Looking for William BatsonA Captain Marvel Story
Disclaimer: I don't own the characters. In fact, this one isn't exactly owned by anybody any more. Or rather he's owned by both DC and Marvel. But the way I see it, if they can share with each other they can share with me. So there!
Slash: (Off stage, but with underage implications. Sort of. This ones a mind-bender.)
Archive: Ask first
Billy Batson smiled as he finished the last of the seemingly endless equations Ms. Grimsin assigned in a seemingly deliberate effort to ruin her students weekend. There. That was the last. He tucked the paper into his notebook between his English paper and his History report. With Math done there was no homework looming over his head and with Superman back from his latest deep-space mission and safely ensconced back at the Watchtower there was no earthshaking crisis demanding Captain Marvel's attention. Which meant tonight William B. could do something for himself.
He turned on the television, setting it to the cable sports channel. Basketball tonight. Not that Billy watched such things himself. Between a rather lonely childhood and an adult life gifted with the strength of Hercules, professional sports had always seemed rather pointless. But the noise would make the apartment seem occupied, and justify Billy's "uncle" staying in to watch.
Billy had learned to be vigilant about such things. A child alone was in constant danger from Social Services, whose agents were unlikely to appreciate the argument that Billy had been managing on his own since the 30's without incident. Not that Billy would want go give such an explanation. And confessing the truth about Captain Marvel was unthinkable. No. If challenged, Billy Batson and his 'uncle' would have to disappear and start over somewhere else. Which - even with his almost unlimited resources - would be a strain. Better to stay low and avoid the problem.
But that was for tomorrow. For tonight, Billy Batson had another problem on his mind. Something more pressing then either algebra or the neighbor's opinions of his erstwhile 'uncle'.
Picking up the other backpack - the one he did NOT use for school - Billy carefully set the apartment lights. No so dark as to make the place look empty. Not so bright as to attract attention if they stayed on late. because William Batson was going out tonight. With the world taken care of, he was taking some time for himself.
Not that the chance came very often, but that just meant he appreciated it more when it did.
He checked both ways before stepping into the hall. No neighbors. Good. He could always say he was going to the corner for soda - but that excuse would only work so many times. Locking the apartment door. A youngster living alone had his problems - not the least of which were 'concerned' neighbors who might question the type of guardian who would let a child stay out late. So he'd either have to stay out all night or be careful not to get caught coming in. He knew which one he could prefer.
He was lucky, and made it out the back door unnoticed.It might be wiser to travel as Cap, but that was risky too. Marvel had been seen around Billy too often as it was. He didn't need a sighting so close to home.
Billy ran a few short blocks before he turned into an alley. A truck entrance between two long abandoned factories with a brick wall at one end and a row of dumpsters at he other. Not the best place for a kid - unless that kid happened to be Captain Marvel.
The local drunks knew about the place - even used it as an occasional crash pad - but the crew was all decent enough. Safely disinterested in anything beyond their next bottle of Thunderbird. The muggers likely knew it too, but considered it a poor hunting ground. Everyone here had less then even the poorest thug. Now and then someone worse would come by, but they never lasted. For all its ruin, this place was mysteriously bad luck for the city predators.
Billy chucked at that last thought as he looked around. No one was here yet tonight. Not in this fine weather. While there was light, the regular alkies would still be on the grift.
It was time. One soft word. One flash of light and a bit of thunder. Not as bold as in the early days - he had learned to control the power - but still enough to generate complaints from the neighbors.
The red-suited man smiled to himself as he muttered "Kids, don't try this at home."
With the speed of Mercury and the efficiency of long experience he swapped the world-recognised red long-johns for jeans and a plaid flannel shirt. The suit he folded back into his kids backpack. A quick comb-through blurred the famous hairstyle. Dark glasses covered his unnaturally blue eyes. Tucking a folded bandana into his shirt pocket, he strolled easily into the warm evening.
First things first. An easy two block walk brought him to the small local post office. He had a box there, where the kids backpack with it's incriminating contents could rest safely until morning. Much safer then the bus station, and the public lockers he had used before. A kid at the bus stop was prey - watched by both predators and protectors. But the post office was somehow innocuous.
That done, he slipped the key and 'William Parker Batson's' wallet into his pocket. He checked the contents. Good. Cash enough to prevent hassles, although likely he would not need it, and a fake ID courtesy of the JLA. That last was a calculated risk. With this face and body, no one was likely to question his legal age. Still. Accidents happened. A bar fight or a raid could always land one in trouble. This particular ID,if called in to the central police data-base, would assure a swift rescue. Of course, that rescue could also involve some embarrassing questions. Questions Billy would rather not answer. Still, he listed it as the lesser of the alternatives.
Some might suggest he stay home and eliminate the risk altogether. He had tried that, especially back in the darker days. Not out of fear. He knew he had the courage of Achilles. Among other things. No, simply out of a naive hope that such efforts might work. They had not. He had tried. With the stamina of Atlas, he had tried. Tried to make friends quietly though Billy and struggled to find exhaustion in long patrols. Neither worked. He was a child, true. But he was also an adult. And that part of him needed an adult life.
Stepping to the curb, he waved down a cab. Another virtue of the post office effect. Anywhere else the driver might hesitate before stopping for a single man in this particular outfit. But apparently everyone had the right to get their mail.
That last though made him grin. That was - after all - tonight's mission.
The driver must have recognized the address, because he drove there in silence. Billy considered being offended, then shrugged. He wasn't looking for conversation tonight anyway, and if he was it wouldn't be with a cabbie. So let it pass.
Five minutes later they pulled up before the door. Good service, at least. Billy handed the driver three twenties. Cab fare and a handsome tip. Policy, not reward. Cabbies remembered tippers and he'd probably need a ride back later.
Shaking out the bandana, he tucked it loosely into his pant pocket. Left side tonight. He was in the mood for some paternal attention. Unbuttoning his shirt, he stepped through the doors.
As his eyes instantly adapted to the soft light, he was able to catch the sudden movement of heads. The sudden track of eyes that followed him as he made his way to the bar. Leaning forward to give his audience a better look, he ordered a beer.
The bartender was quick, but by the time he came back one of the men from the tables was already pulling out a bill. Billy's eyes narrowed in consideration. Not a bad choice. The man was blond, built, and damn confident if he was willing to move that fast. A moments consideration, then Billy smiled. The same pearly smile that had so often assured the injured and terrified that they would be all right. Now it assured the handsome blond that they would be all right. More then all right. The man stepped closer as Billy took an easy sip of his beer. Billy wouldn't need the wisdom of Solomon tonight. This one would do. He would definitely do.