Disclaimer: No one, except those who own Teen Titans, owns Teen Titans. And that includes me.
This came out of nowhere. It was written in Decemberish, and I only just now found it on my computer. And quite frankly, what I had already written scared me. For those who had read my earlier and more recent works- is this different somehow? Sure seemed that way to me... Anyway, this is not meant to be part of a bigger scene. Merely a one-shot. The last bit, with the different perspectives, I was hesitant to put in, but did anyway. Tell me how you like it!
If I Don't, Who Will?
I have been through Hell.
My body has been broken and twisted.
My mind entered and nearly destroyed.
I don't have one.
But if I did, it wouldn't be anywhere close to whole.
And I am about to do it all again.
Because no matter how much I try, I can't hide Raven beneath the mask.
And she's bursting free with a vengeance.
I walked down the sidewalk, weariness dragging at every line in my body. It was just another day in the life that had become so routine, so easy after we broke apart. What? You're surprised? Why? It was going to happen. People come, people go. But this time… I never thought it would be me leaving.
No. I'm not going to think about that- or that voice at the back of my head, whispering urgently to me. Someone stop it. Tell it to go away. Make it stop. I'm not a Titan anymore. Tell it to leave me alone; to let me rest in peace…
I snort. The only way I'll get that is when I'm in a hole six feet deep.
Maybe it'll be better.
God knows it won't be.
But that's what hope is, right?
Hope. Such a stupid thing.
I hear the click of the gun's hammer; I look up from the cement.
I'm too late.
The gunman shoots down the mother first. She didn't even know what was happening. One minute she was just walking along, and then he appears in front of her, trigger already pulled. My eyes widen as her body is pushed back by the force of the lethal slugs impacting her body; you'd think I'd have gotten used to the violence by now. But what really tears at me is that boy she had in her arms. A little guy, no older than I was when my mother died. A long time ago now…
The gunman's got his gun aimed at the child; there's no time for me to act. It's going to be just another victim on a scoreboard filled with pain. The spray of bullets pour out of the muzzle and the kid isn't even moving- just crying there on the road, trapped by his mom's body. Just another victim to the darkness in all of us- and me.
The echoes fade. I almost don't want to look- but I am.
The gunman stares at me, jaw dropping like his gun. I feel like laughing at his expression as the bullets fall like some kind of metallic rain to the ground as I lower the black shield. The little boy is silent; fear, distress and hurt emanate from him like rays from the sun. I hold him close to me, not saying anything as my cloak snaps in the wind. Vaguely I wonder how it got there- but that doesn't matter.
"I'll give you ten seconds." He doesn't move, just stands there twitching.
"One… two…" Twitch. Twitch. I'm rapidly tiring of this. "Ten." He screams like a little girl and starts running. I laugh, catching him in a bubble. It's only then that I remember the child on my shoulder and turn my head. He's staring at me with those great round eyes of his and I blink. "Oh… It's okay, I won't hurt you." Then I turn back to the criminal, my spirits lifting as my soul, once torn in two, is reunited. "And you're going to get busted." It doesn't matter that he killed someone- let me rephrase that. It does matter, but right now I only care that I finally feel free. I lift off, taking the child to a place where he'll be safe. I have some butt kicking to do.
"Raven- Raven wait!" Slowed down by exhaustion, the vigilante turns unwillingly to face the reporters.
"The former Titan, after disappearing for seven years, has returned to fight crime once more in Jump City! What do you have to say for your absence, Raven?" The narrowed eyes stared straight through the mortal's thoughts.
"Umm…. alright. How are you managing by yourself, Raven? What happened to your teammates?" Across Jump City, in four different rooms, four different people freeze and look at their TVs. A face under the hood looks back, violet eyes weary and annoyed. No one else would know it- only those who had known her for a long time. And these people had.
"I don't know. And quite frankly, I don't care." Four people flinched at the betrayed and hurt tone under the tough words.
"Do you plan to do this all by yourself then?"
"I'll do what it takes to make sure no one gets killed in front of me again." Four heads turned to a side or look down.
"But you've been out in the streets 24/7; how do you expect to keep this up?"
"I'll make it."
"Are you doing this to reunite the Titans?" The violet eyes widened minutely and rage mixed with hurt flared briefly. She turns away, anger stiffening her frame.
"No. We broke up seven years ago, and I don't expect any of them to come back. Ever." Four people started, tears or shame appearing on their faces.
"Then why do you do this? Get hurt, beaten up, criticized- all to catch just one criminal in five?"
She turned towards the camera, hood shadowing her face, mirroring the shadows in her suddenly black eyes.
"Because if I don't, who will?" There was silence as her eyes seemed to pierce the screen of the TV; then she turned, and even as the sound of her cloak swishing faded, the shadows embraced their protector.
Four TVs are finally turned off, and four people get up slowly, heading towards their bed. They lay down, eyes searching the ceiling as they struggle with themselves. Four hearts beat in rhythm as they fight.
Kori Anders swings her legs off the bed, rising. She walks to her closet, pressing a panel. It swings away under her hand and turns, revealing folded clothes and a strange communicator. With one graceful hand she touches the clothes and then turns away, tears starting to resume their flood down her cheeks. Minutes later a form slips out her window, rising up past the rooftops to soar in the air. Starfire had returned.
Victor Stone puts his hands behind his hand, closing his holographic eyes. A moment later the door closes as a tall figure emerges from the shadows, lone red eye gleaming dangerously. Cyborg is back.
Richard Grayson puts his head in his hands, the red light of his alarm clock blinking balefully at him. When he pulls them away blue eyes are covered by a mask. He lifts a yellow and black communicator, fingering it slowly. In a few seconds the window slides open, a grapple shoots out, and Nightwing returns once again to the streets he protected once before.
Garfield Logan holds a picture, gazing sadly at the smiling faces in the photo. His thumb rubs the dust off of the faces, grinning half heartedly at Starfire's blush from Robin's quick kiss, Raven's usually dour expression laughing at them, and Cyborg's finger getting in the way of the camera's eye. With a sigh he puts it back down slowly. The minutes tick by- and then a cheetah sprints out the apartment door, racing through the night.
A lone figure stands in front of a statue in the park. The sculptor had in a fashion captured the essence of those he was paid to memorialize; almost abstract forms are placed tastefully together, creating a semblance of the team who had saved this place time and time again. The moon watches indifferently as first one, and then two and three others arrive, coming to stand in a semi-circle around the cloaked one and the statue. Finally she spoke.
"If we don't, who will?"
And that was more than enough.