The Teen Titans do not belong to me, sadly. All but the very few original characters are theirs, but most of the plot is mine. Poe owns the awesome poem that will be referenced to a few times. Ten points that have no value- just like the ones on Whose Line Is It Anyway, which I also do not own, go to anyone who finds the quote from Poe on this page. This will be the only disclaimer for the story, and will apply to all chapters. It's pretty much a given that the Titans aren't mine (hence posting as fan fiction), but there's my disclaimer. I'll give you a cookie if you review. Flame away, if you think you must, but I like nice reviews better. Point out what I can improve. Thanks for reading.
In The Bleak December
Raven closed the last gap of the portal with a final burst of energy. The battle that had begun at the dawn of her eighteenth birthday was finally over, after too many days of fighting. Her father had been defeated, both by her controlled emotions and a few tricks she had learned from Malchior. Her friends had kept away the lesser minions, letting her deal with the trickiest. The last of her energy was gone for at least a few hours, and she looked forward to sleeping without any fear of pent-up emotions. She never had to remain so distant again. Trigon would not again try so lightly to enter her home, with the many psionic blocks in place.
Starfire caught Raven when she fell from the sky, where she had been hovering fifty feet above the water. Cyborg and Robin were waiting on the ground, so Star easily beat them to Raven. Beast Boy was also on the ground, his right arm in a loose sling made from a strip of Raven's cape, grounded until she could heal him. Her father's slash of energy would have killed her while she had her back turned, fighting his right-hand demon, but Beast Boy had shoved her out of the way.
Raven felt there was something she needed to say. Teen Tower was badly damaged, Cyborg's precious T-car had a dented hood, she had called her friends a few choice names when they wouldn't leave her to battle alone, and the mostly undamaged Jump City's citizens were in a voluntary lockdown. She had kept the fight over the water as best she could, but no one wanted to venture into a clash of demons.
"Sleep, Raven." Starfire was confident and assuring, and her eyes didn't flash to anyone for guidance. She was more used to Earth ways, and it showed. She had surpassed Robin as a favorite Titan. People didn't identify with a dark Raven, a green shapeshifter, or a half-robotic Cyborg. They liked Robin for his appearance and affiliation. They loved Starfire for her patience with everyone but criminals.
When Raven opened her eyes, she was on the couch. That made sense. She had sealed her room to protect her mirror and the book Malchior was bound in. Either of those would have given her father power over her he wouldn't hesitate to exploit. She sat slowly, assessing any injuries. She had a few minor cuts, scrapes, and bruises, a dislocated shoulder, and many more mental injuries. She awkwardly put a hand behind her back, ready to push the shoulder back into place when a gloved hand stopped her. Robin.
"Let me. Star would have, but she's a bit too strong. Cyborg said I'm better at this kind of stuff than he is, and we all doubt he'll come out of the garage for a long while while his baby's scratched up. He doesn't need to eat, if he has constant access to power- he really likes to. I can't blame him. Beast Boy's right arm is still funky- you can heal that, right?" He shoved in the middle of the last question, feeling that Raven was still half-asleep and relaxed.
"I'll get right on that." She borrowed Robin's shoulder to help herself stand. He tensed when he felt her hand. Raven's emotions were loosed, and she could feel the reason, not just the action. A pale emotion stepped forward, one she rarely needed to acknowledge. Timid doubled as Fear, when the occasion arose. He's afraid of me, and hasn't put it together that I know. Maybe it was throwing demons into a fiery portal while screaming in a tongue he can't understand that scared him. He wouldn't know I wasdefending my friends, and the language hardly sounds friendly.
She left the room quickly, with the true pretense of finding Beast Boy. He wasn't too badly injured- he would be in his room. She passed Starfire in the hallway, and caught a tiny but unmistakable hint of fear. She should have known. Saying she was half-demon was one thing. Watching four red eyes glow on her forehead like demonic Christmas lights was another.
Curious, she reached for Cyborg, letting her emotions wander. He was irritated, not with her- probably Trigon. He had thrown a dead demon onto the car. He was dimly apprehensive, an emotion that would erupt to fear at the first reminder of her. She had only one hope, then.
"Hey, Beast Boy- can I come in?" She could rip the door from its hinges with the effort it took to breathe, and locks were less trouble, but she would be polite. She no longer had to keep most of her powers locked away, but there was no need for plain laziness. Even Timid had strength equal to Raven herself, even Raven after Malchior, and Timid was among the weaker of her emotions.
There was no answer. Her emotions peered in, sensing instead of seeing, just in case there was anything going on in a teenage male's room she didn't want to see, hear, or know about. There were a few traces of emotion, and a sense of gradually lessening peace. He was asleep, and about to have a nightmare.
She opened the door with a physical nudge, surprised when it swung open to thud quietly on a pile of- something. She levitated over the mess, finding a clean spot to stand in next to the bed. The arm she wanted was easy enough to get to- he was lying on his back, breathing loudly. She stopped the beginnings of a nightmare, relaxing his emotions. Happy was delighted to help, as always. Raven would have an easier time healing him, if he was asleep. He wouldn't be afraid of her (she hoped fervently), but her powers could be a bit startling, even to a green shapechanger. Besides, he was almost cute, asleep. Raven scolded whatever emotion that was severely, ignoring it while trying to keep all available dignity.
She removed the makeshift sling. Capes were replaceable. Arms were harder to replace, as Cyborg could attest. The problem rendering his arm useless was easy enough to fix. She reversed the damage with just a hint of her power, keeping the rest of the rushing magic back without too much strain. She was stronger than she had ever felt before, and couldn't wait for a villain to try messing with her. She wouldn't mind a rematch of Terra's cheating fight. She could let her emotions fight now, and Rage was unchanged but now the weakest. Timid could shove Rage aside, now. This made Rage furious and Timid smile.
"Raven?" Beast Boy had woken up as Raven tried to beat a hasty retreat. He stood without any help, surprising her with a quick back handspring to test the arm. Someone had been doing extra time in the gym, it would seem. "Still works after the break. You fixed it, then?"
She nodded, for once not finding a disparaging comment to share. She was waiting for the rush of emotions, and for the first time in her life felt like praying. She had proven that she could fight the demons within her. Surely that counted for something.
"Can we never do that again?" he joked. Joking- at a time like this? At least he wasn't pulling away into the fetal position. "Good thing we didn't all go to Hell," he continued, obviously setting up a joke. "In Heaven, they give you a harp. In Hell, they give you a book of Tamaranean folk songs."
Raven started to smile, even thinking of a joke to follow his. The process was aborted when she noticed something. Beast Boy, assumed the least perceptive of the group (except maybe Cyborg, while mooning over both his car and Bumblebee), was effectively cloaking his emotions. She wouldn't deal with happy ignorance. She'd rather know the truth and be miserable- no use in being happy only to have it all crash down on you. She could use her emotions, but inviting a sudden crash as she gave rock bottom a new definition wasn't intelligent.
He had seen her start to smile, and guessed the wrong reason. "Come on, Rae." He was ready to run- she hated being called a shortened version of her name, a "pet" name.
"You're hiding something." It was the first thing she'd said to him, and her voice was as flat and monotonic as it was on her worst days, when the emotions were rebelling from being locked away in her mind. "You know I'm an empath."
He knew it was a question. "Yeah, I found an article about Azarath online. Half of it was bogus, like the highly developed Azarathian love of a good joke, but it said that all from the place were attuned to another's feelings." He grinned. "Took me forever to find the site, and longer to understand it. They used really fancy words."
"Nice try, but you ignored the first part." She was hurt; she did appreciate a good joke. Sometimes, she had wanted to laugh at his jokes more than not be half-demon. Most of his jokes were just horrible. "Why are you hiding emotions?" She wouldn't take pity. Maybe it was something like a crush- never. He thought she had no sense of humor. There was one article online. She had written it. He had ignored an Azarathian's dislike of skirting the truth.
She felt a sharp spike of fear. She was mad. Why was he afraid of her, or of telling something to her? What had she done, besides be born? If she hadn't used her powers, red eyes and all, his entire planet would belong to her father. That was not a good thing. Was a babe supposed to die because a demon raped her mother?
"You're afraid of me." Her voice wasn't flat. She was having one of her rare temper tantrums, now allowed to her. She didn't have to let Rage grow inside her. She was hovering out of habit, but that was the only display of power, for the moment. She kept her fists clenched, holding back power that threatened to push out past her in a time of stress.
"Not of you,exactly. Raven, I wanted to tell you something." He couldn't call her Rae, when she was like this. The floor was shaking, even if only animal senses would notice.
"You're all afraid. You just had a long reminder that I'm demon-spawn. I fought it as best I could!" She was yelling loud enough that Cyborg heard her voice over the racket of fixing the T-Car in the basement. "Do you even want me here? I can leave easily. I'll just grab my mirror and get out. I won't even use my powers, which are not demonic, incidentally. Those are from my mother's side. I never use Trigon's talents, because they all are either negative or will have later consequences. I'll just never feel again, even less than I have for the past years."
"Raven, we are just a little nervous. Give us all a day to settle in to all of this. You gave us a lot to deal with." He wished Starfire was doing this- he only made Raven mad whenever he spoke to her. She probably knew he had something for her that he couldn't fully explain yet.
"You don't want me, don't need me. No one likes the dark girl. You had Terra, that train wreck of a girl. Cyborg and Bumblebee are closer than you'd guess, and I'm the only one who saw them go out for a midnight picnic on the beach while I couldn't sleep and was struggling to meditate, but needed someone, anyone. Star and Robin are happy." Her voice was suddenly quiet again. "The only person I ever admitted to loving thought of nothing but using me."
Now. Tell her now. He couldn't. For the first time in memory, except for the many other times he tried to say the exact same words, he couldn't speak.
"Consider me gone, she said, voice flat again. She drifted back to the floor. "You might as well consider this good-bye. You were my closest friend in the Titans, even if I couldn't let you know. Too much of Happy would have given my father an opening before I was ready for him. No matter what harm Malchior caused, he taught me a few useful spells."
"No." She walked from his room, stepping over the mess without a single glance at it. "All I need is my mirror, the money I've been saving for something that won't happen, and the civvies Star bought me last year. No need to make tracking the freak too easy. As a matter of fact, it won't be easy at all."
"Raven, don't talk like that. If you need time alone, fine, that's no problem, but don't leave like this. I'll find you, if you do." He didn't know what to do, what to say- he had to convince her to not leave, and couldn't find another thing to say.
"Good luck." She moved too quickly for him to see what she was doing. She had ripped her chakra from her forehead, and thrown it at him without a hint of power. It still hurt, but not as much as walking into the door she slammed in his face.
Robin, Starfire, and Cyborg raced into the hall, guessing that the Raven/Beast Boy confrontation wasn't resulting in a confession on either part. "Beast Boy, what's going on? And why do you have a bloody pebble?" Robin asked, looking doubtfully at the small red object Beast Boy held that was staining his hands with blood.
"Raven's mad- she says everyone's afraid of her. The 'bloody rock' is her- her-" he struggled for the word and failed- "stone-thingy from her forehead." He ignored Starfire's helpful addition of chakra. "She says she's taking her mirror, money, and her civilian clothes and leaving. She won't listen to me."
"How long as Raven been inside her room?"
"Two seconds before you got here, Starfire."
"Raven, we're just a bit shocked, that's all. You just took on entire legions of demons single-handedly. The rest of us put together took out twenty." Robin tried reasoning with the door. "Remember when Star took out Mumbo with black-belt level karate? It's the same thing. That surprise died after a few minutes."
"I don't belong here. You won't convince me otherwise. I'll never turn against you, never help Slade to hurt you, aid villains, or give away secrets. All I wish is to keep the title I will have- the girl who was once a Teen Titan." Only Beast Boy heard the sound of her window opening, as quietly as Raven knew how.
"You won't have it," Robin said, drawing angry looks from everyone. "You'll always be a Titan, even when so many years have passed that we're all forgotten."
There wasn't a response; even a response Beast Boy could catch. The sound of her light breathing had stopped just after Robin told her she wouldn't have it. "Raven!" he yelled, knowing it was too late. He dove through his room and out the window as a kestrel, screaming her name through a beak. Her window was shut, latched from the outside with a quick but powerful spell; the one that bound the chest Malchior's book was caught in. Only she could open it. There was a note attached loosely, and he snatched it as a hummingbird, deciding that talons would cause too much damage.
He took it to the roof. Hovering was tiring- no bird or bat could do it easily. Raven and Starfire could, but he couldn't copy them. At least, he had never tried. No one intruded just yet. The roof had been Raven's. Beast Boy was the only one to watch the sunset with her. She had been trying to convince him to join her for sunrises, but he never seemed to wake up in time. Robin looked jealous just once, in the short moment before Star darted into the room to present Raven with a Book of Scrapping, known to everyone else as a scrapbook.
Dearest Beast Boy, Cyborg, Robin, Starfire- alphabetical order, to not slight any of my friends- I would change this if I could. There will be no trail. I have cash, a distant relation in cosmetology, and one last burst of power to make. I will be gone, where you will never think to look. I'll keep tabs, maybe cross your paths, invisible in plain sight. Good lives, good times, good bye.
Postscript (P.S.) - B, I don't mind when you call me Rae.
"Rae?" He read the last sentence again. There was only one B on the team, unless she was referring to RoBin or CyBorg. He was the only one given permission to call her that. Was she trying to tell him something?
"B, what did she say?" Cyborg had been chosen to stand in the doorway of the stairs that led to the roof. He was B's closest friend on the team, but still didn't step beyond the door's frame. "Star saw you get a note while she checked Jump City. No one saw a thing, except outdoor surveillance. Camera D saw her make some kind of portal. She knew where the camera was- she waved."
"She's gone. She studied trailing people as much as we did, and was the best. We won't find her if she doesn't want us to." Beast Boy couldn't think of a single joke to make about the situation.
"Can I read it?" Cyborg took the note when Beast Boy didn't protest. "She wants to be found, but on her own terms. She'll be around, trying to see if we know her. I'd have to say she likes you." For once, he didn't use the material to tease mercilessly. B had enough problems for the day.
"I like her. Maybe even the other l-word. Let's go find the other two, and see if they have any ideas about finding her." Before Beast Boy could even finish his sentence, his communicator crackled. "Titans! Red X is at the university- someone was messing with xynthonium."
"Later, B. See you there- try to show up before we're through." Beast Boy jumped off the roof, turning into a falcon and flying off to stop a criminal, flying east into Jump City without another glance at the sun. By the time they finished their duty as heros, night had fallen. No one had the energy or will to think of the fifth Titan, except in dreams.