Looking at the sky, Raven could see each individual star. One wouldn't think that would be possible in a city of this size and brightness, but she had help.

The high tech telescope could bring a star or planet up close and personal or just like it would be seen on a dark night. The former was the setting she had it on now.

It had been a birthday present from Robin. The most thoughtful object she had received and also the most practical. She'd thanked him as profusely as she was capable, which had been a quiet thank you and a small smile. A relief after the various silly gifts she had accepted from the others.

Beast Boy had bought her a gigantic, stuffed, fuscia elephant, which she would reluctantly keep on her dresser next to Cyborg's gift. A hubcap. When she had looked at him questioningly he had told her proudly that it was an original from the crashed car of the late Dale Earnhardt Sr. She hadn't bothered to ask who Dale Earnhardt was. She had thanked them both and proceeded to Starfire's brightly wrapped box.

Just as Raven suspected, it was something she would absolutely never use and/or wear. The evening dress was a beautiful vintage 1920's circa. It was a deep violet, with guazy sleeves and a corset style bodice. The ties and trim were blood red. Raven admired it but knew there would never be occasion for her to wear such a thing. It would set in the back of her closet.

Rather disappointed in their lack of understanding regarding her tastes (though it was entirely her own fault) she opened the last gift unenthusiastically. She was pleasantly surprised by the telescope, along with an original compilation of short stories and poems by Edgar Allen Poe. Her delight must have been evident when she looked at Robin, because he blushed. "I noticed you looking at the stars sometimes and I thought this may make things a little clearer." That was his explanation for the telescope, she remembered. One wasn't neccessary for the book.

Starfire had hugged Robin breathless and cried about how sweet he was. They had been together for nearly two weeks, much to Raven's chagrin. Star spent their weekly "hanging out time" babbling non-stop about him.

For some reason this got on Raven's nerves most severely. She didn't want to hear about their happiness because her own existence was dismally lacking in that respect. At least that was what she told herself.

"Knock knock," The voice came from behind, startling the child, er, teenager of darkness. She turned to see Robin closing the door that lead onto the roof.


"I thought you could use some company. Besides, Star made her Pudding of the Birthday, or something. She's great, but her cooking isn't. Mind if I...?"

"Oh, of course not, be my guest."

Robin stepped up to the lense and bent over to look through. "Wow. This is amazing. What's that planet you were looking at?"

"It's Azarath. My home," she answered wistfully.

Robin looked up quizically. "Why don't you ever go back?"

"I can't. It was destroyed when my father was sealed. Not the planet itself, but everything on it. That's why I-" she stopped abruptly.

"Why you what?" He persisted,"Don't worry, anything you say to me is strictly confidential."

"That's why I came here," she finished quietly. "Turn it two degrees left. That's Metrion, the moon I was born under in Azarian astrology. Seven degrees left of that is Zinthos, the moon my mother was born under. That's what my chant is derived from. Azarath for tranquility, Metrion for control, and Zinthos for serenity,"

"What was her name?" Robin had abandoned his star gazing and was now staring at her intently.

"Arella. Isn't that a pretty name? I never knew her, but I'm sure she was a good person. I'm sorry to bore you like this. I'm not sure what has come over me."

"That's okay, I wasn't bored. 'Sides, what are friends for if not to dump on now and then?" He continued looking through the telescope. "This reminds me of the old days. Gothom was alot like this, except where I lived. There it was dark enough to see even the dimmest star."

"It's Bruce Wayne isn't it?"

"Yeah. How'd you guess? Oh, right, you can read minds."

"No, I made a hypothesis backed by common sense. And it isn't like that. I never intrude on a person's thoughts unless it's absolutely necessary."

"Like when I was Red X?" Raven flushed guiltily. "You knew it was me all along, didn't you?"

"I never mistrusted you," was her evasive response.

"Thanks, Raven,"

"For what?"

"For not telling them. Despite what they may think, I really did have a good reason. I couldn't afford for it to seem like you were going easy on me,"

"I already told you, I never doubted your intentions. Some people are very fickle in their thoughts and actions. You don't happen to be one of them. You are very consistent. That's one of the reasons you're a good leader. And that's why they won't hold it against you, because they know in their hearts that whatever you do you do to protect us."

Robin sighed. "I wish you weren't the only person who saw that. They think I get too obsessed with Slade"

"I never said you didn't. You do,"

"Thanks," he said wryly.

"It's only a problem when you act recklessly. Listen, I'm tired. You can use that whenever you want."

Raven stretched, and Robin found it uncharacteristically difficult to look away.

She floated to the stairwell that went to the main hall in the T of the tower. "Oh, and one more thing, Robin. Do you remember what Starfire said to you? After the Red X incident?"

"Yeah," All too vividly, in fact.

"It isn't and wasn't true. Good and evil can never be compared"

To the closing door he said, "Thank you,"

Hmm, so it seems like the two birdies have more in common than they thought. A sense of isolation due to friends' lack of understanding. Love of the stars. Respect for one another. A certain mutual and mutually unwanted attraction...

See what happens next in "Forbidden"