Life's Complexities
Roleplaying Log: Life's Complexities
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

In navigating the realm of small and idle talk, Raven foregoes fashion advice to chat with Nico in an effort to learn more about her and her magic background.

Other Characters Referenced: Zatanna Zatara
IC Date: February 17, 2019
IC Location: Titans Mall, Long Island
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 18 Feb 2019 00:33
Rating & Warnings:
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

This is a habit of Raven's: although she lives in an abandoned mall where she can plausibly visit any of her teammates during certain hours of the day, she hasn't really done so after everything had long been settled. As close as she knows they all are, the consistency of their time spent together has been, more or less, strained by current events.

The truth of the matter is she, on a personal level, has been awful about trying to do better on the social aspect of being a Titan. More importantly, as a friend. Already the first month of the year passed in the blink of an eye, hurtling into the middle of the second with little progress made in terms of reaching out. If she's going to stick to the silly idea of a New Year's resolution, she may as well go all in.

Raven doesn't need to summon up courage for a small chat, but the nagging feeling behind her poker face reminds her that chats can go any which way they please. Considering her last round of catching up with Zatanna, it sort of stayed in control, finding out what she needed to know while leaving the rest for privacy reasons. Now she just needs to do the same for Nico.

Which is why she is careful to make sure she isn't surprising her by dropping in unannounced. The last thing she wants to do is accidentally startle her.

(Also, if there are doorbells or any cool tech that alerts people that their personal space is being encroached upon, she may need to take a refresher course for that.)

"Nico?" Dressed in a loose black long-sleeved top, gray leggings, and black fuzzy socks, Raven pokes her head in to see if the goth witch is home. "Forgive me if I'm intruding or interrupting something vital, but I was wondering if you can help me…"

-=-=-=-

Nico continues to lair in the mattress show room. Think about it: When things go to the mattresses, who holds all the cards?

The open space has been kind of broken up by some dividing objects she hauled up from the big-box department store downstairs and some artfully placed cloth. This means that when Raven enters the reclaimed space, she encounters the first piece of advanced technology that Nico Minoru has set up - windchimes.

They tinkle. (There was also a bead curtain.)

"Hey, who's there?" Nico calls from over the shelves. Then, happier, "Oh, Raven! Awesome! Hey, just keep going straight and hang a left." Hanging a left at the end of an intersection of aisle components - a T-intersection, aptly enough - leads towards what seems to be Nico's living room. (To the right are clothing racks and a sewing machine. Hobby space.)

The living room is also the bedroom. The 'bed' is set up on a king-sized mattress with black sheets and an improvised canopy on top, in lieu of four poster bed. There are also several fold-up futons currently deployed in couch configuration. And a table. On the table is a coffee maker.

Nico is putting water and coffee in it. "Hey," she says again.

"You want some?" she says, holding up the coffee scoop. The filter is emplaced so it is merely a matter of how much… and if Raven DARES to drink of this darkest of brews. (it's actually medium roast)

“And…! What did you need help with?”

-=-=-=-

Compared to her own space made in the remains of a former bookstore, Nico's mattress show room is very well-thought out. As Raven glances at the windchimes, she heeds the young woman's directions, gently pushing back the beaded curtain with one hand in passing. Violet eyes then roam over the use of the show room in general once she gets to where Nico is hanging out, brows lifting like she's impressed.

And she is. She really is. All she has is a single bed and a bunch of curtains. One of these days she needs to figure out what to do with the surplus of shelving units still strewn about the floor.

"Hey," she greets quietly, granting her a small smile as she drifts over. A hand rises slightly to politely decline the scoop of True Darkness medium roast coffee. "No, thank you. I'm fine."

But now that Raven's in full view, it appears she hasn't come completely empty-handed. "Do you remember how I once asked about what to wear to that holiday gala in Gotham?" she asks, her brow furrowing a few seconds after she poses the question. Here, her other arm extends from cradling what looks like a blob of loose black material, carefully unfolding and holding it out in front to show Nico what she has.

Not only is it a long black robe, but it's undeniably sheer. Lined with boa-like black feathers that dance at the slightest movement.

Despite the subtle dubiousness in her neutral tone, her face somehow maintains some semblance of seriousness. "…What would you even recommend wearing with something like…this?"

-=-=-=-

Nico doesn’t load it heavily, in that case. The machine is plugged into a little outlet on a tastefully positioned location, and it begins to bubble merrily. Even if one does not partake of the dark emulsion of the beans of the tropics, the scent is cheerful.

“Oh yeah,” Nico says. “That was great. You said it went over well, right?” She looks over then, smiling, before Raven produces a little wad of -

Nico squints a little. Her first impulse (not bart) is to think that it’s black or near-black pantyhose or some similar sheer leggings. It unfolds in more detail and has more tethery edges. No, feathery, she realizes quickly. Her lips purse together and her eyes widen slightly as it’s revealed in its full and glossy glory, including those feathers.

\\ok be cool Nico this is fine.\
“Wow,” she says.

She claps her hands lightly in front of her. The clapped-together hands rise up to half-hide her face. “Wow,” she repeats. “Okay… Rachel I love and respect you way too much to BS here, so I’ll just say, that is totally lingerie.”

“I would literally die of anxiety if I put that on,” Nico continues, “but a lot depends on like the impact you want here. If you’re just wearing it for yourself I don’t think you’d need anything unless it’s, obviously, being for yourself around other people, in which case you just need like a bra and some shorts. If you want to be shocking you could get something in a flesh tone kind of thing but it’d be fine.”

Nico considers for a moment that perhaps that’d be easier for her than most people, given the skin shade she’s dealing with.

“It’s gorgeous though. Let’s see. Uh - can I?” she says as she reaches out to touch the material.

“I think you’d get a really strong if kind of, decadent? Effect if you had an LBD underneath it or just like, plain jet black shirt and leggings. Especially if it was a black turtleneck; you’d look incredible, especially if you had like -” She raises up her other hand, “I’m imagining a bangle here? Like just one, silver or something with like one stone on it. Get some ballet flats to go with it.”

“You will absolutely freeze your butt off tho.”

-=-=-=-

"Yes. It was a good choice." Raven says this with a nod, still holding out the robe so it's fully on display.

Never mind the fact that it sort of went sideways when being introduced to Zatanna and 'Tim Drake/Wayne' prior to being interrupted by thugs of a different sort.

A brow arches. She notices a change around Nico during the prolonged pause, watching her go through several stages of astonishment. There isn't any judgement made, no twitch at the corner of her mouth, no squint in reaction once Nico recomposes herself to answer the question that was posed seconds earlier.

When she says it's totally lingerie, Raven lets her gaze slip back down at it. "…That is what I initially had thought…"

She hands over the robe without resistance, draping the lower half of it over the goth's arm so that she can have a better look. Although silent, the Daughter of Darkness nudges past the low level of anxiety and listens closely to the fashion advice dropped. "LBD?" The term escapes her, but she doesn't say anything else for a while.

By the time Nico comes to her closing statement, Raven has set herself down on one of the futons, legs neatly tucked and hands clasped over one another on her lap. "…Yeah, I'd like to keep my butt where it is," she sort of smiles, lending itself to the dry chuckle that sneaks in between those words. "Starfire didn't have to get me anything, but it would be awful to just…throw it out."

It was a terrible thought to have in the first place, but she had to come around eventually. Her perspective needed another opinion and this is what she got.

And it piques some curiosity. "How long have you been doing this? The whole fashion thing," she clarifies, finding her footing in the beginnings of a conversation. "What grabbed your interest?"

-=-=-=-

CRIME NEVER SLEEPS, TITANS

"Little black dress," Nico says. "Like Audrey Hepburn. It's kind of like an all purpose thing."

\\Maybe she doesn't know about any of this,\\ Nico thinks. Where DID Raven grow up, exactly?

After this, Raven laughs. Nico feels herself almost giggling too. It is a moment that makes her almost sag in relief. As the coffee maker bubbles, she goes to set down, pausing to say, "Starfire got you this? … I'm guessing, no gift receipt or anything? I mean, it's gorgeous, like, incredibly gorgeous. She didn't get it in space, did she? Like I look at it, and I'm like, that thing cost at least a thousand dollars if she didn't make it herself."

("Did she make it herself, do you know?")

"You could make something out of it," Nico says. She clarifies: "I can do it, if you want. Let me see it?"

She then has a question to answer.

"Oh — well, okay, my childhood wasn't super unhappy or anything, before… everything, but, it was pretty clear to me that I could only do a few things differently. Like I couldn't play guitar, but I could play the tuba in the orchestra, which was totally a spite thing but then I actually did it for a couple of years…"

Nico contemplates matters.

"I got into clothes because I thought it would be cool, but it was also like a self expression thing. I thought my mom thought it was cool - I got the idea from her a little because she was always really well dressed, but, I was in a mood, and I did all the creepy stuff, to see if I could get a rise out of her? Except she was fine with it. Probably figured I was going to end up in the right state of mind to accept…"

"You know. The stuff."

-=-=-=-

"Oh." Acronyms. In terms of learning popular abbreviations, the lack of the knowing what that means is clear in how soft Raven's voice is. Reviewing these things is low on her list of priorities, but she's finding that she may need to push it to the forefront.

Her shoulders hunch, then relax as she breathes in the scent of the coffee, fully relinquishing the robe so that Nico can inspect and appraise it without feeling rushed. "Christmas present. No receipt. I don't know if Starfire is the type to make things by hand," she replies with a half-shrug. "I assumed she bought it from a store here. But I may be wrong…"

She does get an answer, though. The young witch's life is different from hers. Vastly different.

It's normal — normal based on whatever Nico experienced growing up on Earth. Normal in such a way that Raven couldn't imagine herself living in a similar situation, choosing to deploy the subtlest forms of rebellion to instill her sense of individuality. Her choice in instruments, in fashion. All of it fit the witch's personality and stylistic tastes perfectly.

Until the 'stuff' changed everything.

Her brow lifts slightly. "Magic." A pause, and some time for processing. "…Your mother…she had magical abilities?"

-=-=-=-

Nico considers visibly how to put this. She’s had to say it a few times lately and it never really gets easier, but it does mean she can express the concept comprehensively.

“She and my dad,” Nico says. “They were evil wizards. They were in a crime group - the Pride, they were pretty low key but they basically ran Southern California. My friends and I were their kids, but, we stopped them.” A beat. “They’re dead now.”

Probably.

“I don’t know what their magic was really like,” Nico says. “My mom literally tried to jab me with the Staff of One, and I guess it… passed on? Like that counted as giving it away? But even without it she could still do magic, she just…”

Nico’s emotions slide down a hill as she turns away a little, hunching over. “I guess even at the end she didn’t want to hurt me,” Nico says, head lolling forwards. “She and the Wilders… one of the other families. They were all backstabbing each other but the whole thing they were doing was - you know what, I’ll tell you the entire story sometime but I’m getting in the weeds here. I have a lot of complex emotions. But until we saw them sacrificing some girl in the library…”

Nico straightens up. “I had no idea. The worst I thought was that the basement was creepy, but it was like… normal creepy? Like, it was like, why did you do greenish stone walls and a bunch of antique furniture for the freaking media room. You know?”

“Seriously,” Nico continues, forcing herself into lighter mood, “they had some kind of like, Taisho cabinet and it was like, THIS IS THE TV! I had a PS2 but they took it away when I got a B.”

-=-=—=-

Within that stretch of time, Raven feels the shift: the heaviness that comes with recalling the memories; the painful sting of reliving past events; the questions and complications of handling it the way she did, letting it remain as constant background noise as she navigates her present circumstances alongside the Titans.

She cannot understand the pain in its entirety.

Nico did what she had to do. Considering what their parents had been doing, Nico and her friends' actions were justified.

But…they were still her parents.

Parents who cared about her. Who wanted the best for her.

"…I'm sorry." Her gaze turns away from Nico, allowing her the space needed. "We don't need to go any further into it if you're not ready. I didn't realize how much it still hurts."

Granting the witch the change in tone, Raven also tries to alleviate some of her emotional state, closing her eyes in concentration as she lends some empathy her way.

"I can see it," she rasps after a few moments, picturing the room as closely as described. "And that's awful. Over a B, of all things. I thought Bs were okay.

"Then again, I never had grades or access to televisions in Azarath," comes a thoughtful addition.

-=-=—=-

"… thanks," Nico says, her voice a little more muted.

She takes a deep breath.

"The B thing… the idea was that I should try my hardest, right. That I had to achieve. I guess, maybe, in college, they would have been less into a B. I don't know if it's true but supposedly in college it's a lot more like, an adventurous B is worth more than a safe A. Sometimes I wonder about all the stuff they did because it really felt like I was getting a normal life."

Nico folds her hands behind her head. "Which, you know, unremarkable, right? Except, if they knew they were going to visit all that… stuff, on… everyone; if I was gonna be growing up in some kind of weird post-post-apocalypse super garden… Why do I need to play tuba in the marching band? There won't be any bands any more."

Nico is silent for a moment.

"… You can, totally bounce this back at me, but, what was that like? Did you grow up in somewhere totally isolated? Because I mean," and now she rises to get her coffee, though her eyes stay on Raven, "you seem really normal and well adjusted? But if everything is still new and weird to you, that is just… I don't know, DOUBLE amazing."

-=-=—=-

Achievement. This, Raven vaguely recalls, is one of the societal concepts everyone plasters across news headlines and televised programming centered around fictional yet realistic settings. Because it's a letter grade, it still makes little sense to her; the main lesson she has learned growing up only had two options available: succeed, or die trying.

…Which she chooses not to tell Nico because the facade of living and having a normal life is slightly better than being raised in a hell dimension.

The question posed sounds rhetorical, but she shakes her head. "Unless you built one from the ground up, perhaps."

Now her gaze drifts downward, thinking about what to say in regards to Nico's questions about her own life. She opened it up for conversation, after all; it's only fair to share her experiences.

"…Yes. Azarath was…nice. Maybe even beautiful, if I had to describe it. Some would have thought it boring without the worldly necessities everyone has here on Earth, but being young, I didn't think that at all." Her brow lightly creases. "Overall, it was also ideal as means of escape. Not many knew of its location and its inhabitants thrived in its peacefulness. And my mother just…found herself there.

"To her credit, my mother practically stumbled across its existence," she almost sighs, frowning a little. "Then again, she was the one who got caught up in a cult that set her up with a demon who conquered worlds for a living."

The dryness in her tone. It's telling. But it shifts again as she switches gears, back into a low rasp that isn't as scathing as violet eyes rest on Nico again. "I mean…you're right, it is still weird being here. I've been picking up as much as I can without getting overwhelmed by everything that's being thrown around." Her nose wrinkles as she glances elsewhere, a chuff of a laugh catching in her throat. "It's not that amazing. Really."

Coffee courtesy aside, she can't compare her experiences to Nico's. They've walked different paths. They've done different things. "I did what I had to," she softly corrects herself. Another frown forms, but it returns to the nondescript line she's prone to wear around her friends. "Although you say your life has been mostly normal, Nico, you've handled a lot of magic on your own in a short amount of time without much in the ways of mentoring."

It's not sarcasm. She's quietly impressed — has been, for a while now. She just never had a chance to say so.

A visible flicker of hesitation comes and goes, leading her to add, "…Can you tell me how the Staff of One works again?"

-=-=—=-

Nico pours her coffee into a cup and sprinkles something from a small canister into it. This would be a great place for something green and toxic, sure, but the actual truth is that it contains brown sugar and coarse-ground cinnamon. Nico swirls the cup - it's an outsized surplus mug with a black cat on it - and turns to listen.

Beautiful, Nico thinks. "So it was kind of… simple life? Like country style? I know this maybe is like, weird, and hard to explain, so don't sweat it," Nico says.

It's not like we're likely to go there, she thinks.

Her lips purse for a moment. Did I just jinx it?

Nico sips her coffee. Yeah, she thinks, I totally jinxed it.

"I barely handled it," she says with a weak laugh. "Like… Sometimes I think about all the spells I already cast, you know? Like, some of them could have been really great, and eventually I'm going to be down to like, trash, right? I know I can be creative, but…"

She takes a long sip of her coffee.

"Uh," she then says. "Well… when blood is shed blah blah blah. I know I say that every time but it's kind of like it's part of it emerging? Like I couldn't not say it. If you stuffed a sock in my mouth I would at least try to say it. Probably?"

"Anyway," Nico says. "It kind of… reads my intention, sort of. Like I said I can't re-cast spells, I can't do the same thing twice, though I can do like… nearby things. It's hard to control, honestly. It works better when I feel like crap."

She sips her coffee.

"Um," she says. "I can cheat it with languages. Like I had to build this giant cat pen once. I used stuff in Hungarian. I have Google Translate on my phone. So like… what's an example… Like the very first spell I cast, ever, was, 'Freeze.'"

Nico reaches into her hip pocket, pulls out her phone, swipes it, waits, swipes again, pushes a button, and thumb types in a few times. "But if I did 'Congelar,' which is Spanish," she resumes, "that would work. That time. But after that I'd have to do -" She hits a button, "… ngagiblegkeun… What? I'm mangling that. That's uh, Sundanese apparently."

She closes her phone up and pockets it again.

"I know I charge it, somehow, when I bleed," Nico says. "I don't think I could've done that… thing, if I wasn't bleeding so much at the time."

"Thank you," she adds, quietly, looking at her feet again.

-=-=—=-

Not exactly jinxed. Raven never thought about Azarath very often after she left. But now that she does, it's like she's trying to piece together a puzzle of outlines to clarify the images she's committed to her memory.

"Simple in a sense of the word, but it was large enough to be recognized as a city," she answers. "It felt ancient, but you wouldn't be able to tell upon first impression due to how well preserved the architecture was."

Nico may be right about the possibility of ever going there in the future. Although she doesn't show it, Raven doesn't know how Azarath has fared. If it even exists anymore. These are thoughts for another day.

In the present moment, the Daughter of Darkness listens to Nico's explanation, nodding whenever she touches upon the finer points of how she keeps using her catchphrase, what she can and cannot cast unless there's a loophole in language. Maybe the coffee rattles her words more than usual, but it doesn't render her incomprehensible.

When blood is shed

Now that she thinks about it, the poor girl has spilled more than enough blood. It's concerning. "It was a very powerful spell," Raven agrees, splashes of red flickering past her mind's eye. "You bought us some time, but at a very high cost…"

The dull sting of the memory fades, lasting as long as the bout of silence trailing that sentence. It's no use retaining the sentiment, but it helped in trying to figure out how to avoid going down the same route in the future.

"…Is there no way to alter the deal? To keep it from using your blood?" Her posture straightens. "And if not, is there any other way we — " (We. As in 'Zatanna and I.') " —can help you with your magic?"

-=-=—=-

"Heh," Nico says. She sips her coffee.

"Bought. It's weird, huh? If I've been able to figure out like, anything in magic, it's that a lot of stuff has a cost, right? Like you have to do THIS, and you get THAT effect… but it seems like the rules don't make a lot of sense. I wonder if before there was like, capitalism and everything, did people understand magic differently?"

"… I don't know," she says. "I asked Angela - you'd like her, she's… awesome, I've worked with her on stuff, I think she kind of, likes me, but not like LIKE like, you get me, like she's at least twice my age ANYWAY." A pause, a sip of coffee.

"I asked her to look into the stuff with the Staff, because… I think it's old."

"Zatanna's offered to try to find out stuff about my family," Nico says, "but - " Her voice cracks slightly and her brow furrows as she tightens up her face and takes a sudden deep breath.

"- Ugh - I -"

"This is awful," Nico says, laughing in a brittle way as she turns halfway away. It is painfully clear to Raven, of all people, that her eyes are welling up, but she doesn't want to look at Raven while it happens. "I should be helping YOU guys out, right? Like that's what… I mean… I'm sorry, this is just, stupid, forget I said anything."

She tries to take deep breaths that don't sound like sniffles.

Finally, she says, still not looking back, "Sorry, I got something in my eyes. I think it's a - piece of coffee, um - I want to try to learn like… regular magic. Apparently I'm talented, and stuff, it just never came up. Worst mom ever, didn't even send me to Hogwarts, right?"

-=-=—=-

"Maybe it was similar to how it is now. Maybe it changed a little over time from what it used to be." Either one could have been true, but they remain as ambiguous guesses about the metaphorical price tag on magic.

As Nico mentions Angela, Raven tilts her head, only getting the reference of 'LIKE like' shortly after she breezes through it. That last part makes it hard not to smirk at her friend and her flightiness; at the very least, it's less mocking and more endearing because of it.

"It's good you have someone who may find a lead on the staff. This Angela sounds like a reliable person." She wouldn't mind meeting her, if she gets the chance to.

The unwavering facade, however, becomes disquieted by the emotional tilt and the plain fact that Nico still hurts whenever they broach the topic of her family. She obviously doesn't buy the 'something in the eyes' bit, but she says nothing about that, choosing to sympathize instead.

"…Oh, Nico," Raven whispers, getting up from her seat to tentatively sit next to the young witch. She's careful not to be too close, leaving some room between them so that she can be a soothing empathetic presence instead of one that suffocates. "You have been a big help with the team. Since you have the experience, I have a feeling you will pick up regular magic very quickly."

Slowly reaching out, her arm extends, offering a hand to hold. "And don't be ashamed of your feelings. I'm not here to judge you on how well you can wear a stony expression. It doesn't seem to fit you, anyway."

-=-=—=-

A reliable person, Nico thinks.

"Yeah," she says, heedless perhaps of the irony in the heavens. "Yeah, she seems that way. Whew." She sweeps a hand up and through her bangs and turns around, eyes faintly swollen but composure returned - only to falter when Raven sits near her. She trembles, just a little.

She looks at the offered hand.

She reaches down to take it. Her skin is a little cold, at least on that hand. The other, of course, is holding a cup of coffee.

She clasps it loosely.

"It's funny," she says, not looking back up, "to think, like. Regular magic. I don't… always feel that different from how I was when I was just going to high school."

Nico finally looks up to meet Raven's eyes.

"What kind of expression do you think I should have?"

-=-=—=-

She doesn't mind the cold hand. Pale fingers squeeze Nico's gently, her grip also remaining loose so that she isn't crowding.

"…Sometimes" Raven speaks after a few beats, "it's like that. Feeling the same. Feeling as you did back then." Her gaze drops a little. "I've had times where I felt like I wasn't progressing in terms of my abilities. Emotions were difficult to control, and everything I was exposed to was overwhelming." She shakes her head, a faint smile changing her stoic expression. "As I continued, it slowly got better. The more I worked at it, the more I was able to achieve through practice. Looking back now, I suppose it also was a matter of perspective…"

She trails off, lightly shrugging as she does. Violet eyes then look up at the same time, studying the witch's features for several seconds.

"One of warmth," comes her reply, sincere in tone. "One that is kind, unmasking ferocity in trying times."

Another pause, and she slowly leans back. "…Or is that too much pressure…"

-=-=—=-

“No,” Nico says.

“No it’s not,” she continues, half-laughing and half-sobbing it.

“Just, uh - like, bear with me if I take a while to get there, right? Like, I’m already doing all this workout stuff… Which reminds me I probably should like, eat a pork chop and go to sleep because I have to do a run in like six hours…”

But the feeling within Nico Minoru is one of immense, if somewhat obscure, relief.

A feeling that for whatever fleeting moment, she was truly and authentically seen, and not found revolting.

Moments like that (in Nico’s opinion) are way too rare.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License