2012-03-08: Pop Quiz


Donna_icon.jpg Fiona_icon.jpg

Summary: Over dinner, Fiona's teacher does a touch of judicious probing. Tea and storytime follow.

Date: March 18, 2012

Log Title: Pop Quiz

Rating: PG-13

NYC — Hell's Kitchen

The rough neighborhood in Midtown West New York known as Hell's Kitchen almost has a darker tone to it. Once you step into this neighborhood the city takes on a different feel, the buildings are shorter but everything feels darker. There is real grit to this part of town where many of the New York City criminals see to make their home.

It's been a grueling few weeks, since Fiona's terrifying first meeting with her teacher, and in all that time not once has even the courtesy of a name been given. Instead, lecture after lecture, exercise after exercise, every moment spent in the pale woman's presence either boring, terrifying, or exhausting. But if the sorceress actively regrets her choice, it's never been spoken of in Fiona's presence. Indeed, at the moment she sits on the meditation mat in the living room, slowly turning the pages of a worn, leather-bound book of something or other, as dinner waits on the table for the teenager to return.

Return Fiona does, from wherever it is she goes all day. Usually wandering around the city aimlessly, not totally broke but with not enough money to really do anything but vaguely try and entertain herself. Eventually though, she appears in the doorway after a soft warning knock, pushing it open gently if it's unlocked. As she's coming in she hops on one foot slightly, taking off first one boot, then the other before approaching the table. "Evenin'!" she greets Donna softly, looking to the dinner table. For her part, she has been holding up as best as she can during the training. It feels like military bootcamp but with a little more personal freedom. Or at least, what she'd imagine it to be like.

"Evening, Fiona," the woman says in reply, not looking up from her book. "You'll be pleased to know the young man came away more or less satisfied, with what I'd learned. I'm sure if your friend returns, she'll have him to thank. Which means, ultimately, they'll both have you to thank for it being possible. So… cheers to you, then." Closing the book, she looks up, raising an eyebrow and nodding toward the bags of food. "If you're hungry, eat up. I've the idea this'll be a long night for the both of us."

Fiona blinks - there's more than usual, it seems. At least. The young apprentice dives into the food. With Donna making sure she's eating at least semi-regularly her appetite has begun to get a little bit more normal for someone her age. While still her pale, ghosty looking self, she looks a bit healthier… She blinks up, a fork full of teriyaki chicken, "Oh yeah?" she murmurs, "I mean, that's good. I think. From the sounds of it… Finding them may only be half the battle though," she muses. "Still I think that's their battle and not ours to get involved in. That's right, isn't it?"

"For now," the woman says calmly, plucking up an unmarked bag from the table, and carrying it to the fridge. "It doesn't, after all, concern either of us. You'd likely get slaughtered, and I know all too well I'd be no match for Dracula in his lair. Even if it *were* our fight, the best use of our time is here, on the side. Which is naught to be ashamed of, Fiona… Brawling in the streets like hooligans only accomplishes so much, after all."

"Yeah, I suppose so!" Fiona murmurs. She eats quickly, finishing off her food. "Actually, things have been pretty quiet overall since I met you… it's strange 'cause, I used to attract so much trouble…" Then again, maybe she's just been lucky. Maybe it's the calm before the storm.

"Much is a matter of knowing when to speak, and what," the woman mutters, a brief upward quirk tugging at the corner of her mouth. "More, being able to fight against Norgatraz' whispers, which should come somewhat easier for you, these days. You've learned, child, and learned well. What remains is, how much to do you want to *keep* learning? More to the point, *why?*"

"Well…" Fiona murmurs, "That IS true. But, it's also true that I'm marked in a certain way, isn't it? If not because of him, then at least because of what I know. Things can never really go back to how they were before any of this happened, can they?" the girl questions Donna, scooting back a little and laying her hands in her lap while she stares down at her toes, wiggling them idly. "And even if I could. If I go back to my parents now, they are gonna be worried and I'm still gonna be thrown in a psyche ward somewhere at someone else's whim." She pauses, having thought about this quite a bit, "And… Then even if it's not the demon's will, I'll be at someone else's whim."
"But now, even though I may not be as vulnerable to Norg as I used to be, I still couldn't survive on my own. Not without using what I have for illegitimate means. At least not in any capacity that /I'D/ call living." She presses her fingertips together thoughtfully, "And that's… assuming that, due to the demonic energy that I'm marked with, some vigilante or other demon didn't decide that I needed to be hunted down first. Which I have zero defenses against," she finishes. "That's not even taking into account that perhaps someday, I'd like to go kick that purple douchebag's arse into the next life. And I certainly can't do THAT as I am now."
"So you tell me, is it a true choice that I have at all, to continue down this path?" Fiona looks up at Donna searchingly.

Donna's eyebrow rises. "A good, honest question, that," she murmurs, setting the bag on the counter. Turning, she leans back, crossing her arms over her chest and giving the younger girl a measuring, speculative look. "Deserving of an honest answer. You *always* have a choice, child. *Always.* That the results might not always be pleasant is hardly the point; You. Have. A choice. *Remember* that, Fiona. Few things in life will ever be more important than those four words."

"Even so…" Fiona nods, "I understand that, but I'd like to continue. I don't know why exactly - I just, I just want to know more. It's like a whole world has been opened to me now, and to tell the truth, in addition to all that other stuff, I don't think I could just shut the door on it and walk away."

Donna snorts, a brief, bitterly amused sound. "You hear that, you joyless git?" she mutters at nothing in particular, turning to plate out her own food; corned beef, cabbage soup, black bread, and a pungent-smelling cup of sauerkraut. "Less than a month, and already I'm proving you wrong." Turning back, she lifts a plate, her crooked smile becoming something, briefly, more genuine. "Welcome to Hell then, my dear. Full marks for bravery, and may it serve you well in days to come."

Fiona raises an eyebrow at Donna's first comment, a glint in her purple eyes. "Well, I guess I always knew I was bound for it in one way or another. Ironic that I would find it /here,/ on earth…" she laughs a little. Peering at Donna's dinner, she comments off-handedly, "Yuck. My dad LOVES that stuff. Says it's our 'heritage' or something like that," she grimaces a little. "I could never stand it."

"'Tis always good to know your roots," Donna says with a brief smirk. "After all… some day, you may find yourself stranded elsewhere, never to return. Should that day come? You might miss a good corned beef hash, child." As though purposefully running counter to her own argument, she takes a forkful of the sauerkraut, eating it straight and without blinking.

"Well, perhaps you're right about that," Fiona murmurs, "But, I think for now I'll pass. Maybe it's an acquired taste," the teen smirks. Typical teenager! "So, what're we doing tonight?" she asks, poking at the remains of her food with her fork while propping her head up on an elbow.

"What we're doing," Donna says after a moment to dig into her dinner, "is figuring out what you want. You want to learn. Well, good show, glad to hear it. The rest of it, not likely to be so easy. Magic is a wide and varied landscape, child; you'd have to be Sorceror Supreme to learn it all. So… *What* magic, then, are you looking to master? Hm?"

"Oh…" Fiona rubs the back of her neck, face going slightly red. "I didn't even know there were that many kinds… I guess, I've only seen what I had before and the lightning spells that you've used." As terrifying as those were. "Well, something that would let me defend myself! I want to be able to fight, so I can protect myself and the people I care about! I'm tired of being pushed around," she scowls. "I mean, it can't be as simple as I just /pick something,/ can it? There're always things that people are more suited towards than others."

There are indeed many kinds, yes," the woman says, her voice going low and her eye flashing. The plate is set aside, and she pushes off the counter, stalking around the table, behind Fiona, her gaze never leaving the teenager's head, her voice rising in intensity, but never louder than normal, until by the end of her speech, each word seems to carry the weight of prophecy. "You want to fight, do you? Call down fire on your enemies, raze them with the fury of the storms? Mh? Tear the breath from their lungs on a killing wind, *smash* them with the very ground beneath their feet? This is what you want, child? *Power?*"

"No! I mean, yes! I mean. Yes. I want the power to not be FUCKING HELPLESS anymore! But I don't want it just so I can go around /crushing/ people or anything," Fiona growls, the hair on the back of her neck standing on end from Donna's words as she slides out of her chair, turning to meet the woman, "How am I supposed to make a choice like this? I don't even know what magic is good for what! It's like asking an elementary schooler what they wanna do when they grow up. Of course they're gonna pick race car driver, ballerina, firefighter, doctor, or something. But not everyone's suited for that stuff. Some people end up being accountants." She rolls her eyes a little bit, kicking herself a little at that last one. That didn't help her argument any. "No, I don't wanna kill people, or hurt them, unless I have to. I don't even know if I'm capable of that! … when you put it that way, it sounds barbaric, evil. Like the fucking wrath of god or something." Fiona seems a bit nervous about it.

"*Power* is barbaric, child," the woman hisses, tightening her circle to no more than arm's length around the girl. "*Power* is what it means to *get your way,* no matter *who* says otherwise. With enough power, you *could* kill Norgatraz, you *could* wipe out anyone who seeks to harm you, and you *could* take whatever you *want* from life. This is what *he* promised you, didn't he? *Power?* Is that what you ask from *me,* child?"

"That's now how it happened, you know that," Fiona growls angrily, "Yes! He promised that. But the only reason I accepted was because it was coupled with a /threat./" Or was it? She takes a deep breath, thinking about it for a second. She withdraws inward and remains as calm as possible, "What other alternatives are there? That's the only one I see. But there's always a choice, isn't there. Is that choice walking out of here, right now, or something else? What if I don't have what it takes to kill? I couldn't do it before, and it was a good thing… but…"
She clenches one hand into a tight fist, anger flaring, "On the other hand, that… demon… however pathetic he was compared to whatever you're linked with, he ruined my life. Is it okay that I'd want to kill him? It feels right. I want to see him suffer, like he made me suffer. I want to find him in his home, and then tear him to pieces, slowly, so I can enjoy it." She seems resolute in that. "I don't CARE about making a lot of money though, or ruling over other people."

"She doesn't want to rule," the woman says to the ceiling, her voice high and mocking. "She doesn't want money! Well! That's quite the relief, innit!" Turning on her heel, she begins to stalk in the other direction. "That's not what I was *asking,* girl! I don't *care* what you don't want, what you'd maybe like to possibly do if perhaps! WHAT. DO. YOU. WANT!"

"I WANT TO KILL HIM! OKAY?! I WANT TO KILL NORGATRAZ!" It appears that Donna touched a nerve, and for all of the training that Donna did with her to help her control herself, Fiona still does get angry when that happens! "I want to kill him, and I want to kill anybody else who'd try to control me like their slave! I want enough power so that nobody can EVER do that again! I won't be anybody's PUPPET anymore! I won't be yours, I won't be his, nobody's!" she shouts, eyes flaring bright purple again.
"And the people I love, I won't let ANYTHING happen to them! Yes, FINE! Laugh at me for caring! But I'm tired of being mocked, laughed at! All my life! That's it! Oh look, there's Fiona, she's weird, she reads /books!/ Look at how /white/ her skin is, I bet she never even goes outside! What a loser!" the girl snarls, menacingly, "And I could never do anything about it! And then there was Norg, but he was just another one, like them! Seeking to use me. If I became powerful, like you, nobody would! What kind of magic?" she snorts, "What kind of magic does it even matter? I don't care! Whatever it takes to prove EVERYONE wrong!" she turns to face Donna, locking eyes with her. "Is that a good enough answer? Is that the answer that you wanted?"

Even when it's been seen before, it can be *startling* just how quickly Donna moves. One hand on Fiona's shoulder, one on the wrist, leg behind knee, and in an eyeblink, the teenager is slammed into the floor, hard enough to make her see stars. Without giving much time to react, Donna kneels down on the arm she holds, her other foot stretching over the girl to press down her other wrist, and from here she leans down, her hair falling away to reveal that blank, blood-red eye. "Thank you, Norgatraz, your opinion is noted," she says, her voice barely louder than a whisper. "Sod off. We're talking here."

"Ooooowww," groans Fiona, wriggling her hands as the glow leaves her eyes and she calms down. She suddenly looks very disgusted/disappointed in herself. "I want for that… to not happen anymore," she murmurs, "Whenever I'm weak on the outside, it makes me weak on the inside, too. Knowing that I'm physically vulnerable hurts my mental defenses. You have me pinned. Even if I had my wands, there's nothing I can do in this situation," she observes.
"I'm so weak. I just want to not be weak anymore!" With the demon gone, her temporary strength seems… well, deflated. "I'm just tired of being stepped on. And when I'm not it's like I'm relying on other people. Other people who invariably screw me. I mean, you've taught me quite a bit, but it's almost like… what's the point, when some gang banger with a knife or any random high schooler could just come along and I can't do anything? I feel like a little mouse."

"Child, you're only as weak as you *let* yourself be," Donna notes, slowly rising, offering a hand to the prone teenager. "Magic has little enough to do with that… or did you notice, I wonder, just *how* I put you on the floor? Think about it a tick… see what comes to you."

"I don't know… it was… fast. You grabbed me and then… knocked my knee out, and I just kinda fell over from there. It wasn't like you pushed me. It was like, I couldn't move enough to keep my balance so I just went down," Fiona murmurs, hauling herself up by Donna's hand. "You… didn't use any magic, did you?" she looks at the woman with furrowed brows, seemingly slightly confused. "But, that would work on just about anybody! If the didn't know how to counter it." Which she doesn't. "Could you… show me how to do stuff like that?"

"I'd intended to," the sorceress says, the corner of her mouth twitching upward slightly. "Remember what I told you, about how magic requires confidence, a strong will? I think that knowing how to keep yourself out of the average workaday trouble might just help that, myself… Which means now *proper* exercise is on the schedule, mind."

Fiona starts to raise a complaint to protest, but shuts her mouth just sort of doing so. That would be rather ludicrous, wouldn't it? You can't expect to become proficient at anything physically without actually exercising. Which probably means… no more wandering all over town aimlessly. "So…" she grins a little, "Is THIS the part that's like 'wax on, wax off?' … master?" she asks, staring at Donna while trying not to make any kind of funny face. Which results in the worst kind of funny face.

The silence that stretches between the two is most certainly *not* the product of suppressed laughter, no matter how often the corners of Donna's mouth twitch, just barely. "….No," she says, finally. "This is the part that's like 'drop and give me fifty, maggot.'"

"… now?" Fiona looks at Donna questioningly, before crouching down to the ground. She's going to look really silly if she did not mean now!

"No, child," Donna says after a moment, rubbing at her brow. "Not now. Tomorrow, perhaps. For now… sit. I think it's time I told you a story… And I believe I'll be needing some tea, while I'm telling it."

Fiona sits, but blinks back and forth between Donna and the kitchen counter. She could make tea! She knows how to do that. Still, she was told to sit. And well, Donna is terrifying! Still.

"Our story," the woman begins, setting a battered old kettle under the faucet to fill, "begins in your father's Auld Country, as it happens. Ireland. Enniscombe, to be specific. Lovely place, that, lots of hills and such to spark a girl's imaginings. Have you ever wondered what it was like, to play with the fairies and magical creatures in the books you read as a child, Fiona?"

"Of course!" Fiona pipes up, "What do you think got me into this mess in the first place? When I was a little girl I was obsessed with that sorta stuff!" And probably ponies. But ponies don't really /jive/ with the conversation at hand. Even magical ones.

"Of course you did," Donna says, setting the kettle on the stove, then taking a canister down from the pantry, pausing to sniff at it a moment, then wrinkle her nose. "Americans… Anyway. Of course, you did. Little girls *adore* those kinds of flights of fancy, don't they? The problem was… Enniscombe is a lovely place, but a good deal of it is still very, very old, and like a good many old places… It remembered those old days of Oberon and Titania. And with creatures like the Fae, even a dream half-remembered is as good as reality. So, the little girl in this story? She found a friend in the wee folk, she'd thought. A friend who'd spun tales of wonder and magic, like to make any little girl's head positively boil over with rainbows and sparkles at the mere thought of it."

"Wow…" Fiona blinks, looking dumbfounded. Faeries are real? Of course they're real. Everything is real, apparently. Every. Single. Thing. "I suppose things are never really as they seem, though?" Donna's tone seems… like perhaps this story doesn't have the most happiest of endings.

"A fair enough supposition," the woman acknowledges, nodding slowly. "See, the Fae… they don't think like people, and that's the simplest trap to fall in. Mortal wants, mortal needs, mortal concerns, rarely do they even begin to matter to such as they. They have their own needs, their own desires… And of a little mortal girl with a sorceress' talent? All the Lord of that land saw, was a way to count coup upon the mortals, by making one of theirs his own. Thus it was, that the girl, now eleven, was offered the chance to spend the rest of her days among her friends in his land."

"So he… turned her into a fae? Or he just kidnapped her, basically?" Fiona murmurs. This 'story' sounds vaguely familiar to her. Vaguely. "Go on…" she murmurs finally.

"Almost," the sorceress says, lifting a finger as the kettle begins to whistle. "It's not kidnapping, after all, if the girl accepts of her own free will, is it? And if she'd been promised to be surrounded by friends, why… who *doesn't* love a little kitten? That's how a Fae mind works, child… No harm would come to the girl, and she would be loved and cherished, as he'd promised. And so she was. As a kitten."

"Wait… they… turned her into a kitten?" Fiona's mind seems to almost break at that point. She just sits there staring at Donna, slightly impressed, slightly horrified.

Donna nods slowly, pourinf out a cup for herself, tipping the kettle in Fiona's direction, as though to ask if she'd like some. "Indeed. Into a kitten. And a kitten she was, loved and cherished and fawned over by all the Court. Only, to a Fae, cats eat mice, don't they? So, too, did this girl."

"Yeah?" Fiona asks, nodding at Donna's offer. She doesn't drink tea, really, but this seems like an appropriate time to start. The story, of course, is both horrifying and captivating her imagination.

"She did," Donna says, nodding once and pouring another cup out for Fiona. Packets of tea are dropped in both cups, saucers set on top to allow them to steep. "For how long, she'd only piece together later. Time passes… funny, over there, and a day among the Fae could be a minute, an hour, or a year… All she knew was, she played a cat's games, dreamt a cat's dreams, and ate naught but mice. And so she would have remained, had it not been for a wandering sorceror, out to trade a few favors here and there."

"So, she got rescued. But, it sounds like maybe she was pretty happy. Ignorant, but happy and not in any danger, right? Though, I guess her family wouldn't have been too happy about that but… maybe they even got old and died," Fiona muses quietly, mostly to herself so as not to interrupt the story too badly.

"Rescued, of a sort," Donna says, lifting a shoulder. "*I* personally think it to be trading sugar for salt, myself… She wasn't really properly rescued, to be honest; she was won. Some contest or other, and instead of being turned into a mouse for his cheek, the sorceror was allowed to leave with the girl… not so little now, more about your age."

"So…" Fiona croaks, "If he was to be turned into a mouse… that means… she was eating people the whole time?" She will never look at faeries the same way again. Not now, not ever.

"Horrifying thought, isn't it?" Donna asks softly, shaking her head. "But such is the way of the Fae Lords, they do love their cleverness…" Lifting the saucers off the cups, she fishes the bags out to toss in the garbage, passing one cup to Fiona. "Sugar, milk?" she asks, before going on with her story. "At any rate… Now the girl was free of the Summer Lord… but passed into the keeping of a magician with about as much caring and compassion as a thrown brick. A magician who decides if he's not going to get the power he was looking to trade for, making a weapon out of this girl would do just as well."

"Er, sure!" Fiona replies - accidentally putting way too much sugar and milk into her tea. Oh well! She drinks it anyway. Clearly, magic isn't the only thing she needs practice at. "So, maybe she was better off eating people. At least then, she didn't know. That sounds pretty horrible. Though… familiar…"

"I thought it might," Donna murmurs, arching an eyebrow at the amount of sugar that goes intot he girl's tea. "But if you ask me, the girl might have been better off given a choice, rather than getting her ass kicked up and down Europe, and helping her teacher slaughter cult after cult after cult. But," she says, lifting a shoulder, "no one ever seemed to care much for the opinion of one young woman. Which is why I'd *like* to think that by giving you the choice, I'm already doing better than that rough-hewn shitbreakfast ever could."

"But, you made a choice, didn't you? I mean… that guy's dead now… right?" Fiona questions. She certainly hasn't seen him around. "Dead, or let you go. So, if you didn't really wanna do that - then why are you still doing it here? You almost killed me, that night, after all." Though she acts calm, her head is reeling at the story of what Donna might have gone through. And that STILL doesn't explain the whole… red eye, and the tentacled horror and all of that. Though she's not too sure that she wants to ask. "At any rate… thanks…" she mumbles softly.

Donna snorts quietly, sipping from her cup. "My choice didn't come until after, child… but yes, the Jager is dead, now. And yes, I carry on his work… but I think for me it's… well… a touch more personal. After all, there's always the alternative, which *you* know about nearly as well as I. At any rate, there *was* a purpose in my telling you this. One, so that you might learn a bit, as always. And two… To give you an idea, perhaps, of why I decided to teach you at all, in the first place. Also…" A pair of keys on a cheap wire curl are tossed onto the table. "Your copies, door and mail. I don't expect to ever get much in the way of mail, but… if you could check the box marked 'Foxwood, Donna' now and again, I'd much appreciate it."

Fiona stares at the keys for a moment, and then back at Donna, wiggling them around. Rather than tossing them into one of her portals, she simply adds them onto the gold ring that the other… slightly more magical ones, are hanging on. "Sure thing… Donna…" her voice wavers a little bit. Clearly that meant a lot to her. Although she wasn't sure if Donna was EVER going to tell her her name!

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