Behind Enemy Lines
Summary:Raven gets a wake up call– and is not where she's supposed to be. She needs to pit her friends against her body if she wants to save their lives. And yet, at the same time, she has to convince them to trust her mind within 12 hours, or she's lost to them forever...
Author's Notes and Dedication:There comes a time in every fan fiction author's life when she has to give credit to those people behind her genius, the people that make HER look good. Up until now, I've been taking all the credit, arrogant as I am, but really, you have someone else to thank for this story. Someone who I can always find online when I need her and often times go online solely to talk to her and say "Hey, what do you think if I did this...?" Someone who tolerates my arrogance and laughs. Someone who kindly reads the excerpts I bombard her with patient enthusiasm and always gives excellent feedback and motivation. If it wasn't for this person and her incredibly story "Mind Games," which she has kindly dedicated to The Sage of Story and myself, this SEQUEL (yes, sequel, I will get to that) would not be in existence. Her intricately woven tale of Raven's quest for sanity during the near fatal woundings of three of her friends (by, mysteriously, her OWN hand) has captivated my imagination to write a SEQUEL (wow, that word again) to my existing Teen Titan's fan fiction, "Dangerous Minds". This wonderfully helpful, clever, and talented person goes by the pen name, Instant Coffee, or Heather as some have come to know her as, as well as a myriad of other pseudonym and nicknames. If you are a Teen Titan fan who enjoys a myriad of ships, including Beast Boy/Raven, Robin/Starfire, and, if I understand correctly, Raven/Robin, plus many more (one thing I admire about her is that she explores many different possibilities), then I strongly suggest you take a peek at her profile. If you enjoy a good jolting psychological thriller, or have read the prequel to this tale and enjoyed it, I strongly encourage you to read her captivating story, "Mind Games" which is dedicated to wonderful me, of course. But only explore Instant Coffee's profile and her intriguing Titan Tales after you have finished with chapter one of my new SEQUEL. Because I'm arrogant, all I request is that you humor me in my endeavor.
Yes, faithful readers who have to read every Author's Notes instead of skip directly to the meaningless story, this little piece here happens to be aSEQUEL. This does NOT by any means mean that I expect you to have read or even have any inkling of the story it succeeds. Therefore, for your convenience, I shall include a SUMMARY of the previous story, for those who have not read it, or those who have and forgot what happened. I do expect venturous readers to read this story without understanding at first. The first chapter is quite confusing. All I ask of you for this chapter is to lay back and don't strain yourself too much trying to put the pieces together at first. By the end of chapter two, all questions from chapter one should be answered (though more shall be raised). Kudos to those who DO understand (despite my best efforts to baffle) what exactly is happening to our favorite Dark Heroine. So while I do hope you don't spend too much time pondering over it, I also encourage you to ask questions and make theories. For this is the sign of an active mind, and can make these stories all the more intriguing. Who knows, I may like your theory better than I like what I had written, in which case the whole story will be altered and I will bow down to you like a God.
Heather, no giving away the story line. :-P!
Summary of "Dangerous Minds"
"Dangerous Minds" started out as an exploration of Raven's mental capabilities. Using the idea that her mind, body, and powers were intricately linked, I wondered, "What would a human do with such powers?" I gave Raven a mentor by the name of Charles Larkin, a person more than a man, but less than human. With mental powers stronger than Raven's, he taught her, but when she learned of his evil intentions, she beat him at his own game, bannishing him into the head of a child (you learn, in this story, who that child was as well). Years later, when Raven joins the Teen Titans, he wants revenge. He successfully turns two of her friends, Cyborg and Beast Boy, against her, for it appeared to them that she sent Robin into a coma. Starfire does not believe it, and does everything she can to help Raven, and even goes against Cyborg's direct orders. Raven, in her search for Larkin, finds him in the most unlikely of places-- Robin's mind. Catapulted into the head of their leader, she engages in the mental battle of her life, offering to sacrifice herself to save Robin's life. The fight transfer's to Raven's own head where she succeeds in throwing Larkin's mind beyond her mental borders, a crash that could cause him much psychological damage, rendering him possibly insane. Larkin dissappears, and things return to normal...
For a time...
As Shakespeare would say, On with the Story! (Or maybe it wasn't Shakespeare who said that... I'll ask BB, he seems to be an avid fan of the Play Write. A joke best understood after reading the next few chapters.)
For your sanity, I shall shut up now and let you read.
Chapter One: 11:00: Falling into Hell
Her awakening was sharp and sudden, her sweat dripping down her clammy white cheek as she shivered in the heat. Something was playing jungle rhythms on her heart. The drumbeats called to her, taunting her, urging her to remember...
What had she dreamed about?
There was something about Russian-speaking badgers...
Raven shook her head wildly to clear it of absurdity, trying to decipher her dreams through the fatuity.
She snarled at the thought, picturing the large grotesque demon that had been haunting her dreams lately. She hadn't thought of him for months. Why was he invading her sleep now? She frowned, her deciphering complete, and moved onto the interpreting stage...
Dreams, Raven knew, were like any good novel in a high school English class. They were given to you to be analyzed and dissected like a frog until the bare innards of the hidden message lay flat before your eyes. For dreams were often warnings from her subconscious that things were not alright with her mind.
Sighing, she reluctantly swung her tired legs out of bed. She walked to her window and pulled back her blackout curtains to see how early it was, hissing like an offended vampire when the burning light violated her pupils. Letting the curtains fall, she shied away from the window like an unhappy cat. Grumpily, she made her way to her desk, pushing aside her Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and the Supernatural to reveal her Dream Interpreter, pulling out the blue hardcover book with satisfaction. She sat cross-legged on her floor, opening the book in her lap.
She knew the cobra meant villainy and trickery, and often treachery. She wasn't sure which it meant in this case. But there were other things in her dream that she recognized as symbols, though didn't understand. The phoenix, she learned, meant a rebirth of some sort, which, Raven realized, should have been obvious. She also remembered seeing a pentagram and remembered that the symbol was seen only when powerful mental forces were at work. She looked for what the orchid could mean. The flower had been dark and withering, its color a sickly eggplant purple. But she could find nothing.
So what did it all mean?
She could feel the migraine knocking at her door, tugging at the edge of her nerves. Frowning in annoyance as if the terrifying expression would scare it away (as it often scared some of her friends), she rose to her feet and made her way to the roof. She hoped some of that hated sunlight might chase away some shadows from her mind.
She was startled to find Starfire there already, staring contentedly at the skyline of the city. The Tamaranian hadn't noticed Raven's entrance.
"Good morning, Starfire," Raven said, her voice a low rumble of minor irritation. She'd been hoping to be alone. She tucked her Dream Interpreter– which she had brought along for further study– beneath her cloak and out of sight.
The alien jumped at the telekinetic's simple statement, spinning on her heal to greet her with her usual large, warm welcome.
"And what a glorious morning it is, my friend," she said, sounding almost a little too chirpy for her own good, as far as Raven was concerned. "Why are you up at this late hour? The bird has sang ten times."
It took Raven a moment to decipher this little sentence of Star-Speak. Then she remembered Beast Boy's birthday present to her. He'd hidden the coo-coo clock in Raven's room somewhere, leaving her damned to hear the incessant chirping of the wooden bird every hour on the hour, plus the short reminder every quarter of an hour. Driven nearly insane by the machine's endless noise, when Raven had finally found it, she through the wretched thing at Beast Boy's head, luckily missing him as it made an indent in the wall behind him, falling to pieces.
Starfire had collected up the remains sadly and carefully, as if it were ashes of a body that deserved respect. With help from Robin and Cyborg, she'd succeeded in putting the thing together again, delighting whenever the hour turned when she could hear her little wooden pet sing just for her. And in reality, the clock was working quite well...
So long as Raven wasn't in hearing distance, that is.
Raven gave a curt huff and a roll of the eyes at the memory. "I'm not a morning person," she said to Starfire in reply to her query.
"I did not know there was such thing," said Starfire with a curious frown. Raven's lips twitched and her irritation with the alien girl subsided a little.
"I've never met one myself," Raven told her. Starfire frowned.
"What is that you are holding beneath your cloak, friend Raven?" she asked, innocently. Raven's annoyance returned as she turned away from her comrade.
"None of your business," she hissed. But Starfire's eyes were so wide, Raven had to relent in her usual coldheartedness. She sighed, rolled her eyes, and handed Starfire the book.
"I've been having these really disturbing dreams lately, about... Larkin." Raven whispered the word, as if it were forbidden to speak it. Starfire looked silently alarmed.
"You are certain it is about that fiend?" she said, the surprise evident in her voice.
Raven nodded and then looked at the pale blue book in Starfire's hands. "I've been studying the symbols in the dream. The snake is treachery, the phoenix means rebirth, and the pentagram means powerful and mysterious forces. But I can't figure out what this damn orchid means."
"Please explain your dream to me," said Starfire, watching Raven with rapture. "I am intrigued and curious to learn about it."
Raven hesitated, eying Starfire warily. Usually taciturn, this was more than her usual amount of speaking for a day. But she remembered how faithfully the Tamaranian had stuck by her side throughout her last traumatic experience with Larkin, and found confidence in telling her.
"I'm sort of in this jungle or... something," Raven started, unsure of the details of her surroundings. "Then there's the cobra in my path that hisses at me with yellow eyes. It strikes and bites me, then slithers away, trampling a flower in its wake. Strangely, I don't care about the poisoned wound on my hand from the cobra. I run to the orchid the snake slithered over as its wilting. Its dark purple flowers are drooping and its sickly dark green stem trembles with the weight of the flower. I tend to it, but nothing happens... Then there all these badgers and they start talking Russian, it's really weird," Raven added quickly. "Anyway, before I know it, I'm surrounded by snakes. Their yellow eyes peer at me from the tree tops. Suddenly, there's this shrill cry and this crimson bird rises up above the canopy, screeching and burning... It swoops at me, and the snakes attack, biting at whatever they can get a hold of, but all I care about is the orchid... I turn my eyes to the sky and the phoenix is staring down at me... with the same yellow eyes as the snake... Larkin's voice rings in my ears, saying..." Raven frowned as she hesitated.
With bated breath, Starfire dared to ask, "Saying what?"
The clock sings eleven, I'll steal your breath.
Your lungs, your heart in your beating chest...
The clock sings eleven, I'll make you bleed.
Pain will be when it sings thirteen...
The words echoed in Raven's head, but she didn't dare speak them out loud. They unnerved her enough in her sleep. That wicked mental voice from that old maniac...
"Raven?" Starfire whispered, as if afraid she were asleep with her eyes open. Raven jumped and inhaled sharply.
"My God, Starfire, you scared the hell out of me," she said, visibly shaken. Starfire frowned.
"Perhaps you would like some tea?" she offered.
Raven shook her head. "I have to tell you," she said. "That sick and twisted rhyme Larkin keeps singing in my head."
Once the rhyme had been uttered, Starfire stared at Raven blankly. "I do not comprehend..." she said. "What does he wish to take from you?"
"I haven't figured that out yet," Raven said, a chill running down her spine. "Maybe kill me."
Starfire gasped. "But he is not currently of this earth, correct?" she cried, hopefully. "You told us that he is mind and not body– he has no tool to use in this reality!"
"None that I knew of at any rate..." said Raven, pensively. "When he tried to take over Robin, that was a risk... He wouldn't have deserted his child's body, I don't think... The only thing is, I can't figure out where he would have kept it. When I first banished him, I'd chosen the body of a boy that he'd killed earlier by incapacitating his mind. A boy named Jordan, his own son."
"He killed his own son?" said Starfire, nearly breathless. "How horrible!"
"I know," said Raven, gravely, with the ghost of a smile. "And ironic. I thought so, anyway, when choosing to banish him in his own son's body. He hadn't intended on killing him. He called it 'toughening him up.' He put so much mental pressure on the boy that he destroyed the walls of his mind, thus depriving him of his soul. The boy was sound in health otherwise. For a while, he wandered like a zombie before the broken shards of glass that remained of his mind collapsed in on itself and he died of brain failure. Merely days later I defeated his father and trapped him in the dead boy's skull. I still remember his furious mental shrieks haunting me as I flew out of his range, over the ocean, hoping he'd never find me...
"Eventually, the barrier I'd erected to keep him inside his son's head deteriorated and he was free to leave the body and let his mind soar... Star, what you have to understand is, Larkin's mind didn't belong in Jordan's body. A mind and body coexist, like two puzzle pieces that are content how they are. I ruined that relationship when I burned his body and shoved this adult mind into a child's body. It was like wearing a shirt that didn't fit. Because the puzzle pieces no longer connect, Larkin's mind wasn't anchored to his body like the rest of us. I can't leave my body unless I astral project, and that takes time, patience and concentration because I could get lost and blown away from my body, which would kill me. Larkin exists now as a sort of possessive spirit. He can go anywhere."
"Why are you telling me this now?" Starfire inquired, curiously. Raven sighed and bit her lip.
"My point is, Jordan's body is dead in most respects. When Larkin's mind is not using it, it's as it was to begin with: a corpse. If the police found it, they'd do an autopsy and burry it. We'd have heard about it on the news."
"And we have not heard such news..." Starfire said, nodding in understanding.
"God knows what..."
But Raven was cut off by the loud crows of Starfire's coo-coo clock. The telekinetic winced at the sound of it, the screeches bringing back horrible memories of nightmares suffered from Beast Boy's prank.
"Can you shut that thing off?" Raven snapped angrily at Starfire.
"I am sorry," said Starfire as the bird crowed a sixth time. "I did not know it could be heard up here..."
"Well it can," said Raven as she heard it strike eight. "At least shut your door!"
Starfire ran to the door to the roof as the bird let out crow number nine and ten and shut it right as it hit the eleventh note.
All was silent.
It felt as though someone had struck her hard on the head. She was reeling, her surroundings spinning in a spiral as it faded in view.
"Raven?" Starfire's curious call echoed throughout the dark girl's psyche, fading with the light as she retreated into the sanctuary of her mind...
Only it was not her own mind.
Half man, half beast, he towered over her, hissing madly. Something was grotesquely wrong. Everything was disproportionate and surreal, like a Salvador Dali painting. And all she could hear was his insane laughter before falling into the dark...
Raven. It was a whisper of an identity that no longer belonged to her. Raven. The voice taunted, singing like a child, with the voice of a grown man. Raven, Raven, RAVEN!
She felt her feet planted firmly on the ground. Green valleys stretched in every direction, the sun rising like a ruby in the crystal sky. Poppies and wild flowers grew in abundance in this field, untouched by human hands. The grass was tall, almost to her waist. There were the songs of birds chirping madly, as if coming from a tropical rainforest rather than an expansive plain. She frowned when she saw him sitting cross-legged, levitating above a patch of poppies. The flowers seemed to spread from the spot where he lay, fighting the violet orchids that surrounded her. His eyes were closed, but his lips were curled in a strange smile.
"What's going on?" Raven asked. "Why am I here?"
"I tried to warn you," he said, evenly, not opening his eyes as he continued to hover. Raven found herself struggling to keep the orchids fighting back against the crimson flow of the invading flowers.
"Leave me be," Raven ordered. "Please, Larkin, this is futile. You've had your shot at revenge. It's over. Don't make this into something more. It isn't. Let it go."
His eyes snapped open and he glowered at her with those snake-like yellow eyes. "You will never know pain," he hissed. "Not like I have. Not days on end of throwing myself against the skull of my own son trying to escape. Not nights of restless wandering, thoughts overlapping with memories and dreams until they're all one mass of confusion. One is no different from the other. Reality is what we dream it to be. What we will it to be. It is no matter. When the clock sings thirteen, I'll make sure you know pain. Pain beyond your wildest nightmares of Hell. I am the devil, my sweet songbird, and I will make you bleed."
His face contorted into a disfigured wreck of a face, part snake, part goat, and part hog, the features of each animal stretched and distorted, like Dante's image of Satan himself.
A crow let out a shriek as it flew across the sapphire sky, bringing with it a night of crimson raining onto the land, black clouds scattered about the side. It landed on the shoulder of the man-beast before her, sneering at the teenager with teeth that did not belong with its beak.
"You have twelve hours," Larkin warned. "Twelve bloody hours to adjust to your surroundings. Misery will consume you as it has consumed me. Rage, hate, all the things you thought you could never feel without compromise. It will drive you mad. Learn, as I have learned, the tortures of Earth and how Hell can never be worse. Meanwhile, in these twelve hours, your friends..." he gave a sick laugh. "Your friends... yes, they shall see you for the monster you are, the demon who has cursed me. Your evil finally exposed, you will die from despair when they condemn you, choosing me as ally and you as foe. And on the thirteenth hour, they shall learn their mistake and parish in flame. On the thirteenth hour, you're mine, my songbird, my little Raven darling. You will be mine!"
Raven tumbled backwards, the bloody rain staining her clothes, her screams unheard by grabbing hands passing her down through the very gates of Hell. A black abyss devoid of hope she didn't know what to think or believe. All around her, purple petals tumbled into the fire as they burned. She shrieked as the flames leapt up to receive her.
She was still screaming when she awoke...
"Doctor, he's lashing out again!" came a voice out of the darkness as the flames consumed her. Feeling them tearing off her skin and ripping at her sinew until the bare bone was charred black, she wondered, Why aren't I dead yet? Is this Hell, to feel this pain?
"50 ccs of Haldol!" came another voice.
A stabbing sensation in her burnt arm and she shrieked in agony, using whatever ounce of strength she had to twist her shoulder and elbow it away with her bones, knocking something with a crash.
"Abby, are you OK?"
A great fatigue overwhelmed her. She groaned. Was this death? Would the pain end?
"Fine, Dr. Taylor. Is he subdued?"
Everything was moving slower. The voices were slow and slurred.
"He's calming down."
She opened her eyes to white. It blinded her and she shut them tight again. So tired...
"Any luck contacting family yet?"
The whiteness invaded her pupils behind her eyelids, creating a blazing orange. Please, go away. Were is the darkness? Please, oh, please go away...
"I'm afraid not. We can't really be sure who his family is until he gives us a real name. There are no reports of a missing boy, and no one's come looking for him."
She turned her head to the side, hoping to find solace in her pillow, but something kept her from turning fully... then she felt the leather binds on her arms.
"Maybe they abandoned him. It's not often one finds a child with such a deteriorated mind. His parents might not have wanted to deal with it. Any knowledge of how this happened to him yet, Dr. Taylor?"
Get me out of here, she thought, she begged, she prayed. Please, I just want to find my friends. Where is the darkness?
"We think that maybe a disease ate away at his brain tissue, reducing him to this. Or perhaps some sort of incomprehensible trauma damaged his sense of self. Whatever it is, it's permanent as far as we can tell. All the kid really needs now is someone to love him. Maybe then he'll begin to act rationally and not so violently. Until then, we'll have to treat him with care."
She wanted to open her eyes again, but was afraid they would burn like the fire. Her arm no longer felt pain. She squinted one eye and noted that it was intact, pale... and small. So small. It was covered in brown scars, dotting her arm like tally marks on a jail-cell wall. She felt so incredibly weak. And so tired...
"It's so sad... He looks so calm, just laying there now. So vulnerable. Whatever his story is, I'm sure it's a grand tragedy. I'm not even sure I'll have the heart to hear it when he's ready to tell."
Who were these people talking around her??? It seemed as though she'd just become aware of the question. Were they her friends? People who loved her? But her friends... that seemed like so long ago. Did she even have friends...?
"I don't think you'll have to worry about that, Abby. He's never coherent enough to understand any questions we ask him. All he mutters about are snakes and birds and other such nonsense. Stars on fire and robots and a myriad of animals... it's impossible to decipher his rants. Almost as if he's living in a fairy tale."
"Someday, we'll figure it out. I'm sure to be there when we do. And I'll be there to listen. I'll be his friend."
Yes. Yes. She had friends. Starfire, Cyborg, Beast Boy and Robin. The Teen Titans.
"It's good to be optimistic, Abby, but this is a lost cause. His CAT Scan shows that his brain is totally destroyed. It seems, though, that only the personality, memory and dream quadrants have been effected. Everything else is intact. I doubt you'll ever get a chance to have a real conversation with the kid."
Yes, she had friends. But who am I?
"The miracles of modern medicine, Doctor. I have strong faith in the healing powers of love. You said it yourself, he needs someone to care for him."
Strange how she should remember her friends before herself. Perhaps because she, as a person, was unimportant. As long as my friends are alright.
"If he'll let anyone care for him. Abby, why do you think he's in solitary confinement? Whoever tries to get close to him is always attacked. Even when restrained, our best psychiatrists have gone to speak to him and come out sobbing! Don't take his innocent look for granted, Abby. I know you're new, so you don't know, but this John Doe Jr is the most dangerous patient on our block. I wouldn't expect him to warm up to you so fast. Be careful with this one, alright?"
But there was something she had to remember. Who am I?
"Yes, Doctor, but–"
That's it. Raven. I'm Raven. Iam a Teen Titan.
"Abby, give me your word that you won't try and make sense out of him!"
And I will always be Raven of the Teen Titans.
"I understand, Doctor."
Nothing and no one will ever change that. I have got to find my friends.
"Good. He'll wake up again in an hour. You can bring him his lunch."
She was smiling. She was satisfied at least with the fact that she knew everything was going to be OK. She wasn't quite sure how, but she knew it would be somehow. Because she had friends. And they would save her from whatever trouble she was in. Because that's what the Teen Titan's do.
"Yes, Dr. Taylor."
There was the sound of retreating footsteps as Raven's fatigue began to overwhelm her. Finally, the bright orange bombarding her eyelids disappeared and the darkness engulfed her.
She welcomed the rest with open arms...