Hope on a String
"This," I say, "would be a lot less uncomfortable if you weren't relaxed about it."
The worst thing about Wally's oldest sister living in the same city as us is that, when she kept asking if she could meet me, eventually, I ran out of excuses to say no. Which is how I ended up here, sitting at Starbucks with Wally, waiting for Melanie West to show up.
Wally laughs. "Really, Jinx, you don't need to worry," he says. It is maybe the tenth time he has told me that. "Melanie is going to adore you."
"Nobody adores me!" I counter. "I make a terrible first impression. My power is Murphy's Law! Something will go wrong. It always does."
"I adore you," Wally says. "And Murphy's Law is when there are multiple ways to do something and you pick the wrong one. 'Anything that can go wrong will go wrong' is Finagle's Law."
I roll my eyes. "You don't count. And see what I mean? I'm so unlucky I can't even remember how unlucky I am!"
He laughs again. "Jinx, I promise, my sister is going to love you. And if she doesn't, I will convince her to. She can't say no to me."
I point a finger at him. "You better be right about that."
He grins. "Oh, I am. Trust me."
I sigh, and fuss with the silver medical bracelet on my left wrist. Wally convinced me to get it because of my penicillin allergy. He said he was scared I could die. He said he didn't want to lose me.
It was all the convincing I needed.
I couldn't bear the thought of scaring him that much. Of hurting him. He means too much to me.
"I just don't want to screw this up," I admit. Wally reaches across the table and takes my hand in his.
"I'll still love even if you do," he says seriously. I roll my eyes.
"You are so cheesy sometimes," I grumble. He grins, and I add, "But thanks."
He squeezes my hand. "Anytime."
I reach for my mocha frappucino, only to find that I've drained it. "Ugh," I groan. "I need more chocolate. I'm getting another." I reach into my black shoulder bag, take out my wallet. It's empty.
"Crap…" I murmur.
"What's wrong?" Wally asks.
"Nothing," I reply. "I'm just out of cash, that's all." I start digging through my purse. "I know my debit card's in here somewhere…"
Wally's hand blurs, and a split second later he's holding out a ten dollar bill. "On me."
"You bought the last one," I say.
"So?" he replies, shrugging. "I don't mind buying things for you."
I want chocolate so bad it isn't even funny. Reluctantly, I take the bill from his hand. "I'll pay you back," I tell him.
"Don't worry about it," he says.
I don't respond. I'm not sure how to. I am worrying about it. I feel like I'm mooching or something. I don't know. I stand up and go to the counter.
This is so important to him. This meeting his family thing. And I understand that. I really do. But this is weird. This is so weird. I am meeting his sister… Well, before I meet my own.
The last three months, I have done everything I could think of to find Audrey Tudor, who may be… Scratch that, almost certainly is, my sister. The mental hospital she was at, the same one I used to live at, said she ran away about a month before Wally first contacted them about me. No one there's heard from her since.
My drink is slid onto the counter. I pick it up and, as I head back to the table, I see the door opening. A pretty woman with bright red hair steps inside. Wally sees her and waves.
"Melanie! Hey!" he calls out. I reach the table just seconds before his sister does. Wally jumps out of his chair and throws his arms around his sister, blurring as he moves.
"Hi, baby boy," Melanie says. She has a thick southern accent. I know they're from Georgia, but somehow I wasn't expecting that, I guess just because Wally doesn't have an accent at all.
"Please, don't call me that," Wally grumbles. His sister just laughs, a breezy, twinkling sound. She has his laugh. Or maybe he has hers.
Wally lets go of Melanie and grabs onto my hand. "Mel," he begins, beaming, "this is my girlfriend, Jinx. Jinx, this is my sister Melanie."
"Nice to meet you," I say, holding out my hand. Melanie ignores it and pulls me into a hug.
"It most certainly is!" She exclaims. "Wally's told me so much about you!"
She's hugging me. This is weird. Really weird.
"Yeah," I reply, "he's told me a lot about you too."
Wally looks at me and I think he can see how freaked out I am. "Mel, do you want to sit down and have something to eat or whatever?" he suggests. Melanie grins, lets go of me, and sits down at the table.
"Maybe in a minute. First tell me how you've been," she says to him. "I haven't seen you in a week!"
"Sorry about that," he says, laughing and sliding back into his chair. I sit down next to him and he takes hold of my hand again. "I've been meaning to stop by, but you know, there's always bad guys to stop. So, what's up with you? When's Bart get off school again?"
"Next week," Melanie answers. "I can barely believe my son is going to be in eighth grade."
"You're telling me," Wally replies. "Most guys my age don't have thirteen year old nephews."
Melanie laughs. "So, Jinx," she says, "Wally says you're an incredible artist."
I can feel myself blush. "I wouldn't say I'm incredible…" I murmur, fixing my gaze in the table. I just can't bring myself to look her in the eye.
Wally rubs the palm of my hand with his thumb. "Yeah, she is," he says, more to me than to his sister.
I try to smile, but I think it's more of a grimace. Melanie looks at me for a second, then says to Wally, "Baby boy, could you get me a latte? You know how I like them."
"Yeah, sure" Wally replies. He kisses me on the cheek before bolting out of his chair. "Back in a sec'."
As he dashes to the counter, Melanie turns to me. "Nervous?" she asks. I guess she was just trying to get me alone with that latte thing.
"Little bit," I admit. "Sorry."
She smiles. "It's alright, sweetheart. You should have seen me when I met my husband's parents. I was a wreck." I nod, and, once again, try really, really hard to smile.
"If it helps," she continues gently, "I'm really glad to finally meet you. Wally just adores you. And you've been really good for him. He's just so happy when he's with you."
"Thanks," I murmur, managing to smile, but weakly.
"You know," she continues, "he thinks of you as family. And so do the rest of us. Or at least, so do Bart and I."
I really don't know what to say to that.
The only family I have, that I know about, anyway, is this Audrey kid. And the truth is, and I know this is horrible of me, I almost hope we don't find her.
I don't know if I could face that.
And even if I could, well, do I need to?
I have Wally. He's the only family I need.
There's another blur of color, and a split-second later Wally is sitting at the table again. "Here you go," he says, sliding a latte in front of his sister.
"Thanks, Wally, you're an angel," Melanie says, smiling.
"No problem," he says. He looks a little embarrassed. It's cute. "So what were you ladies talking about?"
"Oh, not much," Melanie answers lightly. "Just girl talk." I guess that's code for "talking about you".
She winks at me. Theory confirmed.
"Okay, you win" I say, digging through my purse for my key to Titans North Tower. "Your sister doesn't hate me."
"Told you so," Wally replies.
"She seems really nice," I add, finding my key and sticking it into the door. "I think we'll probably get along."
Wally laughs. "That might be the most optimistic thing I've ever heard you say," he jokes.
"Clearly you're rubbing off on me," I retort.
He grins and leans close to my ear. "You say that like it's a bad thing," he whispers, his lips just barely brushing against my skin.
I feel myself blush. "Yeah, well…" I would try to think of a comeback for that, but his lips are sort of distracting me. "Fine," I grumble, opening the door. "You're right again."
"I'm on a roll today, aren't I?" he laughs, wrapping an arm around my waist.
"Sure, let's go with that."
He laughs again, then his expression turns serious. "Thanks, by the way. For doing this for me."
I reach up and place one hand on his cheek. "Anytime," I tell him. He smiles, before pulling me closer and kissing me softly on the lips.
I tell you what you mean to me
Maybe then you'll see
'Cause the only one I come undone for is you
So, finally, here is Hope on a String. To returning readers: Hey guys! It's awesome to see you again and I hope you like this story! To new readers: Hi, I'm Elle, nice to meet you! This is the direct sequel to my story Breaking Free, and I strongly recommend you read that story before this one.
In terms of continuity, this story picks up about three months after the end of BF/about four months after the end of season five, making it May 2005 by my math. I'm placing Jinx's birthday in March, (probably March 13, 'cause it's bad luck.), so she turned sixteen between the two stories. Wally was already sixteen. (His birthday, in my head, is New Year's Eve. I don't know why.) I just turned seventeen, so I'm older than him now. It's kind of freaking me out. (By the way, I'm obsessive about continuity, which is why I've worked these details out and why I have birthdays for, like, every character. Feel free to completely disagree with my math.)
There are two reasons this chapter took so long. Reason one is that my computer got a virus when I was about halfway through, and I had to get a new one, and it took a while to transfer my files. Reason two is that I wasn't sure what the best way to start this story would be. I'm just… Not very good at writing happy things. And this chapter had to be happy because Jinx is in such a happy place right now, so, yeah… Sorry this chapter is sort of a slow opening. I promise the plot will kick in soon.
Um, three years ago when I was starting Breaking Free, I messed up and thought Bart was Wally's nephew. Eventually, there was no way I could fix it without a full-out retcon, which I am fundamentally against, so I just ran with it. Wally needed a sibling for it to make sense, so I came up with Melanie, who is named that because Bart's mom is named Melanie in the comics. (For the record, Melanie's husband's last name is Allen, but he not related to Barry. Let's just call it a ridiculous coincidence.) I feel bad about messing with Wally's backstory so much. I'm sorry. I really am. I have no excuse, other than fact that when I started BF I was thirteen and not a great writer. And creative license, I guess? Can I plead that?
Anyway, I'm really excited about this story. I'm really attached to Jinx and Wally. I love them so much, and I 'm happy that so many people were interested in this story because I'm happy to be able to keep writing them. Hope you guys enjoy this story!
The title Hope on a String is a play on the lyrics of the song Vindicated by Dashboard Confessional. The chapter title and lyrics are from Come Undone by Vanessa Carlton.
And, uh, sorry for the long notes.
Review Responses for the last chapter of Breaking Free:
(I'm going to start sending these out individually, but I wanted to make sure I responded to all of these. I also promise to stop being lazy and start responding to one-shot reviews.)
Mizumaru Mari: Thank you so much! I'm really glad you liked the story and I'm glad you're planning to read the sequels! Your review was quite funny, by the way. It made me laugh.
InfiniteDragon: Thank you so much! I'm really glad you think my writing has improved!
WolfKeeper989: Thank you so much!
Angelfly06: Thank you so much! Jinx will look for Audrey in the sequel, by the way. I tried to explain that in chapter seventeen, but sorry if it wasn't clear!
CGBabydoll: Thank you so much! I'm glad you like the ending, I was pretty worried about it. And thanks for clarifying which stories you wanted to see.
Little Miss Juliet: Thank you so much! Yes, I do plan to keep writing!
Aphrodite96: Thank you so much! I'm really glad you like my characterization of Jinx, and thanks for continuing to read my story even though you disagreed with my characterization of Argent.
Dreamwriterx3: Thank you so much! Lorena might become Aquagirl in her upcoming spin-off.
Soraskybeauty: Thank you so much! It means a lot to me that you said it's the best Flinx story you've seen.
ReimeiNoAkatsuki: Thank you so much! It means a lot to me that you think this is one of the best Flinx stories, and I'm quite flattered that you wrote your longest review ever for me. I'm happy that the fluff made you squeal as well.
Lemony anemone: Thank you so much! I'm sorry if my scarce updates made it hard for you to remember the plot.
Pinky Divertimento: Thank you so much! Sorry about the long times between updates and if the story was hard to follow because of it. About the ending, I just don't like to wrap everything up in a neat little bow, I guess. I don't think that's what life is like. And it leaves room for me to explore some of that stuff in the sequels?