Chapter 1 – Sunset

She knew she wouldn't sleep that night, just like she didn't sleep most nights. The dreams of the other Titans often walked into hers, and the dreams of young heroes that faced the things that young heroes face were often the stuff of nightmares. It was bad enough having her own phantasms, but having everyone else's was just too much.

She spent a lot of time on the rooftop, thinking, meditating . . . escaping all those leftover fantasies that morphed into something even worse once they entered her mind. . . wishing away that fist that clenched around her heart any time she had any flicker of human feeling . It clenched all the tighter during those visions. Her heart would contract until it felt as tiny as a flea – and as significant.

This evening was no different.

The East was darkening, while the sunset painted a glorious landscape across the West. She watched the ocean with wary eyes, as she had since she had first seen it. Except that ocean had been the Atlantic Ocean, and it seemed so much farther away from that first tower in the East River. The Pacific seemed so much more vast, so much more blue and deep and unfathomable. The world felt reversed – the sun should be coming up over the ocean, not setting on it.

Raven shut her eyes that were just as deep and unfathomable (to most) as what she was shutting out. She remembered that first view of the ocean, any ocean, and remembered how lost she felt, and how afraid. Even stone-cold empaths know that there are some emotions that will not be suppressed no matter how much training you have had. Fear was chief among them.

Even with her eyes closed, she could feel the heat of the day fading away; it faded faster and faster the closer the sun got to the horizon. She shivered. She told herself that it was more from the disappearing sun than anything, but she knew there would always be something else chilling her as well. Even though she was standing on the tower and not on the beach, she could still feel that faint terror in the back of her mind and her throat. The fear had the taste of metal.

I am not supposed to fear.

She opened her eyes once more to study the sky, and then she closed them again. Even though she could feel the energies of the other Titans below her, she knew she was quite alone. She did not search them out – she respected their privacy, as much as she cherished her own – but somehow their cornucopia of feeling found her, anyway.

Conner was annoyed, probably at Bart for playing his music too loud again; Bart was feeling quite smug about it. The annoyance had a sour flavor, and the smugness packed the scent of burning brakes. Cassie was somewhat distressed – which for some reason was like bitter coffee in desperate need of cream. Perhaps she was on the phone with her mother. Cyborg was working on his car, or should be, since his chamomile-like contentment flowed up the tower in waves. Robin must have been out – she could not find his plain-vanilla seriousness. The sensations tended to fade with distance. And Garfield ...

Where was he? She had had problems finding him lately. Or, rather, his energies had a hard time finding her. His Jolly-rancher apple sweet-and-sour façade was not there, either. From time to time he happened to be on the roof during her nightly sunset vigil – so regular when they weren't on assignment that it was practically a ritual. It was the closest thing she had to prayers anymore. But he wasn't there tonight.

Perhaps he was upset that she had not laughed at his jokes, still. Even after a particularly bawdy one that he had told today that made everyone in the room guffaw with cotton-candy glee. At least she thought it was cotton candy. She honestly did not have a sweet tooth – except for the occasional hard apple candy. Sugar was a luxury that Azarath could not afford to grow. It certainly smelled like the spun sweet that Garfield had tried to tempt her with once or twice.

She opened her eyes. My thoughts are wandering. Again.

The sun flared brightly in the distance, surrounded by gold, then pink, then blue sky. The stars popped out, first one, then three, then a whole handful. She pulled her cloak more tightly around her. She usually had it with her during her sunsets, even if she were in her civilian clothes. She felt denim chafing her legs as she shifted her weight to her other foot. Pants still did not fell comfortable.

Civilian clothes. How odd, she thought, on Azarath, my uniform was my civilian clothes.

A lifetime of isolation had taught her well how to talk to herself and to appreciate her own company. But tonight she did wish for some company. Even the Jolly Rancher.

But at least she had the cloak. San Francisco could get chilly.