Author's Notes: OK, to be totally honest, this story does not have much in the way of plot. I think it gets very deep into Raven's character, if I've done it well. It's supposed to really delve into her thoughts and opinions. If I was able to do that, then yay! But if you're looking for some fast-paced, thick plot kind of story, you're in the wrong place. This is all emotions.
I'd say this story takes place after the events in "Aftershock pt. II" but to be on the safe side, no later than "Deception." So, right after the second season.
This is not R/T. Ew. No. This is just thinking about Terra, but not in that way.
A HUGE thanks to AnimeKittyCafe for editing! I hope I got all of your corrections!
OK, that being said, let's get started! I hope you all enjoy this!
Running the Gauntlet
Raven quickly typed in the correct sequence of buttons to start up the obstacle course. It was dark out, with only the half-waxed moon to light her way. Still, she expertly began the timer, which gave her thirty seconds to get down to the beginning of the run. She levitated herself to the ground, closing her eyes as she did so. She could hardly see as it was; her eyes were not used to the gloom yet. Raven decided not to waste any energy on senses and movements she did not need.
The dark Titan still wasn't sure why she was going through this particular obstacle course. The Titans had dozens of courses throughout their little island, most of them hidden from view when not in use. Like the one she was about to run, they all folded up neatly and went underground. They saved much more space on the island that way. But Raven was running a relatively new course tonight. Cyborg had been the first to go through it, scoring a 2:17.
The next and last had been Terra.
She'd gotten 1:56. It was the course's record when she'd first achieved it, and it remained the course record to this day.
Raven listened carefully to the quiet beeping of the counter, letting her know to prepare herself. She could clearly picture in her head where Terra had been standing, about to run this very course. It was about three feet to the left.
The timer let out a single shrill beep. Raven powered herself up, and her hands became encased in her familiar dark energy. She levitated herself off the ground as quickly as she could, then sped towards the first obstacle.
This was probably going to turn into a big mistake. Raven couldn't stop brooding on the traitor. She felt her body switch over to automatic. She allowed her instincts to take over as she bravely went up against all that the course could throw at her. This permitted her mind to wander, to try to sort out the thoughts whirling in her head.
She had first met Terra that fateful day in the gorge. She had sensed something… else beneath the girl's cheery demeanor. Robin had as well, but neither of them had been able to pinpoint their feelings of hesitancy. Perhaps they could be classified as the two least-trusting Titans, but they had to be. They were the cautious ones.
But in the end, Robin had felt that Terra had proven herself. He figured out that she'd been unable to control her powers, and that was what felt strange about her. But he hadn't accounted for the fact that she would be extremely touchy about it and take off.
Raven could distinctly remember the devastated look on Beast Boy's face as Terra had yelled at him.
Raven closed her eyes at the thought. The large barriers fell in front of her, but her subconscious mind took over and she easily phased herself through them. Raven took a few deep breaths, then opened her eyes.
Terra had returned, however. But Raven found herself extremely distrusting of the blonde girl. She particularly hated when Terra gave them her first demonstration of her newly controlled powers. Raven had felt a boiling in the pit of her stomach that seemed to spread throughout her entire body as Terra swooped gracefully overhead, showing off. The entire team had been enthralled, especially Beast Boy.
Raven had continued to bash heads with Terra that day. After Terra had helped to save the Tower, however, Raven had had to give this a lot of thought. She still didn't like Terra. She doubted she ever would; there was just something about the girl she felt uncomfortable with. But is was clear to Raven that the blonde was trying, really trying to prove her worth. She already had to the rest of the team. It had all seemed normal enough, so Raven decided to "allow" her to live in the Tower and not make a fuss.
She should have gone with her gut.
Terra had even asked her if they were friends. Raven could remember the slightly hopeful lilt in Terra's voice as they walked down the hall together towards her new room. Raven had answered with a slight jibe, saying it was "close enough" to being friends that it didn't really matter that they weren't actually. But it was still true; they weren't friends then, and they never became friends.
It was funny. Beast Boy had asked the same question a long time before Terra ever showed up. He wanted to know if they really were friends. And Raven and said yes, although in fewer words.
But Raven, despite the fact that she told everyone she was fine with the addition of Terra to the team, was quite the opposite. She tried to like the girl, she really did. Of course, she'd never admit that to anyone, but it was true; she'd attempted to enjoy Terra's company and adjust herself to sharing the Tower with yet another girl.
Starfire had been very easy to get used to in the Tower. When she first joined the Titans, she was so full of energy, and it grinded Raven's nerves to no end. But soon she became relatively accustomed to Starfire's vibrancy, and felt it rather balanced them off. This was not so with Terra. Raven used to feel the entire Tower was perfectly aligned, completely harmonious… until Terra joined.
Raven knew she didn't trust Terra. There was no question to this. But why still bothered her. Raven couldn't figure out why her instincts told her Terra was trouble. She knew she had been right, but that didn't answer her question.
The dark Titan swerved through the obstacle course, her eyes glowing the darkness surrounding the Tower. In the distance, she could hear the lapping of the waves on the shore. A breeze ruffled the sparse grasses, giving off a low reedy sound. It felt as if she was the only person around for miles.
Did it have something to do with their powers? Raven and Terra both had trouble controlling their powers. Raven's were unstable and linked to pure evil, a dangerous thing to mess with. Terra's were like the earth; unpredictable. But Terra had gained control of her powers. Raven had not. Could it be that Raven was jealous of this?
Raven frowned as she pondered this. She never thought she'd been a jealous kind of person - until she'd delved into her mirror that evening Terra had officially joined the Titans. Raven kept replaying Terra's presentation in the air, still feeling the burning in her stomach. Determined to figure out the cause, she'd reached for her meditation mirror. She'd allowed herself to be sucked into her own mind. After a bit of searching, she'd found a sullen version of herself, clad in lime green. One quick glance told Raven that this emotion was not Brave.
Raven had approached cautiously. The feeling she had experienced in the afternoon had not been a pleasant one, thus making this emotion potentially dangerous. But the girl dressed in the rather unappealing shade of green only turned to glare at Raven as she came closer.
After the emotion had whined about the fact that Raven had a "better cloak, better hairstyle, and better accessories," Raven had been thoroughly disgusted. Whatever this emotion was, it was not an amiable one.
Another few moments of conversation led Raven to the realization that this morose girl in green wanted everything that someone else had. She was Jealousy, and Raven didn't like her at all.
As she retreated back to the safety of her room, Raven tried to sort out exactly what she had been jealous of. Eventually, she decided it was all the attention Terra received. She pushed it to the back of her mind, and had tried to fall asleep.
But now Raven was reminded of that horrible emotion, and wondered if maybe she'd been jealous of the fact that Terra had conquered her powers, while Raven was still shackled to them. True, she'd gained control at a terrible price, but for a little while, Terra had been free. And it was that freedom that Raven longed for so much.
Raven let a sigh escape her lips. Yes, that made much more sense. She had wanted to be like Terra in that moment; she had wanted to be able to use her powers to their fullest extent without worrying about rage consuming her, like her dear father threatened so often. She was jealous of Terra because Terra had achieved what she could not.
And yet, Raven was the one who was still here. Despite her lack of control, Raven had not been destroyed by her own mistakes.
But was that really all of it? Raven had hated Terra. She had loathed the blonde girl. She still did, really, but there was pity mixed in with the hatred now. Raven would never admit it, but she felt bad for the girl who had become so corrupted.
However, that didn't matter now. The fact remained that Raven harbored a huge amount of ill will towards Terra before she had even betrayed them.
Maybe… maybe it was because Terra could feel emotions. Her powers were indirectly linked to her feelings. Raven's powers practically were her emotions. So while Terra had lived with the same feeling of being trapped by her own body, she could still have expressed herself. She could laugh, she could cry, she could feel uncertain, she could scream with rage, she could fall in love… she could feel all the emotions Raven had to ward away. She had been in a cage, just like Raven, but her cage had holes in it through which she could reach out and touch other people. Raven was forced to sit on the sidelines and merely watch her friends living life to the fullest.
So there was another reason. Terra had been able to convey her feelings where Raven could not. Raven felt a slight flicker of shame as she realized this. She had known her whole life that emotions were beyond her. She should not have allowed herself to be caught up in inane jealousy over something so trivial.
And yet, she still felt jealous.
Raven flew through the obstacle course, her entire body focused on finishing. Her muscles screamed in protest, but she kept going. She would not allow herself to stop. Her breathing was ragged, and there was sweat dripping down her face. Despite the fact that it was a relatively easy course, she pushed herself to go the fastest she ever had.
As she moved her body through the course, she smirked slightly. At least she had one thing above Terra. Terra had had the body of a young girl on the cusp of womanhood. Raven had a much more mature body, her curves far more defined than Terra's thin figure. She knew her body was more appealing to men than Terra's had been. There had been times in the Tower when Raven's cloak had billowed out or pushed back to reveal her well-built form, and the boys' eyes would follow her. She could recall an instance when she had been reading on the couch, minding her own business, when Beast Boy and Terra approached, asking to sit there to use the TV. Raven had glanced up. She had realized that her cloak had slid aside, leaving her lying there on her side, her curves accentuated by her skintight leotard. Raven had lifted herself up, allowing her body to rise gracefully. She had seen through the corner of her eye Beast Boy's gaze trace her entire body up and down, and when she turned to Terra, the blonde's falsely cheery smile did not quite reach her eyes. Raven had relinquished the couch, but felt smug, knowing she really had been the victor.
Yes. Well. She knew now two reasons for feeling jealous. That must be it, right?
It couldn't be. Her dislike of Terra was too strong.
There was one other possibility. One other terrible possibility. One that Raven did not even want to think about, but it crept into her mind through all the dark crevices, filling her senses and clouding her judgment.
Terra had said it herself; she had thrown it out as a option as to why Raven was so furious with the blonde. She had wondered aloud whether Raven had been hurt by the fact that her teammates, her friends had appeared to like Terra more than they liked her.
Raven felt a tingling feeling in the pit of her stomach as she remembered that battle. As Terra had taunted her, she had felt her father's influence bubble up under her own mind. She knew that was precisely what the earth girl had hoped for. Raven had tried to suppress the rage flowing through her veins, but Terra knew exactly what to say to draw out the evil in her. It was as if Raven was strung out tight, and Terra was plucking the strings in exactly the right places to create the most tension. For a few brief moments, Raven had permitted her constraint to falter. She had rose above Terra, pure evil consuming her being. She'd managed to hold onto part of herself, but she had seen the fear in Terra's eyes. It was that fear that fueled her. The darkness in her heart yearned to see that fear all the time, and to be the cause of it. It fed off of the terror of others, like a bloodthirsty creature. But Raven, both as herself and as a demon, had forgotten she was encased in Terra's element. That was her mistake, and she had been beaten.
But even after that fight, Raven heard Terra's words echo through the recesses of her mind. She knew what the girl had said was true; Raven was jealous because her friends had flocked to Terra over her. Starfire used to pester her about doing more "girl things" together; after Terra joined the team, these requests diminished. Cyborg would often try to get to her talk to him, in a big brotherly sort of way, but when Terra became a Titan, he was much more likely to approach her about hanging out than he would Raven. Robin had always been very involved in Raven's training, knowing she needed to practice the most restraint of everybody. Once Terra joined the team, he watched over her practices a great deal more than Raven's.
And Beast Boy. Before, he had always been trying to make her laugh. It seemed like his one goal in life was to make her giggle (and consequently, it seemed like his goal was to make her as frustrated as possible). He was always trying to involve her in the team's activities, and had seemed genuinely disappointed when she declined his offers. He was always looking for an opportunity to get her to talk to him, to really open herself up. But she had never done so.
Then they all met Terra, and Beast Boy had fallen for her like a sack of bricks. Raven recalled with disgust his puppy dog eyes at her and his constant hanging on her every word. All of his attention had switched over to Terra. Instead of attempting to make Raven laugh, he'd told Terra everyone one of his bad jokes - and she'd actually chuckled at a few of them. He would invite Terra to join him in a round on the game console, and she'd accept. The two of them would sit and confide in each other for hours, growing closer with every sentence. And Raven felt such a strong hatred at the thought, such a horrible feeling of abhorrence and detestation that she was surprised that their entire island, their entire city was still in one piece.
Why should she care that her friends spent more time Terra than herself? It was clear that Terra would be infinitely more "fun" to hang around with; Raven knew that even she would have shied away from someone who was always cynical. She should have known this; she should have been able to deal with it and push it to the back of her mind. Yet she didn't. Why?
Raven felt another breeze kick up around her as she fought her way. With an inward cringe, she realized she wasn't as mature as she thought. Perhaps a jaded adult could have handled the replacement without so much as a second thought, but she was still a young teenager who, despite the fact that she had to keep them hidden and downtrodden, still felt emotions. That was the thing her teammates didn't understand. She did have emotions; she just could let them loose.
But it stung her to realize that no matter what she told herself, she still wanted her friends to like her. She wanted to be included in the group, even if she could never really fit it. Being half-human was better than not being human at all. She wanted to feel human emotions, just like everybody else. She just… couldn't.
Terra had taken her spot on the team. She was the girl who couldn't control herself, but she could still tell them how she felt about it, thusly putting her above Raven. The Titans had naturally gravitated to the blonde. So then why did it bother Raven so much?
Raven recalled the revulsion she felt every time she witnessed Beast Boy and Terra sharing a "moment." It always seemed like the world was shattering beneath her feet as Terra giggled merrily at something Beast Boy said, and he beamed at her. For a single instant, Raven's mind replayed a scene in which Terra had been waiting for Beast Boy to finish baking her some sort of cake to try. As he had swept over to the earth girl with a flourish, the cake had exploded over both of them, clearly overheated. They'd blinked at each other for a few seconds, until they both burst into simultaneous hysterics. Their laughter finally faded into weak giggles as they wiped tears from their eyes, glancing at each other. Beast Boy and Terra had simply stared into each other's eyes for a few moments, then looked away, each slightly red in the face. Raven had viewed the entire exchange from the couch, pretending to read. Raven blinked and the memory replayed itself, this time with an alteration. Now she saw herself sitting at the stool, waiting for Beast Boy to shower her in gifts and attention. She could clearly picture the same cake splattering her and Beast Boy with batter, and the two of them roaring with laughter at the sight. She saw their eyes meet, but this time, they didn't turn away. They kept their gazes fixed on one another's eyes, the smiles on their faces present for an entirely different reason now…
Oh God. She'd fallen for Beast Boy.
Raven's eyes opened wide as she came to this startling realization. Her momentary lapse in concentration cost her a vital second, and one of the disks programmed to shoot after the player running the course whizzed by her face, slicing a thin line in her cheek. Blood splattered onto her robe, and she cursed under breath. She flung a dark orb over her shoulder at the flying disk, and it shattered. She narrowed her eyes at the others, still flying at her, and her body fell back into its pattern of destruction.
How could she have been so stupid? It was right in front of her this whole time. She was jealous of Terra because of Beast Boy. It was all very clear now. She hated Terra because Beast Boy had followed her around like a lovesick puppy. She hated Terra because she had done what Raven had not: win Beast Boy's heart.
That was why she had found herself appreciating the green Titan's concern after a while. After her initial dislike of the changeling, she'd been drawn to him without even knowing it. His constant pranks, his immature jokes, his goofy smile, it had all overtaken her. Even though she said she found it annoying, she reveled in the attention he gave her. And Terra had taken that attention away.
Raven felt like an idiot.
It all added up. Terra had been able to gain control of her powers, for however short a time, where Raven could not. She'd reined herself in. She kept her powers on a leash instead of letting her powers keep her on a leash. She had accomplished all this, and Raven had not.
Terra had been able to feel emotions, something Raven could not do either. Terra could have expressed herself to her friends. Terra could have, if she'd wanted to, told Beast Boy she loved him. If she even had. But Raven could never utter these words to anyone. She felt a pang, knowing she could never admit how she felt to the one who needed to know the most.
That thought led to the next reason Raven hated Terra. Terra had pushed Raven out of her place in the Tower. No wonder it had felt off balance. There was only room for one of them in the Tower. Raven felt a slight smirk grace her features as she realized, while Terra had her at many other things, Raven was still the one living. That was something she and Terra did not have in common.
It seemed to all fit. Raven was extraordinarily jealous of the blonde girl for multiple reasons, each fiercer than the last. There was just something else… it was on the tip of Raven's tongue. The final piece of the puzzle was not in place. Something was still missing… and it hit Raven with a jolt. As she'd been thinking about Terra and her struggle for control, she'd reminded the dark girl of someone else. Terra's plight was hauntingly similar to another's, and Raven, with a shiver of dread down her spine, realized who that was.
Terra reminded her of herself.
Raven hated Terra because she was jealous of her. Terra had control, something Raven desperately craved. Terra could share her feelings, something that were entirely foreign to the dark Titan. Terra had Beast Boy's heart, something Raven desired more than she ever thought she could. But mostly, she hated Terra because Terra was so similar to herself, and Raven clenched her fists as she acknowledged that she hated herself. She hated her lack of control, her blank face, her hooded eyes, her lonely heart; all of it. Given half the chance, Raven would change herself. Not entirely, but there was a lot she felt needed improvement.
Raven crossed the finish line, causing the buzzer to ring out as it calculated her score. She fell to her knees, completely exhausted both physically and mentally. She panted hard, the abrasion on her face still bleeding sluggishly. Lifting a tired hand, she wiped the excess blood away. Her muscles ached, but it felt good to her; she enjoyed that pain. It made her feel alive, it made her feel human.
She stood up slowly, not wanting to overexert herself. She made her way slowly up to the platform with the controls on it. She felt drained of all life.
Was Terra the better person? Was Terra a better version of Raven?
Raven sank with shaky legs into the chair bolted down the floor. She wiped her brow with the back of her hand. Tonight's obstacle course had been, to say the least, enlightening and strenuous.
She glanced down at the blinking red numbers that had scored her. She looked back up at the stars - then wrenched her gaze down again. She stared at the numbers. She must have been going through a lot faster than she thought, but still, this couldn't be right… Raven punched a few buttons, trying to see if the timer wasn't calibrated correctly. It was. She replayed her actions through the course, and saw that the calculations were dead on. Raven had scored a 1:41.
She had beaten Terra's record.
Author's Notes: Whoo! I'm actually really pleased with this. I like it a lot, and I hope you guys do too!
By the way, I am really excited about season five! Yay! But I hate spoilers. Do not give me any. I'm totally serious. Absolutely none. I don't want them. (I'm trying to make sure I make this very clear.) NO SPOILERS! Thank you.
Also, yes, there was no dialogue in this entire story (although there was mention of it). This was done on purpose. If you want to complain that it made the piece boring, well, I can't stop you, but don't tell me I should have included it 'cause it wasn't there for a reason.
Anyway, I'd love to hear your interpretations of this piece. (I, obviously, have my own, but I'm not going to try to change yours and say it!) I want you to tell me exactly what you make of this. Don't be shy! -