Ch. 6: The Strings That Hate
Disclaimer: I own nothing but the clothes on my back.
"Many people fear the appearance of a puppet and how it seems to look back at them, but what they should really fear is what comes out of its mouth." ~Anonymous
Written as: Jason Todd
I have finally confronted her. I have finally encountered Raven as me, not as my other alias Red X, but as Jason Todd. She is beyond confused, I bet. I bet she is wondering which is the real criminal that everybody knows of. But at the moment, I am just concerned about how I really came to the surface. How I turned from Red X to Jason in a matter of a minute or two. Maybe it depends on how long I stay as Red X. Maybe after a while, my mind balances out the two personalities by switching the places around at certain times. For instance, at one o'clock p.m. my name is Red X, at one a.m. my name is Jason Todd. And my mind may change a while longer or a while shorter, but I will always change between these two names of mine.
This is starting to make a disturbing amount of sense. But maybe I am wrong. Maybe there is another way. But I don't want to talk about that anymore. Because there is something else bothering me.
The gun. The one that I gave to Raven yesterday while under the name of Jason. The one that shoots goo instead of a bullet. The one that I lied about how it worked. Yes, I lied to her about how the gun and bullets worked. Just so that she would think that it was a "safe" and take it into her custody. But truly, the truth that I am in debt to her, is that the amount of force in a regular gun does not compare to the force of this gun. It is at least doubled or tripled or even more. The pressure that the bullet will force on me will rip through my skin like any other, spill the red muck inside me, and leave cleanly through my body in just the right time to collapse into tiny pieces. And what will happen after that? The red substance, unlike it did before, with special "ingredients" added to its formula, will release a chemical into my body. One that will either rid me of this multiple personality curse or be rid of both aliases.
Why is there two choices? Because I have no idea which outcome will come true. I have never tried this gun, this procedure and science, on another being. But either outcome will do good for me and for others. My two-people-one-body curse will be gone, or society's Jason Todd curse will be gone. Either way, someone will be benefited. On one hand, I will live a more normal life. And on the other, the populace will not need to worry about another psychotic lunatic roaming their streets. More precisely, Raven will not have to worry about me scoping her room out, or trying to bed her, or trying to break everything that she has in her life. The ones that make her happy.
I wish I wouldn't do that, but it's not really a choice for me. It's Red X's, whenever his time comes around. And when his time is on, and Jason is off the control panel, not only can he change things on the outside, but he can change things on the inside as well. He turns the outer environment upside-down, but he makes the inner environment run in turmoil. And frankly, I'm sick of it.
The gun was tossed from left to right, as if boiling hot to the person holding it. It gleamed under the light and was often halted in its acrobatic leaps, scrutinized under curious eyes as if accused. The person pursed their lips and threw the weapon on the bed. It shined again and she sneered. A sound paraded on her window and she jumped, steering her vision to the source. A figure with darkness eclipsing it from her.
She ambled over to the glass and frowned at the familiar structure. It was Red X, but she did not know which one. The caring profound one, or the uncaring shallow one.
"Leave, X," she said.
"Why? I just came."
"No, leave me alone. You've messed with me enough for the week."
"That was just the fun stuff. Wait until later on. Then you'll experience the whole thing." A smirk scratched at his lips.
"I can't tell whether to be disgusted or not."
"If ya let me in I'll help you decide."
"No," she declared again.
"Then I'll come in whether or not you allow it."
Red X pressed the button on his belt and materialized inside the room. Raven groaned.
"I must put a spell on that damn window," she muttered.
He chuckled. "Thanks for giving me a heads-up, sweetie."
Raven sighed. "What do you want, X?"
"I just want to visit my favorite person."
"He's not here. The security footage room is where you want to go."
"I'm not talking about Nightwing, Raven. I'm talking about you."
"Me? What could you possibly want from me now? I have no business with you."
"That's what you think, not what ya know." He sat on the purple armchair. "But I will tell you why I'm here."
"I want to see the gun."
Raven's eyes broadened and immediately looked at the weapon on her bed, too many steps away for her, too less steps away for him. His posture seemed lazy and laid back, but she knew better. At the instant that she would reach for it, she would be a nanosecond too late. So with all her willpower, Raven relaxed her mind and eased her erect back. There was nothing to worry as long as she did not worry. That was a total lie, she knew.
"You know why. You're not supposed to have it, let alone know it exists. Now give it to me."
She looked back at the gun and thought it over. If she gave it to him, then she would be rid of its dangerous aura. Yet, if she did, then he would use it on innocent people. There were too many risks too take if she gave him the gun, so she shook her head at him in response. An angry emotion spiked from him right after. That was a warning signal for danger to come.
"You don't want to give it to me? Why?" He spoke with a soft voice that scratched at her skin angrily.
"You're a criminal. I'm surprised you gave it to me in the first place."
"I … gave it to you? When?"
"Yesterday. Don't you remember?"
"No, I- I wasn't myself."
Red X bit his lip and pressed his fingers into the upholstery under his hands.
"Yeah, I know. You were talking about some weird things. Are you taking drugs? Pills?"
He snorted. "No. I'm already messed up in the head as it is," he mumbled, more to himself.
"You didn't hear that," he snapped. "You didn't hear whatever I said yesterday and you never saw that gun in your life," he pointed to the weapon and stood up. "None of what I said yesterday was true and it doesn't mean anything. I was tired and mumbling crap like a toddler. Got it?"
Raven's fingers twitched, wanting to reach for the gun before he could. "I understand, X, but I don't think it wise to let you just have the gun."
"Trust me, Raven," he drawled. "It's going to be in good hands. Guns aren't really my type anyway. Now, I'm going to take it, and leave."
"I don't think so," she said, taking a step closer.
Red X leaped for the bed, swiped the weapon and rolled off on the other side, all before Raven could even take a step. He breathed and grinned at his hands.
"You see, Raven, I don't want to go. I want to keep being a criminal. And this gun here, has the power to kill me. Not only me, but Jason too. And while that prick can be a peasant most of the time, he is … practically my host, you can say. He was here first, but I decided that we share the rent. His body is now my body. But you couldn't possibly understand, you're only one person. You're only one mind."
Raven felt confused and questioned him.
"No time to explain," he replied. "Actually, I don't want to. I just want to destroy this gun before it destroys me and what I've accomplished. See ya, Raven."
He pressed the button on his belt and disappeared from the room, leaving Raven in her baffled stance.
"What the hell is going on?"
Red X roamed the halls of the tower, gun in a holster, bullets in hand. He counted each one and grinned, liking the way the presence of such a powerful weapon made him brazen. A familiar door came in sight and his smile widened. The security footage room. The one with Nightwing in it. He silently thanked Raven and slowed his pace, placing the bullets back in the magazine and into the gun with a click. If he was going to throw this powerful gun away, then it would be horrible to just waste the bullets. So he decided to make use of them.
The criminal leaned his head on the door and listened for movement, to see if he actually was in there. There was the high-pitched sound of a television running and light snoring. He raised his hand up and then banged the gun on the door, then sliding against the wall. A surprised gasp came from inside and the screeching of a chair moving against the hard floor. The door hissed open and that hit Red X as his cue. He touched the button on his belt and disappeared, reappearing in the small room.
Nightwing was beyond the doorway, in the hallway, and jumped when the door closed behind him. Red X turned to the screens, hearing the loud knocks on the door, and cannoned red sticky goo inside the lock of the automatic door, jamming it. He then positioned the gun in his hands and aimed it at a television screen. The trigger was pulled and a bullet was silently shot at the glass. Then at another. And another. And another. Until finally, all screens were destroyed.
He ejected all the tapes, taking several minutes, and showered red sludge over the pile of them he dumped on the floor. After that was done, Red X nodded and checked how many bullets he had left.
"Two," he whispered. "More than enough."
The criminal, now finished with vandalizing the room and security footage, inhaled and placed a finger over the button on his belt and noticed the door in front of him beginning to give. It opened and he disappeared from sight, just to be present outside the room. He saw Nightwing heavily breathing inside and almost started laughing.
"Red X," the hero whispered as he recognized the red goo, growling afterwards. "X!"
"You called?" The criminal asked with a smile.
Nightwing spun around and faced him, face red with all the anger he could feel. "You!"
"You … you are the one doing all this?!"
"Of course, darling," he laughed.
The hero growled. "Why are you back?"
"Well, originally I wasn't, but now I am. I like your girl. Well, your former girl toy." He shifted the gun in his hand. "And even though you two aren't going to have sex anymore, you're still in the way. And I really hate obstacles. Don't you?"
Nightwing's eye twitched.
"But it doesn't matter, I usually take real good care of things in my way." He cocked the gun and saw the emotion known as fear on his enemy's face. "But you already know that."
"X, slow down. You don't know what you're doing," Nightwing tried to reason.
"I know exactly what I'm doing. I'm making my life easier. And getting rid of you is on top of the list. Unlike any of Raven's lists."
He growled again at the teasing words. "You don't know anything about us."
"Oh, I beg to differ," he laughed. "You've been so clueless this whole time, haven't ya? I've been watching, Nightwing. More than you would want to know. But it isn't you I'm after, it's Raven."
"She will never talk to you," Nightwing spat.
"On the contrary, she knows I'm here. She has always known, but has never told you for some odd reason. I wonder why. We've even had conversations together. At night, in the morning, in the afternoon. I've been there. Even when you two have had sex I was there." He snorted. "Oh how I hated watching that."
"You're a pervert and a criminal."
"A criminal? Yes. A pervert? Not really. I just really like Raven."
"You don't like her. You just want her as your personal prisoner if anything."
Red X cocked his head. "Maybe. Not entirely. I like her," he explained calmly. "But why do you care?"
Nightwing shook his head at him. "Listen, Red X, I don't want you coming near her or this island. You're going to stay away from us. If not, then I'll make sure that you rot in a jail cell before you can rot in hell."
"Ooh, I love empty threats," the criminal cooed.
Nightwing growled, presenting all the anger and hatred he felt for the man. "I'm giving you fifteen seconds to leave now."
Red X chuckled. "That's enough time for me to tell you what you have been ignorant to."
"One … "
"Raven impersonated you to scare me away from the tower. All on her own."
"Three," he said through chained teeth.
"We've had many secret meetings and she has chosen not to tell you."
"Five … "
"She is comfortable in my presence. Enough for her to know I'm not a threat as much. She is such an ignoramus. Everyone knows I'm as much as a threat as a hungry lion."
Nightwing paused, then continued from ten.
Red X grinned evilly. "Oh, and one more thing. Starfire came to your trashed room two days ago. She was looking for you, but I was all she could get. So I talked to her for you. Long story short, she probably hates you right now." Nightwing had paused and a dangerous silence took over, but the criminal continued. "Now you have no outlet. No Starfire, no Raven, no sex. How does that feel? I bet you feel sad."
He acknowledged Nightwing's prepared fists and readied the gun in his hands.
"That's good," he kept on. "I want your last emotion to be just that. It makes it all the more fun."
"Times up," Nightwing muttered before lunging.
Red X had not moved a foot, standing in the same stance when his enemy jumped for him. He simply raised his gun and pulled the trigger in his enemy's direction, with an expression of indifference.
Nightwing's body jerked backwards from the force of the bullet and smashed against the pile of broken tapes, wincing as sharp edges pinched his skin. Red sludge was everywhere and he could not tell if it was from the slime or if it was his blood. But what he knew was that he had been shoot in his chest, and there was a small hole. He slowly reached his hand for his back and realized that there was no exit hole from the bullet. That meant the shell was still inside him, most likely in fragments, spreading through his chest.
He looked up at Red X from feet away, still in the hallway, in nothing but pain and horror. There was no anger, just shock and pain. Then a weird feeling of swelling in the wound began and he clenched his fists in agony. He grunted and breathed and whimpered, like the wounded person he was, but the feeling of swelling was not familiar to him. Never was that feeling there when shot. Well, from his experience.
Suddenly, Red X was in front of him, on one knee as he studied the aching person. A satisfied chuckle sounded from him and Nightwing tried to speak. The struggle was amusing.
"It hurts, doesn't it?"
"It's no ordinary gun, as you can see," he raised the gun for him to see. "I made it myself. As I have shown Raven, I will show you too."
Nightwing glared at the criminal when he mentioned her name once again.
"The bullet in you, like the rest of its kind, is special. Instead of being charged at you and being useless, it breaks into pieces and releases the red goo I normally use. This time, the red sludge was injected with chemicals that can easily kill someone as it spreads throughout the body. And that, my enemy, is what is now happening inside you."
Nightwing whimpered again, from pain and loss. He knew that it was over. There was no time for an antidote. He knew that it was finally over for him. There was no way for him to recover from the wound and no way to survive after five minutes. So he stopped his struggling and laid on the pile of broken tapes while listening to the voice he was going to hear in the last minutes of his life.
"So now that you know what's going to happen, have any last words? Any messages you want me to deliver to Starfire? I can impersonate you really easily. It has worked before."
Nightwing held his breath.
"Okay then. I will say my last words to you."
The swelling sensation stopped and a cold ripple took over.
"Nightwing, while you lie here in your last seconds of life, I will tell you what I think," he began. "You are an idiot. You leave Raven, the best fuck buddy you could have, for Starfire, a girl that probably would never had gone with you in the first place. You could have had something with Raven. And by me standing at the window while you two had sex, I could tell that she was pretty good at foreplay and such. But you chose to call it off for a woman with a body that can't compare to Raven's. And that is sad. But don't get me wrong, Starfire is hot, but has too much maturing to do. Mentally and physically."
He inhaled and noticed Nightwing's tired eyes fighting the permanent sleep.
"You are a poor excuse of a man and a perfect example of a confident prick hopeful to go from one beautiful woman to another. It doesn't work that way, Nightwing. Not anymore."
A deep breath escaped Nightwing's throat and signaled only one thing: his death.
"Goodbye, Nightwing. And don't stop at hell, I don't want to see you when I die."
With that, Red X stood up and looked around at the mess. Red muck was everywhere and he could now tell the difference between that and Nightwing's blood. He raised the gun up to his face and took off the silencer. He raised it up above his head and pulled the trigger, sending the last bullet into the sky and letting sound reverberate throughout the room. He dropped the weapon on the floor, having no use for it and pressed the teleportation button on his belt, disappearing from the scene.
Raven was there in an instant, at the location where she heard the gunshot come from. The first thing she saw was the gun. She picked it up and took out the magazine, paling as she saw that there were no bullets left inside. Then she lifted her head and saw the scene in front of her. She dropped to her knees, ignoring the red lumps of goo on the ground, and felt tears form in her eyes.
There he was, her best friend, lying on the floor, still as a rock, and red muck mixed with blood dripping from a hole in his chest. Anger then bubbled up more than sadness and her brows twitched. Only one person was sick enough to do this. That person, whom she spent some time thinking he had feelings and a heart, had killed Nightwing.
Then an idea popped up. While Red X thinks he used up all the ammunition there was, Raven still had one magazine left filled with those bullets. He had given it to her just in case something bad should happen or if he hurts her in any way. And she was hurting right now. Now was the more perfect time than any other.
Several gasps sounded from behind her and her eyes widened.
Starfire was the first to speak.
" … Raven?"
Hello, readers! How's it been? This chapter is a little more … eventful. Jason's hopes for how the gun works had failed, as you had read. Instead of the bullet going clean through, it broke into pieces inside the body. I meant to do that. And yes I did kill off Nightwing. Oops.
Cheers to a new world of stories being told one chapter at a time.