What's A Lovechild?

September 02, 2018:

Exciting times in a liquor store.

The Bronx

Characters

NPCs: cashier, delinquents, the police

Mentions: Red Robin, Batman

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

"WHAT the- ?!"

Where there was once artificial light, darkness now engulfs an armed masked man whose earlier intentions lay in relieving the liquor store of its cash register. The bubble shrinks in size around him, his muffled screams of confusion are muted, revealing the frightened cashier behind the goody-laden counter. From the middle aisle, the black-cloaked RAVEN stands there, practically sandwiched between cluttered rows of boxed drinks and bags of chips, terribly out of place among the 'normal-ness' of the setting.

To be fair, this isn't how she pictured spending part of her time out in the city. There is plenty to do and see in The Bronx and it boasts as much as most cities are wont to do. And like many cities, it also has its moments of crime. This one in particular has drawn attention to itself the minute it began.

"Do I need to repeat myself?" Raven asks. Despite the lack of acoustics, her voice seems to resonate within the walls. "Stand down and we can work this out. Don't try anything you'll regret."

She isn't just speaking to the one guy she has trapped for the time being. There are four more dressed to be as nondescript as possible in their street clothes, hoods and caps and sunglasses partially obscuring their features for this planned (maybe less than half-planned) robbery. One, maybe two others, are also armed. Although they hesitate, one of them snaps out of their stupor, a shaky hand jerking the gun upward to shoot at their new target.

—a gun that they'll find no longer in hand as a breeze blows through the store. The door still stands closed, the AC putt-puttering sadly with no obvious capability to have created such a gust. There's a few thunks on the counter by the poor cashier as not one but several guns are set down, along with a pocket knife and a plastic cup full of bullets. Leaning casually by the register, clad in his trademark white and red, IMPULSE grins as he flicks a bullet into the air and catches it again.

"That right there? That was totally something you would've regretted. You should be thanking me right now," the young speedster says, tossing the bullet into the cup with the rest as he pushes away from the counter.

Like Raven, this isn't necessarily how Impulse had planned on things to go this evening, but such things do happen in the city, and he figures that it's better them than some other hapless citizens. He drops his smile to try and fix the would-be thieves with an attempted look of intimidation. In his head, he's thinking a good Batman face should do the trick. Grrr.

Weapons missing so suddenly add to the level of surprise that's already peaking at this point. The one who was ready draws back his now-empty hand with a sharp yelp and a curse. Eyes widen behind the dark-tinted sunglasses that have slid down his nose, rapidly darting away from Raven to balk at Impulse. "How did you even- "

"-He's a natural," Raven cuts in, barely tilting her head as she does so. "And I'm going to assume you aren't familiar with our kind." Glancing over a shoulder at the young speedster, she then looks back at the others, evenly holding their gazes as her fellow teammate does his best impression of the Big Bad Bat.

Her hands shift, one of them casually rising up to summon another shadow where it shouldn't be. "Now…do we want to make this even more difficult?"

Between the two Titans, they all know who's scarier.

A tense pause lingers until one of the guys in the back pipes up. "Nah! Nah, we- " He shakes his head and thrusts his arms upward in surrender. "We give, man!"

"Smart choice." Impulse nods approvingly. He gestures for them to gather together and sit in front of the counter before having the poor cashier call for the police. In case any of them tries anything funny, he points from his eyes to them and back again. Watching yoooou.

"Ugh, I dunno how Batman does it all the time. My face hurts," he complains once he turns to Raven, rubbing at his jaw. "So much for a quick restock trip. But I guess it hasn't been boring at least."

The four would-be thieves hurry to the front, sitting together quietly like children getting a group detention for the first time in their school lives. As Raven releases the fifth from his inky black prison, he's promptly dragged down by his cohorts closest to him, hands desperately covering his mouth to keep any further obscenities from making their situation worse. The third in line forcefully pries the gun away and hands it over to Impulse with his head lowered.

"That's it, swear to my mama," he mutters, retreating back onto his knees.

With that, the cashier breathes a sigh of relief, wordlessly thanking the young heroes before shakily moving to make the phone call.

Now that things have settled, Raven flicks a sidelong gaze toward Impulse, somehow managing to not crack up at his facial antics. "I don't think it's that hard," she says. "You aren't the type to go around frowning as much." Her eyes fall upon the five sitting on the floor. Among their loud whispering, none of them make eye contact. "But I agree - it's different. Still, we should try bringing back something to the Tower."

The last gun is emptied and subsequently placed down with the rest, now gathered into one of the shopping baskets for easier collection when the cops come by. Impulse glances down at them, nodding.

"It's better not having much to frown about, right? Besides, it takes more muscles than smiling. —at least I think I remember reading that somewhere."

From where they stand watch by the waiting five, Impulse looks around as he gives Raven a nod. "We should. There's some snacks and drinks here at least—" he says, but his eyes are already tracking towards something else as it catches his attention the way things tend to. He picks up something from the periodicals rack, his smile freezing once his eyes gloss over the headline. "Oh craaap I hope these things don't get circulated in Manchester." Hastily he tries to slip the tabloid back, renowned billionaire Tony Stark's photo gracing the cover, alongside him standing Bart from their fancy party night. "-what's a 'lovechild?'"

Raven wants to contest the 'less muscles to smile' idea, but she doesn't exactly frown. Not all the time. A resting neutral expression uses no muscles and that takes less work than smiling and frowning. But before she can say anything, she also looks at the periodicals Impulse rearranges, her brow quirking underneath the shadow of her hood.

Well. That certainly is a cover photo of a tuxedoed Tony Stark and a tidy Bart Allen. And both the caption and the way Bart reads it make the corner of her mouth twist downward.

"Perhaps we should take this conversation elsewhere," Raven immediately suggests, moving past the speedster so that they can peruse and talk privately. The last thing she wants is unwanted outside input on what is discussed. "…Do you really not know what a 'lovechild' is?"

That sounded like a fair suggestion to him, and so Impulse moves to follow her, arms folded behind his head. "Well I can guess," he says, lips jutting out in a twisted pout. "I don't usually read that stuff. …although now I wonder if I should, just to see what that article says. Or do you think that'd make things worse? Wait, what if there's other stuff printed like that?"

He'd completely forgotten to look at the date, having been so fixated on the picture and the text that accompanied it. Max hadn't called him to yell so maybe he hadn't seen anything. Or he was waiting until Bart got home to talk with him in person. That just makes him groan at the thought.

Drifting down the aisle, Raven looks through some cartons half-full of a variety of chocolate bars. "It's better not to," she half-whispers. "There are a number of publications that do the same thing, filling their pages full of half-truths woven together with lies to capture the reader's attention and get their money. And fortunately for them, it works."

So trying to ease his mind about this kind of stuff isn't her forte. Not this method, anyway. But it would be overstepping a boundary to poke him in the head in order to chase away the worrying.

"Hrgggh…." Given his groan, it doesn't sound like Raven's words are all that reassuring. They really aren't. Factual, yes, but it just sounds all kinds of worse. Impulse drags his hands down through his hair and along the sides of his face.

"…soooo short of trying to gather up every single issue and burn them, there's not much to be done about it?" he mumbles, clearly entertaining the idea of doing just as he'd said. Thankfully he seems to think better of the attempt. Or rather he gets distracted by the chocolate display, picking out a few bars.

As Bart groans, Raven considers the variety of chocolate bars she now amasses in her hands. Her lips briefly form a line, hiding away the dark tinge of her lipstick before parting again.

"…No. If one has it, the internet also passes along the same information."

She means well, but her matter-of-fact tone doesn't help. Seeing that they have taken that many bars, she goes to find a basket. "Like all news, however," she adds, returning and holding out the basket toward Bart, "it will pass once the next big story comes into play."

Impulse makes another face. "Ugh. Right. Welp, there goes that idea," he sighs, imagining the thought of him zipping around with an armload of tabloids being balled up and tossed into a trash can.

By the time Raven comes back with a basket, the speedster's got a couple good stacks to dump into it. "I guess that's true. Whenever that is." Which in Bart-speak means that it could take eons. Or a couple of weeks, depending on whatever hot topics and juicy potential gossip arises in the meantime.

"…hmm. We should probably get more than chocolate bars, huh."

The concept of time Raven is used to dealing with is far from what Impulse feels whenever something takes a long time to run down. She doesn't share his impatience, but she tries to give him a sympathetic look. Or, as sympathetic as she can when half of her face is hidden from view.

She also looks down at the basket for a few seconds, nodding in agreement. "Unless our plan is to kick everyone into a sugar rush, I'd say yes."

Something salty. And some drinks. "Don't worry about it," she says, heading down another aisle. "We can talk about other things, random or work-related."

"Yeah. Sounds good. There's lots we can talk about," the other Titan replies, almost right on the heels of Raven's suggestion. Impulse wanders along after, skimming the shelves, casting the occasional glance back towards the front of the store to make sure the delinquents are behaving themselves. Outside, he catches a glimpse of flashing red and blue lights. Well, at least they won't have to babysit for long.

"Chips! Oh, and some energy bars would probably be good." Somehow a pack of cookies make their way into the basket as well, although upon seeing how loaded it's starting to get, Impulse holds a hand out in offer to carry it.

Lots to talk about, he'd said, and yet he finds himself grasping for a subject once he tries to think of one. "Um, so… Everything been okay? Since that whole cult thing, I mean."

Since he's thoughtful enough to offer the help, the goth takes a second to shift the basket so that Impulse can take the handles. The new food suggestions are fresh on her mind as her free hand runs over the top of one energy bar box, eyeing the brands and flavors with care. Two strawberry-banana, three chocolate and honey, three of the peanut butter.

Upon picking out a bag of barbecue-flavored chips, Raven's brow furrows. Ever since she's been with the Titans, there has been a lot of recent activity connected to her history.

To think she was free of it was entirely naive on her part.

But she can't leave Bart hanging like that. She is the one who said it was fine to talk about other things. This counts. "…Yeah." She buys herself some time as she steals a glance in the direction of the policemen guiding the two of the five wannabe robbers out of the store. "It's been…quiet, I guess."

Taking the basket in both hands, Impulse carries it in front of him while Raven picks out energy bars. "Not a fan of fruit flavors?" he asks with a crooked smile. He reaches out to grab a few bags of cheese-dusted chip goodness and deposit them into the basket, peering curiously at his friend's hesitation. Too soon?

Impulse follows her glance, nodding at the police officers in thanks before he looks back over at Raven. "Quiet's good," he concedes, sounding almost like he'd want to make it a question. "I guess."

That earns Impulse a small smile. "Sometimes," Raven admits with a slight shrug.

The silence creeps in again as she keeps her gaze on the shelves, looking over the details of the packaging while the noise from the police and the remaining delinquents trail off under the repetitive ringing of the door's automated chimes.

"Was it a shock?" comes a question in return, breaking the stifling, awkward pause. Blue eyes seem to reflect violet when they glance over at Impulse, probably due to the hood and how dark everything is around her face. "I know I never really told you about that. The cult, and my background in general."

"Huh?" Raven's question catches him off guard, more so because he might have expected their awkward conversation to have ended on that previous note. The speedster blinks owlishly at her through his yellow-tinted goggle lenses, and then he begins to nod as she continues in partial clarification.

Partial because he hasn't much of any idea as to what she's getting at.

"About…? Oh, well no. Not really a shock so much as… I dunno. Confused, I guess? I mean, it's not like everyone on the team divulges in where they came from, you know? Mine would probably give you a headache."

He smiles again in that lopsided way of his, hefting up the basket. "Anything else we needa throw in here?"

Confusion over shock. She'll take that. "Well…I guess you're right," Raven says lowly, depositing her bag of chips into the basket. "It would be sort of strange to state your case right off the bat. Privacy is a thing."

But maybe she'll learn more about the other Titans later. Just maybe. There isn't a guarantee that they'll all open up one day and share, but there's no telling when it will actually happen. Whatever they need to know in the present moment will do for now.

Another ghost of a smile crosses the lower half of her face when Impulse mentions his own story. From what she can tell after hanging out with him a few times, he's probably right. "I'll take your word for it."

But yes. The basket is pretty full. Full of junk, but good junk. "Drinks? And then we can take it to the front. I think we're finished here."

Impulse shrugs. "Some are more private than others. Like Red Robin?" he says, leaning in as he raises a hand in that conspiratorial sort of manner. "He has masks under his masks."

Laughing, he doesn't dispute her agreement on his own story, but he really wouldn't be too adverse to telling her some time. His own circle of friends who were privy to his secret identity and such had widened little by little since he'd joined the Titans and met people here in New York.

"Drinks, yes. Good." Probably for the best because this basket was pretty weighty and drinks aren't exactly light!

The new objective is set. And as they do one last lap around the store, Raven's brow lifts.

"Oh really?" Her posture also shifts to lean in, somewhat mirroring the speedster's stance prior to straightening up again. Even if she isn't physically smiling, a hint of it is prominent in her monotone words. "He does seem like the type to do that…"

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