Chapter 8- Forbidden Passion
Tamaraneans are creatures of emotion. One might even say that the people are ruled by them. They are completely opposite of those trained on Azarath. Their happiness is bright, their sadness profound. Their anger is righteous, their love passionate- and their hate is consuming.
Starfire had felt joy, sadness, anger, and love. She had yet to experience hate. At least until she'd found out that her best friend had stolen the boy she was crazily love with. Now, with that undiluted and purely destructive emotion coursing through her veins, Starfire needed an outlet or her mind would implode on itself. Training with the too-breakable earth apparatus was hardly satisfying.
Without actually knowing where she would end up, she began walking. Before she realized where she was, she found herself standing in front of the heavy lead door that was the entrance into her former girl-friend's room.
Being so close to her foe, the rage inside her began to seethe. She raised her hand with the intention of only knocking, she truly did, but before her mind could catch up to her overflowing hurt and fury, her hand seemed to unfurl of its own free will and a green glow suffused it. Behind that black door was the traitor who had stolen her true love right out from under her nose.
The hatred spilled over.
Raven had finished stowing away all her purchases before she sensed the danger. Alarm bells began to ring in her head, and every instinct she possessed screamed at her to flee. Silencing these warnings she approached her door cautiously and reached out with her mind to the other side of the door to find out what this threat was.
She caught only a glimpse of all- encompassing hate, before the door exploded off its hinges. With a cry of unadulterated rage, Raven's assailant fired a starbolt directly into her face, knocking her backwards to hit the back of her head on the bed post.
It was only her quick thinking that saved Raven from more serious injury. Through the blinding pain, she was able to erect a barrier against the next onslaught of green missiles.
Her vision began to grey around the edges; she feared she would lose consciousness and she and her unborn child would be at the mercy of the raging mad-woman.
She distantly heard a crash and saw a green bull tackle Starfire to the floor. Robin dropped down beside his lover and took one of her limp hands into his own shaking ones.
"Rae, can you hear me?"
She managed to mumble a coherent, "The baby…"
"Don't worry, sweet-heart, I'll take care of you and our daughter. Just relax, don't move,"
"C-call Hope. Don't let her die," Raven's speech was slurred and disjointed as her thoughts became increasingly fractured. The pain in her skull became unbearable and she slipped into unconsciousness. The last thing she heard was Robin calling her name frantically.
"Wake up, Rae. Please…"
The low, but persistent voices echoed in the space between her ears. She opened her eyes in small increments, as to not overload them in case she had any sensitivity to light. She did, and it was a test of patience to raise them slowly enough to not get sensory overload. Then she had to concentrate to bring everything into focus.
The first thing she saw was the glaring white of the ceiling. The second thing was four worried faces, two on each side. Her lover's, she noticed, was particularly pale and drawn with worry.
She tried to sit up, but a pair of hands gently forced her back to the bed. "Calm down, you're safe."
"Do you know who you are?" an unfamiliar voice asked from somewhere beyond her field of vision.
Raven struggled to recall information. "R-Raven. I'm Raven,"
"Do you know where you are?"
"No- yes, I think. The infirmary?"
"Mm-hmm. Do you know what happened to you?"
"Do you know who the people around you're bed are?"
"Beast boy, Cyborg, Hope, and Richard-Robin. Richard… is the baby alright?"
"Yeah, Rae, the baby's fine. She's a fighter, just like her mother. You have a serious concussion. You've been out for two days.
Raven relaxed as soon as she realized that her daughter was, in fact, okay. The bone chilling fear that had seized her upon remembering her pregnancy vacated her and was replaced by bone deep exhaustion. She heard the man, who she assumed was the doctor, say something in a low voice then exit the room.
"I called Hope, like you asked. It was a good thing I did, too. As soon as she heard she came, along with her personal physician."
An uncomfortable silence elapsed. The same question was on everyone's tongue, but at least for the Titans it was too bitter to give voice.
Hope looked around in disgust. "Since everyone else is too busy pussy-footing around to just ask, I will. Rae-Rae, what exactly happened the other day?"
Raven told them what she remembered about that night in a flat, unfeeling tone. "Where is Starfire?"
Robin set his jaw. "She's been suspended from duties indefinitely"
"You can't do that. Since I'm out of commission for three-quarters of a year, you're going to need her. Don't deny it," she insisted when he shook his head in the negative.
Cyborg jumped into the conversation. "What about you?"
"What about me?"
"What if she comes after you again? I know she's our friend, but I for one, do not want a repeat of the other night. And whether you want to admit it or not, you are in a delicate condition"
"Cyborg, I have not forgotten anything." Behind her innate sense of practicality, was a steely anger that flashed for a moment then was gone. "I'm just going to have to be more careful and not let my guard down."
Raven had not and would not forget the awful fear that had seeped into her very marrow at the sight of Starfire's glowing green eyes. For the very first time she had something, no someone other than herself to be responsible for. A tiny someone to be fiercely protective of and damned if she would let anything happen to the precious life inside her.
"Like hell!" the sudden interjection from Hope startled everyone. "How are you supposed to be on alert every second? What if she decides to attack you when you're sleeping?"
"She won't have to worry about that," Robin denied.
"How can you be so sure?"
"Because she'll be staying in my room,"
"What!" the stunned exclamation came from all parties, the loudest from the 'she' in question.
"Your room is totaled. Until it can be restored, you'll have to stay somewhere else."
"What about the spare rooms?"
"As Hope pointed out, something could happen when you're sleeping. If Starfire is to come back, it would be much safer for you not to sleep alone."
Raven was blushing all the way to the roots of her hair. She tried reasoning, "Rich-Robin, I don't think I'm ready for a step like that."
"Why not? We're already going to be parents together."
"Yes well… Technically we've only been seeing each other for a few months, and I really like my space." She insisted.
Robin sighed. There was no way he was going to talk her into it. They would have to have a talk about it some other time. Right now, she had a concussion and he didn't want to push her. "Fine, since you're so intent on having your 'space' we'll install you in your own room."
She was pleased, yet at the same time, unaccountably disappointed that she had gotten her way. She ignored that particular feeling and graced him with a small smile, "Thank you,"
"… The one adjoining mine," he finished.
"Don't argue, please. I only want to keep you and our baby safe. I thought this would be a compromise,"
"How generous of you," she spat caustically. "Fine, you have a deal."
Hope, who had watched the exchange with an indulgent smirk, took on the role of overbearing nurse with ease and shooed the group out. Robin promised to have whatever of her things that weren't completely destroyed moved to her new room by the time she was released.
Hope closed the door and came back to sit in a chair beside her exhausted friend. She observed the dark purple half-moons under her closed eyes and the numerous cuts and bruises marring her paler-than-usual complexion. "Raven,"
"Don't Hope," she interrupted in a heavily beleaguered voice without opening her eyes. The monotone had been dropped because she frankly did not have the strength to keep up appearances.
"How can you forgive her so easily? She almost killed you and the baby. I just don't understand." Hope's voice was unsure and disbelieving.
Raven finally opened her eye and Hope saw the entire range of emotion blazing in their violet depths. Pain, fury, sadness, and unshakable love. Hope could almost feel them herself and realized that her friend was letting her see.
"I have not forgiven her, nor will I. If I had 'stolen' a thousand boyfriends from her, it would not compare to what she almost stole from me." Raven rested a hand on her not yet swollen belly. "But I understand her. I caught a glimpse inside of her head, and I know that she feels I took her one true love away from her. I can't help that because I love him, too and I refuse to give him up." Steely resolve permeated her voice, belying her frail appearance.
Hope admired her strength, yet still had to struggle with her answer. "Then why would you insist that she still be allowed to live here?"
"Because I betrayed her in the worst way possible. Robin was her first love and I took him away. It wouldn't be right for me to take away the only family she has on earth. She was out of her mind with rage, and she's probably already regretting what she did,"
"I still don't get you."
"Hope, I was having a moment of weakness. It won't happen again. Can you please drop it now?"
"Fine, fine. Let's talk about more pleasant things. Which room in this colossal T is going to be the baby's?"
"I don't know yet. I haven't really thought about it. I suppose it should be one close to mine."
"You should reconsider moving in with Robin."
"No, listen. I know you like your privacy and all, but I don't see how that would be a problem. With all these rooms, you could pick any one for a study or something you could go to if you need to be alone. It would be practical, too because you could put the nursery in that adjoining room, that way the baby would be close." Hope reasoned.
Raven had not thought that far ahead and was beginning to see the obvious benefits of such an arrangement. All of Hope's arguments were valid, but still… She was very tired and in no position to come up with a rejoinder.
"I'll think about it. Not to be rude or anything, but…"
"Would I please remove my useless carcass from this room so you can get some much needed rest?"
"More or less,"
"Of course," she chirped. "I'll be back to check on you later,"
"Fine. Hope, there's something I've been meaning to ask you."
"What is it?"
"How old are you?"
"Why, Raven, don't you know that a true lady never discloses her age?" the older woman responded coyly. At her friend's patient, yet expectant stare, Hope gave in. "I'm twenty-six, married for four of those and happily widowed for three. Why do you ask?"
"Nothing. I just thought you seemed older for some reason."
Hope glared. "Never, ever, ever say that to a woman again. Age is the enemy, darling and we don't want to be any older than we are. And FYI I get told all the time that I look like I'm in my late teens or early twenties." Raven could tell that her new friend was peeved with her. She qualified her response.
"I didn't mean you looked older, I said you seemed older. You have the world weariness of a woman twice your age." She yawned hugely, and her eyes drifted closed.
Hope wondered over that final statement for a while, then a crooked smile softened her frowning features. "Kid, you don't know the half of it."
The next morning, Raven woke to off-key singing and the padding of rubber soles on the tiled floor. She opened her slumberous eye-lids to be hit by a flood of blinding sunlight. "Close the curtains."
"No can do, my pet. You need a little sun in your diet."
When she could finally locate the woman, the first thing she noticed was that Hope had dyed her hair. The second was that she was dressed for manual labor. She decided to address the former.
"Hope, what did you do to your hair?"
"I don't know. I was feeling in a red kind of mood. Do you like it?"
"I'm not sure. And it's not red. It's bright orange."
"Well, I like it and that's all that matters. Don't just lay there sleepyhead, get up and get dressed!"
"Because I just couldn't possibly wait another moment to get started on that nursery. I've already got the paint. I think you'll like it. There's already a pair of coveralls up there. What? Cyborg showed me the way."
"But we have at least six or seven months to do that," Raven protested.
"Yes, but it's better we get it over with now, you know, before you're too fat to do anything."
Raven was relieved to see that someone had had the presence of mind to leave one of her outfits. She used the bathroom to change, minus the cape, and was dragged away to pick up the paint from the foyer. Raven had to lead Hope, since she would no doubt get horribly lost without help. She opened the door and gasped. The room was a replica of her old one, with the distinction of a much smaller bed.
The two women had their work cut out for them, relocating the things. The violet haired telepath realized, while they were moving, that she had not even agreed to do this, but had been effectively maneuvered by the multimillionaire. Raven had to admire the older woman's cleverness.
Robin's quarters were ridiculously plain. She had no trouble finding space; the trick was how to arrange her things so that they didn't overpower the way they had in her own room. She managed it, however, and the result was an arresting contrast between her taste and his, or lack thereof.
Once the prospective nursery was bare, but for the original furniture, they laid down newspaper and began to paint. Hope had been right. She did like the color. It was a soft, buttercup yellow and it wasn't at all too bright.
They spent about three hours on the paint, then when it was dry enough, they put up the adorable border paper Hope had picked up on a whim. It was in a pattern of infantile wild animals.
Robin found her alone, having tea on the floor, her back turned to him. He just stood in the doorway for a moment, a small smile playing at his mouth. Raven was unspeakable cute in a pair of too-huge overalls and with her hair swept up in a pony-tail. He'd never seen her look so unguarded.
She turned and he could see the paint smudged on her face. His smile turned into a snort, and she frowned at him.
"You have paint on your face,"
She raised an eyebrow and made a gesture at the room that seemed to say, 'Duh, what do you think I've been doing?'
"Why are you here so early?"
Robin sobered when the reason he had sought her out came back to him. "I found Starfire at the hotel we got her a room at. She was distraught and she said she apologized for what she did. But there's a problem."
"She still can't stand the sight of me. I understand. I'll make myself scarce during the day unless she's gone. I'll have a lot to do here," she indicated the would-be nursery.
"It just doesn't feel right, making you a prisoner,"
"I didn't say I'd be here all the time. I'll probably do a lot of stuff with Hope. She's been really kind to me, and I could use a female friend right now."
Robin took her in his arms and offered what comfort he could. They hadn't really had time to actually be together since he'd told Starfire about them.
His voice lowered to a whisper as he slowly began to dance them around the room. "I like what you did with the room, our room now, I guess. You'll be staying there tonight, right?"
"I thought about it."
"There's something else we need to talk about. I need to get the other's opinions on it also."
"What?" Raven was lulled by the gentle rocking motion and rested her head on his shoulder.
"Since you're going to be incapacitated for the next several months, I was thinking we could get someone else to help fill in temporarily." He was a little nervous about what her response might be to this idea. However, the truth was that without Raven, they were short handed in the crime fighting department.
"Hmm, that's a good idea. I was curious about what would happen since we're going to be short staffed for a while. Anyone in mind"
"I thought about asking Speedy."
"It wouldn't work,"
"He's too much like you. One boy wonder is enough, thanks."
"He wouldn't leave the water,"
"I don't know, then. What about you? Do you have any suggestions?"
"You're limiting the possibilities too much. Why don't you contact Batman? He and the other members of the Justice League might have some candidates."
"That's a good idea. Now I know why you're my second-in-command," he teased.
Raven sniffed in a very elegant sort of way. "And what is that supposed to mean, exactly?"
"Oh, nothing. Speaking of the Bat, I phoned Bruce and asked him to come out. Don't worry I haven't told him about the baby yet," he qualified quickly. "All he's been told is that there's someone important to me that I want him to meet. I just figured that since you haven't met him yet, it would be a good idea if you two were introduced."
"I see. When is he coming?"
"That's the thing. He's busy with some new deal for Wayne Enterprises. He has to come to Jump this weekend to finalize something or other. He said he'd stop by for a while when he got the chance."
"Why didn't you tell me before you called him? Are we going to tell him about the baby? What will he think?" Raven was in a panic. The weekend was almost here and she wasn't at all certain that she was ready to confront the man who had been the father figure in Robin's life.
"Calm down Rae, everything will be fine. We only have to tell him if you want to, and if we do I'm sure he'll be very happy for us."
She hoped so. She really, really hoped so.