First Night Home
A Raven/Starfire fic by Telanu (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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 ."
"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
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
"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.
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.
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
do not know.
where was i? where were you?
Waiting for you.
Yes. You're home
so are you
I should have realized what she meant. Yes.
It's not Tamaran. But it's
home. We'll make it home.
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
"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
"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 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
"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
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
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
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.