Baby’s Got a Boyfriend
“Wake up sleepyhead.”
Axel pushed his face into his pillow, muttering something incomprehensible.
“C’mon Axel, don’t make me do this”
Axel refused to budge. Owen pulled his blankets away. “OH MY GOD. WHY IS IT SO COLD?! Are Len and Mick having a thermostat war again?” yelled Axel, wriggling over to where Owen sat on the other side of the bed holding all the precious blankets.
“Nuh-uh…it’s time to get up Axel. It’s eight o’ clock, you don’t want to sleep all day, do you?” Owen chided.
“YES. That is EXACTLY what I want. Someday I am going to take eight o’ clock in the morning and MURDER it. Do you think I could make Chronos do that? Can he kill mornings?” Axel sat up blearily, leaning against Owen. “What did we do last night? Everything’s a little hazy.”
Owen smiled. “You made me watch Killer Klowns From Outer Space, but you fell asleep in the middle.”
Axel groaned and headbutted Owen lightly. “Nooo…that’s not what was supposed to happen. You were supposed to fall asleep, and I was going to draw dicks all over your face. Aw man, I missed the scene with the shadowpuppet eating people, didn’t I? Everything suuucks.” He collapsed back on the bed. “Also, by the official Slumber Party Laws, I’m allowed to look like a hot mess today and you’re not allowed to judge me for it.”
Owen grinned. “Fair enough. Let’s go have breakfast.” He stood up. “Also, I pinned all your markers to the ceiling so you couldn’t draw on my face.”
“Touché…” Axel muttered, pulling some pants on over his Batman boxers. “Owen, I’m borrowing your kangaroo t-shirt and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
“Do not fucking touch my t-shirt you little brat. Or so help me, I’m going to take all of your hair gel.”
“You wouldn’t…you know how hard it was to steal that from Mark! That stuff’s quality!”
“Watch me,” Owen reached his hand into the gel, then kicked into speed mode and grabbed the shirt away from Axel. Axel chased Owen from his room into the rec area, still covered in playing cards from the last ‘everyone has all aces’ debacle.
Owen wiped the hair gel onto the couch (which had seen better days), and then went to see what was in the refrigerator. Axel finally caught up, and stared over his shoulder.
“Axel, why is there nothing but beer in here? That doesn’t count as a balanced breakfast.” Axel opened the door to a cabinet, and stood on tiptoe to peer inside. “Nothing in here but a rat. And don’t touch the beer, it’s LEN’S beer and he’ll go all polar bear on us if any of it’s gone.” He closed the door, almost catching the rat’s tail. “Actually, take ALL the beer. We can hide it and then make Len search for it and set booby traps and this is probably exactly why Replicant vanished, isn’t it?” Axel cringed. Angry Captain Cold was terrifying. He was like a honey badger, only angrier. And with weapons.
Owen closed the fridge, “What are you talking about, Replicant was here last week.” He hesitated. “Um…since there’s no food, do you want to maybe go get some coffee or something? And maybe one of those breakfast pastries that I KNOW will end up on some innocent bystander’s head, or car, or something, but which I vainly hope you’ll actually eat for once?” Axel leaned on him, slowly reaching for the kangaroo shirt that Owen still held. “Yess….I’m going to get a Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin, and throw it at a cop.”
Owen ‘accidentally’ let Axel grab the shirt. “That’s horrifying, and yet also adorable. How do you do that?”
The mirror banged open, and James Jesse leapt into the room brandishing a box of cereal. “WHO WANTS CHEERIOS!” he hopped over the fridge and pulled out a beer, tossing aside the menacing note from Captain Cold not to touch the beer under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. “Or should I say…” James popped open a beer and poured it into his cereal. “BEERIOS!”
A door down the hall slammed open. “WHO TOOK MY BEER?”
Axel and Owen darted towards the mirror as Len’s angry footsteps grew near.
“Oh hey Len! Want some BEERIOS?”
Len glared at him.
“Get it? Because I poured BEER on CHEERIOS!”
Len continued to glare at him.
“Because BEER sounds like CHEER, so if you pour beer on Cheerios, you can replace the cheer part of the name with beer, and it’s a pun! It’s funny because it’s a pun!”
“I’m too old for this shit.” Len turned around and went back to bed.
Owen and Axel sat on the front stoop of Central Coffee, letting the smell of roasting coffee beans wash over them.
“I can’t believe you got all the flavor shots. How is it?” Owen sipped at his mochacchino.
“It’s the most disgusting thing I’ve ever tasted,” Axel took another sip of his unholy coffee concoction.
“Why are you still drinking it? Here have some of mine.” Owen proffered his cup.
“I’m afraid if I stop drinking it I’m going to die.” Axel drank some more. “On second thought, give me the coffee.”
Owen held it out of his reach. “Nuh-uh, the price has gone up…you don’t get the coffee unless I get a kiss.”
“But Owwweeeeeenn, we’re in puuuubbllliiiic” Axel whined.
Owen sniffed at Axel’s drink. “Ew. This smells worse than the Turtle. It’s amazing how much more delicious my drink is.”
“Fiiine…” Axel gave Owen a quick kiss on the cheek, blushing an amazing shade of Kite-Man Pink. Owen handed him his mochacchino.
“Aw, was it really that bad?” he lightly punched Axel on the arm. “Wait… isn’t that Detective Chyre over there?” Owen pointed at an older man standing a little ways away, talking to an old lady walking her dog.
“Detective Chyre, more like Detective…uh…Detective Muffinface!” Axel tossed his Pumpkin Cheesecake Muffin at Chyre. It fell flat, splattering frosting all over the pavement. “Aww…that’s a waste of a perfectly good muffin,” Axel said, sulking.
The corner of Owen’s mouth twisted up into a grin. He reached into a wax-paper bag and pulled out a cinnamon scone. With a flick of his wrist, he sent it twirling through the air past the oblivious Detective Chyre. As it began its arc back towards Owen, the scone hit Detective Chyre in the face.
“I always wanted to do that,” Owen said, dusting crumbs off his hands. “Now let’s get out of here!” He grabbed Axel (who was giggling maniacally), and dashed behind the building.
“Have I told you recently how much I love you Owen? Because that was actually the greatest thing I’ve ever seen.”
While these acts of pastry terrorism were taking place, back at the Rogues’ hideout, evil schemes were brewing…
James Jesse rubbed his hands together, grinning wildly. “Hartley, did you SEE that?”
Hartley Rathaway, AKA the Pied Piper, looked up from the oboe he was cleaning. “Did I see your breakfast cereal shenanigans? They were somewhat hard to miss.”
“But don’t you get it?! BEERIOS.”
“Yes I get it. It’s wordplay.”
“Right! But that’s not what I meant. Did you see what Axel and Boomerang Jr. were doing?”
Hartley sighed. “Running away from what they assumed would be a COLD-blooded massacre?”
James snickered. “PUNS. But no. They were….” He paused dramatically.
He continued to pause.
The silence grew.
James shushed him. “Building dramatic tension here. Now I have to start over again.”
Hartley ignored James until he finally decided there had been enough hyping the unknown event. “HOLDING HANDS.” James swirled his cape around like Dracula.
“Good for them. I was concerned about them spending so much time with corrupting influences such as, oh, everyone here.” Hartley tapped a fingernail against the oboe and listened to the clear ringing it produced.”
“No, no, no…you’re still not getting it. BABY HAS A BOYFRIEND”. Hartley could have sworn that the lights dimmed as James gloated in classic villain style. If James had a mustache, he would be twirling it.
“Don’t bother them James, you know th-” but it was too late. James had already left. Hartley sighed. This was going to be a long week.
A few days had gone by relatively calmly, with the only major incident being the Rainbow Raider claiming that the Rogues were all ablest, and it triggered him that they insisted on being colorful; upon which it was revealed that Weather Wizard had accidentally introduced him to Tumblr while trying to show off his photography and Twain blog.
Anyway, after terrorizing Detective Chyre, Axel had asked Owen if he’d like to maybe do it again sometime? And maybe he could teach Axel how to throw a scone? So now Axel was in his room in front of the mirror preparing for his date, futzing with his hair to get it just right. Mark was going to kill him when he learned how much of his hair gel Axel had taken. Still, totally worth it. At the very moment Axel had succeeded in forming something vaguely resembling a hairstyle that was fashionable in the ‘50s, James Jesse dropped down from the ceiling where he had been lurking. “OOOO!! IS SOMEONE GETTING ALL PRETTY FOR HIS BOOOOOYYYYFRIEEEND??” He grabbed Axel and noogied him.
“Oh don’t look so concerned…the ‘disheveled’ look is totally in this year.” James patted Axel on the head, further mussing his hair. “And…it would have gotten messed up anyway while you two were kissing.” James made a kissy face.
“Oh my God James, get OUT!” Axel shoved him towards the door with all his might, and slammed it behind him.
James dragged himself down the corridor into the rec room, laughing too hard to stand. “Oh…oh my…god…oh my…god…his FACE! You should have seen…his FACE!”
“Seriously James, leave Axel alone. This is a hard time for kids his age. What are you even trying to accomplish?” Hartley looked at James disapprovingly from his seat on the one undamaged chair.
“Oh, I’m just playing a game…‘How red can I make Axel?’ I’m aiming for Flash red, though I’d settle for Brick.” He burst into laughter again. “And come on…Axel has a boyfriend. I CANNOT pass this opportunity up, there are so many jokes to be had.”
“I disapprove of this, James.”
“I don’t care, Hartley.”
Owen and Axel were back by their new favorite coffeeshop.
“Axel, why have you been staring at that rustling bush this whole time? It’s probably just the new Impulse playing hide and seek with her dad or something.”
Axel pouted. “No it’s not. It’s James. Listen, you can hear him giggling. He’s been following us all day.”
“You should have just said something. Do you have any itching powder?” Owen began rummaging in his bag.
“Always.” Axel handed him a plastic saltshaker.
“Thanks.” Owen sprinkled it onto a boomerang, then threw it into the suspicious bush. “That should take care of James for a little while.”
“You’re the best” Axel kissed Owen.
James Jesse flopped out of the bush, scratching madly at his head. “Hey, Axel, when you spoon is it called boomeranging?”
Axel pressed his face into Owen’s chest. “I’m so embarrassed, I want to dieeeee,” he whined.
James ran off, laughing wildly.
“Wow…that was…uh…interesting.” Owen said. “Next time let’s find a place to chill where he won’t find us.”
“Yes, let’s” Axel said, his face still buried in Owen’s shirt.
A few days later, Owen and Axel were having a picnic on a hill outside of Central City. The sky was clear and blue, with only wisps of industrial smoke to take the place of clouds. A magnificent oak tree spread its branches over them.
“Owen, Owen, Owen, what do you think of my special sandwich? Huh?” Axel watched intensely as Owen chewed.
“Um…are these gummy worms?”
“No, they’re Swedish Fish. Geez, learn your gummy candy.”
“It’s uh…not as disgusting as I thought it would be. Actually, it’s pretty good!”
“Ha! I knew you’d like it! The secret ingredient is that weird Queso in a jar stuff. And Swedish Fish. And multi-colored Wonderbread. That stuff is the shit.” Axel took out his own sandwich and began eating with gusto. “I put chocolate sauce on mine too, but that’s an acquired taste. Oh, and sprinkles. EVERYTHING is better with sprinkles.”
Owen leaned back, resting against the big shady tree they had set up their picnic around. “Everything?” Owen raised an eyebrow.
“EVERYTHING.” Axel nodded somberly. “I would eat sprinkles on sprinkles if I could.” He took another bite of his sandwich, dribbling chocolate sauce and Queso down his chin.
“Hey, what are you proudest of in your fights against the Flash?” Axel tried to wipe the chocolate sauce off his chin, but just ended up spreading it onto his cheek.
“Huh…what am I most proud of?” Owen’s face brightened. “Oh, I know! The very first time I threw a boomerang at Flash, I cut him! And freed you, I might add.” Owen pinched Axel’s non-chocolaty cheek. “What about you? What are you most proud of?”
“Well…” Axel through for a moment. “There was this one time. I had managed to get Flash’s friend…what was his name…he was the lame one…oh, right, Argus! The Bloodpack guy. Anyway, I had hit him in the face with a lead-filled rubber chicken, so he was down for the count. Flash was pissed, and running at me full-speed. But he didn’t notice that I had thrown down a lubricated banana peel so he-“
“Oooh, lubricated banana peel? That sounds dirty”. Owen and Axel looked up. James Jesse was above them, hanging onto a tree branch.
“Was it a MOIST banana peel?”
“That word makes me very uncomfortable.” Owen said.
“It makes everyone uncomfortable. That’s the entire point.” Axel whispered to him.
“MOOOOIIIIIISSSSTT,” Jesse said.
“Please stop.” Axel said.
“No.” James whispered dramatically, flipping back up onto his tree branch. “Owen and Axel sittin’ in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G. First comes LOOOOVE then comes MARRIAGE then comes Axel pushing a gun carriage!”
“James, I hope you get shot and your body is dragged around by Piper until he can’t take it anymore and cuts off your hand because you were also handcuffed together the whole time,” Axel snapped.
“Well, that’s an oddly specific threat. You don’t mean it, do you?” James put on his best puppy dog eye face.
“No, of course not. You’re great, you just happen to be the most annoying human being I ever met.” Axel responded, softening.
“Guys, this is getting weird, please stop,” Owen interjected.
“Listen to your bOOOYfrIEEND Axel” James crooned.
“Fuck you, James.”
“Okay, do you think we lost him?” Owen tightened the laces on the air-walk shoes Axel had procured for him. They were sitting on the roof of one of the smaller car factories in Keystone.
“Yeah. There’s no way he got past the bubblegum mine I left. James is not ruining another date.” Axel stood about three feet off the rooftop, scanning the horizon. “Plus, we’ll be able to see him coming this time.
“Why hasn’t Hartley helped out? He’s usually really considerate with the personal space stuff.” Owen took a wobbly step. Axel reached out a hand to help him into the air.
“He’s enjoying this. It’s a weird uncle/brother thing they have going, they can’t help being terribly awkward and intrusive like, all of the time.”
“AAAAH!” Owen began to fall, but Axel caught him.
“Hey, don’t worry. It’s just like walking on a moon bounce. You’ll get the hang of it. Hold on to me, I’ll take us higher,” Axel began walking upwards on nothing. “Air-walk shoes are the best, you’re going to love this”
They stood above the city, looking into the horizon. Traffic buzzed beneath their feet. Owen softened his terrified embrace on Axel. “This is incredible…”
“I know…hey, are you touching my butt? I’m not saying it’s a problem, it’s just that,” Axel twisted around, “there are tiny paperclip boomerangs stuck to my pants.” He pulled them off. A few tiny sheets of paper fell into his hand.
“Huh? I didn’t do that, I swear,” Owen looked at the slips of paper. “What do they say?”
“They say, ‘U have a nice butt.’” Axel scowled.
Muffled tittering came from somewhere above them. Axel and Owen looked up. James was standing above them, holding a fistful of bent paperclips. One hand was pressed to his mouth to stifle his laughter.
“GAH!” Owen fell backward. Axel dove forward to catch him.
“Aww…are you two…falling in love?” James waved.
“How did you even get here?!” Axel asked.
“I defused the Bubble Bomb and then just walked along the telephone wires. Hey, what did you think of my paperrang skills?”
“This means war” Axel whispered to Owen.
“Okay, here’s the plan.” Axel and Owen were in Axel’s room, pouring over a diagram Axel had put together a few minutes before. “If we follow it, we can pull off the ULTIMATE PRANK, and beat James at his own game. It’s going to be risky, but if this works…revenge will be ours! Are you in?”
They had waited days for James to be absolutely, positively, not hiding anywhere so they could concoct their diabolical scheme. (Currently, James was in Metropolis for his yearly team-up with Prankster).
“Let’s do this.” Owen nodded somberly.
“In that case…battle stations!”
The two young Rogues crept out of Axel’s room. They slid behind the couch in the rec room, and peered down the short corridor to where Mark Mardon, the Weather Wizard, had set up his Stupidity-Free zone. It was a pretty nice room with armchairs and vaguely tacky art. In theory it was supposed to be a place for intellectual conversation and a respite from things like whoopee cushions. In theory.
“You’re sure you saw him with it?” Axel whispered.
“Positive.” Owen replied.
They dropped down into an army crawl, and went down the hallway.
Mark was sitting with his back to them, reading a book. “No…don’t do it Chastity…” he muttered to himself, unaware of the two rapscallions watching him.
Owen held up one finger…two…three! He dashed off as fast as he could while Axel distracted Mark. “Hey Wiz! Whatcha reading?”
Mark quickly slammed the book shut and hid it behind his back.
“Uh…Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment. It’s extremely slow, you would hate it.”
“Can I see it?” Axel asked.
“I bet that’s not reeeally what you’re reading” Axel said in a singsong voice.
“Of course it is. Raskolnikov has just…HEY!” Mark leapt to his feet as Owen zoomed out from under the coffee table and grabbed the book.
“Hey, what have we here? Seaside Pining.” Owen turned the book over. “In a small New England village, Chastity Prudence is all alone. Until she catches the eye of a rugged lobsterman with an eye for more than crustaceans”. Owen looked up at Mark. “Ooh Mark! Is this a bodice ripper? What else do you have stashed away…Twilight? 50 Shades of Gray? Wait until the others hear about this!”
“Please don’t tell anyone about this. I’d never hear the end of it,” Mark pleaded.
“Hey, did you see Mark crying over it? I think he was.” Axel said to Owen.
“Oh definitely. Absolutely bawling.” Owen replied.
“What are you two trying to accomplish?” Mark said, exasperated, and more than a little frightened.
“Well, since you asked…we’d like you to do us a favor” Axel said.
“And if you did, we promise that Seaside Pining will never be spoken of again, unless we ever need anything from you, ever” Owen added.
“Fine. Just say what it is. But I will get you back for this. I will make sure it rains on every parade you ever have.”
“Well, I guess we’d just have to have rainy day book club then” Axel said snidely. “What’s first Owen? Oh I know. Seaside Pining.”
“Fine, you win.” Mark said.
The pieces fell into place. The time grew near. Axel Walker was going to have his revenge. He and Owen had put up with James’ shenanigans for a whole week after he returned from getting beaten up by Superman. But no more. Axel and Owen were going to out-trick the trickster.
Axel and Owen lurked in the alley near the mirrored door of the hideout.
“Okay Owen, are you ready? Timing is everything…one misstep and all our work was for nothing.”
“I was born ready.” Owen waved at James, who was watching them through binoculars from a nearby building. James waved back.
“Okay, let’s go!” Axel gave Mark the signal, which was a dramatic fake swoon. Then he ran towards James. Owen ran off in the opposite direction.
“James! James! This is an emergency. I need you!” Axel flailed his arms wildly. James tossed aside his binoculars.
“What is it? What’s going on? Did you run out of joy buzzers?” He began to search his pockets.
“No! This is more important than that. I need kissing lessons.” Axel struggled to keep a straight face.
“I’M ON MY WAY!” James jumped out of the window and ran to Axel.
Meanwhile, Owen ran through the corridors of the hideout wrangling up all the Rogues. “COME QUICK! EMERGENCY, EMERGENCY, EMERGENCY!!! Everyone out in front of the hideout now, THERE’S NO TIME TO WASTE!” He hit a boomerang on the Stanley Cup that Captain Cold still kept lying around. It made a terrible clanging noise, and the Rogues emerged from their rooms.
“What’s going on?” Len asked, cold gun at the ready.
“NO TIME TO EXPLAIN! OUTSIDE! NOW!” Owen went back outside, the mirror rippling behind him.
“Okay, so you do this with your tongue. Nyaaaa” James demonstrated on a rubber chicken.
Axel tried his very best not to see what James was doing. Ew. He gave the second signal to Weather Wizard, which in this case was just pointing at James. Mark nodded, and turned his attention to the sky. The clouds began to shape themselves into words….
Owen ran back outside, and grabbed some stuff from the bushes. Kicking into speed mode, he changed James’ into a poorly made hula skirt and ukulele…and nothing else. At that moment, the rest of the Rogues made it outside. They stared aghast at James.
“Jesse…what the fuck are you doing?” Len said.
“Look at th’ skywriting!” Evan exclaimed, and pointed.
‘My dearest HEARTly,’ the clouds read. “You are my joy. Whenever we kiss I feel my heart flutter, like a beautiful butterfly. I could not hold in these emotions any longer. Everyone needs to know of our love”.
Hartley stared open mouthed at the sky, then back at James. “What…?”
“No, I swear, this isn’t what it looks like!” James tried to cover himself with the ukulele.
The other Rogues were laughing too hard at this point to even make quips at James’ expense.
“You’re not standing more or less naked in the middle of the street while clouds spell out a mushy and frankly embarrassing love note?”
“Jaaames.” Hartley rubbed his temples.
“Wait…I think I get it now.” James shooshed Hartley, then turned to Axel and Owen, who averted their eyes. “This was your revenge, wasn’t it?”
“What? Nooooo” Axel said.
“Don’t lie to me…I know a Trickster-brand trick when I see one.”
“Uh…how?” Axel said.
“Mainly because Mark told me you were up to something.”
“GODDAMMIT WEATHER WIZARD!” Axel yelled, shaking his fist at Mark. Mark just shrugged.
Axel sighed. “I’m screwed then, aren’t I?”
“Nah, I’m proud of you.” James said, patting Axel on the head.
“You out-tricked the Trickster…you’re really becoming a true Rogue.” James smiled.
“Wow…thanks! Does this mean you’re going to stop bothering me and Owen?”
“Of course not. I’m going to do that forever.” James ruffled Axel’s hair, and skipped off.
“FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, PUT ON SOME PANTS!” Hartley yelled, and chased after him.
Owen kissed Axel’s cheek. “We did it Axel. We pulled off the Ultimate Prank.”