She was beautiful. Eyes the color of the midday summer sky; soft blond hair that hung in soft ringlets, framing her cherubic face in a halo of pure sunshine. She was eight years old, little sliver of a waif, baby fat clinging to her her bare arms, plush like creamy satin. The frilly white dress was short sleeved and hung down past her knees. Her white tights were flecked crimson with small runs here and there but were otherwise perfectly displayed; and on her feet, patent leather white buckle shoes that glistened in the lamplight. A first communion dress; an April bride in miniature. Innocence personified. She could have been an angel.

No, not could have been. Was. She was an angel. In this moment of earthly silence, heaven was ringing with the peals of her delightful laughter.

Or so the eight-year-old Catholic boy who slept inside of Robin surmised, as he cautiously made his way around her broken, battered body with a fingerprint kit. As he gently lifted one cold finger with his sterile green-gloved hand, checking for traces of skin and blood beneath the nail, he diligently forced himself to concentrate on this poor soul who'd had her innocence ripped from her, and not allow himself to be reminded of the tragically long list of her predecessors. This wasn't the first child murder he's had to solve, nor was it the second. It was the eleventh, he'd realize, if he thought about it—which he refused to do—but that was because he'd started young.

Perhaps that's why he didn't like to think about it.

Above Robin, Starfire hovered in the air, taking aerial photographs of the crime scene. Robin had tossed her the camera—which he kept in his utility belt—and grunted his instructions, and she'd nodded her consent without a word. Sad green eyes surveyed the grizzly scene below as she flew to different heights and covered different angles. As the flash went off again and again she forced herself to ignore how it reminded her of the bright pulse a Thanagarian mace made when it struck true. That had been her second war, if you discounted the Citadelian invasion that ended when she was two. That poor young Terran girl had been about Starfire's age, when she had killed her first Gordanian. 'Innocence' was another of those Terran words she'd had to learn upon arriving, and even now, she wasn't quite sure she's grasped it yet.

Or why her friends always had such difficulty in explaining it to her.

Nearby, Beast Boy was on all fours, going over the area as a bloodhound. The girl smelt of lavender. He remembered that smell from his early childhood and the bubble baths his mother would draw for him. He doesn't think about her much these days. Before, it had been almost every night, after his nightmares would chase him screaming into wakefulness. Now, when he frantically sits up in bed, sweating and panicked, the cry that escapes his lips isn't 'mommy' anymore. He's thinking of her now though, remembering those happy times, as he wanders through the grimy alleyway with his nose to the pavement. His childhood memories have become the safe memories. They take him back to the time when his disease was his worst affliction, and failing to save his parents his only regret.

They keep him from thinking of another blond-haired, blue-eyed angel, and the nightmare he had last night.

Across from him, Cyborg walked, slowly and methodically sweeping the area with every scanner built into his cybernetic body. He hasn't looked back to the corpse since his scanning began, but sooner or later Robin will call him over, probably for the magnifiers in his cybernetic eye. For now though he kept his gaze fixed on the LCD in his forearm and the readings he was getting, as the anger in the pit of his stomach simmered on low boil. Megalomaniacal supervillains and costumed freak shows have torn this town apart, but brutal slayings were a rarity—and usually left up to the police. This one though had warranted Titan involvement, for some political reason or other Robin had tried to explain on the way over. It didn't matter for his anger any, as he contemplated ways to make the guilty sunofabitch pay, in the pauses between spectral analyses and ultraviolet scanning.

When shock, disgust, and disbelief all failed to materialize, anger was all he had left to prove to himself that he was still human.

Above them all, Raven sat, meditating in the lotus position in mid-air, preserving the black shield that kept out the rain that had started to fall just before they arrived. Rain would wash away clues and contaminate the evidence, so she had begun her levitated meditation even before Robin had asked, and as her mantra dripped from her tongue in a metronome rhythm she felt the souls of her teammates moving below her. Robin was determined; Starfire was reflective; Beast Boy was fatalistic; Cyborg was angry—and then the gaping hole in the center of the controlled chaos, where the body lay. Through the haze of repetitive chanting, Raven thought of her own mother's sorrow, and how innocence had been taken in exchange for a child. Having been born bereft of innocence, Raven could only wonder wonder what it was like to have it forcibly taken.

To find an answer to that question, she would have to ask her teammates.