Model Citizen
Roleplaying Log: Model Citizen
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

In the aftermath of one of Zatanna's training sessions with Red Robin, Starfire offers her own assistance, and brings up something that's been on her mind for a while.

Other Characters Referenced: Batman, Foggy Nelson, Spider-Man
IC Date: January 05, 2020
IC Location: Titans Hideout, NYC
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 06 Jan 2020 22:05
Rating & Warnings:
Scene Soundtrack: [*\# None]
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

You might think that the still nebulously 'holiday' space occupied by early January would bring peace and quiet, but of course nothing could be further from the truth. It was only a few days past that perhaps the Titans were terrorised once again by one of Starfire's unsettling space delicacies - but how could she top the previous year's bloatworm? - and now… Now, it's ninjas.

The Mud Room, its every surface coated with that peculiar, artificially created silicate (it's roughly the texture and consistency of cookie dough, but you should definitely not eat it) has taken on the form of a dingy Gotham alleyway, complete with the distant sounds of late-night traffic and a few rather unpleasant smells courtesy of Tim Drake's seemingly limitless ingenuity when it comes to terrible things.

The neural network that controls the Mud Room does an impressive job of generating a handful of human figures, too, athletic shapes dressed in unmistakably ninja outfits, only their eyes visible from behind their hooded masks. They even have extremely stereotypical ninja weapons: One has a short, straight-bladed sword, another carries a small scythe in either hand, while a third whirls a a chain with a spiked weight on either end. It would honestly be really cartoonish and ridiculous if it weren't for the fact that Tim (himself in many very literal senses a ninja) were not experienced in dealing with all sorts of ninjas who do, in fact, outfit themselves like something out of a bad 70s or 80s martial arts movie.

And all of this is, of course, for the sake of one Zatanna Zatara, the latest in a series of training exercises to help her better fight when she can't just magic somebody's spleen out through their nostrils.

And thankfully, it's coming to an end, because she has absolutely no idea how long she can sustain this.

Admittedly, she's been getting better and better throughout the last two years when she has been subjected to this regimen, and while Zatanna will never get up to the likes of the members of the Bat Family in terms of pure fighting grit, she is at least capable of not embarrassing herself. Armed with a staff, she's done quick work of the few waves that have been thrown at her already - there's her stamina to consider though, always. A few hours later, and she's bathed in sweat, leaning against her weapon and splattered with the muddy leavings of her non-sentient enemies. Her hair is pulled up, and she's clad in a tank top and yoga shorts. Her feet are bare.

"Okay, you win," she tells the monitor, weakly, wheezing a little bit because it's exhausting, and she needs a break. "Can we go to the jacuzzi now? Everything hurts, and I'll love you forever if you tell me that you had someone replenish the mall's supply of dark chocolate and pistachio gelato."

All things considered, Tim would never claim he was the best teacher for this sort of thing: He was little more than a student himself, often reminded of just how far the gap was between himself and Nightwing could be, let alone between himself and the Batman. But, he told himself, it wasn't like he was teaching some fresh-faced rookie the ropes of the vigilante lifestyle. He was just helping Zatanna - and, not coincidentally, Nico - with options when it came to situations where they couldn't throw their sorcerous weight around. So yeah, maybe they'd never be vaulting between skyscrapers or singlehandedly punching their way through Arkham Asylum, but maybe you had to start ridiculously young for that, anyway. Maybe it was down to that or learning how to warp reality with your will.

When the witch calls the training session, the room suddenly changes, suddenly becomes more accurate to its name, as everything inside reverts to its previous, muddier form. Colour leeches out of the 'brick' walls, out of the fallen ninja golems, and all of it sloughs into greyish-brown, tiny motes of crystalline structure glittering in the silicate.

"Are you sure?" the Red Knight wonders, the Mud Room's door opening to reveal him standing there, in costume. "I had a whole other level programmed, one of the ninjas is like eight feet tall and knows Brazilian jujitsu."

He's joking though.

Probably?

"You did great, though. You've made a lot of progress from when you started out, waving the staff around wildly and making lightsaber noises. As for the gelato, that depends on if Bart got to it first…"

"Nope," Zatanna groans, because the prospect of fighting a martial arts expert made of goo that outweighs her by so much is quite possibly the last thing she wants to do at the moment when everything hurts and she can probably squeeze herself in a hole half her size with all the sweat she is presently exuding. At least, she doesn't just toss the staff away from her, and neatly sets it back on the rack where it belongs, desperately moving towards the nearest place where a towel and a water bottle are waiting for her. "No more of these for at least two days, I don't know how much more I'll be able to last without rest. How do you Batlings do this every day? Are you sure you guys still count as human?"

All said with exasperated affection, however, when she smiles over at Red Robin as he slips into the room. She plunks herself on the nearest chair, and towels off her face. Feeling it against her skin is a relief.

"Thanks," she says, uncapping her bottled water. "I'm glad that I'm able to get a passing grade after all my bellyaching and ice cream-induced backsliding." Though her expression visibly falls at the idea of Impulse eating all of her gelato. "I should probably start labeling things in the fridge," she mutters, raking fingers through her hair and feeling these locks persistently cling to her digits.

Did Kori miss staff day? Staff day is one of her favorites! However, jacuzzi day is definitely also a contender. She'll survive!

It seems that the Tamaranean may have been getting her own workout in the adjacent, non-danger, non-attacking-you, and somewhat less goopy portion of the training facility, simply doing weights (borrowing her prior year's gift to Conner - was it one of those gifts for yourself? - granted, even she doesn't use the heaviest ones in the set). On her way out, she cannot help but see whatever warning lights that indicate the simulator is active, and in curiousity, joins Tim in the control area just as he is finishing with Zatanna's routine. Like the sorceress, she is dressed for the workout, in a sports bra and spandex leggings of her own. Fashionable even when she works out, they are probably something she took home after a shoot.

As the door opens for Tim to go in, Kori's head will be visible behind as she joins in on the review. "She did very well!" echoes in agreement, and then directs the same toward the muddy magician. "Well done Zee! Your form is much improved, it looks like you have been practicing a great deal!" And then, harping on a familiar subject: "Tim, one of these days you will allow me to enter the Okaaran battle regimen data from my shuttle. I believe they could be most educational!" Obviously, the reason Tim has NOT allowed them has nothing at all to do with their technical requirements or any of the drills or other primary content, but some… dubious philosophical elements that the 'Warlords' manage to sneak into everything. Lesson 4: BREAKING THE WILL OF THOSE WHO STAND BEFORE YOU, and so forth. Lesson 5: ON RUPTURING ORGANS - A SURVEY OF KNOWN SPECIES. And so on.

With none of the Titans who are unaware of his secret identity around, Tim doesn't even make a perfunctory attempt to get Kori to call him by his codename. After all, it's important to know which fights are just not worth bothering with, and unless Spider-Man or Nico walks in they should probably be okay. With a similar level of tact, he doesn't point out that they really don't need to learn how to fight like Okaarans, because they'd probably end up with poor, easily suggestible Bart using his powers to make people explode or something.

"Lots of practice, Zee. Plus, Batman is a great motivator. He has all these different grunts for different situations, and once you hear that 'hnnh' where you can just tell he's disappointed, and really expected you to be able to do better, you pick yourself up and get back to practicing." In many ways, Bruce Wayne was as good a father figure for his weird little collection of adopted sons as any. And in other ways, he'd helped them learn all sorts of terrible patterns of behaviour. And now, Tim helps pass those on to others.

"Maybe we need to find some more interesting sparring partners for you, though. What do you think, Kori?" he wonders, looking back at the Tamaranean - and then, considering their height difference, quickly turns his attention back to Zatanna. "Kori or Spider-Man could be a good learning experience, it's not like we're lacking in metahumans to tangle with out there…"

"Ha ha ha ha, I don't think so," Zatanna tells Tim with a groan. "I've seen Spidey fight, and not only will he kick my ass, he'll drive me insane doing it." She takes another swig of her water, and smiles over at Starfire. "And I think Kori against me would be pushing it, too. No no, I'll stick with formless mud people, I know when I'm outclassed - there is such a thing as knowing one's limits in a fight, especially a purely physical one."

She inclines her head towards the alien princess, though. "All of that sounds interesting, and incredibly dangerous, by the way - as most interesting things usually are." She winks at her. "I'm not opposed to trying all of that out, if Tim manages to program it in the mud room's specs."

Oh no, Zatanna, what have you done?!

To both, after toweling off her face, she drains the last of her water bottle and puts both items away. "So what have the two of you been up to, these days?" Though a lion's share of the query seems to be directed to Kori, herself. She and Tim have been living together for close to a year, now - it would be strange if she was completely unaware of her own beau's activities.

Kori is terrible at bat secrecy, it is true. Really, at lying and dishonesty as general concepts! It gives Dick headaches, too. But she does have a bit more curiousity regarding that other element of the bat-clan tradition, said grunt-based, generally perfunctory communication. "While I fail to understand some of his methods, it is clearly true that the Batman is an adept mentor, to have turned both of you into the warriors that you are. Perhaps I should study this grunting." Weird takaway, but there you have it.

The suggestion of her working as a training partner - and Zee's subsequent reaction - immediately turns her attention back toward the other woman. "While it is true that you would not be a competitive match, even disregarding my physical strength," said with that same trademark TOTAL HONESTY and lack of any kind of softening, "I would be happy to act as an instructor or… what is the word, coach? There are things that can only be learned hands-on, and by discovering one's own shortcomings. So I am certain I could teach you some useful techniques," and here she sneaks a quick grin at Tim, "even without the computer." He can keep out the Okaaran battle programs, but the (brutal, organ-smashing) philosophy lives on in her!

But for today, Zee has already put in her time! And custom dictates they move on to the social exchange, as prompted. "Outside of the team, I suppose that it is fair to say I have been busy with work, although there are… some complications with that. It is something I must speak with you," and she turns her head to Tim, "about at some point, regarding all this registration business. I am not certain I will be able to hide from it forever." What, while going maskless, ignoring codenames, and appearing on BILLBOARDS? Who woulda thunk.

The levels of secrecy are the real killer to keep organised. Having to be constantly mindful of who knows what, without letting anything slip; there's been plenty of times where Tim's thought about how much easier it would be to just have everyone on the team unmask to each other, but his secret identity protects more than just himself after all, and Spider-Man seems particularly strict about his own anonymity. Maybe he's secretly somebody famous under there!

But, so it goes.

"Hrm," the vigilante muses not long after Koriand'r discusses studying the Bat-grunting techniques, but that might be a coincidence. "If you're sure, Zee. We'll just have to work you up to it." Besides, the Tamaranean might have some good ideas about coaching for the witch, who is probably already adverse to the idea of disintegrating people after what happened when her conscience was forcibly removed. Besides, Tim - like most of the followers of the Bat - might have more in common with those Okaaran's dubious philosophical elements than he'd like to admit. Just ask the overworked medical staff at Blackgate or Arkham.

But what have they been up to, these days? Surely Zatanna knows what he's been up to, given how their living situation has become over the past several months. But if he was going to provide some answer, Kori has quickly enough given her own and then turned it around on him, because…

"Well… You should do what you think is right, Kori. It's not like I can sit here and tell you that you should give up your career over it." Truthfully, it's not like he doesn't understand and even to an extent agree with the arguments for metahuman registration… It's more that he doesn't trust anyone (except himself) with that kind of knowledge and power.

Which, again: Terrible patterns of behaviour.

"Plus, I know it's been bothering you since we started this whole thing."

"I….alright. Take it easy on me in the first few tries, though?" Zatanna says, turning large and pleading eyes towards the alien princess. But there's a quick smile in the end; as always, Starfire's always willing to help, and puts things so sweetly and so good naturedly that anyone would be hard-pressed to say no. Honestly, she doesn't know how Tim manages to put a foot down, when those big green eyes are turned in his direction.

…which they do now, at her professed doubts. She does manage to get closer to this collective of her colleagues, though, and brushes a light kiss on Tim's cheek, just underneath his domino mask, and flashes him a quick but apologetic grin, considering her constant bellyaching about his training regimen. He should be used to it by now, and if anything, these days, it remains a bit of sport between the two of them. Still, the gesture bears to be made - she is appreciative of everything he does for her, whatever keeps her safer out there. If she had been armed with the requisite expertise, she would be doing the same.

There's a nod at the tail-end of the Titan leader's words. "I don't think a uniform approach among us was mandated anyway, Kori," she adds in an attempt to be helpful. "Provided all the confidentiality stuff stands. I figured with a group like this, there'd be differences of opinion anyway, that doesn't mean we can't work together in the way we have been."

"I will be gentle… mostly." That is all the more Kori has to say about the training, with touch of mischief in her smile. Just because she is kind does not mean she cannot have a little fun! Then, as Zatanna goes to stand closer, she turns to face them both together.

Her reaction may not be what is expected, though, if it had seemed as if she were seeking permission to 'give in.' "No, the things that were brought up that day, when we all discussed it at the tower…" A touch of melancholy surfaces in her voice, just at the thought of that final meeting in their old home, "they are all still true. I cannot simply submit myself to the law, because I will not place myself in the hands of scientists who would have some vaguely-defined freedom to 'study' my powers. I have lived through such treatment once, against my will, and will not submit myself to it willingly without far better guarantees that they seem able to offer. But-"

"I have been speaking with the law firm you," and she focuses on Zee momentarily, "suggested back then, when all of this first started. Of course I offered that I would help with that case, in any way I could, be it further monetary support, testimony, or what have you. However, Mr. Nelson-" she says this name with a touch of fondness, but who doesn't like Foggy? "-thought that I might have another legal avenue, seeking asylum as a political exile. I believe this may be the route I will pursue."

"It is not really about my career. It is true, I enjoy having a human profession, of being a normal part of this world." For certain definitions of normal! She doesn't exactly work minimum wage in the fast food industry. "But I know… I could live here, if I had to. So it is not a matter of life and death. However, I realize that by hiding… I am enjoying your world's protection without doing all I can in return. Your leaders know of alien life, yes, but I do not think they truly grasp the /politics/. If I was granted official status, I hope I could speak publicly of these things, help prepare your leaders for what will eventually come."

When Zatanna slips closer, to deliver that quick, gentle peck on his cheek, Tim's arm moves briefly around her waist in a just-as-quick side hug. He doesn't have to keep himself distant and aloof all the time, after all, and it's easier since Kori was one of the first people to know that things between the vigilante and the witch had turned out like this. It's another victim of the secret identity thing: As far as anyone who doesn't know his secret identity knows, it's only Tim Drake, adopted son of Bruce Wayne that Zatanna is involved with. Her superheroic teammate, Red Robin? Just a friend, of course.

Though he does flash Zatanna a smile now that she's going to be in Kori's 'mostly' gentle hands. But really, how bad could it be?

"Makes sense," Tim says, about the potential benefits of Koriand'r pursuing political asylum. "If there's anything we're good at on Earth, it's having a limited perspective and thinking we know everything. But… Well, we're all a kinda family here, right? So, you know we'll support you, Kori. And we'll help you any way we can."

Which is easy to say, but he's not entirely sure what they could in fact do. The Titans as a group had given up a lot of what political clout they might've had by going underground.

"I think Zee needs help first, though. She might melt if we don't get her gelato and into the jacuzzi…"

She suddenly looks skeptical when Kori flashes her that mischievous look. Zatanna coughs, though there's a quick smile at Tim when he gives her that brief squeeze. "I'll take your word for it," she says with a laugh. It sounds slightly weak, but she is appreciative all the same.

"And he's right," she tells them both, poking Red Robin in the cheek where she has kissed him, and steps away from him. "Both about the political asylum and helping you out - and Mr. Nelson is brilliant, by the way, that sounds like that could definitely apply to you. And the bit about the jacuzzi. Before that, though, I should probably take a brief twirl in the shower before soaking myself in."

She winks over her shoulder at both. "But I'll see you guys at the hot tub posthaste, with the gelato please." Largely to Tim, and really, when has he ever refused her anything when she looks at him in that way? She's turning those very big, very pleading eyes in his direction.

But after that, she's off to the showers.

"It may be that I will lose my job, perhaps… it will help? I do have some fans." The prospect of the denizens of hotbabeforums.ru and /r/koryanders banding together to do much more than circulate leaked nudes is /slim/, yes, but Starfire is an optimist! She is in full-on cheer mode, as it stands. "I know you will stand by me. More than this world as a whole, this team is everything to me. You are my family." D'aww.

And, as far as secrets learned on double dates and subsequent open signs of affection go, she is also perhaps the person on the team least likely to be bothered by a bit of PDA. If anything, the two of them holding on one another earns a sort of reflective warmth in her expression, just out of seeing them looking happy. But then Zee says the magic word!

"Oh, you will be using the tubs?" Her pool-like green eyes are suddenly even bigger, somehow. "Yes, of course I will join you!" It really is her favorite thing after beating people up with a metal pole.

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