Story: Magic Show (all chapters)

Authors: ijenn

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Chapter 1

Title: Unlucky In Love



Gotham-Metropolis, a city born of two cities that grew together through constant expansion into one sprawling mass of human civilization--the biggest city on Earth.

By the ocean, on what was still just called Metropolis Bay, Dr. Hailey Quinn and her fiance, a woman who just liked to be called Ivy these days, lived together. They'd met years ago when Ivy had just been Vivian Isley, college student/stop-at-nothing environmental activist, and Hailey, only a year older, a prodigy with several degrees and two doctorates to her name, had been a young visiting professor who'd decided to take on a permanent teaching position at the university when she'd fallen in love with one of her students. They'd been partners in crime--partners in Ivy's crusade to save the world's pant life--ever since.

The wedding though, was off- the partnership, over.

"So that's it then..." Ivy spoke softly, a few tears falling from her eyes as she reached up and touched Hailey's cheek with her fingers. Hailey met her eyes and did not wipe away her tears as her instincts still screamed at her to do.

"Leave." Hailey told her. "Now." She spoke coldly, turning and walking over to look out the window of the house that she and Ivy had shared, looking out over the water of the bay.

"For whatever it's worth: I'll always be in love with you, Hailey... Always." Ivy told her.

Hailey didn't turn around until she heard the door close and then she whirled around and threw a glass sculpture of two dolphins at the door. From there she proceeded to tear into everything around her, demolishing everything in the room regardless of value or sentiment. She just saw red, and the fury wouldn't leave her until it burned itself out. Because the truth was, as much as her pride meant she couldn't say it out loud, she would always, always be in love with Ivy too, and it just... It just, well, that had to be just about the most blatantly unfair and downright cruel thing in the world, didn't it?

An hour later, as the sun was setting, her wrath was spent and she found herself sitting on the floor against a wall in the shadows just crying piteously, not able to stop or think. She just hurt. Why had she done it? Why? Why couldn't they just be happy together?

She ended up finally getting up and going to bed in their room--her room--falling into a dreamless sleep.

The morning came and when her eyes opened, she felt like years had gone by since yesterday, but she knew they hadn't. Her thoughts mainly felt like just white noise, even though she knew that wasn't what it was... she knew her heart was broken the worst it had ever been and her head was still screaming and screaming and screaming from the pain of that... still, she was in control enough not let the screams out, and she just spent the morning taking all the plants out of the house and setting them on the large front porch. It was a warm day with a soft breeze coming in off the ocean--idyllic, really. She called a moving service and waited. An hour later they arrived and she told them to take the plants to the address she knew Ivy would be at, and warned the movers in no uncertain terms not to let them come to harm for anything (she knew that if they did, Ivy might very well kill these men for it, especially with the state she had to be in about now).

Once they were gone, she cobbled together a quick incendiary device and flipped the switch, walking away. She was a block away when the house went up in a fireball. She smiled a cold smile and went shopping, buying a new set of clothes and burning everything she'd had on in a trash bin in an alley.

Ivy just might have hated her forever if she'd burned the plants too. Hailey knew that. And even though, honestly, she'd been a little tempted to do it out of sheer spite, she knew she couldn't bring herself to got that far--to have Ivy actually... hate her like that. It just... it hadn't worked out, that's all.

She hadn't been enough for her.

She hadn't been able to make Ivy love her. Not how she wanted--not in the end. Simple as that. Now it was done. Burned.

She'd just make a new life- be a new person.

She felt like nothing really mattered to her anymore. Her heart felt cold.

So... if nothing really mattered, why not just... have some fun?


[about eight months later]

James Jessie (more infamously known as The Trickster) looked up into his boyfriend's eyes, caught spellbound. His breathing was just becoming more even, though his heart was still beating fast like a drum in his chest from what they'd just been doing in bed... He smiled an imminently satisfied smile and pulled his lover down for a kiss. "Come here, you." He whispered as their lips met again. As usual, Jace Station wasn't the type to kiss you half way, and James felt himself melting before his lover's passion yet again and loving it.

Their lips parted and Jace ran a hand through his hair, over his cheek, James returning the gesture as they stared into one another's eyes. "This won't last, you know..." Jace told him, a strange sort of distant wistfulness in his voice. "Nothing ever does."

"...Why so cheerful all of the sudden?" James asked, only half playfully. Jace got these looks sometimes, like he was... older than the world or something. James never quite knew what to make of it, and he'd always been reluctant to ask after it somehow.

"I like you, do you know that?" Jace asked him.

James laughed. "I had gotten that idea, yes. I like you too."

Jace sighed. "I'm being too serious again, aren't I?" He asked.

"I've never minded that..." James told him, tracing his fingers over Jace's face.

Jace smiled and shook his head. "The way you mess with my head sometimes, I'd almost call it a miracle..." He told him, moving to snuggle up to him and kiss his chin, his neck, nip at his ear.

"A miracle, huh?" James replied, Jace's hand on his ribs going down to his hip and then stroking his sex a little. "Imagine that."

"Imagine..." Jace told him softly, titling his head to the side and kissing him.

They made out like that for a while, in no hurry at all, and, in time, fell off to sleep together. It had been a good day- one of the best. They'd actually gone out on a date, just a regular date. They'd never -done- that before, and James thought he liked it for a change.

He fell off to sleep holding and being held by his lover. He'd never really thought himself the settling down kind, but, he thought... maybe one day, with Jace, years from now, he just might be.

Instead of dreaming of possible bright futures though, his dreams quickly turned, quite literally, to Hell. He saw his family burning. He saw Jace laughing in joy, not a care in the world, then stabbed through the heart by Professor Zoom, The Reverse Flash--his murder's laughter a haunting refrain. He ran, but how could you outrun someone like Zoom? But then he wasn't Zoom, he was someone else... someone he never wanted to remember, and he was being raped, again...

Then there were demons, clawing at him, tearing his flesh away, dragging him down to Hell, and there were burning eyes... those eyes, and a symbol, and a familiar voice that told him to run. Then Jace was there, and he was being dragged away through a wall by demons. "I'm sorry about this, really, but you have to run James! Run!" He called to him (so that's who the voice had been).

Then he was waking up, sitting up stock straight in panic, his heart beating faster than he could ever remember it beating, sweat poring down his skin. He looked around, trying to get his mind to work right again. "Jace?" He rasped, his throat feeling dry.

Jace was gone, but his eyes alighted on the wall, and that same symbol burned into it, and it felt like his heart dropped out of his chest and someone had sucker-punched him in the gut at the same time. "Run..." He imagined he heard Jace's voice in his head. "It's not over yet."

He got up and grabbed some pants, getting out of the apartment as fast as he could, not caring about anything else.

He was on the street minutes later, having just put his pants on, when an explosion rocked the air and almost blew him off his still bare feet. He turned and saw his apartment--burning. Jace... not to mention all the money they'd had in there... What was -going on-?! What the fuck was...

He needed help, there was no two ways about it. "Hailey." He spoke to the night air.

Why hadn't he grabbed his cell phone when he'd had the chance?


[still about eight months later, plus a few days or so]

She was in Sylvan Scofield's bed, holding her down by the wrists, soft fabric that seemed alive caressing their skin in such completely sensual ways. Her newest lover offered no resistance; her eyes spoke that she was eager and wanted to be dominated--wanted someone to be in charge of her. At least, that's what she was like now anyway, what she was usually like in bed if you didn't know what things to say and do to set her off. Hailey smiled and claimed her lips in a suitably predatory kiss, coming down over her and then moving to kiss her neck, letting go of Sylvan's wrists and feeling her lover's arms wrap around her back. "Oh yes, oh Hailey yes..." Sylvan breathed as Hailey slipped her fingers inside her and started to play the body below her like a fine instrument, she a skilled and gifted musician of the highest order. And that wasn't bragging... or, if it was, it was also simply a fact. As smart as she was, as fast as she learned things, anything really, it usually took her very little time at all to figure out just exactly how to please any woman at all in the ways she most wanted, most needed. It was probably her favorite activity in the whole world, actually, despite how easily it came to her... Perhaps even a little bit because it was so easy--so easy she didn't even have to really think about it--and, at the same time, she really couldn't explain, even to herself, exactly how it worked. What it was in a woman's eyes, in the ways she moved that told her these things so eloquently? And, of course, it felt completely amazing... to be with another person like this. There was no way to put a value on it. It always left her feeling a sense of wonder, in fact, because it was one of the two things in the world that, at the end of the day, she could never really comprehend completely, and the only thing that still left her awed--what she saw spoken silently on another woman's face, in her eyes, and felt in her touch when love was involved between them.

And it had been a blast, the last eight months... well, mostly... She'd spent most of it in the Gems (another mash-up city--it used to be Central and Keystone Cities, nicknamed the Gem Cities, but, over time, people had just started calling it Gem City, or the Gems). She'd been carrying on a rocky but very engaging and rewarding love affair with Lisa Snart (better known as The Golden Glider). Things had ended badly between them. And that was a long story, but sufficed to say, Lisa blamed Hailey for her brother's death... which, really, was mostly fair. Even if Hailey hadn't been the one who'd killed him herself, she'd basically goaded him into getting himself killed for what had been, truthfully, just her being petty and cold (which... was kind of funny and ironic, because her brother was Captain Cold). True, she hadn't meant for him to die, hadn't thought he would, not really, but, well, she hadn't been exactly sad about it either, and Lisa could tell.

The break-up had hurt, and had been hard on both of them... It had taken Hailey weeks to get it through her head that Lisa really wasn't going to forgive her and to finally give up and leave (taking a truly spectacular bag of stolen party treats with her--which didn't make up for the loss of Lisa by any stretch, but was definitely a lot better than having nothing but more heartbreak and memories of love she couldn't have again to show for it). After a little aimless wondering, she'd ended up back here, in Gotham-Metro, where she and Ivy had lived. She hadn't tried to find Ivy again though, as much as a part of her wanted to. Because she had her pride, because she knew her and Ivy were probably about as over as her and Lisa were now, and because she couldn't imagine Ivy wasn't with someone else (probably more than one someone else, knowing her) and she really, really, really, really, -REALLY- hadn't wanted to see that right then (or ever, honestly). She'd started up a therapist's practice to occupy herself with something that was usually at least nominally interesting (sometimes genuinely rewarding, in fact), and done the crime thing after hours--nothing really big--mostly just political statements and murdering people (only the ones who were just asking a good murdering though, of course). For the most part, she went after corporate types, or the mob, or domestic abuse cases. And it was, she had to admit, mostly out of nostalgia--mostly so she could still feel some sort of connection to the women she'd once been in love with. The corporate types because of Ivy, because her ideals about saving the world were still in her and Hailey just couldn't fault the logic of it. The mob stuff because of Rose, and the domestic cases too. Rose, Ivy's estranged adopted sister, had been the first time she'd fallen hopelessly in love. Ivy had been the second (she'd only found Ivy because she'd been looking for Rose after Rose had left her one night without even a note for an explanation). And Lisa... Lisa might have started to be the third...

But, even as she held Sylvan in her arms and kissed her gently as her new lover came down from her climax, Hailey knew she wasn't going to fall for this one--that Sylvan wouldn't be the fourth woman to conquer her heart. She could tell that easily because, when Hailey looked her in the eyes, Sylvan too easily looked away. She was too timid that way... Hailey just couldn't see it--that spark, that bravery that would let a woman really own her own life. Because a woman would need a lot of that- would need to be much more intense, more driven and... maybe a little out of her mind too, in just the right ways, to really handle her in the long term. Because, since Ivy, well, she knew herself, knew her profession well enough to know that she'd been losing it more and more. She'd been so... utterly convinced that Ivy and her would be forever. She should have known better though- she'd been convinced of that with Rose too, and look how that had turned out? They were sisters! Like, really, take a clue Hailey! She really must have been stupid or something... It hadn't wrecked her any less though, for her own stupidity. She'd been more careful with her heart with Lisa, or tried to be at least, with not nearly as much success as she'd set out intending... A lot of the time, she didn't even try to stem the damage of it all. She was trying for Sylvan of course--trying to be a better person with her, trying to be a good lover to her... Mostly she was succeeding in playing her part, except for this one thing... It was just too tempting--too much of a thrill--to see, to feel, what was inside this woman... To have it crash over her... To just have her mind blown to dust and sparkles and lose herself for a while...

Sylvan wouldn't meet her eyes and so Hailey clasped her head and moved it a little roughly to the center before her. "Look at me. Look..." She told her coldly- though, inside, Hailey only felt heat, perhaps even need...

Hesitantly, but obediently, Sylvan opened her eyes. "Hailey, please..." She pleaded meekly.

"Please what?" Hailey asked, a cold but curious smile coming over her lips. "Don't you like me anymore?"

"You... You, that's not.... huhhhh!" Sylvan gasped as Hailey ground her thigh into her sex in a way she knew would melt her. Sylvan's body arched, her head lulled back, her mouth parting in a way that drove Hailey a little wild, and made her want to kiss her, which she did--owningly.

"You do like me, don't you?" Hailey asked softly into her lover's ear.

Sylvan didn't answer right away, but she started to struggle and, soon, Hailey found herself on her back, the silken fabric that surrounded them in the elegant bed they lay in holding Hailey down like tempered steal, and Sylvan over her, a wild look in her eyes. "Shut up. Just shut up... You know I hate it when you do this to me..." She complained. "You just won't stop, will you?" And she kissed her, hard.

Hailey smiled to herself and did as told, shutting up and letting her lover have her way. Sylvan was all wild edges and instinct now, grasping and needful. She repressed this side of her, but Hailey had found the ways to trigger it, to get her to show this side of herself. It was like a fever took hold of her, and Sylvan couldn't stop toughing, taking, trying to get closer, trying to burn herself away in the heat of what was between them. No, Hailey didn't speak, she just met Sylvan's desire with her own and lost herself right with her, letting a burning sort of lustful oblivion take her. They'd do this until Sylvan eventually passed out from it, Hailey knew. Sylvan was a strong woman, and something more than human somehow (out of respect for her privacy, Hailey hadn't pried for details on that point), but Hailey was a lot stronger, had a lot more endurance because of Ivy's formula. So Sylvan could go at her as fiercely as she wanted and it wouldn't matter, it wouldn't hurt her, it would just feel good- feel exciting, and so exquisitely primal and thoughtless...

Sylvan was a very beautiful lover, but Hailey knew, in the morning, she still wouldn't be able to hold her gaze- she'd still be meek and pliant, still wouldn't open up to her, let her in--not like Hailey wanted. There was just something... closed off there, inside her. Like a wall.

Oh, with enough time and patience, Hailey thought she'd surely be able to get past her defenses or get her to lower her guard more, but... she knew there were only two ways to do that. One would be to pretend to be someone she wasn't--someone kind and overly solicitous and cloyingly sweet probably--and the other... It was something she very much hoped she would never do, never even truly consider, no matter how far she let herself fall. No, to have something real with Sylvan, she would have to really earn her trust- really be... well, someone she couldn't be--just didn't have it in her to be. So, the sad fact was, they just weren't right for each other. Not in any sweeping romantic sense at any rate. She couldn't touch that place inside Sylvan that her lover really needed. There would always be something missing. And even with how brilliant she was, she couldn't put a name to what that was, that missing thing. She'd had it before though, with Rose, and with Ivy, and, yeah, with Lisa too, much as it made her kind of hate herself to admit it because it really had been all her fault that she'd messed it up so badly with her when she'd known that that could have been it, that Lisa could have been it for her--her happily ever after... So she knew what it was, and she knew she'd only be fooling herself if she tried to find it with the woman who's bed she was in.

Still, for what it was, what she and Sylvan had was beautiful, and she... She hoped that when things had run their course for them, that they could still be friends- that Sylvan would find someone who was right for her. But, as pointless and illogical as it was, knowing herself, she had to realize that the whole 'friends' thing, it probably wasn't going to happen... maybe she'd take a try at playing cupid from afar for her though? That could be fun...

She liked her... liked her a lot, and wanted her very much to be happy... And maybe it was wrong of her to even be here, with her, but she didn't have anyone else in her life right now- no one at all, even a friend (well, she had one, but he didn't live close by), and, after what had happened with Lisa, she simply didn't want to be alone--she felt she needed, or at least wanted very badly, someone to be with--even if she wasn't in danger of falling hopelessly in love again... Maybe even -because- she wasn't...

(2b continued)

Chapter 2

Title: The Murder Game



Some time later found Hailey, her body humming with very pleasant feelings of satisfaction, gazing down at a sleeping lover, idly running a hand through her hair. "You really are so beautiful..." She spoke softly to the sleeping woman, and she meant it, because Sylvan -was- beautiful, inside and out--very much so. It was a crime that no one else seemed to know that but her, not even Sylvan herself- not really. But then, that was common, wasn't it? Most people didn't see what was best in themselves nearly as easily as they saw the worst. Hailey considered herself different than the norm in that way, in that... well, she had never really had the knack for judging herself. Was she a good person, a bad one, something between, or something else? Was that even a real question? She knew she was beautiful, knew she liked herself quite well, or had until recently with the whole thing with Lisa making her doubt herself like she never had before. It had gotten to where, now, she was finding it hard to tell even that. Did she like herself anymore? She honestly wasn't sure she even had an opinion about that now, or if she did, if it was still a positive one, and the uncertainly bothered her.

If it were anyone else, she'd say the best guess would be that she was avoiding her own feelings, her own self, to cope. And maybe that was the answer, trite and depressingly mundane as that seemed. She certainly couldn't come up with another theory at least, at least not one that seemed more likely. But neither could she find evidence within herself to support that most likely of psychological diagnosis either. Other than that... perhaps she'd simply became numb somehow, or broken in some way she couldn't quantify...? or maybe she could quantify it and she just didn't want to? That was probably it, actually. The reasons were really very obvious, if you thought about it honestly after all...

"So, honesty is overrated sometimes..." She told her sleeping lover softly, touching her hair and forehead fondly as she got up and turned away, getting out of bed and going to get dressed. She cast an occasional contemplative glance at Sylvan as she did, and when she was ready, she looked at herself in the mirror and she wasn't Hailey Quinn anymore, she was The Harlequin. She smiled in a way that sent a thrill of anticipation through her and walked forward, through the mirror and into another world that looked as though it were made of glass or polished crystal.

One of those party favors she'd taken from Gem City was the technology Evan McCulloch (better known as The Mirror Master) used to enter this other-dimensional world, having killed him one night after he'd said something she really hadn't been able to forgive. While she'd been in The Gems, she'd made friends with James Jesse, The Trickster, and they'd collaborated on improving his flying shoes, which had left her with the design schematics too (he was that one friend she had that didn't live close by- he'd stayed in the Gems when she'd left, and, as of now, he was in Faucet City, pulling con after con with a new boyfriend who was pure trouble, but just delicious to look at, and especially to fuck).

She'd also 'appropriated' the Weather Wizard's control rod too, after he'd tried to sell everyone else out to Grodd for a payoff and she and Lisa's brother, Leonard Snart (Captain Cold), had put him in the hospital for it. She had Len's cold gun too- had taken it after his unfortunate (for her) death. She'd considered leaving it for Lisa as a small way of saying sorry, but she hadn't done that. True, she'd been to blame (undeniably, stupidly to blame), and the death of a beloved brother was no small thing to forgive, but even so, she still mostly believed that Lisa should have forgiven her--they'd been in love after all. So... that was her small bit of petty, utterly stupid revenge.

The real treasure though, was what she'd gotten from Abra Kadabra, the time traveler from the future whose technology was so advanced it looked like magic to the present day world. That, she'd wanted just because she couldn't resist the idea of it--the mystery, the wonder, the challenge of it. She'd befriended him, used her skills as a therapist to kind of get in his head, tell him what he wanted to hear. It hadn't been hard, really--he was such a lonely sort--which wasn't a surprise, because he wasn't really an easy person to like. She didn't really like him either- or she kind of had at first, but then he'd raped James... So of course that was when she'd gleefully tortured (she usually wasn't the type to torture people, but in this case, she'd made an exception) and killed him with his own technology- which he hadn't really thought she'd be able to understand, but, of course, she had been. She'd figured out how to use it with a good deal more skill than he could, in fact (it wasn't as though he'd invented anything, he'd just used what was commonly available in his time and stolen a restricted time travel app to come back here and make trouble because he couldn't fit in in his own time and he wanted to... well, matter, she supposed).

She hadn't told anyone but James, even Lisa, that she'd done it- to the others, he'd just disappeared, gone back home to the future or whatever, and since he didn't actually have any friends, in this time at least (sad as that was), no one looked for him, or even seemed to miss him. No one but James knew what she had, or just how very dangerous a person she'd become. She hadn't really used it for anything big yet, mostly because she just didn't feel like it--mostly because she was still getting over what happened with Lisa. Not that she was under any illusions that she'd actually ever really get over it. If past experience was any indication, she never would, she'd just manage to get to a place where she could live with it better, and then go looking for another woman to break her heart again... or, hopefully, not break her heart. That's what kept her going, really. That, if she kept trying, she'd get there eventually--find the one for her. When that happened though? When she met someone new and stopped feeling like she wanted to just hide away from the world? Then, oh then she was going to make some noise--and the world was -going- to listen. It wouldn't have a choice!

Still and all, for all the 'magic' of the future-technology, the mirror tech was really interesting too. The mirror world was beautiful, truly. She'd spent days in here once, just walking around and sightseeing, having packed a few things to tide her over. It was like one big crystal palace. She walked along in no hurry until she found herself at her destination: A mirror in the master bedroom of Cecily Carter's palatial up-town penthouse. She walked through, easy as a regular person would step from one room to another, and saw her there, laying in her bed, asleep, curled up contentedly between two prostitutes (one male, one female).

She felt herself grow cold inside looking at the scene. She was here because this woman and her two brothers, Jenson and Michael Carter, owned a furniture business, passed down from their now deceased father and mother, that was responsible for clear-cutting acres of forestland to make their obviously un-needed products. She'd already paid a visit to Jenson, as a matter of fact, and Michael was next on her list... but, seeing the scene before her, she found herself even more eager. She'd known Cecily Carter paid for prostitutes, so had Jenson in fact (though, in his case, he'd had a steady lover recently, so hadn't done so for the past few months), it had come up when she'd looked into the finances of the company, but seeing it in person was a lot different than seeing sums on a page.

Then she thought of what to do and she smiled, delighted by her own ingenuity and sense of fun once again. "Let's play a game, won't we?" She asked the room softly, touching each of them lightly on the forehead and using her future-tech to put them in a sort of sleep-lock that they couldn't wake from without her releasing them from it. She then went about grabbing dear Cecily by the hair and unceremoniously pulling her out of bed, then tying her up and hanging her from a hook in the ceiling. She considered the scene a second, then decided to gag her too. She wasn't really in the mood to hear... well, -whatever- Cecily might have to say. It was blatantly evident that she deserved what was coming, after all. A mass tree-murder and a Jane?--she deserved this and then some. Of all the completely mad and nonsensical things people did in general, people who paid for sex were one of the things that just... really, truly irked her. It was like... you know, watching a sunset with your girlfriend and someone walks by with a dog and starts kicking the dog because the dog won't fetch a Frisbee right. And she despised people who kicked dogs as much as she despised, well, anything in the whole entire world really.

The scene set, she snapped her fingers to release her audience of sleeping beauties from her spell. She then clapped her hands loudly. "Wake up and be happy, prospective new friends of mine." She told them.

The two prostitutes blinked the dreams from their eyes and sat up, looking around in half-awake confusion. Hailey laughed just a little. "Aw, cute." She told them, getting out a knife. Alter all, one of the reasons she despised dog kickers so much, was because, obviously, she liked dogs. And, in the sunset analogy, the dog was representative of prostitutes- not a flattering analogy, some ill-informed people might say, but she was not an ill-informed person, and dogs, in her opinion, were one-hundred percent amazing.

The woman of the pair's eyes caught hers and widened a little, widened further when her gaze traveled over to poor doomed Cecily Carter and the knife in Hailey's hand. "Shit..." The woman swore softly. "Jason... I think we're... in a lot of trouble somehow." She spoke to her male counterpart.

Jason turned and looked where she was looking. "What the..." He backed up in bed a little and got quiet. "What do you want?" He asked, his face suddenly growing closed and weary in that way someone gets of being weary when they've lived on the streets and had to do a lot of things they'd really rather not have had to do in order to stay alive and provide something in any way approaching a life for themselves.

"Her. Dead. She really does deserve it. Do you disagree?" She asked.

Jason remained quiet, watching her with a calculating look. He wanted to say something, but wasn't.

"I wouldn't know." The woman answered for him.

"Honesty. See? I knew I was going to like you. Tell me your name?" She asked hopefully.

"Holly... Robinson." She replied.

"Well, Holly and Jason--I'm The Harlequin, and I'm pleased to meat you both. So, now that we know each other a little better, would you like to play a game with me? If one of you wins, you'll be rich?" She offered enticingly.

"And the one that loses?" Jason asked, voice still weary and cold.

"A consolation prize, you mean?" Hailey asked delightedly. "Hm, well, how about I just let the one who loses riffle through Cecily's jewelry box or something--sound fair?"

"So... you're not going to, you know, kill us?" Holly questioned.

"Hmm." Hailey considered playfully. "Probably not. But let's check, just to be sure. Do you knowingly own, direct, or take significant actions that support a business or corporation that's significantly environmentally or ethically irresponsible? Abuse your lovers? Beat children? Do you murder plants for no good reason? Involved in human trafficking? A protection racket? Kick puppies or other animals? Run a cult that worships insipidly cute glazed mud sculptures and bilks old people out of their retirement money?" She seriously doubted these two would qualify for any of that, especially the last one.

"No." Jason spoke.

"Um, me either?" Holly replied uncertainly.

"Oh good. Then no. No killing you by me. Want to hear more about the you becoming rich game?" Hailey asked.

"Yes." Holly replied impulsively.

Hailey smiled, liking Holly even more. "Ambitious. Good for you. Alright, so here's the deal: Dear despicable Cecily Carter and her two equally despicable brothers have been, well, despicable! So I was planning on doing everyone but them a favor and murdering them all dead. Cecily, for instance is going to be killed with this knife right here. The only question is: Who's going to be her killer? It was going to be me of course, but if it turns out to be one of you, I promise, everything that's hers is yours. Her money, this penthouse, her company, even her brothers' shares of the company--everything she and her two low-life brothers has in fact: Yours. On one further condition: You'll have to close that company down, donate all of it's forest land holdings to conservation groups, and trash any and all logging equipment it owns. Sell even one chainsaw, I come back and kill you with it. Understand?"

"So, you're an eco-terrorist then." Jason spoke.

"It's one of my hobbies, yeah." Hailey replied, annoyed by his tone. "Though I prefer the term 'passionate revolutionary', or 'tree-hugger'--I always liked 'tree-hugging'. Have you ever hugged a tree Jason?"

"Slept in one a few times." He replied.

"Well, there you go then. Insert overly precious, slightly condescending monkey joke here. We're practically family." Hailey tossed the knife in the air and caught it absently. "Annnnywaaay... So how 'bout it? Who wants to get to the stabbing part? Any takers?"

Hailey could already tell Jason wasn't about to take her up on it. The look on his face told her that he held her in contempt, but valued his own life too much to say so and risk her anger. She didn't hold that against him though, even though it was slightly irksome that he apparently didn't think much of passionate revolutionary tree-huggers. Some people could really be thick, you know? Holly on the other hand... Holly was looking at Cecily thoughtfully. She then looked to Jason. He gave her a look that said clearly 'don't do it, you'll regret it if you do'. She then looked into Hailey's eyes and nodded. "She's dead anyway... and it's not like global-warming's actually fake or something. And I... you know, I really hate doing this--being... being a whore. Don't you?" She told Jason. "I'm doing it." She decided, moving forward a little nervously and stepping onto the floor from the bed.

Hailey smiled. "Somehow, I thought it was going to be you." She handed her the knife, hilt out.

Holly took it and walked over to Cecily. She looked into Cecily's terrified eyes. "I'm sorry about this. You were nice to me." She told the doomed woman, stabbing her in the chest.

Her hand dropped from the knife after a beat and she stepped back, eyes wide as the life faded from Cecily Carter's face. A few tears fell down Holly's cheeks, and Hailey went over to her and wrapped her up in her arms from behind in a gentle embrace. "There, there. The first one can be like that. I cried too, if it helps--I still do sometimes. You were very brave." She told her. "And you won. You're rich." She confirmed to her, coming around in front of her and unhooking the dead body from the ceiling, carelessly tossing it through the mirror. She smiled to Holly. "You okay?" She asked thoughtfully, noticing that Jason was beating a stealthy yet hasty retreat, having snatched the jewelry box on the way out. She laughed. "Not so principled after all then, was he?" She smiled. "Good for him." She complemented.

"Huh?" Holly turned around and saw that Jason was gone. "Shit... You... You don't think he'd tell anyone what I did, do you?" She asked.

"Mm, kinda doubt it. If he does, I'll protect you and kick his butt off to some remote tropical island where no one'll ever find him or something, so don't worry about it. After all, we're friends now, you know, or something. If you wanna be, I mean." She told her off-handedly, ruffling her hair a little.

"We... We could be more than friends... if you want?" Holly told her a little apprehensively, approaching her in a hesitantly seductive way, touching her cheek. "I'm apparently rich now.... I could... I could even afford to take you out on a real date?" She offered kind of shyly.

Hailey considered that a moment. Holly's offer, and her interest, were obviously genuine, but she could also tell that she was looking for comfort and security more than anything. She might also still be a little nervous for her life too, Hailey supposed. She also suspected she was probably kind of Holly's type: A risk-taker, decisive, charismatic, mysterious, exciting, even dangerous, and probably bad for her. All of which Hailey could easily understand, but Holly just wasn't what she herself was looking for in a love interest, and she certainly didn't have any interest in being bad for anyone in that way. Oh Holly was interesting and attractive, someone she'd enjoy spending time with as a friend she thought, but, for a perspective romantic interest? So not going to happen.

Hailey took Holly's hand in both of hers and smiled. "Trust me- you don't really want that. I'm a hand-full and a-half, believe me. Besides, I'm taken at the moment." She let her hand go and touched her face in a fond caress. "I am newly arrived back in town though. I could definitely do with a friend?"

Holly smiled, still seeming kind of nervous. "Yeah, me too I guess..." She told her, letting Hailey give her a hug. "It was probably a dumb idea anyway. Fuck, I really just killed someone..." She told, starting to cry in Hailey's arms a little.

"Don't be sad." Hailey moved back and looked her in the eyes. "It probably doesn't even matter nearly as much as people think it does. From what I can tell, life is like a game really, in some ways at least. And I'm sure it's not like killing someone means they stop existing or anything. I think... they just go on and live another life somewhere else, or something of the kind. Besides, the fact is: To be alive is to kill, one way or another. Plants, animals, humans, aliens, whatever... Even just turning left or right down a street's usually a life or death decision, if you look far enough off into the future at the consequences. The truth is we're all mass murderers of staggering proportion, even if most people try to justify it away because they're too afraid to acknowledge it. We can't help it. So, try to look on the bright side... You're normal." She told her softly, kissing her forehead fondly. "And anyway, you also saved the life of a lot of plant-life today too. Trees are every bit as important as humans, I've seen proof of that. Empirically speaking, you're more a hero than a criminal, Holly. To me at least, and my capacity for reason is far in advance of most people's, even if I am also kind of nuts in some ways, so that's not an insignificant thing at all."

"...Um, thanks, I guess..." Holly replied, backing away and turning her back to Hailey, looking at the bed she'd just been in and folding her arms in front of her. Hailey could very easily tell Holly didn't really believe what she'd told her about being a hero of course, but was just humoring her, and maybe herself, but Hailey couldn't really blame her for it either. After all, she'd seen the proof- Ivy had shown it to her very vividly. The Green--the living community of all the Earth's plant life. Beautiful, vast, hard to comprehend, even for her, but definitely just as alive and worthy of respect and continued life as the human population of the planet. All Holly had was her word on it, and it was reasonable enough for her to doubt it without seeing the proof herself. Not that there weren't a great deal of widely acknowledged practical reasons why protecting the Earth's eco-system was of very great importance of course- though, by her words before, Holly probably understood that at least. "So, how does this work then? Me taking her place?"

Hailey was about to reply, when she heard something and went still. It had been very faint, hardly noticeable, even to someone with her enhanced senses, but definitely there, definitely here, in the apartment with them. And it wasn't Jason- he was gone and Hailey seriously doubted he'd come back, or be able to sneak around so softly. She activated her future-tech sensors app and saw there was indeed someone there.

"What's...?" Holly turned to her and Hailey put two fingers to her lips.

"Oh, sorry, lost in thought there for a moment." She came up close to Holly then and whispered very softly into her ear. "There's someone else here and I'm going to turn myself invisible and go find out who. Don't be scared, okay new gal-pal o'mine?"

She looked into Holly's eyes then and Holly nodded that she understood, and Hailey used her tech go slightly out of phase with reality (making her invisible and completely undetectable to most people), then moved quickly through the penthouse.

In the main living area, Hailey slowed down to a stop and just watched as a woman in black bent down in front of a display of cat statuary and figurines and began to quickly disable the alarm system protecting them. Hailey started to smile as she recognized who it must be by the cat ears and tale on her gear: Catwoman! What a curiously interesting coincidence! Though it was hardly surprising, she supposed- she'd never bothered to become an expert on such things, but she knew from her research that the collection over there was ensured for three hundred thousand dollars, and, of course, the cat theme was an easy match...

She -could- just let Catwoman go about her business of course, it was really none of hers after all, but where was the fun in that?

"Hi there. Is it just me, or is this a surprisingly busy penthouse for this time of night?" She introduced herself, stepping back into phase with reality.

(2b continued)

Chapter 3

Title: Those Unexpected Things



Catwoman turned immediately, claws extending from her fingers to answer the possible threat.

"And who are you supposed to be? Why are you here?" Catwoman asked softly, gracefully getting to her feet when she saw no aggressive action from Hailey.

"I go by Harlequin. But... you can just call me Hailey if you want to...?" She offered, fascinated with Catwoman's eyes and how it was they seemed to glow with intelligence and life as they swept over her appraisingly. She was very intrigued by this pretty cat-burglar she'd found all of the sudden. "As for why I'm here: just good timing on my part, apparently. I came here to commit a murder, you came here to commit a theft--would it be too forward if I asked you to go out dancing with me later?" She asked playfully. "I think I just made a new friend in the other room, we could make it a girl's night out?"

Catwoman smiled daringly. "Sorry. Not interested." She replied, moving around to get closer to the balcony window she'd came in from.

"No? That's too bad, kitty..." Hailey answered back as, predictably, Catwoman moved, swift and silent as her namesake, to jump out the window into the night. She smiled. "...because I definitely am now..." She spoke to the empty room, looking out into the city after dark, the scent of the night air coming in from the still open patio door.

She decided then and there that kitty was someone she definitely wanted to get to know better. Just something about that look in her eyes when their eyes had met... She just -had- to know more about her...

Holly chose that moment to come in the room from the bedroom. "Is... everything okay?" She asked.

"Hmm? Oh, of course." Hailey replied absently, turning to meet Holly's eyes. She touched the center of Holly's forehead with her index finger. "There. Just say my name, 'Harlequin' (though you can call me Hailey), and you'll look and sound just like Cecily Carter. I've even included access to all my research on her and her brothers. You now know their bank account numbers, pass codes, general family history, all that sort of nonsense. Just think of what you want to know, and, if it's in the database, the information will come to you. Say my name again and you're back to you again, easy as a smile." Hailey touched the tip of Holly's nose with her finger, and, yup, made her smile.

Holly laughed. "Really?" She asked. "It's really as easy as just that?" She sounded a little in awe.

"Well, I'm not making things up just to mess with your head if that's what you're asking." Hailey told her playfully, all of the sudden in a very good mood for some reason--probably having everything to do with her encounter a minute ago.

"Harlequin." Holly spoke softly and was changed, looking down at herself in wonder. She went over to a nearby mirror to look at herself as Cecily Carter. "...Out of this fucking world..." She spoke.

"My number's in your cell phone now. Call me. We'll have fun. Go dancing. Kill a few of your old Johns and Janes or something if you want. I could put them all in Playboy rabbit outfits and we could play Elmer Fudd with the shot guns and the hats? Or, you know, mini golf. Totally up to you." Hailey offered as she walked back to the bedroom. "I'm going to go inflict unnecessarily prolonged egregious violence on the last Carter brother now. Would you believe it? That cold hearted so and so actually kicks his dog? I mean, hurting a cute defenseless doggy like that... It really gets to me, you know?" She sighed. "...You can come with if you want?" She put forward, a little of a dare in her voice. "No pressure of course. I understand if you wouldn't want to."

"No, yeah, I... You go ahead... my, um, yeah, I think I'm more the mini golf kind of person, you know?" Holly answered quietly, going in to sit on the bed. She smiled to her. "I'll call you later, okay Hailey? Or, you know... you could call me too. That's good also."

"Okay." She agreed simply, smiling back and feeling warm and fuzzy about the whole thing as she turned to leave. Holly was going to make a good friend, she could just tell. Okay, so they wouldn't be murder buddies or anything, but she could tell Holly wasn't going to judge her for it either, and that counted for a lot in her book. In fact, she could tell Holly was genuinely grateful to her for what she'd just done for her... that she'd maybe even already started to feel safe with her and think of her as a friend too... how great was that? Not many people really got her like that right off and saw her for who she really was, and not who most people just assumed she was. It showed that Holly had a talent for unconventional thought and intuition.

Yup, tonight was turning out to be double plus extra lucky, no doubt about it.

She was humming happily to herself as she went out through the mirror the way she came, walking along the mirror-world road on her way to her next stop. She was going to make Michael Carter's bloody death quicker than he deserved (she'd had a dog growing up after all and he'd been her best friend back then, which was the root of her whole 'I hate dog-kickers with a burning passion' thing). After that, she was going to head back to her apartment to do some more research... Her subject this time? Why, a certain captivating cat-thief who'd caught her eye, of course...

Somehow, Hailey just knew, the new kitty in her life was going to be good for her. She just has a sense about it.


It was nine in the morning and Selina was lazily lounging in bed after having gotten in at two AM. She'd only gotten six hours sleep, having woken up at around eight, but she'd felt no particular need to get up and so had simply lain there, cozy and warm in bed, with her cat, Isis, well fed and happy, purring softly on the next pillow over.

The doorbell rang and Selina's eyes opened immediately.

"Don't get up, I'll get it!" She heard her roommate, Arizona, call.

Selina smiled and closed her eyes again. She just hoped it wouldn't be another of Arizona's ex-girlfriends again. Really, her roommate was entirely too good at getting women to come home with her. It kind of surprised Selina that she hadn't tried it with her yet... Probably knew she'd get turned down. Or, well... probably turned down...

She couldn't hear what they were saying, but whoever was at the door was definitely not one of Arizona's--he was a guy for one, and Arizona was one-hundred percent lesbian. In the year or so Selina had known her so far, she hadn't seen her roommate come anywhere close to even checking out a guy.

The door closed and she heard Arizona's footfalls approaching her room, then a soft knock on her door. "Um, it was for you."

Selina sat up and stretched, yawning. She blinked and looked over to her roommate, who was definitely enjoying the view. Selina smiled playfully. "Like what you see, do you?" She asked, rolling up into a crouch and leaping from the bed to land on her feet in one graceful motion.

Arizona gulped a little. "Is that even a serious question?" She asked with a little of a bemused and flirty kind of a smile.

"I suppose not." She replied absently. "So who was it?" She asked a little warily. Her ex-boyfriend, Jason Bard, was out of town and wouldn't be back for weeks. He could have sent flowers or something in an attempt to get back in her good graces, she supposed, but she seriously doubted it... Other than that, she owned the building, and the building manager was a woman named Alison Markus, and Alison, and those that worked under her, knew better than to send anyone to bother her without calling first. There really weren't that many other people who knew who she was, or especially where she lived. Naturally she was curious, but she was also cautious--very cautious, when it came to Arizona's safety especially. She had exactly two real friends in all the world after all, and she was in no hurry to lessen that number.

"Delivery guy." Arizona replied softly. "Seriously, you won't believe this..."

"What is it?" Selina asked.

Her roommate silently handed over a rather hefty red and black box.

Selina took it and turned her back to her roommate, opening the box. A little gasp escaped her lips.

"I know." Arizona spoke. "I think they're all real too. And there's a note."

Selina spotted it and tossed the box onto her bed, opening the note and reading it. It said 'Hi kitty. Presents! Sure you don't want to go dancing with me? ~ Love, Hailey.'

"Who's Hailey, by the way?" Arizona asked softly.

"...She's... someone I... met last night." Selina replied, dropping the note on the bed and looking at all the gems and jewelry and such that had spilled out on the bed. Isis was curiously sniffing some of it.

"You must have really made an impression. How much do you think all that's worth, by the way?" Arizona asked.

Selina sat down and the bed and looked through it, her eyes bright with interest and outright avarice. "At least..." She looked from the necklace she was holding and dropped it on the bed, picking up a small rose that was made of gold and jewels, looking over to meet Arizona's eyes. "There's got to be more than a three-hundred million dollars worth here." She spoke in quiet reverence. "Maybe even five-hundred million, if you could find the right buyers..."

Arizona let loose a little whistle. "Wow... You must have done more than make an impression." She replied, going to sit down on the bed with her, picking up a few of the valuables and inspecting them curiously. "Who is she by the way--this Hailey of yours?"

"...Harlequin." Selina nearly whispered the word, actually more than a little uneasy at the idea.

Arizona's reaction pretty much said it all. She was speechless, eyes wide.

"I'm in trouble, aren't I?" Selina spoke with a little of a daring smile.

"Zo? Where'd you go?" They heard a woman's sleepy voice call from the other room.

" 'Zo'?" Selina teased softly in a playful voice.

Arizona smiled unapologetically and shrugged. "She came up with it, not me." She whispered, getting up and going to attend to her current lover. "I'm here. You hungry?" Selina heard Arizona offer... Katy, Katy Harris, Selina recalled her name. It was kind of hard to keep track usually, but Arizona had managed to keep this one for almost two weeks so far so Selina had bothered to learn her name. Two weeks was better than her roommate usually did, actually. Somehow though, she had yet to know Arizona to spend a night without a woman in her bed, even if it was just a one night stand. In a way, Selina was actually a little jealous. Her own track record was something on the order of few and far between. She just didn't open up to other people very easily--she never had.

She looked down at the rose in her hand and tossed it on the bed. "Not going to happen." She told Isis, getting up to go get a glass of water from the bathroom sink and then take a shower.

It wasn't that she had a problem with a woman as a lover, mind you. She'd had romantic interests of both genders at times in her life--men more than women, but still.

And she liked trouble, of course she did... It was only, The Harlequin... Hailey apparently... Well, if her reputation was anything to go by, that was trouble on a level she really didn't need, and wasn't at all sure she could handle. Not that her 'courting gifts' weren't appealing, but it had the uncomfortable notion attached that Hailey was trying to buy her affections or something, and that part wasn't so appealing... The problem was, she could be pretty sure that just ignoring this particular problem wouldn't make her go away.

No... This was probably going to get worse before it got better.

Still though, she remembered the look in Hailey's eyes when their eyes met, and somehow... Somehow she couldn't help but smile to herself a little.

Why was that?


"Sylvan..." Hailey spoke. She was standing in Sylvan Scofield's living room when Sylvan walked in from a night out doing... well, whatever it was she'd been up to lately. Hailey hadn't bothered to find out or ask, actually... mostly because she got the idea Sylvan didn't want her to know (she wasn't usually the type to volunteer things about herself very often).

"Oh, you're here." Sylvan smiled softly to her as she came in the door. She put down her things on a chair and walked over to where Hailey was standing.

She moved in for a kiss, but Hailey held her off. "Um, you might want to wait until we've talked before you decide if you want to do that or not."

Sylvan looked confused at that a moment, then her features took on a more guarded look. "What's wrong?" She asked in a cold-sounding voice.

"I'm breaking up with you..." Hailey told her softly.

"...Why?" Sylvan asked.

"...Would you prefer tactful or blunt?" Hailey asked. "Or... Do you even really want me to answer you at all?" She was fairly certain what Sylvan would choose, but she felt she owed it to her to at least ask first.

"Blunt." Sylvan answered in a flatly hostile tone.

"I met someone last night. Our eyes met, we exchanged a few words, she left, but I want to peruse her. I think we could have a real connection... and I think I'm ready for that in my life again. Or, at least I want to be." She told her.

"-We- have a real connection, Hailey." Sylvan countered, making it almost sound like a threat.

"Not enough of one for my tastes." Hailey told her, trying not to make it sound too cold. "I do care about you... a lot. Maybe I even love you in a way. But you're still scared of me..." She explained softly.

"Fuck you." Sylvan told her in a hushed voice, looking into her eyes with contained fury (that fear was still there though, even now).

"You have--repeatedly and very, very thoroughly--it hasn't helped the way one might hope... Not that I really expected it would, I just didn't want to be alone--and we were so beautiful together, I guess I just couldn't help myself. So I suppose you do have a good reason to really hate me... If that's the way you wanted to go about this. I'd hope it's not, but I can understand if that's your choice."

"What's her name?" Sylvan asked coldly.

"Don't know that yet, actually. She goes by Catwoman. I've already nicknamed her 'kitty' in my head though." Hailey replied honestly. It was more honesty than was at all needed, obviously, but Sylvan had chosen blunt, so Hailey felt she owed it to her to be very blunt. That way, maybe she'd hate her for it and it would make the breakup easier on her in the long run.

The level of sheer anger in Sylvan's eyes at her saying that though actually shocked Hailey a little. It made her smile. She wanted to say 'you're cute when you're angry', but thought that would probably be just a -little- insensitive of her, and, really, she didn't want to hurt Sylvan any more than she already had if she could avoid it. The way things were going though? Her prospects on that didn't look too good. Maybe she hadn't gone about this the right way after all...

Sylvan visibly clamped down on her fury before Hailey's eyes though, turning away as a few tears escaped her eyes. "We're meant to be together." Sylvan told her, her back turned to her.

"You think so?" Hailey asked curiously. This was actually pretty darn unexpected--it hadn't been one of the reactions she thought she might get at all, actually. It made her curious... and a little bewildered, actually, that she somehow hadn't even remotely seen this coming (that just usually didn't happen with her).

"I know it." Sylvan told her. "I'm not losing you to her."

"Why not?" Hailey asked. Frankly, she was riveted- she wanted to know more.

Sylvan walked away without answering, going towards her bedroom. At the door to her bedroom, she turned her head, but still didn't meet Hailey's eyes. "You can either stay and forget about leaving me... or you can leave. It's up to you. Either way, you're going to be my wife one day." She told her softly, actually sounding... very vulnerable as she said it--maybe even a little desperate. She went into her room and closed the door behind her.

Hailey stared at the door in bemusement. "I think I might just have underestimated her." She spoke to the empty room, actually feeling tempted to take Sylvan up on it to see what would happen... and... because she really hated to see her cry...

She looked through the walls like they weren't there with one of her future apps and saw that Sylvan was laying on her back on her bed, arms spread out and looking up at the ceiling, like she'd just let herself fall there. She was still crying, though she wasn't making a sound.

Hailey's heart went out to her, but there were some things you just couldn't fix. She couldn't fix this, not without going into that room and telling Sylvan that this had all been a horrible mistake and that she'd changed her mind.

And, despite Sylvan's unexpected and very intriguing behavior, and the pull she couldn't deny she felt towards going to comfort her now former lover, in her heart, Hailey knew she didn't actually want to do that--didn't want to try something that still seemed like it would be futile. No, what she wanted was to go find the kitty she'd met last night and try to get frisky with her. She wanted to be in love again. She wanted it to be right this time. She wanted it to last this time. And, somehow, without anything but her feelings and a few fleeting moments of eye contact to assure her she was right, she found herself having an almost absurd level of faith that kitty was the right woman for her.

So, she left.


It was getting close to dawn and Jason Todd was just getting home. He'd sold some of the jewelry he'd gotten to some unscrupulous sorts an acquaintance of his had put him in touch with and hidden the rest in a safe place so he could go back for it later (it didn't pay to have a lot of cash or valuables on you in the neighborhood he lived in). After that, he'd gone and bought some groceries: A few apples, oranges, oatmeal, lettuce, trail mix, that sort of thing.

As he walked up the stairs to his apartment, the events of last night were playing through his head again. He was thinking of Zane and wondering again if he should have said yes to that woman's offer as soon as the words had left her mouth. Holly had been right--Carter would have been dead either way, and there was nothing either one of them could have done about it. The Harlequin: He'd used his smart phone to look her up online, and, really, if she'd wanted that woman dead, there was no damn way short of maybe Batman or Power Woman showing up that she was ever going to keep breathing come morning. Had he been selfish to throw away the opportunity, even given what he would have had to do?

No, he told himself. No, he'd done the right thing. He was a father now, and that meant that doing the right thing was even more important, not less. It meant that he owed it to his son to set a good example. And committing a cold-blooded murder to get ahead was about the worst betrayal of that responsibility he could think of.

When he got to the third floor and turned down the hallway towards his apartment though, he froze when he saw the door open. Kelly would know better... He dropped his groceries and raced ahead, burst into the apartment and was stopped again in his tracks by a sight that was infinitely worse than an open door. Kelly was laying on the floor, dead, her blood on the floor from a crack in her head...

Jason backed away in denial of what he was seeing. He stopped though, and raced into Kelly and Zane's room. "Not here..." He spoke in a soft, agonized voice.

...There was, however, a note.

Still in shock, he moved forward and picked it up, holding it for just a second before unfolding it to read.

'Kill yourself before noon today or he dies.'

He stared at the words, willing them to make some kind of sense--any kind of sense.

"Harlequin." He spoke the word aloud in a voice that cracked as if he were starved of water or horse from speaking too loud.

It was the only thing that made any sense after all--who else in his life could possibly be responsible for something like this? The serial killer/eco-terrorist he'd met last night was the only name that came to mind.

He got out his smart-phone and searched through his contacts, finding the number he wanted and tapping 'call'.

The phone rang three times before she picked up. "Holly? It's Jason. We need to talk."

(2b continued)

Chapter 4

Title: Lust At First Sight



She'd spent the day at home, relaxing with the luxury her ill-gotten gains afforded her. Arizona's girlfriend, Katy, had left early, her having had to get to work (poor woman). So she'd had her roommate/best friend all to herself for the day, which was just fine with Selina. She loved spending time with Arizona, maybe even more than she liked prowling around rooftops at night and stealing things that weren't hers... maybe more than that... maybe.

Selina gave her friend another martial arts lesson, taught her more about lock picking, they made lunch together, talked, swam in the pool for a long while (she could only take the cat theme so far after all, water aversion was where she drew the line--she was one cat that loved the pool). By the time the evening came around, Arizona had somehow managed to convince her to go clubbing with her again. Katy was apparently going out of town for the next few days to visit a sick uncle.

"And you really don't feel bad about this?" Selina asked curiously as they walked over to the club entrance. She didn't think it was particularly amoral or anything, she was more looking to gain additional insight into why Arizona was the way she was about this. Since Katy wasn't going to be available, Arizona was on the hunt for a replacement lover for the night. It wasn't surprising--it would have been far more surprising if Arizona -wasn't- doing this.

"Nope. In fact, I expect to be feeling very, very good about it shortly. You should try it more often, you know." She playfully prodded.

"Yeah, maybe..." Selina answered. "It would be kind of nice... Why don't you just go with her? You know, to visit her uncle? I mean, I'd miss you, sure, but..." Selina inquired further.

Arizona sighed. "I like her, okay... but..."

"She's just not the one you're going to marry?" Selina asked playfully.

Arizona looked at her with annoyance. "It's not like that. You should know it's not." She answered.

"No, I know... I didn't mean it like that." Selina replied, feeling a little betrayed that Arizona would think she had meant it like that.

"I know. Sorry. I shouldn't have said that..." Arizona answered.

Selina sighed. "It's okay... but I wasn't criticizing you. I guess... I guess I'm just trying to understand you more. That's all."

"And I get that." Arizona replied. "Sometimes I wish I understood me more too."

Selina laughed. "Now -that- I understand. And it's not like I'm exactly an open book or anything either. Guess that means we're a good match, huh?" She smiled to her friend as they arrived at the club's entrance. She looked up at the sign above the door. 'The Beach' it read in very tasteful metallic golden lettering. There was a long panoramic painting of a tropical beach at sunset just above the sign. Selina gave her name at the door. She and Arizona were members so they were let in without having to pay the cover charge.

The Beach was a very up-scale (and scandalously expensive) lesbian dance club/water park, and it was Arizona's favorite pickup spot by far--for obvious reasons. It was a theme club for sure. The temperature was tropical, the humidity perfect, there was a very impressive and scenic network of pools, the lights were sunny and bright, there was beach sand recessed into the floor in a lot of places, tropical plants and trees, state of the art real-view screens on the walls giving the illusion to anyone who looked that they were looking out at the ocean, a high ceiling full of skylights, cheerful Caribbean style music playing, and then of course there was the dress code...

Selina and Arizona proceeded to check their shoes and outerwear, stripping down to the bathing suits they wore underneath. -That- was the dress code, just like on a beach.

"I love this place." Arizona's eyes had gotten that hazy sort of dreamy look she sometimes got when surrounded by beautiful women... especially such scantly-clad ones.

Selina's eyes caught on a particularly sleek looking Asian woman with a certain type of sparkle in her eyes. "It certainly does have its charm." She had to agree. Besides, she loved the beach. And The Beach was very beach-like, except with an obscene amount of just about all the best modern convenience had to offer. "I'm going to go play in the water park, coming?" She asked Arizona as they walked through the club, the warm sand feeling very nice on her feet.

"Um, maybe later." Arizona smiled apologetically. A woman with long, raven hair had caught her eye apparently, and somehow, with a look, she'd enticed said woman to zero in on her and head her way.

"That's some trick." Selina spoke, shaking her head and smiling a little. "Have fun." She offered, leaving her roommate to fend for herself.

"You know I will." Arizona replied, heading over to meet her latest prospect.

Selina spared them a backward glance, then set her sights on the pools and headed over to get wet and have fun.

She wasn't expecting to actually meet anyone that would have her number or spark her curiosity enough for it to go anywhere, but she did enjoy all the constant flirting anyway. It did her mood (and her ego) no end of good.

And so it was that, an hour or so later, she excused herself from one of the pools and a woman that she liked talking with, but who was obviously intent on getting her into bed later. Not necessarily a bad thing, of course, but Selina found, predictably, there was no real click there. And, unlike Arizona, she'd never been the type to be able to do the whole one-night-stand thing. Like it or not, she was firmly the relationship type.

Besides, she'd had enough of the water for now and wanted to dry off, get a drink, and go dancing.

Dry and hydrated with one of those designer health drinks with the fanciful names, she headed over to the dance floor. A woman with blonde hair came up next to her and stepped in front of her. "Dance with me?" She asked in a soft voice that sent small shivers through Selina's body. The woman took one of her hands gently in hers, and Selina found her hand closing on that hand.

"...All right." She agreed with a warm smile, somehow instantly hooked--instantly intrigued.

She was led out onto the dance floor and found herself seamlessly shifted into this woman's arms and gazing into her eyes, just caught there, unable to look away. How was she doing that? And would she please not stop anytime soon? Selina somehow felt so warm, her body alive in a way that made her want more.

It was intense and heady, how she felt. The look in this woman's eyes was just doing things to her--things that made her practically want to purr like Isis did when she scratched her chin just so. "Who are you?" Selina asked softly, feeling just happy somehow. There was this undercurrent there too, like she felt when she was walking on a wire or something--exciting, but like she could fall if she wasn't careful.

"The woman you're dancing with, of course. Or, did you want my name? ...Don't you know?" She asked softly, moving in close and saying the last part at almost a whisper.

A shock of recognition went through her. She shivered, but somehow didn't tense up for a fight like logic told her she really should be doing. "...Hailey." She spoke the name softly. It wasn't a question. Those eyes? They were so much softer now, but still, how hadn't she known instantly?

"Hi kitty." Hailey smiled to her softly. "Or should I call you Selina instead? ...Personally, I like 'kitty'. Did you like the presents? They're all stolen, by the way." Hailey continued in that same damnably soft voice.

Selina couldn't help but smile at that. Why did she find this woman so charming? It was inexplicable, really. If anyone else had dared to just start calling her 'kitty' like this, she knew she definitely wouldn't find it charming. When Hailey did it though, she actually found herself liking it. "How thoughtful." She bantered back. "But... You wouldn't be trying to buy my affections, would you?" She asked.

"And if I was?" Hailey asked back, a challenge in her eyes.

Selina studied her dance partner then. "You weren't, where you?" She replied, smiling. "What, was it meant to be my equivalent of a dead mouse on my doorstep?" She asked playfully. "Or maybe... maybe it was a dare?" By the look in her dance partner's eyes, Selina could tell she'd guessed right.

"Mm, it could have been something like that..." Hailey smiled, a little shyly actually. Though Selina had the feeling that Hailey knew -exactly- what she was doing. "...Besides, trying to buy them wouldn't work anyway. I don't know you nearly as well as I think I'd like to... but even making allowances for that, it's obvious what I have to do to get your affections."

"And what's that?" Selina asked softly as they continued to dance, having moved yet closer together, much to Selina's rather bemused enjoyment. This was -really- a bad idea. But, hell, it looked like she was going to do it anyway. What else was new? It's not like it was exactly out of character for her, after all. It was probably why she hadn't had much luck getting a relationship to last that long--she kept picking love interests that were just plain trouble.

"Why... steal them of course." Hailey whispered in her ear in a way that almost had Selina asking her back to her place on the spot.

"Mm, so perceptive... are you like that with everyone, or just me?" Selina fairly purred as she moved to capture Hailey's lips in a kiss. She just couldn't seem to help herself. Hailey was pushing her happy buttons in just the right ways, like no one else ever had in fact, and she really didn't want her to stop.

"Oh, wow.... um," Hailey smiled, clearly dazzled by the kiss. "No, I'm always perspective I suppose... it's just rare for me to find someone else who appreciates that about me." She answered. "You might find it hard to believe, but some women find me kind of annoying that way."

"And you think I'm the type that wouldn't be, is that it?" Selina asked curiously.

"Well... You're not exactly keeping it a secret, now are you?" Hailey teased. "I mean... It's only our first dance, and you already want... what you want... Don't you?" She challenged softly.

Selina felt her eyes focus, felt her soul spark and flare, felt her skin anticipating a touch in that way she always felt when she had something she wanted in her sights. When she was sure it was going to be hers. She stopped dancing and moved in as close as close could be. "Yes." She spoke the simple word softly into Hailey's ear. And then she kissed her again, and she was positively reckless about it.

Hailey seemed a little surprised, but definitely was doing anything but resisting. Their bodies closed and pressed together, the pressure against her chest exhilarating, as their hands slowly quested and their tongues danced for a supremacy that Selina seemed to be winning. Hailey moaned a little and Selina was very acutely aware of her reactions, of the surrender she felt from her. That feeling thrilled her and made her want more. Made her want-- She broke the kiss. "This club rents rooms by the night. I'm buying?" She offered softly, her voice a bit husky actually, and her hands reinforcing the offer with seductive touches.

"...Consider me yours." Hailey replied back softly, looking into her eyes in a sort of dreamy and completely love-struck sort of way. She was hooked and captivated, Selina could tell. Talk about an ego boost.

Selina smiled and kissed her again, kind of possessively actually. "That's a dangerous thing to say to someone like me."

Hailey smiled sort of bemusedly. "Likewise." She replied in a playfully sort of way.

"Mm, I had gotten that impression... And, maybe I'm dumb for doing it, but... I kind of think I trust you anyway, though." Selina replied softly, taking Hailey's hand in hers and leading her off the dance floor, Hailey coming along very willingly. Everything logical about this told Selina she was being as stupid as could be. Everything illogical about it told her just the opposite though. When she looked at Hailey, all she could see, all she felt was 'don't be dense Selina--don't let this one get away--she so belongs in your bed right now'.

One check in, elevator ride, and hallway later, they were in a very nice suite that was theirs for the night. The sound system automatically activated when they came it, playing soft music with ocean sounds in the background. Selina pulled a blissful and ready looking Hailey towards the bedroom, took her bikini off, then promptly tossed her on the bed, stripped herself naked too, and basically pounced on her.

Her lips claimed Hailey's demandingly, and she held her new lover down on the bed, caressing her forearms as she gentled her kiss and took her time thoroughly kissing her until her lungs started to protest the abuse. She was in no hurry, but her heart was beating fast in her chest, her head was buzzing with a haze of pure want, and the only thing driving her was that she had to have this woman. Had to know her, please her, possess her... love her...

She broke their kiss, reluctantly, nipping at Hailey's lips and looking into her eyes for a long moment that had her pulse speeding up even more. Somehow, Hailey's eyes just drew her, thrilled her... like jumping off a building high in the sky. Most people, she imagined, had never done that... at least not and lived to tell the tale. To her though, it was her idea of a good time--to her, it was joy and freedom. She'd never met another person who could give her a feeling like that, not really, but here it was, in the Harlequin's eyes. "Such a rush." She whispered in quiet wonder. "How can you be real?" She asked softly, her hands trailing up Hailey's arms to tangle in her hair, before she kissed her again.

They rolled over onto their sides and Hailey's hands were on her, softly caressing her skin in slow, sensual ways that had Selina in heaven already as she focused intensely on kissing her. She was finding she was just in love with kissing this woman, and she was in no hurry to go further quite yet.

Next thing though, she found herself rolled over onto her back. She smiled between kisses and rolled Hailey over so she was on top again. "You're mine now, remember?" Selina whispered in her ear, nipping at it a little playfully before she moved on to trailing a series of kisses down her neck, down between her breasts, one of her hands already having cupped one of Hailey's breasts, finding their firm softness and heat amazing to touch.

"Yours..." Hailey spoke in a breathy gasp that had Selina thrilled, the body under her arching against her touch in such erotic ways.

Selina knew she was hooked just as much as her new lover seemed to be, there was no use denying it. She could hardly remember wanting anyone this much, and they'd just met. She couldn't help it, it just felt somehow like... Finally... someone who gets me. And when her mouth closed over one of Hailey's erect and ready nipples, the feeling it gave her only seemed to confirm her instincts that much more.


Kitty's lips, her fingers, her oh so very talented tongue were doing just the best things to her breasts and Hailey very definitely didn't want it to stop. A smile came to her lips, a bright and joyful sort of smile that she couldn't remember smiling since Lisa... This really was it--she was starting to fall in love again.

'Oh heart of mine' She thought playfully 'You really are a sucker for good sucking, aren't you?'. Was she setting herself up for another heartbreak? Maybe... but then again, maybe not. Either way, the plain truth was, she'd been going quietly mad without this. Three failures at love, one after another--it was wearing on her, and she knew it. She hated failing at things, hated being bad at them, hated having to admit that to herself. But this was more than that. Without being in love, she knew, it would keep hurting so much worse than another heartbreak. She'd eventually lose herself, either this time or the next one. She'd spiral out. She'd kill people, she'd break things, break people, break whatever she could until someone broke her and then, maybe, she'd end it herself.

To be in love? To, with her maddeningly perfect memory, remember it with perfect, vivid detail--every touch, every intimacy, every heartwarming burn of feeling that made you want to cry... and then to live without it, and to have it haunt you almost every minute of every day... It was the worst torture Hailey could imagine. And now... Now it might be over for her again. She might have found love again. She wasn't going to fail this time, she just wasn't... "Oh, kitty, yes... Yes, please..." Hailey gasped blissfully as kitty switched breasts and Hailey buried a hand in her long raven hair, wrapped the other around her shoulders, and held her to her. She wrapped her legs around kitty's waist next and just let herself relax in the sweet surrender. "Harder..."

Hailey gasped again in pleasure as kitty did as asked and sucked her harder. Her eyes fluttered closed and she just smiled and held her lover closer, feeling so warm inside in a way that finally made her truly happy to be alive again.

The heat was scorching her, and the want for release, for kitty to go lower, grew to where it felt like a drumbeat in her ears, and a fire between her legs. She didn't ask for release though, no, she happily endured it, savored it, knowing it would be all the more perfect when her time finally came. There was a certain poetry, a certain clarity that came with being so completely turned on. Her mind was exploding between her ears, thoughts being driven from her in one way, but, in another way, her senses were sharpening, her focus becoming stark and feelings vivid like a rainbow on a spring day.

Time seemed to lose it's meaning, and before she knew it, kitty's kisses were trailing down her belly, down towards just where she needed her... Her pelvis was being lifted up off the bed, and, at the first barest touch of her kitty's tongue on her clit, there was no helping it, she was gone for her--just -Boom-!

She cried out her release, long and soft, as sensation flooded her body in pounding, blissful waves of lustfully pretty feelings. Thought gone. Just feeling, and the warmth of knowing... She was going to make kitty hers--she was going to win her heart, and they'd be together forever. She'd make it happen, whatever she had to do--there just wasn't anything else for it.

But, as her orgasm ebbed, and she came back to awareness of the world around her a little more, she found herself laughing in delight! It seemed she wasn't the only one with intentions! Kitty was licking her folds, drinking her juices, and busily bringing her very close to another orgasm right after the last. Hailey hummed and moaned in complete pleasure. "Oh kitty, yes... Fuck me... just fuck me until I'm dead..." She spoke kind of blearily, her thoughts already abandoning her again.

All the concentration in her focused on the way kitty was using her tongue on her--every stroke, oh, and how she sucked off her clit, oh, that too... that too...

It all just sort of blurred into a long, long, blissful series of combustions. She felt so warm and loved inside. Oh wow, did kitty ever have her number... She was playing her like a violin, and making such beautiful, cheery, cheerful music.

She vaguely recognized it when kitty's lips claimed hers again, and talented fingers possessed her, both her dripping wet sex and one of her sensitized breasts. She felt kitty's grinding on her thigh too, but all she could think about was those fingers and kissing kitty back. The next vaguely coherent thought process she had was when she realized kitty's sex was laying next to hers, her scent attracting her like a magnet to taste her. Then her head was between kitty's legs, and her head felt like the ocean was roaring inside as she ate her out.

From there, they went at each other like starving women, desperate for each touch, every pleasure they could find in one another. And wow was there a lot of pleasure there to be had. It was almost like having Ivy or Lisa or Rose back. In one essentially important way, it felt just the same, and, of course, in other ways it was unmistakably different.

At one point, kitty was holding her down and looking into her eyes again, staring... intensely staring at her, like she couldn't look away. Kitty's eyes were... wild and bright--so much life, and not a trace of fear of her, just the beginnings of love, just desire, wanting--even unvarnished avarice. Those eyes felt like they were possessing her, owning her, demanding she lose herself... and just like that, Hailey felt something break inside her and she smiled, feeling so free. She laughed and surged up, rolling them over and pinning kitty down with vice-like grips powered by the meta-human strength Ivy's formula had given her. She couldn't talk, she just kissed kitty with everything she had in her to give. All the pain and yearning and madness and love she had to offer, she gave it--gave her everything.


Hailey had changed--her arms were like solid iron, holding her down. She struggled against them a little at first in surprise, but soon realized she had no chance, and gave up. And then Hailey was kissing her, and escape was the very last thing on her mind.

Something was happening though, something she didn't understand. Hailey's eyes, they'd been mad, and dark like an abyss there for a moment. It should have scared her, she knew. It didn't though, it just excited her. She wanted this version of Hailey, just as much as she'd wanted the plaint, soft, eager lover version of her. It was such an exhilarating feeling, a thrill that was doing such good things to her. It was better than theft! (and she usually couldn't honestly say that about the lovers she'd had in her life)

Hailey took her then, and then took her again and again and then they were at each other like before--if anything, even more desperately. Every instinct Selina had in her told her this was right though, that she'd found something with this woman. It... felt like home... It was... It was a feeling she couldn't remember ever having before.

As their night continued, they didn't stop making love longer than to catch their breaths a few times until her stamina just couldn't last any longer, and she felt thoroughly spent, and more completely sexed and sated than she'd ever dreamt she could be. She was panting, her skin glossy with sweat and burning with fever and she felt like she was going to faint soon. She was smiling though, looking with such intense emotion as she was sure she'd never felt before up into Hailey's eyes. Why did she feel this way? And how had this woman not even broken a sweat for that matter? It just wasn't fair.... That was when she passed out, feeling herself being cradled gently in her lover's arms. She felt safe and loved, and as she drifted off, she thought...

I could get so used to this...

(2b continued)

Chapter 5

Title: Girl Talk and a Houseguest



She watched kitty fall to sleep, and sighed, kissing her neck from behind, feeling protective and just so... good. She'd have to offer to give kitty a dose of Ivy's formula at the soonest opportunity though. She'd lasted longer than any baseline human had any right too (kitty was obviously in exquisite physical condition--as close to perfect as Hailey could imagine, really, except for the scars she had here and there that looked to be from early attempts at her cat-like 'gymnastics', though even those seemed perfect), but it had still been disappointing that they'd had to stop before the sun came up. And it had been kind of frustrating that she'd had to be so careful not to hurt her too--she didn't want even that barrier between them.

There was this soft little smile on her lover's lips though--this peaceful and thoroughly content looking smile that told Hailey that kitty... that Selina felt safe with her. Really safe, like she didn't have a care in the world. Warm feelings bloomed in her heart anew at seeing that, and she knew this was the start of a truly epic obsession for her. She was going to get it right this time, and she wasn't going to quit until she did. She just hoped kitty would like all that attention, because by this point, she knew herself well enough to know that it would take a lot -a lot- for her to get anywhere near over this enough for her to back down or back off.

She was hooked, and there was no going back, not now. She hadn't always been this obsessive, mind you, it had gotten worse for her each time. That fear of failure, fear of losing the one she loved again. She knew it was there, but she also knew she couldn't make herself not feel that way. She just... wasn't capable of it right now.

Still... she was hopeful this would work out anyway. That kitty would want her as much as she wanted kitty--that look in her eyes... that... that greed for her... Hailey was sure she'd be seeing that look in her dreams... frequently, day and night.

So, with an almost giddy sort of anticipation, she closed her eyes, snuggled up nice and close to her new kitty, and fell off to sleep.

In the morning, she woke up happy and rested and her kitty was gone...

She couldn't help it, she cried.

At least, that is, until she saw the note on the pillow. She snatched it up kind of desperately and read it: 'I could get addicted to you, I think. Tomorrow 10pm. Find me. Love, ~kitty'

Under the note, there was a small ruby.

Hailey clutched the ruby to her heart and laughed, falling back on her back on the bed and feeling positively giddy again. "She wants to date me!"

She wiped the tears from her eyes and couldn't stop smiling as she got out of bed and walked over to the mirror and left.

Her future-tech did have a teleport app, but she liked the mirror thing better because it was so pretty. And right now especially, she was in the mood for pretty sparkly landscapes that went on forever and looked like something out of a fairytale.

As she walked through the mirror world, she looked down at the ruby in her hand. "I wonder if it's a clue?" She thought out loud to herself. She had kitty's location locked in with an app, all she'd have to do would be to ping her to find where she was anytime at all. But, she considered, what fun would that be? Nope, she was going to play kitty's game and follow the clue fair and square. It'd be downright unromantic not to, after all.

A little while later, she walked into her living room through her mirror there and saw she had a houseguest sleeping on her couch. One she recognized right away.

"Aw, cute." She smiled fondly.

She blinked and used another future-tech app to get dressed in a white tank top and pale blue-jeans (just casual stuff, no socks or anything). She went over to the couch and nudged him awake, curious why he was here. They talked on the phone a lot, but she honestly hadn't thought he'd come all the way to Gotham-Metropolis for a visit like this. What a nice surprise. Today was turning out to be a really great day so far... Not as good as yesterday evening yet by any means, but still, she had hopes of getting kitty in bed again later, so things were really looking up for her about now.

"Wakey, wakey, my darling James. Rise and shine." She ruffled his hair and kissed his forehead fondly.

James Jesse blinked and woke, getting up a little and leaning on an arm. "Oh, hey. You're back." He smiled in that causally confident way he had about him.

"Back I am." Hailey replied easily, getting up and walking over to the sink to get herself a glass of water. "Water?" She asked.

"Sure." He agreed, sitting up and getting up, in typical graceful fashion, and following along over to the kitchen. "So... You're probably wondering why I'm here?" He asked.

"Nope." Hailey answered, handing him his glass of water. "You're in trouble--sacred and in trouble." She took a sip of her water. She'd figured it was either that or a break up, but she couldn't tell which while he was sleeping. Awake, on the other hand, she could read him like a book. It wasn't even hard, even though he was trying to hide it. "Don't worry, I'll fix it."

He looked at her bemused. "I'd almost forgot how good you are at reading me. You're probably the only person in the world I couldn't pull something on if I tried."

"Mm, maybe. Don't take that as a challenge though--you know you'd probably regret it." Hailey told him playfully. She didn't really mean it of course. James Jessie (alias: The Trickster) was her friend, and she had precious few of those. He was probably (okay, definitely) her best friend in the world, really, if she were honest. He'd have to do something really awful and monumentally stupid for her to really get mad at him that way.

He just smiled and looked troublesomely thoughtful. Like he was trying to think of a trick she would fall for. Actually, she kind of hoped he'd try it. She'd always been a little curious if he actually could do it. And at least it would be fun... probably. Just not now. Preferably, not until she and kitty were happily married or something... Mm, talk about a nice thought.

Hailey shook her head. "So who's the dead guy? Dead guys?" She asked after who she'd be killing shortly.

"Alas, would that I knew." He confessed.

"Really?" Hailey asked, her interest piqued. "Curioser and curioser. Do tell? And where's Jace in all this by the way?"

James sighed. He ticked off the points on his fingers. "Missing boyfriend. Nightmares about being sent to hell. My apartment blew up. There are these burning eyes that seem to be watching me all the time, I can almost just see them out of the corner of my eye. Then there's those things." He pointed over to the left at the wall.

Hailey's eyes widened a little. There was some kind of symbol burned into her wall! "Now how in the name of all things whacky did that get there?" She wondered, walking over to where it was, her curiosity well and truly piqued. She was going to touch it, then decided to use a future app to scan it instead. The magical energy signature came back with a match in her future records in no time flat. She whistled. "James? Darling? I hate to break it to you, but you've really been cursed or something." She turned and looked at him. "That basically says your soul's gonna get dragged to Hell, but not before she messes with your mind some first."

"She? She who?" James asked, leaning back against the counter and trying not to look as nervous and scared as Hailey could tell he was.

Hailey shrugged. "Some black magic hottie I've never heard of before, apparently." She tapped the side of her head. "He-who-shall-not-be-named's gizmos have all sorts of interesting info on file. This lady's apparently a big deal--the queen of Hell, believe it or not. Serious dark magic--real magic--not like what I do... James, really, what'd you do?" Hailey asked.

James just smiled that smile of his that made her want to either whack him on the back of his head or laugh because it was funny and charming and sweet. This time she was more in the whacking state of mind. "I don't know. Nothing jumps out. Could be anything, I guess."

"Really." Hailey replied absently, yawning and plopping down on a chair. This was going to take a while, she could just tell. It was frustrating. She -wanted- to be figuring out kitty's clue right now. But, she had time she supposed, and James was her best friend and all. She could be patient--to a point... If he kept being annoying about it though, she -was- going to whack him on the head or something so he'd get to the point faster.

"Really." James replied, going to sit down on the couch where he'd been sleeping, elbows on his knees, hands joined. "See... Jace... he kind of had this way of inspiring me..."

"I bet he did." Hailey couldn't help a knowing smile at that. Jace Station -was- devastatingly handsome, for a guy (she wasn't the best judge for guys, of course, because they had never interested her that way, but even she could see why James would go for him in a heartbeat). He was built like a model, had a smile that was pure trouble, and eyes that were all lusty bad intentions. In other words, James hadn't had a chance (maybe not even a snowball's chance in Hell, if she wanted to bring a common saying into uncommon use as a literally accurate pun over this).

James had met Jace shortly after Hailey had left the Gems; after his last boyfriend (Hartley Rathaway, a.k.a. the Pied Piper) had dumped him and gone 'legit' (little weasel was probably giving The Flash a blowjob even as they spoke). Jace'd been trouble from the start, and the two of them had been chased out of town in no time flat. They'd ended up in Faucet City, and Hailey had had to come break them out of prison once. Sylvan had come with her for that, she recalled absently... A flash of Sylvan's eyes when she'd broken things off with her came to her mind unbidden, accompanied by more than a little guilt.

"Well, there was that." He agreed with a sparkle in his eyes, one that quickly faded to concern and sadness.

"We'll get him back... You know, if possible." Hailey assured him, sitting forward and assuming a more thoughtful pose. "Okay, so lets start at the start. What were you and lover boy up to just before this whole 'damned to Hell' stuff started up?"

"Nothing big. I swear. Wait. Do those future records have her name--this 'black magic hottie'--or a picture?"

"Blaze." Hailey replied, snapping her fingers and causing a life-size, very real looking projection of the woman in question to appear before them. Hailey wasn't above enjoying the view, either. She couldn't help it, she had a thing for women who knew how to cause trouble. This one looked like she was trouble down to her toes! "Be still my heart, by the way." She licked her lips a little. True, she was going out with kitty now, and she wasn't dumb enough to want to date the queen of Hell or anything, but none of that meant she couldn't enjoy looking.

"Blaze..." He spoke, understanding clicking in his eyes. "Angelica Blaze--that's got to be it. Fuck..." He got up and started to pace a little.

"Let me guess, Angie's a mark, you conned her, kapow--cursed to Hell?" Hailey stopped the projection with a little bit of regret. Apparently, being bad had it's benefits. If there was a heaven and a hell like a bunch of religions said, she'd take Hell any day over some shiny cloudy place with a beard-guy if the women there looked like that! The again, religions said Hell was supposed to be run by a horny guy, not a horny gal, so obviously they couldn't be trusted as travel guides.

He looked at her. "Yeah." He shrugged. "Basically."

Hailey did a hack and records search in Faucet City and found her. Angelica Blaze--blonde, Caucasian, blue eyes, but that was the same lady alright. Some things a magical makeover just couldn't hide. And this was definitely the same back magic hottie in question. "That's her all right." Hailey relayed.

"...Any idea what we do next?" James asked hopefully.

"Well, this for starters." She went over and tapped James on the center of his forehead. "Now your soul should be locked where it is. Your dreams should be shut tight too."

"Well, that's a relief." James replied. "And hey, no more eyes looking at me." She reported with obvious relief. "What next?"

Hailey shrugged. "Idonknow. Wait I guess."

"Wait? That's it?" He asked.

"Yeah, well, while my bag of tricks does have an app that I suppose could teleport me to Hell, I'm not really very keen on using it, you know? Probably better to wait and see what happens. Besides, I have a date later. I'm not missing it." Hailey told him.

"Even if Blaze comes to collect my soul and drag me down to hell?" James asked, a little incredulously.

Hailey pondered that a moment playfully. "Well..."

"Hailey!" James cried.

She smiled. "Kidding. I'm not going to let any luscious hell hotties muss your perfectly styled hair. Promise. If it happens, kitty will just have to understand."

He sighed in relief. "Well, that's good then." He sat down. "Poor Jace though. I don't suppose there's any chance he's still alive and we can save him, do you think?" He asked hopefully.

"Oh, I think he's probably still among the living and can probably take care of himself." She replied, getting up to go get cookies.

"You're being cryptic again, you know." James replied, getting up.

"Cookie?" Hailey offered.

"No thanks. What aren't you telling me?" He pressed.

Hailey sighed and took a bite of her cookie. "Well... when my future 'magic' I.D.d Angie, it also pinged Jace's energy signature from my personal past records, which it auto-stores. They, um, sort of matched."

"Matched?" James asked, a look of apprehension coming over his face.

"As in brother and sister." Hailey supplied.

"Brother and..." James's voice trailed off.

"Yes, dear James, loveable ne'er-do-well friend of mine... You've been dating and romping around in bed with Satanus, exiled twin brother of the queen of Hell... It doesn't necessarily mean you have to break up with him though." She qualified. "He could have real feelings for you. Granted, this brings up trust issues, but I'm a romantic, so I tend to hope for the best."

He rubbed his face. "Fuck..."

"Well, that was how you got into this mess, I imagine... Not that I couldn't imagine how that could happen. If Angie had met me when I was single, I might be in the exact same boat. Who knew the royalty in Hell were so damn pretty anyway?"

"Not me. So... We're basically going to wait for her to make the first move?" He asked.

"Yeah... My guess is she's using you for leverage on her brother though. That is, unless you did something that -really- got her mad at you. You didn't, did you?" Hailey asked.

"I don't think so. We just stole a lot of money from her, that's all... Well, as far as I know, I suppose." James allowed.

"You think Jace was up to something else, I take it." Hailey replied.

"His name is Satanus, remember? And don't you? It doesn't make sense any other way. Exiled means bad blood. Doesn't track he'd risk bad sister's boot prints on his finely shaped ass if he didn't have more in the game than just money. Any number of ways he could get that without putting his head in the lion's maw, and mine with it by the way." He explained a little bitterly.

"Can I take it Satanus probably just found himself dumped?" Hailey asked.

"Looking that way, yeah." He replied bitterly. "If it was real between us, he would have told me the score going in."

"...Probably for the best then." She answered softly, setting down her cookie, having lost her appetite. "I hate break-ups." She muttered.

"Right there with you." James replied. " least he was drop-dead gorgeous and the prince or king of Hell or something though. Otherwise this would be downright embarrassing. Me, the mark for once."

"It's still embarrassing." Hailey teased him.

"Well, okay, not -as- embarrassing then." He corrected.

"True." She agreed absently, already having moved on to thinking about a certain ruby again.


She was sitting in her bed, legs tucked up against her chest, arms folded on her knees, gazing out her windows at her room's view of the city skyline. She'd spent the morning putting together a romantic scavenger hunt for Hailey and feeling ridiculously happy while she was doing it, and now she was just sitting here in her bed and she couldn't stop thinking about her. It... It actually scared her a little, now that she'd had time to really think about it.

"What am I doing, Isis?" She asked her cat softly.

Isis came over and rubbed her leg and purred to her. Selina absently scratched her chin.

Arizona hadn't come home yet, and it was bugging her that she hadn't. She needed someone to talk to about this, and, as much as she liked Isis's company, her cat just wasn't up to this particular job. For that, her best friend was needed.

Of course, she could hardly blame Arizona for being out. She was probably having wake-up sex with her latest lover. After last night, she felt she understood the need for a lover in a way she hadn't ever quite understood before. She'd had exactly six other lovers in her life--four men, two women. They'd all made her feel really good about herself... well, most of the time anyway. But the point was, a lover was always someone who made her feel nice, gave her comfort, sexual satisfaction, and made her feel less alone in the world... Once or twice, she'd even imagined she might have found love, fleeting though it would turn out to be in the end. Even then though, she hadn't felt like this.

Hailey's every touch, her every look, they seemed to live on her skin, be burned into her heart... They'd hardly even really talked, had they?

Just a little simultaneous illegal entry, a little scantily clad close-quarters dancing at a beach-themed lesbian dance club, a little flirting, then hours and hours of the best, most mind-blowing love-making she'd ever had... Tonight, she was definitely going to have to make it a point to have an actual conversation. It only seemed sensible, right?

...When she'd gotten home though, she'd web-searched her new lover. The Harlequin... She'd known her by reputation before, just about everyone in the city did, but she hadn't ever actually looked into her.

Wanted as an eco-terrorist, a serial-killer... she was suspected of all sorts of crimes, really--though, apparently, only a few of them would actually stick if anyone ever managed to get her into a court of law (which they hadn't yet). Of personal information, there was precious little. The common consensus was that she had to be some kind of genius, or maybe a telepathic meta-human. Genius, Selina would guess. Those eyes--had to be.

There was a lot of speculation. Some people claimed she was a Robin Hood type. Lots of accounts of her saving people's lives--just as many of her ending them though. Some were kind of really asking for it, she supposed, but a significant number of them didn't appear to be particularly bad people and she'd killed them anyway (probably Hailey had her reasons of course, or she'd at least hope so). No acts of -mass- destruction though--so, there was that at least...

How did she feel about that? She, herself, had only killed anyone once... And that was undeniably self-defense (even though the cops might not see it that way if they ever found out about it). She'd rarely even hurt anyone... She was not a cold-blooded killer, or a hardened criminal. She was a thief, a compulsive and exceptional thief, one of the best that ever was, she was sure, but still, a thief, pure and simple.

Was she really going to... do whatever it was she was going to do with Hailey... with The Harlequin? What if Hailey wanted her to help her kill people?

And even if she didn't, could she really live with herself? Having a cold-blooded murderer as a lover? And then there was the obvious question... If it didn't work out between them... If Selina ended up turning her down, would she end up Hailey's next victim?

Intellectually, she was worried about those things... Somewhat worried. Okay, a -little- worried, if that. (Did that make her a bad person?) At heart though, she wasn't actually at all scared of Hailey hurting her, at lest not physically, and certainly not of her killing her. Having danced with her, having gazed into her eyes, tasted her lips, tasted... other things... Her head was inclined to give Hailey the benefit of the doubt for now. After all, a reputation only meant so much, and having met her, it didn't really match the reality of her that she'd seen for herself. That was what her head said. And her heart? Well, it was obvious by how fast her heart beat and how warm-all-over good she felt whenever she thought of Hailey that her heart thought the woman walked on water or something. So, she couldn't actually get herself to believe there was a chance Hailey would kill her, even though, logically, maybe that would be a good idea to be at least cautious of... No, she was more scared of what would happen if things actually worked out... She wouldn't have pegged herself as being scared of commitment, but apparently she was a little... maybe more than a little...

Still... eco-terrorism she could understand. She was a big proponent of animal rights herself. She at least partially funded most of the cat rescue organizations in the country, in fact. It actually was a point in Hailey's favor for her that she seemed to care about a cause like that. The murders though... maybe Hailey would stop doing that sort of thing if she asked? Ethics aside, that kind of public attention she did not need, and certainly didn't want...

It was at least worth the discussion, right? She had yet another very pleasant flashback to Hailey under her in bed... Hailey on top of her in bed... Okay, so the murder thing, it didn't have to be a sticking point, did it? ...Fuck, she really was a bad person, wasn't she? She smiled to herself. Well, she'd kind of suspected it for years anyway... She could live with it.

She was tired of staying in one place now though, so she rolled up onto her knees and stretched a little, her body still feeling like it was fairly glowing with satisfaction from last night. She couldn't help the happy, kind of sappy love-struck sort of smile that came to her lips. She looked at the clock. Ten PM was about eleven and a half hours away... She sighed.

What was she going to do with herself all day?

It was then that she heard the door open and she smiled. Arizona was home. Thank fucking goodness.

She put on a shirt (she'd only been wearing bike shorts) and went out to meet her. Thankfully, she'd come home alone. "Good, you're here." She grabbed her hand and pulled her along with her back to her room.

"Hey, Selina, what are...?" Arizona good-naturedly protested, following along and giggling a little.

"I'm in serious need of girl talk." She hopped up on her bed, crossed her legs Indian style, and patted the bed. "Sit." She prompted.

Arizona giggled some more. "Am I off base here, or did you meet someone?" She asked, getting up on the bed and crossing her legs too.

"Met her, danced with her, kissed her, dragged her up to a room with me, had my way with her..." She smiled bemusedly. "Okay so we had our way with each other... for hours... She tired me out, Arizona... She had my number... like no one else ever has..." She finished softly, looking down at her hands.

"Well, hey, that's great. I mean wow. Has that ever happened to you before? Like, in bed? That you were the one who got tired?" She could tell Arizona doubted it. "Hey, I've seen you naked, -and- I've seen you work out. -I- keep in shape. -You- are -insane-."

Selina smiled bemusedly at that. "No, insane is who I was in bed with last night."

"...You mean her, don't you?" Arizona looked over at the small chest full of treasure displayed prominently on a table over by her dresser.

"Hailey." Selina supplied.

"Harlequin, you mean." Arizona countered softly, meeting her eyes. She was scared.

"You're scared for me, aren't you?" Selina asked softly.

"Selina... My best friend just got very serious with a stone cold, probably dangerously psychotic, serial killer. How in that situation am I not scared for you? For me, for that matter? What if she sees me as competition for your affections or something?"

"That wouldn't happen." Selina told her adamantly.

"And you know that how? I mean, great sex is nice and all... really nice--hell, if you're like me, it's practically your reason for living--but it's never been any sort of guarantee of good behavior. Heck, it's fifty-fifty sometimes if she's even going to be there in the morning, let alone make you breakfast." Arizona argued.

"Yeah, you're always good about that though." Selina spoke. It was true. For all her faults, Arizona always treated her lovers with complete respect. She always made breakfast.

"Was she?" Arizona asked.

Selina felt a little guilt at that. "I, um... wouldn't know." She admitted.

"...What... Wait, you ditched her, didn't you? ...You did, you totally walk-of-shamed a serial killer! Selina! Are you freaking nuts or something!?" Arizona exclaimed.

"I left her a note." Selina defended herself.

"Oh, phew, well, if you left her a -note- that's -completely- different. We're totally dead, aren't we..." Arizona looked actually pretty scared that they might be.

"Arizona, hey. I wouldn't let that happen. And Hailey's not like that, I swear. She's got a good heart, I can tell..." She told her. "Besides, it was a good note. I asked her on a date later. It was supposed to be, you know... romantic." She smiled hopefully.

Arizona let out a breath. "Damn..." She smiled a little hesitantly to her. "You really are kinda nuts sometimes, you know that right?"

"The thought has occurred to me on occasion, yes." Selina smiled.

"...You really don't think she's dangerous? You swear?" Arizona asked.

Selina smiled, kind of smirked a little. "Well, I wouldn't say -that-... I just don't think she's dangerous to -us-, physically I mean. I... I just rust her."

Arizona rubbed her face. "Well, that's something, right?" She sighed.

"...Hey... if you're really worried, just say the word. Seriously, all expenses paid trip, anywhere in the world. Paris? Sidney? The Caribbean? A cruse around the world? Whatever you want. I can call you and let you know when I'm one-hundred and ten percent sure we're safe." Selina offered in all sincerity.

Arizona smiled, looking genuinely grateful. She seemed to be considering it a moment. "Thanks, but... I... um, I think I'm staying." She replied softly.

"But why?" Selina asked, curious. She'd honestly thought, the things she'd been saying, her friend would take her up on it in a heartbeat.

Arizona sighed. "You might need me. I mean, who're you gonna get your girl talk from, if not me? ...And besides... I couldn't really enjoy myself at all if I was always worrying about you, could I?" She smiled, almost a little shyly in fact.

Selina smiled back, wondering, just for a moment, why she and her best friend had never been lovers. "Well... You know, we haven't really gotten to the girl talk part yet, you know?"

Arizona shook her head and rubbed her face again. "Fine, so... go on crazy cat lady: spill."

Selina smiled happily at that. "Okay, so I was just getting out of the water at The Beach, and I was getting something to drink..."

(2b continued)

Chapter 6

Title: Ready or Not...



Somewhere in her head, because that's where the interface was for her future-tech, there was something like a blinking indicator light (it wasn't really like that, it was more like a thought, just a certain kind of thought, laid out among other thoughts in a remarkably fluid and intuitive sort of way), it told her that she had a message waiting to be listened to on her 'phone' (it wasn't really a phone, she'd just set one of her future apps to monitor her phone number and record the messages. She'd known it was from Holly of course, but she'd had... other things on her mind, with kitty at first, then the James of it all, but she was back to eating a cookie, so she thought she should check what it was.

"Um, hi... Hailey?" Holly Robinson's voice spoke in her head. "It's, um, it's Holly. You said I could call, and well, you, um... I don't really think you did, but I guess, anyway, I guess I just have to ask... Jason... When he got home last night, his adopted daughter, Kelly, was killed and his son, Zane, was kidnapped... He got a note saying that if he didn't kill himself by noon today, Zane would die... He thinks you did it. But um, you didn't right?"

Hailey stopped listening. "James, darling? We have to go." She went over to him and grabbed his hand, pulling him up to his feet. She activated her teleport app and was in Holly's living room in the blink of an eye.

"Hailey, what the?" James started to say.

"Shush. Important stuff." Hailey scolded him.

Holly was there, and so was Jason. When Jason saw her, he grit his teeth, stood up, and asked. "Was it you?" With a parent's barely contained furry and terror.

"Nope." Hailey answered. "I've never hurt a kid in my life, and I didn't kill or kidnap yours... nor have I clubbed any poor defenseless sea lions to death with a baseball bat for kicks either by the way in case that was your next question." She looked to Holly and smiled a little, then looked back to Jason. "I will, however, happily hunt down the soon to be diseased people who did this bad, bad thing and get your son back for you if you want?" She offered brightly. This would also (probably) win points for her with Holly and lock in their friend status for sure... Not that she wouldn't have helped the little kid anyway, but it -was- a happy fringe benefit, wasn't it?

"...Yes." He spoke.

"Stay here, you. Find out stuff in case I don't." She told James, activating her app and teleporting away again, appearing in Jason Todd's apartment (which one of her apps had searched out in less than a second once she'd asked it to). There were two cops there, who were startled by her appearance. She touched their foreheads in quick succession though, and they fainted at her touch. She went down on her knees by Kelly's dead body, touched her forehead and, after about thirty seconds, her body healed and she came back to life with a start. It was another app she had. Bring back the dead app--very nifty (standard stuff in the future, apparently). It worked as long as the head was in fairly good shape and hadn't been dead too long.

"What on... ohh, my head..." Kelly sat up and rubbed her head, looking around. "What's going on? Who are you? Cops... Ohmygod, Zane!" She got up and looked around.

"He was kidnapped. Mind if I look in your head to see who did it, please?" She asked solicitously.

"I what... Who are..." She closed her eyes. "I... I was dead, wasn't I?"

Under other circumstances, Hailey might have asked her if she'd seen a certain Hell queen hottie while she was away, or maybe some scantily clad women with dove-like wings dressed in white perhaps, because she was a little curious, but she put that thought aside for now. Her new friend's friend needed her help, and so did a little kid. "Yup, I brought you back to life. I'm handy like that. Now, head looking? Yes? No?" She asked, feeling impatient but trying not to show it too much.

"Um, yes?" Kelly offered, confused.

"Good girl." Hailey smiled, touching her forehead with a finger again and looking through her brain's visual and auditory memory for the last bit of time before her death. It actually startled her a little when she saw who it was. Not that she recognized him, but there was just something... hollow--cold--about him. She scanned him though, and then took her finger away from Kelly's head and let her info search app work, looking through every scrap of information available to it in the world today and in her future archive, while she also scanned the apartment for an energy signature. The results cross-referenced with each other and came back with one result: "The Untitled." She spoke the word.

Only a few vague references of them had survived to the time her future-tech was from, but there was more info on them from a few government servers in the here and now. Still, not much. They were magic, and immortal (though obviously killable if they'd died off long before her tech's time). They were body jumpers--secretive and hard to track. They did damage and moved on. They were apparently very dangerous, and she had no info on how to kill them. "Oh well." She tapped Kelly on the forehead again and teleported her back to Holly's place.

She didn't have enough info to track the Untitled who'd done this, but she had a complete bio imprint of Jason Todd and used it to geo-lock his only living close biological relative. She didn't even have to use satellites, he was here in the city. She teleported to his location.

There was a man on a chair, his arms on his knees, hands dangling in the air. He was looking at the floor, but slowly looked up when she appeared next to his (thankfully still alive and mostly unharmed) hostage. Their eyes met.

The man must have kept the child alive in case his father didn't go through with his suicide, for leverage. Looking into his eyes, she couldn't believe he would abstain from killing the boy just because he'd said he would. "Damn. You are one ugly ball of monster gunk, aren't ya fella." She smiled to him.

"You should know: coming here like this, you've just gotten yourself killed." He spoke, tearing out of his chair and coming at her, inhumanly fast. He promptly vanished through a hole in the air she'd made that lead to, um, somewhere in outer space. She didn't really care where particularly.

She did kind of smile a little though, 'cause it -was- kinda funny. "Bye now." She spoke to the empty air. See, she'd had no idea if she could have won against him in a fight or anything, so the sensible thing was not to fight. Especially 'cause there was a kid in the room an all, and it wouldn't be quite as heroic seeming to Holly if she accidentally traumatized the poor boy after all. "Annnnywaaay..." She turned around on the spot and went over to Zane and knelt down before him so their eyes could meet. "Hey, Zane. Has anyone ever nicknamed you 'Zany' by they way? Never mind, not important. Daddy yours sent me. Here, he's probably really worried." She tapped his forehead lightly and teleported him back to Holly's place. She stood, activating her app, and she was back at Holly's too. Her and Holly's eyes met first. "There, all better. Anyone want cookies?" She asked, looking around the room. "What?" She asked a silent Holly.

"Um, thanks?" Holly replied.

"You're welcome." Hailey smiled brightly. "So, is that a no on the cookies?" She asked. She looked over at Jason who was hugging his family.

"Thank you." He told her.

Hailey sighed. "Whatever. Bored now." She looked over at Holly again. "Call me sometime, we can hang out. Preferably without all the bothersome kidnapping stuff. James? Darling? Stay here and seduce the happy dad or something. He's hot. You could do a lot worse... And he's got scruples and then some in that head of his, so he's -probably- not a prince of hell in disguise or anything like the last one." She teleported away again before he could answer, leaving darling James with them for now. She couldn't have friend time with Holly at the moment with all the Jason drama obviously, and she really wanted to figure out that ruby, and people kept interrupting her. It was getting annoying! ...She did tag and geo-lock them all before she left though, just to be safe, so she'd get an alert from one of her apps if any of them got into anymore trouble while she was off playing kitty's dating game.

Bright side? She seemed to be making friends and meeting people. (Emotionally healthy! Yay!) Bad news? They apparently were the kind that got into trouble a lot, and might be a little on the needy side. (Not a deal breaker by any means, but it was obviously less than ideal.)

She went home and got cookies. For some reason she was craving them today. She didn't usually. Was it some odd, random, and yummy side-effect of falling in love with Selina Kyle? If it was, it was... well, no, never mind, odd, random, and yummy basically covered it...

"What's that about?" She wondered absently to herself as she pondered the ruby.

It surprised her that she hadn't figured it out yet, even with all the distractions. It meant either kitty was smarter than her (which would be awesome, unlikely as it was), she was being hugely obscure (even more unlikely, give what she knew of Selina's personality), or the clue was some place she had to go to figure it out (like a treasure/scavenger hunt maybe) and not a riddle or puzzle by itself.

She smiled happily. Kitty was clever, and very fun. She liked that. A lot.

She ate the cookie and stared at the ruby, using a self-guided info search instead of an automated app to research where the gem could have come from.

It took a over a minute, but she found out that it was part of a crown that had been in a downtown museum. Surprise, surprise: Stolen two months ago, the thief unknown and never caught. That meant kitty was the thief for sure. It also meant it was a treasure hunt like she'd thought for almost sure.

"In other words: Fieldtrip." She spoke to the ruby.

She put down another half-eaten cookie, changed clothes from the jeans and tank-top to something more for everyday walks about town, and teleported there. Not inside, outside. It was open today. She bought a ticket and went in to look around with the rest of the art aficionados that were visiting that day. She had plenty of time to figure it out, and this was really putting her in an extra good mood... The thought of kitty being so thoughtful to come up with this, just for her. She didn't want to rush it.


"Hailey!" That James guy called in protest as the woman he'd come with disappeared before their eyes.

The Harlequin. Or, Hailey, apparently... He never thought she would... It had only taken her, what, five minutes? Fuck... "Kelly? I, uh..." He looked at her and spoke with care, hardly believe what, who, he was seeing. "Can you tell me what happened? I mean..." He felt shaky just looking at her. More absurdly grateful that he'd ever felt for anything in his entire life, but he still wasn't quite sure he believed it. She'd been dead. He'd checked her pulse. Dead. How on Earth...

"I died, yeah... I know..." Kelly replied quietly. She looked up and met his eyes. "She um, she brought me back to life... I guess..." She told him.

He looked over to 'darling James', who'd taken a seat in a chair and was watching them with what he'd describe as mild curiosity. "She's your friend, I guess... Can she do that?"

"I don't know. Probably. You'd think she would have brought Len back if she could've though. So, who knows?" James replied.

"Who's Len?" Holly asked.

"Len. Leonard Snart. Her ex's dead brother. She accidentally got him killed. Broke them up, too. Bad times, those." He told them soberly. "Even I steered clear of her for a week or so after it ended with them. Seriously, heartbroken Hailey is -not- a woman you ever want to meet, even if you do happen to be her friend."

"Huh..." Jason replied. "Kelly, Zane... what, um, what can you tell me about who..."

"Killed me?" Kelly asked. "Freak broke down the door like it wasn't there. I tried to hide... Went for the gun." He kept one in the apartment and had taught Kelly how to use it. "Shot him. Didn't work though..." She related in a quiet, almost shy voice. She tried to sound tough, but the act wasn't very convincing. She was still scared. Of course she was. Kelly had been a twelve year old runaway when they'd met. He'd been a high-class whore who'd been stuck with a baby by a Jane who didn't want the kid they'd accidentally made together. He'd needed a baby sitter, she'd needed a place to stay that... well, a place that would be safe. And she'd impressed him right off with how much help she'd been. Over the years, it just... kind of started to feel like he had two kids, not one. He was ridiculously relieved and happy that she wasn't dead, however it had happened. "He had these eyes, see... I don't know how to describe... Looking into'm though, felt worse than when he hit me in the head and I died." She admitted softly. "He never said anything but 'Bah!' and 'Annoyance' before he whacked me over the head... Who even says 'Bah!' anyway?" She muttered.

"Only a truly uncouth individual, I'm sure." James provided unhelpfully. Damn he could work a smile though.

"Duh." Kelly told him mockingly, but smiled a little when she did it.

"They call football 'soccer' in the rest of the world." James replied.

"Huh?" Kelly asked.

"I was on a role. You know, being duh." He smiled.

"Really." Kelly told him.

"Anyway." Holly interjected.

"Now you're imitating her. That can't be good." James put in before Holly could say whatever it was she'd planned to say.

"Huh?" Holly asked.

"Hailey. It's a thing with her. 'Annnnywaaay', she says it a lot. Of course you know this means you're probably soul buddies or something." He answered.

Holly just looked at him oddly. "Anyway. You know, we really don't even know what happened. What Hailey did... You three should stay here with me. At least for now. It's safer."

Jason looked at her in question.

"Look, I know we're not -exactly- friends or anything, but say yes anyway. I'm trying to help out here." Holly told him. "So don't let your pride make you an ass or something."

"Fine." Jason told her. It kind of grated him, but she was right. He needed a safe place to stay. Safer anyway. His apartment was probably a crime scene by now, he'd have to assume. He had that jewelry stashed of course, but if there were people still after him, going back to his old neighborhood was a -bad- idea. Holly was an opportunistic murder. And by staying with her, it was pretty close to him saying he was okay with that. He wasn't. But his kids... And Harlequin had saved them, even though she was probably the worst person, on paper at least, that he'd ever met. Fuck though, he hated being associated with murderers. It felt like he was betraying his family or something... Not the family he had now, just the one he -used- to have...

"Well, I, at least, should probably be going." James put in.

"What? Why?" Holly asked.

"Kids on the premises. Not sure Hailey really thought this one through... I'm not exactly safe to be around right now. Cursed by the queen of Hell as I seem to be." He told them.

"The queen of Hell?" Kelly asked, clearly doubting it.

"Believe it or not, some people find me even more annoying than they probably find you." He smiled charmingly to her.

She was quiet and actually blushed a little at that.

"If I get un-cursed though, I might just take Hailey up on her suggestion and give -you- a call." James smiled very flirty to him.

Jason smiled back, a little flattered actually. James was really something to look at, he had to admit. And that smile was a heart-stopper for sure. "I'm not exactly dating material, you know." Jason told him. "And your best friend -is- a murder. Maybe you are too, for all I know."

"Being a little judgy, aren't you? After what she just did for you?" James countered, opening the door. "Ta, all." He waved, and was gone, the door closing behind him.

"He's got a point, you know." Holly put in.

"Maybe..." He allowed. Still not liking it one bit though.

"Hey, come on... Zane... What's wrong, kiddo?" He heard Kelly saying.

He looked over at Zane, who was crying in Kelly's arms. Jason felt well and truly frozen in his tracks.

"Has he said anything since Hailey brought him back?" Holly asked in concern, sitting down on the floor next to him and looking at his kids now too.

"No..." Jason spoke, feeling his mind kick into gear again, and he went over to his son. "Zane?"

It felt like the world had been kicked out from under him all over again.

(2b continued)

Chapter 7

Title: Light As Air, Hot As Hell



Hailey strolled through the museum, just aimlessly looking around for a while and pondering things. Kitty, dear James's troubles, kitty, Holly (her prospective new gal-pal), kitty, Jason who some ancient magical fug-ugly wanted to force into committing suicide for some odd reason, but mostly kitty. Still, she was sure the Hell-hottie who cursed her best friend wasn't going to be put off by her 'tricks' indefinitely, and it was entirely possible that Jason's fug had some fug-friends who would bother him (and, by association, her) again, possibly soon. It really would be smart to have some sort of idea what she was going to do when Blaze did make her move... You know, if one actually -could- plan adequately for an antagonistic visit from the queen of Hell... It was entirely possible dear James was simply doomed she supposed, no matter what she did to try to stop it. Mostly though, she was trying to think of the perfect romantic gesture... Kitty obviously was the romantic type, which Haley found very encouraging, and promising, because she definitely was too. Her new lover had started the game with the note and the clue, which meant she had to have something equally as romantic ready for tonight, something to (preferably literally) sweep her off her feet...

Her thoughts were interrupted though, by a notice from one of her apps.

She sighed. "James, you dope." She spoke. He was back at her place now and having an unusual sort of dream. He'd left Holly's, Jason left un-seduced, when she'd specifically told him to stay put...

Still, maybe that meant he wasn't over Jace (alias Satanus, alias male edition hell-hottie) yet, despite what he'd said before? She knew, if she were in his place, she sure as hell wouldn't be. But then, she'd learned by the time she was two (seriously, that's when she'd realized it) not to expect other people to think like she did (before that, life had been all-together entirely too frustrating, not to mention very confusing). It was nice when they did think like she did sometimes though, because it made her feel less alone. And it was kind of a hugely romantic story if it were true: exiled prince of Hell falls in love with a mortal but his past catches up with him, or he catches up with his past actually (which wasn't as romantic, true, but she didn't know the whole story and there might be a good reason for everything), trouble, curses, kidnapping, rescue, reunion, reunion sex, James and Jace--happily ever after! She sighed again (but more of a dreamy sigh this time), feeling warm and fuzzy about her imagined romantic scenario. She'd always loved happily ever afters. And when she'd seen them together, she'd thought James and Jace had made a very cute couple. Maybe there was still hope for them?

The dream was what had set off her app, but the telemetry said that her soul-lock wasn't broken and that Blaze wasn't the one that was giving him the dream... someone was though. Jace maybe? She couldn't tell for sure by the readings, but really, who else would it be? Especially with how aroused James seemed to be. She decided to give them their privacy and not peek at the readings anymore though. It was only polite, after all.

Wondering around a little more, she stopped a little bit later, looking at a painting of two women making out. She considered it thoughtfully... It was a really good painting. Mysterious, otherworldly even in some ways, but there was definite heat. Still, somehow it reminded her of Ivy... She wiped away a few tears and turned away from the painting before she did something dumb like setting it on fire. Thinking about Ivy usually made her want to set something on fire again... she wished it didn't make her feel like that, but it did.

From there, she wondered through the Egyptian exhibit, where there was a definite cat theme to some of the pieces on display. That helped, made her feel better--more hopeful again, because it reminded her of kitty. She walked around a little more, before ending up in the room where the crown had been housed. She looked around curiously. At first perusal, nothing seemed out of place and nothing seemed like kitty had left it there for her. Then she looked up. Was that a red ribbon way up there on the skylight sill? She considered using an app to zoom in with her eyes so she could see it from here, but decided that wouldn't be any fun. Instead, she started floating up with her flying shoes. She had a flying app of course, but she liked the shoes... call it an indulgence of sentimentality. She liked indulging her sentimentality and did so often, actually.

She collected the expected exclamations of wonder and surprise from her fellow museum patrons, but it only made her smile because it was funny to surprise people like this. Then, of course, there were the perfunctory museum guards who came in and demanded that she stop, freeze, come down from there. Bla. Bla. Bla. As if they had any real right at all to be saying those sorts of things to her or anyone else for that matter. She ignored them, and one took out a gun and said he'd soot--he did. Talk about rude! And definitely -not- in keeping with the romantic theme of her museum visit today. Hailey made it ricochet back and hit him square in the forehead. It was only fair, he -had- tried to murder her first after all.

She reached the ribbon and saw that there was a little golden locket there. Not the kind that opened, but it was shaped like a heart. There was a small note too. "Warmer" Hailey read the one word note out loud, a sappy sort of dreamy smile on her lips. She held the locket to her heart and closed her eyes, humming to herself happily and imagining kitty putting this here for her to find. She'd been thoughtful and clever and taken her time coming up with this game, Hailey could tell. "She must love me." She spoke in a happy, sing-song voice, as she began to hear sirens. She sighed. "Why are they so dumb, huh?" She asked the red ribbon the rhetorical question. No one could hear the question, probably, and certainly the ribbon couldn't respond (as far as she knew) but that wasn't the point. She looked down at the milling security guards and smiled. She teleported them all to a field in Norway with a windmill and a bunch of flowers. "Learn to relax, jeeze." She shook her head and went all ghosty insubstantial (with another of her apps) and floated through the skylight, alighting on the roof. She shifted out of synch with reality a little (like she had when she'd first met kitty) and went to sit down on the roof's ledge, pondering the ribbon, note, and locket.

"Were to next, lover of mine?" She asked happily, a goofy smile still on her lips. It was gold and pretty and it was shaped like a heart even...


"I'm sorry, alright?" He heard a soft, familiar voice say. That voice sent shivers all the way through his body and had his naughty bits starting to stand up and pay attention.

He opened his eyes, and Jace was there. A soft, secretive, oh so seductive smile on his lips. Mysterious eyes that so easily held him in their sway. They were somehow naked in bed, together again, the length of Jace's oh so shapely body laid out over him like a gift. Jace's hands were caressing his hair, and, oh yes, his sex was hard all right. "What the fuck?!" He snapped himself out of that tempting sexual haze Jace had had him in. He sat up and looked around. They were in bed all right, but everything else was all a roaring fire. Flames above, flames below--hot as Hell, in more ways than one. He looked down at Jace, who was smiling up at him, head resting on one triangled arm, and looking so ridiculously sexy it very, very nearly made James forget why he was mad at him all together.

"Well, I thought we were overdue for... a little honesty, perhaps?" Jace asked.

"...All right -Satanus- please do then." James offered, leaning back and bracing himself on his hands, appraising his lover shrewdly, and trying very hard to keep his wits about him. "Where are we, by the way?"

"Oh, my mind, your mind, some little corner of Hell or Purgatory that I may have secreted away somewhere safe just for me, who can say? And no, in case you're wondering, my dear, saintly sister most likely still can't get in here to taunt you, thanks to that surprisingly talented friend of yours. It's why I thought it might be safe for -me- to pay you a visit, while we have the chance to be alone." He explained.

"If she can't get in, why can you?" James asked, playing it cool... well, as cool as one could play it when surrounded by what might be hellfire and one's manhood was on pole-like display, telegraphing one's continued interest in what one's erstwhile boyfriend seemed to be offering.

"Oh, well, there are certain things a lover knows about the one he loves that even his best friend or my erstwhile sister may be... shall we say, less privy to?" Jace got up and caressed his face, coming onto him and backing him up until he was lain back on the bed, at his lover's apparently lacking mercy. "I know your mind as well as I know your body, lover mine... and believe me when I say..." His hands caressed James's body in a way that had him trembling with want and pleasure just from that small touch. "I know your body very, very... very well by now, wouldn't you agree?" He asked softly, his lips mere millimeters from James's own.

"I... think I can concede that particular point, yes." James admitted softly, caught in his lover's eyes and helpless to look away.

"I thought you might..." And then Jace was kissing him, pressing him down on the bed, and James's head felt like it was about to combust, not unlike the flames that were all around them that should rightfully be scorching them with unbearable heat, but somehow managed to make him feel welcome and energized. "We might not have much more time though..." Jace sighed. "So, as much as I might be enjoying this, we really should talk, don't you think?"

"So talk." James spoke simply, swallowing his desire with effort. His mind told him firmly that he needed to hear what Jace would tell him, while his body wanted Jace's hand on his sex right now... luckily though, his sense of self-preservation won out in that particular tug of war, and he held himself still.

"I'm... playing something of a game, you see... and, you, I'm afraid, are playing it with me." Jace told him. Before his eyes, Jace changed. his skin turned crimson red, his eyes went dark and deep, and then there were the horns... Those eyes though, darker as they may have been, they were still pure Jace though. James swallowed his feelings, both of unease and of intrigue.

"Let me guess: you want to be the king of Hell, is that it?" James offered.

"Well, it has crossed my mind a few times over the years." He smiled. "Would you like that? Married to a king? Living forever...? Having a bed like this all our own?" He tempted.

James swallowed again. "I can... see the appeal..." He answered.

"Oh, and I can see the wheels turning, lover mine... I know you too well." Satanus smiled fondly. "You're so... unlike anyone I've ever met, did you know? Do you know how rare that is for someone like me? ...I've been alive longer than there has been a human race, even longer than this universe itself has lived... and no one... no other lover has had me so thoroughly wrapped on his finger as you've managed to do... I have to say, your capacity for seduction and deceit, it's quite... addicting..."

"Likewise, I'm sure." James smiled, actually perversely flattered. "Though, I can't be all that good... If you didn't let me in on... well, you know... can I?" He asked.

"Mm... It wounds me that's you'd cast me in such an unflattering light, truly... No, I simply thought it would be more entertaining if you found out on your own, actually. Call it... flirting?" He asked, moving in to lick his skin and nip at his ear. "Or... perhaps, a courtship?" He offered. "If you can best me... perhaps, just perhaps... you might win my heart? As no one ever has? If someone did that... anything, absolutely anything it would be in my power to grant, why... you would have but to ask, wouldn't you?"

"A wager then...?" James asked softly.

"Mm, I like the sound of that..." Satanus kissed him, hard and owningly.

James gasped, and melted against the force and heat of it. Their bodies strained against one another, and James found himself on his belly, Satanus penetrating his ass and fucking him to a steady, sensual cadence. He gasped and his breathing came hard, he couldn't form words. He was rolled onto his side and felt his lover's hand on his sex, stroking him... His body arched, his eyes fluttered shut, and he was brought face up, with Satanus under him, still in him, holding him firm with one hand while his other stroked his sex and spurred him on towards climax... He came, looking up into the flames, his ejaculation landing hot and wet over his chest and on his lips.

"One way or the other though, you're mine now..." He heard his lover's voice in his ear. "I own you... Never doubt it."

He gasped and woke up, breathing hard. He sat up and looked around. He was on Hailey's couch again, having gone back there after leaving Holly Robinson's place. He'd been exhausted and sleep deprived after the nights previous where he'd had decidedly less pleasant dreams of being dragged to Hell... He wiped the sweat from his forehead and tried to catch his breath... "Fuck me..." He looked down at himself. He was dripping wet, and he was still hard from it. He got up and, a little unsteady on his feet, he went over to get some water. "So thirsty..." He muttered, putting his head under to faucet for a while, then getting a glass, pouring the water, and downing it all in one long drink. He coughed a little and leaned against the counter, his hair dripping rivulets of water over his body, trying to catch his breath.

What was he going to do now? Should he play the game, concede it, or try to play the gamers? He ran a hand through his wet hair. "I'm in it this time, whatever I do..." He felt a sinking feeling of dread wash over him. He had the distinct feeling that no matter what he did, he didn't have much chance of coming out ahead this time. A man needs to know when he's out-matched, and Jace... Satanus... He'd played him like a first class mark, hadn't he? He'd never even suspected him to be anything other than human. No one -no one- had ever played him so thoroughly for a fool. He'd be an idiot not to think he wasn't still being played... But, what if he wasn't? What if... what if Jace really did love him?

If he did, and James truly played him false, thinking he didn't, that would be a sadness and a betrayal fairly fit to cut a man's heart out, wouldn't it? But that was the twist, wasn't it? Heart or head? His heart said he'd be a fool to turn Jace away, even knowing who he really was, and his head said he'd be a fool damned to Hell if he didn't... and what was the payoff here? Be the king of Hell's lover if all went right? Despite what he'd said to Jace, he didn't want that--not at all. He wanted Jace, just Jace, and not any of this... and it looked like, win or lose, that just wasn't in the cards, was it? So... that was it, the obvious thing--there was no percentage in this for him, and no big win to be had waiting in the wings. It was a stacked deck, and the house would win either way... so why did that make him want to play all the more? Why couldn't he get Jace out of his head and be smart about this, no matter what the facts or the odds were? Maybe it had something to do with those smoldering eyes, that smile that made him weak, and the way Jace's hands could...

He sighed, and went to the bathroom, intent on taking a nice, long, -cool- shower.

As the water washed over him, he let himself see his own life for what is really was probably. He'd liked his life, or so he'd thought... but, really, he'd always been... sort of running away, hadn't he? One thrill, one trick, after the other. Just games. Well, now he had a game he'd never wanted, and one he was very likely to lose... one that could, literally, get him damned to Hell for all time, if he made the wrong moves... Either as lover to the king of Hell or enduring a more traditional hellish experience at the hands of his sister. Obviously, one would be much more preferable than the other, but still...

For the first time in his life, he found himself sincerely wishing he'd never left the circus...

(2b continued)

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