Disclaimer: I don't own the Teen Titans.
A.N. Before reading this, please understand that a few little canon facts may be bent in order to facilitate this story. The vast majority of the fic, however, will be true to the Teen Titans animated series, and I promise not to pull anything particularly out there on you all. Just trust me, k?
Just a heads up so you know what to expect, this will be a chaptered story that contains at least some romance, drama, (hopefully) humor, and action. The 'T' rating might go up at some point, but I'll be sure to let you all know if I intend to do so. I hope that you enjoy this story, because I know it'll be fun to write!
Chapter one of "Like It Or Not," entitled "Not My Day"
"Raven, duck!" Robin yelled to the empathic Titan, just moments before a very hard mailbox connected with her not so hard skull.
Raven was slammed to the ground and driven back a few feet by the momentum of the impact before she came to a painful stop. Raven groaned and rubbed at the offended area on her skull. This was just not her day. Quickly summoning up her energy, Raven clutched her head as she allowed her healing powers to stop the bruising and get rid of any concussion that she suspected she had obtained.
All around her, the area was in chaos. Johnny Rancid had attempted to pick a fight with the Titans for no obvious reason other than to show off his gigantic, new, scrap metal iguana. Normally iguanas do not inspire a great deal of fear in people, but as this monster was at least thirty feet tall and had the ability to breathe fire, it was actually quite frightening.
Raven leaped up from the ground and nodded her thanks to Robin, who had been warding off the attacks in her general direction while she had recovered. He smiled, and then gave a determined yell as he ran at the iguana, faking left, moving right, and launching two birdarangs into the iguana's mouth. They found their mark at the back of the monster's throat and sliced through it like tissue paper before falling with a clank to the ground.
The reptile roared and spun around, grabbing for the vigilante who had thrown the weapons. After missing him a few times, the beast rapidly struck out with both front legs, catching Robin off guard and pinning him to the pavement. The iguana then easily picked up the boy with triumph and stood on its back legs, holding Robin over its mouth while preparing to barbeque him.
"Yo, fire for brains!" Cyborg called, "Chew on this!" With that, he sent a blue blast from his sonic cannon at the creature's arm that held Robin captive.
"Got him!" Beast Boy called as the monster shrieked in pain and dropped Robin, who began to plummet towards the pavement. Beast Boy rapidly shifted into a pterodactyl and grabbed his leader seconds before he hit the ground.
"Nice work, Beast Boy." Robin thanked him as they both landed safely, and Beast Boy beamed.
Starfire let out a victorious yell as she shot bright green starbolts at the iguana, and Raven quickly summoned up her powers, throwing a parked car into its stomach. Seeing the vehicle coming, the metal monster swiped at it with its powerful tail, sending the car hurdling back to Raven. It struck her forcefully and sent her painfully right back to the ground, very near where she had fallen last time. And the time before that. And the time before that. Like she said, this was not turning out to be a good day.
Cyborg ran to her aid while Beast Boy and Robin distracted the monster. Cyborg threw the car off of her easily, and helped her stand. A quick healing from her powers took away any injuries she had obtained.
"You ok, Rae?" Cyborg asked, eager to get back to the fighting.
Raven sighed to herself, but nodded. As he turned and ran back into the fray, Raven drew up her cowl. Maybe it would be best to wait in the sidelines until her team needed her.
About ten feet away, the four other Titans continued to attack the iguana, bit by bit wearing down and breaking apart the steel beast. From his hiding place, Rancid saw that this battle would not be ending well for him. He pressed the largest button on his control box, before sprinting away from the action under the covering of shadows.
Robin's sharp eye detected Rancid's rapid movement, and at the same time he noticed that a slowly increasing beeping noise began coming from the chest of the iguana.
"Titans!" Robin yelled, realizing that the monster's chest cavity must be concealing a bomb, "The robot is going to explode! Raven, get it out of here!"
Finally a job she could do without significant risk of more injury.
"Azarath Metrion Zinthos!" Raven cried, throwing out her arms towards the iguana. Nothing happened. Why weren't her powers working? Raven chanted her mantra again and then again with no effect. Finally, as she began to panic, dark energy shot from her arms, encased the beast and sent it rapidly upward into the sky. The blast came a few seconds later, and shook the ground with its sheer force. The noise was absolutely deafening. Smoldering scrap metal rained down on the Titans as they dodged the debris frantically.
When the remains of the destroyed robot stopped falling, the Titans gathered around Robin for his usual post-battle comments.
"Nice work, team," Robin began, "Especially you with that last minute save, Raven." He grinned at her and she nodded, allowing her dark energy to draw up her cowl, which had fallen away from her face. She was sure that they had noticed her temporary lapse in power control, but hoped that it wouldn't be brought up.
"Rancid got away, but at least we took down his latest 'pet.'" Robin continued. "Lets get back to the Tower and scan the city for Rancid. He can't be far from here. Cyborg, you picking up anything?"
"No, man," Cyborg responded, "He's not anywhere within a ten mile radius. He must've had his motorcycle waiting nearby."
"That doesn't matter. We'll track him down," Robin said with certainty.
"My good friends," Starfire said jubilantly, "Although we have not caught the Johnny Rancid, we have been successful in this battle, correct?"
"Oh yeah, we whooped his sorry butt!" BB exclaimed, pumping an arm into the air.
"Why do not we celebrate our victory with the consumption of the pizza, as is our tradition?" Starfire asked, hands clasped in front of her chest.
"I don't know, Star. Maybe we should get back to the Tower. Some of us got pretty whipped around during this battle," Robin said, turning to Raven and causing all the Titans to look at her sympathetically.
"I'm fine," Raven replied coolly. "It was my fault. I just need to meditate."
With that, Raven turned and flew off toward the Tower, not looking back at her friends.
"Let Raven be all mopey if she wants to, I wanna celebrate!" BB said, "Lets get pizza!"
With that, he took Robin by one hand and Starfire by the other, and proceeded to drag them to their favorite restaurant with Cyborg trailing a few feet behind.
"I guess Raven'll be alright by herself until we get home," Robin hesitantly agreed, and allowed himself to be pulled along by his green friend.
"Most certainly, Robin," Starfire agreed. "She simply must need the alone time."
Back at the Tower, Raven trudged into the kitchen to prepare herself a cup of tea. A kettle was filled with water, and when the whistle began to shriek a few minutes later, Raven poured the bubbling water into one of her favorite mugs. A bag of Earl Grey was added with a spoonful of sugar, and Raven swirled the glass until the liquid turned a rich, dark brown color.
Breathing in the soothing aroma, she made her way to the common room's couch that overlooked the city. Raven sat near the center, fingers wrapped around the mug, as the last of the afternoon light filtered into the room. The late spring sun was setting beautifully, filling the sky with radiant pink, purple, and orange hues.
It really was lovely, and Raven might have enjoyed it a bit, if her mind had not been quite so preoccupied with very troubling thoughts.
"I was so off today," Raven mused to herself. She thought back to the Rancid battle, and the Mumbo Jumbo battle hours before that one. The Titans usually got thrown around a bit before they managed to subdue the craftier villains that they fought regularly, but Raven was not usually hurt quite so many times during each face-off.
She honestly did not know what she would do without her healing powers. Lately it seemed that she was using them on herself after every skirmish with the Titans' enemies. It usually wasn't anything too major; usually just a laceration here and a burn there, but sometimes it was worse. She had twisted a few limbs quite painfully, and had obtained a few fractures and concussions in the last few weeks alone. Even though the majority of her injuries were repaired almost instantly, Raven suffered horribly from residual soreness. What was even more frightening than this constant reminder of her troubles was the fact that her powers had lately not been completely reliable. She had been meditating even more often than usual, but still she had problems getting her powers to work properly. On her flight home, she had even almost fallen into the bay. She never almost fell into the bay. Something was making her power lapse.
Her head throbbed painfully, making it difficult to think clearly over the pulsing of the blood in her cranium. Her unfortunate mailbox to the head accident certainly did not help, but it wasn't completely to blame for her discomfort. Raven had been experiencing a recurring headache for quite a few days now. She had accredited it to some sort of battle injury for a while, but after having thorough neurological tests performed by Cyborg in the med lab, he could not find what could possibly be bothering her. Cyborg had offered to get further tests done at a professional practice, but Raven had declined at the time. Looking back on that decision, Raven wished that she had accepted. Maybe then she would know what was making her head hurt so badly and so often, and why her powers were often acting out of her control.
The pain seemed to come mostly in the late evening, and sometimes kept her awake at night, but it was gone by the time she woke up the next morning. Raven had been putting off going to Nevermore to look for answers. She kept promising herself that if the pain and power difficulties got more severe, she would certainly go into her mind to investigate. Thus far, however, she had been managing to perform her duties, if not well then at least sufficiently. She had a feeling that something was wrong, but she would much rather ignore it and put off the bad news as long as possible. Besides, she was still hoping against hope that the problem would just fix itself.
Raven groaned to herself and stood up. The pain was making her nauseous. Maybe a hot shower would help soothe away the discomfort. She downed the rest of her tea and hurried to her bedroom. She gathered up a towel and her preferred shampoo and soap, and then hurried to the Tower's only bathroom.
As she was walking, Raven's foot caught on something and she stumbled, catching herself before she fell, but still dropping everything she had been carrying. 'Fantastic,' Raven thought bitterly. She spun around, looking for whatever had tripped her. She found nothing. Sighing to herself, Raven bent down and took up what had fallen from her arms, and continued on to the shower.
As much as she tried, Raven could not appreciate the steamy water. Her mind was too worried and her body too sore. She rinsed the shampoo from her hair, somehow managing to get a rather stinging eyeful of the gel. After a painful minute of washing out her eyes, Raven shuddered. A strange sensation had flitted through her body. She suddenly felt cold, but not the usual sensation as if the shower water's temperature had been changed. Raven felt like ice water was rushing through her veins, and it stung horribly. Her stomach lurched, and her vision blurred.
With a shaking hand, she shut off the water, and Raven stepped from the shower stall anxiously. After wrapping a white towel about her, she felt her legs go weak, and she fell to the floor. Her heart beat very rapidly, and her face flushed. Raven trembled with cold but felt like she was burning up at the same time as she pressed her cheek to the cool tile floor. Raven could feel her quickened pulse beating in her ears, drowning out every other noise, including her own rapid breathing.
"What's happening to me?" Raven croaked, alarmed that her voice sounded muffled and distant.
Her heart continued to beat rapidly, and her stomach lurched again. This time, it was all Raven could do to scramble to her knees and bend over the toilet before acid stung the back of her throat and the contents of her stomach were emptied into the porcelain bowl.
As quickly as possible, Raven spat away the last of the putrid taste and raised a shaking hand to flush the toilet. Her stomach still turned and clenched, but the desire to wretch was dying away, as was the pulsing blood in her ears. Raven sat on the floor of the bathroom for many minutes, waiting for her heartbeat to revert to normal.
When she felt that her strength had returned, Raven stood and leaned heavily on the sink counter. The mirrors were still slightly fogged over from her shower, but she could see herself well enough.
Her eyes were rimmed in red, and her lips were tinted a purplish-blue. Her skin was ashen and papery, and humid from shower water and sweat. Turning on the sink faucet, Raven splashed her face with cold water and rinsed her mouth with some as well, savoring the beautiful cooling feeling that it brought. She felt thirsty, but did not want to risk putting anything into her stomach after what had just happened.
Slowly, she straightened the towel which had fallen slack about her, and gathered up what she had taken into the bathroom. Flushing the toilet once more for good measure, Raven left the room silently and made her way to her bedroom as quickly as possible. As soon as she arrived, Raven put on a fresh uniform and flopped onto her bed.
Raven knew that she was almost as susceptible to human illnesses as one who was completely human. However, what frightened Raven the most was that usually days before she became ill, she could tell through meditation that she was going to be sick soon, and was often able to avoid it completely. The bizarre attack that she had experienced in the bathroom came with no warning whatsoever, alerting her to the fact that it was either not a human sickness, or her ability to detect illnesses was also failing.
Raven stood from her bed and took up her Nevermore portal mirror, returning to her bed to sit. Her limbs still felt a bit wobbly as she walked, but other than that, she seemed to have recovered.
Raven stared into the mirror with unblinking eyes and chanted her mantra. Within seconds, she was being pulled into Nevermore by a strong, invisible force.
Needless to say, Raven did not feel like dealing with her more annoying emotions at the present time. As soon as she opened her eyes and found herself in a universe of mostly red and black, Raven set out to find Knowledge, the sole voice of reason in her mind. And luckily, Raven knew just where to look for her.
"Ravie!" A voice screamed from behind Raven, and a pair of incredibly strong arms gripped her in a bone-shattering hug.
"Ha-Happy I can-n't breathe," Raven gasped, struggling to free herself from the peppy pink-clad emotion.
"Sorry!" Happy apologized quickly with an easy laugh, removing her arms and not noticing how Raven staggered about, trying to keep her balance once released. "Long time no see!"
Raven was practically doubled over in pain still. "My God, Happy, your hugs are more deadly than Starfire's."
Happy giggled. "Silly goose!" she exclaimed.
"Look, Happy, I have a serious issue here. Where is Knowledge?" Raven replied.
Happy scowled. "Ol' book brain should be where she is ninety-nine percent of the time."
"Alright. Thank you," Raven said, edging away.
"No problemo! Anytime." Happy grinned again and darted away, making train noises as she ran.
Raven quickly edged away from Happy and walked to where she suspected she could find Knowledge, because if anyone here could help her, it would be Knowledge for sure. Raven moved quietly, hoping to avoid any further interaction with unwanted emotions.
At last Raven spied Knowledge under a large tree in a grassy field maybe fifty paces away. She had her nose in a gigantic grey book that had no visible title.
"Knowledge," said Raven, approaching the girl. Raven sat down by her preferred emotion.
"Ah, Raven. You've come back to Nevermore," Knowledge greeted her. "Welcome."
"I'm pretty sure that we have a rather big problem on our hands," Raven admitted, wasting no time with other formalities.
Knowledge shut her book and looked up. "More than you know, Raven. More than you know."
Raven swallowed. This was not the answer she had wanted to hear.
"Please elaborate," she requested.
"Alright, but try to be mature about this. It doesn't need to be as horrible as it will sound." Knowledge warned her carefully.
Raven wasn't sure what to say. "Just tell me… am I in danger?"
Knowledge sighed. "Well, yes and no. You are in quite a bit of danger as we speak, but it can easily be taken care of."
Raven nodded. "But what's the issue?"
She took a short moment to collect her thoughts and determine exactly what she would say. "Do you remember your battle against your father Trigon?" Knowledge asked slowly.
Raven scoffed. "Knowledge. My father destroyed the earth and almost killed my friends. Of course I remember."
"When did that all took place?" Knowledge asked, thoughtfully.
"On my last birthday," Raven replied.
"And do you know what day is quickly coming up?" Knowledge asked. It was apparent that she would rather have Raven puzzle through this herself than just tell her the information she needed.
"…Memorial day?" Raven guessed lamely.
Knowledge looked annoyed. "Well, yes, but guess again, Raven. You know that if you cooperate, you'll be able to stop your rather unpleasant physical ailments all the sooner."
Raven sighed. "Fine," she acquiesced, "My birthday is quickly approaching."
"Very good," Knowledge commended her. "And what is significant about this birthday of yours?"
"I will have survived one year past the day I was meant to die?"
"Again, yes. But more than that. What is unique about this birthday?"
"I am turning seventeen."
"And what is special about turning seventeen, Raven?"
"I'll be able to… drive?" Raven guessed.
"No," Knowledge pushed, "You can already drive. What is special about a girl's seventeenth birthday?"
Raven had nothing to say. " I honestly do not know."
"Think outside of the Earth's customs. Think back to Azarath," Knowledge said.
Knowledge watched Raven's face with apparent amusement as it transitioned from confusion, to shock, to panic, then back to confusion.
She chuckled. "I see you understand now, Raven."
"I, uh," Raven stuttered intelligently, "I don't think I do. I can't be right," she said apprehensively, and then sat blinking at Knowledge with rising terror.
Knowledge sighed. "If you'll only remember what I said about this not being quite as bad as it seems…"
"Fine," Raven said. "I'll sit here and not say anything. Just tell me what's actually going on." There was a moderate amount of pleading in that statement, as Raven began to lose her calm demeanor.
Knowledge looked at the empath levelly for a moment then slowly nodded.
"Alright, Raven," she began. "A girl on Azarath, at seventeen years old, is considered a woman. She is no longer a child, and is expected to become an adult, and conduct herself like one in every way. You know this. You also know that a particularly important part of coming into adulthood on Azarath is being united in matrimony."
"I'm not on Azarath!" Raven replied hotly. "This is Earth. I'm more human than Azarathian, and on Earth, I'm still a child."
Knowledge clucked her tongue reprovingly at her.
"Now, you know that isn't true, Raven. You are exactly half Azarathian. You were born on Azarath and the priests and priestesses of Azarath raised you. If anything, you are more Azarathian than human."
"I'm not getting married, you know." Raven said defiantly, but her voice shook.
"What happened to your agreement of silence?" Knowledge asked her with mild annoyance.
Raven disregarded her comment angrily. " Is there anything more I need to know other than that I need to find a husband?"
Knowledge continued on serenely, ignoring the frantic words of the dark girl before her.
"When an Azarathian baby was born, he or she had a unique type of spell placed upon them."
"You mean a curse," Raven shot back. "I already knew that."
"Let me finish," Knowledge sighed. "Yes, one could pettishly think of it as a curse, but this spell was only utilized to ensure that the population of Azarath remained steady. By the nature of the curse, if one does not obey the federal law of Azarath to be bound in matrimony by their seventeenth birthday, they will die slowly and painfully. Think of this as a clever alternative to hunting down the lawbreakers and going through the bother of carrying out capital punishment. So you see, if you do not marry soon, your physical state will begin to deteriorate at a much faster rate than it is now and you will be dead on your birthday."
Raven put her head in her hands and shut her eyes. "Fantastic," she groaned, "How am I going to find a man who will marry me immediately?"
"You don't," Knowledge said, and Raven looked up hopefully. "A man has been chosen for you."
"Who?" Raven cried, jumping up. This was too much to take sitting down. It was just too much to take period. She was only sixteen, for God's sake! She should not have to deal with the affliction of marriage now, much less an arranged marriage. Raven was seething. So much for choosing her own destiny after defeating Trigon, now she had even more Azarath based rubbish to wade through.
Knowledge stood as well, so she could look Raven in the eyes. "This is the part that I warned you doesn't have to be as bad as it seems."
Raven was dumbfounded. "I thought this whole marriage issue was the bad part."
"Marriage isn't all bad, Raven. In fact, it's a necessary part of any culture. It secures a means of increasing population and provides a safe environment for children to grow in," Knowledge reasoned logically.
"Well, it's a horrible thing for a sixteen year old," Raven insisted. She swallowed heavily and croaked, "Who am I marrying?"
"Normally your husband would have to be an Azarathian too. However, as there are no Azarathian males of your age alive today with which you could be successfully matched, that would be quite impossible," Knowledge responded. "Raven, I'm surprised that you were not aware of this law."
"I knew about it vaguely," Raven replied with a sigh. "I had not planned on living after I turned sixteen. I wasn't even aware that the priests would bother to cast the spell on me when they also knew I would die before I reached the marrying age."
Knowledge processed this. "That would make sense," She admitted finally. "It must have simply been a precaution."
"So," Raven said while swallowing again, her face pale and her heart drumming in her chest, "Who is…he?"
"You know him very well," Knowledge said. "The priests and priestesses had the foresight to add a unique provision to the system in order to protect special cases such as yourself. But they never could have imagined that the whole planet would be ruined as it was…" She trailed off, her voice full of remorse.
"Poor priests. May they rest in peace. Now, onto more pressing matters," Raven prodded.
Knowledge cast her a disproving glance, and continued. "Like I was saying, the contingency states that in the event of a situation where an Azarathian of the opposite gender and same age can not be found, and if the Azarathian is also of another descent, a partner can be chosen from the planet from which the Azarathian also descends. The marriage will then occur on the planet from which the male primarily descends."
Raven's mind went over these words a few times before their meaning completely clicked. "Alright," she said slowly, "So I may choose my husband from all the seventeen year old males on Earth."
Knowledge smiled, "Actually, no."
Raven frowned deeply, and evidence of quickly mounting anger etched her face.
Knowledge hastened to continue. "I have not finished relating the law to you. And also, I previously stated that a man has been selected for you."
"Damn Azarathians and their arranged marriages…" Raven mumbled.
Knowledge cleared her throat and went on. "If you would let me speak, I am about to tell you why this situation is not as bad as you may think."
"Go on, Knowledge," Raven said, working very hard to not do something irrational and destructive in her current state of distress.
Knowledge nodded. "I quote from the laws of Azarath, 'Once the partners have been united in holy matrimony in the name of Azar, they may abstain from sexual relations if both have given consent to this decision. A marriage must be honored for the minimum of two years, before it is eligible for termination by a legal divorce.'"
Raven grinned grimly. "So, I don't have to have sex with this guy, but I need to live with him for two years."
Knowledge nodded. "Yes, in layman's terms, I guess that summarizes it nicely."
Raven did not know what to think of this. In a way, she was relieved to know that even if these next two years of her life were hellish, she would be able to walk out of the relationship at nineteen a virgin. But that one part of the law frightened her. 'If both have given consent to this decision,' the law had stated. So basically, if this guy wanted her to sleep with him, she would have little say in the matter. Fantastic. Raven quickly decided to pitch herself from the roof of Titans Tower if this happened.
Raven must have been grinning at this thought, and Knowledge had a basic idea of what Raven was most likely considering.
"One more thing, Raven," the emotion spoke up, "The very last part of the law states that 'failing to observe these marriage laws, by means of the non-exhaustive list of suicide, murder, infidelity, and other federal crimes, will result in the immediate death of both partners and the prayers of Azar that their souls may be damned.'"
Raven almost laughed out loud. "I am the daughter of a demon," Raven said with scorn in her voice. "My soul is already destined to be damned."
Knowledge shook her head. "That is an entirely different discussion for another time. I'm surprised that you have not already beat me up to find out who you will be married too."
The bitter smile fell from Raven's face within milliseconds. "Tell me," She demanded, her voice so threatening that she made Knowledge gulp.
"I can help you figure it out, but I'm not sure that I want to be around when you realize who the lucky guy is." With that, Knowledge picked up her boring grey book and prepared to leave.
Raven jumped and practically slide tackled Knowledge, pinning her arms to the ground beneath her.
"Tell me," Raven commanded her with a voice that would make anyone fear for their life.
"Get off of me, Raven," Knowledge said with surprising calm, "Or I won't even give you a hint. Raven obeyed, and Knowledge serenely stood. "But you must promise to limit your reaction as to not destroy us all," she added seriously.
Raven smirked and agreed, but this smirk was also wiped off of her face very quickly as she realized that Knowledge had implied that she would be in a murderous rage upon finding out whom her future husband would be. A terrible suspicion of who this might be began to well in her stomach, and Raven felt her nausea returning.
"You know him well, and he recently turned seventeen." Knowledge finished this statement and stepped back.
Raven's brow furrowed for a brief moment, and then it clicked.
"I have to marry Beast Boy?!" She screeched so loudly that all around Nevermore, flocks of black birds burst into the air in a terrible flurry of feathers. The ground shook horribly and both girls were thrown to the ground.
Knowledge sat Indian-style with her hands firmly pressed over her ears.
"You finished yet?" she called after a minute, too wary to remove her hands.
Raven was on her knees, doubled over so that she was hugging her legs. She was currently fighting to not destroy Nevermore and a good part of the Earth with the dangerous power of panic that surged through her.
When Raven looked up, there were tears in her eyes that she did not try to hide. Her voice shook so much that it was nearly impossible to decipher what she was saying.
"I won't be able to stand two years married to Beast Boy," she cried. "I can't – I can't stand him."
Knowledge carefully removed her hands from her ears and said sagely, "You can accept this, or you can try to stop it. But either way, it is going to happen. I advise that you learn to cope, because you may either choose to live with the laws in place for two years, or you can give up now and die."
With this, Knowledge got up to leave. Raven did not try to stop her or even say goodbye. She just sat in the field, simply thinking.
When she finally stood, she had come to a decision. She would get through these two years and she would come out of it all a virgin. Then, she would have the rest of her life to live the way she wished too, and most importantly, she would remain a Titan.
Raven sighed in anguish. "Does this mean I have to propose to Beast Boy?" she said to no one. Of course, no one answered her, and Raven allowed herself to be pulled back out of Nevermore and fell onto her bed.
Interesting stuff, huh? I really hope that you enjoyed this first chapter. Please review and tell me what you think so far!
Thank you for reading!