It's Always The Same

January 21, 2016:

Jericho thinks Zee needs a night off and invites her for coffee. Wanda joins them

New York

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

Jericho does not have to go handle 'side matters' nearly as often as he used to. HYDRA has been weaker of late and he's been occupied elsewhere. Weaker, though, does not mean weak per se and the hacker has heard whispers and rumors that they or someone very much like them are moving again in the shadows. Once upon a time HYDRA was powerful enough to move relatively openly but repeated defeats had proven that to be a mistake. At least this time. So they and those who watch and take note hid themselves deeper within the fabric of society, weaving protections of legitimacy and secrecy around them like spells.

This is the kind of war Jericho's used to fighting. One where information is his sword inad misdirection his shield. It's also a war that doesn't particularly look like a war. At the moment, the hacker is just sitting in a Starbucks late at night across the street from some apartment buildings he just happens to be watching. It's a quiet night up here near Columbia University and he almost blends in, but for the softly glowing eyes that, even so, most take to be reflecting the light from the phone in front of him.

He's playing angry birds.


Sitting beside the hacker, a mug of chai latte wrapped in her hands, is a raven haired young woman who looks a little tired. She may pass for a new agey type from the University, but she's far from that.

Glancing at the phone, she snorts softly … "You've been doing this way too long. That's a pretty impressive high score, Jericho." Taking a sip of the beverage, she continues "Why did you want me here?"


"Thought you could use an evening out…" That Jericho is working apparently doesn't count. "You seemed fairly… uh, let's just say I've never seen you drink as much as you did the other night, so I figure the stress might be getting to you."

The hacker glances up, pushing the processes running in the background to one side. He may be able to hack in ways other hackers can only dream of but it is still often a fairly time consuming, mostly automated process. "How do you feel after talking about it… and getting over the hangover?"


Oh. He had to mention the Vodka the other night. Zee had woken the next morning with a /terrible/ headache. At least Jericho had walked her to the nearest leyline …

"I don't normally drink and when I do it's normally only a glass of wine." she colours as she murmurs. "Feel?" the raven haired woman taps her fingers on the mug "Better, I guess, but still resolved. If it goes pear shaped … " Is it stress that's getting to her? Or the recognition that things can go horribly wrong and that she's growing up a little? "… I still want you to do it."


The hacker glances up from his not quite pretend game of Angry Birds. It's not so much to amuse him (he could literally do this in his head) as it is to give the impression that he's doing something and not just staring off into space over a latte. "I will, if it becomes necessary. That's not quite what I mean." Zee's generally pretty optimistic and full of 'pep' for lack of a better word. That this has been tempred in recent months is partly a sign of stress but also partly a sign of growing up. It's the death of innocence and youthful perspectives on the world. And not everyone takes that well, particularly if the introduction is jarring. He knows. He's seen young men at war. And he's been one.


Starbucks. This is why Wanda gets lost in the better parts of town. Every street corner has one so how do you know with street corner you're at? Tonight she picks this one but it's not by accident. She may not have consciously chosen this one but chaos has a way of guiding people along a straight line.

The bell above the door rings as Wanda pushes it open. She is not in uniform. She is in a nice(ish) dress with a jacket over it to keep out the cold. She doesn't look particularly happy but does she ever? A quick glance reveals her friends and she offers them a little wave and half a smile before ordering a hot chocolate from the counter.


Jericho and two others may be the only ones to see this side of Zee. To the outside world she's still all bubbles and light, the consummate performer on the worlds stage. Nothing wrong here, go look over there … she's learned that from a lifetime of stage shows with her father.

Sighing at Jericho's words, Zee looks down into her mug. "Yes, I feel better." she's weathering it ok, really. There's just … not many she trusts to understand what she's experiencing.

As Wanda enters and waves, the nearly-not-teen Mage looks up and smiles faintly "There's Wanda." she waves back to the woman and gestures to one of the chairs … come join us.


Jericho hasn't seen Wanda in a while but he recognizes the X-Red member and gives her a wave. "Hello Wanda. Youre looking… perturbed. Im amusing myself with some code. Come on over if you like."


Hot chocolate in hand Wanda wanders over to the others and finds a seat to settle into. "Hello. How are you both?" She shrugs about being perturbed. "My dating is not going well. I think I have a reputation. My dates go out with me to get…" She purses her lips in a frown before shaking her head. "It does not matter what they want."


"Hello Wanda." Zee murmurs as the woman settles into a chair. "I'm doing alright." and then colours slightly as Wanda mentions that her dates might want …. something. Yeah, she's not going to ask, she might be wrong about that … wouldn't be the first time really.

"How's the extra power going?" she asks instead, casting a look to Jericho … she's alright, really. Just sometimes a girl needs to cut loose.


"Not everyone is a keeper Wanda. Most aren't, is my experience." Not that Jericho ever really 'dated' per se. Okay he didn't, but he watched plenty of people 'date'. "You just haven't found someone worth keeping yet. Sorry it's frustrating though. Is that why you're here? Date gone bad?" Zee's redirection of the topic has Jericho's attention but he doesn't say anything about it. Yet.


"It is not me who does not want to keep anyone" snorts Wanda. "My first date told me that I was…what did he say…'you are very pretty but you are too weird'." A shrug. "And that is pretty much the sentiment since." She blows her hot chocolate and glances between the pair. "Oh…no…they did not want sex. /I/ wanted sex but they think I am too strange. So I just do what they want and watch them leave." A wry smile for Zatanna. "All my power and I waste it on people who don't like me. I think the Vishanti will not be impressed. Are you sure you do not want the power back?"


"That's their loss, Wanda." Zee sighs as the story unfolds. Some people can be so dreadfully mean. Zee isn't quite sure what to say to the other … things like, one day you'll meet the right person, isn't particularly comforting.

"I want my power back, Wanda. But I don't think what they gave you was mine." taking a sip of her chai, she glances to Jericho again "I … think I have to work out how to unlock mine if I want it back."

Something Wanda's said though has her looking "If you follow your heart and do what you think is right … it's never a waste. Just make sure it's your heart you're following."


Wanda is not, to be clear, an unattractive woman. Far from. The hacker leans back and just regards her though. This has been an… on going thing for her. All he can figure is that she feels alone and this is her way of trying to solve that. It's just a pity that it doesn't seem to be working. "You seem more… lucid, if you don't mind my saying, Wanda."


"I think that is the power, Jericho" Wanda shrugs. "Now I know that the voices I hear actually belong to the people around me. Well…/most/ of the voices." A little giggle at that before she frowns slightly. "So when they take away the power again then I will probably forget that. And then I will be back to…abnormal."

"Oh I know I don't have your power" Wanda nods to Zatanna, "But I am happy to give you some of what I have. It will make you feel better." A sweet smile for her friend. "Follow my heart? I tried that. It was a disaster. Twice."


The voices belong to the people around Wanda? Now that's interesting … Zee begins to understand a few things. "Perhaps, Wanda, I don't know. Maybe they won't take it back. Or maybe … we can help you remember how this feels and practice?" With the Vishanti, who knows.

"Thank you, but no." Zee casts a look to Jericho, he knows that she's concerned about what she may become with the power that she normally weilds "I doubt a taste would be enough … I'd … want more."


"Maybe they won't take it all." Jericho frowns. He doesn't know Wanda well but he does like her well enough. The disaster bit though… that has him looking at her curiously. He wonders. "I'm sorry to hear that Wanda." This is… simply one arena where he can't really offer help or give advice unless the person in question knows what they want.

"Same as with the Codex Zee?"


"Why would they not take it all?" Wanda asks Jericho. "It is not as if I have proven myself worthy. I try to make things better in Syria…nothing is better. I use it for silly things to try and stop being lonely…that does not work. I try to share it with someone who could use it…they don't want it. Maybe they will take everything and I can go back to being the mad woman on the street with the missing brother and never know any better." A sip of her hot chocolate. "I think I will go back to Transia soon. See if my powers can make a difference there."

Wanda frowns at Zatanna. "You miss it too much" she notes softly. "Be careful, Zatanna. You will find that the power controls you instead of the right way round if you keep thinking like that." A pause. "What is the codex?"


"Maybe, Jericho." Zee murmurs and considers Wanda's words. "Magic is part of me. I don't miss it… per se … but getting a taste of it, bound as I am? I'm better off, just like this."

"The Total Codex. An arcane text … that promises the one that uses it, whatever their heart desires. You just … have to pay the price it demands." Which is part of Zee's dilemma. She's a fragment, stored safely … that she was given to help Jericho and Illyana. She's now weighing up what question would be worth an unnamed price.


Dangerous magic if ever there was one. But Jericho senses there isn't much more he has to add to this conversation. So he rises. "I'll leave you two to it. I need to check in with a certain ice cream fiend to see what he's found. Wanda… I hope things work out for you. Zee, stay safe." And with that and a nod, he's out the door.


"They will work out. I will become a nun" smirks Wanda to Jericho, giving him a little wave as he departs. "The codex does not sound a nice thing, Zatanna, but I think you have wiser friends that me with such things." Her phone beeps and she takes it out of her pocket to look at the message. A snort of amusement before she returns the phone to her jacket. "Another date" she explains, "But at least they are honest enough to say that they only want that trick I do. My fame has spread." She thinks for a moment. "I should just do it from here and not have to be insulted to my face."

"Does anyone really know what their heart desires?" Wanda muses. "And does it not change in life. My heart's desire was my brother's company but now he is gone I think I do alright. Now my heart's desire is not to be alone. Next week it will probably be 'Where can I find that ice cream I like'."


"It's not, Wanda." Zee murmurs quietly as Jericho leaves. "Thank you, Jericho. I shall stay as safe as I can." As Wanda talks and reads her phone, Zee's eyes narrow "You alter reality for them, don't you?"


Wanda sips at her hot chocolate, nodding to Zatanna but not looking her in the eye. When she places the mug back on the table she explains…while still not looking at her. "It is not much. The first person who answered the ad, he knew what I could do. And since it was a date and I wanted to make a good impression…I did it for him." A little blush to her cheeks before she then adds, "But then he left and…" A heavy sigh. "And now I think he tells all his friends and they date me, ask for the same thing, and then they leave the date because I am too weird. And I think I am too kind for still doing it." Wanda watches her hot chocolate for a moment. "But if I can make someone happy then that is a good thing, da?"


That makes Zee mind boggle. She's not sure she wants to think about it, so she nods slowly, drinking her chai. "Do they all want the same reality changed, or does it differ?" Zee shakes her head "You know, Wanda. You can always say no… "


"It is the same. Always the same" Wanda sighs, obviously unimpressed by their request. "I could say 'no' but where will that get me? I will still be lonely and they will be unhappy. At least this way it is just me being lonely." She drains her hot chocolate before turning the empty mug slowly on the table. "You are sad because you have lost all your power but you still have someone, Zatanna. Don't you? Which is more important? Your powers or that person? And here I am with all the powers anyone could ever want but it has not made me happy. It has made others happy…but not me." She stands and smiles at her friend. "Maybe your test is to remember that you are happy with what you have and realise that those missing powers /add/ to your being but they are not what really makes you happy. Or makes you /you/." Wanda shrugs. "But what do I know? Take care of yourself, Zatanna. I think I will be in Transia for a while. At least there I will not have to increase the…never mind." She gives her fellow mage a hug before heading for the door.


"My people are more important to me, Wanda." Zee's blue eyes fix on Wanda's face "I've not forgotten." No amount of power could replace her friends.

As Wanda leaves, Zee shakes her head. Zee's not sad. Not at all. She's terrified. That's what she'd spoken to Jericho about the other night."No Wanda, I'm not sad. I'm scared. Scared at what I might become with the power at fingertips."

Drinking her chai down, she heads towards the door and starts the long walk back towards the Leyline.

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