First Night Home

First Night Home

A Raven/Starfire fic by Telanu (telanu@email.com)

Set after NEW TITANS 130.  On New Tamaran, Koriand'r ruminates over the turn her life has taken.

Not necessarily a part of the "Fire and Ice" series, but definitely with the same main theme – Kory and Raven Forever, etc.

***

I never thought I'd be so old. 

Anyone else would laugh at me for saying that.  I'm only in my mid-twenties – young by both Terran and Tamaranean standards.  But I feel like I've lived twelve lifetimes.  I've watched my love life fall apart too many times.  I've seen almost everyone in my family die.

I saw my own world destroyed.

Oh, X'Hal.  There is nothing in the universe that can ever make me forget – or understand – that sight.  Tamaran, my Tamaran, disappearing into a cloud of lifeless particles.  My family along with it.  Komand'r and I are the only survivors of that clan – Komand'r, the sister I used to hate with all my heart.  And the one responsible for all this destruction is one I used to love with the same kind of passion.

I roll over in bed and gaze upon the sleeping face of my new husband, P'hyzzon.  Love?  Yes, I suppose I do care for him; how could I not, after everything he risked for me?  But this is another marriage of convenience, as political as that I made with Karras, what seems like eons ago.  And now, thinking of what today has wrought, all the triumphs we've won, I can't stand to stay here in bed with him.  I have to go out and walk under the stars.

New Tamaran is desolate.  I can't help thinking that, even after all our efforts to coax new life into it.  Greenhouses and shelters and settlements – how can they possibly erase our memories of the old lush, tropical paradise?  Komand'r is trying and working as hard as she can, but even someone as single-minded as she cannot create miracles.  Though it sometimes seems like it.

Still, the atmosphere is clear, and I can see the stars of Vega overhead.  How beautiful they are.  I rest my hand on my belly, and think of the child Raven told me was growing inside.  X'Hal grant, it will be the first of many.  I may not love P'hyzzon as deeply as he cares for me, but I do want a large family.  I always have.  And already, part of my old family is here with me.

As if my thoughts conjure her up, I hear a soft voice in my head saying, ah there is my long-maned love

I turn around and, sure enough, Raven's bright shade is "standing" behind me.  She smiles at me, as young and beautiful as ever, and my heart constricts so hard it hurts.  Now that it's all over but the shouting, as Vic would say, I have to determine how I feel about this woman who was once such a vital part of my life.  I loved Raven so intensely it seemed like I breathed for her.  And despite her reserve, I know she felt the same way.  A touch of her hand, or a soft kiss, would tell me so. 

And then she died in Azarath.  I think a part of me died, too.  Only she came back, literally out of the blue one day,  changed into some kind of hideous monster that tried to destroy me and my mind.  It was a perverted version of her love for me, that turned something so pure into the desire to harm. 

Of course, she can sense the tenor of my thoughts, and her expression changes from contented to alarmed.  no, that is not what happened, no

A long time ago, we stopped talking out loud when we were alone together, she and I.  Mental communication, after a while, became much sweeter and easier between us and we used it whenever we could.  I'm not sure I can now.  "I don't know what to think, Raven.  I'm sorry."

If she weren't already a ghost, I am sure those words would have killed her.  More than anything else, she always needed the reassurance of my love.  Unconditional love that, in my naïveté, I thought I could provide for always.  Her image flickers in front of me, her expression distraught.

"Don't go!" I say quickly.  "Raven, please – I don't know what's happened, what's going to happen between us.  But I have you back, after having lost you.  Please stay.  Please."

She bows her head, and for a moment I think she is going to leave. you married

What was always denied us.  No Earth law would consent to our union, and we couldn't get to Tamaran or Azarath.  We made our own vows to each other in private, and she even gave me one of her rings from Azar, but it always hurt, in some way, that we couldn't have our foster-world's sanction.  "You died ."

yes

"Raven – I know that it wasn't you, not really, who did all those awful things to me.  I know I've been carrying the real you with me all along, keeping you safe, until today.  But I couldn't feel you, even though you were in my head."

i tried . so hard

My breath huffs out in an impatient sigh.  Why can't I be reasonable?  Why can't I just let her back into my soul so we can have the unity we lost, the unity we both long to resume?

Because some part of me isn't quite sure that the evil part of her is gone.  No matter what, some part of me can't trust her.

trust. you do is her unexpected response.  you carried me.  you trust

"I…"

you love

"…Yes."  X'Hal, yes.  Even now, standing before that shining form and not being able to embrace it is painful.  I can't sort out my own head.  I wanted her back so badly, and for so long.  When she came in her dark incarnation, tried to plant the Trigon Seed in me, I thought destiny was playing some kind of awful joke on us, bringing us back together so we could tear each other apart.  Now?  I'm not sure that still isn't the case.  But I loved her so much, for so very, very long. 

show you

"Show me what?"

She extends one graceful, shining hand.  The one without the Azar ring on it.  I remember where mine is, kept safe in a box, tucked in a cabinet.  It felt wrong to wear it after I wed P'hy.  "I don't know if…" if I can.

kynasf'rr

Kynasf'rr.  As always, I know what she means when she only says one word.  I faced my inner demons while I was buried in that mountain.  She was with me when I faced kynasf'rr.  I am strong enough to face whatever this may bring.

Right?

My hand reaches out, shaking.  Help me, Raven.  You'll have to make the touch, initiate the contact.  Maybe it's the stress of today catching up to me at last, but I'm so afraid I can hardly move.

She knows what I need.  She gives it to me.

Our hands – mine firm and fleshy, hers transparent – pass through each other.

I have to close my eyes as I am flooded with light, as my wife – yes, yes, my own dear wife – swarms back into my mind and heart as easily as if she'd just stepped out a moment ago.  I hear Raven whisper, you see you see and I do see.  There is nothing of darkness left in this woman; and none of the woman is left out there in that Darkness, seething and unformed and finally defeated. 

I hear the satisfaction in her mental voice as she proclaims, he is not here

P'hyzzon? I answer – and am surprised to find that I have slipped back into mental communication so easily.  No.  He never was.

my own koriand'r

My own Raven.

so alone, for so long .  looked for you

Where?

do not know.  where was i? where were you? 

Always here.  Waiting for you.

home now

Yes.  You're home now.

so are you

I should have realized what she meant.  Yes.  It's not Tamaran.  But it's home.  We'll make it home.

…p'hyzzon?

I sigh heavily, and speak out loud, though only in a whisper.  "He'll have to understand.  He's not part of me."

you are with his child

"I know.  I don't – we'll work something out.  He knows I love you."

?

"How couldn't he?  He's not stupid, Raven.  I kept your soul inside me.  I freed you from the Not-You.  Trigon is dead.  And now I'm keeping you with me.  He must know…what we are to each other."

Her beautiful lips curve in a sad smile.  Why, oh why can't I kiss her?  he will see what he wants to see, my koriand'r

I try to shrug casually.  "I can't do anything about that."  A bitter laugh escapes me.  "X'Hal, this is awful.  Finally we're in a place where we can get married.  Only I'm already married.  And you're dead."

not truly

"Truly enough.  I can't even touch you."  Suddenly I want to cry.  "Oh, Raven.  What's the matter with me?  I have what I wanted for so long.  I have you back.  And I feel so lost inside."

Ephemeral arms steal around me as I sink to the hard ground, and though I can feel no press of flesh against flesh, the comfort is still there.    you need time, darling.  time i can give you   One of her rare flashes of humor lights up my mind, and I feel myself smiling.

"So, what shall the child call you?" I ask, joking as much as I can, moving away from this moment because I can't face it yet.  "Aunt Raven?  Mama Two?"

she must be more p'hyzzon's than mine.  he deserves that much

"So it is a girl.  I thought so, for some reason.  Maybe I'm picking up some of your ability."

the best i have i will give to you always

I recognize the words; a repetition of our wedding "vows" from those years ago.  "The best I can be I will be for you," I repeat dutifully.  Then I smile.  Somehow, some small part of me is starting to believe that this will all work out in the end.  Whatever, whenever the end is.  "I planned to grow old with you, you know.  I – did I ever tell you my fantasy?  I'd be welcomed back to Tamaran; no more Komand'r, no more Citadel.  I'd be the Queen.  And you'd come with me and be my Consort. And we'd live there happily ever after."

i know.  almost true

I can't help a short, harsh bark of laughter that hurts my ears and my throat and my heart.  "It is, isn't it?  We're sort of on Tamaran.  Komand'r's here, but that seems to be okay; Citadel's gone.  And we're together.  Just not like I thought we'd be.  I'm growing old alone."

never old Her mental voice is warm with affection.

"I feel it."

your spirit still shines.  you are still all that is golden and warm and good . infinitely precious

"And you're infinitely precious to me."  Thank X'Hal I can say that with complete sincerity.  Letting Raven in my head eased my fears, if not the difficulty of our situation here.  Whatever may come with New Tamaran, with P'hy, with our child – Raven is here, and whole again, or at least as much as she can be.  And she won't leave me again.  Will she?

never.   The response is as firm as the rock I stand upon and I know I will live for it.

"X'Hal, I want to kiss you!" The words slip past me before I can censor them. What use wishing for what you can't have?  But she just smiles at me again.  And glides closer, until her shining warmth is all around me.

be still she says.  As if I have a choice.  I feel paralyzed by so much beauty, so much love surrounding me.  Then the miracle happens: she leans her "face" close to mine, and I feel a soft, warm pressure on my lips.  A kiss.  Not quite like the real thing, but more than I ever dared hope for.

i will practice.  more will soon be possible She seems very definite on this point.  It makes me smile. 

"We're starting a new world here, Raven.  You and me…even Donna's here to help.  Vic and Gar for a while too, maybe.  Almost like old times, back in New York."  Then I laugh.  We both know nothing's like old times. 

I sober.  "Terry and Donna…"  So much has happened since her…passing.

She frowns quizzically at me.

"He divorced her.  Her powers, her life as a superhero…I think they frightened him too much in the end.  He took their son.  She's…" I shake my head.  "You know Kyle, the Green Lantern?  She's trying again, with him, but –  it's just not – "

Raven bows her head in sorrow.  i grieve with her she says.  and i do not intend that shall happen to us.  i can kiss you now. i will not stop again

You better not.  My throat feels too thick for normal speech.  I swear by X'Hal and all the forces that if you leave me again I will follow wherever you go. 

very well. yes No argument there.  As if anything she said could persuade me otherwise.

We are not who we once were, my Raven and I.  I am older and sadder, maybe wiser, maybe not.  And my walls are beginning to wear thin – those walls I constructed in my childhood to keep me safe from the horrors and the bitterness that surrounded me.  She is different too – X'Hal, she's not even mortal anymore. 

When we met, and loved first, she was Raven of Azarath and I was Princess Koriand'r of  Tamaran.  Now she is Raven of Nowhere and I'm no princess, and my birthworld is dead.  But she's still Raven, and at the heart of it all I'm still me.  Things change.  It's the way life is.  I think I may be able to accept that, finally.  But as long as those core truths remain, she and I will belong to each other.

We always have.  X'Hal grant, we always will.

I rise again to my feet, noticing ruefully that my knees locked up while I was sitting on the ground.  Exhaustion is stealing back over me.  Maybe I can finally get some sleep.  "I should be going back.  I'm tired."

rest her voice is soft and concerned, and I love her.

"I'll talk to P'hy tomorrow."

Her ghostly face reflects her sorrow; at the end of the day, she's still an empath and she mourns for the pain she'll cause my husband.  But the universe has given us a second chance and I refuse to let it go.  Maybe that's selfish of me.  I don't care.

"Walk me back to the house?"

We grin, knowing once we would have teleported directly into the bed.  Times have changed.  Whatever minutes we have to spend in care and conversation, we will spend.

She smiles and extends her hand again.  Mine passes through it, infusing me with the warm feeling of her essence mingling with my own.  X'Hal, I missed this.  I'll never let it go again.

We turn – she floating, me on my own two feet – and begin the walk back down the rocky path.

Fin.