The job hadn’t even started yet, and Len was already feeling the start of a headache. “For the last time Harkness, we stick to the plan.”
Harkness huffed. “I’m just saying that if these Rathaways are as bloody rich as you say they are, we could steal a lot more than just paintings.”
“Not endless you want CCPD and the Flash on our tail. We stick to the plan. If you don’t like it, you’re out.”
Len thought he heard Harkness mutter bullshit under his breath, but charitably chose to ignore it.
“What is the plan, again?”
Len rolled his eyes. Of course Mardon hadn’t been paying attention. “The plan is for Scudder to use his mirror tech to get us into Rathaway Manor, where we break into the underground art vault and make a nice clean get away with millions worth of paintings. If we do this right, nobody will even know they’re gone till it’s too late.” He checked his watch. “If my information is correct, the Rathaways should be leaving right about now. We’ve got a forty-five-minute window before their kids get home from school.” Unholstering his Cold Gun, he turned to Scudder. “Let’s make it count.”
Taking the cue, Scudder activated one of his mirrors and ushered his fellow Rogues through.
Landing roughly on his feet, Len repressed the nausea building in his stomach; he didn’t know if he would ever get used to traveling through the Mirror Realm. His only consolation was that everyone else, sans Scudder, looked just as affected as he was.
Finding his bearings, Len cursed when he realized they were in the manor’s entrance way instead of the basement. With an annoyed grunt, he gestured for his Rogues to follow him as he searched for a way to the lower levels of the home. Finally, after ten wasted minutes, they arrived in the room leading to the vault.
A quick look at the vault’s security had Len cursing again. What kind of paranoid bastard had a retinal and fingerprint scanner? That was just overkill.
“So, the security is a little more complex than we were expecting. But I think a well placed lightning bolt with short it out. Mardon-”
“That won’t work.”
Len almost got whiplash turning his head towards the unfamiliar voice. Leaning against the doorway was a teenager. With one earbud in and a bored look on his face, the kid was the picture of nonchalance.
“Shit.” This was not good. “You're not supposed to be here.
The kid shrugged and repeated himself. “That won’t work. My dad has the lock protected against power surges. And the door is made from the same material as spaceships. Your heat and cold guns won’t even be able to make a dent.”
“Shit,” Len repeated. This was going downhill fast.
“So, now that we’ve established that there’s no way you’re getting into that vault, I have a…” the kid paused, as if unsure of what to say next. “proposition for you.”
That seemed to break the rest of the Rogues out of the stunned silence they had entered.
“Proposition,” Scudder scoffed.
“Do you know who we are?” Mardon sounded affronted.
“I could crack this with one of my boomerangs.” Hawkness bragged.
“I could make a dent.” Rory insisted.
Len thought for a moment, before deciding that at this point, he really didn’t have anything to lose. “Shut up. Let’s hear the kid out.”
The kid perked up. “Really?” He cleared his throat. “I mean, you’re bummed about not getting whatever stealing my parent's art collection was going to get you, right? Well, what if I told you I knew a mutually beneficial way for you to get just as big of a payday?”
“I’d say you have our attention.”
“Good. So, there’s this gala tomorrow. A fundraiser for some rich company that wants to get richer.”
Len eyed the kid suspiciously. “You’re saying we should rob the gala?”
“What, no. I'm supposed to attend it with my parents and sister. The thing is, I don’t want too. So I was thinking, you could ‘kidnap’ me, collect a ransom from my parents, and return me after the gala is over.”
Len was not sure how to reply to that. After all, it wasn’t every day that someone asked you to kidnap them.
Finally, after several minutes of awkward silence, he found some semi-decent words. “Look kid-”
“Hartley,” the kid interjected.
“Look Hartley, we’re not really in the kidnapping game. But if you want to do this—if you really want to spend almost two days with a bunch of criminals you just met instead of going to some fancy party with your parents—then we’ll do this.”
“I really want to do this.”
As far as kidnappings go, Len thought that his first was going pretty smoothly. About three hours in, and the Rathaways had already agreed to their terms. All that was left to do now was wait for the exchange.
He should have known it wouldn’t last. The call from his sister was welcomed if unexpected. At least, it was until he answered it.
Lisa’s voice was shrill and furious. “ Lenny, what the hell ?”
“Well, hello to you too.”
“ Don’t bull shit me, Len. How could you do that? To a kid? ”
Len frowned. “What are you talking about?”
“ You can’t be serious. Hartley Rathaway. It made the news. ”
“What?” And then it clicked. As fast as humanly possible, he turned on the TV, and was met by the Rathaway’s crying faces. Those bastards. “Lisa, it’s not what you think.”
“Really,” she replied dryly. “ You and your friends didn’t kidnap a sixteen-year-old? ”
“We did. But he asked us to.”
“ Who asked to be kidnaped? ” Lisa sounded skeptical. Len couldn’t blame her. It did seem ridiculous when he said it out loud.
“I’m serious Lisa. If you don’t believe me you can ask him yourself. Rathaway.”
Hartley appeared in the doorway. “Yeah?”
“Tell my sister this was your idea before she kills me.”
Looking rather amused, Hartley took his phone. “Yeah. I asked him to kidnap me. Yes, seriously.”
He handed Len back the phone. “You weren’t lying.”
“Well, I let you get back to your kidnapping then. Bye. ”
Len noticed that Hartley was still in the room with him. “What?”
“Can we get pizza?”
Len groaned. “Fine. Scudder pick up three pepperoni pizzas from Geo’s.”
“Um, I don’t eat meat.”
“Scudder. Pick up three pepperoni and one cheese pizza from Geo’s.”
As soon as Scudder got back with the pizza, they dug in.
“Wait, the Rathaway’s went to the press? I thought we told them that Hartley died if they did that?” Mardon asked through a mouthful of cheese.
“We did.” Len agreed.
“Wow.” Rory turned to Hartley. “Your parents are stone cold bastards.”
Hartley didn’t look sad, just resigned. “Yeah. They are.”
Len was surprised at how smoothly the transaction went, considering the incident with the media. But there were no cops, no Flash. A few minutes in a shady alley, and they were a person short and three million dollars richer.
Three years later, when Hartley joins the Rogues as Pied Piper, Len isn’t surprised.