"Unless you are prepared yourself to profit by your chance, the opportunity will only make you ridiculous. A great occasion is valuable to you in proportion as you have educated yourself to make use of it." -Orison Swett Marden
When Opportunity Knocks
By Lynx Klaw
Johnny Rancid was at it again. Raven was under the impression that a bath might do him good. Maybe an acid bath, but that was probably just her darker side talking. After a moment of introspection, she verified that Anger was, indeed, behind that train of thought. On a more serious note, she wasn't quite sure Johnny wouldn't dissolve if immersed in soapy water. It was an idea to bring up to Nightwing later.
The current reason for her ire would be the 6-foot tall, 24-foot long mecha-scorpion attempting to kill them. It had a long, dexterous tail with a telson that could fire laser beams. There was a hatch in the mesosoma where Rancid's bike resided as the mechanical monstrosity's engine. Its pincers were swiping and it was trying to corral the Titans into its mouth—which was a whole tree chipper.
Raven's wholehearted joy could not be expressed... because it was not currently present.
Changeling and Starfire had the unenviable task of controlling the tail so that it didn't wreak havoc with property damage. Their secondary task was to dismantle, amputate, demolish, or otherwise stop the tail and its bloody laser. They were doing a remarkable job.
Raven hit the ground flat as a beam shot just over her head and destroyed a parking meter behind her. It also put a hole in the ground beside the sports car parked nearby. The vehicle itself was undamaged. Well, wouldn't that car's owner be happy?
"My apologies, friend Raven... the tail is more trickling than I had previously anticipated!"
"Tricky, Star," said Nightwing as a pincer sawed his staff in half.
Cyborg caught the other pincer and ripped off the tarsus made from the Jaws of Life. The irony sucked. With only a blade-like arm, it then attempted to impale him. He dodged it by inches and gripped it at a joint. With a metallic shriek, he wrenched the rest of the pincer off. The stub flailed pointlessly, leaving Cyborg focused on helping Nightwing with his motorized arm, which featured a large drill and a pipe saw.
He looked over to Nightwing, "Less English, more extermination!"
Changeling took the form of a Sasquatch and was doing everything he could to hold the lower half of the tail immobile while attempting to tear off the thrashing segments. He grunted, but then chuckled.
"Heh... Ravens and ducks."
Raven held position behind Rancid's latest creation and was currently using her powers to hold the hydraulic legs still so it couldn't run away. She currently had a hold of six; she lost two when she had to dodge that laser when Starfire slipped. She spared a glance to the green missing link.
The demi-Demon began warning, "Gar..."
"I know, I know—not funny. Star, some eyebeams on these wires?"
"Most certainly with pleasure!" the Tamaranean responded. She leaned to the side with the telson and firmly cooked the thick wires until they melted and snapped.
Just then, the telson fired and nearly hit the top of a building. Starfire was quick to point it skyward again, but the beam slashed into an electronic billboard above the building before she could completely corral the thrashing tail. If Starfire noticed the billboard's grievous injury, she didn't have time to do anything about it.
Raven snagged a seventh leg and viciously yanked one full side of the legs outward, sending the mecha-scorpion rocking to one side. Nightwing took advantage of its momentary loss of balance to throw freeze disks at the pincer arm and its tree chipper mouth. Cyborg's sonic cannon blew the brittle joints to pieces. His next shot did some much-needed dental work on the robotic arthropod.
Then Changeling, now in the form of a T-Rex, put a foot on the back of the mecha-scorpion, pinning it while he bit at the tail's base. He used this form's strong neck to wrench at the tail and, with Starfire's previous help, was able to break it to one side, leaving the appendage dangling and sparking from various wires.
Starfire took her cue and flew up fast and hard, pulling at the tail while Changeling kept it pinned. With a few loud snaps, the remaining wires broke, and a screech followed as the metal gave way to the princess' strength. She hauled the tail off and into the air, and then came back down with it. Changeling hopped off the mechanized creature just as Starfire came down with the tail, using it like a flail to hammer the body.
The mecha-scorpion, however, managed to stagger to its feet under the blows and Rancid directed it to charge. Raven strained against the pull, but she couldn't keep them all immobile forever. Cyborg suddenly alleviated some of her burden by blowing off its front two legs with powerful, concentrated sonic emissions.
"That's it, no more charge left for a blast," he said.
Nightwing leapt back, surveying the damage they'd done. It was still a hazard, but they only had to do a bit more damage before Rancid would have to disengage. He shouted to Raven around the machine of destruction.
"Can you hold it still a bit longer?"
Raven gritted her teeth, "Make it quick!"
"Star, Cy—wrecking ball! Trip it up!"
Jinx had been having a nice little walkabout through Downtown, reminiscing during the downtime after her latest mission. She was dressed in civvies and wasn't armed. She wore a simple black hoodie over a grey tee shirt. Her hood was down, showing her pink hair in their signature horns. The jeans she wore were a faded blue with black hearts and lightning bolts that she drew with permanent marker several months ago. She wore black high-top sneakers with purple skulls printed on them. While she might have drawn a bit of attention for her exotic looks, she wouldn't be causing a panic unless she started flinging around hexes.
She had just bought a Neapolitan ice cream cone when she saw a number of people running in her direction. After about a dozen had passed her—nearly knocking the cone out of her hand several times—Jinx decided to do something about it. She shot out an arm and grabbed one by his suit lapel, careful not to lose her frozen treat.
"Hey! ...What's the rush?"
"Giant, metal scorpion on the loose!"
She blinked at him, but he shook free and continued running. Kamala would have laughed, but this was Jump City. That sort of crazy statement was the norm. Worse, she wholeheartedly believed him, too. Well, that and she was curious about this creature. Where there were big, bad creatures, there were sure to be Titans. It would be nice to see them after being out of town these past few weeks.
The sorceress looked left and right, then spotted a six-year-old holding her mother's hand while leaving a restaurant. She walked right up to the girl and her mother.
"Hiya. You eat good in there?"
The girl blinked at the pale young woman, but nodded.
"Cool. You can have this; I don't have time to eat it, now."
She handed over the ice cream cone. The girl looked like she'd hit the lottery. Kamala leaned up from the girl and jerked a thumb to the left.
"Don't head that way. I hear there's some kinda giant, metal scorpion on the loose. Titans probably dealing with it."
The mother's eyes widened and tugged her daughter onto the sidewalk and led her off to Jinx's right. With her 'civic duty' completed, the pink-haired girl dashed down the sidewalks in the direction of the scorpion. Granted, most people wouldn't head straight for the trouble, but she was Jinx. She defined trouble. After about two blocks, she started to see holes in the road, presumably scorpion tracks. She followed them two streets over and...
Lo and behold, there were the Titans and a giant, metal scorpion!
She pulled up her hood so she no one could easily identify her and continued to observe. It looked like she had arrived just in time to see the Titans take down Johnny Rancid. Now there was a crazy, random fucker. For all people called her wild and chaotic, she had a certain... method to her madness. Rancid was just a one-man army of anarchy. It wasn't much of an army, honestly, but she did wonder where he got his mecha-zoo.
Raven held the creature's legs as Starfire and Cyborg shoulder-charged through three legs each, sending the pincer-less and tail-less robo-monster to the ground. She nodded in approval. The Titans were more coordinated, now. They were nowhere near Gizmo, Mammoth, and Jinx's level of unspoken understanding, but they definitely didn't need nearly as many verbal cues as when they were younger.
Back then, one could almost preempt them—and give them a false start—simply by shouting "Titans, Go!" Thankfully, Nightwing had given up that phrase, ensuring that stunt was impossible anymore. It was dreadfully slapstick to see villains abusing that flaw.
Beast Boy... er... Changeling then turned into a diplodocus. Without the threat of lasers and pincers and the chance that it might run away, the green therianthrope could take care of some heavy-duty business. He stepped on the back of the creature and crushed it flat.
Upon seeing part of his latest mechanical terror crushed under massive dino-heel, Rancid cut his losses. A hatch on the back of the mecha-scorpion opened and the red and black bike shot out. Rancid cackled madly, as he was wont to do, and made to escape. That's when Nightwing leapt up and kicked him off the bike, flooring him and sending the bike skidding along the road without its rider. When Johnny hit the pavement, he was quite simply KTFO.
Jinx grinned and leaned upon a parking meter. From her position, she could see the Titans gathering in the middle of the road to take care of business while the authorities arrived. Raven, who was never much one for publicity, remained on the sidewalk behind the mecha-scorpion in the road. Kamala had always admired Raven, but could never figure out a way to approach her. Even after she quit the villain circuit and entered the mercenary circuit, the one-sided bad blood had been well cultivated between them. Of the two Titans that she actually cared for, only Cyborg was likely to give her the time of day.
Raven... well, Raven would be more likely to let her mystical shadows eat her alive. Speaking of shadows...
An odd, sharp shape of darkness crept down the side of the building as she looked on. The others didn't notice it because it was out of their line of sight, but Jinx saw it from a block and a half away, where it continued a steady drip down the side of the building behind Raven. She frowned, looking up to see what cast it.
It was a large billboard, the giant monitor type, not just poster board. Those were extremely heavy... The advertisement display had shorted out due to a gash in the monitor. Likewise, one of its steel mounting poles was severed—likely hit by that laser blaster mounted on the telson—and leaned precariously forward. Only one mounting pole kept it from spilling onto the street, and that one was bending slowly but surely. It wouldn't stay up for much longer.
Jinx's eyes widened and she immediately broke into a flat-out sprint. As she ran, she waved her hands and shouted. This caught the attention of Starfire, who looked over to her. The Tamaranean princess drew Nightwing's attention to the young woman approaching. They couldn't make out what she was saying, but she was waving frantically.
Kamala gasped and nearly faltered in her steps when the billboard began to fall, 'Oh, shit...'
Seeing that her message wasn't getting through and she didn't have time to explain it, she poured on the speed and dashed straight for Raven. The wind whipped at her face and tugged slightly at the hood concealing her pink hair. Her desperation dumped a gallon of adrenaline into her system and she pushed herself as hard as she could.
'Make it, make it, make it...'
The demi-Demon had just taken notice of the woman running for her. The girl was fast—amazingly fast and Raven frowned at the panic she felt emanating from her. Raven didn't take her as a threat, even though she was running headlong for her.
Raven held up her hands in a calming gesture to the girl, but Jinx hardly noticed or heeded it. To the purple-haired girl's surprise, Kamala was about four yards from her when she lunged! The hex-caster's hood blew back, giving her only the briefest glimpse of pink before the ex-thief slammed into her. The demi-Demon gasped and grunted as the woman tackled her. The sorceress wrapped her arms around the mystic Titan, one arm around her waist and another cradled around her head. They flew through the air for a couple yards and then they landed, Jinx wrapped protectively around her as the two rolled along the ground.
Kamala laid atop Raven, who was startled and confused. The sorceress kept the other girl's head tucked against her shoulder. Not two seconds later, the billboard smashed to the sidewalk beside the mecha-scorpion in a twisted mass of steel framework and electronic innards. The crash was loud and painful to Jinx's ears, but she kept firm hold of Raven, who she felt jolt when the calamity pounded her eardrums.
Bits and pieces of monitor guts rained down on them for a few seconds, but most of them just bounced off Jinx's hoodie. A large chunk fell right beside them, then began to list to one side; it fell toward the two young women, but hit the side of the building and remained propped over them like a makeshift lean-to shelter. Against all likelihood, the largest and most dangerous pieces of the billboard fell all around them—but didn't come within four feet of them. She could feel Raven's hands clutching at the front of her hoodie, and enjoyed the feel of Raven pressed against her despite the situation that brought them to it. When the hail of billboard ended, she reluctantly leaned away from the mystic Titan and looked at her.
"You okay?" the pink-haired girl asked.
Raven sat up and looked around her, "What happened?"
"Uh... spam bomb?"
It was just then that Raven got a good look at the girl that saved her.
The pink-haired girl rolled off Raven and looked behind her. The wreckage pile and the slab of monitor leaning over them separated the two from the rest of the Titans, if only for a moment. She reached a hand down to help Raven to her feet. The demi-Demon hesitantly accepted the sorceress' offer.
"So... you okay?" Kamala asked again.
"Yes, I'm fine."
Raven was trying to figure out why Jinx had saved her—and how it was appropriate to thank the girl who spent so much time trying to beat her to a pulp when she was new to the crime fighting scene...
"Good, then I don't have to feel guilty," said Kamala with a grin.
Raven was immediately suspicious, "About what?"
Kamala yanked Raven forward and kissed her. It was a brief kiss, but it shocked Raven just long enough for the sorceress to pull back, grin, and take off down an alley. Raven was still staring at the place the hex-caster had been standing when Cyborg pulled away the large chunk of monitor that blocked her—and formerly Jinx—from sight.
"Raven! You alright?"
Flustered by the kiss, but unwilling to speak of it, she shakily affirmed, "Y-... Yeah..."
Victor looked around and whistled lowly, "Christ, Rae... you got lucky."
Raven blinked and stared at him. When she said nothing, he became slightly worried. Eventually, she shrugged, "Something like that."
"That girl must have seen it falling and tackled you out of the way," Richard said, even though it was kind of obvious. Raven didn't comment. The Titan leader looked around confusedly, "Where is she?"
Raven shrugged again, "I'm not sure. She took off after making sure I was okay."
"Oh. Well, if you cross paths with her again, invite her back to the Tower. I'd like to thank her."
Raven rubbed the bridge of her nose. Somehow, she didn't think that would go to well.
'Why did I have to kiss her? I knew it would just cause problems later. I can't get her out of my head! Even though I know it won't work between us, I'm still obsessing over it. Worse, I know I'm going to something even stupider than that... Why did I have to kiss her?'
It had been three days since that event, and she was still utterly distracted with Raven. She would have to get this off her chest or it would drive her bat-shit. It was the only way she would be able to move on with her life.
Over the next few hours, she wrote down everything she wanted to say. It was a garbled mess; the words didn't flow, half the sentences were run-ons, and there was no uniformity among the sentences. Her paragraph alternately gushed affection and praise, then became shy and apologetic. Nevertheless, it was what ran through her mind. In a weird, twisted sort of way, it was perfect.
In the next two days, she tried to think of the best way to get her message to Raven. During that time, she practically memorized the words on the paper. It became something of an obsession—much like Raven was. She had walked around with the message so much around the apartment that it was beginning to wrinkle. The graphite from the pencil was starting to smudge from her folding and unfolding the paper so many times.
The sixth day after 'the event,' as Kamala now called it, she saw Raven in a cafe. She had only glanced into the window on a chance. There she was... sitting at a table, reading a book, and sipping at a cup of something or other. The mystic Titan wasn't doing anything special, but it captivated Kamala. All she could think about what everything she'd written down and how seeing her only brought it all back to her. After a few moments, Raven closed her book and started to look up.
Jinx panicked and hid in the alley beside the cafe, letting out a breath. She held a hand up to her chest; her heart was racing as if she'd just run 15 blocks of rooftops. Kamala had frozen, all her thoughts simply swept away. She couldn't remember a word of her meticulously memorized message. When Raven started to look up, she had lost all her courage.
'Not one of your best moments, Kammie.'
Inside the cafe, Raven had felt a swamping series of emotions from someone—all directed at her—and looked up in the direction she sensed its origin. She caught only a flicker of pink around head height before the feelings vanished. The person was gone and had taken their astonishing emotions with them.
The mystic Titan tried to return to her book, but her thoughts were stuck on the passionate train wreck that had just careened through her mind. Sighing, she leaned back in her chair and sipped her chamomile. There was no semblance of order to the feelings she sensed, but they were all about her and all of them made her feel strangely... giddy.
Her teacup rattled on the saucer, encased in black and slowly spun in a circle. She quickly grabbed the cup's handle and calmed herself. Raven couldn't let herself get carried away like this. She decided to go back to the Tower and meditate for a while. It would help her sort out her feelings; with any luck—Raven winced at the unintentional pun—she might be able to figure out how to deal with this 'new' admirer.
Raven sighed again. Her thoughts were so scattered, she dreaded the journey through Nevermore.
'Why did she have to kiss me?'
Kamala spent the rest of the afternoon and evening of that day, then most of the next kicking herself for being such a coward.
'I should have just walked in there, sat down, and-...' The thought flustered her. And what? What could she have said? 'How about what you wrote down, you imbecile!'
This was getting out of hand. Standing up from her couch, she turned off the television. She wasn't even paying attention to it, at this point. Kamala's face set with determination. Screw waiting around, she would just go do it. Jinx had never found a challenge she couldn't overcome if she just put her mind to it. She'd show them that she wasn't a pushover!
...Whoever they were.
Kamala muttered to herself, "Great, now I'm paranoid."
A week after saving Raven, Jinx was sure she was about to piss her off. The pink-haired girl crept down the hallways of Titans Tower. Dressed in black jeans and a black hoodie, and black gloves, she was the epitome of B&E. In the hoodie's pouch rested the worn, folded piece of paper that had filled her mind for the past half week.
Her nerves were shot. It wasn't worry that she would get caught, it was what would happen if she didn't. What if everything went exactly according to plan? Well, she was about to find out. If everything went the way it was supposed to, she would be standing before the mystic Titan momentarily. Before her loomed the door with the five letters that filled all her dreams and nightmares for the past week.
Jinx pulled the hood off her head and pulled off her gloves. Tucking them into her hoodie's pouch, she felt the paper there. It rested innocuously between her gloves; out of sight but crystal clear in mind. The words ran through her head as she stood in front of the door. She ran her fingers through her wild, pink hair.
'Okay... just knock. When she opens the door, just spit it all out.'
The message whirled in her mind; she could feel the words on the tip of her tongue, just waiting to escape past her lips. On the fifth repeat, she raised her hand. Her hand fists and approached the door. ...And froze awkwardly two and a half inches from the door.
Her worries returned. The thought of how Raven might react; what she might say or do. The fear of how it could all go wrong if she misspoke or put the wrong emphasis on something was overwhelming. Visions of Raven rejecting her or tossing her off the Tower roof stabbed through her mind. She could feel a nervous tremor start at her hand and radiate back up her arm and throughout her spine. Suddenly, she was shaking as if she were naked in the Antarctic.
The chill entered her mouth and froze the words on her tongue. Kamala's mind practically imploded when she even found herself unable to mouth the words properly. And with that disaster, her mind blanked. The message was gone, now residing only on the paper in her the hoodie's pouch.
Kamala didn't stop running until she reached her apartment building. She fell to her knees on the rooftop, panting heavily. Her arms throbbed from paddling the little raft across the bay, her legs burned from running the rooftops, and her eyes stung from the tears she refused to acknowledge existed. The pink-haired girl trudged—quietly trudged—down the fire escape and back into her apartment via the window.
Raven woke up, once more sensing those fervent emotions. They were so powerful, now. She could feel them like the heat of a blazing bonfire. She threw off her blanket and moved to the door. The thoughts of the individual were so strong that she could hear the words without reaching out to the mind just beyond the door. She gasped at the message they projected; it was so earnest and ardent, it was almost too much to bear.
The emotions and the refrain of words repeated over and over like a siren song. She stood before the door, shocked by their intensity. She wanted to throw open the door, to see the girl on the other side and hear those words—make them real. Raven reached for the door...
Just then, the song died on a very bitter note. She cringed and took half a step back. Raven heard Jinx command herself—felt her try to force herself to close that gap. The mystic Titan silently pleaded, willed the sorceress to take that final step, to finish this strange, enchanting spell. She wasn't sure what she would do after the door was open, but she desperately wanted to find out.
Then she felt the emotions beginning to fade. Jinx was leaving! She moved forward and pressed her hand to the door, trying to will Jinx to return.
The girl was already gone.
'...I would have opened the door...'
The next morning, Raven woke up groggily. After staying up late last night, she went to bed, but her sleep was broken and a frustrated, depressive cloud hung over her like a pall. She couldn't even muster up the energy to continue a captivating, old novel she began last month. Richard perceived her poor mood and tacitly asked what was wrong, but Raven just shook her head and passed it off.
The next two nights passed in the exact same manner, much to Raven's vexation. She stayed up each night; stood by the door and silently begged that Jinx would just knock upon her door. The softest noise, just a single rap, and she would have thrown the door open...
Some stubborn part of her insisted that the pink-haired girl knock. The demi-Demon refused to open the door without a prompt. It was almost petty, but it certainly didn't feel that way. Jinx making that first, simple step was somehow vitally important.
Early on the fourth morning, she sat at the dining table by the kitchen, her teacup emptied five minutes prior. She didn't bother pouring more from the kettle, even though it was right beside the cup with warm, steaming, soothing liquid right inside—waiting for her. There was no reason not to pour it; she wasn't busy with a book or plans for revenge against Gar for some stupid prank. At any time, she could refill the cup with a mild sweetness, but her mood was irrevocably sour.
'I shouldn't be letting this get to me. We're not even involved—not yet, at least. I shouldn't have this much of an attachment to someone who tried time and again to hex me 49 years of bad luck and kicked us out of our Tower five years ago. ...How can she kiss me but not knock on my door?'
It was too early for most of the Titans to be up. Richard knew that, but he also knew Raven would be awake. She always woke just before sunrise to watch it. Lately, however, she hadn't bothered. Her mood was darkening and he couldn't figure out why. It had been going on for three days and he decided it was time to talk with her.
The door to the common room open before him and he immediately spotted her at the table. He approached her, but she seemed oblivious. Suddenly, her teacup exploded. The five pieces of it now lay scattered across the table, rocking and spinning for a bit. He jerked back at the sudden, loud pop, but recovered quickly.
The Titan sleuth went to the cupboard and retrieved another teacup and set it before Raven, then swept the pieces to the side of the table. He would dispose of them later. Richard sat down across from her and sighed.
"You ready to tell me what's wrong, now?"
Raven crossed her arms petulantly, "Nothing's wrong with me."
He gestured to the side of the table, where the pieces of porcelain remained.
"You just blew up your teacup... and you look like someone kicked your dog right in front of you. Just talk to me, please."
Suddenly, she burst into a tirade. Most people would consider a tirade to be a long, drawn-out process. Raven, however, was a unique individual; her tirades were impassioned, but generally short. They always shot right to the heart of the issue and rarely spared any feelings.
"It's not me!" She angrily contradicted while pressing a hand to her chest. Then her hand whipped a finger toward the windows in a vague but accusatory gesture, "She's the one that won't just... Damnit, she saves me, kisses me, and now she can't even approach me? I don't understand why it's so difficult!"
Raven rarely made many overt gestures. It was only when she was truly upset that she became so animated in discussions. The Titan sleuth decided to tread lightly with the issue. After all, he saw what she did to the teacup. It was after he took in her mannerisms that he took in her words. Richard blinked, now carefully still. It took him a moment to assimilate what she had just said, mostly because he wasn't sure he'd heard her correctly.
"That... girl from a week ago? She kissed you?"
A small tic hit Raven's left eye, and he watched her shake her head. He could tell she hadn't meant to tell him that, but it was out. She looked too frustrated to care what he thought about it. Richard didn't offer his opinion, as he was sure it wasn't welcome. This was just venting.
He did wonder how she felt about it, though. She hadn't said, exactly.
"Yes. And then she ran off."
Raven's words were terse, irritated. There was a slight tightening around her eyes as she stared at the table. She crossed her arms once more, as though to restrain herself, and hunched slightly. The purple-haired girl always pulled in on herself like this when she felt conflicted.
He felt he had to clarify, "But you've seen her since?"
She paused, and he could see her ready to refute that. Something stopped her and she frowned, "Not exactly. I think I sensed her outside Le Rayon De Soleil... but when I looked, I think she ran away. Again."
"You want to see her again?"
She huffed and looked off to the side, contemplating his question. It almost looked childish, with her arms crossed and a belligerent look on her face. It was almost... adorable. Richard quickly checked himself, lest Raven pick up on his emotions. There was no use in pissing her off and winding up teleported to China. He heard Beijing was cold this time of year.
Even if slightly childish in expression, he knew that the situation was more important. Raven seemed to come to a decision, because she began speaking. She wasn't looking at him, though—still staring out the window. The way she focused upon it, he almost believed that the object of her frustration was floating right outside the glass.
"Only if she gets the courage to just... talk to me. I've been waiting. That first night, I stayed up two hours waiting for her to come back!"
Richard paused halfway through figuring out how to put his next question. Something about that didn't make sense. If she stayed up at night, she did so in the Tower. If she waited for this girl to come back—
His eyes widened, "She was in the Tower... She got in and didn't set off any of the alarms."
Nightwing shook his head. He was half-impressed and half-vexed. It was a grudging admiration and he'd like to think that she was some kind of vigilante, but something told him this was more complicated.
"Oh, I've got to meet this girl," he commented as he smirked somewhat ruefully.
Raven gave a grumbling growl, "Too late."
He stated the obvious, "Well, she came back once-"
"Twice! Came back twice and still did nothing!"
The second teacup vibrated threateningly and Richard flinched back. The demi-Demon took a breath and the cup settled. The Titans leader regarded her quietly.
"She just stands outside the door. I can feel her repeating it in her head like a mantra. She sends it to me incessantly, taunting me with it. She wants to knock on my door; I know it. But she never does!
"Why can't she just do it?" She opened her arms in a broad gesture of agitation, "I wouldn't care if she were nervous or tongue-tied or... I know how she feels; she knows how she feels. I don't see the big, fucking deal!"
He raised a brow when she cursed. Raven rarely used profanity; thought it was too crude. The depth to which this was getting to her was perfectly illustrated.
Richard held a hand up, as if offering reason, "She's hyped up the situation so much in her mind that she's made every part of it bigger than it is. This girl has literally made a mountain out of a molehill, Raven. If you opened the door-"
She was shaking her head even as he suggested it, and the Titans leader subsided.
"No. I can't. She has to—it is important. Not as important as she's making it to be, but it's important."
"She can't do everything. You have to at least attempt to meet her halfway."
Raven crossed her arms again... and sulked. He'd never really seen Raven sulk.
"I would, but she's not giving me that chance!"
Richard could see this would take some interference. He hated people that played matchmaker, but this was a bit more serious than that. Raven was going to let this affect her both in and out of the field. Nightwing couldn't allow her to endanger herself. If this not-so-secret admirer kept at it like the last three nights, there was a chance he could meet her tonight...
"Just don't give up. Be patient with her." Then he gestured to the unbroken teacup before her, "And for God's sake, have some more tea—you're a bitch in the morning without it."
She squinted at him balefully. He smirked and got up from the table; it was almost time for his morning warm-up in the workout room.
Raven sat forward and rested her elbows on the table, thinking calmly and unemotionally for a moment.
'Be patient... I can do that.'
She reached for the kettle and poured herself another cup of herbal tea.
Nightwing sat in the common room, staring at a mass of squares on the screen. The surveillance cameras on the Tower canvassed almost the whole of the island surrounding the Tower and provided a full, panoramic view of the bay and ocean around the island. It was 11:30 PM when he saw motion on the waters closer to the island than anyone had business being.
Someone was steadily paddling their way toward the island. The black raft beached itself and the black-clad figure pulled it behind a large rock. Then the intrepid intruder approached a manhole locked by a security scanner; the manhole was an emergency exit to the Titans' garage. The garage connected to an underwater tunnel that the T-Car and his motorcycle could use to get to the mainland. She shouldn't be able to get in through that way if she wasn't in the mainframe.
And yet, as he watched, Raven's admirer swept her hand over its keypad and monitor. It sparked strangely for a moment and flashed green. Then she blithely let herself in. He squinted suspiciously at the screen, 'Is she a Metahuman?'
He switched the view to the garage and saw her approach the stairwell.
Now Nightwing frowned. The cameras in the stairwell were automated and had sweep sensors attached to them. The cameras traced back and forth over their canvass area—and all their areas overlapped. The sensors would detect motion, temperature change, and sound; they also detected the infrared and ultraviolet range. If they detected anything, the camera would immediately target the source. It was implausible to find a hole in it. He tapped the console a few times and all the stairwell's cameras appeared on the screen.
He saw nothing. Either this girl was incredibly good or she was lucky as Hell.
Even if she didn't show up on camera, he knew where she was going. Only two doorways opened up to this level, and only one of those doors led to the wing with Raven's room. The doors and windows were rigged to register forced entry and, after lights out, they logged all activity. If a door opened without authorization after lights out, alarms went off.
Having seen the girl open the manhole, however, he didn't trust those security measures.
'Time to go to work, Cupid.'
Kamala wiped her slightly sweaty palms on her hoodie and put her gloves back on, 'I'm not going to run away. I don't care if I'm here 'til sun-up and surrounded by Titans, I'm not running away this time.'
She pushed open the door to the hallway with a hand glowing with hex. Kamala silently crept along the hallway, passing up Cyborg's room and stopping in front of the infamous door. For several moments, she simply stared at it. How could something so simple thwart her? She was Jinx!
The pink-haired sorceress pulled off her hood and took off her gloves. Stuffing the gloves into the pouch, her fingers brushed the all-but ragged paper. Tonight, she took it out and held it. Carefully unfolding the message, she read it again, even though she had every word, every syllable, letter, and period memorized. Kamala mouthed the words as she read them. She slipped the paper away and recited the words by heart twice before she opened her eyes.
She reassured herself once more that she wouldn't run, 'Not this time. This time I'm going to talk to her... I'll tell her everything. I have it memorized forward, backward, and upside down! It's just a damn door!'
Jinx stepped up to it, hand fisted at head height. She stared at the large, block letters...
'...Oh my God...'
Nightwing skulked into the hallway. He halted and remained silent in a spot of darkness between the faint circles of light cast by the dimmed hallway lights. The Titan sleuth saw the door at the far end of the hallway open and the black-clad figure slink down the hallway. The figure was female, but he already knew that.
Then she pulled back her hood and reality bitch-smacked him across the face. A sudden flurry of dots whirled and connected in his mind. Richard had missed the signs!
Victor looked around and whistled lowly, "Christ, Rae... you got lucky."
Raven blinked and stared at him. When she said nothing, he became slightly worried. Eventually, she shrugged, "Something like that."
"Oh, I've got to meet this girl," he commented as he smirked somewhat ruefully.
Raven gave a grumbling growl, "Too late."
He squinted suspiciously at the screen, 'Is she a Metahuman?'
It was implausible to find a hole in it.
He saw nothing. Either this girl was incredibly good or she was lucky as Hell.
Richard has missed all the signs! Even as this realization dawned upon him, he continued to watch the scene before him unfold. Jinx retrieved a small piece of paper. It looked like a cat had pawed it half to death; frayed around the edged, marred with deep creases, and wrinkled at the corners. He watched Jinx mouth the words to herself. Then he watched her put it away and close her eyes, repeating it to herself once again.
He couldn't read her lips from here, but he recalled what Raven had told him...
...She just stands outside the door. I can feel her repeating it in her head like a mantra...
Richard watched intently as she stepped forward in a near battle-stalk, hand aloft as if brandishing a sword. Then she just froze, her eyes going wide. To him, it looked like she had just watched the door grow a monstrous, drooling maw filled with fangs slathered in the blood of other monsters. Jinx's arm hung there, petrified, and her body stiffened with hard lines of tension.
For a moment, he worried she would bolt again. He could understand Raven's frustration, but he could see the fear in Jinx's form. Raven was wrong; she didn't understand just how big the other girl had made this. The pink-haired girl saw this as an insurmountable obstacle in her mind. At the same time, he was pleasantly surprised when Jinx proved him wrong, as well.
Kamala took a step back, and Nightwing thought she would run. However, she simply lowered her hand and glared at the door. She still looked shaken, but the refusal to run was clear in her body language. Her right hand dove into the pouch and yanked out that piece of notepaper. The sorceress didn't open it, just clutched it desperately.
Kamala backed up another four steps, her back hitting the wall opposite Raven's door. There, she slumped down until her knees were against her chest. The paper in her hands made all the words she'd forgotten flood back into her mind. She sighed. The girl crossed her arms atop her knees and let her pink-haired head fall against them once, twice, and a third time in frustration.
'This is so pathetic,' she thought self-depreciatingly.
So consumed was Kamala in her own drama that she didn't notice the Titan wander up next to her and sit down beside her.
"You need to calm down."
At the sound of his voice, she gasped and sort of... squeaked, reeling back from him and holding up a hand as if to ward off an attack. After a few seconds without Mr. Master of Melee pounding her, she opened one squinted eye to look at him. He was staring at her blandly. It didn't make any sense.
"You know better than to psych yourself out before a battle. Level the brain, level the battlefield."
She seemed to deflate. At the moment, she didn't much care that she was talking to the leader of her once-rivals. For now, she was just a nervous girl talking to a guy trying to give her advice. Jinx had stranger things happen in her life, so she just went with the flow.
Kamala shook her head, "Didn't think about it. It's too late, now; I can't get past it. I just... blank out."
"What are you so worried about, anyway?"
She glanced at him sideways, as if he were stupid for asking, "Her. I don't know what she'll do if I mess up. What if I say or do the wrong thing? I want to—I need to do this right."
Nightwing shook his head in exasperation, "With Raven, it's less the words you say and more the sentiment behind it."
"How's she supposed to get the sentiment when I can't even remember what I was gonna say?" she asked, throwing up her arms in exasperation.
"You know she's an empath—Cyborg said HIVE had dossiers on most of the major vigilante groups around the world," he began slowly, leading her into an idea.
Kamala nodded, frowning. Where was he going with this?
"You've been standing outside her door for the past four nights broadcasting your feelings to her. ...I think she already knows."
Kamala's irises slowly began to widen and her jaw dropped. When she swallowed nervously, it felt like her anxiety had formed a lump that stuck halfway down. Her throat constricted around that lump and threatened to choke her. Her head whipped to the door, then back to Nightwing. The pink-haired girl blinked rapidly in shock. Suddenly, she lurched to her feet, her heart hammering in her chest. Finally remembering her need to breathe, she sucked in air in a half-hiccup...
Then her eyes rolled back in her head and she crumpled to the ground.
He moved over to Jinx and rolled her onto her back. The Titan leader noted she was breathing smoothly and seemed to be coming around even now. He slapped her cheek a few times.
"Jinx. Jinx, open your eyes..."
Her thoughts were muddled. Kamala felt like she'd just downed half of Baran's beer cache. She squeezed her eyes shut, trying to recapture her train of thought. What was...
'...not gonna run away... not gonna... don't care... if surrounded by Titans...'
Someone was slapping her. What the Hell? Where was she and why was someone slapping her?
She started to turn her head away from the sensation, but a wave of vertigo made her rethink that. Who the fuck wouldn't leave her alone? She almost had that train of thought back.
'...don't care... if surrounded by...'
The voice was insistent, "Jinx, open your eyes..."
"Nnm?" she noised.
Jinx cracked an eye open. The figure above her resolved itself from its initial, blurry form. It was a man in a domino mask stylized like a bird. That would be Nightwing; leader of the—
On instinct, she swung her fist. She wasn't quite sure who was shocked more; him that she hit him or her that she managed to hit him. She was sitting up even as he staggered to the side and banged his head off Raven's door. He groaned in disorientation.
Raven's door. Nightwing. The events came flooding back. He had been trying to help her... She'd just sucker punched him!
'Oh... oh, shit,' she panicked, 'Change of plans... running away seems like a good idea, now.'
Jinx was on her feet and running quite before she had her bearings. She almost slammed herself into the wall at the end of the hall before she regained her sense of direction. She quickly opened the door to the stairwell, relying more on her innate powers over probability to guide her out of the Tower than her five, physical senses.
Back in the upper levels of Titans Tower, Raven frowned at the thump at her door. Nevertheless, she opened her door. Richard's torso fell into her room. He was holding the side of his head and wincing.
She knelt down next to his head, "What happened?"
He was slow to respond, "Not—not exactly sure."
Raven, concerned for his condition, kept him from sitting up with a hand on his shoulder.
"Take it easy. Do you know where you are?"
The Titan sleuth turned his head from one side to the other, taking in his surroundings...
"...On the floor."
Raven shook her head, but smirked, "Well, they don't call you the Boy Wonder for nothing, I guess."
He slowly sat up and she let him. He rubbed the side of his head.
"Ha ha. Jinx hit me; think she was more shocked than I was," he said with bland exasperation.
"Are you alright?"
Richard nodded, "Yeah, I'm fine now. Aside from the bruise I probably have."
"...Why would Jinx hit you? For a moment I felt her mind radiate horror and then she just-"
"Fainted," he explained, "Must've scared her when she came to; hit me more out of instinct, I think."
Raven looked off to the side, into nowhere and at somewhere beyond.
"And she ran away—again."
He could hear all the unspoken thoughts crammed between those words. He rubbed the side of his head and pulled away his gloves. There was no blood. He didn't expect there to be, but better to check than wake up on a blood-encrusted pillow. Richard had only done that once before he learned his lesson.
"To be fair, I think that's because she figured the Titans would be after her when I came around."
"...Fine. What did you say to her? Whatever it was, the idea was enough to overwhelm her."
The Titan leader shrugged, "She psyched herself out. She wants to tell you something, but every time she goes to tell you, she starts worrying about making a mistake. Fear of failure blanks her every time."
"What could she possibly have to tell me that I don't already know?"
Richard paused, and then tried explained what he'd discovered, "Well, nothing. You've been picking it up for four nights. When I pointed out that you probably already knew..."
"Ah..." The mystic Titan is silent for a moment. "Well, there's always tomorrow."
Richard grinned, "Get some sleep, Raven."
Richard moved toward his room, sighing at the dull throbbing on one side of his head. He closed his door and applied the spirit gum remover to take off his mask. He washed his face and looked in the mirror. There was a golf-ball sized, red-and-purple spot on his chin. Jinx had a Hell of a right cross; hit him right on the button. He wiped his face with a towel and went to his bed. The Titans leader allowed himself to fall face-first onto the bed, his face feeling heated against the cool pillow.
He rolled onto his side and rubbed his chin. Nightwing winced just a bit. Then he smirked wryly.
'Love hurts, stupid Cupid.'
Raven watched Richard walk down the hallway to his quarters. She was about to head back into her room when a flash of faded flax caught her attention. The demi-Demon knelt down to pick up the little square. She walked into her room, closed her door, and sat down on her bed.
There, Raven carefully unfolded the paper. The scrawl was flowing and soft, but concise. Though neatly written, it also had smudges, as if someone had held onto it too long and smeared the pencil strokes. There were lines through some words where repeated folding at the crease had worn the paper down. Even so, she could make out most all the words and easily guess at the partially obscured ones.
The sentence structure read like free form prose, unplanned and straight from the mouth. The thoughts, though uniform, were scattered across the whole of the piece. It was as if the writer had so much to say that they simply couldn't decide where to fit everything, and so just put anything and everything down as it came to them. There were some faded notes in the margins; Raven knew enough to recognize the Devanagari script when she saw it, but she couldn't read it.
What she could read, however, was a mirrored chronicle of everything she had been feeling over the past four nights. Even as she read it—as imperfect as its grammar was in some places—Raven couldn't help but feel the purity of it. Jinx had written this from her heart, with the sole intent of expressing herself as best she possibly could to the mystic Titan. This was everything the sorceress had been agonizing over; the desire to relate this very simple message perfectly.
It was such a benign, innocent thing, too... Nothing so grand as an amorous sonnet or a verbose poem meant to display talent and intelligence. That and she couldn't think of any romancing love letter using the words 'wicked cool,' but that was Jinx. For all the planning, plotting, and subterfuge of the pink-haired girl in earlier years, she was an amazingly honest person.
As Raven finished this all-important message written on paper worn with use, she couldn't help but think it... sweet. Jinx was sweet—like the color of her hair. She thought Jinx's hair was nice. All things considered, Jinx was nice, as well. The purple-haired girl shook her head. That zany girl had her doing it now, too.
"There's always tomorrow."
Kamala woke up the next morning bone-weary and face down into her pillow. No wonder she had dreamed of suffocating. The girl normally didn't sleep on the bed, but she'd been too tired to move the pillows and covers last night. She was still in her clothes from last night, too. Last night—what a disaster that had been... With a groan, the sorceress rolled onto her back. She squinted and turned her face away from the mid-morning light blasting through her window.
The clock beside her bed wanted her eyes to know it was 9:30 AM. She wanted her clock to have eyes so it would know she was flipping it off.
Reaching into her hoodie-pouch, she froze. She groped around inside and removed both her gloves. After thoroughly investigating the pouch, she sat up wide-eyed and looked around.
"No," she whispered, then her frantic thoughts continued to grow louder, "no, no, no, no! Where is it?"
That was when she remembered. She had taken it out after her failure to speak to Raven. After that, Nightwing had come to talk to her. Jinx shook her head; that was just beyond messed up. ...Then she fainted—and then she punched him. When she left, she couldn't remember having it in her hand. For a moment, she was horrorstruck.
"...I dropped it. Oh my God," she stood there, feeling suddenly lost and scared inside her own apartment, "Oh my God, I dropped it!"
Her subconscious spoke to her in Nightwing's voice...
"You need to calm down."
She took a deep breath, "Okay... okay, calming... Calming down."
"You've been standing outside her door for the past four nights broadcasting your feelings to her. ...I think she already knows."
It was kind of a scary thought. Raven knew before she could even say it. If Raven knew, why hadn't she come out?
The answer was obvious and she rubbed her temples, 'She's waiting for you, stupid. She woulda tossed you off the Tower roof, otherwise. ...That doesn't help.'
Kamala frowned for a moment. She was missing something integral about this. If she let herself panic, she would never pick up on it. The sorceress sat on her bed in sukhasana and put her chin in her hand. Her frown deepened and she closed her eyes. Jinx simply let her mind wander over it, trying to pick out all the little connotations. Some of the intricacies of Raven's knowledge on the matter were rather inane, but she knew that important kernel was hidden somewhere amongst those inanities.
'Raven's an empath. She knows how I feel. She's known for four days, maybe more. She knows I want her—Hell, I kissed her; that was pretty blatant. It shouldn't have been hard for me to just knock on her door. That's what she wants, even though she already knows. I don't need to kiss her again for her to figure that out. ...I don't need write another stupid message that I can't deliver. She already knows what's in it, anyway, so why bother with a second message when I don't need to tell her-'
Her eyes snapped open.
"...I don't need to tell her."
Kamala facepalmed herself.
"Kammie, you're an idiot."
At 11:45, the Titans were waiting for their lunch to finish cooking. The state of the art oven was perfectly cooking four different pizzas—one of which would eventually be covered in pickles, bananas, and mint frosting. There were two meat lovers' pizzas and one vegan pizza. This constituted the norm for Titans Tower, as it minimized arguments all around.
The mostly metallic man sent a page through the Tower, "Ten minutes to lunch, y'all! Take a break and don't be late!"
Kamala was unaware of the Titans' eating habits and didn't particularly care. What she did care about was that the Titans—more specifically, Raven—were home. The sorceress dragged her tool out of the raft and rested it onto her shoulder. She walked confidently from the shore toward the Tower. She made no secret of her approach and she was sure the proximity alarms she blithely traipsed through about six seconds ago had alerted everyone in the Tower to her presence.
She stood in front of the gigantic letter and stared at the double-door entrance. These were the largest doors on the whole of the complex. They were heavily reinforced and extremely thick. Jinx shifted the weight of the sledgehammer off her shoulder and hefted it.
She tossed the large hammer aside, put her hands on her hips, and nodded once.
"That ought to do it."
Eight seconds later, one of the large doors slowly swayed outward. Raven stepped out from the gap. Kamala hadn't really planned anything to say for this moment—hadn't even let herself think about it. Reflecting, she supposed she might have wanted to think of something to say. So, like many times, the pink-haired hex-caster said the very first thing that came to mind.
Raven launched herself at Jinx, wrapping her arms around the girl and holding her as tightly as she'd been held when the billboard fell. After staggering back a few steps, the sorceress returned the embrace. The demi-Demon sighed, feeling Kamala's ecstatic flurry of emotions washing over her and engulfing her like the tide.
Raven pulled back just a bit, so she could look into the other girl's eyes, "Hi. Do you have something to tell me?"
Jinx shook her head, "Nope."
A small, serene smile formed on Raven's lips. The sorceress was entranced by it.
"Good, then I don't have to feel guilty."
Kamala blinked and tilted her head slightly in confusion, "Guilty about wha-"
Raven then pulled the zany, pink-haired girl into a very enthusiastic kiss. She sighed into Jinx; completely satisfied. Richard had said to meet her halfway and—while she was quite certain he hadn't meant this—it seemed to be working fantastically. Kamala was startled for a moment by Raven's boldness, but only for a moment.
"...Mwmn? ...Mn... Mm."
Jinx closed her eyes and enjoyed the taste of her demi-Demon. For several minutes, they were alone in their own world. This world had no use for messages written on notepaper and no place for imposing doors. That was just fine with them. When the shorter girl finally pulled away, she ran her hands through the hex-caster's hair. Kamala smiled softly at her.
"Come on, lunch is almost ready."
So saying, Raven grabbed her hand and led her inside the Tower.
So, I was watching The Illusionist, recently. Edward Norton is awesome in that movie. I loved the plot. While watching, I came up with this idea. I'm not exactly sure where it really came from, it just did.
I was also busy proofreading Chronicle of Darkness at the time. As of this note, I am still doing that—just over halfway finished. In addition, I was putting the finishing touches to the plot-skeleton of Slave to Fortune. Between those two projects and the movie, I was getting a little write-crazy with ideas. I just had to get something out. This idea came to me that night and I just... sat down and wrote it.
I just wrote it free-flow, only I used skeleton-dialogue. In this way, I got all the details of the events without the need to expand them from a full skeleton, and the dialogue skeletons allowed me to just breeze through conversations to keep writing more action. When I finished, I just went through the dialogue and put in the usual things; the 'Richard said' and 'said the girl'—that stuff's just a quick fix.
After that, I just went back and touched up the story here and there... proofread it... and here it is. I was rather shocked it went so fast. In one day, I'd written about 15 pages, then expanded it out to 18, added a bit more detail, and wound up with 24 pages of story. I should note that it's only 24 pages because I have a half-inch first-line indent and 12pt spacing between paragraphs. If I take out the 12pt spacing, it's only 18 pages.
Onward with my breakdown of my story!
I randomly came up with the idea for a mechanical scorpion. I knew I wanted a mechanical something, but I wasn't exactly sure what. I knew that I would need to have a laser-thing that shot through part of a billboard, however, because the falling billboard scene and subsequent door-knock scene formed the basis for this story in my head. I wanted something that would keep them all busy at the same time; something that would take all of them to put down. Also, I wanted it to be rather large so its wreckage could partially hide Raven if she was behind it; also, it had to be big enough to provide a challenge for Gar's larger forms.
Once I had the idea for a scorpion, it became a decision of how to build it. I wanted it to be like a junkyard construction; pieces of things put together to make this badass mecha-monster. It seemed only natural that Rancid be running the thing. The various weapons—the Jaws of Life, a blade, a pipe saw, a drill, a whole tree chipper, and a laser—were just spur of the moment to make it a bitch to deal with. I think this thing would be a badass mech-minion. It reminds me of some Scrin units in Command and Conquer 3, most notably the Eradicator.
Since it has been 5 years since the Titans got together, I felt like displaying their increased functionality. Jinx, of course, goes into a small explanation on it, but I'll go more in depth. I liked to display a bit of the teamwork; how they know each other well enough that—when given an objective—they'll complete it. Each member of the team is paired with another to deal with the hazards of the threat; Raven is not paired, because it is her job to play interference and keep it locked in place while the others deal the major damage it.
I wanted to show Gar as a little more competent with age. He's now 18 and he has a good idea of what forms are appropriate for what situation. While looking for various forms of dinosaurs, I came across one that was very heavy. It was called the bruhathkayosaurus. Why didn't I use that? Because Gar knows a heavy thing like that would have simply crushed the pavement under his weight. A diplodocus was about 115 feet and weighed 11 to 17.6 tons. The bruhathkayosaurus was around the same length—90 to 110 feet... but current estimates weighed it up to 139 tons! From what I can tell... the road weight limits in San Francisco are... 5 tons; he's pushing it already and his saving grace is probably distribution of weight. If he took the bruhathkayosaurus form, he probably would have broken the street, wound up ankle-deep in sewer water, and that would just be more damage to fix.
He's conscientious of this and knows that a smaller form could just as easily do the job. When he merely needs to hold it down, he uses his T-Rex form (42 feet long and 7.5 tons, if you're wondering). I also looked into larger forms of the same make. I did this for the same reason as the diplodocus form. I considered what Gar was trying to do and how he might achieve it; that is, break the tail. The one I considered was the Giganotosaurus carolinii. However, my research revealed this might not be ideal. "The teeth of Tyrannosaurus were longer and wider, and more variable in size. The teeth of Giganotosaurus were shorter, less variable and narrower than those of Tyrannosaurus, and were more adapted for slicing flesh." Gar wasn't trying to bite the scorpion tail; he was trying to wrench it to the side and break it. The mouth of this one was narrower, which wouldn't have given him the best grip. In addition, it appeared to me that the T-Rex had a thicker neck, thus stronger for the twisting motion of breaking the tail.
Gar's full of fun and he's lighthearted. He might not have the same intelligence as everyone else, but his expertise lies in different areas. Changeling knows his animals and knows what's best in almost any given situation. As versatile as he is, I dislike how he some people portray him as stupid. He might not be as well read as others, but he is most definitely not stupid.
However, he still likes to crack jokes—even if, under the current circumstances, they really aren't funny. Raven's mere comment 'Gar...' is enough for him to catch on—it's been five years, after all. That doesn't mean he's going to stop. Heh.
The core HIVE Five members are still more coordinated than the Titans, but they're no longer in the criminal circuit. Just like all my other versions of Jinx, this one's a merc. She's just gotten back in town after a mission, so she's kickin' back and relaxin'. That would explain her somewhat mellow mood and desire to take it all in. She's back home, after all...
Jinx likes Neapolitan ice cream. I, myself, prefer banana splits.
The part where she just... reaches out and snags the next runner-by is amusing to me—as is his response. Jinx's response, too, is fun. Only in places like Gotham, Metropolis, and Jump can someone say something like that... and it doesn't surprise anyone. At best, you'll get a 'not again!' Heh.
The idea with the little girl and Jinx being nice is just a little excerpt I couldn't help but include. Jinx has a fondness for children that I like to express in most of my stories in one way or another. In another story I've yet to finish, called Hard Luck, this is displayed much more than any other story I have planned.
For those wondering why Raven didn't halt Jinx with her powers, she was really expecting the other girl to stop or... something. And that last bit, Jinx just jumped at her. That's a surprise in and of itself. After that, some might wonder why she didn't raise a shield. My response to that is that she didn't know she had to until everything was crashing down around her. Being tackled and then having a big ruckus of destruction form all around someone is a good way to take them off their guard.
Everything aligned perfectly—the timing, the wreckage, and big piece obscuring them—for Jinx to kiss Raven. I know what you're thinking: what luck, right? Heh.
The idea for Jinx to write down a note with all her feelings and just... walk around with it everywhere, thinking about it constantly... I don't really know where it came from, but it just seemed to fit. After a while, she's thought about telling Raven so much that it's become extremely important to her. She doesn't even realize that she's already made this much bigger than it had to be.
The scene at the cafe was just the start of it. It's the first time that she freezes up and sets precedence for future encounters. Those who read Chronicle of Darkness will recognize the cafe.
I moved the timeline a little quicker, simply because that's how it came out when I wrote it. I passed three days, then the whole of that week following, as Jinx termed it, 'the event.' Those days didn't really have anything interesting happening that I felt was necessary to convey. It was just more of the same. Also, the pacing of the story was picking up and I wanted to keep that flow. Just... one or two scenes and go to the next day. If nothing important or different happened the next day, I just glossed over it.
In the first night of her series of break-ins, I show just what happens to her. Everything works fine up until she reaches the imposing door of Raven's room. Raven's door is easily the most intimidating part of Titans Tower. It's forbidding with its simple five letters and everyone, everyone knows you don't just go into Raven's room.
Jinx, too, knows this. It's not that she hasn't been in Raven's room before... It's that she's never been in Raven's room while Raven was in the Tower. And she knows that breaking into the Tower is an offense, but breaking into Raven's room is unforgivable! That would be counterproductive to her goals.
So, this door becomes more than just a separation between the hallway and Raven's room. Soon, it comes to embody everything about the situation Jinx fears. It is now an externalization of everything between them and, when her fears take on a physical form, she finds herself too afraid to act.
Raven's need for Jinx to try isn't just out of sheer bitchiness or a fickle nature. It's important for someone to make their feelings known. It's much like asking someone out; there is something important in approaching your person of interest. It shows initiative and makes your interest known. Some people play Raven as hard to get, but in this story... she just wants Jinx to acknowledge this thing between them. They can't move past this point without it.
That brings us to the first discussion with Richard. Nightwing is much more helpful in this story. Generally, I play him as an understanding, protective type. He's concerned about the members of his team. He wants to keep them safe and healthy—both physically and mentally. Sometimes, he's overprotective and that leads to some issues... but overall, I play him a bit more mature and understanding. He thinks more before acting.
As I said, in this story, he does more than just offer a listening ear and accept things. This time, Richard takes an active role in the events. In this fandom, usually getting Robin/Nightwing involved in such a matter means to make him the bad-guy; to make him the man that forbids the relationship or condemns this or that person. I wanted to step away from that stereotype.
However, even that doesn't mean it will go well for him. Heh.
I wanted to display how Raven is calm and generally very reserved in both body language and speech. She's a very mindful, introspective, contemplative individual. When she's emotional, I think that she would become more active in making her point. The increased movements and gestures, the very clear posturing... I wanted to convey that as something that spoke of Raven's inner turmoil. Richard, who knows her so well, easily picks up on this.
Also, when Raven's being emotional, I think she tends not to think as much before she speaks. That would explain why she let the whole kissing thing slip. I give Richard massive points for being able to call Raven a bitch to her face and survive.
Thusly, Dick Do-Gooder stays up and decides to, in his words, play Cupid. He's got a few questions and he figures this is the best way to get answers. At this point, it's 60/40 between helping Raven get her stalled relationship started and figuring out how this girl keeps getting into the Tower.
Now we see the full culmination of Jinx's fears. Kammie is utterly flummoxed by all of this. However, she's made a promise to herself not to run away. For the first time, she doesn't run away, but steps back. Unfortunately, she still can't overcome her fears.
Hm, also of note is that whenever she mentions 'God,' it's not the Christian god—it's Vishnu. In my history, she spent her first 10 years in India before being picked up by Darkway Prep, then went on to HIVE Academy for Extraordinary Young People. She's practically grown up bilingual and the phrase is used in the same way, just with different connotations. I was hoping the reiteration—both of the bolded 'RAVEN' and her '...Oh my God...' would perfectly illustrate her horror.
Cue Nightwing! His discovery, I hope, was well done. I liked it, anyhow. I personally think that he took Jinx bypassing all their security very well, considering. It shows that he's more thoughtful and won't just... outright attack her on the merit of being Jinx. Of course, it's not shown in this story, but you can bet your ass he has a talk with her later so he and Vic can revamp the security.
I love how he just... strolls over and sits down beside her.
Their discussion is straightforward and I liked how candid it felt. When she finds out that Raven already knows, I think it's the fear of her Raven misinterpreting or simply deciding not to have anything to do with her before she can actually plead her case. Whatever the reasons, and they are numerous, it's completely horrifying.
The whole leaping to her feet probably didn't help blood flow, neither did her increased heart rate and sudden, throat-closing panic. That little half-hiccup and then boneless fall to the floor happened in a variety of ways in my mind. That is, I had the image of her fears consuming her and that infused it with a hint of anxiety. At the same time, it was kinda funny, too. Lastly, it also built up that whole 'poor Jinx' moment of... of a Woobie's Moe moment, I guess. If you don't get it, you can look up Woobie and Moe on TVTropes.
Next is the whole punching scene... which is just hilarious. I loved including that nod to a certain movie when Raven asks him if he knows where he is. Heh...
After this, Raven finds Jinx's little note. I never really mention the contents and it's meant to be left up to interpretation exactly what she wrote on the paper; I think it's better if you just let your own mind fill it in with everything you wanted Jinx to say to Raven. That way, it really is the sweetest thing you can think of! Heh. Of course, I did add in that one part about Jinx using the phrase, 'wicked cool,' because I think it's just something Kamala would have said off the top of her head to describe Raven.
When Kammie wakes up, there's a bit of panic, but I like how she pulls herself together to finally realize the solution to her problems and overcome her fears. This, of course, leads to her finding the absolutely biggest doors she can find and knocking on them clearly. To me, this was the perfect way for Kamala to get her message across to Raven.
I considered putting in a scene where the other Titans are in the foyer after Jinx trips one of the sensors on the island and hear her banging on the door. I thought to have Gar ask what Jinx is doing... and have Raven just smile and say something like, 'She's knocking... She found the biggest door I have and knocked.'
In the end, I didn't include that one. It's not that it didn't work, but I didn't want to break up the scene. It flowed continuously and I liked how it looked without interjecting that bit, cute as it might have been.
Then Raven turns the tables on Jinx and snogs her. It was supposed to be a Squee-worthy moment, as are most RaeJinx 'moments' in my head. Hope it was. I adored how Jinx started off trying to talk, but just kinda... trailed off. And yes, the 'Mwmn' is 'Raven' in snog-ese.
Well, that's that! I hope you enjoyed When Opportunity Knocks! As always, reviews are welcome and wanted! And remember, when an opportunity does knock—especially if it's for a RaeJinx moment—don't let it pass you by!