“I… nuh uh. No I’m not.” Atlee replied resolutely, folding her arms and turning her head to the side, as if not facing Charlie was a perfectly reasonable means of not being liable to answer any questions.
“You aaaaaare, you were Power Girl’s sidekick and the original Terra was patterned off of your DNA!” Charlie drew close, dancing excitedly around the other girl with an expression of mischievous wonder on her face.
“How would you even know that? Nobody knows that.”
“Well… let’s just say I have friends in smart places, and one of my friends knows… pretty much everything, and from time to time I sooooort of go through all of her files and search for all the juicy gossip. I remember clicking on your file once, Terra.3, because I thought your outfit was so crazy awesome. You can call me Misfit! I’m a superhero too, a really awesome one! I was Oracle’s right-hand girl for a long time and had a place of honor on the Birds of Prey!”
“…You look a little young for the Birds of Prey,” Atlee pursed her lips and finally looked back at the other girl, as if evaluating her. “And isn’t Oracle’s right hand girl Black Canary?”
Charlie chewed the inside of her cheek, a faint pink blush staining her heavily freckled cheeks. “Well, maybe I wasn’t officially with the team… usually… but I did share a bunkbed with Babs one time when the basement flooded her room! So you could say we were pretty tight!”
Atlee suddenly smiled. “I can top that. One time our power went out, and Kara had forgotten to buy extra blankets, so we had to share.”
A deep, genuine gasp burst from Charlie’s lips, her eyes widening. “You got to snuggle with Power Girl? The Power Girl?”
“All night,” Atlee said proudly.
“How was that?”
“Can we be best friends now?”
Some problems, some… addictions, you will make any sacrifice for. Even when her powers were fresh, when they were… pitifully weak, she had wanted victims, wanted her targets to grovel under her, beg for mercy, beg for a break… or beg for more. She wanted victims, and as her feeble powers began to grow stronger, she began to realize the depth of her secret fetish.
She wanted those victims to be able to fight back.
Metahumans were an obvious choice… the young ones, the ones who weren’t confident. The ones who would fight with whatever they had, but would always give in. The ones who didn’t realize they could win if they kept fighting.
Those were the ones she loved best, and as she had started to… crave them, she needed more power. Her abilities had reached their zenith, a pathetic plateau that barely even put her in the game of heroes versus villains. Just as she wanted her victims to be stronger, she needed greater strength herself. She wanted battles that she would win – the fact that her encounters were always a sure thing made her victories ever sweeter.
She had exercised her body, trained in martial arts – mostly the grappling ones, like Jiu Jutsu and Sambo. Perhaps, strengthening her body would strengthen her powers. It did not. She needed more.
She had sold her soul to the being known as Neron, for greater strength. She hadn’t been using it – her soul, that is – and the hell she would be sent to would be worth it all, in the end. That was if Neron himself didn’t simply congratulate her on her success and give her a bottle of ice-cold champagne, along with a few teenage girls.
If it wasn’t for that brat, that… that Black Alice… she would still be on top, undisturbed by the feelings of regret and guilt that were beginning to plague her. That bratty little goth girl had felt the power dwelling inside of her, and more importantly, that a significant portion of it was magical in nature. When she had drained her strength, the bargain had been shattered as Neron’s powers were drained away from her. She was reduced to the pathetic level of power – no, less than that – that she had been forced to suffer with before she made her deal. She was weak, feeble… and even though she could still turn a pigeon into a block of ice, she could barely walk ten yards without a cane.
It was pitiful, and she hated herself for her weakness. Hate… the only emotion she still had that let her hang on to the feeling of being without her soul. She hated herself, hated Black Alice, hated Neron, and hated Icicle for having the only item that she may be able to use to restore her power. Her soul was returned, but it was tainted… it couldn’t be traded back to Neron. It was blackened and frostbitten, charred from spending so much time in his realm.
So she was stuck with it, stuck here in her icy palace, threatening henchmen. Stuck trying to get the Heart of Ice, the one artifact that she could use, that she could… consume, that could restore her to full power. And once she had overthrown Icicle and retrieved the Heart, the world would tremble in her icy grip.
But first, she had to deal with a meddlesome brat in a black cape that had stolen the Heart of Ice away from her, so soon before it was to be hers.
“M-madame… Madame Frost…” came a soft voice, one of her less-cared-for minions, -- a thin, straw-haired man by the name of Gouch.
“What is it, you idiot? Speak up.” Her voice was like gravel raking of ice, dry and bitter with just the thinnest glimmer of deep-lying murder hidden beneath.
“The Signature Reader that we stole from the Iceberg Lounge… Cambo figured it out, managed to use it. The Heart is still in New York, Miss Frost.”
“…Good,” a thin, dark-lipped smile spread across Killer Frost’s face. “Good.”
“So, why Manhattan? You didn’t like Gotham?” Atlee mumbled around her straw. When Charlie had realized that she had vanilla ice cream in the freezer and a carton of milk that wasn’t rotten yet, it had become imperative that they make milkshakes.
“Well, I mean, it was okay… but I guess I just started to really feel that if I was going to make a real name for myself, I had to break away, y’know? I had done great things as Batgirl… don’t ask… but then when I was pretending to be a Bird of Prey it just seemed like I screwed everything up. Like I was a square peg, or a fifth wheel, or whatever.” Charlie took a long drink from her own milkshake-filled mug and shuddered from the cold. She glanced towards Atlee on the couch for just a moment, as if wondering whether or not to draw closer.
“Like a Misfit?” Atlee said, a playful grin spreading across her face, which earned her a futile swat from Charlie. The redhead huffed quietly and laid her head onto the other girl’s shoulder, taking another sip from her straw.
“I guess, yeah. I was proud of the name at first, really… but when I started to realize how true it was it got a little depressing. Oracle seemed to hate me as much as tolerate me, and I know her heart is great, but I just felt like I was constantly being… I dunno. Discouraged. Like, I should be bringing justice to Gotham, instead of playing backup for when Huntress inevitably gets captured. I needed my own life, and my own job… my own city.”
Atlee frowned sympathetically for just a moment, before folding her free arm around Charlie and pulling her close. “Empire of the Ant-Mongers” seemed to be coming to a close, not that either girl was paying much attention to the movie on Barbara Gordon’s borrowed television.