Rising dragon, crouching genius
Chapter Nine – Somewhere In-Between 'Once Upon a time' and 'Happily Ever After'
By- Shiva's Avatar
"Hush little baby, don't say a word. Mama's going to buy you a mocking bird …"
Jack rubbed his eyes for what seemed to be the umpteenth time as he continued to stumble along the hallway, dimly registering that everything was as it should be. The rugs were cleaned, the windows washed, the somewhat garish hallway decor polished to the point where Jack had to stare down at the floor, least he be blinded by reflected sunlight. Everything was exactly as it should be, the same way it had been for over a year and a half now; ever since Jack had taken complete control of the day to day running of the manor. Yawning, Jack again rubbed his eyes and wondered then why something felt so out of place.
Like he had missed something.
"… and if that mocking bird won't sing, mama's going to buy you a diamond ring …"
Jack shook his head and turned a corner. The more he thought about it, the more something seemed glaringly out of place. He took the steps two at a time as he bit his lip and tried to figure out what he was missing.
Grace had gone out shopping, leaving a note taped to Jack's door; either so that he wouldn't worry or to make sure that he noticed she was absent. Grace shopping wasn't atypical, though the timing of her departure was off by a few hours when compared against her norm. Jack shrugged, that was easily explained away though; as Grace was letting him work things out with Raimundo without fear that anyone would interrupt their no doubt emotional conversation. Jack nibbled harder on his lip. Granted it was a little permissive on her part, but Jack could understand, appreciate even, her wanting to limit her tampering with his social/love life.
Jack swung around another corner and began to descend another set of stairs.
Raimundo, for his part, was still passed out in the guest room. Moments earlier Jack had gently knocked on the wooden door and peeked in when gentle knocking turned into heavy banging with still no response. Upon opening the door he had been greeted by the sight of a nearly naked Raimundo, laying on his back, the entire bed askew. His tan body intertwined with the room's powder blue sheets, obscuring Raimundo's crotch, where Jack had found his eyes instantly and guiltily drawn, as well as a leg, the other leg jutting awkwardly away from the sheets gentle embrace, pillows haphazardly shoved every which way. Lancing from a crack in the curtains, a sliver of sunlight shown across Raimundo's toned chest, snaked down an arm, and gleamed across a cupped hand, Raimundo's fingers occasionally twitching, making formless shadow puppets atop the yin-yang design of the room's Oriental rug. The Brazilian's face perfect, the sight of it making Jack's heart skip a beat, as midnight locks framed Raimundo's model features.
Jack had wanted to wake Raimundo up so that he could make them some breakfast … well, lunch now. Instead he left figuring that Raimundo probably hadn't slept all that well and could use the extra down time. A little voice in the back of Jack's mind pointed out that he only let the wind dragon continue to sleep because he didn't want him to leave, but Jack made peace with that voice the same way he always did … by pointed ignoring its existence and continuing on his merry way.
"… and if that diamond ring turns brass, mama's going to buy you a looking glass …"
Jack stopped, his hand tightening its grip on the nearby handrail. The sight of Raimundo should have woken him up. His face should be flushed, his pulse racing. Instead he was calm. Serene. Still drowsy even. Factor on top of that, he shouldn't have been able to sleep at all last night. In fact he hadn't even intended to try. And then all of a sudden he had gone completely catatonic, almost as if narcoleptic, hitting his forehead against his keyboard and spending the whole night passed out across his desk.
Jack shoved his thumb against an incisor and pressed. Sure enough, there was a pinprick of pain. He wasn't dreaming. This was real.
Jack frowned. Something was definitely off.
" … and if that looking glass gets broke, mama's going to buy you a Billy goat …"
And then it hit him. Grace was gone. Raimundo was asleep. He was standing on the stairs thinking. And the housebots moved in an omnipresent hush.
But someone was definitely singing. Loudly and off-key, the audio stimulus definitely present.
Jack frowned darkly and wondered if Grace had forgotten to reset the alarm. No doubt some petty thief had thought it was their lucky day to find the Spicer manner so unguarded. Tip-toeing down the rest of the stairs Jack strained to follow the bastardized tune, running through his mind the vocal codes which would bring the full brunt of the house's defenses on the unlucky burglar.
"… and if that Billy goat won't pull, mama's going to buy you a cart and bull …"
Talk about brazen! The thief was in the kitchen, no doubt starting their crime spree with a light snack.
Jack could smell bacon and eggs as he slipped into the room, crouched behind a counter and found his eyes drawn to the sizzling pan on the nearby stove. The door to the walk in pantry was open, while a nearby housebot toweled down a tiled counter. Jack's frown deepened, the housebot should have at least alerted him to the presence of a stranger.
"… and if that cart and bull turn over, mama's going to buy you a dog named Rover …"
"Housebot!" Jack hissed. Instantly a head shot up and the machine bleeped out questioningly.
"Come here!" Jack said motioning, keeping his eyes pinned on the pantry.
"Now, on my signal you rush forward and apprehend the robber, alright?" Jack whispered. The housebot responded with a series of chirps and beeps. Jack felt his right eye twitch, unsure of how angry he should feel that his creation had just told him what amounted to a 'no'.
"… and if that dog named Rover won't bark, mama's going to buy you a horse and cart…"
Which didn't make sense. He shouldn't even have to be giving this command verbally seeing as there were clear instructions on what to do if a stranger entered the house uninvited.
And then it all made sense. Made sense in a way that knotted Jack's stomach and cost him his crouch, introducing his rear to the linoleum floor.
"… and if that horse and cart fall down, you'll still be the sweetest boy in town …"
Altering the 'stranger' to his presence.
Jack could hear her heels click as she approached. Could see the flash of her floral skirt as she eloquently twisted around the counter. Could somehow even smell her vanilla scented perfume over the heavy fragrance of simmering bacon.
"…So hush little baby, don't you cry. Daddy loves you and so do I."
Jack lifted ruby eyes to meet her heart-shaped face. To watch her coral lips slide an inch outward, transforming from mundane body parts into a heart-wrenching smile. Chocolate irises lighting up at the sight of him, while a slim hand slide effortless through a waterfall of auburn colored hair.
"Jack-Jack! About time you woke up sleepy-head!" Ophelia chirped, lightly ruffling Jack's hair.
"O … O … Ophelia?" Jack whispered, closing his eyes, certain that any minute now he was going to wake up.
"Ophelia?" the Spicer matriarch echoed quizzically, arching an eyebrow.
"Ye … yeah. Ophelia …" Jack felt a lump in his throat and swallowed back tears. It had been ages since his mother had looked this good. "You … you … you look really good today,"
"Jack-Jack, you are not really calling your mother by her first name," Ophelia said with an exaggerated pout, her hands roosting on her hips as looked down at Jack. "And hurry up and get off the floor, breakfast is ready. I was just going to have someone go and wake you …"
Jack shook his head. "Ophelia, you seem much …"
"Mama," Ophelia corrected sharply. "Please stop calling me by my name Jack-Jack,"
Jack felt his fingers curl to his palm and an incisor caress his lower lip. She seemed so much better …
" … Ophelia … it's just …" Jack tried again, still somehow resistant to giving this woman her proper title.
"It's MAMA," Ophelia interrupted, tears starting to leak out of the edges of her eyes.
Her Jack-bot caretaker materialized from the doorway, sneaking forward to intervene should Ophelia turn aggressive. Jack watched her face contort and even readied himself for a violent response, waited for her to insult or to attack him. Ophelia surprised him again though, when she angrily wiped her eyes with a finger before twirling around and walked to the stove. Once she was in front of it, her hands slid up her arms as she embraced herself and started to sob.
Her Jack-bot care taker floated there emotionlessly and observed. The house-bot maneuvered itself around her so that it could flip the bacon and check on the eggs. Jack pushed himself to his feet and tentatively approached his mother.
"I … I know I haven't always been a good mama Jack-Jack," Ophelia chocked out in-between sobs. "But I didn't know you didn't love me anymore … that you won't even call me mama anymore,"
"No, that's … that's not it," Jack mumbled, now standing directly behind her. Hesitantly he lifted his hands and reached out, stopping them just short of contact. She had looked so much better, but it was obvious she was still sick … God only knew the reaction touching her would have. "You just … you used to get really upset when I called you mama,"
Ophelia hiccupped. "I love you Jack-Jack,"
Jack felt himself hesitate again, before gingerly reaching around her and pulling her into a loose embrace. "I love you too mama,"
The nearby housebot pulled the bacon and eggs from their respective pans, dished them onto plates, before effortless placing them on the tables and floated back to its counter-cleaning chore. Ophelia's hands wrapped themselves around Jack's arms as she moved backward, tightening her son's embrace.
"I … I want to get better Jack-Jack. I want to be a good mama to you," she suddenly whispered.
"Will you go to therapy then? Actually see Dr. Merone this time? Take your meds?" Jack asked softly, talking around the lump in his throat, as tears pricked flame colored eyes. Knowing what he was risking, seeing as last time he had even tried to mention therapy she had whipped a plate at his head, fast followed by a water glass, two forks, salad and dinner, a steak knife, and a tea spoon.
"Anything you want Jack-Jack. Anything it takes for me to be a good mama," Ophelia murmured back.
Jack let himself go. After thousands of failed attempts he had given up hope that Ophelia would ever willingly agree to seek help for her obvious psychiatric ills. Even just the hope that she might get better … that they might someday be a real family … was enough to push Jack over the edge. Shoving his face into his mother's fragile shoulder, he wept piteously, thanking any passing deity that might be listening for this seemingly impossible miracle.
Ophelia for her part, simply rubbed Jack's arm reassuringly. Her chocolate eyes hardening to become calculating amethysts, her lips twisting into a crooked grin as she silently mouthed.
Raimundo felt his entire body jolt.
Shit! What time was it?! Was he late for practice? Why the hell hadn't Clay made sure he was up in time to at least grab breakfast first?
Raimundo blinked his eyes and shook his head, trying hard to focus. This didn't seem like his cubicle sized room at the temple …
And then there was a scream. Shrill and obviously of the women in distress variety.
Raimundo didn't even hesitate. He vaulted off the plush bed scattering sheets, blankets and pillows across the floor. Running full tilt he leapt down the first flight of stairs, rolling to soften the impact, before charging down a corridor. Using that siren sounding scream as a beacon, he kicked off the wall of the second staircase, saving him several seconds as he again rolled, effortlessly regaining his feet and charging down a second hallway.
Finally he hit a doorway where the octaves seemed to peak before suddenly fading away. Raimundo fisted his hands, flipped into the room, and let out a roar to attract the attention of the assailants …
… and found a distraught looking woman wringing her hands. Nearby a mass of greenish-gray metal lay heaped against a nearby counter, visible sparks occasionally dancing across its mutilated form. Next to the mass of metal knelt Jack Spicer, pulling on a pair of thick gloves with the aid of a robotic aside. Completing the scene, as Raimundo dimly noted that he'd gashed his foot, lay shards of broken porcelain.
Four eyes turned. Two brown, two red.
And then the woman was screaming again. Jack's gloved hand flying to his face as if to try and hide the fact that his cheeks had developed a dark crimson tint. Raimundo paused for a fraction of a moment wondering what was going on; his entrance hadn't been that intimidating.
And then it hit him.
Like the universal clichéd nightmare with a slight scenery switch.
He had charged in to save the day completely naked. And given his battle ready stance, with fists clenched and legs spread, he was awarding his would-be rescueies a complete eyeful of his manhood.
Awkwardly Raimundo looked around the room hoping for something to fight. Something big and dangerous and clearly an immediate threat so it was understandable why he didn't get dressed before charging in. Seeing nothing like that appear, Raimundo wondered if he could literally die of embarrassment.
The woman's shriek stopped long enough that she could inhale before again sending it echoing throughout the Spicer estate. A still blushing and staring Jack loudly cleared his throat before attempting to speak in a slurred mass of consonants.
"Shitshitshitshitshitshit!" Raimundo hissed, darting out of the room. It wasn't until three hallways later that he realized that he had no idea where he was and absolutely no clue about which way he should be heading.
"Shit. Shit. SHIT!" Raimundo hissed again, randomly turning left down another impossibly long, maze-like, corridor. Eyes darting across slews of doors, windows and hallways that all seemed perfectly identical. The decor didn't even offer him an option of makeshift clothing seeing as it seemed to be a perpetual litany of antiquated suits of armor, various fragile looking vases and urns, with an occasional framed watercolor of some nature based scene.
Now fully awake, Raimundo winced. He also couldn't sneak outside and leave, seeing as that somewhere in his former archenemy's stronghold was one of the more potent shen gong wu. Not to mention his clothes and his medallion, the latter worth more to Raimundo then the golden tiger claws. Raimundo sighed, rubbed a temple, and resisted the urge to slam his fist through what had to be a fortune of ugly assembled clutter.
"Ra … Raimundo?" whimpered a voice from behind him. Wincing, Raimundo turned before thinking the action through, his training having taught that you never simply left your back turned to an enemy. Though watching the genius awkwardly rub the back of his neck, his cheeks flushed, Raimundo wondered if he even counted as an enemy anymore …
"I … bu … ja …ya … er …" Jack sputtered off bizarre mixtures of consonants and vowels, his eyes tracing downward, only to fly up to gaze guilty into Raimundo's emerald spheres for a second or two, before again beginning their downward decent.
Raimundo cocked an eyebrow. What the hell was so damn interesting …
"Stop looking at my fucking dick!" he roared when it again dawned on him that he was still naked, cupping the aforementioned body part to hide it as best he could, unable to figure out how he could have forgotten that little detail. Jack winced at the sudden yelling, before wrenching his gaze upward, staring past Raimundo's head, unable to meet the Brazilian's eyes.
"Why are you even running around my house naked anyway?" Jack countered, his voice louder then he'd intended.
"I heard someone screaming! I fucking thought that someone was in trouble and not that one of your crappy robots was malfunctioning again," Raimundo growled.
"Because I planned to drop a plate and to have the housebot run into the counter! You caught me Raimundo, it was all part of my master plan," Jack hissed angrily, not sure what he'd done to deserve Raimundo's obvious ire.
After a few seconds, not to mention running a gamut of emotions, Raimundo asked icily, "Was it?"
"Was it what?" Jack asked confused, still trying to keep his focus on the wall behind Raimundo, as every time he tried to meet the monk's eyes, his rebellious irises would wonder downward, investigating the Brazilian's toned chest or chiseled abs.
"You're gay. You want to fuck me. Did you plan all this to see me naked?" Raimundo asked, his tone serrated. Jack's eyes widened cartoonishly, sheer amazement giving him the focus to go eye-to-eye with the wind dragon.
"You fucking heard me. If I found out this was all some fucking plan of yours, you're going to be eating your teeth Spicer," Raimundo yelled, a hand moving to clench into an intimidating looking fist, his jaw clenching.
"You really think I planned that whole thing out, just to see your penis," Jack asked, his voice dropping several octaves and his eyes hardening. "So how did you GET naked from last night then? Or did I sneak into your room last night and strip you too?"
Raimundo winced; he'd been so busy worrying about being naked that he hadn't even considered how he had gotten that way. Granted, when he lived in Rio he'd slept naked all the time given the omnipresent heat … but the rule in the temple was that everyone had to sleep in at least underwear. And while he'd been given to ignore that rule when he first arrived, that mindset changed drastically after walking out one morning and running into Kimiko topless while only wearing his birthday suit … he suddenly found it very comfortable to sleep in boxers after that, pajama pants too even.
"Hell, why don't we just accuse me of everything while we're at it! Did I rape you too Raimundo? Take pictures? Suck you off? Seriously, why don't just accuse me of it all!" Jack continued, his tone taking on that serious quality that sent shivers down Raimundo's spine.
"Fuck you," Raimundo spat back, feeling guilty … and resenting Jack for making him feel that way. This situation sure as hell wasn't his fault.
"Just say it Rai. Just call me a fucking faggot. Just say that you hate me and leave. I don't even know why you came here anyway … I don't need your pity," Jack sneered, hiccupping mid-rant, which completely destroyed the self-possessed facade the red head had been exuding.
The word was on the tip of Raimundo's tongue, so toxic he could taste it. Inside his father screamed to yell it, to punch Jack so hard between the eyes that the world became a blur, to hit the weaker teen over and over again for ever thinking it was remotely acceptable for him to have thought it okay to look at his body in such a way.
A mental master Fung held him back though. That second voice counseling patience and warned that whatever actions he performed now would have eternal consequences, bad or good. He could almost hear the zen-esk quote that ultimately boiled down to not flying off the handle just because another guy thought you were hot.
Raimundo's free hand clenched and unclenched as the seconds dragged on. Jack had closed his eyes and drew then released a series of ragged breaths, waiting.
"'m sorry," Raimundo finally managed to hiss. Jack drew then released another ragged breath.
"IsaidIwasfuckingsorry!" Raimundo yelled, spitting the words out rapid-fire style. Jack's Adam's apple bobbed as he cracked open a flame colored eye. Jack then opened his mouth to say something, but both he and Raimundo keenly felt his eyes slip downward and run across Raimundo's sculpted chest.
An incisor dug furiously into his lower lip and Jack tasted blood. He was livid at himself; he had more self-control then this! Before Raimundo could say anything Jack spun around.
"I'm sorry too. Rai … it's just … I really like you. Like you … like you would like a girl. And I know that you don't like me … I mean, I know that you don't like guys. But I just can't stop it," Jack hiccupped again and ran an arm across his eyes, shoving back the tears as best he could. "I really, really like you Rai … and … what I really wanted to say was … that … that if you were serious last night … I'd really love … I mean, I'd really … really like it if we could be friends. Platonic friends even …"
Raimundo couldn't help but see the resemblance. Similar heights, similar body types but definitely different personalities … all of it still so hauntingly familiar.
"I like you. Like you like a girl,"
He'd said something like that too, hadn't he? Said it in that begging voice, said it with that same husky pleading edge.
Raimundo's chest constricted painful.
Jason. Fucking Jason.
Jason. Who he hadn't loved, but had almost let screw him senseless on his living room floor.
Jason. With aqua colored eyes and a bold smile … nothing at all like Jack's blazing eyes and maniacal grin.
Raimundo winced as his chest again constricted painful.
Raimundo put his hand over his chest and gripped down hard, failing to prevent another painful spasm in his chest. It felt like he'd stacked bricks atop his chest and was now struggling to breath … it felt like … like …
… like he was being crushed.
"Clothes!" Raimundo blurted out, refusing to even go down that mental path, interrupting a still babbling Jack. To his credit Jack started to turn his head, before digging his incisor painfully into his inner cheek and keeping his gaze forward.
"What did you say Rai?" Jack asked, unable to follow the nonlinear flow.
"Clothes," Raimundo all but begged. "I … my room. Can you take me back to my room?"
"Um … sure … yeah. Whatever you want Rai," Jack mumbled, feeling vaguely cheated that Raimundo wouldn't hear him out. He'd been in the middle of confessing that while he did think the wind dragon was attractive, that he thought that he could move beyond that and he'd try his best to never do anything that would make Raimundo feel uncomfortable.
They walked down several hallways in an awkward silence.
"Jack," Raimundo said softly when the silence became too heavy. "When did you start calling me Rai?"
Jack stopped. The movement, or lack there of, so sudden that Raimundo almost walked into the other teen. Jack felt his fists clench as he used his college level mental vocabulary to hurl every insult he knew at himself. He'd always been so careful. Only Raimundo's friends could call him Rai.
"Ummm … everything ok?" Raimundo asked worriedly, when Jack failed to move for a full minute.
"I'm sorry," Jack apologized softly, an incisor digging a fresh hole in the other side of his mouth.
"For what?" Raimundo asked confused.
"Only … only your friends call you Rai," Jack admitted softly. Raimundo clucked his tongue at that, knowing a host of people in Rio who shortened his name and who he definitely didn't consider friends.
"…Whatever. It doesn't matter, you can call me Rai if you want," Raimundo said with a shrug. Jack felt his heart beat just a little bit faster. He'd always wanted to call Raimundo that.
"Thanks … Rai," Jack whispered hesitantly, knowing that there was no need to say the other boy's name, but wanting to savor finally being allowed to.
The two then continued onward, down a hall, up a flight of stairs, down several more corridors and then up another flight of stairs, Jack finally coming to a full stop in front of an open door, a mess of blankets, clothes and pillows littering the floor and bed of the guest room.
"Thanks," Raimundo murmured, fleeing into the room and shutting the door. Jack, meanwhile, leaned against a nearby wall and congratulated himself on not turning around to catch one last sight of his naked crush.
Jack frowned suddenly, digging a cusped into his upper lip. Had he always been this obsessed with Raimundo's body? Sure he liked to look at the Brazilian ... during their shen gong wu battles and such, but he'd never tried to see Raimundo naked. He never slipped a camera in the monk's shower or anything perverted like that …
… so why now was it taking every ounce of his inner fortitude not to crack open the door and watch the wind dragon change? Jack's frown deepened and he shook his head. Something was wrong …
"So, ummm …"
Jack's head whipped around to see Raimundo clad in his usual attire, tanned hands playing with his golden medallion.
"So …" Jack began.
"I really …" Raimundo sighed.
Both stopped, waiting.
"You go first," Jack said after they both spent several second shuffling their feet and awkwardly avoiding looking at one another.
"I need to head back to the temple. You know, training and stuff," Raimundo said, his hands tightening their grip on the gold disk around his neck.
"Yeah, I understand," Jack nodded, relived. "I've got stuff I've got to do today too,"
Both indulged in another moment of foot shuffling and fidgeting.
"But I could, you know, come back and visit sometime soon," Raimundo shrugged. Jack felt his heart twist painfully … did Raimundo just say that he'd come back?
"Ye … Yeah. That'd be cool. Really cool. We could … hang out … and … do … stuff …" Jack replied lamely, inwardly wincing.
And it was round three of foot shuffling and fidgeting.
"So catch you later," Raimundo said, spreading out his arms, distant hug style.
"Goodbye," Jack said, hand outstretched for a handshake.
Both stared at the other and tried to correct, Jack moving for a hug and Raimundo stretching out an arm.
Raimundo grinned, shrugged, and gave Jack a light punch in the shoulder, "Laters Spicer. Golden Tiger Claws!"
Leaving a weak-kneed Jack whispering 'goodbye' to an empty room.
PandaBubba was a black pawn and would be taken by the white pawn, Kimiko.
With a flick of her wrist, she sent the black pawn flying off the bored, before gently setting the white pawn in its place.
Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the bored, Katnappe, yet another black pawn, would take the white knight, Guan.
Another flick of the wrist sent the black knight hurtling from the chessboard.
At this point the game would become dicey. Risky even.
Ink stained fingers danced a slew of pieces around the chessboard, occasionally flicking off marble pieces when they inconvenienced her precise movements.
Should everything go according to plan though, Jack should be able to take out that damnable dragon. A black rook darted forward knocking a far-off white rook off the table.
Simultaneously, she should be able to take out that irritating master monk.
The white queen twisted violently, suddenly sending the white king flying.
Which would, in turn, allow her to maneuver things … pieces all across the board danced around again; a sole set of pawns, one black, one white, remaining stationary, locked in place in front of one another in the center of the board.
And with all eyes still locked on what seemed to be an elementary strategy … the white queen was flicked from the bored, no longer need, while the black queen flew across the board to send the black king soaring across the room.
"Checkmate," Wuya hissed softly, eyes narrowed, her new voice still sounding foreign to her.
She hated this body. Hated its weakness, its fragility. Hated having being reduced to parlor tricks when she used to be able to control the cosmos themselves. The great dragons themselves had once bowed before her and paid her homage … and to suddenly be reduced to the magics of a mere apprentice sorceress …
Wuya growled. She had realized in the beginning that this would be the case. Not as if knowledge had made the transition any easier for her.
Sighing, Wuya wearily rubbed a temple. All things considered, things were going perfectly as planned. Jack was chomping at the bit to love and save 'mama', and with a little magical nudge Raimundo was starting to become friends with Jack.
Pursing her lips, Wuya gently ran a finger over her pawns locked in a stalemate. Given time that friendship would grow to become love, or at least love's twice removed cousin, lust. And that grade school romance would be what took center stage, allowing her to operate behind the scenes and do as she willed.
The reasons for that attention would be varied. Wuya doubted Omi could handle boys liking boys. A 'missing' shen gong wu would have Clay up in arms and overly defensive. Kimiko was emotional by nature and would get involved without prompting. Leaving Dojo and Fung to deal with their bickering charges while the side plots resolved themselves in assassin-esk fashion. Until …
Wuya looked down at the white king littering the floor, a small smirk playing on her lips. Then without Fung, the Xiaolin monks were hardly any danger. She ran it all through her mind for the thousandth time. Only one person could really stop her. Only one of her enemies represented a tangible threat. Her eyes darted to where the black king had landed, her smirk dissolving into a snarl.
All she could do now though was prepare. All she could do now was start moving her pieces into the positions they would need to be in later.
Today had already played out beautiful. Jack had fallen for her lure easily … and with a little planning and some magical preparation, Raimundo had entered before Jack could begin to question his sudden luck.
Followed of course by that oh so romantic scene. Jack following Raimundo's bloody footprints, worrying about the boy he loved. Raimundo frantic, frightened and lost. The two would meet and bicker … testosterone levels abnormally high due to some inexplicably, almost magical reason … and during that fight they would bond. Raimundo would remember once upon a time, while Jack would continue dreaming of happily ever after …
The whole thing so sappy and melodramatic it made Wuya want to gag.
Ultimately though, her plan resolved those two. Their relationship would gain her access to her enemy's sanctuary. Their relationship would keep those wise or magical enough to detect her plans distracted and inattentive. Their relationship would keep the monks preoccupied, making them miss their already limited opportunities to stop her.
Idly Wuya stroked the black pawn in the center of her chessboard. It would also ironically give Jack everything he had ever wanted.
Wuya felt a flutter in her chest and snarled. Every since she'd broken free of Dashi's mask she couldn't seem to push the red haired teen from her mind. She suspected Dashi had tampered with her imprisonment spell and these emotions were the result of some lingering curse the monk had left behind should she ever slip free of his bonds. Wuya again resolved to investigate that theory further once this body was capable of actively handling the strain of high levels of Heylin magic.
And all that really mattered was that in the end she gained her rightful place … as master of the world.
And if Jack somehow disrupted her plans in anyway …
A thin hand snapped across the chessboard, sending the remaining pieces clattering off the table and scattering them across the floor. Placing a hand on the empty board Wuya closed her eyes, drew deep breaths, and ran mentally through her plan one more time.
"Ophil … I mean … mama … are you … are you alright?"
Wuya opened her eyes. Ah, if it wasn't her little black pawn in the flesh.
"Fine Jack-Jack," said calmly, smoothing out imaginary wrinkles in her sundress.
"What …" Jack paused looking around the room and Wuya easily read the hesitance in his eyes. "What were you doing here in the library?"
"Playing chess love," Wuya replied, tossing him a cheerful grin. She watched Jack run a canine tooth across before his lower lip.
Aww. He was worried. Wasn't that cute?
Jack swallowed. "Ma … Mama. Dr. Merone has an opening today at six … she said you could come … if you wanted too,"
Wuya resisted rolling her eyes. Ultimately she knew she would have to indulge Jack by seeing this Dr. Merone … but Wuya personally thought she was much more in need of a manicure then psychological aid.
"Hmmmm," she murmured, pursing her lips. "But what about that boy running around our house naked. I was just thinking about calling the police …"
Jack's face turned scarlet and Wuya resisted the urge to laugh, this was almost too easy.
Jack mumbled something.
"What was that love?" Wuya asked, plucking the phone from a nearby receiver. "Did you get a good look at him? Perhaps I should try to sketch him out before the authorities arrive …"
Jack's face was now absolutely burning, forcing Wuya to turn away least her fast forming smirk give her away.
"I said … he's my … friend," Jack whimpered, his voice shifting inflection on the last word, making it sound almost questioning. Staying in character Wuya whipped her head around to stare at Jack.
"Do your friends run around the manor in nude often?" she asked, putting on a horrified face. "They don't make you run around naked too, do they Jack-Jack?! They don't touch you in bad places, do they?!"
Wuya whisked across the room to envelop Jack into a chocking embrace. "My baby! Please tell me they didn't do anything to hurt my baby!"
Jack struggled his way out of her arms. "No mom! Rai's really cool. He's a really great martial artiest and he was only naked because he heard you scream and thought you were in trouble!"
Wuya shot Jack her best disbelieving glare.
"… It's a long story," Jack mumbled, shaking his head.
Jack sighed, rubbed his hair in frustration and then suddenly brightened. Grabbing her hand he tugged her several rooms down into a fairly plush living room. Running a finger across a bookshelf filled with dvds, he withdraw one seemingly at random and popped it into the nearby player. He then flagged her over to sit on the couch as the video began to load. Him undermining any chance she had to ask questions by quickly hitting play on a nearby remote and jacking up the volume.
Wuya recognized the unfolding drama immediately. It was the Shadow of Fear debacle, all on screen.
All starting in Jack's menacing looking lair, some digital editing making the familiar place seem eerie and sinister. A 'maniacal looking youth' plotting against his foes, a dark and foreboding specter urging the boy onward.
A scene later the heroes entered, all enhanced by Jack's technological magic. Kimiko's flames wrapped around her as she fought the maniacal youth's robotic minions, giving her an almost surreal beauty. Omi's water based attacks flashed across the screen with an easy grace, all highlighting the monk's amazing skills. Clay became picturesque, as he guided the very earth into his attacks through a series of steady moves.
And Raimundo …
Jack's breath hitched when Raimundo appeared on screen. The wind dragon looked male model perfect as kicked off stone barriers to do a slew of aerial acrobatic attacks. His fists moving lightning fast as he tore through metal, the camera zooming in to show off an award winning smile. Wuya resisted the urge to roll her eyes.
Wuya lifted her hand and rested it on Jack's head, the boy making a startled noise at the unexpected touch. Wuya inched closer to him until their hips were touching and whispered into his ear;
"Your friend is very cute Jack-Jack,"
Jack's face went from normal to scarlet in a fraction of a second. Wuya smiled, it was like playing a violin. Touch a cord and the response was both predictable and immediate.
"I … he …you see …" Jack mumbled into his lap.
Wuya whispered arcane words beneath her breath while her former minion babbled, hiding her intentions by slowly running her fingers through Jack's inferno colored hair. Slowly the boy's eyes sagged closed; his head falling into Wuya's lap, his prattle replaced the sounds of steady breathing.
Wuya closed her eyes and sighed. Dr. Merone could wait. She still had one task left to handle.
Another fire attack flashed across the nearby silver screen. Gently running her fingers through Jack's hair she watched and she remembered. When the dvd finally concluded, the heroes having saved the day and the maniacal youth left flying away and vowing revenge … Wuya frowned as she remembered what the heroes had done after saving the day, Jack having conveniently edited out their return usage of the fear provoking shen gong wu. Looking down she felt her face soften as she watched that same 'maniacal youth' slumber.
He looked so young. So innocent. And so very, very fragile.
He should be the villain he had once acted like, albeit far more ruthless then he ever was when he worked for the Heylin side. Yet here he was, fingers twisting themselves in the soft material of her dress, his lips fluttering as he dreamed.
Outside the nearby window the sun began a slow decent. A nearby clock counting away the minutes in red number form. Wuya did nothing, said nothing, somehow content to sit there and watch the sun begin its ritual disappearing act.
The sky was just starting to lose its menagerie of colors when she heard a series of beeps behind her. Looking back Wuya found Ophelia Spicer's old robotic caretaker emitting a systematic series of beeps.
Beeping out the signal that Robo-Jack had programmed into it. Just as she had commanded him too.
Wuya gently moved Jack's head and stood up.
"Take care of him," Wuya commanded the nearby robot, as she strode out of the room, the robot immediately producing a blanket from somewhere and covering its charge. At the doorway she was tempted to look back and check to make sure Jack was alright … then sneered at herself for caring and quickened her pace.
Tucked away inside her were Ophelia Spicer's memories, so navigating the labyrinth of hallways was a simple trick. And all too soon Wuya once again found herself inside the manor's kitchen, her eyes burning holes into the back of the sole living servant of the Spicer household.
Grace had finally returned home from shopping and Wuya intended to give her the greeting she so rightfully deserved.
Grace spun around when she heard the click of Wuya's high heels against the tiled floor. The maid's eyes growing ridiculously wide.
"Ms. Spicer," she choked out in her accented voice, her hands going up to play with her grey bun of hair. "I haven't seen you in …"
She tapered off, her eyes scanning the room. Wuya's smile widened as the maid's heartbeat spiked.
"Would you … Can I make you something for dinner Ms. Spicer?" The maid asked, her voice cracking. Wuya's smile continued to widen, now showing off teeth. Grace had noticed that Ophelia's robotic guardian was no where in sight. Had noticed that Jack was nowhere in sight.
That the only thing around was two housebots casually unloading groceries.
Then Wuya lunged forward, her wrist encircling the elderly woman's throat, shoving her cruelly into a nearby counter. Grace sputtered and two tiny hands tried to pry the hand away … and had Grace been dealing with the original Ophelia Spicer, she might have even succeeded.
But Wuya had whispered yet another simple enchantment before entering the kitchen, augmenting her strength to that of a barbarian warrior. Her fingers digging deeper into the maid's fragile throat, Wuya missed her more powerful spells … spells that would have allowed her to pulverize this pathetic being with a literal flick of her fingers. Though in the grand scheme of things this was just as effective.
Grace's eyes bugged as she dug her nails over and over against her captor's arm. A nearby housebot meandered around the two, nonchalantly putting a carton of eggs and a container of milk into the nearby refrigerator.
Doing nothing to disrupt their mistress's plans. Just as Wuya had ordered Robo-Jack to reprogram them.
Wuya held Grace until the elderly woman went limp then casually dumped her to the floor. She then knelled down and wrapped her fingers around the old woman's chin. With her free hand she placed two fingers over the maid's lips and chanted a quick incantation.
Instantly she felt the results, feeling the woman's life essence seep from her body to be absorbed into those two awaiting fingers. The feeling was warm, comfortable … like drinking hot tea after coming in from a blizzard.
A few seconds later Wuya ripped her fingers away. She wanted to drain the useless hag dry, but her death now would be too conspicuous.
Wuya smiled. The worthless maggot would die when it was convenient for her. She had already planned this creature's demise … her death serving to aid in her ongoing plot.
With a snap of her fingers, Wuya sent waves of magic to assault the maid's skin, effectively preventing the skin from bruising. Without proof the maid had nothing. No witnesses, no marks … no doubt the servant herself would question her own memory and sanity.
Wuya then stood, combed a hand through her hair, and threw the unconscious woman a superior gaze.
Soon. So very soon.
Smirking, Wuya rubbed her clothes free of wrinkles, before walking towards the door. Almost as an after-thought, she paused.
"Housebot. Take care of that,"
And then she continued on her way, vanishing into the darkening corridors of the Spicer manner without even a casual glance behind her.
"I told you too GET OUT," the girl screamed, a snap of her fingers having her three genetically altered kittens showing off three sets of intimidating fangs.
"And I told you … to. Shut. The. Fuck. Up," Jack responded, grinning.
"Last chance Spicer and then your cat food," Katnappe hissed, digging her hands into her bed, literally shaking with rage.
Katnappe had never felt so enraged in all of her life. She wasn't sure how, but Jack Spicer had just waltzed into her room, slamming the door behind him, before throwing her a shit-eating grin. She had been halfway through painting her nails before that dweeb had interrupted her … and now he didn't even have the good sense to leave before she had him torn to shreds.
Jack rolled his eyes at her threat and picked a magazine off her dresser. "Cat fancy Ashley? Wow, could you be any more of one dimensional?"
Nearby her kittens growled. The adorable white bundles of fur transforming from string batting balls of cuteness to pissed off bulldog mode. Three sets of feline ears pressed flat against their skulls, three backs perfectly arched into death leap mode, three tails flicked angrily back and forth.
"Kittens attack!" Katnappe commanded, determined to not call the beasts off until Jack begged her too … and only then after they drew blood. She'd make Spicer regret every violating her turf.
Hissing, all three cats leapt forward …
… and then all three cats hit the floor. A tiny hole leaking scarlet having appeared in-between three sets of crystal blue eyes.
Jack blew a wrist, where the bullets had sprang from, before throwing Katnappe another grin. She stared back at him in complete horror. He had shot her cats. He had killed her babies.
… And now he was aiming that wrist level with her forehead.
Katnappe had never been so terrified in her entire life. Jack had finally snapped and he was going to kill her.
"I hate to be cliché, but scream and you die," Jack said calmly, that smile never leaving his face.
This wasn't happening. This couldn't be happening. Her dad's estate had guards and alarms and all types of genetically enhanced pets.
"Now that I have your full attention, there's something I need you to do for me Ashley" Jack said, walking towards her. Katnappe felt herself start to hyperventilate, edging backwards until she ran out of bed and her back crushed against the wall.
"Look Jack, whatever you want I can help you," Katnappe whimpered, her breath coming in gasps as Jack continued to move forward, stepping on the body of Buttons, that creepy smile still never leaving his face. "You … you don't have to hurt me …"
He was at the side of her bed now.
"But what if I want to hurt you?" he responded playfully.
Katnappe swallowed. She was terrified, but Jack had made a fatal mistake in closing the gap between them. Katnappe lunged forward, her razor nails aiming for a crimson eye. She was going to tear that smile off of his fucking face …
Jack's hand flew upward impossibly fast, caught her wrist, and twisted, sending waves of pain running down Katnappe's arm. Desperately she swiped at him with her other hand, but that hand met a similar fate. Jack's smile was now inches from her face.
"Now," Jack whispered, his lips moving closer until they were almost touching her ear. "Like I said before. I need you to do something for me Ashley,"
She tried to twist her wrist out of his grasp, but he was too strong … far stronger then she ever remembered him being. Before she could begin to think about that though, he gave her wrists another painful twist.
"Are you paying attention yet Ashley?" Jack whispered, his tone playful.
"Yea … Yeah," Katnappe nodded and gave Jack a pained smile. "Just let me go Jack and we can talk about it … I can do … whatever you want,"
Jack tilted his head and seemed to think about it for a moment. Then nodded, a serene smile still on his lips as he released her wrists.
Only to suddenly punch her in the chest with astounding speed and strength.
Katnappe's hands flew over her left breast, a pained hiss escaping her lips. That hurt! That hurt her more then anything she had ever felt before …
… and what the fuck?! She was bleeding too? A gem of scarlet suddenly adorning her white tank top.
Torn between feeling absolutely terrified and utterly pissed, Katnappe pulled her tank-top and bra forward to get a look at the wound. She inhaled to scream when she saw a blinking red light embedded in her boob.
Jack's hand was over her mouth though, his free wrist pointing at her forehead.
"Uh, uh, uh … Scream and I shoot you, remember?"
And just like that he released her, seating himself next her on the bed and throwing her that same shit-eating grin.
"What. Did. You. Do. To. Me?" Katnappe somehow managed to choke out; lifting her shirt forward again to make sure she was just imaging things. Sure enough a weak light winked back at her.
"It's a bomb!" Jack responded happily.
This had to be a dream. A terrible nightmare which she would wake up from soon. The only problem being that one can't feel pain in dreams … and her chest was radiating waves of it.
"A bomb?" Katnappe hyperventilated.
"You put a fucking bomb in my chest?!" she wheezed. This couldn't be real. Fuck, this couldn't even be humanly possible … he had to be bluffing … right?
Jack nodded. Katnappe's hand flew under her shirt … there was no way in hell she was leaving a bomb in her cleavage.
"Try to take it out and it goes boom" Jack said conversationally, putting his hands behind his head and leaning back comfortably. Katnappe withdrew her hand and gave him a terrified look, tears starting to form at the edges of her eyes.
"You tell the police about any of this. Boom. You tell daddy about this. Boom. You try to tell anyone any of this. Boom. Pretty much you do anything stupid and you go boom. Got it?" Jack continued, still grinning.
Katnappe nodded to broken for words.
"Now, I only need one favor from you. You do it, bomb comes out, and everythings golden," Jack said, moving closer again, his lips inches from her ear.
And then he whispered his plan to her, that smile never leaving his face for a second.
And Katnappe did the only rational thing. She asked him to repeat it, positive she had heard him wrong.
When he did so, she leaned over the bed and vomited.
"Naa … na … no way Spicer. I know crazy runs in your family, but no fucking way," Katnappe whispered, her face ashen.
He was insane. He was completely and totally fucking insane.
"I'm not asking you. I'm telling you," Jack said into her ear, his tone still friendly.
Katnappe shook her head and resisted the urge to be sick again.
Jack suddenly grabbed the hair by the back of her skull and then pulled and twisted his hand, sending fresh waves of agony throughout her body.
"Lemme put it this way Ashley," Jack said happily. "You do what I told you too, or I make you wish you were them,"
And she was suddenly looking at the floor, at the bodies of her babies. Their feline forms limp, lifeless. Their lifeblood forever staining her white carpet.
And then Jack released her and stood. He pulled a black cell phone from his pocket and threw it on her bed.
"So. I'll be in touch. Laters Ashley," Jack said, making sure she saw his smile before he strolled out of the room.
Whistling. The sick fucker.
Left suddenly alone, Katnappe did the only logical thing she could think of.
She drew her knees to her forehead and cried.
So, yeah. You were probably all like "YAY! Shiva updated!" … and then you read this.
I'm figuring that now most of you are wondering what kind of sick and terrible person I am … what with all the old women beatings, kitten killings, and minor characters getting bombs punched into their cleavage.
I will address all of those concerns though … in bullet note format no less!
1) Villains are EVIL.
In a lot of what I read, this is seriously downplayed. Not here though. Wuya is evil folks. She is domineering, cruel, and occasionally sadistic. I mean, in the SHOW she tries to squish (literally squish) Raimundo's friends in front of him. Wuya doesn't care about Rai. She doesn't care about Omi, Kimiko, Clay, Fung, Grace or Dojo. In fact she sees most of them as obstacles to her plans … and treats them accordingly. The only person she's shown even a flicker of compassion for thus far is Jack (… and that's in-between playing his emotions like a xylophone). Wuya is evil here folks … and I'm not going to downplay that. So before you ask, the answer is yes. There is going to be upcoming character death(s). … (and right now you have no idea how hard I'm crossing my fingers that you guys will still keep reading despite that).
And in case you're wondering, 'Why Grace'? Let me offer you this. In an abusive relationship, what is one of the first things the abuser tries to do? He/she tries to push away all of his/her mates friends/family … because without a support network, the victim only has the abuser. Copy/paste that idea here … Jack's social network is Grace. Take her out of the equation and he's got no one to turn to … save, ta-da, Wuya … who, posing as his mother can manipulate the ever living tar out of him.
At the same time I should probably point out here that Wuya is more then two-dimensional evil here. Piled atop her apparent lack of conscience, she's also human and capable of change. Now, I'm not going to tell you if that change comes to late (or even at all) … (because seriously, if I ruined the mystery what fun would there be in reading the fic?) … but I will tell you this … The ending (… you know, ten years from now when we reach the ending given my update style /headdesk/) will surprise the shit out of you. Promise.
2) People can't punch bombs into other people's boobs.
… My guess is that most robots can't either. But Jack-bot/Robo-Jack can. My guess is that the majority of you already caught it … but that was definitely Jack-bot dealing with Katnappe. My point in this scene is to show that a) Wuya is absolutely fucking ruthless; b) Jack-bot is a robot and has absolutely NO conscience and is thus the perfect minion; and c) plot setting for later, when Katnappe takes part in a plan so apparently wrong that it makes physically sick (… though I suppose that could partly be blamed on all the threats, pain, and watching her pets get killed in front of her).
3) … oh come on. You all wanted a naked Raimundo. Don't even try to deny it.
Er … I mean. Raimundo's already shattered psyche is now getting fucked with magic. Obviously more Raimundo angst is coming (though come on folks! He's doing better! He didn't cry, hit somebody or anything this chapter! So see? Good things are bound to start happening too!).
4) That dvd was how Grace knew what Raimundo looked like (… if anyone even remembers that plot point way back in … /checks notes/ chapter six). /Shurgs/ not really vital, but thought I'd mention it.
… and I think that pretty much covers my bases.
So let me just reiterate one last point … the point I reiterate every chapter.
For those of you who have favored this story or me … thank you.
For those of you who have reviewed this story … thank you (…and for those of you who think your reviews don't matter … I totally changed Jason's name to Ryan in the early drafts of this chapter … until I checked my old reviews and was like … 'wtf? Who the hell is Jason?' … and then I bashed my head against my desk and felt really really stupid).
Hell, for those of you who have stuck with me this long and just read this story … thank you.
And that's really it.
So until next time folks …