#TorchedSelfie

December 09, 2015:

Johnny Storm botches a PR stunt, only to pull off a viral photo(bomb).

Midtown Manhattan, NYC

Characters

NPCs: PR Girl, various onlookers.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Four hours ago, Johnny Storm left the midtown Bank of America branch with a sullen expression; his loan application had been declined. Reason? Debt to income ratio.

Three hours ago, Johnny Storm was on the phone at a Starbucks, dialing two of his three publicity managers, desperately trying to drum up some PR for the latest box office flop: The Fantastic Four.

Now:

An area just outside Times Square has been roped off. A table sits covered by blue fabric, and a pair of large objects are also draped with blue fabric. The area sits quietly for some time, guarded by a single overweight security guard with an 'Allied-Barton' badge.

That is, until a fireball comes streaking down from the sky, directly toward the roped off area!

"Whoo hoooooooo!" The Human Torch strikes ground within the safety of the display. Landing in a three-point stance, with his left arm out to the side for balance, a ball of fire leaps out and strikes the blue fabric, setting it ablaze. Within seconds, the fire goes out, leaving behind two large movie displays and a table filled with advance order Blu-Ray and DVD releases; a limited number at $60- and $40 bucks a pop, to be hand signed by The Human Torch himself.

The flames go out, leaving Johnny Storm standing proudly in his blue uniform. "DVD signing!" he calls out to alarmed passersby.

*

It's not a bad day out for early December; in fact, it's almost mild. It's a good day to wander about the city, taking time to explore or visit places one particularly likes, or merely to people-watch. It's early yet to be conducting business and Jason couldn't sleep in anymore, so…why not experience the city?

He's currently sauntering down the sidewalk when the hubbub happens. Blinking a couple of times, he makes a detour towards the apparent DVD signing and leans in some as if making a show of seeing what's being signed.

"Wasn't this movie supposed to suck?" is asked the nearest onlooker.

*

It's not like the Justice League gives out secret decoder rings. But it's still pretty sweet being associated with that organization of notables. Caitlin's stepping out on the sidewalk with a vastly refreshed self-confidence. No more solo act for this girl! She gets to work regularly with the heroes she's idolized since childhood, /and/ she finally has a hero outfit that doesn't look like a strippergram outfit.

And then someone sets the friggin' sidewalk on fire. Cries of alarm and fear snap Caitlin's head around, her attention focusing on the blaze that's turning into a pyre across the sidewalk.

"Relax, citizens!" she declares in her best impression of Carol Danvers/Wonder Woman. "Stay calm!"

She spots a fire extinguisher inside the Starbucks next to her and grabs it, then with one big jump vaults four lanes of traffic and comes down squarely in the middle of the display area, fearless of the flames. She rips the safety cord out, squeezes the handle, and just at that moment, hears 'DVD sales!' coming from the fellow in front of her, whom she has now hit with fire retardant from the knees down.

"Uh… what?" she says, blinking as the fires elsewhere put themselves out. "Is… is this some kind of viral thing?"

*

"Well, yeah, I saw it," a young man tells Jason. "It did suck, but the special effects were rad."

He seems to be ignoring the general hubbub that has come from the Human Torch's dramatic arrival.

Storm looks around, slackjawed, as a number of people scamper away, holding their loved ones or their young. There are those who are brave enough, or perhaps too jaded by simply being New Yorkers, who either ignore the display or wander closer to take a look, but he's mostly surprised by the fear his arrival has caused.

In this surprise, he's entirely caught off guard by Caitlin's arrival, until she's there in front of him. He turns around, flames already dispelled, only to find his legs and feet engulfed in foam. "Huh? Oh maaaan." He looks up to Caitlin, frowning. "Dude. I mean, dudette. This sucks… so hard." He'll only be able to 'flame on' from the waist up now!

Those who haven't scampered away in fear are now snickering and laughing amongst themselves. One pedestrian calls out, "Flame on, buddy! Flame on!" eliciting more laughter.

Storm's face… is now bright red.

"No," he mutters to Caitlin. "It's… a marketing event." A gloved hand comes up to scratch at his neck. "Kind of a… last minute thing, and such." Blue eyes turn away to look at those on the other side of the rope, including Jason, and clearly, the young man is embarrassed.

*

Jason Todd leaps back as the heroine comes in with the Fire extinguisher so that he doesn't get hit by the stuff. There's a pause as he takes in what just happened and somehow manages to hold in his laughter. Maybe it has something to do with the guy's embarassment.

"Kudos to you," is offered blithely to Caitlin, "But I think maybe you shot first before asking questions. Thought you folks were trained to do things the other way…"

*

Caitlin is fast turning as beet red as Johnny as the truth of it washes over her. "Oh. Oh god. I am so sorry," she tells him, setting the fire extinguisher aside. She fidgets, then tries to start wiping the worst of the retardant foam off of his legs, flicking her fingers to the side and sending vaguely greenish retardant splattering against the ground. "Gee whiz, I thought, like, there was some kind of accident or something," she assures Johnny. "I didn't see the F4 sign- sorry, Mister Storm," she tells him apologetically. "I really—" she turns and narrows her eyes at Jason's commentary. "I was /trying to help/," she says, a bit acidly. "Someone being on fire is kind of a bad thing, y'know?" She straightens up and starts looking for a towel or something, then with a resigned look wipes her palms on her mil-surp jumpsuit.

*

Storm's eyes move directly toward Jason, then back to Caitlin. It's unclear for a moment whether he can go redder, until she begins wiping at his legs, at which point it's proven that beet can become fire (fortunately not literally in this case), and he blushes fiercer still. "Hey, you know, it's okay, really. You don't have to - ee!" He takes a staggering step back. "That tickles!"

About this time, a young woman with red hair done up in a ponytail comes running over, tablet it hand, bluetooth in her ear, and a scowl on her face. "Mister Storm!" she calls out, then ducks beneath the rope and yanks him off to the side.

"I told you this was a bad idea," the P.R. agent murmurs to him. "I would show you the tweets that are firing across the internet about this, but you look embarrassed enough already."

Storm looks hesitantly to Caitlin and Jason, desperation evident in his eyes. He double takes between the two, then looks back at the agent, whispering, "What do I do?"

"Shut it down. Right now. I'll pack it up, just… just go clean off your legs and get out of here."

With a sigh, Storm walks back over toward Caitlin and Jason, apology in his eyes. "Guess, uh, the DVD signing is gonna be cancelled," he tells them. "But, tell you what. I'll, uh, comp you each one, for being friendly. DVD, or Blu-Ray?"

*

"Except for the fact that we have well-known hero-types who are on fire all the time? Case in point…" Jason offers, bemused by this. He notes Storm's embarassment still and gives a wave of his hand, "Hey, it happens. Look at it this way: It's still publicity, right? I bet you can turn this around somehow…" he looks to the PR agent as if daring her to come up with something.

When the DVD is offered, he thinks for a moment before offering, "Thanks…I don't really watch movies. But how about you donate my copy to a Children's Hospital or something?"

*

Caitlin still scowls a bit at Jason, but his suggestion about the donation sounds like a good one. "I- yeah, mine, too," she tells Johnny, a bit regretfully at letting merchandise (signed-!) out of her hands. She immediately brightens, though, as a thought occurs to her. "Hey, can I get a selfie with you though?" she asks of him. "I totally collect selfies and throw them on Instagram— I had like, ten thousand followers a couple years ago, and then after I got one with Superman /and/ Wonder Woman, I've got like… three hundred thousand. Please?" she pleads, clutching her cell phone to her chest and making her green eyes as big and doeish as possible.

*

The PR agent looks to Jason, frowning. One could tell her gears are already at work, but after a few moments, she lets loose an exasperated sigh and gets to work at taking down the banners.

"That's a good idea," Johnny Storm tells Jason, and immediately sets one of the Blu-ray's aside. A second one is swiped over when Caitlin donates hers up for charity, and he looks at the two with a relieved smile. "I'm gonna see if I can't… somehow… spin this, like you said," he tells Jason, and is about to say something else when Caitlin asks him for a selfie.

At that, Johnny Storm smiles.

Big.

"Three… hundred… thousand?" He casts a smirk Jason's way, then sidles up toward her. "Alright, but you have to promise me, use hashtag #FantasticFourNYC."

"That's 'FantasticFour2015'," the PR agent barks.

"Right, 2015, not NYC. Ugh!"

Now, there's something niggling the back of Storm's mind, as if he's seen Caitlin around somewhere before, but that's a terrible pick up line, even for him, so he keeps quiet about it. Instead, when she's ready to pose, he murmurs toward her, "Don't be too alarmed when I flame up, okay? I can control it, you won't feel a thing. Promise."

*

Jason Todd merely smirks at the PR agent in response to her frown. He's done his good deed for the day, no need to string it out more than he needs to. At the whole selfie conversation, he merely rolls his eyes and seems about leave when he's paused by an idea.

The Selfie is about to be photobombed…just enough that those who know what to look for might recognize him.

*

"Okay, great! Hang on, lemme just get the ol' costume out." Caitlin unzips the front of her jumpsuit halfway and rolls it quickly down to her waist, shrugging out of it. And holy moly, there's no wonder she's got 300k+ followers- she's built like the proverbial brick wall, and she has the physique of a professional fitness model to boot, wearing a green-and-purple leotard with short sleeves and a stylized CF over her left breast. She gives Johnny a wary look when she whispers to him, but starts positioning the camera anyway.

The redhead yelps a bit in an amused/startled fashion when he turns into a living matchhead, but it turns into a pealing giggle when she realizes she's not bursting into flame.

"Okay, hang on…" she works her smartphone and holds it at arm's length, putting on a face of extreme glee/surprise, and holding up a 'v' with her fingers, with Johnny over one shoulder and Jason over the other, a bit more in the background. "Got it!" she crows, not spotting the 'extra' photobombing her selfie right away.

*

It's entirely possible that, when Caitlin revealed her costume, Johnny Storm may have 'flamed on' a bit more quickly than he'd intended.

"Whooo!" he mock-shouts when the flames engulf him, followed soon by laughter. In the split moment before she snaps the photo, the Human Torch drapes his arm around the woman's bare shoulder! His promise rings true; he has enough control over his fire form to prevent from burning Caitlin or even causing discomfort, beyond the warmness that builds steadily, like holding one's hand underneath warm water as it runs hotter and hotter. He flings up his flaming other hand, and a stylized '4' insignia appears in flame, just in time for the camera shutter sound to fill the air.

Johnny whips his hand away before it can grow too hot, and in a split second, the fire is extinguished. "So, uh, can you, um… crop me out below the waist? Before you post it?" he asks. "Not that I'm, like, ashamed of what's below the waist, but with the flame retardant, stuff, you know."

There he goes, blushing again.

Meanwhile, the PR agent's expression perks, and she rushes over, moving in between Johnny and Caitlin before he can embarrass himself any further. "Hey. Ten pounds of good karma if you tag that '#TorchedSelfie'. Oh, and tag it 'V'. Don't ask, okay, just… do it?"

Why? Because, perverts, that's why.

Meanwhile, Johnny spies Jason Todd's photobombing efforts, and reaches out to throw the man a well-practiced high five.

*

He didn't necessarily intend for his photobomb to be a secret…those who need to see it may or may not see it, but it's one step closer. The high-five is returned, Jason seemingly unafraid of the flames. After all, he did see how he controlled it for the selfie. He'll slip out of the way, however, as the PR agent comes over to talk about how to post it.

"Good luck," is offered to Johnny, and maybe to Caitlin and the PR agent before he saunters off, back to his own business.

Now he just gets to wait and see if anything comes of the seemingly harmless photobomb.

*

"Yeah, yeah, hang on," Caitlin mutters, head craned over her cell phone. It's a non-standard model, the sort that StarkTech sells to registered heroes for much less than retail (and has generous warranty/replacement plans). She brushes her collar-length hair back from her face with one hand while the PR agent natters in her ear, unaware of the congratulatory high-fiving behind her. "Wait, okay, hashtag… hashtag… what's 'V'?" she asks the agent, stooping just a little to listen while she finishes cropping the photo as per Johnny's request. Shedutifully tags in the various hashes requested and then captions it and sends it off to her various online accounts. Moments later, a *ding* comes from whomever's got Johnny's PR account on their phone as the photo pops up.

"Okay, that's great! Wow, this is like the best selfie ever," Caitlin beams at Johnny, glancing once at Jason as the other man slips off incognitus. "Total action shot. Hah! Beat /that/, Batgirl," she crows.

"I'm Instagram friends with Batgirl. She posts such legit stuff."

*

"V. Roman numeral five." The PR girl is quickly trying to hide her shameless antics. "It's like the newer, better 100 thing. Trust me, apple's gonna have it in their next Emoji download." Then, she's off to continue rustling up the promotional goods and packing them away.

Now with his flames extinguished, Johnny gives Jason a rueful grin. "Thanks, bro. I need as much of that I can get." Next, he retrieves a cell phone from the safety of a pouch in his high tech uniform. He eyes it, does a quick search, then smiles big when he sees the photo. "Oh, solid. I'm'a retweet that, and re-IG that, and post it on Facebook!" His fingers bat over the screen while doing the dirty deed, and within moments, Caitlin has a 'follow' notification on her own Instagram account from @HumanTorchF4. "Batgirl, huh? Maybe that's what I need to do, some cross promo across the river. Reed would kill me for going off our turf, though," he thinks aloud.

There's a part of him still bothered by that itching recognition. He'll have to research it later, but for now, he turns to look up at Caitlin and offers a hand. "My real name's Johnny, Johnny Storm. Not like I hide it or anything, but, you know. You can call me Johnny." He's making it a big point not to stare at her uniform, for even though he's interested in the insignia, its placement would totally give the wrong idea.

*

"Yeah, I know," Caitlin admits, ducking her head a bit bashfully. "I mean… I'm kinda a hero nerd," she confesses, brushing her hair back from her face again. She frowns at offending strands and reaches for a scrunchy, tying back the bulk of it with a few quick motions, and then hurriedly shakes the proferred hand. Her grip is exaggeratedly gentle, clearly careful not to apply any kind of force at all, but it doesn't give one bit under Johnny's fingers.

"I know all about you guys— the Fantastic Four, I mean. I'm not a big- I mean, I'm not a big shot hero like y'all are," she says, "but after I sort of popped up on the scene I tried to keep up with it as much as possible. I help edit Superpedia's list of active heroes," she says, proudly, "and I know all the registered codenames, too, so it's not like 'Oh hey, Human Torch, how's it going'," she says with a vague gesture. "It's still freaky though. I hang out with Carol Danvers, like, all the time, and she's like… /so/ cool," Caitlin says, in hero-worshipping tones.

*

Storm laughs. A hero nerd! How cool! "Hey, at least someone thinks we still got it," he remarks. "What's your code name? I mean, you've got to have a code name, right?"

He's distracted by the PR agent, who's now done packing up shop and is staring at him expectantly.

"Oh! Hey, gotta run. DM me sometime, yeah?" Then, he crouches down and smirks. "Flame on," he tells Caitlin, before bursting into flame and vaulting upward, leaving a small jet of fire behind him and a wash of heat that dissipates quickly. The Human Torch soars up to the tops of the skyscrapers above, then banks off and heads toward the Baxter Building at breakneck speed.

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