Red Robin: “Stanford? And you’re saying that it was his idea,” the way in which a gloved hand strokes squared jaw tells a story. “Hrm. So many questions, but this wasn’t a social call this time.”
At this point in Cassandra’s life she should be getting used to a great deal many things. However I’m fairly sure that I just managed to scare the bejesus out of her. If it wasn’t when her phone came alive on the hotel dresser and grew wings with which to flitter across the room to where it could cast a hologram of the Red Robin next to Cassie’s bed? Then it was probably rousing to find Red Robin next to her bed.
“He’s not here,” the reassurance is as much about how we know he would react to my presence, as it about cutting her off in the immediate search for her boyfriend in the bed next to her. “His handlers summoned him earlier this morning to be Honor Guard for what’s going on in Khandaq.”
“Fortuitous, actually, because you won’t need to worry about misleading him this time. I’ve sent a file on your next assignment to your phone. It’ll also be a good chance for you to make an impression at the Tower, since she’s there. Unlike Freeman, this isn’t a cake walk. She doesn’t know it, but your next assignment is in trouble. You might not have to deal with Conner, but if she’s within the Tower’s incomplete sensors then you know Nowhere is aware of her too. If she’s not already been made, she will be any time now.”
“No training wheels this time, I’m still recovering and Batman says he doesn’t think you need a babysitter. If you need Backup, your phone has the Flash’s emergency card number. But for now… he is your only backup.”
It’s then that Cassie will realize that this isn’t a call. It’s a voice mail. The digital hologram variety. Because it repeats. Over and over. Until she actually touches the phone to turn off the message. Properly marked as ‘Urgent’ in her inbox. It will take slightly more time getting Razerbeak to pull in it’s wings and resume being her cellphone.
Cassie: Wonder Woman’s not a morning person.
Actually, a better assessment would be that while I’m not really a morning person, I can manage the rise and shine part just fine. It’s being woken unceremoniously that I happen to be struggling with, in the form of my brain not being able to process what project it should get to work on first, getting tousled blonde hair out of my face so that I can fully see, or the moral question of what’s more important: making sure I’m between Tim and any eye lasers that are about to get shot at him, or getting anything that’s uncovered that I don’t want him to see covered. If my brain moved at the pace that Conner’s does, then I probably could have come to a couple clear conclusions a lot more quickly. If I was actually awake I probably could have managed in a more respectable fashion.
What it actually looks like is some semi-undignified thrashing under the sheets of the bed. I haven’t been asleep nearly long enough, which explains why my boyfriend leaving didn’t wake me up at all, and neither did the phone doing what it apparently does now. It’s only the familiar voice that had jerked me awake and sent me into a befuddled, panicked whirl of motion.
“What the Hell, Tim!”
Hearing that ‘he’s not here’ soothes me a little, so we’re back to just being a touch grumpy about being woken up, and the intrusion. I want to ask how he knows where we are but, that’s a stupid question. That and he carries right on past my objections in a very Tim Drake sort of way, because the mission. Leaving me to snug the sheet up under my armpits and fold my arms across my chest for good measure, mentally attempting to suppress the blush. There’s not really a good reason for it because it’s not like our best friend, of all people, doesn’t know exactly what we get up to. Mostly because Conner Luthor has less than zero shame, and he’s a perceptive guy anyway.
“You actually think I’m going to need backup? Giant crocodiles was fine but…”
I already have realized at this point that Tim’s not really there. Why would he be? Other than a very brief emergency trip to Gotham, and a mission to Central, it’s the only way that I’ve ‘seen’ him since he left Metropolis after his father’s death. It might be a family thing for all I know, holograms, not the death portion. Ugh. What a morbid thought. It hadn’t occurred to me, however, that it was pre-recorded, so there’s a moment of confusion when he begins to repeat himself. Though, I suppose it explains the talking over top of me. Leaving me grumbling, and poking and prodding the very fancy phone, while still keeping the bed sheets up because, well. The media likes to pretend that our cell phones are spying on us but… they have no idea.
“…I’m putting you in the drawer next time…”
Terra: Standing in front of the jukebox in the back of the bar she had wandered into only moments ago, Tara ran a recently manicured fingernail along the upper selections of songs and paused almost immediately. Tapping her finger a few times as if carefully considering her options she reaches into her pocket and finding a quarter removes it. Sliding it into the slot and then another and still another Tara begins to move to the beat as T.N.T by AC/DC begins to thump through the bar much to the chagrin of the late night patrons who when she had entered the place seemed more interested in sleep then anything else. The mood had been rather somber and that just wouldn’t suit Tara at all.
Each one was a little louder then the first as she began to sing along to the words and make her way back toward the large and well neared man manning the bar, without even asking he slid an overflowing beer toward her. Perhaps he hoped drinking it would at least put an end to the singing. Snatching up the beer and drinking most of it in a few deep gulps Tara spit out a little of the beer as the chorus kicked in again.
“T…N…T…come on Metropolis….live a little..”
Shrugging as not a soul moved to join in her antics Tara begins her dance again and moves back toward the jukebox, she had had a good night and was determined to make her mood infectious. It had been a month or more since she had stopped those muggers with her abilities and her eyes had been awaken to just how much fun she could have with them. She had been warned against just this sort of thinking, but Slade had been absent for months, years even.
Really what’s the worse a little shaking and sliding to her benefit could bring down on her?
Cassie: Whether or not Superman’s on the other side of the planet, I know how very little time that takes to change. Logically, I also know that Red Robin thinks I’ve got enoughtime, otherwise I would probably have been roused as soon as Conner was out of earshot. Getting dressed doesn’t take much time, and other than a brief glance in the mirror over the state of my mop of blonde hair I don’t need to do much else to prepare outside of reading up on what information I’ve been given. The latter of which I do while deciding that bedhead for me doesn’t look a whole lot different than post-flight, wind ruffled hair and just leaving it be.
Where I actually lose a little bit of time is in my brief trip to Coast City. He hadn’t been wrong about the appearance where the Tower is being erected, even if there’s only so much buzz I’m going to generate in the middle of the night. It’s a very short trip by air from Stanford, where Conner and I had actually been visiting for the weekend to do a little research. Not on Coast City, or the Tower or any of what Wayne Enterprises is doing out there. Very mundane scoping of housing, actually, in the normal teenage rite of passage that is preparing to apply for and hopefully attend the college of your choice. Very little doubt of getting in, full of myself as that sounds, because of my grades and test scores and zero for him because he’s a Luthor who pretends to be just good enough at basketball to be incredible but not superhuman. I guess normally we’d have a parental escort and not be shacked up in a hotel together but… my Mom’s apparently an Amazonian badass, and his Dad’s President for Life. Not factoring in my God Dad, and his Kryptonian one. There’s nothing normal about that situation at all. I spend a little bit of time zooming about as I finish reading the dossier.
She used to be here, but not anymore. For more current whereabouts I have to go back to Metropolis. Clear on the other side of the country. Thanks a lot, Tim, you couldn’t have given me this on Monday morning? But I believe him about the time press. He wouldn’t have said it otherwise. It takes me a shade over fifteen minutes to get from California to the East Coast, rocketing through the dark sky, and finding myself wishing I had more time to enjoy the night flight than what I’ve got. Mostly because this? Is the best part about my new life.
A little more time wasted in a brief trip to my house in order to grab clothes. Not to change more to… cover up. Because I’m not trying to out this girl, but I also don’t want to out myself. Hopefully the spangly red of my suit passes for leggings under the skirt I pull on, and the hoodie that gets settled over my upper half, and hair as I’m pushing my way into the bar.
Believe it or not, this is a first for me. A bar. Unlike the girl I’m here to see? I actually look old enough to be in here, but that’s only because the Wonder Woman suit comes custom made with facial alteration hologram technology. Adding at least eight years to my face, and subtly altering the structure so as to make me unrecognizable. I bypass the bar proper, instead letting blue eyes wander over the patrons. There’s only one option here to fit the description.
Terra: Tara had made her way back to leaning on the jukebox at this point and her concentration had fully been given to it. Her hands sat with a loose grip atop the box as she slowly moved her hips to what by now had changed to Judas Priest. Her eyes closed Tara moved her head now to the song as one of her favorites choruses kicked in prompting more singing.
“Breaking the law….breaking the law…YES.
The volume of the song combined with her own off key additions to the harmonies nearly muffled the sound of her name, or at least one of her names being said by Cassie. Nearly, but not entirely and having heard it her grip on the jukebox tightened considerably.
Her head turned slowly to face Cassie, confusion quickly overtaking her features, and maybe just a little fear. Had that girl Sublime told someone about her?
“My name is Mackenzie…you must have me confused with someone else.”
With that says her eyes move back to looking through the songs on the jukebox.
Cassie: I may not be the ace detective of our little… conglomerate… but I’m still observant enough, especially when I’m already wary about how this may, or may not go. Beyond that, my vision’s sharp enough to notice the flexing, if not whitening, of her knuckles on the top of the juke box. I don’t close between us, so much as sidestep closer to the wall, if not closer to Terra herself. Letting the overly loud English rock band compete with my words to reach anyone else’s ears past the two of us, as well as trying to not make her feel cornered. This is so very different than my last solo attempt. Because it’s more personal, a one on one instead of a battle-forged connection. Then there’s also the danger of exactly what I want to try to prevent and… why this needs to be done while Conner’s busy with whatever is going on in Khandaq.
“Okay. Mackenzie, then, if that’s what you prefer.”
It doesn’t matter to me what I call her, it’s more about her comfort. Besides. I’m currently wearing a disguise, over top of a costume, and wearing a face that’s not actually mine. Who am I to judge on this particular front? Pushing my hands casually into the pockets of my sweatshirt is a non-threatening posture as I lean my shoulder into the wall, but it also exposes more of the glittering gold of my gauntlets.
“But I don’t have you confused with someone else.”
So, Cassie. What would you have wanted someone to say to you, after that first time you ripped the gym door off the hinges like they were paper? Or when you tripped and powdered the concrete into fine dust and you were confused, and scared, and felt so very, very alone? I still had the anchor of my Mom though, and while I can’t know for sure, her moving around the country and being in a bar in the middle of the night tells me this girls’ probably way more alone than I ever thought I might have been.
“It feels good, doesn’t it? Using something that’s scary about yourself to stop something real and scary out in the world?”
Terra: Dropping her head down her eyes shutting tight for a moment before she pushes off the jukebox and turns to fully face Cassie. Her eyes move quickly over the girl in front of her as she takes a step closer looking down to the small hint of gold on Cassie’s arm.
A quizzical expression moves across her face as she sees the strange object. Leaning in for a closer look she turns her face a bit closer to Cassie’s and begins speaking in a low tone.
“Well aren’t you a regular After school special…I don’t know who you think I am…
Stopping a moment as she gestures to the door.
“But you have the wrong person…I’m just a normal girl next door type. Mundane in every way. Now you skip away to a Pep rally or something I’m busy.”
Cassie: There’s a brief moment, very brief, where I want very badly to look down and double check which skirt I actually put on when I left my house. I don’t exactly have a lot of them, I’ve always been much more of a tee-shirt and jeans kind of girl but I still own a couple. A solid chunk of them, however, are cheerleading skirts, or the plaid of Saint Mary’s blue and grey prep school uniforms. No. I wasn’t so tired after my flight as to have made either that tactical error, or fashion fashion faux pas. I’m a little taken aback by her defensiveness but I recognize pretty quickly that I shouldn’t be. I more or less tried a similar denial when I was first approached by my abilities.
I’m being a lot nicer than Conner was to me, though. Or at least, I was trying.
Pursing my lips, I change tacks, pushing my hoodie back off my forehead enough to expose the golden tiara that’s the newest addition to my Wonder Woman attire, thanks to my Mother.
“We both know that’s not true. I’m not going to push you. But if I know? Then so do people who are not going to try to be your friend and will skip straight to detain and neutralize. Especially here in Metropolis. You were safer in Coast City.”
Terra: If Terra were to be perfectly honest her first impulse when Coast City is mentioned is to drop the entire bar into the sewers underneath them all. This decidedly stupid course of action is tempered by the fact doing so would likely kill everyone else in the place and while she was a lot of things Terra was no murderer. So rather then make herself a headline she instead burst into laughter her arms crossing her chest as she nearly hits the floor from the giggles now coming over her.
“OMG…what is that?!
Taking a deep breath and visibly forcing her bellyaches away she composes herself and holds up her hands in apology. The immense grin on her face however seems unable or unwilling to leave.
“Okay..okay…what the hell let’s talk Princess…my god a tiara…”
Cassie: The burst of laughter takes me a little by surprise, easy enough to tell by the widening of blue eyes, though that expression doesn’t turn to annoyance so much as an arched eyebrow of amusement at what Terra’s found so darn funny that it has interrupted her denials and attempts at getting me to leave her alone. Does it really look that ridiculous or is she just…stressed? Defense mechanism? If that’s going to set her off into hysterical giggles than it’s doubly good that I chose to put the skirt and hoodie on over the rest of my outfit. Which I thought was pretty ridiculous when it was first presented to me, too.
“It’s an heirloom. Probably an antique. I didn’t ask, didn’t want to offend the person that gave it to me by implying…”
That my Mother is an antique herself. Which she may very well be, no matter how she happens to look. One of the many facets of who I am, that I know now, that I haven’t fully wrapped my brain around yet. Going from your biggest concern being prep school bullies, to hiding superpowers, and then straight on to Gods are actually real and your father is one was a lot to take in. And clearly, the info dump hadn’t been about to just stop there.
But. Clearly it hadn’t been the identifying mark I had hoped that it might have been. I suppose it hasn’t exactly been part of my ‘uniform’ for a long time. Or maybe I was reaching with the assumption that this girl would even care, or pay attention to, who Wonder Woman is. Moving away from the wall, and the jukebox, I sweep a hand towards one of the back booths.
“Unless you’d rather go outside…?”
Terra: Tara took a moment to compose herself taking care not to glance back up to the tiara. Cassie wouldn’t know this but seeing it had actually put Tara at ease as she knew the men who likely still pursued her would never have sent someone like this. No those men favorited all black everything and did not announce their presence in such a well mannered way. So it would be out of curiosity that Tara would entertain the woman standing before her.
“Riiiiight….the only heirloom I was given was a battered postcard from a place I barely remember.”
Giving Cassie a shrug of her shoulders that said she really didn’t have any fucks to give she turns and begins walking toward one of the unoccupied booths closest to the back and right up against the wall. The man who had taken her from Markovia had insisted often and loudly that she always maintain proper site lines in case she had to run. While it could not be said she listened to everything he said this she had retained.
Sliding in on the side closest to the wall she holds up a hand with two fingers up for the bartender to see, once he nods she aims them at the table.
“I appreciate the beer by the way…you do have money in that thing right?”
Tara says with a devilish smile across her lips as Cassie moves to sit across from her.
Cassie: I feel a little silly, I suppose rightfully so given my attire, but I’d been left with two not so great options. Show up to speak to this girl in my normal clothes, using my real face, and I’m not anymore old enough to be in this bar than she is. Or turn up in full Wonder Woman regalia, drawing attention to myself and therefor her. So I’d gone with this hybrid of the two. I’ve been spending more and more time in the red, clingy spangles of Wonder Woman but usually it’s when I’m fighting, or doing something that doesn’t give me time to second guess my attire. This is a little… different. I let her have the seat she wants, because which one I sit in doesn’t matter to me. Not only because I haven’t had it drilled into my head tactically as the lesser of the two options to have my back to the room.
But because I don’t really think anything or anyone in this room is really going to be a threat to me that I can’t deal with. Maybe that’s cocky of me. Maybe Conner’s rubbing off on me… sliding into the side of the booth that’s left, I pull my hood back up over my hair, and the tiara as I look at Terra with interest.
“Oh? Where’s that?”
I used to love collecting postcards, from all the places I went with my mother on her digs. But that’s Cassie Sandsmark’s childhood past time. Not Wonder Woman’s. The first real look of concern that crosses my face is when she signals for drinks, and my lips purse. She’s not old enough to be drinking I don’t think. I’m definitely not old enough to be buying, even if I might look like I am at the moment. And this outfit doesn’t exactly have pockets, except for the sweatshirt that I’ve brought nothing in except my phone. Well. Hopefully Tim made the thing with all the usual capabilities of a phone.
“As long as they take Apple Pay. Is this a normal… thing for you here? Because he doesn’t seem to mind bringing them for you. But none for me, thank you.”
Why am I thanking her? She wants me to pay for both of them. And I probably should just refuse but… I don’t know. I want to do this ‘job’ that I’m still not sure I’m fully equipped for, or capable of. So. I just go on winging it, like so much else.
Folding my arms on the edge of the table, I turn my attention away from Bartender With No Problem Serving Minors, and back to Terra.
“Do you have somewhere safe you can go? I don’t want to assume, after the way you’ve moved around the country but..”
Terra: The expression on Terra’s face only widens at Cassie’s reaction to her ordering drinks. She holds up a hand while the other reaches into the purse she had previously had dangling by her side but now sat on the table. Sliding out a card rectangular object that as she slides it across the table reveals itself to be a drivers license.
“Why would he mind? I’m twenty one as of…”
Taking a moment to glance back down at the card on the table she then continues.
“A month ago. Apple Pay.”
Tilting her head to look to the bartender who only shakes his head at the unspoken question about if they accept that particular form of currency. This causes Terra’s amused veneer to fade for a fraction of a section while she fumbles around in her purse for the cash to pay. Finding it she quickly hands it over and takes both beers.
“It was…nowhere important I shouldn’t have said anything.”
Sliding one of the beers closer Terra let’s her eyes fall down a moment as if something sad had just hit her memory and she could not easily shake it. With the beer close enough to sip she does so once then again.
“I have lots of places to go, if any of them are safe is anyone’s guess. No ones found me yet.”
Cassie: Tilting my head to the side, my eyes drop to the driver’s license that she’s slid out onto the table thinking that perhaps I had misjudged exactly how old she appears to be, but after a partial squint at the identification in question, mixed with her having to look at the thing to know when her own birthday is? It’s surely fake. Which takes me back to the bartender probably doesn’t really care. As for me, I’m left shrugging my shoulders in the apology that I won’t actually say on the matter.
“Uh huh. I didn’t expect to find you here. Or to be making any… purchases. But I can…”
Give you money like a charity case? Already she doesn’t exactly read like someone who would go in for that, and I don’t want to push her away now that we’re sitting here and talking, so I quickly course correct that thought.
“…go get money to repay you.”
I don’t miss her reaction, especially with the backtracking on the subject and that makes me not want to press the matter. At least not right now. I don’t really want to make her uncomfortable, or to shut me out any more. So I let the conversation be steered along with the original purpose of my visit.
“I did. And someone I work with found you before I did. There’s another group out there. NOWHERE. That could have, too, already. I’m trying to help people like you. And me. To have options that aren’t just government detention and conscription.”
Terra: Terra reaches out for the I.D with the the one hand not yet clutching a beer. Catching it just at the edge of the table between two of her fingers she brings it up closer to her face and quickly looks it over. Barely restraining the urge to roll her eyes as more then one typo reveals itself in the inspection. Still it had done the job up to this point, so it would be placed back into her purse.
“Well you got me there I guess…”
Bringing the beer up for another series of sips as she listens to Cassie try to convince her of just how much trouble she was in. The only problem being that Terra had been in trouble since the day she had left Markovia. As if she had been given a choice in the matter. Terra hated being told what she had to do because for as long as she could remember someone had been telling her what to do.
It had started with her mother a scientist, and then it was Slade the hired killer and now it was some girl wearing a tiara.
“You want to help me? Well aren’t you just a regular saint….what’s in it for you and your friend huh? I don’t know you or Nowhere and I don’t much trust you.”
Cassie: The corner of my mouth tugs upwards as I fight a smile at her admission. I have no way of knowing if NOWHERE is onto her or not, but I have to just assume they are. As Tim had said, if the half-finished sensors on his ‘little’ building project in Coast City had detected this girl, then chances are being so much closer to the center of things here in Metropolis had definitely caught some notice. Especially with her heroics. Which aren’t a bad thing in my mind, just an activity that draws attention.
“No, I’m not. And I don’t pretend to be, either. I’m someone who thinks that people like us can do a lot of good. Do do a lot of good, and could do more if we were allowed. In it for me…?”
I seem startled by the question, and I think I might actually be about to let myself be a little offended. But I remember that conversation with Tim Drake, or rather, Red Robin in my Mother’s office and his correction about my agenda, or lack thereof. Yes. I have one. Maybe my head doesn’t like to think of it in those terms, and the connotations that might come with it, but it’d be a lie to pretend there’s nothing that could be ‘in it’ for us. Blowing out a soft breath, I lean back into the booth and push my hands into my sweatshirt’s pockets.
“You don’t have a reason to. Which I understand and I’d like to be able to change that. I’m looking for more people like you, who might want to do that good in the world, to maybe join my friends and I. But if you don’t want to choose that, then at the very least? I want to keep NOWHERE from snatching you up off the street and taking away what choices you do have. I won’t force you to do something you don’t want to do.”
Terra: Turning the beer up for another sip only to find it empty Terra sits it back and on the table and then moves it to the side. Her eyes move to the second bottle I’m front of her but for the moment she does not reach for it. Despite what her body language might suggest Terra listened intently to each word Cassie had to say. Her expression would paint a picture of disinterest and outright dismissal out of habit more then anything. Terra simply couldn’t help but project the sort of vibe that kept people off balance.
“Look..it’s not like that’s unappealing.”
Throwing up her hands in a small show of frustration Terra now reaches out for the second bottle, but only slides it closer and does not open it.
“But I’ve spent most of my life hiding and for good reason…and what you want to go out and play hero?”
Cassie: Well. This is really going nothing like any of the other pitches had, is it? In my head, I’m jokingly telling myself that maybe Conner’s recruitment/pep talks might not be the totally wrong way to go, except that I meant what I said. I’m not out to force something on anyone. In my eyes, that wouldn’t make me any different, or better, than NOWHERE. Maybe this all just goes better when there’s some sort of conflict in progress, in order to really show where you stand, and who you are… or maybe she’s just not someone who’s going to be impressed. Or let herself be. I don’t exactly need a map drawn for me. She’s talking now about spending all her time hiding, she spoke earlier very, very briefly about somewhere she barely remembers but was important enough to hang onto a postcard for, and the also brief sad look she’d had before it had gotten quashed back under the indifference and attitude.
And that’s okay. No, it’s not how I might have wanted this to play out but that? Not up to me. All I get to do is try my best to make her want to trust me. And I don’t get the feeling that’s going to happen tonight.
“That used to be me, too. I thought I had to hide what I could do, who I am, from almost everyone. Maybe it works out better for you, but I didn’t want to live like that anymore.”
And maybe I also wouldn’t have chosen this life either but once I got pushed out there? I know there’s no going back for me. I couldn’t do it. And I don’t want to either. I also know that I’m lucky. That Conner affords me a level of protection that other people don’t get, and that’s a leeway I’m taking advantage of right now. Eventually it’s not going to hold up anymore, and then I need to be… we all need to be prepared. There’s a faint shrug of my shoulders, as I purse my lips for a moment but otherwise refuse to rise to the bait of ‘playing’ at being a hero.
“How did it make you feel when you stopped those men? Were you just experimenting and decided eh, not for me? Or did it make you feel something else? You don’t have to answer that. Just… think about it. Here. I’m going to give you an address, and…”
Dropping my eyes for the first time, I’m digging out the sleek red phone from my pocket. I’d placed it on silent mode before coming back to Metropolis, though I wasn’t sure that would actually do anything since Tim’s intrusive holo-messages had made it through just the same. I suppose he’s probably got some super-access since he made the thing. Or it’s just part of the whole Bat-thing of being where you’re not expected to be. My nose actually wrinkles as I cringe in my seat at the litany of missed alerts that seem to have come in, in the last fifteen minutes, and who they’re from but for the moment I disregard them to pull up the information from Red Robin’s database that I’m looking for.
“…ahem. If you want to keep hiding, or need to, that’s your call to make. Not mine. This is a place here in Metropolis that is safe if you feel like someone is trying to push you into something you don’t want. You’re free to use it. No catch. No expectations.”
I’m sliding myself out of the booth’s seat even as I talk, thumb still whirling through screens and information until I find what I need.
“I apologize. Apparently I need to go play hero…”
Okay so maybe I didn’t totally let that one go.
“… but if you want to, or need to, get a hold of me there’ll be a way to do that there.”