Disclaimer: I don't own the Teen Titans.
Author Note's: A bit of departure from my usual fare. Call it a challenge, call it a gift, call it insanity, but all the same, I'm expanding my horizons.
Originally, this was supposed to be a one-shot songfic but the dimensions and my creativity overlapped and chapterizing was the only way but more than that, my recent paper ate up my time and threw off my schedule completely. I may yet combine the chapters into one long superfic as it was intended, once I'm done. Just some major editing is required. I haven't decided. But I'd make a copy of your own respective reviews if I were you.
Dedication: to my partner in crime, the Max to my Sam, and the man who ensures that I never sleep normal again, Noriaki Kakyoin. His brilliance is only shaded by his quirkiness/geekiness. I don't know what my life would be without you.
No doubt a lot more boring.
BlackShield will beta once life gets out of her way.
Timeline: interlaced throughout Deception.
Robin's internal clock kept chiming throughout his head. It has been two days since Cyborg infiltrated the H.I.V.E. Academy to find out what their new leader is planning for the world.
'Wish I can see what you're up to, Cy.' Robin just stared at the screen, making sure he wouldn't miss a blip or intermittent static. He started to massage his temples as the rising sun shined in his eyes.
"Robin, stop staring at the screen or your real eyes will end up looking like your mask." Raven's sardonic voice echoed throughout the living room. Robin gave off a sign and turned to the dark empath.
"I'm afraid if I turn away for a second he'll call."
"Robin, I'm sure you're familiar with the cliché of a 'watched kettle.' "
"I'll go watch, get something to eat. You haven't eaten all day."
"Fine." Robin knew it was better than to argue with Raven, he valued his mind too much. He walked away to the kitchen while Raven took his position.
"Is there anything to eat?" He called out to her while rummaging the cabinets for a frying pan.
"I wish I could say that herbal tea was a meal but no. I think just tofu." Robin felt his stomach drop twenty stories from hearing that.
"I suddenly lost my appetite." Robin gave up his search.
"I'm sure Starfire can make something." She said in her deadpan.
Robin remembered the last time he ate a concoction of the alien's. 'I'm not up to vomiting blue for three days again.' "I'll pass."
Robin walked to Raven and began to pace back and forth. After five minutes, she was getting irritated.
"Is there any way that will make you stop that short of placing your soul outside your body?"
"Worried about him. I know." Raven gave off an iota of sympathy.
"You think he may be captured?"
"Not like he's there to have a vacation." Robin sighed.
"Robin, you need to stop worrying yourself into a dizzy again." Starfire's honeyed voice echoed throughout the living room as she entered.
"That's tizzy." Raven cut in.
"It's been long enough. Either he's captured, which is what I think, or…"
"You're thinking reverse Stockholm Syndrome?" Raven asked.
"I think that more as the last resort but…I can't dismiss it."
"I'll find some suitable clothes for you." Raven walked into the corridor. Robin was about to speak when she interrupted.
"We both know you won't be satisfied until you know one way or another. And I'd rather spare myself from seeing you obsess…again."
Robin said nothing.
"I thought so." She walked off.
"Oh Robin, do you think Friend Cyborg will be alright?" Starfire said, worried.
"He can handle himself. Usually. But against a school? You know how those three students nearly stole the Tower from us. I'm not making that mistake again."
"But, Robin." She put her hand on his shoulder, he pulled away.
"I won't let him become poisoned by the H.I.V.E. like I was with Slade. I have to do this."
"I can come with you. You may need assistance."
"No thanks, Star but someone with your…complexion will make you stick out like a sore thumb. I on the other hand can blend in more easily. And if I need it, there is Raven."
"I see. But do not you think a pale skin and uniquely colored hair will make her conspicuous?"
"Given what that one student…what's her name, Jinx looks like, I'm not too worried." He began walking to the door.
"Robin, what happens if you find him and reveal the man from the closet and ruin his infiltration?"
"What happens if I save his life instead? I'll see you before I head off."
"Yeah?" She walked over to him, trying to stare through his mask. She kept seeing his reflection.
"Never you mind. My apologies." She backed down to him. He felt confusion.
"Right. Bye, Star." He went out the door. Starfire suddenly felt a queasy feeling in her stomach. She let out a forlorn sigh.
"This won't do. All I see is red." Robin stared at the mirror in his room. He was dressing in a midnight blue jumper with a goldenrod X insignia on the chest with matching shoulder pads.
"Just need a black door." Raven muttered as she gripped her measuring tape. "Well, like Cyborg's ruse, you would sneak in as a recruit with a superpower. Laser vision. All thanks to my…minor technological abilities as with your visor."
"What kind of superpower is that? I couldn't see while I did that."
"But you get to destroy things."
"No. And this uniform is quite uptight. Binds in the crotch."
"Talking about the uniform or yourself?" She said sotto voce.
"Nothing." Robin tried to give her a suspicious glance (which lost the effect because of the visor).
"Let's use something and…not with a superpower."
"Had this shtick for so long, why spoil a tradition?" He swore he saw a wisp of a smile on Raven.
"Exactly." She walked away, Robin took off the visor.
'Me and my pretense. Be nice not to have that once in a while.' Robin was about to sigh when Raven returned with black clothes in her arms.
"Here, try this." She dumped it in his arms.
After a few minutes of undressing and defying physics in the bathroom, Robin stared at the mirror. He was dressed in black leather, complete with matching trench coat, and a pair of sunglasses.
"It's the Matrix, Neo." Raven deadpanned.
"I'm not Neo, and this is not the Matrix."
"I'm not wearing this. It looks like I'm going to a gay bar or that café of yours."
"My café, you wouldn't be caught dead wearing that. Fine." Raven leaves the room again.
'Wish she had some fashion sense. All she does is blue and black.' Robin shook his head.
Raven returned with white clothes. "Here, and if that doesn't work, always try going nude. I doubt anyone will notice."
Robin suppressed the blush and went into the bathroom to change. 'I'm going to have a long talk with that girl and her attitude when I get back. If I get back. No, can't think like that. Haven't thought like that before.'
Robin stared at the mirror. 'But then I wasn't just betrayed so easily either.'
'Why am I a sucker for a pretty face?' He opened the door and stared at Raven. "Let's see if this works."
He had on a white coat with matching pants, and a black shirt to clash. Robin mutters. "What was that?" Raven leans over to hear.
"I like it."
"He likes it. Robin likes it." She barbed in her deadpan.
"So, what do you think?"
"Hmm…I think you need a cap. It would hide the hair." Robin glared at her.
"What's wrong with my hair?"
Raven melted into the floor. "What's wrong with my hair?" Robin gave a sigh.
'Women. I'll never get them.' Robin stared back at the mirror.
'I hope clothes really do make the man.' Robin heard a knock. "Raven, I hope you have an answer to that." The door slid open. Robin stared into a pair of emerald eyes.
"And what would the question be?" Starfire's melodious voice echoed throughout the room.
"Oh, nothing, Star."
"I see. Are you certain about this action? The Hierarchy of International Vengeance and Extermination is not a walk in the cake."
"Cakewalk you mean." 'Figures she'd know what the initials mean.'
"Oh, yes but Cyborg has abilities to compensate his subterfuge. But you, unfortunately…" She couldn't finish the sentence.
"You…do not have the abilities to endure attacks from all those students."
"You're saying I'm weak?"
"I've been trained by the best. I can do it."
"But Robin, what happens if you fail?" Her eyes tried to bore through him.
"As long as I find Cyborg, it will be worth it."
"I shall find a costume and assist you in your—"
"Star, don't. I can handle this myself."
"Robin, you are the leader, if you are…neutralized, the team is compromised." Robin raised an eyebrow to her hesitation.
"Star, I've faced things that defied the imagination, I'll be fine. You don't have to worry about me."
"Star, don't worry. If things go wrong, ask Raven, she can do just fine in a pinch." He was ushering her out the door.
"I don't see how her pinching can solve this problem."
"You'll be fine. And you got the pseudo Cyborg to use in case things get really out of hand. You shouldn't be that short changed."
"I do not think not having insufficient funds is going to correct the problem of your absence."
"I've been doing this a long time, I can take multiple opponents. Relax." She was at the doorway.
"Robin, you're taking a gamble by yourself, over a risk that you should not take. We can do it together."
"Can't risk everyone getting caught, it's my idea, my mission, my risk. I wish you can understand that, I have to do this. Now if you excuse me, I have to get ready." He shut the door. She glanced at the doorway for a few seconds before trudging her way out.
Robin walked to his workbench, digging around his utility belt. 'She worries too much. This will be simple, find him and get out. If the rest of the students are like the trio, then this shouldn't be a challenge.'
"Hope these discs will help convince I'm a metahuman." He muttered.
"Or just an insane teenager with too much time on his hands." Raven's monotone broke the silence of the room.
"How long have you been there?"
"Long enough." She appeared from the floor and offered him a white cap.
"I thought it would fit the piece, although I think you'd be better in black or your standby red."
He took the cap and put it on. "I know, I thought a total overhaul was needed. That way no one thinks it would be Robin."
"And his fruity costume."
"Cheap shot isn't it?"
"So what if it is?" She shrugged. Robin let out a sign.
"Anyway, I think this may work. My explosive discs should compensate for a superpower problem."
"You realize of course, the H.I.V.E. no doubt will have you and your technology on file. They'll detect it."
"I know, and I wish I had access with Speedy's arrows and mix the energy signature by combining them."
"Since we're on similarity, should change that mask."
"The mask stays." He said firmly.
"Hopefully there'll be other paranoids there and wear similar masks, so maybe you won't stick out like a sore thumb."
"Speedy wore a similar mask to mine; I think them off the rack really."
"Either way, you'll find out two seconds in."
"More or less. I think I'm ready."
"I wonder if they will be."
"I'm not staying to make friends, just get him and slip out."
"I believe you, on that, but whether you can handle them by yourself is another."
"You're not going to tell me 'I'm taking a gamble by myself and if I go, I'll compromise the team' are you?"
"I would, if you weren't so stubborn."
"I'm not stubborn, I'm…"
"Bored? Lonely? Frustrated? After all, Slade and his hench wench weren't resolved too long ago."
"No, not them. Just…if I did the right thing. Letting him go off by himself."
"Can you wait until you rescue him before you second guess yourself? I doubt Cyborg can afford the time you spend on your ruminations."
Robin sighed. "You're right. He can't afford it. For all we know he could be tortured right now."
"Depends, Gizmo still with the H.I.V.E.?"
"I think so."
"Then he will be with those insults, come on." Raven morphed into the floor again.
Robin went and stared back into the mirror one last time. 'Hope this works.' He shook his head and stared at his empty room for a minute before leaving.
'I should have brought back the clippings. At least that would have livened up the place but no, he's dead, so let's keep it that way.'
'Lose one obsession, gain another. Going to kill me one of these days.' Robin headed for the elevator.
'At least Raven isn't worried about me.' Robin began to rev his motorcycle.
"Robin, I'm sure you've heard this plenty but no heroics, just report where he is and we'll devise a plan from there." She handed him his helmet.
"Gee, why don't I believe you?"
"Oh, Raven, let it go, I don't want to repeat myself here."
"Nor do I." Her eyes bore straight through him.
"No heroics." Robin returned the glare. Raven made no other reaction.
"Alright, I'll call in at midnight, should be enough time. And Raven? One more thing."
"Well, like it or not, you're in charge until I know what's happened to him. I think you can do it, just keep that temper in check. For me?" He asked her compassionately.
'How dare he think that I have—oh, shoot my monkey.' She felt his compassion and concern for her undulate. "Yes, Robin." She admonished herself for acquiescing.
"Off I go, and try not to blow up the tower." He put on his helmet and drove off before Raven offered a response.
'You threaten murder on one green imp and everything he owns and you're branded for life.' She deadpanned before leaving to deal with the overtly emotional Starfire and get blinded by the alien's emotions.
Not to mention her own as minute as it may be.
Robin only had one thought as the Tower was fading behind him. 'Bruce, I hope those subterfuge lessons of yours take or you'll be breaking in a new Boy Wonder.' He was approaching a stoplight.
'Unless you already have. Oh, stop. Focus. Can't afford weakness right now. Can't stop.'
The light turned yellow and Robin sped ahead.
After a workout and some breakfast held together by congealed grease and smelling like burnt rubber, Cyborg in his "Stone" façade decided to head to the shooting range for some practice. A gun was aiming for the granite teen's leg in the background. The owner's finger was itching by the trigger.
"Hey, kludgehead, check out, my new rifle." Gizmo's shrill voice rang high to compensate among the sounds of lasers and fried paper in the air.
"A photon class particle rifle? I didn't think one existed!" Stone grabbed it from the tech midget's hands and salivated over the goldenrod rifle.
"Yeah, yeah, nose picker. Shows you that the scrum licking H.I.V.E. is nothing with my talents."
"How did you overcome the quantum phase problem in the bullets?"
"Hey, I can't reveal all my secrets, snot brain. 'A magician never reveals' and all that gunk." Gizmo folded his arms as he hovered before the granite teen.
"Give me five minutes. After I try this baby out." Stone walked an empty booth and put on the accompanying earmuffs.
"Aren't you in for a surprise?" Gizmo said in his trademark sotto voce.
Stone pushed a button on the console and saw the target sheet falling down on the opposite end of the booth. The target was a printed image of Cyborg. Stone pushed the safety down, pointed the weapon at the sheet and began firing at the middle.
"Wait for it." Gizmo sneered.
Stone gave a small smile as he was aiming for the face of the caricature for last. He fired a shot straight between the eyes. The energy discharged left the sheet in ashes.
'I think I enjoyed that far too much.' But before he could dwell any further, the gun began to irradiate a weird hum sound. Stone recognized the sound.
"The particle gun is overloading! Calmly evacuate the nearby rooms!" He shouted to the other students of the gallery. They stampeded out of the range. He simply gave a smirk.
"Gizmo! How do you—" The tech midget was no where to be found.
"Great." The gun was beginning to overheat. Stone was looking for the safety latch; it had melted down.
"Okay, make a new one." He grumbled as he used his thumb to softly rip off the melted component. He then converted his index finger to spy mode, ripped it off and attached to the gun. He flicked off the safety and depowered the gun.
Stone put down the gun, removed his integrated finger from the weapon and waited for someone to show. He found H.I.V.E. students in radiation suits several minutes later, Stone simply gave a smirk.
"The party is over, guys."
The students ignored him and two of them ushered him out of the room. "Hey, what's going on?"
"We have to decontaminate you." One student said in a deadpan that would make Raven blush.
Stone subtly panicked. If they checked him for radiation, they can reveal the charade. He had to think fast.
"Guys, I'm fine, I shut it off before the radiation leaked."
"You let us think what's best here." Another student spoke.
"I know some things about radiation, and I stopped the overload before it leaked. I'm perfectly fine."
"I'm afraid as the technician said, "we should think what is best for you." Mr. Stone." A charismatic, slick voice crooned throughout the hallway.
"Brother Blood." Everyone acknowledged the headmaster hidden within an ivory radiation suit, with the embroidered saffron jackal's head insignia glowing in the incandescent light.
"Sir, I assure you, I'm fine." Stone stared down the older man.
"Ah, yes, denial: the mantra of the sick. All the same, I think a short checkup is in order. We don't want to lose one of our best students over a mere oversight. Oversights were one of the flaws in the olden days." Blood gave off a killer smile as his cerulean eyes began to glow crimson. Stone wasn't impressed.
'He's doing that again. He mustn't think much of himself if he keeps relying on that.'
"A short checkup is fine. Lead the way, boys." Stone followed to the two technicians.
"How about them Gotham Knights?"
The two were silent as they walked down the corridor. "Okay then." 'Got to think of something.'
"We're about at the decontamination room." The one student spoke again.
"I don't suppose you guys can wait a minute until I go to the little boys' room." The two students made no reaction but kept walking.
"C'mon! I drank a bunch of coffee this morning and that going straight through me."
The student that was silent spoke. "Yeah, the coffee goes through you. Alright. We'll just seal the bathroom. It's right by the lab."
"Thanks. Just one minute." The two students made no reaction. Stone shut the door, made a twist on his ring and dropped the illusion to show his 'real arm.'
'Got to work fast.' He adjusted several controls on the arm, heard a compression sound, and twisted back the ring and showed the flesh colored arm again.
'Let's see how good my fast talking is.' He flushed the toilet.
'Wonder if they'll check the septic tank. Hope Blood isn't as paranoid as Slade was.' He opened the door.
"The system is uh, flushed."
"Super." The student deadpanned. They resumed their course and met up with what Cyborg presumed was the doctor and the nurse.
"Hello, Mr. Stone, I'm Doctor Milo. This is my nurse, Nurse Betty." The doctor said drably. Stone looked up and down on the nurse, a blonde nurse with the tightest curves hugging that radiation suit and come hither eyes with a perfect smidgen of makeup showing within the plastic visor. He was beside himself.
"Um, Hello—Hello nurse." He wondered if he'd be the first man to die from blushing.
"Come on." She said emotionlessly. Stone hid his disappointment as they walked into the lab. "See ya guys." He said to the two students. They said nothing and walked away.
'Do everyone beyond Blood and the trio have any personality at all?'
"How fast is this test, doc? I got an exam in less than an hour."
"Soon enough, Mr. Stone. Headmaster Blood was quite insistent this be expedient." Stone noticed the advanced medical equipment as they passed through. Far more advanced than anything Wayne Enterprises or Lexcorp can come up with.
"Right." Stone clasped his arms behind his back. They entered the final room, a bland room with a circular platform and a mirror on the far wall. Stone turned from them.
"We'll be doing a simple radiation scan. Five minutes to set the project, two minutes for the scan, and five for the results. Stand on the platform and we'll take care of the rest." The doctor droned on.
"Right. Whenever you're ready." They began to walk away, the arm detached and came to life as the hand fell and gripped on the floor all without a sound. The index finger rose, opened and flipped out to show a lens. The hand began to crawl quickly and left the room right before the nurse shut the door.
'Better hurry. Hope this new program works.'
Stone turned to the mirror, still pretending to clasp his hands, glancing around the room, before walking to the platform. Stone's vision shifted from seeing the room to the crawling hand's perspective as it followed the staff into the other room.
"Get the student's file, while I finish calibrations." The doctor continued in his monotone as he sat down by a control panel by the mirror. The hand crawled away under a desk near the door.
"What do I pay you for anyway? You're just sitting around…" The doctor muttered as he typed in some commands as the nurse walked out and shut the door. The hand saw another console behind the doctor.
"Please stand on the platform."
'There we go.'
The hand jumped on the console and shot off several tentacles, routing themselves onto several ports. 'A little overload never hurt anybody.'
The device began to hum and began to shut down. The hand jumped down, and went under it as the doctor turned to the disturbance.
"Lackadaisical lump of circuitry and camshafts. What do you expect from Lexcorp?"
The hand crawled to the control panel the doctor was on as the doctor walked away. The hand again expanded the tentacles and found a connection port.
'Just make one adjustment or two. Hope their tech is as lax as their admissions.' "Yeah, is this going to take all day?"
The doctor sighed as the hand retracted the tentacle, jumped down, and hid under the machine. The doctor gave up and returned back to the panel with the finger staring at the doctor's crotch.
'Where is a good blackout when you need it?'
The doctor pressed a button. "Technical difficulties. Two minutes." He whipped out his H.I.V.E. issue Communicator.
'Come on. Open a door, feeling naked here.'
"Nurse, come quickly, I need your help, the com is malfunctioning." His response was silence. "Nurse." Once again, silence.
"This is bordering on the precipice." The doctor ranted and went out the office, the hand followed. He found the nurse drinking coffee.
"What are you doing? I have both a control panel and a patient to tend to and you're not answering my page. And your suit is open." His emotion began to leak through his monotone.
"I haven't drunk any all day. And this thing is making me sweat and making this thing tighter."
"You and your addiction. It's moot to drink it as it won't stay in you long enough to make any last impressions."
Stone sighed. 'H.M.O at its finest.'
The hand crawled away from the squabbling duo, and hid in a corner in the corridor. The doctor and nurse walked out of the room and returned back to the control room. The nurse opened a plate on the control panel and adjusted several controls.
"Did you bother to get the file like I asked or you confused it with more coffee?" The nurse reached into her pocket and then placed a computer code printout into a slot.
"Oh please, what do you take me for?"
"Someone competent?" The doctor pressed the same button.
"We will begin scanning now."
"Super." 'Man, that's infectious.'
The room undertook a light blue incandescent glow and a horizontal light beam fell down throughout the room. Stone felt the intensity and hoped the ring on his remaining arm would hold out.
'Don't let them see you sweat. If you could sweat.'
The doctor pushed a few buttons and adjusted a few dials as the machine gave off a hum. It gave off a printout. He pulled out the card and stared at the two. "His profile is even better than his first exam. Interesting." He pressed the button.
Stone wished he could relax but all that training told him better.
'I probably didn't have to do all this but I dunno. That tech. Could detect me in a heartbeat.'
"We're finished. You are not contaminated."
Stone allowed himself a sigh of relief. "Then can I go?"
"In a minute."
'Suddenly have this need to twiddle my thumbs. Oh yeah.'
The door opened, the doctor and nurse had their masks off. "Alrighty then. Tell Brother Blood my results and I'll see you around." He stepped off the platform.
"Yes, I'm sure you will. Good luck on that test. Would you like a note?"
Stone stared at the clock on the wall. "Nah, I think I can make it."
"Very good, then."
They walked out of the room and down the corridor, Stone was right behind them. The hand came to life from the corner, crawled rapidly and jumped on his attached hand. Stone commanded the tentacles to grasp the arm socket and it reattached. He readjusted the ring to reactivate the hologram.
'Man, how does Slade do this pose all the time?'
"Thanks. And no offense, doc. Hope I don't see you for a good long while." Stone began to walk out.
"Indeed. Best of luck with your studies." The doctor tried to dredge up some concern for the granite teen.
"Right, bye." He left the laboratory. The doctor stared at the door briefly.
"Call the headmaster."
"You think you have what it takes to be a student of the Hierarchy of International Vengeance and Extermination Academy?" A drill instructor dressed in a saffron, insect designed bodysuit bellowed at Robin.
'I'll never get away from that acronym.' "Yes, sir I believe I do." Robin responded in a soft, firm voice.
"Here at the H.I.V.E. Academy, we have classes primarily on the metahuman who wants to rise above the problems of the world, although in your case, we do have lower privilege positions for non powered students. There they have to work extra assignments and several extracurriculars before they'd even be consider passing to the next grade." The instructor gave Robin several brochures. Robin kept focus on them and him as to not stare at the large dinghy yet organized office or the students and agents swarming throughout.
'Sounds positively feudal and I get to play the serf. Super.' He skimmed through them. "Sign me up. I can tell that the H.I.V.E. is going places and I want to go where to the action is." He placed it on the table in front of the instructor. The instructor grabbed a clipboard and attached a form.
"First I need a basic dossier. Name?"
'Think Grayson! Let's see, I can use the disks to create demolition, thinking of a fitting name.' Then suddenly inspiration stuck.
"Kid Dynamite." 'Hope Jason doesn't eviscerate me.'
"Interesting, I suppose. Power if applicable?"
"Demolitions via technology." Robin drew something from his sleeve, innocuously dropped it and kicked it under the desk.
"What kind of technology?" Robin stood up and began to walk away. "Hey, we're not done!" The instructor screamed.
"Just showing what I can…" The desk blew sky high, leaving the instructor fried in a trail of soot, papers flying everywhere.
"You little punk, I'll make sure you don't qualify for sanitation detail, let alone being a student!" The instructor was about to throw a punch at the teen.
Robin's quick reflexes dodged the punch and judo flipped him on an empty desk.
"If I don't qualify, I don't see why you should be in a position of judging of whom and who may not grace the halls of your school." The instructor rolled over and about to lunge.
"I'll show you who should or should not grace our school!" Robin adopted a defensive posture, ready to counter when—
"Stop." The two turned as with everyone else in the office at the source of the voice, Brother Blood. Blood walked towards the pugilists.
"Interesting technique." He addressed Robin.
"Only way I had to defend myself sir from this…thug." Blood turned to the instructor.
"Yes, he's a holdover from the good old days. I haven't had the heart to discharge him from his overwhelming activities. I'm sure he's quite stressed. A good vacation should do him wonders." Dynamite swore he saw Blood flashed crimson from his eyes at the instructor and some of the students in his line of sight.
"Excuse me while I take care of this." The headmaster bowed before he walked the entranced staff. "Take our prize fighter out to the…Bombus distinguendus labs. They could use a new pure…" He cupped the instructor's chin. "Specimen."
The agents complied and dragged the instructor away, Blood turned to the Boy Wonder.
"Apologies for that. I'm afraid I still have to make some more lasting changes to seal my new administration. Headmaster Sebastian Blood at your service. Also called Brother Blood."
"Quite the school, sir, I can see why it was a top choice of freelancers and weapons for Slade Wilson."
"You're familiar with our top client are you, Mr.?"
"Dynamite. Kid Dynamite.:"
Blood let out a chuckle. "Amusing 70's reference. You take after my heart child."
"It wasn't intentional, sir." Robin was trying to look over the headmaster. 'Doesn't seem like a threat. Quite charismatic though.'
"Quite refreshing not to run into another sycophant. That's all I see anymore. I don't think I can take them anymore." Blood tried to clutch his heart.
'Charismatic and over-the-top. Double my pleasure.' "The burdens of command, sir."
"Too true. I must confess, Mr. Dynamite, I'm intrigued by you, you seem…most eloquent than the usual rabble that darkens our hallways at times. And a snappy dresser too."
"Thank you, sir."
"I think you'll fit in quite well in our little family. Finish your application and we'll get you some suitable quarters in the meantime. Where are your belongings? I don't see anything."
"Yes, sir. Thank you. To answer your question, I only have the clothes on my back."
"I see. Very well. Just to warn you ahead of time, that competition is fierce here, I hope you're not afraid of applying some good, old elbow grease to your work."
"Not a problem, sir. I'm quite competitive when I want to be."
"Excellent. You will find some most certainly with our latest student, Mr. Stone. He's been a rising star under our tutelage."
'Whew, he's still alive.' "I'm sure I'll be crossing paths with him soon enough."
"Without a doubt. Who's on the wheel to be the student guide?" Blood asked a few trembling subordinates.
"Uh, Students Jinx and Gizmo this week, Headmaster."
"Ah, yes, the failures. Summon them after their next class and let them earn their keep. If you excuse me, Mr. Dynamite, I have both a school and a class to run. I'm sure I'll be running into you again." The headmaster bowed.
"Yes, sir, I'm sure you will, sir." 'Oh, just shoot me.'
"Good day and see you in class." Blood left the room.
'Well, so that's the new boss. Doesn't seem like much but I know better.'
"Here, fill this out while we get your student guide to help you." Another instructor gave Robin a stack of papers to sign.
'Bureaucracy may kill me yet.' He wondered as he wrote his name for the 50th time so far.
'Man, this is killing me!' Stone was sweating bullets.
'How do I change the waveverse equation, and I forgot to study on Anti-Life. I'm boned.' Stone was about burn off the eraser on his test.
The rest of the auditorium was nearly empty. Only Stone and the gothic fairy known as Jinx were the only two left.
"Difficult test, Student Jinx?" Blood's voice crooned throughout the hall.
"Nothing an industrial case of White Out can't fix." She said coolly, and walked out while giving Stone a wink.
Stone couldn't hide his blush. "Mr. Stone?"
"Are you about finished?"
"Five minutes, s—sir."
"How far are you?" Blood walked to the student.
"N—Not as far as I liked." 'This is what I get for listening to Jinx and getting high on dizzy grizzys with the trio.'
"Let me see." He grabbed the paper and scanned it.
"Well, not the best, but it's acceptable for a B minus. You're fortunate I'm grading on a curve."
Stone was ready to faint. "Uh, thank you, sir."
"Yes. Incidentally, I'm looking for students willing to be volunteer workers for the student carnival coming in the next week. The work would be done faster if a strong lad such as yourself would sign up and make it a good extracurricular." Stone saw the headmaster's eyes flash crimson briefly.
'Is that getting old hat.' "Sure. I have some time sir."
"Very good." Blood nearly purred.
"There is a meeting after your last class in the atrium. Your classmate, Student Jinx will be charge of her class and yours."
'Again with Jinx? I already blew this test because of her.' "I see, thank you sir."
"Do a good job and we might just increase this up a grade."
"Yes, sir." 'I hate being a sycophant.'
"You may go now."
Stone was quite tempted to sigh in relief. "Thank you, sir." 'Don't relax in front of the enemy.' The granite teen walked out of the grand hall. Jinx was waiting in the main corridor, filing her nails.
"So you didn't fail. Another fringe benefit of being Blood's pet." She stopped to stare at her hand.
"And Gizmo is still having kittens over it. And still sending me death threats."
"Oh hush, he didn't know it would detonate in your face and throw shrapnel in your face."
"Oh yeah, right."
"Believe what you like."
"Why are you here? Don't you have an appointment at the salon?"
She turned to stare through Stone with her feline eyes. "I do but I needed someone to carry my books."
He snorted. "What's wrong with Mammoth or that guy with the weird visor?"
"Because A) Mammoth would eat my books and B) that 'guy' isn't here. And…" She dumped the books on his arms.
"You are." She flashed him a smirk.
"And why should I?"
"Because if you don't, you'll wake with a pink wig superglued to that…barren scalp." She threw him a mocking look.
"Oh, fine, just so you'll leave me alone." They walked down the hall.
"Then why do you keep talking to me and hang out with me all the time?"
"I dunno. Someone spike the sloppy joes?"
"Not since the A/V club were hoisted on their pinkies."
"Shoot, spike the water?"
"Oh, give it up."
He let out a sign. "I bet you heard everything in there."
"Heard what?" She said coyly.
"Don't play dumb. That's Mammoth's job. And I won't be in lunch today. I'm going to Wyatt's review. I'm shaky on the Bethany Snow techniques."
"Sounds positively dull and to get back to the subject at hand, I didn't hear anything in there. Leave my books in my room. I'm going to lounge in the cafeteria." She walked away.
"Don't forget, meeting after school." Her voice echoed throughout the hall.
"I should have hung out with the angel wing chick instead." He muttered as he slunk into another hallway.
"Student Jinx and Student Gizmo, report to admissions." The PA rang.
"Great, two more days and we would have escaped from being nice to the newbies and their non-fashion sense. Ugh, can't anyone in this school dress right?" Jinx bemoaned in the hall near the cafeteria while filing her other hand.
"Rassum fassum lottery. If it was computerized, I would have rigged it so it wouldn't have—" Gizmo was playing his Gamestation PS.
"But it's not. So spare us your nose obsessed rants please." She sat up and began to walk out.
"Snot eating witch." Gizmo muttered in his sotto voce as he hovered behind her.
"C'mon on, let's meet him and then we can make them do things for us, like Stone has done."
"Oh, please, you mean so that they can do stuff for you really, you're so obvious, you gunked up pixie."
"I have no idea what you're talking about." Jinx said innocently.
"Get off yourself, toe jam licking fairy, you and your "come and get it" platformers and makeup. All you do is attract guys and make them do your slime eating commands. No wonder you're not much of a student. You get everyone else to do your work for you."
Jinx's feline eyes bore through the tech midget. "Like going solo has panned out for you. Like in the Tournament of Heroes." Her voice hid an undercurrent of menace.
"I would have won if that scuzz eating Master of Games didn't trick me like that."
"You're a student of the H.I.V.E. You should know better than to fall for such a flimsy ruse. You and your greed."
"And you shouldn't be creating your own flimsy ruses. You'll be caught up in them yourself one day! Mark my words, snot-brained pixie. And I'll just be laughing as you're sinking in the gunk you made for yourself." Gizmo sneered as he sped away.
'Don't bet on it.' The gothic fairy walked coolly to her destination.
'If I were an insect, who would I be? Guess the insect fetish doesn't stay at the door.' Kid Dynamite continued to write out the application form when Jinx and Gizmo arrived.
"So where is the newbie that ruined my manicure?" She nearly yawned out her reply.
"Right here, I guess." Kid Dynamite raised his voice. The duo walked by and looked him over. 'Oh great, if they're smart then I'm afraid the bird will be into the cage.'
"He doesn't seem like much of anything, the shoe polishing smelling gunk-eater." Dynamite sniffed around his clothes.
"Not a bad dresser though. Interesting mask feature. Seems vaguely familiar." The Boy Bomber hid his panic.
"Oh, something I've cobbled together after seeing those two teen twits, Robin and Speedy in action and decided to make myself a counter to those vain, pretty boys." 'Thank you Raven for self deprecation humor.'
"I see. Semi-adequate look on you, that pretty boy birdbrain Robin's was better." She grabbed his form.
"Hey, I wasn't finished."
"Kid Dynamite. Sounds like 60's, new age clap trap to me."
"I'll have you know it's 70's new age clap trap, thank you." He took back the form.
Jinx gave off a harrumph. "At least you're not ashamed of your corniness."
"Should I be?" He gave off a smirk.
"Can't we just introduce him to the school's septic tank and get this over with?" Gizmo grumbled. Jinx threw the tech midget a dirty look.
"Forgive my short friend; he's most irritable when he hasn't had his sugar and cream in his coffee. And we're usually out of them."
"I'm sure he's sweet in his own way. Although calling him a teddy bear would be considered to be bad form wouldn't it?"
"Teddy bear? You snot munching, piece of shh—ahhh!." Gizmo was about to activate his techpac when Jinx grabbed him and flung him in the corner.
"Too bald for the role I think. Not to mention that mouth." She glanced at him acting dizzy over there, trying to remove the trashcan from his head.
"Although he does build them in his spare time."
"Never would have guessed."
"Right, best get this over with. Come on." She gestured to the door, nodding at Dynamite.
finish this form first." Dynamite bent over the desk, filling out
"Stickler for paperwork? The old headmistress would have loved you."
"I noticed your new one, Brother Blood. What happened to the old one?"
"Fell down a well I think. At least that's the current thinking of the student body."
"Says you! I say she got dissolved into a booger by the new headmaster." Gizmo removed the basket and hovered by them.
"You know, Gizmo, not everyone is obsessed with their noses in their conspiracies as you, you know."
"That's what they want you to think! The boogers are the real way about things."
"What thi…I'm done talking to you." She waved her pinky and sent a hex wave to his techpac, causing it to fall apart and him plummeting to the floor.
"Try blaming that on the boogers. You done yet?" She turned to Dynamite, trying to ignore Gizmo's cries of "my machines! My snot-killing machines."
"Just about." He was finishing a small handwriting sample when Jinx shoved him, grabbed the form and glanced at it.
"Close enough for jazz." She handed it gracefully to one of the staff in the office.
"But I wasn't—"
"Life is too short for paperwork. You're in anyway. Or Blood would have had you shot by now. Come on, we have much to show you…" She turned to him and gave him a coy smirk before walking out of the office.
"Before we ditch you and leave you for dead for ruining my manicure, of course."
"Of course." Dynamite joined her. He suddenly wondered what that bump he stepped on was. He turned on and saw his boot prints on Gizmo.
"Oh, sorry." He helped out the diminutive student in getting up.
"Just wait until you sleep tonight, gunk-licker." Gizmo kicked him in the shin and joined her.
"Ow! Stupid midgets. Never trust them." 'Good thing I'm used to odd sleep schedules.' He rubbed his shin and joined the two.
"Since a gunk licking fairy ruined my tech, I have to change. BRB." Gizmo announced and stormed off.
"BRB?" Dynamite asked.
"Be right back. He's got to lay off the IMs. Sad little boy." Jinx scoffed and walked into the opposite end of the hall.
"Internet Messenger. I hope I don't have to explain the internet to you, although I suppose I should forgive that, after all, you're a throwback from the 6—70's." She rolled her eyes.
"I'm not that far back."
"Your pants say otherwise."
"And in that case, didn't the striped stockings go out of style 5 years ago?" She turned and glared, her feline eyes staring straight through him.
"I'll have you know great fashion is timeless and I always have my finger on the pulse of great fashion." She pointed her index finger right on his chest.
"Indeed you have. The pink pigtails accentuate that."
"Of course they do and they're cotton candy colored, thank you very much."
"Right. How silly of me to think otherwise." She walked away and swayed her hips. Dynamite tried to hide his bemusement.
'She carries that color very w—what did I just think? Focus, Grayson. Get Cyborg and get out.'
"Are you coming or not?" He snapped out of his trance.
"Boys." Dynamite remembered that tone all too well. 'Maybe it's the black that makes them huffy.'
They walked down another corridor, and Jinx opened a door on the adjacent wall.
"This is the training room. This is where most of the muscleheads train and get sweaty. Most unbecoming. You should be acquainted." She winkled her nose in disgust. Dynamite glanced around as several students lifted weights or ran on treadmills. He tried to squint to the balcony above to see what kind of consoles the agents were using.
"Seems like an interesting place. But you know, athletics doesn't mean you still can't be lady-like. Don't be stuck in the 50's."
"Oh, don't worry about me. I can train and still be lady-like but it doesn't mean I have to ruin my clothes or the machines while doing it. Moving on." She began to walk off, Dynamite stayed behind for a moment and drunk in the moment.
'Nice place. Not like Bruce's or even the Tower's but should do nicely.'
"Is spacing out one of your talents also?" She said, mockingly.
"Sorry, I just think too much."
'Hmm.' "Your arsenal. I know after training, comes weapons." Dynamite stole Jinx's smirk.
"Oh, we have a few weapons lying around, but that's later. After we can see how well you do in combat practice." 'That smirk should be one.' She thought, bemused.
"Is that going soon?" 'I could use the workout.'
"Tomorrow, after you get settled in with your new quarters tonight. But I wouldn't unpack if I were you." She walked off, he followed.
"So what's next?"
"I suppose a classroom would be prudent. I dunno, been a while since I did one of these things."
"You seem to be fine, thus far."
"Well, usually I pay off someone to do mine."
"So why didn't you this time?"
"Cashed in all my favors."
"I'm sorry, well, not that sorry." Dynamite hid his blush.
"I bet you're not. Not a lot cute girls at your old school or whatever you're from?"
"Oh, well…" 'I guess I can tell her the truth in a matter of speaking.' "One or two I've had my eye on."
"And what happened?"
Dynamite had to think for a minute. "Well, one was too closed off and the other was too open. I didn't like my options."
'A ladies man? Interesting.' "I'm sure. I would have went for the closed off one myself. Once they let out what they repress, there is a lot of passion to exploit there." Jinx said with a guttural smirk.
Dynamite couldn't help but blush. "I guess you got me there."
"Of course I did. You going for it?"
"You know. The repressive one or you the man who can juggle?" Her smirk grew wider and wider. He was ready to go back to the training room and lay his head under the weights.
"That's not really your business, now is it?"
"Hah. You can't do it. Why didn't you say so instead of leading me on?"
Dynamite glared at her. "Don't we have a classroom to visit now?" He was walking ahead of her.
'Isn't he quite repressive? This shall be fun.'
"Now, class, who can tell me about the Mayhem principle?" They walked to the back of the auditorium where an overweight man in a viridian sweater asked in a monotone to the class. Two students in the front raised their hands, an imp and a juggernaut.
"Yes, Mr. Stone?" 'There he is! Seems alright. Need to get closer. Have to wait until end of lecture.'
"The Mayhem principle is the principle based from the Mother Mayhem theorem that children are meant to be raised to be conquerors to achieve their proper destiny."
The professor was about to nod off to sleep. "Correct as usual, Mr. Stone. Turn your textbooks to page 1378." He began his lecture when Jinx whispered to Dynamite.
"That's Professor Wyatt. One of the biggest bores here. He's called Sleepy Eyed Wyatt because we think he sleeps during his lectures. All autopilot. Unless that one professor, what's-her-name is around. Then he wakes up."
"That's something I didn't need to know. But I got to ask, how do you know all this? Are you the school's gossip queen?"
"Oh. Don't you have other things to do than worry about teachers' love lives?"
"Nope. Well, beyond that and my next manicure and get my hair rinsed too. I wish I had my appointment book with me."
'Hard to believe this witch is nothing but a gossip worrying about her looks and clothes. My Titans got kicked out of the tower because of this?'
"I don't suppose I can hear the lesson now while you figure all that out, can I?"
"Why? You're going to hear plenty later as you sign up for his class, might as well delay the inevitable."
"Because it's interesting? Because I want to learn?" Dynamite couldn't believe her tone.
"Are you for real? Nobody comes here because they want to learn." She replied, incredulous.
"No? Then why do they come?"
"To make a name for themselves and be bigger than Superman, Batman and the rest of those powder puffs put together."
"Just for glory and the search for the all-mighty dollar is that it?"
"That's right. Not everyone wants to be a teacher, or in charge of little power like Blood. Most want to be Deathstroke, the Terminator. Or Slade to his close personal friends." Jinx carried on an air of pride.
'If only they knew.' "What makes Slade so great?"
"What doesn't make him great? He has hordes willing to die for him, able to know what's really going with the world and steer it in your direction, able to travel exotic places, and…look rather sexy in that gothic armor of his. Wonder mix of goth and industrial. Who wouldn't kill for that?"
"I suppose given that logic, I can agree to that."
"You'll see. I'll be the next Slade in no time."
'You'll excuse me if I hope that doesn't come to pass.' "Right. Good luck with that. But remember that's going to take some doing. I hope you're not afraid of the hard work."
"Eh, I can work if I really have to, plus I can cash in my scholarships and favors with the male population to help carry the rest." She said nonchalant.
'If that's how she's going about it, then I won't have much to worry about.' "Glad to see you have a business plan."
"Don't worry about me, got all the angles." She said confident when the bell rang.
"Now, class, again, for those who need to review for the upcoming test on Thursday, there will be a review session taking place in a few minutes." Professor Wyatt's monotone was drowned out by the stampede of students.
'I missed the lesson, but at least it wasn't a total waste. At least I'll be ready for her if she succeeds on being Slade 2.0.' Dynamite was about to walk down when Jinx yanked his arm.
"Come on, I'll show you the cafeteria, it's the first lunch period. I'd park your feet up when we get there if I were you. I usually have long lunches."
"You do? Is that a student perk?"
Jinx gave a dainty chuckle. "Yes, you could say that. It's just simply the cutting edge of advanced students."
"Cut? You mean skip?"
"You catch on fast. I usually skip my class after lunch." She ushered him out. Dynamite was trying to hone in on Stone but to no avail. 'Hopefully catch him later.'
"Don't you usually flunk if you skip all the time?" Jinx gave a hearty laugh.
"You are a babe in the woods."
"I don't see how you skipping all the time is going to help you in anyway."
"Most of the classes I'm taking are just reviews of readings and I'm smart enough to figure it out without doing all that tedious work. And sitting in the back with a holo generator in my place so I can hang out at lunch or wherever I want."
"So you're not afraid of work, yet you slack off like this."
"It's only important things I'll lift a finger with. I doubt Zandar world politics is going to help me any." The two entered the suddenly busy back hall. Jinx ushered him into the opposite flow of the crowd.
"Shows what you know, I heard Slade once had operations there."
"He did? Since when?"
"A long time ago, had a thing to do with one of his sons I think."
"Huh. That's new and more to it, I didn't know there were little Slades running around." Jinx said, bemused.
"That's what studying does. You learn something new everyday."
"You get any cornier and I have to rent me a field. Come on, the cafeteria is this way." Dynamite tried to focus his thoughts.
"So what's the slop du jour?"
"The usual. Ptomaine Au Gratin."
"Of course. The usual bill of unfair in cafeterias." Jinx lightly chuckled.
"Fortunately I don't eat here, or much. Have to keep this figure somehow."
"Doesn't look like an eating disorder. Could be a liposuction machine you made Gizmo make."
"It's out by our cesspool. No, I just sneak outside and eat from vendors. The H.I.V.E. may be the best place to start a criminal career but I don't trust them when it comes to the basic necessities of life. So spartan." She gestured and feigned fainting.
'She sounds familiar. Who does she remind me of?'
"You look like you manage just fine."
"Says you. I'm wasting away here. I'm all skin and bones, like Slade's blonde."
"Interesting comparison. I didn't think she was that bad…" Dynamite realized his slip. "...from pictures I saw of her of when they took over Jump City."
"Not much of a woman. No boobs, hair a mess and who dressed her? Looks like she didn't meet a color that didn't clash with her. This way. At the end of the hall." Jinx gestured to a corridor on the side, away from the stream of people.
"Again, I reiterate, I didn't think she was that bad."
"Then you are with the rest of the male population that does nothing but pant at the sight of blonde hair. And I thought you were different." She turned her nose up and walked away.
"I'm just saying she was alright besides, blonde hair doesn't get me up in the morning." Jinx stopped.
"What does then?" She suddenly tried to look through his eyes. They seemed familiar.
"A good dye job. But on occasion…cotton candy hair." He smirked and walked away to the end of the corridor and entered the cafeteria.
'What was that? Did I just? No. I didn't just flirt with her. Could that be considered flirting?'
'Well…' Jinx suddenly felt bemused and followed.
"Do I have to threaten the booger-licking cook's life again to get a decent meal?" Gizmo's grumbling voice was blocked by the loud murmur of other students talking, complaining or plotting assassination attempts.
"Didn't ya do that last week?" Mammoth's bellow broke through the undulating sound as he ate his sixth sloppy joe.
"Well, yes, but beef tartar just drives me up a gunk spewing rage. And so does 8 days of sloppy joes."
"Could be worse, could have liver or fish for 11 straight days again. You going to—" Gizmo handed the genetic giant his tray.
"Why do you bother asking? You know I'm going to give it to you or Jinx will."
"Yeah, but she's not here."
"She'll be skipping again, she always skips. And I'll be ready." Gizmo whipped out a saucer looking device from his techpac and dumped it under the empty chair dialogical to him. "Where is snot stealing Stone going to show? I owe him a bomb because of his answer at Wyatt's lecture."
"I dunno. Said he had to do something something."
"You're such a snot headed fountain of boogers of insight aren't you?"
Gizmo sighed and looked up and saw the gothic pixie and the Boy Bomber enter the lunch line. "Finally. Some toe jam harvesting revenge."
Jinx and Dynamite looked at their repasts being dumped unceremoniously on their trays. "That's what I get for spending my lunch money on that pool."
"Pool?" They left the serving counter and meandered around, searching for a table.
"Yeah, a betting pool to see which classroom Wyatt and what's her-name will befoul next. I lost. I should have said the lab." They left the line.
"You actually bet on where teachers have sex? Isn't that—"
"Illegal, illicit, and ill-gotten? Yes and yes but have to pass the time somehow."
"You're quite depraved."
"You're saying as if that's a negative thing."
"It is a negative thing! You're betting on where teachers are having sex! Shouldn't you do the responsible thing and report this?"
Jinx stared at him before descending into giggles. "You're too precious. Next you'll be telling me that there is still an Easter Bunny. You know, I like you. In a too pure and sickeningly sweet kind of way. But I have to say this." Her tone began to shift. "Grow up. This is not a normal school. In fact, better than normal schools. We know we're all depraved, both students and teachers, but here, you can use that to go far. Your attitude needs darkening if you're going to make it here at all."
Dynamite was flabbergasted by the hex witch's serious tone. "Oh, I can be dark. Just need some motivation." He tried to sound confident.
"I don't know. You seem too much of a boy scout to me. Too inflexible and unable to change. Too much of a challenge."
"Are you done writing me off? If you're angling for the job, you can try. Although, I have to inform you that not many women can handle me." Her feline eyes looked the Boy Bomber over.
"Hmm…I always like a challenge. You're lucky you're so amusing or I wouldn't bother taking such an arduous task. You better be worth it, little boy." She saw a table and headed off.
'I think I just inserted my foot in my mouth again.'
"Hey, gunk fairy. Sorry about your boyfriend, the snot stone head. I guess he decided to cozy up to a textbook instead of you." Gizmo sneered at the incoming duo.
"At least he can make use of the knowledge he uses. More than I can say about you. Your idea of love is making time with a ratchet." Dynamite was about to sit on the chair across from Mammoth.
"Uh, don't sit there, scrum buffer. That's Jinx's seat. Only she can sit there." Gizmo stated firm.
"The chair doesn't have my name on it. He's…acceptable to sit there."
"But…" Dynamite ignored the midget and sat down, his nerves heightened.
'Why is he so picayune about this chair?' Three seconds passed by before he got his answer: a boxing glove sprung up from beneath the chair and Dynamite launched into the air before crashing to a nearby table.
"What is your deal, spaz?" A muscular man in a red jumpsuit grabbed Dynamite by the lapels.
"No deal, just decided to test out my new intention, the spring explosive. And…it sprung too fast. Obviously."
"Just like your face will be." He slammed Dynamite's head on the table.
"Do you know what they call me?" Dynamite's masked eyes stared right through the H.I.V.E. student. "Dynamite, Kid Dynamite. I make things explode."
The student just snorted. "I should beat you up just for making me hear that outdated name." The student was about to throw a punch. Dynamite did a back flip off the table, reached into his pocket and flung a disc on the table, creating a smokescreen from the resulting explosion. Dynamite jump kicked into the smoke and after a few punches, the student was thrown fast out of the smoke, into Gizmo's direction, squeezing him into the floor by the impact.
"Oh, God, my liver! That booger staining—" Jinx gave off a light chuckle over Gizmo's predicament before a few H.I.V.E. shock troops arrived from the other end of the cafeteria.
"Who started this?" The troop harshly asked Dynamite. He gave Gizmo a fleeting chance before he said "I did it." Both the tech midget and the gothic witch were mystified.
'What? Why did he do that?' "Then to the Headmaster's office you go." They hauled the two pugilists away.
"Why didn't that hairball licking pretty boy rat on me?"
"Good question, let's find out." She walked out of the cafeteria. Gizmo followed her in a blaze with his jet pack.
"Oh, give a guy a heads up don't you, booger brain?" Mammoth just looked at their trays.
"Anyone object, raise their hands." He waited for a few seconds.
"All right then. Thank Blood for democracy." He started to inhale the food.
"Fighting in the cafeteria? I'm shocked and dismayed." Blood gesticulated to the two students in his office.
"Such pugilistic behavior is not conducive in the Academy. No, no, no. In my day, we could have lunch sessions without turning into brouhaha."
'I rather see a Baby Doll marathon than to listen to this.' Dynamite wondered if someone could actually die from boredom.
"And Mr. Dynamite, I'm most disappointed in you. Starting fights. Tsk tsk. I thought you would be different than the normal riffraff." Blood's eyes started to change color again.
Dynamite couldn't think or focus, the energy just sapped away from his body. He was paralyzed. "It was my error, Headmaster. And my responsibility. Do as you see fit." Dynamite heard words coming from his mouth but he didn't form them.
"What I view as fit is a strong mind and a strong body fortified by hard work. There is a student carnival coming in the next week and I need volunteers. I'll think some good, hard work shall keep both of you in line. What do you think?"
Dynamite just sat there, unable to think or move. "Whatever you think best, Headmaster."
"That's a good student. What say you, son?" Blood asked the other student.
"I agree completely, sir."
"Excellent! There is a meeting after the last class today in the atrium. I'm sure I can count on seeing you two there, dismissed." Blood waved his hand and his eyes lost their crimson hue.
"Yes, sir." The two students walked out, still disoriented.
Dynamite slowly came back to his senses. 'What…was…what was that?' He tried to blink rapidly. The other student shoved him lightly out of the way.
"If I didn't think I'd get in more trouble, I'd pound you till the cows come home. See you later, twip."
Dynamite rubbed his temples as the student walked away. 'All I can think is…how can I best serve the Headmaster? Is that right? Is that what I'm supposed to do?' Dynamite tried to think when he was interrupted.
"Hey, rising booger? Why didn't you rat on me?" Gizmo's shrill voice echoed broke his thoughts.
"Uh…" Dynamite still couldn't focus his thoughts other than 'serve Blood.'
"I'm curious about that myself." Jinx chimed in.
"Just—just wanting to make a good impression." Dynamite's mind began to focus again. Gizmo gave a harrumph.
"Oh, what? You'll be my best friend, hairball? Oh please. It takes more than a mealy-mouthed gesture of some snot eating scrum buffer to be in my good graces. A lot more." He pressed a button and jetted out of the hall.
"Quite antisocial, isn't he?" Jinx barbed.
"Indeed. How are you able to interact with him?"
"We have a wonderful system. I need his tech help for the computers and I return give him my smiling beneficence. That I won't wave a pinky and disrupt everything he has built for himself." Her feline eyes stared straight through the Boy Bomber.
"So you use him?"
"Oh, everyone uses somebody in their lifetime. Don't tell me you've never done it." Dynamite suddenly felt two inches tall. He took a sigh and walked away.
"Once." She raised an eyebrow.
"Something out of desperation. Leave it at that." He started to be consumed by guilt.
"Oh, come on. Don't leave me hanging." She walked in front, flashing her eyes.
"Too bad." He got out of her way.
"That's vicious, leading me on like that. I bet you're making it up as you're going along aren't you?" She returned to his vision and gave off a cute pout. Dynamite suppressed his blush and kept walking.
"Come on. I won't tell." She threw him an innocent look.
"Spare me the looks, we both know you're far from innocent."
"That may be, but, I know how to keep a secret." Dynamite peered into her eyes. 'Guess I should tell her something to get her off me.'
He sucked in a breath before speaking. "It was a mistake I made, something I had to have and I didn't care who got in my way, happy?"
"Sounds like ambition drove you there. That I can understand."
"Given your speech from the classroom, I can believe it." Dynamite said curtly and walked past her. Jinx walked right in front of him.
"Hey. Sometimes a girl or I guess in your case, a guy, has to do whatever it takes to get what they want. And if using people may be the only way for their dreams to come true, then fine. But if the people, whose necks you've stepped on along the way, are evil, then it makes the cause all the more true, doesn't it? And…I think your corniness is spreading." Dynamite couldn't resist giving a snort.
"True how? You mean if you use villains, like say the Academy, instead then you're justified? You're covered?"
"You catch on so fast." She imitated Raven's deadpan.
"Can't you get what you want without losing yourself or sinking to their level?"
"It's all the part of the game. You know…you sure don't act like someone who belongs here. You're acting quite the straight arrow." She eyed him suspicious. Dynamite had to think fast.
"Let's just say my situation made me fall from grace and this was the only way to go." His answer satisfied her.
"Desperation. A bit of a turnoff but it will do here. "
"I hope so."
"Come on, might as well go back and have some lunch." She led him down a corridor. They both walked in silence until she finally interrupted the still air.
"I have two questions. One) why didn't you rat on Gizmo and Two) what happened with you and your friends after you…did what you did?"
'Long answer: to ingratiate myself with you all so I can get to my teammate.' "One) I'm not sure, maybe for him to be nicer to me if I did an act of kindness for him. And to prove I don't squeal. God, that's a horrible expression."
"Try 'sing like a canary.' Has more of a lighter lilt to it." Dynamite showed a wisp of a smile.
"It does in a strange way. Anyway, Two)…" Dynamite suddenly wished for the bell to ring or a stampede or something to distract her attention.
'Guess I still use the truth.' "We still talk and everything, although nothing has been the same since…I did that. Times I can't even look them into the eye and they know why. They don't tell me what they still feel about that, but I know. Doesn't make much sense, does it?"
"Actually, makes a lot of sense to me."
"Yeah. Was it worth it?"
Dynamite wished he could forget the whole sordid incident. "For what I had to sacrifice, no, and I still lost it. Just lose-lose all around." He sighed and headed to the end of the corridor.
"Well, I've been there too." Jinx's voice went down to a whisper. Dynamite stopped.
"What was that?"
"I…have been there too. Once." He turned to face her.
"Yeah." She sucked in a breath. "Where I came from, I had a…unique circle of friends. They took me in, gave me a life of sorts. It was a…purpose and as I got older, each of us was always wondering who was the strongest of all. It was a big competition, seems a bit petty now but not back then." She turned away from him.
"And I took the road that no one took and I turned on them and became the strongest of all. Gave me a taste of what power really was."
Dynamite wasn't sure what to say next. "But was it worth it? Back then, it was."
Jinx was silent for a few minutes. "To get what I want, yes, but…I wish I went another way about it so, I think it's called 'Pyrrhic Victory?' Such a fancy phrase, the Academy drilled that into my head, just never got the point until now."
"The price you pay for good education." He said sarcastic.
"You have such a flair for understatement." She began to walk off. He tried to catch up with her.
"I'm sorry." She walked past but turned to him and stared.
"You're quite the straight arrow. So straight you don't even have a clue." She shook her head and walked away.
'Insert foot in mouth and gag.'
"Jinx, I'm sorry." She kept walking.
"Will you stop?"
"I said I'm sorry." She stopped.
"I think Gizmo will take care of rest of your tour." She walked out of the hall.
"Wait, a minute." He ran to her when the bell rang. He ran out to the next hall when the stampede crashed in front of him and carried him away.
'Damn it.' Dynamite then made a realization. 'Wait, why should I care about her and her feelings? She's a cold villainess who wants to be the next Slade!'
"Get out of the way, punk." A student pushed him out of the way, and then followed by another and another until he fell on top of a trash can out of the swarm.
'At least no one will suspect me of anything if I'm a joke.'
He was about to get up when he was offered a hand; a pale, delicate hand.
"First off, don't flatter yourself. I'm doing it so the administration doesn't get their britches in a knot and blame me for making you ill-informed by leaving with our mucus obsessed midget."
"Thanks for your concern." He replicated Raven's deadpan and tried to grab her hand, when she raised it out of the way and fell off the receptacle. He glanced up and glared.
"What? I'm a lady. It's not proper etiquette for a lady to help a gentleman up." As she walked with the dwindling flow of students, she left a sniff.
"Especially in there. Who knows what you've touched? Could ruin my nails. Come on, we have a few classes left to do." Dynamite noticed her hips waggled as she walked on.
'So much for dredging for sympathy for her.' He let out a sigh as he joined her.
'Doing it for Cyborg. Doing it for Cyborg.'
To be continued…
Leave a review if you wish and see you in the funny papers.