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A Clandestine Encounter (IC)

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The message arrived for Lynn through Grimalkin's personal fan mail, not the Interceptors directly, and was signed with an all-too-familiar handwriting.


I think it's time we settled our differences through amicable discussion. Meet me at midnight on Friday in the veteran's cemetery in the Fens. Come alone, and we can talk like the friends we once were.


The postmark was just a few days earlier, giving her plenty of time to make the meeting...if she dared!

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Perched on top of a mausoleum in her full costume, Grimalkin dangled her legs and checked the time on her cellphone for maybe the tenth time; of course, time never moved fast when you really wanted it to, so the waiting was agony. Then a thought hit her.

He's probably watching me now; he's probably been here for a good half hour. :evil:

Inspired by this thought, Grim came up with a dirty limerick about the hero she was waiting for, reciting it in a loud whisper.

"There once was a man named Avenger

Who swore to protect folks from danger

So he hid in the dark

Out in Liberty Park

And was busted for touching a stranger."

Admittedly not her best, but she gave herself an 'A' for effort.

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"I don't think you want me to touch you." The growl was just a few feet behind Grimalkin, but when she turned there was no white hockey mask or chains: just Jack, a wooden box in his arms and a smile on his face as he reclined atop the marble in a tight white shirt, open at the neck, and leather pants you could bounce a quarter off. She'd seen him dress that way at home, and knew it was his style out of costume. "Hello, Lynn. Can't we look at each other face to face like we used to?" he asked her, moonlight sparkling in his deep, dark eyes.

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"Hello, Lynn. Can't we look at each other face to face like we used to?"

Grim shrugged. "Sure, no prob." Her working clothes and mask melted into flip-flops, cargo shorts and a Count Von Count T-shirt. "There we go! Face to face once again. By the way, you look a bit like a waiter in that outfit, but at like a really nice restaurant."

Then she noted the object he was holding, and her eyes got big and mischievous.

"Ooh, what's in the box?" :D

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"Heh, I like the shirt. Anyway, I missed your birthday," said Jack with a wry grin, "and I had something that I owe you. But I wanted to talk with you, first," he added, a little more seriously. Chuckling, he added, "You get the box either way, but I was hoping I could trade you some conversation." Looking away just a fraction, he added, "If...if you want to, that is. I know things have been...difficult lately."

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"If...if you want to, that is. I know things have been...difficult lately."

Lynn's face clouded over a bit. "Okay, yeah, I would like to talk; I was hoping you'd make it to my party, but I kinda didn't expect you to make it. I mean, between the new baby and the security test stuff, I figured you had plenty of good reasons not to come."

Suddenly her face brightened, and reached out to gently pat the vampire on the arm a few times. "Oh, oh, before we talk about anything else, how is the baby? Jackie B said you guys had a little boy? I could make him something..."

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"He'd like that, I'm sure," said Jack, smiling gratefully at Lynn as he patted her on the hand, his touch just a little cool in the chill of the night. "He's a good boy. Looks like his mother, which is all the better for him." He laughed softly, then added, "Takes after her everywhere, really. Which is the best thing for all of us." He took in a deep breath, carefully miming the effort, then exhaled. "It's not easy, Lynn. It's not easy at all."

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Lynn smiled to hear Jack describe his son; as weird and wrong as the whole concept was, a child is a child and she was happy for the three of them.

"It's not easy, Lynn. It's not easy at all."

The smile began to fade; unfortunately it sounded like everything wasn't lemonade and rainbows at the Farreti home. Lynn edged closer to her former teammate, her brow furrowed with concern.

"Uh, how so? I mean specifically, if you want to talk about it. And I'm not trying to sidetrack us from whatever you originally wanted to discuss; we've got all the time in the world here, buddy."

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"It isn't easy reconciling being a father with everything else," Jack admitted, shaking his head sorrowfully. "Taylor does her best, you know, but ultimately she's only human. Using magic isn't the same as just...as just being different." He sighed deeply. "Does Billy make you feel human?" He asked her wistfully. "Like...being with someone as normal, or at least more normal than you are, give you that feeling of humanity?"

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Something about the sorrowful way Jack referred to his wife as being 'only human' seriously creeped out Lynn, and once again reminded her of the vast gulf that would always remain between the vampire and the rest of humanity.

"Does Billy make you feel human?" He asked her wistfully. "Like...being with someone as normal, or at least more normal than you are, give you that feeling of humanity?"

The changeling shifted uncomfortably on her perch; this was not a turn she was expecting the conversation to take. She cleared her throat.

"Uh, I don't know how to say this Jack, but I feel human all the time." She shrugged apologetically. "I mean, I didn't even know I wasn't human anymore until Wesley told me the first time we met. I had to be told."

She got to her feet and started pacing, easily maintaining her balance along the roof's edge as she gestured while she spoke.

"I know logically I should feel different, and sometimes I do, like when I ooze through a crack or something, but the fact is my faerie nature feels as natural as breathing."

She turned and looked at Jack with sad eyes. "When I'm with Billy, I feel like a human girl with her human boyfriend, and that's the God's honest truth." She dropped down beside Jack and laid a warm hand on his cool one. "I think what you feel is different, Jack because...well, because you're not alive anymore."

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"It must be so, so beautiful to know that feeling," said Jack, laying his other hand on Lynn's, so they were holding onto each other's hands underneath the moon overhead. "All I wanted to tell you, Lynn, is that I'm no threat to you or anyone else you love," he said, emotion thick in his chocolate-coated voice. "I just...I just want you to know that whatever my nature, I'm still a man. A man with feelings. And I don't hate you. Whatever's come between us."

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"I just...I just want you to know that whatever my nature, I'm still a man. A man with feelings. And I don't hate you. Whatever's come between us."

In a flash, Lynn's body melted into a thick fluid, which then darted to the other end of the roof and reformed into the pretty brunette, only this time she was wearing sneakers, jeans and a long-sleeved shirt. When she spoke, there was just a touch of edge in her voice and her movements were darting, sharp and angular.

"Okay, Jack, I'm glad to hear you mean me no harm! It's...good to know! And I, in fact, mean you know harm!" She laughed awkwardly. "What am I gonna do, deprive cute lil' What's-His-Name of his loving dad? Of course not! That would be horrible! I'm no savage, and neither are you, am I right?"

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Jack put his hand over his heart, not quite able to look at Grim. "Well, Lynn, I can understand that. I mean, who could ever...I mean..." He paused, blinked, looked up at the Moon overhead, and suddenly..."BWAHAHAHAHA!" He leaned back on one hand, joyous laughter in his voice and in his eyes, as his laughs rung off the tombstones all around them. "Okay, I couldn't keep up the Twilight routine any longer. Lord, I can't believe I used to live that way." Lifting the box, he said, "Anyway, Grim, this is for you. Happy Birthday. It's actually not just from me, but the original owner gave it to me. Said it reminded him of you, and, well...I think he was right."

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When Jack finally broke down laughing, Grim conjured up a long thin stick (non-pointed!) to lightly swat him about the head and neck.

"You colossal putz! You really had me goin' there! Grrr!" :evil: :roll: ;)

"Anyway, Grim, this is for you. Happy Birthday. It's actually not just from me, but the original owner gave it to me. Said it reminded him of you, and, well...I think he was right."

Still shaking her head, she tossed the stick over her shoulder (where it politely ceased to exist) and grabbed the box.

"This better be something awesome to wash the taste of jerkmonkey out of my mouth."

She gingerly held the box at arm's length as she took a peek inside...

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Inside the box, Grimalkin was confronted by a horror! A woman's head frozen in a silent grimace drifted inside a clear, thick plastic bubble, the face instantly recognizable as her own! With the lid off, she could just smell the alcohol that the head had to be floating in. "Didn't Wesley do a great job?" asked Jack. "He's a real craftsman. He misses you, you know. You should call him."

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Didn't Wesley do a great job?" asked Jack. "He's a real craftsman. He misses you, you know. You should call him."

At first, Grim was too scared to scream; her mouth hung open, her eyes were wide, but not a sound came from her.

This soon changed.


With all the strength she possessed, she hurled the box as high as she could straight up in the air, and ran screaming off the mausoleum, only remembering to shift to pixie form when she was a foot from the ground. She flew like a rocket, heading back towards the Interceptor's Brownstone.

Nightmare! Wake up wake up wake up wake up wake up-


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Jack sighed, looking down at where the fake head had landed on the ground below. The tough plastic meant it had bounced a few times like a superball, eventually rolling and coming to rest at the foot of the mausoleum. "Hmm. Maybe I should have run that one by Taylor first. Ah well, I guess it's easier to make jokes than take jokes." Rather than stick around, he opted to disappear at that juncture, heading away into the Freedom City night as a puff of mist on the wind.

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Much later that night, Jack caught up with his wife in her study as she nursed a dozy Jack Jr. He'd changed out of his play clothes and into ones for around the house relaxation, leaving all signs of his ill-fated trip outside to the past. Except for his feelings, which surely he could safely discuss with his wife. "Well, my trip to meet with Grim didn't go very well," he admitted. "I'll say this, though: I was wrong about her. I tried to work on her emotions, but she did turn out to be your friend after all. I was really pleased about that, so I went straight to giving her her present." He caught her inquiring look. "Yeah, that was the part that went bad. I tried to do something creative, you know, something she'd think was funny. You know how much she likes jokes, right? So I took the head Wesley made out of my desk at work, I had it put into one of those big executive desk toys, and then I put it in a box and gave it to her. I may not have handled the moment right, because no sooner did I start telling the story when she started screaming and running away! All the way back to her house, I think."

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"Wait... what?" Taylor asked slowly as the warm smile she'd given Jack at his arrival faded to wariness. Taylor hadn't tracked the bulk of that however what she had managed to follow made her make that face that usually preceded knocking him into a wall or three. "Let's move past the 'working on her emotions' for the moment and go straight to the part where you made Grim run from you screaming. What 'head'? You mean like an actual skull? For godsake, why did you have a head in your desk?!"

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"You know, the head! That I had in the jar?" He blinked. "Didn't you see it? It used to be up in the top of the hall closet, with the rest of the stuff you told me to dump out when we moved." Tugging at his collar, he said, "Uh, you see, a funny thing happened a couple of months ago. Lynn's old landlord was a vampire, one of Melinda's people, and Wesley and I helped her get him off her back by making a fake Grim head: like I'd killed her and pulled off her head. It was fake, though, and made out of a pig. Anyway, that guy fled the area when I took over, and when I was cleaning out his space, I found that he'd taken the head and put it in a big jar of alcohol. So I had in the closet in the apartment till we moved. I thought Grim would think it was a funny memento of her time in the Knights."

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It was a good thing that Jack had shared this story after the baby was born and there were no bouts of queasiness, considering the grossed-out expression that creased Taylor's face. "Oh for... Why on Earth would you keep something like that??"

"Nevermind, I don't want to know although I admit to some curiosity about just what sort of psychopath you know that puts human heads into desk toys, I think that's one of those things its better if I can plead ignorance on later. Jack, for goodness sake, why would you just spring that on someone? Without the back story, its just going to look like a threat. Or a promise. Tell me at least you met her somewhere other than a cemetery..."

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"Well I assumed she knew! I mean she and Wesley broke up around then, I assumed that was because she'd heard the story. I mean it was months ago!" He threw up his hands, then admitted, "I did mention his name, but I'm not sure she heard me, what with the screaming and all." Shifting in his seat, he added, "Well, maybe it technically was a cemetery, but it was a nice one! That veteran's cemetery in the Fens where she first got involved with our big transdimensional case...I thought she'd appreciate that!"

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"Jack!" Taylor exclaimed sharply enough to make the baby fuss. Taylor shifted to soothe him against one shoulder as she lowered her voice to the whispering hiss that one had to when fighting around a baby, "That's the sort of thing Dead Head or one of the ghosts would find amusing. Not, you know, a relatively normal person. At least not without serious back story."

Taylor stood up and headed over to tuck the baby in for the night. Once her hands were free and they'd moved away from the resettled baby, she rested her hands on her hips and frowned at him, "Now, what did you mean about the 'testing her friendship' part?"

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Jack folded his arms and gave her a cross look. "I'm not going to tell you that. You're already angry with me. You'll just...just take it the wrong way!" He kept his voice in a loud stage whisper, not wanting to frighten the sleeping boy. "Besides, it wasn't that bad. I just wanted to make sure she was really your friend, and it turned out she was."

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"Oh, the fact that you already know this is going to upset me is not making me a happy camper, honey," Taylor replied hotly, her voice just as low pitched as his. She shifted from hands on her hips to arms folded over her breasts and glared at her taller and generally much more scary husband unrepentantly, as she leveled her threat, "Either you can tell me or I'll just ask Lynn. I bet her version will be a lot less flattering."

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