The Un-BEAR-Able Beauty of Rooftops

August 27, 2018:

With free time to spare, Nico and Raven chat and review recent Titan experiences.

Titan Tower

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Red Robin, Zatanna Zatara, Angela, Hercules

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

The view from the tower is breathtaking.

Perhaps it's a little less spectacular than what people tend to post online in public forums or other social media platforms, but it still provides a good vantage point of the city's outline and its surrounding landscape. It also provides Raven the means to sit quietly and focus on whatever tends to cross her mind during her meditation sessions, the habitation space allowing her room to breathe when no one else is around, allowing her some time for herself whenever it's possible to retreat from…well, everything.

She can possibly do this in her room, yes, but she felt like she needed to stretch her mental legs.

She needed something to stare at for a while - something to appreciate since there hasn't been much time to do so. Her current thoughts melt away as she reopens her eyes to stare out at the scenery, idly running a hand through her hair. But it's after a minute of sitting there else something clicks.

"…Huh. It's already dark out."

"Oh!" comes a voice.

Nico Minoru!

Who had just opened the door that lead out into that wide open space.

She has no Staff of One visible, and she puts something back into the pocket of the denim vest she has on. Her voice raises. "Hey - Rachel - Do you mind if I come up?"

Maybe she will, Nico thinks to herself. Her eyes turn towards the darkling bay of Long Island Sound, which she can totally look at for free if she wants. They can't take the sky from her, not even if they move its time slot around.

Upon hearing the exclamation, Raven turns her head, shifting in her seated position to see who has appeared and entered her sphere of influence.

"Nico," she greets with a nod, shoulders relaxing under her oversized dark hooded sweatshirt. Some earlier irritation continues to peter off as she keeps her expression cool, knowing full well she wouldn't always have this kind of privacy all the time. A sort of half-wave is offered, beckoning her over. "Oh. No, go ahead. I don't mind at all."

Nico is okay. She doesn't mind Nico. In her opinion, she just seems a little skittish at times.

To Nico, she is standing on thin ice - twenty-four seven.

It's thickening lately, but gradually. Stepping out onto the open space, the wind tugs at her hair, stirring a little blue and a lot of black. "I'm glad I ran into you," she says. "I thought we should, like… hang, or something, without any demons around."

"That hoodie looks comfy as hell," Nico then adds. "Where did you get it?"

It's always been hard trying to make and keep friends. Raven can cheat and make it a little easier with some manipulation on her part, but she has been good about not forcing it. The challenge of allowing trust and friendships to form is complicated, but the difficulty level has been surprisingly manageable.

So far, anyway.

But Nico is right: they haven't really hung out outside of demon-ridden settings. Having no threat to bother them at the moment is a plus.

"I'd say you have good timing in this case," Raven replies. The faint smile that comes with it then vanishes as if it was never there. And there's a blink. She absently tugs at one of the hoodie's drawstrings, twirling her finger into its loop. "I…forgot the name of the store." Despite her monotone, she sounds vaguely awkward. "But I think there were giant capital letters involved."

omg she smiled, so Nico thinks.

Stepping nearer, Nico muses, "Uniqlo? But it kinda looks too… fluffy for that. Unless it was like one size too big."

She explains as she gets within casual chatting distance. "I go there a lot for basics. Like, you can't actually sew everything together, even if you have a sewing machine." Which she does not /or does she/? (No, but she did put in a request if one turns up.)

"… Can I ask you some stuff? It's, like, work stuff, I guess. It can wait."

The goth's brow furrows. "Hmn." After a pause, she shakes her head. "No, I don't think that was it. I do remember passing a Uniqlo, however." Folding up a leg to rest her arm over her legging-covered knee, Raven shrugs. "It's a size bigger than what I'm used to, but that's what helps make it more…cozy, I guess."

Her own posturing isn't at all intimidating as Nico makes her approach - no rigid lines, just a casual kind of openness without being too vulnerable. As she tilts her chin a few degrees, she keeps her gaze on the young woman like she's observing her every move. "Ask away," she says plainly, now sitting a little straighter due to interest. "I'm pretty much done with the meditations." Maybe even curiosity, but it's hard to tell. "What's on your mind?"

Nico comes up closer. She squats down for a moment, seems confident that she's not about to sit on a tack, and transitions into a cross-legged seat, hands going down to rest on her knees.

She takes a couple of seconds to speak up again.

"I just never knew anyone else," Nico says, "who was. Like. Oh god, this is dumb. I mean the whole…"

She spreads her hands. "Everything. I guess I should start on the easy stuff. How long have you been able, have you been doing, like —" Nico swirls her hand around as if to encompass everything. Her eyes narrow then and she makes the same gesture again, leaving a faintly day-glo purple ring in the air - a cantrip of some kind, forced out with difficulty.

The ring fades. "I want to say 'magic' but I don't even know if that's right," Nico says.

Raven waits with a practiced patience, not speaking until Nico can fully verbalize her thoughts. It's in the beats of silence, the hand gestures used to capture and finally release an energy that simply defies description.

As the cantrip rings and fades, she keeps her eyes on where it used to be. Lips purse, then part to speak, careful to answer.

"It's not dumb." It's supposed to be reassuring, saying that. But it sort of fails to become the reassurance the girl needs. But her gaze shifts back over at Nico, picking up the slack in their solemnity. "It isn't easy talking about magic. If we did, the majority of people would believe us to be insane."

Which is all the more reason why she never says anything more about it on her end. She's smart (and lucky) enough to not have been stuck in a situation that could cause noise she doesn't want happening.

"But if you must know," she continues without missing a beat, "the simple answer is I've been doing this for most of my life. All of my life." She looks down at her own hands, taking in their paleness against the interior lighting through the large paneled windows. "…I take it you haven't been around 'magic' as long? Or am I wrong to assume as much?"

"I was sixteen when I started, nearly seventeen," Nico says. "I didn't so much start as like… my mother was trying to kick my ass with the Staff and it kind of got… stuck in me. She'd had it before hand. Did Red tell you about them?"

She takes a deep breath and lets it out. "No wonder you've got it all together if you grew up around it. I mean, I can tell it wasn't… easy, right?"

"Forced." A strong word, she thinks, but it's too late to take it back. Again she looks at Nico, shaking her head the second her gaze drops ever so briefly. "Red Robin hasn't. I never asked, either."

One can say she forgot, but she knows she hasn't reached out to connect any deeper with her teammates. Despite what a few of them knew of her own history, keeping and maintaining her distance is more for her own sanity.

She recovers, looking back up as if the break never happened. And for that, she sacrifices a little of that safe sanity to build a bridge of understanding for Nico. A non-commital shrug is followed by a light gesture. "It does give me a huge advantage," Raven confesses, letting her hand drop back down. "But yeah, you're right about that. There was a lot to learn…a lot to take in…"

Another beat. "But for someone who had only a few years to practice, I feel like you're doing pretty good."

she's flattering me
ahhhh
AHHHH

(ahhhh!!!)

Thus thinks Nico Minoru, even if externally she laughs, maybe just a little too long. "Well - thank you! No, they just, uh… They weren't good people. But I had a pretty normal childhood. I guess you had to deal with people like this Brother Blood, right?"

After a moment, she says, "That stuff was incredibly freaky. With, the, ritual and everything, I mean. Do you see that kind of thing…… often?"

Fortunately for Nico, Raven doesn't seem to notice. (Or does she?) She does, however, nod in understanding at the fact. "…I'm sorry you had to go through that experience."

What else can she say? It isn't cool when people have terrible bits of history they have to deal with. She should know.

A huff of a laugh escapes her, not exactly amused yet not thrilled by the fact Brother Blood is still involved in her life. "They come up way too often for my tastes," the Daughter of Darkness snorts. "With everything else that's been going on lately, I thought I was free of ever seeing them again for some time. Apparently I thought wrong."

Nico's mind obsessively interprets this statement. That sounded formal, Nico thinks. Am I bugging her? I'm absolutely bugging her. Or does she have to deal with this a lot? Is there like - of course she'd run into a lot of people with the same kind of situation as me, Nico continues mentally, she's a hero with these people and there's tons of people on the East Coast. oh god

"But it's not always the zombies talking about mother bird and father bear, right? That sounded… almost Native American, but it was also a computer virus or something, right?"

"Yeah, that was different." Unexpected? Raven arches a brow, but her features stay relatively dour. A thoughtful kind of dour. "Usually it's them trying to 'convince' me to open up a portal to another dimension. The imagery and talk of a virus is all new information to me as well, but it seems like the others have heard of it before."

Nico stops having weird personal introspection for a moment (barely) to ask, "You can do that? The dimension thing, I mean. Is this like… do they need it opened, and ask you, or is it like, you are the key?"

Darn. Those questions hit the nail on the head.

"Well." Raven's voice falters, eyes darting off to the side before jumping back to meet Nico's gaze. "Yeah. Yes I can. And it's as you have said."

Smoothing back her hair as best as she can, she inhales through her nose, exhaling a sigh once enough air has filled her chest. "Since we've come this far, I may as well tell you: I'm a product of a union between a human and a demon.

"Once upon a time, my mother was involved in that cult. The demon, Trigon, chose her to sire an heir to help him conquer and possibly destroy all existing worlds within and between dimensions." Now that her brow stays creased, Raven rests her chin against a propped hand and bent elbow. "The thing is, he already has numerous heirs. Unfortunately, I'm the one who became his best chance to carry out his will. It's the last thing I'd want the Titans - or anyone else, for that matter - to deal with here, especially when there are other problems arising…"

The silence that follows settles, sinking in a bit before she continues. "…This virus…I wish I knew more about it so that I can help." Less of a light on her, more of a light cast back on Nico. "Have you heard of any other details since then?"

Nico listens. Her own brow knits for a moment at the news of Raven's ancestry. She doesn't look like a demon, Nico thinks, but: Would she? And: What does a demon look like anyway nico minoru. And also: Why are you looking.

This kind of confusion and momentary emotional turmoil is a lot of why she smiles and says, "Oh, wow, I know just how that feels. That's so funny, wow."

After a beat, she adds with haste and a faint heating of the face, "I mean, like, it's funny the coincidence, because, my mother and father were in a cult that was gonna try to wipe out humanity, but I think they were more like the fallen angel kind of demon, and this sounds more like the demon demon, like that one that ran for president."

ETRIGAN THE DEMON RAN FOR PRESIDENT IN 1992. (MAYBE.) ALL YOUR COFFEE SHOP ROLEPLAY TAKES PLACE IN THAT UNIVERSE. (GUESS WHAT PARTY)

Nico breathes in through her nose and out through her mouth with a small 'pah'. "… Do you think of them as your siblings? Or… are they mostly, uh…"

Nico trails off.

Shit, she then thinks. OK, superhero thinking time.

"I haven't heard of any new details," Nico says. "But I was thinking. Like how it sounded Native, right? I know it's kind of awful to put like that, but 'Father Bear and Mother Bird,' that is so, oh no, I can hear a Lakota guy frowning in the audience. But," and here Nico raises her hands, "if they've adopted that, like, identity, then that's a vulnerability. You know; when you become part of something, you have to own all of that, the good and the bad. Does that make sense?"

If the comparison wasn't clear earlier, it makes more sense after Nico mentions that her own family was involved in a cult. Eerily similar, perhaps. To that, Raven nods once she gets the drift of what the other Titan means, not at all judging when everything is laid out. "It's a weird bonding moment," is all she can say about that.

How often do families join cults and carry out the destruction of humanity? It should be a rarity in society. Or is it normal? And what does she really think of her half-siblings? Are they really family? She barely knows them…

…These questions can wait. It's time to switch over.

Clearing her mind of distractions, Raven refocuses, leaning forward a few inches as Nico makes her case. "…That does make sense," she agrees. "Like a balance?"

She said it's weird, Nico thinks with despair.

She said it's a bonding moment, Nico thinks with hope.

In conclusion, Nico Minoru is a land of contrasts. "Right," she says, nodding once. "So since they've assumed these identities, if we can figure out the kind of - polarities, right, the symbolic stuff, we can make use of that. Like I guess Zatanna shot them with some kind of pure clear light or whatever, but Zatanna seemed like she was pretty ripped up - is she okay?" Nico pauses here, perhaps out of guilt.

"But I mean like if we can find a bear father and a bird mother, then they'd have authority over these… things. I'm guessing they wouldn't mean, like, literally someone running a bird rescue when they talked about their mother, but they did that. They took that on themselves as a defining element."

"She's fine," Raven says all too crisply, catching herself from being too sharp. Her tone softens. "She's had experience with this before. She knows what she's doing."

In truth, she doesn't know if Zatanna is okay. Physical injuries are different from emotional and mental ones. Sure, the witch has encyclopedic knowledge of magic and its related topics, but it all falls back into the personal experience with that sort of thing.

Raven and Zatanna have been in a touchy kind of relationship ever since she came to the Tower, not at all the 'fuzzy,' close friendships most of the Titans share among themselves. But she hasn't been turned away. The least she can do is cooperate and not get in the way.

As she mulls over that and the part Nico currently brings up, she straightens up. "Wait. Didn't someone recognize what the possessed were talking about? Wouldn't that person, or persons plural, have that authority you're talking about?"

Nico folds her hands together as she considers Zatanna and looks pensive. Internally she thinks: RED ALERT, SHE'S ONTO YOU, YOU PHONY WITCH

"They would, yeah," Nico says: "But at the same time, you can define yourself in opposition to your parents." She looks over to Raven as if to say: am i rite?

Internally, she thinks: good save

"But that could have value too. I know this sounds stupid but what little I have gotten out of my mom's old notes and plans says that these kinds of like, symbolic correspondences can be incredibly powerful if you tilt them around right."

Good save, indeed. That's thinking on your toes. "Yes," Raven nods. "That's always a possibility."

Which sounds rather optimistic and agreeable. What is going on???

The corner of her mouth twitches into a ghost of a smirk. "Old notes can prove to be useful in times like this. Especially if it gives further insight into how everything can be manipulated if done correctly." She leans back, resting her weight on her other hand. "But this is something you should also share with the others. Red Robin and Zatanna can use it as another point of reference."

"Oh, god," Nico says with a nervous-laugh-that-isn't-really-a-laugh. "How do I even do that? Like I know how to use the computer but do I just like… email them? Is there a format? There's probably stuff in the, like, case files or whatever about how it absolutely wouldn't work."

Nico pauses.

(am i trying to get her to praise me, says the inner policeman in her head. am i doing that because I RAN OUT OF FRIENDS TO GET MURDERED?)

"I'm not sure how to turn it into action. But I guess they would have a better idea of who the Father Bear and Mother Bird are. If there's like - like, if the Father Bear is this big hairy biker dude, right, then that means I actually know a guy who totally has authority voice and could throw down with some kind of zombie creature with fire hands. Did you ever meet the clone of the Nemean lion I was keeping in garage 3 for a couple weeks?"

Three seconds later, Nico says, "My life is totally out of control."

"You can do that. Or talk to them in person, if you come across them." Raven suggests this like it's no big deal. No hint of ribbing, no sarcasm to be found. Straight up honesty. "It doesn't hurt to add to the files if there are some."

While she can't read all the thoughts, she can sense a little panic radiating off of the witch. And she tries to ignore that so it doesn't get worse.

What she doesn't expect, while ignoring the undertones of social panic, is the descriptions and something about a Nemean lion in Nico's prattle.

It takes her a handful of seconds to respond.

"-What now?"

"If I tell you will you promise not to laugh," Nico says, warily.

"I- " Raven starts, then stops. Then starts again. "I promise."

"Okay," Nico says.

"This hot redhaired lady who's probably Satan helped fight an ifrit that showed up during the Hell's Kitchen thing, where I came in to help Spider-Man and like, froze a building that was collapsing. Her name's Angela. So she like, keeps track of everything and she wanted me to pay her back, and I figured at worst this would be like internship? She needed a witch for something she was doing."

"Something turned out to be getting back the Nemean lion's pelt from this dude with a name like Cod or Cormpt or something back out West, for Hercules. You know, Hercules." He's in the papers sometimes. "Now that's fine and that's just like sneaking back out this magical pelt BUT this guy had, like, cloned the Lion and I had to use magic to tame it since I didn't want to see it get killed? He also had like clone lion soldiers so keep an eye out for that."

A couple of seconds pass. After this, Nico says, "Anyway, I was using magic to keep the clone lion fed because Hercules has like, this valley in Greece? But he had to get it ready, and by ready I mean I also had to make the enclosure for the Lion, but anyway, it's fine, it's done. I got to go to Greece, you ever been to Greece? It is gorgeous."

"……"

There is just.

A lot to process. In everything Nico says.

Somehow, Raven manages to sit through that, squinting as she goes over what she has heard. And her brow knits.

The silence draws out. She needs to say something.

"…I've never been there."

And her reply goes straight for Greece. It sounds nice?

"I'll take you sometime if we can figure it out," Nico says. "I think I'm friends with Hercules now, though I think I kind of scare him a little? I guess, anxious is more accurate. I think he's had a lot of bad experiences with magic but I think he's alright. He was kind of racist once but I think it was because he's old as hell."

Two seconds pass. Raven still looks a little stunned, but she nods. "Okay."

Welp. Looks like she'll be traveling to Greece at some point. Maybe.

"I heard that was normal for the elderly," she then says, recomposing herself as best as she can. "Are you sure this is the Hercules everyone talks about?" Because she is sure she has seen some of those headlines in passing.

"Absolutely," Nico says. "He behaved exactly like him. I mean he was hairier than I thought he'd be but I guess Disney had to clean him up."

"Ah."

Even if it's completely monotone, the sound speaks volumes. Raven thinks about it, shrugging once she gives up.

"Well…I guess so."

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