Watching, Waiting
Roleplaying Log: Watching, Waiting
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

The Twins monitor what they need to monitor. Raven unfortunately falls into their radar.

Other Characters Referenced: Red Robin, Zatanna Zatara
IC Date: September 15, 2019
IC Location: Hempstead, New York
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 17 Sep 2019 00:31
Rating & Warnings:
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

Sleep is still elusive.

This, in Raven's opinion, has been one of many things she doesn't need while living a double-life as both a New York citizen and a vigilante Titan, precariously balancing the mundane and the not-so-mundane so that neither seems out of place. She manages to function and go about her business, but there have been moments where sleep is no more than a few hours at a time.

Her dreams have been more or less weird. Most dreams, she knows, are like that. The nightmares have also been constant.

Perhaps too constant, now that she has a second to breathe from the most recent occurrence.

Her heart is still racing. Sitting up in her bed, she draws her knees to her chest, an action that lets a book she's been reading tumble off to one side. Dozing off usually doesn't give the Empath time to dream. It shouldn't, but the vividness of the images she's seen has yet to fade.

…Red skin. Large, curling horns. Six eyes…

Raven's eyes narrow. Squeezing her arms off won't help…but maybe some fresh air will. The space between recovery and getting out of her room dressed for a casual evening the only way she knows how is lost when she makes her leave, her concentration spent on trying to refocus her energies from the intangible feelings that keep lingering about her person.


For Bart Allen, sleep is always elusive. On an averagely active day it takes him at least a couple hours to finally quiet down his brain for some shut eye, and if he's lucky enough as he navigates his own brand of dreams then he won't wake up only two minutes later.

…and then there are other nights where he hasn't bothered even trying to sleep in favor of beating his latest video game purchase on maniac mode. Sprawled on his back amidst an otherwise yet made bed, his fingers are a flurry on his handheld, and usually when it starts smoking it's a hint to give it a rest for the night. Instead he catches sight of movement in the form of one oversized pink cat who's slipped back into his room.

"Hey Clawmy, I thought you were napping with Raven again?" he murmurs, reaching out to pet the giant feline as she brushes by him and then clambers up onto the bed. Frowning a bit, Bart sits up and tosses the game over by his pillows before swinging his feet around to hop onto the floor. It doesn't take him a second to pull on his shoes, and he's poking his head out the door just as Clawmy finally settles in, amber eyes peering down the dimlit halls of the Titan's mall. "Raven?"

Maybe it had been his imagination, but when has that ever stopped him from investigating? He tugs his hood over his mess of hair, makes sure he's got his costume ring, and then he's simply gone. Speedster ninja.


The night over the Titans mall is quiet and idyllic, though for people like Raven and Bart, that doesn't mean much. One suffers nightmares that keep her awake; the other suffers an existence which keeps him racing, too fast, unable to slow down long enough for true restless sleep.

There's someone else out there familiar with that feeling.

Hempstead is silent this time of night, most people sleeping in preparation for the work week ahead. Some of the lighter sleepers among them might be annoyed, therefore, to be woken suddenly by a distant crack of noise towards the south, nearer where the city limits fade into the beachfronts of Long Island's South Shore. Most people will probably just chalk it up to a firework or a bit of late summer thunder, turn back over, and go to sleep.

Bart and Raven, however? They should know full well what the sound of the sound barrier breaking is like.


Cities away, red eyes turn north.

It is not the first time the Scarlet Witch has sensed this. Probability stretches itself in its many billions of strings, and when Wanda desires, she has learned how to curve her fingers and play them just so. She can sing a web to loosen its knots, or sing another a next, complex dimension —

But, tonight, she is patient merely to tilt her head down, ear close to one ringing leyline, and just… listen.

Something in its tone speaks to her, like an ache in the mouth that makes you remember your first loose tooth. But it's not nostalgia, not familiarity, no sameness between Wanda Maximoff and the nameless woman who dreams miles away —

It's something deeper.

Wanda's thoughts drift past the bridge of her mind, to that place where she has linked it with her twin brother. Pietro, she thinks. It's time.

Far away, and shrouded in dark, the Witch sits alone in a room, encircled by running currents of her scarlet. Energy dances and plays through the air, extensions of her will… as she braids them into one thread in this world —

— the probability forever enmeshed with Raven.

Somewhere, between thoughts, a voice whispers to her. It could be a remnant memory from dreaming. It could be she is still dreaming, hearing things, between moments.

«What are you? Not human. Never human… Are you less, or are you more?»


With a portal opening and closing behind Raven, the Speedster Ninja goes unnoticed. She appears elsewhere, walking along the well-worn and broken lines of empty pavement upon another quiet street, pulling her hood over her head as if to blend in with the shadows that have already formed there.

It doesn't last long, however. Even for someone so calm, Raven feels the snap of tension in the air, her breath hitching in her throat right when the sound barrier threatens to crack the sky open. That alone keeps her aware of who may be out and about at the same time, each energy from every person within her proximity giving off different feelings, different tones, differing states of wakefulness—

What are you?

The disembodied voice distracts her, close in Raven's ears and simultaneously so far away from her she doesn't know where it's coming from. Violet eyes dart along the path, finding dancing lights as the shadows deepen. A glimmer of scarlet plays at her vision, only to disappear after a few rapid blinks.

«What kind of question is this? Why do you want to know?» Her words, unspoken, are just as quietly guarded. It may be foolish to answer someone you can't see, but she feels like she's too familiar with these kinds of circumstances. «…I feel I should ask you the same.>


Having to take the 'long way' usually doesn't bother the young speedster in the slightest, although it only makes him that much more anxious for the fact that he's still behind. Not that he doesn't have any faith that he'll be able to track Raven down. It'll just take more time.

Outside he's an unseen blur of red and white, relishing the crisp night air that only serves to further punt the idea of sleep from his mind. And then there's a crack, which effectively stops him in his tracks as he twists around to look, as though doing so would so plainly show him its origin. It doesn't. The sound is however familiar, an unignorable signature that only so many things can cause and even less do so without something obvious to cast its audible shadow from. There are no aerial transports, space shuttles, jets or otherwise visible in the night sky, no reports that might mention something in passing to note, or so SIRIN relays.

"Grampa..?" Even as Bart muses over that possibility he doubts it, although he supposes the lack of sensing anything through the Speed Force could be due to his own lack of training or the fact that no one connected to it was in any trouble. He decides the latter is a definite plus, especially given his unexpected reunion with his grandfather back in Metropolis some weeks prior. It still doesn't answer the pressing question.

A frown tugs at his lips. Maybe it's nothing. Right now he still has to track down a friend. For someone who can open up portals, she could be anywhere. Taking a few running steps backwards, Bart springs as he spins about and takes off once more. Well, all the more reason to get started. People usually say that it's an impractical plan to 'look everywhere' but it's tended to work pretty well for him!


Raven's wandering path brings her, eventually, to a shadowed crossroads where four streets intersect. It's a small plaza with a tended public garden at its center, a common enough sight in urban spaces, but something about this particular night casts a pall that makes even the ordinary seem spectral. The air hangs heavy with the lingering vapor of a humid late-summer day, moonlight glowing through the mist. It glows, also, off the silver hair of a young man sitting cross-legged on the stone side of the raised garden bed.

Quicksilver is not troubling to hide his identity in the least.

What are you? Why do you want to know?

Raven's questions were not asked aloud, and they were asked long before she came anywhere near his presence. And yet —

"It always interests us," is Quicksilver's quiet reply, "when great potential goes squandered."

He falls silent, his blue eyes watching her unblinkingly, and does not say anything further aloud. But his voice continues nonetheless along the scarlet pathways echoing between Raven's thoughts, relating a stray thought that soon sinks unfinished into the red. «And you remind me of…»


Potential, echoes Pietro's word through ephemeral space, ghosting a dozen ways through Raven's head. As if whispered by different voices, some phlanging into something not human.

potential
poTENtial
poTenTiAL

«I was less,» speaks back that Voice, winding with smoking red that sparks at the edge of Raven's vision. «Now I am everything. Now I am nothing. Every night I dreamed the stars away. Every night I was alone in the void. I chased the cold to its end, and in the dark, I saw only myself. I am the lost, like you.»

Cities away, Wanda Maximoff's red eyes stare into space.

«I know what you feel. That ache beyond your eyes, like a light so bright… and you still cannot see. But you wish to. You want to look, but you are afraid what waits for you. You chase the thought at the back of your mind, but it lingers one step too far to follow. I sense you across the world. You don't have to be afraid.»


The young woman drifts, still walking but never once feeling the jarring scrape of her heel against the length of cement. Raven only comes into contact with it when she arrives at the plaza and its public garden, her vision clearing as reality harshly reminds her that gravity still works.

A pale hand traces upward and over her black cardigan, pulling at the lower edges of her hood as she now meets Quicksilver's gaze under the now-eerie glow of moonlight. This face and this voice — she remembers, recalls past events which conjured up his visage across every broadcasting station. Except now the demanding voice is quiet in its control, presenting no means of harm.

Although expressionless, there may have been a hint at wondering how he even knew what she was thinking. It falters, her brow furrowing under the pressure of the same word repeating in the space between them. Burrowing. She draws in a sharp breath, holding onto it, forcing herself to keep her wits about her.

"Squandered," Raven begins, her voice barely a whisper in the presence of Pietro, "is not how I see it." Now that she's speaking these words aloud, she's sure she's consciously forming them to a point where verbal delay may occur in order to answer both the man and the disembodied voice together. "I can see that we are at a disadvantage, but we're doing what we can without stepping over the line that has been set."

She's being read. The transparency is frightening, but she cannot feel it. She doesn't want to. But for a brief moment, she lets her gaze drop.

<…You don't know that.»


Would you like an update on the Raven's possible location? pings SIRIN in his ear, chirpy one moment, dry as the Sahara the next. Or you could keep running around the whole world, I'm sure you'll find her eventually.

Impulse makes a face, the world around him but shapeless blobs and streaks of light as he runs on. "You saw her? Where at? Am I close?"

Yes, I'll just relay the— Actually…

A brief gust passes the garden.

Never—

A halt. Backtrack.

—mind SIRIN continues, just as Impulse steps into the area of the garden. While he doesn't seem to give much of a look around, he takes it all in with his brief but curious glance, but his amber gaze settles upon the back of the darkly clad Titan just some several paces in front of him. "Raven!" He sounds happy to have found her, bounding towards her like a proud puppy.

It's only when he comes around her side that he notices they're not alone in the park. His shoes give a slight squeak with his abrupt stop as he stares over towards the silver-haired figure sitting there like some new addition to the garden himself. All at once recognition comes in flashes, the broadcast by the very man sitting there, the names as Tony Stark converses about the aftermath of the Triskelion's fall.

It's a mere span of seconds, maybe something Bart would have thought still too long but he'll blame the delay on his being surprised. He's beside Raven before another second can pass, brow furrowed, but he expels the built up tension in him with a small laugh. "Heh. Guess no one can sleep tonight, huh?"


The last few times Quicksilver's face was seen — so ill-fatedly like the face of his infamous father — have all been in settings of violence, of destruction, and of horrific revelation and grim portent. It makes it all the more jarring that, here and now, there is no hostility nor aggression in his demeanor. His aspect is almost conversational. He is not even standing, and therefore not pacing as he would inevitably be were he standing. The stillness of him is unnatural — and his brazenness to sit openly like this, undisguised, unaccountable.

Clearly, he is confident about his escape routes here. His faith in his twin is complete.

The depth of that faith becomes even more striking when Bart makes his sudden appearance, and Pietro still does not retreat even now that he is nominally outnumbered. If he saw Bart's initial drive-by in any capacity at all, he makes no outward sign of it, his eyes simply turning to include Bart in his regard. "No," is his initial reply, his voice — even after years in America — still salted with the sound of Eastern Europe. "There is no night on which my sister nor I sleep well."

«You both feel it too.» It is impossible to say from which twin the voiceless words — spoken into the mind between thoughts — originate. «Who sleeps well in a world like this, except humans, as they make these laws under which we bend — and break?»

There's a brief silence. "Squandered is how we see it," Pietro eventually says aloud. "We have been watching. You and yours have saved this city, this reality — how many times? Your reward was to be driven from your tower, from your place of prominence, to come hide here as outcasts. To do — what? Nothing? Wait on the command of a human? You do not act against the chains being placed on you. You do not even speak against it. The disadvantage of which you speak grows more vast and crippling with every day you do nothing. Why does he keep all of you back?"

He's looking at Raven. "Wouldn't it be better if you"

«burned»

"could do more?"


«I do know that,» answers the Voice, patient, almost tender.

«I am that.»

There seems to be a trick of the light — even at this too-late hour. Motes of scarlet, here and there again, like the heartbeats of light one gets at their periphery, staring up into a starfield night sky. Streaks of movement, flickering and disappearing, between flutters of the eye.

That same red prickles at Pietro's blue irises, there and gone again. What he sees, Wanda sees.

And what she sees… is so much more.

Cities away, the lenses of her red eyes flicker. She sighs a breath of smoking scarlet. Her hands, long-fingered and graceful — hands made for a musician, in another life — lift and curl, beginning to lead their maestro's direction. How shall she sunder a mind tonight, brother? Moonlight Sonata feels apt to guide her meter. Moonlight Sonata for a creature of shadow. We begin with the adagio.

«I suffer a thousand lifetimes of fear. I see them all. I dream them all. Afraid, always afraid… alone in the dark…» whispers through Raven's mind.

«In this lifetime, I learned not to be afraid. In this lifetime, I opened my eyes and saw what is true. I am not alone in the dark. I am the dark…»

«And so are you.»

Wanda curls her fingers around that single leyline thread, as her eyes slip unfocused. She begins to whisper a language that has no meaning or weight — the beginning of her hex to apply to the world. To Raven.

«Come with me. Down into the dark. Down into the void. Let it take you. Let it speak to you…»

A pressure pulls on her mind. It wants to take her away from here, from this, from now — back to that dream. Back to those dreams.

red skin

six eyes

«What does it say? What do you feel?»


A bright light appears out of the corner of an eye, brighter than the glow of the pale moon, brighter than the silver-haired mutant sitting before her. Raven immediately knows who it is, the knot between her shoulders loosening in relief because of the safe, familiar presence. It's a warmth she's gotten used to and one she doesn't want extinguished, but she's confident Bart can take care of himself.

But even the bright spot dulls as red swims and dots her peripherals. The unspoken word sears into the Daughter of Darkness' being, but she stands her ground, showing no outward signs of distress.

She does feel it. She feels the thrum of lives that aren't hers, feels their everyday wants weighing against their needs. There is truth in the unfairness of it all.

No

"That human is my friend," she rasps, her eyes lifting again to stay on Pietro. "The Titans…they're more than just friends. We face the same problems, but we chose to do so. Red Robin wanted to help us and he's been doing his best.

Inner voice, actual voice — none of it sounds clear in her head, nor does any of it sound like she's actually speaking. At the same time, she's hearing Wanda, assuaged by words and sympathetic tones that she can relate to. Her approach is soothing, gentle.

Persuasive.

Before she knows it, she's stepping into the dark, following the lights down a road she doesn't want to revisit.

«Demon»

«Father»

«Afraid»

In regards to Pietro's question, her monotone shifts.

"…What do you mean?"


Standing where he is, Impulse is ever the opposite of Pietro in his current position. The younger speedster manages not to bounce or shift his weight where he stands, but his fingers twitch as though consciously being kept in check from curling into fists, and behind his yellow-tinted goggles his eyes flick from Raven to Quicksilver and back again. A new element is added, another unknown, and his gaze sweeps between them all with the introduction of scarlet.

So where is Wanda? She's obviously not in this picture, not completely. Impulse frowns, nose wrinkling at the situation. He's got a bad feeling about this.

The other speedster speaks again, without much reaction to his arrival. Oh, he definitely doesn't like that. So what are they planning? "I don't think many humans sleep well either. I mean, you should see the amount of coffee they drink." The corner of his mouth twitches in a half smile, short-lived as he forces himself to focus, to listen. The Brotherhood. He knows their stance on things, and he can't blame them for it. He can't approve of their methods either.

"We decided to leave," he clarifies. "It sucks, but we still do what we can, when we need to. No one can stop us from doing that. And it's not like we aren't trying to do something about what's going on—" "That human is my friend," Raven says, and Bart nods in agreement, more so as she continues. He has no idea about what's happening on the side, of the extra conversation going on simultaneously, but hearing Raven work at speaking as she does, sounding as she does, he steps closer to her, shoulder bumping her's. Eyes narrow slightly as he looks towards Pietro again.

"We don't hurt people to make our point."


The Twins have always been joined by more than just blood. Sometimes it is impossible to say where one ends and the other begins… if there even is such a delineation between the two. Above all, there is one thing which has always been a constant about their dynamic; he is their physical force, their physical will, their physical existence, and she is their spirit, their breathing soul, their channeled arcane power.

With his power, he places himself as an anchor point. With hers, she vessels through him, using him like a distant focus to work her own power even from miles away.

Bart's sharp eyes, his lightning-quick perception, would catch it easily enough. He searches for Wanda, and he finds her in the drifting motes of scarlet that wreath her brother; he finds her in the shine of red that comes and goes in Pietro's blue eyes. She is present, but it is impossible to say whether she is near or far, and to know whether he should take the risk to try and search her out…

For they are planning something. Yes. Yet Raven is not their usual sort of prey. Raven is something vast and twisted, hidden behind a screen… something kin to Wanda herself, in a way. She will not be taken by force, even with their careful, seamless cooperation. She needs to want it. She needs to be curious…

And Bart is a potential wrench in the gears, with his counterarguments, his defensiveness, the way he tries to step in closer to anchor her. We decided to leave, Impulse claims. "A decision made under duress is not a decision," is Quicksilver's brief reply. "They made your only choices retreat, or persecution."

His eyes turn towards Bart, with a faint flicker of his usual acerbicness. "And what exactly are you doing?"

All distractions. All smoke in the wind. All noise, to keep Bart talking, to keep him from preventing Raven from hearing Wanda's winding voice…

And Raven listens.

And Raven asks, What do you mean?

Pietro rises. An afterimage of scarlet hazes the air about him for half a moment. "Do more," he answers, "than live afraid. Than live feeling everyone's pain — powerless. You want to help, and you can."

He draws a few steps nearer. His presence vessels his Twin's wandering, whispering voice.

"You don't have to hurt anyone at all. Just listen."


Just listen, he says.

just listen, it echoes.
listen
lisTEN

Demon.

«Transcendence,» clarifies the voice on a distant, wind-sigh whisper.

Father.

«Home,» it explains, with tender wistfulness. All fathers will do anything for their daughters, and will guide them true…

Afraid.

«One last time, then never again.»

Scarlet pulls at her — not violently, not forcefully — but with the fond patience of someone who is near, someone who understands. Like a teammate's hand on her arm, clasping down, encouraging her to follow. Like a little cat's body, winding loyally through her ankles, promising her protection. Like a field of a thousand firefly lights of flickering red, which want to guide Raven's thoughts down and down and down —

— to that dark, amorphous place where the world seams with dreaming. The subconscious. The dark unknown that waits at the wings of every mind, promising within one long look an answer to every question.

«You do not want much. We are alike that way. I never wanted much either. No money, no treasures, no attention… just the nightmares to go away. Just the fear to leave. Just peace, and an answer to one question…»

The scarlet fireflies flicker again.

«Who am I?»

And they dim down to darkness.

«Who are you? Not this, no, no, not this shadow, alone and afraid. So much more… complete. Whole.»

Nothingness pervades every corner where this Voice has guided Raven, a place beyond where light can reach — a place made for a creature of darkness.

«They can't help you, Raven. Only you can. Only you know the answer to the question. Who are you?»

A hand offers itself, palm up. A woman's hand, her nailed painted red. A deman's hand, with hooking claws that feel like some aching memory. It flickers with scarlet. It wants to be taken.

«No more fear.»


jJust lListen N

Violet eyes stare into Pietro's, past his icy gaze and into the depths where the crimson haze retreats. He says a decision made under duress is not a decision. Says their choices were limited.

(it wasn't like that at all we all chose to go)

Something distracts Raven. Continues to draw her in.

She's listening.

you don't have to hurt anyone at all

The words that came to mind are given new meaning and a different perspective, each one explained with a simple phrase that meets satisfaction. Contentment of a kind.

(my father do i care about my father?)

She trails after the anonymous being (a friend), letting her lead; mindful of the cat that weaves around her legs, soft and secure and always there for her; she's suddenly running after the burst of fireflies as they go further

Deeper

«We are.» Confidence. Then hesitation. «Are we?»

Her hands, both within the darkness and in the light, slowly rise away from her body, extending out to touch the lights that dance before her eyes.

Who are you?

She reaches, pausing, slender fingers gradually touching the demonic hand—

And it burns.

Memories flare, bubbling, roiling at the surface like scalding water. Memories of her past and the peace it granted her, if only for a short while. Memories of her father (i hate my father i shouldn't hate my father why do i hate him), how terrible and how powerful he is, how no one should cross him (can I ever be that strong?). Recent memories of the demons that terrified New York and how they came close to overtaking everything within the span of a month.

How they reached out to her.

How her friends reached out to her. And how she reached for them even though she didn't need to.

« « "Ti eb os, doog tsehgih eht rof. Raey wen eht emoclew dna rof eraperp i, smaerd eseht htiw. Tsap eht esnaelc i, htaerb nwo ym htiw. Evah i taht lla rof sknaht ym evig i, Etaceh Rehtom." » »

She's never heard this before, but she knows there aren't many people who use incantations like this. And within the torrent of memories dragging her down, there is a white light.

«Zatanna…?»

From the outside, Raven feels the light thump against her shoulder.

«Bart.»

Grounding. An anchor against an anchor.

She remembers where she is. Her breath trembles, then regains some composure.

"…No more fear."

Within her mind, she pulls her hand back. Her real hand snaps back simultaneously, taking a few unbalanced steps back to steady herself.


How feasible would it be to run off and track Wanda down in that instant? It's one of many thoughts that whirl through his mind, ideas and images passing like frames per second, except each frame is already portraying motion on its own. Is there a trail of red to follow? If he shakes Quicksilver will she fall out?

His foot starts to tap a bit, anxiety finally surfacing in more than just restless fingers. In the course of this conversation, the questioning, he could have run off and circled the globe, but that wouldn't guarantee Quicksilver to follow, and Impulse does not want to leave Raven alone with him or the Scarlet Witch. Allowing himself to think a little further he realizes he's not quite sure what he'd do if he did find her.

"They made your only choices retreat, or persecution." He takes the bait, mouth opening to retort, finding nothing loaded up to offer. Because it's…kinda true. Not that he's going to admit that to this guy.

"We're looking into the Sentinels," he says, finding no reason not to be honest in that reply. "How to take them down for good." He meets Quickilver's look evenly. "Open to suggestions if you've got any for that end."

Again he tenses, on the defensive when the other speedster finally does move from his seat. Unable to shake the feeling that there's something else amiss. He doesn't move from where he is beside Raven despite this, despite wanting to, to do something, to figure out what's going on what's going on what's going on??

"Not afraid," he says, unsure if he's being addressed or Raven or both but he feels he should say something, and what's more, it's true. Upset, yes. Frustrated, sure. Never afraid, and it's not just the naivety of a boy raised in a virtual world where you could restart things with just a thought if you screwed up. They aren't alone in what they want to do, and that makes all the difference.

Bart feels Raven's body shift beside him, and immediately after the moment she steps back, he's turned to face her, reaching out, grasping her hand, perhaps ironically the one she'd jerked back. The familiar sunshine of a smile breaks through, a warmth of reassurance, a reminder that he's still here.


Bart starts to retort, but the words — simply do not come out. What retort can be made against a truth? For the first time, Pietro smiles faintly: a very rare sight. It makes him look less like his father.

He doesn't press that topic further. The seed of an idea is often enough. Instead, he considers Bart's remark on the Sentinels, how they're looking into ways to take those down for good. How he's open to suggestions on that end…

"Show them no mercy," replies the son of Magneto. "They will show you none."

His head lifts after, his eyes briefly unfocusing. A flicker of red comes and goes in them, in eerie tandem with Raven abruptly stumbling back. A long moment passes, as he communes quietly with something unseen.

Then he steps back, himself. "That is my advice to you," he says, before portaling scarlet light folds him up into nothingness.

Their work here is done.

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