Picking Up The Pieces, Part 1

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Lucky rapped on the door of the suite that Jim and Nadia shared. He glanced down the hallway, looking at the frayed carpets. “We really need to move.” The comment was muttered under his breath.

“Oh, yeah, like we can afford better.” The door swung open, revealing Nadia. She was wearing a heavy grey sweatshirt and baggy jeans, and had a grin on her face. “We all know that we make squat as heroes.”

“That is a point.” Lucky gestured at the hallway. “But look at this place. It's been going downhill for ages.”

“Yeah, I guess it has, actually. Your floor looks a bit nicer.” Nadia followed his gaze thoughtfully. “It's clean.” She paused thoughtfully. “Ish.” Stepping aside, she made room for Lucky to come inside, and he stepped through the door, wiping off his feet.

“Yeah, I guess so. But we're celebrities now, we can probably get a raise.”

“I guess we… hang on, what?”

“Did I hear something about celebrities?” Jim stepped out from his room, tugging his hat into position. His arm was still splinted, but the two weeks since the battle had gotten him back on his feet.

Lucky's vague look turned into a massive grin, and he raised his left hand triumphantly. Held within it was a copy of People Magazine. Jim and Nadia stared at him in confusion for a moment, then looked at the magazine more closely. They looked at the grinning face of Dudeman on the cover, with a caption reading “America's #1 Superhero Again!” They looked at Lucky. They looked at each other.

Nadia's voice was just over a whisper. “No. Freaking. Way.”

“Oh, yes.” Dropping into a heavy blue couch, Lucky flipped open the magazine. “We made it onto the list.”

“How did… that's not even possible.” Nadia came around to look at the magazine. There, clear as day, was a photographer's picture of the four, taken almost a year earlier. “Number 47. Holy crap, we are the forty-seventh most popular hero or team in the country.” She looked up at the others. “Shouldn't they, I don't know, tell us about this or something?”

“Nah, they only do that if you're in the top ten. Don't ask me why, it's not how anything else works.” Lucky grinned again. “Of course, the fact that the survey went out two days after the attack on Patchwork City probably didn't hurt our chances. Plus there was that whole 'saving the President' thing last year. Little known fact – if you save a president, people pay attention to you.”

“The Mayor didn't.” Jim spoke up laconically, studying the paper closely.

“The Mayor's not really a person. He's some sort of grotesque clone-monster.” Lucky shrugged, looking up at the others. “So I'm thinking we need to go out to celebrate. Sound like a plan?”

“Sure!” Nadia paced back and forth giddily. “Let's see… what's open? What about Hardy's?”

“Demolished by Antiheroes. It'll be another week or two before it's back open.” Lucky stood quickly, folding the magazine. “Amber's booking us a reservation at the King Solomon.”

“Lovely, I'm in.” Nadia shook her head. “One of the year's best teams. I don't believe it.”

“Hey, fame is fleeting. Next year, we'll just be a footnote.” Jim had a note of caution in his voice, but there was excitement underneath it.

“Yeah, but we're famous now. Next year will just have to take care of itself!”

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