Two days later, the Teen Titans were on the road back to Jump City.

The police had ruled Snow's death a suicide. The bullet that killed him had been fired from his own gun, and there were no fingerprints on the weapon other than his own. After having cleared out his underground lair the day before, the local cops didn't seem terribly curious about the precise chain of events that had led to his demise, and had not asked many questions. Apparently, they were fairly eager to close the books on him.

They also didn't ask about the horrible apparition that had filled the sky and blown out all their windows that night, either.

Robin appreciated that, and he had no reason to second-guess their judgment on either count. He also had no reason to doubt his teammates, his friends, not one of them. Least of all Raven, who had saved his own life, had saved him from Slade, and had seen a part of his soul that he'd never revealed to anyone else. She knew him better than anyone, even Bruce, and as such he knew that he could trust her.

And that was why he refused to allow himself to imagine her telekinetically holding Snow's gun to his head, and pulling the trigger with a thought. She wouldn't have done that. She just wouldn't have, no matter what. That was all there was to it.

Once the minor injuries she'd received had been dealt with, her overall health had also improved with surprising speed, so much so that Cyborg was led to admit that perhaps Snow did have something to do with her illness, after all. In fact… when all was said and done, Raven seemed more or less the same as she'd always been, since they'd known her.

And Robin wasn't quite sure whether he should find that reassuring, or even more alarming. He made a conscious effort to choose the former, but not without reservation.

Even so… he felt that he should ask her about it. It just didn't seem right, to pretend he wasn't worried.

He'd spent the past two days waiting for the proper time, but was gradually realizing it would never come. So… he was going to have to make a choice.

Why couldn't anything ever be easy?

It was snowing, again, as they drove home along the twisting, sloping mountain roads. Apparently, it always snowed in the mountains whenever you tried to go anywhere. Probably something worth taking note of, for the future.

They'd been on the road for several hours, and so far, the drive back had been almost deathly quiet compared to the trip there. Even Beast Boy was gloomily subdued, and the jokes he did crack seemed more out of habit than a real desire to see his friends laugh (which they didn't, anyway). Cyborg had played a few CDs, but it was much quieter and more mellow fare than his usual upbeat selections. And Starfire had yet to sing even one, single 'cheerful driving song'.

It felt like everyone in the car was asleep. Except that none of them were.

Robin sighed, deciding that now was as good a time as any.

"Um, Raven…?"

"Hm?" She didn't look up from the book she was reading, in the front seat.

"I… I apologize for intruding into your mind, the way we did. At the time, it had seemed like the best way to find you, and we only wanted to help… but I wanted to apologize anyway, because we didn't have your permission."

"Huh…? Oh, uh, yeah, right. Sorry," Beast Boy added, after Robin nudged him.

She sighed, but still didn't turn around to look at them. "I know… it's okay. Don't worry about it."

Robin swallowed and pursed his lips. Now for the hard part. He cleared his throat, feeling uncomfortable.

"I'm… not exactly sure how to ask you about this," he admitted, "But… the things we saw in your mind, they seemed so… so… I couldn't understand them," he finished awkwardly, hoping she'd either throw him a line or give him an excuse to drop it.

She flipped a page, and didn't speak for so long that he began to wonder if she'd heard him, even though he was sure that she must have. When she finally answered, her voice was so quiet it was nearly inaudible.

"…I hope you never will."

The only sound in the car for the next several minutes was the occasional turning of a page in Raven's book. Robin thought he should ask her something more, but he couldn't summon the words.

Starfire sniffed, and as he glanced up at her reflection in the window next to him, he was startled to see that she was silently crying.

"Star…? Are you okay?" Although he was concerned, a part of him was secretly grateful for the diversion.

"Robin… I must ask for your forgiveness," she murmured, her voice nearly as quiet as Raven's.

"What? Why?" He was completely blindsided by this.

"I fear… I fear that something terrible is happening to me, that… I may have become unworthy of your friendship, and your trust." She covered her eyes with her hand.

"Why?" He asked again, completely dumbfounded. "Starfire… What's wrong?"

She drew a shuddering breath, and tried to explain.

"Although I have many times felt the Righteous Anger, and the Fury of Justice, during our battles against criminals, monsters, villains, and people who are not nice… always before, when the battles were finished, I have been able to leave those feelings behind and return to the joy of living." She sniffed again, and hugged herself with her free arm. "But, now… I find that I cannot. And I am… afraid of what that means. I… I do not like this feeling."

Smiling sadly, Robin patted her arm.

"I know. But it's okay, Star. Being angry is only natural. It doesn't make you a bad person."

"But… but, it is more than that," she insisted miserably, pulling away from his touch. "Even though he is no longer alive, I find that… for the terrible things he did to those poor, innocent children… and for the way he hurt Raven, and caused her to suffer… I…"

"…I hate the Snow."


-Fin.-