Only You Can Prevent Crime Fighters

 

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Chapter 4 - Lea

                “There we go. Perfect.”

     Lea put her aching arm down to her side. She had just kept it there for a good five minutes straight while the photographer tried to get the perfect shot, aiming her gun at the wall of windows on the other side of him. It was a mystery why he wanted the same poses every god forsaken year, but she had discovered to just let it happen. To humor him.

     “We done?” she asked, putting her hands on her hips.

     The photographer bit his lip and scrolled through the pictures on his camera. “Yeah. Yeah, I think so.” He put the camera down so it hung around his neck and smiled at her. “They’re fabulous as ever, Lea.”

     Of course they are. They’re the same ones. Lea smiled back and walked away from the place that he was taking the pictures so that the next group could get their shoot done. It was ridiculously hot, with no water fountains or vending machines in sight. Lea was half tempted to bribe someone to get her water, or to just steal it from someone.

     Of course, there was always the overly-eager, slightly awkward nerd who she had told about her brother’s eczema. He would probably buy her water from the vending machine without asking to be repaid the three dollars. Actually, he probably wouldn’t. Lea had a tendency of thinking that she was hotter shit than she actually was.

     Which wasn’t incredibly good on the ol’ self-esteem, but she couldn’t help it.

     Lea sat down on the floor, leaning her back against a panel of glass. She pressed hard against it so the leather of her jacket would stick, and then peeled herself off of it. It was oddly satisfying.

Between her slow blinks, she noticed a tall guy walking with a shorter woman. Oh, it’s that kid. Asher. Lea cocked an eyebrow in interest. He was going to ask her a question, but was interrupted by the perpetually late photographer. “Asher!” she called from her spot on the ground.

He turned and looked at her, stopping in his tracks. Once Moira realized that he stopped, she stopped, too, with a frustrated look on her face. Lea beckoned for him to go over to her using her pointer finger.

“Yeah?” he asked, looking down on her.

Lea put her hand down, but her eyebrow remained up. “You wanted to ask me a question earlier.” She patted a spot on the ground next to her. “Come, sit by me.”

Asher looked at his mother, who rolled her eyes and indicated that she’d be sitting on a bench on the wall. When she walked away, he sat next to her and put his back against the glass. Lea noticed that he avoided looking at her.

“So, what’s this burning question you have?” She didn’t look at him either. “You mentioned that it might make you seem like a- what was the phrase you used?”

“Misogynistic dick hole?” he suggested.

Lea nodded. “Yep. Misogynistic dick hole.” She smirked at him. “I would kind of like to know this question, which may or may not make me think that you’re a misogynistic dick hole.”

Asher laughed a little. Not the laugh induced by the story of her brother’s perpetually itchy rear end, but a laugh nonetheless. He actually looked at her now. “Before I was so rudely interrupted by the commencement of this mildly crappy photo shoot, I was going to ask you for your number.”

Lea held out her hand, which he just stared at. “Phone,” she instructed. He got his phone out of one of the pouches on his utility belt, unlocked it, and pulled up the screen to create a new contact. Lea took it, typed in her phone number and name, and handed it back. “I can take a selfie for my contact picture if you really want me to.”

Asher slid the phone back into the pouch and Velcro-ed it shut. “I don’t need one right now. Maybe later.”

“Suit yourself.” The eyebrow went back up.

The two sat in silence for a solid minute and a half. It was the awkward kind of silence where neither knew what to say, because they didn’t know each other all that well, but they really wanted to say something. Jesus, do I ask him if he’s seen any good movies lately, or do I talk to him about the weather?

Eventually, it was Asher who broke the silence. “I should probably get going. My mom is pretty annoyed.”

Lea nodded. “Understandable.” She would be more than a little annoyed if her child was forcing her to endure endless hours of comic expos when she had a disgustingly swollen foot. In fact, it might result in her kid being hit with a sock full of quarters.

With that in mind, Lea made a mental note to up her birth control.

“But, no, um, I’ll text you, okay?” Asher asked. It was almost endearing to her that he stumbled over words, and she liked to think that it was because she was rather pretty. That probably wasn’t the case, of course, but it’s okay to think.

“Yeah. Sounds good.” She smiled at him as he got up and walked away from her.

So, yeah, she was flirting with him. But it wasn’t like it was the kind of flirting that insinuated that she wanted a relationship with him, and it wasn’t like he was in love with her. Plus, if he was worried that asking for her number would make him seem like a misogynistic dick hole, then obviously he didn’t feel like he was entitled to her body or anything.

So Lea didn’t feel any remorse, and didn’t feel bad at all for flirting with him.

At this point, she really didn’t feel like getting up. There wasn’t an expressly written rule that anyone had to walk around at these things—half the time, these were collections of exhausted and hungry college students. Surely the rules could accommodate straight up lazy people.

Lea closed her eyes and allowed herself to doze off for a few minutes. Last night had definitely been an interesting one; after all, when she woke up, there was a stranger with a barbed wire tattoo on his neck sleeping next to her. A stranger with a barbed wire tattoo on his neck that she pulled a gun on for sleeping next to her.

Funny what hangovers can do to you.

Her stomach growled, successfully waking breaking the peaceful sleep she had slipped into. She felt empty, hungry to the point where it had hurt. With the pounding headache and the whole gun debacle earlier that day, breakfast had totally slipped her mind.

     Wasn’t I supposed to be doing something for lunch today? Lea took her phone out of her pocket and pressed the small button on the top, displaying the lock screen. It was a little after two, which was well past her normal lunchtime. She had also missed two texts and a call, all from her best friend/partner-in-fighting-crime.

     Exhaling, Lea slid her thumb across the missed call notification and pressed her phone to her ear. After a couple of rings, Rina answered.

     “Hey, what are you doing?” Lea asked, casually examining her nails.

     Rina replied, “Nothing right now. Why?” She almost sounded surprised that she got a call back. Despite her saying she was doing nothing, Lea hear the shutting of a washing machine in the background.

     “Because I’m fucking starving. I didn’t eat breakfast this morning.”

     Rina laughed. “Yeah, you had a big night at Pipeline last night.”

     Of course it had been Pipeline. The thought of it made Lea groan. Pipeline was in close proximity to her apartment, sold alcohol, and was perpetually packed because of their inexpensive drinks and over-the-top and constant advertising. It was the ideal spot for nights when loneliness and desperation met.

     “Ugh, is that where we went?” Lea hit her head softly on the glass behind her. “That’s freaking awful. Anyway, do you wanna go grab lunch or something?”

     Rina thought for a second. “Yeah, let’s do it. Where do you wanna go?”

     Lea rolled her eyes up and over to the side, trying to think what was around. “There’s the Izzy’s on Elm, if you wanna go there,” she said slowly. “But I also think that there’s also a Friday’s near here, too.”

     “What? Where are you?”

     “This comic expo. It’s incredibly hot and getting incredibly boring.”

     “Oh,” Rina said. “How long do you have to be there?”

     Lea took her phone off of her ear and checked the calendar on it. Ohhh-kay. September twentieth. What she saw made her groan once again. “I’m here until like ten.” She sighed. “At least I’m getting paid for this. You know I’ve been encouraged to sign up for the sci-fi speed dating six times already?”

     Rina snorted. “Oh shit, really? That’s hilarious.” She laughed.

     “Yeah,” Lea said in a deadpan. “The fact that I give off a vibe of ‘I really need a man in my life’ is pretty funny.”

     “Oh, come on. It’s funny.” Rina laughed more.

     Just then, Lea heard the ding of a text notification on her phone. She pulled it from her ear again to see who texted her. It wasn’t Asher, which was surprisingly disappointing to her, but it wasn’t any other potential suitor either. It wasn’t even her mother, like she was hoping.

     It was Maverick. Of course it was Maverick, and of course it was right now. Even seeing the notification from him made her sweat and made her stomach churn. Color flooded her ears and her face.

     When Maverick texted, it was serious. He never texted her to ask how she was doing, or if she wanted to hang out, or something. It was always a business thing, and not the easy business that was being a professional cosplayer. It was the kind of business that entailed Lea kicking someone’s ass.

     This time, it was the ass of a bus driver who decided it would be a fun idea to take a group of high school, junior varsity football players hostage. A job that Maverick, who was a decently ranking police officer, felt was just perfect for Cache.

     Oh, great. This’ll be a blast.

     “Hey, Rina? I’m gonna have to reschedule lunch today.” Lea sighed and ran her hand through her hair.

     Rina sounded confused. “Why? What’s going on?”

     “Duty calls.” And with that, Lea stood up, and hustled as inconspicuously as possible down the escalator and out the door.

 

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Kim Webb

Thank you so, so much! I'm from Cincinnati, too, and have tried to make it feel as real as possible!

Regina Ty

I am obsessed with this! And as a Cincinnati native myself, the whole story feels very real to me. Keep up the phenomenal work!

Chapter 5 - Asher

            It was only about three in the afternoon, and Asher Vaughn had a gun pointed at his head for the twentieth time that day.

            An orange-tipped gun, but a gun nonetheless.

            “Thanks a lot, man.” The lanky guy turned, assessing the picture that had just been taken on his cell phone.

Asher nodded, and walked away in the opposite direction. His mother followed closely after, surveying the booth situation, despite it being their tenth walkthrough of the floor. The thing about conventions is that they seem so exciting and everything seems so new, but it’s quite easy to get bored of looking at the same things and the same people.

“Did we go into that Doctor Who store already, Ash?” Moira asked, craning her neck to scope out Weeping Angel merchandise and/or extremely large picture of David Tennant’s face.

Asher squinted his eyes, trying to find a sign that told the name of the store, or even where to find them on Facebook. “Um, I don’t remember. We might have.” He stepped aside to let a family of Avengers pass by, and then looked down at his mother. “Wanna go in there and see? It looks like they have mugs.”

Moira thought for a second before nodding and walking briskly towards the store, leaving Asher to powerwalk to catch up with her. Weaving through the crowd, they eventually made it to the racks of mugs with Daleks on them and trucker hats brandished with the TARDIS.

Moira grabbed a traveler’s coffee cups that had a Weeping Angel silhouette over the words “DON’T BLINK” on it, and examined it closely. “Hey, do you think Cass would like this for school?” She looked at Asher.

While his mother had examined nerdy, plastic containers for quality, Asher had gotten his phone out of his pocket to stare expectantly- and almost intently –at the screen. He had texted the Cache cosplayer he had met at the photo shoot approximately six and a half minutes prior, and had received… nothing. Nada. Zilch.

It gave him a funny feeling in his stomach, an unsettling nausea mixed with excitement and butterflies. He was nervous for various reasons. For one, she could be hurt or dead or something. But mainly, she could be uninterested in him or with her boyfriend or had given him the wrong number on purpose.

Upsettingly to Asher, it was almost worse if she was just avoiding him on purpose. But with the way that she used her phone during the photo shoot, it was looking like that was the case. It made him want to cry, which was stupid and made him feel like a little kid that hadn’t gotten their way.

“Asher, really?” Moira sighed and put the hand that contained the cup to her sighed. It was simply amazing to her how teenage boys could into tween girls when it came to waiting for a text message. “You texted her a few minutes ago. She’s obviously busy, and you seem like a stalker.”

He sighed. “I know, but I can’t help it, you know?” Asher slid his phone back into a pouch on his utility belt. He really couldn’t and it made him feel like a schoolgirl. It didn’t help that his mind was constantly aggravated by worry that was pretty damn similar to Randy Orton.

Moira decided to ignore the comment and presented the cup again. “Do you think Cass would like this? Her school changed the policy or whatever, and they can use cups now.”

Why should I be thinking about Cass’s school changing its beverage policy when I could be thinking about the potential love of my life? Despite the sharp pain he felt in his head, Asher nodded and forced a little smile. “Yeah, I think she’d really like it.”

His mother turned the cup over to see the price. At first she cringed but then announced, “Well, this can be her birthday present.” She walked over to a gangly, bespectacled teenager behind a register.

Asher watched her leave and breathed a sigh of relief. He loved his mother, he really did, but she had a tendency to be overbearing. Overbearing and slightly judgmental. But she was his mother, and, like she said before, they were legally and socially obligated to love each other. He just wished she wouldn’t make it so difficult to love her.

Moira came back, toting a plastic bag that said “Thank You” about fifty thousand times on it. “I can’t believe I just spent almost twenty bucks on a coffee cup.” For her, that was big spending. Thankfully, it was only ten days before Cass’s birthday, a fact that she pointed out every single time anything even remotely close to birthdays or the number fourteen came up in conversation.

“It’s a nice cup, though.” Asher pointed out, causing his mother to roll her eyes at him.

“Yeah, whatever.” She waved her hand in dismissal, and the two stared walking again. There wasn’t much to see; the novelty of the Mystery Machine and the Jeep from Jurassic Park was wearing off, and the booth that the Symphony Orchestra had that was blaring the same loop of nerdy movie theme songs was safely reaching into headache-inducing territory. There were only so many times that the Imperial March was okay, and sixteen hundred was way over that limit.

“Hey guys!” The silence was broken by the enthusiastic voice of an orange-shirted volunteer. He was brandishing a sign advertising sci-fi speed-dating. As soon as Asher saw the sign, he erupted into a fit of giggles. “Would you be interested in sci-fi speed-dating?” The volunteer looked right at Moira when he asked.

Moira scowled, and used the most deadpan voice she could muster. “No, sorry. All of my boyfriends have died of cyanide poisoning.”

The volunteer didn’t pale and his eyes didn’t grow wide. Nerds are never tripped up by this shit. That was your first mistake, mother. He just gave them a weird look and walked away, scuttling on to his next victim.

“Seriously, am I that desperate looking?” Moira asked, exasperated.

Asher wanted to be mean (jokingly, of course), and say that she was, or that she had that “if I don’t get a boyfriend I’ll end up a crazy cat lady” kind of thing going on. While he really, really wanted to say them, he also really, really wanted to be able to leave the expo with his life and genitalia left unscathed. His mother was not going to be crazy about jokes today. He decided on the safest option, shaking his head in reassurance.

He felt a vibration in one of his pouches, and pulled his phone out as quickly as possible. He had the good kind of butterflies in his stomach, the hopeful kind. As soon as he saw that it was a Twitter notification, the butterflies died and his stomach dropped in disappointment. Asher pursed his lips and returned the phone to its allotted place.

It was strange that he was super disappointed. He had never built himself up like this over a girl before, and was never this upset when she didn’t reply to his text. He felt like an elementary school student waiting for their prepubescent sweetheart to check ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on the note asking if this miniscule love interest liked them back. It was essentially the same thing, in Asher’s mind; he had always been taught that if a girl is interested, she’d text you back.

When realizing how entitled and jerky that sounded, Asher cringed. He also immediately regretted the decision to listen to his grandfather when it came to women; the only reason his grandparents stayed together in the first place was because the other paid for things. It brought a lot of tension to the house, but that’s why Asher had video games.

A booth suddenly caught his eye. The plastic, fold-up table was covered with Cache comics. He hadn’t seen so many in his life; this collection completely out-shined the selection at any given comic book store he had ever been to. There were tons, all covered in pristine, plastic sleeves. Fixated, Asher wandered over to the booth, leaving his mother to catch up when she realized she had lost her son.

He got to the booth, noticing the “EXPO SPECIAL: CACHE COMICS ALL $1!” sign. They had everything there, including a cardboard cutout of Charlotte Lorraine rendered in a realistic, not-comic book-y way. It looked so much like Lea that it was almost spooky. Instinctively, he pulled the wallet out of his back pouch and counted his money. He had nine dollars and sixty five cents, which would buy him 9.65 comics.

Carefully, Asher shifted through the issues. He selected nine of the best-looking ones, with the coolest covers. He’d read some of them before, more when he was seventeen and perpetually turned on and comics seemed like a better resource than porn, but hadn’t in a while. As he slid the comics he selected over to the side, the booth workers started playing a video interview with a professional cosplayer.

He recognized the girl’s voice instantly. It was Lea, but not his Lea. This version of her wasn’t sarcastic or quick-witted or anything but the brand of rehearsed politeness he associated with celebrities when they were guests on talk shows.

“That’s that girl from the photo shoot, isn’t it?” Moira asked, squinting her eyes at the flat screen. 

A mesmerized Asher nodded. “Yeah, that’s Lea.” The screen Lea laughed at something the interviewer said, which wasn’t actually that funny. She knew surprisingly well how to create an interview alter ego, but it made Asher feel weird. Almost angry, and almost betrayed.  He couldn’t focus on that unwelcome feeling for very long, because the set up for the interviewer’s next question caught his attention.

“So, I’m gonna ask you the question that I’m plenty of your fanboys have been wondering on Internet forums for the past two years.”

Lea raised her eyebrows and smiled a little. “Uh-oh. I’m really scared to find out this question.” She laughed. “I don’t go on message boards anymore.” Anymore.

The interviewer laughed, too. “No, it’s nothing bad. This question of maximum importance is: are you single?”

Asher wasn’t a religious person, but if there was ever a time for him to pray, it was now. The butterflies he got when he had felt the vibration of his phone got resurrected, because he legitimately felt that he had a chance with this girl. By the way that the interviewer said “two years,” Asher figured that the interview was fairly recent, which made him even more hopeful and exponentially more nervous.

Lea smiled. “Am I single? Is the Pope Catholic?”

The knots in Asher’s stomach released, and his mother nudged him as if he didn’t hear the news himself. It made him smile under his mask, and also blush under his mask. He felt like a helplessly giddy little girl, a feeling that he hated, but it was the closest thing to how he felt.

“Really?” The interviewer at least feigned shock. “How are you not taken by now?”

Lea shrugged. “I have no clue. No guy that’s rejected me has ever given me feedback on the surveys I give them for rejecting me.” The way she said it was so nonchalant that it was pretty convincing that she was serious.

“Well, what advice can you give potential suitors?” The interviewer laughed again. That was one thing about interviews: everyone liked to laugh a lot as if nothing bad was happening to them, ever. It was super weird and kind of creepy, in a children laughing in a horror movie kind of way.

Lea’s cheeks, which were full despite her petite frame, turned a weird shade of pinkish red. “Well, I really like the way that you get girls in the Cache universe.” Both Asher and the interviewer knitted their brows. Noticing the confusion, she clarified. “Basically if you want to get a girl, especially a super heroine, you fight a bunch of people and then get something from them. And then you give them to the girl and she decides if she wants to be with and or under you.” She laughed hard at her own words. “I think it’s kind of cute and endearing.”

A light bulb went off in Asher’s mind. Finally, the way to a woman’s heart was clear. Clearer than it had ever been before. He finally knew exactly what he had to do, and knew that he had the whole weekend to do it.

I told you I’d get you, Lea Hyden.

 

 

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Chapter 6 -Lea

            This definitely wasn’t how Lea wanted to spend the day, and as she posed in an almost Spiderman-like, crouching position on the top of a school bus, she began to think her life choices.

     Bad decision number one: teaming up with Maverick in the first place.

     Bad decision number two: letting him talk her into doing stupid crap like this.

     “Well, this seems like the most effective way of getting in,” she said to herself as she pulled the Mauser C69 from its holster. Unsteadily, she lifted herself into a standing position on the roof of the bus and aimed, one-handed, at the emergency exit. Closing her left eye, she pulled the trigger, cocked the gun, and shot. Lea repeated this same process until there was an easy way to pop the top off.

     With a heavy sigh, she slid in, aiming her feet at a cushiony, booger-green seat. Naturally, she missed, and landed, hard, on the black riveted floor. Shit, there goes my ankle. Lea winced, but then realized that there was a middle-aged woman aiming a pistol right between her eyes.

     Bad decision number three: agreeing to do this mission in particular.

     Why is it that everywhere I go, someone wants to shoot me in the face? But Lea maintained her relative composure and pointed the gun at the driver’s forehead. “This is no way to greet company, you know,” Lea remarked, raising an eyebrow.

     “What the hell are you doing on my bus?” the bus driver demanded, her voice wavering a little bit. Her hand did the same.

     The football players turned over their shoulders to look at Lea, sporadically. They seemed to be wondering the same thing that their kidnapper was. What in the world was a five-foot-three girl in a World Wars-themed outfit doing on the bus, facing off against a slightly overweight woman who had gone, to put it lightly, bat shit crazy?

     Lea laughed a little bit. “Didn’t your mother teach you anything about manners? You should offer me a nice white wine before pulling a gun on me.”

     This made the driver more frustrated and almost improved her gun angle. “Tell me, what are you doing on my bus and how the hell did you find me?” Lea looked almost unimpressed with her opponent’s anger. “Tell me now, or I’ll blow your brains out! I been hunting since I was a little kid. You’re just like a deer to me!”

     Lea couldn’t help herself- she started cracking up. She was widely renowned as the best sharpshooter around, in both the comics and in reality. Hunters, who were typically only good with shotguns versus pistols, were no match for her. At least, that’s how the comics always phrased it. In the good-for-kids versions, nothing was a match for her.

     “Look, lady, I can guarantee you that I have better aim than you’ll ever dream of having.” The driver looked at her with an “oh, really; prove it” kind of sneer. “If you really want me to prove it, I’ll shoot right in the ‘O’ of the ‘bodily fluid cleanup’ kit you have hanging right there.”

     The driver omitted a short, loud, punctuated laugh. “I’d like to see you try, little girl.”

     Without another word, Lea aimed slightly upward, staring right in the middle of the ‘O’. She pulled the trigger, and with a bang, the bullet rushed right where she was planning on it going. “Turn around.” There was always some idiot who made her prove herself; it wasn’t exactly a new process for her.

     “Holy shit, she made it,” a particularly young-looking player towards the front of the bus said, sounding almost dumbfounded.

     The driver turned around, realizing that Lea had made the shot.

     Bad decision number four: not taking advantage of the opportunity to shoot the driver in the back of the head.

     Maverick would not have been impressed if Lea killed the woman if it wasn’t a retaliation shot. She had learned that the hard way, when she had gotten an extreme talking-to after letting her temper get the best of her. The talking-to also left her commission-free for the next three or four missions.

     This changed the entire ballgame. When the driver turned around, there was still a gun pointing at Lea, but it was a shakier barrel and a more nervous-looking face. “Well… Fine. I won’t let you leave then.” This threat seemed to boost the driver’s confidence, and she changed her aim so the gun was aimed at the young-looking player’s temple. “You! Go tackle that bitch and get the gun out of her hand.”

     Lea looked expectantly at the kid. She felt genuinely sorry for the kid; all he wanted to do was play a football game and achieve high school-brand glory (and maybe get some tail under the bleachers afterwards), and he was being roped into tackling someone at gunpoint.

     “That’s pointless,” a player in the seat next to wear Lea was standing mumbled. “Carter is literally just a second-string quarterback.”

     Then, Lea realized something that almost seemed peculiar. Usually her antagonist at least fired warning shots. There were no warning shots fired in their confrontation, and the only bullet holes to be seen were from her own gun. It was always the people who had supposedly been shooting things for years that were quick to shoot, too.

     Long story short, this middle aged trailer trash with three teeth was bluffing. And she was the worst bluffer that Lea had ever seen.

     I can just have some fun with this now, can’t I? So she smirked and cocked an eyebrow at the driver. “No, no, Carter. Stay right where you are.” Her ton was almost flirtatious, and it worked- he shrunk back into his seat. “Now, can anyone tell me our lovely hostess’s name?”

     “It’s Angel,” the kid sitting next to her piped up. “She lives in my neighborhood. I’ve known her since I was like seven.” He looked at the bus driver, and then back at Lea.

     “Oh, Angel! What a fitting name.” Lea laughed and slid her gun in the holster again. She took her jacket off and hung it on the edge of the top of the seat. “It was getting a little hot in here, don’t you think?”

     Angel aimed her gun back at Lea, acting like she was going to shoot. Lea nodded to encourage the driver to shoot, even holding her hands up with her palms flat to insinuate surrender on her part. Angel half-assedly pulled back the trigger, but then stopped herself from actually pulling it back all the way.

     “Come on, Angel. I’m not even armed right now.” Lea smirked again. The bluff was getting more and more obvious. “I showed you my aim, so it’s your turn. We’ll do a little show-and-tell for these fine gentlemen, huh?” She winked at the first pubescent football player she made eye contact with.

     “Well, um, my daddy told me not to shoot people,” Angel sputtered. “It’s not Christian, or somethin’.”

     Lea rolled her eyes. “Jesus always forgives, darling. Please, I’m asking you to shoot me.” She turned her head and stuck out her cheek, pointing at it. “C’mon. Right here. You can do it, Angel! I believe in you.”

     The driver looked humiliated. Her face was flushed and she was visibly trembling. Sweat was collecting on her brow, and she wiped it off with the back of her arm. “I’m gonna shoot you, little girl,” Angel said in what Lea assumed was her version of a warning tone.

     “Now you’ve got the hints! Jesus, I thought you were never going to pick that up.” Lea wiped her brow and rolled her eyes in mock relief. “I’ve been trying to get you to shoot me this whole time! Thank goodness I didn’t have to tell you how to work that pretty little pistol.”

     For a solid minute and a half, Angel and Lea stared at each other in silence. Angel had an angry look on her face, like she was about to hulk out or something, and Lea looked almost triumphant, her head cocked upwards and a smug smile on her face. The football players were just staring, regretting signing up for this sport in the first place.

     Then, the weirdest thing happened: Angel’s shaky arm lowered and she released the gun. It clanked to the ground.

     “I knew you’d see it my way.” Lea smiled, pulling her gun back out and slowly walking closer to Angel.  “Now, sweetie, here’s what’s gonna happen, okay? You’re gonna sit back down in that chair of yours, and you’re gonna drive these nice boys to their destination.” Angel nodded, her eyes big. “And when you get there, my boss and a bunch of police officers are gonna be there. And you wanna know what you’re gonna do when you see them?”

     Angel just watched in silence. Lea motioned with her gun, encouraging her to answer the question. “I’m gonna give myself up, aren’t I?”

     Lea smiled. “And Bingo was his name-o.” This was an easier mission than the usual ones, where she ended up with gunshot wounds in her toes. It was easier with women, she had discovered, than with men. Women weren’t pressured to establish dominance like men were; besides, Lea considered herself the alpha female anyways.

     Angel nodded and stood there in silence. She looked like she was about to cry. It was almost like she snapped out of some rage-inducing daze and was now really confused as to what she did. It wasn’t exactly a good act to try to pull, but it was a pretty common one.

     “Now, go get in your chair and buckle your seatbelt. Safety first, right?” Lea aimed the gun at Angel’s head until the driver complied. Then, Lea sat on the metal sheet on a raised platform next to the driver’s seat. While Angel started the bus, Lea got her phone out.

     Bad decision number five: turning her phone on to see Maverick’s messages, in which he was freaking out about her safety.

     You’d think by now he’d realize that I can obviously take care of myself, despite my vagina. Instead of taking the time to respond to each and every urgent text message, she unlocked her phone and called him. After a few rings, he picked up.

     “Lea, thank God. Are you okay?” he asked.

     “You could have at least said hello first, Mav.”

     Maverick sounded annoyed. “So I’m gonna take that comment as a ‘Yes, Maverick. I’m totally fine.’”

     Lea laughed. “Smart man. Look, I subdued the bus driver.” She glanced over at Angel, who looked slightly miffed to be letting all this gas go to waste, but also too afraid to turn the bus off.

     “Was it easy?”

     “Oh yeah,” Lea replied in an ‘isn’t it obvious’ sort of voice. “She didn’t even load her gun. It was hilarious.”

     Maverick laughed. “Oh my god, are you serious?” When she replied with a little noise meaning no, he laughed more. “Jesus, that’s good. Haven’t seen one of them in a while.”

     Lea laughed a little. “Yeah. Listen, do I have to escort Angel here…”

     “Angel?! Her name is Angel?!” Maverick did the Asher-finding-out-about-the-eczema laugh.

     “Mav! Focus,” Lea snapped at him, frustrated. “Do I have to escort Angel to the school, or are you sending a car for me to take me back to the expo?”

     Maverick cleared his throat to settle down. “I’ll send Willard with a car, okay? Don’t let our friend Angel move that bus until he gets there.”

     “Alright.” Beep beep beep, and the call was over. Lea sighed and looked at her phone, not telling the other passengers the game plan. There was a text from an unsaved ‘513’ number, basically saying that hey, it was Asher.

     Because of her particularly good mood, Lea replied with “hey” and a sideways smiley face. It was her flirty text, but she didn’t care.

     Once again, no one was a match for the unflappable Cache.

    

     

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Chapter 7 - Asher

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Chapter 8 - Lea

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Chapter 9 - Asher

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Chapter 10 - Lea

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Chapter 11 - Asher

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Chapter 12 - Lea

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Chapter 13 - Asher

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Chapter 14 - Lea

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Chapter 15 - Asher

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Chapter 16 - Lea

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Chapter 17 - Asher

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Chapter 18 - Lea

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Chapter 19 - Asher

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Chapter 20 - Lea

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~

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