July 03, 2018:

With the aftermath of Hell's Kitchen still going strong, a small pocket of space gives Raven and Impulse some time to recuperate from its ongoing effects.

Hell's Kitchen


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Red Robin, Spider-Man, Zatanna Zatara

Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

Last Friday was supposed to be like any other day. That was what it felt like for many people in and around Hell's Kitchen. But the hectic pace of New York life was suddenly interrupted, its thriving normalcy left screeching to a halt.

Raven was nowhere near Hell's Kitchen. Not too close, yet not too far - she now forgets where she was, what she was doing when it happened. Despite not seeing anything, it felt a like a shockwave of energy ran through and past her physical body, quickly followed by a brief silence.

Then a surge of emotional chaos came rolling after the hush, roaring in on a wave, overwhelming her senses, almost drowning her in an instant.

Whoever was around her at the time showed concern; she didn't remember what they did to help, but she knew it didn't last long. As soon as the news covered every television screen and broadcast, their attention and concern flew toward the neighborhood in question. And she was able to withdraw into the shadows without being noticed.

Now: it has been hours.

No, a few days.

Aside from wandering the city streets in a haze, Raven made it a point to take shelter under a bridge to accelerate her recovery time. Intrusive thoughts bounce between wondering how the progress in the Kitchen was faring to reliving a snippet of conversation she overheard in passing ('Clinton? Where's Clinton?'), not showing any signs of calming down no matter how hard she wrapped her arms around herself.

Too much to do. Too much to think about. It needs to stop.

As fast as a Speedster can be, they can't be everywhere at once. They may think it possible, and in certain circumstances can very nearly manage to pull off such an illusion, but with the scale of destruction and panic as this, it's quite the eye-opener. Hell's Kitchen was only one area of New York, but being of New York, it was full of people. That just made things all the more deadly when someone decided to plant bombs, but then that was probably the point.

Impulse feels like he's been on his feet ever since he'd heard and responded to the first of the explosions. He'd lost count of the number of people he'd shuttled to hospitals outside of the area, how many people he'd helped to clearer areas or vibrated through crumbling, smoldering buildings to bring them to safety. It was a complete nightmare, bringing with it flashbacks of the incident at Luke's bar, only this time multiplied for maximum damage, with far more deaths.

While not empathetic on the levels of Raven, the aftermath has been almost numbing for all that had finally started to sink in. Buildings still smoked, flames still stubbornly eating away here and there. The whole scenario looked so different. People still tried their best to pick themselves up, get back on their feet, start with clean-up. Keep moving forward. Keep themselves busy. ..not that there's not enough to do so.

His steps feel leaden as he walks, walks over to the end of the bridge- the same that Raven happens to be sheltering beneath- sighing as he leans against the ledge, letting his head hang back as amber eyes stare through his goggles at the yellow-tinted, cloudy skies. Arms are draped over several pizza boxes that he's so tired he can't even remember when he'd gotten them although he's sure it was someone from the usual place who'd probably seen him stumbling about, literally run ragged from just trying to help.

They're still loud. Pained voices, fragmented panic and leftover confusion resonate across the goth's empathetic field of range, prickling pale skin hidden beneath layers of black clothing. Several have softened, their voices faint among the others who still cry out where no one can here them, disappearing soon after.

Time passes, aloof to the crisis at hand, waiting for no one.

…But they are still there.

These thoughts break the surface of the mental shell of protection Raven was building, allowing room for her senses to take in whatever she can handle. She doesn't like it, but she does it because the want to help is finally greater than the need to be left alone.

But under the tangle of choppy, black bangs, her eyes widen. One feeling in particular stands out - bright, just above her. Yet waning into the background noise.

Detection gives Raven the strength to get back onto her feet to see who's there, hands held above her face as she slowly steps out of the shadows. In the light, she looks like a normal girl with a flat diamond-shaped mark on her forehead dressed in various blacks and faded jeans curiously looking up at the tired young speedster and his collection of pizza boxes. Another look at her expression will see that it's less curiosity and more of a sullen recognition. "…Impulse?"

That pizza's starting to smell pretty good. Impulse figures he should probably dig in before they get cold, not that cold pizza's ever a problem, but why have cold pizza when you can enjoy it relatively fresh? With a groan he leans forward to peel his back away from the wall.

There's movement below, which startles him more than it should, but he's usually more on top of these things. He yelps in surprise, doing a quick juggle of pizza boxes before he spins around, plopping them onto the thick ledge of the bridge while he all but collapses against it, now facing out towards the edge where he can better see who's emerged, much less spoken his name.

"…Raven? That you?" he asks, squinting. She looks a lot different now that she's not…all swathed in shadows. "…why're you down there? I thought only trolls lived under bridges."

Where mild surprise once spiked, it's replaced with a sigh of relief. Maybe even a subtle hint of a smirk, due to Impulse's unscripted antics. It is her fault she said nothing outright in the first place.

However, making light conversation is a welcome change of pace. "I didn't see any," Raven shrugs, trying to stay nonchalant even if her conscience is saying otherwise. "No one was using it." Which is true - no one is down here except for her. Some trash, of course, but mostly just her. "It's quiet. And cold. But I think trolls have the right idea…"

Taking her response as invitation to come join her, Impulse steps around, boxes of pizza gathered in his arms once again as he picks his way down to the space below. Once at eye level with her, he looks around as though to see for himself whether or not there are no lingering trolls.

"Eh, I dunno. Feels nice, I guess. But it smells," he says, wrinkling his nose. He tilts his head at her, then cracks open the topmost box. "Pizza?"

He's right - it does smell. "Well. Trolls." That's a good enough explanation for now.

Raven does, however, accept the offering of pizza. It's still warm to the touch, cooling slowly the moment she takes it from the box. With a nod, she eats, letting the silence settle in for a few seconds longer.

Even with the short pause, she doesn't even get halfway through her slice, staring down at it as other thoughts at the back of her mind return to the front. It's hesitation. Reluctance. It soon passes, letting her speak the words she wants to ask of the young hero.

"Hell's Kitchen. Were you there?"

Impulse nods his agreement at that. It seems a fair explanation than any. …better than the more practical one.

Waiting just long enough for Raven to take a slice, the young Speedster doesn't wait long in helping himself to one as well, practically shoveling it into his mouth for how fast it vanishes. He's reaching for a second as he licks his lips. "Hrgh, this is so goooood…"

When had he last eaten? He knows he at least had to have snacked in between his darting about, but he hadn't stood still for an actual meal since… Donut time. He had a box of donuts earlier at something o'clock, he's sure of it. "Mmm?" His mouth full of pizza, Impulse looks back at Raven as she asks about Hell's Kitchen, and he quickly chews and swallows it down before nodding.

"Yeah, I was," he replies, looking a bit more solemn even as he tucks the top now empty pizza box under the rest, opening the fresh box invitingly to Raven, even though she's still working through her first slice. "…was there when things started going off. Some of the other Titans were too, another area while I was passing through on patrol." He pulls another piece of pizza away from the rest, tugging at the cheese strands that stretch stubbornly between it. "It all just…happened. Like, all at once. No warning, no nothing," he frowns. Villains liked to grandstand. But no one had said anything, so far as he knew, anyway. Even the ones that S.H.I.E.L.D. was keeping an eye out for hadn't been responsible. Bart had seen them there, during the chaos, helping as well. "…I don't get it."

Even if Raven hasn't finished the first, she does take another slice, placing it underneath despite the mismatched cuts of their sizes. By peeling back the second, she can continue eating the other slice, listening intently to the young speedster as he shares his previous experience between bites.

From what she can sense, Impulse shows a similar level of confusion a child would regarding such circumstances. The sunniness of his disposition has been muted, left alone with no explanation as to why it came and went without any kind of forewarning.

Although she hasn't known him for very long, there is just something worrying about the way he says it. The way he's processing everything. Her own brow creases as she tries to choose her words carefully, but the effort in doing so may make it worse. "…So no one knew." Another pause, and her gaze lifts to meet Impulse's. "Sometimes…sometimes a situation this dire never makes any sense. Like there should be a reason."

Raven then lets her gaze drop, her expression all the more dour than before. "And then there are times there is nothing to it. Those are the worst."

"But…" Impulse halts himself, mostly because he's not quite sure what he wanted to say. His brow furrowed behind his yellow goggle lenses, he shakes his head.

"-there's gotta be a reason. Even if it's just because someone's crazy. …not that that's a good reason, but it's still a reason. This…" He turns to look back up past the bridge, towards the faint strains of white smoke from doused fires in the near distance. "…even with a reason, it didn't need to happen." It shouldn't have happened. And because they didn't know that it was going to happen, they hadn't been able to stop it beforehand.

He lies the pizza back down in the box rather than pull it free, his appetite for the moment lost as he wrestles with these disturbing possibilities. …there are times there is nothing to it. Those are the worst. He closes his eyes, grimacing like he'd just swallowed something bitter.

And it gets quiet. Too quiet in a city known for its ambiance.

Combined with Impulse's awareness, it becomes too much to bear.

She doesn't mean to bring him down with reality. In fact, she feels guilty of doing so. Unlike her, he was doing something to help others. He was doing a lot more, instead of hiding away from the rest of the world.

The slices of pizza are forgotten, but she makes no move to comfort him. Why she doesn't is either due to the mindfulness of the grease, or the fact she keeps her distance in order to stay grounded. Red Robin would be a little better at this. Spider-Man, more likely than not. Maybe even Zatanna - the one who doesn't like her and for good reason - can do what good friends do.

But all Raven can do is be there. Be present. Be solid enough to reassure that not all hope is lost.

That alone is a responsibility she feels she's not ready to handle.

"…Impulse." The tone of her voice is soft, softer than it had been moments earlier. Its quality becomes clearer the more she speaks, bringing about another side of reality that hasn't been covered. "People can be awful, but that doesn't mean everyone is the same way. There are a good number of them trying to be good out there. They are trying their best to help save everyone - just like they're doing in Hell's Kitchen." Blue eyes glance back at the speedster, expressing a passing sadness in these words of encouragement. "Like the Titans. Like you."

His eyes open again at the sound of his name, the look he casts back in Raven's direction hesitant, like a child expecting to be lectured. In a way, he's not disappointed in that as the girl speaks on, reminding him that even in the worst of times, things haven't hit rock bottom.

He'd seen it in the actions of those who were able to, those still helping with putting out the fires, clearing out the wreckage. There were still rescue efforts, still people missing, still so many injured, but no one had given up. He hadn't either. Neither had the Titans, and others, both heroes and residents, and even the ones he wasn't so certain about.

"Y-yeah. I guess so," he admits. "But we still don't know who's behind this. If we don't figure that out, it might happen again."

Spirit has been lifted. This is a good sign. This is fine with her.

"Maybe someone will have a clue by then," Raven replies, now looking over to where the trails of white smoke filter off into the sky. "It would be better than having nothing to go off of.

"For now, I feel like there's a lot more work that still needs to be done."

Impulse frowns again, although not in the dejected manner he'd worn a moment ago. "Yeah… I'd look, but I'm not even sure where to even start. Red Robin's better at angling for that sort of thing." He sighs, letting his shoulders rise and fall with it. "-but you're right. There's a lot that still needs to be done."

The young Speedster smiles crookedly, a tired expression compared to his usual ones if their first meeting had been any baseline to measure by, but it's a good jumpstart, at least. "You gonna help too?" he asks, looking at Raven hopefully.

Personally, Raven feels like it's right to have Impulse with a smile on his face, crooked or not. It doesn't seem right to have him despondent, and she hopes he never falls into that kind of mindset.

There's a thoughtful pause as she regards Impulse's question, but her answer is known long before she answers. "Yes. I will do what I can."

That's enough to tweak that smile back into proper brilliance. Impulse nods, as though he'd expected that to be Raven's response all along, but then that's probably true.

"Awesome. Then we'd better dive back in there soon as we can." He looks down at the pizza boxes. "…maybe after I refuel. Want any more of this?"

Ah, there's the brightness. That resilience. It's not overwhelming, but it's at the right level again.

Surprisingly, Raven almost laughs. So it sounds more like a cough, but the smirk is still present. "Nah, I'm- " a hand is held up as the other holds up the two (now cold) slices, "-I'm good. It's all yours."

Impulse tosses her a thumb's up, swinging open the lid of the pizza box again. "Well, if you say so," he says, a sort of 'last chance' for Raven before he digs in. But he feels a lot better about things. Maybe all he needed was someone to talk to.

…and something in his stomach.

Withdrawing, the goth watches Impulse refuel, the pizza vanishing like it was never inside of the boxes at all. As for her own sustenance, she feels fine. Stronger than she was previously, more stable now that she's had time to recollect herself.

Raven can do this. She can help. And with everyone else still helping to rescue the citizens still in peril, Hell's Kitchen is in good hands.

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