A/N: Very short. Not beta'd. I felt if I thought about posting this too much, I wouldn't post it. (And truth be told, I didn't even want to know what you'd say about this one, Jurodan...((hides)) ) This is part I of II. Part II is already written and I'm posting it at the same time as part I so go look for it when you're done...although I'll love you forever if you review both. ((grin))
Disclaimer: Not mine. Still broke. ((sticks out tongue))
"...to be loved is to burn. And to burn is to exist."
It was just a piece of fabric, really, nothing more and nothing less. Yet, for some reason, somehow, that fabric, those colors, the feel of it changed him. It made him reckless and yet oh-so-clever; satirical yet witty, charming, irresistible, unflappable...nothing could touch him unless he wanted it to and nothing he wanted was beyond his reach.
Sure, he had been good before the uniform, but after it, he was brilliant, superb: perfect.
Okay, and a little conceited.
He grinned to himself as he vaulted across the tops of buildings with ease. He grinned and it reached all the way up to his hazel eyes, even though no one would ever be able to tell through the mask. It didn't worry him though. If he wanted someone to know that he was laughing at their awkward, fumbling, bumbling pursuit, he'd stop and let them know through his body language, his voice...oh, they'd know. But he just didn't care to show off in front of these amateurs...they weren't worth the effort.
The Titans were the only ones that made this whole gig any fun...the rest of Jump City's illustrious special forces were a comedy of errors, like taking candy from the mouths of babes. And it had been this suit, this uniform, this congregation of black and red, all jagged lines and sharp edges that transformed him from simple cat burglar to Super Thief: from another nameless prowler on the loose into the notorious Red X.
The suit had given him his identity, too. The other clothes he wore, during the day in public, while he went through the motions of living, that was the real costume...this, he paused in his ruminations to propel himself through the air and land in a perfect crouch on a roof a few feet away from his second target for the night, this was the real him after all.
He really had to thank the Boy Blunder some day.
He smiled behind the mask again, not bothering to worry about his pursuers who he had lost almost as soon as he had taken off and focused only on the group of multi-colored teens eight stories below him. Any minute now, he calculated, they would be getting the word that he had struck and that the police squad had failed in capturing him. He felt somewhat less spurned as he quickly took in the reason why they hadn't come after him. The ridiculous old man in the top hat and white gloves was being led into the secured armored truck and X shook his head. Would they never learn, he wondered? How many times would they put the bad guys behind bars just to have to do it all over again once they escaped? This cat and mouse game they played was fun, he knew, but how much fun could it be for them to keep capturing the same old same old time after time?
It was so much more fun being bad than it was being good...
Bird Boy had tasted it, he knew. He couldn't have created such a supremely perfect armor such as this, he couldn't have worn it and used it without having felt the thrill of power and the fun. He had tasted it and still denied his desire of it and gone back to being a good little boy. X didn't understand how he could have done it, or why, but he felt he did understand something of the Titans' leader and so he felt it was unsurprisingly expected that he would.
The other one, however...the Dark One, she felt the draw of it...he could feel that too. He had fought her and seen the intensity in her eyes, the desire, the passion. It was like a carefully banked fire that was just waiting to be let go...just waiting for its chance to spread it's wings and burn its way free.
X was intrigued by it and drawn to it.
It was what had awakened his realization of the so-called Dark Witch. She was called the Ice Queen in the tabloids and by the reporters, she was the unemotional one of the bunch, the cold one...but what he had seen in her eyes when she fought had been anything but cold...it had been fire: hot and fervent and just this side of dangerous and he wanted very much to reach out and touch it...
He wanted to be the one to kindle that fire and see how high he could get it to burn, to feel the licks of the flame nip at him, maybe even consume him.
Nobody else was worthy enough to try. That fire inside her would burn anyone else, he knew that. And although he knew better than to think he could control it if he set it loose, he was willing to take the risk.
Life was all about risks, he decided, risks you took and risks you avoided, and it was the risks that shaped who you were...and he wanted very much to see how her fire would shape him.
And if it hadn't been for the Red-X uniform, he never would've been that close to her and sensed that fire...He really had to thank Wonder Blunder for that if nothing else.
The call came to their communicators just as soon as the truck left with the lunatic magician.
"Red X stole the Blue Diamond d'Orsay from the National Museum!" the nameless voice announced through the static of the connection, "He was last seen headed West."
"How long ago?" Robin asked.
"We're on it," Robin snapped the lid closed and turned to his team, "Cyborg, check the GPS system for any erratic movement, Beast Boy, take to the air and sweep the area between the museum and this general direction, Raven take the East, Starfire, the North, I'll cover the ground..."
His team, well trained and accustomed to working together, didn't bother with vocal confirmations, just started for their assigned areas.
He could wait until she was alone and face her then, but he had a plan. Plus...what fun would that be?
Well...it could be fun, but not the same kind of fun and His Little Raven wasn't ready for that kind of game yet.
But in front of her friends, he could play a very different kind of game with her.
He smiled and dove off the roof in a graceful arc.
And teleported right in the midst of them. "No need to hurry off on my account," he drawled.
All five people reacted immediately, reaching out for him with varying powers and appendages, but he had been prepared for that and teleported away from the grasping hands behind Raven, intending to slip his arms between her arms and body, bringing them up to an awkward angle and immobilize her that way, but if she were that easy, he might not be interested in her at all: she sensed his appearance and whirled around, advancing on him before he had fully materialized his feet onto the ground. He didn't want to disappear again, so he met her blow with a block of his own and in the few moments it took the others to realize what he had done, they danced alone.
To her credit, she advanced alone, never once trying to call out to the others for help; she only focused her eyes on the hollow that stood for eyes on the mask he wore as she fought, giving him that much sought after glimpse at the passion that burned just below the surface of their lavender depths. And to her ultimate credit, she didn't try to use her powers but fought him blow for blow.
A part of him realized this and took the tidbit of information about her and tucked it away in a safe place for further inspection.
Meanwhile, her friends had realized that Raven was fighting him and they slipped into their attack formation, and the game had finally begun.
They were as smooth as a well oiled machine when they worked together, he had expected that and he toyed with them for a bit, defending and attacking just enough to keep their attention, but his attention never left the object of his...well, his desire.
And she was smart enough to realize it.
So was the Boy Blunder.
He had anticipated that as well.
What he hadn't anticipated was the vehemence which the realization brought out in the Titan's leader. His attack suddenly became more personal, less about formation and teamwork and more about personally attacking him.
X was a good judge of character and an excellent judge of opportunity and he recognized this new one and exploited it as if he had prepared for it as well as he had prepared for the others.
Once he had disabled them all but Raven, he threw a half-hearted x at her, which she easily dodged, just as he thought she would. He saluted her cockily and leaped for the nearest building rooftop, knowing she would follow.
She turned back to her teammates and he thought she might have lost her to her desire to help them, so he stopped to glance back at her.
"Thanks for letting me go, sweet thing," he called back to her, "I always knew you had a soft spot for me!"
"We are unharmed, go!" Starfire exclaimed as she struggled with her bonds.
"Get the bastard!" Beast Boy called as he struggled as well.
"Raven, wait!" Robin called, but she had already flown away. "Damn!" he exclaimed.
"What?" Cyborg asked.
"It's a trap!" Robin exclaimed, frantically trying to get out of his bindings, while at the same time watching as Raven and X go at hand to hand combat on the next roof over.
Meanwhile, Raven had managed to corner X against the brick wall of the building, her overwhelming magical presence bearing down on him as she held his dominant hand immobile against the wall and onto his neck with her right, pressing against him to keep him still, but he wasn't really struggling. He was grinning.
"If you wanted to get a piece of me, Raven, all you had to do was ask," he teased.
She didn't even falter in her hold, the way most girls would have by the obviously lewd remark, but then again, he knew she wasn't like most girls, and the newest proof of it only made him grin even wider, "Where's the diamond?" she demanded.
"Don't you want to search me for it?" he asked intimately.
"No, but I'm sure Bruno at the JCC Police Department would love to strip search you," she said monotonously.
He laughed, "It's the Uniform, I know."
Her expression changed as she started to realize that he wasn't fighting her, "What are you really after?" she asked suspiciously.
"Haven't you figured it out yet?" he asked teasingly. He leaned a little forward and she immediately responded by shifting her weight to exert more pressure, but he still managed to near his face to her face, even if it was only his mask that she saw and she couldn't really feel his breath. She reacted immediately on guard of what he might have planned and his estimation of her grew another notch...she didn't take anything for granted and he liked that about her, too.
She used her magic to press him back again, "You're not going to intimidate me, X," she said his name like it was a bad taste in her mouth but he couldn't help grinning at the sound of it on her lips just the same, "You better tell me what you want."
Out of the corner of his eyes he saw that the other Titans were getting free of their bonds and he was running out of 'alone' time with Raven. Not one to think inside the box, X came to a decision rather quickly. Flipping her hold around and slipping around her, he brought an arm around her neck and pulled her back against his front, holding her other hand from doing any damage, "I'm in the mood for a change of scenery," he whispered in her ear.
She shifted her weight and tossed him over her head before attacking him again, "How will bars and stripes suit you?" she asked sarcastically.
He dodged her blow by blow while he pretended to think about it, "Ah, no…" he answered, flipping back away from her, "I was thinking of something else." He slipped under her guard and managed to knock her feet out from under her, only she grabbed the front of his uniform and brought him down with her, "How about you?" he asked, looking down at her.
Raven was obviously disbelieving that she was having this kind of conversation with a villain while she was fighting with him, but to her credit, she didn't lose a beat. "Yeah, sure," she said, testing her position for a brief moment before shifting him off her and rolling them so that she was bracing him against the blacktop of the roof and holding him down, "how about Venice?" she asked, leaning so close to him her hair touched his mask.
X shifted enough to knock her knees out from under her so that she fell right on top of him, "My lady's wish is my command," he told hersolicitously, and before her look of surprise could form into any sort of action on her part, he took hold of her waist with one hand and shifted her enough so he could get to his belt with the other, "Hold on," he pressed the button and before she could do much but start to speak her words of power, they'd already teleported away from the rooftop they had started out on and were in a similar position on another rooftop some distance away.
A/N: Part 2 is going to be posted right after this one...but don't expect too much more.
Special A/N: Responses to Epiphanies are going up right along with this on my 'emsscraps' journal which you can find here: http / emsscraps . livejournal . com / (remember to take out the spaces and on that main page, just look for the journal titled "Review Responses for Epiphanies".