Rosa Vasquez knew that there was something going on with her kids.
She just knew it. It all started when Billy came to her and Victor’s group home not that long ago, and immediately she knew that Billy wouldn’t be like the other foster kids. Because for one, he ran away not even two days after living with them. He didn’t even unpack his stuff the first night, which should’ve been the first warning telling Rosa he was going to leave. But she had remained hopeful and believed that after staying with them for a while, he would come around to like living there.
But then he started ditching school. And acting distant and reserved. And dragging Freddy along with his stunts. It was all very concerning for the foster mom, and as much as she wanted to walk up to Billy and comfort him and let him know that he would always have a place to stay with them, she knew that if she did that it would just make him even more distant. She remembered being a foster kid in a faulty system, and she had to admit, she couldn’t blame the boy for acting this way.
It was understandable. But still, Rosa knew that what was happening was beyond a reserved, brooding foster kid.
Before long, Rosa began to notice things. Things that began to affect her kids as well as Billy. The late nights, them sneaking out repeatedly, the half-assed excuses they came up with, the way they stiffened every time someone mentioned superheroes, and the way they seemed to shut up at the dinner table whenever she or Victor asked them for their thoughts on Captain Sparklefinger’s and his partners latest endeavor. It all led to something suspicious. She had brought up the concern with Victor a couple of times, but every time her worries were put to rest when he said, “They’re teenagers, Rosa. Remember how we would sneak out and stay up late. There’s nothing to worry about, they’re just being kids.”
And that would be the end of that, until the following morning, when Rosa would see bruises on Billy’s arm or Freddy dozing off at the breakfast table or Mary chugging down coffee as if it were a lifeline.
Something was going on with her kids. And Rosa intended to find out what.
“Hey Darla sweetie?” Rosa asked one afternoon as she and her youngest daughter sat at the dining table doing crafts together. The little girl hummed, not looking up from her latest glittery banner. Rosa continued to mindlessly work on her watercolors and she glanced at Darla out of the corner of her eye.
“Is there something going on with Billy, Freddy, and your siblings? I feel like they’re hiding something.”
Darla froze, and her eyes widened. Gotcha. Rosa thought to herself. And yes, she knew that suggesting crafts and watercolors to her youngest daughter just to get her alone from her siblings and talk to her because she knew she was the worst at keeping secrets, probably wasn’t a very good Mother thing to do. But hell, it worked. Darla did know something, and Rosa wanted to know what.
“Uhmm,” the little girl said an octave higher. “Not that I know of.”
Rosa hummed and continued to paint. Letting the dark greys and blues swirl together in the thin layer of water on the sheet.
“Are they in trouble?” the dark-skinned girl asked quietly. Her voice barely audible. Rosa looked at Darla softly and set down her paint brush.
“No mi amor, they aren’t in trouble. I’m just worried about them. I’m afraid that something’s going on with them, and I’m just concerned is all. I’m sorry if I freaked you out.” She placed a kiss on Darla’s forehead and gave her foster daughter a soft small. “Now how about we finish up our crafts and then go watch some TV.”
Darla nodded, her curls bouncing on her head and her face lit up with a bright smile. “Okay, mom, that sounds good.”
Rosa smiled back before returning to her watercolors, this lightning storm wasn’t going to paint itself.
The following day, Rosa and her kids were chilling on the couch and watching some television as Victor and Darla helped to prepare dinner, when something strange happened. Eugene was flipping through the channels, trying to find something entertaining to watch when he stumbled across a news station.
“Reports of the current hostage situation at Philadelphia’s Wayne Enterprises facility have just come in, and it appears to be that the shooter wa-” Eugene flipped the channel again. Billy sat up in his spot on the couch, his brow furrowed and shoulders tense, and Rosa found it slightly strange that he was so interested in the news station.
“Wait, Eugene go back!” the brunet exclaimed. Eugene rolled his eyes lightly, before going back to the news channel. The sound of the anchors voice filled the room once again, and Billy leaned forward and rested his elbows on his knees. His attention captured by the story.
“-former co-worker and employee, who had just recently been fired from his job. Gunshots have already been heard and no one knows how many are injured or even dead. Police and SWAT are already upon the scene, but no one knows what the captor’s requests are, now how long this situation will last. This is Lance Thund-”
The news anchor didn’t get a chance to finish saying goodbye before Eugene switched the channels again and Billy swiftly stood up from his spot on the couch.
“I-uhh, gotta go use the restroom! I’m not feeling so good!” the teen exclaimed. Rosa, straightened up in her spot and watched as her newest foster son left the room. She contemplated following Billy, because for one, that was such a lame excuse. Rosa could’ve definitely come up with something better than that at their age, but she also didn’t want to be too suspicious and let the kids know that she knew something was up. So she left Billy alone to go do whatever it was he was really doing.
Not even five minutes later, Rosa heard a cracking boom and the lights in the house flickered before coming back on. The foster mother immediately got up off of the couch and looked around.
“Uhhhhmm, must’ve been a, uh, fuse! Blowing out.” Freddy stuttered. Rosa sent her son a look. That was definitely not a blown fuse.
“No, that wasn’t a fuse. Fuses don’t make loud bangs when they blow out.”
Freddy bit his lip and jumped his good leg up and down nervously. He knew something, obviously, but he didn’t know how to cover it up well.
“Well then maybe it was a transformer that blew out.” Mary supplied cooly. Rosa turned to look at the brunette, who had turned back to watching the TV, her face impassive, and Rosa crossed her arms over her chest.
“Do you really think so?” the mother asked. Mary shrugged.
“I mean, most likely. How else would you explain it.”
Rosa hummed, cast the house one last glance before sitting back down on the couch, albeit reluctantly.
Then after a couple minutes of more channel surfing, Eugene surprisingly returned back to the news channel, which had a much different story than before. It was still the same thing, shooter in Wayne Enterprises, but surprisingly within the last ten minutes, the problem had been solved.
“-ere we have the hero of Philadelphia himself folks, the Human Powerstorm! Mr. Powerstorm, what do you have to say about your recent heroics just now, I’m sure taking down the shooter must’ve been a piece of cake for someone who can go toe-to-toe with Superman.”
The TV portrayed a large, muscular man, wearing a red suit, white cape, and a glowing lightning emblem. He was the superhero that had recently taken residence in Philly, and since Christmas, he had become a regular sight to see on the news. Within the first few weeks of his debut on Youtube, nearly everyone in the city knew who he was. Although everyone called him something different. It was clear he was trying to figure out a good name, but he just couldn’t seem to come up with one. The hero ran a hand through his neat hair and stuttered for a moment, before staring back at the camera.
“Uhh well I wouldn’t say I could take on Superman per se, he’s still Superman! But, er uhm, the shooter was relatively easy to take down. But you know how it is Mr. Thunder, there’s a bunch of people in there and I gotta make sure they’re all safe as I’m taking down the bad guy, so it’s a whole complex thing, and you gotta understand how it works in order to be a superhero.” Rosa noticed how Freddy nodded in agreement as the channel cut to a video clip, which showed the Human Powerstorm flying into the building in a flash of gold and red.
You could see flashes of light through the windows, although you couldn’t tell if they were from gunshots or lightning bolts. But then after a few moments of tense silence, the lights disappeared and the shooter was thrown out the doors. He flew through the air and landed on the pavement with a sickening crunch, and the man groaned in pain as the bright, red superhero walked out of the building, holding a crumpled gun in hand. He threw it down on the ground before turning back to the building and helping out a few people as they shuffled their way out of the building.
“Yes, it’s all very impressive. But you have to wonder Powerstorm, who’s gonna pay for all the damage and medical bills? Do you think that being a superhero has benefits as well as disadvantages? Such as public view or getting harmed in the line of duty? Why did you choose to become a superhero in the first place?”
The channel cut back to Lance talking to the Powerstorm, who started to look very uncomfortable and started to fidget with his hands in a very familiar way. Rosa heard Freddy cuss under his breath. “Uhm, uh, yes? W-well I mean, uhm, Lance that uhm, there are disadvantages to being a hero, like uh, missing out on personal time, and oh! Would you look at that, I’m missing out on personal time right now. Bye Lance, and uhm, have a good night people of Philly!” the superhero stuttered out awkwardly right before he zoomed away in a flash of gold. Eugene quickly switched the channel to the Food Network and Freddy sighed, burying his head in his hands, almost disappointedly.
“Well that was strange.” Rosa muttered. Freddy pinched the bridge of his nose, his eyes closed.
“That’s because he didn’t rehearse what he was going to say.” he mumbled. Rosa glanced at the raven curiously.
“How do you know that?” She asked. Freddy froze and snapped his eyes open.
“Uhmm,” he began. “B-because it’s just what you do? I mean, if-if I were a superhero, even though I’m definitely, absolutely not, I would go over what I would say to the press, so that I don’t embarrass myself. I mean, i-it makes sense.”
Rosa nodded her head. “Huh, that does make some sense. It’d be like going into a job interview without knowing what you were gonna say.”
Freddy releases a sigh of relief. “Yes, exactly. But apparently, this dumbass didn’t know what he was saying.”
“Freddy!” Rosa scolded. The curly-haired boy winced and shrunk in on himself at his mother’s tone. “Don’t say that about people you don’t know. You barely know him! I know he came over for lunch that one time, but I would hardly say that is enough time for you two to become good enough friends to call him a dumbass. You can call Billy a dumbass if you want, but that’s because he’s your brother. Don’t call people you don’t know a dumbass unless you know them or they’re being idiots.”
Freddy pressed his lips together into a thin line, and he got a strange look in his eyes. He rapidly blinked before replying. “Yup.” he said stiffly. “You’re...totally right.”
Rosa nodded firmly, “Good.” she said, feeling confident in her mothering ability. And they continued to mindlessly watch as Gordon Ramsey yelled at contestants on Hell’s Kitchen when all of a sudden Rosa heard a shout and a kaboom just like the one from earlier. The woman sat up in her spot and glanced outside the window, her internal alarm going off in her head that something dangerous just happened and she had to get the kids safe.
“Another blown up transformer?” she asked her kids curiously.
“Uhhmmmm,” Freddy began, but he was interrupted when everyone heard someone thundering down the steps. Billy walked back into the TV room, panting lightly and he crashed onto the couch next to his foster brother without a word.
“Did I miss anything?” he asked, leaning his head on the back of the couch cushion.
“Well,” Rosa began. “You missed out on the rest of the hostage story. The Human Powerstorm came in and took care of it, and sorry Billy, but you missed his interview. I know how interested you were in that story.”
The boy waved his hand. “Eh, it’s cool. There’ll always be another one.”
Rosa looked at Billy confusedly. Why was he suddenly uninterested in it? He had been on the edge of his seat watching the story earlier. But before Rosa could question it further, Victor walked into the room, wiping his hands on a dishcloth and cleared his throat.
“Dinner’s ready everyone!”
Billy groaned softly and muttered a quiet, “I just can’t get a break can I?”
Rosa shot him a curious glance before turning back to her husband and getting up off the couch. Maybe she could ask Billy what he had meant after dinner.
But then later that night, after dinner, when all of the kids had gone upstairs to their room to work on homework, go on their computers, or have Me Time, Rosa climbed up the stairs and walked over to knock on Freddy and Billy’s room. But when she got there, she noticed that the door was cracked open and that the boy’s were talking about something strange.
“All I’m saying dude,” She heard Freddy say, “Is that we gotta work on your on the spot interview skills.
On the spot interview skills?
“Yeah yeah, I know Freddy. But I just wasn’t expecting it! How was I supposed to know that he was going to start asking questions about property damage? What
you say when you’re asked about property damage?”
“You say ‘I dearly regret all of the damage I may have caused while saving the day, but I personally promise that I will do whatever I can to help the clean up process go smoother.’”
Rosa heard Billy groan. “But Freddy I don’t have time to help clean that stuff up! I’m barely passing my classes as it is and I have to go to school, and there’s you guys, and then there’s chores, and I have to find an actual paying job and ugh, we gotta come up with something else.”
“Well fine, but how else would you put it?”
The room was silent for a moment, and Rosa pressed up closer against the door to try and hear better.
“What about,” Billy began, “‘I’m sorry for all of the damage I caused, and as disappointed as I am that I can’t help clean it up, I will make up for it by visiting those injured and following along with their recovery.’”
Freddy snapped his fingers. “Making up for a good thing with another good thing. Great idea!”
“Okay, but now that that’s cleared up, what are you gonna say when they ask you about the downside of being a hero?”
“No clue, man. So far I can only think of one thing, but it’s like family related, so no way in hell am I gonna spew that shit all over the media.”
“Hmm yeah, good call.”
“So I’m just not gonna say anythi-”
“MOOOOOMMM!” Rosa heard a high voice yell loudly down the hall. It was Darla, and she had poked her head out of her room and saw her foster mother standing in the middle of the hallway. Rosa winced and raised a hand to her injured eardrums before turning to look at the little girl. Darla clutched a stuffed rabbit in her small hands as she looked at Rosa innocently and pouted cutely.
“Will you tuck me in?” she asked quietly, which was a vast difference from her previously deafening shout.
Rosa sighed tiredly, and then nodded. “Of course honey, I’ll be right there.” She said. Darla nodded and crept back into her room, and Rosa rubbed her ears again. The woman jumped when she saw the door in front of her shut suddenly and loudly. Rosa suppressed a yelp, and covered her mouth. Seems like Billy and Freddy noticed how close she was to them. Did they think she overheard them? I mean, obviously she heard them, but did they know that?
The dark-haired woman shook her head and rubbed her eyes. What on earth were they talking about in the first place?
On the spot superhero interviews? Why on earth would they be talking about that? And why did they make it sound like they were improving the skill instead of talking about it hypothetically. And it sounded much too close to the Powerstorm’s interview for it to be coincidental. Maybe they watched the interview clip on Youtube? And why was Billy making it sound like he was the Human Powerstorm?
Rosa continued to rub her eyes, before letting out a sigh. She didn’t have the time right now to think about it. Right now, Darla needed to be tucked in, and Rosa knew from experience how disasterous it could be if you kept her waiting for her bedtime story.
So being as quiet as possible, she made her way over to the youngest child’s room, walking away with even more questions than before.
It was a rainy day when Billy and the other’s had come home from school, and Billy had walked through the door with large bruises and a cut or two littering his arms and face.
And it was safe to say that Rosa had completely lost her shit. The moment her newest son walked into her line of vision, she had abandoned the laundry she was doing and immediately rushed over to inspect his injuries.
“Billy! What happened? Are you okay?”
Said boy gently pulled himself away from her grasp and smiled nervously. “I’m fine Rosa. It was just the Bryer’s. They thought it would be funny if they knocked me down the school steps, but I’m totally fine. No need to worry.”
Rosa eyed her boy suspiciously, before a furious look dawned on her face. Without saying a word, the mother stomped over to where she left her phone and picked it up, instantly going to her contacts app.
Billy and the other kids watched, exchanging nervous glances and shifting uncomfortably as Rosa dialled a number on her phone.
“Uhm, Rosa?” Freddy asked hesitantly. “What are you doing?”
“Calling the school.” She said simply. “I’m gonna tell them how I won’t stand for the Bryer’s bullying anymore! Those boys have gone on hurting you long enough. We have asked their father nicely, we’ve sent in complaints, but no matter what happens this keeps happening. I’ve had enough. I’m calling a meeting with the principal and Mr. Bryer to discuss this.”
Everyone’s eyes widened, and Rosa heard Mary hum uncertainly.
“Are you sure that’s really necessary Mom?” Eugene asked. “I mean, we’ve dealt with this before and it’s not as bad as it used to be. In fact Billy’s helped it stop!”
“Yeah!” Darla exclaimed.
“And since all of the calls and meetings and complaints haven’t helped in the past, what would make this time any different?”
“Exactly,” Mary said. “The best thing we can do right now is prove that we are better than the Bryer’s. Even if that means taking a fall or two. And besides, Billy was doing it to protect Freddy!”
Rosa eyed her children warily. Since when did they become so mature and tolerant? In the past they would’ve agreed with her whenever she called the school. But now they were saying that they didn’t mind and they wanted to prove they were better? When did this change happen?
Rosa looked at Billy, who seemed to have a soft smile on his face saying that he was just fine, and that she didn’t need to worry. She knew that smile. He wore it often. And every time she saw it, it broke her heart. Because it was the kind of smile a child would wear when they didn’t want their parent to worry about them too much. The kind of smile that said they weren’t enough to be worried about. Rosa froze in her dialling and began to inspect each of her children’s faces.
Her momma heart told her to fight back and accuse those responsible for hurting her baby, but something inside of her told her that something was happening, and that she should wait. Something was playing out before her, and Rosa felt the need to see it through.
The mother set down the phone, turning it off, and crossed her arms.
“Well alright, if you’re sure. But if I hear anything else about the Bryer’s hurting you, then I will not hesitate to call the school. Understood?”
All of the foster kids nodded in unison, before breaking up and heading their own ways. And Billy would’ve snuck out, if Rosa hadn’t been watching him like a hawk.
“Billy,” the woman said, her voice warning. The brunet stiffened and turned around slowly to face his foster mom.
Rosa waved her hand, gesturing him to come to her, and the boy hung his head, realizing that he hadn’t been able to sneak past his omniscient foster mother. Billy shuffled his way over to Rosa, dropping his backpack on the couch and wincing as the bag brushed against one of his nastier bruises.
“Let’s get you cleaned up.”
Billy hissed through his teeth as Rosa dabbed one of his cuts with disinfectant. “Ow!” he whines. Rosa gives him a look before returning to her task of cleaning up his injuries. “I really don’t like that stuff.” he said.
Rosa nodded, “Yeah well nobody likes it. But it’s necessary.” She dabbed his arm with the antiseptic soaked cotton ball and noticed how he continued to wince lightly. The mother sighed and set down the ball, picking up a bandage and neosporin.
“So,” she said. “What happened?” She asked again. Billy looked up at her, his brows furrowed and his green eyes clouded with confusion.
“We told you what happened. The Bryer’s pushed me down the school steps when they tried to push Freddy.”
Rosa sighed tiredly. “You know Billy, I used to be a foster kid too... So, I know when someone is lying to me.”
Billy froze and he stared at Rosa nervously, holding his breath, while she just continued to bandage him up.
“So will you tell me what really happened? Please?” Billy cast his gaze downwards and he subtly shrunk in on himself. He knew exactly what had happened to give him these cuts and bruises. A getaway driver, driving a huge delivery truck, had rammed right into him. Billy had made the stupid decision to stop the truck by standing right in front of it, hoping that his powers would be enough to help him withstand the impact, but since he was still a dumbass fourteen-year-old, it didn’t exactly go the way he was expecting.
So Newton’s Laws decided to take over, and once the truck had rammed into him, he had succeeded in stopping it, but the impact had thrown him backwards into a small shop. Which is how he got his bruises. And the cuts were from when he had actually tripped down the school steps as Billy Batson. The Bryer’s had absolutely nothing to do with it, but it was always easier to blame the bullies for unexpected injuries than actually telling the truth.
But Billy couldn’t tell Rosa that. He just couldn’t. He couldn’t drag her down with this whole superhero thing! What if she got hurt because of it!? What if she decided he wasn’t safe to be around and kicked him out? What if she didn’t believe him and call him crazy?
There were too many what-ifs and worries and not enough reassurances.
Billy heard his foster mom sigh, and set down the bandages. The boy gulped and kept his gaze down.
“Billy,” he heard her say softly. “I know that there’s something going on.” The brunet looked up, his green eyes a fraction wider than they had been a moment before, a split-second window where his fear and anxiety was visible. But it quickly disappeared as Billy donned a mask and scoffed jokingly, a lopsided grin taking place on his lips.
“What? No there’s not.”
“Yes, there is. Billy, I know what it’s like to be a foster kid. I ran away from homes too and I also didn’t trust people, just like you. I get it.” Rosa’s shoulders dropped. “And I also get why you want to keep secrets. This is still a relatively new family for you, and I know that what happened with your mom didn’t go so well. But, all I’m asking of you, is to tell me the truth.”
“Now you don’t have to tell me the truth right now. I can’t expect that from you right now, that would be unfair of me. And I trust that you’ll figure out the right time to tell me. But Billy I’m worried about you. And Freddy and Mary and Pedro and Eugene and Darla. The late nights, the excuses, the sneaking out… it’s beginning to concern me.”
“You...know about all of that?” Billy asked hesitantly. Rosa nodded.
“I know that something’s going on, and I would really really like to know what that is… but I also know that my curiosity is not as important as your privacy. So, when you’re ready, I would really appreciate it if you told me what was going on.” the mother scoffed a laugh and Billy sat up a little bit straighter.
Maybe she would be understanding. Maybe Rosa really would get it. Maybe she would be able to accept the fact that her fourteen-year-old foster son was blessed by an old wizard to wield the powers of six ancient Greek gods and could turn into a spandex wearing superhero with just one word and a lightning bolt.
But maybe he’d tell her that later. He wasn’t in any hurry to reveal his identity, and Billy decided that he’d like to keep a secret identity for a little bit longer.
“Thanks Rosa,” Billy mumbled. “But I think I’ll wait.”
The foster mom smiled softly and nodded her head. “And I understand. I can wait for the day when you decide it’s time.” she turned back to the bandages and cotton balls and dabbled another one in disinfectant. “Now let’s finish up, don’t want to miss out on dinner. It’s mac and cheese tonight, and you know how excited Freddy gets when we have mac and cheese.”
Billy chuckled and nodded. “Yeah, he really does love it doesn’t he.”
“Yeah, now stay still.”
Later that night, Rosa had a strange dream. She couldn’t exactly remember everything in it once she had woken up, as dreams tend to go, but she did remember a few things.
Like the dark, cloudy sky, hanging above her.
A boy standing in the middle of an alley wearing a red hoodie.
The boy being struck by lightning, and she remembered screaming out, feeling concern and fear for the boy. But she was cut short when she herself was struck with lightning as well, and her dream switched to something a little less foreboding. It was the most peculiar dream she’d had in a while, and Rosa has had some strange dreams in her life.
But in a few minutes, the only thing Rosa remembered from the dream was the lightning strikes and not much else. So the foster mother shrugged and began to get ready for her day. She got out of bed, noticing how it was the ungodly hour of 6:30am, and she threw on an old sweatshirt and pulled her hair up into a messy ponytail.
She walked out into the hallway as quietly as she could without waking anyone else up and climbed down the stairs. But she was surprised to see Freddy already up and about, making coffee in the coffee pot and limping around the kitchen. Rosa sighed. Recently she had noticed that her son was having trouble sleeping and would often times find him awake in the kitchen brewing a pot of coffee or dozing off at the table.
She didn’t know what had caused the sudden switch in behavior’s, because usually Freddy was the kind of boy who you’d have to bang pots and pans in his ear to wake him up, but ever since Christmas, it seemed as if he was having some trouble with insomnia.
Rosa sighed softly and climbed down the rest of the stairs, her presence not going unnoticed by her raven-haired boy.
“Oh, hi Rosa.” he said, his voice lilting with sleep, as he yawned. The woman smiled.
“Good morning Freddy. Trouble sleeping again?”
Freddy nodded, poured himself a cup of black coffee, and sat down at the kitchen table, smacking his lips. Another odd development, Freddy was usually the one to drink sweet, creamy coffee. Not bitter, strong coffee. He must be getting more desperate to stay awake. Rosa snuggled into her sweatshirt as she grabbed another mug and poured herself some coffee as well. She sat down at the table, across from Freddy, and took a small sip of the bitter liquid. It warmed her up inside immediately and Rosa instantly felt better.
“What time did you wake up this time?” she asked.
Freddy closed his eyes and took a drink from his mug. “2AM.”
Rosa rubbed her thumb along her cup for a moment. “And you’re sure that you don’t want to go see a doctor for meds?”
Freddy rubbed his still closed eyes. “Yeah, it’s...I’m doing better with the natural supplements, but if it gets any worse, I’ll tell you and we can go.”
Rosa glanced at her son while she sipped her coffee and with a heavy heart noticed just how dark the bags under his eyes had become and how mussed up his hair was. And she also felt like he was keeping something from her. But that was something they could talk about later, it was way too early to deal with that.
But unbeknownst to her, Freddy was telling the truth. Just not all of it. He had woken up at 2 AM that morning because he had another nightmare of the Seven Deadly Sins. It had something to do with their big teeth and threatening his family and a long, horrible story short, the boy had woken up in a cold sweat. And he couldn’t go back to sleep. So following the directions on that insomnia help website, he stayed in his room for an hour, trying to fall back asleep, and then after the hour had passed and not feeling tired at all, he had gotten up and limped his way downstairs. His crutch clicking softly against the floor.
And since then, Freddy had been making coffee, drinking coffee, reading online articles on superheroes and a little bit of fanfiction, and watching some Youtube videos of Billy doing his crazy stunts. He also came up with a new patrol routine and schedule to share with his siblings when they woke up, and not to mention the jotted down notes and hypotheses on Billy’s powers that he was going to follow through on later.
Insomnia did strange things a person. There was one time when Freddy couldn’t sleep at all, so he just stayed up figured out the sleep schedule for Batman and his night-life as well as how long his work-out routine had to be and what times would be best for him to stalk Gotham. And Freddy figured out that if Batman were to be able to do all of the things he did, he would end up sleeping a total of three hours every night.
So it’s safe to say that Freddy had lost his mind that one night.
Freddy had begun to doze off at the table, his head kept nodding up and down and he struggled to keep his eyes open, and Rosa noticed this.
The foster mom finished off her coffee and without saying a word, she walked around the table and placed a hand on Freddy’s shoulder.
“Freddy, mi amor? Do you just wanna go sleep?”
The boy nodded and hummed. “Yeah….that’d be great.”
“Alright, come on then.”
Rosa helped Freddy stand up from the chair without his crutch and carrying most of his weight, guided him to the couch in the living room. Rosa was strong, but she wasn’t exactly strong enough to carry a teenage boy bridal style all the way up the stairs and into his room. So the mother did her best to set him down gently on the couch and sat down beside him. This was nothing new to either of them, for it had become a regular thing for Rosa to place Freddy down on the couch and put him to bed.
The raven immediately snuggled up to his foster mother and Rosa reached out to grab a nearby blanket, draping it over his dozing form. Then without saying anything, Rosa began to comb her fingers through his curly, unruly hair, clearing up the knots and tangles. And in moments Freddy was asleep. He snored softly and Rosa let a small smile grace her face. Seeing her foster son finally sleeping after a rough night, always made her heart warm and happy.
But then after a couple of minutes of silence, except for Freddy’s snoring, Rosa began to grow bored with the quiet. So without disturbing the teen, she reached over to the couch’s arm rest and picked up the TV remote, turning on the television quietly and immediately turning down the volume as to not wake the sleeping boy.
The TV turned on to the news channel from a few days ago, and Rosa was pleasantly surprised to find that they were doing another story on the hero of Philadelphia. Something about a robbery last night. And this time they were using the name Sir Zaps-a-Lot, which earned a snort from the woman. That was a horrible hero name? How did he come up with that one?
And the channel showed the large man speaking to one of the reporters, a proud grin on his face as the reporter cleared his most recent heroic endeavor. But then the reporter asked a question that piqued Rosa’s interest.
“So Zaps-a-Lot, what do you have to say about all of the property damage that happens every time you stop a criminal?”
Zaps-a-Lot looked at the camera confidently, and replied to the reporter’s question.
“As sorry as I am for all the damage me and my battles cause, and as disappointed as I am that I can’t find the time to help clean it up, I will make up for it by visiting those injured and following along with their recovery while they stay in the hospital.”
Rosa’s eyebrows furrowed and confusion glinted in her eyes. Why did that answer sound so much like Billy’s? But, even though it was much better worded and kind of different, the answer seemed to reflect her son’s answer word for word. She watched as the reporter thanked Zaps-a-Lot for answering a few questions and Rosa watched as he flew away from the cameras, into the night. The news channel continued to go on about some other story, but Rosa wasn’t paying attention anymore, it was all white noise to her right now.
Rosa leaned back into the couch cushion.
She ran a hand through her tied up hair.
Rosa took out her phone from her pocket and went to Youtube. She typed into the search bar everything the news had on the superhero, which seemed to be quite a lot, and she scrolled through the videos until she found one that caught her attention.
The caption picture, was a photo of the tall hero arguing with a boy in front of a fallen, broken bus. And not just any boy. For Rosa knew that jacket and hat, and Rosa knew that crutch and dark curly hair.
It was Freddy.
The exact same boy that was sleeping in her lap right now. Rosa covered her mouth with her hand in shock, and stared at the picture. It all made so much sense now.
Her children were working with the superhero of Philadelphia.
Rosa’s revelation had shaken her quite a bit, for the next couple of days she kept looking at her children, and kept trying to imagine them running into danger and helping out a superpowered human.
The thought made her queasy.
She thought back to when Billy had come home that one day with bruises and scratches and claiming that it was the Bryer’s. That had to have been one of the days he had helped out the hero. Or maybe another time was when Freddy had snuck out that one time and returned home late. And it would also explain Billy and Freddy’s behavior when they went over interview questions. They were coming up for things for him to say! And then when he came to visit Freddy at lunch to help stop his bullying, Freddy did know him!
It all made so much more sense now! And obviously Darla knew, because she was Darla and somehow that little girl knew nearly everything.
And at least now, some of her momma worry had disappeared, because now she knew what was going on. But her kids’ involvement with the hero had made her frustrated if she was going to be honest. Because what kind of self-respecting adult would knowingly put kids in danger!? And her kids nonetheless!
Ugh, just the thought of any of her kids being put in harm’s way made her angry. She wanted to give that man a piece of her mind, and she wanted to do it as soon as possible. Because the sooner, she told him to stop involving her kids, the sooner they would be put out of danger.
Which was why one afternoon, when Billy unexpectedly ran out, calling out that he had to ‘ help a friend’, did Rosa immediately stop doing her paperwork and run out after him.
“No, Billy!” she yelled. “Get back here!”
But the boy didn’t seem to hear her. He was too preoccupied with whatever he was thinking about to even notice that his foster mom was calling out to him. Rosa followed him out the door, ignoring the shocked looks she got from Eugene and Pedro, and ran after her boy. She was not going to have him be put in danger, no matter what that hero said or did.
Rosa saw Billy run down the sidewalk a ways before turning into a space between houses. The mother huffed in exertion, but still she ran after him. She refused to think about how he was willingly putting himself in danger and how she was going to be up all night worrying about him. And for the stupidest reason, her brain thought about how he was going to miss Family Game Night tonight if he went out and helped the hero.
Rosa finally caught up to the alley Billy had run behind and she saw him standing in the middle of the way, his back turned to her and his gaze looking up to the grey sky. His red hoodie hung off of his shoulders sloppily and Rosa tried to catch her breath.
Why is he just standing there? She wondered.
But her thoughts were interrupted when Billy all of a sudden shouted loudly to the sky. “ SHAZAM! ”
Rosa watched in horror as a bright lightning bolt split the grey clouds apart and shot straight for her boy. The mother yelped a strangled cry and shielded her eyes when the electricity hit, and her vision was suddenly clouded with smoke. A strong smell of ozone and rain filled the air and Rosa did her best to suppress the couch itching inside her throat. She swatted away the smoke and opened up her eyes blearily, squinting and trying to see what had become of her foster son.
She had expected to see him injured and lying on the ground, clothes scorched black and face covered with soot. But what she did not expect was to see a tall man, wearing a bright-red suit, a short, white cape, and golden boots and gauntlets. The hood was covering up his face and the cape covered up most of his back, but still Rosa knew who that was.
She had seen him on the news countless times and she had watched some of his Youtube videos.
It was the Hero.
And there was no sign of Billy anywhere.
Rosa gulped down a nervous whimper and stared as the “man” began to float off the ground.
“Alright,” he said to himself. “I don’t have a lot of time, so I should really get on this before it all breaks out. Family Game Night’s tonight and I definitely can’t miss out on that. Otherwise Victor and Rosa would get more suspicious than they already are. Plus, I definitely wanna kick Freddy’s ass at JENGA., so no way am I missing that!”
The hero floated even higher into the sky and without missing another beat, he took off with a soft boom, leaving behind a very confused, slightly dirty, and very shocked Rosa Vasquez.
She stood where she was, mouth dropped open, and arms hanging limpy by her sides, as she tried to register what the hell just happened.
Did….did her son Billy….little Billy Batson….just turn into the adult superhero of the city?
Oh hell no.
Billy soared through the sky, reveling in the icy cold wind that bit at his bare cheeks and invisibly yanked at his cape.
He had heard over the police radio that Freddy set up, that there was a strange villain terrorizing downtown. They had already cleared the place of civilians and were trying to form a blockade to keep the guy from going even further into the city. And as soon as he heard it, he ran out of the house as fast as he could and turned into his alter ego. He had heard Rosa call out for him, but the teen didn’t pay any attention to her cries. Billy had to get to downtown, and he had to get there fast. And thanks to the Speed of Mercury and Power of Zeus, he was able to do just that.
The teen heard a large crash and his head whipped around to see what had caused it. It seemed that a public bus had crashed into the rails on the highway, trying to avoid a man who stood in the middle of the street. Impassive.
And it wasn’t just any man, either. For Billy recognized the bald head and stupid leather jacket. It was Sivana.
Billy growled. He didn’t know how he had gotten out of jail, but he would be damned if he didn’t put him back, right where he belonged. The teen changed direction immediately and flew down to meet his nemesis and first villain.
Billy reeled back and swung a strong fist at Sivana’s face, and was met with a satisfying crack. The hero grinned and watched as the man rocketed straight past a few more abandoned cars and rammed into the opposite guard rail.
“Ha!” he laughed. “Bet you didn’t see that one coming, did ya!?” Billy taunted. He lowered into a fighting stance and raised his fists up just as Sivana lifted himself off of the crumbling pavement; no way was he letting Sivana get out of this easy.
The old man stared at Billy, grey eyes cold and a snarl crawling it’s way onto his face, and Billy could feel his confidence dwindle ever so slightly. Because even though he did take down the villain before, it didn’t lesson the small spark of fear that resided in Billy’s chest every time that he saw him. Flashbacks to a certain carnival and pool of water rose to Billy’s mind and the boy gulped. His fists tightened and his shoulders tensed.
Don’t lose your cool, Batson. He told himself. You can take him down. He doesn’t have the Sins with him this time, so now he’s just an old man with daddy issues .
Sivana stood up to his full height and glared at Billy. Then without warning, not even a notion, he stuck his hand out and Billy felt an invisible force throw him backwards. Billy flew through the air and went over the side of the highway. He fell a couple meters, before finally smacking into the cold hard pavement. The teen groaned in pain and coughed.
Telekinesis!? Since when did Sivana have fucking telekinesis!?
Billy struggled to get up, feeling his muscles cry in protest as he did so, but nonetheless he still stood up and watched painfully as Sivana hovered down onto the ground. There was something different about him this time. Because for one, he wasn’t talking. Which was very unlike him. Because every time Billy had encountered Sivana, he had always started their fights by stupidly calling him ‘Champion’ in that obnoxiously pompous voice of his. But this time, Sivana was quiet, and he wasn’t saying anything.
It made Billy wonder if this was even the real Sivana.
The man landed on the ground with a quiet thump and he glared at Billy, his stormy eyes looking like cold thunder clouds.
Wait a minute, Sivana didn’t have grey eyes.
Billy fell back into his fighting stance, and he would’ve been prepared to totally beat this guy’s ass again, if he hadn’t heard something strange.
A car engine.
Billy’s eyebrows furrowed in confusion. He thought that this whole area was cleared out of all civilians. So why was there a car running? Or more importantly, why was the car coming closer to them?
But Sivana used Billy’s distraction to his advantage and telekinetically threw him against an abandoned school bus.
“ You don’t know who you truly are, boy. Nor what you can do. ” Sivana said, in a voice that was clearly not his own.
Oh shit. Billy thought. He struggled to get out of the bus, tearing metal here and there to help him get out. He burst out of the bus and Billy was about to light up his hands with electricity and blow this bastard off the face of the earth, when the car he heard finally came into view.
Oh shit! He thought again as he recognized the ugly brown van. The van pulled up and came to a stop, the brakes squeaking uncomfortably. The sudden sight of the vehicle freezing both the hero and the villain in their stand-off as they watched the person driving the car get out, with an angry look on her face.
It was his foster mom, Rosa Vasquez. Freaking Rosa Vasquez had driven into a technical war zone in the foster kid van, and had just pulled up in front of the two supernaturally powered human beings as if they were brawling children on the playground.
And she looked angry.
Rosa slammed the car door and began marching over.
“Do you know what I had to do to get here!?” She screamed. Billy stared with wide eyes as his foster mom stomped closer and closer to him and Sivana. “I had to drive all the way across town, deal with condescending police officers, barrel through their barricades, and make my way into the sectioned off part of the city, because some dipshit decided to spend his day terrorizing Philadelphia!”
Billy sucked in a breath. He’d never heard Rosa swear before. Which could only show just how angry she was, no not angry, furious.
“And I have had a long week pal, a very long week. So if you could just forget about this whole revenge nonsense, then I can go home with my son and we can have a fucking Family Game Night!”
“Ro-ros, uhmm, ma’am?” Billy stuttered, quickly catching his slip-up. But he quickly realized that he probably shouldn’t have said anything, because then Rosa whipped her head to look at him, her usually warm, brown eyes, were as hard as obsidian with a fire lit up inside of them.
His foster mother stomped towards him, and the teen couldn’t help but shrink back just a little bit. He’d never seen Rosa so furious before and it was starting to freak him out. She walked right up to him, and Billy realized strangely that he was taller than her in his Shazam form. But that didn’t make her any less intimidating.
“No! You do not get to call me ‘ma’am’ young mister! Do you know how stressed out and worried I’ve been these past couple of weeks!? I’ve been losing my mind! When we get back home, you and I are definitely having a talk about this!”
“ What is this woman doing here? ” Not-Sivana asked, definitely caught off guard that some random civilian had showed up out of the blue and started scolding his enemy like some mother to her child.
But Not-Sivana froze when Rosa turned her fiery eyes on him.
“And YOU!” she shouted. She marched over to the villain, who visibly shuffled uncertainly and before anyone knew what was happening, the woman slapped Not-Sivana straight across the face. Billy covered his mouth with his fist, his eyes wide and eyebrows reaching his hairline.
“What the hell is your problem!? The first thing you do when you get out of jail is cause even more terror and destruction just like you did last time? What the fuck!? And then when someone comes to stop you, because obviously you’re gonna hurt someone, is you beat them up! You beat him up!” she pointed to Billy, who was still watching with wide eyes.
“ Woman, this doesn’t concern you. Now get out of the way before I- ”
“Before you what? Hurt me? Boy, I’d love to see you try!” and then in a flash, Rosa punched the man square in the jaw. Not-Sivana, being caught off guard by the sudden strike, took a step back out of shock, but Rosa didn’t leave it at that. She lunged forward and delivered a roundhouse kick to the villain’s ribs and then spinning with the momentum executed a side-kick to Not-Sivana’s kidneys.
The man went down, doubling over and tried to hold himself upright, but he was still being caught off guard by the sudden attack from the seemingly harmless civilian. Rosa right-hooked punched him in the nose, and Billy could’ve sworn that he saw Not-Sivana’s grey eyes turn to another color.
“Billy!” she exclaimed. The hero perked up at the calling of his name. Rosa had her back to him, and she was staring down Not-Sivana. “There’s a baseball bat in the back of the van, get it for me.”
“Wait, no! Uhhm, uh Rosa, I think you got him.”
“Get me the baseball bat!”
Billy stuttered out of his shock and rushed over to his foster mom. “Uhm, no, I mean, really, I think you got him.” Rosa grumbled, and then gave Not-Sivana another kick and the man went down onto the cold ground, unconscious.
“I better.” With that, the woman turned to face her son and she stared him down, hands on her hips, and eyes narrowed. Billy rubbed his fingers together nervously and he chuckled awkwardly.
“Get in the van.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Billy ducked his head and shuffled his way over to the family van and he heard Rosa sigh behind him before following. Billy climbed into the too small van and awkwardly sat behind the driver’s seat, buckling himself in and straining the seatbelt over his too big form. He could’ve sat in the passenger’s seat, but he felt a little too scared too, and he wasn’t sure if he could handle an angry momma Rosa right now.
But it didn’t seem like he had a choice. For when Rosa got into the driver’s seat, she snapped her fingers and pointed to the spot next to her. Billy sighed in defeat and his shoulders dropped. He quickly unbuckled and got out of the car, entering again and sitting down in the passenger seat, right next to his foster mom. He buckled in, the strap still feeling too small for him, and the teen tried his best to shrink in on himself and make himself look smaller than he really was.
Rosa started the car and wordlessly began to drive away.
They drove in silence for a couple of minutes, going through the empty streets and driving past the empty stores that the police had cleared out. And sooner or later, Billy saw a police barricade further down the street.
“Uhm,” he mumbled uncertainly. What were the police going to think when they saw the Red Cyclone sitting in a random woman’s car? What were they going to think when they saw him shrunken in the passenger seat? Oh man, Billy really wished that the seat cushion would just swallow him whole. Or that Rosa would stop. But she didn’t, she kept driving, completely unbothered by the fact that the police would see her drive through their barricades with a superhero sitting right next to her.
Billy covered his face with his big adult hands, and prayed to any god that this wouldn’t be as awkward as he was thinking it was going to be.
Rosa pulled up in front of the police officers and slowed the van to a stop. The officer stared at Billy with eyes as wide as dinner plates.
“Uhhh,” the officer said.
“I took care of your problem for you.” Rosa said, completely straight-faced. “He’s knocked out about a few blocks that way, in front of the destroyed school bus. Can’t miss him. Good day.” and without saying another word, Rosa drove past the barricade, leaving behind a very confused officer.
Billy felt like dying of embarrassment. The teen buried his face in his hands and released a large bone-aching sigh.
“So…” he began, “how’d you figure it out?”
Rosa gave him a glance and then pulled out her phone. She unlocked it and pulled up a picture, handing it to Billy. The teen took the small phone in his hands and cringed as he recognized the picture. It was of him and Freddy arguing all of those weeks ago after he had saved that bus.
“Late nights. Poor excuses. Unexplained bruises and injuries. Freddy arguing with the ‘hero’ on live TV. And the same hero coming to eat lunch with Freddy and his siblings. All except you who happened to be somewhere else when that happened. And also the fact that I overheard you and Freddy going over ‘on the spot interview skills’ and then the very next night the hero had the same answer you came up with. That was pretty suspicious. But then seeing you transform pretty much confirmed it.”
Billy cringed and ducked his head. “Yeah.”
“I originally thought that you were working with him. The hero, I mean.”
Billy scoffed. “Yeah that probably would’ve been easier, huh.”
Rosa shook her head, a ghost of a smile fluttering over her lips. “I’m still having some trouble wrapping my head around this.”
“Heh, I don’t blame you. When this first happened, it took me a while to not freak out about it, too.”
Rosa chuckled and then she looked at him, and her smile faltered ever so slightly. She turned back to driving and glued her eyes to the road, and Billy, noticing the tense air, stayed silent.
“Let’s talk about this when we get home.”
Billy’s eyes widened slightly. “Wait, no we can’t!” Rosa looked at Billy confused.
The teen fidgeted with the edges of his soft, white cape. “I don’t want Victor to know yet.”
Rosa sighed, breathing in deeply and releasing her breath to try and calm down her nerves. “Billy we have to tell him sometime, we can’t all just keep a secret from one person in the house!”
“N-no, I know, it’s just...could we not talk about this there? Could we go somewhere else?” Billy asked desperately. Rosa glanced at her foster son and furrowing her eyebrows as she thought about it. Billy looked at her with wide, innocent, pleading eyes, and Rosa felt herself begin to melt. Even when he looked like an adult, Billy could still pull off the innocent, kid look flawlessly.
“Fine. Okay we can go somewhere else. But don’t think for a moment that I’m not gonna discuss this with Victor when he founds out.”
“Yes, sure okay, let’s just go. I’m getting really uncomfortable sitting in the car like this.”
Rosa scoffed and continued to drive down the street.
“So, how did it happen?” Rosa asked as she took a bite out of her ice cream. The mother and son had pulled off in front of an ice cream shop, and Billy was more than happy to get out of the too small car and seatbelt, and the second he got out he jogged behind the store and a lightning bolt struck down.
Rosa had called out his name and was about to run behind the building as well, to see if he was okay, but she was put to a stop when she saw Billy, her Billy, walk out and wave away the smoke from his face. He was still wearing his red hoodie, and simple grey-green pants, and there shockingly wasn’t even a mark on him. He offered Rosa a lopsided grin and walked up to her. Acting as if nothing special had just happened.
“Well? Where do you wanna start?”
Rosa smirked at her son and scoffed at his smart-assery. And shaking her head, she grabbed his shoulder, pulling him close and together they walked into the ice cream shop.
Billy had gotten a simple chocolate and vanilla swirl, while Rosa got the more complex flavor of caramel pecan. The person serving them their ice cream left immediately after handing them the ice cream, so Billy and Rosa were left alone to have their chat.
Billy fidgeted with his ice cream cone and his eyes blinked rapidly. “‘How did it happen’? Well, uhmm, do you want the long version or the short version?”
“Oh boy,” the brunet tsked and pressed his lips together into a thin line as he racked his brain trying to come up with a reasonable story for how he had gotten these powers. “Well, I guess it all starts with when I got on a subway car, running away from the Bryer’s.” And from there he began to tell Rosa everything. From meeting the Wizard and gaining the powers of Shazam to the Seven Deadly Sins wreaking havoc on the world to making Youtube videos with Freddy to fighting Sivana at the mall to saving his family from monsters and defeating the big bad supervillain.
It was a fantastical story, and Rosa listened to all of it. And by the time Billy had finished, both of their ice creams were gone and Rosa remained quiet, thinking. The silence soon got to Billy, and the teen could feel his heart spike with anxiety.
“Uhmm, Rosa?” he asked uncertainly. His mother hummed in response and the brunet rubbed his hands together. “Are you gonna say anything?”
“Yeah, just one question.” she said.
“Yeah sure, what?”
Rosa looked up at Billy, “Is this a lifetime thing? Like, you’re stuck doing this forever?”
Oh wow, Billy was not expecting that question. He was expecting something like How could you do this to our family? Or Why did you bring Freddy and everyone else into it? Not the reasonable question of how long he was going to do this.
“Uhm,” he mumbled, “as far as I know? Yeah, I’m gonna be stuck doing this for a while.”
Rosa nodded in understanding and bit her lip. “Okay.” she muttered quietly. She was silent after that, her eyes shifting around the room in a tell-tale sign that she was thinking, and Billy just sat there awkwardly twiddling his thumbs as he waited for her to say something.
Then suddenly Rosa huffed, and looked Billy straight in the eyes, chocolate brown meeting forest green.
“Well, If you’re going to be a superhero, then you gotta learn how to punch sweetheart. Honestly it’s almost embarrassing, you’re so sloppy.” she said as a warm smile grew on her face. Billy snorted a laugh and ran a hand through his hair.
“You’re not...angry?” he asked.
“Oh no, I’m angry, but I’m more angry at that guy for trying to beat up my kid than at you for trying to be a hero.”
Billy let out the breath he was holding. He was so nervous and stressed out that Rosa was going to forbid him from being a hero. He had actually grown to like it, even if he hadn’t initially started out with good intentions.
“But you do understand that we are going to have to tell Victor about this right? He can’t be left out.” Rosa said, her voice soft. Billy swallowed and nodded.
“Yeah I know, it’s just...a little unnerving is all.”
“I understand.” Rosa let out a great big sigh. “Now how about we head home. It’s still Family Game Night and we’ve been gone for quite a while. I’m sure the others are wondering where we are.”
Billy smiled. “Yeah, that sounds good.”
The pair got up from their table, collecting and throwing away their garbage and left the shop with a shout-out to the server. And while the two were walking towards the van, Rosa pulled Billy close and wrapped her arm around his shoulder, stroking the back of his head comfortingly.
Then when they had gotten into the car and were about to leave, Billy asked his mom something that had kind of been nagging at him.
“Hey Rosa?” he asked.
“Where did you learn to fight like that? You like decked Sivana.”
“Oh, I’ve just had a couple of kickboxing lessons in the past. You pick up a thing or two.”
Billy laughed as the car turned on and the two drove away.
One Month Later
“Billy, Freddy sweetie, you boys are gonna be late for school! Time to get up!” Rosa exclaimed as she walked into Billy and Freddy’s room, dressed for work and hair up in a neat bun. She was ready to walk in and begin flickering lights and pulling off blankets, but she stopped as soon as she walked in… and saw Billy lying on his bed… as his hero self.
Rosa sighed and walked up to the top bunk bed, expertly winding her way through the messy room and to the bunk bed. Billy had wrapped himself in his white cape, the hood covering his face, and his feet were hanging off the side of the railing, the golden boots glinting in the morning light as the teen softly snored.
“Billy, mi amor, time to get up.”
Rosa could see the faint glow from the lightning emblem as she walked closer to the bed, and lightly slapped his face, startling the young boy awake.
“I’m up! I’m up!” he slurred as he rubbed his eyes. The frame creaked under his weight and Billy cringed. “Uuggghhhh.”
“Have a late night again?” Rosa asked. Billy nodded and drew the hood down lower over his face. He mumbled an incoherent reply as Rosa bent down and shook Freddy’s shoulder.
“Looks like you forgot to say the word again Billy. You know the bed frame can’t take that weight.”
The teenage boy replied with a tired groan, and then she heard him say the word, his voice muffled by the bed sheets and cape. A lightning bolt crashed through the room, creating a large boom, and it struck Rosa’s foster son; the woman waved away the smoke the said lightning bolt always caused and she heard Freddy yelp and fall out of bed.
“ Billy! ” Rosa scolded. The normal teenage boy she knew sat up in bed, eyes wide and alert and brown hair sticking up at crazy angles. No sign of hazy sleepiness clouded his eyes anymore and there was no sign of his cape or golden boots.
Rosa shook her head and helped Freddy up off of the floor. “Just remember to say it next time you come home from patrol okay? I hate having to keep repairing the scorch marks.”
“Yep! Yep! Got it! Sorry, Rosa.” Billy said as he began to climb down the ladder to the floor and get ready for the school day.
Rosa gave her boys one last look, before leaving their room to head downstairs to the kitchen. When she entered the kitchen, the warm smell of coffee and scrambled eggs met her and the foster mother breathed it in deeply.
“Did Billy forget to change back last night after he came back home from patrol?” Victor asked as he watched Rosa get a cup and fill it to the brim with coffee. She scoffed and nodded.
“Do we have to fix another scorch mark?”
Victor sighed and continued to stir the eggs in the pan. “I’ll get on that when I get home tonight.” A few days after Rosa had found out about Billy’s powers and had heard the whole story, the brunet had come up to her and said that he was ready to tell Victor and let him in on the secret. Which Rosa was ecstatic to hear. So together they sat him down and with help from Rosa, Billy explained everything. And surprisingly, after a couple hours of adjusting, Victor was able to wrap his head around the idea. Although his only condition was for Billy to take self-defense lessons or some kind of fighting class to help him improve his fighting skills. You know, to keep him safe.
Rosa sat down next to Mary at the table and took a sip of her coffee.
“Was that big bang I just heard Billy turning back into himself?” she mumbled as she double-checked her homework.
“Yes, it was.” Rosa replied. “That’s like the fifth time that’s happened.”
Mary hummed. “Yeah it’s getting kind of frustrating.”
“Uh huh.” Rosa agreed. Victor handed her a hot plate of scrambled eggs and fried mushrooms and onions, and thanking her husband, did she hear thunderous footsteps pound down the stairs. Billy rushed into the kitchen, freezing when he saw everyone chilling at the breakfast table and he let out a relieved sigh. His hair was still a rats nest, and his red hoodie and brown jacket were hanging off of his shoulders precariously, his shoes were dangerously untied, and his green backpack was hanging from his grasp. He looked like a mess.
“Oh thank God.” he sighed. He dropped his bag and collapsed into one of the chairs, sitting next to Rosa. “I thought that I was late late.”
Mary giggled and folded up her homework. “Nope, just late for breakfast.”
Victor placed a plate of eggs in front of Billy, who gave his foster dad a grateful nod. “But Rosa said I was late for school.”
“No honey, I just said that you were going to be late. There’s a difference.” the mother said as she raised a hand and began to tidy up her son’s mussy hair. Billy ducked away and fixed his hair himself, before picking up his fork and digging into breakfast.
“Well then, maybe you should make that clear to Freddy, because he’s still freaking out about it. I think he’s actually contemplating flying to school.”
Rosa groaned. Another thing she and Victor had found out, apparently all of her kids had superpowers. Even little ol’ Darla. Rosa set down her mug and got up from her spot at the table. She walked over to the base of the stairs and called up into the second floor of the house, “Freddy! You aren’t flying to school!”
“Ugh, moomm!” she heard the boy complain. A knowing smile tugged at her lips.
“You know the rules!”
She listened as the raven-haired teen complained about how flying was faster and more efficient than taking their van, but Rosa wasn’t hearing any of it. She loved their family drives in the morning. And she wasn’t going to have her kids skip out on it no matter what, flying powers or no.
She walked back to the kitchen, and casting a glance at the clock, realized that her kids and her and Victor actually would be late if they didn’t get going soon.
“Alright kids let’s get in the car!” She called out throughout the whole house. She heard Pedro clamber down the stairs and Freddy yelp in the bathroom. He probably tripped and knocked himself over. “Billy, would you go check on Freddy and make sure he’s okay?”
“I’m okay!” Freddy called out.
Rosa quickly helped Darla put on her velcro shoes and gathered her pink backpack while Mary helped out with Eugene. Freddy finally limped down the stairs and Victor handed him a slice of toast, while Billy tied his shoes and pulled his jackets on more securely.
“Alright kids, let’s go, let’s go!” Rosa chant as she opened the door and they all rushed out to the car.
“Are you sure we can’t just fly to school? I mean, it would be easier and it would take less time than driving the van.” Freddy asked as he left the door.
“Nope! Not happening. You’re riding in the car mister.”
“Oh and Billy! Don’t forget your kickboxing gear. Don’t want you to forget it again.”
“And Pedro do you have your homework from last night!”
“Yeah, I do.”
“Okay, good. And Billy if something happens again, don’t forget to text me or Victor about it to let us know!”
“Yeah, of course Rosa!”
All of the kids and Victor walked out of the doors and Rosa closed the door, locking it behind her. They all clambered into the van and buckled in their seatbelts as Victor turned on the car and it purred to life.
It was a new day.
And as the van pulled up to the front of their school, and as the kids climbed out, Rosa was suddenly overwhelmed with the urge to do something. She got out of the car, and caught up to her kids. Well, the kid in the back of the group.
“Billy!” she called out. The brunet turned around as he heard his name called.
“Yeah? Did I forget something.”
She enveloped her foster son in a hug, and Billy froze for a moment, before slowly returning it.
“Why’re you hugging me?” he asked confusedly.
Rosa shook her head. “I just wanted to hug my son.” she said simply. Billy smiled, a feeling of happiness and warmth settling in his chest at being called a ‘son’. It wasn’t something he would associate with himself, but everytime he heard that word fall out of Rosa or Victor’s mouth, he couldn’t help but feel unmeasured happiness. But the moment was soon invaded by a little hugging monster named none other than Darla Dudley.
“Group hug!” she exclaimed as she rammed into the two. Rosa laughed and wrapped one of her arms around her youngest. “I saw you guys hugging and I wanted to join!” she said innocently.
Billy smirked and placed a hand on his little sister’s head just as Rosa smiled at her two children, and quickly, placed a kiss on Billy’s forehead before he could pull away and protest.
The brunet sputtered and blushed and Rosa laughed to herself, feeling victorious in the fact that she had been able to embarrass him like any mother would embarrass her son.
“Okay,” she said, letting go of the two kids. “Go on, I don’t want you to be late for your first class.” Billy smiled at Rosa, and then took hold of Darla’s hand. The brother and sister began to walk to the front doors and Rosa hugged her arms as she watched her kids walk up the steps and to the front doors.
Yes, there was something going on with her kids.
It was something that made them stay up late, come up with poor excuses, and it made them come home with bruises and cuts on their arms.
But it was also something that made them do wonderful things. It made them help others and it made them keep people safe.
And while it was bizarre, that her kids were acting as superheroes in their free time, and they saved the world when they could, Rosa couldn’t think of anything better for her kids to do. She loved her children and she was proud to be their mother.
“Bye mom!” Darla yelled back to her, and the woman waved. And then Billy looked back too, and almost sheepishly he called back to her too.
“Bye, mom.” he said. A wide grin grew on Rosa’s face and she felt like her face was going to split open from happiness.
So yes, she loved her children, and she was proud of them, and she did worry about them from time to time.
But hey... that’s what mothers do.