"Titans, go!"

Unfolding his staff with flourish, Robin lead the charging Teen Titans against the Brotherhood of Evil. Behind him flew the graceful Starfire, the reclusive Raven, and determined Cyborg astride a large green T-Rex. Their opponents readied themselves for a fight as the two groups collided.

"Ze Titans are angry today, oui?" a large gorilla snarked as he evaded Robin's swipes.

"Indeed they are, Mister Mallah," a withered old man replied slyly as he pressed a few buttons on a remote control. At his beck and call, several drones flew up and engaged the flying Titans.

"The immortal one is harassing me!" Starfire squeaked.

"Cute, Immortius," Raven snarked as she knocked the devices out of the air with a small blast of soul energy. "But... it'll take a little more than that."

"Indeed it will, dear," a Russian voice trilled from behind her. The cloaked girl turned to see the sneering owner of the voice.

"Madame Rouge," she growled.

"Hello, Raven,"the shapeshifter replied, smirking.

"Less greeting, more beating," Raven replied as her eyes blazed white.

"Yes, of course darling... Back off, everyone... Goth Girl is mine."

"'Goth Girl?' Did you need help to think of that?" Raven drawled. Her opponent frowned in annoyance.

"You're quite the arrogant one, Raven..."

"Well, I try," the girl replied with a sly smile.

"Someone must teach you a lesson," Rouge insisted.

"Someone must shut you up," Raven croaked as she opened her arms wide. "Azarath Metrion Z--" Raven's trademark chant was cut off as Rouge's arms snapped up and grabbed the teenager, dragging her to the ground.

"I do believe it's you who needs to shut up, girl..." Rouge insisted.

"Shut this," Raven growled as black energy began to flow out of her and into Rouge. The woman smirked, as if was a mere parlor trick. She twitched her head, and the blackness was forced back into Raven. She stiffened with a gasp, eyes wide.

"Ah, you didn't know about my new... surgery? I'm able to repulse any attack right back onto the attacker. Now, let's see you be afraid for once, shall we?"

"I'm not afraid..." Raven rasped, looking away. Her teammates whirled and realized their friend's predicament, but a sea of drones kept them away.

"Oh, but you are. You are. Yes, I can see it. Your father..."

"Isn't a threat," the girl hissed, struggling.

"But, he lives on in you, doesn't he darling? Yes, I can see your fears. The end of the world, for real this time, no?"

"It's over," Raven replied. A note of fear choked her voice.

"No, it's not," Rouge replied as she squeezed Raven's arms harder. The demon hybrid jerked violently.

"Yes, your friends are dead, at your hand. The fear, the dread, the ruins, the anguish, it burns at you, doesn't it? I can feel it, girl."

"You don't scare me!" Raven snapped, terror growing in her voice.

"No, but you do," Rouge replied. With that, she morphed into a clone of her victim, possessed by her demonic father. Four red eyes and long antlers looked down at her with a sneer. "Look at the future, my young friend," her clone growled in her own voice, heavy with anger and hate. Raven cried out, and Rouge dropped her as the shapeshifter reverted to normal. The teenager crumbled to her knees, panting.

"Raven!" Robin cried as he ran to aid her. Again, drones kept him back.

"You can easily stop this, girl," Rouge soothed mockingly, putting a hand on the trembling girl's shoulder. Raven did not respond; pained, fearful breathing was the only thing coming out of her mouth. "Ah, I see. A glutton for punishment? Very well, then..." she snarked as she again grabbed Raven. The teenager staring into her cold eyes was frozen in terror. "Scared, darling? No. You do not know fear. However, I shall now show you fear." With that, she dragged Raven forward with a jerk and enveloped her body in one motion.

"No!" Starfire cried as she was held back by drones.

"Oh, such concern for your little friend," Rouge mocked as she clutched her swollen middle tight. "I'm just going to show her the true meaning of fear." With that, the form embedded in Rouge thrashed as Raven's pained screams broke the stillness. With a feral growl, Robin dove at her. She sidestepped him easily. "We're done here," she sniffed. "Goodbye, Titans." With that, Rouge disappeared with Mallah and Immortius in a flash of light, leaving only the echo of Raven's screaming behind.

"Raven...?" Starfire squeaked, flying to where the gruesome display had occurred. "Where are you, dear friend?"

"She ain't here, Star," Cyborg said grimly.

"So I noticed," Beast Boy sighed. Robin a hand on his shoulder.

"We'll find her, Beast Boy. I promise," he assured him.

"Will she be her, though? She sounded like she was being murdered..." Beast Boy sighed.

"I know, but we'll find Raven. Alive. Back to the Tower, Titans."

But, Robin was wrong. Wherever the Brotherhood took Raven, it was untraceable. As the hours dragged into days, hope began to fade. By the time a week had passed, the team had begun to wonder if Raven was ever coming back.

Raven struggled to compose herself as she staggered up the hill to Titans Tower. Her cloak and leotard were tattered and stained, and her face was dirty. But she couldn't let her teammates know what had happened to her. She straightened herself and through great effort put on her usual calm, stoic expression before walking inside. She found them in the living room, hunched over the computer. "Hey. I'm back," she called with a shrug. The Titans jerked their heads up in stunned shock.

"Oh, happy days! Friend Raven has returned!" Starfire cried as she swooped down upon the arrival. Suddenly, Raven cringed and opened fire, nearly hitting the alien. "Raven? Why are you attacking me?" Starfire sobbed.

"Yeah, what's up, Raven?" Cyborg asked.

"Nothing, I'm fine, nothing happened to me!" Raven suddenly snapped. "I'm going to my room." With that, she flew off. As she landed and walked away, she could hear her friends talking.

"What was THAT all about?" Cyborg asked, confused.

"Raven's probably just tired... who knows what the Brotherhood was doing to her," Robin shrugged. "We should stay alert, though. They might have interrogated her for information."

"What?" Beast Boy squeaked. "There's no way Raven would sing!" he snapped. Suddenly, an alarm went off. The battered teenager slowed to a stop. She knew what that alarm meant.

"Trouble!" Robin cried. "Dr. Light's at the main power plant stealing power. Let's go, Titans!"

"Dr. Light?" Raven thought. "I'm sure knocking some sense into the sorry little man would get me energized again." With that, she ran down the hall, startling her teammates with her arrival once more.

"I'm ready," Raven said as she pulled on her hood.

"You... are?" Starfire blinked.

"Yeah, why wouldn't I be?" Raven asked, a note of defense in her voice. The gray teen's hands twitched slightly. Robin looked at them for a moment, then at their owner's face.

"You're sure you're up to this..." he insisted.

"Yes, yes, let's go!" Raven growled, storming off. Her teammates gave each other a confused and concerned look, and followed after.

Before the Titans had even entered the main generator room, they heard the bombastic, bragging voice of one of their most pathetic nemeses.

"The power! The power of Jump City in my grasp!" Dr. Light cried as they ran in. His arms was outstretched, a smile on his face as his body greedily drank in the power flowing into it. Raven frowned, annoyed.

"Are you just stupid... or, really stupid, dear doctor?" she snorted. With that, Dr. Light brought his arms down, and turned slowly towards his opponents.

"Well, well. The Teen Titans. And, is that Raven with you?"

"That's... what they call me," the teen croaked, her clothes still dirty and torn. "Now, shut up and get down like a big boy."

"I... think not, girl," Dr. Light scolded. He raised a sole arm, as if to call something down upon the Titans' heads. Suddenly, the power went out and the generators slowed, throwing the entire room into darkness. "Much better," he called out.

Raven's breathing froze in her throat. She backed away from her friends, looking around in fear as she did. Just as she was starting to think she was safely away from an attacker, she bumped against something cold and metallic.

"Boo," the form said calmly with an icy sneer to it. Raven shrieked and tried to run, but the form held fast.

"Let me go!" she cried, more in fear than usual annoyance.

"Now, why would I want to do that?" Dr. Light mused mockingly. "There's so many other things I can do now that the shoe's on the other foot," he added. "Oh, I know," he said as the power suddenly returned, showing them above a box on the floor. "You're far too mobile right now." With that, he dropped Raven into the box below, which slammed shut after her. The girl's reaction was immediate; her eyes dulled in terror and she pounded fiercely against the walls.

"Let me out!" she cried. "Please! Let me out!" Above, her teammates stared in shock. Raven was terrified, let alone showing emotion? The sight was too numbing to let them move to help her. Unopposed, Dr. Light landed next to her. He leaned down so his face was right against the imprisoned teen's.

"I'm sorry, I thought you'd like it. Perhaps it's too... open for you?" he shrugged mockingly as he pressed a button. The box shuddered, and began to shrink. Raven wailed once more and cowered, covering her head with her hands as if bracing for an incoming bomb. Finally, just as she was about to be crushed, the box stopped. Dr. Light opened the box and lifted Raven out, smirking. She opened her eyes enough to see his mocking expression.

"Raven, you... are a sad little girl," he said simply. With that, he tossed her across the room. She skidded to a stop, moaning. The man smiled at his job well done, then looked up at the Titans. He nodded a goodbye, and ran out of the building. More concerned with their friend, the Titans ignored him and ran to help Raven.

"Raven? Are you... okay?" Starfire asked.

"I'm fine, I'm fine, I'm fine..." she mumbled over and over, as if to convince herself of the claim. She looked up, struggling to keep her usually controlled face. "I'm fine," she said, voice cracking.

"Raven..." Robin scolded.

"I said I'm fine!" Raven snapped. "Now, let's go!"

"If you say so," Cyborg shrugged.

"Please, friend! Tell us your woes!"

"No! There aren't any woes!"

"Raven, stop it. You were crying. You were screaming. You were beaten by DR. LIGHT," Robin insisted. "There is something wrong!"

"No! You're all confused and delusional!" Raven snapped, shattering a few light bulbs in the room. "You just didn't know what you were seeing!"

"No, pretty sure we did know," Beast Boy countered. "You were, uh, crying Raven. Real bad."

"Shut up," she answered in a low growl.

"Rae..." Cyborg said.

"Shut. Up."

"But, Raven..." Starfire pleaded. Raven's soul self blazed.

"I told you! There is nothing wrong! I am fine! They didn't do anything to me, do you understand?"

"...we didn't ask if someone did something to you..." Robin answered.

"Well, that's because no one did anything to me, end of story," Raven snarled. "Now, if you have to need me, I'll be in my room. I want to be left alone." With that, she turned and walked away.

"Uh, Rae..." Beast Boy asked as a sheep. Raven froze and her soul self blazed even brighter. The small boy yelped and hid behind Cyborg. Her questioner scared, Raven calmly walked towards the door to quarters. Silence fell over the room as she left. Now finally alone, the girl entered her dark room. Her hands twitched, her eyes clenched shut, and an angry power built inside of her. With one loud, shrill cry, Raven flung her arms and screamed. The world seemed to explode; her windows shattered, her mattress burst, her books went flying, and the seldom used light bulbs exploded, showering her with sparks and fine pieces of glass. Spent, Raven slid down the foot board of her bed and collapsed to her knees. Merciful stillness gripped her room until an invasive knock came to her door.

"Uh, Raven?" a familiar, high pitched male voice called. Raven closed her eyes and clenched her fists.

"Beast Boy, I'm going to ask you again. Leave me alone."

"Rae, you need to talk to someone..."

"No, I don't, because I'm fine," Raven replied as she crawled onto the remains of her bed.

"Please stop lying..." Beast Boy begged.

"I'm not lying. I'm fine. Absolutely fine..." Raven croaked. "Absolutely..." Before she could finish, she broke down and started to weep softly. With her head buried in her hands, she didn't see the small green snake slipping under the door, or the sound of flesh twisting into another shape.

"Raven?" Beast Boy gasped in shock. The girl looked up at him, stunned.

"No... go away..." she blurted.

"Raven, this is getting old!" Beast Boy snapped. "Now, c'mon, talk t--"

"You're a lie!" Raven cried.


"You're a lie! You're not real! Go away! Just... leave me alone!" Raven screamed, hurling a partially torn pillow at him before resuming her weeping.

"Um... can I prove to you I'm not at all?" the boy asked.

"No. You can't. You're fooling me."

"Oh, for cryin' out loud, Raven! I'm real!" he insisted, walking towards her gently. "Honestly!"

"You're a mirage!" the shaken teenager snapped back.

"I am not!" Beast Boy huffed defensively. He paused, then smiled. "Could a mirage do... this!" he blurted, hugging Raven tight. The hugee stiffened with a whimper.

"Um, are you okay?" Beast Boy asked.

"...don't do it again..." Raven begged softly.

"Do what again? Raven, what's your deal!"

"You know what," she gulped.

"No, I don't..." he insisted. Slowly, Raven turned. She looked him up and down, as if searching for a zipper or buttons or some other signs of fakery. To the utter shock of the boy hugging her, Raven squeezed back as if he were a prized teddy.

"Please be real. Please be real. Oh, Azar, please be Beast Boy," she begged with a hoarse choke.

"Uh, I am..." Beast Boy replied.

"Prove it," Raven whispered, eyes wide, begging for an answer.

"Okay. Um, remember the time I put itching powder in your hood once?"

"Yes," Raven said cautiously. "And how I actually got you back."

"No you didn't," Beast Boy said with a furrowed brow. "You just yelled at me really loud and made me think I was going to die." Raven blinked, and a thankful glow appeared in her eyes. She squeezed Beast Boy even tighter.

"It IS you!" she sobbed happily.

"First, Raven," Beast Boy gasped, "loosen your grip on me." The boy relaxed as Raven's tight grip indeed loosened around him. "And, second," he continued as he rubbed her back, "tell me what happened."

"It was horrible..." Raven choked. "they... they..." The girl couldn't bring herself to say it, and she resumed her crying.

"Who? What did they do?" Beast Boy urged.

"The Brotherhood," Raven said softly at last. "I don't know how it all started, or when, or why..."

"I did see," Beast Boy insisted. "We all did. Rouge pretty much swallowed you and disappeared with Mallah and Immortius after the fight..."

"That was only the beginning," Raven replied with a whisper and scared shake of her head. "It was so much more than that... so much more..."


Raven grunted as she hit a hard, stone floor face down. The cold rock made her shudder, but compared to where she just was...

"Welcome to your new home, girl," Rouge sneered as she closed her body. The teen sat up with a groan and rubbed her head wearily, looking around. She found herself a small, cramped chamber, barely enough room to move around in. There was nothing inside, not even so much as a cot. Raven stumbled for the Russian shape shifter, but a forcefield bounced her back, sending her back onto her rear.

"Oh, peachy," she muttered.

"How sweet. You think you can attack me," Rouge smirked. "Tell me something, ... how did it feel?"

"I don't know what you're talking about," Raven rasped as she stood up.

"If you insist. What matters is that you're here."

"Oh, yes. I'm just going to relax here at the Hotel Brotherhood. Tell me, do you have Room Service? I'd like some herbal tea," Raven croaked with a raised eyebrow. Rouge frowned, annoyed yet amused.

"Still the same cynical, stone hard Raven, I see," she nodded. "That will change, I assure you."

"Will it now," Raven snarked back.

"Enjoy your arrogance while you can, Roth," Rouge warned.

"Now I'm just annoyed," Raven rasped as her eyes lit up white and she brought up her arms. "Azarath Met--" She was cut off as something clamped around her throat. She gagged, clutching at her neck. Her hands touched something cold. Feeling it, she found some sort of collar around her neck.

"Yes, we wouldn't want you breaking free and zapping us," Rouge scolded. "As I was saying, you're going to lose more than you can imagine, my friend. I'll let you think about that for a while." With that, she left, locking a steel door behind her.

"What could she possibly mean..." Raven muttered in her head.

Hours later found Raven pacing her small cell. It wasn't so much pacing as it was all but turning in circles. Her hands firmly clasped behind her back, head hung slightly in thought, the girl grumbled, trying to think of her next move.

"Captured by the Brotherhood... this is ridiculous," she muttered. "And why ME specifically? Why not Cyborg? Or Beast Boy? Or all of us? And how do I get rid of this thing..." Raven added as she tugged at the collar around her neck. She convulsed as an electric shock ran through her. "...without killing myself," she mumbled. "All I know is, I can't very well breakout without knowing where I am, why I'm here, and what--" She trailed off as the door creaked open. Madame Rouge stood before her once again.

"Hello, Raven. Enjoying your stay?"

"Loads," the teen growled icily.

"Good. Only first class facilities for guests," Rouge smirked.

"Is... that a fact? I'm still waiting on that herbal tea, and I want to go sunbathe on the patio." The older woman scowled.

"I'm getting rather tired of your attitude, girl," Rouge replied.

"Good for you," Raven answered, a wry smile on her lips.

"Yes, after that, I do believe it's time we began."

"Begin what exactly, Rouge..." Raven hissed.

"Why, your torture, you silly girl," Rouge smirked. Raven's already faint smile faded away.

"Torture? What do you mean by t--" The teenager was cut off as her captor's putty like limbs lashed out and ensnared her. Again, Raven's own powers tore through her body, causing her stiffen and buck in agony. She groaned through her teeth.

"Yes, let's take a look at what's in that little gray head of yours, shall we?" Rouge mused. Before Raven could answer, she was once again swallowed up in the cold flesh of Rouge's body.

Raven found herself on top an indiscreet building in Jump City at night. The girl scowled, circling her shoulder so her cloak fell around her.

"This... is what you think I fear," Raven snarked. "Yes, I'm terrified. I'm shaking in my boots."

"Are you now," Rouge's voice called from nowhere. Raven looked around, trying to find where the voice was coming from, but the source remained invisible. "Well, I do believe you will be shortly. Tell me, dear, do you feel anything?"

"I'm annoyed, irritated, frustrated, a little angry... anything else, Rouge?"

"How about physically?"

"Well," Raven grumbled, "I don't know why I'm telling you this, but my hands do feel a little f..." Raven trailed off as she looked down. Her fingers were no longer fingers, but sharp, hooked talons taking on a reddish hue. "What...?" she muttered.

"Feeling anything else now, Raven?" Rouge teased. "Fear, perhaps? Or rage? Anger? ...Hate?"

"It's not real," Raven whispered as her skin turned bright red. "It's not real. It's not re--" Her denial was cut of by a splitting headache. Her hands flew to her head just as large, long bony objects tore through her flesh and sprouted.

"Antlers!" she gaped mentally.

The aching in her body continued, her ears sharpening, eyes watering and doubling; her vision now came in tones of blood red. Her teeth stretched out, and became razor sharp. Raven groaned and clutched her stomach as something within her twisted and swirled. She arched in pain as her bones cracked with a sickening crunch; her feet twisted and melted, reforming into hooves as her legs took on the shape of a powerful beast of war. As the feelings died away, a mirror sprouted as if from nowhere, and she saw her reflection.

The daughter of Trigon's reflection.

"No..." she managed, a hand to her mouth. The voice that came out was hers, now with an undercurrent of hate and rage.

"Oh, yes, Raven. This is very real. And look, here come your little friends!" Rouge mocked. Without her doing so, Raven whirled around to face the onrushing Titans. Something else was controlling her body; something she couldn't fight. Her teammates landed on the building, and gaped.

"...Raven?" Robin asked, shocked. Raven yelled at them to flee while they could... well, she would have if she had control of her mouth. Instead, her body raised a single hand, a fireball forming in it. She could feel a cold sneer forming on her face.

"Stop... don't..." her mind snapped. Her body didn't listen. With one quick flick of her arm, Raven watched helplessly as her body flung the ball at Robin. The boy burst into flames and crumbled to a charred heap before he ever knew what happened. The surviving Titans looked down at what was left of their friend, then at his murderer.

"Oh, you're going down now, traitor," Cyborg growled as he took aim. Raven felt herself pulled forward, and watched as her clawed hands grabbed the large man and tore his chest to shreds, feeling the shudder as man and machine emitted their last gasps of life. She threw the lifeless hulk aside.

"This isn't happening!" Raven's mind screamed as her body lunged for Starfire. The small alien yelped and took to the air. But, it was to no avail. The demonic Raven stretched right after her, growing and growing until her cold, hateful arms ensnared her. Starfire's terrified eyes stared into hers as Raven watched her body break the alien almost in half, then drop the dead girl into the alley below. With the third Titan down, Raven sank back down and turned to the last one left.

"Hello Beast Boy..." her alien voice rasped.

"Rae... Raven... no," Beast Boy begged. Before he could even wince, the demon swept over him, and he was pulled into a torrent of cold fire and rage below his friend's cloak. His screams slowly died away as the maelstrom within calmed. Raven's mind was still struggling with what she saw when she felt her arms rise into the air.

"Azarath Metrion ZINTHOS!"

As Raven watched, a horrific shockwave spread out from the building. Jump City evaporated in a wall of fiery destruction, which spread out from its charred ashes and continued over the horizon. She couldn't see it, but she could feel it, racing over continents, evaporating oceans, searing life from the surface. As the tremor slowed, Raven found herself as the last thing on a charred, lifeless Earth. The mirror popped back up from the wreckage of the building she stood on, accented by the fires as the empty cities of the world burned around her.

"You have a wonderful future ahead of you, Raven."

Raven screamed as the world and her mind turned black.

Raven grunted twice as Rouge expelled her from her body; once for hitting the wall, another for landing on the ground.

"Was that pleasing for you, dear?" Rouge smirked as Raven frantically patted herself down and looked down at human hands. Realizing what she was doing, Raven straightened up and climbed to her feet.

"I'm not scared of your parlor tricks, Rouge," Raven answered. But even she couldn't hide the tremble of fear in her voice.

"Is that a fact?" Rouge asked, crossing her arms.

"You heard me," Raven managed. "I'm not scared."

"Oh, of course. The hour, however, is late. Have something to eat before bed," she urged. She handed her a stale piece of bread.

"Cute," Raven snarled. "I'm not an animal."

"Oh, of course. Good night, Raven," Rouge replied. With that, she slammed the door shut and locked it behind her. Grumbling, Raven sat down, pulled her cloak tight, and fitfully dozed off.

An air horn jerked the girl awake from her sleep.

"Good morning, sleepy head..." Rouge smirked. "Breakfast?" she offered, extending the same piece of bread. Raven smacked it out of her hand with a feral growl, causing Rouge to frown as she picked it up.

"Temper, temper, Raven."

"If I didn't have this collar on, you would know the meaning of 'temper,'" Raven replied in an icy voice.

"Oh, I'm sure I would. Goodbye now, Raven," Rouge replied as she left.

"That was exciting," Raven grumbled as she turned over and faced the corner of the cell. Still groggy from the recent stress and lack of food, she wanted to do nothing but go back to sleep. In fact, she was so tired, she could have sworn the walls, floor and ceiling were compacting. She sat up.

"That's not possible when you're simply tired," she said to herself as she took stock around her. Yes, everything was starting to compress on her. This... was not a good thing. On instinct, Raven jumped up and tried to push the invasive constructs back, but it was no use; they were far too heavy and large to move. Strained and exhausted, she flopped onto the floor, watching as her world continued to close in.

"Stop," she snapped. Of course, it didn't work.

"I said stop!" she yelled again, a note of terror in her voice. Still, the bricks kept coming. Stressed, Raven huddled and shielded her head with her arms.

"Stop, stop, stop!" she cried as she felt the six sides push up against her, biting into flesh, compressing her bones, making them creak...

...then, nothing. Raven sat up, blinking, as something withdrew from her sides. Rouge's arms; their owner looked down at her in mock concern.

"My, my, Raven. We were having such a nice conversation, then you simply started screaming about something crushing you!"

"That's impossible... you weren't here..." Raven sputtered.

"Oh, but I was, my friend. You see, the Brain and Phobia have cooked up something wonderful with you in mind. My suit? Covered in a chemical that, when in contact with a victim, brings his or her fears to life. You've just had two tastes of it."

"Lucky me, I'm a lab rat," Raven mumbled. She looped her arms around her knees slightly. Rouge raised an eyebrow.

"What's this? Hugging your knees? Are you scared, Raven?"

"No! Nothing scares me!" Raven snapped. "And you don't control me."

"We don't?" Rouge asked, feigning offense. "I'd look around if I were you, Raven. You're in our cell, wearing our collar, subject to our whims... I'd say you are."

"Well... you're wrong!" Raven replied.

"Are we really? I can hear the fear in your voice, see it in your eyes..."

"Get out!" Raven spat. Rouge scowled.

"Oh, you sound strong now. But you'll crack, I assure you, Even Raven has her limits. And once we reach them, well... you'll sing like a bird."

"Out!" Raven snapped, her eyes turning white. This activated the collar once more, and she choked, clawing at it. Rouge sighed in mock disappointment.

"Not talkative? A pity. You always were fun to talk to..." With that, she stepped out of the small cell and once more slammed the door shut behind her. Behind her, Raven's pain died away and she returned to a calm sitting position. She refused to believe the putty-like woman taunting her. She had been controlling her emotions for years, a few parlor tricks wouldn't make her snap. She'd beaten her own father at the brink of the apocalypse. There was no way, on Earth or Azar, that she was going to let a creep like Madame Rouge do what enemies like Slade and Trigon had failed to do. She breathed deeply and sought to center herself. She had to admit, however, these walls were a bit confining...

Time had passed; she didn't know how much.

"Azarath Metrion Zinthos. Azarath Metrion Zinthos."

Raven hovered, cross legged, eyes closed, hands in Zen position for concentration. If anything was going to help her escape or stay calm, it would be her meditation routines. She winced at the distracting growl of her stomach. It had been days since she'd had anything decent to fill it with; the last thing she remembered having was her usual fare of herbal tea. No matter. She had to focus. Focus on channeling her energy. Focus on how to get out of here. Focus on the pizza, fresh out of the oven...

Raven's eyes snapped open as the wonderful aroma of fresh pizza filled her nostrils. She couldn't see anything, but she certainly smelled something. The melted cheese, the nicely baked crust, the sweet sauce... the teenager felt her mouth begin to water in anticipation. She scowled and struggled to focus.

"Azarath, Metrion--"

Now she could smell herbal tea, freshly boiled. The wonderful aroma of her favorite herbs flicked teasingly in her nose, tempting her. Raven scowled and clenched her eyes. She refused to give in to the Brotherhood's petty tricks.


Gingerbread cookies. Her secret Achilles' heel of food. She growled in frustration and crashed to the floor. There was no way she could focus now. Just as she was stewing over the failure to focus the door opened. Raven looked up in an odd combination of rage and hope that perhaps it wasn't a hallucination when Rouge walked in carrying a pizza box.

"Special delivery for our special guest," she teased. Hungry and annoyed, Raven ripped it out of her hands and tore the box open. Her heart sank as, once again, the stale bread stared back at her.

"Well? Eat up. Growing girls need their moldy fiber," she urged. Raven scowled for a moment, clenching her eyes as if to resist an invisible aggressor. With a strangled groan, she finally relented and grabbed the bread. Raven greedily devoured the crusty food in seconds, licking her fingers for any stray crumbs. She then looked up at Rouge, half glaring, half pained. She knew the symbolic victory she had just handed freely to her captor.

"So, the mighty Raven has her limits. This shall prove interesting," the Russian observed while rubbing her chin. She picked up the discarded pizza box and closed it. "Ciao," she added mockingly before closing the door. Behind her, Raven clenched her fists and ground her teeth, then looked at her stomach. It howled for more food, food she could not give. Moaning, Raven rolled onto her side and struggled to avoid the clawing in her midsection. She bit her lip in thought.

"Is Rouge right?" she thought. "Am I starting to crack up...?"

A few hours later found Raven curled up best she could in the small, cold room she was being held captive in, dozing. Her face was twisted in discomfort at the cobblestone floor upon which she laid. Her body shuffled periodically, trying in vain to find a warmer, more comfortable spot. At last, her lithe form fit more easily against the seams in the bricks below her. Raven felt herself falling deeper into sleep at last...

Searing pain suddenly tore her out of her brief respite, causing her to yelp and jerk to her feet. She saw her good friend Rouge standing there, holding a taser.

"You were oversleeping. Naughty naughty," she scolded.

"Overslept? I barely closed my eyes..." Raven grumbled. "And, I see you decided to go with the most humiliating spot to zap me with..." she added, fighting the urge to rub the site of the weapon's impact.

"Well, when you just leave your backside open like that, can you blame me?" she trilled through her Russian accent.

"I can blame you for being an utter creep," Raven snarked. Rouge frowned.

"You really shouldn't have said that, Raven," Rouge scolded. Before her captive could reply, the shapeshifter turned the taser to full power and jammed it against Raven's chest as if it were a knife. The teenager screamed in agony, forced against the wall. Rouge pinned her victim for several seconds before finally turning it off. Raven fell to the floor, holding her chest, groaning. The smell of slightly burned flesh and clothing was in the air.

"You see how easy it is? All you have to do is not give us any lip."

"I'm not your pet, Rouge..." Raven rasped, looking up at her. She tried unsuccessfully to hide the pain twisting her face.

"Oh, of course. Perhaps you need another session with your fears..." Rouge suggested. Raven gulped and moved back; she could only back away a foot. Rouge quickly shot her arms out and once again swallowed the teenager.

"Funny... I don't recall your having a choice in the matter..." Rouge replied, mockingly rubbing her chin in thought. "Now, what shall we look into today. Ah, I see... someone has some isolation issues? Let's examine that..."

As Raven twitched, Rouge held her tight, letting the chemical do its work...

Raven found herself floating amidst a large, open void. The only thing surrounding her was darkness. Her eyes darted, waiting for the surprise about to be sprung upon her.

"Okay, Rouge... what's it this time? I murder my friends? I get eaten by a hippo? I get a paper cut?" she drawled, more to herself than anything. Silence greeted her calls. Her brow furrowed.

"C'mon, speak up..." she grumbled, crossing her arms in annoyance. Still, nothing showed up. A touch of nervousness began to build in her body. This experience was getting a little unnerving for her...

"Do something!" she snapped with a note of anger that made her soul self flash briefly in fire. But still, there was nothing. She was alone.


Raven gulped and gnawed on her lip slightly. This was starting to freak her out. If there was one thing she hated, it was the feeling of being alone, on her own. She rubbed her arms as if to warm herself against the cold of fear. It wasn't working.

"Attack me, you coward!" Raven cried, looking around. Still, nothing, not even the echo of her own voice. The girl felt the fear in her growing, tension building in her muscles, sweat seeping through her cloak. The only thing she could hear was her increasingly nervous breathing. The tension only continued to grow, and Raven found herself starting to slip into emotion.

"Do it!" she yelped, voice fearful. Finally, something happened; her hovering suddenly stopped, and she began to fall. But, there was no visible sense of falling, just her own body's feeling of plummeting in free fall through the thick, dark void. Finally stressed beyond her control, Raven screamed as she tumbled through the dark eternity around her...

Eternity ended hard and cold on a stone floor. A very unsettled Raven sat up, rubbing at her bruised arms.

"Nervous?" Rouge asked with a smirk.

"You don't scare me," Raven managed. But, even she knew it was a lie at this point; her breathing and pulse were dead giveaways.

"Ah, feeling the fear? I knew you could only last for so long," Rouge smiled. "But, you're still lying to me. You still insist on living in your delusions. No matter. You will break. And when you do... well, lets just say you'll be a shadow of your former self."

"You're lying," Raven answered, voice quivering.

"We'll see," Rouge simply answered. She frowned. "It seems you've been sweating. Very unpleasant. We'll wash you off at some point. Ta ta for now." With that, she gave a mock wave and locked her captive away. Behind her, Raven pulled herself into a sitting position, and hung her head over crossed arms on her knees with a groan.

Sleep was broken by a sensation on her forehead, causing her face to clench and her eyes to squeeze shut. Raven rubbed at the area without opening her eyes and tried to relax once more. No sooner had her arm gone back done then the sensation happened again. And again. And again. Raven brought her hand to her forehead once more; water greeted her finger tips. She opened her eyes, and her eyes blurred from the falling water droplets above. She grumbled, and squirmed into a different position. After a moment, water again began to fall on her forehead. Now a touch uneasy, Raven laid down on her stomach. Her face was greeted by a squirt of water. This made her snap awake for good and sit up. Accounting for her once again, short jets hit her rhythmically in the face.

"Stop it..." Raven asked the air around her, looking around in worry. At that, the jet stopped. The girl was just relaxing when streams of water shot from all six sides of her prison save the door itself. It rapidly began to fill the small room. Within a minute, she was up to her knees. Panic starting to gnaw at her, she grabbed the door handle; it was locked. Raven yanked, but nothing happened. Now up to her waist, Raven threw her elbow against the heavy metal slab. Her petite form bounced off, and she was thrown underwater. She came back up and started pounding on the door.

"Let me out! Let me out!" she cried. With the room more than half full of water, all pretenses of hiding her emotions were gone. But, no one came, and there was no stop to the flooding. Blind animalistic instinct began to over take her, and she thrashed, looking for escape. There was none to be found. Her head bumped against the ceiling. Raven cried out in pain and fear, water churning around her. The teenager took a last frantic gasp of air before the last of it was displaced by the invading liquid. Now underwater, cheeks puffed in holding breath, Raven pounded again and again on the door, feeling weaker with every punch. Her lungs began to burn for air she could not give them, and her mouth strained to open for breath. Just as Raven thought she was starting to black out, the water level began to drop. The girl shot herself to the surface and took deep, greedy breaths of air as the water drained away. Exhausted and drained, Raven lay in a puddle on the floor, coughing and panting. The door swung open, revealing her sadistic warden.

"There, don't you feel much better?" the Russian grinned.

"Go to hell," Raven managed, starting to shiver from the cold water.

"Hmph. I guess you don't need a towel, or food for that matter."

"I haven't had that or water in days..." Raven replied with chattering teeth.

"Well, the food will have to wait. But, look around you, Raven," Rouge answered. "Water, water everywhere. Goodnight, dear," she added as she left. Behind the door, Raven shivered, hugging herself in a vain attempt to warm up. She looked down at the water around her; her throat strained for the beckoning liquid, but her brain and pride refused to oblige. Finally, her parched mouth won over, and she sipped greedily at the pools around her, trying to ignore the taste of dirt and other matter mixed in. With that done, Raven curled up and hugged herself one more, teeth chattering, and settled in for yet another long night.

What time was it?

Does time really exist in eternal darkness, without day or night?

How much more of this can a human being, demon hybrid or not, stand?

Raven fixated herself on those questions, trying to occupy her brain. It had become harder and hard to do so. She had already counted the bricks, found and created designs in the walls, and tried drawing on them with a shard of loose stone she had recently found. It had crumbled in her hands. Only after all these failures did she decide to take a more philosophical view on her predicament.

Why are they doing this to me?

Where's reason and logic?

Where's anything?

...Where are my friends when I need them most...?

"Raven!" a voice suddenly called. The girl jumped out of the corner.

"Robin!" she cried back, looking around. She found nothing.

"Up here, friend!" another voice added.

"Starfire? Where are you? I can't see you two!" Raven snapped.

"We're right here!"

The gray teenager whipped her head up to see Robin and Starfire looking down at her from above, apparently having somehow broken through the ceiling above.

"You don't know how happy I am to see you..." Raven breathed in sincere belief. "You have no idea what they've been doing to me!"

"I can only imagine, the scum..." Robin growled. "They have you being emotional and erratic..."

"If you were feeling what I was, you would be too," she promised him. "Now, please, get me out of here!"

"Of course! Grab on, friend!" Starfire trilled, lowering her arms. Raven jumped, but missed.

"I can't reach you!" she croaked.

"Try again!" Robin demanded, lowering his own. Again, Raven tried, but they were always just out of reach. She tried again and again, always missing. She started to moan in frustration.

"You can't even jump?" Robin asked, dumbfounded.

"You are, how they say, nothing without powers?" Starfire asked.

"They have me in this stupid collar," Raven spat, pointing at it. "And if I touch the thing, it gives me a shock."

"Well, I guess it took your strength too, because you're just being weak," Robin sniffed. "I mean, you can't even jump!"
"Why are you treating me like this?" Raven asked, hurt.

"It is to laugh, friend!" Starfire smiled, starting to laugh. Soon, Robin joined in, and the two started mocking their friend below.

"Stop it!" Raven cried. "Stop it, stop it, stop it!"

"Stop what, Raven?" a Russian voice asked. Raven shook her head; she found herself glaring angrily at empty ceiling above, without so much as a crack, let alone a hole with her teammates looking down from it.

"But I... but they... but..."

"Hallucinating? My my, sounds like someone's stressed out..."

"I... I was hallucinating," Raven managed, shaken.

"Here, let me help," Rouge scoffed. Raven screamed as the angry taser again tore through her body, and she tumbled to the ground. She clutched at the impact side, groaning.

"Well, aren't you going to say something? Snark at me? Deny your fear? Anything at all?" Raven just lay there, hissing, as if to wish the pain away. "This isn't very much fun..." Rouge sniffed. "I'm going to leave if you're going to be this talkative." No words, at least coherent ones, greeted her ears. Without a word, Rouge smirked and drew the door closed. The look in her eyes was one of a hunter knowing its prey needed but one more shot to be taken down. It was also a look that promised that she would make sure she bagged the prey she desired.

More time, unknowable time, ticked away in the dark eternity. Her mere existence in the small room was starting to grate at her fraying nerves. Raven paced back and forth excitedly, tense and shaken about her future.

"I have to get out of here," she told herself. "I have to. I must. Yes, I must. I must!" she demanded. Raven found herself talking away to herself more and more lately; whether it was a sign of or defense against insanity, she didn't know. She did know that if she didn't escape, and soon, she would undergo a humiliating and devastating transformation into a hollow shell of person...

"I must get out of here. I have to! I ha--"

Raven's self-demanding was interrupted by a sudden explosion that caused the room to shake. She braced herself against the wall as the they trembled. Somewhere down the hall to her right, voices and attacks sounded. Her ears perked on some of the voices and weapon noises.

"It's them... it's the Titans!" Raven squealed happily as she ran to the door, expecting absolution from her nightmare. The door creaked, and opened to reveal a slightly battered Beast Boy.

"Rae! You're all right!" the smaller boy cried as he embraced her.

"'All right' is hardly how I'd describe myself," Raven replied. "Let's... just go. And quickly."

"Sure thing! C'mon, this way!" he urged, tugging her arm. Eager and dazed from the turn of fortune, Raven followed him. She turned her head to see the reflection of explosions, the echoes of cries from friend and foe. She slowed to a stop.

"We have to help the others..." Raven insisted.

"Why? They're holding the Brotherhood creeps back."

"You came to save me, I have to return the favor," the girl replied, starting to run down the hall. Beast Boy held her fast.

"Raven, c'mon!" he urged. Raven hemmed, and sighed.

"All right, all right..." she huffed. "But, we're going back after we find the way out, all right?"

"You got it. Now let's go..." he urged. The two ran through a network of tunnels and passageways until, finally, a door leading to the outside of the facility stood before them. To Raven, it was the most beautiful door she'd ever seen.

"See? Toldja we'd make it," the boy grinned.

"We did, didn't we," Raven nodded. She paused, and embraced Beast Boy tight. "Thank you, Garfield."

"Oh, no need to thank me..." he replied.

"You're right," Raven said, shaking her head, "we have to go back."

"That's just it. We're going back, and you're not going to be thanking me," Beast Boy snarked in a female, Russian-accented voice. Raven's eyes snapped open, and she slowly turned towards her friend. The small green boy quivered, and morphed into a smirking Madame Rouge. Raven jumped back, hitting against a wall.

"What is it they say," she mocked as several armed gunmen stood in front of the door, "'so close and yet so far?' I have to admit, our audio and video records of your little fights with us proved most valuable for simulating a raid on our facility." Raven stared at her blankly, jaw slightly agape, struggling to process what had just happened. Then, something happened. Something she'd never done, or thought she could do. Her eyes began to blur with water, and soon tears were trickling down her cheeks as she sank into a clumsy sitting position. She buried her face in her hands.

"Stop..." she managed between soft sobs.

"Stop what, darling," Rouge mocked.

"Just stop it. I'm begging you. I can't take it anymore..." Raven pleaded, face still in her hands. "I just can't take it..." Rouge stood over the weeping teenager with a triumphant grin.

"How the mighty have fallen," she clucked with her tongue. "The all mighty Raven crying like a little baby? How pretentious. Now, come come... dry your tears and give your Auntie Rouge a big hug." Raven jerked her head up, bloodshot eyes wide in terror. She backed away as best as she could.

"No... not that... not that!"

"Yes, dear. That," she replied as her arms shot forth and ensnared the crying Titan. "Now, as I believe you wanted, we're going back." The shapeshifter absorbed her once more, and Raven again found herself swallowed up in cold darkness.

Raven had changed since the breakdown.

The once proud girl was now huddled in the corner, her filthy clothes glued to her with cold sweat and grime. Her hair, leaking out from her hood, was dull and grimy. Raven's right eye was starting to twitch, and she was rocking from side to side, murmuring incoherently about her past and dismal future. She rambled about everything from defeating her father to her friendships to coming to Earth to her mother.


Raven sighed as if thinking of her most cherished dream. If there was anyone who she wanted to see at this point in her life, it would be her mother. Even after Trigon had forced his will on her, Arella had still cared for her girl. Raven sighed enviously of her nascent self; perhaps it was disturbing thinking, but she wouldn't mind being back in her mother's womb right now.

"I was safe there," she thought to herself as her eye twitched again. "She'd keep me safe. She wouldn't let me get hurt like I have been now. She'd keep me warm, and love me. Love, warm, safe... I don't know if those words will have any meaning for me anymore."

"Raven," a silken voice called softly. The girl looked up nervously, thinking she was going to be stabbed with a taser, or smothered by Rouge, or any other of the other torments they had devised for her. Or maybe the lack of food and water was causing her to hallucinate. Her eyes squinted through the darkness, and widened.


"Hello, Raven," Arella nodded. The girl looked away. "What is it, child? Why aren't you looking at me?"

"You're a lie. Just like everything else they do. You're a mirage, or smoke and mirrors, or some other terrible thing. I don't want to hurt anymore..."

"I know, sweetie," Arella answered as she gently approached and laid a hand on her shoulder. Raven flinched away with a yelp. "What must I do to make you believe me, Raven?"

"I don't know... I don't think I can believe or trust anything or anyone again."

"Oh, Raven, don't talk like that!" Arella urged, kneeling before her. "It really is me, can't you see that?" Raven cautiously turned and studied the woman before her. She did have her mother's piercing eyes, her solemn face, white skin, even the comforting aura and aroma she remembered from childhood. Raven gulped, and cautiously shuffled closer to her.

"...Mommy?" the breaking girl managed. Arella nodded and opened her arms. Wasting no time, Raven dove into the embrace and curled up in her lap, sobbing as she clutched the woman like a prized teddy.

"Ease yourself, Raven... Mommy's here now," Arella replied gently as she hugged her close. Raven smiled, the first smile she'd had in... she didn't know anymore. For all she knew, she was now twenty-three years old; she felt even older. But, at least her mother was here... perhaps Azarath had seen her misery, and sent the woman to take her to a better place.

"Why did you come, Mother? To take me back to Azarath?" she asked with pleading in her voice.

"I'm... afraid not dear," the woman replied. With that, Raven felt the warm, loving embrace become cold and hateful, causing her to squirm in discomfort. She looked up to see her tormentor once again, smiling cruelly at her.

"'Mommy's' visiting hours are over," she sniffed in Russian brogue. Raven stared at her, jaw dropped. She mouthed 'not Mommy too' before she slumped in defeat and weeped. The woman shoved the sobbing girl out of her lap and left, leaving her prisoner on the cold, lonely floor.

The Brotherhood had done its work.

Raven was an all but completely broken person. Wild eyed in terror, hallucinating from lack of food and water, on edge from a lack of sleep, she lay in tight fetal ball, whimpering. Her growling stomach and dry mouth were starting to feel normal. Sleep was all but a memory for her now. On the rare occasions she could fall asleep, a grunt or some loud noise would awaken her. Just recently, they had played car alarms to the point that Raven felt her last threads of sanity were snapping. Now, the once proud teenager lay in a tangled heap of limbs and torn, foul fabric, dreading even the creaking of the walls around her. Sometimes, the door would be opened and shut; she hated that most of all, not knowing if they were really about to come in to... Raven heard the door open again, and she jerked her head up with a yelp. Two burly grunts entered the room.

"The Brain thinks you're making too much of a racket, kid," one man said as he charged up a taser. Raven shook her head frantically.

"Please... Don't hurt me..." she managed before she was stabbed by the device. She fell back against the wall, sobbing.

"Shut up," the other man grumbled, slapping her across the face. Raven cowered even further, trying to crawl into nothingness through the corner.

"He said 'shut up!'" the first man snapped, kicking her in the chest. Raven crumpled onto her side, coughing and gurgling in agony before seeing the two bringing their hands back for another attack. She promptly silenced.

"Good girl," one mocked. "Here, have a treat," he added, tossing her a dog biscuit. Raven pounced on it as if it were a Thanksgiving turkey, practically inhaling it. By the time she realized what had happened, the men had left.

"They actually have me acting like a pet..." the shrinking rational part of her mind managed.

"I tire of our games."

Rouge walked into the room, finding a stiff pile of tattered and grimy blue clothing in the corner. She tugged at it, finding the terrified occupant. The girl whimpered, looking away.

"A shame," she continued. "When we first met, you were so proud, so smug, so articulate, so... human. Now, you're nothing more than an animal, aren't you?" Raven merely whimpered, causing the shapeshifter to frown. "You can't even speak, can you? All you do is whimper and cry now. I find it most irritating," she yawned. Still managing to comprehend what she was saying, Raven sobbed softly at realizing she was right. She looked on as Rouge pulled something out of her pocket.

"Before we get rid of you," Rouge continued, "I felt we should just make it official." With that, she clipped a collar around the battered teen's neck and tugged on it with a leash. "Come on, girl. Let's go." Raven quietly half followed, half let herself be dragged; she'd long since given up benchmarks for humiliation.

"So this is what. Has become of the. Mighty Raven."

"Oui, Brain," Mallah replied.

"How very. Tragic for you. Ms. Roth. It appears you aren't. The same girl you. Used to be." Raven looked away, hurt and ashamed.

"And to think, even Alexander and Hannibal wouldn't have stood a chance against her," Immortius observed. "A pity."

"Yes, yes, this has been very exciting, but I believe it's time to dispose of our friend once and for all..." Rouge replied as she picked up a garbage bag.

"Oui, time to take out the trash," the ape replied. Raven had conflicting emotions as the plastic darkness enshrouded her. On one hand, she felt in her bones that this was going to be the end. On the other, it would mean that her suffering would finally come to a long needed end.

She was still alive...

Tearing herself free of the bag, Raven found herself exposed to fresh air, the smell of the ocean, the squawking of seagulls. She turned numbly to see what she never thought she'd see again.

"The Tower..." she breathed. Relieved, Raven began to stumble up the path. This felt too good to be true, but it certainly didn't feel like the hell she'd found herself locked away in all this time. And the collars she was wearing were gone. As she neared the Tower, she squared her shoulders and molded her face... she intended to make even the greatest actress a hack.

...The Present...

"...and then, I was here," Raven managed with a choked sob.

"Oh, wow, Rae. I... I... I dunno what to say," Beast Boy replied.

"There is nothing to say," the girl managed softly. Beast Boy hugged her again comfortingly, not knowing what else to do. Raven blushed slightly.

"Thanks, Beast Boy..." she said.

"Hey, it's what I do. That and play 'loud, obnoxious comic relief.'" Raven laughed softly before trailing off, her face hardening in fear and anger.

"...you're not Beast Boy," she rasped.

"What are you talking about, Rae? 'Course I'm me!"

"No, you were funny. Beast Boy isn't funny," Raven growled. The boy smirked and crossed his arms.

"So, the girl learns at last," Rouge's voice purred.

"Now what, have you taken over the Tower just for me?" Raven moaned.

"No, we've been tapping into your pointed little head," Rouge said, still in Beast Boy's form as she poked Raven's head. The girl looked up, angrier.

"...what did you just say?" she managed.

"Well, that second collar wasn't just for show, dear. Right now, that leash has you hooked up to some of our equipment. The whole reason we captured and tortured you was to scare you to the point we could use your energy to power our newest black hole creator. I have to admit though, it was a lot of fun to torment you."

"...you're in my mind?" Raven repeated.

"Yes, you foolish girl!" Rouge grinned. Raven clenched her hands in rage. The Brotherhood had tortured her, humiliated her, beaten her, broken her, even come within a hair of stealing her humanity... but now they were invading her last bastion of normality. She stood up.

"You're in my mind. You're accessing my memories, my thoughts, my essence," Raven repeated. Her hands shot out, grabbing Rouge's neck. The shapeshifter froze with fear.

"What in..." she managed.

"You've gone too far. If you hadn't done that, I'd still be your whimpering little battery. But now, you've defiled the one thing that truly makes me me. And I will NOT let you destroy it." As Raven spoke, cracks formed in the world around her, and she felt something around her neck begin to shudder, breaking apart.

"I'm waking up from your smoke and shadows nightmare. NOW." As she spoke, the world exploded, and she found herself in the lab, holding Rouge by the throat. Raven ripped the deactivated collars from her body and hurled the woman across the room before sprinting the best she could for what appeared to be the exit.

"Stop her you! Fools she is! Escaping!" The Brain commanded. The goons rushed to surround the fleeing Titan. She whipped her head around.

"AZARATH METRION ZINTHOS!" she screamed at the top of her lungs. It was as if a bomb had gone off. A massive concussive wave swept away from the teenager, throwing the henchmen and their bosses to the floor. Machines shorted out and exploded, and the vaunted black hole creator collapsed in flames. Raven shot the incoming troops a deadly, freezing 'you want to try it to?' look before continuing to run down the hall and towards the exit. She phased through it and ran across the weed-choked field surrounding her.

As she ran, Raven slowed down, feeling the tall grass rub against her, dew seeping through her cloak. A light rain was falling. She finally stopped and looked around, as if she were a newborn deer. A smile formed on the abused teenager's face, and she began to giggle softly before sinking to her knees. Raven closed her eyes and spread her arms out as it grew into joyous laughter, letting the rain fall on her face. It felt real. It WAS real. She knew it.

She was finally free.

"...free... I'm free..." she managed, as she kneeled, laughing in overwhelming, thankfully joy. After a few moments, she got back to her feet and took flight in the direction she believed Jump City was in. Raven closed her eyes, savoring the feeling of air caressing her dirty face. The girl felt the imperative to get back to the Tower fade away, and she let herself glide and float carelessly through the sky. She'd never realized how wonderful it was to fly. After several moments of free floating, her wounds and hunger brought her back to reality, and she flew for home.

Finally, Jump City at last.

Raven gracefully touched down upon the top of Titans Tower and walked through the roof entrance. As she descended the stairs, she heard voices calling "trouble" and "rooftop" before four sets of feet came racing towards her position. They stopped abruptly once they reached the landing.

"...Raven?" Robin asked, agape. The gray teenager, trying to hide the fact she was holding the rail to support her more than physically, smiled weakly.

"That's... what they tell me."

"Where've you been, friend?" Starfire asked.

"You wouldn't believe me if I told you," Raven replied, hobbling past them. Finally reaching the living room, she sank thankfully into the long, curved couch.

"Well, you could try us..." Beast Boy shrugged.

"Not... really," Raven replied. "It's been a long, long week." The Titans blinked, and looked away shyly. "What?"

"Raven," Cyborg managed, "you've been gone for two months." Raven blinked, her eye twitching slightly again.

"...co ...could you say that a-again?" she sputtered.

"It's been two months since you were kidnapped," Robin added while resting a hand on Raven's shoulder. The girl jerked herself away, causing the boy to wonder what was wrong.

"No, it couldn't have been two months. That's impossible. That's..." She trailed off as she saw a mirror. She grabbed it, and stared at the haggard face looking back, with bloodshot eyes, sagging skin, overgrown grimy hair, and scars with a hood so faded and filthy, it barely looked blue anymore. "Two months...?" she muttered.

"Uh, yeah, that's what we said," Beast Boy shrugged. "And, uh, no offense Rae, but could you stand in front of a window or something?" Robin quickly elbowed him the side, causing him to yelp.

"Look," Raven managed as she stumbled to her feet. "All I want right now is a long shower, a big meal, and a long nap... In that order." She started hobbling, then thought better of it and began to float for the bathroom.

"Uh, what do you want, Rae, I'll cook it for ya," Cyborg called. Raven paused in the air and thought.

"Pancakes. With syrup. And a cheese and sausage omelet. And oatmeal with brown sugar. Put some strawberries on. And some toast. And bacon. And a cantaloupe. And wash it all down with a big glass of orange juice." Silence greeted her request.

"You want... all that."

"Please, Cyborg, I'm really hungry and I really don't want to argue..." Raven mumbled as she floated out of the room.

"Okay, uh, I'll get started..." Cyborg mumbled, putting on his chef's hat.

"Dude, I didn't know Raven could eat FOOD, let alone that much."

"Just leave her be, Beast Boy," Robin sighed.

Raven stared at her body as she removed the remains of her leotard. She could still see the taser burns, the bruises from beatings, the raw spots from lying on cold uneven stone for so long. She shook her head and climbed into the shower, turning it on. She stood under the shower head, letting the water fall on her.

"They know something happened to you, Rachel," her mind chided. "They're going to keep asking you about it."

"Yeah, well, I won't tell them," she responded aloud.

"That'll work. Even you can't keep what happened locked up forever."

"I can try!"

"Good luck with that."

Raven growled and resumed her shower. Only after an hour had passed did she actually start to scrub her battered body. She half expected someone to come in and complain about the water bill, but no one did so. Fine with her. As she turned off the shower, Raven reflected on how she'd thought hours ago she'd never be clean again. She shook her unstuck hair and wrapped a towel around herself and walked into her room for new clothes. The feeling of clean, whole clothing against her was soothing. As she turned to leave, Raven thought she saw something in the mirror, but dismissed it and left.


Raven didn't so much as acknowledge Starfire with a glance as she took another spoonful of oatmeal. The other Titans had been gathered around the table for the past half hour as Raven quietly ate the spread before her. For someone who looked half starved, she was eating as if nothing had happened.

"Rae, talk to us, c'mon," Cyborg urged. The girl only took another sip of juice, then attacked the pancakes.

"Raven... what did the Brotherhood do," Robin insisted. "I don't care if they got a communicator or something, I want... WE want... to know what they did to you." His friend just stared blankly at the pancakes, continuing to eat. He sighed, and sat back, feeling this was a waste of time. Finally, Raven took the last scoop of cantaloupe, and sat back, wiping her mouth with a napkin.

"Thank you very much, Cyborg," she said calmly. "That was delicious."

"Dude, how did you pack so much away!" Beast Boy gaped.

"I'm like that," Raven replied curtly as she got up from the table. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to take that nap. I'll wake up when I'm ready." With that, she flew off. The other Titans looked at each other.

"They did somethin' to her, I can sense it," Cyborg insisted.

"Yeah, but, if she won't talk about it..." Beast Boy shrugged.

"Friends... is Raven... okay?" Starfire asked.

"I... don't know," Robin sighed.

Raven glided into her room, looking longingly at her bed. As she drifted for it, she happened to glance at the mirror. Staring back was her, clothes in tatters, face streaked with dirt and tears, exposed skin sore and bloody, pained eyes glazed and emotionless. The teenager landed in front of it, glaring. The reflection did not change.

"I can live with it," she told both herself as the mirror. "I can live it. I can... live... with..." Dry sobs choked her voice, and the words refused to come. She tried harder, but nothing came. In the lonely darkness of her room, Raven slowly sank to her knees, buried her face in her hands, and began to weep.