Currently cranking up Billy Idol and The Beatles and writing whenever I can. I'm really close to finishing this off, and I want to get started on the other two parts to follow up this one. For those of you who are also reading my other stuff—namely, Scars—I've been having a really bad case of writer's block. I'm having difficulty figuring out which way the plot should go, and when; the worst part is that I know where every other story in the entire series is going to go, and yet this is the one I'm having the most trouble with. Guess you could say I'm trying to live up to "Face To Face" as best as I can. Oh well.
Chapter Eight: Anger's Triumph
It felt like she was falling through clouds, thick and pearly, sometimes lavender, sometimes gentle white, clouds that caressed her skin as she sank deeper into their depths. She had been worried, still felt that worry, about leaving Robin alone in spite of the potential danger that they had been facing ever they had arrived in his mind. But it was fading fast, writhing away like smoke, and she just barely clung to it, trying to retain something that would keep her connected to the other world.
She was exhausted; it was a little amazing, that she had lasted this long without meditating. A whole day's work for them didn't usually involve this much exertion. She was going to have to train harder when they got out of here. Yeah, a little shocking that she wasn't as doubtful as she had been expecting, but, looking over everything that Robin and her had been through while they had been here, and the…the fact that he loved her, and had kissed her, she felt a surprising amount of optimism that she was not typically accustomed to.
It was a nice change.
But the sound of Robin's breathing and footsteps were nearly gone, and she could hardly see anything beyond the thickening clouds swallowing her up. She could have sworn that she heard a voice, and Robin replying, but it was gone. Her feet hit the rocky platform that hovered eternally in her mind, and Raven looked up and around her at the crimson and black sky, studded with the rare cluster of stars here and there.
"Raven? Is that you?"
cried, turning around, and grabbing hold of her twin immediately in
an enthusiastic hug. "Did you see? He kissed me!"
"I know!" Joy squealed, dancing around in a circle and clapping her hands. "Congrats!"
Raven's smile was fading fast though, as she glanced around the platform, finding it deserted.
"Where are they others?" She asked cautiously.
For the first time, Joy's upbeat expression flickered, and transformed into one of apprehension.
"Someone dangerous was coming towards you right when you were meditating. Wisdom felt it. You should have seen it! There was this fight, and this argument between Anger, and Courage, and Wisdom! It was so weird, and I thought—"
"Where is everyone else?" Raven repeated firmly, grabbing hold of Joy's shoulders and looking her straight in the eye. "Joy? What happened to them?"
"They went somewhere else," Joy explained. "They felt that whatever was coming at you was stronger than usual, so they went somewhere over there—" She gestured out into the oblivion surrounding them "—to prepare strength or something like that, so you could fight it. Anyway, that's Wisdom said. I was supposed to wait here and tell you, if you came."
Raven felt her stomach twist. So she had been right about the danger of relaxing, even for a moment. She should have known better, known that Slade would take advantage of any opportunity to strike at them when they were weak. She was so stupid! How could she have let her guard down, even for a minute, when she was supposed to understand the circumstances? She was such a moron!
"Do you think Robin's going to be okay by himself?" Joy was asking, lower lip trembling, staring up at Raven with watering eyes.
"Did they say what exactly what coming?" Raven demanded, feeling her panic rising. Joy shook her head helplessly.
"They were trying to, but they couldn't sense anything but lots of danger. It got worse as it got closer. That's why they left, to see what was coming, and to summon enough power to give you when the time came. They…" She looked scared and just managed to whisper, "They were hoping you wouldn't come… They said that was going to make everything a lot harder…"
Raven's head was spinning, and she couldn't get control over herself. She was vaguely aware that her hands were shaking. Everything that Slade had thrown at them hadn't just been to build up Robin's armor, or to try and attack or kill them. He was waiting for an opening, waiting for a time when she would be weak and unable to help, and Robin would be left alone, prey to the darkness she had sensed lurking in his mind.
The worst part was that, because she would be completely weak and unable to help herself, Robin would find it his obligation to protect her first, and sacrifice himself in her place…
Which was what Slade wanted all along.
"Is Robin going to be okay?" Joy asked again, crying by this point. Her hood had fallen back, and her cheeks were streaked with tears, her eyes puffy and frightened. Raven struggled to keep breathing, and nodded.
"Of course. I'm going back right now."
"But Raven!" Joy protested, looking even worried now, "You're weak! You can't fight anything right now! That's why you came here in the first place…"
"I don't care!" Raven snapped, instantly regretting it as she saw the hurt expression that crossed Joy's face. In a softer voice, she continued: "I can't leave him there when you said that whatever's coming is so dangerous. I have to go back and protect him in any way that I can, no matter what."
"Oh but Raven," someone called out mockingly behind them, and the two girls whirled around to see Anger standing there, arms crossed, looking immensely self-satisfied.
"You just got here," she pouted, sauntering towards them. "Please stay."
"You!" Raven growled, pointing a finger at Anger, while stepping protectively in front of Joy. "Did you know this was going to happen? Is this what you wanted?"
Anger's slow smile was answer enough.
"But why did you make me come here!" Raven snarled, sinking into a fighting stance as Anger grew closer yet. "There was no reason! If I hadn't come, Robin would have—"
A heavy fist grazing over her cheek ended Raven's tirade and sent her flying back. She heard Joy's gasp of fear, and footsteps pounding in her direction. Hands were at her back and shoulders, as Joy helped her into a sitting position, and the two of them glared across the platform at Anger.
"I'm tired of all this useless talking," Anger growled, cracking her knuckles while her four eyes seemed to glow even brighter.
Purple ooze slid across the ground; concrete gnashed; sparks flew; and the monstrosity made from the combined force of Plasmus, Cinderblock, and Overload drew steadily closer to Robin, whose heart was thudding wildly in his chest. The only other time he had ever battled them like this, he'd been standing in the center of Jump City, just after Terra, as Slade's apprentice, had fled in terror at their reappearance, leaving the three monsters to take care of them.
It had been bad enough back then. But then, he had Cyborg, Raven, Starfire, and Beast Boy by his side, ready to fight, fueled by anger and betrayal and the dedication to making things right as they once had been.
And now he was all alone…
Except he wasn't: Somewhere behind him, he heard a small groan of what almost sounded like pain, and he glanced over his shoulder at Raven, who was still sitting cross-legged on the ground. Her eyelids fluttered a little, but remained closed.
The monster growled low and dangerously, and Robin felt a shadow cover him as the creature came to a direct stop behind him.
There was a moment, a delicate moment in time where everything fell still, hanging in precision, shattered when someone would finally speak or move, but Robin didn't do either. He only stared at Raven's peaceful form, her face, the soft curtains of hair, and knew in heart and mind that he had to save her.
And then a fist of stone and slime swung down in his direction like a pendulum, and Robin tucked and rolled forward to avoid it, feeling the ground tremble with the power behind the blow. He ignored it, blood pounding in his ears, as he got to his feet and ran towards Raven.
"Raven!" He was calling, "Raven, please! You've got to wake up!"
She didn't move, as still and serene as a statue. He ran faster. There was a crackle of electricity behind him, and, ears pricked, Robin leapt to one side as a surge of white current struck the exact place where he had been only seconds ago. The monster gave a roar of frustration, voice garbled between the three creatures. Pieces of slime shot out, chasing him like bullets flying from a machine gun. Robin managed to avoid most of them, but one hit him in the calf, and he felt a burst of pain, and the trickle of blood, as the chunk of concrete, hidden within, sank into his skin. He stumbled, tripped, and landed with a thump on the ground, but immediately rolled to the side; Cinderblock's fist crashed down beside him, missing him by inches.
More electrical surges raced out from Cinderblock's fist, weaving along the floor like snakes, as they drew closer to Robin. He struggled to get to his feet, fingers scrambling to pull out the shard of concrete. His gloves were beginning to get slippery with blood, as his fingertips closed around the end of the concrete that was jutting out. He pulled it out and threw it aside, before hobbling forward. But a branch of electricity had already gotten to him, and it wrapped itself around Robin's ankle, shackling him.
White hot agony wracked his body, and Robin was aware that he was screaming, as he fought to no avail. Pain infected every fiber of his being; his eyes rolled uncontrollably, and his mind was blank, unable to focus on anything but the torture.
Then he saw Slade, saw the screens depicting his friends' bodies; saw Terra, and then Beast Boy crying over her grave, heard the words "it's all my fault" ringing in his head over and over again like a mantra. He tried to talk, tried to say anything to deny those four awful little words, but he couldn't stop, and he was shaking, losing complete control over his body, feeling it quiver as the electricity continued to inflict damage, heard himself cry out, before going silent as Overload withdrew.
He couldn't even move, just felt himself trembling. Numbness spread all over. But he knew that he had to keep going, knew it more than the pain that was still running through him, and that, even if his life didn't matter, Raven's did.
There was another shadow hovering over him: Cinderblock's hand, reaching down to pluck him off the ground. Robin's fingers, twitching a little, reached down to his utility belt and pulled out the first thing that his hand closed around—a disc of some sort. He focused on his breathing, taking huge gulps of air, trying to get a hold on himself as Cinderblock drew closer, and, at the last possible second, he flung the disc over his shoulder and forced himself onto his feet. He half-ran, half-limped towards Raven, while a roar of pain echoed behind him.
He had to keep going, couldn't stop now.
"Raven!" He cried again, his voice hoarse. "Raven, please wake up!"
She still didn't move.
Robin paused, hands on his knees, trying to breathe. He was dizzy, from the blood loss in his leg…but he couldn't stop.
So he turned, steeling himself as the monster, recovering from the disc he had slung at it, began making its way back towards him.
"I wish you could see your Prince Charming now!" Anger howled with laughter, holding her stomach as she brushed away tears of mirth with her fingertips. "He's so pathetic. He won't even try to help himself, he just keeps trying to wake you up and get you to safety!"
Raven's teeth gritted, as she struggled up from where she had landed sprawled on the ground again, and rushed at Anger, fist raised in a punch. Anger easily dodged it, hopping lightly to the side, and landing a spin kick on Raven's exposed back. Raven fell forward, stumbling, and just barely managing to catch her balance. But Anger didn't even give her a chance, slamming her heel down in a hammer kick into Raven's head. Raven dropped to her knees, but managed to roll quickly out of the way, to avoid the next hammer kick that followed it up.
Anger was already running at her when Raven got to her feet, right hand curved for a blow to her neck. Raven blocked the first, but nearly cried out when the left hand hit her, with much more force than the first time. Raven tried a round house, to force Anger to retreat, but the other girl only laughed and caught her leg, causing Raven to lose her balance, and fall back, knocking the wind out of her lungs.
"You're so easy. I'm bored," Anger announced, standing over her, and grinding her heel down on Raven's fingers. The bone in her index finger cracked, and Raven let out a cry of pain. On the other side of the platform, Joy was suddenly racing towards Anger, ready to attack in any possible way. Anger raised one palm in the air, without even glancing at the oncoming attack, and Joy was thrown backwards, skittering to the edge of the platform, her head smacking on the rock.
"No!" Raven croaked, trying to sit up, but Anger's leg snapped forward, slamming her foot into Raven's face and sending her backwards again, a bruise forming on the side of her face.
"This is no fun. Maybe I should just possess you, and see if your Robin's stronger than you are?"
Raven felt her gut twist, and she used all of her willpower to jump to her feet, swinging a kick in Anger's direction, forcing her to move back into a fighting stance.
"I knew that would piss you off," Anger informed her, smiling in a superior manner. "You're full of so much rage that it's funny how easy it is to make you lose it."
"Shut up," Raven ordered her, trying to hit her with a series of rapid punches with her uninjured hand. Anger moved her arms accordingly, stopping any of the blows from striking her, before twisting her body and sending Raven flying with a powerful back kick.
"You and Robin have that in common, I've noticed," she went on carelessly. "No wonder you like him so much. Two loose cannons that use their temper to cover up how weak and afraid they are underneath."
"SHUT UP!" Raven commanded. The platform trembled, and a few rocky fragments plummeted into the abyss that it was suspended over. Anger looked on, her eyes glinting with cruel mischief.
"Not bad. But I'm better."
The platform began to shake violently; cracks and crevices appeared on its surface, spider-webbing, and causing much larger chunks to break off, floating off into space. Over by Joy, a large piece broke off, and beginning to carry her unconscious form off into the darkness.
"No!" Raven cried, trying to use whatever power she had left to stop it. But she was so tired, too tired to do anything, and Joy continued to float off into space, off into nothingness.
Anger was cackling again.
"That's it? That's sad. If you can't even help her—" She gestured dismissively at Joy, who was nearly gone by this point, "—how are you ever going to help your poor little boyfriend?"
The two of them were still hovering on the same chunk of rock. Raven could already see that space was limited, and that bits were still breaking off, so that the platform that remained was growing smaller and smaller as time passed; fighting was going to be even more dangerous now.
"I can see him right now, actually," Anger was taunting her. "He's almost at your side; but you should see him! He's bleeding all over the place, and Overload totally fried him! It's so funny!"
Raven slowly got to her feet, clenching her good fist, and staring Anger down, challenge in her violet eyes. The other girl noticed, and her peals of mocking laughter died away to be replaced by a wicked smile.
"You still want to fight, eh? You always were stubborn. But this should be good."
Raven ignored her and jumped forward, feinting with her bad hand. Anger caught her wrist, and began pushing back another one of her fingers, putting pressure on it almost to breaking point. Raven hissed, but swung her other hand in an uppercut, slugging Anger in the stomach. Anger stumbled backwards, growling menacingly, one hand pressed to where Raven's fist had made contact.
Raven ran forward again, faking with a round house, but switching just as Anger raised her hands in defense, and, jumping, swung her opposite leg around to slam into Anger's head, sending her onto her back in place of Raven this time. Raven waited patiently, watching as her rage bristled in a new wave of fury and pushed herself back up to her feet. Raven was expecting some sort of physical attack, but this time, Anger raised her arms, and sent a wave of bright red energy flying at Raven, who, being in the state that she was, had no way of putting up a shield to deflect it. Instead, she dropped to the ground, holding her bad hand to her chest to protect it. The red power rushed down on her, though, covering her in a muffling blanket, and causing her skin to burn.
Raven shrieked, unable to hold back her cries this time, and rolled to the side, out from underneath the hovering mass of red power. Anger was cackling again, and Raven moaned, only able to get to her knees this time. She became aware that smoke was rising from behind her, though, and she glanced over her shoulder to see the hem of her cloak had caught fire. She beat at it with her good hand, and had just managed to put out the flames when clawed fingers wrapped themselves in her hair and yanked her around to stare into Anger's horrible, triumphant expression.
"Why do you keep fighting?" She asked innocently, nails digging into Raven's scalp, and causing a few warm trickles of blood to run down the side of her head. "Is it for you? For him?"
Raven looked her dead in the eye, and spoke not a word. Anger raised an eyebrow, but otherwise seemed unperturbed as she grinned again, two fangs evident in her gleeful smile.
"I guess it doesn't matter, though, because I'm going to kill you anyway."
And she began dragging Raven toward the edge of the platform.
No matter how fast he moved, no matter how strong he was, the creature was still faster, still stronger, and Robin felt his will dwindling.
He darted to one side, before an attack from Plasmus forced him to leap in the other direction; Cinderblock was already there to smack him aside like a rag doll. Robin fell into a crumpled heap, tasting blood in his mouth, and feeling another trickle of blood roll down the side his face from where he'd been cut by a craggy fragment on Cinderblock's hand.
And then Overload was upon him, and even though Robin tried desperately to get away, he felt another wave of voltage swoop down on him, and he was subjected to another bout of torment, while watching his parents die, watching Slade kick him around his lair, feeling those blows from so long ago on his body, remembering.
When Overload withdrew for the second time, Robin could barely move, too beaten to resist. Stone fingers curled around his body, lifting him from the ground, and tightening their grip on him as they inflicted pressure on his ribs, and the bones in his arms. Robin gritted his teeth, on the verge of crying out, almost certain that he was going to snap in half. He hurt everywhere, and his vision kept darkening, threatening him with the knowledge that he could pass out at any given time. He couldn't breathe, his lungs were screaming for air, and his head throbbing…
And then Cinderblock dropped him abruptly. Robin plummeted to the ground, hitting it with a sickening thud, and the arm that he had put out to stop himself broke underneath him. He lay there, dazed, sometimes seeing, sometimes not, staring into the darkness beyond, unable to move…and unwilling as well.
Slime was flowing down, spreading over his ankle, creeping up his legs, and he knew that Plasmus would soon completely entrap him. But he couldn't muster enough strength to move, and could only allow it to creep up around his chest, shoulders, sneaking up his neck…and finally, letting it slide over his face, cutting of his oxygen, and distorting his vision. He lay still, breathing becoming an even more laborious task, feeling sick to his stomach.
Raven still hadn't moved…and he knew that as soon as he was finished, the monster was going to go after her. She didn't have a clue about what was happening, and she was going to die, just because he didn't think he could fight anymore.
There were more memories: The first time that he and Raven had met and how he found himself marveling at those eyes, so dark and wounded, and yet so light and beautiful at the same time. Or when her fear had caused the monsters from that stupid movie "Wicked Scary" to come alive in their Tower, and he had caught her when they had fallen down the shaft…
He had caught her when she needed him. She was a part of his team, and so, naturally, she looked to him as her leader to take care of them all. But she also loved him, and she had faith in, and trusted him when others wouldn't. She believed in him, even when he didn't himself, and she had always been there, giving him strength, giving him the ability to fight back, if only because it meant he could see her again.
What's the point
of struggling? Why should I keep fighting?
Because he loved her…and that was reason enough.
Robin, on the verge of blacking out, felt for his belt with his good arm, and pulled out an ice disc—his last one. He gave a silent, brief prayer, and threw it as hard as he could at the slime surrounding him.
All around him, Plasmus's slime froze and shattered. Robin was released, lying on the ground, gasping for air, and the monster was reeling from the unexpected attack. Raven was close by, and Robin dragged himself to her side, and used his one arm to get to his knees. She was still breathing gently, although occasionally she inhaled erratically, as if she were being beaten, or in pain. He drew close to her, putting one arm around her, and pressed his forehead against hers, a single tear slipping out beneath his mask. The monster had recovered quickly, and it was coming back to finish both of them, but Robin forgot the danger, forgot the pain, and forgot the past hate and weariness, and simply held her tighter.
"I love you," Robin found himself whispering, even as the monster took another step, towering above them. "I love you…"
And he pressed his lips to hers in a gentle kiss.
She could hear him.
They had reached the edge now, and Anger, smiling wickedly, was gripping her only by her hood now; the rest of Raven's body was dangling precariously over the edge, and she was too tired to struggle, to try and escape. She was so pathetic: She couldn't even fight hard enough to save her miserable life, much less Robin's.
Raven closed her eyes tightly, trying to hold back the hot tears of disappoint and fury that threatened to spill over.
Above her, Anger chuckled.
"Poor Ravey," she whined mockingly. "Don't worry. It'll be over before you know it. And there won't be that much pain…" She laughed quietly to herself, loosening her grip; Raven's body was lowered a few more inches, the rocky edge of the meteor tearing at her cape and skin.
"I can't say the same for your boyfriend, though," Anger added in a soft voice. Raven wanted to scream, to try and get away, but she was so exhausted, so…utterly defeated.
She was useless.
Then there was the whisper. It started off faintly, like a gentle breath of wind, and Raven didn't even catch it; but it echoed, grew louder and louder. It was Robin's voice, and he was speaking to her. Anger even hesitated, her head tilted back and her eyes narrowed in confusion as the voice swelled to it's full volume.
"I love you," came Robin's voice from far, far away. "I love you…"
And, as she fell a few more inches, Raven felt warmth against her lips, could almost feel him kissing her, and his arms holding her in a sweet embrace.
Strength spread through her, surging into her body and filling her with a renewed power that was almost overwhelming. In spite of her injuries, Raven suddenly found it easy to breathe, and as she glanced back up at Anger again, she could see by the other girl's eyes that she caught off guard.
Raven raised her palm skyward, and screamed out as loud as she possibly could:
"AZARATH, METRION, ZINTHOS!"
Anger gave a tortured screech and released her, but it hardly mattered; Raven found her powers encircling her, lifting her back up into the sky, back up towards Robin. The universe was spinning around her, everything whirling with alarming speed; she could hear Wisdom, Courage, Love, Joy and the others voices melding, returning, the platform piecing itself together, her whole mind turning on its axis. It was all a blur, and Raven burst through the chaos and—
Into Robin's waiting arms.
Raven pulled away from him slightly, and when his eyes flew open in shock, she smiled gently.
Plasmus-Overload-Cinderblock was staggering over them, arm raised for a final blow, and Raven, summoning as much power as she possibly could, flung a wave of black energy at it.
The monster could only roar once, before it was smothered by her powers and shattered to pieces.
Raven and Robin were left kneeling on the ground beside one another, staring; and then Raven broke the spell, and turned towards him.
"Robin!" she murmured, falling into him, unable to keep a single tear from rolling down the side of her cheek. "Robin, you're all right! I was so—so scared that you were hurt…"
Robin laughed quietly and buried his face in her shoulder, still holding her as best as he could.
"Thank you, Raven…God…"
"Are you seriously hurt?" She asked again, body trembling.
"I'm perfectly all right, now that you're here," he told her softly, and Raven half-laughed, half-sobbed, holding him even tighter.
"They did it!" Love cried, high-fiving Courage who was grinning as well.
"I never doubted them!" Timid proclaimed, only to twitch violently when Wisdom prodded her lightly in the back.
"And Raven saved me!" Joy added, skipping around the others, clapping.
"I have to admit, I had my doubts…but they really pulled through."
"And we helped her!" Love reminded her, striding over to where Wisdom stood. "I mean, Joy was put in grave danger, but if we hadn't gone off to that other meteor like we did, Rae might never have gotten enough strength to fight all them off."
"We so rock!" Courage howled, pumping her fist in the air.
Each of the girls gasped, turning as one to the crumpled heap that lay at the edge of the platform, huddled beneath a bright red cloak. Anger was bleeding in several places, and from her voice, it sounded as if her nose had been broken. But her eyes were gleaming maliciously, as she slowly got to her feet in front of them.
And with a small, awful smile, Anger whispered two dreadful words that fell heavily in the silence:
To be Continued…
Blegh. I'm sorry that a lot of this is italicized—I know from experience that sometimes it can be hard to read after awhile… I'm a little tired at the moment, from writing so much, but I think I'm better than I have been for the past couple of weeks (I haven't been sleeping well, because my stupid cat keeps waking me up too early, and when I don't play with him at two in the morning, he starts eating things on my desk, or fighting with my other cat…) Anyway: So, a real cliffhanger today, eh? Next chapter is…the LAST ONE! AHHH! Hard to believe. I wish I could have written this story a lot faster, instead of taking so darn long, you know? But I'll be a lot better on this story's sequel—I solemnly swear it!
See ya later!