Sea and Sky:
Interview with a Titan: Tempest
by James Olsen, transcribed by 'rith
Canon/Fanon: Sea and Sky universe, post S&S XXV, the Wayne Enterprises reception. Tempest is publicly known to be involved with Dick Grayson.
[Photographer's notes: After the long negotiations with some of the other subjects in this project, Tempest's easy agreement to being photographed came as a great relief. The only difficulty on my part was in choosing which of the many excellent pictures to use for the final photo shot.]
The hero formerly known as Aqualad has a much smaller public profile than one would expect for an ambassador from one of the world's most exotic nations, a founding member of the Teen Titans, and the physical and financial powerhouse of the current Titans team. Even in speaking before the United Nations or as co-spokesman for the Titans (along with Troia), Tempest's reserved demeanor has kept him in the shadows of more well-known heroes. It appears to be a position he prefers, despite his many public appearances.
Tempest: Garth, please.
Olsen: And I'm Jimmy. You've gone from being one of the quietest Titans to one of the most powerful. How does that feel?
Garth: [laughs] If by 'quietest' you mean 'weakest'.... [to my stammered apology] No, it's all right. I had too many limitations back then to be an effective member of the team. I'm glad to be able to contribute more fully now.
Olsen: Your schedule is nearly as hectic as Jesse Quick's. Meetings at the UN, consultations with Wayne Enterprises in Gotham, your Titans work--does it ever get overwhelming?
Garth: It's...challenging, particularly right now with so much in flux. Once the Atlantean Embassy is completed I expect to have help on the diplomatic side of things.
Olsen: Just in the past few months, it appears that you've single-handedly brought Atlantis into the public eye--or I should say, the surface world's eye. The progress on the embassy, the various treaties in negotiation at the UN, the Wayne Enterprises trade contracts. Even Aquaman never--
Garth: [holds up a hand] In his role as Aquaman, King Orin has different priorities. His work with the JLA safeguards the entire world, not only his kingdom. As Atlantis's king, he's had to deal with two decades of internal strife before Atlantis as a whole was ready to look toward the future.
Olsen: So it's a matter of good timing, then, that you've accomplished so much in so short a time?
Garth: If you like. The groundwork has been in place for a long time; it was only a matter of bringing the right people into contact. And it's been far from a 'single-handed' effort. The United Nations has been more receptive than we'd ever hoped, and at Wayne Enterprises there's an excellent team led by Lucius Fox, one of the sharpest and most dedicated people I've ever met. And Bruce Wayne, a man of extraordinary vision.
[JO: I freely admit I lost my cool collected reporter's composure--such as it is--for a moment here.]
Olsen: Bruce *Wayne?* Seriously?
Garth: The same man who stood before your Congress to protest the injustice of No Man's Land, Jimmy. He has enormous compassion, and understands that the difficulties my people face are not altogether different from those of the people in his beloved Gotham.
Olsen: You're not just saying that because he's your-- that is, because of your connection to--
Garth: Because he's my partner's former guardian? No.
Olsen: About your relationship with Richard Grayson....
Garth: [smiling] Yes?
Olsen: Have there been any difficulties since you two chose to reveal your relationship to the public?
Garth: Mm. I try not to make this kind of comparison often, and I'm too familiar with the surface world not to expect it, but it speaks to the vast differences between our cultures that the question is even *asked.*
Olsen: Meaning it's not an issue in Atlantis?
Garth: It's not an issue in Atlantis. Which isn't to say that my people don't have their own prejudices--it's in no way an ideal society--but the gender of who one chooses to love isn't among them.
Olsen: But you knew it might be an issue here.
Garth: [shrugs] Of course. I have the luxury of ignoring it in a way Dick doesn't, so it's really Dick who feels the weight of any disapproval more than me. He never hesitated at the idea of making a public appearance...like any other two people might.
Olsen: But since he's as notorious for avoiding interviews as his former guardian, we can only get your perspective.
Garth: To answer your question, then, relatively few difficulties. Frankly, we're both too busy to spare much time for social engagements. We have a mail service that files threatening letters with the police. Otherwise...life as usual.
Olsen: Are you aware that you've become something of a gay icon?
Garth: [pause] Donna [Garth's teammate Troia] mentioned something about that...I thought she was joking.
Olsen: Oh, no. You have *fans.*
Garth: [embarrassed silence] I'm...not sure what to say to that.
Olsen: You don't want that kind of attention?
Garth: It's not that, it's...I wonder how accurate their impressions are.
Olsen: [trying to be helpful] It's all very positive.
Garth: [clearly uncomfortable] That's good.
Olsen: What *would* you like people to know about you?
Garth: ...that no matter how many times Roy [Arsenal] calls me 'Gillhead,' I won't drown him. Much.
Olsen: [laughing] That's nicely evasive. Though having met him, I understand the impulse! Along that line, your other teammates--Nightwing?
Garth: I'd follow him anywhere.
Garth: The heart of the team. Our strength.
Olsen: Jesse Quick?
Garth: Bright, dedicated, and quite good at keeping Roy in line.
Olsen: I sense a theme. The new kids, Damage and Argent?
Garth: Enormous potential. Our future.
Olsen: He's moved on to the JLA, but--Flash?
Garth: An old friend I'd like to get to know again.
Olsen: Elaborate on that?
Garth: Wally and I fell out of touch for awhile, for no particular reason other than time and distance. I'm-- We're all enormously proud of him for everything he's accomplished.
Olsen: He's the first of the founding Titans to make the jump to the JLA. Do you or any of the others share that ambition?
Garth: [amused] That assumes you consider the JLA a 'promotion' from the Titans. They're two different teams, with different objectives and modes.
Olsen: What's the difference, as you see it?
Garth: The JLA clearly stands as the first line of defense against global threats, both from internal and external sources. The Titans originally formed as a group of youngsters trying to find their own identities, separate from their mentors. Having accomplished that, we can offer guidance to other young heroes wrestling with similar problems--in-between thwarting the latest incarnation of the HIVE, or Tartarus, or the next villain of the week.
Olsen: Taking on a mentorship capacity within the superhero community.
Garth: We--the senior members, at least--have the perspective of having grown up in that world. Proof, it's been said, that junior sidekicking can be survived. If you're lucky.
Olsen: The Titans have suffered more than their share of losses. Dove, Terra, Golden Eagle, Jericho--
Garth: [quietly] Aquagirl.
Olsen: ...yes, of course.
Garth: Our losses, I think, make us acutely aware of how dangerous this life really is. And that none of us can afford to take each other for granted.
Olsen: That's--good advice for anyone. And a good place to stop. Thank you again.
Garth: Thank you, Jimmy.