Happy new year y'all, and thank you to every one of you who has read, favorited, and reviewed this story. TVW passed 1,000,000 views right before 2019 ended. I never thought this story would be so popular, and I appreciate every single comment and PM I've ever received about this story (or any other!). This chapter in particular has been suggested several times by multiple readers, I hope you enjoy it, and I apologize in advance if you get the song stuck in your head. -Archie
"Have you seen that Disney princess movie that came out recently?" Danny asked between exhausted pants as his back slid down the cement wall until he was sitting on the pavement. Today's regimen had been harder than ever– Jason had not held back during their sparring session and Danny had just barely managed to stay on the defense.
His mentor stared at him blankly as he unwound his hand wraps. "Do I look like someone who would have?"
Danny shrugged half-heartedly. "I never assume at this point. Harley's been singing "Let It Go" almost non-stop for the past three days."
Jason huffed in what Danny took to be a laugh. "And that surprises you because…" He tossed his wraps to the side of the small makeshift gym before picking up a pair of water bottles and handing one to Danny, who sighed in relief as he pressed the cold water bottle against his head.
"Because I got a request file today from a little girl who wants to meet Gotham's ice prince, Mr. Freeze." Danny smirked as Jason choked on the water he had been drinking when he realized who that meant. "Yeah, that was my reaction too."
"You've got your work cut out for you on that one."
As it turned out, finding Mr. Freeze was one of his easier cases. For starters, Ivy had his number.
"We had a team up once. Not our best looks. I don't want to talk about it." That was all she had been willing to say on the matter before forwarding the number to him.
He had not been expecting a woman to pick up when he called. "Uh… excuse me, but would you happen to be an associate of Mr. Freeze? My name is Danny Johnson, I'm trying to contact him."
"Oh, are you that 'villain wrangler' fellow they've been talking about? My foundation has heard a lot about you!"
That phrase had been going around faster than he liked, and it seemed like he was going to be stuck with it at this point…. But dwelling on it now didn't help with his current confusion over who had answered the phone. "So... you're not Mr. Freeze though, right?"
"Sorry for the confusion! I'm Nora Fries, Dr. Fries' wife. I run a non-profit for research on rare illnesses. Why don't you come down to our laboratory, you can meet with both of us there. We'll see you in a bit!"
Danny had had several strange phone calls by this point, but somehow, this mundane one had managed to be the most surreal of them all. He stared blankly at the wall for several moments after Mrs. Fries had hung up, and apparently it was long enough for Harley to snap her fingers in front of his face to make sure he was still awake. "Hello? Still alive in there?"
Danny pushed her hand away amusedly. "Yes, thank you very much."
"So what'd he say?"
"Well, it wasn't a he, but apparently I'm expected downtown at their laboratory to meet soon."
Harley gasped. "Was it Nora?"
His eyebrows furrowed. "How did you know?"
"Don't you know? We have a Gotham girl's night out every two months!" She squealed in excitement, taking her phone out of her hoodie pocket to show him her lock screen photo. He leaned forward to look closer at the picture of the group of women clustered around a bar, all raising drinks in celebration. Harley, Ivy and Selina were all there, but Danny was also surprised to see Cassandra, Barbara, Zatanna, and three other women he didn't recognize. "See? That's Nora there!" Her finger pointed towards the only other blonde in the photo. "Let's go already! We'll get drinks on the way."
"Woah, woah– who said you were coming along?" He jumped up off the couch seconds after Harley had already begun rushing around the room to grab her shoes and her favorite metal bat. "Harley– hey, Harley!" He wasn't nearly as organized as she was, and was still putting on his left shoe when she was heading out the door.
"Hurry up, slow poke!"
The two of them arrived at Fries for the Future at the same time (Harley hadn't felt like taking Gotham transit, and so Danny had found her waiting for him next to his car in the parking garage). She did skip into the business ahead of him; by the time he entered the lobby, Harley was already sucking on a free lollipop from the front desk while the receptionist phoned Mrs. Fries to come down.
Nora Fries was tall and blonde, almost to the point of having white hair. She wore a matching blue jacket and dress suit, and the only accessory he could spot was her wedding ring, which twinkled in the light as she shook his hand.
"Nice to meet you, Mr. Johnson! And Harley!" She welcomed Harley's excited hug. "I haven't seen you in a few weeks, how have you been?"
Harley pouted dramatically as she pulled away from Nora. "I finally finished Game of Thrones."
Nora patted her on the shoulder consolingly, despite her amused smile. "I did warn you. We'll go out for coffee later this week and we can talk all about it then. For now, let's go down to my husband's lab– he's expecting you, Mr. Johnson."
It really felt like they were going to a stereotypical secret lair. Once in the lobby's elevator, Nora had placed her thumb on what Danny first assumed was a magnetic card reader, but was really a fingerprint scanner. The floor "B2" appeared on the screen, much to his surprise since there was no button labeled with it, and the elevator began to descend.
After the doors opened, they exited the elevator and stepped into a long, plain hallway. Nora stopped them outside of what looked very similar to a bank vault door, and handed them each a thick winter-style jacket from where a row of jackets hung on hooks next to the door. "You'll want to put these on before we go into his lab," she explained. Danny wasn't about to argue, so after the three of them had shrugged them on, Nora punched a code in the door's keypad lock and opened the door. A blast of cold air chilled Danny immediately to the bones as fog seeped into the hallway.
"Victor! You have visitors!" Nora called as she led them into the below-freezing lab.
"Just a second, darling," a deep voice called from the back of the lab.
Nora sighed, her breath condensing heavily. "Victor, dear."
Dr. Victor Fries looked up from a microscope on the far side of the room as the three of them entered his lab. Danny had seen pictures of Mr. Freeze in the news before, but this was the first time he had seen him without his domed helmet on before. He was surprised to see the man actually had a slight blue tinge to his skin– he always thought it was an effect of his helmet. However, said helmet and cryo-suit were currently lying on a table to one side of the room, next to a table full of small, cryogenic chambers.
"You know Harley, of course, and this is Danny Johnson from World of Wishes," Nora introduced them to her husband as he left his lab station and walked over to them. He paused to gently brush his wife's arm before turning to observe them.
"Harley." Victor's eyes slightly narrowed in annoyance as she jauntily waved at him, before turning to look at Danny. The scientist seemed amused by his shivering from the cold. "Mr. Johnson, you were looking for me?"
Danny could feel his teeth chattering as he began to talk, and knew he wanted to keep this as short as possible. "A young girl named Jenna is a patient at Gotham Children's undergoing a treatment you created and she wanted to meet you next week, especially because you have ice powers like her favorite Disney princess, Elsa."
Victor glanced at Nora briefly. "I think it'd be a wonderful idea," she said with a reassuring smile.
"If you insist, dear," Victor smiled slightly as he looked back at Nora, who grinned and leaned in to kiss his cheek. "But you will have to join me."
"I'm gonna get a cavity from somethin' sweet, and it ain't this lollipop!" Harley said in a rather loud stage-whisper to Danny. He closed his eyes and tipped his head back in defeat as Harley innocently smiled back at Dr. Fries' glare.
"We'll wait out in the hall," Danny muttered as he ushered Harley out they way they came.
Observing Mr. Freeze interact with a young girl wearing a Princess Elsa dress was one of the more amusing visits Danny had set up while in his position. The man was a brilliant scientist, but he didn't seem to know quite how to act around children. When Jenna had ran up and hugged Dr. Fries when he entered (despite his cold cryo-suit), the man had awkwardly patted her head before looking pleadingly at his wife for help. Nora managed to convince the young girl off of him, and soon Jenna was practically bouncing off the walls between questioning Fries about his powers and bursting into song every few minutes (and if Danny had to hear "Let it Go" one more time after this, he might scream).
That said, Dr. Fries was more interactive than Danny thought he would be. He demonstrated his freeze gun on a jug of water and a few small items for Jenna, and even let her test it out for herself… she did freeze a chair instead of the pencil lying on it, but luckily didn't hit anything else. Surprisingly, after seeing how interested Jenna was with his freeze gun, Dr. Fries had sat down on the bed next to her and explained how it functioned. It was clear the five-year-old was captivated by the impromptu lesson, even if she might not have understood everything he said. Based on the excited gleam in her eyes, there was definitely a budding scientist in the room.
Jenna wasn't the only one to take something away from the visit. While Danny knew that Dr. Fries valued hearing from the doctors and nurses caring for Jenna on how his treatment had fared, the scientist seemed more pleased by Jenna's gift of a stack of drawings.
"See? There's me with your freeze gun, woosh!, and you with a bigger freeze gun I helped you make!" Jenna pointed each detail out proudly when she first held it up for her idol to see. "And here we are meeting a polar bear because we helped freeze his home again! And here we are making a snow day so my sister doesn't have to go to school and she can play with us! And here…"
Dr. Fries had sat and gently accepted each drawing she gave him, even commenting on certain scenes when she paused for a breath during her descriptions. Once every picture was in his hands, he gave her a small smile (which was astounding because Danny wasn't sure the man was even used to smiling at anyone other than Nora). "These will go on the wall of my laboratory when I return to it. Thank you, Jenna."
Together, Jenna's wide grin and Dr. Fries' smile lit up the room.