Author: katfairy PM
Be wary of wousing a witch's wath- er, rousing a ritch's rath- oh, slaggit, be careful of making a magician angry! Especially if they have strange ideas about what Real Witches are like...Rated: Fiction T - English - Fantasy/Humor - Chapters: 3 - Words: 14,065 - Reviews: 56 - Favs: 48 - Follows: 50 - Updated: 06-26-12 - Published: 01-08-05 - id: 2211267
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Just a note before I start- most of my original characters are based upon people I've met; generally they are amalgams of various individuals. The characters in this story are no different.
And yes, that statement is meant to be alarming. It means that there really are people like that out there...
The appearance of this story doesn't mean I've given up on the others. This is just one of the plotbunnies I mentioned in the author's note for chapter 24 of Beyond Knightfall; it spawned from something I've got planned for the fourth story set in the Sisterhood-verse. It was originally supposed to be sent to a Halloween short story contest, but when that didn't happen (long, irrelevant, and annoying story), I expanded it a bit. It won't be anywhere near as long as Beyond Knightfall; I don't intend for this to run more than four chapters.
Credit where credit is due- I didn't invent anyone you recognise. The system of magic used is cobbled together from various sources, with one or two of my own ideas thrown in for good measure. Diane Duane created the rules and languages for a few of the groups Terry encounters, although this isn't really a crossover. "The horde", with one exception, is all mine.
Points to anyone who gets the reference in the title; if nobody does, I'll explain at the end of the story.
It was a dark and stormy night. As usual. There were times when Bruce Wayne honestly wondered if Gotham had any other kind. When he could be bothered to put much thought into it he knew that Gotham's weather was merely a result of prevailing winds tending to funnel all local weather systems directly over the city, but the fact of the matter was that whatever the cause, Gotham still had the worst weather of any city on the East Coast.
And if I'm wasting time puzzling this out again, I must be very bored, Bruce told himself. Checking his watch for the 6th time that evening, he started to feel the first pangs of worry. When Terry was going to be later than usual, he called. Granted, the boy was only half an hour late at this point- not even close to a record for someone who couldn't walk across a street without finding trouble- but it was exactly that record that had Bruce considering calling him.
He was just starting to reach for the phone when the doorbell rang. Bruce frowned, trying to think who would bother ringing the bell. Or, for that matter, could evade the gate and all of the other security measures and would bother ringing the bell.
The bell rang again, prompting him to put off speculation on the identity of his visitor and take a more practical approach to the mystery; namely, answering the blasted door.
The bell rang twice more as he made his way down the hall. Whoever was at the door wasn't leaning on the bell, but seemed to think that a short burst at intervals of thirty seconds was equally effective. Bruce was already formulating plans to dissuade them from continuing the habit, starting with opening the door wearing the look Terry called (but didn't know Bruce had heard him say so) the Dark Knight Death Glare.
The glare dropped from his face as he saw the bell-ringer. In fact, if he hadn't witnessed it with his own eyes, he'd have looked around for the prankster (not joker, never joker) who had really been doing the ringing. But no- he had opened the door just in time to see the cat jump up and hit the doorbell with its paw. The cat then proceeded to take advantage of Bruce's surprise and dart inside the house.
"Hey!" He turned and made a grab for the beast, but it nimbly avoided him and headed straight for the library. Ace growled, rushing at it, but suddenly stopped, sniffed, and looked as bewildered as a dog could look. The cat in turn sat and smirked up at the huge dog with the smug amusement that only a cat could display.
Bruce took the opportunity to study his latest opponent: the cat had appeared at first to be all black but in the stronger light of the hall Bruce could see that it had a gray throat, chest, and stomach as well as tufts of lighter grey behind its ears; its fur was long, making it look bigger than Bruce suspected it was; it had the almost-gangly look that suggested it wasn't quite full-grown yet; its eyes were pale, but he didn't get a long enough look at them to be sure of the exact color. All in all, it was a very handsome animal. But it wasn't staying.
"All right, you're gorgeous. Now get out," he growled, knowing it wouldn't do any good but trying anyway for form's sake. The cat's response was predictable- it ignored him. He shut the door, wondering how he was going to get the beast out before Terry got there. After all, if the boy saw him being confounded by a cat... it didn't bear thinking about.
Ace started sniffing the cat again; it put up with that for a few seconds, but when Ace reached the more personal areas, the cat whirled and smacked his nose. The dog yelped, backing off. Bruce restrained a heartfelt groan as the cat stalked into the library with a preremptory yowl. He knew he had no choice but to follow.
"You are not staying. Let's get that strai-" he broke off as he saw what the cat was up to now. It was sitting, staring up at the clock impatiently. The moment Bruce came into the room, it reared up and pawed the case. When Bruce didn't move, the cat shot him a glare, yowled again, and rapped the case sharply. When Bruce still didn't move, it walked back to him, got behind his ankles, and shoved with its head.
"I'm going to regret this. This has to be one of Selina's bright ideas. I'm very much going to regret this," he muttered as he opened the entrance to the Batcave. With an exasperated meow, the cat disappeared down the stairs, leaving Bruce to follow, wondering exactly when he'd lost control.
The minute you opened the door, you old fool. You've never been in control when a cat's been involved.
He reached the cave to find that the cat had turned on the computer. Somehow, that failed to surprise him. What did surprise him was the message on the screen.
Sorry I'm late. I ran into a bit of trouble.
Bruce looked at the cat again. It was sitting upright on the side of the console, its tail-tip twitching. The brighter light had caused the cat's pupils to contract and now Bruce could see that its eyes were an incongruous crystal blue. Bruce looked back at the words on the screen, then at the cat again. He sat down quickly and pinched the bridge of his nose.
"McGinnis, how the hell did you manage this one?"
Despite knowing that Bruce had a point, Terry couldn't help feeling a little indignant that the Old Man immediately assumed that he'd somehow caused this himself. After all, he could have been an innocent bystander...
Except for the part where I wasn't. But this really wasn't my fault! All I did was slip on some wet leaves! It is not my fault that I fell into that psycho, no matter what she says. I tried to apologise, but nooooo....
I guess I was wrong about magic. Not believing in it.
Terry glared at his mentor, who was trying not to smirk. He was just glad that it would never cross Bruce's mind to make any of the crude jokes that had popped into his own mind as he'd made his way to Wayne Manor. Not that Terry would have made them himself, but he'd still thought of them. It was bad enough that Bruce would find subtle ways to rag on him for weeks, if not months because of this; he didn't need the obvious jokes too. Which reminded him...
Do you think maybe we could NOT tell Drake about this?
"We'll see." Suddenly, he sobered. "The question is, what do we tell your mother if we can't get this fixed quickly?"
Terry could feel his tail bristling; it was decidedly wierd.
Which of us would she kill first? And watch the f-word, will you?
"Sorry. But she has no reason to be angry with me- I had nothing to do with it."
Ever hear of killing the messenger?
"Good point. Still, we don't need to worry about that yet. What we need to first is determine the limits of the- no, what we need to do first is figure out why. Care to enlighten me?"
Apparently slipping on wet leaves and landing on the woman walking by is part of an Evil Patriarchal Plot To Dominate Helpless Women. Who kne
The next thing Terry knew, he was being hoisted by a strong hand while a bat scrabbled at Bruce's feet. Part of his mind raged that his prey was getting away, but the majority was chilled by the realisation of how easily he had succumbed to his new body's instincts. From the look on Bruce's face, the Old Man was worried too.
"Well, I guess I don't need to ask if you've gained any other feline attributes. I think it would be best if we continued this upstairs. Fewer... distractions."
Watching the bat scutter away, Terry nodded. Typing on the upstairs computer would be more difficult, but it would be safer.
God, if I'd eaten that- ew. This is suddenly a lot less fun. -Oh, crap. Am I going to start grooming? That's somewhere I really don't wanna go... And what if it gets worse? Will I still be me in here, or will I become a cat all the way? And if I do, what happens if I get turned back? Will I- oh, god, I can't do this! Not again!
"Shhh, Terry, it's all right. If this is a spell, then there must be a counter-spell. It's just a matter of finding it. And we will find it. I'll call Jason Blood as soon as you've settled down."
A spark of amusement relit, helping Terry to relax; he wasn't the only one reverting to instinct. Bruce had nestled Terry against one shoulder and was stroking his back as the Old Man carried him upstairs, just as he would a normal cat.
Hmmm- I wonder if I can hold out until I run into Dana; she's a sucker for fuzzy animals. Or maybe Max- no. Bad thought. Max is a friend. Even if she does have a balcony you could do Shakespeare from. And I didn't just think that either. Terry's Law Number Three- Thou shalt not speculate about your best friend's rack. Ever.
Bet it would be nice and comfortable, though... I am such a twip. Or possibly a teenage boy. Cat. Whatever.
"McGinnis, you're purring."
Yeah, well, you're scratching me behind the ears- oh. I didn't mean you should stop! Slaggit, that crazy witch didn't give me ear mites, did she? Come on, Old Man, start scratching again, it itches! Yeah, that's better. Ow! What bit- oh. Oh, no. Oh, slaggit. That miserable, rotten, slithy, fluff-brained, skitter-witted, paranoid-delusional, spuck-eyed, sheep-shagging, goat-nuzzling, llama-groping troutmonkey! SHE GAVE ME FLEAS!!!!!
"Bruce, what happened?"
"Ever given a cat a flea bath?"
Bruce knew he had only himself to blame. After all, he knew there were going to be incidents where Terry's feline instincts would become too strong for him to fight. And he knew that cats and water were never a good combination. And he certainly knew that Terry was a very effective fighter with an impressive array of dirty tricks. What he had failed to take into account was that in Terry's new form, five of his six ends were very pointy.
But at least I finished giving him his bath. Not that he's going to forgive me for that any time soon.
As he led Jason Blood into the study, they could both hear Terry's rather vocal displeasure. On catching sight of them, the cat struggled to get out of the towel he was swaddled in, his volume increasing exponentially.
Terry froze, then yowled softly one last time. Bruce glanced over at Jason, who was grinning openly.
"Did you understand that?"
"I'm not translating."
"Probably best for all concerned. McGinnis, I'm going to finish towelling you off. Think you can keep those claws sheathed this time?"
His look answered for him, but Bruce grabbed the towel anyway. Seconds later, a bedraggled and highly irate Terry emerged, hissing and spitting but not, thankfully, clawing. Jason was grinning even wider.
"Can you even do that with a spring-loaded tea strainer?"
"Don't translate, Jason. Just... don't." He knew how creative Terry could get when angry; add embarrassed to that and he suspected that even at his age he'd be getting more of an education than he wanted.
"You sure? The kid's got a way with words. Must be the Irish in him; they always were the best when it came to creative cursing."
"Don't encourage him either. I want you to examine him while I get this mess cleaned up. If you have any ideas at all on how to change him back, I want to hear them immediately. Terry, this is Jason Blood. You can trust him."
Blood raised an eyebrow at him, but made no comment. As Bruce left he could hear his old friend talking to Terry quietly, asking questions and apparently understanding the answers. He wondered about that; he wouldn't put it past Blood to be faking it just to get a rise out of him.
He took his time getting back, knowing that Jason would need to examine Terry thoroughly and that everyone would be happier if that was done in as much privacy as possible. Aside from the brief moment of panic in the cave, Terry had been handling things well but it was still an embarrassing situation. No sense in making the boy even more uncomfortable than necessary.
When he did return, both Jason and Terry looked a bit more relaxed, although not exactly welling over with enthusiasm. Bruce hadn't expected them to be, of course; with magic, it was never that easy. In fact, he had found that generally the most exasperating answer- not the most difficult; just the most annoying and the most likely to cause extreme personal embarrassment- was the correct one.
"Start with the bad news," he growled. Then at Terry's look, "There's always bad news."
"Bad news- I can't do anything to help. Not directly, anyway. I can point you toward people who can, but this just isn't my kind of magic. But there is some good news, at least: while Terry is going to need to watch out for his cat instincts taking over at odd moments, it's not going to get any worse. He isn't going to lose himself- well, not for more than a few seconds at a time, anyway. And I may know who cast this spell, which makes things easier. I need to confirm it with Rose, though, because I've never actually met the woman in question so I can't be sure if this really is her signature. It does seem her style- yammering on about Evil Patriarchal Plots at a moment's notice; assuming that anything happening in her vicinity is aimed at her? Sounds like Rayvyn."
Jason grinned, shook his head, and spelled it out.
"Rayvyn Evenstar, and no, that is not the name she was born with. But you see, to be a True Witch one must cast aside all trappings of mundanity and let one's Inner Essence be reflected in every aspect of one's life."
"...She dresses all in white, doesn't she?"
"However did you guess? If you've got half an hour or so, ask Rose about her. She and Rayvyn remind me a bit of you and Harvey Bullock, the way they're always at each other's throats. You'll see what I mean..."
Well, Bruce may not see a resemblance, but I do.
Rose Uusitalo looked nothing like Bruce, being only slightly above average height, decidedly curvy, and looking much younger than she really was. This had nothing to do with magic; she was just one of those people who always looked young. She also had long ash-blonde hair confined in a thick braid hanging over one shoulder and falling to her waist, a pleasant if unremarkable face, and a soft soprano voice. She dressed sensibly and casually, wearing jeans, sneakers, and a deep green sweater. The resemblance was only noticable after a few minutes in her company; she had the same impatience with idiots, the same ruthless efficiency when working, and the same confidence in the essential rightness of what she did. Even her eyes were the same, clear and piercing and a shade that hovered so precisely between blue and grey that it was impossible to decide which they were.
Of course, I don't think Bruce has ever greeted someone at the door by saying "Hello, gorgeous" and trying to swallow his tonsils. And if he has, I don't want to know about it. And I really don't think I'll ever catch Bruce cracking jokes like that- I'm thinking it's a good thing cats don't blush.
Rose absently scratched Terry behind the ears as she put the phone down; Terry purred smugly, having decided that there were certain unexpected benefits to his condition.
"Well, the horde should be here pretty soon," Rose said. "You were right to bring him- this is definitely that damnfool Whoopie Witch's doing. I just hope we can undo it."
"What's the problem?" Bruce seemed to have been expecting this.
"The smeghead's been locking her spells lately to make it harder for me to fix her screwups- oh, sorry, I'm sure I meant, to undo all her good work. I haven't quite figured out how she's been doing it, and it's not like I can rely on common sense to help me."
"True," Jason grinned. "Have you tried things that only a complete and utter moron would have done?"
"No, I started with the stuff even the idiots wouldn't touch. I think I might be onto something already, but I'm not quite there yet. I'm telling you, Jason, if we don't find some way of dealing with her she's going to end up calling up something she can't contain and lay waste to half the city before we can unlock her thrice-buggered wards!"
"She already has."
Terry winced and even Bruce looked a little startled; they would never have guessed she could get that loud- or that shrill. Jason just laughed.
"Maybe I should do the introductions again- Rose, this is Bruce Wayne. The cat you're presently cuddling used to be his protege, Terry McGinnis."
Rose's eyes widened and she started to laugh.
"Something she can't contain and will lay waste to half the city"- yeah, that sounds like a good description of the Old Man's temper. But why do I think there's something here that I've missed?
"The horde" was only lacking one person, according to Rose, and Terry was too obviously playing to the crowd. Bruce glared over to where the boy was being held, cooed over, and scratched behind the ears by a small group of young women. The older members of the coven were trying to hide their amusement, as was Jason.
"How old did you say Terry was?"
"Eighteen- almost nineteen."
Jason chuckled, watching as Terry was picked up and cuddled against the rather impressive chest of one of the girls. Another was scratching him under the chin. Smug didn't begin to describe his expression.
"That sounds about right. Cut him some slack, Bruce- or are you honestly trying to tell me that you wouldn't have done the same thing when you were that young? Oh, right, sorry- forgot who I was talking to."
Bruce's glare shifted to his old friend, who ignored it. He was about to say something when noise from the front room heralded the arrival of the last person invited. They turned to see who it was.
It was impossible.
This is not happening.
It was coincidence brought to levels that surpassed absurdity.
I'm a dead man.
It was Mary McGinnis.
"Mr. Wayne? What are you doing here?"
"Jason brought me," he said, ignoring the incredulous glare he could almost feel directed at him. "Someone brought me a problem I thought he could help with, and he referred us to Ms. Uusitalo. What are you doing here?"
"Oh, I've been a member of the group for years. I don't have much in the way of power, not like Rose or Jason, but it's not really about power, is it? I mean, Rayvyn has power, but that's the only reason she ever gets results. Whoopie Witch," she snorted.
"What exactly does that mean? I've been hearing the phrase almost every time the woman's name comes up." It wasn't the best delaying tactic he'd ever come up with, but it would have to do.
"Well..." Mary thought for a few seconds. "It basically means she's the kind of person who would change her name from Laurie Davis to Rayvyn Evenstar because it sounds more like a Real Witch. The kind of person who actually dresses in white samite because that's what Real Witches wear. The kind of person who spends so much time dictating what Real Witches are that she never pays attention to how real witches do things. The kind of person who spells 'magic' with a k."
"And a dangerous one. Like, for example... most spells are pretty basic. If it calls for basil, it doesn't matter if you use sweet basil, cinnamon basil, or any other sort of basil unless the spell specifically calls for it. It's not a substitution, it's just a variation on a theme. Rayvyn, though- if something called for meat, she'd use seitan or tofu because Real Witches never exploit animals for their flesh."
Bruce was stunned. Up until then he really had thought that it was just a personality conflict, but if Mary was right, this Rayvyn was very dangerous indeed. This was a much more serious problem than Terry's sudden need for kibble instead of hamburgers.
"How is it that this woman ever gets anything done?"
"Remember how I said it isn't about power? Well, sometimes it is. She's got plenty of power, just no brains. She's accomplished a lot out of brute force and ignorance, and it's convinced her that she is as good as she tells everyone she is and that everyone else is trying to keep her suppressed out of jealousy or because they're, well..."
"Part of the Evil Patriarchal Conspiracy?"
"That would be me." Mary grinned at Bruce's expression. "I didn't just marry one of the Evil Oppressors; I also gave birth to two more. I've betrayed the Sacred Sisterhood three times over. Oh, did I mention that only women can be Real Witches?"
"No, but it fails to shock me."
"So what did the silly cow do this time, anyway? Rose didn't tell me."
Bruce was suddenly at a loss for words. He hadn't been joking when he'd told Terry he could handle criminals better than he could mothers, and he'd seen how she responded when someone had messed with one of her children. If for some reason she blamed him for this, it would make things hellishly difficult for Terry in the future. He didn't want Terry to have to choose between his family and his job, and if it came down to it he would fire the boy again. No matter how much it would hurt him to let Terry go.
Of course, that's assuming he lets you get away with it again. He can be annoyingly perceptive when you don't want him to be.
No more stalling, old man.
"I... think I'd better show you."
He led her over to where Terry now sat catloaf on a table, purring loudly while Rose groomed his fur with one of those silly-looking gloves covered with nobs that caught the loose cat-hair. Mary followed, frowning slightly. The frown deepened as she looked at the cat.
Early in their relationship, after a training session that had gone poorly and painfully, Bruce had asked Terry if he let his mother hear him talking like that. Terry had grinned and replied that he'd learned it from her. Bruce had thought he was being a smart-ass as usual, but since Terry's language wasn't vulgar, just colorful, he'd let it slide. Now, listening to Mary, he realised that Terry had just been telling the truth.
The other members of the group were sidling away, although some of them were choking back laughter. A few of them were even taking notes. Jason had sunk back into a chair with a look of almost reverential amusement on his face. Bruce was starting to feel relieved; she wasn't blaming him. Terry, for his part, was trying to shrink in on himself, his eyes wide and his ears flat against his skull.
"-and every haircut she gets become a mullet! That misanthropic, spiteful, harridan-"
"Uh, Mary, I think we get the point," Rose interrupted. Mary stopped in mid-rant, blinked, and shut her mouth with a snap. "I think we all agree that Rayvyn has acted with her usual fine judgement and respect for magical etiquette. And, as usual, we have to fix it. I think I may be able to break the lock on this spell if we just throw enough power at it, which is why I called you. Now, in order to pool our power, our focus needs to be focussed. Any lapse of concentration could have very unfortunate effects. Do you think you can channel that temper of yours into something useful, or do I need to ask Mr. Wayne to take your place?"
Bruce whipped his head around to stare at Rose, as did Jason, Terry, and Mary.
"What?" she asked irritably. "All the focus of this type of spell needs is to be able to concentrate no matter what happens. Usually, that's Mary's strong point. But the focus must be able to stand at the center of all our meshed powers, anchor them, and keep his or her mind free of all distractions so as not to warp the intentions of the spell. You must keep your mind absolutely blank of everything except the purpose of the spell. There are only three people in this room who can achieve that kind of concentration, and I'm needed to help power the spell as well as direct it. So what will it be?"
Mary blinked again, frowning. After a few seconds, she said quietly, "I can do it."
"Be sure about this. You know the consequences."
"Then let's get to work."
The group worked with a casual efficiency that Bruce didn't usually associate with magic-users. There were no robes, no mysterious vessels belching purple smoke, and only one oddly glowing piece of crystal- and even that stopped when Rose picked up and knocked it against the table a few times, as if it were a salt shaker that wouldn't shake. They cracked jokes back and forth while getting the furniture out of the way and rolling up the rug. It was both unnerving and reassuring. But eventually they gathered into a circle.
"I call the Unique and Supreme Lodge of the Elucidated Brethren to order. Is the Door of Knowledge sealed fast against heretics and knowlessmen?"
I knew it was too good to last.
"Is the triple circle well and truly traced? Art all here who Art Here? And it be well for an knowlessman that he should not be here, for he would be taken from this place and his gaskin slit, his moules shown to the four winds, his welchet torn asunder with many hooks and his figgin placed upon a spike-"
Wait a minute...
Rose had been solemnly intoning the standard tripe that Bruce was used to hearing when magic-users got going, but instead of slavishly following her every word, the group was... snickering. Jason was sighing and shaking his head, but he was also grinning.
"Rose, quit trying to mess with Bruce's head."
"Oh, all right. But his expression was priceless. You've been hanging around the wrong type of magicians, Mr. Wayne- that pretentious crap is the mystical equivalent of those guys who buy huge four-wheel drive cars and never leave the city. Sheer over-compensation, that's all it is. Okay, there's a few Powers left who insist on it, but most of them prefer plain speech. Well, onto the serious part of the evening. Anything left to be done?"
"I haven't chastised the Thuribles of Destiny," Jason deadpanned. Rose smacked his arm.
"Now who's being a goofball? Right, we seem to be ready."
Bruce could feel the atmosphere in the room change. There was no more fooling around, although some of them were still grinning. Mary and a man whose name Bruce hadn't caught went over to the hutch, pulling out a pewter chalice and a stone disc. Rose took an elegant swept-hilt rapier from its display stand. One of the girls who had been cooing over Terry earlier caught up her walking stick- a five-and-a-half-foot length of ash topped with a cluster of pale amethyst crystals. Mary handed the chalice to a small, slim black man named Toby, then walked into the middle of the circle.
"Okay," Rose said, "Mr. Wayne, if you'd like to take a seat over there, out of range? Thanks. Now, Terry, could you join your mother? Perfect. Now let's get this done."
The ritual wasn't very elaborate, just as Rose had said. She called on the Elements with a minimum of fuss, invoked the necessary Power politely but plainly, set down the problem, then proposed a solution. The Power- who had arrived as casually as the rest of the group- listened and suggested a different solution. Rose shook her head, and a long discussion began. Eventually a workable compromise was reached. Even Bruce could feel the power that gathered when they started implementing that compromise. It wasn't anything that could be seen; but it was unmistakably rising from the circle and homing in on Mary, who stood calmly over Terry, eyes closed.
The door crashed open. A tall blonde woman dressed all in white posed there dramatically.
"How dare you!"
This has got to be Rayvyn.
Mary didn't even flinch, but others in the group were distracted by the interruption. The energy shifted, becoming slightly disorganised. Bruce tensed, knowing from painful personal experience what could happen when a spell was disrupted.
"Rayvyn, piss off," Rose growled, trying to redirect the energy. Rayvyn drew herself up haughtily.
"So once again you choose to interfere in matters beyond your ken, Rose. This creature is mine to deal with by right of cosmic balance. It was I whom he so foully wronged, and it is by my hand that Justice was served. And now you take it upon yourself to absolve him of his crimes without due penance? This shall not be. This must not be! Mighty Hecate, I abjure thee-"
And even more energy flooded in. Wind whipped through the room, its roar almost drowning out the shouts and shrieks as one by one the group lost their hold on their spell, until only Jason, Rose, and Mary were left standing against the sheer force of Rayvyn's magic. Bruce could see the the panicked looks Rose and Jason were exchanging; he knew they weren't going to be able to hold out much longer. And when that happened...
He was standing before he even realised it. Ignoring Rayvyn's continued ranting, he forced his way toward Mary and Terry. Mary was still holding her concentration, but Terry had flattened himself the floor and was holding on for dear life. A choked cry from his left followed by a loud curse from his right warned him that Jason and Rose were losing it just before they were flung aside. Now almost all of the energy was swirling around Mary, getting ready to strike.
Suddenly Rayvyn was standing there, getting ready for God knew what.
"- and deliver unto me my rightful subject, that Justice might be served!"
And Terry was in her arms. Mary's eyes snapped open, her concentration finally lost. The power gave one last wild pulse and thundered down toward her. Bruce, having expected this, was ready, shoving her out of harm's way and taking the blast himself.
Jason picked himself up gingerly, not trusting that things wouldn't fall off; things like his head. The room looked like the aftermath of some of the parties he'd attended back in the Sixties, with vaguely conscious people with questionable grasps on reality strewn about the floor. He looked to the center of the room, dreading what he would see.
Morgana's Tits. I do not believe this.
He ignored the groaning mob, picking his way toward his old friend. In the back of his mind, Etrigan was laughing uproariously.
"Bruce? Bruce, you need to wake up. We've just succeeded in making matters worse."
Bruce's eyelids fluttered open, pale eyes stabbing into his in a familiar glare.
"Of course we did," he growled, then blinked, rubbing his throat.
"Does anything hurt?" Rose had crept up behind him, wincing and holding a tissue to her bleeding nose. Bruce thought for a second, then shook his head.
"No. Should I be worried about that?"
"Well....." Jason exchanged another look with Rose. Bruce scowled, then carefully got to his feet. Jason steadied him as he staggered.
"My center of balance is off." Bruce was looking more and more unhappy as he frowned up at Jason. "So's my voice. What just happened?"
"The spell got disrupted," Rose said.
"Care to be more specific?"
"I think you might want to see this for yourself."
Jason only gave one longing glance at the door before helping the still-dizzy Bruce over to the remains of a full-length mirror. The reaction was everything he could have hoped for: a strangled noise; touching the mirror to see if it were real; looking down at his hands as though they belonged to someone else. Which, in a matter of speaking, they did. They, along with everything else he saw of himself in the mirror, were Terry's.
"Congratulations," Rose said drily, "it's a boy."
Off to a good start, I think....