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.
Author's Note: See the full note at the bottom. Enjoy the finale!
"Cause I know to live you must give your life away."
- Matthew Thiessen
Robin stood over her, looking down at her, trying desperately not to break down.
Raven wasn't moving.
Scars, blackened flesh, seared and emblazoned in the shape of crosses covered her, burned into her skin as if she had taken a burning cross and forced it onto herself. Robin had to fight off the urge to vomit. She was covered with them, her flesh was scorched from her feet all the way to her upper torso. Her bare stomach lay exposed to the noonday sun, revealing the horrendous wounds for the entire world to see. Her hands lay open, facing the sky and it looked as if she had roasted them over hot coals. Robin's knees gave way beneath him and he collapsed forward, finding himself hovering just above her.
There was a scar on her forehead, replacing the jewel with another black mark. He swallowed back the yell of anguish that struggled to free itself. What monster had done this to her? Robin could only watch her, lying limply on the section of road that was perched on the church steps.
Her eyes were closed, and beyond Robin's ability to believe, her face was a picture of tranquility... she almost looked happy. Robin let out a strangled breath and had to close his eyes and focus, drawing upon every reserve he had to prevent himself from loosing all control.
He reached out and knocked a bit of hair off of her face, taking in that calm, happy look on her face as tears began to form in his own eyes. Lowering his head he gently placed his hand underneath her knees and back and lifted her from the cold stone. He did his best to cradle her against his chest, give her the support he had been unable to give her before. A few tears finally forced their way past the edges of his mask, creeping down his face. "Raven…" He closed his eyes and turned, "You're alive."
Although the hospital was full of activity, to Robin it seemed like one massive blur. People rushed by him, most of who were running to tend to other injured. The destruction to the city had been relatively minor, considering what Raven had said would come. Some buildings were damaged, and there had been no word from the jail, but what was really causing all the chaos was everyone in the city suddenly waking up and finding it was noon instead of midnight. Starfire, Cyborg, and Beast Boy were working with the police to settle down the public unrest and general chaos.
He should be there to help them, but he wasn't going to leave Raven alone, not again. In front of him lay the door to the emergency room. Inside dozens of doctors were treating Raven. Robin pushed his hand through his hair as he continued to stare at the door. He had been waiting for word for… he wasn't sure how long he had been here, waiting for someone, anyone to tell him something. The seconds seemed to stretch into hours, and time stretched into infinity as he watched the unmoving door.
'Why aren't they telling me anything? Maybe they're trying to save her? Maybe they're failing…' The last thought sent a chill down his spine. 'No.' He scowled, pushing it past the self-doubt that rose within him. 'No. She can't die.'
'Why not? You saw her wounds. And who knows what sort of internal injuries she has.'
'No, the doctors are treating her. She will survive and she will get better.'
'They can't save her and neither can you. You couldn't save her before and you can't save her now.'
Robin's fists clenched, 'ENOUGH!'
"Robin?" Robin let out a deep, shuttering breath as he was drawn from his own nightmarish reverie. In front of him was a doctor, still in the sterile smock and rubber gloves. His mouth was hidden behind a surgical mask. "Robin?"
He blinked, "How is Raven? Is she alive?" The last words left a bitter taste in his mouth.
"Yes." Robin let out a deep sigh and for the first time since he had gotten her here, relaxed, if only a little. "She's in a coma, which might be for the best considering her wounds."
"She's going to pull through though." Robin murmured, almost as much a question as a statement.
He looked back to the door; "She has deep third degree burns in the shapes of crosses all over her body. I've never seen anything like it before…" He looked back to Robin, "There is a risk of infection, and we've put in an intravenous to restore her fluid levels. There was minor internal bleeding, but we've dealt with it."
"Is there anything I can do?" Robin asked, frowning.
The doctor's frown was invisible behind the surgical mask, "All I can suggest is pray."
Robin stood up, shaking the doctor's hand, "Thank you." The doctor nodded and walked back into the emergency room, the door swinging open for a moment and then closing again.
"Prayer." Robin murmured as he turned and left, 'isn't nearly good enough.'
The sun set its last angry red rays on the desecrated church where Robin had found Raven. The stillness in the air made the entire street feel like a tomb, and the church, shattered and collapsing in on itself, did nothing to detract from the sense of lost hopes. He had forgotten, or had been too worried about Raven before to even notice. He walked forward in silence.
'What are you doing here?'
Robin didn't answer his own rhetorical question. Instead he focused on the cracked sidewalk and the piece of street that had been placed on the church's stairs. The church itself looked battered and damaged, one of the walls had collapsed. The door had been torn from its hinges, but held on despite all odds, twisting a little in the wind. 'There must be something here, something that will piece everything together.'
The last rays of sun fell away and night took over, the world began to be coated in its inky blackness. It was only then that he noticed the red fleck on the piece of road that Raven had been on when he had arrived. Bending down he looked at it, and then gingerly picked it up. 'Raven's chakra jewel?' Robin paused, remembering how a cross had been burned into her forehead, and a shiver was sent down his spine.
Pocketing it, he stood up once more, taking a flashlight from his belt and carefully scanning every inch of the road for anything more. He found it quickly. At the edge of the road a cross had been carved out. Robin scowled, 'But how did it burn her?' Almost as many questions would be answered as would appear, at least until Raven awoke.
The door, hanging on by the bottom hinge alone, was creaking in the wind and Robin looked away from the cross. He walked towards it gingerly, then with a quick motion stepped around it and inside the church. The light leapt in front of him, trailing across the ground and some piping. The floor, the pews, everything that should be in the church, was gone. Robin frowned and took a step inside, being careful not to trip on one of the exposed pipes.
'What did this?' He wondered to himself silently, shining the flashlight to the rear of the building and then to the side where the wall had collapsed. Stones littered the floor on that side, and the entire bottom had fall inward, losing all support as the floor had been torn from beneath it.
The door creaked again, more noisily than before and then collapsed. Robin whirled but the flashlight never got the chance to meet the collapsed door, stopping at the corner of the church.
Robin took a deep breath, "No way…"
"What do you mean we can't see her?" Beast Boy asked, arms flailing about wildly.
The doctor frowned, "She's still in surgery."
"Is she going to be ok?" Cyborg asked in a much more controlled tone than Beast Boy.
"She has severe burns and there is a risk of infection, but we restored her fluid levels…" Cyborg sank into his seat and let his head fall into his hands.
Starfire trembled a little, "But she will get better, correct? Raven will be better soon…" She looked around to her friends and the doctor who merely shook his head.
"The wounds are extensive. It could be months…"
Cyborg raised his head up, "Months?"
"Her legs and stomach have been burned, as have her hands and on her forehead. She will need skin grafts, and there will be scarring."
"Skin grafts?" Starfire asked, looking between her friends and the doctor.
The doctor frowned, "We will need to cover the burned skin with fresh skin from other parts of her body or from someone else's to protect her skin as it heals."
Starfire trembled and nearly fell, but Cyborg stood and guided her to a seat where she sat in stunned silence. Beast Boy was blinking away a few tears.
"How did it happen?"
The doctor took a deep breath, "We have reason to believe she was… branded."
"Branded?" Cyborg asked with shock, Beast Boy's eyes went wide and Starfire looked about, confused. The doctor nodded silently.
"What does it mean to be branded?" She asked, but neither Beast Boy nor Cyborg heard it.
Beast Boy shuddered involuntarily, "How… with what?"
"All the burns were in the shapes of crosses… "
Cyborg drew in a sharp breath, "Crosses?"
"Crosses." The doctor nodded.
"How did this happen?" Beast Boy asked shakily, his voice nearly cracking.
Cyborg frowned, "I don't know."
"What does it mean to be branded?" Starfire asked again, and Cyborg grimaced.
"It's something very bad Star."
"But, what are we going to do?" Beast Boy jaw was trembling and he looked back to the emergency room Raven was in.
Cyborg's frown deepened, "I don't know."
"I wish Robin was here…" Starfire said, clutching herself closely.
The doctor raised an eyebrow, "He was here."
Suddenly all attention was drawn to him, three shocked faces stared at him in disbelief.
Cyborg managed to regain his ability to speak first, "No… he would have told us…"
The doctor shifted uncomfortably, "He was the one who brought her to the hospital." Silence filled the corridor, and the Titans had entered a daze.
Once again, Cyborg was the first one to gain any semblance of control, "Can you leave us alone for a minute?"
The doctor nodded and left to go back into the emergency room.
Starfire looked to Cyborg her eyes tearing, "Why would he not tell us?"
"I don't know."
"But Robin…" Cyborg placed a hand on her shoulder and she trailed off, looking down into space.
Beast Boy shuffled over in a daze and sit down, transforming into a cat and curled up upon himself, looking away from the others…
Starfire didn't take notice, staring off into space as tears continued to flow freely from her eyes. Cyborg simply kept an eye on the door, his face unreadable. Inside, before them, doctors continued to work on Raven, flushing out the burns and covering them with salve and gauze before moving onto the next one and the next one after that in what seemed like an endless cycle.
The doors opened and Robin entered. Inwardly he groaned upon seeing the Titans. He hadn't even told them… how had they found out she was here? He wasn't sure, but by the way they looked, Starfire leaning against Cyborg, Cyborg in a daze looking at the door, and Beast Boy curled up on a chair, Robin knew they had already been told. Robin felt his insides twist into a knot, not only had he not told them, but they already knew. Someone else had broken the news to them. Robin's mind raced, trying to think of something to tell them, try to reassure them, tell them that everything would be alright… but nothing came. They hadn't even noticed he was there. Robin set his jaw into a firm grimace; he had already failed Raven, and now the rest of the team…
"I found her at the church." Robin offered, and it took a moment for it to register with any of the Titans. Beast Boy reverted to his human form and sat up glaring at him, Cyborg stood with a scowl, but Starfire looked up without standing, still clutching onto herself.
"Why didn't you tell us?" Cyborg demanded.
"There was nothing you could have done…"
Beast Boy stood up angrily, pointing at Robin accusingly, "We could have BEEN THERE!"
"You were helping the police with the riots." Robin replied as calmly as he could even though a pit was forming in his stomach.
Cyborg's face hardened, and he set his jaw in a firm line, "They could have handled it, Robin. We should have been here, with you and Raven."
"You wouldn't want to see her that way. She wouldn't…"
"That's not fair!" Beast Boy shouted.
"Robin…" Starfire's voice echoed weakly, but canceled out all the others, "why did you not tell us that Raven was hurt?"
Robin felt his insides tear apart; Starfire was still crying, still trembling, "I already told you Star, there was nothing you could have done…" He trailed off as she watched him the tears still flowing freely. "Look, I'm sorry, I made a mistake… I never should have kept it from you." He bowed his head.
"Yeah, you're right, you shouldn't have kept it from us…" Cyborg said, with a scowl sitting back down next to Starfire.
Beast Boy folded his arms across his chest, "If there was nothing we could do, where were you?"
"I went back to where I found her to try and figure out what happened." Robin answered curtly.
"Yeah, and you left Raven alone." Robin scowled, but didn't reply. "What would have happened if Slade came back?"
"I don't think we'd be here if Slade was still here." Robin said angrily, but then found all eyes on him. "Look, I don't know what happened, but when I last saw Raven it was midnight, and when I opened my eyes again it was morning. It's not like I fell asleep, it's like I was gone. And it happened to everyone else too. When I last saw you, you were fighting Slade. Was he there when you woke up?" There was silence from the Titans, Cyborg frowning and looking to Beast Boy who looked back at him. Starfire was too intent watching the door to the room Raven was being operated in to even register the question. Robin frowned, "Something happened and I had to find out what it was."
"What'd you find?" Cyborg finally asked.
Robin reached into his belt and took out the chakra jewel; "I found this on the stone slab where I found Raven."
"What is it?" Beast Boy asked, trying to get a better view.
"Raven's chakra jewel."
"Her forehead…" Cyborg winced, turning away, "The doctor told us, I didn't realize."
"What does it mean?" Beast Boy asked,
"Don't know." Robin said pocketing the jewel, "Cyborg, I need you to come with me to scan something I found at the church."
"What?" Cyborg stared at him in disbelief, "Can't it wait?"
"No." Robin answered bluntly, then turned and walked through the doors he had entered, Cyborg following him angrily.
Cyborg was staring at Robin, thoroughly disgusted, "We shouldn't be leaving Raven like this, what if she wakes up?"
Robin stopped, turning around and pulling the cross from his belt in one fluent movement, "When I went back to the church, I found more than just Raven's chakra jewel."
Robin handed it to Cyborg who looked it over, then looked back to Robin, "Is this what burned her?"
"It's approximately the same size and shape as the marks that Raven had all over her. It's only a guess, but I'd say yes."
Cyborg grimaced, "You think Slade heated this up?"
Cyborg looked it over for a moment longer, "This is asphalt, the stuff they make streets out of. How would he make this? It doesn't look like it was burned out."
Robin let out a deep breath, "I don't think he did."
Cyborg looked back to him, offering the cross to Robin, "Then who?"
Robin frowned, taking the cross, "When I found Raven, she was lying on a piece of street that looked like it had been torn off the ground. When I went back, I found the cross, and the place it was carved from on that piece of street." Robin paused, "When I went inside, I found Terra."
Cyborg's eye widened, "Terra?"
Robin nodded, "She was on the other side of the wall, just a few feet away from Raven."
"Is she ok? Did she tell you what happened? Where is she?"
"In stone, but she had definitely moved."
Cyborg looked back towards where the Starfire and Beast Boy stood guard for Raven, "Ah man, Beast boy's gonna flip."
"Beast Boy isn't going to know," Robin said flatly, and Cyborg stared at him, "and neither is Starfire. Not until we find out what part Terra played in this."
Cyborg opened his mouth to protest, but stopped himself, nodding in agreement. "Do you really think she had something to do with this?"
Robin looked at the cross for a moment longer before placing it back in his pocket, "Positive."
Robin was sitting next to Raven, his head still in his hands. Cyborg was leaning back on his chair, his snores mingling with those of Beast Boy and Starfire. Of course, he couldn't blame them. It had been nearly a week, and they had spent little time away from Raven. She still wasn't responding to treatment, or anything else for that matter. The doctors didn't have an explanation other than the off chance her demon physiology was preventing the healing. Looking at the shape of her burns, Robin could understand why they had acknowledged it as a possibility.
Leaning back in his chair, Robin looked over to the clock, it was closing in on three AM, and all was silent save the beeps from Raven's heart monitor. Cyborg's snore was interrupted by a cough, but he didn't wake up. Robin merely looked over at the Titans. They were a wreck. He still hadn't told Beast Boy or Starfire about Terra, and Cyborg had sworn not to despite his misgivings. The prison… it was best not to think about what had happened there. Whatever had hit the city, that church, had struck the prison hard… Robin hadn't even allowed any of the other Titans to go to the jail.
His hand drifted to his belt, as it often did in times of worry. Of course, there was no weapon he could pull out to attack this threat, no staff to block the damage. All he had left was hope, and the memory of Raven pleading him to kill her had worn that away. He lowered his head again, "Raven…"
Robin wasn't sure what to feel, she was the only Titan who knew his past, the one who had shared a bond with him, not like him and Star, not affection, just… a knowing. Perhaps he had relied on her too much in the past to simply be there? Robin let out a deep breath looking back up at Raven. And now, when she needed him, someone, anyone, she had no one. "Life isn't fair, it never has been. Not for me, and certainly not for you Raven." He only dimly recognized his own voice and he gently reached out and touched the back of Raven's hand. He didn't dare touch the palm of her hand, the burns were so bad there that she would be unable to use her hand again even if she did heal. It was only her inhuman biology that had allowed her to keep it, and only then as some twisted sentimental item.
His glance drifted up her arm; mark after mark tracing it's way up, finally disappearing beneath the hospital gown. Her legs were covered, thankfully, but the others could see the scars if they really wanted to. His glance finally reached her face; she still looked calm, peaceful. Perhaps it was the coma? Robin scowled; Raven would never want to be like this, never. She had given up before, but then she had fought back, standing against whatever it was that had attacked her. Robin scowled, hand reaching inside one of the pouches on his belt. The cross was still there. Terra had played a part in this, and he had verified it by holding the cross above the scars when the others were asleep.
"You were right about her all along, weren't you?" Robin felt a sick sensation in his stomach as he asked. She had betrayed the Titans, then she had fought them, and then she had sacrificed herself for the city, only to attack Raven? She had probably just tried to save herself while the Titans had fled through the caverns and back to the surface.
He replaced the cross, the pocket nearly full except for one other item, her chakra jewel. They hadn't wanted him to replace it when he asked. The wounds were still fresh, and hadn't begun to heal. That was nearly a week ago, and the wounds were simply defying medical science by not accepting skin grafts or any other sort of treatment. Robin had to fight the hospital bureaucracy to get them to see her the first time, they were afraid of lawsuits. They had removed most of the grafts afraid it would cause infection. He was less than pleased when they informed him that the skin they had taken from her back, perhaps the one place that had no scars, had yet to even begin to heal and that the risk for infection was growing because of it.
If they were so worried about infection on her back, or any of her other wounds, why hadn't they stopped themselves from making things worse? Robin scowled, removing the chakra jewel from his pocket. It wasn't right that she didn't have her jewel, and since the doctors certainly didn't know anything when it came to her, he would have to do the right thing and replace it.
The stone had barely touched her brow when her eyes shot open and she dragged in a ragged gasp. Tears formed in her eyes as her heart rate spiked, her back arching as her body was inundated with agony. Lights and sirens began, and she collapsed back onto the bed, as Robin grabbed onto her arms. "Raven! SOMEONE GET A DOCTOR!" He watched on in horror as her eyes had rolled back into her head and she began shaking violently. "SOMEONE GET A DOCTOR!" He shouted again, turning to look to see the other Titans waking up in the chaos. Doctors began flooding into the room, and he was shoved out of the way, Raven immediately surrounded. The Titans were quickly ushered from the room as more doctors and nurses filtered in. Robin stood there for a moment, watching as more of them filtered in before the door finally closed.
Raven's eyes shot open and she drew in a sharp breath. Her forehead burned, and that blaze swept through her like a flash fire. Her body shuddered and writhed as the fire spread; in every corner of her the fire burned away her Father's taint. Every inch of her was soon aflame, the pestilence that had dwelled within her for her entire life. As Raven collapsed back onto the bed, tears in her eyes, she felt it. For the first time in her life, she felt it. Purity.
Tears flowed freely from her eyes and she was overcome by a sense of bliss she had never experienced before. All that she had ever wanted was hers, purity, blessed purity. She closed her eyes, wishing this moment would drag on into infinity. Reality intruded, doctors shouting and finally breaking her from her revelry. She blinked a few times, allowing her vision to come into focus. The doctors stared at her in stunned silence, and one of them murmured, "Vitals returning to normal…"
The doctors looked between each other and back down to Raven, "Could it be a natural function? Maybe her body… does that when awakened from stasis?" One of them asked, the other doctors didn't answer.
One of the nurses winced watching as Raven slowly raised her hand to her forehead, "How do you feel?"
The doctors looked at her skeptically, the wounds were still visible on her hands, but didn't question it. "Do you know what happened?"
"My father…" Her eyes widened, "TERRA! Where's Terra?"
One of the doctors looked at her his face a mask of confusion, "I'm sorry?"
Raven's heart nearly stopped and she stared at him, "Terra, where is she? Is she ok?"
The doctors watched her with concern, "We weren't even aware she had been freed from stone…"
Raven frowned deeply, "Who brought me here?"
"One of the other Teen Titans, I believe it was Robin…"
Raven paused, "And the other Titans?"
One of the doctors pointed at the door, "Just outside, they were in here until you woke up."
"Can I see them?"
The doctor frowned, looking at her vitals, "As long as we can monitor you…"
Raven nodded, and he exited the room. There was silence from outside the room and then the door burst open, Starfire rushing into the room and to Raven's bedside. Her eyes were glistening with tears, "Raven! You are hurt and you wouldn't wake up and when you did there were sirens and Robin was yelling for doctors and… and…"
"Starfire, I'm fine."
"But you are not fine, you are hurt." Starfire said emphatically.
"Star, I'm fine." Raven said firmly. Starfire opened her mouth to speak again, only to be cut off by Beast Boy as he finally reached her bedside. "Raven! You're awake!"
Raven simply looked at him, "Apparently."
Cyborg appeared behind Beast Boy, towering over the diminutive shape changer, "Raven, good to see you up. You were about to beat Beast Boy's sleeping record." Beast Boy scowled, and Cyborg smiled at her.
"How long has it been?" Raven asked and the smile fell away from Cyborg's face.
"Three weeks, four days." Robin said solemnly as he finally reached her bedside.
Raven nodded, looking at the Titans a frown growing on her face, "I…" She frowned deeply, looking away, "I need to speak to Robin… alone."
The Titans stood there for a moment, unsure how to respond, unwilling to simply leave their friend mere moments after seeing her awake again, but equally unwilling to say no to her.
Cyborg finally nodded, putting a reassuring arm around Starfire and Beast Boy, "Sure thing… just call us when you're ready." He said as happily as he could to veil the pain. "Come on guys." He said, and led them out of the room. Robin watched them leave, receiving one last glance from a teary Starfire before the door swung shut behind her.
Raven looked at the assorted doctors and nurses inside the room, "I need you to leave too."
One of the doctors gawked at her, "But we have to monitor…"
Raven remained calm, "I'm fine, I assure you. If anything goes wrong, I'm certain Robin will be able to warn you."
"But…" He continued, but Raven cut him off.
There were a few stares of sheer disbelief, but the doctors and nurses filed out of the room. The door closed and Robin turned back to look at Raven, she didn't speak, watching the door for a moment before looking back at him.
"Robin, I'm sorry."
"Sorry?" Robin asked in sincere confusion.
"I never should have forced you into… trying to kill me." Robin stood there mortified, as Raven looked back up to the ceiling, trying to retain composure. "It wasn't right, even if… I should have figured out a way around it. Something, anything would have been better than to ask you that." She turned to face him, "I'm sorry, please forgive me…"
"Raven." He blinked, putting his hands on the side rails of her bed, "Of course I forgive you."
She let out a deep breath, looking back to him relieved, "Thank you."
He stood above her, "Raven… what happened?"
"The prophecy was fulfilled before you had a chance to stop it. The world was torn apart, and you, everyone was turned to stone."
"Turned to stone?" He asked, surprised.
"I had to take you with me so Slade wouldn't smash you."
"Why wasn't he turned to stone? And why weren't you?"
"We were immune, both of us were marked by my father."
Robin gaped; Trigon was Raven's father? Trigon, the source of all darkness was Raven's father? It was almost impossible to imagine. It took a moment for him to regain his composure and he immediately regretted his response as he looked at Raven's expressionless face, "Raven, I didn't mean to."
"Yes, you did, and I don't blame you. If you were anyone else, you would have reacted the same way."
"Raven… it's not your fault."
Raven stared into the distance the last words reverberating in her mind and slowly morphing into Terra's, "…it wasn't your fault" Raven murmured and turned to Robin, "Terra…"
Robin's throat dried up immediately, "I found her."
Raven's eyes widened slightly, "You did? But the doctors said she hadn't been brought in."
Robin wasn't sure how to react, swallowing a hard knot in his parched throat, "She's stone. I found her in the church, just a few feet away from you."
Raven eyes fell away from his a pit forming in the bottom of her stomach, "She's in stone?"
"I told Cyborg, but Beast Boy and Starfire don't know." Robin withdrew the cross from his pocket, "I… hoping I was wrong about this, but…"
Raven looked over to him and her eyes widened at the cross, "Where did you find that?"
"In the street, when I went back, it was lying on the street."
Raven reached for it, and Robin gave it to her reluctantly. "Thank you." She murmured paying more attention to the cross than to him, and then to Robin's shock, she smiled at.
"Raven?" He drew her attention away from the cross, unsure exactly ask her about it.
He never got the chance, as she answered his question for him, "She made it for me."
There was a pause and Robin stared at her in confusion, "She made it for you? But Raven… your burns…"
Raven winced slightly, "Robin… I did this to myself." Robin's eyes went wide and he rose, but Raven put a bandaged hand on his, "It was the only way I could weaken Trigon. He had my soul, and by injuring myself, I could injure him."
Robin looked down at the bandaged hand, unsure whether to pull away or not, finally leaving it there and turning to her, "But Raven, look at yourself…"
"I know what I did Robin, and I would do it again." She looked down at her legs, "This is a small price to pay for helping to save the world."
Robin sat down; exhaling a small breath before he realized it, "Wait… helping to save the world?" He raised an eyebrow.
Raven smiled meekly, "When my soul was taken from me, Terra killed Slade. When my father returned, I was powerless. She was the one who used her powers to save us. She's the one who killed my father."
Robin's eyes went wide again, "She killed your father?"
Raven closed her eyes, "Holy objects and holy ground burned him. I used my connection to him to hurt him by hurting myself." Robin winced looking at the bandage on her hand, but Raven continued, "I couldn't hurt him enough to stop him, he was too powerful. I thought the only way to kill him was to kill me."
Robin frowned, "But you're alive."
"Just before Terra killed him the connection was severed, but I don't understand how." Raven said quietly. Holding the cross loosely in her hand, she shifted through theory after theory as to what had happened before finally looking back to the cross. Her hand slowly rose to her forehead, and she felt her chakra jewel, "Robin, how was I brought back?"
"I placed the chakra jewel back on your forehead… it had fallen off."
Raven nodded, slowly lowering her hand away from her face, and stared at the cross. When Terra had hurled it at Trigon, it had burned away the connection between her body and her soul, that's why she had survived, "Robin, we have to free Terra. She saved my life, she saved the world, and she killed Trigon. We can't just let her remain frozen in stone."
Robin nodded, "I'll get Cyborg to work on it…"
Raven lowered the cross to rest on her lap, "Technology wont be able to help. She needs magic, and my books are gone."
Robin winced, remembering the fire inside Titan's Tower. His mind worked rapidly, trying to come up with alternatives or solutions, but only his mentor seemed a viable option. "I might be able to find you some new ones… I'll just have to make a few calls."
Raven turned to him, "Thank you."
Robin clasped his free hand over hers, "I think you should get some rest." Raven nodded, resting her head back against the pillow, and Robin withdrew his hands, standing and walking to the door.
He paused at the doorway, a frown growing upon his face as he thought of the other Titans, "Raven, what should I tell the others about Terra?"
Raven looked at him, "She's a Titan. Tell them that." Robin nodded, and left.
Raven finished her meditation, opening her eyes and sitting down on her bed.
It was the only way.
The ancient book Robin had procured for her shuddered with sudden movement as Raven took it from it's resting place. During her three months in the hospital he had fulfilled her request, gathering nearly three-dozen mystical texts, but in the end, all she had needed one spell and the information he had given her.
The spell ingredients floated to her and she quickly hooked the pouches to her belt. She opened the book to the same page, checking the list of ingredients very carefully as she had so many times before that day. Making sure everything was accounted for, she nodded with grim determination and walked out.
The hall was dark and quiet. Raven knew it would be. It was past three am now. Raven had planned on this. No one would be awake, and no one would know. She moved through the corridors noiselessly, hovering above the floor to be certain no noise was made. There would be no second chances at this. She had to do this right, and she had to make sure it worked, and there could be no interruptions.
Raven floated down the last corridor warily, slowing down so that not even her cloak rustled as she floated past Robin's room. The very last thing she needed was for him to interfere. He would not allow this, she knew all too well, and hadn't even broached the subject with him.
The boy wonder's room in the distance, she looked to the door in front of her. It was plain, and in the darkness she could barely even see the writing across it. She swallowed hard; this was the most dangerous part, the part that could destroy all her planning, the door. Had the spell ingredients not forbidden it, she would have simply phased through it, but that was impossible. She had to get inside without a sound. Drawing in a deep breath she lifted her hand, using some of her magic to filter in between the door and the opening mechanism. There was a soft whirr and Raven winced as the door opened.
She stood there in the relative silence holding her breath and waiting to hear shouts or a soft confused voice, but was greeted only by soft snores echoing from within. Raven gave a silent sigh of relief. Starfire hadn't woken up.
Raven floated inside, taking a moment to carefully close the door behind her, watching Starfire to make sure the girl did not rise. Raven floated over to her, taking a simple pouch from her belt as she approached. Starfire's head was bent backwards leaning on the side of the heart shaped bed instead of resting atop it. She was shifting uncomfortably, fear painted on her face as nightmares haunted her, nightmares that Raven knew all too well.
Raven dipped her hand inside the pouch and sprinkled a bit of the black sand like powder on Starfire's face. Starfire murmured softly in her sleep, stirring just enough so her arm fell away from her chest and off the side of her bed and hitting the ground softly.
Raven put the powder away and relaxed slightly. The small dose of night powder would keep Starfire asleep for hours, no matter what happened. Raven began preparing the spell ingredients around Starfire's bed, taking the greatest of care as she placed the items.
Every bit of her screamed out in pure terror at the act she was about to perform and she took a moment to focus on them, trying to calm the different voices in her mind. They would be affected this every bit as much as she would, and they were afraid. But Raven knew this is something she had to do. Something she should do. She sprinkled the last of the mystical herbs around the circle she had made around Starfire's bed and walked back to the book.
She paused, the ancient tome resting in front of her, and drank in the darkened room one last time. She had prepared everything perfectly, to the exact specification of the spell. There was no turning back.
The chant was simple, merely nine words, but they weighed heavily in her mind and her heart and she shuddered involuntarily as she looked at them. The voices screamed again, and she closed her eyes and focused, quieting the voices in her mind forcefully.
"Animo tuo de animo meo do ut animo medear"
Raven closed her eyes as she finished the last words. Her magic enveloped her, a layer of shimmering white spreading past her skin and overlapping her body. Hovering in the air, her arms outstretched and her head tilted back to face the heavens. And then, in one rushed instant, her arms were thrown forward and a blast of her magic slammed into Starfire's body, lifting it from the bed. Raven's head snapped forward just in time to see Starfire's eyes shoot open. Energy shot from Raven's eyes into Starfire's, and a blinding light swept from her eyes covering her face and then over her entire body so that she was entirely bathed in it.
And then as quickly as it started, it ended, the energy diminishing as Starfire was slowly lowered onto her bed just as the dark tendrils disappeared beneath her. Raven sank to her knees and then to the ground, sucking in deep gasps of air. She forced herself to kneel, desperate to own will and in the pained haze looked forward.
Starfire lay on her bed, shifting comfortably with a dreamy smile on her face.
Raven smiled, barely keeping herself from collapsing to the floor. It had worked. The spell had worked perfectly.
Raven rose to her feet shakily, unable to float in her weakened state, and gathered the few remaining spell ingredient that had not been completely absorbed during the spell. Latching them onto her belt, she took one last look at Starfire, lying there peacefully, blissfully unaware of what Raven had just done. Lifting the book from the floor, Raven steadied herself as best she could and left the room.
This would be the last night Terra remained in stone.
Morning was coming too slow for Raven's tastes. Even now, while the other titans slumbered, she prepared. Unlike before, she would need them there. The spell had drained far more from her than she had anticipated, and it would require far more to use on Terra. There was terror in that thought, how much she would have to sacrifice, but she closed her eyes. Terra had sacrificed just as much.
She finished gathering the spell ingredients, setting them down besides the book, and then sitting down on her bed to meditate taking only the slightest moment to glance at the clock before she closed her eyes. It was five am. She had two hours to meditate, not even Robin was awake before seven.
"Azarath Metrion Zinthos, Azarath Metrion Zinthos…" Her voice repeated the same chant as focused herself. It hurt. She knew it would, but she continued anyway.
Terra was above her, looking back frantically, "We… we have to go, we can't stay here. We have to leave!" She was pleading, begging to run away, "Raven!"
She had closed her eyes so she couldn't see Terra. "Wh… what?" Terra had stuttered out.
"Kill me." She had repeated, looking up at the sky.
"No… There isn't time we have to…"
She had grabbed Terra, "It's my destiny Terra, I've already fulfilled half of it… now I have to finish it. I can't let Trigon live.
Terra had stared at her, shocked and she had given Terra the cross. "Kill me."
"No…" She had stood, backing away, "I… I can't…"
"Terra. Please." Terra was sobbing now, the barely able to clutch the cross in her hand.
Terra had held it above her like a dagger, advancing on her, "Raven… forgive me…" She had dropped it and had instead turned to face Trigon. Her hands had begun to glow with power and the cross flew from the ground and into Trigon's forehead. Trigon swung his hands down towards them to crush them, but the church floor behind her was ripped from the ground and tore into his chest. Trigon had roared and Terra had thrown the church's shattered spire through his fist and directly into his heart.
Trigon's final roar was cut off as he was destroyed, a wave of energy spreading out and healing the world.
Raven opened her eyes, and let out a deep breathe. In the darkness she looked at the floor. Any doubts she had about going through with the ritual had been dispelled. She shifted only slightly to look at the clock. It was already seven. Gathering the components and the book, she headed for the operations room.
The rain battered down on the slate roof and thunder rang out warning as the storm lashed into the church. Raven ignored it, placing the ingredients to the spell around Terra carefully. The other Titans stood feet away, watching in silence, the ambulance outside a grim reminder that this was not going to be a pleasant reunion as they had all hoped.
Raven placed the last of the ingredients in the small circle around Terra. Pulling her hood up she turned to face the Titans, "This is going to take two steps, the first spell is going to drain a great deal of my energy, but I need you to stay back while I finish. You must not interrupt me. Is that understood?"
There was a frightened silence as the wind wailed in the background and then the Titans nodded in acknowledgement.
Taking a moment to center her Raven turned back to Terra. She was on the ground, arms in front of her, face filled with fear as she tried to shield herself. Maybe she had seen it coming, realizing she was about to be encased in stone again? Raven frowned; this was no fate for a hero.
"Animo tuo de animo meo do ut animo medear"
Raven felt her magic envelop her again and she began to float as the white sheen enveloping her body. Her arms shot forward and a concussive blast of white energy struck Terra. The Titans had to look away as the light poured onto Terra, making her shine like a white sun. The energy covered Terra, flowing from her head onto her body and arms. The energy intensified, flowing from Raven's arms in an even stronger beam than had struck Starfire. Raven trembled in the air, opening her mouth to give a soundless scream before the spell reached its climax and stopped just as suddenly as it had started.
Raven collapsed to the floor dragging in ragged gasps of airs, while the light drained away from Terra's stony form. Robin rushed forward, leaning down over her, but Raven pushed herself up, brushing him aside and crawling to Terra as the last of the light drained away.
Robin watched her in complete shock as she took the jewel off her forehead and placed it on Terra's. Raven kneeled there, barely able to prevent herself from collapsing. Thunder rang out in the background as Raven watched. Nothing happened. Her eyesight was blurring slightly, but she shook it off, trying to focus. Then she heard it, beyond the thunder, a single crack, followed by more, and then it appeared on her face, a hairline crack running from beneath Terra's left eye up the bridge of her nose, and then to her forehead.
The stone cracked and formed fractures like lightning down her entire body. And then it all exploded, the stone flying off as Terra shot forward, releasing a terrified scream. Raven clamped down on her arms drawing her to instant focus as Terra realized who she was looking at. Her jaw trembled for a moment, "Raven?" She murmured, blinking and trying to focus in the darkness, her eyes suddenly widening in horror, "It isn't the end of the world again, is it? Please Raven…"
"You're free." Raven said shaking her head and Terra collapsed forward, crying.
Robin stared in disbelief, as Raven seemed to cradle Terra to her trying to calm her. Raven turned to him for a moment, "Get the ambulance crew, she needs medical attention."
Robin nodded numbly and got up.
Terra coughed a faint trail of blood trailing down her lips and Raven turned her over to face, lying her down and then grasping her hand as Terra passed out beside her.
Terra lay in the hospital bed still in a slight daze as she looked up at the ceiling. The back of her mind was filled with questions, where was she? How was she here? Who had brought her here? Where was Raven? She closed her eyes and let out a low groan as her body gradually began to remind her of exactly how much pain she was in.
When she opened her eyes she found five people hovering above her. She blinked a few more times to make sure they were real and they smiled at her.
"Hi Terra." Beast Boy said with a wide smile across his face.
Terra smiled, "Hey Beast Boy."
"We heard you did some incredible stuff." Cyborg said, grinning widely.
"Yes, you have kicked the butt." Starfire added.
"I…" She wasn't sure how to respond to all their smiling faces.
"How are you feeling?" Robin asked.
Terra frowned, "It still sort of hurts."
Robin nodded, "Yeah, you're actually up earlier than they expected."
Her eyes opened more and she opened her mouth, "How long?"
"It's been a few days since we got you here." Robin replied.
Terra nodded, turning to look at Raven, "How long was I in stone?"
"Four months." She said and Terra wasn't sure what to say. She had been in stone for nearly a year…
"So… what happened? Is everything back to normal?"
"Yes. The world is back to normal." Raven replied calmly.
Terra felt a brief bit of relief at that, and smiled.
"We cleaned up your room for when you're better." Beast Boy said with a smile.
Terra blinked, "You mean… I can come back?"
"Of course." Robin said incredulously.
"You saved the world." Raven said bluntly, a smile creeping up on her face.
Terra felt like crying, and not just from the pain, letting out a small laugh. "Thanks guys."
"Hey, don't mention it." Cyborg said waving a hand.
"So… when can I come back?"
Robin frowned, "The doctors want you to stay here for a while… you were hurt pretty bad."
Silence followed and Terra swallowed, "Do they know how long?"
"Well," Robin started, "They got the suit off and were able to treat you…"
It seemed as if Robin's voice faded away and Terra quickly lifted up her arms to inspect them. The metal was gone! She widened her eyes slightly, lifting herself as best as she could to look at herself. Most of her was still under the bed sheet, but even with that covering her, she could tell it was gone. Tears formed at her eyes as Raven and Beast Boy slowly pushed her back into her bed.
"You need to rest." Raven said quietly
"How did they get it off me?" She asked, looking between them.
"I figured a way to get it off." Cyborg replied.
Terra felt like hugging him, but was still held down by Beast Boy and Raven, "Thank you." She said teary eyed.
Cyborg blushed slightly, "Hey, no problem."
"Thank you all so much for everything I just…"
Starfire smiled at her kindly, "There is no need for the thanks Terra, you are our friend, you always will be."
Terra smiled at her and then to the rest of the Titans, her vision last falling on Raven who remained quiet, a firm expression on her face. Raven nodded briefly, "I think it's time to leave. She needs to get her rest."
The other Titans looked at her frowning, but Robin nodded, "All right… Terra, we'll be back tomorrow."
Terra smiled, still crying, completely overwhelmed, "All right… I… thank you… I just… thank you."
The Titans began to leave, slowly filtering out of the room; Raven was the last to turn to leave, still holding onto Terra's shoulder as she did. Terra watched on in confusion as Raven took two steps and nearly stumbled, pulling at her arm in the process.
"Raven? Raven is everything ok?"
Raven looked up at her fear filling her features, "I… I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to…" She quickly released Terra and stood, trying to walk away only to be grabbed by Terra before she could.
"Raven, something is wrong, what is it?" And then, it clicked.
Terra released her hold on Raven's arms and lifted her own up in front of her starring at them. Then slowly, purposefully, she brushed them up against each other. She could feel them. She turned to Raven, "How did…"
Raven looked at her in horror, "I…"
Terra's mouth dropped, her eyes going wide in realization, "I couldn't feel, my soul… You… you didn't feel. That's why you didn't let go… you didn't realize. Raven, what did you do?"
Raven returned to her normal deadpan expression, putting her cowl on, "It was what I had to do."
Terra's breath became rapid as she stared at Raven, "You… did you… your soul?"
"I did what I had to do."
"But… you hurt your soul?"
"And healed yours."
"Raven…" Terra's eyes filled with tears again and she fell back to her bed, her chest burning.
Raven frowned, bowing her head and leaning back over Terra's bed, "You have to understand."
"You shouldn't have, it's your soul, I…"
"Terra. Listen to me."
Terra's mouth was still open, but she was held fixated by Raven's piercing gaze. "I did what I had to do. I set things right."
"But, Raven, it's your soul."
"It's my fault yours was damaged in the first place."
"If you hadn't been there, I wouldn't even have a soul anymore."
Terra's shoulders fell, and she stared at Raven, "But…"
"It's a small price to pay." Raven said, turning and walking away.
Terra slumped down in her bed, staring at her arms again, and then lowering them to her sides.
Terra approached Titans Tower eagerly, ready to enjoy her homecoming. The other Titans at her side, guiding her up the small path to the main entrance. Terra had been in the hospital for nearly six months, and been in a rehabilitation center for another four before finally being released to their care and the Titans had stood around their friend proudly.
Terra's as she walked up to the door, it opened and she was finally entered her home.
"Welcome back." Robin said with a smile.
Terra's eyes watered, "It's so good to be... home."
"Come on Terra, I'll show you your room." Beast Boy said eagerly, and she nodded.
Terra entered the elevator, leaning on the railing for a moment as Beast Boy pressed the button for her floor. The elevator lurched and began going up.
"It's really good to have you back Terra." He said blushing.
"Oh Beast Boy." Terra blushed back at him while the other Titans watched.
The elevator stopped and they exited, walking down a small corridor before reaching the simple door with Terra's name etched into it.
"Go on." Raven said and opened the door. Terra smiled widely and entered, taking in the desert motif. Small lights doted the ceiling like stars. A large couch sat facing a window to the bay, a large comfortable bed lying in a recess at the back of the room. She took a moment to drink it all in then let out a few breaths and chuckled, turning around to face the Titans, "Thank you so much. It's just… perfect." She hugged them one at a time, lingering on Beast Boy and Raven.
"Alright," Cyborg said after Terra released Raven, "there's only one way to celebrate such a momentous occasion. Waffles!"
"Sound great." Terra said, her smile as broad as it can be.
The Titans filed out and headed for the operations room, Cyborg in the lead. Terra walked through the corridors still in awe. She truly was home. She had friends… a family.
The door to the operations room opened, Cyborg took a step inside and then stopped suddenly, Terra bumping into him. Robin looked around his shoulder and pulled back as if physically struck. Terra turned to him, looking at the other Titans to find a mix of shock and horror on their faces. Even Raven's normally stoic expression was gone, replaced by a look of angered shock. Terra breathed uneasily, taking a moment to swallow the hard lump in her throat before looking around Cyborg's side.
An all too familiar mask, black opposite brass with only one eye visible dominated the TV screen, "Hello Titans."
Author's Note: Well that was a long time coming, sorry about the wait. I hope you enjoyed, and, no I don't plan a sequel, I left it off like that because, well, I'm certain Slade would find SOME way to come back to haunt the Titans. For those of you who were wondering: "Animo tuo de animo meo do ut animo medear" is the Latin translation of "To heal the soul, I give from my soul to your soul." Which is the spell's effect. If you don't remember why she used it on Star, check the prologue. Anyway, finishing this feels like a great burden has been lifted, but it was a burden I enjoyed carrying. I thank you all for your interest and hope to see what you thought of it.