The Only Constant
Author: Zeelee
For: Seanan
Requested characters used: Jenny Sparks - The Authority
Summary: Six days to live. PG-13
Disclaimer: Not mine. Am poor. Don't sue.
Notes: Thanks to illmantrim and Houie for beta-ing and hand-holding.

You would think that the Spirit of the Twentieth Century would have a good memory. If not a perfect one, then at least a decent one.

And maybe it's that her memory has been clouded by too many unfiltered cigarettes and countless gallons of alcohol. Or maybe the human brain just isn't equipped to remember a hundred years' worth of events. Or maybe that's just the trade-off you get for taking on the role of not-really-Messiah-but-kind-of.

The Spirit of the Twentieth Century can't remember the last time she felt sorry for killing a person. Can't even remember clearly the first time she took a life.

It wouldn't be quite so disquieting if she could bring herself to care. To feel disgusted with herself, or horrified at how casually she kills.

But every single bastard who died with lightning thrumming in his veins deserved what he got. And she's not sorry.

Still. She's going to die soon herself (it's Christmas Eve—in seven days), and what has she got to show for it?

The twentieth century was one long blood bath. Maybe--*maybe*--less of a blood bath than it could have been if Jenny hadn't been there. Sometimes she doubts that.

Like right now. Open bottle of whiskey in one hand (already half-gone), two lit cigarettes in the other, and nothing on the telly except sappy christmas specials that will only make her feel worse about pretty much everything. Her oldest jazz records playing in the background, for nostalgia's sake.

Jenny's never really been fond of this particular holiday. Or any holiday, come to think of it.

She takes another swig, and the whiskey burns in her throat. It feels almost as good as electricity does.

"Don't tell me you're staying up here and drinking alone on Christmas Eve?" she hears a skeptical voice behind her say. Apollo. She doesn't bother to turn around.

"Once you've seen as many pointless commercial holidays as I have, the novelty wears off," she replies.

Apollo snorts. "Sure. Go and pull the jaded routine again. Come on, Jenny, the leader of the world's most powerful superhero organization isn't allowed to sit by herself and sulk on Christmas Eve."

Jenny twists around to look at him, scowling. "So why aren't you out there gaffing about if you're so damn spirited?" Half a bottle of whiskey, and her words have only just started to slur.

He grins at her. "I was just leaving. The Midnighter and I are going to see what Christmas Eve is like in Tokyo."

"Bully for you," she says. "Go on then and leave me alone."

Instead he gives her that annoyingly brilliant smile of his and flops down on the couch next to her.

"Why are you getting smashed alone on Christmas Eve, Jenny?" he asks, his face amused.

"I need a reason?" She scowls at him, but he just smiles back serenely. Git.

He nudges her. "You could at least offer to share."

"You know where the liquor cabinet is. Get some yourself."

He gives her a sorrowful look that somehow makes his features even more beautiful. "You wound me. Generosity is one of the traits of a true leader, you know."

"Not when the true leader is a 99-year old lush it isn't." The sorrowful look deepens, and she curses and hands over the bottle.

She watches him smugly take a drink, beautiful lips wrapping around the bottle-neck without letting a drop spill. Pretty golden boy who manages to have a pretty sun-god smile despite all the horrors he's seen.

Jenny wonders how long that will last.

He stops drinking, stretching back luxuriously with a sigh. That perfect body, on display in tight white spandex all the bloody time. She licks her lips. There was a time, not all that long ago, when she would have seduced him - or tried to, at least. Jenny's not sure if she could pry him away from the Midnighter, and she doesn't particularly want to try. If for no other reason, than because she's tired.

And it would be bad for the team and all that, but Jenny knows herself, and knows she would have done something to fuck this team up eventually. That's just the way these things work.

"I'm too damn old, Apollo." And fuck she must be more drunk than she thought, or she wouldn't have said that.

He just laughs. "I'll believe that when I see it."

She scowls and grabs the bottle from him. "I'm not some bloody messiah or something, you know." She wonders if she can knock herself out before she says anything else. Since when is she a maudlin, confessional drunk?

"I know that, Jenny." Apollo sounds amused. Serene little bugger.

She scowls. "I'm not, okay? I'm just a stupid girl that the universe randomly picked to come save the whole fucking century. Not that I did a bang-up job with that or anything, and god, Apollo, get the fuck out of here before I start reciting bloody poetry at you or something. I'm too drunk to converse."

He looks like he's holding back a guffaw. "Sure, Jenny. I'll see you around. Try to get out and celebrate a bit, all right?"

"I am celebrating," she mutters to herself. Takes another drink and ends up spilling whiskey on her shirt.

She turns on the TV and stands up, only swaying a little. The view from the Carrier's window is more interesting by far than anything the television has to offer.

They're passing through a dimension that looks to be underwater, except that the water is... orange. Ish. And the fish-life appear to have human feet. Jenny blinks. Tries to take another swig, but the bottle is empty.

A few bottles and hours later, Jenny realizes it's past midnight. Six days to go.

What are you supposed to do when you know exactly when you will die? Jenny vaguely recalls that she should have a better answer to that question, one that includes more than just getting as drunk as she possibly can.

"Happy Unbirthday to me," she says to the glossy emptiness of the Carrier. If she concentrates, she can almost hear an echo.