A/N: hey, i know it's been a while since i updated this, but i just suddenly got attacked by plot bunnies for this again. so, enjoy.
All my life I've been searching for something
Something never comes never leads to nothing
Nothing satisfies but I'm getting close
Closer to the prize at the end of the rope
Foo fighters – all my life
I managed to find a nice bar near my place, it's small and cosy and the TV is on the news which makes me feel a little better about being here rather than at the Tower, at least I can feign that I've been keeping my ears open for more cases of duplicated villains. The thought suddenly occurs to me that if Billy Numerous were cloned no one would ever know about it. The thought tugs a smile to my lips.
During the day the bar is more of a café type of place, I don't know what the rest of the food is like but they do good sandwiches and some pretty fancy virgin cocktails that taste good too. A flash of tell tale red in my peripheral vision makes me jerk my head up and I see the boy that ran into me before lean against the bar, I don't know if he's seen me sitting in the corner of the room in a booth and I'm not sure that I want him to. After him running into me and his bright red hair I'd resolved that he was far too much like Kid Flash and that I was going to stay well clear of him. But then I ran into him locked outside his apartment and I guess my charitable hero side came out and I unlocked it for him. But he didn't seem much like Kid Flash, he was… quiet for one thing. And he seemed sweet too. But all the same I really shouldn't have anything to do with him.
He's talking to the bartender now and as the conversation ends and the bartender shuffles along to get his order he stretches and looks around the room. His eyes land on me and I curse myself for looking at him as he looked at me. A flash of recognition crosses his face and it breaks into an easy smile, he quickly thrusts a hand into his pocket and I wonder what he's doing until he pulls out a set of keys and gives me a silly look as if to reassure me that he's not locked himself out again. I smirk at that and go back to my sketchpad.
I see his shoes approach in my peripheral vision, converses, and if they'd have been red I probably would have screamed. But they're not. They're a faded denim colour. So when he smiles at me and asks if he can sit down in the same booth I don't tell him no like I'd resolved to.
"It's a free bar." I shrug nonchalantly.
"I wish." He chuckles and slides his slim frame in onto the bench opposite me. I try to ignore him whilst simultaneously studying him through my hair. He does bear more than a passing resemblance to Kid Flash. That hair for a start is the exact same colour, and his nose is identical, I catch a small glance at his lips as he starts to speak and yes, they too are like his. I like this situation less and less.
"So, you've lived here for, what a day or two now? And you've already figured out the best places to hang out, I'm impressed." He smiles with shiny white teeth. Like his.
I feel the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, he is too much like him. I hate this.
"Um, thanks for letting me in last night by the way. Well, this morning really I guess. I was really stuck until you came along and I appreciate it." He mumbles rubbing the back of his neck nervously. My spine straightens with a snap. This guy is coming in here wearing a face that looks so much like Kid Flash's but yet acting nothing like him. It occurs to me that Kid Flash wouldn't have asked to sit, he just would have done it, and he certainly wouldn't be sitting here being gracious and rubbing his neck like a nervous schoolboy.
"No problem." I reply feeling slightly stunned. He looks back up at me with a thankful smile and his hair falls in his eyes. It's floppy hair, overgrown and unkempt, very much unlike Kid Flash's controlled backward pointing spikes. His eyes are the same shade of course, but they seem… softer. He looks like someone shy. I decide to ask his name before my brain sticks him with the label of anti-flash and I run the risk of calling him that to his face.
"I didn't get your name before." I say feeling nowhere near as tactful as I'd thought I would.
"Wally." He smiles at me.
Wally. His name is Wally. That's about the least Kid Flash like name I could have possibly picked. Wally is not a name that screams danger, it doesn't hint of excitement or naughtiness or hidden thrills. Wally makes me think of…
"Like the little robot?" I blurt out. His head suddenly thunks against the tabletop and he lets out a pained groan.
"That stupid film." He moans unhappily.
"I'm sorry!" I apologise unable to hide my laughter, "it's just he's so…" I try,
"Cute. Yes, I know. Not exactly what I was going for." He grumbles resting his chin on his forearm.
"Still," he continues, "it's better than the whole 'where's wally' thing. The number of times I got asked about where my stripy shirt was, I swear."
I try not to laugh. Unfortunately I fail. It's not just the poor boy's name history that makes me giggle but putting all that Kid Flash is next to this awkward silly guy is just ridiculous.
"Enough laughing at me, what about you then? What should I call you?" He says sitting up suddenly and arching a messy red eyebrow at me.
"Djinn." I answer watching his face carefully. His brows nit together in confusion.
"Run that by me again?" He asks tentatively. I repeat myself slightly more slowly.
"That's… very…" He tries.
"If you say 'exotic' I will have to kill you." I warn him as I raise my pencil threateningly.
"I was going with unusual, but okay. How do you spell that?" He says holding his hands up defensively. I wince slightly, Kid Flash used to do that a lot. I shove the feeling aside and write my name down for him, he looks at it and still looks confused.
"I'll bite, what does it mean? And where's it from?" He asks looking curiously at me.
"It's a word, a Djinn a legendary creature." I answer.
"Like… unicorns?" He ventures sounding surprised. I laugh at this.
"Hah, no. More like… I suppose the closest thing would be genies. But more complicated than the wish granting Aladdin type thing. They're made of fire apparently and some have magic. According to the stories anyway." I explain quickly.
"Magic eh? So, do they use their magic powers for good then? Or bad?" He asks with an interested smile.
"Supposedly they're like us, they can be good or evil." I answer trying to watch his reactions to see if he's making fun of me.
"That's pretty cool. You have quite and awesome name, you should be proud." He grins at me. He tries my name out a few times, rolling it around his mouth to test it out and asking if he's saying it right. He is, which impresses me. My landlord tried once and then decided to call me 'genie' because it was easier, I guess some people just can't be bothered.
I start drawing again and I notice that he doesn't try to peek like most people do, like Kid Flash did. Instead he's alternating between tilting his head to see the news every so often and eating his bowl of chilli. Suddenly I see all of the muscles in his neck snap taut and I notice that he's glaring the TV to death, I look up to see that horrible superhero gossip section of the news.
"I hate that section." I mutter irritatedly.
"Me too." He agrees, his lip curling into a slight snarl at the TV. He glowers at it a little more and turns back to me.
"It's so… degrading. It's not even news, it's just nasty vicious gossip." He says vehemently and stabs his fork into his chilli a little too violently. The piece is on speculation about how much else of Bumblebee is insect and if it means that she technically counts as human or not.
"I don't watch it." I state and look back at my sketchpad and shade a little. I hear him laugh quietly.
"Yeah, I thought I saw your friends drop your TV out of the window when you were moving in." He says trying to hide his smile.
"Yeah. I guess I don't watch anything for that matter really." I concede. It's not like I can tell him that in fact it was me that threw that TV out of the open window when that spiteful segment about Kid Flash and I came on and I lost my temper.
I sketch a little more, the men at the bar prove excellent subjects, they sit very still as they drink which makes it much simpler to capture the details about them. I guess Wally follows my gaze as he suddenly asks a little to loudly if I'm drawing the men at the bar.
"Shh!" I hiss, "you wanna shout that a little louder? I'm not sure they heard you!"
He has the decency to look embarrassed and he sinks a little against the seat of the booth and chances a glance at the men at the bar who apparently didn't hear him after all.
"Sorry." He apologizes quietly, "I didn't mean to look, I know some artists are… funny about being watched when they draw."
I look at him for a moment, he's looking down with his hair hanging in his eyes and his fingers absently and perhaps nervously tracing patterns in the condensation on his cold glass. Part of me just wants to show him because he was well mannered enough to know that he shouldn't look and part of me also just wants to show him because he's not Kid Flash. Which is dumb, it's silly to reward someone for not being someone else. All the same I turn my sketchpad towards him and slide it across the table slightly to him.
"Are you sure?" He asks, his impossibly blue eyes widening in surprise. I manage to sort of nod and shrug at the same time.
He cautiously picks up my sketchpad as if it might be a trap still and then holds it gently and looks down at it. He tilts his head to look at the men at the bar and then back at my drawing.
"You're really good." He breathes softly with a little awe in his voice. A little bit of pride flutters in my chest at that. He turns the page back carefully, almost reverently and looks at my other sketches. I suddenly feel silly showing him my stupid little doodles and I have the childish urge to snatch it back and hide it in embarrassment. But the look of interest and wonder openly on his face still my hands. His eyes seem to drink in every detail with each new page that he turns and suddenly a smile flashes on his face.
"That's my room." He smiles turning the pad in his hands to face me and pointing out a particular window where the curtains were open, I remember drawing that room, it was the only window that the curtains were open to and it acted as a nice challenge to draw.
"I guess then that you live… pretty much directly opposite me." He smiles handing it back to me. My face reddens, I'd not meant to draw his room and show it to him. I didn't even know.
"I didn't know, I suppose I should have thought about it when I saw where you lived but…" I mutter shutting it and shoving it in my bag as I feel my face heat up more.
"Heh, don't worry about it. But," he says suddenly serious again, "you are very very good. Do you do art for a living? Like sell paintings and stuff?"
My eyes widen at that. Do art for a living? SELLING STUFF? No way could I do that. I just doodle, sometimes I doodle unicorns. I shake my head vigorously.
"Really? Could have fooled me. I'd buy your stuff." He shrugs taking a sip of his drink. I narrow my eyes at that, either he's mocking me or he's trying to flatter me, I don't like either option. Mocking me is nasty and flattering me is something that Kid Flash would have done.
"Don't be stupid." I grumble feeling annoyed at him.
"I'm not just saying that, believe me. When you tell people they're good at something they're not all you end up with is loads of rubbish stuff and eventually hurt feelings. I knew a girl who wanted to do fashion, I tried to tell her that she was good to be kind and I ended up being forced to wear loads of really ugly shirts." He says with a shudder.
"I don't say good things if I don't mean them." He adds with emphasis. My nerves calm a little, I guess I buy his story. Maybe he just has honest eyes.
I never thought I'd miss you half as much as I do,
and I never thought I'd feel this way,
the way I feel, about you,
as soon as I wake up, every night, every day,
I know that it's you I need to take the blues away,
it must be love, love love.
Madness - it must be love
Djinn jerks suddenly and then lifts her hips in her seat to retrieve her phone from her pocket, she shoots me an apologetic look and flicks it open.
"Hello?" She asks with her long fingers over her other ear to drown out the noise of the TV which is currently making gunfire sounds. She's undeniably pretty, as much as I didn't want to admit it. I think that she also looks really different to Jinx, which startles me when I realise that this is the first time I'd thought of Jinx the whole time that I've been in the bar. I feel guilty for a moment for finding her pretty but then decide better of it, wasn't this what I'd asked for? Something to take my mind of Jinx? Something to stop the pain of thinking about her?
Thinking by myself clearly hadn't been working, but talking to this girl about her, about her life, about her art… it worked. It made me feel better again. That's what I wanted wasn't it? I find myself filled with doubt, I want Jinx back, not some other girl. But then Djinn is nice, and she doesn't seem to be as tense as Jinx always was. Jinx was always hard work, sometimes conversation with her was easier but I always had to keep on my toes to make sure that I didn't spook her, especially when she first came back to the apartment with me. But Djinn… she's more easygoing, she seems happier than Jinx somehow. I kick myself mentally for that, love isn't supposed to be easy or convenient. And I do love Jinx, I know I do. My attention snaps back to her as she's talking on the phone.
"No, no. Look, just… hold it okay? I'll be right over, so don't kill each other before then, got it?" She says scrunching her big brown eyes shut and pinching the bridge of her nose.
"Okay, bye." She says tightly and snaps the phone shut.
"Problem?" I ask with a small laugh. She looks up at me as if she'd almost forgotten that I was there and grins nervously.
"Just a bit. Two of my best friends are complete opposites to each other, they really care for each other but it seems like they can't agree on anything. Think goth girl and cheerleader. I'm their person in the middle, goodness knows how they survived before I came along." She laughs as she slips her phone in her back pocket.
"I know the type." I laugh, my mind calls up Starfire and Raven's constant misunderstandings and think how glad I am that I'm not stuck between two opposites like that. All I have is Robin, although I suppose that he and I are pretty opposite.
"My best buddy and I are a bit like that I guess. He tells me that I drive him nuts, but I think that he needs to be shaken up now and then, he's too much of a stick in the mud if I'm not there." I grin resolving to stop by Titan's tower later to annoy bird boy.
"I pity anyone stuck between the pair of you then." She laughs lightly. And suddenly I find myself drawn to her again, she's so much easier to talk to than Jinx and… god, this is not a good idea.
"I gotta go, stopping world war three before it happens and all that." Djinn says sliding easily out of her seat and tucking her sketchpad into her bag.
"Good luck." I reply weakly. She smiles at me one last time and then turns to walk out of the door, I watch her leave. She's slim, like Jinx, but the angles of her body don't seem so sharp; she seems… softer entirely. Her hair is gentle instead of pointed horns, her eyes are warm rather than sharp, and she seems so… I don't know… different.
I bang my head on the table and groan, I'm in love with Jinx, no matter how different and pretty this girl is, she isn't Jinx. That's who I should be with right now. I nod to myself and decide to get back to my apartment, change and go straight to the tower.
To his credit Robin doesn't yelp when I run into his room at seventy miles an hour and kick the back of his computer chair. He instead groans and turns his chair around to face me. I'm sat on his bed grinning at him in the way that I know drives him mad.
"What?" He asks wearily.
"Is-" I start to ask but Robin quickly holds up a gloved hand to silence me.
"No, she is not here. No, I will not tell you where she is. Anything else or can I get back to work?" Robin says flatly.
"God, I'm not that predictable, I was going to ask you something else." I sigh lying and rolling my eyes at him.
"Yes you were, and everyone's predictable. You are especially so." Robin retorts leaning back in his chair and resting his steel boots of the frame of his bed. I don't really have any sort of witty retort to that so I settle for sticking my tongue out at Robin, he looks at me blankly with a slight air of disinterest. A conversation topic pops into my head, on impulse I decide to ask Robin.
"So, I was talking to this girl today-" I start to say when Robin suddenly jerks up in his chair and stares wide eyed at me.
"What? No, no, no!" Robin says emphatically waving his hands in front of him.
"I- what? No, it's not like that. She's just a girl I know!" I protest. Robin quickly spins back to his desk, rolls up a file and whaps me on the top of the head with it.
"Bad Kid Flash, BAD." Robin says smacking me on the head with every word.
"Gettoff! I'm not gonna do anything dumb, okay?" I insist, shoving him away.
"I've heard that one before. Do I need to get a squirt bottle? You're like a bad puppy, an exceptionally stupid bad puppy." He says leaning back in his chair and glowering at me.
"Are you going to let me finish my story?" I ask rubbing my now sore head.
"No." He states flatly and looks away from me.
"Thank you," I respond, taking this to be a yes, "so, she said that she had these two friends. Total polar opposites. She's sort of stuck between them and she says that she has no idea how they were friends before she came along to balance them out."
Robin stares at me for a while before raising an eyebrow at me.
"And?" He asks looking at me.
"I… we don't have anyone like that." I say staring down at my red boots.
"You've lost me." Robin says rubbing his forehead in the way that he tends to when he's got a stress headache coming on.
"You and I, we're total opposites. Why are… why are you friends with me?" I mutter, staring at the ground. I know why I'm friends with Robin, I always have. He's strong and reliable and he thinks that the world is worth protecting despite all that has happened to him. But me? I've no idea why he keeps me around.
"You actually asking or…" he says with the added 'just asking for an ego stroke' hangs in the air. I continue staring at my boots, they could probably use cleaning actually. I rub at a patch of dirt on my right boot with my thumb. Robin sighs.
"We're not opposites dummy. You're smart, smarter than you pretend to be. You've got a good heart and you do what's right, even if it's hard. And sure, you make your fair share of mistakes, but you do try to fix them when you make them. Mostly. Even if it doesn't always work." Robin said rubbing his chin thoughtfully.
"Hey!" I start protesting until I see the smirk tugging at the edge of his lips.
"Besides, we balance each other out, I try to stop you being so impulsive and you stop me…" Robin trails off searching for the word.
"Having such a stick stuck up your ass? Being the centre of boringsville? Being a giant stick in the mud all the time?" I suggest innocently. Robin glares at me half heartedly. Suddenly I hear Jinx's voice along with Starfire's and Raven's going past Robin's door.
"And speaking of fixing my mistakes!" I grin jumping up and opening the door.
"And speaking of that not working…" I hear Robin mutter as I go out the door and down the hallway after Jinx.