"I Did WHAT?!"
If you haven't read the issue and don't want to be spoiled, or if you *have* read the issue and liked it--don't read this. You have been warned.
"Where is he? Where's the Writer?!"
Jesse's murderous glare focused itself on Nightwing, and he felt a sudden urge to take a step back. Perhaps several steps. Or maybe just leave the room entirely. *Maybe teaching her all those martial arts moves wasn't such a good idea...*
"What," she snarled, "do you mean 'no'?"
Dick reminded himself that he'd survived the Joker, Trigon, Bludhaven, and a crossover level that would leave most people begging to take up permanent residence in a rubber-walled room, and remained calm. "I mean, you can't kill the Writer."
"Oh, I won't need to kill him," Jesse growled.
"Folding, spindling, and mutilating are also out," Roy chimed in. Argent snickered--hastily repressed when Jesse's gaze swung her way--and Dick rolled his eyes.
"Roy, don't help. Jesse, I'm sorry, you can't do anything to your Writer. It just isn't in the rules."
"Do I look like I care?!" Jesse all but shrieked.
"Jesse." Donna's warm alto carried its usual air of calm and reassurance, and Jesse actually stopped to listen for a moment. "We understand, believe me. I don't think there's a single person in this room who hasn't wanted to have a...discussion...with their Writer." She smiled grimly. "Me probably more than any of you; ask Diana sometime how long it took to talk me down after Byrne. And you remember all the trouble we had with Kory. So you'll just have to take our words for it; if we could do anything about it, we would have. But we just can't. I'm sorry."
"Can't I at least hurt him a little?" Jesse begged.
"I'll come with you," Gar growled.
"Guys, we went through all this during the Hunt. No Writer-maiming. Period." Dick's voice was firm. "I can give you the schedule for Abused Characters Anonymous if you like--they're very good; Raven swears by them."
"Or if you just want to talk, we're here for you," Garth said. "Believe me, I've been there," he added, sharing a wry smile with Dolphin.
Dol nodded, sighing. "You're lucky, Jesse, really. At least he's dead, so they can't make *you* marry him. No offense intended," she added to Garth.
"None taken," he assured her. "You have that divorce decree ready? Just in case?"
"Ready and waiting, the minute we get the word--if we ever do. I hope it's soon; I'm so tired of being an airhead..."
Jesse sighed hopelessly. "Yeah, but even you two weren't so...so...*sleazy*. I slept with my mother's *fiance*!" The last words were almost a wail. "Ten years of being someone I could look in the mirror at, blown with one panel. Now I'm a--a--I can't even *say* it." Roy opened his mouth, and she glared. "Don't *you* say it either." He closed his mouth prudently and she went on, waving her hands in frustration. "Dammit, I don't even *have* a personal life! Haven't we established that by now? Between running a company that's mysteriously become a major corporation, trying to get my degree, and running around with you people, the only vice I ever get to indulge in is an occasional chocolate latte! When was
I supposed to have time to be having a sordid affair?"
"Actually, having a sordid affair doesn't take much time at all."
"Shut up, Roy."
"You know, it could be worse," Argent pointed out.
"Well...you could be pregnant." Jesse stared at her in growing horror. "...which...um...you aren't...right...? I mean, you use protection and stuff?"
"Yes. Normally. Of course, normally I don't SLEEP WITH MY MOTHER'S FIANCE!"
"Oh, god," Rose groaned, "*another* kid to babysit? You guys aren't paying me enough for this..."
"Relax, Rose," Gar growled. "It looks like I'm going to be taking the superbrats off your hands. Hell, the way this storyline is going you might just come home and we'll all have snuck off to L.A.! Damn it, first time I've been in the book in months and what do I get? Oliver flippin' Twist!"
Donna patted his hand. "It isn't *that* bad an idea, Gar. The Tower isn't really the best place to raise kids, you know that--even if the Writer doesn't--and you don't want them to grow up in a DEO lab, do you?"
"No," Gar sighed, "but couldn't I be, you know, honest about it? Maybe even behave like a responsible adult and talk to you guys about how I think this would be better, instead of sneaking around behind your backs and acting like the only priority I have in life is to be in charge of a bunch of spandex?" He scowled. "Why can't Bette be doing this part of the storyline, anyway?"
"You're the ambitious one, aren't you? You're the one who's been pushing for Titans West for years, aren't you? *You* go seduce the Bratpack into joining up!"
"Hey, don't look at me. I'm just in this story to get yelled at and follow you around. Oh, and drool over Nightwing! Which I was supposed to be over!"
"*You* at least could handle a pint-sized Wildebeest! I had to get an eight-year-old to catch mine!"
"Guys, guys, enough. This isn't helping anything."
"Stop by anytime you're off-panel, partner."
"Thanks, big guy. Maybe we could even talk Johns into an actual guest-shot, whaddya think?"
"Worth a try."
"Well, I'm glad *somebody's* feeling better."
"Sorry, Jesse. But at least you know you're not the only one getting screwed here. Uh...bad choice of words."
"That's it, the Writer is a dead man."
Nightwing intervened hastily. "Jesse, Jesse, calm down. Look, have you considered that this might be some sort of trick?"
"Yeah, you know. Shocking cliffhanger, and then next month you find out it's something totally different? Can't tell you how many of those I've done, especially back in the Silver Age."
"Dick, I said I was his lover! What the hell else could I mean?"
"Well...maybe it's a typo," Argent suggested. "Maybe you're his...mover. You were using your super- strength to help him move furniture..." Everybody looked at her. "Hey, at least I'm trying...!"
"Maybe you're trying to draw the police's attention away from your mother," Donna suggested.
"That would work great if I'd actually told the police. Instead I'm telling Libby. Somehow I don't think she thinks she did it, do you?"
"Well, mebbe you know who the guy's real lover was and you're trying to protect *them*," Vic tried.
"What, so I know my mother's fiance is cheating on her, I haven't told her, and I'm trying to *protect* the slut involved? By telling Libby it was *me*? Oh, yeah, I can definitely see that."
"Maybe you weren't actually sleeping together," Roy said thoughtfully. "Maybe you just had, you know, a moment, and you didn't know how to tell your mom." He cocked an eyebrow at Jesse. "I mean, I know you're Ms. Straight Arrow, no pun intended, but you can't tell me you don't have hormones."
"Just because you can't control *yours*..." Jesse shot back.
"Look, would you *rather* be rattling the bedsprings with the guy?"
"No," Jesse sighed. "You're right, that could be it. But you'd think I'd act guiltier; I had a scene with Libby just last month and I sure didn't look like I was keeping secrets from her..."
Roy snorted. "If that's all you have to worry about right now, you're doing pretty well and you know it. Not like the rest of us are doing so great here." He scowled. "I was hoping I could forget about Cheshire for a while, but no..."
Jesse smiled reluctantly. "Okay, you've got a point there. Maybe this won't turn out so bad."
"That's the spirit," Donna agreed. "Keep hoping till next month. And just remember the magic words..."
"New Writer coming up."
Jesse smiled slowly. "Now *that* is worth celebrating."
"Amen," Roy agreed. "We got any champagne around here?"
"If we don't, I'll buy some. I'll even let you have some, if you're nice to me."
"Always, honey, always."
"In your dreams, Roy."
And Donna laughed. For all that the Titans had been through, and undoubtedly would go through again...some things never would change.