AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is the sequel to "My Sacrifice", and plot information from that fic is necessary to understand some of the plot points in this one. If you haven't read "My Sacrifice", check out my profile.
A wall of screens displayed an enormous amount of information, showing real-time images, statistics, and video in colorful high-definition graphics.
And one man was watching them all… his eyes racing from screen to screen, gathering the information, interpreting it, and storing it all in his head, preparation for his next confrontation with the five people he could never seem to beat. The man was Slade, and the information being collected was all related to the Teen Titans. In the few months since he'd returned from the grave, he'd been studying, gathering information and waiting for the day when he'd make another attempt to conquer Jump City.
He'd had only one confrontation with a member of the Titans since his return from death, and it wasn't even a direct one. He'd sent a Sladebot to torment Beast Boy, who was in an emotional quandary after the apparent return of Terra, Slade's former apprentice and the first girl that Beast Boy had ever truly loved. That confrontation had ended with the destruction of the Sladebot at the hands of a furious Beast Boy, who was apparently quite dangerous when placed under emotional stress.
But reminiscing about past battles was not what Slade needed to be focusing on, and he knew it. His eyes returned to the screens, and on one of them, a chart monitoring energy levels present in the city, a spike suddenly appeared, a power level Slade had never seen before. It recorded a high level of spiritual energy, and Slade knew almost immediately what it was.
"Raven," thought Slade, "obviously reaching her maximum potential power level again… I saw it once before with my own eyes… it was amazing."
Out of all the Titans, Slade knew that Raven was the most powerful, or at least had the potential to be. When she unleashed the full fury of her powers, there was nothing that could stop her… not even Trigon, who was powerful enough to lay waste to the Earth in a matter of seconds.
"What could be making your power level jump so much again? Certainly Trigon couldn't have returned… this is most intriguing."
But what Slade saw next on his monitor crossed over from the realm of intriguing into the league of the astonishing. A massive spike, completely off the charts, a prolonged burst of power that remained for several seconds. Alarms began to blare in the dark, underground complex that Slade was using for his current base of operations, and bright red lights started flashing, illuminating the entire room. Slade's eyes remained fixed on the monitor, amazed that such a high level of spiritual energy could possibly be present within the city. It couldn't be Raven, Slade knew that for sure.
"It has to be a system glitch," thought Slade, but when he went to adjust the settings on his monitors, the power spike remained… his instruments were detecting a power unlike anything Slade had witnessed before. After a few seconds, the reading disappeared, and Slade was left baffled as to the origin of the power spike he'd seen.
What he had no way of knowing, however, was that at that moment, Beast Boy had transformed into an angel in order to save Raven, and the world, from Trigon's return. With his kiss, given to Raven at the instant Trigon would have burst forth from her body, he managed to seal Trigon within the realm of darkness, and both the world, and Raven, were safe.
Slade didn't know why the power spike had appeared on his monitors… but he was determined to find out.
A week later, at Titans Tower, Beast Boy too was baffled by his apparent transformation, which he had absolutely no memory of it having ever occurred. Only Raven had witnessed it, and though she had tried to explain why it might have happened, Beast Boy still had doubts that it ever did.
"I… I transformed into an angel… that's not possible, angels are spiritual beings, not animals! It's just… it's just unreal… but the important thing is that Raven is safe. Whether I saved her or not, just knowing that she's all right is the most important thing in the world."
Now, sitting on his bed and looking down at his lap, Beast Boy could only think of the past week, and how the incident deep beneath the Hexion Café had brought he and Raven closer than ever before. She'd even kept her hair long, just to remember how Beast Boy had saved her. Though Raven still retained her familiar, sarcastic persona, Beast Boy could still tell that something about her had changed… she wasn't quite as annoyed with him as she used to be.
It was at that moment that the door to Beast Boy's room slid open, and Raven stepped inside. Apparently, the honeymoon was over. Raven had clipped her hair short, and Beast Boy began to frown in disappointment.
"It was getting too hard to take care of," said Raven quietly, stepping into the room, the door remaining open behind her.
"It's all right," Beast Boy replied, the smile returning to his face. "I think you look great either way."
Beast Boy immediately regretted what he'd just said… if Raven knew he had feelings for her, who knows how she might treat him… and despite the fact that the two had kissed, albeit a kiss that only Raven remembered, Beast Boy was still uneasy about letting Raven know anything about his feelings for her.
Raven, on the other hand, could easily sense Beast Boy's fondness for her. Her emotional empathy enabled her to easily interpret the mental signals he was giving off, and despite the fact that she wasn't the least bit interested in a romantic relationship with him, didn't mind that Beast Boy was most certainly falling in love with her. It was that love that most likely allowed Beast Boy to transform into an angel and save Raven's life. How exactly, Raven still didn't know, though it was a question that intrigued her as much as it intrigued Beast Boy. If he could somehow tap into, somehow control the spiritual powers that he contained inside of his body, it could be an immense asset to the team… perhaps ensuring that the Teen Titans would never be in danger again. With angelic powers, Beast Boy could single-handedly defeat any villain that came the Titans' way.
"Can I sit down?" asked Raven, indicating that she wished to sit next to Beast Boy at the foot of his bed. He nodded, and she gently sat down next to him, her eyes looking straight into his. "I… still haven't been able to figure out how you did what you did, Beast Boy. What I do know is that it was the most amazing thing I've ever seen, and… I owe you my life for saving me."
"Raven, we've saved each other tons of times," said Beast Boy, as humbly as he possibly could. "We're the Teen Titans, we're friends, we get into trouble all the time… but somehow, we always manage to help each other out. I don't know how I was able to transform, but I'm just glad that I was able to save you before it was too late."
And Raven knew exactly how close of a call it was. At the moment Beast Boy kissed her, she could feel her body being ripped apart… Trigon was moments away from being reborn into the world, but Beast Boy's touch saved her in the nick of time. She trembled slightly as she recalled the pure terror of those moments when she thought that it was a certainty that the world was doomed… doomed because of her.
"You didn't just save me, you saved the entire world, Beast Boy… Trigon may be gone, but… all my life, I'm going to have this demonic presence inside me… dark powers that I'll never be able to get rid of, no matter how much I try."
"Raven, those dark powers of yours have saved countless lives… I mean, whenever there's a bad guy that just seems a bit too powerful, you reach down within yourself and use one of those energy attacks of yours to save the day! You're probably the most powerful member of the team, Raven…"
Beast Boy had experience dealing with people whose powers were both a blessing and a curse. First Terra, and now Raven… though unlike Terra, Raven was able to gain control and come to grips with her powers… and even though she'd almost caused the destruction of the world, she was able to use her powers to undo the damage she'd caused… she reached a new plateau of strength and defeated her demonic father.
She'd saved the world.
"I still don't know if I'll ever completely believe that I actually became an angel, but-"
"Believe me," said Raven, her hand tightly gripping Beast Boy's. "You did. And I'm glad you did."
Just as a smile began forming on Raven's face, both Beast Boy and Raven's Titan communicators began to go off. Robin entered the room, a frantic look on his face.
"Titans, big trouble!" he shouted, gesturing for both of them to hurry and take care of business within the city. The search for what had caused Beast Boy's angelic transformation would just have to wait.
With a long, gleaming, curved kitana blade in each hand, and a smile on his face, Cataclysma was a dangerous villain, and though at just under six feet tall he wasn't as big as some of the Titans' familiar enemies, he could easily prove the adage that 'big things come in small packages'. His hair was long and black, extending down to the middle of his back. He wore a blue jumpsuit and a long, flowing red cape, and his eyes were bright, bright red. He was easily capable of slicing buildings in two with his specially-modified katanas, and his speed made him an enormous threat.
"This city will fall by the end of the day… and it will fall by my hand!"
Now in downtown Jump City, with tall skyscrapers all around him, Cataclysma was doing a tremendous amount of damage. As people fled the buildings he was about to destroy, he walked up to one of them, a large, thirty-story bank building. With an amazing leap, he rocketed up the side of the building, his katanas shattering windows and crushing concrete as they gashed through the huge structure. The shockwaves emanating from his swords sliced through the building just as easily as the blades, and in seconds, the building was cleaved in half. As the two halves began to fall, the hundreds of people still inside screamed in terror, knowing that they had just a few seconds to live.
That is… until they were all rescued by someone just as fast and as powerful as Cataclysma.
Showing amazing speed, Starfire flew up to the falling building, picking up dozens of people in each pass and lowering them safely to the ground. Before the building became rubble on the ground, Starfire had saved every single person. She flew forward and joined her friends, who were now standing ten feet in front of Cataclysma, facing him and ready to do battle.
"You shouldn't have done that, girl…" said Cataclysma, his voice deadly serious as his piercing red eyes stared straight into Starfire's.
"You could have killed all those people!" shouted Robin, rage evident in his voice. "Don't you even care?"
"That was the idea, you idiot!" shouted Cataclysma, who seemed to disappear as he dashed toward Robin, ending up right in front of him in less than a second. His sword swept outward, but Robin was able to duck out of the way, lunging forward and striking Cataclysma with a punch to the stomach. Cataclysma, seemingly unfazed, swung his other sword at the Titans. Raven leapt out of the way, while Beast Boy transformed into a snake and Cyborg leapt into the air to avoid the slash. He pointed his plasma cannon at Cataclysma, firing a blast of energy only to have the villain deflect it with the katana blade in his left hand.
Raven, realizing the dangerousness of the situation, wanted to end the fight sooner rather than later. She extended her arms and began to gather energy for an attack, while Beast Boy slithered up the side of Cataclysma's leg, trying to get the jump on him.
Cataclysma lunged forward, elbowing Raven in the face and knocking her to the ground. As she cried out in pain, Cataclysma prepared to strike her with his sword, only to have Starfire come from the right with a powerful kick that struck the villain in the side of the face. He stumbled away from Raven, and at that moment, Beast Boy transformed into a bear, pinning Cataclysma to the ground. He raised a claw to strike the villain in the face, but Catacylsma rolled out from under him, causing the claw to impact the concrete, chipping three of Beast Boy's fingernails.
"I'm too fast and too strong for you…" said Cataclsyma as Beast Boy detransformed. He walked up to the green Titan, both his swords lifted high in the air. "Now say-"
"Azarath, metreon, zinthos!"
This time the attack came through, a powerful blast of dark energy that hit Cataclysma in the back and knocked him flat on his face.
"Unnh… Raven, thanks…" groaned Beast Boy, staring at his chipped fingernails. "That was close…"
As Cataclysma stood up, a long cable looped around his waist, pulling him in toward Robin. Before he could cut himself free, Robin was able to strike his captured foe with a kick to the face that momentarily stunned Cataclysma, allowing Robin to kick one of the swords out of his hands.
"D….Damn you!" shouted Cataclysma, using the other katana to free himself from the cable. This sudden change of momentum caused Robin to lose his balance, and as he fell backward, Cataclysma charged him, ready to cut Robin in half with his remaining sword. Before he could, a barrage of Starbolts struck him, and the swordsman was quickly engulfed in a pillar of smoke. As the smoke cleared, a blast from Cyborg struck Cataclysma in the chest, and when he tumbled backward, he fell right into the arms of Beast Boy, who had transformed into a gorilla. Cataclysma struggled, but could not break Beast Boy's powerful grip, and because his arms were pinned to his sides, he couldn't use his sword, either. Cataclysma, it seemed, was finally defeated…
"It's time for you to go to jail," said Robin, pointing his finger in Cataclysma's face. "What do you have to say for-"
"Robin, Beast Boy, look out!"
The warning came from Raven, who could sense that Cataclysma was building up power, and with a furious scream, broke free of Beast Boy's hold. He immediately turned and swung his sword at Beast Boy, only to have it blocked against an energy shield formed by Raven. Robin lunged at Cataclysma, but Cataclysma reacted quickly, striking Robin with an elbow to the face. Robin stumbled back, his nose bleeding slightly.
"Robin!" shouted Starfire, immediately concerned that Robin might be injured.
"Star, I'm fine…" Robin replied, pointing at Cataclysma. "Stop him!"
Starfire unleashed a barrage of Starbolts at the villain, who rolled out of the way and leapt into the air, swinging his sword quickly. He only struck air, but the shockwave from the blade continued outward, knocking both Beast Boy and Starfire to the ground.
Raven ran at Cataclysma, her hands illuminated with dark energy. She struck at him with a series of punches, but he dodged all of them, his body moving much faster than Raven could punch. As she tried to strike him again, he somersaulted behind her, grabbing her and placing his sword to her neck just as the other four Titans were preparing to mount another assault.
"NOBODY MOVE!" shouted Cataclysma, pressing the sword into Raven's neck hard enough to draw a small trickle of blood. Raven quickly stopped struggling, realizing that any move she made might move the sword deeper into her skin, potentially severing an artery.
"Let her go…" said Cyborg, pointing his plasma cannon right at Cataclysma's head. "I'm warning you-"
"And I'm warning you to put that cannon down, or I cut her head off, right here," Cataclysma said coldly, smiling as Raven began to tremble in his grasp. "Can't you tell how scared she is?"
"I'm not… not scared… not of you…" thought Raven, though with every drop of blood she could feel leaving her body, her fear intensified more and more. The only other person more afraid than Raven was Beast Boy, who was struggling to contain his rage that Cataclysma had decided to take Raven hostage.
"Put her DOWN!" shouted Beast Boy, his fists clenched. "If you hurt her, I swear I'll kill you!"
Beast Boy's threat immediately caught the attention of the other Titans, especially Robin, who looked at Beast Boy with a slightly surprised expression, having rarely seen such a show of emotion from his green-skinned companion before. Sweat was pouring down Beast Boy's face, and his eyes were narrowed, looking straight into Cataclysma's own. Cataclysma gave a slight smile, realizing that he had the Titans right where he wanted them.
The situation was made even more tense by the fact that blood was still dripping down the side of Raven's neck, due to the extremely close proximity of Cataclysma's sword to the girl's skin. With every drop of blood he saw, Beast Boy became more and more angry, and Raven's friends grew more determined to save her.
"Release her… please…" said Starfire, her hands glowing bright green. "You will not gain anything this way!"
"I gain a way out of here," said Cataclysma, beginning to step back. As he did, the Titans each took one step forward. Cataclysma began shouting in rage. "DON'T TRY TO FOLLOW ME!"
"Don't… let him get away…" said Raven, prompting an angry 'shut up!' from her katana-wielding captor.
"Don't make him mad, if you do he might hurt Raven!" Beast Boy's mind was completely focused on preserving Raven's safety, and as his fear and anger grew, a familiar power was starting to stir in his body… a power that began registering on Slade's monitors.
The rising power level on the monitor quickly drew Slade's attention, and as his cameras panned the city for what might be causing this rising power, perhaps the same huge spiritual energy spike he'd witnessed just a week earlier, he quickly found the source of what could be a highly volatile situation.
"Raven is in danger… but that's not her energy swelling up… so whose is it?"
Slade's eyes scanned the monitor showing an overhead view of the ongoing situation. All four of the other Titans seemed angry about their friend being in danger… but one of them in particular looked ready to explode at any moment.
Now Beast Boy was the one walking toward Cataclysma, stomping the ground as he closed the gap between himself and the criminal holding Raven hostage. When he was just a few feet away, Cataclysma pressed the sword deeper into Raven's neck, prompting several more drops of blood to escape her body.
"Beast Boy, what are you doing?" shouted Robin. "I thought you told US not to make him mad!"
"Let Raven go…" said Beast Boy, his teeth tightly clenched. Raven stared into Beast Boy's angry, narrowed eyes, and immediately recognized the emotional vibes he was sending out… they were quite similar to the vibes he'd sent out when Lacard had placed her in danger. Now she was in danger again, and she was again feeling a torrent of negative emotion swirling within Beast Boy's body.
"Don't do this…" thought Raven, worried about both herself and her friend, who might be tempted to attack Cataclysma should anything happen to her. "I'll take care of this… I won't let us both be killed."
In her mind, Raven was formulating a plan… it was a huge risk to her life, and she knew that she might end up beheaded if she miscalculated even a little bit, but… she couldn't let Cataclysma escape with her, and she couldn't let her friends, especially Beast Boy, watch her die.
"Take one more step, and I kill her," said Cataclysma. "Don't think I won't."
His body trembling, his fists clenched, tears beginning to well in his eyes… the familiar sting of defeat was entering Beast Boy once again, and just like when Lacard was holding Raven captive, Beast Boy was too weak to save the girl he cared about.
On Slade's monitors, the energy levels at the site of the battle were skyrocketing.
"Raven's distress… it's causing the changeling's power to rise dramatically… could this be… could this be what caused the huge power surge I measured last week?"
But Slade already knew the answer to that.
"No… I won't be too weak… I have to save her!"
But before Beast Boy could take another step, Cataclysma could feel something powerful gripping his arm… both his arm and the sword were pulled away from Raven's neck, and Raven's eyes began to glow black. A glowing black claw was now wrapped around Cataclysma's hand, and out of shock, he dropped his final remaining sword, just before Raven's energy claw wrenched his arm behind his back with so much force that his shoulder was nearly dislocated. He let out a loud gasp, and immediately, Robin, Starfire, and Cyborg were upon him. Meanwhile, Beast Boy, who moments ago had felt such rage and fear that he'd been willing to risk both Raven's life and his own, just to save her, was now overwhelmed with relief, and he collapsed to his knees, his mouth widened in shock. Seeing that her friends were easily handling the disarmed Cataclysma, Raven slowly walked up to Beast Boy, placing her hand on his shoulder.
"It's… it's okay now… I'm fine," Raven said, gesturing for Beast Boy to stand up. "Come on… let's go finish this guy off."
With a stunned nod, Beast Boy slowly stood up, his mouth still wide-open. By now, the fight was nearly over, and Cataclysma had taken a beating from the combined force of Robin's blows, Starfire's energy blasts, and Cyborg's cannon. In less than a minute, Cataclysma was subdued, and another terrible villain attack was finally over.
And while Cataclysma had not accomplished his goal of laying waste to Jump City, someone else had accomplished something very important that day…
"Now I know where the power is… and I know just how to eliminate that power. For good."
And with that in mind, Slade started to formulate a plan.
That night at Titans Tower, Beast Boy still hadn't quite recovered from the events of that day. How could he have been so reckless? His anger nearly got Raven killed, and he knew it.
Now he sat on the couch in front of the Titans' enormous television screen, alone with his thoughts. Robin and Starfire were upstairs, Cyborg was in the basement repairing himself, and Raven was doing who knows what, probably in her room.
"She said she was fine, but… she knows I almost got her killed," thought Beast Boy, looking down at the floor. "I bet she doesn't even want to see me."
A hand lightly brushed across Beast Boy's shoulder. When he looked up, he could see Starfire standing behind the couch, a look of concern on her face.
"Starfire?" asked Beast Boy, as surprised as anyone to see Starfire in the living room instead of upstairs with Robin, who, ever since she and Robin came to grips with their feelings for one another, seemed to be spending much of their time together. "I thought you were upstairs with-"
"I was," replied Starfire, "but… Robin and I were talking about you, and-"
"So you came to scold me for what happened today…" Beast Boy said quietly. "Well, go ahead… I-"
"No… both of us are very concerned that you may be feeling bad about… Beast Boy, you did the right thing. It is likely that the villain we fought would not have kept Raven alive had he gotten away with her, and…"
Starfire was always trying to cheer everyone up. She was a kind, gentle soul, and Beast Boy knew that she could always say a few words and make almost anyone feel better. But nothing Starfire said could change how Beast Boy thought of himself… as a reckless, immature person that let his emotions get the best of him. Even Robin had better control over his emotions.
"Even after I told all of you to stay back, I still tried to take that guy down myself, and… if Raven hadn't broken free from him, she might have been killed."
Starfire walked around to the other side of the couch and sat down next to Beast Boy. She gave him a smile and again placed her hand on his shoulder.
"I… I spoke to Raven before I went to Robin's room," said Starfire. "She told me that-"
"She told you the same thing she told me, Star," Beast Boy replied. "That she was okay and that I did the right thing. It doesn't matter. I saw what I saw, and-"
The screen in the living room flashed on, and Beast Boy and Starfire saw a face that neither of them wanted to see. It was Slade, and apparently, he was up to no good.
"It's a bit of a late hour to be contacting you, but you see… the city's about to have a bit of a weather emergency," Slade said, with malice in his voice. The picture changed, from Slade to a giant, antenna-like metallic object that had been erected in a large, grassy field, just outside the city. "This is the Tornadogenesis Machine, and if you've seen any sort of documentary on tornadoes, you'll know the kind of horrific destruction that they can cause. In exactly one hour, I will activate the machine, and your precious city will be wiped off the map. Tens of thousands of people killed. If you wish to stop it, you'd better get moving."
The screen flashed off, and Beast Boy and Starfire let out a loud, simultaneous gasp. Almost immediately, Robin dashed into the room, followed by Raven and Cyborg. When Beast Boy saw Raven, he slunk slightly into the couch.
"I picked up the transmission on my T-Com," said Robin, and Raven and Cyborg nodded, confirming they'd picked up a similar message. "And I've already triangulated the facility where Slade's transmitting from."
"It's deep underground, not too far from the field where the antenna is. The entrance is an old storage on a farm a couple of miles east of the city," said Cyborg, pressing a button on his arm that caused a map of the location of the antenna and the storage shed to appear on the Titans' large screen, with red dots indicating both locations on the map.
"If we want to stop Slade," said Raven, staring at the map, "we'd better hurry."
Robin, Starfire, and Cyborg nodded in affirmation, while Beast Boy simply stood up from the couch and looked at the screen.
"Damn… I didn't want to deal with something like this… come on, Beast Boy, you've gotta clear out your head and focus! The city needs you!"
The Titans exited the Tower, with Beast Boy continuing to wear a grim expression on his face as he raced toward the door. Raven, noticing Beast Boy's expression, stopped for a moment and glanced over at him.
"You gonna be all right?" she asked. Beast Boy nodded, but Raven still wasn't too sure. "Beast Boy, stop worrying about me and get it together. We have to stop Slade, before lots of people get hurt."
"The city needs me… just like Raven needed me… and we all know how THAT turned out…"
Once the Titans, flying in their T-Jet, made it to the area containing the farm and the antenna, they landed at a spot equidistant from the two points and agreed on a battle plan.
"You guys can go take out Slade… I'll handle this antenna," said Cyborg, who could see the large, menacing structure from a few hundred feet away. Robin shook his head.
"Nobody in the Titans works alone," said Robin, turning to Starfire. "Star, can you go with Cyborg?"
Starfire nodded, though she was reluctant to separate from Robin, knowing full well the dangerousness of any mission involving Slade. She floated over and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek, then followed Cyborg to the site of the antenna. That left Robin, Beast Boy, and Raven to go to the shed and take out Slade.
"This is going to be difficult," said Raven, perhaps understating the seriousness of the situation. She looked at Beast Boy, and then at Robin… two of the strongest people she knew. She trusted them with her lives, and knew that working together, all three heroes would be able to take out Slade. "Let's go do this."
"Right," said Beast Boy, a bit meekly. The three Titans ran to the shed, and Robin went inside first to check for any traps, as well as the inevitable secret entrance that would lead to Slade's real hideout. When he found it, a small trap door hidden under a large tractor, he gestured for Raven and Beast Boy to come inside. Using her telekinesis, Raven was easily able to slide the tractor out of the way, and the three Titans slowly descended a long, metallic ladder into Slade's underground lair.
Robin knew that this was exactly what Slade had hoped for, and that not only was he expecting the Titans to show up, he was probably leading them right into a trap. That's a chance he would just have to take… for the sake of the city, Robin, Beast Boy, and Raven had to stop Slade.
They had no idea that the city was nowhere close to being his real target…
Starfire and Cyborg cautiously approached the large, metallic antenna, an obelisk-like structure piercing over a thousand feet into the sky.
"This thing is what Slade intends to use to summon tornadoes against the city?" asked Cyborg, walking around the base of the antenna, his voice quizzical. "Looks just like a normal antenna to me… bit darker than usual, but-"
With a loud gasp, Starfire pointed to a long, cylindrical chamber near the center of the antenna. There were several rectangular, door-like openings in the chamber, and they appeared to be slowly opening.
"Oh man, is Slade activating the antenna already?" shouted Cyborg, looking down at his arm, on which the current time was being displayed. "We still got thirty-seven minutes until-"
"No, look!" Starfire gasped, her finger trembling. Out of the openings were pouring dozens and dozens of Sladebots… and all of them had their sights set on Starfire and Cyborg.
While Starfire and Cyborg were engaging the Sladebots, their Titan teammates were having a much easier go of things, having had an uneventful trek through the long, narrow corridors of Slade's underground base. They hadn't even seen a single Sladebot… which gave Robin more and more reason to believe that Slade was setting them up for a trap.
"Stop," said Robin, stopping right in the middle of the hallway. Raven and Beast Boy stopped behind him, and both of them were puzzled as to why Robin wouldn't want to keep going. There was a dangerous machine to stop, after all. "Something about this… doesn't seem right."
Beast Boy knew what a tricky customer Slade could be. Out of all the Titans, he'd had the most recent encounter with Slade… or at least a Sladebot made to look like him. Slade was still as cruel and as dangerous as ever, a fact proven by Slade's eagerness to taunt Beast Boy after Beast Boy had realized that Terra no longer had her memories intact.
"At least Slade was leaving Terra alone… but that doesn't change the fact that he's dangerous, and that we have to stop him…"
"Why haven't we been attacked yet?" asked Robin, looking at Raven and Beast Boy. "It doesn't add up."
"Slade wants us to reach a certain area, probably to spring a trap on us," replied Raven. "Robin, I have the same suspicions as you. But we still need to keep going. There's no reason to think that we-"
Almost immediately, the floor on which Raven was standing began sparking with powerful, high-voltage electricity, and Raven fell to her knees, screaming in pain. As Beast Boy rushed to tend to her, an enormous metallic object, shaped like a large battering ram, came screaming through the hall. The oblivious Beast Boy didn't stand a chance of avoiding it, and Robin knew it.
"BEAST BOY, LOOK OUT!"
Robin dove in the path of the object, pushing Beast Boy aside just in the nick of time. It slammed into Robin instead, carrying him screaming down the hall and out of sight. As Beast Boy wobbled to his feet, he began looking for Robin, while at the same time running toward his endangered friend Raven.
"Azarath, metreon… AAAAH!"
The force of the shocks increased, and Raven was forced once more to her knees. Beast Boy ran to her, but as soon as he reached her, a hidden panel in the side of the wall slid open, and several Sladebots leapt out, immediately diving on top of Beast Boy. As he was buried in the mass of metal, Raven fought off the pain of the shocks and stood up, grimacing in pain. She knew that Beast Boy would need help fighting off the Sladebots, but before she could go to him, she felt a powerful force slam into the back of her head. As she went unconscious, she could hear a soft, familiar voice… that brought a chill to her spine.
"You'll be coming with me now… say goodbye to your friends."
Meanwhile, Beast Boy, who had no idea that Slade had just knocked out Raven, transformed into a gorilla and threw the Sladebots off of him. There were a dozen in all, and as soon as they'd been thrown off, they lunged at Beast Boy again. He smashed two of them to pieces with his fists before transforming into a lion and tackling another Sladebot, ripping its head from its body.
While Beast Boy was struggling with the Sladebots, Robin had been knocked into a daze, and was now pressed against the end of the thick metal cylinder as it hurtled down the long hallway, carrying Robin further and further from his friends.
"Gotta… focus… gotta… go back and help them…"
It was then that Robin saw something looming ahead of him, rapidly drawing closer by the second. It was a dead end in the hallway, and Robin knew that if he didn't do something, he'd be smashed in seconds. Inertia kept his body pressed against the end of the cylinder… if he didn't do something soon, he'd be history.
In desperation, he grabbed a grappling hook from his utility belt and hurled it outward, where it quickly reached its maximum length and flew back, attaching itself to the other end of the cylinder. The hard metal wall that meant certain death for Robin was now just a hundred feet away, and it was now or never. With sweat pouring down his face, Robin used all of his strength to arch his body upward, sending his slender frame flying over the cylinder as it soared past under him. When the grappling hook reached its maximum length again, Robin was pulled with the cylinder as it impacted the wall, smashing the object to pieces and snapping the cord, sending Robin flying forward. He screamed for several seconds until he impacted the ground face down a few feet from the heavily-dented wall.
"That… hurt…" thought Robin, slowly picking himself off the ground. "But not as much as being smashed against that wall would have…"
Though he wasn't crushed, Robin still had a problem. The metallic cylinder had probably carried him half a mile away from his friends… and even running at full speed, Robin was a good two and a half to three minutes away from them. By then, it could be too late… but Robin still had to try.
"Beast Boy, Raven… I'm coming…." said Robin, turning and dashing down the long, dark hallway as fast as his legs could carry him.
The last Sladebot met his end as he was squeezed to death by octopus Beast Boy's eight powerful tentacles, exploding in a shower of sparks and metal. As Beast Boy detransformed, he realized that this whole time he was fighting the Sladebots, he'd completely forgotten about Raven. Horror began to sink in.
"Oh crud… if she was still being shocked then… she could be badly hurt by now! Or even…"
But when Beast Boy looked over to where Raven had been standing when the shocks began, all he saw was… nothing. Nothing but a large, rectangular opening in the wall similar to the one from where the Sladebots had attacked. Either Raven had fought off the shocks and had gone down the tunnel, or…
"Someone took her…" thought Beast Boy, realizing within seconds that it was the only logical explanation. Had Raven been able to fight off the shocks, she certainly would have helped Beast Boy fight the Sladebots instead of just going off by herself. Dread filled Beast Boy's body. If Raven had been captured, and this was Slade's hideout…
"Raven is Slade's prisoner…"
Quickly, Beast Boy ran into the opening, not even willing to wait for Robin. Every minute Raven spent with Slade was another minute where she could get hurt… and Beast Boy wasn't going to let that happen.
He didn't even hear the opening quickly slam shut behind him, sealing him and Raven off from anyone that might be able to help them.
The first feeling that Raven got when she awoke, other than the splitting pain in the back of her head from having been knocked unconscious, was an unmistakable feeling of cold… cold on her skin, much of which felt completely exposed. Apparently, Slade had taken her cloak. As she shivered, she began to notice another thing.
She was bound. Quite tightly.
She was seated in a cold, metallic chair, attached to it by tight, stainless steel shackles locked around her arms and pulling them roughly behind her back, encasing her arms from her wrists to just below her elbows. Connected to the shackles holding Raven's arms to the chair was a tight metallic band holding her waist to it as well, pressing her stomach firmly back and causing her chest and shoulders to lurch forward, putting a painful strain on Raven's upper arms. Her legs were shackled as well, forced through a clamp locked between her thighs and knees and pressing her upper legs to the seat of the chair. Her ankles were spread a few inches apart, locked into a device at the bottom of the chair that kept her feet planted on the floor and her lower legs almost completely motionless.
"Damn… that's definitely not good…" Another tremble, this time not entirely because of the cold. Once the pain in the back of her head subsided slightly, Raven could feel something else, something locked uncomfortably tight around her face… a thick steel band locked around her head covered her mouth and pressed over her lips firmly, keeping them tightly closed. Anything Raven said could only be heard as unintelligible moans… Raven was completely utterly helpless. Though she could use some of her attacks, she still wasn't quite skilled enough to be able to focus and remove her shackles without being able to say her chant… which the band locked over her mouth made it completely impossible to do. "Mmmmrgh… mmm!"
The room was dark, and Raven could see only a few feet around her before the remainder of her surroundings were swallowed up in shadow. The darkness only served to add to Raven's uncertainty of her situation… and to her growing fear.
"I… have to find a way out of this, before Slade-"
Her thoughts were interrupted by none other than Slade himself, placing his hands firmly over her shoulders as he emerged from the shadows and came up behind the bound half-demoness. As she let out a moan and began to struggle, Slade spoke, his voice cold and calculating.
"Obviously, you're here to give your friends something else to worry about besides the threat that I currently have against the city… I certainly don't think you expected to be taken so easily, did you?"
Raven shifted uncomfortably in her bonds, letting out another loud, angry moan. Her expression remained calm, concealing the growing fear within her psyche… she wasn't going to show Slade even a hint of weakness.
"I bet you're wondering to yourself… how much time is really left? I assure you, it's not long at all…" and with that, Slade pulled a device from his pocket… a small black cylinder with a round, red button on top. Raven eyed both Slade and the device, still trying to maintain her look of calm resolve. When Slade's finger lifted over the button, she raised an eyebrow, her concern shifting from herself to Jump City… and all the innocent people that stood to be annihilated if Slade's horrible machine were activated.
"Gmmmph…. mmmrrgh, mmmmn! You can't press that button… all of those people…!"
"There's something you don't know, Raven, but something that you'll be the first to find out. There is no Tornadogenesis Machine. Like the Chronoton Detonator before it, just an elaborate ruse to get all of you exactly where I want. You, my dear Raven, are already in the proper place."
This news surprised Raven, and her eyes widened, showing surprise and even a hint of fear for the very first time.
"Mmmmnnnff? If there's no Tornadogenesis Machine, then what…?"
Slade's other hand slowly pointed outward, and a light in the room flashed on, illuminating the entrance to the room, as well as a large, circular marking on the floor halfway between Raven and the entrance.
"Under that circle is a bomb that will instantly blow anyone standing on that spot completely apart. Robin, Cyborg, Beast Boy, even Starfire… anyone who comes in to save you will meet a most horrific end."
Now, Raven's entire body was trembling. Her eyes went wide, and she slowly began to shake her head as she realized the gravity of Slade's horrific plan.
"He… he wanted to use me as bait… bait for… a trap… oh god, Robin! Beast Boy!"
Raven knew that soon, one of those two would be entering the room to save her… would step on the circle… and would meet a gruesome fate. as the bomb planted in the floor vaporized their body.
"And you will watch, helpless, as one of your friends is blow to bits," said Slade, his eyes staring straight into Raven's. She began struggling furiously, her arms and legs bruising where the shackles held her in place… she didn't care, she was going to fight, she wasn't going to let one of her friends die because of her.
"MMMMPH! MMMGMMMM! MMMMM!"
"Enjoy the show," said Slade, slipping back around behind the chair and stepping into the shadows. "I know I will."
Raven fought for several more minutes, her body barely able to move as she struggled in the chair, screaming at the top of her lungs despite the fact that no one except for Slade could hear her muffled, garbled cries.
Finally, after it felt as if she'd dislocate her shoulders if she fought anymore, Raven slumped into the chair, hanging her head. She knew that any moment, one of her fellow Titans would be entering the room to save her.
"And the one closest to me when I was taken, was… oh god… Beast Boy…"
Completely unaware of the horrific fate that awaited him, Beast Boy navigated through the maze of tunnels, undaunted by the fact that not a single Sladebot had shown up to stop him as he made his way deeper and deeper into Slade's lair.
"I will save you, Raven… I don't care what it takes…"
Beast Boy hated Slade, hated him with all his heart and soul. It was Slade who'd turned Terra against him, had caused her to be petrified in stone, had caused her so much pain that when she finally did come back to life, she'd become so traumatized that she'd lost all memory of having ever known him.
Now it appeared that Slade was going to hurt Raven, just like he'd hurt Terra. Slade had already destroyed one person that Beast Boy loved… he would never, EVER let him destroy another.
At the end of the hall was a single, large door, and Beast Boy knew that this was the door behind which he'd find Raven… and her terrible captor, Slade. He steeled himself for battle, walking up to the door and not even flinching as it slid wide open.
Then, Beast Boy saw her. Shackled into a chair just twenty feet away, her horrified eyes staring straight into his own, was Raven… who was now screaming her lungs out, her cries rendered completely unintelligible by the steel band over her mouth. Without even a second thought, Beast Boy ran into the room.
"RAVEN!" he shouted, his eyes widening as well as he ran to her across the illuminated pathway, right down the center of the room… and right, unknown to him, into Slade's trap.
"MMMMNNNMMMM! NMMMM! NMMMMMMMMMM! NO! BEAST BOY, NO! NOO!" Raven shook her head rapidly, but it didn't seem to stop Beast Boy… until it was too late. When he did stop, he was standing right in the middle of Slade's circle… and Slade's finger was right over the button. Time seemed to stop for Raven as her eyes met with his, and she knew then that she was witnessing her friend's last moment.
With tears in her eyes, Raven watched in silent horror as Beast Boy's body was engulfed by a column of flame. She heard the explosion and felt the heat from her chair, just ten feet away, as the vertical column of flames shot up from the ground. A painful scream by Beast Boy was swallowed up by the sound and fury of the blast, and though it seemed to Raven like an eternity, in reality it lasted just a few seconds. Raven choked out a muffled scream, and a tear slipped down the left side of her face.
"Beast Boy… no… no…" thought Raven, hanging her head. The next sound she heard was a soft clapping, as Slade stepped out of the shadows, staring into the flames as they began to melt back into the darkness.
"Bravo, bravo…" he said softly, looking at Raven and then back into the center of the room. "What an amazing show… I'd love to have an encore… then again, I don't think your friend will be able to make the final curtain call."
Raven stared into the now smoke-filled center of the room, still looking at the spot where her friend had once stood. Just ten seconds ago, Beast Boy had been alive… determined to save her… but now, he was gone… and it was all her fault. Raven let out a cry of agony, then bowed her head as more tears began to flow. Without a word, Slade looked down at the sobbing girl, a smile forming under his mask.
"It looks like there won't be an energy spike this time… I've eliminated the power and eliminated the threat."
He took one last look toward the center of the room… and there, in the smoke, was a silhouette… a silhouette nearly as tall as he was… in the smoke stood a human figure, with something sticking out of its back.
Now instead of seeing the power surge on his monitor, Slade felt the power surge first-hand… and he let out a gasp. The gasp caused Raven to look up, and there, through tear-filled eyes and a plume of smoke, saw the most beautiful thing she'd ever seen in her life… a thing she was now seeing for the second time.
Her angel had returned.
A bright white glow pierced through the smoke and illuminated in full the figure that had once been a silhouette, now shining, glistening in beautiful reality. A green-skinned, curly-haired angel, with two bright wings and blue eyes that looked straight through the holes in Slade's mask and saw the face of Raven's captor.
"I will not allow you to harm my friend," said Beast Boy, facing both Slade and Raven with an expression that could only be described as benevolent anger. While Raven's eyes were wide in shock, Slade was trembling, astonished at what was apparently the source of the huge power surge.
"You… that's impossible… you can only change into animals…. I refuse to believe that you're an angel!"
Slade charged Beast Boy, striking at him with a powerful, sweeping kick aimed right at the side of the angel's head. Beast Boy lifted his arm, catching Slade's foot in his hand.
"Leave now and I will spare you."
Slade wasn't even close to entertaining such a request, dropping his foot and instead deciding to strike Beast Boy with a punch to the face. Beast Boy caught Slade's fist, then caught Slade's foot again when Slade tried to strike with another kick. Several more blows were aimed at the angel, all which were effortlessly blocked as Beast Boy, refusing to attack, simply decided to parry Slade's blows. His frustration rapidly increasing with every foiled attack, Slade stepped backward, this time deciding upon a new strategy.
"I am through with you," said Slade, charging forward and leaping up and over Beast Boy, doing a somersault and landing behind his back. He then lunged forward with an elbow aimed straight at the back of Beast Boy's neck. With amazing speed, Beast Boy spun around and caught Slade's elbow. Then, his eyes narrowing, he decided that the time for defense was over. Slade had kidnapped Raven, and he had to be made to pay. Still holding Slade's elbow tightly, he pointed his other hand at Slade's chest and blasted him with a huge burst of holy energy, a white explosion that sent Slade flying backward, his back slamming hard into the metal door behind him. He slumped against the door, groaning in pain.
Raven, who had been watching the brief, one-sided confrontation, didn't know what to think. She knew that she was happy… happy and relieved that Beast Boy was alive and had been able to fight off Slade. And as she looked up into his eyes, and at his beautiful face… that face that had appeared in her dreams ever since Beast Boy had first become an angel to save her from Trigon's revival… she couldn't help but admire him… not just as a friend, but…
"I'll have you out in a moment, Raven…" said Beast Boy, a smile forming on his face. "Are you all right?"
Raven nodded, seeing in Beast Boy's smile the fun-loving, friendly, even funny changeling that she'd become friends with as a member of the Titans… and annoying as he could be sometimes, Raven truly did care about him.
"I'm glad you're safe, Beast Boy…" thought Raven, an involuntary tear making its way down her cheek. "Now let's get out of here…"
As Beast Boy began to step forward, Slade's voice echoed through the room… it was strained, weakened, but it was still Slade, and Slade was still dangerous. He limped into the room, holding something in his hand… it was another device like the one he'd used to detonate the bomb… but this device's button was black, and neither Raven nor Beast Boy liked the look of it one bit.
"I… always come prepared…" said Slade, looking into Beast Boy's eyes. "I didn't expect an angel, but… that doesn't mean my trump card isn't still good for something…"
As Slade pressed the button, Raven could feel two small, sharp metal objects emerge from the shackles and pierce her wrists. She let out a squeal of pain, when suddenly, she felt a painful tingling situation rip through her body. It felt as if she was being electrocuted, and small sparks emanating from the shackles and the chair helped to hammer that comparison home. Beast Boy turned to face Slade, a quite un-angelic expression of anger on his still-angelic face.
"What are you doing to her?" shouted Beast Boy.
"It's not what I'm doing to her… it's what I'm about to do to YOU," said Slade. Suddenly, from the circle where the bomb was once planted, huge bolts of lightning shot up from the ground, all around Beast Boy. The lightning, obsidian in color, ripped through his body and brought him screaming to his knees, his wings dropping to his sides and his entire body thrashing in pain. Similar bolts of lightning now shot through Raven and the chair she was attached to, and she too let out several screams, muffled by the band of steel clasped over her lips. "Your powers are holy in nature, which means that they are severely compromised when exposed to energy of a demonic nature… exactly the kind of energy your precious Raven possesses in very large amounts."
"Aaaaa…aaah…aaaaaagh!" Beast Boy screamed, now on all fours like a common dog, his angelic powers doing nothing to prevent the immense pain now screaming through his body.
"MMMMMMNNNMMMM! MMMMMMM!" Raven struggled furiously, though she was rapidly weakening with every second as the life force was sucked out of her body and used against Beast Boy… it seemed that Slade had come up with the perfect plan to kill them both.
After nearly twenty seconds, the electricity stopped. Raven's powers had been almost completely sapped, and after giving one final, weak scream, she slumped into her chair, her body almost lifeless. She was still conscious, though completely unable to move or even to struggle as her weak, energy-drained body sat motionless in the chair.
Meanwhile, Beast Boy was still on his knees, though with the electricity from Raven's demonic powers no longer coursing through his body, he picked himself up, still ready to do battle. Even if he had been weakened, he was still an angel… and still had to protect Raven.
Slade came charging at him again, this time with even more fury than before. But as Beast Boy tried to block Slade's attack, the effects of what Slade had done to him with Raven's energy clearly became evident. Slade kicked Beast Boy hard in the face, knocking the angel flat on his back. Beast Boy's subsequent pained cry brought Raven's head back up from its slumped position, and she stared down at Beast Boy, giving a cry of terror that he'd been hurt.
"Let's see how you handle THIS!" shouted Slade, running toward Beast Boy and stomping at his chest. He was barely able to roll out of the way, getting back into a standing position and lunging at Slade with a punch. This time, it was Slade who had no trouble dodging, and he came back with a powerful headbutt that nearly knocked his angelic foe unconscious. Beast Boy stumbled backward, almost falling over Raven's chair as his hand pressed down tightly over his head. He could feel something slowly dripping down from where Slade had headbutted him… blood? The red substance slowly trickled down Beast Boy's face, over his nose and down off of his chin, finally falling to the floor. Slade chuckled, observing the slow trickle of blood coming from Beast Boy's afflicted forehead. "So, angels do bleed…"
Beast Boy's perilous situation had brought back some of Raven's fighting spirit, though with the vast majority of her energy having been drained out of her, all she could do was struggle and give a few more screams, nothing that would actually help Beast Boy's vital effort.
"I'm completely useless to him… without my powers, there's nothing I can… there has to be some way… I can't let him die!"
Now the feeling that Beast Boy had had when Raven was endangered earlier in the day was now coming to Raven herself… she HAD to do something to help him, but… anger, fear, despair, all negative emotions, all surfacing within Raven's mind… more tears started to fall down her face.
Slade's assault of Beast Boy's angelic frame continued. Several punches to the chest and stomach, followed by a powerful kick that sent Beast Boy to the floor again, sprawling him out a few feet away from Raven. As Slade slowly walked toward him, Beast Boy looked over to Raven, struggling and screaming in her chair… despite having lost nearly all of her energy, she was giving everything she had… and then some… to try and save his life.
Memories of Raven flooded Beast Boy's mind… Beast Boy and this angel deep inside of him were one and the same… and a renewed determination began welling up within him.
"Raven… you'd fight for me if you could… and I won't let you down!"
As Slade's foot came down to stomp on Beast Boy's head, Beast Boy caught him by the ankle and threw him to the ground. The two stood up at the same time and began trading blows. Beast Boy was getting his strength back… and the rapidly tiring Slade was losing his.
"This… I will NOT allow this to happen!" thought Slade, landing a punch that impacted the side of Beast Boy's face. "I planned for all of this… even though he has power far greater than even I can imagine, I still planned for it and I still executed that plan perfectly! I will not lose!"
Slade's train of thought was derailed by a punch that landed right in his gut, causing Slade to double over, gasping for breath and crying out in pain. A second later, Beast Boy's elbow impacted Slade's face, the impact transferring through the mask and sending the evil mastermind reeling backward. The tide was quickly turning, and even Raven stopped struggling, finally believing that Beast Boy once again had the upper hand.
His eyes met hers, and she smiled under her gag, her look giving Beast Boy all the encouragement he needed. He turned toward Slade, ready to strike the finishing blow… when Slade countered with a blow of his own.
A low blow.
"I'm pretty sure angels still have those," said Slade, and he was right, as his dirty trick sent Beast Boy collapsing to the floor below. He somersaulted behind Beast Boy and, pressing his foot against the small of Beast Boy's back, grabbed both of his wings as hard as he could. The force of Slade's pulling motion caused Beast Boy an enormous amount of pain, and as soon as he could catch his breath from the low blow, he let out a loud scream that filled Raven with terror. She stared into his eyes, his face now exhibiting a twisted expression of pure pain that sent a chill down Raven's spine. After several seconds of tugging at Beast Boy's wings, he released them, and Beast Boy fell to the floor, face-down, his entire body filled with pain. He could barely even move, and Slade took advantage, stomping down repeatedly on Beast Boy's arms, back, and legs. With every stomp, Beast Boy let out a scream, and soon, Raven began to scream as well.
"MMMMMMMPH! MMMMMGGGH! MMMMGMNMMMMM! BEAST BOY!"
Beast Boy was completely helpless, and Slade continued stomping on him. When he began stomping on Beast Boy's head, a puddle of blood began to form, as the wound in Beast Boy's forehead was ripped wide open by Slade's malicious stomps.
"You're lucky, Raven… you're witnessing the death of an angel… something no mortal has ever witnessed… consider yourself very, VERY lucky."
But Raven was screaming, tears flowing down her face faster than they had the entire time she was held captive by Slade. There would be no more second winds, no more chances for Beast Boy to save her… even his angelic powers had failed.
And as Beast Boy was stomped, and as Raven struggled, and sobbed, and screamed in agony, more and more negative emotions were building inside her… emotions that were rapidly being transformed into energy by the demonic processes within Raven's body. Soon, the chair she was shackled to began to spark once more… and then, lightning began flowing all around her. Her eyes glowed bright black, and by the time Slade looked up from his relentless assault on Beast Boy, the chair was completely surrounded by a field of black lightning. Every so often, a stray bolt would zap something inside the room, whether it be the wall, one of Slade's monitors, or, after several such stray bolts, Slade himself. The bolt slammed into him, sending him straight to the ground on his back. He stood up to see Raven once again struggling furiously, screaming curses through her gag as her entire body shined with a horrific black glow. Beast Boy looked up as well, and his eyes widened, partially with relief that Slade had stopped attacking him, and partially… with terror.
"Raven… Raven, stop… stop doing this… you can't control… can't control that much power…"
But Raven was consumed by anger, and soon, the entire room began to shake. Slade stood up and rushed over to Raven, realizing that she was still hooked up, via the two needles in her arms, into the energy system of his base, and if he didn't stop her somehow, or at least unhook her, the entire base would be destroyed. But when he got within three feet of her, he was blasted backward, landing hard on his back again. Beast Boy tried to stand, but only managed to get to his knees before the pain became too much and he was forced to watch as Raven's dark energy grew stronger and stronger.
When pieces of the ceiling began to fall, Slade knew that it was time to get out of Dodge. He fled through the entrance to the room, as more and more of the base started crumbling around both Beast Boy and Raven. Horrified that she would kill them both if she continued, Beast Boy looked into Raven's eyes, desperately trying to get her to rein in her terrible power.
"Raven, listen to me! I'm safe! You're safe! Raven, Slade is gone, you have to stop this!"
By now, Raven was fully aware of what she was doing… but when she tried to dissipate her negative emotions, she found that her powers, aided by the system still hooked into her body, had grown rapidly out of control. Bolts of black lightning sparked around the room, several nearly hitting Beast Boy. Raven screamed through her gag, trying to warn Beast Boy to run… to leave her before it was too late and the base collapsed.
But Beast Boy wasn't about to leave Raven behind… just like when she was about to become the portal for Trigon's return… Beast Boy could have left then, but… but then Raven would be dead. He summoned all of his strength, groaning in agony as he picked himself up from the ground, finally getting into a standing position. A faint white glow still shined around his angelic frame, and he looked into Raven's eyes, a smile appearing on his face.
"Raven… I know you can do it… you can control your powers… you can stop this and save us both… just… just focus… just focus on the good things… on when you were happy… maybe if negative emotions caused all of this, positive emotions can stop it..."
As Raven looked at Beast Boy, she heard his advice and began trying to think of everything that made her happy… everything that brought her peace…
"My mother… my friends… Robin, Starfire, Cyborg… and you, Beast Boy… you… my angel…"
Slowly, the black lightning became less and less frequent, though the room's collapse hadn't slowed even a single bit.
Raven continued to remember… not just the people, but the wonderful moments she'd shared with each and every single one of them… finally remembering the moment when Beast Boy, having transformed into an angel for the first time, was able to save her… save her with a kiss.
And then the lightning stopped. Raven slumped in her chair, the shackles still tightly locked around her body. Beast Boy fell to his knees and detransformed from his angelic state, staring at Raven and realizing that the two of them weren't out of danger yet. Far from it.
"The room… it's still collapsing… we'll both be crushed!"
But at that moment, a familiar voice was heard… not the voice of Slade, but of Robin, dashing into the room as quickly as he could. He was followed by Starfire and Cyborg, who, while exhausted from their battle with the Sladebots, were still quite capable of both finding and smashing the secret passage that led the three Titans to their embattled friends. Robin rushed toward Beast Boy, who pointed at Raven and let out a cry. "Save her! She can't move, she'll be crushed!"
Starfire and Cyborg immediately rushed over to Raven, pulling the shackles off of her face, arms, and legs, freeing her from the chair just as a huge piece of the ceiling fell and crushed it to pieces. While Cyborg picked up Raven, Starfire picked up Beast Boy, who fell unconscious as soon as he saw that Raven was safe.
"Come on!" shouted Robin, gesturing for Starfire and Cyborg to hurry up. "We have to get out of here!"
When Beast Boy awoke, he was in the Titans Tower infirmary… his forehead ached, and he could feel that a bandage had been wrapped around his head to prevent any further injury or infection of his wound. He sat up in his bed and began looking around, getting nervous when he didn't see Raven in the other bed.
"I'm right here, Beast Boy."
Beast Boy turned around and saw Raven standing to the side of the bed, a smile on her face. She was wearing her cloak again, though its hood was down, showing her face in full view. Evidently, she kept a lot of blue cloaks around.
"Raven… oh my gosh, you're okay!"
Ignoring the pain in his body, Beast Boy leaped out of bed and wrapped his arms tightly around Raven, hugging her with more gusto than he'd ever hugged anyone before. Instead of pushing him away, Raven allowed Beast Boy to hug her for nearly ten seconds. He released her on his own, stepping back and taking one look over her to make absolutely sure she was all right.
"I… I can remember, Raven… I remember being an angel this time… I remember everything…."
And everything was still so vivid in Beast Boy's mind… his fight with Slade, Raven's struggles, her screams, her battle to regain control of her negative emotions… Beast Boy wasn't so sure he even wanted to remember being an angel.
Raven remembered as well… and this time, it had been a much closer call… even though Beast Boy had transformed, Slade was still able to gain the upper hand… proving that sometimes, even all the power in the world was no substitute for a diabolical plan.
"Let's just… think about why again… why you became an angel," said Raven, the question still hanging in her mind. "Obviously it was because you felt greatly for me, but your body chemistry doesn't support-"
"I think I know why," replied Beast Boy. "Somehow… when you were in trouble… and you knew I was in trouble… your energy crossed over to me."
It was a strange theory… and a theory that Raven couldn't possibly believe.
"Even if my energy did cross over to you, why did you turn into an angel? My powers are demonic… it makes no sense…"
"Me transforming into an angel makes no sense," said Beast Boy, "but somehow, I still managed to do it."
"And for that, I am very, very grateful…" thought Raven, realizing that Beast Boy's transformation had once again saved both her and Beast Boy's life. If he hadn't transformed when he did, he would be dead… and Slade probably would have killed Raven soon after. "You saved my life… again."
Beast Boy looked at Raven… but didn't smile… didn't nod… didn't shake his head. He had saved Raven… and she had saved him… and then the both of them had been saved.
They were the Teen Titans, they were superheroes and they were friends, and they saved each other all the time.
But that still didn't mean that Beast Boy didn't have feelings for Raven. And now, she almost certainly knew of them.
"…you know that I… I don't feel the way about you that you feel about me, Beast Boy," said Raven, turning slightly away from him. He nodded, and began to speak.
"I figured you didn't… I didn't want you to find out, Raven… I thought that… maybe if you did, you would-"
"Hate you? Beast Boy, if anything, knowing this… knowing this makes me regret ever having thought some of the things about you that I did. Especially since they probably made me close myself off to you."
She turned back towards Beast Boy, and a smile slowly crossed her face. As soon as it did, Beast Boy smiled as well.
"I… I can't help but… whenever you smile, it… it makes me feel happy too…"
It was probably something Beast Boy shouldn't have said, because as soon as he did, he knew it sounded really cheesy. But when he said it, it only made Raven smile even more.
"That's the nicest thing anyone's ever said to me… thank you," said Raven, taking Beast Boy's hands in her own. "I-"
The door slid open, and Robin appeared in the doorway, holding a first-aid kit in his hands.
"Just wanted to see if you were…" when Robin saw Beast Boy standing, and holding hands with Raven, he immediately stepped back from the doorway. "I'll check on you later."
The door closed, and Beast Boy and Raven turned their faces back from the doorway and to each other. Raven slowly released her grip on Beast Boy's hands.
"I should… probably go tell the others you're okay," said Raven. "Starfire in particular was very worried about you."
"All right…" said Beast Boy, nodding meekly. "I'll… stay in here."
Raven nodded… and then, she did something that Beast Boy never would have expected her to do. She leaned in… and gave Beast Boy a kiss. It wasn't a deep kiss, but it wasn't exactly a quick peck either. For two seconds, Raven and Beast Boy's lips touched. Just as Beast Boy got over the shock and began closing his eyes, Raven slowly pulled away.
"Don't get used to that," said Raven, smiling again as she turned away from Beast Boy and walked toward the door. "I just… figure I'd give you something to remember, since you probably still don't remember that first kiss. I'll see you in a bit."
But as Raven left, Beast Boy's growing feeling of happiness became too much for him to bear. As soon as the door closed, he let out a chuckle.
"I told you I remember being an angel now, Raven… that means from both the first AND the second time… I do remember the first kiss…"
Beast Boy sat back down on the bed, placing his fingers to his lips. His lips were still tingling.
"But I'll always treasure this one."