The door of the flower shop shut softly.
“Holy shit man, what do you want?” said the man behind the counter. He sounded almost like his old self- almost.
I nudged Devin, pointing behind the counter. There was a back room to the shop, from which daylight was glowing gently. He nodded and ducked down below the counter, putting his shoulder to the wood paneling. He pushed through it, the millimeter-thick surface giving way to reveal the back of the shopkeeper’s chair. In a few quick steps, Devin crept up behind the shopkeeper and whipped the mirrored sunglasses off his face, shutting his eyes tightly. Rey, fortunately, realized the plan, and hit the shopkeeper with his power. The flash of light illuminated the store for a moment and the shopkeeper stiffened, muscles tight.
With him out of the way, Devin and I vaulted over the counter just in time to hear several pairs of footsteps coming around the display of flowers between the door and us, and we were into the back room barely in time.
“What on earth?” came a voice from behind us, an older man.
“Is he okay?” came another. A younger woman’s voice this time.
I didn’t recognize either voice. We looked around the back room of the flower shop frantically, trying to find a way out that didn’t take us back through the heroes. The back room was dimly lit and cluttered with a haphazard mess of chip bags and magazines, but there was no back door, no windows, no conceivable means of escape. Rey swore under his breath.
“He’s breathing,” came the man’s voice again.
“Oh thank god,” said the woman, relieved.
“He’s alive, but he’s not just asleep either. He’s totally stiff.”
“What happened? There’s no sign of a struggle or anything.”
“That’s what worries me. Means there’s probably some powers at work.”
And then I realized something. We didn’t have to hide from these people. To them, we could be heroes busting a drug front.
“Well, look what we have here,” I called back into the shop. Devin and Rey turned to me, surprise plain on their faces. “Don’t you know these are illegal?”
I stepped out of the back room, holding the herokiller gingerly, as if I was afraid of it myself. Though the intimidation factor was very useful, it had been more of a liability than anything lately. I could afford to lose it.
“Thanks for the backup and all, but we’ve got this covered,” I said to the pair of heroes standing warily behind the counter in hasty fighting stances. “Just need to secure this guy before he loosens up and call the police to clean up.”
I was starting to enjoy all the surprised looks. Clearly this was not what they had been expecting. The man was tall and lean, wearing a surprisingly well-made costume, though not particularly well-suited to the weather. I’d wager he paid good money to get that one made and couldn’t afford one for the hotter summer weather. The girl was much shorter, and young, younger than I, at least. Her costume was a strange blue-and-pink outfit which looked like someone had been trying to make a princess costume gradually more serious until it lost all semblance to its original form. I removed the battery pack from the handle of the energy weapon and tossed it into my backpack.
“Not sure at all what to do with that, though I should probably turn this in to the police when they show. Hey, what’s up? Didn’t Slugger tell you guys?”
“She told us she overheard some guys planning to rob a flowershop,” the tall man said cautiously.
I laughed, at least partially genuine.
“Is that what she told you? Heh, I guess that’s her way of getting back at me. Nah, this place is just a front. We found a stash of pil5 in the back, and this guy says he’s been getting them from Control. It was Slugger who tipped us off about this place, actually.” I sounded surprisingly casual, even to my own ears.
Their attitudes changed all at once.
“Petty,” commented the man. “Tell me, why would she do that?”
“I, uh, kinda mistook one of her ‘interrogations’ last night for a mugging. She totally freaked out when she realized I’d overheard. I think she wanted to be the one to bust this place.”
“Typical,” muttered the girl.
The man looked around.
“Is it just you?”
“Nah. It’s me, Basilisk, and, uh, Pitfall. They’re still in the back.”
I turned back to the doorway I’d come through.
“Hey guys,” I called into the back room. “Guys?”
“Dude, come check this out,” Rey called back exitedly.
I stepped back into the back room. The couch had been shoved away from the wall , revealing a wall safe hidden behind it. The safe had a roughly circular, fist-sized indent in it. Devin sat on the floor, counting wads of cash. He put down the last bundle and held up nine fingers, saying, “there’s like, six thousand dollars in here.” He paused and tossed me a wad of large bills: 20s and 50s, mostly. Rey already had a handful of cash which he was stuffing into his pack. “Plus like, a couple thousand Pils.”
“We should keep it,” said Rey.
“We can’t keep it. The police are going to want to collect it as evidence. Do they have any records?”
Devin and Rey jumped back. “You guys should take a cut,” came the girl’s voice from behind me, dripping with sarcasm.
I turned, and came face to face with the grinning visage of the hero girl, with sunglasses wrapping around her head and a revolver leveled at my face.