Disclaimer ~ As certain as the sun rises, so it is said that I do not own Teen Titans. I just set mousetraps for them by the 'fridge. Any and all characters appearing here are the property of Marv Wolfman et al, DC, WB and Cartoon Network, and are used without permission but with plenty of respect.

A/N ~ Having never written Teen Titans fanfic before, I find myself rather intimidated to be doing so now. My comic knowledge stretches to books from the last three months, titanstower.com and one 1985 issue I found in a bric-a-brac shop. Not exactly a sterling resume. However, I found myself inspired after watching the UK premiere of 'Titan Rising', and began noodling with something on the notepad usually reserved for phone messages. The lyric 'Never met a villain that they liked' from the title theme, and something Raven said at the end of 'Betrayal' resounded especially with this idea, and so I sat down and scribed this little vignette as a knee-jerk response to that episode. For those who haven't seen it yet, neener neener neener. For once, UK television came through and we got a show first.

The apocalypse must be nigh.

=========

'As the Raven Flies' By Scribbler

April 2004

=========

Raven was walking the halls of Titans Tower. It was not an unusual occurrence – not for any of the Titans, given the tower was their home, and thus they had a right to wander around it. Stark halogen strip-lighting set a path for her footsteps, denying knowledge of either sun or moon outside.

Very little of Titans Tower involved windows. Instead, fake illumination created a permanent kind of twilight ambience throughout the glass and metal structure. Few complained – Raven preferred a dark she could flip on and off at will, Robin had been trained in the shadows, and both Cyborg and Starfire were walking flashlights. Only Beast Boy grumbled, but his objection was a personal one. Though he could take such form, he was not a nocturnal creature by nature, preferring nights curled up in bed and days spent basking in the sun, or playing video games in the room with the biggest window of the Tower.

Despite all this, Raven knew that it was night outside; just as she knew that she should technically be resting after a night and day of heroics and strenuous activity. Of all the Teen Titans, she had to work hardest on fine control of her abilities, which involved hours of meditation and just as much sleep. A tired Raven was a irritable Raven, and a irritable Raven meant nothing good. Cyborg was of the opinion that she napped even more than Beast Boy's housecat form, but aside from gentle teasing, nobody ever really commented further. Having seen unchecked outbursts of her power before, all her teammates knew to indulge her idiosyncrasies when she told them that doing so would ensure they never happened again.

Outbursts. Powers. Fine control. The reason for her restlessness loomed large in Raven's mind, and she shook away residual images of the past twenty-four hours.

When she passed Terra's door, however, she paused. Glancing up at the newly minted name plaque, she considered words and deeds she'd done and seen since Terra appeared on the rooftop a little over one day ago.

Slade. Worm-drills. Sinking the Tower beneath the bay. Saving their home and all that it stood for.

Trust.

Perhaps the smallest, yet most important aspect of events.

To Raven, trust was a valuable commodity. After their previous brush with Slade, Robin's appreciation of it had soared, mirroring slightly in the other Titans. Yet to Raven, it had always been of utmost importance. She did not share herself or her secrets freely. The others habitually introduced her as 'the difficult to understand one' of the group. Apparently every team had one, super or no – she was just a little overqualified for the role. Starfire regularly insisted they were not *meant* to understand her as much as they might like, or they did each other.

Truth said that they understood her more than anyone else ever had, or possibly ever would.

Allowing this team of super-powered misfits into so much of her demonstrated just how must trust Raven had in them. She knew, just like she knew the sun would rise, that if she fell, one of them would be there to catch her. If she faltered, they would pick her up and let her lean on them until she could walk alone once more. All they asked in return was that she repay the favour if they fell or stumbled. They wanted nothing else, nor asked for it, and put no manacles of debt on her for their kindnesses.

After a sheltered upbringing, Raven had at first not been able to comprehend this simple concept. When she did finally grasp it, she valued it, because it was the most precious thing anyone had ever given her on either Earth or Azarath.

They had given her their trust.

They had given her themselves, open and vulnerable – the moral equivalent of exposing their bellies. She could have taken that trust and used it against them. In the beginning, they'd had no guarantee she would not, yet they'd trusted her anyway.

On some level, the more cynical side of Raven was simultaneously irritated by this blind integrity. The Titans had good intentions, but they were hobbled by their idealism. From what she grasped after hours of reading and research about this world she had not been born in, the Titans were a little like extreme American liberals – unconcerned about the quotidian practicalities of living by great theories and moral codes because they were always for someone else to apply. The team's collective suspicion of the world at large was low, and it had to be said that most of the quota was hers.

The Teen Titans were Raven's family, after a fashion. Certainly, they qualified for the role more than previous applicants. She fought with them, bickered relentlessly, and had sat in her room with her valuables packed to leave more than once when the gulf of philosophies between them grew too great to handle. Likewise she had saved each of her teammates' lives more than once, while they had saved both her life and the wholeness her sanity before now. They were dichotomy incarnate – a jumble of opposites that really shouldn't mesh, all thrown together in a bag and rattled around.

Yet the constant in all of it was trust. They trusted her to stick around and look out for them and their relentlessly idealistic ways, just as she trusted them to accept her natural scepticism and proclivity for suspicion.

"How? How do I earn it?"

Those had been Terra's words. She didn't understand trust. She didn't understand how it worked, what made it possible between people. She thought that to ask was to get, that it was that undemanding. To Raven and the other Titans, trust was instinct. That someone might need to learn it baffled her, and she stared at Terra's door, wondering just what else the other girl didn't understand.

The other Titans' idealism was at work again. They already trusted Terra, but they were each biased in some way. Robin, still aching from his destructive near-obsession with Slade, needed to prove to himself that second chances really could work. Cyborg enjoyed the idea that imperfection was not only limited to his hardware – that someone all flesh could also be imperfect and yet go beyond their limitations. For all she had reached out the hand of friendship to Raven, Starfire was entranced with the idea of a more feminine ally on the team – someone she could swap stories with and quiz on the female-oriented aspects of Earth life. And Beast Boy… well, Beast Boy was smitten with Terra, which perhaps made him the worst of them all for blind trust this time.

Raven had no romantic attachment to Beast Boy, but she worried for him in his emotional blindness. It was not a feeling she dwelled on for long, thanks to her powers, but it was there. Beast Boy was family, and Raven was willing to protect each member of her family should the need arise. Hell, he'd been inside her *head* and helped her out in her most basic of battles, the fight for self and sanity. She supposed she still owed him and Cyborg for that one.

Trust.

It meant so much to Raven, and they had just given it to Terra unthinkingly. A few fancy tricks with flying rocks this morning, some idle words of having 'practised' into excellence and she had more than just a foot in the door.

Was that why she had rejected her so fully before? Was that why she was restless now, and pacing the halls like a caffeine-infused insomniac?

Terra seemed to have complete control of her powers, and everyone believed her when she said so. She assumed she had things in hand, that she didn't need to practise anymore. Raven wondered whether part of her anger at Terra had been because she couldn't allow herself the same luxury.

Jealousy.

Raven couldn't remember the last time she met that emotion in meditation. The others popped in from time to time, until she either absorbed their astral forms or ignored them so much they left again, but jealousy was not common company.

Yet, despite all this, she had relented and given her approval when Robin came to her asking for advice. She had supported the decision to induct Terra into their ranks. She had stood in the newly furnished bedroom and then gone to eat welcome-waffles with her. She had given up her seat so that Terra could sit and watch television on the couch instead of the floor. She had even smiled while in Terra's company, and it had not been a forced grimace but a genuine expression. She found herself, for whatever reason, vaguely liking the enthusiastic blonde girl who was so eager to prove herself.

But she didn't trust her yet.

Trust took more than a day and a single request to earn.

Raven felt like the others expected something different from her – like Terra's presence on the team should have sparked a different reaction to the one she'd given. She couldn't understand them in that, because it was beyond simple idealism. They liked Terra as a person. Had she not been a team member, she might still have been their friend. It was not like with Fixit or Mechanic – she was not someone who had to prove her good intentions. Fine control, yes, but not her intentions. Idealism only stretched as far as the moral and ethical conundrum. It never involved itself with friendship and the logistics thereof. The Titans liked Terra, therefore they wanted Raven to like her, too, and Raven was not the sort of person to extend herself that way simply because those around her did.

Trust could not be shepherded along with sheep; nor could it be bought, portioned out, or sold. It had to be given, and given freely, or else it didn't work. She couldn't trust someone, put her life in their hands, if she felt she'd been forced into accepting them.

Yet she had accepted Terra on her own – at least on a surface level. She'd accepted her into the Teen Titans, absorbing her into her family group.

That had surprised the others. They hadn't really expected the worm to turn so fast. Yet they'd also been surprised when she confided her continued suspicion and lack of total trust, even though that was a more predictable response. If anything, they'd been more shocked by this than her abnormal behaviour.

It was confusing, to say the least.

_What sort of Raven do they see?_ she wondered suddenly. On impulse, she cupped her hands and let a scrap of dark energy pool in them, focussing it into a mirror-like sheen. It reflected her face, colours inverted, making her sallow skin appear dark and her eyes light – a total opposite to what she knew her face actually was.

Which face did her teammates see? This face looking back at her? Or maybe that of her astral emotions? Especially after the incident with Cyborg and Beast Boy in Nevermore, Raven had felt the others' perceptions of her in flux. Sometimes they acted like she *was* one of her emotions writ large, forgetting that the emotions were her, and they mixed and bled into each other, just like their own did.

There was Raven the porcelain doll, the girl who meditated and looked upon the world with dispassionate eyes. There was Raven the angry young thing, who wanted to break free and be wild, but couldn't because she'd never known anything but supreme self-discipline. There was Raven the tortured soul, who fractured herself so others wouldn't fracture her, and Raven the mediator, who stopped fights in the ranks, and Raven the advice-giver, whom they could turn to for an impassive opinion, and deep inside there was a part of her that wanted to scream that she was none of those things. She was touch and sight and smell. She was noise and chaos and ultimate calm; she was darkness and light and everything in between. She was the grey patch of life where everything that was once clear became murky, and she survived because she was everything and nothing and didn't let any of the constructs the world had created dictate to her who she was inside her shell.

Porcelain breaks, anger diminishes and fractures heal, and in the end, buried under everything else, there was just her – flesh and blood and forever.

And underneath that, something else – something even more potent. The little girl who'd never really been allowed to grow.

Sometimes Raven wondered what that little girl was like.

Sometimes she was afraid to look and see.

The Titans trusted her to know where the constructs ended and she began. They couldn't teach her that, any more than she could teach them how to acknowledge and accept whom and what *they* were under their skins. It was an implicit thing.

Maybe that was what bothered her still about Terra. Terra, who left as one girl and came back as another. Terra, who showed up just as a crisis directly suited to her powers arrived. Terra, who asked for trust and had it handed to her on a silver platter. Terra, whose triumphant return heralded Slade's renewed interest in wiping the Teen Titans from the face of the planet.

If Slade continued as he had before, then maybe Raven would find out just how much of Terra was concept, and how much was the real girl. Slade had a knack for bringing out the ugliness in people. Maybe she'd find out just how far the others' blind trust was deserving. Maybe she'd find out another facet of her own character – the part that could be proved wrong.

Trust would be the deciding factor.

It always was.

Silently, Raven moved off and continued her nighttime wandering.

=========

FIN.

=========