteen in less than a year, and then you'll face time in a legitimate jail once you're captured!" Liberty Belle was beginning to get desperate: she needed to convince her former friend to do the right thing.
Coldheart's jaw tightened at her words. "Then you all think it's inevitable that I'll become a supervillain? Do you have so little faith in me?"
Liberty had enough shame to feel guilty, even as she spoke. "You're in the gray, Captain Coldheart, and gray is closer to black than white. We're not on the same side anymore, and if you're not with us, you're against us."
A sardonic smile formed on Coldheart's lips, as if in a dark, disbelieving way, she amused him. "I see you heroes are still operating under utterly oversimplified convictions. It so happens that I don't see the world in black and white or shades of gray. Everything is colorless to me. The only justice I seek is avenging the wrongs done to me. My parents are dead, and I won't rest until I find their murderer. If I have to play the villain to do that, so be it."
Pain, confusion, sadness, and loss welled up inside Liberty. She had lost a dear friend, someone she cared about. It was all so ironic now, that when Arctic Fury had first come to Sleepyside, she had mistaken him for a villain and begun to battle with him before Firestorm arrived to explain the situation.
Liberty Belle lowered her head as she listened to him, her shoulders slumped, but then she straightened when he finished, standing tall. Determination to her responsibilities had consumed her; she had a job to do and citizens to protect. "Then it's my duty to stop you. You're making your own fate, here, Coldheart. Don't blame me for not warning you."
Somehow, at some point, the distance between them had been bridged, and they were now less than a foot apart.
Coldheart's voice was soft but laced with poison. "Think of me doing the heroes of this fair city a favor. As long as they have a villain to fight, any villain, not matter how minor his crimes, they can remain deludedly convinced they're 'doing the right thing.'"
"You really are past the point of redemption, then," Liberty Belle murmured.
"Your heroistic brand of redemption isn't the one I seek." There was a surprising absence of acerb to his admission.
The space separating them closed, and her lips met his, not for the first time. For just an instant, a moment she would later cherish, they were joined, they were together. There was no negativity or animosity, only existence of themselves, individuals connecting, however briefly.
He broke away from her abruptly, moving backwards as he bid her farewell. "Good luck to you, Liberty Belle. But be careful about the Justice Brigade. I'm almost certain that they and the Third Hand Gang are involved in my parents' deaths." He turned about before taking a running leap off the tower, falling to the streets below.
Liberty Belle watched him jump with a feeling of weary resignation, knowing that she couldn't have stopped him despite her best efforts. He had made his choices. With a sigh, she turned away and walked to the opposite ledge.
Her body lifted upwards into the sky, and she ascended high as she could, hoping the sun would reduce the sudden chill that had settled over her before the light faded and the dark dominated completely.
A/N: Months ago, Samhopelove requested I write a Trixie/Dan story. Well, here it is. It's not overtly shippy, but I tried to stress that Trixie and Dan were friends before they became romantically involved, which is why they friendship has greater emphasis.
This is an odd little one-shot, I'll admit that myself. I wanted to experiment with AUs. I suppose this fic the result of a combination of my fondness for Trixie Belden and my fondness for superheroes.
I normally don't care for romance, but I like the idea of relationships between heroes and villains. That's probably why I'm such a fan of Batman/Catwoman and Iron Man/Loki.
The names of Firestorm, Liberty Belle, Arachne, and the Power Pack are lesser known heroes in comics. The other names are just fashioned by me. I designed Liberty Belle's costume to be a feminized version of Captain America's uniform, and Liberty's mask is supposed to look like that of DC's female hero Dove.
The setting is a little bit weird. Initially, it was going to be a much more humorous and lighthearted, hence the wacky superhero names and unlikely premise, but then this fic turned more serious.
Reviews are welcome, but I won't be continuing this story, so please don't ask me to.
Confused about the Sleepyside identity of one of the heroes? Just ask, and I'll be glad to tell you. :)
Thanks for reading.