At the sound of the alarms, the Titans had gathered in the living room. The screen in front of them was lit up with three separate locations – a bank, a jewelry store and –
"A mattress store?" Beast Boy gaped, scratching his head.
"Hey, mattresses are expensive," Raven said, folding her arms over her chest and turning expectantly to Robin. The rest of the team turned to look at Robin too, who was running a hand through his spiky hair.
"We split up," he announced. "Beast Boy and Cyborg, you hit up the mattress store. We don't have any information on who's broken into these places, so be careful. Raven, you and …"
He trailed off, doubt flickering briefly across his face as his gaze met Raven's. She knew who he wanted to pair her with. It wasn't out of any desire to be alone together, because Robin was nothing like that when on a mission, but because he was worried – he wanted to protect her and she was both exasperated and touched. But Trigon was dead and Cadric would prove to be no threat. He needn't worry about her any more.
"Raven and I shall investigate the jewelry," Starfire spoke up softly. Robin nodded solemnly, managing to contain his surprise. Beast Boy shot Starfire an unusually shrewd look. Her hands were loosely clasped and her shoulders were slumped just slightly but she was smiling brightly enough.
"Okay," Robin said, firmly punching one of his fists into his open palm, "move out, Titans."
The clouds that ruled the morning sky had darkened and appeared to droop somewhat, burdened by the rain they carried in their bellies. Raven's upper lip curled as she examined the afternoon sky.
She loathed getting wet.
Robin sped off on his bike, smiling gently at Raven before he left. Her stomach surprised her by flipping itself over in several excited loops. Cyborg and Beast Boy clambered into the T-car and were quickly out of sight. Raven and Starfire exchanged nods before Raven drew up her cowl and the girls took to the air.
"You do not think the Cadric is behind this, do you?" Starfire asked as they flew along.
"I don't know," Raven said, glancing quickly at the alien girl. She was determinedly not looking at Raven but there was a resigned, anxious air about her that made Raven feel slightly queasy.
"I believe we shall victorious in the battle against him," Starfire continued.
"Yeah," Raven agreed and could think of nothing better to add. They continued on in silence for several more minutes before arriving at the jewelry store. The windows of the quaint little building had been smashed in but the alarms were no longer sounding off. The inside of the store was completely dark. Raven curled her hands into fists, suddenly apprehensive. Starfire's brilliant green eyes were narrowed thoughtfully as she surveyed the darkened building.
"Should there not be more …"she trailed off, sighing hopelessly, at a loss for the right word.
"Activity? Bad guys? Lights?" Raven suggested, tugging her cloak tighter around her as she strode forward. Starfire hesitated for a moment but followed, her hands aglow with green light.
"Man, why don't we have mattresses like these?" Beast Boy moaned, shifting into a dog and curling up onto a mattress. Cyborg glared at him.
"Get up," he ordered. "We don't know that this place is entirely clean yet."
Beast Boy let out a long suffering sigh, resuming his normal form but he remained seated on the mattress, glaring petulantly at Cyborg. Cyborg ignored the pointed stare and turned to address the communicator on his wrist.
"Robin, looks like everything's all clear here."
Robin's worried face appeared on the screen – he rubbed his chin thoughtfully.
"There's nothing here, either. But I haven't heard from Raven or Starfire," he said.
"False alarm?" Cyborg suggested. Beast Boy leaned forward, raptly listening to the conversation.
"Fat chance of three false alarms at the same time," Robin disagreed. "No … something's up."
His gaze flickered briefly to something off the screen and his face seemed to drain of color at whatever he saw.
"Oh … no …" he whispered breathlessly.
"Cyborg," Robin's voice was strained, tense. "Get to Starfire and Raven. Make sure Raven's okay."
"What about you?" Cyborg demanded of his leader.
"I'll be fine," Robin replied firmly, his jaw set, and snapped his communicator shut.
Raven and Starfire entered the jewelry store, gazing around intently. Their initial inspection of the place found it to be quite deserted, save for the two of them. The apparent absence of any sort of burglar did not, however, to quell the rising uneasy in Raven's stomach.
"Perhaps we should check in with the others," Starfire suggested in a tense whisper.
Raven flipped open her communicator but was startled into dropping it by a sudden clatter from behind them. Starfire immediately raised one of her glowing hands; the fallen communicator lay forgotten on the floor as Raven brought herself several inches above the ground.
They emerged then, from behind the counters Starfire had just checked. Starfire sucked in a rush of air as the first of them came into light. There were about six of them, all seeming much bigger than the small jewelry store should have allowed - tall, thick frames, with decidedly small, bald, rounded heads.
They were also faceless.
"Go," Raven whispered to Starfire and launched herself toward the approaching creatures. In the story, it had said that Cadric summoned minions from one of the other worlds – creatures that thrived purely on hate and violence.
They poured out from behind the counter, much more than six now, streaming toward Raven and Starfire. Raven hurriedly launched pieces of the counter at them as Starfire darted forwarded, flinging her green bolts. Raven was surprised – and highly annoyed – when she observed the counter come within inches of the faceless monsters and clatter harmless to the ground, her dark energy dissipated into the air. Starfire seemed to be having much more success – each of her bolts hit the creatures with tremendous force. They snarled and hissed in muffled voices but proceeded without a second glance at Starfire, their shuffling feet carrying them toward Raven. She threw up her dark shield and was again annoyed when a large fist pierced through and hit her squarely in the jaw; she flew several feet through the air and collided with a heavy thud against the wall.
She got slowly to her feet, shaking her head to clear the sudden ringing in her ears. Starfire seemed not to have noticed Raven's uselessness in this battle – she was flying around, hurling green light at anything she saw. Raven smiled slightly at the enthusiasm of the alien before thoughtfully examining the onslaught of faceless things before her.
There was no help for it. Her magic was useless.
She had never been one to excel at hand to hand combat – she relied almost entirely on the use of her dark powers. But she had tried to make an effort over the past few months to try out Robin's obstacle course and training room. It wasn't very hard, she decided, as she neatly ducked another immense fist and responded with a sharp kick in the thing's abdomen, but this wasn't an activity she particularly enjoyed, nor was an avenue of interest she was likely to pursue. She thought briefly of Robin but he was almost certainly better off in a situation like this than she was.
But he probably wouldn't do so well if there were as many at the bank as there were crammed into this jewelry store.
Raven paused, distracted for the moment as she focused on Robin, trying to determine if he was all right. She regretted this stupid course of action almost immediately, when she was seized from behind, a thick arm pulled tight against her throat. Reacting entirely by instinct, her entire body blazed with the black energy that almost always meant impending death. The thing holding her merely rumbled in its chest, low, rolling chuckles. She twisted and saw that a couple more had also grabbed hold of Starfire – one held her by the throat and another held her hands pinned. Her eyes glowed and several green beams went wild, blowing away a good portion of the wall but leaving the things relatively unharmed. Starfire struggled for a moment longer before a scowl crossed her normally cheerful face. She cried out, a ball of green exploding from her, taking out the faceless things and the top half of the jewelry store. Raven was pulled several feet before her captor finally let go; she crumpled to the ground and rubbed her neck, surveying the wrecked remains of the store.
No wonder everyone hates superheroes.
Starfire rushed over, kneeling next to the dark empath and gently touching Raven's shoulder. The simple gesture jolted Raven – Starfire's anger and frustration toward Raven had all but melted away, replaced by a deep concern for her fellow teammate. Or maybe she had only hide away the emotions for the time being; Raven didn't know or much care. She was grateful for the distress Starfire exhibited on her behalf, although it made Raven slightly uncomfortable with guilt. Still, it was nice to be fussed over.
"I am sorry for my recent behavior," Starfire sighed at length. "It was not the fault of you or Robin. Perhaps I was overcome with … the jealousy."
Raven stared. She could think of many a time when she had been jealous of Starfire … but had never imagined it would be the other way around. She strived to come up with a suitable response but she could only gape dumbly.
The first splat of water hit her right under the eye and brought her out of her daze. She glanced around but the faceless men seemed to be gone. Starfire was also squinting and examining the ruined store.
"Starfire," Raven said, "I'm sorry. I never wanted to … hurt you."
Starfire turned a mildly perplexed gaze on Raven but she said nothing.
"So, do you think we could, um …" Raven shifted awkwardly, "do you think we could still be friends?"
Asking the question had been painful enough – Starfire's fierce hug only served to exacerbate it. The alien princess beamed and nodded.
"May we be friends forever more!" she cried, pulling slightly away from Raven. "I do not blame you. Perhaps it is my fault, for not acting sooner. However, I propose that we celebrate with the traditional Tamarainian festival of Blorqnog, in which –''
"Now's probably not the best time for discussing that," Raven interrupted quickly, as several more fat drops of water landed on her head. Starfire cheerfully glanced up to examine the stormy sky.
"My people would have considered this a sign of luck," she said, holding out a palm.
"And I consider it a sign to get the hell out of here," Raven replied, tugging her cowl over her head again and getting to her feet. And then there was a squeal of tires and Cyborg was exclaiming over the state of the jewelry store while Beast Boy declare his awe and admiration and disappointment he could not have seen what was sure to have been "a totally rad explosion!". Severely irritated by the now steady fall of rain and by Beast Boy's loud exclamations, Raven glared at Cyborg.
"What happened to the mattress store? Where's Robin?" she demanded.
"He told us to meet up with you. The mattress store was clean," Cyborg replied evenly.
"This was also of the clean upon our arrival," Starfire interjected, waving her hand around. "And then there were intruders and I … had to take drastic measures."
"That's a bit of an understatement, Starfire," Raven said dryly.
Cyborg frowned thoughtfully, looking from Raven, who was glowering heavily and trying to suppress anxious feelings about Robin, to Starfire, who was chirping merrily about the rain and the upcoming celebration, before speaking.
"Let's go find Robin."
A/N: I suck at Starfire dialog.