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Rocky Road ~ House of Starr and Nate

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Chibi Pika

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Starr let out a snort. "You named it? Where on earth did you even come up with that?" Well, she didn't really care either way what anyone called it. "I've just been calling all the Blacklight moves Radiance or Shadow--never needed to go much further than that."
 

unrepentantAuthor

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Brisa frowned in mock-offence. She knew she was in the minority for poring over her powers to the extent that she did, but wasn't it only fair?

"Sure did. And now it's stickin', since you just forfeited yer right to change the name," she said, with a playful growl. "It ain't that inventive, really. My arc of lightnin' and yer flare of light fusin' t'gether. No idea why it happens, but it's pretty fuckin' impressive when it does."

She rubbed her chin with one paw in thought. "I'm surprised y'don't even distinguish between yer setup and yer strike. You must know they're diff'rent, right?"
 

Chibi Pika

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Starr raised an eyebrow at Brisa's playful tone and then smirked. "Sounds to me like you're just a nerd," she said, rubbed her knuckles against the top of Brisa's head.

"I mean, yeah, obviously the moves do different things. Small amount of radiance, I get stronger and faster. More of it, it's that big explosive attack. Just never needed to name it since it's not like I'd need to call out orders like regular moves with my team or whatever." Brisa sure seemed to think it was important, but...

"Does it matter either way? Long as the moves work."
 

unrepentantAuthor

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A nerd?? Seriously? But Brisa didn't wriggle away. Even as she scowled up a storm, Starr's knuckes on her scalp were . . . kinda nice, actually. Was it possible to be grumpy and delighted about the one same thing?

"Well, yeah," she grumbled, "I'd say so. Fer one, it's a tactical advantage fer us – the whole team – to understand each other's powers better. More'n that, though, Radiance an' Shadow ain't just combat techniques that appear randomly, they correspond to the intentions we hold back and our innermost feelings, an' we can explode or frenzy if we don't keep that shit in check. There's a reason I've been chasin' folks to sign on fer therapy, partner."

What was it about Starr, that let her hold such guilt in her heart without being vulnerable to her own Blacklight the way so many of them were? She'd seen Astrid's detonations, she'd seen Brisa with her Shadow floating above her... Maybe she'd rationalised it all...

Starr was making one of her classic Faces (in the region of cynicism, just off the coast of disapproval), but she remained attentive. The important part was that she thought what Brisa had to say was worth listening to.

Brisa continued, the words coming easily.

"Radiant Arrest is that confinin' move you've seen me use," – that I've used on you, – "and I'm not sure if it comes from my experience as a ranger detainin' outlaws, or 'cause there's some part of me that doesn't wanna let people leave."

She winced, and sighed with the discomfort of admitting such a thing, but Starr didn't leap in to judge her. Of course not.

"Shinin' Whiplash is born outta my wish to connect t'people in battle. Anyone I hit with it gets pumped with Radiant energy, sure, but they get t'feel my true intentions too."

She zapped Starr momentarily with a flash of gold.

I'm too goddamn comfortable, so don't you go gettin' up.

She grinned, earlier grumbles forgotten.

"Shadow Maul is what I call that frenzied tearin' I do t'lay into folks as've been hexed. Used t'be I believed that was how people saw me. Somethin' t'be feared."

Not you, though.

"Umbral Overcharge... Yeah, I used t'reckon that one was from my moral duty. But nah. I figure it's resentment. Whenever I pump up my moves past their limits, it's like I'm lashin' out at every time my pa was ever unsatisfied."

She smiled awkwardly.

"Then there's Void Arcstrike. I, ah. I picked it up fer the first time in the Voidlands. Still not sure what makes it the way it does, but I know I was thinkin' of ya when I used it..."
 

Chibi Pika

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Starr kept quiet while Brisa went on about all her moves... with a whole lotta heavy shit behind each one of them. Damn. At least she sounded like she had it all figured out?

"Well, aren't you in tune with your inner self," Starr replied with a crooked grin. She leaned back again, arms folded behind her head. "Look, I know Radiance and Shadow have a lot of emotions tied to them and such. It's just not something I've really put that much thought into. I know how the moves work, how to use 'em--it doesn't need to be more complicated than that."

Brisa was giving her a look like she wasn't gonna be satisfied with just that. Or... maybe it was just curiosity. That was probably fine. With a sigh, Starr went on, "I don't know what you want me to say. My Radiance hurts--am I supposed to be psychoanalyzing that or something?" It wasn't just that it hurt. (There were... also the times that it made her feel like she needed to be someone else.)

Forcing a laugh, Starr added, "Not gonna judge the people who are, but I'm not exactly all that into pain, myself."
 

unrepentantAuthor

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Brisa tilted her head. What did Starr mean by that, exactly? Was she talking about how Brisa and Owen got that combat high...? Either way, Starr suffered when she fought. She chose to. She had to, in order to use Radiance at all. Why...?

"I don't rightly know. I've been takin' guesses, though. I'm thinkin' it means you push yerself past yer limits, get outta yer comfort zone, fer the sake of whatever's drivin' ya to get beyond yer best."

There was a moment's pause. An answer didn't seem easily forthcoming.

"Well, how about Shadows, then? Anythin' unusual about 'em, seein' as yer Radiance hurts?"
 

Chibi Pika

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'Pushing past her limits,' huh. Starr wasn't too sure about that. She'd never thought much about what the pain meant. She was just used to it. She deserved it.

"Shadows, eh..." She mulled that one over. It wasn't like she hadn't seen the kind of fucked up way that the team started acting when they were high on shadow. Most of them dissolved into a pile of misery and self-hate, but...

"The shadows feel good." Was that the wrong answer? She kept going anyway. "It's like I don't have to worry about anything. Makes for a damn good painkiller too. Nothing wrong with that, is there?" Nothing wrong with wanting a break from the pain. Even if she deserved it.
 

unrepentantAuthor

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Brisa looked at Starr carefully, without judgement. Starr's uncomfortable, dark feelings . . . were comforting, took the pain away... As if Starr was less comfortable with feeling unconcerned and out of pain than she was implying. As if...

She thinks she's supposed to hurt.

"I dunno, Starr. How might it be wrong to ease yer pain?"

A look askance from her friend. Here goes.

"What kinda stuff don't ya have t'worry about when you use yer Shadows?"
 

Chibi Pika

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Starr glanced away, shrugging. It wasn't like she hadn't noticed the careful, concerned look Brisa had given her. "I dunno. It's like I can just be myself without having to feel bad about it or anything. Like I don't need to feel guilty or whatever. It's not like how the rest of the team gets all miserable or whatever."

Everyone talked about their shadows like they held all of the worst truths. But the shadows told Starr she didn't have anything to feel guilty about. What a fucking joke.
 

unrepentantAuthor

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Well, there was the answer to Brisa's musings about Starr's guilt. Her Radiance and Shadow were both about her guilt. She'd broken eye contact. Guilty, 'or whatever', she'd said. Best not to push too hard, perhaps, given Starr's clear reticence. But if Brisa didn't hear this, who would...?

"Shadows come from whatever we ain't comfortable admittin' to ourselves," said Brisa, slowly. "And Radiance is what we mean to do, what we think we oughta do. So by the sounds of it..." She swallowed, clenched a paw. (Best not to let the hurt into her voice, or Starr might quit talking.) "You think y'gotta keep a lid on whatever it is to 'be yerself'. An' doin' that ain't easy."
 

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Starr caught herself before she had a chance to tense up. "Yeah, well... it's bullshit anyway," she said dismissively. "It's not like I don't know that I'm supposed to feel guilty about all that shit. You don't see me trying to pretend like it didn't matter."

It did matter. It would always matter. There was no erasing the things she'd done. No erasing who she was.
 

unrepentantAuthor

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"...That's right," said Brisa, softly. "You don't. You never have in all the time I've known ya. If there's any part of ya that believes y'were justified, it's buried so deep it's never let up. I ain't even sure there's such a part at all."

She could feel her heart against her sternum. Was she walking along a cliff edge with this?
 

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Starr nodded distantly. "Yeah. Either way, it's a lot easier to deal with than the Radiance, so I'll take it. We've gotta use both of them anyway." It wasn't like feeling better about things for a change was the kind of thing that'd be hard to handle anyway. Hard to imagine that looking anything like what happened to the others.

A flash of memory--fighting Joule, feeling stronger than everyone, better than everyone, strong enough that she didn't need anyone's approval, strong enough to do what needed to be done.

Starr's eye twitched. The Joule fight... it'd been stressful for everyone. Why the hell wouldn't it have been? She'd had things under control. She'd always had things under control.

When you stood in that cell and you did those things, you were in control. You wanted to hurt her because she deserved it for putting you both in that position.
 

unrepentantAuthor

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"That's true," said Brisa. "I've been tellin' folks we can't afford t'dispense with our powers just 'cause the feelings that come with 'em ain't easy."

Starr had told her plenty about her old life, at the level of detail she wanted to. Brisa wanted to ask more, but she still had to let Starr open up at her own pace.

"I want you t'remember y'can talk to me about this stuff," she said, softly. "If y'wanna. All that stuff I said before 'bout not judgin'... I meant that."

She wanted to reach out to Starr, even though the incineroar was right there, up against her.
 

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Starr blinked at the sudden reassurance, then relaxed somewhat. "Yeah... I know." After the way Brisa had just accepted everything Starr had said in the pit, she wasn't about to forget that.

She didn't really... want to talk about any of the heavy shit that Radiance or Shadow was fueled by. But it at least felt safer with Brisa than it would've been otherwise.
 

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"Good," said Brisa, noticing Starr's shoulders losing some tension. She leant in a little more. "Maybe not now, but whenever y'want to."

They didn't have all the time in the world. But with things as they were, maybe they'd have time enough.

<><><><><>​
 

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zxPlFoa.png
 
[RD13] Roommate Drama (Nate and Starr)

Negrek

Whole of the Moon
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It was fucking weird being in a house with, like, a fucking roommate again. Rocky didn't really count; Nate could always tell where he was, if he concentrated, and get a vague idea of what he was up to. It wasn't like he'd ever walk in on an awkward situation, and as annoying as the familiar was, he seemed to know when to leave Nate alone.

The familiar hadn't been around for a bit. That asshole had better not be getting himself into more trouble. Nate still hadn't chewed him out for the part where he apparently knew Soda was up to no good all along and had failed to mention that he'd fucking threatened Arceus' kid. Grumpily, Nate reached out through their psychic connection--felt like he was having fun, somewhere far away. Asshole had better enjoy it while he could. All the fucking stupid dad jokes, too, why the fuck did he have to go and make this fucking weird?

Nate paced around the perimeter of the cardboard box he'd set up for some privacy in the bedroom. Why the fuck couldn't they have found some house that had more than one fucking bedroom? Way to go and make the whole roommate thing at least three times as weird, making it so you had to sleep in the same room as them.

Why the fuck had he agreed to this?

Why the fuck was he considering adding some other weirdo to this whole situation?

At least Silver was a guy. Not that Starr was like a normal girl or nothing, she was like a two-hundred-pound tiger that was on fire, that was kind of the larger fucking issue, but still. Was she going to fill the house up with, like, girl shit? Like... shoes? Lots of fucking shoes?

Incineroar didn't wear shoes. Goddammit.

Nate poked his head out of the hole in his box. Starr was definitely out there somewhere. He'd heard her come in. What the fuck was she up to? Not watching TV or nothing like that, he'd be able to hear it.

Nate padded cautiously towards the door to the bedroom proper. Maybe if he was lucky she'd be taking a nap and he could put this off for--oh. Fuck. No, there she was.

For a moment Nate considered turning right around and pretending he was taking a nap instead if she came into the bedroom. But no, she'd definitely seen him, hadn't she? That would be be weird. Shit. Right. Might as well get this over with.

"Hey," Nate said casually, taking a cautious step out into the common area. Would you be okay if I invited your interdimensional twin who got brainswapped with your asshole father to come live with us? No, no, not yet. "...What's up?"
 

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The good thing about being done with the spy hunt was the lack of having to spend a fuckton of time dedicated to awkward conversations with a bunch of weirdos. The bad thing about it was having to deal with knowing that one of their allies had turned out to be some kind of maniac with a god complex. Oh, and the guy who she'd thought she'd be able to relate to on account of him being an alternate version of herself turning out to actually be her fucking father. And it wasn't like it made the revelation that Mewtwo wasn't Giovanni all that fun either. Oh, sure, his ~soul~ or whatever wasn't Giovanni's, he'd just been acting exactly fucking like him for the entire time they'd known him. Oh, sure, that made everything better.

Yeah, the less thought Starr dedicated to that, the better.

Everyone was still freaking out about Soda bullshit so spending a quiet day away from all that sounded nice. Moving out of the guild had been a godsend for that. Sure, there wasn't any way to get a place to herself, but her roommate was the most antisocial mon on the team, so half the time she had the place to herself anyway. Could've been worse.

Starr's ears flicked toward the door--speak of the devil, there he was. Must've been napping in that cardboard box (?) he lived in.

Starr nodded in acknowledgement. "Hey. Just reading the colo schedule for the week," she said, gesturing to her phone. Brisa had three matches scheduled, the lunatic. (Watching those could help take her mind off things at least.) "How 'bout you?"
 

Negrek

Whole of the Moon
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"Oh, yeah?" Shit, Nate ought to do that, too. Everyone had been so busy with spy bullshit that it felt like ages since he'd actually been able to sit down and watch a proper match.

He climbed onto one of the low cushions arrayed around the common area, and from there onto the footstool, and from there a leap and only a little shimmying up took him to the arm of a chair more or less on a level with Starr. "Anything interesting in there? You playing in any matches yourself?"
 
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