Before You Forget

<November 5, 2014>: Gar and Keith have a moment at the Castle, the day before he stops existing.

The Titans' Castle

It's a castle, it's awesome.



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Mood Music:

It's been a successful day for the Titans- getting a mention as a group in the news for helping thwart an assassination attempt. It's been a particularly joyous day for Vorpal, since he got to represent the team, and did it well. Now, he has made his way from New York via his Rabbit Hole powers- some people might hear a tumble above the Library as he lands on the floor of the room that he shares with Garfield.

It takes him only a minute to return to his human guise, and soon he is walking down the stairs into the library proper wearing a pair of snug workout shorts and a black T-shirt, a rather familiar guitar carried in his right hand. Technically, he should be quiet while descending into the library in case someone was studying there, but he's got too much energy to think about that now, the sweet euphoria of success making him giddy.

One Garfield Logan, still a student at ESU, has caught up on his schoolwork (including taking a class for the guy who took the classes he was supposed to be covering as Teaching Assistant while Keith was suffering from the worlds worst splitting headache) … and now he's trying to do what he was doing yesterday when the inconsiderate prison break distracted him.

Flashback panel: Gar-thunderbird, locusts, rhino, followed by Gar-collapsed because that was really kind of hard to do all that stuff. Shapeshifting only looks easy because Gar makes it look easy.

In the 'reading lounge' Gar has a five-by-five-foot table covered in yellow sticky tabs, and the world's wierdest, doomiest chart has been drawn, and yellow sticky tabs are being moved around on that chart. It represents a four dimensional object — well, actually, four variables in an analysis-space plotted against each other, so four "dimensions" — and there are six copies of each teammate's name, each with a different attribute set on it.

"Now for Zachary… I dunno how good he is at physical nonmagical combat. I know Zee had SOME training but she never seems to use it much… Vorp's a black belt in effect… I've got Animal Styles… Hm. Maybe I should ask Rand to rank for this, but a rough guess shouldn't mess us up too bad…"

He hears the noise upstairs, but the movement is the familiar sound of Keith O'Neil, so he's going to wave absently and keep looking at the … well, to the uninitiated, it could be some sort of art project or maybe an magical abjuration using the names of the Titans? Wait, there's pink sticky tabs as well, with other names. OK… maybe it's more complicated than it seems at first stare.

Keith raises an eyebrow, seeing that Gar is in the zone. The young man walks over to the table where he is sitting and peeks over his shoulder with a slight hint of mischief in his mannerism. The chart is… well, "Are you trying to invade Poland, m'love? If so, I'd say you're a little understaffed." One hand goes up to scritch Gar's scalp, the other one holding the guitar.

"Worse. Trying to figure out a training schedule for the team. I'm going to ask Angry Bird to come up with the first draft of the plan for the team tactics training plan. Not that it'll be the one we use, because the first draft is never the one you use."

He leans into the scritch, and says, "NPR says you're a hero again. Good work, man."

He moves a pink sticky-tab, and slides in a neon-green one.

"OK. That'll have to do until we can get assessments going."

He stands up and stretches, and says, "By the way. I think we should hire a caretaker for the place. We're not a very good commune in that respect."

"A caretaker? Won't that mean compromising some secret identities around here?" Keith pauses. "Okay. Two secret identities. Three, if you count the Robins as individuals."

As Garfield stretches, a crafty arm finds itself around his waist, "Pff, hero shmero, it was just an assassination attempt. NPR likes to exaggerate things, Flash and Detective Pezzini did more than I did— so who is going to run our assessment?"

"I'm thinking Rand will do the important parts… But here's the thing I wanted to talk about with you while we're still in the 'fitting things together' mode," Gar says, craftily return-arming and advancing to 'attempt to walk three-leggishly-to-kitchen'.

"The Titans, when we were in our original configurations, we were different than a lot of teams for three reasons. We were all legacy kids — our parents were all superheroes, who knew each other and sometimes even teamed up together. We were all the best. And we all had screwed-up family, so we made the team into a surrogate family. When this was good, we were unbeatable. When it fell apart, it turned into pure poison."

Gar leans back a second, taking Keith by both shoulders. "Part of that was my fault. The earth-girl, the one who set us all up? She came to me first with the whole 'no family' thing. Found out later she was european royalty and MAYBE a bastard legally, but her father didn't care. That happens a lot. Anyway. She had this 'younger than she was' look, as well, so she pretended to be at least two years younger than she was. She suckered me in with the innocent girl needing a family thing. It set me up to expect things that she then used to twist me around."

Gar doesn't seem to be in pain about it at least. A bit disgusted, but nothing too outrageous.

"One of the reasons I want to get a caretaker and have us do some of the formal training that we never did in the earlier teams, is because we failed because we were kids, we didn't expect an adult-coordinated attempt to get all the info on us."

More information about this woman finally comes out. Keith's not needled Gar for it because… well, it was a painful episode for Gar. Or at least he expected it to be- but by the way his boyfriend describes it, he may have made his peace with that part of his past.

"… and suddenly I understand why you were so cautious," Keith mutters. "Suddenly another urchen shows up at your door and team with no family."

He feels the anger in his chest- that burning feeling of quiet outrage that just sits there. It is a good thing that the woman is dead, Keith thinks, because otherwise he would put her in the grave himself.

"Alright, a caretaker sounds like a good idea. We just need to find someone we can trust, you know?" the redhead says, giving Gar's waist a gentle squeeze.

"And I'm more than happy for Rand to do the assessments. We started some of that last time I was at his gym- we discovered, surprise surprise, that I suck at defense. Tiger style is pure offense, which I guess is why I haven't exactly been the best at staying injury-free, right?"

"Yeah, you weren't an urchin. The stupidest part of this was that the guy who was playing us with this girl? Chose a girl because he knew we were all sexist pig teenage boys, except for the two or three girls who quite reasonably did NOT trust her, and we just said "Mean Girl Syndrome" and pushed on thru. She played them too, though. But I think Kid Flash had you vetted out first. Then again, he didn't have Phobos vetted out well enough. Kinda why I'm being more paranoid about setting up the contract."

Aforementioned contract, the "Titans letters of incorporation" which include the team's responsibilities for upkeep and operation as a team in order to keep the ownership of the Castle, etc. etc. mumble mumble legalese everywhere… actually it read a LOT like the incorporation form for a rock band.

"So. I'm not sure what my assessment would find out either," Gar says. "I mean, I'm not immune to pain, but I don't stop. That locust swarm thing yesterday was pretty horrible, I had to de-swarm so I wouldn't lose myself."

"Honestly, I would like to know what your assessment finds out. You're my boyfriend-" he pauses. And, in a way, the only family Gar has that is actively watching out for him. "I do need to understand your limits and abilities, what hurts you and what heals you. In case something happens- anything happens- and either you can't come back from the swarm or you get hurt…" it's clearly an unpleasant subject, "But I want to be able to help you. Bring you back, if you ever need me like I needed you."

"I don't know if I have stated my intentions clearly before or not, but I'm in this-" he gestures to Gar and himself "-for the long run. With all of the implications you may want to read on that. Which is why I need to learn how to be your lifeline, if you ever need me to be it. You were mine."

Gar nods. "Some of it I don't really know myself. I go by instinct a lot, you might've seen that?"

He pulls some burger/patties/frozen/90#777ean from the freezer and cracks them apart along the paper separators, and seals and tosses the rest in their bag back into the freezer, then gets an onion out of one of the veggie bins and puts it out … there aren't any tomatoes now because it's not tomato season any more dammit, so he pulls a blood orange out of the fruit bin instead, and some endive and then gets out the super sharp ceramic knives. There are buns, the kind Gar and Raven and Dick liked, not the plastic-foam kind Wally and Roy liked, which are also found in a cooler in the fridge.

"Oh, I just started pulling this … are you hungry? You want a burger?"

Distraction? Probably. Instinct.

"Seriously? I've gotten a lot stronger over the years. Initially, I was only animal for a few minutes at most, and my face or head would still be human, and green, but the animal part would be the usual color of the animal. Then the puberty fairy came along when I was eleven and all the animals turned green and the human head went away, and I could still only hold it for a short time. But when I was fourteen or fifteen, I started being able to stay whatever I turned into for as long as I wanted. It ties a lot to my emotions. I'm like Raven in that respect, except I don't have to be so very strict because I don't have things waiting to attack through my emotions."

He slides a griddle-surface onto half of the gas stove, and turns it on… clik FUMF adjust adjust…

"When I have a lot of urgent emotional pressure I can do a lot of things that seem impossible. Tap into myths and monsters. I can be any animal anywhere on the planet. If someone brought three or four alien animals, I could turn into them. Starfire's got a ship in orbit, so I could probably turn into a Tamaranean, but I'd be green and I probably wouldn't be able to fly or blast energy. At first anyway. They all have great hair though." Gar pauses to think. "Not enough Thanagarians on the planet yet, or I could do the wing thing. But there's other winged humans that I could probably turn into — sorta. They're provisional I guess."

Keith smirk, "Nice dodge, there, Gar." He leans on the counter, "Sure, I'll have a burger, I haven't had anything since breakfast due to that rally…"

"So… what would happen if you turn into a mosquito, a gnat like you did at the restaurant, and someone swatted you?" Fair question, and one that's actually been disturbing him a little. "… would that be it for you?"

"I'm not that easy to break," Gar says. "It'd maybe stun me for a second, if I didn't manage to shrug it off completely. I got swatted, then flushed, once, and I had to turn into some other stuff on the way once I woke up. I got tossed into a bug zapper once when I was being a moth. Tingly, not the good way. It took about ten minutes to get over being scorched, and another five to get coherent enough to change back to me."

Apparently it's a question of Being Prepared, if the notes on the table training matrix are correct.

"Got it," Keith says. "This is good. I feel like I know you on a more emotional level, but we've never really talked about this other part of our lives in this much detail." He hops on the counter to sit down on it. It's a bad habit he's cultivated from his days at the apartment.

"Okay, not we move onto combat proper. When you go out on the field and I'm with you, what things can I do to help you?"

"I'm kind of a mix-range fighter. I'll do the scouting, I'll do the up-close scrapping, I'll even be the brick sometimes. Basically, just go with the flow, like Hawkgirl did yesterday. NOT CHICKEN GIRL. That's really rude, it's almost racist, the winged Thanagarians used to be a minority group."

Or so he was told by the Thanagarian he met on that trip to Starfire's planet. Gar wasn't sure it was completely true, but none of the Tamaraneans said it was untrue when he asked. In any case, whether it's pride of place or pride recovered, it's rude to poke at it.

"If I'm doing something that you can help then do it. Or ask me if I need help and I'll let you know what we can do."

He tosses burgers onto the griddle, and smears some olive oil on the faces of the buns and drops those on the griddle as well.

"The Rhino thing was kind of an ad-hoc thing. I just needed to be four-legged because I wasn't up to being on two, and that skeletor-impersonater just happened to break and run as I got there.

"Oh god… I can't believe I was such an idiot when Wonder Woman spoke to me," The redhead mutters as he slips behind Gar to give him a hug-from-behind, before sliding over to look for things to drink in the fridge. "And sorry about the chicken woman thing, I didn't know her name. When she abducted me and dropped me off on a balcony, she didn't exactly hand me her business card." Hmmm. Milk. Milk sounded good. Then again, milk always sounded good.

"Maybe that's one of the reasons we've worked well together in the field? My powers let me work from a distance, but I can do hand-to-hand as well. I can't be the brick, though… unless you count the constructs. Those can absorb a lot of punishment… but I usually prefer to make people punch themselves. It's ever so amusing…" he gives a grin to Gar as he grabs the milk out of the fridge.

"You should've seen me when I met Batman. I was hiding behind Robin. Then I started acting like a punk kid. It was pathetic."
Gar looks at the milk, frowns to himself, and runs some water into the filter-pitcher. That blood-orange gets to do more than simply impersonate a tomato today. Huzzah!

"Yeah, but at least you didn't tell him that your boyfriend was being 'ridden by the chicken woman'. Fortunately Lunair's twerk gun sort of shorted out her brain, I think. I hope she doesn't remember…" Keith groans, "Did you ever cross paths with her before, though? What with the original Wonder Girl being in your team…"

"Yeah, but not for very long. It was more like Parent's Day. I was kind of a bit young and bratty at the time," Gar confesses, leaving out the most embarrassing parts.

He flips the burgers for the first time, and starts slicing the blood orange, very very thin slices, and then once he has four of them, cross-hatches the inside of the rest of the orange and drops it into a separate pitcher with some ice, and pours water from the filter into it. Mad Kitchen Skills? Nah. He just watched Food TV when he was living in San Diego.

"You? Bratty? I don't believe it!" Keith grins, pouring himself a glass of milk. "Aaaactually Flash kind of mentioned something about you being the loudmouth of the group at one point." He winks at his boyfriend and reaches for the plates.

"You know, I'm bound to hear one of your embarrassing stories at one point or another. Might as well save yourself the embarrassment and share… I can tell you one of my embarrassing ones. Oh god, was it embarrassing. In highschool, too."

Gar rubs his forehead and grins faintly as he flips the burgers again… mustn't let them get well done… "You go first, I have way too many to sort thru."

"Well, there was that time I woke up late for high school. Like, epic late. Somehow in my mind I decided that going commando was going to save me time, so -zip- jeans, shirt, sneakers, and running out the door." The redhead grabs the guitar again and gets a wince when a plucked string elicits a terribly out-of-tune note. Sitting on the counter he rests the guitar on his legs, as you do, and begins to tune it as he proceeds with his story.

"So I actually manage to get to the school just after classes start. Of course, to get there, I had to jump over a few fences, a couple of them had those really ornate spikes. At one point I felt a tug but I didn't look back, I was in too much of a hurry. Long story short… I get in for the first class of the day, and I'm a few minutes late— so Miss Stracinzky immediatelly asks me to go to the board and solve the problem she had just copied. So I do… and people start laughing behind me. Next thing I know… I'm in the Principal's office and I'm suspended for a week because I had a hole…" he holds up his hands to show how large, resting the guitar against his torso, "This big. In my butt. I mooned the entire class."

"Ah, the nude bomb … first time I turned into a chimp I didn't remember to make my uniform into shorts. I was a bonobo … they're like humans, not gorillas. They have … a lot of junk."

Gar starts assembling the burgers. And lets Keith think for a moment.

"The picture in the paper of me meeting the Governor of New Jersey's wife had to be photoshopped so much… "

Keith's mental movie theater plays that reel. He has a very vivid imagination, and so he laughs, turning bright scarlet.

"Oh god, Gar. Did you get fined for indecent exposure?" the guitar ~twangs~ pathetically. He's shaking too much to play it correctly.

Gar serves the burgers. "Nope. There is no law requiring animals to wear clothes. But my folks made me practice the "clothing or Disney" modes for transforming for a week."

Damian Wayne comes into Titan's Base from Titan's Castle.

Damian Wayne heads out to Titan's Castle.

"Hmmm… those smell so good," Keith says, putting the guitar aside for now. His stomach makes its hunger manifest. Sliding off the counter, he grabs the plates he had prepared earlier and brings them over, because you don't want ants.

"Doing the domestic thing still feels so unusual for me. It's been a while since I've had meals with someone on a regular basis." He reaches for his burger and grins. "I like it, though. Coming home and looking forward to seeing you… which reminds me. I still owe you that dinner date, y'know. I mean, actually going out instead of cooking for you."

"Yeah, we should do that before shoppingmas season makes all the restaurants go crazy," Gar says. He looks to the fridge for greenery to go with the meal but mostly it's prefabricated veggie snacks.

"We are curving on that particular time of the year, aren't we? I've been wondering what to get you for Christmas, but after that story it is clear that what you need is your own Censor Bar." He gives Gar a teasing grin and bites down on the hamburger, not waiting for greenitude. "Sounds like something you could use every now and then."

"Will it be automatic? Because the Disney shifts are really painful," Gar says eagerly. "Oh wait, it has to be culturally appropriate as well. Except it can't be too sensitive, or when I turn into a peacock it would try to hide my tail."

Keith laughs, trying not to wolf down the whole hamburger in one go, he's rather hungry. There's something nagging at his mind- Oh, yes.

"The Cait wants to point out that there's another chink in our- my armor. It's sort of surprising… but I guess it's not that surprising, when you consider the nature of my other half."

"Would this be something to do with catnip, cold iron, or the red dot?" Gar asks. "Because I have noticed the catnip one, and the red dot."

"Hey! That's not fair and you know it!" The hamburger becomes less and less, "I genuinely thought it was a sniper. I bravely put myself in the line of fire to spare you." Maybe someday, if he keeps telling it, it'll be believable. "As for the catnip… never again. Being a hybrid makes that do weird things to me… I could swer I saw pink elephants. If it had not been for the color, I would have suspected you."

"But no. Cold iron doesn't affect me since mine is a mortal body… but apparently white or order magic will shut me down completely. I mean, it will turn me back into a human and I won't be able to transform back for a short period of time. So we need to tell Rain to hold back on the healing magic on the field unless I'm really injured…" a pause. "I haven't seen Rain in forever or heard from her, actually…"

"We should go see her then, bring her to the Castle." Gar takes a bite… well. Blood orange isn't really a substitute for tomato but it does add that sharpness that cuts the grease.

"That thing for Waller is coming up really soon too. I need to get you a good suit."

"Right, that mission. Midnighter gave me some background on some of the guy's meta-aides. This is going to be dangerous." Keith finishes his burger and sets the plate aside, reaching over to rest his hands on Gar's hips. "A good suit? Seems like such a waste to spend money on something that might get thoroughly ruined." He grins a little, "After that mission, we should take one or two days off. Go somewhere isolated and… less demanding in dress code."

The redhead raises an eyebrow and winks. Then he frowns. "I shouldn't be joking. One or both of us could end out not walking out of the mission, right?"

Gar looks steadily at Keith. "You do recall the prison break we just dealt with. Yes. We could be seriously injured or killed every time we go out. This one's probably a bit more dangerous, but this is always a risk."

"Fair point," Keith says, mulling over this. Green eyes look back up at Gar's. "We'll keep each other alive, as we always do. As the team always does. That's what family does, right?"

Gar just nods, and puts a hand out to touch Keith on the cheek. He's not being non-verbal, he's just got a mouthful of the burger and doesn't want to show Keith his food.

A fair hand reaches out and touches the green one on his cheek. Keith pulls Gar's hand over to his lips and gives it a kiss, eyes locked on the green one's own. "… then I would like to reiterate my desire to see you somewhere tropical in minimal swimwear after this is done."

*swallow* "Yeah, we should do that. Any particular beach you want to see?"

Changeling thinks about swimwear and what he needs to do… more gym time? Nah, maybe just be more of the right kind of animals. Less squirrel and more moose.

"Gee… I don't really know that many beaches. I've never left the Tri-city area or the country… except for that one Greenland mission. I wouldn't know which beach to choose." He moves in closer. "You've been all over, haven't you? What's your favorite beach? Anything but Australia, because that place only exists to kill you. Or so does the internet say."

"I like Australia, I found so many different animals that can do horrible things there… but that was also true in Africa and Asia. Europe had more people who filled that ecological niche. America - the continents - have remarkably few truly human-hating animals."

"Tell you what, you can pick the beach. Make it a surprise- I'll love it either way." A pause, and he thinks "But I need to pay my way, so maybe somewhere relatively close while still warm?" There goes Keith's pride again. It's coming up less and less, but sometimes it tries to make a stand.

Gar pauses … OK, not Tahiti unless he can get some form of super fast travel. Maybe Florida. There's always Das Maus there as well.

"OK, we'll find a place."

"Alright! Well, I'm not going to get this thing tuned up anytime soon-" he tilts his head towards the guitar. "I should go and check up on Rain. Take a break or a nap or something, I can still smell the smoke from all the gears you've ground while making those plans."

He slips his arms around Gar and gives him a kiss, accompanied by a wink. "You know, the team is so lucky to have you. As am I."

"Do I hear a sitcom laugh track going 'aww' or is that wishful thinking?" Gar says, kissing back but withholding the wink. He cleans up the cooking mess and goes back to the training plans. Much people to contact, many work to do.

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