Summary: The truth has funny ways of coming out. Raven discovers that there is more than one way to trap her – and that there are new ways to escape. BBRae.
Disclaimer: I do not own the following items that appear in this story: Teen Titans, Superman, Batman, CADMUS Outsiders, references to the following music groups/stars: Evanescence, Queen, Enya
Author's Note: All stories in the Twilight Child story arc take place after TT #20. It becomes Alternate Universe after that. This is before Mia/Speedy joins the team.
This is the sequel to Twilight Child. That story introduced an OC named Dr. Charlie Thunder Horse. He is a cousin of Raven's; his grandfather is her great-grandfather on her mother's side (of course). He is the descendent of Sioux medicine men. With degrees in psychiatry and archaeology, he searches for ancient Native American wisdom to use in his healing practice. He appears as a marginal character in this story, but he will show up in later stories if this one is well-received. In an effort to get to know one another better, he and Raven have started a regular correspondence.
In TC, he gave Raven another name: Dawn Child. You will see references to this name sprinkled throughout the story. Also, a new "kryptonite" for Raven was introduced in that story: Compound 27, which suppresses empathic powers for a bit (not to mention making the target rather disoriented). This is the "item" that she and Thunder Horse refer to in code in their letters.
This one is a little more light-hearted than Twilight Child, although there are some dramatic moments. I hope the humor works out. I also tried to include more of the team in this one, especially Cassie and Cyborg. Nightwing also puts in an appearance.
I am drawing some illustrations for this story as well. I will post them to my blog as I complete them: kthunter. . Let me know what you think!
Please read and review. I hope you enjoy the story!
Here are the stories in "Twilight Child" (so far) in order:
Stair Luge Samurai
and later ... Dawn Child
Chapter One – Flying
From the tower roof, she was just a blue speck in the distance. Three shades of blue – the sky, the sea, her cloak. But through his binoculars, oh, what a sight! Hood thrown back, still-growing hair the color of midnight caressed by the wind, face kissed by the sun. It brought to his mind the way that she used to look -- with those long, luxurious tresses that had fallen past her waist. He wondered to himself if she would try to grow it that long again.
She'll have to braid it when she flies.
But for now it was fine, at least for a training exercise. He had never had to teach anyone to fly before, but so far all of Starfire's suggestions were working out.
He lifted his communicator to his lips.
"Okay, kiddo, can you hear me over that noise you're playin'?"
He observed one gloved hand rise to her face and press against her left ear.
"Yes, Cyborg," came the reply. "Your earpiece design is working perfectly. It even blocks out the wind. Thank you."
"Well, witch, I just didn't want you getting tangled up in the wires. I know how much you like your music when you fly. Are you warmed up?"
"One more pass. Then I will be ready."
"Be ready to start on my mark. BB, are you still on standby?"
He lowered the viewer to locate the green dolphin in the bay below her. He felt the late morning sun heating up the metal on his face.
"And lovin' it!"Gawd, I hope he's not trying to look up her dress. Again.
He'd been keeping an eye on the blossoming relationship between his best friend and his . . .
If this keeps up, I will have to step in.
But at the moment, Gar was where he needed to be. Even training exercises could be dangerous; Cyborg wanted Johnny-on-the-spot in case this newborn bird went into the drink. Again.
Dear Thunder Horse –
Thank you for your recent emails and for all of your encouragement. They mean a great deal to me. Much has transpired since my last letter.
I have shown Garfield your "prescription" for me, and he has made it his personal mission to cultivate my sense of humor. He has taken to the task with great enthusiasm. We have been watching comedies every night for the past month. Then he talks to me about what is humorous – I don't think we have ever talked so much to each other in our lives. I have never seen him more determined to make me laugh.
He heard Gar sigh as she executed a sharp right-hand turn by twisting her body around the axis of her waist with a dancer's easy grace. The tapered fingers of her leading hand folded into a loose fist.
Some day I'm going to have to have a long talk with that boy.
"Okay, Raven, good job on the rapid turns. We're done. Are you sure you're still up for that Hyk Mar maneuver? Starfire just showed you that one last week. You dunked yourself yesterday."
"I would like to try."
Stubborn, hard-headed little . . .
"Okay, then, ascend to the drop altitude and prepare to drop on my mark. Keep an eye on that altimeter this time. BB, proceed to the potential recovery zone."
"Hyk Mar? Sounds more like your hawking a loogie! What does it mean, anyway?"
"'Crash and Burn', the way she does it, kiwi-face."
"Gotcha, oil-breath. Beast-Dude to the rescue!"
"Must you insult each other?"
"Just a little male bonding, Rave. Don't fret about it."
The tiny speck rode the winds into the wider blue.
His next phase, however, is to get me to watch a comedy in an actual movie theatre. He feels that laughter comes more easily when it is shared. A week from this Thursday he is taking Cassie, Conner, and myself to the cinema. I was under the impression that this was simply a group outing until Cassie informed me that it was actually a "double date". She swore she would dress me up for it. Oh, dear. But Cassie has been such a good friend to me. I am clay in her hands, I am afraid. I think I have created the proverbial monster. I will keep you updated.
"Not the red dress. Anything but the red dress."
"Yes, the red dress. You have to wear it! You so have to wear it!"
"I do not have any matching shoes . . . "
"No excuses. You can borrow my red mules. You will be a walking felony in that outfit. And you need a manicure after your last training exercise . . . "
I have taken your other advice to heart as well. Music does indeed seem to soothe the oft savage beast of empathy. With the help of Tim's CD player, I was able to block some of the others' energies for a while. Something in the music, as you said, created some empathic "white noise", a temporary blind spot. Bart read somewhere that music alters alpha waves in the brain. Perhaps this is true? Perhaps these alpha waves play into empathy? After that, Victor constructed the largest-capacity MP3 player he could manage for me. The others gave me music to fill it. Now I go to sleep with my music every night. I have never slept so well. I believe they are as relieved as I am to get some of their privacy back.
"Okay, guys, the player is ready. She'll be back with Cassie any minute now. What CD's did you buy? C'mon, ante up."
"She can have my Enya CD," Tim offered.
Conner snorted. "How about a playlist of all the Superman songs? I've got some credit at a music site."
"OK, good. No Bart, no way are we giving her any Evanescence. Not only no, but hell no. Are you nuts? Great music, but that's like Raven: The Soundtrack. That's the last thing she needs. Happy music only, people."
"But they haven't made any happy music since the eighties!" Gar exclaimed. "How about some Queen?"
My gifts can seem both a blessing and a curse at times. But, as I found when you and I first met, being without them can be as frightening as being with them. With the "item" still missing, I find I must learn some ways of taking care of myself should I become so impaired in the future. I so despise being helpless. Why does it seem that every time the team goes out I find myself in such a spot? But ironically I must find some way to protect myself that does not conflict with the tenets of peace under which I strive to live. A pacifist that wants to defend herself. My life is nothing if not ironic. But I do have hope that my good friends will help me with this also. I will let you know what I find.
"You'd be proud of her, Dick. She's training every day. And not just on the new stuff, on the flying. She's relearning how to control everything."
"That's good, Vic, but why do you need me? Mysticism isn't exactly my forte."
"Well, I've got a challenge for you. Do you remember the brief I gave you on the Twilight Canyon incident?"
"Yeah. Pretty rough on her, wasn't it? That running stunt was pretty . . ."
"I've already yelled at her for that. But she made the decision that she made. Cut her a little slack. At the same time, I think it shook her up more than she'd like to admit. She's asked me to help her find a way to handle a combat situation where her abilities are compromised. That's where you come in."
"She wants to learn how to fight?"
"It's easy to be a pacifist when you can just 'port out of the way."
"Well, the number one rule of defense is 'Don't be there.'"
"She's the queen of 'Don't be there', until something bad happens. She needs to be able to take care of herself even then, Dick. But remember she doesn't have a lot of physical strength. You're coming into town next week. Can you help?"
"I'm on it."
As for your other question – I feel awkward even writing about it, but I feel I cannot leave it unanswered either. I must explain to you that I have spent so many years hiding what I feel that even though I am free I still have trouble speaking of what is in my heart. It is easier to bake a batch of muffins than to say what I feel. How do I tell him the truth?
He watched her climb higher and higher into the blue. A woman in flight was a beautiful sight to behold. He glanced at the altimeter relay, confirming the altitude transmitted by the device strapped to her slender wrist. He stole a peek at the LCD of the custom-built MP3 player broadcasting back at her earpiece. He was satisfied that something he had built for her made her so happy.
"Queen today, witch?"
"One Vision was written for flight."
He grinned. "Whatever gets you through the night, kiddo. I'm just glad that earpiece is waterproof."
He thought he heard Beast Boy snort over the comlink, but he couldn't be sure. Maybe it was just the wind.
"Approaching altitude. Level out. Remember, arms to your sides for greater speed. Arms out to brake."
Funny, she doesn't look that high . . .
"Ready . . . ready . . . steady . . . steady . . . drop!"
The sapphire dot cornered on a sharp ninety-degree turn, charging head-first for the waves below. He raised his viewer to watch her face, eyes squinting against the harsh air coursing past her faster and faster as it whistled past the microphone, mouth shut tight to avoid the intake of other small flying beings (again) . . .
"Turn on my mark . . . " He watched the altimeter clicking down, down, down, winding down to zero, but not fast enough . . .
"Holy crap! Too low! Turn, turn! Turn! Mark!" His voice found its higher octave capabilities as her late turn was swallowed by a passing wave.
The only blues now were the sky and the sea. Static lingered on the radio waves.
"BB! Recover! Is she ok? You got her?"
"Other than a little wet and a whole lot deaf, she's fine, you tin-plated maniac. Rave, can you take us to the tower? Your – "
"—cloak makes a lot of drag." The radio voice echoed the actual voice behind him.
He whirled around to find an impossibly young empath brushing wet hair back from her face with one hand and rubbing her left ear with the other. One eye clenched itself closed in a grimace of pain. Beast Boy let go of her waist and shot him a glare that would have melted the Arctic Circle.
"Ooops. Sorry about that, Rave."
She exhaled a deep breath and unclipped the inundated cloak. "I believe the altimeter needs adjusting. I will try again tomorrow."
Cyborg chuckled and patted her on the shoulder. "That's my girl."
She did not reply, but her grimace softened into a half-smile he had not seen before. No laughs yet, but I can tell he's been working on her. He handed her a towel.
A lime-hued Saint Bernard shook a monsoon off onto him. "Gar!" Vic yelled. "Let's go have some lunch. We have a guest today – Dick's in town and he's bringing Chinese for us Weekday Warriors. Get some dry clothes on, darlin'. You too, pea-brain."
Farewell, my cousin. Write soon. May all go well with your research. I still hope to visit before the summer is over.
I love all of the bands that I mention in this chapter, especially Evanescence. I just wanted to present how these characters would logically react to them in this particular situation.