Disclaimer: Since I obviously don't own the copyright to Teen Titans, I'm taking advantage of the Fair Use Clause of the Copyright laws to write a story with them in it. Who knew the government would protect the little guys? Anyway, I hope you enjoy.
Chapter 1: The Path of Shattered Hope
It had taken a toll on everyone when Terra… well, when she had sacrificed herself to save the city, Beast Boy especially. Raven bit her lip… how long had it been? How long had it been since she had tried to research a spell to free the young hero? She hadn't restarted until a short while ago; only after Beast Boy had mentioned that it was only a few weeks to a year that she'd been frozen in stone. He had seemed depressed for weeks, acting gloomy on a level that Raven could appreciate. The thought had, at first, seemed pleasant, since she didn't have to worry about him playing a prank on her or interrupting her during mediations, but things were getting worse. He hadn't left his room in nearly three days, and while it was common for Raven to do it, it was the first time Beast Boy had done it. He hadn't even done it when Terra was first turned to stone… but then again, there was some optimism then.
Raven felt uneasy, not a common feeling for her, as she slowly pored over her collection of books. She still hadn't found anything. She tossed one of the books aside in disgust. Getting up, she decided to get something to eat, and maybe pass by Beast Boy's room to see if he was still inside. She shook her head at that thought… until recently, he had done that to her and it had gotten her angry. The irony would not be lost on her if he yelled at her or told her to go away.
Entering the operation center she took stock of her surroundings. Robin was sitting on the couch watching Starfire play Cyborg in one of those foolish video games. "Oh, I lose again…" She heard Starfire say in a frustrated voice.
"I'll play you, Cyborg, just let me…" Robin offered, but Raven knew what was coming.
"Look, both of you are just plain bad at this game. You two can play against each other. I'm going to the exercise room." Cyborg couldn't manage to contain the disdain or anger in his voice and he stomped out, frustrated.
Raven blinked a few times… how often has this been happening? She thought to herself. Starfire sulked, and Robin sat back against the couch, his head leaning back on the top of couch. "Oh… hi Raven." he said. His voice was exasperated after breaking up one argument after another in a seemingly endless tide of infighting.
She opened the freezer not bothering to look over, "Hello." She dreaded where this was about to go, and she knew she couldn't stop it.
"Hey have you…" His voice picked up ever so slightly in a slim chance of hope she had found something.
"No… I'm sorry." Raven cut him off before he even had a chance to finish… it was being asked every time she saw him. She sighed heavily, grabbed an apple, and then walked out before anything more was said.
Raven walked down the empty corridor. She probably shouldn't have, but she went down the corridor, which led right past Beast Boy's room. Even from this distance, she could hear him. He was crying, although he would deny it. She knew, she had heard him doing it the day before as well. Why was she doing this? Was it some sort of twisted mockery of what he had used to do with her? It certainly didn't entertain, or even please her to think that this might be her paying him back for all the times he had bothered her. Of course, she knew that it wasn't the case. She… needed motivation, and with those around her seeming to crumble, she needed to figure out why she was still trying to fix something that seemed so utterly hopeless. Beast Boy, for lack of any true inspiration, forced her to continue, not out of enthusiasm, but out of the sickening feeling she felt in her gut when she saw him.
Standing silently before the door she paused and bit her lip. Was she really going to put herself through this again? Was she really going to raise his hopes for just a second and then flatten them? Her hand was raised inches from the door. How could she continually do this to him? It wasn't fair… she knew… she sighed and lowered her head. She knew she was going to do it anyway. Her fingers wrapped softly against the door. The low sobs and moans stopped immediately. "Who is it?" Beast Boy's voice was weak, almost like it was about to give out. Raven shook her head; she never should have done this.
"It's me." she said, head bowed.
"I… I just wanted to check in."
Gaining a little bit of strength, Beast Boy answered quickly, "I'm fine… I just want to be alone…"
"You… you didn't find something, did you?" His voice, still soft and tired, raised just a peak, just enough to sound almost hopeful, as Robin's had.
She really shouldn't have come to Beast Boy's room, "I… no. I'm sorry."
"Ok… I… can you leave me alone…?" His voice sounded even weaker than it had when she came to talk to him.
Raven nodded, knowing better than to say anything else. Taking a few seconds, she dashed down the hall and to her room. She had failed, she had failed herself, she had failed the team, she had failed Terra, and she had failed Beast Boy. And every day she was slowly killing Beast Boy; draining what little hope he had left. She had to do this, she had to find something, find anything. She had to; it wasn't even for Terra at this point. She had to do it for everyone else… before the one home she had known since Azarath fell apart.
More spells pertaining to petrifaction, all of which dealt with freeing the person from the dreaded Basilisk's glare. She had found out within a week those spells had no affect on Terra. Her head fell into her hands it was another useless search. She might as well be looking for spells to make a Dragon's fire smell minty. She replayed her 'talk' with Beast Boy earlier. It was the first day he hadn't opened up the door. She hadn't even realized how much dread that instilled in her until now. She pushed her hands back and threw her hair. She turned to the last page of a book and sighed, putting yet another book aside.
Had it been any other time, Raven would have been in paradise. Free to study at her leisure, without having anyone interfere, she should be happy. Of course, this was more hell than heaven. Everything she researched failed; every spell had failed to have any affect on Terra, and a large effect on everyone else. The pile of tomes that Raven had poured threw was massive, well over half her collection. Day by day, hour-by-hour, minute-by-minute the pile of books she hadn't looked through dwindled while the pile of books that remained was pathetically small. And that ever-shrinking pile was all she had left to draw upon.
How long had she been in her room? She wondered after putting another book onto the pile of books she had finished reading threw. Her room was always dark, so that wasn't going to tell her anything, and she didn't have a clock. She rubbed the weariness from her eyes. It didn't matter what time it was, she was probably going to be reading all night anyway. She reached over to grab the apple she had gotten earlier. Raising it to her mouth she noticed she had eaten all but the core. She didn't even remember eating it. She blinked and looked it over, "How long have I been here?" she murmured to herself. Her stomach grumbled and despite herself she got up and went to get something to eat.
The halls were dark and quiet. She found her way to the operation center more by instinct than anything else. The door opened automatically, revealing it was already dark, and the moon hung in the sky. She walked over to the fridge, "Can't sleep?" Raven whirled to find Robin sitting in the couch.
"Oh… I didn't see you there. No… I'm just a little hungry, that's all."
"Ah." there was an awkward pause, and she knew he wasn't going to ask her again. He turned around and rested his head in his hands, "Raven…"
"What? You were going to say something; I know it. What was it?"
He sighed heavily, "I'm sorry."
She blinked a few times, genuinely surprised, "What for?"
"For this… for everything… for asking you everyday. For all the pressure that we have put on you. It's all on you and it's not fair, but none of us can help her, or you. I'm sorry."
Raven nodded; suddenly she didn't feel hungry anymore, "Robin… I'm almost out of books to look through."
He turned to look at her, eyes wide, "Does…"
"No. Nobody else knows but you."
"It's your share of the burden…" Raven closed her eyes, then turned and left.
She didn't dare pass Beast Boy's room on her way back. The door to her own room opened up and she walked in. As it closed she moved off to the side, leaned back against the wall, and slipped to the floor. This would be her failure hers and hers alone. How was she going to tell the teams she had failed so utterly? How was she going to tell Beast Boy she couldn't bring Terra back? She felt herself tremble. She had never felt so useless. She had never felt so drained. She didn't even feel the weariness that claimed her.
The next day she awoke with a start, her dreams had been a mishmash of nightmares. Beast Boy had stopped waking everyone up in the morning, so there was no way to tell the time. As scenes from her nightmare played threw her head, and the thoughts she had last night returned she got up. She had to meditate; it was the only thing that was going to help. Raven turned and walked to her door… did she really need to go to the Operation's room to meditate? Perhaps… it might be best to stay here… no need to hear anymore distracting arguments.
She took a step back away from the door. Turned around, and felt her heart sunk. She didn't even realize it the night before… she stared at the pile of books she had yet to go through. There were three left. Lowering her head slightly, she turned back around and exited her room.
It was cold outside, significantly colder than last year, when Slade's forces had attacked… Raven tried to push the thoughts out of her head as she went to the edge of the roof of Titan Tower to meditate. Slipping into the lotus position, she hovered above the edge, "Azararth, Metrion, Zinthos… Azarath, Metrion, Zinthos…" She had barely started when she was interrupted.
"Raven…" Starfire's voice was unsteady, unsure.
"I'm meditating." Raven opened an eye to look over to Starfire.
"I am most sorry for interrupting… but I was going to ask…" Her voice fell off as Raven slowly shook her head standing.
"Don't ask." Raven said, lifted her hood, and went back inside.
The pile of three books were lying in the center of her room, almost mocking her. She stared at the pile, still standing at the doorway. "Time to get back to work." She murmured to herself unhappily and walked forward.
Pages filled with archaic texts about rather mundane sorcery filled the first book, and what little alchemy it had within had nothing about returning flesh to stone. The rest of the text dealt with simple sigils spells designed for illusions, not transmutation of people or objects. What use was it to make Terra look real if she couldn't move? Raven put the book down in disgust.
The second was completely illegible and indecipherable. She tried to bend her mind around the runes and they seemed to bend with her. The book seemed to change erratically… as if it was alive itself. Chaos itself was bound to the pages, and it beckoned her deeper and deeper into it's grasp. Struggling against herself, she slammed the book shut, looking to see the name of it. It was one of Arearden the Strange's books. The madman had locked his secrets away in his own mind, and his mind had warped the books when he died… or so the legends went. Sighing, she tossed the book off to the side.
The last book was done before she knew it, the pages held barely any knowledge at all, let alone a spell to free Terra. She looked at it and sighed, it was one that Beast Boy had given her for her birthday before Terra had been turned to stone. She looked at it and frowned, it was a beginner's book to witchcraft… she must have forgotten to take it out of the pile. As she looked at the cover she could see some marking as if someone had written on the other side of the thin paper cover.
I hope this book brings you luck.
Raven looked at the words, taking them in slowly. She didn't notice she had let the book drop to the floor as an overwhelming feeling of nausea swept over her. Every sense of her being was sickened at her failure. For all her power, for all her knowledge, she was just as useless and weak as everyone else, unable to help even her friends in their time of need. A bitterness long held within her came flooding out, all the hatred she had harvested for Terra, for her betrayal and attacks upon her and her friends. Had that been why she hadn't found anything? The thought of self-betrayal made her fall to her knees.
Had the curse of her blood led her to this? Thoughts swirled in her head, dizzying assumptions from the darkest parts of her mind. Had she failed herself by failing to free Terra? Had her father's twisted legacy live on in her to destroy the lives of those around her? She remembered the last time she had spoken to Terra… when she had been so enraged and blinded by hatred that she had let the beast inside her out. Was it because of that she could not find a cure?
With all her rage, and hatred, and fear, and hurt bottled up in her she felt as if she would explode. All the emotions coming out, control fading from her mind, all she could do was lash out. The room went entirely dark, and the entire world became chaos manifest. Books fluttered into the air and where torn to shreds. Everything she had to work with became a tempest. Knowledge stolen forever for her darkness, everything she had ripped and tattered and destroyed.
When she opened her eyes and her hatred failed her.
I hope this book brings you luck.
She looked at the inside cover of the book, the only book she had left. Looking up she saw what she had done, and felt tears run down her face. "What have I done?" She murmured to herself. All of her books where in ruins, irreplaceable tomes from ancient times torn to shreds. The only book she had left was the book Beast Boy had given her. Her regrets had finally hit her, everything she had done wrong to Terra, to Beast Boy, to herself… she finally saw it. She could not blame herself for who she was, only for what she did. And what she had just done was destroyed any chance of bringing Terra back…