Disclaimer: The future DCU and its inhabitants as depicted here belong to DC Comics and Time Warner, not me. I have no decision-shaping power with either, much to my chagrin . . . and yours, too, I'm certain. Kidding. If someone like me ran DC Comics . . .
Author's note: Here we are, at the end of this series of ficlets. However, it is not quite the end of this universe I've crafted here. It's simply the end of this particular chapter in our protagonists' stories. Another chapter (not a chapter of this story, mind you) will begin soon enough.
Olivia was lying in a cot in Dr. Mid-Nite's clinic, the antidote steadily doing its work to purge her body of the poison with which she'd been infected. Cerdian was lying in another cot, his Atlantean physiology working overtime to purge the poison. Cheshire was in a heavily guarded room, recovering from the reconstructive surgery that had been done on her shoulder and knee. Ollie, Dinah, Connor, Mia, and Sin were by Olivia's side, waiting for her to awaken. Lian was beside Cerdian, curled up over him on his cot, comforting him with the warmth of her body. The Cheshire Cat and Roy waited next to Cheshire's cot.
The others simply hovered outside the rooms inhabited by the patients, waiting for them to finish recovering. Rose looked at Mar'i askance, prompting the half-Tamaranean girl to ask, "What's wrong, Rose?"
"You tortured her," Rose replied.
"I had to," Mar'i answered unrepentantly. "She was going to let Olivia die because we wouldn't play along with her sick game. I did what was necessary."
"You tortured her," Rose repeated. "What would you have done if Cheshire hadn't given in to her son's pleas? Would you have killed her like you said you would?"
"There's only so much pain a human body can take," Mar'i answered. "Only so much. All I had to do was keep pushing her buttons until she gave in."
"And what if you pushed too far?" Rose asked. "What if she died? What would you have done then?"
"Raided her corpse for the antidote," Mar'i replied.
"And what if your starbolts had destroyed the antidote?" Rose asked.
"What's the point of all these questions?" Mar'i asked.
"The point is that the reason we don't cross certain lines is that it brings us nothing but trouble down the line," Rose replied. "Take it from someone who's been there. Doing good doesn't always make what you do to get there right."
Mar'i looked Rose in the white lens concealing her singular eye. She pulled Rose into an embrace, nuzzling her neck while making sounds reminiscent of a cat's purring. Rose simply let Mar'i hold her, placing her hand on the younger woman's back to reassure her. She looked up at Mar'i and smiled at her.
"You think we can go see Olivia now?" Mar'i asked hopefully.
"I'll ask Ollie and Dinah," Rose replied, pulling herself out of Mar'i's embrace. She walked over to the doorway leading to Olivia's room and rapped on it, drawing the attention of the Arrow clan. "Is there room for two more?"
"Sure," Ollie replied.
Rose gestured to Mar'i and Mar'i joined her in Olivia's room. Mar'i looked at Olivia's figure on the cot. According to the readout on the machines monitoring her, her heartbeat and brain activity were steady, but she still hadn't woken up. Mar'i took a spot next to Mia and Sin, while Rose leaned on the front frame of Olivia's cot.
"No change?" Mar'i asked.
"No change," Sin echoed, reaching out to hold Olivia's hand. Olivia's hand gently squeezed Sin's, making Sin look up to Olivia's face, seeing green eyes open and aware. "You're awake."
Ollie was the first to hug Olivia, squeezing his Hypertime-tossed daughter tightly. Olivia gently wrapped her arms around her father. Dinah was the next to hug Olivia, along with Mia and Connor. Sin hugged her as well, gripping her tightly as though to confirm to herself that she was real. When Sin finally let go, Olivia smirked at Rose and Mar'i.
"Aren't you two going to hug me, too?" she asked coyly.
"You wonderful, vicious little brat," Rose replied mirthfully.
"I love you, too, Rose," Olivia answered sardonically, smirking wider at the jealousy barely concealed on Mar'i's face.
In Cheshire's room, the Cheshire Cat finally spoke. "You must have been something, for my mother to love you as she did," he muttered.
Roy looked at the young boy askance. The Cheshire Cat continued on, "She thinks about you a lot. She acts like she doesn't, but she still . . . she gets this faraway look in her eye sometimes."
"Do you know who your father is?" Roy asked.
"I met him once," the Cheshire Cat replied. "Too noble. Too sentimental." He paused. "My sister . . . I see a lot of what my mother loved about you in her."
"Yeah, she's something," Roy agreed with an unconscious smile. Beside him, the Cheshire Cat merely looked at his mother stoically. "I still love her, believe it or not."
"I can tell," the Cheshire Cat answered. "Where is my sister? Why isn't she here? Is she with her boyfriend?"
"Boyfriend?" Roy echoed confusedly.
"The boy who stopped me from killing her by throwing himself on my hidden weapon," the Cheshire Cat clarified. He smirked with grim satisfaction at seeing the dawning realization on Roy's face.
Speaking of Lian and Cerdian, the latter regained full consciousness, only to find a most tantalizing and embarrassing sight. Specifically, it was Lian lying next to and partly on him. Her outside leg was hooked over his front and her outside arm lay on his chest. Her smile was equal parts warmth, sex, and mischief.
"Welcome back to the world of the living," she greeted him.
"Lian, I . . ." Cerdian uttered, only for Lian to shush him with a kiss.
End Notes: Thus is the conclusion to "Illicit." It is not quite the conclusion to this universe, though; there are still stories to be told in it, such as what happens when somebody finds out about the real nature of Rose's relationship with Mar'i. Or how Roy copes with Lian's relationship with Cerdian. Or whether Damien will run into Kei again and if he's involved in any way with Selina Kyle's daughter Helena. Or whether Chris's fears of turning out like his father are founded. In the meantime, feel free to let me know what you thought of this first ficlet series.