by Starsky Hutch 76
John Garrick walked over to the comic-book rack in the Keystone City drug store with his friends from the advanced classes. Most of them towered above him, being a couple of years older.
“Look! They’ve got the latest General Glory!” one of them called out happily.
“What about the Green Hornet?” one of them said.
“Is Spy Smasher in? Aw, man! It’s the old one!”
“Hey, John! They’ve got the Doc Savage 80-Page Giant you were looking for! John?”
John Garrick was too distracted to notice what his friends were saying. His view was locked on a gorgeous blonde across the store, gazing at him from behind a copy of Teen Beat.
Is she looking at me? John’s mind raced.
Her mouth suddenly turned up into a sweet smile. His heart began to pound, his head swam, and his knees felt weak. She was.
Coral lay down on the bed in her room in the JSA Brownstone in Gotham City, where the Junior JSA made their headquarters. She had just finished a particularly arduous training session. That Ma Hunkel had some pretty fancy moves for an old lady.
She looked around at the various posters of teenage movie and TV stars and boy bands. Since coming to the surface world, she had immersed herself in its youth culture.
Her eyes locked onto one of the young actors she had developed a strong crush on as she closed them and felt herself drifting to sleep. In her mind’s eye, she pictured the boy. Then his face began to change to one equally handsome, but darker, more mysterious.
He suddenly seemed to float from the poster and hovered above her. Drifting closer to her, he planted a light kiss upon her lips. Her eyes darted open, and she let out a gasp as she sat up. There was no one there. She looked back at her pillow, and there was a single deep red rose by where her pillow had been.
Had someone been in her room? A brief feeling of alarm passed though her until she saw the vase of roses on her dresser. She must have taken one out, though she had no memory of doing so. She couldn’t get the image of the mysterious young man out of her mind. She lay back down in hopes of seeing him again.
“I’m… I’m not exactly what you’d call popular,” John Garrick said, laughing sheepishly. His face broke into a grin, and he turned away shyly as the beautiful blonde sitting across from him in the booth made contact with him and smiled sweetly.
“But you seem to have a lot of friends,” she said, gesturing to his friends, watching and giggling from behind the comics rack.
“Well, they’re kind of in the same boat,” John said. “They’re not popular, either, so we’ve kind of fallen together. Strength in numbers, you know? They’ve got it easier than me, though. At least they’re the same age as everyone else.”
“You seem very mature, though,” the pretty blonde said.
“I-I’m sort of a prodigy,” he explained. “Things like math and science just come easier for me than they do for others. It’s what you’d call both a blessing and a curse.”
“I love intelligent boys,” the girl said.
“I wish everyone at school did,” John said. “It’s made me kind of an outcast.” He couldn’t believe he was saying these things to her, to someone he’d just met. These were things he didn’t even talk to his parents about. But when he looked into her beautiful blue eyes, he felt like he could tell her anything, like he was compelled to open up to her.
“But you have people who like you and respect you,” she said, “besides these friends here.”
“I have another group I hang around with sometimes,” John said. “I think they might be kind of popular where they are, because they’re all sort of athletic. One plays baseball, and another one skateboards and can play guitar. The girls are all pretty.” He suddenly grew quiet. “I’m not sure if they really like me or if they’re just putting up with me because my dad’s friends with their dads.”
“If they don’t like you, they’re fools,” she said. “Anyone can look at you and see what your good qualities are.”
“Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever have a normal life like they’ve got. Friends my own age, dating… a girlfriend.”
“Any girl would feel lucky to be your girlfriend,” she said slyly. “I know I would.”
John gave a shy laugh and looked down to his hands folded on the table. “Really?”
“Really,” she said, taking his hands in hers. She leaned over the table and gave him the first kiss of his young life.
He’s mine, Henrietta King thought to herself.
Mina Curry was normally very graceful, which was surprising, considering how little time her people in the underwater city of Atlantis actually spent walking. In spite of that, she usually had the natural poise of a dancer.
This night was different, though. She could hardly stay on her own two feet as everyone else sped around the track of the Gotham City Roller Rink to the sound of Relax by Frankie Goes to Hollywood.
“Wait for me!” she called out to her friends Bonnie Jones-Carter and Beth Harper, AKA Arrowette and Flare. She attempted to push herself up, but her skates continued to roll forward, and she found herself moving along, bent over backward on on all fours.
“Hey, look! Mina’s invented a new style of skating!” Beth said, coming around for another lap. “Or is that how they do it in that place you’re from?”
“Just you wait until I get back on my feet!” Mina threatened jokingly.
“Then I’d better make sure I’m not here when you do!” Beth laughed, skating off.
“Maybe I should’ve gotten her to help me up before I started joking around,” Mina groaned, still unable to get on her own two feet.
“Here, let me help you,” a voice with a trace of an exotic accent said as a hand appeared before her.
Mina stifled a gasp as she looked up to the owner of the hand. It was the boy from her dreams. He took her hand and lifted her to her feet as if she weighed nothing.
“Are you all right?” the darkly handsome boy in the black turtleneck said.
“Y-yes,” Mina said, still in shock that this figure from her dreams had stepped out into her reality.
Relax faded out, and the sone changed to Purple Rain by Prince. The lights dimmed, and the D.J. announced it was time for a couple skate.
The boy looked up at the lights, then back to her, and said with a smile and a raise of an eyebrow, “Perfect timing.” He took her hand for her to skate beside him, and this time she had no trouble staying on her feet. In fact, she felt as if she might float away.
“All right! You kids quit yer lolly-gagging and get in here, so we can have ourselves a meeting!” Ma Hunkel called out.
“Guess we’d better do as she says,” Batwing chuckled, setting down his cue stick.
“Yeah, beware the wrath of the Red Tomato,” Superboy said.
“Is she always like that?” Arrowette asked.
“Aw, don’t let her fool you,” Batwing said. “She’s really a softy.”
“This century, people!” Ma Hunkel called out threateningly from the meeting room.
“You coming, guys?” Superboy said to Whiz Kid, Damage, and Star Sapphire, who were huddled around the Galaga machine.
“Just a minute,” Damage said through gritted teeth as he tapped away at the firing button of the video game. A trace of sweat had broken out on his forehead. Next to him stood a calm, collected Whiz Kid. Suddenly, there was the sound of an explosion, and an electronic dirge sounded from the machine.
“Aw, man!” Damage yelped.
“The winner and still champeen!” Whiz Kid cried triumphantly, raising his arms in victory. This brought a giggle from Star Sapphire.
“Yeah… whatever,” Damage grumbled as he exited the game room, followed by the triumphant Whiz Kid.
“Mina?” Flare said. “You’re not going to let me face the dragon lady for the first time by myself, are you?”
“Wha… huh?” Coral said, looking up from the notepad she had been doodling on. On it was a heart with her initials M.C. and the initials F.F. inside. “Sorry, Beth, what?”
“Somebody’s a space cadet today,” Flare said.
“Bet I know why,” Arrowette laughed.
“What does F.F. stand for?” Star Sapphire asked as the four girls walked toward the meeting room.
“His name’s Friedreich,” Coral said as they entered the meeting room.
“What about his last name?”
“Like the guy in the play who sold his soul to the devil?” Whiz Kid said, turning around in his chair toward them.
“No!” Coral said, annoyed. “Not like the guy in the play who sold his soul to the devil! Gyaah!”
This brought chuckles from around the room. Whiz Kid grinned sheepishly.
“Ol’ John’s got himself someone, too,” said a smiling Superboy.
“Really?” Coral said, almost sounding amazed.
“Quite a looker, too,” Batwing said.
Whiz Kid pulled out a wallet-sized photo and received several astonished gasps.
“How’d you manage to land a babe like that?!” Damage blurted.
“‘Cause he’s a little cutie,” Arrowette said, pinching Whiz Kid’s cheek and making him turn several shades of red.
“Her name’s Henrietta,” Whiz Kid.
“Like the…?” Coral started to say. Unable to think of anything to match what Whiz Kid had said, she sat down fuming.
“All right, enough yakking,” Ma Hunkel said. “Lets get this show on the road. If you kids make me miss Dynasty again, I’m gonna be royally ticked off.”
The members of the Junior JSA and guests sat around the table as Batwing called the meeting to order under the watchful eye of Ma Hunkel. Whiz Kid read the minutes from the last meeting, and then they moved on to new business.
“We have three new candidates for membership: Arrowette, Flare, and Star Sapphire. All in favor of Arrowette for membership in the Junior JSA, say aye.”
A resounding aye came from arround the table. “Unanimous,” Batwing said.
“All in favor of Flare joining?”
“Again unanimous,” Batwing said. “All in favor of Star Sapphire for membership in the Junior JSA?”
“That’s three for three,” Batwing said. “Like there was ever any doubt. Welcome to the Junior JSA.” Everyone gave the girls a round of applause.
Next, they went around the room and gave a report of their activities since the last meeting. Superboy had saved the residents of a Latin American village hit by an earthquake.
Batwing saved a youth from throwing away his future by becoming involved in street gangs. Subsequently, he also managed to head off a massive rumble by several of Gotham City’s largest gangs.
Damage managed to use his explosive powers to rescue miners trapped in a cave-in and reunited a father with a daughter who had pleaded, “Please, save my daddy.” It had prompted Damage into the best-controlled use of his abilities so far.
Coral had stopped a ruthless pack of whalers along with her brother, the second Aquaman, on her most recent visit to see him. Between the two of them, they managed to put them out of business.
Then they moved on to the new members. Arrowette and Flare told the story of how they rescued a billionaire’s kidnapped daughter.
Star Sapphire told of how she had exposed a con-artist who had used special effects to convince rich and foolish UFO enthusiasts that he could deliver a real-life experience with the extraterrestrial for the right price. She had used her own abilities to turn the tables on him and make him think that aliens were paying him a visit. It had scared him into an early retirement.
After they had all told their individual tales, they moved on to new business such as public appearances, charity events, and places where they just thought they could do some good.
After reciting the group affirmation, Batwing adjourned the meeting, and they divided into smaller groups to socialize for a little while longer. After that, the various members went their own way. All, that was, except for Damage, who went to the game room to practice for a rematch with Whiz Kid, and Coral, who went upstairs to dream some more about the new man in her life.