As Clio entered the apartment complex, she waved a hello to the concierge, who she had known since arriving in New York. They exchanged smiles, and she was almost able to ignore the harsh throbbing in her head. She climbed the stairs, all the way up to the eighth floor. She took her time, finding the climb relaxing. By the end, her head was still an aching mess, but her body felt broke in. She shuffled to her door, and summoned her keys. Unlocking the apartment, she stepped inside, pleasantly surprised to see Starfire.
Dropping her keys back into their bowl, she smiled over at the girl. ”Hello there. Did you have fun in the city?”
Starfire was holding two kebabs.”Yes!”
She nodded. ”Perhaps I should have told you more about my language learning trick. I can not read the English. I did not want to make a very bad mistake, but the people of New York seem to be very kind. Some of them are very furry and have horns, did you know that? I bought these for us. The man told me what the cash was for, and then told me they were fifty dollars each. I know not what they are for, but do you want one?”
She extended the kebab out to Clio. Clio would notice about half of the money was gone and had been attached to her belt loop.
Clio took the kebab from Starfire, taking a bite out of one of the meat cubes. It was tasty, but it certainly wasn’t worth fifty dollars. She should have sat Starfire down and had a talk about scammers beforehand. Well, it didn’t matter much anymore. They had things to do, places to be. The concert was going to start soon enough. ”FIfty dollars each, huh? Interesting. They’re meant to be eaten...you do eat, right?”
Clio cocked her head in wonder, but the instant she did it began to scream. Groaning, she readjusted. ”Well, you can put it on the counter for now, let’s head to the concert.”
Forcing a smile, Clio beckoned Starfire forward. ”It’s in Madison Square, and there are a few ways to get there. I want to introduce you to public transportation, it’s important. We’ll get you a bus and subway card...soon.”
Starfire followed Clio’s beckon. ”Okay. Thank you again, Clio. Soon, I will get a house, and invite you to concerts.”
She set the kebab down on the counter as she walked forward. ”I’ve never tried eating before. I will do so when I return. Bus cards, subway cards, concerts...this is all so exciting. Have you ever been to a concert before? I have not.”
Starfire was talking almost as much as Mayaka would. Thought Starfire’s speech had a hesitant, staggering staccato pattern to it. "Nope, never! It'll be something new for the both of us."
While Clio had wandered the streets of New Orleans watching sidewalk bands as a child, she had never been to an actual concert. She'd always put away money for other things, so it had never been a top priority. Still, Karen was a good artist, and she had been considering it for a while.
Clio took Starfire to Madison Square Garden, getting there in record time. There were already hundreds of people, but when Clio explained that she was a mage and that Starfire was a new variety of monster, they were escorted to the front of the stage. It wouldn't be long now, until Karen was out and singing for at least a thousand screaming fans. Clio was shoulder-to-shoulder with a bulky man with horns. On her other side was Starfire. "Are you feeling...claustrophobic? Because I can get us some more space."
Starfire was looking bewildered, anxious, but excited, as if she had not seen this many people in one place before. There was also that primal pit of fear within Starfire’s heart as she had no space to maneuver or use her powers should they come under attack. She leaned into Clio and spoke loudly. It was a strange activity to stand so close together with so many other people, but Starfire was giving it a shot. ”We are all quite closely huddled together, yes. It is a little scary and loud. Do you want more space, Clio? Are we waiting on something to happen? Is this like a trunesza’nfa?”
There was a word that did not quite directly translate into English, and in Starfire’s anxious fluster, she flubbed her words. Her green eyes were wide with anticipation and she stared at Clio.
Trunesza’nfa? She’d ask about that...later. For now, it was more important to make Starfire comfortable. Since it was getting dark, there was very little she wasn’t capable of. Summoning the darkness, she formed a cage around them, made up of bars rather than a solid construct so people could still see through it. Expanding it, she pushed people back from them and gave them their own little space. There were shouts of protest as she did so, but Clio paid no mind to the flustered monsters and metas. The show was about to begin, after all. In fact, she could’ve swore she saw Karen out of the corner of her eye. ”You ready?”
She asked Starfire, a dazzling smile on her face from a burst of vigor.
Starfire gasped and looked back at Clio. ”Clio! That was not very nice!” ”Sorry...sorry!”
She said through the bars. Still, it did make her feel better. No one could grab her. She looked over at Clio and the criticism of her words did not match the somewhat grateful look on her face. Clio asked her if she was ready, and she was.
Suddenly, the lights dimmed. There was a burst of color that lit up the path of a woman. There were others on stage, but the colors all focused on her, signifying her importance. She spoke, speaking of the new year. It seemed like every word she said made the crowd louder, so much louder. The frenzy of the audience reminded Starfire of a Warcry, but instead of anger and hate, it was passion and excitement. The woman began wildly dancing and singing and it was unlike anything Starfire had ever heard. It was a song of rebellion, defiance, and pride. She hardly had an opinion on the rhythm, it was the atmosphere of the place that sent shivers down Starfire’s spine. Her head sunk into her shoulders and she placed her palms over her ears, but she was not having a bad time. It was just very, very loud. Starfire glanced over at Clio to see what her friend was doing in all of this happy madness.
The music pulsed through Clio, ripping through her already aching head and causing her to cup her ears. It was agonizing, but she attempted to force herself to enjoy it. She knew a quick fix, but she couldn’t. It was her time with Starfire, she wanted to be happy on her own. She couldn’t let her magic rule her, she wouldn’t let it ruin this moment. Tearing her hands from her ears, she let the music race through her mind. The sound quality was amazing, the way Karen hyped up the crowd was even better. It was okay, it was pleasant. She could continue to tell herself this, but it was getting harder and harder to believe. Looking over at her companion, she had to bite back a frown.
Starfire was counting on her, was it really that hard to be a good friend? They both looked miserable, she was sure. Starfire with her hands over her ears, Clio...being Clio. Looking around, she saw that everybody was enjoying themselves. They were all focused on the stage. No one was watching. With a frustrated sigh, Clio began to dance. She had done enough freestyle floor routines in gymnastics to remember a few moves, and she whipped them all out in an effort to impress her friend. After a while, she simply moved her body to the music. It was embarrassing, it was horrendous, but she felt herself having fun. No magic, but just as blissful. ”Star, you gotta dance!”
Starfire watched as Clio began to dance. Or, at least, human dancing. The only dancing Starfire knew was the kind that involved a lot of flying and big jumps. She would have to learn human dancing.”Okay, Clio! I will try to dance!”
She took her hands of her ears and leaned forward in the protective cage, watching the woman on stage move her body in such an artful and graceful way without even leaving the ground. She was embarrassed, as she could not dance on the ground as well as Clio or the performer.
After a moment of hesitation, Starfire came up with something. She placed a diamond formation of Starpoints all around her, floating green glowing orbs. She took her feet off the ground and floated in between them. ”I used to do this back on Tamaran. Except I would be flying high, high in the sky.”
Leaning forward and curling into a ball, Starfire began doing a stationary cannonball. Frontflip after frontflip after frontflip, she rotated forward in time the beats of the music. It was very odd, but it was the closest thing Starfire could get to a dance that she knew how to do. Soon she would be very dizzy, but that was part of the fun!”Clio! How is this? Are you having fun?”
The spinning ball said, her voice barely audible.
Clio stopped her dancing for a moment to stare at the rotating ball that was Starfire. She grinned, a laugh bubbling up in her throat. It escaped against her will, coming out choked. ”You’re doing great!”
She remarked, before beginning to sway once more. Her head bobbed to the beat of the music, the throbbing nearly imperceptible. This was great, she loved the selection Karen had chosen. They were songs with a message, songs she sang along to in the privacy of her home. Now, everyone was getting into it.
When a new sound took over the stage, Clio cheered. This was Hip Hop, something extremely different for Karen. Clio mumbled along to it, continuing to dance, though her movements weren’t nearly as wild as before. Her eyes widened as Karen began to twerk in front of them, wishing she could cover Starfire’s eyes with a hand. This was certainly new. After a while, she found herself getting into it. She twirled, shaking her own hips in a less provocative way. She was sure the set was almost over, so she was going to enjoy it with all she had.
It wasn’t until a man jumped on stage that she froze. He was certainly not supposed to be there. She watched the struggle that ensued, her heart pounding rapidly in her chest. Another man in a hooded purple and yellow jacket engaged. It seemed like he could take care of it, but her soul screamed at her to join in. Closing the bars around the cage to form a solid barrier on all four sides, she summoned her Makaya outfit and quickly stripped, changing into the costume in less than a minute. She snapped on her mask, and was ready to move out. ”Star! C’mon, we gotta do something!”
Without waiting, she turned the shadow barrier into a catapult. Crawling up the device and settling herself into the cup, she hurled herself onto the stage. Flying through the air was a rush, but she was intensely focused on sticking her landing. Twisting in midair, she slammed onto the stage upright, knees bent. The force of the landing slammed through her knees, but she was otherwise unfazed. With a wicked grin, she summoned up her twin daggers, moving to stand beside the man in the hoodie. This villain was corrupted by chaos, giving her and her kind a bad reputation. She wasn’t going to let that slide. Her first move was to cover his chest, something the other hero hadn’t thought of. His powers were focused there, at least, it appeared as such.
Summoning up the man’s shadow, she attempted to wrap it around his form like a suit of armor. If all went well, the darkness would suffocate him and render him unconscious, then she could deal with his limp body.
Starfire had stopped spinning. A man had gotten onto the stage, and Starfire had thought it would be like the trunesza’nfa. The time for the dancer to engage in combat had arrived, surely? But no, for Clio had left Starfire’s side and was already doing some impressive magic, and the dancer woman seemed very uncomfortable.”Is something wrong?”
Starfire called out, moving forward. A security guard attempted to stop the intruder, but was burned alive in a very horrible way. Starfire gasped and then focused. If this man liked to burn people, she will see how he likes trying to burn someone who cannot be burned.
Starfire converted her Starpoints into stepping stones, and rotated them in front of her as she took large, bounding steps over the head of the crowd. Landing on the stage, she saw Clio restrain him with darkness, and another man protect the back of the dancer as she retreated. Starfire got the closest out of all of them and physically placed her hands on the intruder, attempting to restrain him. ”You should not have burned that person.”
She chastised. Starfire attempted to grab him by the shoulder and left forearm and pull his arm up into a painful, restrictive position. With Clio’s help, the intruder should surely be no issue.
Makaya stared at Starfire, her body tense. What the hell was she doing so close to this man? In a rash decision, she took the darkness surrounding Starfire and attempted to wrap it around her body before the man could fire off an attack. Nearly all of her focus went into strengthening it, to the point where the man’s shadow began dripping back into place. She could only pray it would be enough to battle back the Chaos magic he was channeling. ”Star, get out of there!”