Sidekicks ~12~

Flavio had never liked wearing his stage jacket anywhere outside of the circus. It was too flashy and it was the kind of flashy that had little to do with a regular New York fashion statement you could witness on the street every day. He did not mind this quality all that much as long as he was on stage. When the spotlight was on him anyway. A couple of golden buttons and other odds and ends did not make that much of a difference then. However, according to Celio, ‘flashy’ was what most superheroes were supposed to be going for when roaming the streets. The entire point of this was unclear to Flavio but he knew better than to object. Not that he could not have stopped Celio if only he had actively expressed his ongoing discomfort with the situation. By now he wasn’t even sure if he wanted to do that. He admired the way Celio appeared to have forgotten everything that Flavio just could not. The magician was a great actor and the whole case involving Marian did make it a little easier to pretend and forget. Flavio almost could almost believe it himself. Because here was the thing: Flavio saw the danger in the wannabe superhero business. But Celio felt save within it. Flavio thought that home was the safest place to be. Celio was convinced that there was no safe place in town at all if no one went out there to fight against some imaginary evil.

“Looking good” Celio remarked while adjusting the hat on top of his curls. Flavio was not so sure about that. He kept fumbling at his collar as if he was wearing this jacket for the very first time. And they had not even left the circus yet.

“I highly doubt that ‘looking good’ is what I’ve been striving for”

“You should always strive for that” Celio absentmindedly checked the pockets of his pants and suit. Flavio caught himself instinctively doing the same. After Celio had decided that they were done here, he gently led his friend out through the door. Apparently, there was no more time to waste. “What do you want me to say then?”

Flavio shrugged, tagging along submissively. “Intimidating maybe” He mumbled, assuming that Celio would not hear. But he did, as his following laughter revealed.

“You see, if we don’t look dangerous, they’ll never expect us to be” He raised both eyebrows in excitement. Flawless logic, of course. “And then BAM: No one expects a Spanish magician”

Why were superheroes only ever roaming the streets at night? Wasn’t crime supposed to never sleep? Not even in broad daylight? And how did this work anyway? Were they supposed to just accidentally stumble upon a crime scene? They had no information this time. No lead to follow, no mission to go on. Best case scenario: Nothing would happen and they got to go home before sunrise. A very unlikely scenario, though, and Flavio tried not to rely on that possibility too much.

After almost two hours of walking around, checking empty hallways, it was Celio who seemed to be getting bored.

“I’m hungry” He declared, placing a hand flat on his stomach and slowing down his pace.

Flavio sighed and stopped as well. “I think there was a convenience store around the corner. It was still open. We can go back if you want to” He had not brought a lot of money, for obvious safety reasons. But it should be enough for two chocolate bars or maybe even two sandwiches. Naturally, Celio did not decline that offer and, indeed, it took them less than five minutes to find the shop Flavio had remembered seeing.

They did not have a very large variety to offer and everything was highly overpriced. The two boys could only dream of being able to afford even just one sandwich, let alone two, with the money they had brought along for the night. Two chocolate bars were as good as it would get, but picking the right one was not easy. That was okay, though. They were the only costumers in here and the old man behind the counter was far too busy reading a magazine to even realise that he had any costumers at all.

Still very much preoccupied with choosing the best tasting chocolate bar, both Celio and Flavio barely took notice of the little bell above the door going off, indicating that another costumer had entered the store. They didn’t even look up to see that he was wearing a mask. They didn’t notice the gun he had hidden underneath his black hoodie. And luckily, he had not noticed them yet either. This store did not usually get an awful lot of costumers at this hour of the night. The burglar knew that, because he had been watching it for days before actually making a move. As predicted by Celio, however, he had not expected a Spanish magician and his friend.

“Hands up! And don’t move unless I tell you to, old man” Only now the two boys were able to react fast enough and dodge behind a shelf. Flavio could immediately feel his heart pounding hard against his chest. His vision got blurry and he felt a disgusting sickness clogging up his stomach and throat. He had not actually seen the gun pointing at the cashier, but his imagination was already running wild and the helplessness of the situation felt awfully familiar.

He could see the pained expression in Celio’s eyes as their gazes met and the magician placed a reassuring hand on his shoulder.

“We need to do something” Celio mouthed but Flavio shook his head immediately. It was useless, though, for the magician had already made up his mind. This was the situation they had been waiting and looking for all night, after all. Flavio could barely even catch Celio by his jacket as he had already gotten up.

“Stop” He yelled in the most intimidating voice he could come up. It was not intimidating at all.

“Who the fuck do you think you are?” The burglar turned around. He was too dumbfounded and annoyed to shoot just yet. But his bared teeth did not make him look particularly friendly or patient.

“They call us the magician and…”

Nothing happened. The burglar and the shop keeper were suddenly equally as curious, staring at Celio while waiting for something to happen.

The magician and…” Celio repeated with more emphasis this time.

Still, nothing happened. The burglar lifted his gun slightly. His bared teeth turned into a smirk. This could have been amusing if it wasn’t interfering with his plans. He ought to get rid of this intruder.

Celio gestured for Flavio to come join him and unwilling to leave Celio in the lurch, he eventually got up as well, less heroic as Celio, though. The magician was prepared to help out though, as he threw a fist of glitter at Flavio. His shoulders sank, as Flavio remained silent, his fists clenched and lips thin.

“Say it as we rehearsed it” Celio hissed, shooting a brief, almost apologetic glance at both the burglar and the shop keeper. The old man just gave them a reassuring nod while the burglar narrowed his eyes, probably expecting hidden cameras to be revealed any second now.

“…Catman” Flavio mumbled, barely loud enough for anyone to hear.

Celio leaned in a little closer. “No” He whispered. “The other name”

Flavio sighed. It was obviously a lot of effort for him to stay calm and do as he was told, but he eventually lifted his shoulders, staring the burglar straight in the eye. “The tiger”

He had barely finished when a sudden shot was fired. Something shattered right behind them and the two boys winced visibly.

“How rude” Celio yelled at him. “We weren’t even finished talking yet” He pulled at Flavio’s jacket. “Do that thing with your whip”

“What?” But Flavio knew what he meant. He just was not sure if he could do it a second time. And he preferred not to entrust their lives to his ability to use his whip. He stepped aside anyway, lunging out at the same time in order to strike his whip at the burglar. He did not miss and somehow caused the burglar to fall over. A second gunshot went off, but it was fired at the ceiling where it shattered one of the lights. A bunch of sparks came falling down, but they died before they could touch anything on the ground.

“What the hell? Are you fucking kidding me…” The burglar cursed and he was already trying to get back into the game by fumbling for his gun that he must have dropped on the way down. But Celio was faster now, stepping away from their safe hiding place behind the shelf while drawing out a knife from his inside pockets with one slick movement. Flavio knew that he used to throw them at people as part of his performance, but Flavio also knew that he was not usually specialised in actually hitting his target. However, that did not make his aim any less precise. If anything…

The first knife shot across the room and got stuck inside the burglar’s shoulder. The gun went off at almost the exact same time, but the sudden pain hindered the burglar from taking proper aim. Something behind Flavio exploded on the shelf and the floor around him was suddenly covered in cornflakes.

A series of unholy curse words came out of the burglar’s mouth. He had accidentally let go of his gun and, again, Celio was fast enough to react, smoothly making his way across the shop to kick away the gun until it was out of immediate reach for anyone currently in the room. He did not dare to pick it up himself. He had never held a gun in his life before and he was not going to start now. The knives were as vicious as it would get.

Holding his injured shoulder, the man started another attempt to scramble to his feet, moaning and gasping in pain. He was struggling long enough for Celio to feel safe enough to step closer. That was what the burglar had been waiting for. It took him less than three seconds to pull out the knife, get back on his feet and grab Celio, holding him securely in place while pressing the knife against his neck.

Meanwhile, Flavio had seen this coming and the painful familiarity of the situation had released him from his initial state of shock and he had been able to somehow heroically leap over one of the smaller shelves and tackle the burglar, knocking over another shelf on their way down.

Luckily, the knife got lost somewhere between the fallen shelf and all the goods that came falling down with it before it could do any more damage. With the moment of surprise and two functioning shoulders on his side, Flavio actually seemed to have a fair chance, despite being much smaller and — most likely — weaker than his opponent. He was not alone either. But he was doing quite well, throwing an occasional hesitant punch and successfully dodging his opponent’s punches and kicks. He had done this before, right? He had been playfully wrestling with his tigers for as long as he could remember. And they had teeth and claws. It wasn’t all that different. It was easier. Even with having a rather weak punch, Flavio was still able to stay on top of the man.

There was little Celio could do, however, besides shooting an apologetic glance at the cashier who was still paralyzed by fear, probably unsure what to make of those weirdly dressed boys that had more or less accidentally come to his rescue. Sure, Flavio had the burglar securely pinned down…for now. But they weren’t going to seriously injure him, were they? The magician did not waste any more time watching Flavio struggle like that. His decision was being made in less than a second. He did not make a big show out of drawing a bunch of coloured handkerchiefs, all tied together neatly, but the cashier was staring at him anyway. By now, he was pretty sure that there had to be hidden cameras somewhere.

“Hold him down”

Flavio found the time to roll his eyes at this type of unnecessary remark. It’s not like he had a choice. But soon enough Celio was crouching down next to him and together they managed to pin the burglar further down, making him practically immovable. He kept screaming and cursing but the two boys were surprisingly unfazed by his anger, now working together to turn him around and tie up his arms and legs. Once they were done, they both helped each other get up, unconsciously checking each other for obvious injuries.

Still not quite trusting the two boys, the cashier immediately raised his hands in defeat. “You can take the money” He exclaimed and would not even ease up as Celio was grinning at him.

“Ah, we don’t want your money. We came here to help” He put his hands to his hips while glancing down to the burglar on the ground. Flavio was less confident, crossing his arms in front of his chest.

“You may wanna call the police. Cause we won’t stick around for much longer…there’s more crime to be fought tonight” He tried to sound calm and casual, but there was no hiding the pure glee and well deserved pride.

Flavio sighed. This was going to be a long night.