Into The Woods

September 14, 2014: Garfield, Kate and Keith look at potential land for the Titans' new headquarters.

The Woods



  • None

Mood Music:
Theme from "Mahogany"

New York has a plenitude of interestingly named towns. Bronxville. Yonkers. Kerhonkson. Gar was looking for places that would meet the Titans' needs, which were remarkably specific. First, existing building. Preferably something that could be expanded if needed, but it had to be able to house three or four permanent residents. Second, in the woods. Actual woods, not thirty acres of green in the middle of a web of streets. Third, it had to be possible to get between it and NYC fairly quickly by traditional travel means, because magic might not always be available. Although, technically, that latter part's the most flexible.

He's found one possible. Near Slide Mountain. It's an older building on top of a hill in the middle of nowhere. The land itself is for sale, the buildings may or may not be safe… they exist, and that's the most anyone at the realtor website was able to say.

"So this place… where did you say we are?" Keith looks around, zipping up his leather jacket. He had just come back from his first international trip. He got to see Greenland. Well, he got to see an underground base and subsequently helped to blow it up. But he did buy lots of chocolates for his team-mates before being sent back. A quick call to Gar for a pick-up, and the green Titan let him know that there was a potential terrain available. Would he like to see it?

"It's certainly very … woodsy."

"All the warehouses in the city, but you want woods." Kate drove her own car, because apparently even riding with the others would be more commitment than she's comfortable with. But she drives with a bluetooth received in her ear, chatting with the others. "You realize there are bugs out here, right? And the closest store with anything you'll need on a regular basis is Wal-Mart?"

It seems to be a particular tradition: buy chocolates wherever you go. Gar isn't sure whether he wants to trust chocolates purchased at a Hydra base, but they don't smell poisoned. It's kind of necessary for Kate to ride in her own car, because Gar drives that tiny little Smrt Cr, and it's so involuntarily intimate that Gar and any passenger have to be very good friends. Still.

"Yeah, that's the point of 'in the woods'… It's supposed to be out of the common path," Gar says unnecessarily. He turns off onto a small narrow road that quickly proves to be more dirt than gravel. The tiny car whimpers in fear but manages to make the climb, and there's the Genteel Wreck of a two story log house … there's enough trees around that it might almost be smarter to build ewok housing, to be honest, because that log house has a sort of inbred slouchy stance.

Keith is fine with the forced intimacy of the car, considering the driver. "The area is lovely," he comments, looking around. "But. That building will have to go down, it's already looking like it wants to say 'screw it' and have a nap on the floor. But the area is serviceable…"

Keith smirks at Kate's objections. "Katiebug, you should totally come out here and rough it for a bit. There's nothing wrong with a Wal-Mart, it's the only reason I haven't starved, with the paychecks I got." He gives Gar a wink.

"No way that place isn't haunted." Kate leans forward to get a glimpse out her front window as she pulls in behind the others, her mustang growling its way up the incline without any trouble. "I know you've got magic covered, but does someone on your team do exorcisms? And can they check for ancient Indian burial grounds?"

"Yeah," Gar says, "That looked a LOT less like a hungry trap waiting for adventurers on the webpage. This place was an orchard I guess, but the trees all got old."

He turns into an 'old yeller' style tick-hound, and Ol' Greener starts sniffing around the area. No sign of other humans. Smells a bit like a badger … but it also smells a bit sour. He whiffs around and finds a well-house, and sniffs at it. DRY. The well equipment has rusted.

"Well," he says, "It did say that the land wasn't improved."

As Keith climbs out of the car, he shakes his head, "If it's haunted, we'll just let Raven have a go at it. She knows about that sort of stuff…" He walks over to the well-house, leaning to look down at the well. "It's nothing a bit of hard work can't fix. We could even build a more modern building in place of The Bates Cottage over there. We've got a Wonder Girl in the team, carrying stuff shouldn't be too hard." He dusts off his hands, red with rust from the pulley after touching it. "… I hate to be optimistic, but I sort of like the idea of being out here."

Walking over to the cabin, he puts his hands in his pockets. "We could go in and, y'know, check it out. But if we do end up taking this area, I don't think there's bound to be anything salvageable in there. We'll have to make our own stuff."

"You should do one of those cool places they make out of a bunch of shipping containers," Kate suggests. "Budget-friendly, super cool, and you'd all get to keep some privacy. Set them up like cabins." She turns off the phone as she steps out of the car, smirking faintly when Gar goes canine. "I mean, if your goal is to get away from things, it's not a bad area, I guess? Do you have non-Flash plans for getting to emergencies quickly?"

"Magic!" Gar barks out. "I don't want to bug Danny too much, he's around for emergencies, but we were thinking of a magic doorknob or a portkey or something like that."

Because those are totally things, right? Well. They're on the movies. Have to be at least as real as "three to beam up."

"Scooby is right, and there's of course the fast vehicular route. Raven can teleport, the Zataras can portal, as can Wiccan. Gar can fly and so can Wondy. Bunker can fly on those minecraft platforms of his… and Oracle is always hidden away somewhere and Flash can get anywhere he wants to. I'm the only member without any exceptional means of transportation, so…" he pauses and shrugs, "I guess I'll start saving money to get myself a Catcycle?"

"See? This is why I can't join your team," Kate says with cheerful abandon, hiking up toward the cabin to get a better look. "Is this place on the grid? Do you get water and electric up here, or are you going to need to set yourselves up with some solar panels or a generator or something? Oh, man. A bunker. You totally need a bunker." Kate is also probably not encouraged to provide opinions on SHIELD facilities, either.

Gar wags his tail and says, "Or learn to dig a deeper Rabbit Hole."

He turns into a copy of the Easter Rabbit from "Rise of the Guardians" — a kangaroo-sized rabbit with much less fluffy-and-cute and wearing a vest with boomerangs on it. He drums the ground twice with his left foot and a hole through the magical realm of easter-eggs completely fails to materialize. Too bad, really. He leans against Vorpal, and says, "Huh. I was right. You're secretly Eva Gabor."

Because of Green Acres. … No, it was totally a TV show, Gar watched it on one of the cable networks.

Keith grew up with reruns as well, his mom was big into those shows. He always had identity whiplash, though, when in the mornings he would watch Garfield and Friends…

No, the OTHER Garfield…

And then in the afternoon there'd be a rerun of Rhoda, and suddenly Rhoda's doorman was Garfield. Man, John must have been one heck of a taskmaster. He puts an arm around the Garbunny's shoulders, "I don't know, I think she already owns Park Avenue." You can't forget those lyrics, can you? "No, Katie, see- this is why we need you on the team: To tell us everything we should be doing. And we already have a Bunker, remember?"

"I'm sorry, who here knows how to hunt?" Kate smirks back at the pair, shaking her head as she lowers her sunglasses over her eyes. "You guys are doing fine. Though the whole thing with Alex…" She pauses at that, making the sort of face that suggests she hadn't intended to talk about that. "You guys realize he didn't exactly have full control of that, right?"

Gar raises a paw. "Yo. I can hunt. Just not with bows and arrows." Well, it's true.

The Green Bunny-Roo shakes his head at Kate, "No, he had control of whether he went there in the first place. Once he was there, he was pretty much in a trap, and it sucked and he did what he thought he had to in order to survive, but he didn't tell any of us in time so we could do something while there was still time to do it. Thing is, he should've known it was a trap in the first place."

"And he was part of a team. We only found out because of you, Kate. It's not cool to do that sort of thing- no-one in this team works alone. We stand together and we fall together. One of us goes around making backroom deals with the people who want to kill us, and it's all over." Keith shakes his head. "But that is also only compounded with the fact that he won't listen and that he won't let anyone else hold him accountable. He's a god, and he likes to remind everybody that he is one and therefore not the equal of any of us." The young man shrugs and ruffles the bunny, walking over to the door to test it. "… a team can't deal with someone with that attitude. The whole point is that we're here to watch out for each other. Maybe he can get together with other Olympians somewhere else and then they can bump chests… but that's not how the Titans roll." He pushes at the door, half expecting a Banshee to come out and eat him.

"He knew it was a trap. That's why he didn't ask you guys to come," Kate points out with a grimace. "He was trying to protect you. And to make sure he got everything he could out of it," she points out, reaching out to nudge Vorpal in the shoulder. "You haven't exactly seemed like you'd show up for a sit-down with the crazy lady. And, look, I'm not going to say you guys are a perfect fit. Maybe it's just not the team for him. But it's a little hypocritical to kick someone off the team for not standing with the team, you know?"

"He resigned from the team - we didn't vote him out - because he broke the one rule we do have. He killed not just one but fifty-six people," Gar says. "I know because I filled out the paperwork. I know what he was trying to do, going to Waller. I've considered doing the same thing myself."

He reverts to human in order to look inside the house through the open door. The inside is dark, dusty, but there's not the usual heap of dead mattresses and garbage.

"Well… that's the thing. We can protect ourselves, Kate." Vorpal says. "I just went to Greenland and fought a room full of hellspawn. I think I could have managed a sit-down with a political zealot if the safety of the people I love is in jeopardy. While I can be angry, I am not unreasonable, and I would never put someone's life at risk if I can help it."

He looks at his friend and says to her "Look, I need to draw up a parallel" he shoots Gar an apologetic glance, and then back to Kate, "when this thing was going down, I seriously considered not pursuing someone I care deeply for. On the reasoning that Waller could then use me to get to them… Bunker disabused me of that idea very quickly by pointing out that we could end up protecting each other, and that I was essentially assuming the other person had no agency and no capability. And Bunker was right, I was wrong…"

When Gar mentions that idea, though, Keith grows very, very quiet, and the scent of fear comes from him, to those senses that can perceive it.

"You w-what?"

"I know he can be kind of an ass. But he needs people around him to remind him that this isn't Olympus. That…" Kate trails off, sighing. "Sorry. Your team, your business. All I'm saying is, remember that there are a whole lot of people in this world who need help, and not all of them are going to be helpless victims." She peers around the space as she follows the others inside, turning a sidelong glance at the talk of surrender.

Gar nods to Kate, remembering his own terribly successful (not) attempt to help someone who was especially in need of someone to remind her that she didn't have to be evil. The scars faded eventually, with medical treatment. Would he do it again? Yes. No. Maybe.

But he did say something really jarring earlier. He looks evenly at Keith. "I have seriously considered going to Waller and asking her to lay off of the Titans, although I'm pretty sure at this point that it's not really her who did that, and that by talking to Roy, we let her know something was up. Those weren't her people who were killed. They weren't any known group. There's a third party involved. But for courtesy I may still need to apologize to her. That might involve doing a limited service for her. And out of the guys currently in the Titans, I'm probably the only one who could handle doing that stuff."

Not to change the subject away from 'why have you not mentioned this to your teammates' but now would be a really good time for a flashback to the horrible times when Gar was in the hands of Mme R. or when he was forced to steal by the guys who kidnapped him from Africa. At least he didn't have the problems his Red twin did. The vague memories of what they'd talked about were nightmare fodder in tron-line suits.

Keith blanches at the mention of a 'limited service'. This means that he turns from his lightly-pink complexion to a pallor that would make Raven with weep with envy. If she wept. Really, the boy's such a ginger that it's a miracle he doesn't burst into flames when out in the sun.

"Gar… no. That woman would…" He stops and takes a breath. "You, in her hands?"

He trails off and crosses his arms. The notion is obviously extremely upsetting to him.

Kate is so, so, so not getting into this one. Nope. She's going to just be over here, looking at the house. "I think this trim work might be original," she muses.

Gar nods. "Better me than you or the Zataras or god forbid Wiccan," he says. "Keith, the person who blew up our tower was probably NOT her, but a clever fake. Do you know what she'd ask? Do you have any idea what kinds of things her group does?"

This is in fact a trick question. Gar has a pretty good idea. Nearly anything she asks is not going to be that difficult, just tedious, moderately dangerous, and somewhat time consuming. And politically expedient, because even if it's dark grey ops, it always has that. So, he might have to destabilize a government or something. Except they don't send in supers for that. So, track down an enemy lab or a dangerous person or whatever. The only thing Gar was going to ask was, "don't try to make me kill."

"Fenris gave me a good idea of the kind of thing she would do, Gar." His lips turn into a grim line and he walks up to Logan. "I can't make demands, and it's unreasonable for me to do so. But if you're going… let me come with you, please." His voice softens, as does his expression. "I would rather be there than be here and wondering what will become of you. I can't demand that you grant me that but," he exhales, and then looks up at him. "Please, let me go. We work together, I won't be a liability. You have seen what I can do and what I'm capable of. I want to be by your side, and I'd rather not let the man I…"

Remembering Kate is here providing architectural evaluations, apparently, he cuts off quickly because he doesn't know how much Gar is comfortable about revealing the confusing, complicated state between them. Even though at this point it would take someone in a coma not to notice, really. He sidelong mply repeats his plea. "Please?"

Because it encapsulated everything, and because they needed to check out the house instead of keeping Kate out there, doing the Martha Stewart.

"Don't trade favors with shadowy government figures unless you've got leverage," Kate advises. Because that much, she can talk about. "Seriously. Otherwise you're just digging yourself in deeper and giving them leverage to keep you further under their thumb. Besides, what in the hell do you owe her if she wasn't the one who blew up your tower? What do you owe her if she was? Neither of these is a situation where she's been wronged and is owed restitution."

"That's what I was thinking … but we put a video of someone who was allegedly her on social media doing something monstrously illegal. I don't know if she's upset about that."

Gar looks at Keith, and pulls him into a one-armed hug alongside himself.

"That's incredibly brave, but I don't know if you know what you're asking. It's not that different from what we do anyway - do you think I like worrying about you in Gotham? Or Greenland fighting Hydra, for that matter?"

Still… Kate has a really good point about leverage.

"I know what I'm asking, Gar," Keith frowns, putting his arms around Gar. "If you're going to walk through hell, the guy who loves you is going to be with you. Unless I've been an idiot, when I go to those places, I at least have backup." To heck with discretion. It's not like Kate really cared about that sort of stuff. She was classy. "But she does make good points. Look, if the video is a problem, then we'll simply release another video saying that the person featured was an impostor who was attempting to frame her. Suddenly? We're not her enemies, we're a resource that rooted out an attempt to make her look like shit. Suddenly, we're not on the 'take down' list, but the impostor is."

He squeezes Gar a little, "When I fight Hydra, Gar, I'm not offering myself as a sacrificial lamb. You're worth a thousand Wallers. Especially to me. Just… think about what Kate is saying, okay? And if you still wish to go on this fool's errand… then at least bring a real fool with you. And it just so happens that my dance card is empty. Because I meant what I said to you: I'm not here just for the good times." He lets Gar go and aims a kick at the door to open it.

"Oh, hey, I think that's mahogany…" And Kate's off to explore the depths of the cabin and give the boys a minute alone.

What? Mahogany? That's … ok, it's entirely possible. Because it's clearly an excuse for her to let him alone with Keith.

"OK, guy who loves me. I promise I won't ever go on a fool's errand without either inviting you or telling you why I'm not inviting you. Because some fool's errands are rated for solitary idiocy."

He thinks about that and decides it's probably a stupid thing to say anyway. So change the subject.

"So you never did tell me what you ran into on your little excursion to chocolate-landia."

Keith considers this as he walks into the house. He also tries not to die of a sneezing fit. The dust. Dear gods, the dust. "Fine…" he turns around to look at Gar. Not angry, but still agitated. "… don't lose your soul while you're at it, please." He adds quietly, daring now to show himself a little more vulnerable than he did in front of Kate. "I can survive a lot of things. But the thought that she might… twist you is something I don't think I could bear." He turns his back on him to get a good wipe across his eyes, and a good deap breath.

Which leads him into a sneezing chain of about twelve sneezes. "Demons. Hydra is somehow summoning demons. We went in to shut down the reactors while the other two teams basically distracted the main forces with frontal attacks."

"Sky-goddess guard you and drive out the nose demons," Gar says in an African tongue - it's basically the anti-sneeze ritual he was taught by the people he stayed with after his family died. It's a remarkably common cultural trope.

"Wait, I thought you were going along to help with some kind of a virus bomb," Gar says. "How did demons end up being involved in that?"

He frowns at the idea of demons messing up his Vorpal Cat, getting demony evil all over his sparkling chaotic soul, and doesn't like it one bit.

"Nobody knows. It was a surprise to all of us… Paul Manning, I think his name is, somehow could sense it. Big ol' bull demon, turned the other scientists into demons, too." He turns around, wiping away the tears and then noticing Gar's look. "What's the matter?" He walks up to him, leaving footprints in the dust.

"I've been twisted up once or twice by things that were crazy evil," Gar says, thinking of Trigon that one time that he threatened everyone via Raven, and of the side effects of his dad's psionic-booster helmet.

"I was just realizing that I don't want you to end up getting all messed up and grim-dark-creepy by contamination from those kinds of things, because I don't know what you'll use to fight it. I fought it with the help of friends, and the memory of that help."

Hey, that black motorcycle jacket in Gar's closet, the one he never wears? The one that looks like the black jacket that the thinly veiled "superman as a 30 year old highschool kid" wore on that TV show when he was being all evil and edgy?? Yeah, that's the one from when Gar was all evil and edgy. Something about those jackets, they're symbolic or something.

"But if you do feel all dark and evil, feel free to borrow my leather jacket."

"Well…" Keith thinks for a moment. "I don't know, Gar. But you can see why it scares me, if it also scares you." He takes the last few steps to put his arms around Gar and rest his head on his chest. "I'm not sure if I could fight them. I don't know if Demons and chaos magic are compatible, or whether they eat chaos magic, or are allergic to it. Who knows?" He looks up at him. "So I'm very determined not to find out the hard way."

"It scares me because… when I was temporarily tainted, I hated how it felt, and I was ashamed for not keeping it from affecting me even though there wasn't anything I could've done to stop it," Gar says, holding Keith in the naturally occurring hug. "It's painful … if you're lucky, when you get out of it you're stronger and you can keep it from happening again, but honestly, it's like getting a broken bone. The healed part is stronger but it isn't the same any more."

"Which is why I'd prefer it not happen to you again," Keith comments, holding on to Gar. It is at this moment that Keith feels how much Gar must have lived through. They are the same age, with a few months apart, but the green Titan has alluded to things that hint at large expanses of grief that he never really explains in detail, but which insinuate themselves into Keith's mental landscape of the man. He has lost so much and gone through so much that his own loss, valid as it is, is only a small fraction.

There's the Unnamed Woman who betrayed him. His parents. His kidnapping. His adoptive father. He gets the impression that if people like Raven, Nightwing and Flash hadn't been around back then, perhaps Gar would have not made it out of that at all. The thought of that makes Keith want to hold Garfield and somehow make it all safe- no more breaks, no more weary healing. But he can't do that, all he can do is be who he is, and be there.

"I love you, Gar Logan. Just remember that." He says quietly, and with one hand he reaches behind his neck to undo something. There's the tinkling of metal and he presses something into Garfield's hand, a necklace with a pendant in the shape of a grinning Cheshire. "I'll try to make sure neither of us breaks any further."

Gar looks at the necklace, and smiles, faintly. It goes on around his neck immediately because it belongs there.

"Me too," he says, because even if he's not comfortable with the L word so much with all the baggage that Her What left behind, he's not so stupid as to reject it because he's stuck up on language.

"Now I get to figure out a thing for you to wear from me…" Gar ponders. He already knows though. What it'll be. It's just going to take some time.

Keith smiles, reaching out to stroke Gar's hair. "You can think about that later. Let's go out and see to Kate before she thinks there's more going on in this cabin than there should be." Keith smirks and starts heading for the door. "Because you know she would make ladylike jokes. And talk about mahogany a lot."

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