Fear Itself
Roleplaying Log: Fear Itself
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Not even a nightly patrol in a noisy city can shake recent feelings of fear in an Empath's life.

Other Characters Referenced: Titans
IC Date: May 13, 2019
IC Location: Times Square, New York
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 14 May 2019 18:34
Rating & Warnings:
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

Traffic. It's the usual among the cars jammed in the middle of the streets. It's typical of the people who walk or wander the streets, locals and tourists alike intermingling, the former dodging the latter if they linger too long in one spot along on the sidewalk.

But one would think being in the middle of Times Square is a bad idea. Especially if one is an Empath. Raven knows it is, but tonight she welcomes the chaos with open arms. The air thrives around her, electric like the huge screens displaying loops of endless ads, noise-ridden and cacophonic.

In a way, she can appreciate its brightness. It's far from the dark comfort of her room, the stillness she falls back into after long days outside of doing anything Titan-related. And as much as she would rather stay there, the exposure to the environment she now stands in keeps her distracted.

A dark gray knitted hood falls over her face as she stares at the lights, her hands shoved into the deep pockets of the black jacket worn over a shirt and faded jeans that skim the tops of black Chelsea boots. She blends in with the crowd this way, her violet gaze hidden away as passersby keep walking.

No one notices she isn't admiring the sights of the city anymore — not at this point.

—-

Plain clothes patrol is still so weird to Bart. For someone who can move faster than the eye can see, he finds it so unnecessary to hide in plain sight, but then at least he knows that if official action is needed, it doesn't take him five seconds to get changed.

The extra burden of being a young billionaire whose name is suddenly associated with Stark Industries has provided a different problem altogether, and unlike his wealthy role models, Bart hasn't really relished the idea of being so identifiable even when he's dressed in casual. At least it seems a choice crowd that's become familiar with him, and with the general liveliness of New York even in later hours, one could blend in with the crowds as much as one hoped to. His hood's pulled up over his head, partially for the cold, a typical jacket and jeans combo that didn't particularly draw attention, which is just fine with him.

Ever since the gem invasion incident a few months back, not to mention the fresh occurrence out in Gotham, Bart hasn't given a second thought to the possibility of strange things happening in a crowded place likes Times Square. No, it's a given that the place could be a target just as much as any place else at any given time, and just because there was a Registration Law in effect here in this city, didn't mean that people from other worlds or dimensions would pay it any heed.

On the up side, patrolling around here isn't boring, to say the least. It's busy, it's bright and there's a lot to look at, which is perhaps both good and bad for a young speedster so easily distracted by pretty lights and sights and sounds. Wait, he was supposed to reconvene with Raven, wasn't he? As the time flashes up on one of the many screens, he looks around for her.

—-

Reconvening from their patrols was the initial point of the outing. Maybe the only point, aside from taking a break from the daily routines they've both become comfortable with under the constraints of the Registration law. It appears Raven finished her rounds early, waiting right where she told Bart she would be waiting. Or perhaps she means to continue after getting caught up in all of the ruckus Times Square at night deals her and everyone else scattered within its perimeters.

Except upon closer inspection, when Bart gets closer, her eyes look past the screens, past the lights and into the distance. Vacant. Preoccupied by something else that doesn't seem to bother anyone passing through the area.

Despite the calm she carries, she doesn't realize her body has gone rigid. But a faint gasp soon breaks up the long spell she's been under, shoulders hunching upward before they slump back downward, trying to catch her breath.

—-

He finds her eventually. Bart's hyper-senses make it shorter work to scan the faces in the ever moving crowds for someone familiar, and once he spies the more darkly clothed figure, he makes a beeline for her.

"Ra—" he starts, his smile freezing on his face, even as he catches himself from calling her by her code name that may as well serve as her regular name for how much she goes by it. It's her given name that he goes by when he draws closer, brow knitting with concern as he notices something unusual about her demeanor. "Rachel…?"

At first Bart casts a glance back, looking where she seems to be, waving a hand in front of her face when she still seems to stare. The spell or whatever it had been that held her breaks with her gasp, and his hands find her shoulders as he stands in front of her. "Hey. What's wrong? What happened?"

—-

She squeezes her eyes shut, letting her head drop a few degrees so that she doesn't meet Bart's gaze right away. Whatever trembling runs through her body fades under the weight of the speedster's touch, allowing the knot that had formed between her shoulderblades to loosen. Her lips move, silent as she tries to find the words, any words, to further indicate she will be all right.

"Bart."

His name. It's a start. Another pause draws out amid the ambiance, another breath inhaled and exhaled to force herself to be loud enough for him to hear.

"I…I don't know," she adds, shaking her head. Reopening her eyes, her gaze lifts, cautious but back in the present. A few beads of sweat run down the side of her face, tangling and disappearing into the magenta-tinged ends of black hair. "Or maybe I do. But…want to walk?"

Not the best question to ask someone who's used to running everywhere, but she feels talking about it in the open isn't the best option.

—-

Acknowledgement is always a good start, and just hearing his name clearly washes away a good portion of that worry that had etched itself upon Bart's face as a smile flickers into place. He nods, his hands still upon her shoulders although his grip loosens a little, almost as though he thinks if he releases her completely she might fall.

Thankfully he doesn't need to prompt her to continue, but then he hadn't been completely sure that she'd even heard his questions. When she continues, even for her uncertainty as to what had occurred, it's still relieving that she'd answered at all. Finally he lets his hands drop from her, nodding again as he shifts to her side at the suggestion to walk. It's quite the question to ask a speedster, but Bart doesn't even think about it as he gives her a faint gesture to start them off.

"Are you okay..?" he asks not long after they've started to move again.

—-

Finding her feet, Raven regains her balance, grounding herself from the experience she has just gone through. Although she sounds cold, it's more of a methodical mental retracing of steps while actually walking to shake any previous feelings off. Fortunately, Bart has known her long enough to understand that she needs the time to gather her thoughts properly before she says anything outright.

"…I'll be okay," she quietly replies, dropping her gaze down toward the pavement with every step taken. Hesitation doesn't come up very often in her nondescript tone, but it's a little too prominent here, like she's uncertain if she should say anything at all.

A handful of seconds pass before she gets over that hill, the thin line of her mouth splitting again to speak. "Something has been bothering me of late. I didn't know how to describe it at first, and I thought it was just my imagination. But that something made itself very clear when it kept to…a pattern, of some sort…"

—-

The only sign of his ever present impatience as he waits for his friend to come around to explaining things is in the tapping of his finger, and even that's not readily seen for both his hands being stuffed into his jacket pockets as he walks alongside of Raven.

She's always been quiet, a polar opposite to everything that Bart is, all coolness and dark, quiet and measured in both words and actions whereas he's boundless energy, bright and perky, eager to jump headlong into things and speak and act as whatever comes to mind. But it's true; he's come to know her well enough at least to know these differences, to expect her time needed to gather her thoughts.

Not that it makes his waiting any less grueling a thing to endure, but he's concerned enough about it that he doesn't push. There are very few things that unsettle Raven, and if it's done that much then that means it must be something bad.

Her answer doesn't quite clarify anything and Bart's disappointment shows in the frown that tugs at his lips. "A pattern?" he repeats, head tilting. "I don't think I get it. Like…how's it been bothering you? What were you seeing?" His frown twists in a thoughtful sort of way. "…or…sensing?" She sensed a lot of things, after all.

—-

The speedster has never been very good at hiding his emotions, but the openness of his feelings are honest. While the brightness does tend to get to her at times, she's learned to handle his energy so that she doesn't get overwhelmed by it. Inquisitive and impatient, just like a child. Yet it's endearing. He's paying attention when he needs to, and that lets her know that she should say more to fill the unintentional cryptic-ness of her words.

"I was sensing…a feeling," Raven half-whispers, pale, slender hands uncurling from her own pockets as if to help subtly form her thoughts in the space in front of her. "Something painful, like…a short burst of confusion that felt like an eternity before it disappeared. Like nothing ever happened." One hand rises to let her fingers brush away the light trails of moisture from her face, an attempt to lessen the physical chill that remains under her skin. "But it returned within the next hour, and I endured it again within the same exact amount of time."

Her brow furrows as she crosses her arms over her stomach, looking up to make sure her path stays clear. The energy thrumming around them can easily make her lose her concentration, but she's able to manage.

"Three times within three hours, and then nothing more," she continues, her voice flattening out a little near the end. "That was only a few nights ago. I thought I would get some rest the next night, but I was wrong. It happened six more times."

She's not sure if this makes it any clearer to Bart, but she still isn't sure if the description of the experience fits what she has sensed. But she turns her head to look at him nonetheless, the stillness normally found within her neutral expression taking a slight slip.

"…What occurred earlier…it was fear. And it was strong." As her voice drops in volume, her gaze follows. "Too strong."

—-

Just like a child. Only so many of the Titans know the truth in those words. Bart meets her gaze, or would have if she'd been looking towards him than away, but he does his best to match her pace, his distraction in how affected Raven has been by whatever had happened serving to make it easier for the lack of speed he'd otherwise normally wish to output.

It's difficult, but he waits as Raven slowly draws out her experience, still unclear for exactly what that had been, but obvious as to how much it had bothered her.

"Wait, so it's happened before?" He can't blame her for thinking it was just a one-time anomaly, even though he feels he would have run off to investigate if he were privy of such things. But then how do you search for a feeling? That's not exactly up his alley. "Six..?" That seems like a lot, at least so far as strange occurrences went. And then that's not counting whatever Raven had sensed a moment ago.

"But related to what happened before. You can't tell where it was from? Or…who?" He's not quite sure how her empathic abilities work when it comes down to details.

—-

A nod suffices where she could have answered 'yes.' "…It's part of the reason why I've been sleeping during the day," she confesses, not really proud of the fact that she's been trying to catch up on sleep. "Along with why we're out here tonight. I thought drowning it out would help…" Tonight, however, is different; she's more awake now — either from the hectic pace the city provides or from somewhere deep within her soul — to recall what she has last 'seen' to some degree.

And with what the speedster suggests, the half-demon considers. "From what I have recently felt, it may be possible. Things were not as clear during the previous nights. A single emotion doesn't always cut through the noise like that."

She looks Bart's way again, even if her hood still falls close to her line of sight. "Someone needs help. If it is anything like the previous times, I may be able to get a better look if there is a repeat performance."

—-

There's probably no place better in the city to try 'drowning' things out. The advertisement boards brightly light up the area, throwing arrays of colors to backlight them, shifting with each change of ads and signs. It's cold out but still busy, and that very fact makes it stick out all the more as to how strong the sensation that Raven said she'd experienced must have been.

Bart nods at her, amber eyes looking searchingly for her eyes shadowed by her hood. "Okay. So we help them." Try, at least, but he doesn't want to say that. One of his favorite fictional aliens always says it's one or the other.

"…how do we do that?" Or what if there isn't a repeat performance? He doesn't ask it, but she might sense that flicker of doubt.

—-

It will be a day when someone spends time in Raven's shoes. Hopefully that day never comes and Bart isn't the one who gets to test it out.

Okay. So we help them. For some reason, counting on Bart to help isn't a surprise. He's willing to do it, but he also poses an excellent question.

She stops to turn, slowly and mindfully, back toward the direction where she was first found staring off at nothing in particular. "I have a better idea of where it was coming from. If it happens again, I can connect with it."

It's an 'if,' a big 'if,' but she feels like it will repeat itself. And where feet cannot physically take them, her mind will have to do.

—-

"Great! Okay then," Bart says, brightening as though 'if' had automatically translated into 'when' somewhere between his ear and his brain. "If that happens when I'm not there, contact me." By the sheepish look that touches his face shortly after, it seems to suggest he also means the rest of the Titans too and just forgot to say as much in his eagerness, even though he'd argue that he'd get to her fastest, no matter where he might be.

"For now I guess things're pretty quiet out here. Probably a good thing." He peers at Raven. "We can head back if you want." If she's been kept up by these occurrences then he wouldn't blame her for wanting to lie down, although he wonders if this most recent event might just keep her awake again.

—-

Raven does translate his 'contact me' to 'contact the Titans' as quickly as he does for her 'if' to a 'when' without reading too far into it. Still, his actions let her demeanor and her face relax a bit, granting Bart a faint smile for doing his best to understand the situation.

As the speedster says this, a few cars horns blare as another car dangerously swerves into another lane, its engine gunning as it drives down the way. "Well. Quiet as it can be," she agrees with a half-shrug. "But heading back would be great." There isn't anything more she can do out here for the moment. Staying out here makes her vulnerable, and the last thing she wants to do is get caught in the middle of another episode in public.

She has a strong feeling she may not get any rest, but it's a small price to pay to be sure she can find a heading of some kind.

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