Mystery Girl No More
Disclaimer: …Does it really need to be said?
8:57, Wayne Manor. 1940 Finger Drive, just outside Gotham City limits
Alfred Pennyworth skillfully moved the razor across the long strip of leather, sharpening the blade to a fine point as the hot towel lay across Bruce Wayne's defined features. Taking a sheet of paper, the valet put to metal tongue to it and pulled downward. The sound of slicing paper filled the restroom, followed by the sound of two cleanly divided sheets fluttering to the tile floor. With a satisfied nod, Alfred struck the blade to the leather once more to regain the edge lost-regardless of how slight.
Let it not be said that Master Wayne was incapable of shaving his own face. On the contrary, the man was perfectly able of doing such a task with a simple disposable razor himself. However, there were occasions, such as today's charity brunch at eleven, sponsored by the Wayne Foundation, where Master Wayne simply had to look his absolute best. As such the man needed the assistance of someone well trained in the art of personal grooming. Someone that Alfred Pennyworth just happened to be, along with his other plethora of talents.
As the towel was removed and the perfectly heated shaving cream was applied, Bruce Wayne uttered a 'finally' under his breath, then turned on the small television, set to a major news network, then he picked up that morning's copy of The Gotham Gazette to read as Alfred worked.
The Gentleman's Gentleman rolled his eyes and gave a little sigh, but ignored it and set to work. When the news anchor cut off the weatherman…
"This just in…
6:57, Grand Eagle Plaza Apartments, Penthouse Suite, Star City
Oliver Queen groaned as he sat on the couch in the den, clad in a white terry robe. Stifling a yawn, he covered his mouth with a languid hand, subconsciously noting the stubble growing around his Van Dyke beard and moustache. Why was he up so freakin' early?
From the Master Bathroom, the hissing of the shower stopped, and minutes later, the shapely form of the blonde haired Dinah "Black Canary" Lance-similarly attired-walked into the room with two mugs of coffee.
'Heh, that's why…' the blond man thought as he took an offered mug. "Morning beautiful, how'd you sleep?"
Dinah ignored the question as she picked up the remote. "Don't you have a Charity Brunch over in Gotham you need to get ready for?"
Ollie sipped the caffeine-rich beverage. "Yep, but I can be fashionably late. 'Sides, it'll tick Bats off."
Dinah simply rolled her eyes and was about to change the channel when they both heard just what the anchorwoman was saying…
"-just in from Steel City, where the Titans East…"
5:57, Titans Tower, Jump City
Robin sat at the main terminal in the living room, looking over reports from the Honorary and teamed Titans e-mailed from the world over. Rubbing the bridged of his nose, the Teen Wonder considered heading back to bed for a powernap. In spite of what others thought, Robin did have a grasp on his body's limitations. In fact, after training with Batman it would be impossible not to know such things.
The wingman of the Dynamic Duo was about to get out of his chair when an alert came in, mentioning a news story involving Titans East.
Robin sighed. 'All right, I'll check up on this, then I'll go to bed.'
"-where the Titans East are fighting in the streets with…"
Some Mountain in New Zealand
Jericho looked up at the stars and he absentmindedly tuned his guitar, his Titans communicator currently performing its MP3 Player application, playing a song from some old made for TV musical. While the boy had little issue with his team, there were times that Joseph Wilson wished to just be alone and at peace with nature.
To his right was a small battery-powered radio, currently tuned to the same station that dozens of other Titans and affiliates were tuned in to, unknown to him. He was about to turn off the radio to listen to his playlist when the news anchor's words stuck out to him.
"-Titans East are fighting in the streets with the well known assassin Cheshire. The battle started at approximately 8:42 local time at Mill Avenue, and has moved south to Baker's Drive in the Downtown area. Our cameraman on the street Snapper Carr is currently in the area, we'll be cutting to him now."
8:58, Steel City
Speedy silently cursed to himself as he pulled out an arrow from his quiver and drew the bow. The three-foot long projectile flew through the cool summer morning air towards its target, the mysterious and secretly lovely Jade Nguyen, known to the rest of the world as the assassin Cheshire. A fraction of a second before impact, the cylinder and the end of the arrow burst open, releasing its cargo: the red cords of a net designed to catch just about every kind of criminal one could think of.
Except for this one. Almost as if she could have seen it before it happened, the kimono clad form swirled around like a top, her super-hard alloy claws caught the net and sliced it to ribbons.
The Teen Archer cursed under his breath again. He knew the second he saw the ID of the perp this morning that this battle would be way more awkward than any he had before in his admittedly short career, but now he didn't even have his teammates to 'hide' behind anymore. Cheshire's seemingly random attacks in hind-sight were a brilliant use of Divide and Conquer tactics: A well placed and timed explosive under the street right at the start sent Aqualad into the sewer, one that Speedy remembered was a high-speed flow to the nearest treatment plant(who knew Bumblebee's hours of lectures and homework on memorizing the city infrastructure would be of use?). It would take the aquatic teen at least twelve minutes to get back to the hole against the current, and at about five more minutes to 'surf' here. In other words any minute now. Still to long though.
Bumblebee was caught minutess after that in front of an ambulance arriving on the scene, she was fine, but she told him and the twins to go on without her while she 'got her bearings again.' She also said that Speedy was in charge of the fight now. Had it been any other bad guy, Speedy would've been floored by the trust she was putting in him.
How the three of them made it through this long Speedy didn't know, especially when it ended so quickly when said twins made a rush for Cheshire against Speedy's orders, and for their troubles got separated by a Bo staff that seemed to come from nowhere. Roy had a suspicion that Jade probably got it from whatever place Robin did. Since Mas y Menos were traveling at well over three-hundred miles an hour, they hit the wall of the bank about three-feet behind Cheshire with enough force to almost rip an elephant in half. In other words: they were out like a light for a while, even though he saw them slowly trudging to their feet in the corner of his eye.
Cheshire obviously wanted Speedy. And now she had him all to herself.
'Dang it,' Speedy thought to himself. 'This isn't how I wanted things to go. Jade was supposed to come home, I'd take her to a movie, we walk along the docks, I reveal my Identity, we go through the whole trust issue argument, progress to the Good Guy-Bad Guy Romance Issues argument, then work on stuff from there. Doing that after-or heaven forbid during- a battle, will just make things even worse!!!'
Speedy was interrupted from his brooding by the Green Cat leaping at him, leaving him with barely enough time to block her claws with his reinforced bow. Had it been any other villain, Roy would've made some sort of snappy comeback, preferably with the subject of making out since it was a girl, but given the circumstances he knew that was a bad idea. Speedy the Hero was not supposed to sound like Roy Harper the Boyfriend. So instead he pushed against her hard enough for her to need to do a series of back flips. Above the sound of the blood pounding in his ears and his own breathing, Speedy could hear what sounded like a tsunami, along with sound of large hornet wings. That coupled with the sounds of two disoriented voices talking Spanish gibberish to themselves was all the confirmation Speedy needed to tell him that his team was on the way.
Speedy unconsciously smiled at that as he readied another arrow incase Cheshire did something, But as he turned back to her he saw that he was likewise pinned down Mexican Standoff style as Cheshire had some sort of gun trained on him.
And as those sadistically smiling painted eyes gazed at him, she spoke words that every hero dreads to come from their foe.
His eyes widened from behind his mask, and suddenly Speedy was back in that apartment four months ago, he was sitting on the couch as he unwrapped brown paper, revealing the same mask before him now. The Blood-Nitrogen-Lead sensation slammed him again as he detachedly noticed that the gun was just barely shaking in her hands, the feel of his weapons slipping from his hands in shock, barely hearing the clattering of the bow and arrow on the pavement. He almost heard Aqualad and Bumblebee stop in their tracks, Bumblebee playing mediator to talk her down, to keep her from shooting, the twins gasping at the sight, Menos shouting at Cheshire, the only words sticking out to Roy Harper were Ermano, and Solo.
This was very, very bad.
Then he noticed that she was talking to him, the thickness of her voice was quite telling about her emotional state.
"Tell me Roy, when were you going to tell me your little secret? The one I found out by accident from some low-life. When you proposed? After you arrested me? "Hey Baby! I'm sorry about you landing in Jail, by the way: I'm Speedy!" Or never? Or maybe after I no longer amused you and you were bored?!"
Her breathing was quite ragged now, obviously due to her distraught state. The gun by now had been lowered, but was still pointed at him with one hand, the other was a fist. And Jade was slowly taking shaky steps towards him. He could practically see Mas y Menos paused in mid-movement, their hands millimeters from eachother, in the corner of his eye he could tell Bumblebee was confused, and Aqualad-while also confused-seemed to have begun to piece it all together like he had, though the fish man seemed more angry about it than Roy was.
Somewhere in the background, muffled by the fact that it was irrelevant to the Here and Now, a piece of Roy Harper's mind picked up Bumblebee's epiphany.
"Wait… She's Jade?!" No Bumblebee, she's Mary Tyler Freakin' Moore.
Funny how unassociated one becomes during a jarring emotional moment.
" Tell me. Roy. Did you enjoy yourself? Did you go watch a movie with the guys the next day, boasting about your own 'score'? Did you sneak back into my apartment when I was asleep and take pictures? Are they on your personal Page on your Titans Network?!" Jade took a deep, throaty half-breath half-sob, she was within arm's reach now, she had dropped the gun around half way, the mocking smile of her mask in a horrifying dissonance with her body language, her words and her tone of voice.
"Am I now the big laughingstock of your little World Team now? Does everyone laugh at me when I come up in conversation? Am I seen by you all like so many saw my mother? Do you?!"
In a jolt, Jade ripped the mask from her face, where it shattered somewhere on the street, underneath her lovely exotic features were marred by her tortured expression, tears and snot trailing down her face, her tear-ravaged eyes were red and puffy. After a second's pause, she yelled out a phrase that was heard 'round the world.
"Do you even care that I'm carrying your BABY?!"
9:10, Wayne Manor
At the sound of that, Master Wayne turned his shockingly wide eyes towards the screen. Alfred's sole response was only a momentary pause mid-stroke, which was followed by a subtly disapproving 'hmmm', which was a good thing. After all, it would be most unfortunate for Bruce Wayne to not show up to such an important event for something as silly as a sliced Jugular.
It's just not gentlemanly.
9:10, Daily Planet, Metropolis
Clark Kent was sitting at his cubical, typing up a story for the Living Section about Old Mrs. Paterson and her baking pies for underprivileged kids in the Ghettos of the city. While Mister White and Lois may have been the type to get more excited about "bigger" stories about Political Sex Scandals, Wars, Major Disasters and other such things, Clark was one to appreciate the little Sunshine Moments of Everyday as he called them, and so for every "big" story he did for the paper, he did at least ten more on the other things right here in Metropolis and the county area. To show their readers that not everything in the world was all Doom and Gloom.
Perry didn't always appreciate them, but after he found out that Clark was freelancing them out to their rivals after they were flatout rejected, the Editor-in-Chief had second thoughts. And almost a heart attack.
When suddenly, Superman's Super-Hearing picked up the climactic sentence of the battle in Steel City. Saving the Paterson story, Clark opened the internet browser and started searching up information on Teen Pregnancy. Thirty minutes later when Perry burst into the room talking about the revelation, Clark was the first-well, only-one to volunteer to cover the story.
7: 10, Mexico City
Pantha was eating her breakfast as usual, watching American News, which wasn't as usual, but she was bored and there wasn't anything else on. Besides, it was always interesting to watch her fellow Titans fight.
"Do you even care that I'm carrying your BABY?!"
Milk and cereal spat from the Feline Luchadora as she sputtered in shock. Within seconds, she already had her summery on the matter:
"Speedy you Slut!!!"
7:10, Grand Eagle Plaza Apartments
The tink of a mug hitting the wood of a coffee table resounded in the room as Black Canary covered her mouth with shock at the confession on television, the liquid inside staining the edition of yesterday's paper.
"Oh Roy you fool. You're supposed to wrap your tool." Was all Oliver Queen muttered to himself just loud enough for her to hear as he took a sip of coffee. "Still, an Asian, and a pretty one at that. He's got good taste."
Dinah chose to ignore that last part.
"Ollie? Don't you think your taking this a little too lightly?"
"Hey, Roy's a recovering Heroin addict. After that little bombshell of where his allowance was going every week this is nothin'."
Dinah shock her head in silent exasperation. Her boyfriend had a point, but really…
Right then, at that Mountain
"Do you even care that I'm carrying your BABY?!"
Jericho suddenly over tightened the string he was tuning, snapping the cord. Although, the wide-eyed mute didn't notice, sitting rock still as he was at the moment. Unheeded, the communicator played on the song without stop:
Hope he's proud of what he's done!
6:12, Titans Tower
Robin stared wide-eyed at the screen. In spite of his no nonsense attitude-or perhaps because of it-Robin was rather innocent in terms of intimacy, except for people that he didn't personally know, prowling the rooftops of a city as dirty as Gotham tends to beat the realities of the oldest profession into you with a rusty lead pipe after all.
But still, in spite of Bruce's Playboy cover, the man was sure Dick never was around to see that facet of it firsthand since taking him in after this parents died. Therefore, he and the Bimbo of The Week stayed at the Penthouse while Dick stayed at the manor and Alfred tutored him on the Battle of Waterloo and the British point of view of the American Revolution. Riveting stuff that.
The phone rang, and Robin answered it with a monotonous 'hello.'
So really it should come to no one's surprise that the Boy Wonder's brain was broken at the moment, and that you should leave a message at the sound of the tone.
"Secure the Line."
Unless you're Batman.
Robin did as requested and entered the command on autopilot. Suddenly he was eight, and caught by his parents sneaking into the Lion's cage with a pail of tar and some burlap bags.
"Robin, since you're up, I'm going to assume you just saw the story on the news involving Speedy and a criminal. Yes?"
"It's just turned six over there. You have twelve hours to pull together a press conference to explain how your team policy does not condone Sexual Relations with known criminals, and that this was simply a fluke, and that it with never happen again. Am I correct in that statement?"
"Good. And you have twenty-four hours to come before the League to explain this situation, and tell us just what the devil happened over there. Am I clear young man?"
Batman hung up.
Two hours later Beast Boy dragged himself into the kitchen to get himself some breakfast, to find Raven, Cyborg and a distraught and tearful Starfire surrounding what appeared to be a comatose Robin.
"Ummm… What happened?"
Starfire sniffed, "Oh my dear friend Beast Boy! It is a horrible time, Robin's mind is broken!"
9:50 PM, Titans Tower East, Steel City, that night
What. A. Day.
Speedy, the part of him that was the Devil May Care aspect, knew that he was going to get yelled at for, well, everything. However, he didn't really expect it to be from Aqualad. Seems that Atlanteans would've fit right in during the Fifties. Roy could've taken a tongue lashing from Bumblebee, but not Aqualad. And to make matters worse, Bumblebee had barely said a word all day, just looked at him all day with this expression that seemed to say that she was disappointed in him. Roy could've taken a lecture, but not that.
More than once Roy pinched, poked and slapped himself to check and make sure this was just a dream. From the bruise and tenderness on the side of his right hand from slamming it on a bulkhead, this was obviously not a dream.
The aftermath of the fight was predictable. After her confession, Jade broke down and cried, burying her face in his chest as she sobbed, his wrapping his arms around her automatically.
Not really knowing what to do with her, the team took Jade to the nearest hospital to have her checked out. Turns out she really was four months pregnant, and given her MO and reluctance to open up that he encountered first hand when they met, Roy knew that she wasn't one to sleep around, and thus the fetus was obviously his. And Roy felt sick for doubting her.
When it was just her, the Doctor, Bumblebee and himself in the examination room, and she opened her kimono, even through the obviously jury-rigged assembly of Kevlar underneath, one could easily see her now growing stomach. That, combined with the first pictures from the Ultrasound, gave Roy a feeling. It was a weird feeling, and one that he didn't know was good or bad. He hoped it was a good feeling. It made him feel human.
On their way out, it was absolute chaos outside, with reporters and photographers and the gawking public to see the "Knocked Up Cat". The whole thing made him feel sick even now, none of them needed to see-let alone get involved in-that, especially Jade. She had enough to work with. Although, that Clark Kent guy that called later that day was actually respectful. Bumblebee said that he was one of the few reporters that see you a human, and not a chunk of meat, and said that he was the one to break the news with. Speedy had an interview Friday.
Roy didn't know how they all made it out of there in one piece, though he suspected it somehow involved Mas y Menos. He'd have to thank them later. Out of all of this, they seemed to be taking it the most level-headed of them all, as ironic as that seemed.
Then there was the question of what to do with Jade.
The obvious answer was Jail. …Then there was the fact that she's a scared teenager with a four-month old bun in the oven!! Somehow the idea that she, and the baby, wouldn't get ripped apart in there seemed laughable. And Hospital was out of the question too. Cheshire was an assassin, and a darn good one too, which meant that she had enemies that had no scruples about kids. And no matter how many guards and policemen you put around her room, all it takes is one Cinderblock, one crazed nut and they were all dead.
Around noon Bumblebee walked into the main room where they were all watching a silent Jade, she was in her best pants suit that none of them knew she had, and went downtown to talk to the DA and broke a deal: Jade would stay with the Titans East under constant watch for the duration of the pregnancy, with weekly visits from a court-approved doctor. Six weeks after the birth Jade would be taken into custody and the baby into the care of the state and secretly put up for adoption(the last part obviously not on paper).
Which brought him to here and now. Jade was given her own room in the tower, in the most secure portion of the building. Roy was standing in front of the door at the moment, staring at it. At about chest-height, was a little heart-shaped piece of paper with smilie faces and some Spanish gibberish on it. According to Aqualad-who was still not talking to him officially-it translated to "Jade's Lovely Suite." The gesture brought a smile to Roy's face as he knocked on the door. There was no response, though Roy had a feeling that she was still awake.
Gently opening the door a crack, the boy looked in to see a dark room, opening it a bit more revealed Jade sitting on the edge of the bed, her back to the door, her long dark hair done up in a ponytail, wearing the maternity clothes Bumblebee got her on the way home. It was a simple gesture, but a profound one, almost as if to say 'welcome to the family, however long your stay may be.' Seeing that he was right, Roy walked in and left the door ajar, to let some light in.
"I don't remember giving you permission to come in."
Roy reflexively winced at the sound of her voice, it was so hoarse and thick that it was obvious that she had been crying more, but also there seemed to be no emotion to it. Rage, despair, joy, it seemed that they left with the water of her tears.
"I'm sorry," he said, "but we need to talk."
Roy gave an unseen and not amused smile. "Okay, I need to talk."
Taking that as an invitation, the Teen Archer walked around the bed and sat beside the mother of his child, Roy didn't feel right calling himself her boyfriend.
They sat in silence.
"…I had every intention to tell you."
"Really." She didn't really seem to believe him.
But she seemed like she wanted to. It was a good start.
"I didn't at first because, well… I had just learned that my girlfriend was also a deadly assassin that I had fought a few times before. Plus it really wasn't my secret to tell, since I'm-"
"The Green Arrow AKA Oliver Queen's sidekick and ward." Was all she said.
"Well… Ward yes, but not sidekick. I was his partner."
She looked him square in the eye. "…Sidekick."
More silence as Roy regathered his resolve.
"And, the reason I didn't tell you during…" he looked at her stomach, "you know, was because it would've been…awkward, to bring up."
The girl whirled around on him and glared at him with an intensity that felt as though her poison-dipped knives would shoot out of her eyes and impale him. Roy only had a second to responed to this before she gave in a hearty slap across the check with a resounding smack that almost seemed to echo across the room before she turned back, facing the wall.
Roy resisted the urge to hold the offended cheek in sympathy. He simply clenched and unclenched his teeth until the pain lessened enough for him to speak.
"…I deserve that. And more. I had every intention of telling you that morning, but you weren't there, and I had no way to reach you."
"Oh, so this is my fault." There was a subtle steel to her voice, but it was undermined by the hoarseness of her voice.
"No… No, this is my fault. Turnabout is fair play, and I held back when you showed more love and trust than I did. And I am sorry."
As he said these tender words, he slowly, gently, put a loving had on her shoulder. And though she tensed for a moment, she also relaxed.
"By the time I learned the full truth, all I wanted was to see you dead." She took in a deep, calming breath. "I swore that you'd never see our child. Never know if it was a boy or girl." She pulled her knees up as best that she could, embracing her arms around them as she stared holes into the window on the wall.
"Wanted to make you suffer for what you did to me…"
Then, more tears silently slid down her cheeks as she quietly sobbed, seeking solace in his chest and warm arms.
Within minutes she was calm again, and they remained in that position for the rest of the night, simply watching the wall, and the sun slowly shine through the closed blinds as it rose again.
Man, this has to be my most dramatic story yet- also probably the longest. True, there are its humorous moments, but still.
I am most proud of the scene with Batman and Robin's interaction. Comedic gold that. ^_^
Anyway, this is part two of my Speedshire-Lian trilogy, and is in fact based on arcs of the original comics, after a fashion of course, and some of Cheshire's dialogue comes straight from a panel I found in her article of TitansTower, go there to learn more.
Also, Pantha's sole line here is almost verbatim from an issue during her time on the Titans way back when during the dark times of the Early Nineties. Except it was "Dick" instead of "Speedy," and it involved Starfire and a shapeshifter. It's… A long story.
Anyway, had that issue come out ten years later, I have no doubt that "X you slut!" meme would've been more popular on the net than the "This! Is! SPARTA!" one is now.
The first Spanish word is actually Hermano(the H is silent), and it means "Brother," while Solo obviously means "Alone". What the twins actually said was "Leave our brother alone!" Cue heartstring.