"The Crow: Black Robin"

Chapter 1: "Shadowed Renaissance"

Disclaimer: The Crow belongs to James O'Barr. Teen Titans belongs to DC Comics and Warner Brothers.

Author's note: Since the previous summer when I watched the first Crow, I have become hopelessly enamored of it. I've also watched City of Angels and Salvation, and in my honest opinion, they're not as bad as so many people say. The point is that there were so many possible places "Apprentice" could have gone. I've decided to step away from the norm of "Apprentice"-spawned Robin/Slade slash and do something original. I hope you like it.

"I think your little Robin's turned into a bitter old crow." – Terry McGinnis, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker

"Those things are inside me?" Beast Boy asked after seeing the probes that Slade had surreptitiously implanted him and three of the other Titans with.

"Slade could kill us anytime he wants," Raven said. "Unless Robin does exactly as he says."

So that is why, Starfire thought. I should have known.

Inside Slade's lair, Robin and Slade clashed furiously. As quick and agile and strong as Robin was, Slade was proving to be even stronger and faster.

"Robin, Robin," Slade said in mock-pitying tones. "If the Titans are such a distraction to you, then perhaps I should kill them." He held up the trigger for the probes.

Robin's demeanor suddenly changed. His mouth, previously set in angry determination, parted with terror. His shoulders slumped.

"Fine," he conceded. "I'll do whatever you want."

He had no choice. If he didn't, Slade would kill his friends. He would kill Starfire.

Suddenly, a starbolt pierced through the wall and punched Slade, knocking him down. He rose up on one knee and turned, looking to the source of the attack.

It was Starfire, eyes and hands glowing, the other three Titans with her.

"Do not touch him!" Starfire declared.

"How sweet," Slade sneered. "Look, Robin, your girlfriend has come to defend you from me. Touching."

Robin didn't bother correcting him. Instead he looked at the others. "What are you doing? He could kill you!"

"We know," Raven said.

"And we're not going anywhere," Beast Boy added.

"We're with you to the end, Robin," Cyborg said.

"We will always be by your side, no matter what," Starfire said.

Robin ripped Slade's emblem from the black-and-dull orange uniform Slade had given him.

"Fine," Slade said. "Be that way. I could kill you all now. But it'll be much more satisfying to finish you one by one --- starting with the red-haired one." He mounted a laser on his right arm and fired it right at Starfire, the intensity set high enough to kill.

Starfire should have been dead. But she wasn't.

Because Robin had lunged at her and shoved her out of the way, taking the shot through his own chest.

"Robin!" Starfire shouted. She flew to him and held him, propping his upper body up with her arms. "Robin?"

"Starfire . . ." Robin said, his voice weak. "I can't . . . I'm sorry . . ."

"Please, stay with me, Robin!" Starfire pleaded. "Oh, why did you do it?"

"I couldn't let him hurt you," Robin replied. "I love you too much."

"I love you, too, Robin," Starfire said.

Those were the last words Robin heard as he passed away from this world.

"ROBIN!!!" Starfire screamed.

One year later

"I'm so tired of being here

Suppressed by all my childish fears

And if you have to leave

I wish that you would just leave

Because your presence still lingers here

And it won't leave me alone.

"These wounds won't seem to heal

This pain is just too real

There's just too much that time cannot erase

When you cried, I'd wipe away all of your tears

When you'd scream, I'd fight away all of your fears

I held your hand through all of these years

But you still have all of me.

"You used to captivate me by your resonating light

Now I'm bound by the life you left behind

Your face, it haunts my once pleasant dreams

Your voice chased away all the sanity in me.

"These wounds won't seem to heal

This pain is just too real

There's just too much that time cannot erase

When you cried, I'd wipe away all of your tears

When you'd scream, I'd fight away all of your fears

I held your hand through all of these years

But you still have all of me.

"I've tried so hard to tell myself that you're gone

But though you're still with me

I've been alone all along.

"These wounds won't seem to heal

This pain is just too real

There's just too much that time cannot erase

When you cried, I'd wipe away all of your tears

When you'd scream, I'd fight away all of your fears

I held your hand through all of these years

But you still have all of me."

Evanescence – "My Immortal"

Koriand'r, alias Kory Anders and Starfire, went to Tim Drake's, alias Robin's, grave with red and white roses. It had been a strangely lovely funeral, but then again, Robin deserved no less.

Robin. Even after knowing his real name, she still thought of him as Robin. Then again, he'd never let anyone know just who he was behind the mask.

The funeral had been beautiful, and those closest to Robin, other than the Teen Titans, had been there. Bruce Wayne, also known as Batman, was there; of course he was, he had mentored Robin and was like a father to him. Next, there had been Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce's butler and a sort of grandfather to Robin. Then there were two others who had worked beside Batman, who were like older siblings. First was Dick Grayson, the original Robin and now Nightwing, the defender of Bludhaven. The other was his lover Barbara Gordon, daughter of Gotham City Police Commissioner James Gordon and Batgirl, Gotham's dark angel.

"Hello, Robin," Starfire said. "I mean, Tim. It has been a while since I last spoke to you. I miss you so very much. I know you loved me, but I wish you could have told me before you died. I wish I could have told you that I love you before you died.

"It has not been very easy without you. Raven is even more solitary than before, and Cyborg and Beast Boy are more serious than they used to be. We have two new members. Superboy is the new leader of the Titans, but he cannot ever truly take your place. Wonder Girl is a member of the Titans now, and she is very nice. Superboy is nice too, but he is also arrogant and insensitive.

"Slade is still alive. He has become even more dangerous than before. He has united many of the major super-powered criminals under him to form a powerful crime syndicate. His crimes become worse and worse by the day, and there is apparently no limit to his evil. I am sorry to tell you this, as you would spend your eternity wishing you could come back and stop him. I wish you could come back.

"Onto better things, I suppose. I have begun to establish a life on Earth. When I went out into the city, I was spotted by a 'talent agent.' He procured for me a job modeling clothes. I liked it very much, and decided to do it regularly. As enjoyable as it is, I would enjoy being with you far better." A tear slipped out of her eye and she placed the roses in front of Robin's grave. The tombstone read: "Tim Drake – 1987-2003. No better leader, no truer friend could we have asked for. Soar into heaven, our Robin."

"Good-bye, Robin," Starfire said and walked back inside.

Meanwhile, a boy dressed in a black-and-red costume with Superman's emblem on his chest, a black leather jacket over the suit, and fingerless red gloves watched. This boy was Superboy, a clone of Superman created by Cadmus Labs. However, the scientists found that it was nearly impossible to perfectly duplicate a Kryptonian. To that end, they attached as much of Superman's DNA as they could to that of a human donor, and thus Superboy was born. He didn't have many of Superman's powers, only being able to use a limited form of telekinesis that allowed him to mimic super-strength and flight. However, he could extend that power to manipulate objects, causing them to move or break.

"Sad," he said.

"I know," a blonde in a black top with Wonder Woman's emblem on the chest, white goggles on her head, silver bracelets, and star-studded red jeans said. "He was her first true love, and to die like that . . . yeah, it is sad."

"I meant how she pines for him," Superboy corrected. "Sometimes, I get the urge to just yell that her precious Robin isn't coming back so coming to his grave every week isn't going to make him come back."

"You said that once," the blonde replied. "She blasted you right through the wall for it. Then Raven, Cyborg, and Beast Boy tore into you for being such an insensitive jerk."

"I didn't mean to be so insensitive," Superboy said. "It's just that we can't live in the past. We have to deal with the present. And at present, Wonder Girl, that means dealing with Slade. His crimes are getting bolder and more extensive by the day. And we have no idea what he wants."

"You sound just like him," Beast Boy said.

"Like Robin?" Superboy asked.

"Yeah," Beast Boy confirmed. His shadowed green eyes stared into Superboy's blue ones. "I know he's not coming back, but I can't help missing him."

"We all miss him, Beast Boy," Raven said, placing a hand on his shoulder.

"I don't mean to sound corny," Cyborg said, "but wherever he is now, I feel he's watching over us."

"It's not corny, Cyborg," Wonder Girl said. "Sometimes, when you've got nothing but pain, you need something to give you hope."

Slade sat in his lair, his one visible eye narrowed in rage. If it hadn't been for those miserable Titans, Robin would still be alive today. He would have still been his. His to possess, his to mold into a successor. It was ruined now, though. All because of the Teen Titans.

That was why they had to pay. That was why they, and their precious city, had to suffer. That was why they all had to die.

It would be so easy, in a way. Their new leader Superboy was strong, but was cocky and overly sure of his abilities. That would lead to his downfall. Wonder Girl was strong as well, but too new to the job. She, too, would easily fall. Then he would slowly finish the rest of the Teen Titans, including Robin's alien paramour.

He looked up at his screen, to Jinx's face. "Are you ready yet, Jinx?"

"Ready, Slade," Jinx replied.

"Excellent," Slade said. "This will be a dangerous task, sabotaging the space center's computers. Are you sure you're up to the task?"

"Very sure," Jinx replied. "No one's better at bringing bad luck than me."

"Good," Slade said. Then he closed the video link.

Yes. Once the space center's computers were sabotaged, it would be easy to cannibalize their technology and use it to create a weapon that would make the Teen Titans pay. They would lose everything that they had worked so hard for just as they had made him lose everything he'd worked so hard for.

At Robin's grave, a crow flew down and landed on his tombstone. It pecked at the tombstone.

Immediately, the earth began to shift. It rolled, as if someone or something was trying to climb out. Finally, a hand burst out of the grave. A second hand joined the first hand, and then, a human figure pulled itself out of Robin's grave.

The figure raised its head, revealing the face of a teenage boy with pale violet-blue eyes, eyes that were wild with confusion. He stood and let out an agonized scream.

The boy began to walk, clad only in black burial clothes and his dark hair hanging in his eyes. He turned around and saw the tombstone.

"'Tim Drake – 1987-2003. No better leader, no truer friend could we have asked for. Soar into heaven, our Robin.'" He stared in confusion and disbelief. What the hell is this?! I'm not dead!

Then why was I in that grave? he asked himself. He walked on the island that Titans Tower stood on. He walked to the door and placed his hand on the digital hand reader that opened it. Only a member of the Teen Titans could pass, a little something that had been created after a few too many break-ins.

"Identity confirmed," the computer said. "Welcome, Robin."

Robin walked into the T-shaped tower, the crow following him. Everything was dark, as everyone had probably gone to sleep. However, he could somehow see just as well in the dark as he could if it was noon or all the lights were on.

Raven awoke with a start. She had felt it. A restless soul, returned to this plane of existence by a terrible pain and an inexorable purpose. She even recognized that soul.

Robin, she thought.

Robin walked upstairs, looking for someone who might be able to explain what had happened to him. Along the way, he passed the door to his room. He went inside, the moonlight illuminating the room.

He saw a picture of himself and the other four Titans. Cyborg had made bunny ears over Robin's head, and Beast Boy had changed himself into a cat and was nuzzling against Raven's leg. Raven herself had tried to fake her usual apathy, but couldn't resist cracking a small smile. Starfire had been right next to Robin, smiling her bright, irresistible smile.

Immediately, his mind was wracked by a flashback.

"C'mon guys, we're not going to be able to take the picture if you keep fooling around!" Robin had exclaimed.

"This is utterly pointless," Raven had said.

"You think everything's pointless," Beast Boy had said snidely.

"Our image shall be captured forever on that camera!" Starfire had exclaimed happily. "What joy!"

Cyborg had been busy playfully chasing Beast Boy. "Yeah, Star! Joy to the Titans!"

"Let's just get this over with," Raven had said, bored.

Everyone had gotten into their positions. However, the picture hadn't gone as planned. Cyborg had reached over and made bunny ears on Robin's head. Beast Boy had morphed himself into a green cat and started nuzzling Raven's bare leg. Raven had tried to pretend to be unaffected, but he made her smile, anyway. Starfire's smile had been bright and cheery as ever, and she had been right beside Robin.

The camera had flashed.

Robin found a picture of Starfire that he had always kept. He didn't let Cyborg or Beast Boy see it, lest they tease him even worse about his feelings for her than they usually did. He didn't let Starfire see it because he'd been too nervous to tell her. It would've been okay if Raven had seen it; she was mature enough not to tell anyone or make fun of him.

Alas, if a picture said a thousand words, then Starfire's would leave him hard-pressed to speak. She was so beautiful, and not just for her exotic alien looks. She was kind, sweet, and pure.

"She could never take your place," he had said to her of her wicked older sister Blackfire. "No one could ever take your place."

Robin dropped the picture and silently wept. "Starfire . . ." he moaned in his sobs.

The crow just watched with its amber eyes. Finally, the door opened. Robin stood up; ready to fight whoever it was who had come in so uninvited. He could see the intruder perfectly: her small figure, the cloak she wore . . .

Cloak . . .

He had another flash, of a dark, gothic girl with purple hair and pale skin, who always wore a blue cloak and kept herself somewhat separate from the others.

"Hey, Raven, wanna go to the movies with us?" Robin had asked.

"You go," Raven had replied, not looking up from her book. "I'll stay here."

"Robin," Raven said in present time.

"Raven?" Robin asked. "What's going on? Why is there a tombstone outside with my name on it? How did I end up in that grave?"

"Follow me," Raven replied.

They went to her room. Robin reflected that it was the first time he'd ever seen her room. It was dark and had very few luxuries. There was a bookcase, a globe, and two masks --- happy and sad. On a dresser, he saw a red-jeweled hand mirror.

Raven turned on the light, giving the room dim illumination.

"So what's happened to me?" Robin asked.

"You're dead, Robin," Raven replied.

"Dead?" Robin asked. "But I can't be. I'm right here. What am I, some kind of ghost, then?"

"That crow on your shoulder seems to tell me otherwise," Raven replied. Robin looked at his shoulder and found the crow, its talons gripping his shoulder. Strangely enough, Robin didn't feel any twinges of pain.

"How did I get like this?" Robin asked.

"Today, this very early morning, is a day in the year of 2004," Raven replied. "One year since your death at Slade's hands."

"Fine," Slade had said. "Be that way. I could kill you all now. But it'll be much more satisfying to finish you one by one --- starting with the red-haired one." He had mounted a laser on his right arm and fired it right at Starfire, the intensity set high enough to kill.

Starfire should have been dead. But she wasn't.

Because Robin had lunged at her and shoved her out of the way, taking the shot through his own chest.

"Robin!" Starfire had shouted. She had flown to him and held him, propping his upper body up with her arms. "Robin?"

"Starfire" Robin had managed to utter, his voice weak. "I can't . . . I'm sorry . . ."

"Please, stay with me, Robin!" Starfire had pleaded. "Oh, why did you do it?"

"I couldn't let him hurt you," Robin had replied. "I love you too much."

"I love you, too, Robin," Starfire had said.

Those had been the last words Robin heard as darkness overtook him.

"Slade," Robin growled, black hatred rising in him. In his anger, he punched the darkened window, shattering it.

Raven was not really surprised, but it was still amazing to see. That window was made out of specially reinforced glass. No way should bare human hands have shattered it, but Robin had done just that.

Robin pulled his hand back, staring at the cuts. He noticed that he hadn't felt any pain from the window shards cutting his flesh. In fact, the cuts had only bled a little before they sealed.

He turned to Raven. "What am I?" The crow, which had earlier jumped to the bookcase, returned to Robin's shoulder.

"There is a legend," Raven replied, "of a crow that delivers the souls of the dead to the afterlife. Sometimes, though, a soul is so burdened that it cannot find peace. So sometimes, the crow can return that soul to set things right."

"Then I know what I'm here for," Robin replied. "To make Slade pay. To stop him --- for good."

"As you are now, you exist between the living world and the other side," Raven explained. "That means that for all intents and purposes, you can't be killed, you'll feel no pain, and you'll heal from any injury. Also, your physical abilities --- strength, agility, speed, and senses --- will increase to superhuman proportions."

"It's 2004 now, right?" Robin said. "So what happened between my death and now?"

"Slade went completely over the edge," Raven explained. "Somehow, he blamed us for what happened to you. He became extremely determined to destroy us, and to that end he united many super-powered criminals under him in a crime syndicate. After only a few months, it went worldwide. Superboy and Wonder Girl joined us and Nightwing formed his own team, the Outsiders.

"We don't know what Slade hopes to gain through his crimes, other than our complete destruction," Raven finished. She walked over to the dresser and took out a makeup kit, then came to Robin.

"What's this, Raven?" Robin asked.

"A makeup kit," Raven replied in her "What, are you stupid?" voice.

"I don't think it's the time to be sprucing up," Robin said.

"It's not for me," Raven contradicted. "It's for you."

It was then that Raven began the task of transforming Robin's outside to match his newly dark inside. First, she took white foundation and spread it over Robin's entire face, avoiding his eyes and lips. Next, she applied black eyeliner and eye shadow to his eyes, using the eyeliner to draw a vertical line above and below each eye.

Like black tears, she thought, remembering how Starfire had cried after Robin's death.

Robin started, having seen a flash of Starfire crying. Then he realized that it was Raven's memory.

"You can also see into people's souls," Raven said. "You will be able to feel their thoughts, emotions, and memories."

Raven continued, painting Robin's lips black. She took black lip liner and outlined his lips with it, then used it to draw a curving line extending from each corner of his lips, evoking an evil smile.

An evil smile, Raven thought. Just like how Slade would smile under that mask.

Robin smiled. It wasn't his normal smile. It was cold, dark, and devoid of mirth. It was the smile of the devil.

But Robin was no devil. Just a dark angel of vengeance.

Robin went to his investigation room and opened a hidden door, revealing a black costume with a white skull mask. Red X.

The costume would be a perfect fit for his new, darker image, but with some modifications. Of course, the skull mask would have to go.

When Robin came back out, he was dressed in the Red X suit, but with the aforementioned modifications. First, he wore black gloves with studded silver wrist-bracelets in place of the original gray gloves. Second, he wore a black leather belt with silver studs. Third, he wore buckled black leather boots.

He looked himself in the mirror and smiled.

"It's not a good day to be a bad guy."

"Let me see (let me see)

How my life has been (taken)

Taken

This demon (haunts me)

Haunts me

They're waiting (help me)

Help me.

"You fuck me up

I'm gagged and bound

You pick me up when I am down

I cannot live without them

I do not live without them.

"Hey daddy (daddy)

They are taking me (away)

Putting things in me (my soul)

My soul

They're eating (help me)

Please help me.

"You fuck me up

I'm gagged and bound

You pick me up when I am down

I cannot live without them

I do not live without them.

"They carry this thing inside me

Wants to get out

All it does is scream and shout

I'm trying not to let it out

They tell me to hurt myself

They tell me to hurt myself

They tell me to hurt myself

But I'm not gonna listen.

"You fuck me up

I'm gagged and bound

You pick me up when I am down

I cannot live without them

I do not live without them.

"You fuck me up

I'm gagged and bound

You pick me up when I am down

I cannot live without them

I do not live without them.

"Hey daddy (waiting)."

Korn – "Hey Daddy"

End Notes: This is just the beginning. Robin has died and risen once again as a dark messenger of vengeance. I hope you like this one.

By the way, the scene between Beast Boy and Raven was not meant to pair them up. I find the idea interesting, but I don't see it happening. As for Slade's scene, try not to interpret it as Slade/Robin. I know it can be interpreted that way, but don't.

Also, Superboy and Wonder Girl are not original characters. Anyone who knows the Teen Titans comics knows that they are currently Titans. There were actually two Wonder Girls; the first one was one of the original Titans and a "spirit sister" to Wonder Woman, while the second (the one I use in this story) was an ordinary girl until Zeus gave her the powers of flight and super-strength.

E-mail me if you want, or just review.