Anti-Climactic Conundrums

Do you believe in sheer dumb luck? - Red X



He cringed once the words left his mouth, knowing that now, having said them, he'd have to own up to all the consequences that came with his involuntary utterance. Why? Well, because as everyone knows, secrets - especially the juicy ones - rarely stay in the obscurity of secrecy. Already he could feel unseen heads turning in his direction, eyes growing bright in interest as the rustling of pages, crinkle of paper and giggling paused in their sporadic rhythms.

"What is interesting?" Starfire inquired sweetly from her post beneath the Christmas tree.

"Yeah, man," Cyborg agreed. From Robin's point of view, the boy probably didn't care much what Robin did with his time because his eyes (real and cybernetic) remained plastered to the bright paper wrappings as he tore them off his latest gift. "Why are you running programs when you should be - ? should be - PARTYING WITH US! BOO-YAH!"

The dark-skinned teenager launched off his seat like a hyperactive two-year old on pixi-stix, dancing around and hugging the unidentifiable present to his chest. If the other's eyes did not deceive them then the young man seemed to be nearing tears of joy.

"I've been wanting this set of seat covers for my baby! Oh, she's gonna look so sweet with these!" He huggled the seat covers and Starfire looked pleased by his enthusiasm. "Thanks BB!"

Beast Boy, currently chewing on a large chocolate bar the size of his own arm, didn't reply verbally, rather chose to throw his pal a thumbs up. Then he went back to his sugar inhalation. Raven who shared the couch with the candy addict decided her person also shared far too much space with that wildly chomping maw and scooted away from the flying globs of chocolate. Robin couldn't tell if she was trying to look unalarmed or unemotional…or both.

Starfire giggled and unearthed yet another gift with her name scrawled across the top. She examined it closely as she sat back down, green eyes scanning every inch of the brightly hued paper. Shook it, sniffed it and then - to everyone's horror - licked the package. 'Hmm' she uttered intellectually, smacking her lips and looking as if she was drawing some serious deductions about the characteristics of her Christmas gift.

"I believe I do not know what is inside. Delightful!" she announced and ripped the paper open with more abandon than even Beast Boy had shown. Cyborg got up to retrieve the cocoa and marshmallows he'd whipped up while the red-head gasped in ecstasy. The little white paper cups left over from the eggnog scattered in his wake and rolled beneath the couch and into other estranged crannies to hide out until spring cleaning. Meanwhile, Starfire let loose an almost animalistic 'squee!' of happiness.

"A bear of the 'teddy'!" she squealed, eyes glittering with unbridled joy. She hugged it tightly and kissed the adorable creature's head several times. "I am thrilled! Overjoyed! Estatic! I cannot express my happiness! Please, who is the one who has given me such a wonderful the gift!"

Raven had the grace to look embarrassed. "Umm…merry Christmas?"

"Eeeeee!" Starfire said and tackled the somber looking girl, hugging her and the bear simultaneously.

"Your turn, Bird-Boy."

Robin went 'huh?' but figured it out quickly when Beast Boy (vibrating with sugarific energy) rammed a large, spherical package into the poor boy's lap. Robin, man that he was, managed not to look too terribly agonized while Cyborg dashed to the masked teenager's aid. Red-faced, the team leader slowly rolled the gift off his abused anatomy and doubled up. Cyborg grimaced. Raven summoned the packed to her and peeled some paper off. She showed the large, polished bowling ball to Starfire, wincing in sympathy.

Beast Boy still couldn't figure out what he'd done wrong.

"Are you functional?" Starfire inquired kindly.

"Geez, I hope so…" Robin wheezed, trying to smile at the concerned Tameranian. Didn't work out so well. Robin sighed and resigned himself to eating carpet for a few more minutes. Curled in the fetal position on the floor Robin managed to keep his thoughts straight miraculously. He managed to get back in his seat and wondered distantly how their Christmas has still turned out so well. What with Red X causing trouble left and right…

Speaking of whom…

Raven glanced up at him through the corner of her eyes, soft lavender blue orbs locking briefly with his own. The boy shook his head just slightly and Raven nodded her head back into the Alabaster Verse. The teenager couldn't help but feel a bit cheated somehow. That even though he and Raven had gone through so much trouble, hassle and irritation stemming from one common criminal, they still had nothing…despite blood samples.

Not only did X's DNA not match any ID's in their databases and turned up nothing other than relatively low-blood pressure and type 'O' universal medical info that did nobody any good, but the thief had gotten away with everything. Robin knew Raven had noticed how absolutely livid he looked while repeatedly running the data through the computers and still turning up nothing. The Boy Wonder could only grit his teeth in frustration as his code-breakers and search protocols rammed head-on into firewall after firewall obstructing his access to whatever cornucopia of friggin' information they so jealously guarded.


Hello…what's this?

Robin's left brow lifted and he turned back to his computer. A small, prompt had bubbled up on his screen accompanied by a single line of text. The Boy Wonder leaned closer to the screen, sneaking a look over his shoulder to see if the other Titans had noticed. Starfire and Cyborg seemed preoccupied with catching a sugar crazed green monkey wearing what looked like - no…was - Raven's cloak.

The boy returned his gaze to the screen, eyes taking in the lines that read:

'A King and Joker crossed paths in Shanghai,

in the middle of the desert and talked,

Then the Joker said, "King, here's a query of mine:"

"Have you ever danced with the devil? Or walked?"

"Danced with the devil?" the King said, appalled.

"Yes! In the pale moonlight?" asked the Joker.

"Ridiculous!" said King, "I'd rather be mauled!"

"For a lord such as I, it's not proper!"

Then Joker turned round and sat on the ground,

"Tell me then, I'll make it brief,"

"If all of this non-sense is something you found,"

What magic word stops a thief?"

A blinking cursor followed the poem inside the prompt. Robin pondered, feeling excruciatingly dense as he did, what the archaic lines could be referring to and furthermore, what kind of medical file acquired a firewall that asked such inane questions? Robin queried silently a moment, rereading the riddle. It sounded strangely familiar. Obviously a hint of some kind to the password, but what?

"What?" Robin muttered.

"What is it?" a somber voice asked evenly. The teenager twisted in his chair and spotted Raven (having recovered her cloak from a mysteriously missing Beast Boy) seated on the couch, gaze darting back and forth across the pages of her new book. She spared her eyes to make momentary contact, sensing his gaze on her. She coughed politely. "Sorry. You were talking out loud again. You do that a lot you know."

The two Titans blinked at one another and Raven's large, blue-purple eyes flitted toward the computer screen curiously before shifting back to him. Robin pursed his lips, and glanced warningly to the left. She glanced at the other Titans but they currently occupied themselves with unwrapping the large seaweed swathed gift Aqualad had delivered to them earlier that evening. Both she and Robin paused to watch, leaning to get a better angle of the aquatic teen's gift. Cyborg stripped away the last of the damp plants and gave a 'whoa' of interest.

Sitting on the carpet in a nest of green see-foliage laid a long metal chest, encrusted with barnacles, stained by water damage and rusted nearly shut. The ogling teenagers could see the chipped metal around the lid of the chest where Tramm and Aqualad had loosened the damaged box. Starfire and Cyborg stared up at each other as if t scared to open it.

"Sweet! Treasure!" a Beast Boy-ish voice crowed and the changeling literally popped out of the floor where Raven had briefly banished him for stealing her cloak. His great green eyes glittered with manic anticipation and without a moment's hesitation he eagerly grabbed the rim of the lid and yanked it open.

"ARGH! It's a sea monster!" Beast Boy screeched. He leapt up gripping his arm and spazzing out. "It's hideous! It's got me!"

"EEEEK!" Starfire screamed while Cyborg simultaneously lunged away from the chest. Robin and Raven went rigid in fright. Beast Boy, still yelling, ran in circles while Starfire shrieked all the more and Robin began to shout 'Titans go!' But his effort cut short, when only seconds later, the changeling slowed his mad circle-running and collapsed on the carpet laughing hysterically. Star looked confused and shaken, while Cyborg had somehow teleported behind Raven to grip her like a safety blanket.

"Cy-," she gasped, eyes bulging, "air!"

"Y-you guys should have seen your faces!" Beast Boy howled in laughter, morphing into a hound to do it properly while his teammates slowly caught onto the joke.

Cyborg's humor acute mind got around the trickery first and the young man's face grew a darker tone of fury. The circuits visible along his head, arms and legs began to glow a threatening red. His human eye gave an unhealthy twitch while steam wafted off his head. Puppy Beast Boy cowered and whined, tail flipping down between his legs as his ears swiveled back. The changeling reverted to his human form and but somehow retained all the doggish terror as Star's bemused expression gave way to intense displeasure.

"BB. Tell me you did not just do that," Cy growled menacingly.

"Most un-humorous," Star said frigidly.

"Umm…heh heh," the green-skinned Titan sweatdropped, "I didn't do it?"

Beast Boy had suddenly grown very small, in fear as Starfire's predatory looking silhouette fell over him. Cyborg followed shortly, cracking his knuckles and leaving a near-unconscious Raven on the floor. The girl rolled out like a rug on the floor, eyes dizzy and swirling. The air deprivation had nearly done her in from the looks of it. Robin yelped and began fanning her with the Alabaster Verse. Luckily, the scent of poetry immediately brought her around and she snapped into the upright position so fast Robin had whip-lash.

"Mine," she avowed, nabbing the book and burying her nose inside once again.

"Oh!" Starfire cried, clasping her hands to her face, eyes glittering with a glassy, mesmerized kind of look. Robin looked up at her and Raven … well, she didn't because the poem she'd found happened to have a particularly fascinating rhyme scheme. The red-head had spotted the contends of the chest and immediately seized Cyborg's arm, prying him off Beast Boy and yanking him to stand in front of the box.

"Starfire, what -,"

She grabbed his head and forced his gaze down. His eyes got big.


Raven, Robin and Beast Boy (very bruised and rumpled) gathered around. Raven made a small, but undisguisable sound of shock whilst Robin whistled and Beast Boy gaped.

"Dude! How could I have missed that?" he sputtered.

Inside the long metal chest among a newly made and placed pillow of navy blue cloth, compliments of Aqualad, sat five polished and colorful razor clam shells, each the size of – say – Beast Boy's palm. Since he'd already grabbed up the third one from the end and juggled it excitedly from hand to hand, the estimation was a safe one.

"Hey! They have our names on them!" he exclaimed, whirling around to show his friends the delicate gold filigree nametag dangling from the back of the seashell.

Starfire delicately scooped hers up in her fingers and gingerly eased the two smooth surfaces apart. She peered inside and gasped, a smile lighting up her face like a newly plugged Christmas tree. She opened it up the rest of the way to uncover what looked like a mini pedestal of soft blue sandstone. Set in the centre of the stone sat the largest pearl any of the teenagers had seen in all their lives. But not only did the precious orb have size, the typical white sheen of the smooth enamel glowed a soft rose pink.

"I…I…have never seen such a beautiful gift!" Star whispered.

"Hey! Mine's yellow!" Beast Boy said excitedly.

"Buh-ya! Blue baby!" Cyborg cheered, flashing his azure colored pearl.

Robin admired his dark, gray-black Christmas gift. "Wow. He went through a lot of trouble to give us these. I mean, each one of these is exactly the same size. And colored," he said, not bothering to hide how impressed he was. "This is really…nice."

"Anybody else feel terrible for not getting him anything?" Raven said drably. The other Titans sweatdropped and exchanged equally guilty looks. She shook her head and opened her present with a dubious look, as if expecting hers to be rosy pink as well. He face changed and she suddenly allowed herself a small smile. "It's white. He gave me a white one…"

The others traded subtle looks.

Beast Boy sauntered over. "Ahem…Raven."

"Hmm?" she said, eyeing him warily.

The changeling pointed up, indicating something over her head. She blinked and tipped her head upwards. Bobbing around her head like some kind of demented halo, several Christmas tree ornaments had dislodged from the pine branches to orbit her. She blushed and snatched them out of the air, snapping the clam shell shut and stowing it away in the folds of her cloak.

"So what?" she huffed, abnormally defensive and violently began reading the Alabaster Verse again.

"Dude! We need to call him up. That was waaaay too cool of him. He totally needs to get his butt back here so we can say thanks," Beast Boy said excitedly, abandoning his Raven tormenting moment. He started patting himself down, a frown starting down his face. "Hey. Where is my communicator?"

Robin coughed and suddenly became interested in his computer again. Raven didn't really 'scoot' away from Beast Boy, she kind of…relocated…It's hard to explain. But when she finished she'd reappeared beside Robin, reading the contents of the screen with the same over-interested manner she'd shown for her book.

Raven re-read the lines on the screen. "This just came up?"

"Yeah. I tried to run the data through Gotham Medical Databases," Robin explained, his familiar I'm-thinking frown in place. "It's a biggest epicenter of medical information I know. The program traced the figures to an entire group of blood donors and patients from every hospital in Gotham to the psyche and physical evaluations of asylum patients. Over five hundred hits. So I tried to narrow down the search."

"What did you do?"

He minimized the window and began keying in a couple commands. "I told it to run a trace on type O blood and patients from age fifteen to twenty five, male." He hit another key and eight new windows popped up. "I originally got thirty hits but I narrowed it down to possible fifteen, then eight."

Raven examined the various young men on the screen, ranging from age sixteen to twenty-one, Gotham residents or former Gotham residents, most of whom were alive and well some place or another. One was married according to his profile. The girl propped her elbow on the back of Robin's chair, tapping one slender finger against the side of her chin.

Her soft lavender blue eyes scanned over the eight different windows. Richard Carson. Adrian Gray. Marcus Tate. Josh Grosse. Xander O'Riley. Bannon Sasaki. Tyler Groven. Jackal Vern. Raven blinked, darting her eyes back a couple names.

"Umm, Robin?" She lifted a finger and placed it on the sixth profile. "His guy here. Is he one of your options?"

Taken a little over three years ago, the profile hadn't received an upgrade since then. The picture showed a cheerful looking red-head with unkempt hair that fell all over his forehead and spiked up from his skull. He looked good to say the least, a lot like Robin actually, save the smile…Robin never looked that happy.

But according to his nationality checklist, it said a forth of his heritage came from Japan and the other seventy-five percent Irish and a conglomeration of other American mismatch. It wasn't prominent, but it showed in the slight golden tint in his skin and slant of his great cat-like eyes, the color of cinnamon apple-cider. The bio said his parents, Kate Sasaki and Alex Sasaki, checked him into the hospital for psychotherapy on accounts of sudden violent outbursts, unsociable behavior, kleptomania and suspected schizophrenia.

"Kelptomania?" she said suggestively, brows going up.

"Thieving compulsion," Robin confirmed. "Usually kleptomaniacs steal random things they don't need, but sometimes…"

"They just get addicted to stealing," Raven concluded flatly.


"But that doesn't much matter since he's dead." She prodded the bottom of the bio confirming his suicide three years back. "He killed himself only five months into his treatment. They shipped him to Arkam where he overdosed on pills he smuggled inside. His father filed a huge lawsuit."

Raven reached over his shoulder and began keying in another command. "Look, the cremation records are here. It's legit. He's dead." She turned the screen display off and dragged Robin away from the computer by the back of his chair.


She smirked. "It's Christmas. Enjoy yourself."

"But the password!"

"It's 'freeze'. You yell it at any criminal including thieves," she said rolling her eyes.

"…Oh," Robin said keenly.

"Hey Robin!" Cyborg's loud summons interrupted. The cybernetic teen proceeded to wave a large box temptingly in his direction while Starfire bounced eagerly up and down beside him. "Yu' know yu' want it. We have your spoiler gift from all of us! Hurry up or I'm takin' this baby back t' the store."

The spiky-haired teenager blinked at Raven, as if asking permission to abandon his post. She rolled her eyes in an undeniable 'get over there' expression. Whatever it meant or whoever Red X really was would just have to wait. He grinned at his friends and left the dark screen, crossing to room to take the package and sat down to open it. Right now, his responsibilities extended to present opening and the avoidance of mistletoe and eggnog at all costs.

Yes. It could wait. He had all the time in the world


"Do you believe in sheer dumb luck?"

X turned to his companion in silence as if expecting a reply. However, none came and the thief merely rubbed his aching shoulder and sighed into the emptiness of the cavern, looking out across the dark abyss to his left. The darkened pit yawned out beside him like the maw of a great beast. He simply stared down the throat, thinking nothing. He sat, legs curled up, lazing like some kind of red crisscrossed black cat against the leg of his impromptu Christmas date. She didn't talk much…in fact she didn't talk at all, but he thought she listened well and that made up for lack of reciprocal communication.

He chuckled softly to himself. "Whether or not you do, I'm converted, so don't knock the religion."

Gentle white flakes drifted downward, sprinkling his shoulders and cape in momentary white. The teenager tipped his head back against her stony thigh and stared up at the snow that slowly worked its way into the lonesome grotto. Her new apartment as he'd come to think of it in the last hour or so. He couldn't really bring himself to say her grave. Not while her likeness stood right behind him.

He wondered if she could see anything, petrified and stony as she was. Wondered if she'd watched his fight, what she would have thought if she did think wherever she currently resided. She'd played hero once, joined the teeny-bopper Titan squad, battled the forces of evil, and all that jazz. But on the flipside, she'd turned homicidal on her former teammates and come perilously close to annihilating them. X glanced up at her. Terra's immobile features revealed no hint as to her opinion of his knew found faith or his perspective on her morals.

"I guess both of us are spending Christmas alone. Might as well enjoy the company while we can, huh, Terra?"

He imagined that she looked happy about his decision to hang around. It would suck royally if she didn't. Look on the bright side, X thought, petrified dates can't walk out and leave you with the check. Not that he actually had lots of experience in that field. Don't get me wrong, X could act very charismatic when he needed to, but that's acting…not socializing. The only two romantic relationships he'd managed to accidentally fall into ended in extremely hostile words and a lot of screaming.

Suffice to say, he liked Terra far more than any of his previous significant others. The cat-burglar reached up and carefully removed his mask, hissing slightly as bruised and tender skin stung under the motion. He slid the skull face off and laid it against the girl's opposite foot.


"Great!" X exclaimed cheerily and reclined against Terra's stone frame. "I'm going to be honest. My legs have given out and I don't think I'll be reeducating them in the fine art of walking anytime before Christmas morning comes to an end."

He thought about those words and reconsidered.

"Not that I don't want to hang out. It's just…well it's the truth. I really can't move," he laughed. It sounded somewhat unsteady in his minor hysteria, voice climbing until he self-consciously stifled the inevitable crack in his voice. "Of course, you know all about that…not being able to move I mean…wait. Sorry. That's terrible. Let me start over."

Then quite suddenly he had nothing to say and fell eerily quiet. Only the sound of snow falling, which – as we all know – is no sound at all, filled the cavern. Red X touched the back of his head carefully and checked for blood, relieved to see the bleeding had finally stopped. He lowered his hand and folded his arms, hugging himself and shivering slightly in the fell winter chill.

Oddly, he felt bad for saying those things to Terra. Whether or not she could hear, he didn't feel right picking on a companion who couldn't simply insult him back or escape his mental illness. He didn't really play fair most of the time, but he didn't really torture people either. Sitting here and jabbering aimlessly at the hapless statue-girl seemed…wrong somehow. Morally, I mean. He rubbed his upper-arms in an attempt to stay warm, the life-giving heat of his zynothium fuel having joined Slade in his dark, stony grave.

Note he harbored no qualms about calling it Slade's grave.

"I'll tell you a secret Terra…" said X blithely, folding his arms over his knees and propping his chin on them. "I never really liked Christmas…ever."

"I don't know if you ever did, but other than all the awesome food that pops up around the holidays, I can't stand it," X said, staring blankly. "I mean the going's good. Lots of money floating around to cash in on – I wonder if I should even be talking about this to you. You're not offended are you? Sorry if you are, it's an addiction – Anyway…other than the financial improvement Christmas is…just another day in the year to me. Did it ever mean anything to you?"

"…" Terra replied wisely.

"I thought so," X said in reverence.

Quiet. Snow. But strangely an odd warmth at his back, running along his spine and between his shoulder-blades. The cat burglar sighed, shoulders slumping as he forced himself to relax. His brain had only just now processed the images of Slade's demise. His body, however, hadn't quite gotten the memo, resulting in the instinctive paranoia he experienced currently. He lost track of time, the meaning of clocks and the space time continuum failing to make an impression on him as he laid there. Strange how a statue could almost feel alive if you let one's imagination run away with –


X frowned and turned around, rouge strands of damp hair flicking into his eyes. His gaze grew intense, wary as he leaned away from Terra. The warmth faded and the thief battled briefly with himself before slipping his glove off. He stood up, snatching up his masked and securing it safely over his features. Then he stepped up on the podium beside Terra, using her shoulder for balance. He moved back to keep some distance between them, feeling strangely awkward.

He lifted and experimental finger and placed the gloveless tip meticulously in the center of her forehead. He started, finger zipping back to his chest as if burned. He stared at his hand then up at her before boldly laying his entire hand against the cradle of flesh along her throat.

"Warm?" he murmured. His eyes darted to her petrified eyes of granite gray. Could it be?

So let's review the facts: he hadn't known Terra. He was a thief and she a former Titan. He jacked shiny things from people who didn't need them and lived to make life hard for do-gooders like the Titans. He hijacked his suit, his look and his alias 'Red X' from the Titan leader. By all account he and the Titans were not on what most people would call 'good terms'. He did not want to think about implications that the warmth of her stone skin hid within it. One part of him thought that maybe he should mention this to someone, but…He just finished with his ass-busting good-deed for the century and he refused to perform anymore acts of civil service. Quota reached thanks!

But if somehow she really was…alive…

X looked her over a couple times, checking for any signs of life or movement or…anything. Then he crouched beside her foot and examined one of her stone shoelaces. This he tapped with his finger a moment…then broke off and examined, figuring that the worse that could happen might be Terra's loss in a small length of string. He didn't know what he'd expected, whether he'd suspected the stone might have string beneath it, or skin? But no. The string shaped granite kept no secrets. Just plain stone.

He eyed her exposed tell-tale skin and frowned, flicking the shoelace away and glancing lengthwise at the former Titan.

"Bet they're looking for the cure aren't they?" said X at last, dusting off his hands and standing to his feet in front of her. "Well, I'm sure they're already aware. After all, they made this lovely plaque and left flowers…kinda like a grave. My Lord, that's depressing. You don't need flowers and a plaque; you need someone to talk to. Does that green one drop by often? He's a talker. Maybe he'd wake you up with all his chattering."

Terra had no comment, but he didn't mind. He sighed and propped his elbow over her shoulder and leaned against her, hooking one foot behind the other and cupping his cheek in his hand, thinking. Terra waited patiently as always for him to go on. The only girl he didn't mind the silence with. Kinda nice.

"You're lucky yu'know," remarked the thief lightly. He paused and Terra silently reminded him why he was an idiot. "I mean...beside the being frozen part. That you've got a bunch of pals ready to run out here and help you. I mean, hell, if Slade got he better of me tonight...that would be that. No one's coming out to help me."

He glanced at her expectantly, but she stuck by her silence.

"You know…I think I'll come back sometime. When I'm not half-dead and freezing," Red X decided wistfully. He smiled at the blonde who didn't seem to notice, but once again he didn't mind. "I'll keep you company. I don't talk all the time thought, so I'll bring my old violin. Haven't touched it since I was in junior high, but I think I think I was pretty damn good. Anyway…"

He placed a quirky little kiss on her warmish stone cheek and hopped off the platform. "Merry Christmas, mud-girl! I promise to come back and talk some more. Maybe the music will wake you up."

And with that, he made his exit, humming to himself and feeling that somehow, despite everything and through every horror that little witch Fate had chucked at his head. He didn't mind it…he actually felt…genuinely happy. As he began the long, dark and stalactite filled journey through the mine shafts toward home he decided something very important.

I think I'll have cinnamon toast when I get home…and hot cocoa…


Selina smiled demurely, finger tapping the phone receiver lightly.

"Thanks for calling it in. I was worried you might not take me seriously," she teased, biting her tongue gently. "My informant tells me that the signal to Atlantis was intercepted. I assume a delegate was sent to discuss everything with old Triton? Wet, stuffy old bastard."

A short, masculine chuckle drifted over the line, low and husky. "What would a cat know about getting wet?" he asked mildly, if not a bit mockingly.

Selina laughed; a gentle lilting affair that filled the slowly brightening living room of her penthouse apartment. Dressed in her most comfortable silk nightgown, bathrobe, and slippers she felt supremely satisfied with herself. Like a cat in the cream as she liked to think. She smiled, swinging long, slim legs over the arm of her sofa and propping herself up amongst the pillows.

"As much as a bat might, I suppose. Why?" she inquired, voice drawling and sultry.

"No reason," he replied bluntly. "Thanks for the tip off, but Triton is suddenly concerned for the boy. Now that we brought attention to the Atlantian ranger, he's been insisting we send one of our people to do something about finding him."

"He wasn't before of course."

"…no. But he is now and we have to make the man happy for the sake of world peace. (here he made a strange, snorting sound and Selina giggled) I'll have to contact my protégé about it, but I'm sure you figured that out."

Selina delicately lifted her latte from the appropriately named coffee table and stirred the blob of whip cream into the delicious beverage. Having already drizzled it in caramel the concoction tasted fantastic. She smacked her lips happily; humming in satisfaction and wondering what the man over the phone might be doing this fine Christmas morn.

"I'm a clever kitty. I figured that much, but I wonder why you're not contacting him today?"

"I will…but not until for a while longer."

She smirked. "Are you giving his team Christmas morning off? How sweet."

A long pause. "Good-bye and a Merry Christmas," he said finally and hung up.

She tossed the phone across the room into another sofa and cradled her latte, inhaling deeply and sighing. She twirled a lock of her pale hair in distraction; nibbling the tip of her hair and watching the pale cast of Christmas dawn slowly fill the clouds outside. She glanced at the clock. Far past the deadline. If he hadn't already made his move then Triton might actually have something to get upset about.

But she had faith in her own protégé the way Batman had faith in his. She believed that Bannon would decide ultimately what kind of lines he wanted to cross or decline the way every thief did. She theorized that eventually Ban's selfish thinking would give way to more outward concerns. After all…

You can't deal with the problems of others…

…until you've dealt with your own.

Your problem…


Author's Note: I'd say the 'The End' but it seems inappropriate somehow…heh heh. First of all, I'd like to thank all my loyal readers and critics out there who made this fic possible. I appreciate your feedback. Secondly, yes, I know I kinda left Aqualad high and dry but this is why I need your lovely feedback one last time. I had a sketchy sequel planned, but only if yu'all want one. Let me introduce you to my beautiful questionnaire!

Do you want the sequel to be about…

A: Aqualad (sidestory kinda)

B: Red X and Terra (wink wink)

C: Red X and Robin (focus on X's past)

D: Think of your own crazy suggestion and add it in.

Who would you like to see romantically involved if any? (you may select more than one)

A: X and Raven

B: X and Terra (Beast Boy love triangle?)

C: Aqualad and Jinx

D: Eww! Gross! Cooties!

E: Other character couples

Who wants Slade back!

A: Me! ME! ME!

B: Nuuu! Keep him away!

C: Hint at his return and suggest at it but don't actually have him show up! Be mysterious!

D: I picked an Aqualad story…SLADE HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH IT! Blood's the baddie now!

Did all the previous questions suck? If so, make up your own suggestions and insert them here!

A: Yes, you moron! What are you thinking? This is what should happen…

B: No. It's fine. Just get started on that sequel!

C: You suck. Get off the net.

Thank you for you input and feel free to be as detailed or vague as you like. All people who choose 'C' on the last question shall be dutifully stabbed with voodoo needles and/or sporked to death. It's been a pleasure writing for you and I hope you enjoyed this fic's evolution from short Christmas fling to long drawn out affair. Thank you.


The Syco, Cheezit and Cloud8.9