BETWEEN THE LINES

Disclaimer: Own nothing, make no profit. This is a work of fanfiction intended as a respectful tribute to something I happen to enjoy, though I think the owners may want to hunt me down for desecrating their babies...

A/N: This is FEMSLASH. If you do not understand the definition of "femslash", or if you do understand and realize that reading this fic will traumatize you, turn back. Now. By the way, this is also gameverse, which means that most of canon didn't happen.

-

There's a space, between all the battles and fighting and bright waves of motion, where there's time alone.

The world is called the Sixth Dimension, the reason why lost somewhere in the thin fabric of legends and world-detail holding it all together. The woman facing the mirror will say that it came from the drunken ramblings of a Light Elf sage, but Sparx strongly suspects that she's just making that up. The woman's a Dark Elf, after all. Well, sort of. It's what she calls herself, anyway. There doesn't seem to be any others like her around, forget about any species fulfilling the definition of Light Elf.

"Freak," Sparx says, voicing her thoughts aloud.

The woman turns from the mirror and smiles.

Her lips are full and colored a dark red, and Sparx knows she knows she's beautiful, beautiful in a cultured, deliberate way that Sparx won't ever—won't want to—be

"Look around you," the other woman says, indicating with a graceful gesture the world outside the space. "Maybe it's you and blondie that are the freaks, in this world of ours."

Sparx snorts. "Not likely."

The woman—she goes by Lady Illusion; Sparx hasn't asked her if she actually has a name—turns her attention back to the mirror, hanging apropos of nothing on the gray walls.

"What do you see, anyway?" Sparx asks with irritation.

"Whatever I want," the woman says, still gazing into the silvered surface.

Sparx steps behind her and sees both their faces reflected next to each other, Lady Illusion's exotic green skin contrasting with Sparx' more human features, so different, though she knows that underneath their surfaces they're reflections of each other.

The woman's lips curl up again, and she turns into a blond man whom Sparx recognizes.

"You'd prefer to see something like this?" she asks.

In the mirror the two figures look like they belong together, two fair-skinned humans in similar uniform, blue-eyed and straight-postured.

Sparx scowls. "You know I wouldn't."

Lady Illusion shrugs. "A logical assumption." She changes shape again, this time to Sparx' own double, and grabs the original by the arm. "This?"

"Stop being silly."

Sparx feels the flesh of the other reshape as Lady Illusion turns back into herself.

"Well then," the woman says, still holding onto Sparx' arm.

"There's a reason we're here." Sparx leans forward and places her lips over her enemy's, forcing the other woman into the wall, not worried about bruising her, sensing the power between them, the energy they'd spent on hate before realising that this could happen.

The other woman captures Sparx' lip with her teeth, biting nearly hard enough to draw blood—not that such as them bleed, of course—and, responding, Sparx brings a hand to the other's neck, none-too-gently trailing her fingers down cool flesh, not bothering to stop when she meets fabric.

-

Sparx can't remember exactly when it all started. She can't remember much at all, actually, her memories blurring into each other like a spinning kaleidoscope in the darkness, a series of brief flashing images, iridescent and evasive.

In the beginning was the Amulet of Zoar, Sparx knows, and I must help my friend Ace Lightning to keep it out of Lord Fear's hands and save the world, sending the villains back into the prison of the Sixth Dimension.

I am a Lightning Knight¸ she knows, but she doesn't know how or why.

Lady Illusion is evil, she also knows. I sent her to prison in the Sixth Dimension, before she escaped, freeing the others. But there's more to that particular story.

Battles, fighting, fielding explosions with her sword, fighting as much with words as with abilities, little girl, hair looks like roadkill…

Energy, crashing around them, battles and brightness and flame and darkness.

It's always been personal…

Both women, female sidekicks, fighting each other while the males were otherwise occupied, hating each other.

Opposites, really, dark and light, impulsive and cunning, warmth and cold, honesty and deception.

It never was their story, not really.

-

The space between the lines was a cave, in the middle of nowhere, far away from the storyspace, set in gray and blank stone. It might have been oblivion, but Sparx knew that was white and hot and where you sent villains.

Afterwards, she never quite figured out how she got the Flash to fly there each time, and she always assumed that Lady Illusion simply did a teleport.

They were the only two who had found it; it was Ace and Lord Fear who were the important figures of this game, and then there were all the minions and hangers-on, leaving Sparx and Lady Illusion alone, to…wonder.

They weren't important, not really. Only to each other.

"Hello, Sparxie," she'd said, scorn written on her face. "And what brings you here?"

They'd fought each other, starting with powers and turning to hand-to-hand when they were both exhausted, kicking and punching and trying to win.

The cave's floor was cold stone, rough and uneven, and Sparx couldn't care less as she tried to slam the other woman's head into it, pinning her to the ground with their bodies entangled.

She'd glared up at Sparx, her face set in an infuriatingly patronizing look despite the small cut near her bottom lip. "Why do you hate me?" she asked.

Sparx paused.

You're evil, she might have said.

You try to kill me and my friends on a regular basis, she might have said.

You manage to wear lipstick and look pretty and still get to be more powerful than me, she might have said.

You're my opposite number and we have more in common than I'd ever like to think about and I'm never going to be like you, she might have said.

None of them fitted.

"Because I have to," Sparx said. "The program."

The other woman smiled, plum-colored lips curling upwards. "I know," she says.

"Then why do you hate me?" Sparx said, hating that she was being manipulated, yet choosing to take the bait anyway.

"You sent me to prison in the Sixth Dimension," she said. "Though hate is rather a strong emotion. I'd prefer not to waste it on you."

Sparx felt insulted, though she wasn't quite sure why.

"What do you waste it on, then?"

"Emotions are human. I find it best to feel nothing." She smiled again, slowly and almost seductively.

"You're lying," Sparx said, certain that she was right, irritated by the confidence on the other's face. "You do hate me. I'm the only person you actually show real facial expression for, you don't truly care about anything else…"

"I feel nothing. We don't. You're no more than an annoyance, little Lightning Knight," Lady Illusion said quickly, still confident despite being pinned down by Sparx' body. "I don't hate you. That would involve admitting you were actually worth it, actually competent…"

Sparx decided she had to shut her up, now, do something to show that she was good, better than some spider-headed freak. She balled her fist to punch her, but Lady Illusion reached up a hand to grab her arm, forcing it back.

Sparx always blamed her next move on the fact that there was nothing else she could have done.

She bent down and pressed her lips over the other woman's, finally managing to silence her with a kiss, feeling the surprised tremor that ran through her body.

The other woman didn't bother to resist, her mouth slackening in shock as Sparx began to realize precisely what she was doing, and exactly how it felt. There was still the energy of the fight, left behind on their lips, and it tasted of…of burned-green poison, powerful and sharp.

"Well," Lady Illusion said eventually, meeting Sparx' eyes. "That was…quite an anomaly."

"You…didn't exactly try to stop me," Sparx pointed out.

She smiled, the sort of smile Sparx would have had to describe as 'evil'. "Why should I?"

She leaned forward, drawing Sparx into another kiss. It lasted longer this time, and Sparx could taste something acrid and salty in her mouth that reminded her of how blood was supposed to taste.

Sparx knew feelings like this…well, existed, for a start, but she'd never thought of this. It felt like a powerup, only more real somehow, with other flesh across hers and skin touching and almost melding into each other. Like an electric current, zooming into her entire body, bringing a flush to her cheeks and warmth to her skin. Sparx decided to give up on the thinking and concentrate on the moment. It had always been what she was good at, and she let herself relax into the kiss, reacting with enthusiasm.

They eventually broke apart, both breathing rapidly. Lady Illusion raised a hand to Sparx' neck, stroking down the skin to meet her turtleneck, and paused.

"Er," Sparx said, suddenly embarrassed. "Do you…know what to do?"

Lady Illusion chewed her lower lip, and Sparx was surprised to realize that she looked a little nervous.

"I…have knowledge, programmed into me," she said, with a reasonable show of dignity, "but few memories." She traced the soft curve of Sparx' cheek with her hand. "Not to mention that you happen to be alive…"

-

It's an extension of their enmity, Sparx thinks, which just happened to feel…better…than the usual try-to-kill. Another competition, of a sort.

-

She wakes up, the cave in nowhere's space freezing cold, and reaches for a nearby blanket to wrap around herself, covering her.

The other woman is sleeping peacefully, her face looking a lot more innocent than it ever does while she's awake.

Sparx remembers what happened between them, here in the space between everything else where nothing happens, and blushes at the memories. It hadn't been perfect, Sparx decides, but there'd been feeling and touches and bodies nearly melting into one, green and red in dark and gray, and confidence beginning to grow as they'd made discoveries about each other.

It had always been…rather personal, between them. Energy, redirected.

She's evil, Sparx remembers. I…this shouldn't have happened. Though it was…fun…

The other woman stirs, and doesn't even deign to notice Sparx for a while, sooty eyelashes fluttering as she begins to wake up. She's not wearing clothing and doesn't even bother grabbing a blanket to cover herself, completely unselfconscious. Not that she has anything to be self-conscious about, Sparx thinks, a little bitterly.

She stares at her.

"What is this?" Sparx asks. "I don't think this was in the rules…"

"This never happened." The other woman sits up, and reaches for her top. "It's…between everything else. Nothing to do with anything."

"It's…not right. We're both female…"

"And we managed." The other woman half-smiles. "It's not anything special. It's just us. And I don't recall you complaining before."

Sparx blushes at that, reaching for her own clothing to cover her embarrassment. "I'm not…complaining." She shakes her head. "It's weird. And it's you. But there's nothing else, here."

"We, unlike our…associates…possess both the time and the intelligence to make something of the situation. It's a reasonable arrangement."

"That's cold," Sparx says, shocked at the other woman's icily practical tone of voice. "We're more than…an arrangement."

"You have your blond friend to go back to. I have…my job." Lady Illusion stands up, finishing dressing.

"You don't care about him, do you?" They both know to whom Sparx refers. Fear of a name, really…

"We're both evil. What do you think?"

"I didn't know. That's why I asked, hello?"

"On the subject, you have the pretty blond."

"Pretty?"

The other shrugs. "He is."

Sparx scowls. "Well, go see him then."

Lady Illusion rolls her eyes. "Why do you think I'm here with you? You really are as stupid as you look, sometimes."

"I am not stupid!"

Sparx lunges at her, and there's a brief battle on the floor, both trying to gain the other hand, flesh and limbs colliding, before Sparx tries another kiss, and the struggle changes to a different one.

-

There are some things Sparx knows, that she doesn't think anyone else remembers.

Lady Illusion's skin feels colder than her own to the touch, silken and smooth. Her fingers are long—too long, Sparx sometimes thinks, out of proportion to the rest of her body—and graceful, neatly trimmed in black.

She's a brunette under the spider headwear, with hair a shade someone else might call raven, untidily cropped and refusing to lie flat, a contrast to the rest of her carefully tamed form. She'd said once that they'd cut her hair in the prison in the Sixth Dimension, not that she talked about that often. Sparx thinks there's some sort of half-remembered story out there, about women shaved in wartime, but the details are hazy.

Her ribs are easily visible, under the corset—she's bony and thin, though still manages to look like she has the right sort of curves—and Sparx thinks that her clothing is far too tight, forcing her waist into a shape she doesn't think should be natural, though the woman seems to be able to move easily enough. Too easily, at times, though in the space between the lines that's something of an advantage.

-

"You think things would've been different?" Sparx says, feeling the heat of the fire and the other woman's body wrapped around her, not wanting to move. "If we were in another world, or something. If we didn't have to try to kill each other."

"You appear to enjoy the latter," Lady Illusion says dryly.

"No, I mean…" Sparx gestures around the gray-walled cave. There's an orange fire beside them, usually with a collection of loose blankets next to it, a mirror hanging on the wall, and behind them a shallow pool of dark water. It's furnished, but things never seem to be in the same place, and Sparx is positive it's affected by their moods. "Something about this place. And our whole world." Her forehead furrows in concentration. "There's something more, I think, only I'm not sure what."

"You make no sense," the other woman says, running the tips of her fingernails along Sparx' spine, sending tingling waves that feel like they're spreading to the rest of her body.

"Never mind, then," Sparx says, and decides to return the touch.

-

"Are you going to try to hurt Ace?" They're both fully clothed this time, sitting next to each other, talking.

In the storyspace outside, Sparx knows, Ace Lightning has entered the Carnival of Doom, to find the amulet and save the world. She'll help him, soon. She's quite looking forward to it.

"Your blond friend—and you—can look after yourselves quite adequately. It would be both foolish and patronizing of me not to," Lady Illusion says.

"You think we'll win?"

"Good has an unfortunate tendency to triumph over Evil." She shrugs with the same easy grace present in all her movements.

"Would you kill us, if you could?" Sparx asks.

"Probably. My boss would kill me, if I didn't. Though you could be a slave, while we rule the world, whatever the female equivalent of catamite happens to be…"

Sparx doesn't know what the word meant, and doesn't think she wants to. "Not going to happen."

"Would you kill me to prevent it?"

"You can look after yourself." Sparx grins, though there's seriousness behind her stare. "You think you'll live?"

"I believe gratuitous murder of attractive women only belongs in the higher-rated games."

"You're vain."

"Only when justified. Now, are we going to waste time talking…?"

-

In the Carnival of Doom, the light's nearly always dark, except when it's glaring with the brightness of some explosion. It's probably part of the atmosphere, Sparx thinks. Seen one supervillain's lair, seen them all.

Lady Illusion's eyes are empty as she prepares to throw the final crystal ball to destroy her enemy, Ace Lightning.

Finally time for some action, Sparx thinks, smiling. I've been bored long enough.

"I've been itching for some action! Let's kick some villain butt!" Sparx calls, swooping across in the Flash and grinning.

She activates the Sword of Jacob, a red beam sweeping through the air, and Lady Illusion crumples to the ground.

Too easy, Sparx thinks, still grinning.

"You never call, you never write…" she teases, smiling at Ace.

"Good to see you too, Sparx." Her friend returns the smile.

Sparx reaches into the Flash, and pulls out something she hadn't realized was there.

"Drink this, it's Lightning Juice," she says, handing a bottle to Ace.

He obeys her, and she watches as his wounds are healed.

Loyalties and feelings are always unambiguous, here in the storyspace.

"Got a girlfriend, Ace?" cackles Lady Illusion, raising herself to her feet.

You know I'm not¸ Sparx might have said at another time, but she has only one concern.

She fires up her sword, and she and Ace both blast Lady Illusion, who falls. Ace picks up the amulet piece that has appeared in front of him, laughing.

Sparx swoops over to help the other woman up, and is met by a glare at her.

"Why?"

"Because even evil ladies don't deserve to die." Sparx lets a complacent grin spread across her face. "Morph in any time…if you want to fight."

The other woman doesn't reply, and Sparx swoops away with her friend.

-

It's the space between the lines, and the story is over.

"We won," Sparx says, relaxing against the wall. "What happened to you?"

"Teleported out," she says, folding her arms. "I want a rematch."

She lunges towards Sparx, not bothering to use weapons. Sparx does her best to block the attack, shielding with gloved hands.

"You destroyed the Carnival," Lady Illusion says as she and Sparx circle each other warily, watching for an opening. "There's nothing out there but limbo. Not that it isn't an improvement on the décor…"

"You lived," Sparx says. "And I had to, we both had to, remember?"

"Memory's a hard thing to hold on to, in this world," Lady Illusion says, and attacks.

Sparx tries her best to fight back, but is forced to the cave's wall, jagged gray stone pressing on her back. She always was more powerful than me¸ she knows, but I never give in…

"Look. We both knew something like this was going to happen," she says. "You were the one who said you didn't care about anything…"

"I care about winning," Lady Illusion says. "About not having everything I know destroyed."

"About me?" Sparx asks. Her arms are pinned to the wall by her opponent, but she doesn't think she needs to be afraid.

"I never said I cared. Never promised anything. And I might have lied if I had." Her face is close to Sparx', green-black eyes flashing with more emotion than she usually shows.

"You're a good liar," Sparx says. "That's not a compliment, if you're wondering. But you didn't. You've never lied to me."

"I never needed to," she says. "And you are honest and simple enough—that is not a compliment either, by the way—for deception to make no impression on you."

"Exactly," Sparx says. "So try to lie to me. Tell me you hate me."

"I do," she replies, and realizes what she's just said.

"You're not as good as you think," Sparx says triumphantly.

She sighs, and lets her hold on Sparx relax. "There's nothing out there," she says quietly. "Though when we are, there is nothing in here."

"It's us," Sparx says. "That counts. Real or not." She frees an arm, and wraps it around the other woman's shoulder.

Lady Illusion doesn't seem to mind.

-

"I never asked," Sparx says, later. "What's your name?"

"I…don't have one." The other woman looks embarrassed, though it's hard to tell. Sparx doesn't think she's capable of blushing. It wouldn't look good on her skin, anyway.

"Elf," Sparx says, running a now-bared hand over the delicate curves of her opponent's ear. "Elfie, Ellie, Elsie…"

"Stop," she says, grimacing.

"Elspeth. Think about it."

"I might," she says.

"Elspeth-elf. It's a name. For, well, here. You think I want to call you Lady Illusion all the time?"

"I said I'd think about it."

"Good enough."

There's a pause as they sit together, still touching, but neither saying much.

"Well, the story's over," Sparx says eventually, staring into the now-yellow flames.

"It's likely there'll be a sequel," Lady Illusion—Elspeth, here between the linessays. "We'll fight again."

"Bring it on," Sparx says, and she glances down at their clasped hands.

Nowhere, somewhere, she decides. And whatever we have, it's something. It'll do, for now.

A/N: Believe me, honest—indeed, any—feedback IS appreciated.