Flutter Flutter. Behold! For I have returned. Hopefully nothing will restrict me from writing again, but it is going to be difficult. Anyways, thank you, thank you, thank you for all your support. And I hope I'll be able to update faster (hopefully with less family problems getting in the way). So here is the long awaited chapter Nine! Hurrah!
Birds Of a Feather
Chapter Nine: Viva La France!
Rowena Roth, secretary of Richard Greyson, daughter of Trigon: Demon King of all things Evil and top assassin was bored out of her mind.
She had entered a world of business tycoons who were too wrapped up in their greed to notice that human beings (even a half-demon like herself) needed food, rest and bathroom breaks to survive.
Shifting silently in her chair (which she had been sitting in for over four hours now) she glanced discreetly at the clock mounted on the wall. Watching as it ticked away mockingly at her slow torture.
Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Tick Tock.
...She was ready to kill someone.
Preferably someone with blue eyes, black hair and called himself Richard Greyson.
She didn't like sitting down doing nothing. Or rather, she didn't like sitting around listening to other people chatter away about how best to merge certain companies together or how to proceed with a hostile take over currently in progress in one of the branches in Japan.
It was so boring that her usually up and alert brain had seemed to have taken a lunch break. The normally coherent words she'd hear coming out of the mouths of the board of executives became:
"...Blah blah blahdy blah. Blah blah blah?"
And the man he'd be talking to would respond with an illuminating:
"Blahhhh. Blah blah blah blah Blahbity Blah. Blah blah blah?"
Yes. She was going crazy. And if this didn't end soon, she was going to have to maim someone. Painfully. And she would enjoy it. Immensely.
Her salvation came out of her employers lips. And at that moment she could have kissed him with relief.
"...and with that said, Gentlemen, this meeting is adjourned. We'll meet again in two days to review the growth of certain rival companies as well as think about the possible choices to be made concerning the Takada Corporation. Thank you"
As soon as all the members of the board of Executives had left the room leaving the three of them alone, Cyborg (Who had been dozing off in the corner of the room) stood up and poked his friend in the chest with a metal finger and said empathically
"I hate you."
Richard blinked. "What? Why?"
"I thought you were my friend. And you subject me to that, that...that torture? Hell, even Winn, was starting to get annoyed." Cyborg muttered gruffly, obviously in a bad mood.
Richard glanced at his secretary, an unasked question in his eyes.
"Well...It was rather...long." A pause. "And Dull... and Long."
"See?" Cyborg muttered. "It was torture sitting here and watching you yatter about mergers and business meetings."
Richard rolled his eyes, "It was a Business meeting, Vic, what else did you expect us to talk about? Daisies?"
"Can we at least go out on the town or something?" Cyborg asked.
"We have two days, remember, you and I can go out, and see what France has to offer." Raven said, violet eyes amused.
"What about me?" Richard asked, " Aren't I going to be able to see the 'town' too?"
Raven turned and blinked owlishly at him. "...you...would like to come with us?" The very idea of the man she was assigned to kill, 'spending a day on in the town' with her seemed odd. Raven really didn't know how to feel about this.
She settled for incredulity. "Wouldn't you be more comfortable researching your business information, sir?"
Richard's left eye twitched suspiciously. "One of these days I'm going to get you to say my name. Which, by the way, isn't 'sir'."
"Yessir" Raven replied automatically, before she was aware of what she had said.
Robin buried his head in his hands and moaned in frustration, just as Cyborg seemed to be seized by a sudden attack of coughing.
"Er...sorry sir," Raven said, before looking slightly sheepish. Her mind was still out to lunch apparently, and wasn't returning anytime soon.
"Let's just go to lunch please? I'm hungry" Robin said, shaking his head, before wandering out of the business room. Raven and Cyborg followed, Cyborg swinging his arm around Raven's shoulders as they walked out of the office.
"Your brain's fried too, huh?" He asked, grinning broadly at the slightly vacant expression on his best friend's secretary's face.
"Yes, I'm afraid I still have a bit of jetlag." Raven admitted softly, glancing up at Cyborg's human eye. "I was tired before, but I suppose it's a good kind of tired"
Cyborg chuckled, then lowered his voice into a theatrical whisper.
"Why don't you and I sneak out tonight and see what kind of French cuisine reigns supreme?"
Raven smiled slightly, "It's all about food with you, isn't it?" remembering the huge amount of food he had consumed during breakfast.
She chuckled softly, surprising both herself and Cyborg at the soft sound. Apparently her employer had also heard, because he'd turned around and looked at her before continuing out of the building.
She must be more tired and distracted than she originally had thought. It must be because of the fact that she hadn't meditated in a week or so that she wasn't up to par with her usual witty self.
A good long meditation was in order, she promised herself. Just a soon as she got into the her hotel suite.
She had a nice laugh, he decided, all soft and unexpected. He'd never heard her laugh before. It was a nice sound, he thought, before he mentally slapped himself repeatedly and told himself he was an idiot.
Hell, she was his employee, for God's sake! He couldn't, no, wouldn't think about her laugh, or anything remotely un-platonic about her. At all. Period. With an exclamation point. Two exclamation points. It was unprofessional. It was childish. It was...strangely alluring.
He mentally slapped himself.
God he needed a beer. Fancy, expensive, French, beer.
...Did the French have beer?
He mentally slapped himself again.
And mused that his mental self would be very bruised throughout the duration of the business trip. And would quite possibly be pressing charges against him for abuse.
Richard was absolutely sure that he was slowing going insane. Not only was he attacked by a suspicious emotion that felt astoundingly like jealousy (which, of course, it wasn't, he was sure) every time she smiled at Cyborg, but he also felt a strange kinship towards her, even though she had absolutely done nothing to promote that sort of feeling at all.
Perhaps it was the fact that she seemed so aloof, and confident, yet at the same time radiated a terrible loneliness every time she smiled. It was as if she wasn't used to smiling at all, her face, when she wasn't looking at him, or talking to Vic, seemed to fall into a natural state of 'blankness' that revealed nothing about her.
She was an irritating mystery. An enigma of the most intricate kind. The kind that had Layers and layers, and layers of hardships and secrets just waiting beneath her eyes.
Someone had once said that the eyes were the windows to the Soul, if that were true, then he was afraid that Rowena might not have a soul. Or at the very least those windows were shuttered, locked, encoded, with gigantic inhuman guards blocking it from view.
Every time he looked in her eyes, it was blank. Completely devoid of any emotion. Sadness, happiness, amusement, seemed to reside on an entirely different plane with her. As if she wouldn't permit herself to feel anything.
Which, again, was strangely alluring. It made him want to break down the un-climbable walls she'd surrounded herself with and get to know her. The real her, and not the person she was masquerading around as.
However, he didn't exactly know if he would like the person that hid behind the mask.
And that, was quite possibly the reason he didn't try.
He had a foreboding feeling that if he did get to know her, not only would he be forced to come to certain revelations he wasn't ready to come to yet, but he also got the feeling that they would be on opposing sides.
He glanced at her out of the corner of his eyes, and watched her as she was tucked into the crook of his best friends arm, looking impossibly small and fragile. But her eyes screamed that she was anything but.
Her eyes looked...old.
Like they'd watched the world for millions of years and were filled with a knowledge and perceptiveness that was incomparable to anything human he'd ever seen.
He decided that he would get to know her, even if it was just getting to know what made her tick, rather than anything of importance.
He waved off his odd behavior as stress related, and decided that he should at least take a nap before doing anything in town, lest he kill himself tripping down a man hole or something equally embarrassing due to his behavior.
"...Greyson..? Mr. Greyson. sir?" his secretary was calling him.
He glanced at her. "I think you continue to do that just to annoy me."
She blinked, "I beg your pardon?"
"I told you to call me Richard"
"... ah..." She paused, as if digesting this, then said; "Perhaps we should rest for an hour or two before we go into town. Would that be alright?"
" 'Ah'? what's that supposed to mean?"
"That 'Ah', What did you mean by that?"
"...it was... an.. 'Ah', sir"
"Clearly it was a loaded 'ah""
She stared blankly at him, as if wondering if the business meeting had fried his brains more then he let on.
And he felt like an idiot. "Er, never mind. Yes, lets take an hour or two, I think I need a nap, anyway."
"Very good, sir." God, she sounded like Alfred. He wandered away, shaking his head.
A nap, that sounded like a very, very good idea to him right about now.
Raven walked into her hotel suite. Shutting the door firmly behind her, shaking her head in amusement. Her employer was tired. It permeated through his every pore, but he was so damn stubborn that he'd probably end up killing himself over something stress related. Perhaps she wouldn't even have to do anything at all. Perhaps she'd just let the stress kill him for her.
But then, what kind of assassin would she be if she did that?
One not responsible for his death.
She paused, suddenly somber. She glanced around her room, making sure no one had come in uninvited, then wandered to her bed.
Reaching out with her power she locked the door and sat cross-legged, floating above her bed. Closing her eyes, she rested her hands on her legs, in meditation fashion and began to chant.
"Azarath, Metrion Zinthos..." she felt her body relax, her mind cleared, and her control (of her emotions, one she worked so hard to gain) returned.
And for the first time since starting this assignment, she felt at peace.
Three hours later, she sat up in bed, blinking slightly, her mind and body feeling refreshed, she dressed.
Her dreams of late had been taking a darker turn, not even meditation could curb the darkness of it. It was only bits and pieces of places, and people, but it left her feeling an ever sinking dread settle into her stomach. Dreams weren't good things for her.
It never had been.
Dreams, were just another way for her Father to control her. And for that she hated them.
Wandering outside of her room, she spotted her employer and Cyborg, sitting in the lounge, drinking what looked like hot chocolate.
Spotting her, Cyborg grinned "Hey sleepy head. How was your nap?"
"Good" Her voice was back to a monotone, her indifferent expression in place.
Cyborg's grin widened. "You ready to go out on the town?"
"Right, let's go then. Coming Rob?"
Her employer looked up at her. "You don't mind, do you?"
"Not at all sir, you're welcome to join us."
She heard him give a strangled mutter, possibly about the way she didn't respect his wishes to be called by his name.
Perhaps he was a little right. Perhaps, she was enjoying frustrating him. It was strangely refreshing.
She shook her head slightly and smothered the urge to ask him if he was feeling alright. From the look of things, he wouldn't appreciate it.
"But Rob, we have to eat at this place, they serve steak! Good steak!" Cyborg snapped.
"No way, it's too public, it's bad enough that I have people gawking at me like I'm sort of sidewalk sideshow, I will not subject myself to that sort of impolite behavior while I eat my dinner" Robin snapped back.
"It's not my fault you're so damn famous, tell them you're not the guy their looking for! Rob, I want to eat that steak."
"It's not like I'm the only one drawing in stares, you know. It's not everyday they see someone like you."
"My hologram rings were on the fritz, okay? It's not like I have a choice how people see me."
"So you should stop ripping on me about the way people are looking when it's not my fault."
Raven rolled her eyes discreetly from behind them. Honestly, it was like watching to toddlers fighting over what to eat.
Actually it was just like two toddlers fighting over what to eat, only the 'toddlers' were grown men, which made it all the more amusing to watch them bicker.
" 'allo, mon cher." Raven stiffened at the sound of that soft voice. She spun around, meeting the amber eyes of a stunningly voluptuous woman.
"Odile. What a...surprise to see you here." Raven said, her eyes and personality seeming to withdraw further into herself.
Robin and Cyborg looked at each other in slight confusion before focusing on the two women standing behind them.
"Why? France iz my 'ome, mon cher."
"Forgive me." Raven's eyes flickered to her two companions. "But I wasn't planning on seeing you here. Weren't you on a business trip in Asia?"
The woman, Odile, laughed, her voice musical and seductive. "Zat ended ages ago, mon cher, I 'ave a very different assignment at ze moment."
She turned to look at the two men standing a little away from Raven and smiled. "Per'aps we might dine togezzar?"
"Another night, Odile." Raven said, her voice edge in steel.
Robin watched as the beautiful woman's eyes flickered back to his secretary, incline her head in acknowledgement, and murmur, "Forgive me, mon cher, but I 'oped zat I would be able to er...deliver a message to you."
"Your Fazzer" Odile said, now watching his secretary's face with something akin to amusement.
He watched as Rowena's eyes widened slightly, and her breath hitched a little.
"Oh, it 'as nozzing to do wiz your current assignment, mon cher"
Rowena's shoulders relaxed a little as she replied.
"Another time, Odile." Her voice, her facial expression tight.
"Alright, mon cher, 'ave it your way, but you will listen to ze message I bring."
"Understood, goodnight Odile." Raven said, turning around and walking away, snagging the elbows of her companions as she dragged them into the night.
Not listening as Odile's melodious laughter chased her all the way home.
"Who was that?" Robin asked softly, as if to try and not scare her.
"No one important, eat your food." His secretary replied, her hands tightening slightly on her fork.
"Seemed like someone important to me"
"Well you are mistaken."
"C'mon Winn, we're just worried about you. You looked seriously jumpy that she was there."
She glanced at Cyborg, her expression softening the slightest bit. And Robin felt a slight inking of that emotion that wasn't jealousy creeping on him. (because he was sure it wasn't jealousy, damnit)
Raven looked down at her food, wondering if it was alright to tell them a little bit of herself. Not the truth, but perhaps to get them to openly trust her a little more.
Besides, she could always wipe their memories later if they decided to turn on her.
"She's an...acquaintance. She used to be a Prima Ballerina, one of the best in her generation. I met her when I went to one of her performances."
Never mind that I was there to kill the current prime minister of Russia.
"She was on a downward spiral, I suppose."
"Downward spiral?" Cyborg echoed.
"It's a lot like modeling I suppose, you have to be young, graceful, and beautiful to remain on top. Well, Odile was still graceful and beautiful...but she wasn't as young as she used to be. And in that line of work, someone younger and prettier than you will eventually usurp your place in the spotlight."
"And that's what happened to Odile?"
"...Her last Ballet, Swan Lake ...The troupe director wanted to give her namesake to a pretty new ballerina named Antoinette. Unfortunately for Antoinette, on the night of the premiere, her costume was mysteriously torn to shreds, she couldn't dance that night. Odile played her part for her instead. After that night, she quit ballet and began working for my father."
"Odile...What is her last name?" Cyborg asked.
"Le Creux, why?"
"I've heard that name before, my last secretary was a huge fan of hers." Robin said. Remembering how his last secretary would gush about the gracefulness of the "black swan".
"What about your father?" Cyborg asked, watching intently as Rowena's shoulders stiffened again.
"What about him?"
"You don't seem very glad to have to hear from him."
Raven smiled in a self depreciating sort of way. "Lets just say I have issues with my father and leave it at that."
"...Right. So Rob, how's miss Starfire?" Cyborg asked, changing the subject.
"That was a low blow Cy!"
Cyborg guffawed. "Never knew you had a taste for engaged women. What will the press say now?"
"Shut Up. I didn't know she was engaged."
"Riiight. Mister know it all? Not know?"
"If you don't stop that right now, I'm confiscating your steak"
"Just try it, wonder boy."
As they left the restaurant, satiated, and relaxed (in Raven's case, less likely to kill someone) they spotted the French police littered throughout the streets, running back and forth frantically, making calls and trying to calm down the hysterical citizens that were there.
"What's going on?" Cyborg asked, immediately shifting to 'police mode'
"Let's check it out." Robin said, his voice serious, tension hummed through his body.
They walked close to two citizens that were chattering amongst themselves. "Winn, ask them what happened."
Raven obediently did so, already having an inkling of what took place.
"There was a murder." She translated. "Six of them. The police already know who the culprit is, they just haven't been able to catch them."
"Who?" Robin asked.
A sinking feeling flittered through Raven's stomach as she translated. "The Flock."
Cyborg's hands fisted tightly. "Do they know what members of the Flock did this?"
"Not members. Member. There was only one responsible for this." Raven said.
"How do they know for sure?" Cyborg asked.
"The swan likes to carve her namesake onto the bodies of those she's killed. A swan in preparation for flight. These murders were particularly brutal." She translated.
"How?" Robin asked. His eyes burned angrily for something taking place so close to them without them noticing
"One man's eyes were torn out, another man's ears, and the tongue of the third one. The last three had their necks broken and their hearts torn out." Raven whispered. "All of them had a Swan carved on their backs"
"Hearts torn out?" Robin echoed, horrified.
"Winn, you stay here, Rob, lets go talk to the police, I think I recognize Alverez... What the hell is he doing here?"
As both Cyborg and Robin left, she felt tension building up in her mind. A headache, she told herself. The citizens stuck close to the police, as if thinking that being close to them would bring some sort of protection from the flock.
She alone, stood a little away from the police and the citizens. Lurking in a slightly darkened corner, she forced herself to relax.
Until she felt the whisper of cloth, and the brush of cold steel pressed against her throat.
A masked face rested itself near her shoulder.
"Swan." Raven said, as if there wasn't a blade pressed against her throat.
"What do you want?"
"I 'ave a message for you, mon cher, from your fazzer. 'e was very adamant zat you receive it."
"What---?" Raven's head snapped back. Her eyes pulsing an eerie violet glow.
Her dreams, whole and terrifying coiled around her.
The smell of burning flesh. Fire. Ruins. The screams of a dying humanity. Terrified people immortalized in stone. Terror. Hate. Fear. Death.
Her father, in his gigantic demonic glory, laughing his cruel, deep laugh.
Turning to her he said "Don't you see, my little bird? This is what you will bring. This is what you were made for. The end of the world."
"And it. Is. Coming."
Raven's eyes lost their glow. She trembled, unmindful of the blade still pressing against her throat.
She glanced at her hands, saw the symbols that raced across her skin. Glowing an eerie red.
She felt their terror, she felt their fear. She felt their death.
Raven shivered, seeing it all again.
Emotions running high, emotions that were not her own, Raven opened her mouth
A high arching scream that sent the blood running cold in to young men. A scream that terrified the people around her as well as herself. A scream that elicited a sound of amusement from her captor
And still she screamed.
Then everything went black.
And then there was silence.