Disclaimer:I do not own any of the characters in this story. All characters and sites in this Fan Fiction are the properties of DC.
Act I, Chapter I
A strange wind blew through Jump City. It seemed to be just like any other mid-spring afternoon; children running around in the park, people walking up and down the street; the daily ongoing of shoppers into small, privately-owned businesses; and the continued hustle and bustle of many more numerous people. And yet, something seemed different. There was a much-more general air of friendliness about and between people than usual. More signs of public affection towards one another from the couples together; hugging from friend to friend; the ones walking from shop to shop holding hands; even a few kisses from those that thought they were hidden enough for no one to see them. If that wasn't enough, in many windows in the shops along the sidewalks and roads were cut-out hearts and other related symbols, as if everyone was getting in on the event coming up. Even the air seemed to be getting in the mood today, smelling and just feeling better than usual to those who walked in the open areas where it just flowed unhindered by drag.
Love was certainly in the air today.
And it wasn't just with the regular citizens either.
The Titans sat or floated all around their lobby, either by the windows, or on the soft pieces of furniture strewn about the room. Starfire was happily flying about the room, setting up decorations in the windows, along with stringing flimsy and ruffly paper along the ceiling. Robin sat on the couch with the other two teenage boys of the team, who at the time were watching T.V. It had been a hard task, at this time of year to find a show not dedicated to romantic senses, but appearantly Cyborg had been able to do it. Beastboy sat next to him, and for some strange reason, was reading a newspaper. The others comforted themselves in the thought that he was just looking at the funnies, and seemed to have their thoughts confirmed as he coughed and laughed every few seconds. After making a sarcastic comment about how surprising it was to see the changeling actually reading something, Raven herself had settled to one of the back corners of the room, with her own set of books.
Starfire then squealed with joy as another large pink-colored heart was hung up on the wall. Turning to the others smiling, she then spoke.
"Friends, is this not one of the most joyous of holidays to behold?" Robin looked up from the T.V. a bit strangely.
"Ummm, sure Star." he replied, trying to smile so as to not appear awkward. Starfire smiled, apparently satisfied with his reply, and went back to hanging up paper-shapes and objects. Cyborg then leaned over next to Robin, grinning.
"So what are you gonna' do for her this Valentines man? Chocolates, flowers, maybe even a da-" Robin elbowed Cyborg back, which though didn't hurt the metal teen's sides (Though consequently hurting the other's elbow), it did have the hoped-for effect, and stopped Cyborg from going on. Beastboy let out another small laugh, whether directed at Robin's slight plight or whatever he was "reading" was anyone's guess. Nevertheless, it earned the green teen a combined quizzical stare from the other two, which seemingly had no effect.
"I wasn't planning that much at all, really." Robin said, even as he rubbed his hurt elbow. "Starfire was actually planning on taking Raven with us wherever we went, because well, you know..."
At this moment, Robin and Cyborg both turned and took a quick glance over at Raven in the corner of the room, who was reading from one of her many spellbooks. They then retreated back to their original positions as Raven sensed she was being watched, and turned in their general direction. With an annoyed glare at their general area however, she then returned to her book. The boys breathed a sigh of relief, and continued.
"Yo Robin, I thought I already told you, me and Sarah were gonna' handle that problem." Cyborg said back, lowering his voice. Another snigger came from over near Beastboy, the newspaper slightly crinkling. Oddly enough, he hadn't changed the page in a while.
"Yeah, but Star still wants Raven to come with us, since you guys are already going with Kid Flash and Jinx as well. There'd be less people in our group even with Raven there. And besides, Jinx and Raven don't get along that well..." Robin replied, his own voice at a lower state than before. Raven continued sitting in the corner, reading from her book.
"Oh, don't worry about that Robin, I got it all cleared with Kid Flash and everything, Jinx promised to behave. And besides, those two'll be into each other too much for her to get involved in a brawl with Raven." Cyborg countered back, his voice wavering between a quiet tone and one getting louder. Robin shook his head.
"Still, I think it's better if Raven just comes with me and Starfire. She's already planned-out lots of activities for us, and I don't think she'd like it if we tried to change that." A snigger then came from the direction of the changeling next to them. Annoyed, Cyborg turned his body at an angle to get a good luck at him. An idea then popped into his half-metal head.
"What about BB? If he's free, maybe they could do stuff together, and both our groups could do whatever they want." he then said Robin, referring to the Titan he now faced. Robin returned him a look of shock.
"Are you crazy? They'd destroy each other!" Robin hissed back, regaining his facial composure. Raven and Beastboy, on Valentines Day? The very idea was scary.
Cyborg shrugged at the reply. "They're not that bad." He then turned to Beastboy. "Hey B, what're you doing for Valentines Day?"
Beastboy slowly moved his newspaper down from his face. He looked at Cyborg, a bit confused for a second on the fact that he had not heard what the two had just discussed. "Me?" he said, flicking a finger towards his own body. A sly grin then moved onto his face, his eyes narrowed. "I'm going chick hunting."
The other two stared back at him incredulously.
"You?" they both asked him in tangem. Beastboy leaned back a bit on the couch, with a calm look on his face.
"Yep, chicks dig the pointy ears."
Robin and Cyborg both looked at each other and blinked a few times, then decided silently to just return back to their debate, knowing the other subject was lost. Cyborg was the first to reply, continuing where they had left off even as Beastboy returned to his newspaper.
"Nah' man, I'm telling you Raven should go with us. If she goes with you guys she's just going to get all annoyed and run off from doing all that stuff. When she's with us though, she'll just probably sit in some corner of wherever. Less stuff to bother her."
"Starfire's point though is just get her out and get her to enjoy the day, rather than stay inside by herself." Robin countered back, a bit louder than before.
"Oh come on Robin, that girl might try to get Raven to have some fun, but do ya' really think Rae's going to like hearts and-"
"Is there a reason you two keep mentioning me?" Came a chilling voice from above the two boys. Cyborg and Robin immediately whirled around on the couch to see Raven standing over them, her book in both hands closed. She wore an annoyed look on her face, obviously waiting for an answer. The two boys almost fell off the couch at her presence. Beastboy let out another laugh behind his paper, which earned him another of Raven's stares. Seemingly though, he didn't seem to notice it. The empath then turned back to the other two, who were sitting uncomfortably in their seats.
"So... are you two going to answer or not?" Raven asked them, her own voice lowering like theirs had earlier, but this time on a more menacing note. Robin felt like crawling away, not wanting to face his friend, and have her realize what they had been talking about. Knowing her, it was going to be hard enough just to convince her to go once everything had been planned out. And now, considering they didn't even have that part done...
"Well, uhhh... you see Rae... seeing as how it's Valentines soon and-" The look Raven gave Cyborg as he mentioned the holiday coming up chilled him to his very core. She seemed to grow several times her size, and tower over him.
"I don't 'do' Valentines Day." she growled at him, causing him to inch away. The older teen put his hands up defensively, as if he was about to be attacked.
"Ah come on Rae, it's not like you can't have some fun with the rest of us-"
"I already have fun, it's called reading." Raven shot back, becoming more annoyed by the second. Robin tried to jump in next, in an attempt to calm her down.
"Raven, we were only trying to make sure you had some fun instead of being alone tomorrow. That's all." Raven then turned him, and looked ready to argue back, if not for the fact that Starfire had seen the small argument brewing, and had come over, abandoning her decorating of the room.
"Friends, what is the problem?" she asked the three, concerned. Raven turned to her to answer.
"These two thought it'd be 'fun' for me to go out on Valentines Day with them." Raven said to her, crossing her arms even as she shifted how she held her book, so that it hung out of her right hand. Starfire looked at her, for a few seconds, blinking. Then suddenly, she then clasped her hands together, and smiled.
"But Raven, do you not think that is a good idea? I have many activites planned for the three of us, which include the eating of chocolates and the walking in parks and the-"
"Whoa Star, I thought I already told you Rae was coming with my group." Cyborg interjected, turning from the person they were speaking about and to the Tamaranean. Starfire looked at him strangely, raising an eyebrow innocently.
"But Robin and I have already planned out many activities to do with Raven, and we cannot cancel the carriage ride, which had to dated in at least two Earth weeks of advanced notice, not to mention-"
"Carriage ride?" Raven said in a low, somewhat-confused voice. The other three ignored the annoyed-empath however, and continued arguing.
"Star, I know you mean good and all, but I don't think Rae's is going to do that stuff. But with us, she'll just sit in a corner reading the whole time."
"I could do that while I'm at the tower, you know..." Raven growled at Cyborg, who didn't pay attention to her. Starfire countered back quickly.
"But Valentines Day is not to be spent alone, but with others, enjoying the consumption of candied treats, and the-"
"Rae can eat stuff with us too!" Cyborg said back. "Not like we're gonna' starve the girl, being that she definitely doesn't need it..." Cyborg's last comment earned an even harsher-than-normal glare at Raven, her eyes beginning to light up.
Starfire looked ready to shoot back, but before she was able to do so, a jagged column of negative energy forced its way up from the ground inbetween her and the couch where the others sat. Starfire flew back from it, catching herself before she hit the floor. The other two Titans had jerked their bodies back, not wanting to get too close to Raven's signature flow of energy. Beastboy continued to read, unconcerned in the conversation. The column then went back through the ground quickly, calming the air inbetween the three former arguers and non-combatant even as the air around Raven then suddenly picked up the same vibe from before, the energy coming back up through the ground and into her. The flaps of her cloak picked up as if wind blew through it, her eyes still alit as the power surged back into her. The air then suddenly became warmer even as the energy settled back in.
"Enough." she said, with a finalizing tone. The others continued to stare, as if thinking to begin an arguement against her now. Raven did not give them the opportunity.
"Look. I don't do Valentines Day. I don't do 'eating chocolate'; I don't do 'carriage rides'; and I don't do 'tagging along'. If I wanted to come either of you tomorrow, then I would. But I don't, and neither of you are going to change that."
Raven's announcements coincided with another outburst from Beastboy, whose newspaper wrinkled even as his body shook from the core. Whatever he had found funny earlier in the day, still seemed to be working for him. Raven rolled her eyes at him.
"And now, I'm going to go to my room. And I don't want anyone trying to come and convince me to come with them." The empath added. She then turned to the door and levitated over to it, her small feet floating only a few inches off the carpeted ground. The other three sat in silence, knowing it best to do so. The automatic door to the lobby slammed closed behind the blue-cloaked girl, even as she floated down the hallway and away from the others.
"Well now what?" Cyborg then said, several seconds after Raven's abrupt departure. He looked at the other two, waiting for them.
"Perhaps, it is best if we let Raven do as she wishes, and not what we may wish for her." Starfire then said, a bit of a sad tone in her voice. Robin nodded, agreeing with her suggestion. Even if they thought it might be best for Raven, that -didn't mean Raven did, or if she would even enjoy them. Robin took in a small breath, then began to speak, hoping to end the rather-down situation before it became any more depressing.
"Star's right, Cyborg. We shouldn't go and try to force her into things, especially if she doesn't want to them. She's our friend, and we should respect that, even if it isn't what's best for her."
Cyborg and Starfire nodded silently, agreeing with the sentiment. Beastboy however, laughed again, this time a bit quieter than before. Nevertheless, it still caught the others' attention as the others had.
"Something funny, B?" Cyborg asked the changeling. Beastboy merely continued to laugh.
"Beastboy, have you found something that is hilarious? Would you like to share with the others?" Starfire then chimed in, wondering what he was laughing about. The green teen did not answer, the chuckling still going on.
"Beastboy, what are you laughing about so much?" Robin finally asked him. Being the leader, Beastboy couldn't simply ignore this questioner. He tried to stop laughing, calming himself down while he turned his head over to the other three. He then folded the paper in half, so that the page he had been looking at was to them. Jabbing a finger at the part he had been reading, the other Titans' eyes widened in shock as they saw what was on the page.
"This!" Beastboy said, breaking back out into a roar of laughter. Robin slowly reached his hands up to the sides of the paper, and again slowly took it away from his teammate. He looked the personal ad over and over, disbelieving it in its entirety.
"No way..." Cyborg mumbled at his side, looking at Robin's side at the paper. Starfire floated next to Robin in the air, more confused than shocked.
Robin began to read what the message said over and over in his head, thinking it was a horrible joke, and with the culprit already in mind. The words began to formulate sentences and thoughts in his head, making sense and yet at the same time no sense at all.
"Hi, I'm Raven. I'm five-foot-eight, like the color blue, and love to read. I live on an island with four friends, and fight supervillians. My dad and I don't get along, so we don't see each other much. And this Valentines Day, I'm looking for someone to spend the day with. I'll be waiting at the Souls Cafe, starting at noon. First guy there spends the day with me!" Next to the column of words was a picture of their empathic friend, her hood down. A small smile, a rare moment for the girl, accompanied her grey face.
Robin moved the paper down, a sick look on his face.
"You've got to be kidding me, Beastboy." The team leader said, no amusement in his voice. His eyes drilled into the changeling, almost-demanding an answer.
"Okay, there's only two possible explanations for this. One, someone let happy Raven out to write that from her freaky mirror of hers. Or two, that ain't Raven." Cyborg then added. Starfire merely continued to look over the page, confused. Beastboy continued to laugh, though he was slowly losing steam from the article. Robin threw his left-handed index finger up at the green changeling, his eyes narrowing even as he handed the paper off to Starfire so she could keep looking at it.
"Beastboy, talk. Now. Did you write that and send it in?" Robin got straight to the point. If this was an attempt at a joke by Beastboy, this was the absolute worst thing he could try to do. Raven certainly wasn't going to find it funny, not to mention when she did find this out... Robin didn't want to think what would happen.
"Relax Rob, this'll just solve all of our problems, and get Rae out the house for once!" Beastboy said a bit enthusiastically. "Come on dude; you want Raven to get out, but you just want to spend the day with Star; and Cyborg wants to get Raven out of the house; but Cye wants to spend the day with Sarah, KF, and Jinx on their double date; so he doesn't really want Raven with him. So this way, Raven gets out the house, and you guys don't have to have her tag along with you! It's perfect!"
"That is until Raven finds out 'bout it, BB, did you really think Rae's going to go with this? She'll destroy you!" Cyborg then said empathetically. Beastboy countered back with an annoyed stare.
"Oh come on, you all think she needs to get out the tower right? Well this is the perfect way! All of us get to do whatever we want, and Raven still gets out to spend the day doing stuff that's good for her!" The green teen then said. Robin shook his head, knowing this wasn't going to end well.
"Beastboy... this just isn't going to work. Does Raven even know about this at all?" Robin then said. He was more tired now then angry, though that could flare up at any second in him. He thought that by now, after practically two years on the team with Raven; everyone, especially Beastboy, would have known not to do anything like this... And here they were, one of the members having done something of this nature. Beastboy's next comment only added to Robin's headache spawning from this.
"Uhhh, should I have?"
The only response Robin could muster was a loud groan, wherein which his other two friends could not but join with him.
This was not good.
The air was cleaner here than it was in almost any other place in the world.
But that wasn't why he was here.
The slow moving clouds that any passerby anywhere in the world could see up in the air were still a bit farther up. But here, on this top of a mountain, they seemed so much closer, almost touchable, like the moon did when one would put their hand in its direction in the cool night air.
Flowers danced in the breezes that reached up all the way here, moving gently back and forth in their rythmic motions. Even the grass seemed to get into the action, rustling about as the wind brushed through it.
And in the middle of this large field, sat a medium-sized rock. And on top of this rock, sat a teenage boy, playing his guitar.
His clothing was what most would consider unusual; a purple vest over a high-collared white shirt with long sleeves. Golden-colored arm bands adorned either lower-arm, over the clothing all the way to the wrist. Matching bands went around his vest at his abdomen, and one each around his lower-leg, where his purple boots opened up to allow an insertion of a foot. His pants however, unlike the wrest of his brightly-colored uniform, were the color... black. As to why, there seemed no apparent choice.
His green eyes stared out at the ground below, even as his slightly-long fingers moved along the guitar's surface, moving the wires that caused the sounds to be emitted from the instrument. The sideburns that went down his face kept his cheeks warm even against the cool breeze from the mountain air, the blond curls only ruffling slightly like the grass around his seat.
Jericho was content here. The scenery was beautiful, the mood inspirational, and most importantly, it was peaceful here. No maniacal brains or other super villians ever graced here. In fact, it had been several months since he had last been in contact with the Titans. He remembered them the major ones, at least. There had been the protege of the Dark Knight. Then there was the strange alien girl that had often spoke with an unfamiliarity of the language that Jericho sometimes yearned to utter. The green morphling that without all of the teen superheroes he had seen, including himself, would be gone couldn't be forgotten, if most certainly for his bad puns. The cybernetically-enhanced Titan, who seemed to have a large appetite to fill; the thoughts of which having kept Jericho up for a night or two on if any improvements had been made to that one's digestional track.
And then there was the last one... the quiet empath. Her soft face, that had been covered mostly by her hood, stayed in his mind more than the others had. She hadn't smiled much, but the small times that she had, it had given Jericho such a feeling... that he couldn't have described what it had been. Jericho always felt happy when other people were happy, it was a nice thing to see others being in joy. But this... had been different, and he couldn't tell why, like a rumbling in his stomach, even if he wasn't hungry. It was a mystery to this young artist and likely, regardless of his own small wants, would stay that way, being that he would probably never see any of them, including her, again.
The strings on his guitar suddenly let out a small, low note, not following with the song the writer had been making up. He quickly picked back up the melody, focusing his thoughts on it instead.
It didn't bother him much though, to be without accompaniment, but sometimes it did get a bit lonely. Jericho put down the guitar he had been playing a song he was making up on, and then turned to his side. He then reached over towards his only source of the outside world, and grasped it gently in his hands.
A newspaper. Jericho did have any idea of how it got here, every single day, onto his rock when he went to go sleep underneath the tree. Years ago, Jericho had tried to stay up several times during the night, and watch to see how it was getting up here. But every time he only fell asleep at the most inopportune time, and missed his helper. Was it someone who went through all the trouble to carry a single packet of daily information every day to him, or perhaps a plane accidentally dropped one from the sky above? Jericho didn't know, but if he ever found out who was getting them to him, he'd have to thank them, somehow...
After making sure his guitar was sitting safely enough at his side, Jericho then took both sides of the newspaper in his hands, and opened it wide up. He often skipped the political sections; too many sad stories often in there. Instead, he moved right to the personals. He liked listening to people, and would often at many a time think about how they could solve their problems. Of course, he could never come down and meet them, he didn't know where they lived, so how'd that be possible? But still, it would be nice if he could.
They were the same as always; people complaining about children; bosses; spouses; and how in general life was just tough. Jericho felt a bit sad about them, and how simple their problems really were if they just took the time to look at them and sort them out themselves. But then, they would seem simple to Jericho. He'd spent his entire life almost sitting and thinking inwardly, and his almost twelve years since... the accident... had given him a lot of time to just think. Still, he continued to look through, enjoying the reading nonetheless.
Then, a particular ad caught his eyes.
"Hi, I'm Raven-" Was how the article began. Jericho's eyes opened slightly wider in shock, and his heart felt a tremor. He had to take a few seconds to come back to the page, surprised at the name. No, it couldn't be the same one, there were others with that name. It wasn't like it was just one girl with the name Raven anyway, of course there were...
He continued reading.
"-I'm five-foot-eight, like the color blue, and love to read.-" Jericho took another hit to the organ in the ribcage. He calmed himself once more, making soundless breaths. Still, just coincidences, complete coincidences. Lots of girls liked the color blue, and who said this was even a girl? Raven could've been a name for either a boy or a girl, even if five-foot-eight was pretty short for a guy... and still, lots of people read books, so that meant nothing, nothing at all. He continued to read.
"-I love on an island with four friends, and fight supervillians.-" Jericho's hand slight stumbled on the page, with his seeing of the last word. That would certainly narrow the possibilities down... He quickly read the next line, not thinking much of it, and continued onward for hopes of dispelling the creeping thoughts in his mind, of who it was that this ad was about.
"-And this Valentines Day, I'm looking for someone to spend the day with. I'll be waiting at the Souls Cafe, starting at noon. First guy there spends the day with me!"
Jericho finally let the paper slip a bit in his hands, sensing a slight feeling of relief. Just another Valentines Day ad, by someone just obviously posing as the person he had had in mind. It wasn't common, but every once and a while he had seen people in newspapers claiming to be one superhero or another. And it was always just their reasons for putting the ad in the newspaper that gave them away; most superheroes didn't care much about those reasons; they cared more about what they were doing as superheroes instead. He then moved his eyes across the page a bit, and let it settle on the rest of the article. His eyes opened slightly in shock at the image in the photo.
A smile. A sign of... happiness, even if slight. In his short few days with the Titans, the empath had only smiled in the privacy of the Tower with her friends, and then only occasionally, when the situation was suitable for her to feel the need. The aspect of anybody just catching a close-up like this, with this show of emotion on her face, was...
No, it was still just possible luck by an amateur cameraman. It was possible, somehow, it had to be. This was just an attempt by some unfortunately loved-depraved girl to meet some guy on Valentines, by trying to attract him or several hims by the use of a rather-famous girl. That's all it was. Jericho put the paper down and went back to his guitar, trying to pick up where he had left off, but finding it difficult.
Still... it couldn't hurt to check. What if it was her? Jericho couldn't think of that article being written by Raven. From the short time that he had been in contact with her, that sort of writing would never even leave the inner spaces of her mind. The vibes he had picked up from her told him she wasn't that kind of girl. The article just couldn't... it just wasn't her. Someone else was behind this.
But if it was... Jericho couldn't think of her spending a day with a guy actually looking for a date on Valentines. She'd probably throw him onto this very mountaintop before spending a day with any member of almost half the male population, or more! So if it was her...
Jericho set down his guitar, the music still fresh in his mind. If it was her... if it was, perhaps he should try to spend the... day with her. Yes, just the day, that would be all, and then right back on this mountaintop, alone. Just one day, just to make sure that no one else got the wrong idea and got hurt because Raven wouldn't swing that way. No, he'd go right down to that city, just to make sure her day went alright, and to do so he'd spend the day with her. But not a date or anything, no! Just the... day with her, and that'd be all.
Jericho blinked a bit, a funny feeling coming over him again. He didn't like this feeling usually, and it had only recently been coming up on him. It felt like... something moving around in his stomach, for some reason. He then stood up from his rock, hoping to get rid of the sensation in the pit of his digestive organ. He placed the guitar at the side of his rock even as he climbed down from it, making sure it wouldn't fall over from a sudden burst of wind. Jericho then walked over to the edge of the cliff, and looked down.
It was going to be a long climb down this cliff, if he went this way. But then, Jericho did have his alternative, even if he didn't always want to use it. He didn't like asking for help when he wasn't sure he could pay it back, but then, his friend had told him to call whenever he needed him, and this time to reach where he needed to quickly, he'd definitely need the help.
Jericho reached his left hand into the band that went around his midsection, and then pulled out a small blue instrument, that seemed quite different in many ways from his guitar. It was a horn though, so of course it was going to be different. Jericho then put the instruments to his lips, and began to blow.
No sound, of course no sound. But still, the instrument had its desired affect.
As if in reply, another sound, this time audible, was heard across the mountain air. It seemed like the echoing of his own horn, but louder, and getting louder still. Suddenly, the air behind Jericho opened up, a large red circle appearing out of nowhere, and slowly becoming wider and wider until big enough to berth a person. It then began to serve that duty, even as someone started to walk out, and towards him. The short blue dress across his chest with attached-hood, along with the black suit underneath.
"Need a lift pal?" The Herald spoke in his slightly-low voice, his own horn in one hand. He jerked his gloved hand back towards the portal, gesturing to Jericho. The mutant nodded happily in reply.
A lift indeed.
End of Chapter 1