(2016-10-03) Death, Self-harm, and Tacos
Death, Self-harm, and Tacos
Summary: Tabitha learns about the kraken attack, then tracks down Rissa to make sure she's alright.
Date: 2016-10-03
Related: Owls are bastards! Death by Kraken
NPCs: None
Scene Runner: NA

Classes canceled? For almost any other reason, she would be jazzed. Instead, it's a reminder of a lost friend she can't get rid of. So she went to the beach. Why? Simply put, she's vaguely aware that's what you're supposed to do in these situations. Loose black jeans, a loose black blouse, and a yellow armband (mainly because she's not in her uniform) are the only things she's wearing right now. Her hair is a loose, scattered cascade, and her finger and toenails are painted yellow. Her teddybear backpack is on the ground not far, and she is currently hucking stones at the water trying to get them to skip. She's not exactly having a lot of luck.

Having been away from the school since the owl encounter Saturday evening, Tabitha hadn't known what was going on when she returned to find no classes. She had a whole half a minute or so of blissful ignorance and mild relief at managing to duck detention for being a no-show, but then the various pieces of conversation she was hearing throug her aura came together and she was stunned. And when she got the rest of the story she forgot about going back to her room to change, about getting rid of the evidence of how she spent her Sunday, and was just trying to find out what happened to the other person she actually knew who had been on the ferry.

Hearing that Rissa had gone to the mainland, Tabitha didn't waste much time. She only bothered to put up a quick obfuscation illusion around herself and then made a dashing flight across the water towards Shady Cove. Finding Rissa standing on the beach in mourning clothes trying to skip stones against waves causes her to almost cry in relief. It does cause her to go from flight to great bearhug without bothering to do such polite things as land, stop, hold her strength back much, or even become visible except at the last second before bearhug impact. She's babbling a lot of what is basically nonsense about hearing about the attack and being worried and generally letting words fall on top of each other with a general theme of, "You're alright, oh good!" making its way through.

Rissa is sort of not really paying attention, exactly. She's just busy skipping (or rather sinking) her rocks in the water. At least the feeling of the sand and water on her toes is pleasant. Still, she'd probably have been better served by being more aware than she actually was at the moment. Maybe then a flying bundle of affection comprised of… quite a lot of energy wouldn't have managed to pounce her like a tiger and freak her right the hell out.

The first few seconds of being lifted up, hugged, and smacked into cause lots of flailing. Her body is slender. Her muscles are tough and well-toned, but in the end, despite her height, she is more small than not. Thankfully, the 'voice' and his secrets have ensured she has strength and durability beyond her body's physical density and toughness. She'd probably have the wind knocked out of her if she breathed! "Ackackackack! What the!" Several moments of flailing as her mind processes that she is in fact not under attack and has no need to defend herself and then she is relaxing, and at least TRYING to manage a flying hug. Sort of,"Yeah, yeah, I'm alive. My hands are a little cut up, but that's normal."

When Tabitha's babbling and slightly reckless hugging reach their endpoint she gets a good bit more coherent and realizes that she's standing on a public beach in clothes that look like they were washed with razor wire then rinsed off in the soot of an active volcano holding up someone a good bit taller than her up off the sand. After a few seconds of silence and blinking she pushes her aura out up the beach, coating its 'surface' with a quick illusion to obscure their faces and put in a bit of J.J. Abrahms style lens flare towards anyone that might have been looking.

Then she puts Rissa down gently with a blush from forehead to midrif (which is fairly visible since her clothes are all torn in places and the zipper on her hoodie seems to have been torn off along with the hood and left sleeve) and holds her at arm's length to make really sure that Rissa isn't just claiming to be fine while having parts missing or something equally dire. She seems to have exhausted her babbling, too and just lets out a long breath before asking, "What happened?"

Rissa waits patiently for Tabitha to put her down. It's not so bad being held up, and anyway, even if Tabitha looks rough, well, Rissa is in mostly black clothes, which means she's not worried about getting them stained anyway. If she's aware of the illusion around her and the other girl, it's anyone's guess. She's not exactly the most aware when it comes to keeping on the DL, herself.

Still, she is a little relieved at being put down, even if the hood is nice. And if her eyes linger a little bit on some of the more strategically revealed portions of Tabitha's midriff and whatnot, well, so what. Just means they match since she's blushing now too. Swiveling her gaze around behind her, she points at her backpack,"I have a batman hoodie in there. Your clothes are kind of…" Pause. "I was worried about you."

Then the girl asks for a report,"Rain was taking me to town for a makeover. And I… I dunno. This squid-robot thing with lots of baby squid-robot things attacked the boat. It grabbed her and Besa got thrown overboard." Her voice is steady as she reports. "I figured he would still be able to swim, so… I ripped the tentacle in half and freed Rain, then I jumped in the water to go get Besa, I couldn't see him anywhere, so I kept looking. I had to stop…" Her voice has begun to break a little bit now,"… when it squirted all this ink in the water. I was basically blind. And when they were pulling me up… There was screaming… and… When I got my eyes clear, Besa was… he was…" Yep. Cue the actual crying, all over again. "… if I'd just gone in after him first, this never would've happened." And maybe Rain would've been crushed. She doesn't really know that the robot was doing.

<FS3> Tabitha rolls Aura Shaping + Reaction + 2: Good Success.
<FS3> Tabitha rolls Aura Illusion + Reaction + 2: Good Success.

Tabitha shakes her head at the mention of her clothes and the state they're in. "I'll live. It's hard to explain, I just had to…" She shakes her head a tiny bit to clear it and gives Rissa a gentle tug towards one of the larger rock formations along the shore, a vaguely arrow-shaped headland that incidentally points in the exact location of the school. A thread of her aura snags Rissa's backpack now that she knows it's there. Then when the pair of them are closer to the rocks, her aura forms up behind them and thickens to form a kind of half-shell to shield them from view up the beach. That shell thickens, transitioning from its usual demi-dimensional mist into solid matter and then getting covered in an illusion to make it match the surrounding sand and stone. There's even a bench to sit on, which Tabitha will guide Rissa towards. She does this all while listening to the other girl talk about what happened on the ferry.

She keeps an arm around Rissa as the explanation continues, then gives her a squeeze towards the end. "Then Rain would be dead. You tackled the immediate danger then without hesitation jumped into the same ocean as that thing to go after Besa. You did the right thing. It's not your fault that thing got Besa before you could reach him."

She allows herself to be tugged. Luckily (or perhaps not) the seriousness of the talk completely overshadows the state of Tabitha's clothing and what she was doing to get it so ripped up. There will be QUESTIONS later. Just not right now. "I…" Her voice clearly doesn't know where to start, but still she follows Tabitha's lead to the bench, inwardly impressed by the aura-manipulations, but too overwrought to much comment on it. It's an impressive, versatile display of power.

It's death they speak of though, and it consumes her. Her voice is low and soft,"I… If I'd been faster or stronger, though… I should've trained harder. I just… it hurts… the training. But if I'd trained harder, maybe I'd have been fast enough, strong enough to help them both…" Because she just HAS to blame herself. She's shuddering in that grasp, her body twitching. Her eyes closed. "I almost did something really stupid last night."

Tabitha keeps her arm around Rissa as they sit and she listens. "You've had hardly any time here and you've already gotten so much stronger. There are limits to what we can do or what we can prepare for. This is NOT your fault. The blame goes square in the lap of whoever thought sending a damn robot squid after people was a solid idea." Then she pauses and tilts her head at that last part, sort of sitting on her free hand. "What did you almost do?" Asking the question lets her take her mind just slightly off of what she /did/ try to do.

"I…" Suddenly the words dry up in her mouth. She doesn't really know how to quite put it. So at first, she just leans against Tabitha since the arm is already there. Eyes close. Her mind wanders. Far. One might notice the faintest red glow to her eyes. She's speaking internally now. With the voice. "When… bad things happen to me… Painful things… The voice whispers secrets… Ways to make me… stronger… more… resilient. To make it so it never happens again. And I was… shouting at it. Demanding it to bring Besa back. I know he could do it. He's…" She was going to say 'he's done it before'. She opts not to finish that thought, though. "I was feeling… really shitty. Like, super-awful, and whispered to me again. About how to fix it. So I'd never feel that pain again. And… I knew what he was proposing. He was showing me how to cut that piece of myself out… so it'd never feel that kind of pain again. And I ALMOST did it… I wanted to, so bad."

"He sounds like something of a dick, and I'm glad you stopped at almost." This is one of those times where Tabitha feels a lot older than she does normally. "I won't say it's not what Besa would want, because he's past all that. Past all pain. Because that's the only way too really get past any pain… die. We hurt because we're alive and that's how I'd very much like you to stay, thank you. Hurt fades. Not quickly but it does fade. It becomes less important than our respect for the fallen and the trials and glories of life to come."

"Yeah. But the shitty thing is… He told me how. So now… that knowledge… it doesn't fade. It's always going to be there. Knowing I could just turn off that pain." Like an addict with a snort dangling just out of reach. She drags fingers through her hair, wiping her nose on her arm, and sniffling. "Ugh, I look like a mess." Pause. "You were gone so long… I was… I was worried about you. Like… crazy worried. Your little package… I have it if you want it. I didn't open it. But… If you didn't…" Well, she was going to. "… And I probably would've given it to one of the teachers. I still… have it. But… where did you go? What happened to you? It looks like we weren't the only ones suffering." Her eyes are still shining, but she mostly just looks happy to see Tabitha.

"Well let's just keep at almost, shall we?" Tabitha gives Rissa a light squeeze. "Please?" And then Rissa shifts it back to her and mentions the package. When it's brought up there is a definite shudder that passes through Tabitha's body. The kind that happens when you feel someone not just walking over your grave but stopping to hold a political rally while they're in the neighborhood. "When I touched the package… I don't think that language has ever had words to describe how… utterly, existentially terrified I became. I just… had to run. And then…" She reaches her free hand up to cover the hole in her shirt that's been not torn but clawed open over her heart. "… it felt like something was trying to tear its way out of me, and I had to help it escape." Maybe those black sooty marks on her clothes aren't from smoke.

She looks at the hole, her eyes sort of roving over it in a curious manner. Because they are supers, she has to ask,"And did… something get out? Are you still whole? I… It's important for me that you be okay. And if you're not, then I need to help…" Especially since she couldn't help Besa. Rissa shivers all over. Time to wrap Tabitha in a big old squeezy hug. She's pretty strong herself, but she also just got done getting comforted. "Do you want me to get rid of it, then? I can just… toss it in a fire. You don't ever have to deal with again. Someone's obviously trying to screw with you." Pause. "I was dead once. Only for, like, a few seconds. But… I… saw things. And I felt so tiny. I… sympathize, you know. As much as I can, anyway. Only you can REALLY fully understand it, but… There's a certain… crawling sensation you get when something you trusted about the universe implicitly turns out to be false. Maybe you grabbed hold of the same thing?"

The skin visible under her torn clothes is covered in the glyphs Rissa had previously seen on her arms and neck. Judging from how much is now visible, it's likely safe to assume that the only places the glyphs aren't are her face and head. Some of them are static and fixed in their position while some shift visibly, altering their composition and even their language but never to anything much more modern than the invention of agriculture. She leans into the hug but eventually nods. "I'm alright, but I'm pissed off. I don't know who sent that owl or why they hate me so much, but if you could pick up the file folder then whatever set me off was targeted. And no. don't destroy it. Not that I think it can be." She eventually gets around to answering the original question, "No, nothing came out. And I'm… well I'm whole now."

"Next time I see one of those owls, I'm going wreck its day." She keeps looking at that burned out spot, deciding to leave it alone for the moment. Then she reaches for her backpack and opens it so Tabitha can see the bundle inside, nestled in her batman hoodie inside. Rissa rises, though, and crooks her arm. Sort of encouraging the girl to link arms with her. "Let's walk. I was going to help Besa with his stuff. Since he's not here anymore, I'm going to do what he would've wanted. I'm going to help you figure this out. Then I'm going to find who's screwing with you and hit them until their faces invert." Because angry is an easy way to deal with rough feelings.

<FS3> Tabitha rolls Aura Sunburst + Reaction + 2: Failure.

Tabitha manages a short breath of laughter at the sight of the hoodie. She nods her acceptance, but before she takes it out of the backpack she turns a bit on the created seat so she's facing more away from Rissa than towards. A very slight tug, even less than one might use on a loose thread, and the remains of her flannel hoodie and t-shirt are torn the rest of the way off and tossed to the ground. Viewed from behind in partial profile, her torso isn't actually a great deal more feminine than Rissa's. It's leanly muscled, more than a bit ripped, with modest attributes. And the glyphs really are everywhere.

She holds her hand out towards the scraps of fabric and the air gets warmer, then a good deal warmer, and then… nothing happens and she slumps back. "Guess the tank is lower than I thought. When I could still fly I figured I had the juice." She takes the batman hoodie and shrugs into it then slides her arm through Rissa's. "Thank you." She's quiet for a moment as she unmakes their temporary hidey hole. "Besa was helping me, too. Trying to help translate some of the languages in my skin." She gives off a pleased snort after that. "I'm all for inverted faces. We'll take turns."

Okay. Now Rissa is definitely blushing. The polite thing probably would be to turn away. But she's a teenager. The glyphs draw her eyes as much as the musculature and the tone. Eventually she manages to rip her eyes away and do the decent thing. When the girl is finally completely dressed, she turns back with a mildly guilty expression that quickly gets shoved down.

Yes Rissa, growing up is confusing. "What are friends for?" Yep. "I can't do that. The voice may or may not know what they mean, but… he's… Imagine if you gave dog all the knowledge in the world, but none of the emotional context or reasoning skills to go with it. He knows that 2+2=4, but he's a dog, so all he's thinking about is 'will master feed me'. The voice is the same. What I can promise is that I won't get tired, and I won't get bored until you get what you need. And if it's all I can do, then I'll hold them while you punch. As long as you need." Because offering to help makes her feel a little better about herself. She starts walking along the beach arm-in-arm with Tabitha, a distant look in her eyes,"You're going to be top-tier when you graduate, you know?"

And just how much more would Rissa have blushed if she realized that Tabitha could still see her clearly since among its other tricks her aura is her biggest sense organ? But one thing she knows that few people would appreciate is filling them in on just how much she really notices throughout the day. She smiles and leans her head against Rissa's side as the other girl talks about how her help can't be in the form of specialized knowledge. "Well, hopefully the specialist my caretaker insists is coming by sometime can help with that if her old, crabby self ever decides to show up. But I've been taking photographs of every time the glyphs change to something new, and doing a lot of time in various libraries to try and track down the languages, and also helping the FBI track down all the places my former family used to use for our… safehouses to see if anything can be found out about why I have these but no other gentek ever has." She sighs and smirks, "Hey, if we ever track those guys down, I'm all for trading off the punches. And if anything I'll be second tier. I'm good with music, which I like, and I'm good with my powers, which I like although I'm not wild about how I got that way. High school, though… that I'm not quite as good at."

"You'll be top tier at anything you do. You know… I told you I got shot and that's how I ended up here. The truth is, I was doing vigilante work. Part of the deal with my parents was that I stop doing that, at least until I'm an adult. I mean, it was beating up thugs and gangsters, so it wasn't like the big name heroes. I just figured I'd do that until I died. Now… I feel like I have a future and I'm realizing, I have to have a life beyond 'she fights crime." She shrugs helplessly, but smile's and squeezes the other girl's arm as she lays her head against her side. She's easy enough to make happy. "Meanwhile, you're dealing with these huge existential questions. The worst I have to deal with is 'I'm a girl and people accept that, now find out what it means'." She actually gets a smile out of that.

Her steps are measured. Taken in to accomodate the smaller girl's stride. "Still, I guess what I'm saying… I'm not exactly good at High School either. I had… literally no friends. Noone to talk to. High School was a thing I went to, but I didn't really… participate, you know? They called me 'Princess Fag' when they talked to me at all. So I let them shut me out. Which was my own fault. I could've been living. But look at you. All this rough stuff you went through and you're not letting it slow you down at trying to be you at all!"

"If being accepted as a girl isn't a huge existential deal, then I've been reading the wrong dictionary. But I do sort of wish we'd gone to the same school before this one. I would've enjoyed dealing with your bullies more than I did mine. We could've traded dance partners." Tabitha doesn't respond to the rest at first, prefering to listen to Rissa talk about her own experiences. She gives the other girl's arm a squeeze in sympathy when she recounts how she was treated. "Well you're living now, so please keep it up." Then she's quiet for a few beats after Rissa's last comment.

She talks slowly, a combination of finding the words and finding the will. "Until this past May, I didn't know I was anything other than Tabitha Jones. A too tiny girl with no memories, some music talent, and sudden onset unexplainable powers. I ended up at Coral Springs within a week of the powers, head spinning like anyone else's, and the plan was still to get through high school just so no one could call me another dropout wannabe rock star. Wasn't until after things went completely tits up that I remembered all the old sayings about making plans. Since then I've just been trying to make up for all my past sins." And here her voice drops and she almost but not quite lets go of Rissa's arm to put some distance there. "I've got a long way to go in that."

She smiles. Rissa hasn't had a lot of direct comfort in her life, and it shows in the way she soaks up even small gestures of physical approval and validation,"I bet you could've. For me, it was… I felt like violence was the only thing that'd be able to straighten them out and… in the end, they were just being stupid kids. I bet you could've flayed them alive with words though. And now? Now I'm tearing steel with my bare hands and no telling where it will end… if it ever DOES. Suddenly my bullies seems so far away. This. This right now? This is what seems real. So to keep moments like this coming, I'll keep living. Even if it's surrounded by tragedy and heartbreak."

Rissa smiles in a shy sort of way. As if to return the favor, she reaches a hand across to squeeze Tabitha's arm. "I've only ever know this 'you'. So I can't judge what you did or didn't do. I'm not invincible, but I'm getting there. And all you've ever shown me is kindness. You've got ambition. You've got steel in your spine. I believe you have the drive to make things happen the way you need to. I know you don't have it easy, but… You're kind of a badass, but… you're doing okay. Really. I kept my eyes on the road ahead for so long, I never moved forward in my life. I'd be in a job, in a business suit when I graduated instead of wearing pretty dresses and chatting with friends if I did that. It took a jolt, but… now I'm just working on today. Every day. And life is… so much better." She rolls her shoulders,"I'll be there if you let me. You've got a lot of friends who want to see that. And bonus, you don't have anything to make up to me. Just… don't let trying to do better weigh down what is already so good about you." She may have blinders on?

"Violence is a useful solution if you don't make it your problem." Tabitha smirks after saying this. "But tearing steel with the bare hands is really cool, right?" She glances down at her hands as she says this, a shadow passing over her mood when she notes that she'll have to clean under her fingernails a LOT to get rid of what's jammed in there. She tears herself back so she doesn't drag things down again, smiling up at Rissa's enthusiasm. "So let's keep being a pair of badass broads on a mission, yeah? And right now, I'm thinking that mission is tacos!"

"There's a comic like that. Felicia and Aidan have me reading them, you know? If violence isn't your last resort, then you failed to resort to enough of it." Rissa hipbumps the other girl playfully. She notices the glance, though, and offers,"We can go get manicures this weekend. Or hell, do each others' manicures." She certainly does seem to be finding reasons to smile lately. "Now if only I wasn't so damned tall, I'd have it made. If it's tacos m'lady wants, then it's tacos m'lady shall have!"

Tabitha glances up at Rissa, "Really? Too tall? Try behing barely counter height to an easy bake oven." She chuckles at the idea of a manicure, "Never had one of those, despite all the cajoling Katrina has tried over the years. Hard to play guitar with too-perfect nails." Then she shrugs, "Never been able to get into comics, myself. Cartoons on the other hand…" She reaches over and snags the door to Tiki Taco as they reach it, then gives a florished bow, forgetting that her upper bits are in a hoodie that's several sizes too big and nothing else. "Let us entrant unto tacos!"

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