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So I bought the first four Teen Titans graphic novels… I am in love. They are absolutely amazing… If you haven't checked out the comics yet… why not? What are you waiting for?
This is, regrettably, the lengthy final chapter of Shards of Distortion. Thanks to everyone for your continual support that's helped me stay inspired and to grow as a writer. Ah, I'll cut the mush. On with the fic!
Shards of Distortion
Chapter Nine: The Beginning
"I'm here; I'm here," her voice called softly.
"Where are you?"
"Right beside you…" she answered.
He could feel it now. He felt her presence, and felt her touch him. She gently put a cool cloth to his forehead; he could feel the cold right against his skin, but still it felt far away and out of reach.
"Feel better?" he asked, mumbling.
"Yeah," she said. He felt her stroke his skin – it felt nice.
"Thanks," he said softly.
"What are you talking about?" she asked, smiling with disbelief. "I'm the one who should be thanking you!"
"Thanks for waking me up… I – it kept playing… in my head… couldn't stop it. Over… and over… haunting me…"
She paused to think, wondering whether or not to carry the conversation out further. Was this one of those rare instances where he would be better off sharing his often private thoughts? If she were in his shoes, she'd have told herself to go away. But he wasn't her…
"What was it?" she asked hesitantly, slightly afraid of the answer to come. Sometimes it was better to confide in someone… The worst he could do was not tell her.
"I think… I think you know," he said, softly. "When you saw… into my mind…"
Raven nodded, but wasn't sure if his eyes were open to see her nod. "Yes…"
Raven bit her lip. She'd seen that. Seen it, then buried it deep into her vault of memories at the back of her mind. She'd seen two figures falling… This couldn't be good.
"I know you saw it… I know you did, because I think about it every waking moment," he said quietly.
She was afraid of the answer that might come. His voice had gone dangerously soft.
"They… they were my parents, Raven," he whispered.
Raven swallowed hard, taken aback. Before she knew it, she was crying. They were warm tears, though, not cold…
Raven had always been proud of her quick wit and caustic comments; she had always been able to find the perfect string of words to counter any remark. However, she was at loss for words at the moment. She was possibly one of the worst consolers in the world, and at that moment, she would have traded her notorious sharp wit for a single sentence. Even a word… anything to make him feel remotely better. To express that she cared. But she couldn't…
Instead, she held him tight, stroking him and refusing to let go. And he didn't mind. He remained in her arms, feeling her desperation in her embrace.
"Raven?" he whispered.
"Hmm?" she murmured.
"Please don't let go…"
"I won't; I won't…"
A very long while passed in utter silence, yet it was a soothing silence. Minutes? Hours? They didn't know, nor did they care.
"Rae?" he asked, finally.
"…Mmm? A-are you okay?" she asked automatically.
"Would it be too clichéd to say, 'I am now?'"
"Perhaps -- is it okay to tease and joke yet? Or should we give it some more time?" she asked, smiling a bit.
"It is okay," he smiled back. He'd missed her sardonic wit. "But wait just a moment. Let me ask of you a serious favour first."
She nodded once, waiting expectantly.
"Take my mask off," he said, softly.
Again, her mind could not formulate any sort of answer. And even if it could, her lips would not be capable of moving.
"Take my mask off," he repeated. "I want you… to see me. All of me," he said.
She smiled a little. "All of you? Should I take your clothes off, too?"
"If you want," he said, managing a weak smile back.
Raven moved her hand towards his face, but hesitated. "I…"
"…You don't have to if you don't want to," he said, though Raven could detect the falsity of the tone of his voice, as he tried to conceal his dejection.
"No, no. I do… It's just—"
"What?" he asked. "It's okay… really. I may be a tad delusional, but I know what I'm doing. Go on; I know you're curious," he said, in the cockiest voice he could muster.
"Will I be disappointed?" she asked teasingly, stroking his cheek slightly.
"Depends on what you're expecting," he replied. "On a level of 1 to 10…"
"I'm expecting a 10," she grinned, placing her fingers around the edges of his mask. "You're sure you want me to go through with this?"
"Raven, should I have any reason to be apprehensive?"
"Good point," she said, and closed her eyes as she lifted the mask off of his face.
She set his mask down, waited a moment, then opened her eyes to look into his.
Her heart skipped a beat or two. She felt the weakness and flutter of heartache consume her.
His eyes were mesmerizing. She'd lost any train of thought, and she couldn't seem to get back on track.
"I am not disappointed," she whispered, in awe, as the most beautiful eyes she had ever seen stared back at her.
They were blue. Not just any sort of blue, but an almost unnaturally intense hue, the colour of sapphires. They were framed by his dark lashes, which captivated her even when his eyes were closed. She had seen his face… and almost regretted it, for she might never be able to function properly. She felt as if she would never think of anything else again.
"A 10, then?" he grinned.
"More like… off the scale," she said, knowing full well how dumb and, well, ditzy she must sound. "And we could be talking a logarithmic scale, here." He laughed.
A true, natural, uncontrollable smile found its way to Raven's face. A full smile; an actual grin. The rainbow after the storm. She could feel laughter within her, as the happiness spread through her body, warming her after the coldness of depression.
He smiled back at her, and she could feel a blush spread across her cheeks, as warmth coursed through her.
He laughed as she unrelentingly smiled and blushed. "Raven, I think you're curing me," he said.
"Well… you saved me," she replied. "It should work the other way then, shouldn't it?" she asked, violet hair brushing against his face. "And this time… it's for real."
She leaned in, sealing the kiss in an instant so fragile and delicate, yet full of emotion.
His eyes were closed, but he could feel the illness draining from inside him, as a whole new sense of happiness and wonder washed over him. He felt Raven's hope, and joy, and happiness, and excitement, all in that brief period of time, surging through his body, not to mention an extreme adrenaline rush.
He could nearly taste her emotions. All his senses were heightened; he was very aware, yet a million light years away. And as she broke the kiss, he felt as if he were gently floating back down to Earth.
"Now just rest…" she said softly. "I'll check on you later."
He willingly obliged, shutting his eyes with one last glance at her face, still slightly tinged with pink. He smiled, and knew that she was smiling back, before pulling up the covers and drifting off to sleep.
"R-Raven?" Beast Boy stuttered, staring at the girl as she walked into the operations room. "Um… um… uh… HI!" he said, making her feel even more awkward, if that was possible.
"I told you to act normal!" Raven heard Cyborg whisper harshly to Beast Boy. Raven raised an eyebrow. "She's still agile-fray in the ind-may!""
"I'd beg to differ," Raven glared, but then smiled. "I'm okay."
"What about Robin?" Starfire asked.
"Yeah," Cyborg said. "When I left him, he wasn't very well…"
"I know. But… I think he'll get better soon. He seemed much better just now. But he's resting at the moment," she added, as the three of them jumped to their feet. They sat back down.
"Look, I… appreciate your help," she said. "In the past… however long I was out for. Thanks," she said, blushing slightly. She felt uncomfortable, and the natural awkwardness she felt when showing gratitude was not helping. "And… not just for that. But for the past few months. And, um… I'm better now. Not just momentarily – I think I'm actually healed."
"So, um… do you wear white when you're in love?" Beast Boy blurted out, noticing Raven's attire. She had donned her white uniform.
"No," she said snappily, narrowing her eyes at him. He squealed. She smirked.
"I wear white when… When my soul has been purified. Or, I guess, in one instance, where I had thought so, anyway," she explained, remembering Malchior.
"It just happens to be a coincidence that I'm in love at the same time," she added under her breath, blushing slightly.
"Starfire…" she said, remembering the circumstances. "I, um… Can we talk? I want to apologize… for everything… and, see-"
"There is no need for words, friend Raven," Starfire said. "All is forgiven. I have talked with Robin, all has been resolved. I am happy for you," she said, smiling slightly.
Raven smiled back, timidly.
"Oh, friend! I have missed you! I am merely happy that you are alive and well!" Starfire grinned, unable to keep her sheer joy restrained. Starfire laughed, and before Raven knew it, Starfire had consumed her in an unbridled bear hug.
"Aww, yeah!" Cyborg grinned, wrapping his arms around the two of them, and soon Beast Boy jumped in, making for one massive group hug. Raven stood in the middle, a smile forming on her face.
"Raven! Are you well enough to accompany me to the mall of shopping?" Starfire asked, anxiously.
"Well… sure. That would be… nice," she replied.
Cyborg grinned. "Raven! Are you well enough to play stank-ball?"
"Not on your life, Cyborg."
"Raven! Are you well enough to-"
"No," she interrupted before Beast Boy could ask anything. Beast Boy let out a sigh, while Raven smirked. Indeed, things were well again.
"May we go now?" Starfire asked, beaming. Raven nodded, and before she knew it was being dragged by the arm at breakneck speed.
"We'll stay here," Cyborg called after them. "Got your communicators? Good. We'll take care of Robin; y'all just have a good time!"
Raven smiled again, in spite of the cool demeanour she usually tried to maintain. She couldn't help it. And this time, not being in utter control felt good.
"Red," Raven said softly. "This one."
"And for your toes?"
"This one," she said instantly, smiling, picking out a dazzling shade of blue. She stared at the bottle in her hand. The mere sight of the colour made her heart beat faster.
"Friend Raven, why is it that you are doing the smiling?" Starfire inquired.
Raven looked up. "I'm at peace… I'm happy," she said, a slight smile still lingering.
"I admire the colours that you have selected. They are not so dark and gloomy as the previous nail polishes you have desired," Starfire said.
"Well… blue is my favourite colour, you know…"
The spa was not nearly as dull and boring as Raven had remembered it to be. When was the last time she'd truly been at ease, without a care in the world? She felt, now, so relaxed and calm. She didn't mind the smell of the nail polish, and didn't mind someone else touching her skin. The massage was heavenly.
Raven lazily opened an eye, peering to her right, to see Starfire in an equally relaxed state of mind. Her eyes were closed and the princess looked at peace. Raven smiled, again, smiling more in one day than she had in years.
She had hoped with all her being that they would all still be friends at the end of the day. She dreaded Starfire being angry with her, and was afraid that Star would be forever hurt. She had been scared the Titans might break up, with Robin and Starfire separated, and Starfire bitter and hostile towards her. But Starfire, though sometimes emotionally charged, could forgive. She could be so happy, or so sad, or so angry… but she always could manage to forgive, and it would always end up well in the end.
Starfire and Raven were still friends. Best friends, as girls go. Star had also managed to forgive Robin, and maintain their friendship. They would still be close, and Raven was so happy for it. Raven knew that she and Robin, too, would be forever friends, no matter what happened.
A contented sigh escaped from her lips as she freed herself of all thoughts, relaxing completely and slipping into a trance-like state. Any lingering thoughts were of him and him alone; his presence was forever instilled in her mind and soul.
A shopping spree followed the spa experience.
Raven, though usually not one to fritter money away on clothes, shoes, jewellery, and makeup, did just that. It wasn't so much a sign of insecurity; it was rather a sign of her being comfortable and blissfully high-spirited.
Starfire, as usual, bought a lot as well. She, like most teens, loved to shop. And when one has a seemingly endless budget, why not? Robin gave them money. Where he got it from in the first place none of the Titans knew. Raven would have to ask him one of these days.
"Star, try this one on," Raven said, throwing her a ruffled white skirt. It was less Star trying to persuade Raven to buy things, and more them both being equally interested.
"What is this called, again? The dishevelling of the clothing garment?" Star asked.
"Uhh… you mean the ruffle?"
"Yes!" Starfire exclaimed. "I like 'the ruffle'. It is quite lovely, do you not agree?"
"Oh, try this garment on, Raven!" Starfire said, thrusting into her arms a blue dress of appropriate sizing.
"Er, wow. Not very much fabric on this dress, is there?" she smirked.
Starfire looked at her quizzically. Raven then realized who she had just spoken to, whose costume consisted of a short midriff-baring top and a very short mini-skirt. "Oh. Nevermind."
Starfire smiled. "Robin will like it, I believe." She didn't speak bitterly or remorsefully. She spoke bit sweetly, yet a bit teasingly, as a best friend would.
Raven shrugged, smiling, but added it into her pile of clothes to try on.
After carrying as many clothing articles as they could carry (which indeed was a lot), they went into yet another change room, trying on an outfit each.
"You look nice, Star," Raven offered, as they came out of the change rooms in dresses.
"Raven… you are so thin," Starfire repeated, sadly.
Raven nodded. "I'll fill the dress out eventually," she laughed slightly.
"I do hope so. You are very pretty with 'the curves'," Star said, causing Raven to laugh a bit more.
"Really," she said amusedly. "What if I am stuck looking like this forever?" Raven mockingly lamented, imitating Starfire when they had switched bodies.
Starfire grinned sheepishly. "Forgive me, friend. It was merely because I had not ever seen you smile… The permanent frown is not a mark of beauty. But you have changed. You have become very beautiful indeed," Starfire said earnestly.
Raven smiled a little. "Thanks, Star."
"Thank you for attending the mall with me, friend Raven. I have missed the experience very much so. I have missed your smile."
Raven's lips twitched as she offered a slight smile. "Yes... I have as well."
Many outfit changes and a make-up application later, the female Titans headed back to the Tower.
Raven felt rather silly as she walked towards the Tower. She was wearing civvies, wearing makeup, and had her hair nicely done. All to impress a boy.
Well, no. Not just to impress a boy – it had really been to please Starfire… and Raven wouldn't admit it, but she kind of liked dressing up once in a while. But now, the only thing that mattered was Robin. Which was the other, larger reason she felt so ridiculous.
Her heart was beating faster, faster… and all because she was thinking about what he would think. Would he like it? Would he be indifferent? She smiled to herself, realizing that even though these silly thoughts were completely foreign to her, it was a step towards normalcy. Having 'normal' teenage problems made her feel less creepy… more human.
"Are you ready, friend Raven?" Starfire asked, grinning as they entered the Tower.
Raven nodded, but froze as they stepped into the operations room.
"What… is this?" she asked, astonished.
Before her stood a towering, unbelievably large cake. It was big enough to hide a person behind.
Cyborg and Beast Boy jumped out from behind the cake, grins plastered on their face.
"Surprise!" Beast Boy shouted.
"We outdid ourselves this time," Cyborg grinned. "Last time it was a measly four layers."
"This time, it's TWENTY!" Beast Boy beamed.
"We quadrupled the diameter so it wouldn't fall over," Cyborg added.
"I… see," Raven said, voice in normal Raven-tone, but she grinned. "And how, pray tell, does one even begin to eat this monstrosity?"
"Start with this."
Raven spun around to see a fork being thrown straight at her. She caught it, but was startled. Not necessarily by the metal object being hurtled through the air at her, but by the voice.
"Robin? What are you doing out of bed?" she asked, surprised but delighted to see him.
"I'm feeling much better. So I'm throwing metal objects at people, it would appear," he said, throwing three forks at once, each amazingly going directly into the other three Titans' hands.
"And definitely checkin' you out, Rae," Beast Boy added, raising his eyebrows suggestively.
Raven glared in Beast Boy's direction, but Robin just smiled. "What can I say? You look gorgeous, Raven."
Raven's glare quickly dissolved. She blushed slightly, at a loss for words.
"He speaks the truth," Cyborg smiled. "You ladies look great!" Beast Boy nodded vigorously.
Starfire smiled. "Now let us begin the eating of this most glorious baked good! We shall 'dig in'!"
"That we shall, Star. That we shall," Raven said, stabbing the gigantic cake with her fork.
The fork sank.
The Titans all stared wide-eyed as the cake consumed the fork. The fork disappeared, sinking into the icing, and was now completely out of sight. "Uhh…"
A playful smirk appeared on Raven's face. The remaining four forks crackled with black magic as they slipped out of the Titans' fingers and neatly were put away into the drawer. "Raven?" Beast Boy asked.
"Who needs forks?" she asked, grinning. The Titans stared blankly at her.
"Who needs forks," she repeated, "when you can use these?" She held up her hands. The Titans continued to stare, incredulously.
And with that, Raven dug her fingers into the cake and brought a substantial morsel of cake to her mouth with her hands. She smiled. "You in?"
The other Titans overcame their astonishment and quickly rushed to the cake, grabbing fistfuls of cake and icing in a splendidly undignified manner.
Much laughing and mess-making ensued, as the Titans dug into the cake with their hands, eating it and throwing morsels of cake at fellow Titans.
Barbaric? Probably. Undignified? Yes. Ridiculous? Definitely. And Raven loved it. She was laughing and smiling with them. The Titans. Her team. Her friends. Her family.
"This is," Raven grinned, as the cake fight came to an end, shovelling a bit more of the fluffy cake into her mouth, "the best cake in the world."
"I cannot believe you just started a cake fight, Rae," Beast Boy said, astonished. "You are one cool chick."
Raven smirked a bit at Beast Boy's lingo. "I need to change before the icing decides not to come out of these clothes," she announced. "…Thanks again," she said softly, before slipping off to the bathroom.
Raven had noticed the mirror had been replaced, and thankfully everything had been cleaned up.
She scrubbed her hands of cake and icing, and changed her clothes. Just for the heck of it, she'd decided to wear some more of the new clothes she'd bought today at the mall with Starfire. Black shorts, black boots that almost reached the knee, a white tank top, and black elbow-length arm warmers… and her black hair clip with red gems held her hair loosely back. 'What will Robin think?' she found herself wondering, and almost laughed out loud upon catching herself in the act.
She put her cake-smothered new clothes in a basket, along with a pile of other dirty laundry, and made her way down to the laundry room.
She meticulously sorted the darks from the lights, noticing a lot more 'lights' and coloured clothes than she'd thought. Or maybe she'd just been wearing more normal clothesrecently.
She playfully tossed each article of clothing into the machine from the other end of the room, as if it were a game. One point… three points… another three-pointer…
"Nice shot," she heard Robin's voice say, as a cape flew neatly into the machine. She turned around to see him, in a casual button-down shirt over a t-shirt and dark jeans. Civvies. Gorgeous civvies.
"You're all dressed down," she smiled. "You look… nice."
"Yeah… You too."
"I've been out of commission for a while and have since taken a liking to civvies. But you never dress down. What's the occasion?"
"Dinner," he answered.
"We've never dressed in civilian attire for dinner before," she pointed out, narrowing her eyes a little. And anyway, since when was she the one who spoke more in conversations?
He swallowed. "We've never gone out for dinner without Cyborg, Starfire, and Beast Boy," he said.
She paused, words caught in her mouth, then quirked an eyebrow. "Wait. Are you…"
"Um, yeah… Asking you to dinner. You know, with me. The two of us. Like, ah, a date," he said, a slight blush spreading across his face.
She couldn't help but grin.
"You know, this would be a lot easier if you weren't laughing at me," he said, still pink-tinged across the cheeks.
"Why would you assume that I'm laughing at your discomfort?" she asked, furrowing her eyebrows with mock indignation. "Maybe I'm smiling because I'm happy… Is that so hard to accept?"
"I'm glad you're smiling, Rae. But even if your smile says you're happy, you were definitely still laughing at me. I read the laughter in your eyes."
She grinned again, this time one of laughter. "Guilty as charged."
"So… Do you want to… Will you… you know…"
Raven watched amusedly as he stumbled and blushed, but decided to put him out of his misery. "Yes," she said. "I would love to join you for dinner."
"Finally," he muttered under his breath, rolling his eyes, knowing full well she was enjoying his embarrassing discomposure.
"I can't help it," she admitted. "Laughing at your discomfort, I mean. The always cool, suave, collected Robin… is shy towards girls?"
"I am an exception, then?" she said, still smiling in that taunting manner.
"You're an exceptional girl, Raven, and could bring any man to his knees," he shrugged. Was he being sarcastic? She couldn't tell. "Now how about we stop taking advantage of my slightly feverish state, shall we, and go for dinner?"
And with that, they abandoned the half-full washing machine and numerous piles of clothing, and walked to the garage. "You're sure you're well enough to go out?"
"Of course. I've been cooped up in the Tower for ages… a bit of fresh air will do me good."
"The fresh air of a restaurant?" she asked.
"The fresh air of the balcony, of the finest Italian restaurant in town," he answered. Robin leapt to his R-cycle, and gave her his hand. "Ready?"
She stared at him, slightly warily.
"Come on. I'm fine to drive, I promise."
She put a hand to his forehead, feeling the slight warmth. She frowned slightly. "Robin…"
Reluctantly, she accepted the spare helmet. "Okay. But just to make sure…" With her free hand, she turned his face gently towards her, and kissed him tenderly. He again felt the purifying sensation of her magic, purging him of weakness.
"How do you feel now?" she asked softly, practically purring, her hand slowly trailing down from his face back around his neck.
He could barely speak. "Amazing…" he said, surprised he didn't stutter. He climbed onto the R-cycle, and smiled. "Just don't do that while we're riding, or I'll crash for sure."
Raven gave him a slightly mischievous smile that seemed to say, 'no promises'.
Robin felt her arms wrap around his chest as he started the engine. She held on tightly, not out of fear but out of trust. He felt her head nuzzled against his shoulder, and couldn't help but smile.
Raven was back. But she had changed. Blossomed, with a little help from Robin. A more trusting, stronger, confident Raven had emerged from the shadows of her heart. And in helping her find this new side of her, Robin found a part of him he hadn't discovered before.
Love? Had he finally figured out what 'love' was?
"Hey, Bird Boy," Raven's voice projected into his head, so she could be heard above the roar of the engine. "Are we going, or are we just going to sit here and die a romantic death by carbon monoxide poisoning?"
Yes, he thought to himself. He'd solved the mystery of 'love' at last, every little thing Raven did being his clues.
"Don't get your panties in a knot," he thought back to her, smirk firmly in place. He backed out and started out of the garage.
"No… that's your job," she teased, laughing out loud as the R-cycle suddenly swerved and nearly hit the T-car.
Raven savoured the moment – the feeling of Robin, shielding her from the wind, in her arms. She had no idea where she was being taken, but she knew she was safe with Robin, so rather than feeling afraid, she felt absolutely liberated and free.
"Robin?" she asked, in a much more serious tone.
"Will you tell me about your parents?" she asked cautiously, in the gentlest way.
"Yes…" he replied. "I want to. I think… I think I need to talk about it."
"I know…" she answered, holding him even closer. "Any time you're ready. I'm always here."
"I know," Robin whispered. "I know."
There was a moment of silence, which Raven took to admire the way magenta and violet and lavender swirled around the clouds.
"My parents were John and Mary Grayson… 'The Flying Graysons', of Haley's Circus," he said, only slightly shakily, having not spoken of it for possibly years. But now he felt safe, in her close embrace, and knew that she would listen. "I was born on the first day of spring. My mother used to call me… her 'little Robin'…"
Robin continued to share his tragic past with Raven, not leaving out any details. From the way his father smiled, to the way his mother sang Robin the prettiest melodies before he fell asleep, Raven listened intently, not missing a word.
She clung tightly to Robin, never letting go, as they rode off together into the sunset, a cloudy mix of reds and blues.
Thanks again for all your support! Not to fear – other fics are underway!
- Penguin Pop