AN: grins Aw, you guys are just great. Not but hours after I posted this—with more than my fair share of hiccups, damn you ff.net—I start to receive your reviews. I honestly didn't expect that at all. Hell, I was squealing with delight when the first review made its happy little presence known in my inbox. And now I've got twelve! -- showers beloved readers and reviewers with virtual cookies—not the virus-y kind, mind you Y'all made my night—er, pardoné moi. ; Had a Cy moment, there. ; Anyways, to hell with my useless prattling—on with the gig! I'll yak atcha more at the end. Mwahahaha--hack, cough, cough Yeah, let's not do that again…
P.S. I kinda feel like I ought to give you guys a bit of a warning; yeah, last chapter? Kay, that was a teaser. As in, you know, a very short, teeny-weeny, little-bitty piece to whet your appetite. Like the first hit that gets you addicted. evil grin But yeah. If you're one of those oddly squeamish people who pales and faints at the sight of a long chapter—HEAD FOR THE HILLS!! XD
Disclaimer: Dude. I'm working a shit-shift job in a used bookstore. I think I need not say more.
"What will we do?
What will we say?
When is the end of this game that we play?
Will we crumble into the dust my friend?
Or will we start this game over again?"
--- Three Doors Down, Dangerous Game
The rolling thunder rumbled like the threat in Fenrir's throat, the driving rain sluicing down the windows of the ostentatiously T-shaped tower casting eerie, writhing shadows on the walls of hallways and bedrooms. In one particular room, dressed in purples, blues, blacks and the occasional red, the shadows seemed to take a frightening semblance of sentience, breathing unholy life into the deep gloom clinging to the sharp edges and shallow hollows.
Haunting instrumentals wailed and keened softly from the speakers of a slim black stereo system, violins and drums twining their melodies within the darkness, rising and falling with the rhythm of the thunder and the beat of the rain.
Deep, uneven breathing stirred the ominous night, quicksilver tongues of violent lightning illuminating brief glimpses of a fitfully sleeping Titan, still dressed in her cape and leotard, her limbs tangled uncomfortably atop the sheets where she had surrendered to unconsciousness, succumbing to the internal darkness of her failed meditations. Clutched tightly in a white-knuckled fist was an unusual hand mirror, its surface reflecting not the room around it, nor the girl who held it so fearfully.
Flashes of bright, vivid color skirted furtively about the edges of the mirror, a small number of kaleidoscopic shades that gradually amassed in number, becoming a mottle of speeding hues that raced and skittered across the reflective glass, giving rise to hushed whispers in echoing timbre, a multitude of unintelligible murmurs rising as if from a single throat in frenzying fervor.
Raven's eyes moved beneath their lids, searching warily for something lurking in nightmares or dreams, her mouth twisting in winces, frowns, teeth capturing a lower lip and worrying it nervously as she tossed and turned restlessly, her unconscious movements becoming more and more animated as the prismatic mirror churned chaotically and the wordless susurrations rose to a fever pitch.
A sharp gasp. "No!"
And the world flooded black.
Robin woke with a start, reflexes hoisting him off his stomach and onto his knees atop the covers in an instant, his sleep befuddled brain struggling to catch up with his instincts as he blinked the lingering sleep from his eyes, confusion settling in with awareness as he wondered just why he'd roused so suddenly.
Just as he was about to dismiss the instance as a case of nerves and go back to sleep, he was struck by how unusually dark his room seemed. He could hardly make out a thing. Concern knitting his brow, he stood slowly and silently from his bed and moved towards the door, bare hand groping for the touchpad.
With a resonant, sepulchral sound of shattering glass, the door came open just as the infinite darkness lit up with a stark, ebon glow he only ever associated with one person.
Robin rushed out into the hall, his voice rough with latent slumber and tight with anxiety. "Raven? Raven! Are you there?"
Though shadows and darkness reigned still, he could easily make out every detail of the hallway, every blacklit corner and darkly glowing doorway. However, that didn't make anything any less creepy. "This is too weird," he muttered aloud, simply to reassure himself he could still speak in this strange negative washout of the setting he was so accustomed to. "I hope Raven's oka—OOF!"
A tinkling giggle rang in his ears as he was shoved roughly from behind, arms flailing out to catch himself on the wall before he landed embarrassingly on his face. He quickly recovered his feet and spun around, eyes searching bewilderedly along the empty corridor. "Raven?"
That couldn't have been Raven. No way in hell. I mean, Raven hardly ever laughs, much less giggles… Robin wet his lip nervously, fingers moving to his waist for a utility belt that wasn't there. …Right?
Another giggle teased his ears and he spun to the right at a sharp tug on his pajama sleeve, only to be confronted with empty air. "Raven? What the hell is going on?"
Another chiming laugh; the ghosting of fingers along his spine. Robin twisted around, fighting off a shudder at the abnormally intimate touch. "Okay, I'm officially weirded out now. Raven, if this is some kind of twisted joke—"
"No joke!" Another laugh.
Robin's brows rose. Since when was Raven's voice ever pitched so high? Since when was she playful? And he was quite certain he'd never heard her sound quite so… so… girly before.
"Just a game. Don't you like games, Robin?" He turned to follow the teasing question, once again seeing nothing. He froze as a sudden warmth brushed against his back and a soft breath of air caressed his cheek, and he could almost feel the wide grin, right next to his ear— "Won't you play with me, Robin?"
Eyes wide and cheeks flushed red, Robin utilized all his speed and agility to spin around one more time, hand flashing out quick as a snake—and latching onto a slim, pale wrist.
grins You have no idea how tempting it is to just stop right here and torture you all. But seeing as how I prefer all of my limbs intact, I suppose I must continue.
If it was possible, Robin's eyes widened even further behind the mask, drinking in the sight before him. This can't possibly be real.
Raven stood before him, the same Raven he'd lived with for the better part of his late adolescence, yet she was so different it was as if she were someone else entirely. She stood with one hand placed on a cocked hip confidently, her cape tossed casually over one shoulder. The Raven he knew never exuded such self-assurance, held herself with such effortless poise. And she certainly never smiled at him—like that.
Robin had never considered Raven to be an ugly or plain girl, but he'd never really paid much attention at all to her looks, silently and easily labeling the Dark girl as broodingly pretty, but utterly untouchable.
The grin stretching her lips seemed to transform her face entirely, the smile open and receptive, her eyes twinkling with a friendly warmth and innocent mischief he had never known to possess her features. He knew he was staring, slack-jawed and bug-eyed, but he just couldn't seem to wrap his mind around it.
The half-demon laughed sunnily, twisting her wrist in his loosened grip so that she was… holding… his… hand. "Of course it's me, silly! Who else?" She tugged on his hand suddenly and started jogging down the hall, dragging him along with her. "You act like you've never seen me before, Robin, snap out of it! I mean, sure we're not all that close, and we don't really hang out or talk very much, or really do much of anything together outside of crime fighting, but we've lived in the same T-shaped tower together for quite a while now. You'd think you'd recognize me."
Okay, this is just too weird. This just cannot be Raven. Raven never talks this much. Robin's entire world was reeling, and he felt peculiarly like someone had pulled the rug out from under him, and he was waiting to hit the ground. "Raven, where are we going? What the hell is going on here?"
Raven's melodic laugh sounded once more, something he was totally not used to—but he wasn't entirely adverse to it. She had a surprisingly nice laugh. "What do you mean what's going on? And we're not going much of anywhere; just the roof. I kinda always wanted to take you up there. It's beautiful around this time of the night, but I've never really shared it with anyone before."
Will wonders never cease… Robin's face was contorted in absolute astonishment, but his expression blanked, eyebrows rising high into his forehead when he glanced at Raven's profile. Apparently not! Is she…? She is… Holy shit, Batman, she's blushing!
Robin was pretty sure he went into shock as she dragged him up the stairs, wide, round eyes fixed on her flushed face, amazed at how she looked with a little color in her usually pale cheeks. He shook his head to clear it of the strange, intruding thoughts as Raven pulled them through the roof exit, but twitched nervously when he realized, even after they'd stopped, she still hadn't released his hand.
"Robin, look at it."
Trying not to let his discomfiture show, he followed the direction of her pointing finger and tilted his head back to look at the night sky, blinking as the rain slowly soaking both him and Raven assaulted his vision. As he got his bearings again, he looked closely, trying to see what it was Raven was trying to show him. After a few moments, he gave up.
Returning his gaze to his abnormally bubbly teammate, he questioned, "Uh., Raven, what am I supposed to be looking at?"
She stepped closer to him with an amused smirk, ignoring the way his eyes widened for about the hundredth time in the past twenty minutes and releasing her hold on his hand to reach out with both of hers, lightly cupping either side of his face.
What—W-what the hell—?!
She turned his face to make him look at the sky once again, her voice patient and easygoing. "Look at the sky, Robin. For once in your life, stop analyzing everything you look at and just look at it."
Sufficiently perturbed, Robin blinked rapidly to clear the rain from his eyes and attempted to comply. "Uh, okay… I'll try, I guess." He looked at the storm beset heavens, the churning, thick thunder clouds the color of a fresh bruise, heavy laden with the rain they were dumping on the city, lit from within every now and then with unreleased lightning. It was something of an awe-inspiring sight, if you were poetically inclined. "It looks like something from a painting."
Raven removed her hands from his face, a soft smile curving her mouth as she too turned her attention to the storm that was drenching them both. "See, this is why I wanted to share it with you. Even if you didn't entirely get what it means to me, you'd try. Starfire would exclaim that it's absolutely wondrous, but she says that about just about everything. Beastboy's funny, and sweet I guess, but he doesn't really have the frame of mind to appreciate things like this. And Cy's cool, but I just don't think he'd get it." She turned to him with that grateful half-smile and he felt suddenly like a deer caught in the headlights. "But you would at least try to get it. Because that's just the way you are; you try to understand everybody, and make people comfortable with you, even if you don't really care much yourself."
She thinks I don't care? Robin's brow furrowed and he opened his mouth to say—well, something, he wasn't quite sure what—when Raven laughed again, breaking the moment and throwing her arms out to catch the rain, turning her face up and closing her eyes, greeting the storm with a wide grin.
Concern returned to Robin's face and he became all business again, reaching out and placing a censoring hand on her slim shoulder. "Raven, look, we have to talk. I've never seen you act so happy before." She turned to look at him, still with that big smile, and he continued. "I'm worried. You're always saying how your emotions could make you lose control of your powers, and as nice it is to see hear you laugh for once, I'm not totally comfortable with Titan Tower being engulfed in glowing black, you know? Don't you think maybe you should meditate, get yourself back under control?"
Raven's smile dimmed a few hundred watts and she took a step back, shrugging off his shoulder as a gleam of hurt flashed in her violet eyes. "You want me to get myself back under control?" She turned away from him suddenly, jerking her hood up over her head and hiding her face from him. "You don't like seeing me happy, Robin? Being carefree?" Her shoulders hunched; her voice sounded so confused, so pained it made him wince in regret. Maybe he just should have kept his mouth shut.
Robin cried out as the roof beneath him abruptly gave way to a swirling ebon vortex, the darklight gripping him about the calves and slowly, inexorably sucking him in. "Raven!"
She still didn't turn to look at him, her only answer a saddened, whispered question, almost a plea. "You don't like to see smile?"
And the darkness swallowed him.
Must… resist… temptation! ACK!
Robin came to on the floor of another hallway in the Tower, though not the same one he'd started out in. Judging by the way his pajamas were still pretty much soaked, he hadn't been out too long. Maybe a few minutes.
Hoisting himself to his elbows, he looked around and found that nothing had changed; every edge, depression and surface glowed tenebrously, the evidence of Raven's unleashed powers surrounded him.
Robin's head snapped around almost dizzyingly fast to follow that familiar voice that spoke unfamiliar words, eyes narrowing in confusion as he spotted Raven huddled in a corner, her body facing off to one side as she peered solemnly at him through the curtain of her pomegranate locks, as if she feared to look at him directly.
"I'm sorry," she whispered again.
Standing up slowly in case he was injured, and finding himself unharmed, Robin moved a few paces closer to the huddled girl whom he'd seen exuberant and lively not but moments before. However, he stood rooted to the spot when she flinched away from him, one arm tightly hugging her knees to her chest, the other clasping her cloak shut at the throat. Worry began take root deep in his chest, clenching a tight fist around his heart as she shrank fearfully away from him. What had he done to her for her to react in such a manner? "Raven, what are you sorry about?"
She ducked her head, pressing her mouth into her cloak and peering timidly up at him. Her answer was so muffled he nearly couldn't understand her, and when he discerned the mumbled reply, he hoped he'd heard her wrong. "For everything. I didn't mean to be."
A strange cold began to spread in the region of his lungs, and he found it almost hard to speak his next question. "You're sorry for being what?"
She turned her face away from him, speaking more clearly, but her whisper was so quiet he had to strain to catch the words. "For just being. I didn't mean to. I'd take it back, but I can't."
His eyes flew wide open and he took hurried strides to reach her side, something inside him tightening when she jumped beneath his hand and he had to force himself not to draw back. He had always been so respectful of her, of her privacy and solitude, never wanting to bother her or pester her about anything. And he was beginning to realize more and more just how bad an idea that had been. I never knew… I never even asked…
"Raven. Raven, please look at me." A strange anger had stolen over him, his grip on her shoulder turning from tentative to firm, his voice hard and demanding, despite the supplication. How dare she—I can't believe she'd even say that. He waited until her wide, scared gaze met his unrelenting stare. "Don't you ever say that again, understand?" He shook her a little his fist trembling at his side. "Ever. Don't ever regret being. And you certainly don't have to apologize to me for such a thing."
One look at her quavering mouth and large, wet eyes doused the heat of his anger like a bucket of ice water. "I'm sorry. I just thought… I always thought that…" A single tear slipped down her cheek and she buried her face in her hands. Robin paled at the sight, panic alarms ringing loudly in his head. He'd never seen Raven cry—hell, he hadn't thought she could cry. "I thought you hated me. I thought you just pretended to be nice to me because we had to work together as a team."
Robin's mouth feel open in shock and he dropped to his knees beside her, the commanding grip on her shoulder moving awkwardly to the side of her head, and he stroked her hair in a bumbling attempt to comfort her. "Raven, I don't hate you! What made you even think that?" He was aghast at this news, and ashamed of himself that he had never picked up that she thought this way, furious with himself for making her feel this way.
She sucked in a deep shuddering breath and wiped her cheeks roughly with an edge of her cloak, averting her gaze from him as tears hung, ready to fall at any moment from her lashes. "You always avoided me. Everybody else always at least tried to be friendly with me…you were always so distant, like you were afraid of coming near me. You've always been my leader; you never seemed interested in being my friend."
Robin sighed heavily. This was beginning to be all too much. Earlier in the evening he'd found himself beginning to wonder about this girl, about what made her tick, and he feared she might become his next obsession, until he found out enough about her to satisfy him. Now it seemed he'd bitten off much more than he could chew, gotten himself in way too deep. It seemed that every time he figured something new out about Raven, it raised more questions than it gave answers. "Raven, I thought we were friends."
She looked at him skeptically from the corner of her eye.
"Okay… maybe not friends, exactly… but I thought we were on pretty good terms. You always just seemed to want to be left alone. I was trying to give you your space."
The solemnity returned to her face and she turned to him with a cryptic stare that was more accentuated than ruined by the wet tracks lining her cheeks. "What we want isn't always what's good for us, Robin." Her eyes went wide and she shrunk back against the wall, pulling away from his hand. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said anything. It's not my place."
Gravity wrought his face and he drew back his hand, half-afraid to touch her again. "No, Raven, you're right. And you shouldn't have had to tell me, I ought to have known that by now." He ought to know better than just about everyone. And yet he had to hear it from Raven, of all people. She was pulling out all kinds of surprises tonight.
He sighed again, and stood carefully to his feet. "I'm the one who should be apologizing, Rae. I'm sorry." He ran a hand through his hair and bit the inside of his cheek, wondering if it was too late to undo all her wrong ideas about him. Well…at least this time, he was going to try. Holding out his hand in an offer that meant many things, he asked cautiously, "Friends?"
A dubious smile quivered on her features a she blinked away the tears, moving to place lifting her corresponding hand hesitantly, as if afraid of what might happen, whether she accepted or denied all that he offered in that single simple gesture.
At last, she seemed to come to a decision, and a soft smile brightened Robin's face as she reached out to place her hand in his
However, it would prove that Robin had hoped too soon that there would be such a quick and easy happy ending to this bizarre evening. Perhaps he would learn that when it came to Raven, endings were scarce, never easy, and even more rarely happy.
Just as Raven's slender, pale fingers rested warily in his larger palm, the darkness reared up against him once more, reaching out with a ferocious tenacity to wrap unforgiving ebon tentacles of Raven's own energy around his chest and waist, jerking him backwards towards the wall from which they'd sprung.
"Raven!" Surprise and alarm ripped the cry from his throat and he tried to close his fingers around her hand, yet she slipped from his grasp like smoke. Another arm of gleaming shadowstuff wrapped tightly around his throat, cutting off another cry and turning it into a strangled yelp as he was dragged into the darkness' waiting, less than comforting embrace.
Gasping in a defiant gulp of air, he renewed his struggles, vaguely sparing a thought to wonder why Raven wasn't trying to help him, why she was just standing there, eyes wide and round, watching. "No!"
However, despite his efforts and protestations, the weight of his heavy steel-toed boots digging into the carpet mattered little if at all to the inexorable, unbridled power intent on pulling him towards the wall at his back. With a final, desperate glance in Raven's direction, he threw out one last desperate attempt. "I'm sorry."
It was too late.
Robin didn't lose consciousness this time, but when the darkness spat him out violently into the opposite wall, he almost wished he had. Spine arcing from the force of the impact and a pained gasp hissing between clenched teeth, he slammed to the ground on his side. Well, if he hadn't broken any ribs with that lovely swan dive, he was sure there would at least be some ugly bruising. Fucking hell… This is really gonna suck in the morning.
Rising slowly with a low, deep-throated moan, Robin got to his hands and knees, pausing to simply breathe and wait for the world around him to stop spinning like an insane Tilt-a-Whirl. Just as he was beginning to regain his bearings and the world seemed it might deign to stand still for him, a dark, bitter chuckle echoed around him and rang mockingly inside his head.
"Silly little Robin. You're not nearly sorry enough. Not yet."
Shaking his head to try and clear out some of the lingering stupor, Robin lifted his head and blinked rapidly. "Raven?" he croaked. He was beginning to get quite sick of asking that.
When his eyes finally refocused, his jaw and fists clenched tightly and he backed slowly away, rising very cautiously, very carefully to his feet, one hand braced on the wall. Leering maliciously at him was a Raven, her face not demure and tearstained, nor playful and grinning, but twisted in a macabre mask of malicious glee. Her eyes, where before they had both alternately been warm and mischievous and round and fearful, were now narrowed with a sort of sadistic hatred, glowing the chilling scarlet of freshly spilt blood.
Robin's mouth opened and closed several times, his throat working to form words that couldn't pass the constriction in his chest. All his nerves set on end, his hackles raised, and his heart trip-hammered with adrenaline and fear. Fear for his friend. Fear for himself. Fear for what could happen when he was confronted with Raven like this.
Just when he'd thought things might be turning up roses, everything took a sudden drastic turn for the worse. From the looks of the murder in those red eyes, the situation couldn't possibly have taken more of a 180.
"Hello, Robin." Her razor-edged grin seemed to split her face across hideously, revealing rows of perfectly white, dagger-sharp teeth. Another sinister, harsh chuckle rumbled from deep in her throat, more akin to a predator's growl than his friend's laughter. "Let's have a chat."
Robin was absolutely certain now.
He was quite royally fucked.
AN: Mwahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!! I never understood just how deliciously, evilly fun cliffhangers could be before now! XD Ah, that felt good. Sorry for the long wait folks, but longer chapters take a little more time to write. Not to mention life kind of stepped in to slap me around for a little while. rubs bandaged cheek Always a fun experience. Heh. - But believe it or not, most of this was written in one long, loooong sitting, and I'm actually kinda proud and kinda dissatisfied with the way it turned out. Parts of it came out exactly how I wanted and other pieces were an absolute bitch to write. I owe a hell of a lot of this chapter's inspiration to my music collection. huggles her mp3s and CDs Thank the gods for depressing, angsty rock ballads!
Well, yeah, anyways. Is anybody confused? I think I made it pretty clear about what's going on, but if by some odd chance you don't get it, please hold onto your frustration and hang in there. affects a Mr. Miyagi tone All shall be revealed in time. grins Again, anyways. Before anybody asks, no, this is not a romance, and yes, I am Ro/Ra shipper. Love the pairing and it's a helluva lot of fun to read and write. However, this ficlet shall only contain trace amounts of Ro/Ra action. Sexual tension is a fun writing tool, just as is teen angst. XD Anyways, do you guys think this is perhaps too mild for its R rating? Lemme know if you think it should be knocked down to a PG13 level, k? Though be forewarned, things get heavier in the next chapters. And also, this will most likely be the only chapter with review responses. Otherwise half this fic'll end up being responses to you guys, and while I know people like to be responded to, the humongous chunk of non-story can be rather annoying as well. So, let's get it over with, shall we?
Review Responses:I love all of you guys SOOO much!! HUSG ALL You all so made my day with your sweet reviews and demands for updates. The writing is all fun and good when it's for yourself, but knowing you guys like it too just makes it all the more worthwhile. Domo arigatou, minna-san!
Tiki11 – Nothin' but the sky, baby. . Lol, thanks for the review, and I'm glad ya like. Hope this new chappie suits your fancy.
Mr. Penutt – You made me blush, you really did! And giggle, even! I am not a giggle kind of girl! Shame on you! Lol, but really, I'm honored by your kind words and hope this newest installment lives up to your expectations and continues to impress you. And believe, I will always post more stories! Original fiction is great, but fanfiction's just so much fun! Thanks for the review!
Callie – I'm very glad you enjoyed, and here's the update!
- Lol… um, thanks… I think… Well, sorry if my idea seems similar. Wasn't on purpose, I promise. And you shouldn't be so self-deprecating. I'm sure your writing isn't so bad as you make it out to be.
Meow - grins Tag. You're It! Lol, your review made me laugh. Thanks for dropping a line. I hope you still likie my story after you read this chappie! (I'm on sugar, don't poke fun XP)
Writerofthefuture - grins That was my favorite part, too. I dunno where the hell that Tag reference came from, but I liked it. - Glad you did too. And yeah, I'd say I definitely got more than two reviews, astounding as it is. So here's the update! YAY!
Dark Weezing – I very much appreciated your eloquent, kind review. Reviewers like you are to be cherished and treasured, and therefore you are. And I'm glad you share my peeve with CN's presentation of Teen Titans. And though yes, there have been the little subtleties, I'm quite the brat and a huge fan of the Ro/Ra pairing, so there's no way in hell I'm settling for subtleties. And as for your qualms with the length, do you mean the story length or chapter length? Because if it's chapter length, that is quite easily remedied. Tha first thing was merely a teaser, and my chapters tend to get progressively longer so never fear. And I hope that you continue to hold the opinion that this seems interesting after this update. :)
x-RAVEN-x – I UPDATED!!
a reader – Look, it's an update! grins
Neddles - throws confetti Congratulations! You are the first and only reviewer with something negative to say! This deserves a reward: hands him a pink t-shirt with the word FLAMER stretched across the front in big purple letters I do hope your 13-year-old mind can wrap around the innuendo, my dear. grins Tata.
Deora ar mo chroi – I am flattered to be your first TT fanfiction experience, and honored by your kind words. You needn't worry, though, I fully intend to continue with and complete this story and I hope you stick around for the ride. grins It's bound to be delightfully bumpy.
NRS-SPOT-FUCKING-CONLON – You are quite right, I do indeed have six times the two reviews I had hoped for. grins So, as promised, here is the update. I hope you like!
Until next time! waves