Still a Titan

October 17, 2018:

Raven and Bart help Misfit the morning after her escape

Titan's Tower Habitation Level

The topmost level of Titans Tower is where the living and recreation facilities are found, giving the Titans someplace to stay and relax while they're at the base.

Much of the level is taken up by the large common room area, which takes advantage of the large windows giving excellent views of the river and the city beyond, and the balconies outside are a popular spot when the weather is nice. The common room has plenty of seating available, with couches and chairs arranged in groups for better socialization; a large section of sofa makes for a sunken area in front of a very large flat screen television, which has an excellent sound system and pretty much all the home theater touches anyone might want. Of course, it can also be overridden as a communication screen in an emergency.

The common area also has a substantial, well-stocked kitchen and dining room, available at all hours. Since the Tower doesn't have any civilian support staff, though, it falls to the Titans themselves to prepare meals if they're so inclined, and to clean up after themselves.

Steps to either side of the common room lead the short distance up to the residential wings, in the arms of the tower's T-shape. These wings have a number of rooms available for the Titans, each one a small suite about the size of a college dormitory room: Essentially, a glorified bedroom with an attached bathroom. Each Titan's room is decorated according to their taste and discretion, and some seem definitely more 'lived in' than others.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Caitlin Fairchild

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

The morning after the -Incident- at least that is how Charlie is considering the whole rescued from Limbo and then Caitlin trying to lock her up in the basement before she was rescued by Bart. The night for her ended with a whole lot of showering weeks worth of Limbo filth off herself and then devouring a couple of pizzas Bart was kind enough to bring her.

This morning finds Charlie sitting in the sunken area on the floor, her back to the couch. In front of her is a jug of OJ, a carton of milk, and a box of cereal. By the bowl of cereal she is eating is a book, a dark chain lays on the floor by her that is attached to the book.

Clothing wise Charlie is wearing a pair of loose cotton pants and an oversized Avenger's themed t-shirt. Her left eye isn't as obvious as it was in the basement, but it is still faintly glowing in the morning light. Ruby red. Serpentine-ish pupil. Light splash of black scales dusting her skin around it like a half domino mask. Ears almost seem to have a slight point to them and her canines as she chews sugar bomb cereal almost seem sharper.

*

In her room, Raven goes through the process she does on a regular basis which includes dressing in black, levitating over her bed in a cross-legged position, eyes closed and set on meditation. She does it to clear the mind of previous events and of any distracting thoughts, keeping in the spirit of the practice so that she doesn't forget the lessons she learned on Azarath.

Thanks to everything demon-related of late, slacking off now more than ever would be a Bad Idea; due to how sensitive the topic is, it would be bad for the people, for her team, and mostly, for herself. As much as she wants to protect those who have helped her, she still needs to take the time to focus on herself.

…Which isn't the case when she catches wind of a slight demonic presence within the Titans Tower.

It's not like she hasn't sensed it earlier, but now that she's doing this, it's difficult to ignore. Opening her eyes, Raven drifts over to the side of the bed to hover across the floor and through a wall (because doors, why use them) to see who else is out in the common area.

*

The sound of clicking can be heard from the residential wing, deliberate and not at all in any particular rhythm. Eventually Bart comes around the corner into the common room, wearing a red hoodie with the Flash symbol emblazoned across the front, jeans and sneakers. Beside him walks one of the temporary Tower residents, a Tamachoan, the locust/mantis/buglike creatures that apparently reside on the other side of a dimensional warp located in the basement of Tony Stark's company building.

It seems like they're engaged in some sort of conversation. Apparently Bart's ability to speak to these bug people wasn't linked with his brief stint believing he was their sun god.

"Uuuh…" Bart lapses in his clicking, scratching his head as he tries to parse a particularly complicated bit of conversation. The whole Tamachoan culture was pretty old, after all. He has to refer to modern things in a very roundabout way.

For the moment he's saved the trouble as Charlie's presence catches the attention of his bug-friend, who clicks and points over towards where she sits.

"Oh, hey Charlie. Feeling better?"

*

Charlie looks up from her reading and cereal, spoon stuck in her mouth for a moment. It is incredibly disjointing. That is such a Charlie thing, but the eye is disturbing. She plops the spoon into the bowl and sighs. "Well not crying into my cornflakes." or sugarbombs. Most of the crying was last night, anger tears, sad tears, relief tears.

Her head cocks slightly like she is listening. "Who is your friend Bart?" then Charlie goes still and looks towards the bedrooms in time to watch Raven float through the wall from the residental rooms. "Hey Rachel." there s a very wan smile. She is watching closely though, very still. Because god knows Caitlin might have told Rachel to lock Charlie up again. Or Maybe Rachel will just think that herself.

*

"…Charlotte." Raven touches down lightly to walk the rest of the way, her expression unchanging as she casts a quick glance over at Bart and his Tamachoan friend. Her eyes then fall back onto Charlie. Especially onto her eye.

However much she sees of Charlie's face, she can tell there's a demon eye. The poor girl is just giving off the vibes she's familiar with, but it doesn't send her into a frenzy. "You don't have to be so tense," she says, calm in tone. "It's good to see you're back in one piece."

*

"That's…a plus, at least?" Always look on the brightside, right? At least Charlie will get no strange looks from Bart for her unusual features that she seems to have developed in Limbo. He's always been the sort to take things in stride, after all.

Raven gets a wave from Bart, and both girls get a series of clicks and a respectful bow of the head from the Tamachoan as they near the sunken area of the room.

"This is Tlamatini. He's the head priest, well, one of them," the speedster explains before glancing between the other Titans. He leans in, lowering his voice in conspiratorial fashion. "-he's asking for advice on how to…court? Starfire, but um. Yeah. I don't think there's a word for 'date' in Tamachoan…"

*

Charlie watches Raven and listens to her, her shoulders slowly uncrinking as she lets out a breath that she had been holding. Nerves. Tension. Hard not to. A part of her still thinks this may be some sort of demon illusion or trap really. "Thank you." she murmurs to Raven, the wan smile back.

A calloused hand reaches down and closes the book before Charlie looks to Bart and the high priest. Okay that gets a wider grin "I uh… you know I am not sure what would court Starfire best…. maybe candid honesty though instead of beating around the bush?" that smile is a lot more Charlie there. The girl doesn't even startle as the chain slides up and wraps itself around the book once Charlie has closed it.

"Did Cait tell you to check me out and make sure I'm not a danger to anyone Rachel?" with that question Charlie looks back to the other woman.

*

Raven offers a small wave and a slight bow of the head in return to the two. Fortunately, she's able to mask her reaction to Tlamatini's request to court Starfire. She doesn't want to remember that whole ordeal, but it replays instantly no matter what she tries to think to override the memory.

"Courting is similar to dating, though," she says, wondering why she's even helping there. "Except…I'd go with Charlotte on this one. Asking her directly is probably the best way to go about it."

As she looks back at Charlie, her brow lifts slightly. "I have not spoken to Caitlin of late, nor has she said anything of the sort to me." That fear is inevitable, and being fearful of the one who's afraid doesn't help anyone. "As far as I can tell, you're fine. Just…somewhat afflicted."

Another pause, and then she asks, carefully, "What happened back there?"

*

"Is it? Hrm." Bart scratches his head, and then looks a little…hesitant at the two for their suggestion of going with the direct approach of things. Shrugging, he turns and clickety-clicks at Tlamatini, who in turn seems to brighten, clicking eagerly in response. The two exchange a few more words before the bug bows to Bart and then scurries off towards the lift.

"I…am not sure how that is going to turn out but at least Starfire's pretty open-minded, right?" Because if he'd heard right, she's the one who made out with the priest right off the back. He still can't quite wrap his head around how that works.

It doesn't take him too much to figure out what Misfit and Raven have started to touch upon in subject, but he's inwardly relieved that Raven's taking it better than Caitlin had. Then again, given what he's learned about Raven, he hadn't been too worried.

*

Charlie considers Raven's question and then is distracted by Bart's comment about Starfire and the bug people. "I .. don't know her well enough but I would wager that aliens may have very different standards of beauty. So who knows."

The young lady can't avoid her other friend's question forever though and Charlie ends up looking back to Raven. "At the portal closing… I was an idiot and lost my temper about the demons and ended up in hell." there is a thoughtful pause "Though it is really Limbo. Seems there is maybe more than one of those places.. but there are definitely an unlimited number of demons." she pauses for a breath and then takes a bite of her cereal focusing her distant look at the bowl. "Time works different too I guess.. it was weeks.. maybe months… and …" she just stops unable to focus on the cereal for a moment or anything else but herself. "It is … it gets into you… I guess when the demon blasted me in the eye .. when I teleported it didn't heal right after I killed the demon… I killed a lot of demons… not sure how deep it got into me." well she didn't melt in the holy water so not all the way deep.

*

Raven…shrugs. "She seems to be," is about all she can say about Starfire. She knows as much as Charlie knows.

But she listens to what Charlie has to say about her experience, silent as she drift over the edge of the sunken area so that she can sit down next to her. Or near her, depending on how much space she needs. Limbo and demons in limbo aren't on the top of anyone's popular topic lists, but this at least opens the floor to see how much has affected the young woman.

And a lot has. "…Time can run differently between realms," the goth says, fixing her long sleeve as she studies Charlie's face. "Being in hell makes the stay all the more difficult." Her brow then furrows. "Any longer and it could have been much worse…"

*

As the two continue to talk, Bart wanders towards the couch near them, clambering over the back of it to flop onto the seat cushions.

He hadn't heard the details of what had happened to Charlie, hadn't wanted to ask her right away. His diving into a portal after her had been a very near thing, save for the thought that it might have been just what the Darkchilde would have wanted to do with all of them. Tactics shifted. Deal with the demon queen and then they'd be clear to rescue their friend.

It…had seemed to work out. Up until when they got Misfit out and she'd said she'd been gone two months contrary to the span of hours they'd experienced.

"I'm sorry we didn't manage to get you out sooner, Charlie…" he says quietly, in part feeling at fault. Maybe he should have tried. He knows it probably wouldn't have been a good idea, but the maybe still hangs over his head.

*

Charlie gives Bart a soft look, that wan smile. "It was hours here Bart… you guys did get me out though.. and even if I am mad at Caitlin for freaking her shit out" gosh Charlie just cursed, damn demons "I .. she and you saved me…." her gaze drifts to Raven "And like Raven said.. if I … it was getting worse and .. part of me was starting to like it. That place was like a cancer. It gets into you and your head. Killing demons became fun there in the end. I got really good with the sword. Teleporting though seemed to draw more demons to me faster like they could sense me."

A sigh "I .. the one that owned this book and took my eye." she pokes the sealed book. "She wanted to teach me magic in exchange for my innocence. When she wouldn't take no for an answer I killed the demoness and kept her book. I can only read the ugly thing with my left eye though." that gets a thoughful look from Charlie "Most of it doesn't make much sense though."

*

If anything, Raven recalls how open Caitlin is with her emotions. Hearing of her freak out only cements the fact that she doesn't always keep them in check. "I apologize as well for not being able to act when I could. And I understand it can be a shock, but…she shouldn't have done that," she sighs, shaking her head.

The more she listens to Charlie's travels through limbo, the more she doesn't say anything that can easily sound like sympathetic filler in a conversation. "It definitely sounds familiar." Not the best thing to lead off with, but her own experience in a hell-like setting shares those nuances. "It was good Bart and Caitlin reached you in time…"

Raven's eyes then shift downward, narrowing at the book. "…I see," she finally says after a long pause. Demons never take no for an answer. That's how they are. "But…perhaps it would be best not to look into it."

*

Hours are like forever for a speedster. It doesn't help that for Charlie, it might as well have been. Bart lifts his head a little at her, maybe not quite convinced, but glad that they'd gotten her out.

"It was Caitlin that figured out how to do it. I was just helping, but it worked!"

He shivers a little at the description of Limbo, of how it started to get to you, grimacing a little at the thought of someone becoming so bloodthirsty. Sure, they've been taking out demons around here in the city, but it's been by necessity. And before he'd learned that Raven was part demon herself, demons had just been demons, XP-farming fodder. He's had a lot to think about these past weeks and it hasn't been fun. It's like killing that necromancer back in Avalon, all over again.

Bart looks over at the book as they talk about it, squinting a bit. It's still weird to look at, like it wanted to slip away from his line of sight.

"Why'd you keep it?"

*

The book in question gets a long thoughtful look from Charlie. "I thought it might have a spell I could use to get me home. I couldn't quite manage to bounce through the walls between our world and Limbo. A book of spells though is totes D&D treasure… I figured like quest item to guide me home." she puffs a breath out "I was getting pretty desperate."

"I mean.. evidently I can maybe do magic I figured it would work. You are probably right Raven though I should probably get rid of it and the demon sword… and cloak. I'm not sure how I can get rid of the stuff inside me though." a head tilt to her friends as she looks at them with both eyes, one blue and bright and the other, well not so much.

*

There's a grim nod from the expressionless Titan. Desperation forces one to do things they wouldn't dare to do, and she doesn't fault Charlie for trying.

As mismatched eyes look back at her and Bart, she keeps her gaze level. "…I can try healing you," Raven offers, "but I don't know how much it will help in the removal of demonic traits. I feel like Zatanna or Nico may be better in that department than I am."

*

At least Bart seems to understand the angle that Charlie had thought to approach her stuck-in-Limbo problem, nodding as he glances back at her. He'd probably have gathered up anything he could carry that wasn't trying to actively hurt him, per the course of any RPG, and this is a kid that's basically been raised in a video game.

"Oh yeah, that cloak. It…should still be in the cage downstairs. I wasn't sure what to do with that thing." It was kinda cool? But probably not good considering that it started melting in holy water.

The speedster slides down another level, from the couch to the floor to join the other two where they sit. He blinks at Raven, looking surprised. "You could try, at least?" he suggests, glancing between her and Misfit, as it would really be Misfit's call. "I dunno how this demon stuff works, but…could you maybe see how it's spread? And gather it up or something?" Does it even work that way?

*

When Bart slides down onto the floor Charlie leans sideways until her shoulder bumps into her friends and she slumps a it. "Not sure how to get rid of them safely." and then the thought of the healing.

"Well I imagine any healing will definitely end up hurting horribly. Maybe I am a bit more cynical now… but if I had to put money down." there is a lopsided smile from Charlie. "I'm game if Raven is. That said she is the magic expert here.. I don't know diddly yet and uh.. so yeah if she thinks we should consult Nico or Zee then maybe we should. I'll leave it to the experts." she reaches up and touches the scales around her eye. After the shower and scrub she can actually feel them under her fingertips. "I should thank Caitlin but I don't think she wants to see me."

*

"Maybe 'healing' can be used loosely here," Raven says, now having her personal space invaded. That personal bubble shrinks even more as she scoots over to examine Charlie's eye and scales, taking a moment to give Bart a sidelong glance. "There are different kinds of demons, but some of the practices in dealing with them are similar. Holy water and the like, for example."

She also lifts a pale hand trying to lightly turn Charlie's face. "…Here's the thing, Charlotte: I don't know if everyone knows now, but I'm not just a magic user." She hesitates, finding her voice again once she comes clean. "I may not look it, but…I'm part demon. But if I can keep this from spreading, it would be a start in trying to get rid of it altogether."

Thus with the consent, Raven nods. The same hand that barely grazes Charlie's skin stays near the affected side of her face, now wrapped in black, inky shadow. "Caitlin can wait, then," she replies coolly, her eyes glowing white as she concentrates on removing as much demon taint as she can from the young woman's body.

*

Bart brings an arm around Charlie's shoulder, giving her a brief hug. He's in strange company if he thinks about it, but they're both friends, demon-touched or not. In a way he might even say it's cool, except he knows that people tend to be wary about demons, all the more so considering what's plagued New York City.

His gaze shifts towards Raven as Charlie defers to expertise. When Raven admits what she is, he smiles at her, both at odds and not, what with a furrowed brow, but he understands what a step it is for her, after the conversation they'd had with Zatanna and Nico.

"I think Cait just needs some time to think about stuff. We've been getting pretty pounded lately." He offers Charlie a smile then. "But I think she's really sorry about what she did, and it'd probably better you two talked sooner than later." He'd seen it, how hard it was for Caitlin to do what she thought she had to. Hopefully with things a little calmer, they could work things out.

As Raven moves closer to Charlie, Bart shifts where he sits, moving back just enough to give them space but remaining roughly between the two, if off to the side, amber eyes wide as he watches.

*

"I am really grateful for her saving me .. and you are right things have been really rough. I am really tired of this invasion from limbo." there is a big inhaled breath "Stopping the spread, if it is spreading, would be really good. I don't think I would actually look very good all covered with black scales." who is she kidding, it would definitely appeal to some demographics.

When Raven touches her cheek and tilts her face Charlie lets her get a closer look and manipulate the angles for a better look. "So even if you can't get it all.. then I can still be a hero like you." there is definitely some heavy relief in Charlie's voice. "Bet this hurts." is the final mutter before Raven's eyes start to glow white as she works her magic.

The hooks Limbo sunk into Charlie are deeper than the eye. Every bouncing teleport she took after being injured by the demons drew in the ambient magic of Limbo. Not as much as when she bounced through demons pulling them with her and anihilating them by the hundreds over the weeks. She bathed literally in demon blood as she did anything to survive. The biggest hook, metaphorically seems to be that book on the table and the chain, the other end of it metaphysically wrapped into Charlie the owner of said book when she killed the old owner.

There is a pained hiss of breath as Charlie squints her eyes shut now and then she squirms under Raven's touch gasping as her sharp little canines flash as she breaths in deep. "Knew it would hurt…" and well Raven is removing some of the problem, like a cancer treatment perhaps.

*

Bet this hurts. And Bart gets a front row seat to it. "You are still a hero," she belatedly answers as she works, "no matter what you look or feel like."

Charlie is right: it does hurt. When Raven heals, it's more through empathic means - the pain felt by the other Titan is taken in, physically manifesting in her own body as if she's the one suffering from demonic causes. The further she dives into it, the more she can sense, those experiences fresh through a different set of eyes.

It's here she feels the heavy yank of a chain that refuses to let go, bounding itself tighter onto Charlie's being. On the outside, Raven's serene features tug, displaying her struggle with the demonic roadblock set in her way.

But she tries. She tries until she can't do anything else. Some of it is gone. Despite the change, physical traits may still linger.

Yet the chain remains.

The Daughter of Darkness withdraws her hand slowly, letting the black dissipate from her hand. Her eyes close as she exhales softly, gradually returning to the present with Bart and Charlie.

*

"Raven's right. Being a hero's in what you do."

Maybe it sounds incredibly cheesey, but the words come easily to Bart that he's obviously sincere about it, his unabashed grin an underline.

But he's quiet again as Raven works her magic, and while he can't see what she does, he can see the effects mirrored in the expressions upon both girls' faces. Shoulders hunching, he tenses as he continues to observe, anxious as he tends to get when all he can do is sit and watch, but he tries his best not to fidget. It's frustrating that he can't tell. Is something working? Is it not? He bounces a knee, his hands set firmly over his ankles in his crosslegged position, and perhaps out of worry that he might interrupt them he ends up holding his breath.

It's anticlimactic, but it seems Raven's finished with her attempt, and as she exhales he takes the cue to release his own breath. Bart peers between the two, for a moment holding back in the most obvious question to be asked.

…okay, so it's more like several seconds, which, to be honest is progress for a speedster!

"…did it work?"

*

Okay this is definitely a bit more involved and painful than Charlie thought it would be. I mean part of her really hoped her quippy this would hurt would be proven wrong. She is breathing harder, a bit ragged by the time Raven hits the chain and it metaphysically tightens. For a moment there Charlie actually stops breathing, such a sharp intake of breath and she forgets to breath out now.

"Holy crapsticks…" well she didn't swear, maybe that is a good sign. Charlie blinks her eyes open and looks between you both. The glow is actually greatly diminished in her left eye. The pupil is still Ruby Red and sepertine. The scales are still dusting her cheek and face there around it. But the eye is not as .. ominious as it was when it was full bore glowing.

"Is it any better?" and Charlie is blinking etween you as she asks. "I mean.. I feel.. lighter actually like it is easier to breath…. not totally but some.." okay she sounds downright hopeful now.

*

Another handful of seconds pass before Raven's eyes flutter open, the deep blue color back where it's supposed to be as she looks down at her hands. They then flick back up to observe the changes in Charlie's features.

"Mostly." Her voice, although monotonous in tone, has some kind of optimism behind it. Realism takes its place, however, in telling Charlie and Bart the results of this venture. "Your eye is still red, but it's not as intense as it was moments ago. The scales have also gone down, but they're not completely gone." If she had a mirror, she would lend it to Charlie so that she can see for herself. Instead, she draws in another breath, holding it until she speaks again.

"There's…something deeper," she starts. Her hands clasp together, resting in her lap. "A chain." Her head shakes. "I tried to remove it…but it wouldn't budge."

This seems to sum up the results. She still feels the resonations of the painful experience, but it never shows on her own face.

*

Even with the question hanging between them all, Bart looks on, searching for those differences, as minute as some might be, but for him it's like those puzzles where you have two near-identical pictures and had to figure out what didn't match up. It's plain as day once Charlie opens her eyes, but he can see it now, and he remembers quite clearly enough the before to compare to the after.

He nods as Raven starts to point out the changes that he'd noticed, his smile holding onto the positive, stubbornly so even as the half-demon goes into the rest of her findings.

"But it's something," he says. "I mean, that's better than nothing at all." Even Charlie sounded better for it, having personally felt a change.

*

Charlie listens intently to the explanation from Raven, then she looks perplexed and alarmed. "A Chain?" pauses and touches her face again. "crud… okay. Thank you for the help Raven…. it didn't feel easy and .. I really appreciate it." okay Charlie looks like she may cry again. "Thank you both for believing in me…."

Charlie knows Raven doesn't like hugs but she looks like she wants to give Raven a hug, instead she touches her arm briefly and then hugs Impulse. "This whole chain thing sounds bad..but.. I feel a lot better. I'm sure we can sort everything out." there is that hopeful Misfit optimism.

*

To see Bart and Charlie take to the good news makes Raven feel the room feel lighter, like a sigh of relief needed to happen. A faint smile ghosts across her lips, accepting the touch on the arm.

Her hands relax and release each other so that one of them can return a light touch. "…You're welcome."

*

Nooo don't cry! It's difficult to see Charlie's ease crumble so abruptly, and when she reaches out for him Bart embraces her tightly as though he could help bolster that optimism she still manages to hang on to.

He sits back to look over at Raven, his smile softer but encouraging. He still stands by his earlier said, and Raven had played no small part in it. At the very least he manages not to pull her into another group hug after remembering her reaction to the last one, although the thought does make him laugh a little.

"We've got this. We're Titans."

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