Charlie stared forward at the fire, the flames dancing in front of her eyes, mocking her with their heat. The surface of her pale, freckled skin had begun to tingle faintly from the ambient warmth, from the desperate throes of her body to suck in as much heat as it could manage, to resist the imminent full-body shutdown that she was surprised she hadn't succumbed to already.
Her body burned from the cold, which was something she had never really understood. She shivered and yet her fingertips felt like they would burn off. Her mind, however, was absent from the problems with her slowly-thawing body – her mind was dwelling on what Atlee had done to get her here. Killer Frost – the Killer Frost – was going to her apartment to get the object she'd been hiding. And if she wanted it this bad, then Charlie – no, Misfit – would not be able to tolerate her having it.
The stratan was nearby. Even if she couldn't move her head enough to see her, she could feel her, sitting still, nearly as cold as Charlie herself was. If only... if only she could bounce, she might be able to stop Frost in time, if that damn Shark wasn't there.
Then again... all she had to do was give in to the true nature of her power. The destructive ability that she had avoided since she first realized it. The power that Black Alice – her sister, or whatever the hell she was – had learned of quite violently when she briefly stole Misfit's abilities. If she grabbed Frost, or King Shark, and bounced with them....
She shook her head gently, the first time she'd moved since being brought from Crystal's frozen dungeon to the warmer rooms upstairs. She wouldn't do that, she couldn't let that happen again. Wouldn't cross that line. Wouldn't sacrifice all the work she'd put into being a hero.
“M-Misfit...? Are you awake?” Atlee's voice. Charlie allowed herself a small smile and wiggled awkwardly, her muscles still numb from the cold soaked into them.
Charlie let out a weak grunt, all she could manage at the moment. She heard the other girl stir, rising up from her own position near the fireplace and wrapping her arms around the red-haired teen – she wasn't quite as indecently dressed as she had been in the dungeon, seeming to be wrapped in some sort of soft robe. As the consciousness of her nerves increased, Charlie began to realize she was wearing one as well.
“At... llll... leee....”
“Shh, Charlie... don't talk... I need you to warm up, I need you.” She lowered her voice a few decibels, rubbing herself as vigorously as she could against the prone metahuman. “King Shark is outside, I can't beat him on my own. I need you to get us out of here... this high off of the ground, my connection to the earth isn't strong enough to summon something large enough to fly on. I need you to warm up.”
“Come on, come on... every second we stay here, she's getting closer to whatever that thing is you were hiding... I need you to get up...” the stratan rubbed her hands vigorously all over Charlie's thin body, rubbing the cloth of her robe into her skin, trying to heat her up. “If you can teleport, that will heal you, right? Isn't that what you said? You just have to do it once, just enough to heal... come on, Misfit... please.” Atlee's voice was desperate. That half-frenzied panic could be heard even in Charlie's frozen ears.
She had to get up.
“Stpp tch'n' mmm...” she groaned softly, eyes flickering open faintly.
“What? Misfit, what is it? Charlie?!”
Charlie opened her eyes fully, the sparkling blue orbs hazy from exhaustion and cold. “Stop... touchin' me... I can't take you along... if I bounce....”
Atlee hesitated for just a moment before nodding, and slowly detaching herself from the other girl – her only friend on earth, with Kara off with the Justice Society. She sat up on her knees and watched Charlie shiver and strain, watched her pale, blue-tinged body shake with the effort of trying to teleport when every muscle was cramping from the cold soaked into her bones.
“Charlie...” she whispered softly, just as a burst of dusty violet energy obscured the girl from her vision. Atlee held her breath for the long moments it took before that burst appeared again, quickly dispersing to reveal an under-wear clad, smirking Misfit.
“Let's do this. Who else is inside the building?”
“Besides King Shark, a few mooks – nothing I can't handle with pebbles and gems. But I can't handle him... he's too big, too strong. I need you to distract him while I get to the bottom levels. Then we go after Frost.” Atlee's face brightened, and she brought herself to her feet. “You have any spare costumes?”
“Just my old one, at home... you may be stuck with ladybug panties, unless you have a new suit at home?”
“I think I have two spare outfits, if you would be so good as to grab me one on your way back?”
“Gladly. Then we'll bust this popsicle stand and kick some Frosty butt! Then the world will know who the world's finest really are!”
Atlee grinned with mischievous excitement as Charlie bounced away in a puff of smoke.
Atlee skittered out through the unlocked door, dashing into the hallway and past Nanaue before the shark-man could properly react.
“Hey! Hey, um... stupid! Get back here!” he roared, his massive legs already starting to propel him forward until he felt a swift strike to the back of one of his eye-stalks. “Gah! Stupid little... dumb things! Aargh!”
Misfit nimbly dodged King Shark's incoming backhand, and grinned wickedly. “Missed me, missed me, now ya gotta kiss me! Not that you've got a chance in hell, fish-breath!”
“One of these days, someone is gonna seriously regret using the word “fish” to describe me in any way... let's start with you.” King Shark narrowed his beady scarlet eyes and charged forward, showing remarkable speed and skill for a creature his size – he was clearly in a different league than Misfit, she had no problem admitting that. But she wasn't trying to beat him this time. Just distract him, just long enough for Atlee to get to the ground level and give the signal.
“Get back here you little crunchy delicious thing!” Nanaue roared as Misfit bounced from point to point, a pre-set strategy that she had developed back when she was working with the Birds of Prey. She had hated the training at the time, but now that she was doing the whole solo gig, she was really glad she had.
“I think not, big boy--” a burst of violet energy and Misfit dodged an incoming gray meathook, bouncing behind Nanaue and lashing out with a vicious punch that drilled into the shark's other eyestalk, making a distinct dent in the odd appendage and causing it to bend inward awkwardly. “--I was thinking, instead, you could use a double dose of DARK F***ING VENGEANCE!”
“Owwww... owowow...” King Shark grumbled, clapping one hand across his smashed eye and turning to face his teleporting assailant, just in time for a thick, massive boulder to rocket upwards through the floor, driving him upwards into the ceiling and through who knew how many more floors. Through the hole the boulder had made, a second, small rock came hovering upwards, lifting up a smirking Atlee.
“That was some language, Charlie,” she scolded playfully.
“I needed some added affect. Ready to go tag that Frost bitch?”
The stratan narrowed her deep purple eyes fiercely. “Absolutely.”
“So sorry to hear that...” came a husky, rasping voice from beneath the two teens. There was a sound of grating, growing ice, and the floor that the two girls stood on became quickly encased in a solid sheet of thorny frost. “Because I think you'll probably find me uncooperative.”
Terra and Misfit's eyes widened in unison as the white-skinned woman lifted herself up before them on a tower of ice, that sadistic grin on her face just the way they'd left it. She stood tall now, strong, and the absolute cold of her breath puffed out in clouds even amidst her own chilled aura. She had found the Heart of Ice. She was at full power again.
“You,” Charlie mouthed silently.