4635/Because I Could Not Stop For Death

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Because I Could Not Stop For Death
Date of Scene: 07 January 2021
Location: Roof - Titan's Tower
Synopsis: Terry and Nightwing have a rooftop conversation about life, death, poetry, bat-dads and cat-dads.
Cast of Characters: Terry O'Neil, Dick Grayson

Terry O'Neil has posed:
The tower of the Titans was an impressive sight at sunset, an imposing structure with its arms spread wide, tinted red with fire, glittering windows like stars.

The sun sets a lot earlier in Winter, and by the time Terry O'Neil comes up to the rooftop, hundreds of lights are already shimmering in the gloaming over in the city.

He doesn't turn on any extra lights on the rooftop, the minimalistic illumination is enough as it is, and Terry slowly walks over to the railing separating the roof from the void, and looks out at the city. Numbness from trauma and shock had finally abated, and he was beginning to feel things again. Painful things.

Had it been really only two weeks ago that they celebrated the holidays on this rooftop, all of them together? A hand comes up to wipe his face as he lets a quiet sob escape him. Up here, in the darkness, he's alone.

Dick Grayson has posed:
"Don't mean to startle you," comes a smooth, easygoing voice from somewhere further along the roof in the growing shadows, "But it looks like we've got some common ground as far as 'places to go to think' are concerned."

Nightwing did not spend as much time with the newest incarnation of the Titans as he had with the old. His array of responsibilities had only grown since those days, and he had his unspoken doubts about an organisation that would thrust his youngest sibling into a position of authority. All the same, with this most recent tragedy, visiting Metropolis was something he simply had to do.

It's something in his training that allows the darkness to almost peel away from him without his having to move. He's more easily visible now, one leg dangling lazily over the edge while the other knee is drawn up to his chest. One of his Escrima sticks is balanced horizontally atop his raised kneecap, and he holds it in perfect equilibrium without even seeming to think about it.

"Did you have a dad who thought the only good places to think were two hundred feet in the air and festooned with gargoyles?" He smiles lightly behind the mask, the breeze catching the dark hair he's let grow out over the last few months.

Terry O'Neil has posed:
Terry spins with a start, when the voice comes. The fact that his hands curl into the vague shape of claws despite him /not/ being in feline form shows he was expecting an attack. And, with recent events, who could blame him? It takes a second for him to recognize who it is that is addressing him, and he relaxes visibly. Nightwing.

He had not interacted with the man much, because of his many different responsibilities, but the redhead has held him in awe since... well, since the first incarnation of the Titans, when he was a kid.

"Nightwing..." he says, and slowly approaches the original Titan, stepping slowly just in case the shadows would come over and cause him to disappear again, and it should prove that he was now starting to hallucinate.

And then whom would he go to for therapy? Harley?

"No... no, I didn't know my father..." he smiles a little, and then he realizes there's fresh tears still streaming down his face. He hastily reaches up and dries them with his sleeve, swallowing whatever emotions were about to come to the surface. "But he was a cat, so I guess high places are in the blood for me..." he frowns, and for a moment the general sorrow of his expression lifts a little to add a little levity. "That really does sound... crazy, doesn't it?"

Dick Grayson has posed:
"Makes me feel lucky in a way. I had two. Admittedly I didn't know the first one very long, but he was the real deal. A triple layout to put Boston Brand to shame and the friendliest guy you ever met. The other one ... " The vigilante's lips twist once again into a wry half-smile, "Well, he had other strengths."

"Cat for a dad?" Nightwing answers, eyebrows raised, "Not really. There's a guy living in the sewers under Gotham who's part crocodile. You work with people who can lift cars and perform honest to God magic. Hell, there's a guy flying around this city who could play pool with the planets. Cat for a dad doesn't sound so crazy when you put it in perspective."

He leans back, planting both hands palm-down on the rooftop behind him and staring off towards the horizon.

"It's all about perspective."

Terry O'Neil has posed:
"I'm ... having problems with that," he admits. He slowly gets up onto the ledge, facing Nightwing, arms encircling his knees. "Right now, it feels like everything has fallen away from me and all I see is a rabbit hole below me." His voice chokes and he looks away, to the city. The breeze causes his unruly red hair to get into his eyes, and he changes the angle he is facing in.

"I realize... that's probably how you guys felt about Dove. And Khole, and..." the Titans who died at the hands of Doomsday. That pain had seemed alien to him- understandable in an academic sense, but nevertheless detached from him as a floating abstraction. Now, he was feeling it in the flesh.

"And now Gar is gone." He takes a breath. He is not going to break down in front of fricking Nightwing. "... I know you couldn't be around much, with... everything you do. But I was his..."

He clenches his jaw and silences something, and then he suddenly chanes the conversation. "I bet... he was such a brat, when he joined the team... back in the day..." he smiles a little.

Dick Grayson has posed:
"Everyone was," Nightwing admits, not pushing for more information and instead keeping up the laid back posture, "The team only really existed because we got tired of watching the big guys hang out while they told us to wait in the car. Everyone had a chip on their shoulder a mile deep and everything to prove."

"He took to it better, though. Guess it's hard not to when you were your 'mask' twenty-four seven. Just lean right into the life and enjoy it. Too many people forget that, you know? Sure, there's the duty, and the justice, and responsibility. All important. But at the end of the day ... sometimes it's just nice to be able to do what you do. I never felt more free than when I was flying through the air with no one to catch me."

He shrugs his shoulders, jostling his knee and causing the stick to topple to the left and fall into his waiting hand. He balances it on the tip of his finger, spinning it effortlessly as he does.

"There's pain too, obviously. I mean, that's why you're up here. Bad things happen to the people who do this. It's shitty. There's never any good reason for it, either. You can hammer it into whatever shape you want and say it was noble, or brave, or whatever. But it's mean and it's small and it'll happen just like that - " he clicks his fingers, " - and you're left wondering why it couldn't be grander, or better, or further away."

"There's a poem by Philip James Bailey. Festus. He says: 'Life hath more awe than death.' I like to look at it that way. It's about how we get to the destination, rather than wondering what the destination will be like or how we can put it off."

Terry O'Neil has posed:
"I know that poem," Terry answers with a small voice. He smirks a little, "Strange thing, poems. My life is encapsulated in silly poems. It's either the Jabberwocky or Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Bat." He pauses, and adds "No commentary on present company intended. This morning I kept thinking of 'the bustle in a house the morning after death...' " He fidgets with his fingers,running them over the jean fabric covering his knees, "Putting love away we shall not want to use again until eternity?? he shakes his head. "I love... loved him. I'm not ready to say goodbye. But I have no choice."

His green eyes suddenly focus on Nightwing, focused in the moment. "Robin wants to murder him. The Doppelganger that killed Gar. I don't. But I can't stop him. He's Robin. I'm..." he waves a hand dismissively in the air. "... a joke. When I was younger, I'd follow what you guys did all the time. You were my heroes."

Dick Grayson has posed:
"I know the feeling. The man who killed my parents? I wanted to murder him, too. But I didn't. Over time it fades. The sting becomes and ache becomes an itch becomes a ... thing that you 'put away and shall not want to use again until eternity.' And you wonder if you'd done it - if you'd fed that dog - would it have passed? Would you get to look back on those memories through the same prism, or would it always be sullied with blood?"

He shrugs his shoulders airily. It's as though he himself doesn't quite know, and is just musing. These aren't the sort of conversations one had with his adoptive father.

"Robin is young. Mature in a lot of ways but ... immature in others. He wants to feed that dog. He's not looking forward. He's thinking about the destination without paying deference to the journey. But you've got a voice here, and a stake arguably greater than his. You don't need to stop him, you need to make him listen."

"Be your own hero, Terry," he says finally, tumbling backwards in an easy roll that allows him to spring upwards onto his feet in a motion full of grace, "We're all people, cat dads and laser eye-beams aside. Sooner you realise you can swoop in and make sure justice is done, the better you'll be. That's the tribute you ought to be paying, not brooding on a rooftop. We have that market cornered in Gotham, thank you very much, and there's no room for any Garfield-Come-Latelys ... "

Terry O'Neil has posed:
And Terry suddenly laughs a little, a few tears streaming down his cheeks. "You are right," he says, glancing up at Nightwing as he gets up with a grace that would rival his own feline grace. "It's... going to be very hard... but Gar was kind. He was gentle. He was good. And I can't forget that, how it changed my life. The world hasn't stopped... it just... feels like it has."

He slowly gets up. He's not afraid to fall. At least, for now.

"You are wise, Nightwing. Let us be friends... after all... you are family, right?" he taps the 'T' Titans badge that is on his jacket, "Maybe some day you can help me be a better acrobat? I've never seen anyone do what you do--" and not have, say, a prehensile tail or a feline body.

"I shoud go back down... Robin will be hunting..."

Dick Grayson has posed:
"If I can make Batman a better acrobat, you should be a pushover. You at least know how to accept you're not the best at something."

Nightwing grins, standing for a moment with his back to the rooftop's edge. His heels dip over it, and it becomes immediately evident just how confident he is with heights.

"We're already friends. That's what this was. But yeah, talk to him. Go to the Haldorf. Have a shower. Get some room service. Watch Soul on the movie channel - I heard it's good. And when things clear up, let's see about making the cat a bit more nimble on his feet and off 'em, huh?"

Without waiting for an answer, Nightwing falls backwards. It's a slow, languid thing as he topples out into the empty air. A moment later one of his de-cel lines catches onto the Tower, allowing him to swing through the air and off into the night.