I flick open my lighter and hold the flame to the edge of my cigarette. If Ollie knew that I'm still smoking, he'd have my head. Or he'd tell Dinah to have it for him. However he's feeling about me this week.
I take a drag, blow out and watch the puff of smoke swirl past my face. I take another drag, but I inhale too deep. The air tastes like dirt as it fills my mouth and feels like sandpaper scraping against the inside of my throat. I cough, and it's like my chest has needles in it. God, I hate these things. Wish I could quit.
But I know I'd go crazy if I tried to.
God, I want a fix. Smoking is the only thing that keeps me off the harder stuff. The only thing stopping my body from losing it. Tried to quit once and the withdrawal was so bad I nearly had a full-on relapse. I need these damn cigarettes.
They can't help my head though. Smoking can't get me high. Smoking can't help me forget.
And, shit, the things I'd do to forget right now.
To forget about her.
For the last three months, I have been looking for her, and I have found nothing. No leads, no contacts. Nothing.
Nothing that could get me closer to her.
I don't know why I'm even looking for her. She's just some girl. Some villain. But ever since that day she fought me, I swear, I've seen her every time I close my eyes.
I don't even know what her face looks like.
But she's gorgeous. In my head, anyway.
After three months, I have finally heard from someone who claims to know where she is. Some girl got a hold of my email address and said she'd heard about me. About who I'm looking for, how I've been going around the world, country to country, city to city, finding any villain I can and hounding them for information. She said she'd heard that I haven't been fighting any of them or turning them in. Just taking whatever info I can and then disappearing, quick as I came.
This girl says she knows all about me and that she wants to meet me. I was in Gotham City when I got her email. She asked how fast I could get to Phoenix.
I took the next plane.
I'm starting to wonder why I even bothered, though. I take another drag from my cigarette. This girl said she'd meet me here, in some alley behind Phoenix Sky Harbor International, at four am, today. It's five. Starting to seem like I came all this way for nothing.
Maybe I ougtha bolt out of here, anyway. This could be a hoax, or worse, some kind of attack. Titans or no Titans, I'm still a respected superhero. There are loads of people out there who'd love to off me, and if word spreads among supervillains anywhere near as fast as Ollie likes to say it does, they all know I left the Titans by now. They all know I've been wandering around the goddamn world looking for...
Why do I even care?
Why does it even matter if I find her?
I see a figure skulking across the sidewalk. She walks slowly, placing one foot directly ahead of the other, heel-toe, with each step. I hold my cigarette between my teeth and raise my hand to signal her. She must be my contact. She better be. Otherwise I'm screwing myself by acknowledging her.
Not that I'm not already screwing myself just by doing this.
"Are you Speedy?" the girl asks, as soon as she's close enough for me to hear her. I notice that she's tiny, maybe four-foot-eight but even that seems like a stretch. The mutilated denim jacket she's wearing seems to big for her shoulders, and her unevenly chopped brown hair seems to dark for her face. She can't be older than thirteen.
"That's me," I say. "And you are?" I can't believe this. How can a freaking kid possibly be my contact?
She bites her bottom lip. "I'm... I'm Bullet," she answers cautiously. Maybe I shouldn't be talking to her. This could get me in so much trouble. But I don't have much of a choice. She's the only in I've got.
"So," Bullet continues, in a frail, high voice. She looks thirteen, but she doesn't sound a day over eleven. "I hear you're looking for Cheshire."
Just her name sends shivers down my spine.
"What's it to you?" I ask. I take a puff on my cigarette and blow the smoke in Bullet's face. She coughs weakly.
"Well, I know where she is," she says.
"Great," I reply. "You gonna tell me?"
She folds her arms against her chest. "What's in it for me?" she asks. It is a question much too big for her voice. Her brown eyes go wide. I think she knows how dumb she sounds.
"I mean," she adds nervously, "I don't know if I can trust you." She twists a lock of hair around her finger. "You're with the Teen Titans."
"Used to be," I correct. "I quit."
More like left without a word.
Bullet wrings her hands together. "I just don't know if I can trust you," she says again.
I take a drag on my cigarette, exhale a puff of dirty air. She eyes the smoke. I pull my pack out from my pocket.
"You want one?" I ask.
She shakes her head. "I don't smoke," she says, quietly, but her eyes linger on the cigarette in my hand, almost hungrily, like she'd give anything, try anything, just to feel less empty.
Well, that's how it feels for me, anyway.
"Do you eat?" I ask her. She bobs her head, slow, confused. "If I treat you to lunch," I continue, "will you tell me where Cheshire is?"
The word feels funny against my tongue. Hot. Sweet.
I have a lot of fantasies about her and in every single one, her lips taste just like that.
And I know, I think I've always known, that that's why I care.
I think maybe I'm in love with her.
Which is crazy. Is so, so crazy. I don't even know her.
But I can't forget about her. And I know that she can do better. Than being a villain. I mean, it worked for Kid Flash, right? He trusted this... This instinct or whatever it is and...
I have to find her.
I have to...
I swear, this is a little like the first time I did heroin. All of a sudden, it was everything.
I barely even notice when Bullet nods vigorously. I take another puff on my cigarette and watch the smoke as it billows through the air.
"So how do you know her?" I ask.
Bullet, seated across from me at the tiny diner I found, peers out from over the top of her chocolate malt. The glass is bigger than her head, or it seems like it, anyway.
She takes a huge bite of her burger. I can't believe her tiny mouth can hold that much food. My own burger sits untouched on the plate in front of me.
"We've worked together," Bullet answers, her mouth full of food.
"Sure," I snort. She can't really expect me to believe that. A kid. A scrawny little like her has worked with a high-profile villain? Sure.
Then again, I shouldn't talk. I know what kids are capable of. First hand.
"I have," she says defiantly. "We're part of the same crime ring."
"And what crime ring is that?" I ask. What crime ring would be stupid enough to send a thirteen year old as a messenger?
She gulps. "I'm not supposed to tell you that," she says quietly, twisting her last french fry around itself until it snaps in half.
"And yet you're supposed to tell me where she is?" I counter. She presses her lips together.
"That what my boss said."
Her boss, clearly, is an idiot.
Bullet plays with her straw, swirling it around the inside of her glass. "Are you gonna eat those?" she asks meekly, pointing at my full plate of fries. I push them towards her.
"Take them," I say. She sweeps the fries onto her plate and drowns them in ketchup. I wonder when the last time she ate was.
"So where is she?" I ask. No reason to keep putting it off.
Bullet digs the stub of a green crayon out of the plastic cup in the table top. She takes a napkin from the metal dispenser and writes on it. Her hands leave streaks of grease and food.
"Here," she says. She hands me the napkin. It has an address written on, some place in Santa Fe. The ketchup stains look like blood.
I've never even been to Santa Fe. I don't know where this is. "You wanna show me how to get there?"
She shakes her head. "I'm not supposed to." Of course. I'm supposed to go alone.
Her boss is either an idiot or an absolute genius.
He knows who I'm looking for. And he knows I'll go to this place, even if its a trap, as long as it means I have a chance of finding her. And once I'm there he can attack me, torture me, get whatever information he wants, even kill me.
I shouldn't go. It's not safe.
But I'm in way too deep.
The first thing they teach you in rehab is that addiction is a chronic disease. What they mean is that, no matter what I do, no matter how hard I try, I will never be able to kick this for good. There is no such thing as a "recovered" addict. I am recovering. For life.
I can't save myself from this.
Maybe that's why I need to save her.
Next thing I know, I'm on a train to Santa Fe.
I'm from Arizona. Lived here 'till Ollie took me in.
Clearly, leaving home is something of a pattern of mine.
It's too late baby, there's no turning around
I've got my hands in my pocket and my head in a cloud
This is how I do
When I think about you
Hello, everyone. For those of you who haven't read any of my works before, I'm Elle. Nice to meet you. For those of who have read my other stories, its great to see you again!
So this is Trainspotting, my SpeedyxCheshire story. It's a "spin-off" of Breaking Free, but you don't need to read Breaking Free to understand it. I'll make sure to explain anything relevant that happened (for example, the details and aftermath of Speedy leaving the Titans was a major part of the plot of BF. I'll explain them later in this story. I felt like leaving them ambiguous at first helped the story stand alone better.) The story begins about four months after the end of season 5. (For those of you who have read BF, this story begins about three months after Speedy left.)
I'm really psyched about this story. This chapter was so much fun to write because Roy has a really interesting perspective. He's obsessed with saving Jade from a life of villainy, or whatever. That level of obsession is not too good for his, well, mental stability. (He and Jade will switch off narrating, by the way.) A quick note about Roy, he's a recovering heroin addict in the comics. I'll get into detail on his addiction later in the story, but just so you know, I'm writing this so that Roy's addiction happened before he joined the Teen Titans.
That's all for now. Hope everyone enjoyed the first chapter.
Chapter title and lyrics from Hero/Heroine by Boys Like Girls. I just couldn't resist the double entendre of that. The title of the story is blantantly stolen (I mean, um, a homage to?) the book and movie Trainspotting. Which is about heroin.
Thanks to my brother for editing.