Rise of the New Warriors, Part 2

Summary:
August 1, 2014: Garth meets with Raven regarding the burgeoning Warriors.

Garth's Apartment

Garth's loft apartment in New York City.


Characters

NPCs


Mood Music:


It was a bright and shiny day, the kind of day that Raven probably hated. The birds were chirping, there were only a scant few clouds in the sky, and life was good. There was life. In the city, there were squirrels in the trees, a dog without it's leash, and people, millions of people.

One of them was Garth, who sat on a his balcony. He had invited Rachel because he wanted to talk to her about something. She'd told him she might be able to make it, but didn't make any promises. Knowing her, and how hard she was to please, he'd gone all out, having a variety of lunches for her to choose from. She probably wouldn’t even touch them.

He glances at the door through the glass. He'd left it ajar for her, with a note to please come in. He didn't get many visitors, and he was home, so he wasn’t too worried about someone else entering his apartment. Nothing to do but wait.

*

Raven did not hate days like this, she just didn't really feel any particular way about it. Something about the sunshine made people think that she ''should'' be bright and sunny herself and she always disappointed because that just isn't in her to be. Not to mention the people, millions of people, who always looked at her as she walked through the park with her head dipped down.

Wearing a black hoodie with the hood pulled up over her head and the sleeves cut off to reveal her arms, each ending a fingerless black glove. Her eyes remain pointed down, while she can still ''feel'' all the eyes on her and feel the way they felt around her.

No, it isn't that Raven hates days like this, she just doesn't like how powerful everyone else feels about them.

When she's finally at Garth's apartment it's a breath of fresh air, climbing the stairs to his apartment where the door is already opened for her. Still she knocks as she pushes into the apartment, peeking around the opened door with purple eyes outlined in black liner.

"Hello?"

*

Garth moves from his place on the balcony, entering the apartment to greet Raven, "Oh, hello Raven, welcome, please, come in.” She looks just as he remembers her, if a few years older. Her skin is still as milky white. He wonders, has she spent even one day in the sun in all this time?

“I hope you didn’t have any trouble finding the place? How’ve you been? Oh, where are my manners, please, sit down, would you like something to eat? I forgot what you liked, so I kind of went a little overboard.” Indeed he did, if the various dishes prepared on the kitchen countertops are any indication. All that food, and so much of it likely to go to waste.

*

Raven waits for an invitation before she comes in further than the doorstep and pulls her hood back once Garth comes around the corner from where he was standing on the balcony. Her hair spills out like a river of onyx onto her shoulders and offers a polite nod. "Thank you for the invitation, Garth." Her voice is still quiet, still somewhere between distant and familiar.

She follows him through to the kitchen where the foods are laid out for display and inspection. "I have been." She says with all the air of someone who has nothing further to say on the subject of her current and past happenings. "It was not difficult to find, no."

She picks at the various vegetables, putting several on her plate and looks up to her friend. The red jewel sitting dull against the light in the middle of her forehead as she quietly bites into a small carrot.

*

Garth fills up his own plate. He’s an omnivore, so he takes a little of everything. His cooking seems to be fairly healthy though, and tasty. It probably has something to do with Atlantean taste buds. They seem to be sharper than those of humans, which makes them better cooks. At least that's his view on the subject.

"Well, do you remember how we used to adventure with the other sidekicks,” she may not have been a sidekick, but she was part of the unnamed group that was formed from the sidekicks of the Justice League, with a few others like Raven thrown in to augment the group.

He takes his food over towards the dining table, setting it down. Then he’ll move to one of the other chairs, and pull it out for her. He’s quite formal at times. But will she pick up on it?

*

Raven is quiet, following Garth over to the table with her plate held close to her chest with one arm so that she can graze the vegetables laid out on it. She could be mistaken for being shy or introverted. Her eyes, however, do not cast downward or look away. She's instead inspecting her Atlantian friend's apartment as he speaks about days past.

"Yes, I remember." And while she does not say anything about it, Raven does take the offered seat when it is pulled out for her. Plate now laying infront of her she brushes pieces of steamed food around with her fork.

*

Garth's apartment is similar to other New York apartments. It began as a loft, though he's added some walls, there is an intricate lighting, casting some interesting shadows on the ceilings. There is the kitchen, open concept, with an island, a living room, a den, two bedrooms, and a bathroom. The only one that seems a little unusual is the master bedroom, which seems to have a sophisticated humidifier built in. There are some tubes going up and towards the outside of the building.

In order for Garth to sleep like a human, he has to be in a very humid environment. It is possible, but it's difficult and fraught with peril. The things he has to go through to live among his friends. His apartment has something of an art deco feel. If not for the television and the humidifier, it could easily be mistaken for an apartment from the 20’s.

He’ll push the seat in once she sits down, and head over to his own chair, where he can dig in. “Well, we're working on reforming the old team. Nightwing opted out, but Flash, myself, Arsenal, and a few others are already in, and I was hoping you might be interested in joining us. We’re calling it the New Warriors.”

*

The difficulties they go through to be close to people is something that Raven can understand very well. It is an exercise in self control that keeps her this close and still she may as well seem aloof from those she would call friend. She's been out of touch since the original team broke up. Not really keeping in touch, not calling or coming by, and even now not telling where she's been and more importantly, how she's actually doing.

That's Raven.

Understanding of the difficult nature of being here on Earth around people that don't make much sense empathically or physiologically.

"Why would you want me to join?" She asks with a piece of carrot held between her black painted nails, purple eyes focused on Tempest.

*

"Because you're part of the team," Garth answers back seamlessly. "I know, we haven't kept in touch as much as we'd like, I'd like, but you're one of us. You're like family. We all grew up together." Yeah, she might not see it that way, but he feels a kinship with her and the others.

"And even if we didn't want you with us, which we do, you would bring something that we lack. You have powers that the rest of us don't have." Okay, it’s a slight lie. Garth himself could probably fill in for her, but she does have her own experiences, skills, and abilities. She's got a role to play. And not just team goth.

"You're our friend. You belong with us. Unless, you're not interested, in which case it's totally fine. But if you ever change your mind, we'll always have a place for you in the New Warriors."

*

Raven's expression stays almost exactly the same. It's not that she's stone faced or that there's no movement, obviously small wrinkles appear on her brow as she thinks this or that over, or her eyes look over to the open window and back to Tempest.

The carrot crunches between her teeth, the remaining half drops down onto the plate. "Okay." Just that easy.

"It may seem difficult to believe." She says after brief pause, pale hands folded on top of the tables surface, "But I have missed those days. I think of them as a fond time for me. As fond as any time can be…" With her, it's complicated. "You are my friends. I do not have very many of those. I would like to be in a team with the ones I have, again."

*

Garth always liked her. She was something of an outsider, like him. Back in the day, as Aqualad, he lacked confidence. He was nervous. He felt inadequate. He only had a marginal mastery of his powers. But now, he's grown into a man, he’s come to know what he can do, to harness his power, and conquered his inner demons.

When she agrees, he beams, “Oh, that’s great. And, on behalf of the Warriors,” he says this with no real authority to speak on behalf of the team at this point, “I’d like to welcome you.” He just knows that the others will rubber stamp her membership, not that they have any kind of formula induction at this point.

“And I believe you. They were great. But, I think we make even better memories tomorrow. We’ve all grown so much, we’re better than we were in those days, and together, I’m certain we’ll be a force to be reckoned with. But more than that, we’re a family.”

*

Raven is not terribly different from who she was then, just older. If anything she's gotten more reclusive, more reserved, and holds her hand closer to her chest for fear that fate is just waiting for her to make a mistake now. She will never let that happen, she cannot let that happen.

Inside she knows that this is probably a bad idea. Not because she does not want to join or that she is afraid that she will be unable to help the team; a side effect of her emotional control is that she looks at things with a very rational mind. Conversely, she knows that friends will try to understand her, try to get close to her.

Her makeup is very dark, adding to the gothic impression. Her black lips press into a thin line that is as close to a smile as she ever gets, but she says nothing.

*

"So Raven," Garth begins after a brief pause. "What have you been up to? I'm sure you have stories to tell. It's been years. You can't have just stayed in your room, mediating the whole time?" Yes, he does want to get to know her, to understand her. She's a recluse. Once, he was too. But he's come out of his shell and he thinks so can she.

It's just a matter of finding the right key. What would it take to unlock her personality, to get a spark, a rise out of her. He may never know, but it won’t be for lack of trying.

*

Case in point.

Raven's lips press together a little harder, "No, not just sitting in my room." Said quietly since all she is doing is stating the very obvious. Though it really wouldn't be that far of a stretch for her to see herself thinking that would be a good idea. She does spend a great deal of time in her apartment, surrounded by implements meant to increase her calm while meditating.

"I was in Tibet for a few years. Then Japan. I went climbing and deep sea diving." Her fingers fidget a little, hands ending up pressed together at the fingertips. "Normal people things."

*

Garth is impressed. That's more than he expected to get from her. “Tibet and Japan? What was that like? And please, tell me about the climbing and deep sea diving? Do you think you could teach me? To climb I Mean. I don’t think I need any help with the deep sea diving,” he chuckles to himself, and feels a sense of warm spread throughout his body.

Raven, our Raven doing normal people things. He never expected it, but it’s great to hear.

*

Raven looks down at her plate, inspecting the way the pieces of steamed vegetables lay together there in front of her. She looks like she expects it to tell her something, some answer that she cannot otherwise find anywhere but right there on the table. "You have a lot of questions." She says, looking back up at Garth. It seems more the natural statement rather than accusatory or dismissive.

It's just Raven.

"Japan is very ordered. Everything has a place, everything is where it is suppose to be. I like that. Everyone keeps to themselves, nobody asks any questions…" Lips press together, clearly she knows how that must have sounded, but she offers only a weak flex of her mouth that vaguely resembles an apologetic smile. "Normal."

It serves to reason that normal for Raven wouldn't be ''normal'' in the classical sense. Of course she would take small bits of delight from the idea of being solitary. "Tibet is breath taking. It was like home." And climbing, "There is something profound about seeing the world from its highest point. Knowing that if you go any further you will have gotten as far away from everything below you as you can possibly get without leaving the planet. It's very difficult to explain."

"We can go climbing." She says, quickly adding, "One day."

*

Elbows on the table, Garth listens to her explain to him of the places she's been, the sights she’s seen, and the things she’s done. He's been to Japan, but only briefly. But Tibet, he's never been anywhere like that. “It’s so high up in Tibet, and the air, it’s so thin…”

To him, it would be like another world. He was born at the very bottom of this planet, and should he visit Tibet, he would ascend to heights undreamed of in Atlantean philosophy. Mount Everest has long been a strange dream for him, 8,848 metres above sea level.

"I wonder, would I be able to survive Tibet… it’s so dry up there.” Oh, a fish that dreamed of climbing mountains. What a quaint idea.

*

It's clear Raven is listening, but it wouldn't be a surprise for someone to think she was doing so only politely. It would be in error to think that, but the image is what it is. Further, she knows all too well the desire to do what others might call quaint. To enjoy something without tempering her feelings, to smile and really understand the meaning behind the well of emotions that come with it.

Not just use it as a response to what she thinks people expect. Like now, when she smiles. The expression is there, it is not terribly different from other people's smiles, save that hers is plastic. It just sits on her face like someone hug the expression on a Christmas tree without any real meaning behind it.

Then it's gone and she probably looks more natural without it. She certainly feels more natural without it. "I should go." She says rather abruptly, standing up from her seat. No doubt feeling a little awkward, maybe even making things awkward for the both of them.

*

Raven smiled. This is a good day. Even a forced smile from her is reason to celebrate. She does it so rarely. Try as he may, Garth has trouble remembering the last time he saw her smile. But without it, she looks like the Raven he's come to know and love.

That’s his friend. The smile just seemed weird, un-Raven-like to him. "All right,” and he stands up as well, to see her out. “I’ll let the others know, and I’ll keep you informed. I’m not sure when the next meeting is, but I’ll be sure to make sure you know about it just as soon as I do.”

*

Raven reaches up to pull her hood back into place over her dark hair and turns towards the door with a nod, "Okay. I have a cell phone now." She says this like it's the oddest of things and pulls out some high technology Smartphone from the pocket of her hoodie. "Would you like the number?" Holding it out to him, "I think the number is on it somewhere. I just use it to play chess."

She'll never understand why people assume she's goth. Even as she stands there wearing a black hoodie in the middle of summer over a black v-neck shirt, black calve high capree stretchy pants and boots. "Do you have one?" Nodding to the cellphone. Doesn't everyone?

*

Garth accepts the Smartphone, using it to send himself a text message, so that he’ll have the number, and programming his own number into the phone. He even takes a quick selfie with it, so that when he does call, she’ll know visually that it’s him. He also programs a few other numbers in, the ones he can recite from memory, and hands it back to her.

"All right, I’ve added myself and a couple of our friends to your contacts list. And yeah, I have a mobile now. You should have seen Dick’s face when I mentioned that.” Everyone seems to think that he wouldn’t be able to get a waterproof case. Sure, he can’t take it to Atlantis, but his case is water resistant to a depth of 15 metres, which isn’t perfect, but it’s enough for most of what he does.

*

Raven takes the phone back, always watching it while Tempest is manipulating the keypad programming in numbers. Both hands close around it and slip it back into her pocket like a treasure. Truth is, she doesn't really care for the thing, but she has so very few possessions and everyone seems to take their phone very seriously. Maybe she's trying to emulate them. Find some small piece of normalcy out of objects.

It comes off as weird.

"I'm sure he was beside himself." Flatly, nodding her understanding of the young boy she remembers Dick to be. Not the man she's periodically seen on the cover of tabloids or television programs. "Why did he decline?"

*

Taking it as a failure, Garth frowns, “Oh, he… he's become a cop, he's becoming one. He has a lot of responsibilities, he just didn't think he had the time. But he will always be a Titan, we’ll have a place for him, should he ever decide to take it.”

Of course, on the topic of responsibilities, Garth has become a High Councillor of Atlantis. He’s a sorcerer now. But still, he found the time. It’s probably easier for him. He has no alias, no true day in, day out job. His is more of a title, and with his connection to King Orin, well, he doesn’t have to do anything more than he can handle.

*

"Oh." Raven says with a little nod of, if not understanding, at the very least acceptance. "In Gotham? Aren't they all corrupt? I remember them being all corrupt." Beneath her hood she looks a lot darker. The shadow casts across her face, but the jewel in her forehead still glimmers faintly. The same sparkle that it would have even in direct sunlight, "He isn't corrupt is he?"

She always liked Dick. Probably not for the same reasons other girls did, but because he could find the bright side of anything. Even when there seemed to be no hope, like all was lost, she would face it with the acceptance of someone who was more or less incapable of being afraid of the end and he would smile at it despite what he feared. She finds herself really hoping he isn't corrupt.

*

"No, they’re not all corrupt, but yeah, a lot of them are. And I don't think Dick is corrupt either. He's just got a lot on his plate. He’ll come around, eventually. I think he’s just waiting until he makes lieutenant,” and the way Garth says it might sound funny to Raven. He was taught to say it more like ‘leftenant’. Those quirky Atlanteans.

“We should do this again sometime, I mean separately from the team. Have lunch or whatever.” Maybe he can be a good influence on her, the Atlantean helping Raven to find her humanity?

*

"I hope he isn't." Raven agrees with a nod, crossing her arms across her chest as she says this. It's a protective gesture to some, holding their arms close like that, for her it is just… natural. Somehow. Even if the results are the same. Things are different with her.

"Everyone needs to eat." She again agrees with another small nod. "I no longer eat meat." For some reason she finds this point important enough to stress, looking up as if she's very proud of the fact. "Good bye, Garth."

*

"He isn’t, and I’ll remember that for next time.” No meat for her. He’s not sure if he’ll go vegetarian during any future meals, but he’ll make sure that he’ll only prepare vegetables for her, at least until he finds out her view of fish, eggs, there are so many variantions these days, vegan, vegetarian, Vulcan, okay, the last one’s something completely different, but there are a lot of different types of diets. “Good bye, Raven. See you soon.”

*

Raven pauses in the doorway a second, then turns and walks down the hallway outside his apartment without further adieu. Her hands slip into the pockets of her hoodie as she walks back out into the summer sun with eyes squinting beneath the shadow of her hood. How do people function in this kind of light? 'They get use to it.' She says to herself, rationalising every persons perspective as she walks through the throng of millions that make up New York. Their feelings trying to tap at her mind, asking her to let them seep into her and become part of her, but she's learned to block those desires. The desire to feel, even if it's someone else’s feelings.


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