4902/Good to hide, and hear 'em hunt

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Good to hide, and hear 'em hunt
Date of Scene: 27 January 2021
Location: Bullpen - Daily Planet Building
Synopsis: Terry Sees Shadow People
Cast of Characters: Terry O'Neil, Colette O'Connail

Terry O'Neil has posed:
Too embarrassed to return to the tower, and too defeated to face what he anticipated to be Gar's disapproval back at the Embassy, and not wanting to put his mother's new location in danger by going to see her, Terry doesn't have many options of where to go.

In the end, the Planet was the only destination he could really think of. There were days when Lois practically lived there, crashing off the break room in between tense deadlines. Who would notice if the cub reporter was crashing there while producing, supposedly, twenty days worth of output?

It was late. Definitely late, and Terry had fallen asleep half-draped over the couch in the break room, some notes scattered over his lap. It wasn't a comfortable position, and he was going to be sore when he woke up, but for the moment he had managed to finally fall asleep between bouts of writing and moments of self-recrimination.

Colette O'Connail has posed:
    Communication with the one doppelganger who doesn't seem to be trying to kill people has been slow, and confusingly weird. Which is to say that Terry had sent her a message several days ago suggesting that they might meet up, and had got no response until earlier that evening when a message came back saying <<Sorry, I didn't realize I wasn't getting a signal where I'm staying, what is up?>>. Terry had sleepily responded that he was at the Planet, to which he'd received the respose <<Really? I was at the Moon.>>

    Apparently sarcasm is a trait that runs deep.

    One short mental adjustment later, Terry had explained to MirrorColette what 'The Planet' actually was, and had heard nothing back from her before he'd dozed off. That is until he's awaked by a gentle shaking of his shoulders and a whispered "Terry? Terry? Are you okay?" in a voice that is definitely and distinctly Colette's yet containing an alien - and rather out of place - element of concern. While the ex-Cat is distinctly not okay, that is hardly evident to someone seeing him asleep.

    It may take some getting used to MirrorColette with her shorter, darker hair, her different dress sense and a body language so fundamentally at odds with the Colette Terry knows that she might as well be a visitor from Uncanny Valley. On the subject of dress sense, one thing she is notably not wearing is a visitor's pass. This late there don't tend to be too many people about, but there certainly should have been someone on the door.

Terry O'Neil has posed:
"Oh... hey..." Terry says, blinking through the cloud of sleep, slowly emerging to full consciousness. Sitting up, he flinches as his back protests. It's not good to sleep in that position, no matter what age you are. He has no idea how Lois manages to not throw her back out when she sleeps here. He assumes that years of sleeping in all sorts of positions while a stowaway have given her the spinal flexbility of a ferret.

"I'm... I'm kinda not okay... what time is it?" he yawns, , looking around to see if anyone else was in there with them. "... howd'ya get in?"

Colette O'Connail has posed:
    Colette studies him closely for a few moments, then replies "Through the shadow paths." She steps quietly over to the door, peers out of it, then pulls it gently shut before returing to where Terry is sitting, taking a seat herself where she has a good view of the door.

    She stares at him, wide-eyed and blinking. "You were... just sleeping here?" she asks, slightly incredulously, glancing at the door again. Her eyes go distant and she shakes her head. "I guess you were. Is there a problem? I thought there might be a problem. Your message seemed kind of off. But it's not easy to tell with phone messages, is it?"

    "It's... four minutes past midnight. I'm sorry I didn't see your message before. It was stupid, I should have realized I wasn't getting a signal where I've been staying."

Terry O'Neil has posed:
"The shadowpaths. Of course," he mumbles, rubbing at his eyes and looking at this Colette. "... you look better as a brunette, by the way," he says, a propos of nothing, because his mind is like this when he wakes up. "

"I was sleeping here... yeah. I fucked up. Majorly. Can't.... really go back to the Tower right now. Mom's house is compromised. And I can't... look Gar in the eye right now."

He sighs and rubs his face. "No, you really can't tell, can you, with text? Where were you staying, that you... wait. You said the moon. Did you actually mean the moon?"

Colette O'Connail has posed:
    "Yeah, there's a Russian base they're not using at the moment," she says as if this was the most normal thing in the world. "I like to get out of the cities. They are so noisy at night."

    She glances at the door again, and settles back into the sofa, making herself comfortable. She crosses her arms in her lap, and stares out of the window. "I don't understand," she announces softly after giving some thought to Terry's words. "How do you mean that your mom's house is compromised? Is the tower your mom's house? And what is wrong with Gar's eye?"

    She lets out a long sigh. "I'll be honest with you, Terry. I'm not sure that your message was any more off than the way you speak. Maybe it's just different ways of phrasing things. Your world is hard for me to understand, sometimes. Would you like to tell me about your problem? Maybe I can think of something to help."

Terry O'Neil has posed:
"Right... it's like Kian all over again," Terry reminds himself. "THe Tower is where the Titans live. We met near the Tower. My mother's home has been compromised- my doppelganger knows where it is, so I can't sleep there... as for the tower..."

He pauses, sighs, and says, "It all started when I got a call..."

He proceeds to tell the incident in excruciating detail, so as not to leave anything out and not to mislead this Colette through the vagaries of Earth language. By the end of it, he is looking dejected again. "And... that's more or less what happened. I could't think of any other place to come to... except here. I haven't piss--- ticke--- made anyone angry here."

Colette O'Connail has posed:
    Colette listens to the tale thoughtfully, and rather amazingly without interruption, her brow furrowed with the effort to understand it all. She gives a brief shake of her head. "I don't understand it," she says, frowning. "You say they are both angry at you, Gar and... Donna? But Gar went along with you and didn't object at the time, so why would he be angry with you afterwards? That does not make sense."

    She chews her lower lip and stands, walking quietly over to the coffee machine where an aging jug of Garry's Finest has been stewing to an ungodly foulness for many hours on the hot plate, and picks it up to sniff it. "Are they both your lovers?" she asks, thankfully while looking away and not witness to Terry's reaction.

    Colette makes a face and puts the jug of coffee back down gingerly. "You may live in paradise, Terry. But you drink some disgusting things here." She returns to the sofa, picking up some of the notes that Terry had been working on and scanning them as if nosiness is an issue for other people, which at least does seem like a normal Colette kind of a thing to do.

Terry O'Neil has posed:
"Gar's upset because I screwed it up. I asked him to trust me and then I went and screwed it all up... I have no powers and my our enemy has all of them.." and then he trails off when Colette asks the question.

"Wha- no, Gar is, Donna's a friend... I... oh god no, don't drink that, that was made by Gary who is incompetent and god knows why he's still employed here."

Using many words in a row to keep himself thinking away from dwelling on an embarrassing topic.

His notes are all about Arkham- things he knows, thinks he is speculating. Potential corruption. Mistreatment of Inmates? There's a list of sources and potential leads to chase, and 'Harley Quinn' underlined under various columns.

He sighs softly, "So now I need to figure out how to fix this. I screwed it up. It's my fault... so... what are /you/ up to. Any news on your end?"

Colette O'Connail has posed:
    Colette puts the notes back down, apparently finding them of little interest. They are returned to the place she found them, in the correct order. Perhaps surprisingly that's something the other Colette would have done too, unless she was trying to be annoying. Whether that means mirrorColette shares Colette's attention to detail or is simply being thoughtful must remain a mystery.

    "If two people are in love they share a part of their hearts. Part of what you are feeling, he will also be feeling. I do not think he would agree to follow your plan and then hold it against you if that plan failed. More likely he is blaming himself for agreeing to go along with the plan that failed and believes he has hurt you. If he has shown some anger towards you, it is probably anger that he is feeling towards himself. " She looks up at him, slightly askance. "In my world love is rare. Here perhaps it is too common. You do not treat it with enough respect. It seems to me like your lover and your friend must both care a lot about you to feel angry that they were powerless to help you. You are a very lucky man, Terry."

    Colette gets up again and returns to the coffee machine, studying it carefully. She plays with it a bit, getting a brief hiss of steam before switching it off again. "There is a machine that makes coffee on the moon station, but it doesn't smell like this. I didn't drink that either. I have little news. There is another person I want to see, but I am cautious about her. Do you know of a friend of Colette's called Carol? She works with the team called Shield, who distributed the cure to my world."

Terry O'Neil has posed:
At first Terry is at a loss of words. "I'm... not sure. It pretty much came across as them being angry at me for not thinking clearly and then screwing it up. 'cause I'm a screw up. No matter what I do, I'm always doing something to screw myself over," he mutters.

The frown goes away when Carol is brought up, "Oh, right. Carol Danvers. Captain Marvel. Very reliable. Very powerful. I interviewed her back in March of last year. What are you thinking to do with her? You know, the other Colette tends to be mistrustful of SHIELD," he chuckles. Then adds, "As well as a great deal of people, come to think of it."

Colette O'Connail has posed:
    "Do you always think and act entirely logically when you are feeling strong emotions, Terry?" Colette asks with a faint smile. "I think that if they did not care about you, then you putting yourself into danger would not be a cause of strong emotion for them. They are angry because you put something that is important to them in danger. That seems quite natural to me."

     Perhaps because everything is new to her and she just has to know, Colette pulls out the coffee jug again, and takes a sip from it. "Euch. This is truly foul. I have drunk stagnant rainwater that tasted better. Yes, she calls herself Captain Marvel. She concerns me. It is possible she is the greatest danger your world faces, and I must find out if this is the case. Have you heard of the 'Kree Empire'? Or 'Starforce'? These do not seem to be known about on your world, but perhaps your public records are less than complete."

    Kree? It's possible Terry had heard the species mentioned while in the Seven Worlds, but Carol never did mention the name of the galactic empire she had a run in with in her interviews, and knowledge of the Kree is very much considered need to know in SHIELD and government circles.

    "If she is not what I fear she may be, then she would perhaps have some useful insight about your world's version of me. I find myself very uncertain about her. I am not sure your Earth has been good for her. Maybe she needed a less comfortable life to try out."

Terry O'Neil has posed:
Terry frowns and ponders this. "Maybe... I'm... just not good with anger. When people I care about get angry at me I just feel..." he shudders and shakes his head, "But that's neither here nor there. Captain Marvel. So you are saying that if she is a doppelganger, we are in big trouble? Well... that may not be so. There is someone who is even more powerful than her, and she's on the Titan's side and verified non-doppel. So..."

He crosses his legs, "We need to verify the Captain is the Captain I know and not someone from your world? Easy. I've interviewed her before, and there's a few things I can ask her about from our previous interactions that only she would know. We can clear her that way..." he tilts his head, "I can help. If... you know. You don't mind being helped by a screw-up."

Colette O'Connail has posed:
    Colette leans against the table with the coffee machine on it and shakes her head at Terry. "No... no, I don't want your help with this. Not about being a screw up. Perhaps you are an emotional screw up, because you seem to wish to believe the least positive interpretation of events even when it is the least likely. It is very hard to love another when you do not love yourself, you can take my word on that. I think you are too focused on blaming yourself for their pain, so you do not try to heal their pain. Perhaps if you tried to do that, you would find it easier to love yourself, too."

    Colette sits back down, opposite Terry, with her hands on her knees and a very unfamiliar expression on her face. It takes a moment to recognize it as worry. "Terry, I don't think she is a doppelganger. I am not aware of their being such such a person on my world, and I believe I would have been were she to be alive there. It is possible that the person you know, the Carol of your world, is not what she seems to be, and possibly not what she even believes herself to be. I don't want you to help, because it's far too dangerous. You should keep well away from her Terry. If my fear is correct, her response to being uncovered would likely be lethal. So please, leave this to me."

    She leans back, sighing softly again. "The worrying thing is that what I know, your version of me presumably also knows. She will have asked the questions I want to ask. If I could trust her, I could trust Carol. But if Carol is what I fear she might be, then your Colette must also know and have befreinded her regardless. It's very worrying."

Terry O'Neil has posed:
Terry frowns and muses on what Colette says. Unsurprisingly, he finds himself unable to refute her. Was it truly that? Pain? He tries to remember a time when he got as angry with someone he cared about as Donna got with him, and realizes he can't think of a time. Nevertheless, there surely must have been times. He got furious with Robin, but that was different- whatever deference Robin gave to Gar, it was clear that none of it was extended to the one whose epiteth he had deemed 'that crazy cat thing.' Their relationship was nothing more than a prolongued acrimony constantly teetering over the abyss, with Terry constantly delaying the fallout by choosing not to return fire... for now. But every cat has his limits. Thus Robin he discards from his mind, not being able to say in good conscience that he cares for him in any other manner than as an abstraction of 'team-mate', with the attached perfunctory notion that his well being was, by definition, important and necessary.

Then, there was the fight with Gar over Harley... but that had been Gar getting angry with /him/. And he flashes back again and again, and he grows more anxious when he can only seem to recall people getting angry /at/ him. Was he repressing his emotions, afraid to give course to anger for fear of being rejected? And, as an aside... he found it regretful that he was such a constant cause of anger for Gar, who nevertheless loved him.

He takes a deep breath. These ruminations are leading him nowhere. "Don't talk to Carol. Let's talk to your doppelganger first. You're operating on assumptions about her, and at this point your lack of knowledge might cause you to make the wrong choice. I can be in that conversation. I insist."

Colette O'Connail has posed:
    Colette falls silent a while, chewing on her lower lip. Someone passes in the corridor outside, and her eyes snap to the door, watching it nervously, but the footsteps pass. She lets out a long breath. "Thank you Terry. I don't know how much you know about her. About me. But that's courageous. You are without your powers, but you still insist on putting yourself into a dangerous position because you believe it is right."

    "Maybe that is the right thing to do, I'm not sure. But she can walk the shadow paths. The research I have done -- I think it would be unlikely that Carol would have remained undetected if she was truly a threat to this world, but it's a possibility I have to consider. If she is a threat, and your Colette is her ally in this, we can't risk her being forewarned."

    "If the news is good, then your suggestion would probably be best. But if the news is bad, the best option is for me to meet her somewhere..." her eyes go to the window, and up to the sky outside. "...far away from any witnesses, with a cover story that makes her believe I do not care what answers she gives to my question, so she can set the confrontation aside."

    She gives a quick nod of her head, and stands up, walking over to where Terry sits. "Yes, that's the best way. Then... then, when I have a little more information, we will do what you suggest."

    She kneels down in front of where Terry sits, looking him straight in the eyes, and rests on hand on each of his arms. "Terry. Go speak to your lover and your friend, okay? Heal their hearts, so that your own heart can start to heal. And if you need help dealing with your teleporting other self, remember that I can teleport too."

    She smiles softly and takes her hands away, holding them out beside her. Shadows flow from under the sofa, pooling around her and forming a circle of darkness as if the light from the bulbs was fleeing her presence. She starts to stand, and is gone.