With A Little Help From Friends
Roleplaying Log: With A Little Help From Friends
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

After ensuring that the rifts that opened up in Hell's Kitchen are healing nicely, Zatanna and Raven catch up on each other's lives post-holidays.

Other Characters Referenced: Red Robin, John Constantine, Impulse, Starfire, Nightwing, Misfit, Cyborg, Trigon, Giovanni Zatara
IC Date: January 15, 2019
IC Location: New York City
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 15 Jan 2019 08:35
Rating & Warnings: G
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

Hell's Kitchen: a place that seems to be far and long forgotten in the public eye despite being constantly active outside of normal going-ons. There are still people supporting the community, of course, and for as much as they can manage, things have been in perpetual motion as one year closed and another began.

As years do. Which is normal.

But the matters that aren't considered 'normal' are still kept under watchful eyes — the magic community, for instance, still has a lot of work to handle, a lot to check and double-check around the barrier between the mundane and the supernatural. And whenever Raven has been absent from the Titans' abandoned mall headquarters, she finds herself here, cloaked in both shadow and hood to further blend into the night.

She doesn't have to do it, but she sits in midair, legs crossed over one another, her hands engulfed by dark blobs as she stares at nothing. Or perhaps there is something there? Untrained eyes cannot see what they cannot fix.

Fortunately, there isn't too much to attend to; whatever is present has been holding pretty well. A little reinforcement doesn't hurt, however.

The air splits apart somewhere behind Raven, and Zatanna Zatara emerges, the portal shutting off the moment she clears it. Without a costume still, she's put together an ensemble that keeps her identity obstructed - still in designerwear, of course, black jeans and boots, with a fur-trimmed jacket. She keeps her hood up to keep her hair tucked in and her face partially obscured, as well as the black-and-violet domino mask Red Robin made for her sometime last year.

"That should take care of the south side," she informs her fellow goth-girl and mystic, though she does nothing else to distract the younger woman considering what she's doing at present.

She moves towards the edge of the rooftop, sliding her gloved hands in her pockets as she watches the cityscape from her vantage point. It isn't like Gotham, where there always seems to be a film of mist leaving its millions of lights more like an illuminated haze than a star-field confined on Earth, like how New York City looks at night. Both places have their appeal, but having lived in both, she can understand why the Batlings prefer Gotham; there's a noticeable dearth of gargoyles here, and the lack of them in Manhattan makes it seem less dangerous, somehow, in comparison.

Watching, she patiently waits for Raven to finish before they start heading back. It was getting late, after all.

One can say Zatanna's timing is perfect. With another click of her clawed fingers, Raven finishes, the black fading from her palms as she pulls away from the barrier, back into the present. "Good to hear," she answers seconds later, blinking away the milky white color from her earlier magic use. "This one is done as well."

They've made good time, and their joint effort has helped when others couldn't fill in. The ambiance has been pleasant enough, accompanying the hassle of the work in its own discordant, harmonic way. She does have to admit that New York City has a flair all its own, but Gotham still has its dark eccentricities. Maybe those extra gargoyles would come in handy on some of the NYC buildings if they ever decide to borrow some design elements from their neighbor.

As her feet touch the ground, Raven brushes the wisps of short magenta-tinged hair curling over her pale cheek. "Was anything out of place?" she asks Zee, walking alongside her friend and gesturing to open a portal so that she doesn't have to.

Was anything out of place?

"No, so far the wards and reinforcements we placed a few months ago are holding up nicely," Zatanna tells Raven, turning away from the edge of the roof once the magic fades and she floats back to the ground. "The Veil seems to have healed from the rifts, it shouldn't be so easy for demons and the like to slip through now. It's promising…it means that the city is healing from what it endured a few months ago."

Trust a mystic to speak of city as if it was alive. To Zatanna, Raven, and those in their community, it would make sense - New York is one of the biggest bastions of magic in the world. Not as old as some, like London or Hong Kong, but so many able souls have passed through it over the centuries that it has managed to boast one of the biggest community of its kind in the world, and developed its own Snare.

The portal opens, and she starts moving through.

"How have you been?" she asks. "Did you have a good time over the holidays?"

Although nothing appears on her outward expression, she nods, relieved to hear that everything is still in tact. The city needs a break, so to speak, and hopefully this continues to lend a hand in that direction.

"Yes," Raven agrees, passing through the portal at the same time. "I'm kind of surprised by its progress."

'Kind of surprised'? Well, Zatanna will understand. She's hung around the Daughter of Darkness long enough to catch some of the nuances of her poker-faced statements.

The question posed is one for small talk, but it helps break up the silent beats Raven is used to having whenever she goes somewhere alone. "I've been…all right," she replies, her head tilting a few degrees downward. Now within the safety of the mall, the portal slips away, vanishing as if it was never there. "I wasn't expecting so many things to be happening at once, for one. I also didn't expect so many gifts— " A pause, and a quick glance is given Zatanna's way. "— Thank you. For the hoodie. It was a thoughtful gift."

More thoughtful than a card and a bag of chips, but hey.

"The rest of the time after the New Year's Eve party was quiet, but I was fine with it," she adds, treasuring the moments after giving into her social quota for that week. "You and Starfire really outdid yourselves…"

Speaking of Zatanna, however:

Raven has been good. She's been good at filtering out the world, New York City, her teammates' emotional highs and lows. Even if she reflects on how good she's been, she still remembers the heaviness that pinged her senses during the holiday party in Gotham before chaos descended upon them.

None of that shows as she continues with the practice of small talk. "How about you? Did you go anywhere interesting?"

"It was Christmas," Zatanna tells Raven with a quiet laugh as they make it inside the warm confines of the Titans Mall, where the older magician's footfalls make quiet work on the marble flooring as she leads them to the communal living area where the kitchen is. "Of course we were going to give you presents. I'm glad that you liked what I got you, the chips you gave me were delicious." There's a pause, and she inclines her head to her fellow goth, curiosity in her eyes. "Have you ever celebrated…?" She doesn't know much about Raven's life prior to…well, the team.

Upon arriving there, she looks through the cupboards to find what appears to be a rolled up package of…drinking chocolate? She wiggles it towards Raven. "This is the real good stuff, do you want some?" she wonders, measuring out a few cups of cream and setting it to boil on the saucepan. Drawing out a chopping board, she hacks off a good chunk of the dark gold.

Memory of the New Year has her thinking back to the glowing jar she hides somewhere in her room, looking over her shoulder as she smiles over at her friend. "It was nice to see the most of us together," she says, putting the chocolate into the cream to melt into it. "And ringing in the New Year."

Her ice-blue eyes fall on the slowly simmering hot chocolate. "Well, a piece of the Primordial Darkness attempted to eat the business of an acquaintance. Trying to get it out of Earth had me accidentally shooting through a few dimensions with John before we landed in the Crossroads, otherwise we would have been lost in the endless forever. So I guess that was interesting. Other than that, I've largely just been bouncing in between Gotham and New York. I'm graduating from uni, soon, so now's not the time to escape class, I think."

It's almost disconcerting how she could speak of a shard of the end of all things so casually, but her emotions betray her calm facade. It is simply the voice of a veteran showing through, one accustomed to coming across this sorts of massive mystical problems ever since she was a child. But even someone as seasoned as Zatanna feels a chill, a frozen, deep-seated dread when the Primordial Darkness is concerned - the thing that existed before everything else, the blank nothing before there were even stars in the sky.

Christmas. A strange and sentimental time. And one she wasn't familiar with. "…No, not really," Raven says with a shrug, gently tugging at her hood so that it falls about her shoulders. "I spent a good part of my childhood in Azarath where they held no grandeur for holidays. The other half was spent with my father."

To be fair, Zatanna already knew that much about Raven, and she did go over the gist of her problems like it wasn't a big deal. Opening up a little more doesn't hurt, but to say it so matter-of-factly? She needs to retread.

"Still, it's safe to say this has been a first." The corner of her mouth tugs slightly, granting Zee a ghost of a smile. "Also, I'm glad to hear that. I'll do better next time." And she means it, even if she doesn't look like she does.

Curiosity piqued, a silent nod is all she offers when her fellow mystic wiggles the package of drinking chocolate at her. She settles in nearby, hands folding over each other as she watches the steps taken to turn solid into liquid.

It's nice. They're here, having a chat about what they did after their little shindig. About Primordial Darkness and how it all seems to factor into the jagged spike of emotional turmoil that she picked up within the past week. That one she accidentally walked into, not being as mindful as she should have been upon returning to the fold, managing to keep her distance because it felt so visceral. Personal. A cowardly move, perhaps, but self-preserving at best.

But she notices the change. Zatanna's overall demeanor has been brave, growing lighter despite all that she's gone through. Those shadows still lurk on her being, but time and other matters have also distracted from the pain.

Violet eyes rest on the witch, unmoving, almost unblinking as they drink in the details set forth. They then drop back to the saucepan to watch the rest of the chocolate melt into the cream. "…That is a load for the beginning of a new year," she comments, trying her best to comfort and understand what's been happening on her end. "I'm sorry you had to go through that."

But? Something about that darkness bit also bothers her. More than John Constantine. More than graduating university and its trappings. "…So the Primordial Darkness is somewhere other than Earth and no one knows where it went?"

There's a blink there, and it's easy to catch onto her surprise. She had not known that she spent half her childhood with Trigon. She couldn't even imagine what that is like, having been in several iterations of Hell. None of them have been enjoyable trips, though she supposes the experience might be a little different if she was a princess of Hell.

The questions are on her face, but she refrains from asking them just yet. "I'm glad you had a good time," Zatanna tells Raven as she pours the hot chocolate in two waiting mugs. Moving over to where her fellow mystic has seated herself, she sets it down in front of her. It's one of the cute ones with an owl's face glossed over the ceramic. "Red Robin told me once that when Nightwing first formed the team, he was going to run it differently than how the 'adults' ran the Justice League. Less of a network of professionals and more like a family unit. Red's trying to uphold the same mission."

She adds a sprinkle of salt on top of the hot chocolate, before turning to her own. It might seem unusual but… "Trust me," she says with a wink.

Picking up her mug, she takes a quiet sip of it.

I'm sorry you had to go through that.

There's a rueful smile when she turns her expression on her mug. "When Daddy started teaching me magic, he woke me up at the crack of dawn," she tells Raven. "The exercises depended on what he felt I needed at the time. Sometimes it would be the chains, sometimes the straitjacket, sometimes the chains and the straitjacket while under water. While I was picking the lock, he'd tell me to whisper my intentions backwards. Kcolnu kcol. Over and over. By the afternoon, it would be the same, but without the lockpicks. Just the will."

She looks up to meet Raven's violet eyes. "Daddy prepared me the best he could, to handle such things in the event that he can't." Her dark fingernail taps gently on her ceramic cup. "And sacrifice what I have to."

There's something else there - not quite bitterness, and nothing so resigned. Something bladed and unhappy, that she manages to temper down when she takes a deep breath and takes another sip of her hot chocolate.

"It's in the endless - there's nothing to erase there. It's the safest place we could banish it," she informs Raven after a pause. "Only a piece of it, not the entire thing. The speck of it that was accidentally loosed in said acquaintances' building. We'd all certainly be in trouble if more of it ever came out here. I've had to deal with manifestations of it a few times last year…but they're stopgaps at best. There's nothing that could stop it, not really."

After a moment, she turns her head to meet Raven's gaze again. "John told me that Trigon had other children…that he does this on occasion. Have you…met your brothers and sisters?"

"I did feel the difference," Raven notes when Zatanna says this. A family unit, Zee adds, and she recalls the level of warmth among the spirited revelry of their team. "…I have to admit I liked our party better than the Hell's Kitchen one." Surely the Hell's Kitchen party could have gone any other way, but it happened, fancy dresses and all.

Savory hot chocolate. That's a new one. Her brow lifts, but she tries it, tentatively taking a sip from the owl mug. After a few seconds, a second sip occurs, finally lowering from dark-colored lips.

All the while she stays quiet, listening to Zee's past training experiences with her father, how she learned to harness the power of her will. Anyone can say it's child cruelty, but she understands the price that comes with learning magic. Rigorous training can be torture, and as the witch says, sacrifices have to be made walking along that particular path.

Her masklike features do not falter, do not shift as she senses that feeling in passing. "I feel like that's the most foolproof of options," Raven agrees, focusing on the method used to get rid of the Primordial Darkness. "It at least slows down the threat of something worse. But why would someone even have it in their possession…?"

That question may or may not be answered right away as she trails off. A quick blink and she looks at Zatanna — not offended, but a little caught off guard. Not many people speak of or know about her siblings, but if Constantine has any say in it, of course he'd say. Gently, she pushes the mug's handle from one side to the other, her mouth forming a slight frown.

"…He does," comes an answer, followed by a delay. Not that she isn't comfortable talking about it, but no one's ever actually asked. "It was part of Trigon's mission to sire an heir that would help him conquer realms far beyond his own. And he went out of his way to sire as many children as he possibly could. " Another nudge of the mug and she lifts it carefully, holding it there as she drops her gaze into its remaining contents. "They were all boys — my brothers, all of them taking on facets of his terrible personality."

Her lips pull into a wry smirk. "I'm his only daughter — his most successful heir. Which probably set a large gap between us all. I never really spoke to anyone when I was there, but I know they weren't happy."

Not too savoury - a bit of salt tends to bring out the flavor of chocolate more, and the stuff is too good not to optimize its flavor. This is a product of the young woman's childhood in Paris.

"There are ancient artifacts of power scattered all over the world," Zatanna explains to Raven as she finally takes a seat by the granite island. "Sometimes very old and frightening things are squirreled away inside of them. There's an entire black market that caters specifically to magicians and mystics who tend to collect them, so it's not surprising to find brokers whose only business is to acquire without asking too many questions. Cienzo Basile is one of those."

She mentions her brothers, though at the mention of the man's 'terrible personality' made manifest in his male heirs has her wrinkling her nose. "I wonder if it's your human half that makes you the most successful heir out of his progeny," she wonders. "It wouldn't be the first I've heard of it, that diluting that much power with human blood tends to stabilize other….deleterious effects."

But I know they weren't happy.

Must come with being an empath, which suddenly reminds her that…

To Zatanna's credit, she doesn't fully pull back from spending this time with Raven, though she does look faintly embarrassed. While she doesn't blush, it's in her air. She could only imagine what sort of things she's managed to feel, whatever bits or pieces that slipped past her filters. Her sorrow, her passion - the things she told Red. The things she did with Red.

"…I'm sorry," she says in the tail-end of her realizations. "The last few months were a little volatile for me emotionally, if it aggravated you in any way…" After a moment, there's a curious, and faintly teasing expression on her face. "…is that why you wanted to patrol together today? Were you worried about me?"

She should have known. Ancient artifacts are always in play at some point, especially for those seeking the mysterious. The dangerous. New owners of abominations aren't smart and their lack of willpower and common sense gets them into trouble. "Cienzo Basile is an idiot for thinking it would be fine to keep," Raven remarks somewhat flatly, eyes now lidded. She then sighs, shaking her head as she decides to take another sip of her hot chocolate.

Zee's comments about her family are welcomed by hint of a dry laugh that colors her words. "Surely he would consider my humanity a weakness, but that's what he gets. So long as I don't have to entertain his plot for conquest, I'm fine with never seeing him again."

To the mystic's credit, she catches onto the empath aspect quickly and tries to control it. Raven could have sworn the space around her warmed in tone, fleeting as it is. With how much Zatanna wears on her proverbial sleeve, she may have picked up on some of it. Bursts of light. The gloom of a heavy fog. A rage like a white flame, violent and angry until it burns itself out. Prickling sensations grazing, tingling across and under her skin — sensations she tried to avoid once she learned of them.

She may not be meeting Zee's gaze at the moment, but her nose twitches slightly. "…That was kind of the reason," she whispers as she puts the mug down again, not directly admitting that yes, she was worried. "It was to get your mind off of all of the dumb things within the past months alone, so the apology isn't necessary." Because feeling is natural. She can't tell her not to feel anything, that's rude. Her gaze then flicks over. "Mind you, I have felt worse from the other Titans. They don't know how to control themselves, either."

"You know what they say, Raven…hubris kills more mystics than even other magicians," Zatanna replies, somewhat dryly, when her fellow Titan comments about Cienzo's idiocy. "Anyway I don't think he'll be doing anything similar for a while yet, I think John stuffed his head in a ceramic pot too small for it before he left."

She cradles her cup with both her hands, listening quietly to what she says about Trigon. "Maybe," she tells her. "My experience with demons tells me that they tend to envy mortals, no matter how much they like to prattle about our weaknesses and our failings. Angels, too. I'd say it was part of the Creator's grand design but…" She pauses, hesitating visibly.

Should she tell Raven what she learned about God in those three months in Hell?

She decides not to. With a sigh, she takes another slow sip of her chocolate. Instead, she nudges her shoulder slightly against her friend's when she admits it's partially the reason. "Thanks," she tells her quietly, simply. "I appreciate it. I'm…I'm doing better. You'll find that I'm difficult to keep down, no matter how bad it gets."

Mind you, I have felt worse from the other Titans.

She can only imagine - products of broken homes, alien invasions, abandonment, terrible experiments. Compared to most of the Titans, she had a relatively happy childhood, blessed with a father who spent his entire life empowering her and encouraging her, in his own eccentric way, along her path to self-discovery. Even when he had to leave her shortly after her eighteenth birthday, he made sure that she knew how to survive on her own.

"Are they all doing okay?" she asks. "The rest of the team, I mean. Is there anything I can do?" To help with that. To help her. She doesn't specify for a reason.

A vague mention of a divine creator will do just fine. She hasn't delved into other religious beliefs in her spare time, but there's something oddly comforting about the perspective Zee sets there. And since Zee has experience with demons as she's said before, she can put some trust in such confidence.

Raven goes with the nudge, nodding as she leans back into place. "I can tell." Is that for the 'doing better' part, or for the 'I'm difficult to keep down' part? She leaves it as it is, but the faint smile doesn't disappear as fast as the first time it did.

As for the rest of the Titans? "For the most part," she admits. "I believe Bart needs to be distracted from the stress of his new job. Cyborg is…he's trying to get by. And Misfit — she just got back, but she may still have some hangups from the demon invasion. I tried helping her before, but I couldn't heal her completely…" She thinks of the others she hasn't listed, knowing that they all had their own problems to deal with. "…The others may not show it as readily, but perhaps some spending more time with them will help."

"Yeah, I'm worried about Cy, too," Zatanna confesses. "This thing with his dad must be hard on him. And yeah, we should probably check on Charlie just in case"

As for everyone else, she can't help but think of Red. What she had unloaded to him a week ago can't be easy on him. Something she'll have to talk to him about later.

"I've been trying to do that a lot more," she remarks. "Spending time with the others. I meant what I said after what happened in the Island, that I was going to be around more." With a sigh, she eases away from the granite countertop, smiling over at her fellow mystic.

"Anyway it's getting late, but I'm not tired yet. I'm kind of a night owl these days. You wanna go watch a movie? I mean, speaking of Cy, he worked really hard on the entertainment center, would be a shame not to use it now and then."

Red Robin: the man Raven can't always get a clear read on. Yet she is the same, to some degree. Maybe that's how it should be for the time being.

"I should be doing the same," she says, knowing that she really hasn't expanded too far out of her comfort zone. She leans back, posture straightening as she rolls her shoulder. A casual glance is directed toward Zatanna. "…But you have been around. I've noticed. I'm sure they have, too."

There is truth in not being tired at such a late hour. Raven doesn't feel it. At the suggestion of a movie, she perks. She doesn't really go out to movies, but she has poked her head in on the entertainment center one time. Why not?

"…We should…try it out. It sounds like fun."

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