Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters from Teen Titans. I'm just playing in DC's sandbox.
AN: I'm glad y'all are enjoying this so far-thank you so much for the reviews. :smiles:
Thanks go to Le Bibliothecaire and Red Lasbelin for beta-reading.
Fool Me Once...
Darkness slipped over Jump City as night fell. Streetlights, neon signs, and headlights lit up the city with a dazzling array of twinkling lights and colors. The frantic rush of day was over, leaving the streets free for people out for an evening stroll, late night diners, and…criminals.
Not that Jinx was sure she still fitted in the latter category.
She'd been wandering the streets for a while now, struggling with the conflicting thoughts and emotions roiling inside her. Stupid Kid Flash, she thought angrily. It's all his fault. She had been quite comfortable with the way she was, thank you very much. She didn't need a speedy superhero to suddenly zip into her life and proclaim she could do better. What did he know?
It wasn't like they'd actually met before. He didn't know anything about her—Other than the fact I draw unicorns, she admitted grudgingly. Scowling, she hexed an empty soda can lying on the sidewalk. The pink bolt briefly illuminated her slender figure before sending the can flying into the distance. There isn't anything wrong with my liking unicorns. I'm a girl, aren't I? Why'd he have to act like it was such a surprise?
Still scowling, it occurred to her that she might want to consider heading back now. Her fellow Hive Five members had been rather worried by her prolonged absences the past few weeks, though they hadn't dared to actually come out and say anything. She had told them she was taking some time off and that was that. Reflexively, Jinx glanced up, scanning the night sky for any trace of See-More's giant eye floating around. It would be just like him to come trailing after her regardless of her orders.
The fact that fresh red roses still appeared periodically during her absence bothered her teammates. They had taken great delight in disposing of the flowers and didn't seem to mind the fact that Jinx could have hexed them to the moon for entering her room without permission. She'd certainly thought about it, but realized that the fact that they couldn't stand Kid Flash temporarily outweighed their common sense.
Well, she couldn't fault them for that, seeing as how she couldn't stand him either.
Liar, a voice in her head whispered.
Jinx's eyes flashed pink and she clenched her fists. She wasn't going down that path. How dare he waltz into her life and start suggesting she change! How dare he act so noble and attempt to convince her to switch sides! Furthermore—and worst of all, in her mind—how dare he act like he cared!
No one cares!
Seething, Jinx turned on her heel and stomped back the way she came, too angry to feel the chilly wind slapping her face. Three blocks down the road, her stomach reminded her that it hadn't been fed since that morning and she groaned in frustration. In all likelihood, by the time she got back to Hive Headquarters, everything would probably be gone. Mammoth couldn't help himself.
Good thing the coffee shop is open late, she though wearily.
A few minutes later, she was standing at the counter ordering a bowl of vegetable soup and a mug of hot chocolate. Robbing restaurants was a heck of a lot harder than robbing armored vehicles; she didn't even bother trying. Especially not with a nagging voice in her head that sounded suspiciously like Kid Flash. She scowled again as she made her way to the back corner of the coffee shop, adjusting a purple sari over her pink hair. Why couldn't he just stay out of her head?
She looked up when a rather tired-looking waitress set the bowl of soup and mug of chocolate before her. "Here ya go, hon. Enjoy." Instead of leaving, the woman leaned towards Jinx and asked in a lighter voice, "So, did Kid Flash really walk you home this afternoon? How'd you meet him?" She winked at Jinx.
Jinx had been about to take a tentative mouthful of soup, but at the waitress's words, she froze, spoon halfway to her mouth. "What?"
The waitress chuckled. "Oh, come on, kid. You were in here for lunch, sitting right here," she nodded towards the table, "and he's suddenly walking in and sitting down at your table like he knows you."
For a split-second, Jinx's mind was completely blank. Then it began to work again, processing this odd information. Something was not right here…perhaps it would be best to play along and figure out what was going on. "Oh, right," she said awkwardly. "Yeah, sorry, it's been a long day."
"So did he walk you home?" The waitress kept one eye on Jinx and one on the door.
Jinx managed a nod. "Sure did. Then he had to take off again—something about a cat stuck up in a tree." She rolled her eyes and shrugged. "You know, normal superhero things." She dipped her spoon back into her soup and swirled it absently.
"That's sweet." The waitress looked like she would have said more, but the door jangled and she hurried off.
Though Jinx was still hungry, her appetite was completely gone. She stared down at the potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, celery, cabbage, green beans, corn, and lima beans all jumbled up in the fragrant broth in her bowl without really seeing them. I had lunch here today and left with Kid Flash?
How was that possible?
She'd deliberately avoided him for three weeks. For three lovely, crazy weeks, there had been no roses popping up (except back at the Hive Five building) and no sudden gusts of wind around her for no apparent reason. Going to ground for a while had been a good idea.
Still… she thought, since I actually paid for it... She ate the soup mechanically, still trying to figure out how it was possible for her to have been in the coffee shop with Kid Flash when she'd actually been blocks away holed up in the library drawing unicorns.
I don't have a twin. She cast a glance at the waitress. And there can't be that many people in Jump City who have pink hair. Frowning, she began to sip the hot chocolate. Kid Flash wanted to walk me home?
Is he nuts?
Well, the answer to that was obvious. Of course he was nuts. He'd have to be nuts to be even remotely interested in her. Don't go there, Jinx, she warned herself. You've got a bad track record when it comes to liking the good guys. Although…come to think of it…Cyborg had never actually tried to show her the benefits of being on the other side. Apparently, attempting something like that was another of Kid Flash's quirks.
Jinx drained the last of her chocolate and set the mug back down none too gently. She didn't want his sympathy or help—she didn't need it. I'm bad luck. Good was never an option for me. Why couldn't he just accept that and get on with his life? More importantly, why couldn't he just let her get on with her life? Just because she'd let him out of the containment field before Madame Rouge—
She froze. Madame Rouge?
Madame Rouge was a shape shifter. She couldn't duplicate powers, but she could turn herself into an exact copy of another individual. I didn't leave with Kid Flash—Madame Rouge did!
Her heart gave an odd little lurch. Obviously the woman was a little more bent on revenge than she'd thought. But why disguise herself as me? she wondered, staring at the wall opposite her table. Unless…
Unless she knows Kid Flash has a weakness where I'm concerned.
Jinx was suddenly quite glad she was sitting down. Her legs felt like they were made of jelly. Of course Madame Rouge knew he seemed to have a soft spot for her. She must have used the guise before. Her mind flashed back to the last time she'd actually talked to Kid Flash—the night in the warehouse. Hadn't he asked her if she was really Jinx?
So Madame Rouge has him. Big deal. Why do I care? She slouched in her chair, folding her arms across her chest.
She'll kill him, her conscience argued. Or she'll hand him over to someone else so they can kill him.
Jinx considered that and found she didn't particularly like the thought of Kid Flash lying dead in an alley somewhere, those bright blue eyes of his closed forever…his red hair drenched with his own blood…
Stop it, you're getting sentimental.
She scowled at her empty soup bowl and Madame Rouge's voice drifted through her mind. You vill not feed him, you vill not speak to him, and I trust you are holding him in a Level 4 containment field?
Her expression flickered. If the shapeshifter caught him off guard, it was unlikely he'd had a chance to run himself ragged. On the other hand, containment fields were rough on the body. Jinx bit her lip. It was close to nine p.m.—if he'd been captured around lunchtime, then he would have been in a containment field for at least eight hours. Madame Rouge would show no mercy.
But do I care? He's just another one of those do-gooders out to make my life miserable.
The waitress returned for her empty dishes, but Jinx didn't notice. She was staring off into the distance, her calm exterior belying the war raging within. Yes, he'd made her life more difficult in many respects—even when they managed to avoid the Titans it was hard to successfully carry out a heist when someone breezed by and returned everything they'd taken—but he'd offered her a way out. Nobody else had ever done that before.
Kid Flash was cocky, arrogant, too sure of himself, and frustratingly persistent, not to mention irritatingly fast. One the other hand, a small part of her found his persistence flattering and she thought it amazing that he even bothered. So many others would have simply given her up as a lost cause.
That was where the real dilemma began.
Regardless of his statement that he worked alone, Jinx knew he must have allies and friends. Surely they'd be out looking for him. With them on the job, she didn't really need to worry about him, did she?
But, a small voice in her mind argued, would they actually find him? Would they know where to look? More importantly, would they even know he was gone until it was too late? Lost in thought, she drummed her fingers against the lacquered surface of the table.
"Miss? We're closing now."
Jinx came to herself then. "Right." With a nod to the waitress, she stepped outside into the night. Tugging her coat more closely about her body, she moved automatically towards the Hive Five building. Her mind quickly slipped back into planning mode, though she kept an ear out for anything out of the ordinary.
If I save Kid Flash, am I turning my back on my world? She didn't think she wanted to be a part of his do-gooder world. He might accept her, but she could think of a handful of people—the Teen Titans chief among them—who probably wouldn't be as understanding. It wasn't time for burning bridges.
That question occupied her attention all the way back home. When she passed through the common area, where two copies of Billy Numerous sat playing a race car game with Gizmo, they noticed her almost immediately and breathed audible sighs of relief. Kid Wycked gave her a thumbs-up on his way to bed, she passed Mammoth in the kitchen, contemplating what to eat as a snack, and she came across See-More polishing his many eyeballs. He waved and returned to his task.
Once in her room, Jinx locked the door and sat down to finish thinking. She knew where the Brotherhood of Evil's main base was located—she had spent time digging up the information just in case she ever had the chance to make a grand entrance. Would Madame Rouge actually go to all the trouble of taking him there in a stasis field? If she had a vehicle stashed away somewhere nearby, it was entirely possible.
Jinx stared at the empty vase sitting on her mended dresser. If she was going to slip out and attempt a one-woman rescue mission, now was the time to do it. Her team members knew she didn't usually go back out after coming in unless they were on a heist—which they weren't. No one was likely to bother her until the next morning, by which time she planned to be back.
Slowly, Jinx folded her sari and laid it in a drawer. Then she took a deep breath, closed her eyes, and made her decision.
She wasn't going to rescue Kid Flash because she liked him—or because she agreed with him or wanted to join him…. She was going to rescue him because she couldn't stand the thought of Madame Rouge winning this game. Especially when she makes herself look like me to do it, she thought grimly.
Grabbing a set of keys from their hiding place in the pillowcase of her bottom pillow, Jinx softly opened her door and slipped out. Gizmo had set the alarms as usual, but she was able to get past without any problems, and quickly made her way to the garage.
Selecting a rather plain four-door Gizmo had not yet tricked out with all sorts of neat gadgets, Jinx slipped into it and started the motor. As she pulled out into the road beyond their underground parking complex, a grim smile flitted across her face and her cat-like eyes gleamed brightly.
I'm going to get in there, rescue Kid Flash, and be out before Madame Rouge even realizes what happened. That'll teach her to use me and underestimate me.
It was a pleasant thought.
Hope y'all enjoyed! Don't forget to let me know what you thought. Reviews are brain food.