A/N: Not much to say, really. Gonna have both arcs in this one, and… that's about it.
For once, Raven was glad that she hadn't used her entire physical manifestation when she went into Nevermore. Of course, she would have had a bit more power, but considering just how thoroughly she'd been beaten, she was also sure that it didn't matter much. She'd have had to rely on Jinx no matter which way it went, and thankfully Jinx was more capable than the last time they'd seen her abilities working on their own. Moonshadow's enhancements had gotten to be pretty scary, and the trouble she'd had with keeping control of her body only made it worse. And, Jinx having realized that she fought better in Nevermore than she did normally was probably the only reason that she'd beaten the Tamaranean spirit. Oh, Raven was thankful indeed.
Unfortunately for Raven, since she had used an astral projection, she had to withstand the shock of her spirit being flung back into a badly damaged body. While Jinx was thrown to the floor in Raven's room, propelled from the mirror roughly, Raven was suddenly conscious and overwhelmed with pain again, although it was mostly internal. She figured that it was what Jinx must have felt like after being smashed with that rock, and at that she pitied her pink-haired friend. For this pain, Raven was most definitely not thankful.
She moaned painfully as she tried to activate her healing powers, but to no avail; she hurt too much at the time. Perhaps after some rest…
But she got no such thing. Jinx was on her feet nearly as soon as she'd landed, and she slid on her knees to Raven's side. She would come to regret this later, as the carpet wore two small holes in the jeans she'd been wearing at the time, but at the moment she hardly gave a damn. She cradled Raven's head in one of her arms while the other one went to her upper chest, feeling for her heart. "Raven! Are you alright?" she asked quickly.
Raven could barely open one eye, it squinting uncomfortably. She met Jinx's eyes and snarked, "Of course, I'm just moaning in agony for dramatic effect."
Jinx smiled wide and hugged Raven tightly, who in turn hissed as she felt her insides being crushed. "Air, Jen, air!"
Jinx immediately backed off and apologized. "Sorry Rae, just a little too excited that you're alive, I guess. Can ya really blame me?"
Though Raven's eyes, the both of them having cracked open, said otherwise, Raven answered with a firm, "Yes, I can, you spaz."
Jinx's smile didn't fade one jot. "There's the Rae I know."
Raven could still taste blood on the back of her tongue. It reminded her of just how badly she'd been hurt, and so she looked back up to Jinx again, asking hesitantly, "…Do you think you could take me back to the infirmary? I should probably have Vic give me another checkup, just to make sure nothing's been smashed too hard." Jinx nodded quickly and picked Raven up under her knees and shoulders.
It seemed that Mammoth had taken up the pastime of doing nothing but pacing back and forth in his messy living room. It wasn't quite as bad as it used to be, for at least one didn't have to kick a path through the piles of trash on the ground. He couldn't help but ponder on what Red-X had told him. Did Mr. Wilson know what was being smuggled in? Of course he did; this was Mr. Wilson, after all. Mammoth would have bet his left nut that Mr. Wilson was in the know.
He ran one of his great hands through his hair as he continued to think. Since, he assumed, that Wilson knew what was in the crates, then he also had a plan for what to do with it. Red-X had mentioned making weaponry with it. Did he want to make a bomb and nuke Jump into one big pit of fallout?
Mammoth shook his head. Nah, Mr. Wilson was way too crafty for that sort of thing. He wasn't one of those crazy, retarded villains that wanted to blow up the world because it would be fun. He had a plan, a scheme, but whatever it was, Mammoth couldn't have figured it out. He couldn't think of anything beyond a plot for the man to get even more money than he already had, and so, his head hurting too much, Mammoth left it at that. His head was starting to throb from thinking too much.
Plodding to the kitchen, Mammoth grabbed a beer from the fridge and set it on the counter while he shifted around a few things, drawing from the mess an orange bottle of painkillers. Simple enough as ibuprofen, but he had to take about five of those eight hundred milligram tablets to get any sort of effect. Dropping just that many into his mouth, Mammoth popped open the can of beer and took a swig to wash them down. He puckered his lips a little, the bitter taste of cheap beer nearly making him cough. He didn't have enough money to buy anything good, and slugging down a whole six-pack would hardly get him buzzed, let alone drunk. For a second, he wondered why he even got the stuff in the first place, but told himself that it wasn't worth thinking over.
He flopped down onto the ratty couch and grabbed the remote, flicking on the flat-screen television that he'd gotten from back in the days that Jinx still hung around. He sighed tiredly; he wondered at just how well she was doing. They hadn't met for almost a year now, and when he last saw her she was unemployed and desperate for a job. Mammoth had offered to have one last go at a bank or something, just enough to let her get a couple months of rent paid for a decent apartment, but she refused. Said she needed to clean up her act, and at least he and Gizmo respected that. The rest of them didn't even take the business seriously; even Kyd Wykkyd didn't want to keep going once she'd left, and he was the dark and brooding type that one would have expected to get deep into crime.
As he surfed through the channels, Mammoth came to a dead stop on one of the news stations. The scene was a recording of what had happened earlier that day: at a local electronics store, some sort of scuffle happened between two people, and the place ended up getting trashed and one person hospitalized.
"The terrifying damage was caused by a technological whiz who dubbed himself 'Control Freak,' and a metahuman that was later identified by the police as 'Jinx,' an ex-con who happened to be there at the time of the robbery. Although she was the primary source of the damage, the store employees report that it was all to stop the electronics from… attacking anyone."
The newscaster had a confused look on her face. Yes, Jump City had some strange happenings, but being assaulted by a T.V. was just plain weird.
The screen flashed to one of the workers talking to the cameraman. "This fat guy just came in and started ranting and raving, saying a bunch of lines from obscure movies or something, like, yelling "father" this and "flesh wound" that, just being a real nut. Then that girl came out of nowhere, like, she was just there all of a sudden, and when the nerd pressed his little controller and got a bunch of stuff attacking, she went and smashed it all with some kind of pink light. It was freaky, but I'm glad she was there. She almost killed the guy, though. She was freaking brutal."
Mammoth's eyes widened at the mention of Jinx. She'd dome all that? No way. She wouldn't have done that by herself, no fucking way. She was a thief, not a sadist. She'd dished out her fair share of ass whooping, but she'd never go so far as to nearly murder someone without an inside influence. He just wouldn't believe that.
The good part of it all was that now he knew that she was alive and well, but he began to worry himself over whether she got arrested, or the Titans dealt with her, or whatever else might have happened. He figured it was something that he'd find out soon enough. Jinx never got screen time without putting on a show, and if she hadn't made her performance yet, she was bound to sooner or later.
No matter how hard he tried, Mammoth just couldn't get his mind to stop churning. The mention of Jinx brought their glory days as thieves to mind, and at the thought of thieves came Red-X. With Red-X came the warehouses, and with the warehouses…
"Urgh. Head… hurts…"
Mammoth held his fingertips to his temples at the vicious circle that swirled through his head, the ibuprofen not helping him out at all. He sighed through his nose and heaved himself to his feet. Fuck it, he was going to call Wilson and get some answers. Shoving a few things around at the coffee table, Mammoth drew forth his cell phone. He went to the speed dial menu and only found one number: five-five-five, three-eight-one-seven. He pressed call, waited two rings, and heard Mr. Wilson ask, "Yes?"
"I'll see ya in a bit, I'm comin' over."
"Well, seems you're alright. Nothin' serious, you could fix yourself with a quick meditation."
Cyborg brought almost only good news to Raven and Jinx. Robin, Starfire and Beast Boy had already gone to their respective chambers, under the impression that everything had gone well. "You still might wanna keep it cool for a while, don't overwork yourself, and blah-dee blah. Y'know what I mean, just the usual healthy stuff," he said with a hint of sarcasm. "But in all seriousness, you oughta be fine. Rest a bit and you'll be up and runnin' in no time."
Jinx smiled thankfully at Cyborg and Raven gave a sigh of relief. "C'mon Rae, let's get you back to your room."
As Raven got down from the table, she put her arm over Jinx's shoulder; it was still mildly painful to walk, mostly around her lower stomach, and she didn't even want to bother with how sick she'd end up if she tried to teleport. Once they'd reached the empath's room, Jinx helped her to bed, laying her down oh-so-carefully. She covered her in her silken blanket and tucked Raven in. While her head was still low from tending Raven's bedding, Jinx had a thought that came very suddenly and unabashedly. There was a certain bit of remorse, along with a desire to redeem it and, on that note, Jinx hesitantly planted a kiss on Raven's forehead. Raven looked up to her with a sort of surprise and satisfaction, their eyes, so charming, meeting and both pairs of them began to glisten with an ominous wetness.
Jinx stood straight, and for a time was unable to do anything save watch as Raven slowly went to sleep. Once Raven had closed her eyes and her breathing had come to a slow, steady pace, Jinx quietly left the room, letting the automatic door shut itself.
She was surprised to see Robin, Starfire and Beast Boy standing right in front of her as she'd exited, and she made a rather unsavory jump and squeak. "Don't do that!" she whispered harshly.
Beast Boy smiled, Robin's face was mostly neutral, and Starfire's became one of apology, her fingertips going to her lips. "Sorry," Robin said quietly, "but we have to tell you that you've got to go. What we've got of our investigation that involves you is done, and unless you were in some sort of emergency or left without a home, we can't have you around for very long. Maybe you can come by and visit once in a while, which I'm sure Rae would appreciate, but you can't be here indefinitely. Besides," he added, "you've got a job that needs tending. I'm sure that you'd end up fired if you were gone for much longer, even with us excusing your absence."
Jinx nodded, and replied in the same, low-volume voice Robin used, "Yeah, I guess. They probably wouldn't be all that happy if their employee of the month is em-i-ay. I'll be outta here in a bit."
Jinx waved as she walked down the hall, and Beast Boy held up his index and middle fingers over his chest, calling to her, "Peace out," while Robin nodded and Starfire told her, "We will see you later, my friend!" all of them making sure not to say anything too loud.
When Jinx was around the corner, a random thought came to Robin. "Do you guys think a ponytail would look good on me?" he asked.
"I dunno. Probably," Beast Boy answered, "You can do what you want with it, long as you take care of it. I almost decided to get dreads once, but after I thought what it would be like to turn into a gorilla with them I didn't wanna have 'em so much anymore."
Starfire looked at Robin curiously. "Why would you want to have the tail of a pony? I am certain the pony you would get it from would most definitely be unappreciative."
Jinx had brought very little with her in the first place, that being the clothes on her back. She had only stayed a day or two; a day or two that was riddled with odd happenings, but still, it was a short time. She doubted that she would get off very easily, though. In spite of how hard she labored and how good of a job she did at work, she was a metahuman. There were always discriminatory people, and no matter how well she was able to do, there was little to no slack for her to have a little breathing room. The little bit that she'd been there was about all she'd be given, even with a written and signed excuse from the Justice League itself.
Once she had gotten herself readied for the trip back home, she asked for Cyborg to give her a ride. She was sure that Robin would be willing to give her a ride that would be umpteen times faster, but she wasn't ever really one for riding on the back of a motorcycle. It wasn't even that they called it the 'bitch seat'- she was perfectly fine with being called a bitch, as it wasn't far from the truth- but to rely on someone else's ability to handle a ride that dangerous was a little unsettling. That, and the one that Robin had anyway was a crotch rocket, and leaning as far as he would to make the turns… she shuddered. She never wanted to be that close to the pavement while going that fast, or at least while she could see it.
She hopped into the passenger seat and buckled in, reclining and crossing her legs. It wasn't the T-Car, though, just a rather nice sports car that Cyborg kept so as to not set off social alarms when driving around. It was very nice, a Dodge Viper GTS-R, and it seemed that it was taken care of nearly as well as the trademark vehicle. It still didn't give her much more of a secure feeling than she would have had on the bike, though; Jinx never liked to go much faster than she could on foot, which, of course, was quite speedy anyway. It was probably more that she was intricately controlling all that she did when running, leaping, or kicking off of a wall.
Either way, her place was a long way from the Tower and she still wanted to be able to get a decent amount of sleep before she had to be up and ready. Maybe she would go and work a few extra hours, just to make sure that the manager wouldn't be particularly irritable for her whole shift. It would also net her more time to nab some extra tips. Yeah, that sounded like it would be a decent plan, Sure, she'd hurt more in the morning, but she didn't mind much, considering she'd also dealt with much more painful things than sore feet.
"Awful quiet there, Jay."
"You've been silent ever since you got in. Gotcha makin' me think somethin's up, y'know? You're usually among the most talkative people I meet any given day."
Jinx sighed. "Yeah. I ain't feeling all that great, not after this whole fiasco. Mostly just casual thinking though, nothing too serious."
Though she said little the rest of the drive, mostly just directions to her place, she did thank Cyborg and tell him to carry the message to the rest of the Titans back at the Tower. Jinx hadn't let him take her all the way however, as there were a few things she liked to keep to herself, and the address of her apartment was one. She would bet they could figure it out without even trying all that hard, since all they would have to do is ask Raven. Who knows, maybe she already told them anyway and Cyborg only listened because he was being polite.
Whatever. She didn't really give a damn; all she cared about was getting some rest and being able to get up in time to take a shower.
Speaking of showers, Jinx looked up to the darkening sky and saw that greyish clouds were moving in. They didn't look particularly cheery, either. She figured it would probably rain overnight and still be soaking everything by morning, but she hardly cared. Rain sounded good right about then, actually.
It seemed that the sky wouldn't have any of it; though they loomed nearer and nearer as Jinx walked the few blocks back home, the clouds were covetous and refused to grant her a single drop of the cool rain that she knew was to come as soon as she was inside and comfortable. Bah. Some things never tuned out right.
Grabbing the keys to her apartment from her pocket, Jinx opened the door and gave a stretch as she walked inside, shutting it with a kick and flopping on her couch. She curled up like some sort of cat and went to sleep almost immediately, having little else on the brain at the moment than getting some shuteye for a busy day tomorrow.
The usually satisfying rumble of his truck gave Mammoth no comfort as he drove to where Mr. Wilson had pointed out that he lived. It was an apartment complex, but a very decent, if not outright great one. The parking lot was a little small, but he managed to find a space that he could squeeze into without smashing someone's door in and causing a ruckus. As he walked to the front door of the place, he spied the panel of buttons to call whoever one was trying to find. Looking through the lengthy list of names, he mouthed 'Ah,' before pressing the one that read 'Wilson.' He gave it a press and said, "Yo Wilson, it's Mammoth."
A couple of seconds later, Mr. Wilson said over the intercom, "Oh? What are you doing here, Baran?"
"One, stop callin' me that. Two, I wanna talk."
"I'll be down in just a moment."
Mammoth hardly waited at all before the front door opened. There stood Mr. Wilson, wearing nothing but a black button-up with the sleeves rolled to his elbows, similarly colored slacks and a pair of lustrous shoes. It seemed like no matter where he went, no matter the circumstances, Mr. Wilson had a suit on. Freakin' showoff. The eye patch wasn't on at the time though, which Mammoth found even more unnerving than when it was on; the eyelids around the area looked like some sort of red, bruised pieces of skin that could barely close. "Come in. Please excuse the eye, I take off the patch when it gets irritating. I'll have it on when we're inside."
They headed up a single flight of stairs and stopped at a room labeled sixty-one. It was barely big enough for Mammoth to crunch down a bit and make it through without breaking the doorframe.
He took a good, long look at the place, and took it all in. It wasn't particularly fancy or anything, but it was obvious that Wilson had a champagne pocketbook. At one corner of the good-sized living room was a black, leather armchair with a lamp and nightstand next to it. Across the room in the opposite corner was a very nice plasma screen television that hung from the wall, and a large potted plant that looked well-fed. Though the television wasn't on, there was a nearby stereo and speaker system, and it was playing David Bowie. 'Ziggy Stardust,' if Mammoth could remember right; Jinx had been one for a bit of everything, whether it annoyed everyone else or not, classic rock included, but Wilson looked to be the sort who would either listen to classical or jazz. Something, anything that lacked a drum. "Come in, I've got dinner nearly ready."
Mr. Wilson's invitation brought Mammoth's attention back to the suave man, who had donned his eye patch again. He led Mammoth into the kitchen-dining room combo, the only things that showed which was which being a counter top and the trim where the carpet ended. There were otherwise no walls between them, and Mammoth could see some of what was being cooked. Olive oil, sherry and some herbs by the oven, and whatever was cooking in there smelled effing-delicious. A tossed salad that looked like it was made with all sorts of things that he didn't even think one could get at a market on par with Pike's Place in Seattle sat on the countertop as well, and Mammoth suddenly felt like he was extremely filthy, crude misplaced and unwelcome. Not that most of those weren't true, but at least Wilson hadn't deemed him too much of a slob to come inside. "Sit down, it's almost done," Mr. Wilson said. With the slick yet stern tone he used, it sounded more like an order, one to which Mammoth quickly obliged.
The chairs could hold him at least, which was a plus, and the table had a glass top with sturdy iron legs. It was like everything he had here was ridiculously tasteful for what room there was, and for that Mammoth was very careful. Even as strong as Mammoth was, Mr. Wilson really did not seem like someone to piss off, and he didn't want to try his luck on such stupidity. "So Wilson, I didn't know you were into Bowie and that kinda stuff," he said, thinking of something to say that would let him feel a tad more casual. It did little to help him.
"Oh, that," Wilson replied, essentially brushing off the question as nothing, "I listen to whatever suits what I'm going to do. I usually listen to classic and soft rock for cooking, as it's a bit livelier than most of what's in the enormous library I have."
He slipped on a pair of oven mitts and pulled out the roasting pan. He took off the top to reveal a perfectly cooked duck, which he then put onto a platter before taking it to the table with a pair of carving knives. He then set the salad at the table, with a plate and silverware for the both of them. Well, Mammoth did call earlier, and Wilson really seemed polite enough. He sat opposite of Mammoth, scraping the knives together a few times before cutting into the duck, making perfect slices on each little part of the bird. Taking a few slices for himself before piling salad onto the rest of his plate, he offered some to Mammoth. "Roasted sherry duck and arugula-fennel salad. It's very nice, and it would be a shame if you didn't have some."
Mammoth silently nodded and held up his plate, onto which Mr. Wilson laid a helping of the meal. Though Mammoth was barely able to lift the fork without feeling awkward, he still had a few things to ask. Mr. Wilson, it seemed, was way ahead of him, and said, "You've come to ask me something." He leaned into the back of his chair after taking a small bite of the duck, chewing it thoroughly and swallowing it down before continuing, "My guess is that it's something to do with your job."
At first raising a brow at the uncanny accuracy of the man's statement, Mammoth then nodded. "Yeah. Somethin's fishy about it, that Red-X guy keeps tryin' to break in and steal some of whatever's in the crates. I figured you would know about what's inside 'em."
Mammoth had taken a bite of the duck as well, and was amazed at how good it tasted. If he were to ever bother with learning to cook, he promised himself that this would be the first thing he'd make once he got everything else down pat. It wasn't very likely, but there's always that 'if.' "Well, what is it?" he asked once he'd gulped it down.
Mr. Wilson smiled. "It's an isotope that was made into a metallic solid. It's very explosive at high enough temperatures, and a decent-sized bomb made of it can have an output of over two hundred megatons."
Mammoth whistled in awe. "That's about four times the force of the Tsar bomb. The substance has an amazingly low rate of fallout, but it still needs to be kept in crates lined with about a quarter an inch of lead to keep it from leaking everywhere," Mr. Wilson explained.
"And you're movin' this shit by boat? What the Hell, man? The only ones I can think of who'd be willin' to do that are idiots like Chang and any other nutsos in his group."
"Oh, I don't plan on making any sort of bomb out of it," Wilson said, "but there are others who do. I'm going to scam them with the duds and make sure I have enough to retire for quite a long time. Only one crate in that entire warehouse is the real material, and I'm going to make sure nobody else finds it.
"You can search Baran, but unless you end up suffering a radiation-poisoning-related death, nobody will find it. So I suggest you don't bother with nosing much more, hm?"
Mammoth's face went straight, but before he opened his mouth Mr. Wilson shot in, "And don't think about quitting your job either. The warden at the prison there is a metahuman himself, however subtly it shows, and he's beaten bigger criminals to death. I don't think you want that either."
The hulk's expression hardened even further. "…You're a douche."
Mr. Wilson laughed softly. "Yes, I suppose I am. Now, you should finish your meal before it gets cold."
From the time those words were spoken until Mammoth finished eating and left, neither of them said another word to each other.
Everybody should know that it's a very foolish thing to do, going through the seedier parts of town at night. This pair of lovers, apparently, had no idea to the point one would be surprised they weren't dead yet. They were a teenage boy and girl, locking both their arms and their jaws together, spinning around drunkenly and bashing into walls with the clumsiness of their steps, inhibited by alcohol and one another's feet. Their pirouette of puppy love, lust and wine ended when they slid into a dark alleyway, the light shower having just started to fall and wet their heads.
A few more deep kisses and they came up for air, their breaths stinking of infatuation and cheap coolers, when the boy said, "You're so beautiful… I love you."
The girl made a slight giggle before answering, "I love you too."
Again, another bout of kisses this time accompanied with moderate groping, and they were soon taking it all off, the both of them shirtless and kissing and licking all over before they noticed anything that had gone awry.
A curious, luminous mist of white and grey surrounded them, and they soon realized that they were no longer in the alleyway, as they felt no rain, nor did them the gravelly, rough concrete of the ground, and they fell over at the sudden loss of support. Looking up, all they saw was a starless sky with a bright, unrealistically large moon that shone the most brilliant silver they'd ever seen. Of course, the shock of being swiftly transported to such a contrasting realm from where they'd been only seconds ago left them blinded, and the both of them were gripping their faces in pain from the piercing light.
Though their eyes hadn't adjusted to the luminosity of their surroundings totally, the boy and girl could see two little pinpricks of lime green amidst all of the confusing shininess. Swirling through the mist was a gaseous shape that resembled a hand, large yet not beastly. It repelled the wisps just enough to see the fingers and palm; nothing further could be seen, although it was deducible that the hand belonged to the green light. From nowhere and everywhere at once came a voice, echoing over nothing, "Fear not, youths. Thou hast no need to be here, I shalt enlighten thee to the exit."
Although they were suspicious at first, being imbibed so thoroughly made the two of them toss the rest of it to the wind. Another hand appeared at them and they each took one of their own. As soon as they were on their feet however, the hands, in a flash, let them go and thrust themselves through the chests of the two. The presence neared and whispered, "It doth be through Hell."
The pair burst in a violent blast of radiant green light, reduced to particles finer than dust. In a few moments, the figure was given just a touch more physical manifestation, and then an androgynous figure became visible. "It shan't be long…" it whispered to itself.
A/N: Kinda short, I guess, but I've at least gotten something done. Read and review, please.