Saturday, October 31st, 2015 08:07 pm
Title: Starry City Sky

Characters/Pairing: America Chavez/Kamala Khan, Janice Lincoln (Beetle)

Fandom/Universe: Ms. Marvel/Young Avengers, Marvel 616

Rating: Teen

Word count: 5400

Warnings: None

Notes: Thanks to [personal profile] likeadeuce and [personal profile] st_aurafina for the beta.


Kamala is the protector of Jersey City (especially around the high school.)

America is an interdimensional teleporter (but it's not working too well right now.)

Together they fight crime!

Kamala sat on the rooftop of the Starbucks and clutched a coffee in her cold hands – the staff at Starbucks had been very grateful that she stopped the early morning robbery, but it had just been two stupid guys on meth, no biggie – and looked out over her city. The flow of commuters towards Manhattan had started already, yawning people staggering down the street towards the PATH station. Everything looked calm, and Kamala turned towards home. She still had to do a final check on her history assignment before school, and Ammi wouldn't let her go without a proper breakfast.

A loud scream caught her attention. It was coming from the high school. A window shattered, a few storeys up, and Kamala heard the scream again. She elongated her legs as she slid over the edge of the roof to hit the ground running, pausing only to drop the nearly-empty coffee cup in the trash as she went. Easily stretching over the chain link fence of the school, she stretched her arms up to the brick windowsill where the broken window was, and hauled herself up, ready to fight.

Instead of a powered-up battle or a quickly abandoned scene, there were three large Italian men in suits sitting awkwardly on the plastic school chairs, and Matteo Lombardi-King from her math class perched on a table. He looked as though he had been up all night crying, and that was what stopped her smacking them all down and asking questions later.

"I told you she'd come running!" Matteo said to the men, who were fulfilling every Sopranos stereotype Kamala could imagine. They definitely had guns, judging by the bulges under their jackets.

"What's going on here?" Kamala folded her arms and tried to look intimidating. She could take them all out if she needed to!

One of the men stood up, keeping his hands in plain sight. "Miss Marvel, we've got an offer for you."

Kamala ignored him getting her name wrong. "An offer I can't refuse?"

"Uh, no, not that kind. More of a mutual interest kind of thing."

"I doubt I have a lot of interests in common with you," Kamala told them. They didn't seem the type to be into science fairs or superhero RPF. Still, people had hidden depths!

"Yeah, well, this time you do. Some supervillain chick flew into our junkyard and stole something that belonged to us."

"Boo hoo."

"While she was stealing it, she dropped the security guard, my sister Bennie, out of the air. Bennie is Matteo's mama, and now she's in hospital with two broken legs."

Kamala winced. "Oh, I'm sorry. But I'm not sure what that's got to do with me." She glanced at Matteo: he looked pretty grim. She didn't know him well, but school was gossip central and she'd heard that one of his moms, an elementary school teacher, had run off last year and the other mom was working all hours to keep their apartment. If his uncle was some Maggia guy, though, shouldn't he be helping? "You guys are going to cover her hospital bills, though, right?"

"Sure, sure, she was working security for us. But what we don't got is super connections, and you do. You don't want some supervillain flying around Jersey City and we want back what she stole."

Kamala sneaked another look at Matteo. "Okay, maybe our interests do line up. Wait, it wasn't drugs or guns she stole, was it? I'm not getting those back for you."

Matteo finally spoke up. "No, it wasn't. Mama wouldn't get involved in that side of the business. The junkyard does parts reclamation from old cars, and one of the things it collects is rhodium from the catalytic converters. There's only a tiny amount in each car, but it's more expensive than gold and it adds up over time. She stole about two pounds of it. Please stop the woman who did this to my mom, Ms. Marvel."

"Also, we'll pay you ten thousand dollars," the Maggia uncle added, helpfully.

"Seriously?" Kamala glared at him. "You want to buy me?"

He shrugged. "It's an incentive to hand her over to us and not the cops. And not to run off with our stuff. Anyway, here's a phone with the footage from the junkyard. We've told the guys there that you might be sniffing around and not to bother you. And there's a number in the phone to text when you're done."

"Gee, thanks." Kamala took the phone. "And listen, I'm in this for Matteo's mom and the safety of Jersey City, not for your stupid rhodium. And definitely not for your ten thousand dollars. You'd better be giving the school a good donation to cover this broken window, too."

"Ah, we'll settle it. Me and the principal, we go way back."

Kamala glared at him one more time for good luck and lowered herself back out the window. She was going to have to really sprint to make it home now. At least she had her jogging excuse firmly established.

At lunch, Kamala found Bruno at their usual table.

"Hey, do you know Matteo Lombardi-King?"

"Yeah, sure, I heard his mom Ms. Lombardi is a security guard and she got attacked at work last night. The mom that didn't run off, I mean. My mom's friends with them and it was all over Facebook this morning."

Kamala sighed. "Turns out his uncle is some Maggia guy and offered Ms. Marvel ten thousand dollars to find the supervillain who put Ms. Lombardi in hospital."

"Seriously? Woah." He lowered his voice. "You're not going to take the money, right?"

"Well, I want to track down Beetle – that's the supervillain – anyway. And that money could do a lot of good! I mean, I wouldn't keep it for myself, but the animal shelter is fundraising right now…"

"You can't take their money, Kamala! If you find this Beetle person, they'll kill her."

"Yeah, but look at this security video of her stealing their rhodium." Kamala shoved the phone over to him and ate her sandwich glumly.

Bruno watched it. It was poorly lit, but it clearly showed Beetle swoop in on her mechanical wings and cut a doorway in a steel shed. Ms. Lombardi ran up, pointing her gun at Beetle, but Beetle shot some a cable out of one arm and tied her up from head to toe, her mouth jammed shut. She just left her there on the ground until she had come out of the shed a minute later, then grabbed the end of the cable and flew into the air, yanking Ms. Lombardi after her, upside down. Moments later, Ms. Lombardi, still tied up, hit the ground right at the edge of the camera. She crumpled horribly on impact, and fell out of shot.

"Crap. Beetle didn't need to hurt her at all, she was totally helpless."

"See what I mean?" Kamala slurped up the last of her orange juice. "I looked her up on the supervillain database and she's not, like, trying to take over the world or anything, but she's killed people before, and she's really mean."

Bruno gestured with a french fry. "Also, I thought Beetle was a guy?"

"Used to be, but he reformed and called himself Mach I instead. Well, he's up to version 4.0 or something by now, but it's not him. This woman uses a version of his old armour. She mostly works in Brooklyn and Manhattan doing high-tech thefts, and I really don't want her here."

"I guess stealing rhodium fits her M.O. and I guess she's not going to stop after one robbery."

"Exactly! I'm going to head over to the junkyard after school and work out where she could have flown from there without anyone noticing a woman in a bright green and purple suit." She frowned. "It was the middle of the night, though."

"You want me to come with?"

"No, I want you to go online and search for someone trying to sell off that rhodium. It might give me a clue where she is right now." Also, Kamala didn't want Bruno to get dropped from a great height like poor Ms. Lombardi, but she didn't say that. Sometimes he took her totally natural protective superhero feelings as a challenge to his masculinity or something.

Fortunately, Bruno thought this was a good plan, and he happily stayed home on the computer while Kamala headed out after school to check out the junkyard. How had Beetle known exactly where to go, for one thing? She went to the right part of a huge storage shed without hesitation. Maybe she'd bought off someone at the junkyard, which meant that Kamala would need to be extra careful in case they came after a snooping superhero.

She caught a lift part of the way there on the back of a refrigerated truck, waving at some teenagers who laughed and took pictures as she went by. The junkyard was right out near the port, not far from the old power plant where she'd fought the Inventor's robots and Kamala was kind of glad she'd come over in the daylight when there were lots of people around. It was spooky out here at night. She shuddered, imagining Ms. Lombardi all alone out here guarding the junkyard, and hoped that she hadn't been lying there for very long before someone came to help her.

Even though the Maggia guy – presumably Mr. Lombardi – had said that he would tell everyone she might be dropping by, Kamala crept up to the fence and peered through it instead. It would feel weird just walking up and introducing herself and, anyway, someone might be in league with Beetle. There were lots of gaps in the rusty fence, so she made herself narrower and sidled through into the junkyard.

"Hey!" A female voice came from behind a wrecked Toyota. "What are you doing here?"

Kamala peered around the car to see a girl in a Stars and Stripes denim jacket and very short shorts. "Oh wow, you're Miss America, from the Young Avengers! You're friends with Hawkeye! Are we going to have a team-up? I love team-ups!"

Surprise flashed across America's face before she composed herself. "Sure, okay, if you want. Who are you, cutie?"

"Ms. Marvel! I'm the guardian of Jersey City!" Kamala was thrilled, all thoughts of the creepiness of the junkyard forgotten. "I'm investigating the theft of some rhodium by Beetle. The new Beetle, not the old one. Is the rest of your team here, Miss America?"

"Call me America. It's my actual name. It's only me, though. The rest of the team is doing other stuff, but don't worry, I've got Hawkeye on speed dial."

"Sure, America, no problem." Kamala took a deep breath to steady herself. "So why are you here, then? Are you tracking Beetle?"

America sat on the hood of the car. Kamala thought her bare thighs must be awfully cold on the metal, but maybe she had an enhanced metabolism or something.

"Actually, I didn't know there was a theft, and I've never heard of this Beetle. I'm here because something is messing up my inter-dimensional portals. My friend David did some calculations and managed to work out that the problem was right there in that shed." She pointed to the shed where Beetle had been last night, the one that now had a big piece of tin nailed over the hole Beetle had cut.

"Is it maybe gone now?" Kamala asked. "Because Beetle stole something from there last night. My, um, sources said it was a chunk of reclaimed rhodium, but they're not really all that trustworthy."

"Yeah, it was gone by the time I got here this morning. Travel is slow when you can't dimension-hop and your teleporting friend has some big AP exam. So I called David and he's re-doing the calculations to find out where it's gone. Can't be far, though, 'cause my portals are still messed up."

Kamala grinned. "That's great! You can find whatever's causing you problems and I can find Beetle!" She remembered what she was supposed to do with Beetle and the rhodium and frowned. "Are you going to destroy whatever's stopping you making portals? I'm supposed to hand it back to these guys."

"Cross that bridge when we come to it? It's not stopping my portals, though, it's making them go weird. Watch this." The star tattoos on America's wrists started glowing and a star, shining pale blue, appeared on the door. She kicked it, hard, and the car made a sad crunching noise. The star shattered like glass and Kamala could see through it to the other side of the car.

"That's so cool! It's a tunnel!"

America shook her head. "Not cool at all, cutie. It's supposed to be a portal to another dimension, not to the other side of the car."

For some reason, Kamala didn't mind when America called her "cutie". It didn't sound as if she meant it as if Kamala was a little kid. More that she thought that Kamala was cute. Blushing, she tried to regain her composure. "Oh, so your portal has a brake on it? Rhodium is super inert – they use it to measure neutron flux in nuclear reactors." Kamala and Bruno had been reading up on it. "Maybe it's affecting your power in some way?"

"Yeah, maybe. But there can't be so much here that it's affecting me all the way into Brooklyn, can there? I mean, this is a junkyard, not a jewellery store. Or a nuclear reactor."

America's phone beeped. "Oh, that's David. New coordinates."

She showed Kamala a map.

Kamala nodded. "That's near the airport. There's tons of cheap motels there, it would be a good place to hole up."

"Gotcha. Let's catch a lift back into town."

America's idea of "catching a lift" was to open a portal into the side of a truck that was leaving a nearby container facility and use her phone's GPS to track where they were going, since they couldn't see out.

"Guess there's some use for these stupid tiny portals," she grumped.

"I think it's a great idea!"

The truck turned out to be heading to a yard near the airport, so the two girls jumped off a few blocks from their destination. As Kamala had predicted, they were in a zone made up of long-term parking lots and cheap motels, but their actual destination was across the road, a street of identical wooden houses similar to Kamala's. It was starting to get dark by now, giving them better cover as they approached the house in question. There was a big SUV parked in the narrow driveway, and light was showing around the edges of the curtains, all of which were drawn. Someone was home.

"It's an Airbnb," America looked up from her phone. "Currently rented."

"Supervillains use Airbnb?" Kamala gaped.

"Makes sense, I guess. Less attention than a motel, no regulation, use a stolen credit card…"

Kamala reached out and took America's hand. It was very warm, and America didn't pull away.

Kamala set her chin. It was hard to exorcise the image of Ms. Lombardi hitting the ground, but it was her job to protect the people of Jersey City from attacks like that.

"She didn't even have to hurt the security guard! She was tied up and couldn't have done anything!" The anger burst out of Kamala.

"Yeah, some people just get off on being mean." America kept a firm grip on Kamala's hand and marched over to the house, lowering her voice to a whisper. "Can you do that stretchy thing and look in the window?"

Kamala elongated her upper body and neck to peer in. She could hear a shower running, but the gap in the curtains wasn't big enough to let her see anything apart from a glimpse of the corner of a bed.

"She's in the shower. We should break in while she's in there," she whispered to America. "My research said she's a tech specialist, so the place is probably wired. You use a portal and I'll go down the chimney."

America let go of Kamala's hand and concentrated. Her tattoos glowed briefly then the light sputtered out. "I can't make a portal at all! It must be here, whatever's blocking me. You'd better go first and check for tripwires or whatever."

Kamala rubbed her hand where America had been holding it until she realised what she was doing and stopped, embarrassed. "Um. Okay. I'll do that."

She stretched up to the roof and hauled herself up, moving as quietly as she could, then poured herself down the chimney head first. It was pretty clean in there, which was a nice change, but she hoped it meant the chimney wasn't sealed off. It wasn't, but she had to go almost entirely flat to wriggle out from behind the gas heater that had been installed in the old fireplace. She was in the living room, and could no longer hear the shower running upstairs.

"Better hurry," she told herself sternly, and surveyed her surroundings. The living room looked normal enough, but she could see into the kitchen where Beetle's mechanical wings were lying on the kitchen table, and a power pack of some kind was sitting next to the microwave, plugged into the wall. They definitely had the right house! Kamala checked for weapons, but it didn't look as if Beetle had handily left them lying about. The front door had a black plastic box wired to the door handle and, while Kamala couldn't tell if it was a bomb or just an alarm, she didn't want to find out. There were sensors on the windows, too, but they were just regular old wireless sensors, the kind you could get at the hardware. Since Kamala was already inside the house, she could simply switch it off. She was starting to wonder if Beetle maybe wasn't so much a tech genius as someone who bought stuff off the internet. Maybe she'd bought her flying suit from the old Beetle?

She cracked open the window and helped America through. The inside of America's wrists, where the tattoos were, were really warm.

"I don't think Beetle's much of a STEM role model," Kamala frowned, showing America the set-up. "It's all pre-packaged."

"Cutie, she's a thief and an attempted murderer. She's not much of an anything role model. Any of this stuff look like the rhodium? Or a portal-stopping device?"

Kamala glanced around the kitchen more thoroughly. "No, not really. It's not a big chunk of rhodium, though, so it could be pretty easily hidden. About the size of half a brick and silvery."

"Is that all? Why are they so mad about it, then?"

"That's about three hundred thousand dollars worth."

"Nice! I thought it must be bigger than that. Well, it's easy to hide and she probably hasn't left it lying around, so let's go beat it out of her." America stomped up the stairs.

"Wait! We need to make a plan!" Kamala called after her, but America didn't stop.

There was a whooshing noise and a moment later, America fell right back down the stairs, wrapped up head-to-toe in a cable, the same as Ms Lombardi on the video. Kamala stretched her arms out to break her fall, and managed to cushion America's head at least.

"Quick, grab the cable!" America hissed at Kamala. Kamala realised what America meant to do.

"You could have told me in advance!" She grabbed the cable and yanked with all her strength. America threw herself into it too, heaving herself across the floor and pulling hard.

There was a shriek and Beetle came tumbling down the stairs, the other end of the cable still attached to her gauntlet. She must have rushed to grab her armour, but only had the helmet and gauntlets. As she hit the ground, she was still frantically hitting a button on her gauntlet.

"Goddamn cheap shit!" Finally the cable released, but by then America had ripped the cable apart, and Kamala had grabbed Beetle by both arms.

America pulled off Beetle's helmet and raised one fist. "You want some of this?"

Beetle's eyes were wide, and she kept staring at America's fist. "No, let me go! What did I ever do to you? You're the ones breaking and entering!"

America laughed. "What, are you going to call the cops, Beetle? Yeah, let's do that."

"No, wait, we can work it out."

Pulling off Beetle's gauntlets and throwing them out of reach, America nodded. "Okay, we can do that. Ms Marvel, bring her to the living room."

Kamala was quite relieved America wasn't about to start punching their prisoner. "Sure thing!"

They tied Beetle to a chair with her own cable, then America stood in front of her, arms folded.

"Okay, Beetle, now talk. Where's the rhodium?"

"Huh? Oh, is that what's running the anti-teleportation machine?"

Kamala was getting mad at the Maggia guys, making her do their dirty work. "So you didn't steal rhodium from the scrap yard, you stole a machine?"

"Yeah, that's right. I, uh, stole something from a guy named Deadpool to make him do a job for a friend of mine. His boyfriend is a teleporter, so I needed to stop him coming after me. Someone's been operating an unshielded anti-teleportation device in that junkyard for at least a month now. I could detect it, so when I needed one, I knew where to get it. Easier than breaking into Stark or wherever."

Kamala looked at America in confusion. "Why would they have an anti-teleportation device in their junkyard?"

America shrugged. "I dunno. It wasn't exactly high security out there, so why have something specialised like that?"

"I don't know either," Beetle said. "I wasn't there to ask questions."

"No, you were there to hurt a single mom so badly she's in the hospital for a month," Kamala snapped.

Beetle didn't look bothered in the slightest, but she certainly looked surprised when America punched her in the face. Then she passed out.

"Yeah, she's useless." America started up the stairs.

Kamala followed. "Should hand her over to the Maggia? I mean, she really hurt Ms. Lombardi, but I don't think she should be, you know, killed."

"Nah. Let's find whatever it was she stole, shut down the machine that's protecting her, and leave this Deadpool guy and his teleporting boyfriend to deal with her."

"From what I've heard, he's kind of weird, but Hawkeye and Hawkeye worked with him one time, so I guess he's not evil." Kamala nodded. "Okay, we'll do that."

The anti-teleportation machine wasn't hard to find. The bedroom upstairs was as fortified as downstairs, but all to prevent ingress, not to stop someone already inside moving around. The machine was packed into a compact PC case, but Beetle had opened up the side and the rhodium was visible. It was plugged in at the wall, and as soon as Kamala switched it off, America sighed in relief.

"Oh yeah, that's better. I can feel all the multiverses out there again."

"Yay!" Kamala clapped her hands, then suddenly realised that wasn't such a good thing. "I guess…that means you'll be going?"

"I'll help you get this back to those Maggia guys. Just in case they're mad that you didn't bring them Beetle. And maybe we can find out why they have an anti-teleportation machine. They might be using it for bad purposes."

"Thanks!" Kamala picked up the case, which was about as heavy as a regular PC, and saw that there was a locked cash tin tucked behind it. "Hey, could this be what she stole from Deadpool?"

America reached down and ripped the lid off. "Let's find out!"

Inside was a plastic wrapped parcel, flat and rectangular, about the size of an iPad but thicker. A message had been scribbled on it in marker pen: "Deadpool's Greatest Treasure! KEEP OUT!" America pulled the plastic off to reveal a photo frame. She showed it to Kamala: it was an old-fashioned bikini photo of a very tall woman in high heels. It had a hand-written inscription that read, "To Wade, all my love, Bea."

"Looking good," America said, in some confusion, and put the photo back in the plastic wrap.

"She's pretty. I guess it's nice that it's not a bomb or a severed head or something?"

America laughed. "Yeah, I guess you're right. Come on, let's get out of here. Where are you supposed to meet these Maggia guys?"

Kamala texted them and they texted back immediately. "The junkyard." She picked up the PC case again and held it under her arm.

"Great, I can get us there. Come on, cutie."

America made a star portal in the wall, and this time Kamala could see a city street beyond it, definitely not a junkyard. Come to think of it, those purple glass spires didn't resemble Jersey City at all.

"Are you sure that's the right –"

America grabbed her hand and pulled her through.

Another portal later and they were at the junkyard, still holding hands.

"Told you it was inter-dimensional," America said. She looked much more energised now that she could use her power properly again.

"That was really cool! When my dog teleports it makes me feel a bit sick sometimes, but that was super smooth."

America grinned smugly. "I am, aren't I?" She leaned forward and kissed Kamala right on the lips.

Kamala couldn't stop herself smiling, which felt great, but didn't make for a very comfortable kiss. She broke it off, touching America's lips with her fingers. "Wow. Um. Wow."

"Let's go meet your Maggia buddies, cutie." America kissed her again, on the cheek this time, and kept hold of her hand as they walked over to the junkyard's office.

Mr. Lombardi and his two stereotypical friends were waiting for them, along with a nervous Matteo.

"Did you find it?" Matteo blurted out.

Kamala dumped the PC case with the rhodium on the desk. "We found this machine with the rhodium in it, if that's what you mean. Beetle got away, sorry."

"Machine?" Mr Lombardi looked confused. "I don't know about no machine."

"Sure you do!" America said.

Kamala looked over at Matteo, who was shifting nervously. "Maybe he doesn't. But Matteo does."

Mr Lombardi turned to his nephew. "Okay, Matteo, so why is my rhodium in some kind of computer here?"

"It's not hurting the rhodium! Don't worry!"

Everyone waited and Matteo squirmed.

"All right, it's an anti-teleportation machine."

"I don't think you can put that on your college entry application," Kamala frowned.

"No, Mama and I made it to try to save Mom. She didn't run off and leave us. She never would. I, well, six months ago I manifested a mutant power. Only I'm not a mutant, so I don't even know. I made this big glowing portal in the wall and Mom ran in to see what was happening and…" He had to stop and collect himself. "It took her away, somewhere else, and we haven't been able to find her. We were trying to make a machine to reverse what I did, but all we've been able to do is stop it happening again. I guess that's something."

"Why didn't you ask for help?" Kamala asked.

"Ask who? I called that Avengers hotline, and I'm in a queue. They might get out here in the next six months, they said. We reported her missing but the police couldn't do anything, and with a name like Lombardi they weren't all that helpful." He glared at his uncle, who seemed unruffled.

"Ask me!” said Kamala. “You called me out for stolen rhodium but you didn't come and ask me for help finding your mom?"

Matteo shuffled his sneaker on the ground. "After the Avengers hotline thing, I thought you wouldn't get involved. But then that supervillain stole my machine and I thought maybe that might work…"

Mr. Lombardi ruffled Matteo's hair and laughed. "You're a sneaky one, kid! You even need a job, you call me." He signalled to one of the men, who handed him a roll of money. He counted off bills. "You didn't bring me Beetle, but you got my rhodium back, so let's call that half. Five grand, there you go."

"Don't think you own me," Kamala warned him.

"Wouldn't dream of it. You're a do-gooder type, you're probably going to donate the lot."

Kamala glared at him, trying to channel America's fierce stare and not look like someone who had already planned to give the money to the animal shelter. "Let's go, Matteo. America might be able to help you."

"Sure thing, I'm an expert on portals."

Mr. Lombardi gave them a lift to Matteo's place, but it seemed to be long-standing tradition that he wasn't allowed in.

"He's welcome when he stops being a gangster," Matteo told them.

America's star tattoos started to glow faintly the moment they got into the house. "You said you haven't made any more portals since? Cos there's an open portal nearby."

"No, I haven't, I promise! I mean, every time I go past the upstairs bathroom I can feel it wanting to burst out, but I definitely haven't done it. Having the machine made it easier not to feel it."

"Show me."

Matteo took them upstairs and America glowed more brightly as they crowded into the bathroom. "Oh yeah, there it is."

"On that wall," Matteo told her.

America touched the wall and a glowing star appeared, this one more green than blue, then she raised one foot and kicked the star into a million shards. Kamala and Matteo peered in, to see exactly the same bathroom, only completely mirrored. Someone was calling out from the other side.

"Wait! Matteo! Are you there? Matteo?"


A short woman with cropped grey hair dashed up to the portal and leapt through as fast as she could.

"Mom!" Matteo threw his arms around her and she pulled him close, although she only came up to his shoulder.

"Don't worry, honey, I'm fine. I'm fine. Has it been six months here, too?"

"Yes! We missed you!"

"Well, wherever you sent me, it was just the same as here only everything was backwards, like a mirror. I've been staying with my mirror-self and mirror-Bennie and mirror-Matteo, and they've looked after me very well. That Matteo could open portals too, but not one back here."

Kamala looked back through where there was another woman, who looked subtly different but identifiably the same as Ms. King, waving to them.

"Thanks for looking after her," Kamala said politely. "We can take it from here!"

The portal closed, and Kamala and America crept out, leaving Matteo to fill in his mom on what had happened in the last six months.

"Thanks!" Matteo called as they went. "And, uh, sorry for getting my uncle involved."

"No problem!" Kamala called back, and went out to their porch with America.

They sat together on a bench seat, the yellow security light glowing above them.

"Do you think they'll be okay?" Kamala asked.

"Yeah – maybe you could introduce Matteo to your dog. He needs to get that power under control, not be scared of it."

Kamala took America's hand. "Does that mean you're not coming back to Jersey City?"

America laughed. "Well, I never knew it before, but it turns out there's some great attractions here."

"Oh! I mean, I should say, I've thought about a relationship and I really don't have time for it right now. I mean, I have superheroing and school and my family, and my brain is so full of –"

America kissed her, and this time Kamala managed to both smile and kiss back.

"How long a make-out do you have planned, cutie? Don't you ever see someone cute and smart and tough and just want to kiss her until she blushes?"

Kamala squirmed in her seat. "Maybe?" She didn't know how she was so transparent to America.

"There you go, blushing already! Now we'll have to stop kissing."

"We…don't have to? I can blush more?"

"Sounds fine to me, cutie." America brushed Kamala's hair back and kissed her again.

Kamala kissed her back, feeling America's warmth spread through her whole body, fighting off the chill of the evening. This was the best team-up ever.


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