Note: This is most definitely more stream-of-consciousness than the first one. I'm not sure even I understand all of it.

-skin-

Raven hates her skin.

It is not oily, nor rough, nor dry, nor too dark or light. Many girls (and even some of the male persuasion) actually envy her complexion, that flawless alabaster that could only be attained otherwise by makeup. But she hates it all the same.

They--her fans, her admirers--only see the unblemished "beauty," the even tone that lacks shine or wrinkles, the smooth paleness of it all. They see her as a slim, delicate thing, something to be protected; never mind that she could destroy them all in one fell strike, turn them all to stone and make them live their worst nightmares for all eternity.

They don't see the dark circles under her eyes when she gets too afraid to sleep (she can't sleep, it would make her dream, dreaming would make her feel, what if Trigon comes again because she's feeling happy or sad or angry, what if...). They romanticize the sheer emptiness of her complexion; there are only so many times you can call her skin "perfect" before you realize that it is just blank.

There are no little scars that come with stories of their acquisition. She cannot push back her sleeve and tell you, Look, here's where my dog bit me when I was trying to train her. She does not tap a spot on her leg and say, See this crooked line on my shin? I needed four stitches when I crashed my bike into a car, it was kind of funny afterwards because I...

There are no calluses on her hands that mark her as a musician, or martial artist, or someone who just does housework too much. There are no tan lines on her shoulders that give away a penchant for sunbathing. There are no smears on her hands where ink or graphite or paint rubbed off to show others that she is an artist or a writer.

Her skin is ashen, not alabaster--in the harsh noon daylight it makes her look frail, sickly, too pale to be healthy, and with her quiet rasp of a voice and withdrawn demeanor she might otherwise be mistaken for a recovering invalid.

People do not see the birthmarks that Slade brought to the surface of her skin, piercing fiery runes that mark her as Trigon's daughter, Raven the destroyer of the world. Even then they are not true birthmarks, merely light and magic that faded moments after they appeared.

Her skin is empty, and that is why she hates it.

-
It's overcast today; a cold grey sky looms over them like some disheartened weather god as the others complain about the less-than-optimal weather.

It may rain--there is a smell in the air, a peculiar scent of water that has not the tang of salt, nor the seeping cold of fog. She would be glad for an excuse to stay inside, but there are the guaranteed complaints of Cyborg and Beast Boy, and perhaps the dampened spirit of Starfire--the Tamaranian never did take kindly to Earth's rain, and it's hard to meditate when she keeps picking up on Starfire's genuine unhappiness.

-
It's raining now; too heavy to be a light drizzle, falling on the windows with the sort of muted sound only rain can make, but too light to be a total storm because there is no thunder or lightning, no relentless pounding of water against glass.

She goes out onto the roof anyway--she can't meditate, but her friends are not the cause, nor are their emotions straining her control.

Out here it is strangely quiet--the rain is a little louder now, but now everything is blurred, softer, calmer shades of blue and grey.

At first she keeps her hood on. When it gets soaked, she pushes it back because if her cloak is wet then it won't make much difference if her hood's up or not, and she's not going to stay very long anyway--she just wants a few minutes' quiet.

But then, as she stands in the rain and looks out over the tower and lets the rain seep through her hair, she feels something... give.

It's not her control, it's never her control, but it's something important, and she sits down to think and stares at her hands and wonders, what's happening? Why does she feel this way--this not-feeling that makes her want to cry or scream or jump off the tower, do something because she's standing here in the rain and she only wants to feel better because she's supposed to end the world one day and she doesn't want to do that, she doesn't want to be alone with just memories of happier days, I don't want to do that to my friends...

Why...

She reaches up, leans forward, feels the shock of wet metal beneath her knees. Her eyes are burning even though her face is cold; why are her eyes burning like this? Is she crying? Is she feeling? Is this feeling even hers, or is it Robin's because he still hates his eyes so much? This isn't the first time she's had an epiphany at an odd moment, a vague revelation that wasn't even hers; she knew this would happen when she went into Robin's mind, almost forced her soul into his head and saw through those weary glass-green eyes.

She's kneeling now, must be looking like some follower claiming sanctuary in a church, incense burning and candles lit like jewels--but not the church she and Robin went in to hide from Slade. That wasn't the same, it wasn't a sanctuary because she didn't want protection and nothing could ever protect her from being Trigon's daughter. Robin was in too much pain, too confused to ask anything, couldn't answer her even when she lifted his head off her lap and looked around at the dark ruined church (no light no saving I'm sorry, you can't help me now) and said his name.

Robin, answer me, answer me, I'm sorry you have to watch me end the world.

Reach up, reach up; what is she trying to grab hold of?

But her hands stretch towards the sky anyway, imploring the weeping sky to take away everything she hates.

Wash off the ashen, sickly complexion.

Make her fire-red birthmarks fade into nothing.

Give her scars from the battles she has already fought.

Make her something else.

She breathes out, stops reaching for some imaginary god, then grips her arms as if she's keeping herself together in the most literal sense.

Her birthmarks show: black gloves dig into her shoulders green gloves take her hand--too much red like blood it hurts IT HURTS--your feelings are making it hurt more I will make you pay for hurting me, you have to let me go white eyes black talons kill him, fly-not-run from the boy proposing safety-not-marriage. Why won't you stop finding me? Why can't I get rid of him?

She can't let go, she can't loosen her grip because if she does then everything will fall apart and there will be no friends--no laughing, no protectiveness, no sincerity, no knowing.

No more, no more no more no more no more--

The door to the roof opens.

"Raven?" This voice isn't Robin, there is no steeled tenor that softened to sound comforting. (Raven it's me--Robin. Don't you remember me? I remember you, but I don't know why because I'm lost.) This is Starfire, with her honeyed childlike soprano that she would recognize anywhere.

But she can't answer even if it is Starfire, because she's too cold and her eyes are burning and there's something hot running down her face; is Slade back again, is he bringing her birthmarks back to the surface?

"Raven, is something troubling you? The table in the main room has exploded," Starfire asks again.

"...Starf-ire..." she croaks, breath hitching in the middle of the name. "Why'd you come out here? You hate rain."

"Erm... As much as I dislike this facet of Terran weather, I have decided to venture into this unpleasant meteorological event to ask the reason for your distress."

"I-it's nothing, really... I'm just... remembering things."

"Ohh... Raven, you are avoiding my questions." Starfire floats, towering over her a moment before sitting a few inches above the ground. "Such verbal evasion is said to be common among humans, or at least Cyborg tells me so, but I am most unamused by it--particularly if it is you or Robin refraining to answer me. Would you please tell me what bothers you?"

"...I..." Starfire's emotions are starting to reach her, she hates it when Star gets like this because it's so much genuine feeling--why do Tamaranians feel so much? "I'm..."

A shaky breath as Starfire waits for the rest of her answer.

"I'm not... okay..." she finally chokes out. This is not the truth, not all of it--she just doesn't know how to describe this, but it's the right direction, and when has she ever spoken candidly about her feelings? "I'm not okay, Starfire. I feel... like..."

"Raven, it is quite clear that you are not okay."

A pause.

Then, surprisingly, Starfire leans over and hugs her--even though it's Raven she's hugging, Raven the dark moody one, Raven the half-demon daughter of Trigon, Raven who shuns physical contact. And Raven is neither suffocating, nor is her neck painfully cracking as it would in one of Starfire's usual tackles. Rather, she is in a relaxed, almost loose-armed grip and Starfire's saying something in Tamaranian like a mother (Arella said something before the monks came for Raven, she said it too late and Raven heard her voice but not what she was saying) that makes her feel like...

Like...

...home...

NOTE Oct. 13: My computer crapped out on me last week--whenever I turn it on, the screen fades to greyish white and I can't do anything on it. I'm typing this and my other author's notes on a school computer.

To put it clearly, I may not be able to update for a while. I'm sorry.