"What do you think this is all about?" A green-skinned teenager asked aloud, not really caring who would answer. As soon as the team had arrived back home they received an urgent message from Robin, telling them to meet him in the main room for an important meeting. After sitting down for a few minutes Beast Boy was already bored to tears with the situation. He didn't like to think that he had ADD, but sometimes he wondered if all the times he spent before the television left him more prone to boredom than ever before.
So he had decided to kill time by asking questions and staring at his twitching boots propped up on the coffee table. Fortunately, the rest of the team felt just as restless to get started.
"Don't know. But it sure sounded important," Cyborg answered as he stood by the window while Raven and Starfire sat on either side of Beast Boy on the large crescent sofa.
"Do you think this could be about the theft?" Starfire asked.
"Hope so. This has been taking too long."
"And we can't turn on the TV… why?" Beast Boy asked tiredly. Cyborg scowled at him.
"Man can't you sit still for a few minutes without moaning about your damn soaps?"
"Say what you want Cy, but today's the day Jennifer finds out Rick has been cheating on her with Scott, I can bet money!"
Cyborg rolled his eyes deciding to ignore his green friend for the time being. Instead his eyes settled on another one of his friends who sat quietly sipping herbal tea. He grinned. "Hey Rae-Rae…"
Said 'Rae-Rae' looked up at him with the intent of burning a hole through him with the power of her glare. "What?"
"Oh I don't know, you've been mighty quiet since we arrived…" although he tried to sound indifferent, his undertone was clear enough.
Raven huffed and looked away, wondering if Robin would be upset with her if she destroyed a certain Cyborg. "I just want to get this started…" she said in a final tone. Unfortunately, Beast Boy had yet to recognize her "final tone."
"What are you guys talking about?" he asked as his ears perked.
"Remember that guy we saw at the pizza place the other day?"
"Cyborg…" Raven warned.
"What guy?" Beast Boy asked, now suddenly excited. Starfire became interested as well as she gazed at Cyborg with wider eyes.
"You know, the one that was trying to woo her…" Cyborg grinned, unable to contain his amusement. Beast Boy made a face.
"'Woo?' Dude, who says 'woo' anymore?"
Cyborg offered him an unpleasant gesture while Starfire beamed.
"Do you mean that charming young man with the red hair?" she squealed, then turned to Raven, who seemed to be trying to melt into the cushions, "Raven, are you two courting?"
"No, Starfire!" she answered too quickly, making Cyborg grin wider, "We're not… he is… It's not like that."
"It's not?" Starfire asked confused, and then suddenly became very serious. "Raven I hope you are not considering this young man outside of courtship. Even in Tamaran that is most unbecoming."
Raven closed her eyes and tried desperately to sink into the floor as Beast Boy and Cyborg laughed. Maybe if she made replicas of her teammates, Robin wouldn't notice the difference… or maybe she should start figuring out her alibi now.
"Did I miss the joke?" a new, yet familiar, voice joined in. Everyone turned to greet the new arrival.
Cyborg smiled. "Yo, Robin. Where've you been man?" Robin opened his mouth to reply when he was suddenly pounced upon by what seemed to be an orange blur.
"Oh Robin! We had been ever so worried about you! You hadn't come out in so very long. You haven't even spoken! You did not even want to come to the park of recreation with us. I thought you were to be forever encaged in that room of yours never to see – Are you all right? You are turning a peculiar shade…"
"Star, let the poor man go! He can't breathe!" Beast Boy cried when he saw Robin's eyes start to roll in his head from the bone crushing hug the young Tamaranian was currently delivering.
Starfire gasped and quickly released him. Robin nearly collapsed onto the floor but quickly found his ground coughing air back into his lungs. He liked Starfire, honestly he did, but sometimes he wondered if he was strong enough to handle her.
Robin straightened, pulling on his fearless leader persona before his teammates. "Sorry if I've been distant lately guys. I've been busy," he gave Starfire an apologetic look, knowing she was taking it harder than the others.
"No problem man," Cyborg said.
"As long as you've got something you might want to share with the rest of us," Raven sighed, taking a sip of some herbal tea. She was actually feeling very grateful to Robin for walking in when he did. She didn't think she would have been able to take anymore of her friends' teasing.
Robin nodded. "I do. I know who stole the Eye of Ra, and what's more, I know who they stole it for."
"Stole it for?" said Beast Boy, "You mean they were hired?"
"Who was it?" Starfire asked, happy to finally have Robin share his discoveries with the rest of them. Robin's expression turned dark.
"It was Red-X."
No one noticed Raven suddenly choke on her tea. Starfire gasped.
"He has returned?" she asked. Cyborg's look mimicked Robin's.
"Man, that guy's a slippery one ain't he?"
Robin didn't answer, but he continued. "The robbery was near perfect. The one who broke in managed to avoid all detection and silenced every guard on duty. Only a highly skilled thief would have been able to pull it off on his own."
"How are so sure it was him?" Raven asked slowly. She wasn't looking at Robin as the others were. She didn't have enough courage.
If Robin had noticed this odd behavior he had kept it to himself. "Like I said before," he said, he held up a tape, "the robbery was near perfect."
He walked over to the video system and inserted the tape. The large screen of the room flashed with a black and white video of a surveillance camera. It was the section of the museum they were investigating this whole week. A few frames here and some artifacts there – very sterile and very quiet. After a moment, they realized that what they were seeing was a short clip that would loop at roughly around 40 seconds to the beginning again. No one said anything, mostly because they didn't know what to say. There wasn't anything really out of the ordinary.
"Did you guys see it?" Robin finally asked.
"See what dude?" Beast Boy asked exasperated, crossing his arms in a huff, "All I see is a bunch of old junk!"
To their surprise Robin actually chuckled. "I had a feeling you wouldn't find it quickly. It took me days of reviewing this tape before I caught it."
"Seriously Robin if this is like one of those 'Where's Waldo' books, I have to tell you that I've never been able to find Waldo…"
"Here," Robin replied, taking the controller and pressed a button, "I'm going to slow it down. Now keep your eyes on that frame on the far corner and don't blink."
They all they as they were told, some strained more than others. Raven in particular felt like she wasn't going to like what she was about to see.
Just as the timer hit 32 seconds a quick flash of … something reflected off the glass of the frame. Cyborg's eyes widened.
"I saw it!" he cried.
"Me too!" said Beat Boy, equally excited.
"But how do you know that was the Red-X?" asked Starfire.
"I'm glad you asked Star," Robin said as he ejects the tape. "After I witnessed that I set to work on zooming in and clearing the image," he then produced another tape, which he inserted into the system. It was the same image, only zoomed in and more pixilated. Robin pressed another button and, slowly, the image became clearer. "It only shows up in two frames, so look carefully," he said, then pressed 'play'.
Each frame took a second before switching to the next. This was ultra slow speed, and in the reflection on the wall painting, just as Robin said, appeared an image for two frames before disappearing. The image, to everyone shock was the reflection of a distinct skull shaped mask with a slash across the eye. There was no doubt now.
Raven sighed as she pulled her cloak around her more securely. The roof of the tower tended to become quite chilly during the night. However, as relaxing and quiet this spot was, Raven couldn't find the strength to meditate. She felt much too tired. Her mind was pulling her in different directions and it was getting to be quite a lot for her now.
Robin had shared his theory with the rest of them after the video. He was almost positive that it was Dr. Light that hired Red-X to steal the jewel. He also concluded that the Doctor wanted the Eye's mystic yet vaguely known powers for his own devices. And knowing Dr. Light, his own devices usually concerned an evil plot of some kind.
The rest of the team accepted this theory; Robin still looked unsure.
When the team noticed his countenance, he simply replied, "It's probably nothing. But, for some reason, there's something… off about this whole thing. I've tried tracking Light all week, since he's not difficult to find, but every lead I came to brought me to a dead end." He stopped there, although it seemed like there was still more for him to say.
He had dismissed them afterward, saying that tomorrow there would be a new mission for each of them to search for any leads of Doctor Light's whereabouts, and to find out just what he is up to.
"Find Light, and we'll find the Eye of Ra." He said, as he left.
"Find Light…" Raven muttered into the wind. She could have scoffed at the irony of the statement. She didn't seem like the type that would look for anything resembling the light. She was a creature of the dark and she knew it, her friends knew it, and were comfortable with that. She never felt the need to change, and she doubted that she would feel such a need in the future.
She remembered the face in the video and she felt disgusted at herself. Why? Why did she let him leave like that? It had been obvious he had done it, wasn't it? She could barely look at Robin in the face anymore. Her guilt was eating at her from the inside –the secret that only she and Red-X knew– was clawing at her conscience. Telling Robin would be the right thing to do…but…
But she was afraid. As much as she hated to admit it, she was afraid of telling them what happened. The questions that would follow would prove to be too much --the same questions that she had asked herself many times throughout the week but failed to answer.
"Damn it all…" she whispered, almost inaudibly. She still didn't know, and that angered her. And the only hint she would get was the little voice echoing somewhere in the deep, deep crevices of her complex mind, telling her that she wanted to let him leave. That it, whatever that little voice was, wanted to understand him.
Raven shook her head. "I'm going crazy…" she sighed then gazed off into the cityscape of Jump. She needed answers, and somehow she knew that there was only one place to get them.
Breathing in deep, Raven gathered herself along the edge of the roof and, closing her eyes, she released her soul into the night sky.
As I jump off from yet another rooftop I can't help but think how great it is to be outside again. I never realized what a week trapped indoors could do to me.
Yeah, I would go out during the mornings to see Nomura for practice, but it was the night that really called me. Sweet, accepting and mysterious, the night was my first love. Every night I hear her calling me out, wanting to claim me for herself, yet I had to deny her every time.
"And you missed me real good didn't you sweetheart. Yes you did…" I cooed as I gazed into the full moon happily.
'Happily', because that is what I feel when I'm out and in costume. Before, when I didn't have the suit I could never allow myself to just let go. I'm not D. out here. I'm Red-X. No one knows the Red-X. It's a strange feeling, being someone else. It was exciting. Euphoric.
Confidence surged within me when I took up this identity. Now I'm running faster than ever, from rooftop to rooftop, not being chased for once. Just running for the sake of running. It was freedom; ultimate freedom.
God, I wouldn't change this for the world…
I stop at a rooftop near a bookstore to catch my breath. I was still a bit sore, but a good kind of sore. It was a healing sore, and with my exertion tonight I probably wouldn't be able to get out of bed next morning.
Of course, I would eventually have to get up, or Nomura would drag me out himself.
I sighed remembering the day before, along with the discussion we had.
Nomura isn't stupid. He probably didn't buy the whole me being a Teen Titan thing. Hell, I wouldn't believe it either. After all I am the one that is constantly mocking them every time they make an appearance on the news.
Okay, so I'm constantly just mocking Robin. But he's just too easy sometimes…
Although Nomura accepted the explanation, there's still a considerable amount of distrust in him when it concerns me. He won't leave Mai with me anymore, which I personally find insulting. Just what is he insinuating? Does he think I'm going to do something to her?
"Don't be stupid," he said to me after our morning workout, "It's not that I do not trust you anymore D., but I do not trust your way of life. It's dangerous, and I do not want Mai anywhere near it."
He made it seem as if I couldn't handle my own style of life. However, I'm no longer capable of living any other life. After a good chunk of my years spent searching, I had found something suitable for me. Something that has made my life worth living.
I can't stop now. Not for Nomura, not for Mai, not even for…
Wait a minute… I looked around my surroundings, the familiarity finally kicking in. Quickly, I make a running leap to the adjacent building at my left, and then jump across again to catch hold of a fire escape. As I reach the top I can see the bullet ridden wind fan in the rooftop at the building across. Yes, I remember now, this area was where I had tried to get away from those thugs last week.
Absently, I try looking for the mattress lot, but from my position, it was difficult to see anything but the streets.
Even now I can't believe I got away alive. Then there was her…
"Why did I think I would find you here?"
For a moment I believed I was merely hearing things. But turning to face the voice that addressed me in such a dry tone, I quickly hid my shock. Talk about speaking of the Devil…
"Well, well, well… couldn't get enough of me the first time around, sweet thing?" I grinned in triumph when her face blushed red. With anger I'm sure, but still pleasing to the eye nonetheless.
The darkest member of the Teen Titans scowled angrily at me. "Don't you dare start with the sweet talk thief. What have you done with the Eye of Ra?"
"The what? Hmph!" The ground is suddenly taken away from under my feet and next thing I know there's some black stuff around my ankle, dangling me off the side of the building. "Hey now!" all the blood is rushing to my head, "This isn't any way to ask for things!"
"I am not asking you anything," she said in dead calm. I would find it intimidating if she didn't look darn cute. "Tell me where the jewel is."
"How 'bout we talk this over? You know, Thief to Titan. You scratch my back girly and I'll scratch anything you want me to-OOH!" and with that she released me… into an open dumpster… four stories down.
Whatis it with this girl and dumpsters?
"I am not in a negotiating mood X," she says quietly, as she softly lands on the rim of the bin. This situation might be exactly like last time's, but somehow, I don't believe she's going to be as nice.
Well here it is, the big ONE ZERO. And it's all thanks to my wonderful new beta reader HeavenSeemsClose. I couldn't have done it without her. -tosses confetti- It's a party now!
Though this story is far from over I see myself working much harder on it than I have been before, and I have all of you to thank. So thank you!
Well, anyway, here's chapter 10. I hope everyone enjoys it. And whether you do or don't please READ&REVIEW!!! It brings smiles to my life…