DISCLAIMER: I don't own Teen Titans or any of their characters.
WARNING: This chapter contains slight alcohol use and graphic imagery.
Chapter Six: Security
The salt water seeped deep into his back wound. Grinding his teeth in agony, Joey opened his bloodshot eyes only to feel soaked to the bone. The cream colored morning sky provided some relief while the tide drifting in and out rhythmically rocked him slightly like a lullaby. A dream? Had everything been a complex dream? Only a complex image composed within a night of slumber. The taste of blood reminiscent in his mouth begged to differ. A memory from only a few hours ago flashed. Tears formed on the rims of his eyes.
I cannot change what runs through my blood, he thought closing his eyes.
The lights and bodies pulsated to the same rhythmic beat convulsing from the speakers. All the bodies huddled together into one coercive unit emanating an almost unbearable heat. Beer cans cover every lit crevice while couples occupied the dark corners. The perfect venue for Joey's first party, but he neglected to tell his friends such embarrassing information. It did not seem to matter to them anyways. It only took mere moments after entering the abandoned warehouse for the group to scatter into different directions.
"Come on, Green Man. Let's groove," Terra purred. In a flash of blond hair, she whisked Beast Boy into the group scattered among the dance floor.
Immediately Beast Boy showed his flair, perfecting the robot with mechanical precision and drawing in an audience. Ending with the perfect pop-and-lock, he earned not only applause from the crowd but an innocent kiss from Terra. A goofy smiled crossed his lips as he pulled her closer to him for the remainder of the song.
"Robin! May we partake in the booth of photo?"
Out of the corner of his eye, Jericho saw Starfire dragging a reluctant Robin to the instant photobooth before he could even form the first part of his response. However, that did not seem to matter once they entered into the booth. By the sound of her giggles, he warmed up to the idea of taking a slide of photos together. A thought crossed his mind, what if Kole wanted to go into the photobooth?
Before he could even panic over the thought of that situation, a robotic hand presented him with a red cup. Yellow foam bubbled at the top contrasted the red cup's white edge. An unpleasant smell entered his nose. Kole, on the other hand, eagerly accepted her cup and sipped it delicately. The foam left a yellow moustache on the top of her painted pink lips. Hesitantly, he took the cup and smiled at Cyborg.
"Drink up, man," Cyborg bellowed.
Kole's eyes floated up to Jericho in anticipation of his first sip. The others handled it with such gusto and elegance. They drank beer like it was water to them. What if the newspapers got wind of such behavior? Teenager superheroes going to parties and drinking beer, it would sound so much less absurd if one negated the word "superhero". Isn't this what he wanted all along? The chance to hang out like a regular teenager with no superpowers and no worries about his father, and perhaps for an evening he could truly connect with someone else.
Cyborg guzzled his first red cup of the liquid before returning his attention back to Joey. With no fear, he pressed the cup to his lips and let the beer trickle down his throat. A somewhat bitter taste resonated on his taste buds and a comforting warm feeling invaded his stomach. The first sip automatically calmed him. Everything felt like it could possibility be all right. Kole beamed before licking the foam off of the top of her lips while Cyborg patted him on the back before bee lining for the beer pong table. The others at the table accepted his arrival with a warm cheer and competed amongst each other for whose team he would play on. This entire situation seemed surreal to Jericho. If he did not know better, he would assume his teammates and friends to be just normal. They blended in among the crowd almost seamlessly. Without their costumes and dolled up for a night on the town, they fit the part perfectly and everyone treated them as they would their classroom peers.
A delicate arm interlocked with his own, pulling him towards a secluded area of the warehouse. When his face blushed beat red, Kole just giggled. His hand reached into his pocket for his notepad and pen, but her hand immediately stopped his own. That was odd. Why did she stop his hand? She knows full well she cannot speak to her without the pad. Even if he had the ability to speak, the music drowned out any sound of speaking possible. If words did not matter tonight, he was golden. A sense of relief fell over him when she passed the dance floor. His older brother got all the charm and suave dance moves. Joey created a theory in his mind that has some sort of athletic capability directly correlated to dancing. Anyways, he could not imagine his awkward body "grinding" up against Kole's petite figure. His cheeks flushed beat red at the mere thought.
I don't know if I am experienced enough for this, he thought. Aren't there training parties or something? Kole seems so comfortable and I seem like an awkward bean pole with a tuft of frizzy blond hair. No, no. I must ooze confidence. They don't know you here. Fresh start. I can do this.
With a newfound courage, he changed the course of Kole's direction towards the dance floor. Impressing Kole became his new goal and he would achieve it. Her cotton-candy hair bounced with her step she followed and her elfin nose crinkled at the sudden change of course. Pushing through the throng of dancers, he halted in the same proximity of Beast Boy and Terra.
For a moment, Joey kept his eyes on Terra and Beast Boy who bopped together in unison. Like a pendulum, Terra's hips swayed back and forth in beat with the music as Beast Boy's hands lazily ran up her exposed mid-drift. A sultry smile crossed her almost fox-like lips and a blush crossed Jericho's cheeks. His characteristic blush erased any hopes of courage.
Of course they were in their older teens and sexuality was meant to be explored, but he suddenly felt light-years behind his teammates. His eyes continued to linger on Beast Boy on Terra before he noticed the evident stare coming his way from Kole. For a moment she glanced between him and their teammates before giving him a reassuring nod. Her fingers interlaced with his once more before leading him through the throng of people. Making way for the stairway, he peered around his surroundings wondering where Raven could have possibly disappeared off to. When all of them piled into the car, she paused begrudgingly for a moment and actually had to be coaxed in. While everyone chattered away on their excitement for the party, she glared out of the window with her arms protectively crossed. As soon as they appeared in front of the warehouse, she entered the shadows without stating a word.
The sound of the beating water from the reservoir near the warehouse drowned out the music below Kole and Jericho.
"You know," Kole's already soft voice was barely audible without the competing music and beating of the reservoir. "Every time I visit the Titans for a briefing or whatever, I feel like an outsider. They are such a tight-knit team and I have to leave Gnnark to keep an eye on the north…"
The ocean breeze blew her cotton candy hair in front of her blue eyes, as she stepped forward with every word. With a sheepish look, she pressed herself up against him with the remaining words lingering on her lips. A knot formed in his stomach, his mouth went dry. If he could speak, he would probably be at a loss for words.
"I think… you may be…" The words latched onto the tip of her tongue as her face inched closer to his. His hands obediently wrapped around her waist before cutting off her inevitable phrase with a long kiss.
Even though he did not allow her to finish her statement, he had a feeling what it was going to involve. He panicked. How could she say such powerful words so quickly. Maybe it was the type of lifestyle they all lived. In their world, they did not know if their current fight would be their last. Terra provided the perfect point. She had 'died' once before, but somehow came back for reasons he did not know. The Titans did not like to discuss that topic and he did not feel the need to push it. Everyone had their secrets; he knew that all too well. For those reasons, he could not let Kole rush such emotions quickly. This girl lived sheltered in the north with a caveman, and he hoped she would return there unscathed by his secrets.
In the blink of an eye, Kole was pushed from his arms and careening the edge of the building. That same moment, the stunned girl immediately entered her defensive mode, turning to a hard, clear block frozen in time. The force pushed Jericho onto the hard concrete surface before skidding to a stop.
A flash of black hair reappeared before his eyes with blades emerging from the sleeves of a green, silk kimono. A smiling cat face looked down in his direction before turning back to Kole. Wasn't this the same girl who attacked the tower earlier this week?
In a quick flash, she disappeared from his vision appearing in front of newly human Kole. The speed caught Kole completely off guard. Before she could retreat back to her diamond shell, the left set of blades slashed across her body. A pool of blood formed underneath the tiny Titan as she collapsed to the ground, letting out a slight shriek.
Kole! Her name pounded in his mind as he jumped to his feet. A memory of his mother flashed before his eyes. This was not a flight instinct, he had to protect Kole and not fail her like his mother. He raised his arm in an attack position with muscles flexed. The cat-faced girl disappeared before his eyes and materialized a few moments later, knocking him to the ground with a swift kick. All wind escaped from his lungs. The concrete felt cold and brutal as his face smashed against it. Why were her claws retracted when she fought against him yet she was armed to kill someone like Kole?
Kole sputtered, making brief eye contact with Joey. Her blue eyes narrowed in frustration, but he could have sworn he caught a glimpse of fear. A trickle of blood dribbled from the corner of her mouth. Please turn back. Defend yourself, please, he thought in hopes she could someone understand. With a weak smile, she nodded before transforming into a hard diamond case.
The hard diamond case did not dissuade the kimono-clad girl from chipping off the outer casing of Kole's shell bit by bit. Little diamond shards rained down and glimmered in the moonlight. Bit by bit, Kole's defenses chipped away in a beautiful hale. Joey shot up, speeding towards her again. The arena was not in his favor. The bare rooftop did not provide any useable weapon. With no one or nothing insight, his powers proved more useless than Kole's All he had was hand-to-hand combat and speed. His opponent was faster and more deadly up close. The girl crouched down in a fluid motion, spinning her outward leg underneath him while her left claw reopened the wound on his back. Blood splattered and infused with Kole's already present droplets.
A shadow bolted across the floor, latching onto the girl's ankle and tossing her casually. Another shadow in the form of a raven emerged.
"Tend to Kole," Raven commanded while facing the enemy.
Without a second glance, he rushed to Kole's side. The diamond encasement slowly dissipated, Kole's pale face looked up, "Damn it… I am not fast enough…"
He could not tell if the fact she was helpless in this situation or the sheer pain of her injuries bothered her more. Using the uttermost care, he peeled away the fluid encrusted garments wrapped around her abdomen. A quick breath escaped her lips from the sudden exposure to the cold air. The wounds caused by the blades ran deep with tinges of purple liquid pooling around the sides. Blisters formed around the edges of the marks, turning red before bursting and releasing puss. Poison. Their enemy laced her blades. The sudden effects of the poison resonated in the tinge of Kole's face. The pigment of her skin drained of its healthy, cream color to an unmistakable green.
Time was running out.
A distant grunt and a rumble sounded. The cat-faced villain slammed him into the wall. A crack shocked his body.
Kole's voice snapped him quickly out of his daze. On his side, Raven slowly uncurled. The battle had taken its tole on her. A pattern of blistering slashes decorating her pale, grey arms. He pinned Raven to the ground. Sit still, he thought. Once his eyes met the deep purple hues belonging to his teammate, he melded with her. The two become one, with Jericho holding the reigns. Sorcery coursed through her veins, giving him the power he needed and slowly healing the wounds she attained. The dark magic glided from her fingertips, wrapping around the body of his enemy. Swiping, the cat-faced girl danced out of his trap towards Kole. Returning to a defensive mode, Kole encased herself.
Continuing her deadly dance, she caressed the encased Kole ever so slightly, sending her careening towards the raging waves below. Utilizing Raven's power as a spring, he freed himself from Raven's body and catapulted off the edge. A delicate hand reached out for his as they freefell towards the water. Their hands interlaced. His freehand latched onto a dislodged brick. Back and forth, they swung in limbo. Their cat-faced nemesis peered over the edge before taking her leave in a graceful leap.
What to do? What to do? I cannot let her fall, his grip loosened each passing moment.
A steady stream of blood and pus trickled from the deep set slash marks across Kole's chest. The rhythm of her chest began to slow. The poison began to take its toll. The more time he wasted, the worse off Kole became. The only chance of survival for her was to enter her defense mode. From what he understood, the diamond casing kept her alive no matter what the circumstances. She could survive the fall; the Titans could recover her, and give her immediate medical attention. One problem… she was wavering in and out of consciousness, and he had no means of relaying the message.
His gaze fell downward as he gave a reassuring smile. Please, stay with me.
Those words of encouragement rang in his mind as his hand slipped from the brick, sending the two of them towards the waves below. Kole's clear blue eyes widened as he took her face in his hands. Tenderly, he pressed his lips against hers while focusing on her pupils. A pulsating feeling ran through them as Kole and Jericho intermingled. If he was going to save Kole, he had to hurry. He shifted through her memories, thoughts, hopes, and dreams. Finally, he flicked her ability like a switch right as she lost consciousness and forced him out of her body.
Salt water flooded into his lungs and temperature of the water chattered his teeth. Joey gasped for air as a wave forced him underwater. Tossing and turning with the current, he whipped around to see the encased Kole floating to the bottom. When he fought to the surface, Raven's face loomed over him. Looking down from the ledge of the warehouse, her grimace said it all. Her voice pierced his mind. I know your secret.
The force of a wave pushed him into the depths.
Raven knows everything. How could he have been so careless? Once he entered into Raven's body, their minds opened up to each other completely. He could see into her soul. All of her deepest emotions, secrets, and fears lay out before him like an open book. His power proved a double-edged sword. His childhood, family, and father fell into Raven's lap. Such knowledge fell into the pit of his stomach. The beer that once sat warm in his stomach now bubbled. The sour beverage rushed through his throat. Kneeling in the sand, the beer reappeared before him. The sudden movement of his muscles caused the blood to rush to his newly opened wound. Blisters from the poison gushed puss and the purple substance. Blood and vomit soaked the sand around him. Living among the mountains with the monks taught him the basics of survival. At the rate in which he lost blood, he would be dead within a few hours. Unfortunately, he was not within the mountains of Tibet. No plants of medicinal properties could be found on the beach of Jump City.
Standing up, a sharp pain pinged through his rib cage. The altercation broke a left rib, causing him to clutch his side as he inched towards the shelter of a nearby cave on the beach. Blood droplets painted a trail across the white sand.
Upon entering his shelter; he felt the bitterness of the morning cold mixing with his soaked clothing. A pile of seaweed adjacent from him provided the only means of wrapping his wounds. Beads of sweat formed upon his temples. A fever began to take hold. The bitter cold, the poison, blood-loss, and sheer exhaustion lulled him into a restless sleep.
A familiar thick, crimson mist surrounded Joseph.
The thick mist captivated his senses. Blood entered his lungs, seeped into his skin, tickled at his tongue, suffocating him. Before him stood a small, blond child with hands glued to his face as if to stop the tears streaming down his cheeks. His legs automatically motioned towards the child. The fog wrapped around his ankles, holding him in place. Hands shot from the mist, pulling him down.
"No!" he shouted alarmed by his own voice. His voice? It had been so long since he had heard sound emanating from his vocal chords. The noise shocked him almost as much as the obvious tone of fear.
Emerging from the blood-dyed shadows, his father loomed over the crying child. One of his gloved hands fell upon the child's shoulder, comforting the child into silence. A few more sniffles sounded before the child's eyes pierced fear into his mind. He was face-to-face with himself as a child. The clear cut wound caused by a knife lay prominent across the child's throat.
I believe it has been over a year since I have updated any of my stories. I apologize. Also if this chapter offended anyone, I am also sorry. It is a bit heavy in comparison to the previous chapters. I do not condone underage drinking, but it seemed befitting of the times and of the scenario. Also if the graphic nature of the chapter was disturbing, I am sorry. It will be used sparingly.
Thanks for being so loyal and providing such nice support. ^^ Reviews and general commentary are appreciated.