It was three hours later—three hours filled with a strange rush of adrenaline, an odd sense of loss, and the most stomach-churning feeling of self-hatred that Kid Flash had ever known.
Because as he looked back at what they had done—what they had stolen— he couldn't breathe.
They had broken into a museum. The biggest museum in Jump City. They had smashed the alarms and ripped out wires, leaving colorful ropes of plastic cable hanging out of the cracked boxes. They had knocked the security guards unconscious and flung them carelessly into a bathroom on the third floor. They had shattered the glass cases that had once held antiques and valuable replicas: most were empty now. Almost all of the artwork was stripped from the walls, even though they hadn't bothered to take much of it. Priceless canvases lay scattered around the room as if they were crumpled flyers on the street, and if an art enthusiast had been able to see the ancient paint crack, they would have burst into tears.
And now he was sitting on the rooftop of a building a couple hundred yards away from the museum. Jinx was beside him, close enough so that he could feel the heat from her body, but it was too dark and he couldn't see her face.
Kid Flash heard the blood rushing through his ears, felt his heart pumping erratically. He looked down at the jumble of precious objects at their feet, and looked at a random jewel-studded cup he held in shaking hands. Everything glittered in the sparse light, and every twinkle was mocking him.
"Did we really just do that?" Revulsion twisted in his stomach, but somehow Jinx's expression was blank.
He was sickened.
Or maybe he was just sick: because suddenly the dark rooftop was spinning and spinning and he couldn't breathe and Jinx's worried face was blotting out the light and every nerve in his body screamed at him, screamed at him for being a coward and a cheat and a liar and a thief.
He stumbled away from Jinx, and then he threw up. The glittering cup clattered against the metal rooftop, startlingly loud. It occurred to him as he fell to the floor, muscles shaking uncontrollably, that he was somehow throwing up what they had done. What he had done.
When he had purged the thought—and all the oysters they had for dinner—he stood up and leaned against the metal railway, sucking in pollution-tainted air, waiting for his mind to clear. Jinx walked over next to him. They didn't touch. He saw her fantastic dress out of the corner of his eye, but somehow seeing something so lovely made him feel even worse. I feel…unclean. Undeserving. Unworthy of anything beautiful.
But if all criminals felt like this, then why did they lust so badly for the beautiful things in life?
He shook the thought from his mind.
Kid Flash tried to breathe normally. "I'm guessing you never threw up after robbing a bank, right?" he asked, mostly to distract himself from the disgust lacing his mind.
So it was a surprise when Jinx stirred a little, her face still unreadable in the dark. "I always threw up." She gave a tiny, bitter laugh, and it sounded like ice breaking over water. "Every. Single. Time."
He turned to face her, and a tiny shaft of moonlight seemed to light up her eyes from within. For the second time that evening, there were tears sparkling as they trickled down her face. And yet he couldn't move to wipe them from her cheeks. He felt weighted down by what he had done, as if the evil of it was clogging his veins and filling his bones with lead.
"Does stealing things usually suck this badly?" he murmured, almost to himself. Jinx took a shaky breath, and one of her tears slipped down her chin. They both watched it fall to the ground, a hundred feet below them, twinkling innocently in the moonlight.
"Yeah." She paused. "This sucked for me too." She scrubbed at her eyes, almost angrily, but Kid Flash fought the heaviness in his body. He reached into his jacket pocket and found a crumpled handkerchief that his father must have forgotten about one night while wearing this same suit. It was a little discolored but still smelled like his father's cologne, and he used it to wipe away Jinx's tears.
"Was it supposed to?"
She sighed and slid her hands along the metal rail, the only thing that separated them from a hundred-foot fall. "Probably." There was silence for a second, and when she spoke again her voice shook. "I don't remember if it always felt this bad. I can't remember. All I can remember is…this time. And how awful it feels." She turned to him, her eyes huge and dark. "Does this mean…" Her voice was caught between hope and grief, as if she couldn't decide what she was feeling. "Does this mean we're…?"
Kid Flash finished the thought for her, and a little bit of the evil seemed to drain away. "You're not a criminal anymore, Jinx. You might have been, once, but…not anymore."
Her face looked almost haunted. "I still feel like one," she whispered. Her hands formed fists at her sides. "My hands feel dirty again. They always used to, when I stole. For a while, when we were being good, they were…they were…clean." Her voice was bitter. "But not anymore."
Kid Flash took her clenched hand and opened it, palm up. "We can still do good. That's what we're meant to do." He kicked the jumble of artifacts at their feet. "Just because we made a mistake doesn't mean we have to follow through with it."
A feather-soft breeze picked up, and the clouds drifted away from the moon. For just a second, Jinx's face was illuminated. And she looked…
Then a veil of clouds wafted in front of the moon, and it was dark again.
"I'm sorry," she sighed, her words carried to his ears on the softest whisper of a breeze.
Kid Flash frowned a little. "What are you sorry about?"
She turned to stare out across the night-stilled city. Her words were halting, but heavy with meaning. "I'm sorry for making you do this. I thought…I thought if you felt how amazing it was…to be in control, to just be carried along by the adrenaline…I thought maybe you'd understand. You'd understand why I was a criminal for so long—why I could justify doing so much harm to people."
He looked at her, shocked. "You don't need to justify anything, Jinx. Look at me." She did, and he stared deep into her eyes, trying to make her understand. "I. Don't. Care."
Her shoulders relaxed. Her eyes lightened. "Really?"
Kid Flash took her face in his hands, and for a second he was dazed by her silky skin. "Jinx. We all make mistakes. I make a lot more mistakes than a lot of people. We just made one together. And you…" They both smiled a little. "You just made a really long one. But it's over. No one cares."
And Jinx looked happier than he had ever seen her.
Maybe it was because she suddenly knew that she wasn't a criminal anymore. Maybe it was because she knew where she was going in life—what she was going to do, now that she was free from her self-imposed misery. Or maybe it was because it took a mistake to realize just how much she'd changed.
And it gave him hope. Hope for his future. Hope that maybe she'd be around to shape it.
She sighed and buried her face in his chest, and he wrapped his arms loosely around her. They stayed like that for a while, just staring out at the city, watching the moon dip in and out of the clouds. And then, when all of the evil had drained away, they left.
Without really having to speak, they gathered all of the priceless crap they had stolen, shoved it into a garbage bag, and went back to the museum. Kid Flash put it all on the receptionist's desk, and stuck a Post-it note with three words scrawled across it:
Sorry. Our mistake.
"It won't happen again," Jinx whispered as they exited the museum. Kid Flash smiled and squeezed her hand softly.
He had never felt closer to her.
And as they strolled along the darkened streets, joined hands swinging back and forth like they were playing Red Rover, he hoped that maybe the walls were gone for good.
It was three o' clock in the morning. They were both sitting on the couch in the apartment, watching a movie. Jinx had traded in her dress for flannel pajamas and Kid Flash wore an oversize hoodie. They had already demolished two bags of popcorn and enough Dr. Pepper to stain Jump City Bay brown.
Jinx stirred a little in his arms, her eyes leaving the glowing screen for a second. "Flash?"
"Wally," he corrected, but she just smiled. He paused the Lion King tape and took a swig of soda. "What is it?"
She shoved a few kernels of popcorn into her mouth, but didn't chew them for a while. "You know how you always ask me a question every night?"
Kid Flash checked her watch teasingly. "Is it night? It's kind of really early morning."
She rolled her eyes, apparently unconcerned about them getting stuck looking at the ceiling. "I'm pretty sure that after two years of constant interrogation, it's my turn."
He kicked his feet up onto the coffee table, accidentally knocking over a bowl of potpourri they had put there in a vain effort to make the apartment smell less like ramen noodles and hairspray. "Okay, shoot," he said easily, too lazy to pick up the dried flower petals that were now strewn across the carpet.
She thought about it for a while, looking consideringly at Pumba's face on the paused TV screen. "Did you seriously not notice that waitress flirting with you?"
Kid Flash laughed, both startled and amused. "What kind of a question is that?" He poked her playfully and she jabbed her elbow into his ribs.
"What? I seriously want to know!" Her eyes sparkled as she laughed. Then she turned serious again.
Kid Flash leaned back onto the sofa cushions and laughed quietly. "Okay, sure. I noticed."
Jinx waited for a beat. "And?"
He shrugged and took another sip of Dr. Pepper, already guessing what she was trying to figure out. "No, Jinx. I was not in any way, shape, or form attracted to her. Happy?" He grinned at her expression over the rim of his glass. "You're getting a little predictable, babe."
She half-smiled, half-scowled, a faint glow of embarrassment on her cheeks. They watched the movie for a couple more minutes before he realized something.
"Hey, wait." He paused the movie again and turned to her. "I didn't use my question for last night." Jinx grumbled under her breath and wrapped a blanket around her shoulders, her pink eyes glowing softly in the darkened room.
Kid Flash wondered what he was supposed to ask her. There were no walls separating them—there was no need to draw her into a conversation. There was no need to seduce her into speaking. There was no need to see if she could feel—if she was capable of emotion—to prove to himself that she wasn't just ice.
Because now he knew she wasn't.
Finally, a half-remembered thought came to him, and he smiled, pleased that he had such a good question to use on her.
"What did you wish for? At your seventh birthday party?"
To his surprise, Jinx flushed bright red. "That is not a fair question," she snapped, but he could see in her eyes she didn't believe the argument.
Kid Flash grinned, amused in the knowledge that he had struck a nerve. "You know the rules, Jinx. One question. You already asked yours. It's my turn."
She sighed and pulled a loose thread from the blanket around her shoulders. "You're going to laugh."
He grinned again. "I swear I won't, babe. I just want to know what you wished for."
Jinx closed her eyes and made an aggravated sound.
"I wished that one day Prince Charming would come galloping up on a pink unicorn and we'd go riding away into the sunset and go to a castle and then we'd live happily ever after." She buried her head underneath the covers, blushing furiously.
Kid Flash couldn't help it: he cracked up. "That was your wish?" He tried to take a drink of Dr. Pepper but laughed mid-swallow and snorted it all over the floor.
Jinx removed her head from the covers and glared at him. "You said you weren't going to laugh!" He covered his mouth and tried to swallow the laughter.
"Sorry, but that's…that's just…" He trailed off as her eyes starting glowing pink. "…Interesting."
She glared at him again, but then the glower slipped away as she giggled. Just once. "It is kind of stupid, isn't it?"
Kid Flash slipped an arm around her shoulders. "A little." They were quiet for a minute or two, and then he shifted a little. "Well, I'm no Prince Charming…And it's kind of dark outside…and this is a far cry from a castle…" He grinned and nudged her. "And I don't have a unicorn." He looked at her, smiling. "But are we still eligible for the happily-ever-after part?"
He saw the gears working in her head, and hoped that maybe the walls would stay down like they had never existed.
Finally she sighed, half-smiled, and tipped her head back. "You know what? Why the hell not?"
He smiled and Jinx flicked a kernel of popcorn at him. They laughed. They finished watching the movie. And then they both somehow fell asleep on the living room couch. Together.
The walls had been broken down. The gap between them was closed. Somehow—and maybe not forever—but for now, at least…they were in harmony.
The bridge was built.
And Kid Flash knew, as they fell asleep in each other's arms, that it would last.
He visited Robin the next day, partly to explain about the museum, but mostly to explain about Jinx.
The Boy Wonder's opaque mask narrowed. "You mean you broke into a museum, knocked out a couple of guards, locked them in the woman's bathroom, stole a bunch of really expensive crap, took it a hundred feet away, and then after waiting around for an hour or two, took it back?"
Kid Flash shifted guiltily. "In my defense, Jinx did the bathroom thing. I was all set to lock them in a supply closet, but—" He could feel the heat of Robin's glare, even through the mask. "Um…anyway…I just had to make sure she wasn't going to, you know…switch sides again." He stopped and tried to make Robin understand. "It was a mistake," he finished, a little lamely. "A really, really big mistake."
Robin stared at him for another few seconds, then took out a manila folder with the Jump City Police Department logo stamped on it. "The police don't know who broke into the museum. However, they charged us anyway, because we weren't there to catch the…criminals." Kid Flash shifted again. "We have to pay for broken display cases, smashed alarm systems, damaged paintings and hospital bills for one of the security guards, who has a concussion." Robin set the folder down and looked at Kid Flash consideringly. "Just tell me this, Wally—was it worth it?"
"It wasn't like that," Kid Flash blurted. Then he looked down. He thought back on all of the disgust he had felt. He thought about the horror that had struck him like a blow when he realized the crimes he was capable of. He remembered the fearless security guards he and Jinx had hurt, just for the price of doing their jobs right.
But then he thought about Jinx's pained, hopeful face—her expression when she realized that she wasn't a criminal anymore, and that she could do whatever she wanted. He thought about her laugh. He thought about how good it felt just to sit there with her and look at her smile. He thought about what they could do for the city—how they could be unbeatable. Together.
And then Kid Flash looked up at Robin. "Yeah. It was worth it."
Robin frowned. "But Jinx—"
"—would like to be made an honorary member of the Teen Titans," she interrupted, and both Robin and Kid Flash looked back at the doorway to Robin's room, surprised.
Jinx strolled in, wearing a small smile on her face. "Raven let me in," she said in way of explanations.
Jinx sat down beside Kid Flash, and he held her hand, just because he could. Robin's eyes flickered between their interlaced fingers for a few seconds, and then he half-smiled. "Well, Jinx, I'm assuming you won't be breaking into any more museums?"
She gave him her sweetest smile. "Of course not."
"And you really have switched sides, right? You're not going to be tempted to turn back?"
Jinx shook her head slowly, and Kid Flash wondered if she was remembering the rooftop the night before. "No. I'm not going back."
Robin hesitated, and then handed her a communicator. He smiled. "Welcome to the team, Jinx."
And all Kid Flash could do was grin and squeeze her hand, just a little—because now the gap was finally closed. And they really could be together.
Um, I think I have some kind of fetish for dramatic rooftop scenes.
And cheesy Disney tapes.
WAIT…WHOA! IS THIS THING ALREADY OVER? WHEN DID THAT HAPPEN?!
Crikey, that was…short. oO This whole thing was supposed to play out over, like, ten chapters. We're on…three.
Crap. The whole thing lasted for all of 7,000 words or whatever.
Well, I hope you enjoyed it anyway. :D
Well, strangely enough, the only two people who guessed right on the poll were the two people who know me in real life! xD (Although, technically, in a PM, SylverEyes did guess right…but…whatever.)
So let's give a hand to XxNightfirexX and waves 2622! They were the only two people to guess my real age. Which is…(drumroll, please…)
Yes. I am thirteen years old. I turned thirteen in January. Hehe, it was very amusing, how most people guessed either fifteen, sixteen, or seventeen. I even got a nineteen! (And yet I got a twelve…that's kind of insulting, I suppose…)
So, anyway, I hope you enjoyed this—admittedly, short—fic! I would like to remind you again that it was a gift for SylverEyes, who is amazingly cool and has the best oneshot ideas EVER. Like this Raven/Speedy one she gave me a teaser of…It was awesome. :) You guys had all better go put her on Author Alert, because she has AMAZING stuff coming out soon.
I shall be out with more stuff soon! I hope you enjoyed. Toodles!
(And since I'm still a review-whore…So…Reviews are love. Haha.)