Jake tried to give Detective Franks his most winning smile. “Guys! Come on! This one wasn’t me. I don’t do armed robbery, you know that.”
Franks was unmoved. “Do you have an alibi?”
“I was home.”
“You got anyone that can confirm that?”
“Uh—” Jake looked around at the other cops in the squad room, feeling helpless. “No. I was alone.”
Franks smiled. “That’s too bad for you, Jake. This was a nasty one. You’re going back to prison.”
“Wait!” Jake groaned. “Okay, actually, I had someone over.” He gave a nervous laugh. “Look, I’ll be honest here. Last night, I was planning to rob the First Municipal Bank. It was the middle of the night, no people there, you guys know I don’t do anything when people are there! But then Fantastic Man showed up, you know, cape, mask, doing that keep-the-city-safe thing, and he busted me. And then he took me home, and after that I… stayed in.” Jake cleared his throat. “And he, um, stayed, too.”
Franks raised an eyebrow. “Doing what?”
“Well, uh, he gave me… a firm… talking to. And I took, uh… his advice to heart.”
Franks’s other eyebrow went up, along with those of just about everybody else in the squad room. The chatter ceased, all eyes on Jake.
“And how long did that take?” Franks wanted to know.
“Till about three? So you know, I wasn’t around to rob the 24-hour diner.”
Franks was still just staring at him. “Must have been some lecture.”
Jake nodded. “Yeah, he was sorry to have missed the notification about the diner robbery, I’ve told him to turn the sound up on his phone, when he’s… lecturing, but he forgets.”
Another cop had come over now. His name tag read Peterson. “So Fantastic Man lectures you often?” Peterson asked.
Jake fidgeted a little. “Oh, um, well… I seem to need a good lecture now and then.”
Frank snorted. “Yeah, nice try.” He nodded to Peterson. “Book him.”
“Guys!” Jake exclaimed, putting his hands up to hold them off. “Look, let me just call him.”
All the eyebrows went back up.
“You have Fantastic Man’s phone number,” said Franks, clearly skeptical.
“Oh, well, I mean, uh… it’s a burner. Of course. I wouldn’t have his actual—”
One of the other cops gave a derisive laugh. “So I suppose you know his secret identity, too.”
Jake laughed right back. It sounded kind of shrill, though. “Um— of course not! I mean, I’m a criminal. He’d never tell me that.”
“So when he lectures you he wears his mask?” This, of course, was Peterson again.
Jake just fumbled his phone out of his pocket and dialed a number. “Hey. It’s me. Um, I mean, it’s Jake. Jake Adams. No, I’m okay. I’m at the station. No, about the diner robbery. I told them that. Yeah, they want my alibi. Look, I’m sorry, I wouldn’t, except it was an armed robbery, and with my record… Um… I said we were… talking.” Jake sputtered a bit, trying not to blush in front of a room full of cops. “Yeah, that’s so funny, ha ha. No, you don’t have to come all the way here…” He groaned. “Okay. See you in a few.”
It wasn’t like it took Fantastic Man very long to get anywhere, what with his supersonic flight ability, but Jake felt like he stood there an age. He’d never been under interrogation by the entire police force before. He busied himself making sure a window was open, and a moment later, a man in a red cape and shining white outfit (complete with distractingly, fantastically tight pants) stepped over the sill.
He was immediately mobbed. “Oh, I see,” Jake muttered under his breath. “You just wanted to sign autographs.”
Fantastic Man had hearing that was, naturally, fantastic, and he gave Jake a smirk. The red mask hid the upper part of his face except for his eyes, but even with it on, he could be quite expressive.
“You weren’t really at his apartment, were you?” Franks asked, looking at Fantastic Man with a bit of awe.
Fantastic Man’s mouth twitched up in a bit of a smile, just for a second. “We had things to discuss,” he said.
“Important crime things!” Jake added quickly.
Fantastic Man was not fantastic at keeping a straight face. (To be fair, he was not really fantastic at keeping a straight anything.) In any case, he gave Jake a look that was rather fond, to Jake’s growing exasperation.
“Uh,” said Franks, eloquently. “Okay. We’ll let him go, I guess.”
And now Fantastic Man was apparently going to stand around with Jake while they did the paperwork. At least nobody else had super-hearing. “I heard about the volcano on the news,” Jake said, as quietly as he could. “You okay?”
Fantastic Man had a fantastic smile, bright and handsome. “I’m fine,” he said, just as softly. “You know, you left your jacket at my place. Do you want to grab it tonight? I can get take out from that restaurant you like in Italy.”
“Yeah, sounds good.” Jake fidgeted a bit. “Look, I’m really sorry about this.”
“Well, if you didn’t go around attempting burglaries you wouldn’t have this problem,” Fantastic Man pointed out, although he did look rather fond again.
Jake snorted. “As if we don’t both make our living from the same thing.”
Fantastic Man rolled his eyes. “Let’s leave the moral discussions for tonight.”
As soon as Franks waved at Jake, dismissing him, Jake shooed Fantastic Man back to the window.
“Try to stay out of trouble until then?” Fantastic Man asked.
Finally with his back turned to the cops, Jake relaxed a little. “Oh, you know how I love a good moral discussion,” he said with a grin. “But I make no promises.”