Disclaimer: Teen Titans is owned by DC.
Summary: Jinx is alone and confused, wondering where she fits in the grand scheme of things, when she finds a rose on the pavement. Between "Lightspeed" and "Titans Together". Flinx. Rated for some swear words.
A/N: Okay, for me, this feels far too long and rambling. I'd love your opinion on whether that's the case – after all, what is constructive criticism for?
My first Flinx fic, though it's more suggested than anything else. Bridging the gap between Jinx leaving the H.I.V.E. Five in "Lightspeed", and returning as a hero in "Titans Together". Should be working on other stuff...but what the hell. It's the Summer holidays. I can be as lazy as I want!
The flashback is a tidbit from the Season 3 episode "Deception". I like to think Cyborg played a part in her conversion.
EDIT: I added that "rated for some swear words" bit out of paranoia.
The contents of the bowl (dubbed "vegetable soup" by the volunteers) looked suspiciously like gruel, in my opinion - a lumpy sludge that oozed off of the spoon when I lifted it out of the bowl. I pulled a face. "Ugh. Who makes this muck?"
A nearby boy, who had been spooning the muck up greedily, shot me a dirty look. "If you don't want it," he sneered, "give it to someone who deserves it."
I poked out my tongue, but it was lost on him - he couldn't see properly under my hood. It was the shadow it cast on my face, obscuring my features, that protected me. I have a pretty distinctive appearance. That's an understatement. But, not content to let him get away with that remark, I found myself concentrating on the bench beneath him.
An unnatural flash of pink; the wood beneath him splintered. He cried out as he fell backwards onto the cold floor, and his bowl of "soup" fell all over his tasteless, second-hand shirt.
I laughed maliciously, and abruptly felt a little sorry for the guy. Why should I? He asked for it.
The boy looked incredulous (he was obviously trying to figure out how I'd done it). The bounty on my head was suddenly front and foremost in my mind; what if he recognises me? I felt a stab of panic and shot to my feet, the blood draining from my face and making me look even paler. My hand knocked the bowl off the table, and the vegetable sludge slopped across the floor.
I scurried over to the door. My plan to escape the homeless shelter so as not to be noticed had noticeably backfired; the entire room watched in silence as I slammed the door behind me.
The crowd swallowed me and shunted me down the pavement; I eventually resurfaced into a small café by the roadside. The suddenly warm atmosphere of the place was disconcerting. I slunk over to an empty table, and some of the clientele shot me dirty looks, but said nothing.
The menu lay on the table before me, offering sandwiches and hot drinks. My stomach growled. I was beginning to regret abandoning my dinner at the soup kitchen. If I was being honest with myself, the soup wasn't too bad, especially for a low budget.
Still, I missed special-occasion sundaes at the H.I.V.E. Academy, and pizza night with the H.I.V.E. Five. Sure, Wykkyd, Gizmo, Billy and Mammoth were annoying. But See-More was alright. In fact, he was the only member of the team I really regretted leaving behind...
I gripped the fabric of my hoodie (an ugly castoff - I planned to ditch the monstrosity at the first chance) so tightly that it probably should have ripped; I squeezed my eyes shut as my vision began to blur. What the hell am I doing here?
I had a life. A villainous one, but a life nonetheless. Then that bastard showed up.
I gritted my teeth in anticipation of that familiar surge of anger, but when it came, it was a ghost of what I'd felt before. It wasn't even true anger anymore. Just a washed-out annoyance - and acceptance. Of...what? My new life? Could it even be called a life, picking through bins and relying on charity?
I'd considered stealing several times (after all, it's not as if I could withdraw from the H.I.V.E. Five account any more). There was a designer jacket that had drawn me to a shop window only a few days ago; by the time they'd notice that I'd skipped the bill at a fast food restaurant, I'd be halfway across the city.
So why hadn't I? I'd asked myself several times, and still couldn't get an answer.
I looked up to see a surly waitress tapping her foot and frowning at me. "Are you going to order, miss?"
I could have a coffee, at least. It's only $1 here. Who's gonna care about $1?
"No. I'm not going to order anything."
My boot hit something as I left the café, and it rolled away in the corner of my eye. A rose, claret red and fresh as if it had just been picked.
Oh hell no.
Gotham was like the cities you see in old film noir. No wonder the Boy Blunder left it - who'd want to spend their days ankle-deep in urban decay? Jump City looked like a kiddie playground compared to this. I regretted being there at night.
I reminded myself that, if anyone was stupid enough to attack, they'd be the ones who'd be sorry.
People glared at me from street corners and doorways. I felt bad luck pooling at my fingertips automatically, and clenched my hands into fists to keep it contained. I'd defend myself, but only if necessary.
Still, it'd nice to blow off some steam. I hadn't fought anyone since Madame Rouge.
"Hey, short stuff."
The voice came from a girl leaning against a graffitied wall, at the mouth of an alleyway. She leaned against the wall in that typical smug-bad-boy pose, arms crossed and foot against the wall (really, she couldn't pull it off). A superior smirk played on her lips, and her tone was condescending - I riled at the insult.
"Keep moving, pin cushion," I snapped. Okay, so I wasn't on my best form with my insults. But, seriously, her piercings concealed half of her face.
She just grinned. The various lip piercings clinked together like discordant wind chimes. "She's spirited. This'll be fun."
With my hood limiting my peripheral vision, I didn't see the thugs coming up behind me until one of them shoved me roughly into the alley. My gymnast skills kept me on my feet, but they were already surrounding me, two guys and a girl.
Wow. Déjà vu.
"We're a little short of supplies," the girl said, sauntering forward with a switchblade. "And those boots look rather nice. Care to help out a friend, short stuff?"
Bitch. I narrowed my eyes at her. "Let me go."
"And why would we do that?"
Well, it was as good a time as any to defend myself. I wasn't scared. In fact, I was the opposite. I was more comfortable than I'd felt in weeks.
I reached up and pulled down my hood. Her eyes widened when she saw my face properly. I smiled. "Recognise me from the news?"
Without warning, I spun around, arms outstretched and palms glowing pink; the thugs shot backwards. The girl collided noisily with some bins.
The two guys got back onto their feet. One snarled, brandishing a metal pipe. He charged at me. Does this guy have a death wish? I jumped over him easily, and my fingertips brushed his back; he was propelled into the walls and fell unconscious.
The girl had been fumbling for her switchblade. She approached me now, in a defensive position. "Stupid bitch," she hissed.
"I'm sorry," I quipped, hands on hips. "Am I supposed to be scared?"
She lunged forward. I dropped and swept my leg under her feet, and she tumbled facefirst onto the asphalt. I didn't even have to use my powers.
The other guy gaped. Pink electricity crackled in my hands.
"You wanna try it, big guy? Go on, I dare you."
He ran from the alleyway.
I waited for a few moments, alone if not for the two unconscious bodies, whilst my heart slowed down and the adrenaline left my system. Of course, it had been a small thrill - nothing like the way I once felt about robbing banks and fighting the Titans - but the biggest one I'd felt in a while.
They weren't stirring. I had a sudden, disturbing though that I might have seriously hurt them, and knelt by the girls head. No bleeding. Did I cause a concussion?
Something fell onto my head; I thought I felt the tips of thorns touch my scalp. Bewildered, I reached up and my fingers found a flower stem.
I looked up. Kid Flash lounged against a balcony railing, wearing that infuriatingly self-assured smile. I straightened up indignantly. "Have you been there the whole time?" I demanded.
He shrugged. "I'd have helped, but you looked like you could handle it."
The flower wilted in my hand, the petals fluttering to the ground. "Why can't you leave me alone? Haven't you done enough?"
"Those were thieves you just stopped."
The statement was so left-field that it threw me for a moment. "...So?"
"Don't you feel anything," he continued, "knowing that you just stopped criminals?"
I clenched my hands into fists. The metal grating directly beneath him broke away, but Kid Flash was already down the ladder in a red-and-yellow blur and kneeling next to the unconscious girl; I stepped away from him, putting as much venom into my expression as I could. Flash was checking her head and pulse.
"She'll live. No permanent damage. That's what you were worried about, right?"
"Why would it bother me?" I replied coolly.
"Because you're not like that," he said, gesturing to the thugs. "You're different." His face was so earnest that, for a moment, I almost believed him. Then I shook it off.
"Of course I'm different!" I snapped. "I'm not a low-life. I don't do petty theft."
"No, you just want to be noticed by the Brotherhood of Evil." He cocked his head at me. "Or do you? Why would you want their respect?"
"Are you psychoanalysing me?" I said bitterly, crossing my arms. God, I wanted to punch him.
He smiled, which was the worst thing he could have done, because when he smiled, it made his already likeable face a hundred times friendlier. My pulse fluttered. "You're smart. Too smart for all this. And look at what the Brotherhood did."
He reached into his pocket and drew out a Titans communicator. It was busted; the screen hung from it by a few wires, and some dying spark of electricity still buzzed.
"They busted your communicator? Big deal."
He shook his head. "Robin made it self-destruct. The Titans are all in trouble. I'm sure the Brotherhood's got them captured somewhere. I'm gonna need help to save them."
And he wanted to recruit me?
"You don't have to be a villain, Jinx. You could be so much more."
"You could have been one of us."
Stone - or, his real name, Cyborg - looked at me, and there was no regret in his eyes. No regrets about the path he'd chosen. But there was pity, and I hated it.
"I could have been a lot of things," he said.
Why did I have to think of that now? I jerked away from Flash as if he'd slapped me, and his smile melted into concern. "Jinx?"
"Why did you wait this long?" My voice was low, and dangerous. I hugged myself as if I were cold. "I've been homeless for weeks after you messed things up. Why now?"
For the first time, he looked uncomfortable, and that was one small victory. But seeing him acting bashful... I hated to admit it, but it was kinda cute. Not like it mattered. "Well, I didn't want to rush you," he confessed. "The reason I'm coming now is that I need you." He extended his hand. "Trust me?"
I actually found myself considering taking it. I mean, what did I have to lose?
What reputation? I don't have one anymore.
The girl started to stir. I'd completely forgotten about her. He inclined his head, blue eyes sparkling. "Y'know, we might want to get out of here before the goons wake up. And you'd probably appreciate a shower around now."
Well, if you put it that way.
Gingerly, I placed my hand in his palm; his easy smile became the excited grin of a kid at Christmas.
"I just want a shower," I told him firmly. Understatement. I'd never go without a shower again.
"'Course," Flash said, with a knowing twinkle in his eye. He grasped my hand more firmly, yanked me into his arms, and before I could tell him not to push his luck, the world fell away into a blur, and his face was the only clear thing I could see.
I shrieked involuntarily at the sudden speed; his laugh was loud in my ear.
"Get used to it. I'm not gonna put you down again."
He only laughed harder.
~ Was the ending too rushed?
~ Was the rest too long and rambling?
...Seriously, guys, I'm insecure as they come. You're going to have to either put me at ease, or tell me where I can improve.