HAPPY BIRTHDAY KYSRA!
Well, so technically, happy advanced birthday, because her birthday isn't until Monday, the 24th. But, considering I wanted to have this posted up to a certain point by her birthday, I JUST realized today that I'd have to get on the ball and start posting it, today. So here I am.
I have four parts written and pretty much ready to post. (I always give them a 'looksie' before I post for final beta-ing stuff. But they're written. (And the only one I want to look over a bit more complete is the fourth one, actually...)
Part IV won't be the last one, but it will be the last one before I come back from the Bar Exam. And considering Kysra's going to be at my house on the Friday after the Bar Exam, maybe it'll take me a little longer to get stuff up after that...like a week (which is as long as she's going to be visiting me.)
About this fic: As I said, it is a birthday present for Kysra. I asked her what she wanted and she told me of a scene she saw visually but didn't feel the inspiration to draw or to write. It was just a scene, a moment in time (I'll tell you guys when it comes up in the writing, not in this chapter) and for a few weeks, I was visualizing the scene, I could see it clearly, but I didn't know why they were there or how they had gotten there. Then finally, one day, I was listening to this song, Far Away by Nickelback and I just knew. So...here it is.
Oh, and it's a Future Fic. And I've got WAY more of Raven's history thought up than I think will EVER come up in this story.
Part One: Raven
"When we two parted / In silence and tears/ Half broken-hearted / To sever for years..."
- When We Two Parted, George Gordon, Lord Byron
November 12, 2015
"You were just about to say yes, Rachel!"
Rachel Roth M.D. (known, once upon a time, as Raven) sighed into the receiver, "Amos, I know what I was about to say, but that was before I knew where this thing was taking place," she insisted. "I just can't go there."
"Why not?" he pressed. He waited for a few seconds and, having been her mentor from her first year in med school served him well since he didn't need to see her in order to realize she was rolling her eyes at his question. "It's not like the conference is taking place in the bad part of town, Rache," he insisted. "You're not going to be in any danger...hell, you don't even have to leave the hotel if you don't want to and trust me, The Plaza is a helluva hotel to spend three days in!" He paused and when he didn't even hear her breathing, he sighed, "Did I mention the Hospital's picking up the tab?" he tried another tact. "Completely? From all of your meals to rental cars, drivers, taxis, all your incidentals?"
Rachel sighed, "That's not part of it..."
"I didn't think there was ever a city that could scare you so badly that you wouldn't even set foot in it!" he teased. "I mean, come on, so Blüdhaven has a bad rep, it's been much better since that Nightwing fellow has moved in."
Rachel tensed at the name and the pen she had been doodling with scratched the page, "That's what I'm afraid of."
"Please Rachel?" Amos Julien, Medical Doctor, and head of pediatrics at Community Medical Center never pleaded, but he pleaded now. "I can't go to this thing and no one else here can either, you're my only hope!"
Rachel rolled her eyes and scoffed, "Being a little over dramatic, aren't you?" she asked.
"If someone doesn't show up representing the Hospital, you know that the Association of Doctor's will take away our rank and the Hospital's Board of Trustees will skin me alive if I allow that to happen..." he took a breath but continued before Rachel could interrupt, "And Kim will never speak to me again if I go away on our anniversary, you know how long that woman can keep a grudge..."
"Amos..." Rachel started in what she hoped was a reasonable tone of voice.
"Do you want to break up a happy marriage, Rachel?" Amos pressed.
Rachel shook her head, "Laying it on a bit thick, aren't we?"
"No one else at the hospital can do it, and you have privileges here so you're my only hope..."
"What about my patients?" she used the last card she had.
"What about them?" he asked. "Tell me you have an emergency case to see on Friday or Monday?" he challenged. "They're the only days you'll have to take off because the rest of the conference is during the weekend." He thought about it, "And I'll cover for you on Friday and Monday. I'll take your patients, just tell them to come see me at the hospital..."
"No, no," she interrupted. "If you are going to cover for me you're not going to have my patients drive all the way to Fresno to sit in your waiting room until you can see them." She insisted. "I'll see who I can move around, but for the last ones I can't, you'll have to make due with driving out to my clinic."
"Those are my terms, Amos..." she said certainly. "I won't punish my patients cause you want some nookie time with your wife."
"Well, that's putting it bluntly," he said wryly.
He couldn't argue with her. "Fine...fine...do it. Just send me a schedule of the patients you can't reschedule, try and put them in a block of time so I won't have to drive back and forth and I'll do it."
She sighed. "Fine, you send me all the information about the Conference..." she said with less than enthusiasm in her voice.
"Already done," Amos replied just as the 'mail' icon popped up on her computer screen. "Check your email."
"You don't waste any time, do you?" she asked dryly.
It was easy, most days, not to think about him at all and pretty early on in their estrangement, Raven had realized that was really the best way to deal with the whole situation.
At first, she had half-expected to wake up and find him in her apartment nearly everyday. When she walked home after class, she tried not to be disappointed when she hadn't seen him waiting on her doorstep. Every corner she turned held the possibility of his presence, every knock on her door baited her breath until she nearly suffocated with disappointment.
He had promised her nothing, she knew that. Logically, she knew he owed her nothing either and that their parting had been awkward at best, so there really was no reason why he should come after her or why he would contact her. No reason whatsoever except for their bond. The connection they had shared, the understanding that had always existed between them. Even though logically she knew there was no reason why he would show up in her life again, emotionally, she half expected him to prove logic wrong, the way he had so many times before.
No one had known, except maybe the man himself, how much he meant to her those years when they were a team. She loved him. She loved him more than she loved anyone else she had ever known, and she loved him as more than a friend. She always had, probably even from the first moment he had given her his trust and backed it up by his loyalty. She knew it, and maybe even he knew it. She loved him, but she was content to be a friend. She didn't need anything else from him so long as she could see him everyday and talk to him and share his confidences.
When the Titans disbanded, all that changed.
They all changed. The change had been coming on for some time, but none of them had been willing to accept it until Starfire was called back to Tamaran at the death of Galfore. Having left no heirs, the throne and responsibility was hers once again and that time, she could not refuse. When Starfire left, they all stopped pretending.
Raven kept in touch with all of them and they kept tabs on her more than they wanted to admit they did. Cyborg (Victor now) still thought of her as the little sister he never had and still called her every other day. She was still expected over to their house in Arizona on holidays and birthdays and occasionally for the casual dinner. Garfield (then, Beast Boy) still called her to complain about whatever it was happened to be bothering him at the time and occasionally crashed at her place when he was between Green Peace missions.
As prepared as she was for change, the first time she saw a picture of Nightwing, she wept. The article in the local paper about the new vigilante in such a lawless city such as Blüdhaven showed a face that was as familiar to her as the one that stared back at her in her mirror. And yet, it was so different it startled her. When she wept, it was not because of the changes or the growth he had taken on. No. She had been prepared for those. She wept because the line of his chin and the set of his shoulders reminded her of the first time she had ever seen him. It was the face of a man who had no family, or one who had forgotten that he did indeed have one.
She had left for Blüdhaven the very next day. She hadn't made it beyond the city limits.
Instead, she called him. He had taken her call and although the words he spoke were civil, his tone was so strained it nearly broke her heart to hear it. She felt the chasm between them gape wider and wider and for the first time since that first time they met, she had absolutely no idea how to reach out to him. She didn't know how to speak to him. Not when he pushed her away so thoroughly.
That day, when she hung up the phone, she wept again because she knew beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he would never come after her.
Life moved on. It changed and flowed. And Raven changed with it.
She rarely donned the cloak and leotard anymore. Her sleepy little Northern California town where she had hung up her General Practitioner Shingle rarely saw crime and she had taken up medicine to help people another way...a way that might perhaps offer her a real life. By being a doctor in a small town, she helped people on a one on one basis, she knew the names of each person she helped, she attended birthday parties for children she had helped usher into the world and was invited to block parties and family gatherings. She was Doc Rae, for whom the old lady across town brought her fresh baked banana bread every other Sunday and for whom the mother of her receptionist made homemade muffins. And if her patients' broken bones healed just a little faster than normal, no one thought anything of it other than how lucky they were to have such a good doctor in their town.
But just because she rarely, if ever, wore her cloak and leotard anymore didn't mean she had forgotten where she came from. It didn't mean she had forgotten that she was Raven, as well as Doctor Rae. It didn't mean she didn't take it with her whenever she traveled.
Therefore, not taking it to Blüdhaven, even though she had absolutely no intention of stepping on Nightwing's territorial toes, never occurred to her.
Still, when she found herself racing through the Blüdhaven city blocks toward The Plaza – Blüdhaven, aware the way she had never been before of the presence of her leotard and cloak in her suitcase, she couldn't help but look up at the blurring rooftops with some trepidation.
All those years ago (nine years could seem like a lifetime when each moment is packed full of life), Raven had sworn to herself that she would not think about Richard. She would not buy newspapers with Nightwing articles, she would not wonder about Richard the person, she would even stop herself from thinking about him in that moment as she calms herself down for sleep. After awhile, not thinking about Richard became a habit, like breathing. Something she didn't have to think about to do so that when, every so often, she did catch a glimpse of him on the television as she flipped channels or heard his name casually in conversation from the lips of her employees or patients, she didn't flinch, but it always caught her by surprise, like, 'oh. That's right. I'm breathing. If I stop, I die.'
Just for a split second she would wonder about him, about his life, but then her patient would need her or she would realize she had stopped walking in the middle of the sidewalk and someone would be calling out to her asking her if she was alright and she would automatically push the thought of him away from her mind.
It was a defense mechanism that helped keep her sane. It functioned like glue to help keep the bruised bits of her heart from breaking apart completely long enough for time to take care of the healing. But she had used it so long, that she had never thought to stop using it to see whether or not thinking about him still hurt. She had never tested it.
That brisk September afternoon as she looked out onto the city of Blüdhaven sprawled out beneath her hotel room balcony, she knew the answer to the question she'd never had enough courage to ask: It still hurts like hell.
Three days of conferences and meetings and cocktails and dinners and Raven had barely had cause to leave the hotel, let alone catch a glimpse of the city proper. She had brought his address with her, but she hadn't used it. She had been too busy, her days too full of nonsensical things she wouldn't remember for thinking about what he might say if he opened his door to find her there. Or, worse yet, were the speeches she forced herself to take down word for word rather than look at the door one more time in the unconscious hope that he might have known she was in his city and come barging into the conference center.
In the small town where she had made her home, she couldn't possibly wear her leotard and cloak and go flying about even to just flex her metaphysical wings, to feel the rush of power flow through her as she used abilities she had repressed. It wasn't exactly like an addiction, using her powers, it was more like living her whole life with a fine gauze over her senses, diluting her sight and numbing her senses not to use her powers. She didn't regret the decision she had made to refrain from using her abilities, she wouldn't give up the chance at the life she had for the life she had known all of her youth, but the prospect of being somewhere where she could be Raven again without drawing undue attention, where she could take off the gauze and see and feel the world the way she was meant to again was ultimately, too tempting to pass up.
Too tempting for even the possibility of drawing unwarranted attention from the vigilante corner to dissuade her from slipping back into her old uniform.
Many things had changed, but her appreciation for heights never had, so her first act while in uniform (to teleport herself to the hotel's rooftop) was not a surprising one.
She breathed in a deep lungful of the air, so much clearer at this height, as her cape whipped in the breeze. Her senses sang with each sensation: the breeze running through her hair, the sounds of a bustling city at night, the press of so many lives against her empathic shields. She had even missed the caress of the fabric of her cape as it stroked her legs.
She felt like a bird on a perch again. She felt like herself again.
If she closed her eyes and just listened, she could almost forget the last 9 years had even passed. She might believe she was standing on the roof of the Titans Tower, and could faintly hear Beast Boy whining about losing a game to Cyborg while Starfire mangled the lyrics to some popular song as she worked in the kitchen and Robin might, just might, be about to walk through the roof's door to join her.
When she took to the air, heading in the first direction that occurred to her, it was more to get away from the ghost memories than it was to actually feel flight again. Once she had begun flying, however, she reveled in that sensation as well.
A/N: So, what do you think so far? Part II will be up tomorrow evening.
Soundtrack: Music has been very important for this fic specifically, so I'll be telling you guys the songs I had on repeat while I wrote each Part, kay? At least the most prominent ones.
1. 100 Years, Five For Fighting
2. Pero Te Extrano, Andrea Bocelli
3. Somewhere In Between, Lifehouse
4. Everytime, Britney Spears
5. The Ghost of You, My Chemical Romance