High above the city the moon hung in the night sky, a pale and luminous pearl suspended from a string of shining stars that were scattered throughout the darkness. Down below, the sounds of cars passing through the streets and the unintelligible chatter of voices were muffled by the wind that coursed over the buildings like a tidal wave. It stirred the calm waters in the harbor, causing the sea to crash a bit fiercer against the rocks than it normally would. But the giant "T" shaped tower that stood in silent watch over the city paid the ocean little mind. For no matter how hard the waves broke against the foundations, the tower would never give in, would never fall to the constant strain pressed upon it from all sides. Cold and unfeeling as it was, it had a duty to perform. And it would continue to do so until the very fabric of the world was torn asunder.
Which might be sooner than it thought.
On the roof was a sole figure, perched on the edge like a bird settled on the branch of a tree. He too, ignored the grumblings of the sea, choosing instead to stare out at the mountains that rose as a backdrop to the glimmering city lights. The wind ruffled through his thick black hair, streaming it back away from the sharp angles of his face. The rich ebony locks matched the dark cape tossed negligently over his thin shoulders, both in color and in action. Every so often, when the wind gave a sudden gust, it would snap dramatically, like a flag at the top of a pole. His jaw was set firmly in a thin line and beneath a simple black mask, his eyes narrowed as if they had seen something unforgivable. But there was nothing before him. Only the city, the mountains, and the stars above them all.
A whisper came from behind him, an all but silent shift of air to signal movement. He tensed instinctively, bracing himself automatically for an attack that never came. A moment later his muscles relaxed when he caught a glimpse of familiar blue from out of the corner of his eye.
"Can't sleep?" he asked lightly, though the answer was obvious. There was only the wind, whistling along. And then a single, monosyllabic answer.
He leaned forward slightly, curling his fingers over the roof's edge. The seemingly endless empty space that stretched out before him did not bother him at all. In fact, it was oddly comforting to be so high up and balanced on such a narrow perch. It was not the danger that drew him to the edge; he felt more than safe teetering so close to the fall. He had always wanted to go further; to see how far he could fly before gravity would pull him down. Tragedy had not been able to steal that from him.
"What's keeping you up?"
Surprised, he turned and looked over his shoulder. Her face was hidden with the dark folds of her cloak and her voice was flat, devoid of any emotion, as usual. He could only guess at the meaning behind her statement. Or, ask her.
"What do you mean?"
She raised her right hand, exposing soft grey skin to the moonlight, and tapped a finger against the side of her cowl.
"Your thoughts are louder than Starfire's exuberant bursts of joy over every new word she learns," came the quiet response.
Robin chuckled over the heavy veil of sarcasm that coated her voice. Like everyone else on the team, including Starfire herself, he was aware that Raven's apparent disdain for just about everything about the bright alien was merely for appearance sake. Just as everyone, including Starfire, knew that the Tamaranean took undeniably large amounts of joy from the simplest things.
"I'm sorry my thoughts are keeping you up. Can't you just block them out or something?"
There was a soft hiss, like that of a long sigh.
"Blocking keeps me from picking your thoughts from your mind. I'm not trying to read your mind; you're projecting it. Very loudly and very garbled," she added, with none small hint of annoyance. He chuckled again. Only Raven could say something like "Your thoughts are too loud" and not have it seem weird. Then he sighed as the humor fled, replaced by the frustration he had been feeling earlier.
"I'm sorry. It's just that—" he paused mid-sentence and raised one eyebrow slightly. "Do you think you could put your hood down? It always makes me feel like I'm talking to the Grim Reaper or something."
There was a brief hesitation as she considered his request, and then she raised one hand up, fingers curled into a fist. Black energy pulsed out and rose up to form a long, intangible sickle.
"Har, har," he said. "I'm serious."
The sickle dissipated into the air and she pushed her cowl back to her shoulders. He tilted his head slightly at the sight of her striking violet eyes, so unusual and so calm, seemingly untroubled. Pursuing his lips, he scratched at the back of his head.
"On second thought, maybe you ought to leave it up," he joked with a smile. Those unusual eyes narrowed instantly and his smile widened. He held up both hands in a gesture of peace, less she blast him off the rooftop into the great wide expanse that he had been admiring just moments before.
"I'm only joking. Honest."
"Beast Boy is always only joking. Does that save him?"
"Good point." The smile faded from his lips and he turned back towards the mountains. "It's Slade. I can feel him circling in my head. Whispering. Taunting. Every time I turn around it seems like he's there, one step ahead of me."
Raven did not speak but he could almost hear the thoughts in her mind.
"I know what it is to live with someone caught up in obsession. I know what you all think. But I can't help it. How many times have we fought him? And every time, nothing new learned, nothing accomplished. He's still out there. Threatening. I can't help thinking that the longer we fight him, the more likely it becomes that one of us will be seriously hurt. Maybe . . . . maybe even killed." The word hung there between them in the darkness, heavy as a storm cloud.
"So what are you saying? That we should give up?"
Robin shook his head fiercely. "No, it's not that! It's just that . . . ." His shoulders slumped slightly. "A leader should be able to accept the risks, the dangers of any situation. And one of those dangers will always be the loss of a teammate. Of a friend. But I'm not sure that I could." He looked back at her and gave a small, sad smile. "Does that make me weak?" Though he asked the question lightly, his mind agonized itself over the thought.
You can't afford to show weakness, Robin. You can't afford to be weak, Robin.
Raven was silent for a long while. She could see that her answer was important to Robin, so she wanted to be certain she gave him the best one that she had. But what comfort could she, of all people, offer him? She knew what life offered her, had always known. Death was something different for her. She was afraid of the future, of what she would invitibly bring into motion. What would death offer her? Peace? Rest? Her head tilted up toward the sky. The others saw only a dazzling display of tiny lights caught in an ocean of blackness. But to her, the night sky was an endless open book, with countless beginnings and endings, all occurring at the same time. It was the only thing on Earth that reminded her of her home.
"There are some who would say yes. Some who would say that any display of emotion is a sign of weakness." Her eyes were steady when they met his. "But only because those people don't understand emotion. That while it can sink one to his knees, it can also spur him upwards, to untold heights. It's not weak to fear death. Your death or the death of the ones you care about. It would be foolish not to. The others know the risks as well as you do, Robin, and accept them. Otherwise they wouldn't be here."
With that, she turned quietly to return inside, her cloak rustling behind her. Robin watched her retreating figure for a moment, his troubled thoughts comforted for the while.
"Raven!" he called out suddenly. She paused, but did not turn. "What about you?"
She was silent for so long that he thought she wouldn't answer him. And then the words drifted back.
"I don't do foolish."
This is just extra dialogue I wrote that I couldn't fit into the story without kind of messing up the seriousness. But it's funny so I wanted to keep it somehow.
RANDOM TITAN THEATER PRESENTS- " Further Musings of an Anti-Christ."
Robin: "Sometimes I feel so helpless. So useless. Like nothing I do matters. And everything I do is going to inevitably be compared to Batman. How do you compete with a legend?"
Raven: "Well, how do you think I feel? I'm destined to end the world. That's a big responsibility. What if I mess it up? I'll be known as the only anti-Christ who couldn't eradicate all of mankind and the measly planet they live on. I'll tell you, it keeps me up at night."
Robin: (stares wide-eyed, mouth gaping.)
Raven: ". . . . . Not funny?"
Robin: "Not so much, no."