"The hardest tumble a man can make is to fall over his own bluff." -Ambrose Bierce
By Lynx Klaw
Kamala Malti was an observant girl. She liked to watch people and think about them. She kept tabs on her friends and her enemies alike. She also watched people she didn't know. In large groups, their consciousness seemed to mesh. In smaller groups, she liked to see the interactions of individual personalities. Kamala liked to watch couples, too. They were her favorite to watch. The girl watched them as they flirted, fought, and fooled around. A few times, she even caught them fucking. Hey, that was life.
She wanted that. Kamala wanted the flirting, the fooling around... the fucking. Hell, she even wanted the fighting. She wanted everything a relationship entailed. There was just one little problem with all that. Her life was not built with relationships in mind—not lasting ones, anyway. Kamala wanted a lasting relationship; fuck the one-night stands.
Kamala Malti, better known to the world at large as 'Jinx,' was also a mercenary and ex-thief. She was not above a bit of subterfuge and rule bending to get what she wanted. With all the people she watched, she found a few she liked. However, she didn't really appreciate them for their potential as relationships. She simply liked how they functioned. Kamala was a people-watcher, after all.
That was why Kammie had spent the past two months watching people with a relationship in mind. She knew how most people worked. A book on psychology and social dynamics helped greatly. The library was her friend. It defined in clear black-and-white what she needed to make a relationship work.
The mercenary girl hadn't really considered herself part of the equation, before now. How could you observe people if you didn't move back to get the full picture? However, she would have to get involved if she wanted a relationship. After a bit of meditation and internal deliberation, she discovered a lot about herself that she hadn't known before.
Now Kamala knew what she wanted. Boys were nice; she knew that. She didn't have any lasting relationships with boys, though. When she evaluated her preferences—the things she wanted in a relationship and her general likes and dislikes—she found that a girl might be exactly what she was looking for. Then she had to figure out which girl she wanted.
There were several to choose from the pool of females she observed. Her research led her to believe that she would need someone free of metahuman and homosexual prejudices. After that, her choices narrowed considerably. This was a relief, but also a worry. A smaller pool of people meant fewer chances. It was like a game of Texas Hold 'Em poker; with every revealed community card, one's outs reduced further and further.
Jinx played the hand life dealt her... and then she cheated.
Kitten had once connived a date from Robin—now Nightwing—by holding Jump hostage with her father's mutant moths. Granted, her goal was simply to make her then ex-boyfriend jealous. Her first mistake was choosing a target already taken, in a sense. Her second mistake was choosing a target that despised her. It wasn't difficult, Kamala reasoned; Kitten was an easy person to dislike.
However, Kammie thought the girl might be on to something. A Titan might be a good way to go. The problem laid in the fact that the Titans were heroes. Heroes generally made poor relationship material. Most heroes had an all-consuming righteous quest for world peace... or something. There was a heroic theory that light would triumph over darkness. It was pitiful.
Kamala needed someone that understood the balance of nature. There would always be dark wherever there was light. What kind of hero subscribed to that? Thankfully, the answer came easily.
There were only two girls on the Titans team in Jump City. Starfire was very clearly taken, even if neither the culture-shocked bundle of joy nor Boy Blunder would admit it. Raven, however, was not. What of ex-boyfriends? There was one—trapped in a book and locked in a chest. He was no competition.
Furthermore, Raven was a mage. She would easily understand the balance of the world; light and dark, order and chaos... The mystic Titan was also a demi-Demon. A little inherent darkness wrapped in a heroic package!
The only problem was that Raven did not like her. In fact, the heroine spent most of her time at Kamala's throat whenever they met. She could understand that, however. They rarely met under ideal circumstances. ...What were the ideal circumstances?
Obviously, it would be a circumstance where they were not fighting. Beyond that, it was an occasion where the two girls could sit down and talk... preferably alone. Thirdly, Raven had to like her. How could she make Raven like her?
Huh, that was annoying. She almost had the royal flush, there. Well, it looked like it was time to cheat!
Kamala stood on the boardwalk, staring off into the mass of seafaring vessels in the bay. Yachts, speedboats, wind-surfers, and surfers littered the top of the waters. This summer was a good turnout for Jump; the beach lined with towels, umbrellas, and people. Yes, the people were out in force, today! So many people to protect from a nefarious scheme should a dastardly villain rear their head!
The heroes would then stop them—or try to, at least. Jinx had magic, of course. Unfortunately, she also knew that Raven had become far stronger. She was no match for a mystic of the demi-Demon's caliber. However, nobody knew the full extent of Jinx's occult capabilities. That made Kamala something of a wildcard, and therein laid the bluff!
Kammie grinned as she walked up to a payphone and dialed a well-known number. The ringtone sounded calmly twice before someone picked up. The voice on the other end was unmistakable and brought about the thought of emeralds.
"Yo, Titans Tower, Changeling speaking. How may I help you?"
"Hiya, Changeling, it's Jinx. What's up?"
"Oh, nothin' much," the green teen answered smoothly, "The new Megamonkeys game is coming out tomorrow and I ju—hey! Jinx? Why are you calling the Tower? You're like, one of the bad guys."
'If I weren't me, I wouldn't believe my luck,' Kamala beamed as she responded candidly, "I'm a bad girl, but you have a point. Ya see, I was just calling to give you my demands."
"So... you got an evil plot we gotta stop?" he asked, sounding annoyed with her.
She heard a sigh from the other side of the line. Kamala's grin grew.
"Should I get a pen and paper?"
"No, no... it's not that complicated. Okay, here goes: I, Jinx, have a boat in the bay loaded with explosives. If I press the button on my detonator, I sink it."
Changeling's voice was cautious and somewhat confused, "O-... kay...?"
"Oh! Right, I forgot the most important part! I locked a bunch of creatures inside the cabin. They go down with the ship. These cute, furry creatures..." Kamala paused for effect here. She could practically see the green bean leaning closer to the computer screen in the Tower. "...are mystical Mogwai!"
"What?" he shrieked in a panic, "Why would you do that?"
Jinx winced and pulled the phone away from her ear. Then she growled into the receiver, "Don't test me, grass stain. I know you're tracing the call; I'll save you the trouble. I'm on a payphone by the bay. It doesn't really matter. I'll be gone by the time you get here, so just listen closely. I have demands, remember?"
Poor boy, he tried so hard to be menacing. Her smile softened and her voice became more amiable. She didn't really want to stress him too much; he had a job to do, after all. She wanted him to remember everything she told him...
"Alright, Changeling. My demand is very simple and I want it followed to the letter, okay? At two o'clock this afternoon, I want Raven to come to The Elysion Banquet; it's a Greek restaurant. She will come alone, unarmed, and she is to dress in nice civilian clothes. Nice, Changeling—if she wants clarification, say 'casual smart.'
"She will have lunch with me there and we will not fight. If I even think another Titan is watching me or if any of you try anything, I'll send the boat into the water and Jump City becomes the Mogwai Metropolis. You got all that?"
"Mogwai, boat, boom, 2 PM, The Elysion Banquet, Raven, casual smart..."
Jinx nodded, fully aware he couldn't see it, "Yep, that's all. Well, it's been nice-"
"Hey, wait! If she does this, you won't sink the boat anyway?"
She had to give him credit for thinking that far ahead. She nodded again.
"What's the point of all this if you're gonna sink it anyway!" he exclaimed.
Once again, Kamala pulled the phone away from her ear, "No... I meant yes I won't sink it. However, you have to do exactly as I say."
Changeling grumbled, "Gotta go tell Nightwing."
Kamala cheerfully hung up with another wide grin. This hand was hers... and she still had an ace up her sleeve!
Richard rubbed the bridge of his nose through his mask, "Calm down, Gar. Just explain the situation. What is it about these Mogwai?"
"Dude, it's like, the worst thing she could do! If they hit the water, they'll magically multiply. She has a boat full of 'em! They'll swarm the city by the millions!"
Raven stared at the screen impassively. The payphone was marked, but she knew nobody would be there. That left the zany villainess' demands to meet with her. The mystic Titan sighed in annoyance. She had been in the middle of a book when Gar had hit the alarm and started rambling about some kind of Demonic imps turning the bay into the beaches of Normandy.
"Raven, can you tell us anything about these things?"
She shook her head, "Not off the top of my head, but it's not implausible. There are some creatures that can multiply like that...
"Right now, you need to find that boat. I need to go to Jinx. Where was I supposed to go?"
"The Elysion Banquet," Gar repeated, "Jinx said no weapons or anything—and no fighting."
Raven nodded and made for the elevator. Unfortunately, the verdant therianthrope had more to add.
"Wait, she said you had to change your clothes, too."
The purple-haired girl paused, her right brow twitching in annoyance, and turned back to the green teen.
"And what am I to wear?" she asked calmly, 'If she wants to humiliate me with some stupid getup, I'm going to drag her through the surf and feed her to those Mogwai...'
"She said to dress 'nice' in your civvies."
Raven stared at him blankly, "Define 'nice.'"
Gar shrugged, "Jinx said to tell you... um... 'casual smart?'"
She blinked. Why casual smart? Why The Elysion Banquet? She had seen the restaurant, but had never been there. It had been on her list of places to try. Obviously, she wouldn't have preferred the current circumstances when she decided to visit the restaurant. If she were lucky, they wouldn't ban her from the restaurant when this was over. It had happened before on a few occasions, especially when a metahuman fight gutted parts of the building...
'Jinx did say there was to be no hostilities... what's she playing at?' The demi-Demon shook her head and looked to Richard, "Find that boat. I need to get ready..."
Raven stalked to her bedroom to change as she thought over what Jinx might be thinking threatening the city like this. It seemed contrived and familiar, but most villainous plots were; they followed an obvious theme to a predictable purpose. That's just how super-crimes were.
She closed the door behind her. She had about three hours before she had to be there. It was time to make herself presentable for what was likely a negotiation and introduction of new demands. It was also possible this was a trap, but they didn't have a choice. Raven couldn't tell what Jinx had concocted. There was far too little to this plan for a simple meeting to be the end of it.
'Lipstick or lip-gloss...?'
The thought struck her and she froze in the middle of her room. Damnit! She hadn't considered how difficult or nerve-wracking this would be when she started. There was hairstyle, clothing choice, jewelry, shoes, perfume, and makeup... What had she been thinking? There was so much to do to make this perfect. Casual smart—she was an idiot. Could she even pull that off?
'At least the reservation is already in. One thing I don't have to worry about. ...That's assuming I can finish here and get there on time! I only have two hours!'
The girl glanced at herself in the mirror again, fretting while trying to look unworried. She glanced around at her bedroom. It had clothes strewn everywhere. She'd gone through her meager wardrobe like an underwear-clad hurricane. Now she had some clothes picked out, but she had yet to put on anything beyond her underwear.
She sidetracked herself when she looked in the mirror and tried to figure out what to do with her hair. Then she fretted about jewelry. After that, it had been makeup. The girl still hadn't dressed; instead moving around her room with half-contemplated ideas. Finally, she stopped and took a deep breath. She needed to focus. The first step was to get dressed, then she could worry about makeup.
A thought struck her as she reached for the blouse.
'Idiot, you don't even own any lipstick! ...What flavor of lip-gloss? Damnit!'
Kamala knew there was a reason she didn't like to get involved with people...
Raven balefully stared into her closet, her body still wrapped in a towel and her hair damp. After she finished her once-over of the small section of the seldom-used civilian clothes, she let out a martyred sigh. Her expression turned to resignation.
'Casual smart, she says. Can I even pull that off?'
She generally disliked skirts. Beyond her leotards, she had only a few pants... but none fitting for anything save a strict business meeting or ceremonial purposes. She had worn the business pantsuit once—never again, she swore. She had the pants she wore during her graduation ceremony from her mage apprenticeship on Azarath. There were also some sweat pants.
Raven liked loose fitting pants or her leotards. There was no in-between for her. Neither of those would work for this. Damnit, she was going to have to wear a skirt. She growled, and began looking in the back of her closet, where all her various undercover clothing either hung out of the way or laid folded inside a drawer or chest.
In the end, she found a dark grey pencil skirt; it came to her knees and was rather simple in appearance. That was just fine with her. The purple-haired girl wasn't out to attract attention and her hair color made that rather difficult.
She next pulled out a black blouse. Its slightly ruffled cuffs added a bit of flair to it; she remembered wearing it to a Renaissance faire it was rumored Mad Mod had threatened. He never showed, but Gar had the time of his life. He, Vic, and Richard hadn't stopped talking like bards for two weeks afterward. She nearly killed them for it.
Eventually, Raven had given into some consumerism during the faire. Raven bought a Falconer CD from one of the vendors there. While generally not a fan of loud music, she liked the blend of old-world with new-age instruments. Nobody knew she had bought the entire set of Falconer albums a few days later. Nobody knew she had laughed herself silly upon seeing two Storm Troopers at the faire, either. Gar would have had an aneurysm.
Shaking away the memories, she snagged a pair of knee-high boots reminiscent of her current footwear, but with latches. These she had worn at her graduation ceremony, as well. They weren't gaudy and would work well with the dark theme she had going.
She set aside her usual red-gemmed belt in favor of a wide, black belt made of smooth leather. Its weight felt similar on her hips and provided a place for her comm. A pair of dark blue panties and matching sports bra later, she was ready to put it all together.
Her hair she merely dried and used two, small, blue snap clips that matched her eyes to keep it out of her face. She didn't bother with any makeup. The overall effect in the mirror was a more serious Raven. At least, she thought it gave off that vibe. She vaguely felt like she should be giving lectures at a college.
The demi-Demon sighed and left the safety of her room to meet with Jinx. The common room's computer screen had an address and general directions to the restaurant. The others had already left to search the bay for this elusive, rigged boat.
'This had better be worth it.'
The mercenary known as Jinx sat at The Elysion Banquet. There were numerous tables open in the restaurant, but she had decided to sit outside at one of the tables under the wide awning of the restaurant. Not only did she enjoy the slight breeze and the open atmosphere, but it would also make it easy to run away if everything went to Hell in a hand basket. The chair was comfortable; cool metal with a rather thickly layered, cloth padding. When she had arrived early, she had told the waiter that she was expecting company at two.
Now she idly sipped at some water and awaited Raven's company. Kamala looked into the window nearby and inspected herself while she impatiently passed the time. For a bit, she had been worried she wouldn't be able to work herself into something inconspicuous. She didn't want this to scream 'date' lest she put Raven on edge and ruin her chances with awkwardness and nervous tension. She also didn't want to wear anything like her usual mission clothes; that might put Raven into battle mode. That was why she had demanded casual smart.
Kamala didn't have many choices when it came to her hair. Due to her metahuman idiosyncrasies, her hair defied gravity; even when wet, it merely drooped a bit. It formed natural, upward, serpentine patterns by default. A few years ago, it had been shorter and curved outward and then in, creating the familiar horns that she held in hair bands. Only the tips had a slight outward curve to them. The hex-caster had let it grow out a bit and it had started a second inward wave, then outward again with a smaller sweep. Now her hair looked like broad impala horns, which amused her quite a bit.
Kammie had gone with a simple look, in the end. She used a pair of small hair bands near the upper, inward swell where her horns had previously terminated. They were made of soft, black silk. They didn't need any elasticity to them, only the restraining fabric to hold her hair together. Otherwise, it splayed out like a certain, clawed, comic book character.
Her clothes were nice, if a little masculine. She had incongruously chosen some sneakers that looked nice enough to pass for formal. Of course, the pink Nike swooshes sort of defeated that appearance... She wore a pair of black slacks and black leather belt with a gleaming, silver buckle. The buckle wasn't special; just a plain, old buckle, but it was the only thing that was bright or reflective about her outfit. The blouse she chose was light enough not to be hot, even though it was long-sleeved. Its color matched the purple of Raven's hair.
These colors brought out her naturally pale skin tone and, with her silver belt buckle, made her appear almost ghostly. Around her neck, she wore a lace choker with circular, black pendant. She didn't wear any other accessories. Kammie drew enough attention with her pink hair and eyes.
She wondered if her seemingly masculine choice of clothing that had any subconscious connotations. Kamala didn't think either she or Raven fit into those femme or butch stereotypes. She was probably just thinking too hard on it. A worrying thought suddenly crossed her mind. What if the other girl wasn't... interested in other girls? It wouldn't matter how much Raven liked Jinx, then. She'd automatically be relegated to the 'just friends' category.
'Oh, Hell. I knew there was something I was forgetting!'
Never mind that Kammie was almost positive that all girls were bisexual when they were drunk enough. She didn't want Raven as a drunken one-night stand. The mercenary girl wanted a Titan girlfriend. This certainly complicated matters. The girl took a deep breath. She could cross that road when she came to it... but she really, really wanted a Titan girlfriend!
She had watched, though some would say stalked, Raven plenty—and sometimes illegally—through a variety of methods for quite a while. It was basic reconnaissance, she would claim. Nothing she had seen led her to believe that Raven fell into any category. All she knew was that the mystic Titan had once had an interest in someone that turned out to be a Dragon. That didn't mean anything—did it?
Kamala leaned back into her chair somewhat heavily. It felt like her head would explode from the new questions whirling in her head. This sucked. She had made an assumption and was just now realizing it. Should she scrap the plan?
'No... No, I'll just see it through. There's still a chance—and I've always relied on my luck. I won't fold without seeing my hand... Worst that can happen is I just give up and look elsewhere. If I get lucky, though... then I could really get lucky!'
A flash of purple around head height in the passing lunch crowd drew her out of her introspection. Jinx grinned.
Raven was turning heads. Thanks to her empathic powers, she was almost incapable of being oblivious. She blocked out the mental compliments—some less savory than others—as she walked by. One businessman had thought of hiring her to attract better sales because she looked exotic and intelligent. That was one of the best thoughts among them and it wasn't tinged with lusting overtones. The mystic Titan made her way through the lunch crowd, ignoring the occasional gawker's thoughts to make her way toward The Elysion Banquet.
As soon as she cleared the masses of people and passed into the awning, she stopped. It wasn't hard to spot Jinx. She stuck out like a sore thumb in this environment. Her hair was a beacon of attention, much like hers. With a clipped gait, she approached Jinx's table and stood before it. She leveled her gaze upon the grinning girl before her, trying to infuse her anger at the situation.
Pink eyes trailed over her boots and slid up her legs to the skirt. Those cotton-candy orbs cruised over her attire and body with an intensity and admiration that made Raven flush. She could tell that Jinx was evaluating her, though in what capacity she wasn't sure. She could feel the same appreciation from the pink-haired young woman that she had felt out on the streets from the various denizens of Jump.
Raven shook off the emotions trying to worm into her head from everyone around her and sat down.
"Raven," Jinx smiled.
Raven opened her mouth to cut to the chase, but a waiter interrupted her.
"Good afternoon, ladies," he said, producing some menus for each of them. He opened them to the beverage page, which was quite massive indeed, and stood back, "May I serve you something to drink first?"
Raven's eyes narrowed at Jinx over her menu, but then turned to the listings in front of her.
"I'll have the Greek frappé, please," Jinx said after a few moments.
The waiter nodded, "How would you like that prepared, miss?"
"Um... glykós, please."
"And for you, miss?"
The purple-haired girl glanced over the list of drinks. A few looked to be inside her comfort range for things she hadn't tried. However, she was craving a chamomile to sooth her nerves; she was certain she would need all the help she could get, soon. As she glanced over the drinks to find said item, Raven finally noticed what it was that had been bothering her since her first glance through the menu.
She frowned and looked up at Jinx, who was peering at her with a small, relaxed smile.
"My menu doesn't have any prices on it..."
The waiter said nothing about it, instead calmly listening for her order without appearing impatient. She glanced to him, but his expression was pleasantly blank. Her eyes turned back to Jinx, who simply shrugged.
"Then just order whatever you want."
Her jaw clenched and she regarded Jinx for a moment. Something about this felt strange, but Raven couldn't pinpoint what it was. Eventually, she made a quick glance to her chosen drink—almost to make sure there was no price beside it. There wasn't.
"I'll have the chamomile," she requested.
"Very good," replied the waiter, "I shall return shortly with your drinks. Please, look through our menu. I will take your orders when you are ready."
The man quickly disappeared into the restaurant and left them to their own devices. He was very good at being unimposing, but Raven cared less about the service than she did the company. She immediately addressed Jinx as soon as she was sure the man was out of hearing range.
"What do you want?"
The other girl canted her head to the side, eyes on the menu, "I'm thinking the pastitsio or the tyropita, but I'm not sure."
"Jinx, you're holding the city hostage. I didn't come here to discuss the merits of the food. I'm not here to play games; I'm here to negotiate—at least the end to your threat and at best your surrender."
The hex-caster rolled her eyes, "That's too bad; the food here is quite good. As for the other, that sounds way too boring. How about I negotiate a counter-offer? You have lunch with me and we'll discuss the merits and flaws of the proposed Metahuman registration bill."
Raven's eyes blanked and glowed angrily with an ethereal light, "How about I-"
The other girl brandished a small box with a single-button, "No violence, Raven. I know Changeling shared that stipulation with you."
Immediately, the demi-Demon's unnatural light faded. Instead, Raven settled on glowering at Jinx. It was about that time that the waiter returned with their drinks. He set them down carefully and stood back. The Titan adopted a calmer expression. She wondered if this man knew that Jinx was a dangerous criminal making terroristic threats. Probably not, Raven reasoned, he was being far too much of an impeccable host.
"Have the ladies decided upon their meals?"
Jinx canted her head to the side, clearly waiting for Raven to answer him.
"I'll have the family-size souvlaki platter."
The waiter opened his mouth, likely to mention its proportions. She had seen the picture of it; she understood. After a moment, he closed his mouth and asked instead, "Would you prefer beef, pork, or lamb?"
"Lamb, please," Raven responded easily.
Jinx blinked at her, but recovered quickly. She turned to the waiter, who was now looking to her.
"Just how big is that family platter?"
"...Quite large, ma'am."
The girl nodded, "I'll split it with her, then."
The waiter nodded and left the alone once more. Kamala looked back to Raven. The girl sat like a stone of tension atop a powder keg. This wasn't turning out as she had planned, mostly because her would-be girlfriend refused to relax. This was not the date she had in mind when she called Titans Tower.
Raven's wariness directly related to her threat, she knew. If this were to work in her favor, she would have to alleviate some of the girl's concerns. Unfortunately, Kamala knew that the only way to do that would be to tip her hand. Could she do that safely at this point? It was entirely possible that Raven would leave once she knew.
If she said nothing, she had no doubt that Raven would stonewall all of her efforts. Kamala sighed. It was time to rely upon her luck once more.
"You know... you should relax. I can practically see the stress bunching in your shoulders."
Raven quickly made an effort to release the obvious tension in her frame. That wasn't good; it revealed too much to Jinx. However, she remained carefully still and glared at the pink-haired mercenary.
"You are threatening to overrun Jump with otherworldly spawns of evil. Why should I relax?"
Kamala bit her lip. Her pupils widened slightly and her face flushed. It was no use; she couldn't hold back. Her laughter rang out merrily and a few people inside the restaurant and on the sidewalk looked at her briefly. She quickly regained her composure, but the broad grin on her face refused to leave.
Kammie shook her head amusedly, "That was a distraction."
"A dangerous one," Raven countered.
"Oh, please," she said with a roll of her eyes. Then Kamala leaned forward, "Nightwing's gonna blow a gasket, but it'll be worth it to see. I wonder if Changeling's told him the three rules yet...?"
Raven frowned, "The three rules?"
The cat was mostly out of the bag, now. She had started this little rollercoaster with the call to the Tower and they had been climbing that first hill. The hex-caster was about to take that plunge. If she were lucky, it would be one wild ride. The question was... at the end of this, would she have a girlfriend?
'If nothing else,' Kamala thought, 'I'm gonna be laughing myself silly over this for a while.'
She held up her right fist and extended her index finger in a philosophical fashion, "One: Keep them away from water. Two: They hate bright light. Three: The most important rule. No matter how much they cry, no matter how much they beg, never, never feed them after midnight!"
Raven stared at Jinx's three fingers, her frown deepening. Her memory sparked at the familiar lines. Where had she heard them? Moments later, Gar's face came to mind. His many forays into horror and sci-fi had scarred her mind with useless information from campy movie trivia. This one was particular enough to stay rooted. How could she have forgotten that stupid, stupid-... Honestly, she had probably blocked it out for that very reason.
The zany, pink-haired pixy giggled fitfully and nodded, "Yep! I can't wait to see their faces."
The demi-Demon was still working to assimilate what all this meant, "There is no bomb, is there? And the detonator?"
"An old garage door opener with no batteries," Jinx replied as she tossed the box to her.
Raven neatly caught it and opened the back of it. It did not, in fact, have any batteries in it. The purple-haired girl was completely dumbfounded. This whole thing had been a sham? Jinx had conned the Titans into combing the bay looking for some non-existent threat and demanded she come here and waste her time. What was the point of it? Was it truly a trap?
If so, it was a very poor one and Raven was highly displeased. Her glare was back in full force. When she spoke, her voice was quiet, steady, and slow. It held the promise of much wrath.
"I should haul your ass to the bay and toss you in..."
Kamala leaned forward, eagerly countering her threat, "It'd be more fun if you stay here with me. 'sides, they're not due to find the boat for about half an hour, still. It was really dinky and I dressed up some mannequins on it to make it hard to spot."
At that moment, before Raven could formulate something else to say, a large platter of stacked skewers landed between the two girls. The mystic Titan sat back and blinked before she realized that the waiter had returned with their meal.
"Enjoy your meal. If you should need me, I will check back soon."
Raven blinked again while he moved away, still attempting to fit her head around Jinx's duplicity.
"I can't believe you did all this just to-"
Kamala interrupted, "-spend time with you?"
Raven flushed slightly and opened her mouth, then closed it. A few seconds later, she opened her mouth again, "...I should go."
The other girl was quick to reply, "Please stay. Just a bit?"
The expression on Jinx's face was honest—imploring. For whatever reason the girl wanted Raven, she was sincere about it. She could read it in her bright, pink eyes and feel it from the girl's mind. The Titan felt herself giving in. What could it hurt? She had only been reading a book and there was nothing else pressing to do.
The others were sure to be angry, but she could understand Jinx's ploy to get her here alone. They wouldn't be sitting here talking somewhat civilly if the others were present. Why was she here, though? She didn't know why the other girl would go to such lengths to ensure that she had this opportunity. It didn't make sense.
"Alright," she said, grabbing three of the skewers off the top of the large platter and placing them on her plate.
"...and then Headmistress comes into the cafeteria and finds Baran and Mike stuck to the ceiling by the pink goo and there's me standing there with shovel in hand. I wasn't really sure what to say, so I just pointed over at the kitchen workers and said, 'It's Giant Pancake Day. Had a little trouble flipping one.'
"So she looks at the kitchen crew, an' I look at the kitchen crew, and they're lookin' at us. They just kinda nodded. I'm pretty sure she knew exactly what happened an' that we were lying out our asses... but she just goes, 'Try leaving out the strawberry next time.' An' then she just turns to leave! Then she turns back and tells us to clean it all up by lunch.
"Good thing it was Saturday."
Raven dropped her half-finished skewer on her plate and put bowed head into her hand. The demi-Demon slowly shook her head, her breath hitching for a moment as her shoulders trembled. Then she snorted.
She was just glad she didn't have a mouthful of her chamomile at the time. She would have sprayed Kamala with it. There had already been a few times where that almost happened. In the past half hour, the mercenary known as Jinx had been regaling her with tales of her days in HAEYP.
The conversation was a bit one-sided. Kamala didn't seem to notice and it didn't bother Raven. Talking distracted the pink-haired girl from the fact that Raven was eating thrice as many skewers as her. Kamala couldn't eat much while talking and Raven ate the lions share while listening. A few times, the waiter had been back and every time he appeared, he seemed surprised that they were still eating.
The stories varied, but many of them were exceedingly amusing. Life at the HIVE Academy was truly something, it seemed. Raven empathically perceived the girl's sense of solidarity that remained among the classmates even after graduation, even if they didn't often agree on many things. Kamala spoke of them as though they were family. The mystic Titan could sense it in the fondness of her voice.
Kamala was an... interesting... individual. Raven found herself glad she was getting to know the other girl. Jinx wasn't so bad a person. If it weren't for the fact that they were so often at odds and on opposite sides of the law, she would call Kamala a friend.
Just then, her comm went off. Raven reached to her belt and pulled open her comm. Kammie went dead silent.
Richard's voice came snarling over the connection, "Raven."
"Don't growl at me."
"The boat," he said tersely, "It didn't have any—Hey! Come back here! I'm not done with you, Changeling!"
Raven blinked and inquired, "Cut out as a dolphin?"
"Yes. When I get my hands on him... Anyway, about the boat-"
"There are no gremlins," she anticipated, "I know."
"Teddy bears!" he shouted, making her comm vibrate in her hand with his volume, "She loaded the boat with teddy bears!"
From somewhere off the screen displaying an enraged Nightwing, Raven heard a voice that sounded like a person who had inhaled too much helium.
"Wah, big noise!"
"They're Furbies," Kamala muttered.
Raven's eyes briefly glanced beyond her comm to Jinx, who was desperately trying to appear innocent and failing horribly.
"Someone shut those... those things off!" Dick demanded.
"They're Furbies, Nightwing," Raven supplied.
"Whatever-... Wait, how do you know what they are?"
Raven hesitated, quickly debating what to tell him. He would probably have an aneurysm if she told the truth. It was probably better if she lied to him now and brought it up later when he had calmed down significantly.
"Jinx told me."
"Did you apprehend her?"
She noticed Kamala practically freeze in place. Raven shook her head, "No, she tossed the detonator in the air and got away when I made to catch it. She left a note about the Furbies."
Richard's frowning countenance took on a confused and annoyed bent, "Why aren't you on your way here?"
Raven sighed and rolled her eyes. Then she fixed him with a pointed stare, "Nightwing... Changeling is an idiot, the threat was a complete bluff, and my food's getting cold. Is there some greatly pressing matter that requires my attention?"
He seemed to pause in his ire to consider that.
She nodded, "I'll see you back at the Tower in a few hours. Don't kill Changeling while I'm gone."
Richard agreed and the connection died. Raven closed her comm and sighed while shaking her head.
After the 'little interruption,' as Kamala termed it, they continued their lunch. Raven and Jinx resumed their conversation, with the purple-haired girl slowly finishing off the platter and the pink-haired girl talking enough for the both of them. It was another half hour before they finished their meal.
As it turned out, Kamala paid in cash when the bill came. Raven had mentally picked at the reason her menu hadn't any prices and had only come up with one conclusion. The things Kammie said and the emotions she felt from the girl made it clear to her. She knew from some very subtle clues that Kamala was interested in her.
The style of clothing, the nice restaurant, and the desire to meet alone—without any of their friends and teammates... That would sound like a date if they hadn't been enemies. As it stood, Kamala had to orchestrate something amazing to get Raven to go along with it and not balk. She almost had.
The demi-Demon didn't bother telling Kammie that she had figured out the purpose of this 'outing.' She felt assured that, when Kamala was ready, she would push for more. However, the hex-caster would have to be quick. The two would be parting ways soon. Already, they had just been walking down the sidewalk and talking for nearly two blocks.
They spent the last half block in a sort companionable silence.
Raven turned to Kamala, "Hm?"
"I was wondering... Would you—I mean, wondering if you'd like to-... to meet up again sometime?"
There it was. Raven smiled; Kamala was fishing for a second date. She sounded nervous. As soon as Raven nodded, she could feel the other girl's relief. The Titan held up a finger to give the girl pause and pressed her condition.
"Only if you never do this again."
Jinx grinned widely, "Sure!"
"Or something similar," she pressed.
The grin faded a bit, but remained, "...Okay."
"Or even a variation on the theme."
"Oh, come on!" Jinx exclaimed. Half a moment later, she sighed, "Fine, I promise. Next Friday, same place?"
Raven acquiesced and added, "Six o' clock."
I hope you enjoyed "Bluff," it was an idea that bit me and wouldn't let go. I have a lot of ideas that roll around in my head and this is the second one that has seen completion. Unlike "To Catch a Raven," this one was a one-shot fanfiction without multiple chapters. There won't be a sequel; it was just a random idea that grabbed me.
The idea is that Jinx is always a bit zany. I kept thinking about the various types of scenes I have for RaeJinx and their dates and get-togethers. I constantly think up new ways for them to get together. For me, RaeJinx is an easy pairing to make happen. That's probably why I have so many ideas for them.
Okay, it's time for me to run down the various scenes and events! This one's gonna be quite long, obviously.
The beginning fleshes out this Kamala Malti. Kamala Malti is a blanket identity for most of my Titans fanfics because I have a few base history and personality traits. Onto those, I simply tack on an extra layer to suit the fanfiction. This Jinx is different than the one in "To Catch a Raven." This Kammie likes to watch people and is hesitant to get in the thick of people—almost fearing she'll disappear in them and lose her personhood... or maybe because then she couldn't see the full picture. However, there is always a draw to belong—if not to a group, then to belong with someone else. In this story, Kamala is more psychological than most of the others. All my Kamala Malti versions are calculating, intelligent young women with a tincture of wildness, but this one can psychoanalyze you!
None of this was in my skeleton. It was basically a free-flow of writing to get the idea of how to add dimension to the story. In fact, the skeleton was only a vague three or so paragraphs... Then I had the first lines of dialogue at The Elysion Banquet. Absolutely everything about this story is focused on the dialogue at the restaurant. I built this story around it.
Next, we have the infamous phone call that starts it all. I had to come up with this since, as I said, I had no dialogue pre-written in the skeleton. However, once I started, it all flowed out flawlessly. Jinx has planned everything out in her head. She knows exactly what she wants to say and knows how to control a conversation. The fact that she got the slightly spastic, media-buff Changeling is just the icing on the cake. I like how he enters into a conversation smooth as a fish into water before it hits him exactly whom his conversational partner is! However, I dislike viewing Changeling as a complete incompetent. He knows what to do in this situation and he's not inept. This is what he does. I liked the part where he asks if he should grab a pen and paper—it adds to the fact that these super-villain plots are old hat. Jinx knows and exploits this. Her cheerful nature during most of it is just golden to me.
Then there's the "reveal." I honestly don't have much to say about this one. It's a bit of build-up to the main event. Raven's in the dark, but clearly annoyed. I liked how Kamala predicted that Raven would question her "dress nice" demand instead of just attempting to dress nicely. This scene was necessary to let everyone know what the others were doing and to transition the plot into its next phase: the date.
Jinx getting ready was one of those inspired scenes. Now that her plan is in motion, she's starting to worry. I like how she keeps zipping about her room trying to make everything perfect all at once while accomplishing little. I liked the whole lipstick thing, because it makes sense she would worry about such things until she realized they weren't problems if she just calmed down and thought about it. My favorite line in that scene, hands down, is "underwear-clad hurricane."
Ultimately, I leave Kammie's clothing choices a mystery until later. I ended it with more of her psychology/people-watching thoughts, showing how her habits and knowledge of human behavior have influenced her decisions.
Raven reluctantly getting ready is another one of those scenes I added in there. I got the idea for Jinx getting ready and, before I started the first sentence of Kamala's scramble to prepare, I had an idea for Raven doing the same. In fact, as I wrote the line from Raven to Gar about needing to get ready, that spawned the idea for Jinx's getting ready scene.
I have quite a clear mental image of Raven in the clothes she's wearing and her hairstyle. It does kinda make me think of a young college instructor. A gothic-styled Literature Major, maybe? Furthermore, I decided to add in that mini-anecdote of the Renaissance faire in there because it just seemed right. Initially, it was just to explain the shirt... but then the train of thought took off. I ran with it. Yep! Raven just seems like a Falconer fan to me.
One of my favorite things about the two above scenes is how they both wonder if they can pull off casual smart with what they have. These girls have some self-esteem issues and making stipulations that they look "nice" automatically makes them feel pressured. I thought it was a cute thing to do. In my mind, I can see these scenes playing out on a movie screen with a vertical split—both of them getting ready at the same time. One ordered and contemplative in her towel, the other haphazardly tossing clothes about and bouncing here and there in her underwear.
The next scene is Kamala waiting at The Elysion Banquet. Yes, Jinx and Raven went to this very same restaurant in "To Catch a Raven." Here we reveal her clothing choice. I liked the idea of "Business Exec Jinx." This Kamala has longer hair that her TCaR counterpart, a full in-and-out sweep extra in this version. It came to me on a whim.
During this, Kamala's people-watching introspective analysis of Raven and her attack plan for this date come into play. I enjoyed putting in the sudden, "what if she's not into girls?" Like a thunderbolt of "Oh, shit!" It was done on a whim, but lead to an amusing line of thought for Kamala. And yes, I'm aware that the comment about girls being bi when they're drunk might be offensive. I don't care—it's also true a lot of the time... I can't help it if it's funny. Heh.
Teacher-Raven makes her appearance. I absolutely love the opening banter. Beyond that, I laughed while writing Kamala's response to "What do you want?" It happened so naturally that I'm not sure if Kammie was actually joking or if she just seriously focused on the menu. Speaking of the menu, the menu without prices was a spur of the moment thing. It also added more of a "date" air to the whole event, which would help me later!
Yes, they ordered the souvlaki again, just as in "To Catch a Raven." This scene has hints of TCaR in it throughout. As you can see, I wrote this with other dishes in mind—but I still ended up with the souvlaki platter in the end.
The big bluff reveal... This was where the skeleton's first line of dialogue began—with the "That was a distraction" line. Everything beforehand was more or less adlib. I fleshed out the conversation as best I could without overwhelming the reader with description and I was also careful about leaving it too bare. I think I managed. In all and in my opinion, this came out well.
Always remember the three rules.
I have a mental image of Jinx's expression when she says, "Please stay." It's "awww"-worthy. Epic win in my head; I hope it was in your imagination, too.
The skip ahead to the end of the story Kamala is telling was fun. Again, I have a mental image of Mammoth and Gizmo stuck to the ceiling of the cafeteria in HIVE Academy with Jinx standing beneath them, looking up while holding a shovel. Don't ask me where it came from; it was extremely random. I can't even tell you the full story. All I know is that it involved some kind of machine about the size of a vacuum cleaner (likely made by Gizmo) that obviously exploded with massive amounts of pink goo.
I like how Kammie roped the kitchen staff into her problems. The more people there are trying to cover their asses, the better chance an individual has to slip through the cracks, right? Heh.
When Nightwing finally finds the boat, we have a truly hilarious scenario. This is the "diabolical plot" that started it all! It's exactly the type of thing my versions of Jinx would do. The whole conversation is full of awesome lines, but I like how it opened. I can hear Raven's snap-back "Don't growl at me." Heh.
Finally, we have the ending of the meal. This part was actually hard to write. I didn't know exactly how to swing it, because Raven needed to clue in that Jinx had set this whole thing up as a date. In the end, I decided I didn't need to write out the revelation—I just mentioned it as happening. After all, I can't very well give every thought Raven has about everything. Adding another scene in there for the express purpose of Raven's revelation didn't feel right.
This leads into the final scene I had in my skeleton. It was short, but sweet and funny. It's good to know that Raven has to continue making stipulations. By now, she knows Kamala will work loopholes unless she plugs them. I liked Kammie's exasperation at the end.
So there you have it. A one-shot RaeJinx first-date fanfic! Thanks for reading! If you really like it, then feed the review monster. It's hungry!