A/N: Thanks to everyone who has reviewed and read this story. I'm glad you've all enjoyed reading it since I've enjoyed writing it.
Despite the overall anticipatory mood of much of the people in Hell, Jinx was rapidly having her own mood plummet. Maybe it was the nostalgia she felt for her family in the face of possible estrangement. Maybe it was the loss of a particular brand of innocence that she'd struggled to retain all these years of villainy.
Maybe it was the fact that her new friend was leaving.
She could see glimpses of them through the crowd, "Impulse" arguing with "Nightwing" just before they all slide back into the booth. It's clear to Jinx that they're ready to leave the party, perhaps without saying goodbye. From the looks of it Cheshire and Red X had already done so.
Kid Flash watched her move and was struck again by the feline grace she exhibited so naturally. Most people assumed that the speed with which he moved made him graceful, but the way Jinx moved put him to shame. In comparison he felt like a bit of a blundering oaf, stomping around on too heavy feet.
She slid up to the side of the booth, her eyes darting around her constantly as the crowd in the room began to swell as many villains not invited to the party filed in to find out what the hoopla was about. "Come on, let's get out of here."
Robin thought it was the best idea he'd heard all day.
Speedy wondered where Cheshire had gone off to.
Kid Flash didn't think at all, just slipped out of the booth and started to follow Jinx as she moved through the crowd. Robin and Speedy had no recourse but to follow as well. Robin was growing increasingly nervous as the place became more crowded. He and his two companions were getting more and more stares as people struggled to figure out why they seemed so familiar. It was definitely past time to leave.
Mammoth didn't smile or wave at them this time, instead watching solemnly as they walked by. His eyes were friendly, but his attention was definitely elsewhere. A loud cry and crash from the other side of the room grabbed his attention and he immediately waded through the smaller villains to find out what happened. At the same time, not too far away another crash sounded.
Robin paused to watch as not one, but two fights started. "What's happening?"
"They're getting back to business as usual," Jinx explained.
"Business as usual is beating the shit out of each other?" Speedy asked, not pausing but instead stepping past Robin and hurrying towards the stairs. He didn't have his arrows, let alone his bow, and the few weapons he kept on him would not keep him safe from hordes of special-abilitied Villains.
Robin quickly caught up.
Jinx shrugged. "We are what we are. We can pretend we're all on the same side, but really the only side we're on is our own."
Once upon a time Robin might have believed that. He'd seen a few things here tonight that gave him doubts about Jinx's true nature. She wasn't really the cold-hearted sorceress she professed to be.
He'd make note to exploit that at a later date.
The stairs were just as steep and dark going up as they were down, but this time had a light at the end of the tunnel. That light was bright red and hung above a set of doors. That light read "Exit".
Kid Flash jumped quickly up the stairs, landing besides Jinx and slid his hand into hers. Quietly, so his friends wouldn't hear, he asked, "What's wrong?"
She let him hold her hand though instinct told her to pull away. "Nothing."
"Don't lie. I've spent all evening with you. Before now you've been, well, if not happy then content. Now you've got frown lines and your eyes seem sad."
She did pull away this time and smacked him on the back of his head lightly. "You do realize it's not nice to tell a girl she has frown lines, don't you? And stop paying so much attention to me. It makes me uncomfortable."
Speedy's snicker from behind them told Kid Flash that he'd spoken louder than he intended. He ignored them and focused on Jinx. "I can't help but pay attention to you."
"And why is that?"
"Any other reason?"
"You don't know me."
"I'd like to."
Jinx pushed open the exit doors with a sigh and gestured for the boys to go first. "I wouldn't like you to. You all should leave."
Even Robin could hear that odd tone in her voice now. He too asked, "What's wrong?"
"You're not one of us," she answered in a bored tone, not even looking at them as she said it. She examined her bubble-gum pink finger nails, and wondered how they'd look in blue. At least, that's what she wanted them to think she was thinking.
Robin gripped a batarang in his jeans pocket and stood a little straighter. Behind him he could hear Speedy shift into a more defensible spot as well. Kid Flash just stood there. Robin cleared his thought and took a small step back from Jinx. "What do you mean?"
She leaned on the wall, wondering briefly where the door guards were. "I don't know who you are or where you come from, but you're not supposed to be here."
"What do you-"
"I've seen the list of Villains invited here. Mammoth, Gizmo, and I are the ones who run the show around here. None of you are on it. Red X vouched for you, so you weren't thrown out immediately. However, it is now time for you to leave."
Robin nodded slowly, backing away steadily now but not taking his eyes off of Jinx. "That'd be best I think."
Speedy started to say something smart-alecky, but decided at the last second that this was one of the few situations where it didn't warrant it. He turned his back on Jinx and ran for the vehicle.
Kid Flash was the only one who hesitated. He stared at Jinx and didn't feel the nervousness or the small fear the other two did. He still felt drawn to her, attracted like a moth to a flame. He started to speak, his mouth open but no words yet coming out when she put up her hand as if to command him to be silent.
"I like flowers," she said softly. "If we ever meet again, I want to see your real face. I hate masks. I endure them from my friends because they have their own secrets. My brothers don't wear them and neither do I. I hate secrets. All they do is complicate things."
He stepped closer and was pleased when she didn't shy away. He knew without looking that both Robin and Speedy were at the car now, waiting for him. "What kind of flowers?"
She smiled faintly. "Roses. I like roses."
He nodded. "My name is Wally."
Her smile grew wider and her eyes gained that little bit of dancing mischief she'd had before. "My name is Jinx."
He grinned back and winked. "I'm going to find out your name one day, Jinx."
"I think you just might," she replied almost too quiet for him to hear.
She watched as he sped away, disappearing into the darkness instantly. She shut the doors to Hell behind her.
As Speedy weaved his way through the parked cars, tanks, and various flying ships, he admittedly wasn't paying too much attention. Jinx's words had sent tremors of panic through his body, recalling his early realization that the few weapons he had on him would be nothing to the swarms of Villains that would try to overcome them.
He didn't even see green-sleeve-covered arm that shot out in front of him and effectively clothes-lined him. The effect of this action was that the slender but shockingly strong arm hit him mid-chest and sent him flying to the floor, where he banged his head and saw stars.
When those stars dissipated seconds later Speedy found himself staring into a familiar mask. "Cheshire?"
"Be quiet and listen, for once, Speedy." The shock of hearing his real name on her lips had him actually listening. "I know exactly who you are and have from the moment you and your friends stepped through those doors. It was curiosity that held my tongue. Speedy, Robin, and Kid Flash in dive like this, and out of costume to boot? Yes, curious indeed." She had a slight accent that he couldn't place. He listened desperately, trying to find some sort of characteristic of her that he could carry away with him. Maybe use to identify her, though why he didn't know. "I haven't informed anyone of your true intentions here, yet. Do not hesitate to think I won't." She leaned closer and Speedy noted that her eyes were green but laced with grey; a beautiful combination. "I'm not Jinx; I don't have her softness or lenience for your kind. Next time we meet we will be enemies, true enemies. I will not hesitate to try and kill you."
Just as suddenly as she appeared, she was gone. Dangerous and appealing in the dark, her words ringing in his ears. Robin was at his side with seconds, pulling Speedy from the dirty ground but continuing toward the truck. "What happened?"
"Nothing," Speedy lied, "I fell."
Robin nodded and they reached the Jeep just as Kid Flash sped to its side. "Get in," he commanded of the other two, already reaching for the door handle.
"Can I drive?"
Kid Flash sighed but slid into the back seat with no further words. The argument about driving had been expected, so he'd acted his part but his mind was still with Jinx. With her words, with her actions, with her scent, with her eyes. Never before had he ever experienced such a preoccupation with someone of either sex.
Never before had he been tempted to ignore his duties and return to her.
Speedy didn't ask to drive, it was expected that he knew not to ask.
He tried not to think about Cheshire, really he did.
He had the same problem as Kid Flash, however.
Robin had no such problems except how to implement his plan. He started the vehicle and pulled out of parking spot, heading for the door. It wasn't open when he got there, and he leaned out to tap in the passcode.
It didn't work.
He tried it again.
It still didn't work.
From the shadows on either side of the "door" the huge monstrous guards that the trio had tangled with in the beginning of this evening appeared with menacing grins on their ugly faces.
They reached for the car doors.
Robin gunned the engine and leaped through the doors before they could touch the car. Wood splintered and the metal strips dented the hood but he kept driving. Real fear had clogged his throat, making it impossible to speak.
Kid Flash didn't have that problem. He grinned at the landscape speeding by, streetlights and storefronts blurring in the windows. It was almost like running, the speed at which Robin was driving. "So...nice productive evening then, eh, Robin?"
"We should do this again. It was fun."
Speedy smirked into the window, the anticipation of a fight and the adrenaline it'd created slowly sliding away. He too joined in the fun. "Absolutely delightful," he agreed with Kid Flash.
Robin started to grind his teeth.
"That whole 'Let's go in without our costumes or most of our weapons' was brilliant."
"I bet you'll be telling Batman all about this when you get home."
"I really liked when the guards tried to capture us and we ran like little bitches. That was great," Kid Flash noted, leaned up between the front seats and grinning like a hyena, a smile mirrored in Speedy's face.
Robin elbowed Kid Flash in the face and his lips curved involuntarily. "Okay. Maybe I could have put a little more thought into it."
Kid leaned into the back seat and crossed his legs nonchalantly. "That's all I'm saying."
The building was packed now, mostly with villains. A few accomplices and mentors were along for the ride, however. The Brotherhood had left and energy began to rocket around the room in their absence. Villains and Villainesses talked smack about what they were going to do to the Titans, to the city, to strangers, to friends. Plots and plans echoing in the air, mingling and changing with each second as if alive.
Jinx sat in her booth, alone. She watched these people, some she'd known for years, some strangers. She didn't join them and didn't invite anyone to join her.
She couldn't help but feel as if tonight was a turning point in her life.
Something had changed and it felt like even fate itself was taking notice.
Something had changed within her.
Maybe for the better.
That's it, ladies and gentlemen. I hope I've shed a little light onto just why Lightspeed went down the way it did.