The boy may have returned to the house after the prom's ruin, but it would have been beyond foolish to stay. Robin couldn't possibly have failed to recognise him, which meant the Titans knew where he was. The boy had to come up with a plan, and fast, but it seemed that every possibility only led to a dead-end. He couldn't afford to underestimate his opponents, but constantly reminding himself of their strength wasn't helping either. He leant forward in his chair and put his head in his hands, taking a deep breath. He had to think about this rationally. What did he have that they didn't? What did he have that could be used against them? He had Jinx, but if he released her powers the odds were she'd use them against him instead. Okay, so what were the Titans' weaknesses? They had to protect people if they were in danger.
That gave the boy an idea. If he took people hostage, he could set a trap. But where were there enough people to ensure the Titans would come, that was open at this time of night? It had to be somewhere he was familiar with, that was easy to defend. There was only one place like that in Jump City. The Mega Meaty Meat. The wall-to-wall windows would offer a perfect view of any assailants, and the square lay-out of the building meant he would always be able to see all his hostages at once. Perfect.
Jinx sat with her arms folded and her legs crossed on one of the tacky red seats of the Mega Meaty Meat diner. The boy was way too frazzled to watch her, but she'd decided she might as well stick around. Why leave when things were just about to get interesting? She'd gotten over the initial indignation of being controlled, as a villain herself, she could appreciate good work. So now she sat, examining her nails and amusing herself by watching the boy try desperately to avoid his inevitable defeat. He was standing behind the counter, his eyes nervously circling the room. At first the hostages had quietly done what they were told, living in Jump City made them used to criminal activity, but now a couple of people were beginning to realise just how much of an amateur the boy really was. A group of men in the far corner were beginning to grumble and fidget, and it was only a matter of time before someone started being a hero.
The prom had been …… interesting. Jinx had been impressed with Beastboy's little meltdown, and the chaos that ensued had been the most fun she'd had in weeks. And she thought she'd caught Cyborg watching her a number of times. Must be the dress she mused, running her fingers over her rich skirt. It was too bad that Cyborg had to be one of the good guys, he'd had real promise, as more than just a team-mate.
The first of the police sirens were gathering outside. Jinx regretted that she couldn't join in the fun, but the stupid implant was blocking her powers. The Titans will be here soon she thought. She wasn't expecting a grand rescue, the Titans would only be coming to arrest the boy. They may be stupid little do-gooders, but the way they looked out for each other made Jinx feel a little... lonely. She, Gizmo and Mammoth were the best the Hive had to offer, their attack patterns were flawless, but they weren't really a team. Not that she cared of course, she didn't need anybody but herself, she told herself.
"Jinx, come here." the boy called to her from across the room. She extracted herself from the booth and walked over to him.
"Yes?" she said, smiling sweetly at him.
"I'm sorry our date didn't go quite to plan, my love." he said, taking her hand. She recoiled from his cold and clammy touch.
"There's always next time." she replied. The boy's eyes lit up like a kid's at christmas and Jinx almost felt bad, almost. He was going to say something else, but just then the door burst open and in came Jump City's five finest.
"Party's over." growled Robin, blood boiling as the memory that this discontented teen had tried to kill Starfire was still fresh in his mind. The boy's eyes widened for a moment when he saw Starfire floating threateningly behind Robin, but he quickly steeled his nerves.
"Not so fast, Titans" he said "I have one more trick up my sleeve." and he reached for the grey watch on his wrist. As he pressed a button, dozens of the cylindrical robots they had first faced burst from the door behind the counter that led into the back. Instantly the Titans were surrounded.
"How do you like my army, Titans? I built them myself." boasted the boy.
"Dude, you really need to get out more." said Cyborg. The boy frowned and pressed a button on his watch. The thick ring of Dalek-like robots raised their weapons and the game was on. The Titans hit their marks dead on, but the machines seemed unfazed, and the constant barrage of blaster-fire was beginning to take it's toll on them. They regrouped as the droids came closer.
"Any ideas, guys?" asked Beastboy.
"The kid's gotta be controlling them some how. If we can get to him, we'll be able to take them out all at once." replied Cyborg.
"I'll do that, you just try to keep them busy as long as you can." said Robin, and he jumped over the ever-advancing circle of robots, using the robots like a gymnastics horse. The fight resumed, but Robin was busy chasing the boy, who had turned tail and ran as soon as he saw Robin coming towards him. However, Robin soon brought him down with a powerful flying kick to the shoulders. Robin bent down to grab him, but the boy slipped through his grasp and crawled as fast as he could to where Jinx was standing. He grabbed her skirt like a child, but she only looked down at him with disgust as if he were some flea-ridden dog.
"Jinx, you were always my favourite, you know that? I never meant to harm you, I never hurt you, did I? I think there's really something between us. You'll protect me, won't you? Beautiful Jinx, my prize, my precious, my love." He was garbling, hurriedly trying to convince her to come to his rescue. Jinx stared down at him for half a second, then she smiled. Harshly wrenching her skirt out of his grasp, she turned away from him,
"Dream on" she scoffed. The boy's face became twisted in a grimace of rage. People had been rejecting and mocking him his whole life, well not anymore. He'd make Jinx pay. He reached for the pink and black watch that controlled Jinx's implant. He was going to kill her, and he would enjoy it.
A thin, silver pole came down and pinned his hand before he could press the fateful button. He looked, stricken, up at a small boy held off the ground by eight, huge, metal spider legs one of which was holding down his hand.
"Hey, scuzzbreath, whadja think you're doing?" said Gizmo. Mammoth stood behind him, arms folded, looking threatening. Robin had marched over and now he jerked the boy's grey watch off his wrist and crushed it in his hand. The robots died where they stood, and the tired Titans wandered over and surrounded the boy.
"Yeah, you think we're gonna let you get away with what you did to Jinx?" said Mammoth, cracking his knuckles and advancing on the cowering teen. Jinx meanwhile, was surprised and touched at this unprecedented show of solidarity.
"Wait," said Cyborg, who stepped forward and took Jinx's watch off the boy, then stepped back again. "Okay, he's all yours." The boy cried out pitifully and weakly raised his hands to shield himself as Mammoth stepped towards him grinning ferally.
Robin cursed under his breath.
"Stop," he said at last. "As much as this guy deserves it, it's up to the police to deal with him."
"Oh yeah? You scuddsuckers wanna try and stop us?" said Gizmo, guns emerging from his all-purpose backpack. Robin reached for his bo-staff and Cyborg charged up his sonic cannon. But Jinx stepped in,
"Hold it." she said. "He should go to the police."
"Jinx, you agreeing with these cludge-heads!" asked Mammoth in indignation. Jinx put her hands on her hips.
"You disagreeing with your leader?" she replied sternly. Mammoth backed down, so she turned to the Titans and motioned them to take the boy away. Beastboy and Robin roughly grabbed his shoulders and led him outside to the awaiting police cars. Cyborg nervously approached Jinx.
"Er, you should come back to the Tower so I can remove the device." he said, wary of her reaction. It was the first time they'd spoken face to face since he'd gone undercover at the Hive. She just looked at him coldly, but Gizmo stepped in.
"Uh-uh scrum-buffer, Jinx ain't going no-where. I can take off that thing."
"Yeah, and you can kill her." answered Cyborg. The two glared daggers at each other until Jinx said,
"I can decide for myself. I'll go." Gizmo looked away from her sulkily,
"Just 'cause he took you the dance." he muttered under his breath, making Jinx blush, but then she aimed her powers at the floor under Gizmo until his metal legs gave way and he fell. Cyborg tried not to smile.
"C'mon, the T-car's this way." he said, offering her his arm.
Jinx was paying very close attention to the movement and varied pressures of Cyborg's fingers. Finally she heard a small click and Cyborg said nervously,
"Er, this is going to hurt," There was a moment when she could feel Cyborg's grip tighten on the implant, followed by the feeling that the back of her neck had just been touched with a white-hot poker, but the sensation was gone before she could cry out, and was replaced with a dull numbness. She raised her hand and tentatively brushed the afflicted area, but she could feel nothing.
"Thanks, Sto- I mean, Cyborg." she corrected, feeling the stab of betrayal that came with it.
"That's okay, it was nothing." answered Cyborg, looking at his feet as she slid off the medical bed. He reached for something on a table nearby, "I found something you might be interested in." he said, hopefully in a light-hearted way. He slipped a ring on his finger and instantly his mechanic parts were hidden, replaced by muscle and skin. He was Stone again. He held his arms out from his sides expectantly, smiling sheepishly. Jinx stepped towards him, hands on hips, and looked him up and down.
"You know," she began, "I think I prefer you the other way." Cyborg looked hurt.
"Oh, right." said Cyborg, taking off his ring, feeling dejected as his true form was revealed. "I'll just put this back then." He moved to put the ring in the drawer of the small table. Jinx suddenly took hold of his hand, stopping him.
"Actually, this thing might come in useful," her eyes were on their joined hands, but they moved to look Cyborg straight in the eye, her pink, cat-like eyes captivating him. "if you were to take me out sometime."
"Yeah, it's not like we can be seen in public together." chuckled Cyborg.
"Exactly. This way we can enjoy each other to the full." Jinx's voice had dropped to a more sultry tone as she moved closer to him, gently slipping the ring back on his finger. Her face was mere inches away from his as once again the facade of Stone enveloped that of Cyborg. Raising herself on tip-toe, and using his arms to balance her, she kissed him gently.
Then she was standing at the open door, looking over her shoulder at the statue she had left behind her.
"Coming, Stone?" she said, her voice back to normal. Cyborg shook off his initial shock, and couldn't stop the grin from spreading across his face. He turned and followed her out of the Tower, into the awaiting night that was full of possibilities.