2019-09-09 - Though She Be But Little


Ares comes to speak to is son. Cassandra takes exception to something said.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Mon Sep 9 16:37:55 2019
Location: New York University

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Some time in the night, the small patch had torn its threads. Several loops had come undone, the edge of it fraying and twisting during the conflict that had ended with Grass Cutter alighting into Orphan's hands. But it was a hectic time, no one could be blamed. And Alexander Aaron only noticed it when he had pulled the suit out of the closet the very next evening.
Around the residence, the three roommates treated Sundays as days meant for relaxation. Tanner spent it mostly on the couch, flipping from sports show to sports show and ordering a pizza to eat in. Rarely would he move off save to use the bathroom or to grab another drink. But then it was straight back to the couch.
Justin, on the other hand, tried to act calm and cool, but when six o'clock rolled around he'd dig out his work and start trying to get a jump on the week to come. Alexander, usually, would make sure to go out once during the day. The last few weeks it had been to teach that informal self-defense class with some of his class mates. But tonight…
He's in his room, needle and thread in hand, trying to get that patch to stay stuck. Despite having many talents, sewing was not one of them.

For Cassandra, there is no difference between one day and the next. No calendar to follow, now appointments to keep. She rises when the nightmares won't let her sleep any longer and she goes to bed when the sun rises and the villainy of Staten Island takes a break.

But she recognizes routines in others. Mostly because it's a good way to figure out the best way to kill them, so she has a good idea where Alex would be. Well. Should be. But he wasn't. Assassin training fail.

When she swings by his apartment then, to see if he's there, she settles on that narrow ledge, watching him through the glass, but not making her presence known as yet. She's not hiding, her darkly clad figure filling the window, but she's not announcing herself either. Just watches as Alex works, like some sort of creeper.

From her perch she'll have a moment of reflection, a chance to observe unnoticed as he sits on his bed in gym shorts and a grey t-shirt that has a big picture of a bowl of noodles on it and the text across it saying simply, 'Pho Sho'. He's bare of foot and his hair is all fuzzy as if he had been sleeping on one side but not the other.
While he sews he smiles a bit to himself about something, the needle diving in and out of that leather and kevlar armor. Occasionally he'll lean forward and bite the thread to cut the end and then tie it off.
But then there's a short flash of light and a snap of sound that she'll see clearly from her place near the window. A swirling whorl of purple and red colour that rends through reality and displaces it with an area somehow beyond through which a tall man steps through. Very tall.
Grim in features with a dour look, his head shaven though his jawline marred with stubble, he is a good six inches above six foot and with a build that would put even the most famous bodybuilders to shame. Ares, God of War, Son of Zeus, Lord of Olympus. None of these names would spring to mind to look at this being in his jeans and red flannel shirt. Though when he speaks his voice carries with it such authority that even Cassandra might be surprised.
"Boy. We are to talk." The words are thrown, hurled like daggers and broaching no disagreement. Alexander looks up immediately, eyes going wide and he rushes to his feet, sewing kit falling from his lap and the suit hitting the ground shortly after it.
"Father." He nods once sharply.
"Is anyone else here?"
"Yes, sir. My roommates."
To the door the severe man strides, pushes it open. And he says sharply, "Mortals, leave!"
Tanner falls right off the couch. Justin sits up quickly from his laptop, eyes wide. "W-what?"
"Get out. Now." Ares gestures sharply towards the door, "I would have words with my son, occupy yourselves. Elsewhere."
Behind him Alexander tries to smile apologetically to the others, and to his roommates credit… they don't put up too much of a fuss. They start to gather their things… and go.

There's something soothing about watching Alex work. Perhaps it's that warm quiet reflection he's got going on himself that has her settling a shoulder against the glass and just watching in what would look to be a terribly uncomfortable perch.

At least until the sudden intrusion of light and sound. Then the window is forced open to allow ingress, the sound of it loss amidst the crack and flare of light. Cassandra spills into the room but rolls into cover as the huge form steps forth, the Presence about him a palpable thing. Everything about his body language bespeaks violence. Not violence held in check, as might be assumed, but actual violence even as he just stands there. Doing nothing.

Ducking her head, she averts her eyes, to keep from looking upon him, marshalling her heart to slow back down. When Alex speaks, she carefully lifts her gaze to see him and try not to focus on Ares himself.

The door slams closed behind the two roommates and through the doorway into the living room strides the Father of Fear. Cassandra is right in her perception, seeing this being as some sort of creature wound tight and seeking an outlet for violence especially in a moment where his temper has flared. It can all be read in the tightness of his jaw, the throbbing vein above his temple, the widened eyes as he looks around the dwelling.
And as Ares strides out into the living room, Alexander follows promptly, trailing one of the spools of thread that unrolls behind him once it falls fully from off his over-sized shirt.
"I am departing soon, Alexander. Returning to Olympus at your grandfather's behest."
"Yes, sir."
The elder god points a finger at the youth, "You are to have /nothing/ to do with your uncle Hades. He is a bringer of ill tidings and will attempt to set you against the rest of the family."
"Yes sir, I mean no sir. Nothing to do with him."
She's likely never seen him /this/ deferential, his body language is utterly attentive and fully focused on the being before him.
Like a panther with a too small cage, Ares scowls and stalks to the side, moving around the room and gesturing to the detritus and trash around the place. He says nothing at first but it clearly doesn't sit well with him. But then across the way he espies that black suit that Alexander had been working on. He strides back into the room and scoops it up off the bed, carrying it in one hand and extending it towards Alex.
"What is this?"
"A, umm, an armored suit. Father."
"Since when have you need of it? What fell lessons to be learned are being taught to you in this N. Y. of U?"

Cassandra Cain tends towards lurking in the shadows in general, but as Ares' presence fills the space it feels more like hiding. Like she doesn't want to be the subject of his attention. Alex might well feel the tremors of fear, a sort of panic that has less to do with worry of being hurt and everything to do with trying to comprehend the being before her. How his body can speak violence and blood and death while just standing there.

One hand curls tightly around the piece of furniture she hides behind, as though she needs that physicality to tether her to the here and now. The only soothing thing to her is that while Alex is oddly deferential, he isn't afraid.

Little does she understand just how unlikely it is for Phobos to fear anything. Even a God of War.

She might be able to glimpse him, as Alexander peers past his father, to that flutter of fear that seems to come from behind the desk next to the bed. He bites his lower lip even as his father emerges once again from the bedroom, shaking the suit as he gestures while speaking.
"Has this aught to do with your joining that cadre of mortals?" Ares turns to look at Alexander, his expression still grim and judgmental.
"Kind of?" Alex says a little awkwardly as he lifts his gaze to his father's crimson eyes.
"Don't dissemble with me, boy."
A breath is taken then he says quietly, "I was working on a task that Fenris asked my aid for, sir. It required stealth as well as…" Alexander looks nervously at the patch, perhaps hoping that his father won't notice, then back up to the taller man's eyes. "Pockets. And the like. This was available."
The God of War hrms, and nods once, "Aye, aiding the Asgardians is wise. But be wary, Alexander. This…" He holds up the suit and frowns marginally, "Is not for you. I had thought it might do you good to enjoy what remains of your youth. But do not spend it ill. Learn what you feel you must learn. Experience what you feel you must experience. But know you are not of them."
He tosses the suit aside and shakes his head as he looks back to Alexander. "Any bonds you create with mortals are destined to fray and fade with the passage of time. You do a disservice to them as well as yourself to pretend to be one of them."
But now she might see Alexander's features tighten, the tendons in his jaw bunching as he frowns. He looks up and says, "I was a mortal, until you let them kidnap me."
For a moment those words hang there, then there's a blur of movement, staggeringly quick as Ares backhands Alexander in the mouth and sends him sprawling, a spatter of blood marring the white apartment wall behind him.

It's hard for Cassandra to follow Ares' meaning, most of it drowned out by the violence that he is, given form. Akin to trying to pick out something said in a foreign language you're only passingly fluent in over the din of a room full of conversation in your native tongue. A lot of what Cassandra infers, she has to do so from her familiarity with Alexander.

Even then, so much is lost between what she can intuit and just her overall lack of knowledge on the subject of things like gods.

The tall man's form speaks so constantly of violence that when he strikes out at Alex, it… takes Cassandra by surprise. As though Ares didn't actually strike out and Alex was just cast aside. That's how little it seems to change how Ares moves in her eyes.

Despite that, when Alex is struck she can't help but react. The small figure bursts from her concealment, hood having fallen to her shoulders and no cowl for she was visiting Alex and she Speaks unto the God of War in a Language he was fluent in before she was e'er born. Foot planted, knee flexing, she leaps up at him and then her fist comes crashing down towards his own face. « Stop! »

For a moment those blazing red eyes turn toward her, gaze lashing the air between them with such violence and vitriol that she might well think he was already in the midst of an attack on her, such is just the way of Ares. She leaps to him out of that room and it seems to occur almost in slow motion.
His eyes widen. His shoulders turn. And her fist thrusts forward where his jaw is. And she /connects/. Clean, powerful, with a chin that is staggeringly hard and barely shifts his head slightly to the side even as she lands. It doesn't seem to hurt him… more just gives him a wild-eyed look of pure… _incredulity_.
And then he starts to draw his fist back while his other hand starts to glow.
Only for Alexander's voice to lift as he thrusts a hand out from his place on his hands and knees near that wall, "No!"
His father stands there, fist raised, brow knitting together with anger as he looks at her, then at him, then at her again.
"No, father. She… she's my friend. Please don't."
The blond youth pushes himself upright and the side of his mouth is torn, ragged and still bloody but he is breathing slowly, steadily. "If you hurt her…"
Ares then turns away from Cassandra and scowls, "You'll what, Alexander? You will what?!"
"Just… please don't."
Ares looks to her then and his glowing red eyes slide over this young woman who seems ready to strike out, to fight… on behalf of his son. And she hit him. A good clean strike, with a precision that he would normally admire. In that moment she might see a shift in his manner, the violence is there. Anger ever present. But now… it is coupled with chagrin.

Well ow. That was like hitting a brick wall. Only with less give.

Cassandra's booted feet hit the floor, eyes flashing and the fear that Alex could pick up from her earlier, that thread of panic at What Is This?! is gone, even as Ares raises his arm to strike, that glow building around his fist and his body speaks in a booming voice HOW DARE SHE. She touches down and is a moment from following up that declaration when Alex's voice rings out.

It's one of the few words she knows, and it arrests her movement even with her weight shifted onto the balls of her feet and her body held like a coiled spring, ready to lash out. She shifts, so she can see him. The only way she can 'hear' him.

That chagrin creeps into the words of the god and Cassandra's weight shifts back a bit before shifting forward again, waiting until Ares looks to her and then she moves at him again. Which might well disconcert Alexander, but in Ares she sees someone that might be able to hear her.

A punch is thrown as her body twists and drops into a sweep and a jab and then a rising uppercut. She moves with a speed Alex hasn't seen before, always holding herself back. And even still, Areas can see her words are stilted, like she's trying to convey her words with holes in her vocabulary. Those words are the killing strikes she doesn't use. The deadly force she can put behind her blows that she doesn't use. Her own father called her 'perfect'. A perfect killer. That does not kill. But still she speaks to Areas in her own language. « Why do you hurt him? He's your son! You're supposed to protect him. »

She strikes and moves, whirls and attacks, such speed and precision as has been exhibited by only a handful of beings that he has witnessed. In a way she is a thing of beauty, and the deity before her can appreciate that. But he cannot have impertinence.
He deflects her strikes with one hand held up and his shoulders turned, barely moving as he does not seem to need to. Each move, each attack, is pushed to the side without elegance, simply with strength and the impact she feels when she strikes against the flat of his palm or the edge of his forearm… is just like if she struck granite.
And when she uncoils from her last strike she'll feel such a heavy /thud/ in the center of her chest that will send her bowling back, rolling across the ground… only for Alexander to catch her in his arms and hold her next to him, pushing himself in the way in front of her.
"Don't, father. Don't hit her, please."
Ares stands there, expression grim as he looks at the two of them. His jaw opens. Closes. Then he lifts his chin and says simply, "Is this she? The one you met? Who has so divided your world?"
Alexander slowly pushes himself to his feet, a hand resting upon Cassandra's shoulder though leaving her touch as he fully rises. His hand is open to her as if asking her to stay there. To stay down. For now.
"Yes, sir."
"She fights well."
"Yes, sir."
"She is impertinent."
At that Alexander's smile returns and he looks at her for a moment, then back to him. "Yes, sir."
"So what is it to be then?" The tall muscular man glowers across the way at the two of them, shaking his head as he looks towards Cassandra, then back to his son. "Will you raise your hand against your own father?"
"My father… wouldn't make me choose." Alexander smiles a little then, as if something old was being shared, some memory of the distant past.
"Mmm." Ares seems unconvinced, "What is she to you?"
"I love her, sir." Alexander says those words quietly, but with an open smile upon his features as he looks toward her, and swallows. As if not sure what will happen in these next few moments and merely wishing to remember her… as she is now. He looks back for Ares' answer.
"Bah!" The tall man shakes his head and points towards him, "As I said. You do yourselves a disservice. But I will not gainsay you."

One thing Cassandra doesn't have is much in the way of inertia. As the God of War strikes her she flies easily through the air, twisting to take the landing in a roll that has Alex catching her.

Winded, she's left on her knees to catch her breath as father and son talk with words, so far removed from her own language of violence. Catching her breath she levers herself back up to her feet as Alex has positioned herself in front of him. It makes it impossible NOT to see when Alex makes that declaration. It rings through his stance, the set of his shoulders and Cassandra has to look away from the purity of Alex's statement, wreathed in shame. Because she doesn't deserve his love.

As Ares makes his pronouncement, Cassandra steps up, not quite to Alex's side but at his shoulder, enough to touch it and draw his attention. "« Hit. OK. Talk. Listen. »" There's the edge of frustration to her as she has to sign the words. Like speaking in Morse Code when you need to look up each letter as you go.

The God does get a glance though. Apparently she's not really satisfied with the answer he gave her. Impertinent? Quite.

Turning to face her, Alexander rests a hand on her shoulder, trying to maintain eye contact as she signs to him and he listens, "It's ok…" He tries to focus enough on her to try and explain but she can see in the way his eyes focus, then unfocus, the blood welling from that cut along the side of his mouth, that he is still recovering from that back hand. "Just… give me a second…" Perhaps not realizing that she can't really understand him.
Ares, however, he frowns and takes a deep breath. "I will return in six months time, Alexander." He steps back and gestures sharply to the side, causing that multi-coloured disk to reappear with a whorl of movement and opening to an elsewhere unfamiliar to them. "I expect you to have matters resolved one way or another."
But then he looks towards Cassandra, "Lest she and I finish our conversation." That said he turns and begins to move into the vortex, fading from view.
But before he disappears Alexander tells him, "Yes, sir." Though it is only when the figure fades and the gateway disappears that the young Olympian drops down to sit on the floor, then slooowly lies back with his hands resting over his eyes as he takes a deep breath and tries to focus, "Ahhh, man."

Cassandra Cain's head cants to the side as she gets that 'fuzzy' sort of response from Alex, reaching out to help support him in he seems about to wobble on his feet.

The slight young woman steps in closer to Alexander as Ares speaks, turner her attention over to him, her mouth pressed into an unhappy line as he makes his exit. She doesn't look away until that portal is decidedly gone, and then she's getting pulled down with Alex onto the floor.

She sits there as he lies back, concern pushing away that unhappy glower. "« Batgirl can help. »" She signs to him, touching her gauntlet with the Oracle app, presumably to get Batgirl's attention.

He lifts a hand to her reaching out and trying to stay her action as he says, "No no, m'fine. Just… I just need a few minutes. I heal." Alexander then realizes this is perhaps not helping her much so he sits up and extends both hands toward her to try and pull her down to him where if she'll draw close enough he will brush her hair from her eyes with such affection.
His blue eyes meet hers and though he still seems to waver, he tries to mollify her by waving a hand towards the darkening bruised side of his face and shakes his head dismissively as if it were nothing. He grins a little and touches a fingertip to where he had tagged her that other night, the bruise likely mostly faded. Then touched a fingertip to where she had split his lip and that was healed.
Then he says quietly, "I heal quickly…" Relatively. "I'll be ok." For a time that last word hangs there, then if she will allow him, he'll draw her closer and take her in his arms, just holding her, resting his chin upon her shoulder gently as he takes a deep breath, then lets it free slowly.

The look that Cassandra gives him is dubious, but it does forestall her actions, hands going still and then falling with the gracefulness of a butterfly alighting.

She lets him take those hands and pull her down, her dark eyes watching him closely as he points out the injuries he's already healed for. She reaches out as well, her gloved hand brushing against his skin, and ending with that fresh, new injury.

When Alex pulls her into his arms, the small woman lets herself be tugged until she's sitting in his lap, cradled in his arms, virtually wrapped up in his larger form as he sets his chin on her. It's definitely not a familiar position for her, but after a moment she relaxes. And when he lets out that breath her hand strokes his arm in a soothing gesture. And when he leans back against the wall, still holding her and is drug down into sleep, she lets out her own sigh and shifts carefully until she can lay her head against his shoulder and settles in to wait until he wakes.

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