Nightbird

Cinderblock's fist collided with the tiger's jaw. Instinctively, Beast Boy reverted to his normal form. Sparks exploded in front of his eyes as he stumbled back, slipping through the cracks of orientation until nothing made perceptual sense. He didn't feel his shoes go over the edge of the roof, but he saw that the entire world inverted and spun. Hawk, go hawk! Beast Boy tried to focus long enough to transform. It was impossible. He needed to concentrate to change. Still struggling desperately to form a picture of a bird in his mind, he fell from the top of the tallest tower in the city. A sudden flare of charcoal light slammed into Cinderblock's side, and Beast Boy saw his guardian. A dark angel, decked in black and blue, pummeled the stone behemoth with telekine fire. She paused a little as her hood was pulled back, revealing mauve hair and twin sapphire eyes. In that instant, Beast Boy saw Raven as so much more than the excessively skinny, cynical member of the Teen Titans. Unfortunately, in that instant, Beast Boy also fell three stories. The nightbird plummeted down after him, blue cape reminiscent of wings. Arms outstretched, she let go of emotion and let herself fall, then sent a spurt of telekinesis to rocket her downwards. She raced towards him. About twenty feet from the ground, her hand met his. She lifted him up and flew with him, carrying him as a groom would a bride. "Hey Raven." Beast Boy still retained a look of confusion. He'd been hit harder than she'd expected. "I should've let you fall." She landed on the roof, where the rest of the Titans were finishing off Cinderblock. Robin, Cyborg and Starfire rushed to meet them. "Nice catch, Raven!" Robin gave out one of his infamous compliments, usually reserved only for Starfire. Raven nodded, careful not to let the confidence get to her head. "Cinderblock is defeated! Shall we order a pizza of pepperoni when we get back to the tower?" Starfire said in her confusingly perfect grammar. "Yeah, but not pepperoni. Make it.tofu." Beast Boy looked up as Raven dropped him. The telekine looked away, off towards the sunset. Robin recognized Beast Boy's stare. It was the kind he himself gave to Starfire when she wasn't looking. No matter what he might say in defense, Beast Boy's eyes were shining with love.

Raven woke up on a bare floor. The room was empty, save for the posters and the small cabinet in the corner. The posters, screaming such slogans as "Vampyres Never Die" and "You Have Nothing to Fear", were tacked at odd angles on the dark grey walls. They cast an eerie aura around the room, a sense of the night that contradicted the window-wall. The window-wall was cracked, with one jagged white line running from top to bottom at a diagonal. For all the light that entered, the room still resembled a cave. Raven had cleared out her bed a month ago, along with her dresser (her clothes were in the cabinet), throw rug, couch and desk. Starfire had been most appreciative of it. Raven, personally, hated the idea of a neat room, but had a clean-streak in her that made her tidy up obsessively, compulsively. To allay all manners of behavioral quirks, she'd simply removed the problem altogether. The room was not neat, it was in desperate need of repair, yet she had nothing easy to clean. It was perfect. Rubbing the crusts of sleep from her eyes, she moved over to the cabinet and changed out of her nightgown into regular clothes. After struggling with the clasp of a particularly difficult belt, she glided along the hallway into the bathroom, where she proceeded to carry on with her necessities. Her eyes caught the mirror as she spit out toothpaste. Ritualistically, she placed her hand against the mirror. Like every day, she started out by pondering who she was. Why was she here? Why was she cursed with these powers that forced her to hold back? And why did she want to let go, to let everything matter and to feel.human.again? Everyday she suppressed her thoughts, her emotions, kept herself in control through constant meditation. And everyday she'd wonder why she had to keep up this parody of a human life.

The Titans all lounged in the rec room, stuffing their faces with leftover pizza and watching Ninja Showdown 4 on the flat screen TV. Starfire was busy attempting (futilely) to cook something edible, but the rest seemed far more interested in the pizza than in the Splukarge Soup. Raven sat in the corner, not even trying to be amused at the kung-fu stunts on the screen. Starfire moved over towards her with a bowl of what looked like boiled rats' tails, "Raven, you should eat something! You are getting far too skinny, it cannot be healthy for you!" Starfire kept pushing a spoon of the rat tails towards Raven's mouth. "Starfire, there's a great new grammatical invention Earth has. It's called the 'contraction'." Raven said, forcing the spoon away from her yet again. "Fan-mail!" Beast Boy poked his head out the window to see a box at the doorstep. Transforming into a harpy eagle, he swooped down to retrieve it. Raven sighed. She hated fan-mail. "Why couldn't he have done that yesterday when Cinderblock slammed him?" Beast Boy returned, transformed into his natural form, and deposited the box in the center of the room. Cyborg proceeded to tear it open. Robin grabbed a handful of letters and began passing them around. He made special care to not to catch Raven's eye, who hadn't received any. "Oh, look! Someone has sent me a plush animal!" Starfire wrapped her arms around a stuffed penguin that had been enclosed in the box. Raven rolled her eyes. "I'm sure I'm just burning with envy right now." Truth was, she was fighting desperately to keep the jealousy from rising like bile in her throat. Envy and guilt, her two greatest adversaries. Guilt would eat away at you inside, turning you into an emotional wreck, which was deadly for Raven. Jealousy was an insane inferno, sending spurts of maniacal energy everywhere. Holding these feelings back will be the death of me in the end, she thought. "Ooooh, look, Beastie. I got a love letter!" Cyborg dangled a pink envelope in front of Beast Boy's face. "Then I'm sure the postman mixed up the name, you ugly idiot!" Beast Boy pounced on Cyborg. Both started to struggle for the envelope. Robin searched through the box for something for Raven, coming up with nothing. He started opening his envelopes, carefully reading the questions posed by young martial artists. "Surely someone has sent you something, Raven." Starfire ceased cuddling the penguin long enough to ferret through the box. "It doesn't matter, Star. I really don't care." The common people was afraid of her, that was why. Despite the fact that she held within her intriguing mystery, she was too touchy a person, too cynical to be a pen- pal or mentor. Besides, asking questions would ruin the mystery. After the rest of the Titans had left, after the moon has risen orange in the Indian Summer sky, Raven sat there alone. The box caught black flames and incinerated. Throughout the night the feathers of a stuffed penguin floated like dreams through the air, gently burning.

"Binge eating? Raven?" Cyborg peeked in the rec room, where Raven lay on the couch in peaceful slumber. A slew of vacant pizza boxes and the empty bowl of Starfire's cooking surrounded her. The TV still flickered with salt- and-pepper in the darkness of the room. "I just came down here for a midnight snack and there she was, fast asleep! She's eaten everything!" Beast Boy said. "Should we tell Robin?" Cyborg looked nervously at Raven. She continued sleeping, lost in some fantasy of her imagination. "No, let's leave her alone." Beast Boy, hypocritical as ever, tip-toed into the rec room even as he said it. Pulling a blanket from beneath couch, he carefully laid it over her small body. "G'night, Raven." Beast Boy turned off the TV as he left.

The sun was a menace. It was turning her sight red, even as her eyes were closed. Raven groaned and rolled over, face now buried in the couch cushion. As the smell of melted butter pervaded her nose, she finally lifted her head. The sun had risen through the fog, tinting the entire room a faded rose color. She breathed in deeply, letting the air of the new day fill her lungs and envelope her senses. A skyscraper still had its lights on, an airplane's engine hummed as it skimmed the horizon. Raven stood up, moaning a bit as she straightened the crick in her back and peeled a slice of pepperoni off her heel. The blanket falling from her hip startled her; she peered down at it, then at the silent television. A look of confusion flitted across her face. Who had come in at night, covered her up, turned off the TV?