Walk on Water
-Azarath, three years ago-
It was a sad thing when all of the fires were lit at Temple, for it meant someone had left for another plane of existence. This time, it was the Venerable Azar, and several moons before it had been Arella. Sabe could only hope her new charge would not join them through her heart break.
Softly, wool grey robes billowing behind her and disturbing the dirt covered ground, the young woman made her way through the orchards to the stone path that would take her to the center of worship and education, knowing that she would find what she had inadvertently lost when she arrived there.
The first time this had happened she had woken with the knowledge that something was missing from her home. It had been the night after the Venerable One's leave-taking from this dimension, a fortnight since the Earth woman's, and rationale told Sabe that - perhaps - it was lingering grief that forced her instincts to come alive at that moment. Several hours later had found her yet restless, and finally she rose to travel the length and breadth of her house to find that young Raven had disappeared from her bed. Indeed, upon further inspection, she had gone from the entire domicile.
Sabe had been frantic, afraid for the girl the peoples of Azarath seemed to at once pity, loathe, and fear. The child had been given the benefit of few caretakers from the moment of her birth. She had been prohibited from contact with her mother and isolated from the other children throughout her thirteen years of life with only Azar to keep her company. And yet, with the loss of her mother and mentor, both women expiring violently at the hands of the demon Trigon, the girl had not shown any sign of trauma, emotional or otherwise. She had been trained well, perhaps too well, and Sabe had instantly feared for Raven's safety. However, the search through the rubble of Trigon's attack yielded nothing, and Sabe had begun to make the trek home when the firelight shining from the temple caught her attention. Somehow, the instant her eyes had met the moon-white outline of Temple against the night dark, her mind was relieved with the knowledge that young Raven must have sought solitude and sanctuary there rather than seeking communion with the Venerable One.
And so it had occurred again and again, night after night, but this night would be the last for it marked the end of Azar's Lighting. Tonight, Raven would have no choice but to say good-bye.
A melancholy smile marked Sabe's newly scarred face for a moment before her hands pushed against the heavy wooden doors to find Raven's dark figure kneeling before the Spirit Flame, the blue tongues seeming to cloak her in a fiery aura. Padding silently, the older woman knelt beside the somber little girl, mindful to put enough distance between them to be unobtrusive while remaining close enough to be felt.
Together they stared at the dancing azure flames, neither speaking, daring no movement. Sabe had long grown accustomed to Raven's silence and blank stares, therefore she was quite surprised when the girl's strangely flat violet eyes turned to her and a heavy, almost gravelly voice broke the peaceful quiet of night and devotional serenity, "The one who did this . . The demon that Azar died to seal, he's my father."
The assuring smile poised on Sabe's lips slid easily into a gaping 'o'. "Who told –"
Pale eyelids closed gravely over the vibrant iris as Raven rose gracefully to her feet, her hands cradling a little wooden box. "No one told me. I saw it in a dream."
Following after, Sabe tripped on the hem of her robes as the diminutive half-demon began to walk away, shoulders hunched beneath the pristine white of her night dress. "What are you going to do?"
"He will come for me again." It was a calm statement of fact. "I will have to fight him, and I'm too weak to defeat him on my own."
Hands reaching out uselessly to hold this precious, terrific child, Sabe grasped at the air between them, "The priests of Azarath will not aid you, not even to defend themselves."
Raven paused before the Temple doors to look over her shoulder, the bright strands of her hair falling over her eyes, shadowing them. "I know. I overheard them planning to send me to Earth. I have decided to seek allies there on my own."
"Raven . . . Little bird, you are only a child –"
"I thank you for taking care of me, but there is nothing left for me here. I will not sit back as he tries to destroy everything, and I will not allow him to use me to do it."
Then she was gone, and Sabe was left with the feeling that she would never see her ward again.
-Earth, approximately a week later-
Blowing into her cold hands, Raven looked up to the sky, watching the snow fall and her breath freeze for a few moments while trying to ignore the noise and crunch of people on the sidewalk. Too many people . . . She felt vaguely overwhelmed, what little hope she had entertained within the first few days of crossing to this alien plane shattering with the resounding refusal she had experienced earlier that day. Evil . . . Zantana said I was evil . . .
It was a bitter pill. One that she had yet to fully comprehend and internalize. She had been told all her life - by Azar, by the priests - that she must control her emotions for her power was such that, if left uncontrolled and undisciplined, she was a danger to everyone and everything around her. The word "evil" had never been uttered, just as her true demonic heritage had never been revealed by those she had grown to trust. She was simply different, and Azar had taken great pains to make her believe that being different was nothing to be ashamed of.
Now . . . Raven wasn't sure what to believe anymore, and if the broken windows, vase, and mussed control room the Justice League now had to clean up was any indication, her confusion and raw hurt needed to be resolved and fast. Meditation . . . I need to meditate. Is there no quiet place on Earth?
She was beginning to think there wasn't. Someone or something was always making some obnoxious sound. Even in the dead of night there were airplanes overhead, stray dogs barking at the moon, the odd vagrant pursuing a drink or stumbling drunkenly into a trash can, or the scream of someone being attacked. Alone and penniless, she had observed it all from dark corners and darker alleys, melting into the safety of the shadows, dwelling in the cold and searching for a sign that her mission wasn't in vain.
Now, only a few days into her willful adventure, she was weary and strained to the breaking point. The heavy weave of her white cloak and woolen robes sheltered her away from the winter cold, and she could subsist for a substantial amount of time without food; but she was beginning to miss the soothing smell and bland taste of Azar's special brew. More importantly, she had neither the time nor opportunity to retreat inside herself to subdue the unsettled emotions hiding behind her eyes. If she did not find somewhere to rest and center herself soon, innocent people would be hurt . . . or, at least, innocent property would be irreparably damaged.
Sighing softly, she pulled her hood up and resumed her walk around the city, wandering aimlessly for any place occupied by less than three people, trying not to think about the League's rejection and failing miserably. If a united group of super-heroes, sworn to protect humanity, wasn't willing to help her . . . Who am I going to turn to now? She didn't want to think there was no one, didn't want to believe that Azar's death had left her truly alone; but the reality was that she was a thirteen year old half-demon lost in a foreign dimension attempting to secure some form of aid in protecting the human race from her purely evil father.
I would reject me too.
Raising her chin, she steeled her back bone and probed the little parcel tucked into the crux of one elbow. Azar would be disappointed in her. No giving up, Raven; not when you haven't even begun to fight. It didn't matter if the Justice League wouldn't help her. They were only one group. There must be others, individuals, someone; but she would worry about that later.
First, she needed to meditate before she did something conspicuous - like cause one of those monstrous four-wheeled contraptions (a "car"?) to explode.
When he found her, she was half-frozen and nearly delirious with hunger, her desperation tempered by the meditative trance she had forced herself into. It was her fifteenth day on Earth, and her carelessness had beckoned some unsavory vagabonds to the wooden box she so protectively clasped to her chest. She had struggled against them, wary of using her powers against ignorant humans and unwilling to unleash it when she was so tired, unsettled; and they had almost succeeded in taking her most treasured possession when a lithe figure dropped from the heavens and downed the two thugs within meager seconds.
She had been impressed by this person's form and skill, had risen shakily on trembling legs to say so, the box holding Azar's rings clutched tightly within the circle of her arms. Before she could thank her new hope, before she could ask for help against her father, the figure stepped into the angled light of a flood lamp.
He was gangly - young, maybe her age, possibly a bit older - with long limbs and an awkward if sturdy build highlighted by the a red and green spandex outfit. His hair was pure ebony and rather messily spiked while his face held the promise of sharp angles and strong lines beneath lingering baby fat though the eyes were covered by a black and white mask. She noted that his yellow cape must be weighted as it seemed to fall around him rather than fluidly shifting with movement or floating on the slight breeze.
"Are you ok?" His voice was clear but welcoming, a bit of rainbow upon the heavy stench of open sewer and exhaust fumes.
Raven nodded slowly, her eyes jumping from his face to the men lying motionless on the ground, her mind whirling with a hundred different feelings. A nearby fire escape began to rattle dangerously as it was encapsulated in negative energy.
His brow dimpled as he seemed to look straight at her, "You're the one they - the Justice League - refused to help, aren't you?"
She tried to speak, but it was too much, too fast with no time to get herself under control. In a last ditch effort, she closed her eyes and forced herself into a rhythm of deep breathing exercises. The masked boy said nothing, allowing her the time she needed to find - at least - a temporary respite from the inner turmoil that had been building up since she first arrived; and she was grateful for his compassion, whether knowing or not.
"Thank you," she spoke through clinched teeth, "and yes. I'm looking for help against Trigon the Destroyer."
His smile at that moment was like the sun rising. It had been so very long since anyone had smiled at her without fear or suspicion, "I think I might be able to help you. Cyborg and I are trying to organize a junior super hero group - the Teen Titans. Interested?"
She could not help the very slight widening of her eyes nor the stirring of something warm in her heart, but she owed it to this boy to be honest, if only for the rings she still held. Pointing to the still trembling fire escape, her voice whispered, "I'm dangerous."
Shooting a cocky grin at her, the boy held out his hand to take one of hers, and she became instantly aware that she could trust him. "I'm willing to take the risk," he stated.
Ill accustomed to such calm and ignorant acceptance, Raven's face remained impassive though her insides shook with incredulity. She needed to impress upon him the gravity of her purpose for being there, for seeking aid from Earth's finest. "Even if it means the world?"
He shrugged and began to pull her towards the street. "Only makes the fight worthwhile."
Continuing her deep breathing exercises, the tense, repetitious scrape of metal against brick quieted as she allowed this unknown boy to take her to Azar-knows-where, but for the first time since coming to Earth, she wasn't uneasy or afraid. Certainly his bravado was somewhat worrisome, but his manner was so simple, so kind. She couldn't think of a reason not to follow him.
And she never once looked back.
To be continued . . .
Author's Note: This fic will be like a comic/animated series fusion with elements from both used, altered, or discarded completely. Hopefully it will come together with relatively little need for explanation. This will be a Robin/Raven fic, but it will be EXTREMELY subtle. Like, insanely subtle. Think: intense friendship (and more). It's more Raven-centric than anything else.
The theme for this chapter is Crossfade's "No Giving Up." The lyrics:
So you found out today your life's not the same Well it's not so bad y'all I'm hittin' back y'all Chorus There's no giving up now Do you really want to give this all away So your scars fade away Chorus I know we have given Chorus There's no giving up now
Not quite as perfect as it was yesterday but
When you were just getting in the groove
Now you're faced with something new
And I know it hurts and I know you feel torn
But you never gave up this easily before
So why do you choose today to give it all away
Together we all fall
Just as long we get up we'll stand tall
We shouldn't waste another day
Thinking 'bout the things that we forgot to say
Kickin' these four walls
Just as hard as I can til I can't crawl
I won't waste another day
With all these silly things
Swimmin' in my brain
Can't you ever see things in a different way
No giving up now
Such a beautiful thing to throw away
You should think things through
Over and over again
All over again
You soaked up the pain
A better person 'cause you lived through those days
And now you know what it's like to prove
You can overcome anything that gets to you
Well it's alright
We're sayin' our goodbyes
To the past and everything that ain't right
We won't waste another day
With all these silly things in our way
All that we can give
When there's nothing to lean on
Well, I remember this
All we make of this lifetime
Is always here within
And remembering that's why
We should never give in
Well it's not so bad y'all
I'm hittin' back y'all
There's no giving up now
Do you really want to give this all away So your scars fade away Chorus I know we have given Chorus There's no giving up now
So your scars fade away
I know we have given
There's no giving up now