Disclaimer: I don't own the Teen Titans or Savin' Me by Nickleback. I wish I owned Raven and Robin though. They're such extraordinary individuals and have such intense potential when paired together. See my Author's Note at the end of this story for additional musings and clarification on the title.
Summary: She wasn't meant to be anyone's guardian angel, more importantly—she'd never wanted to either. He's not looking to be saved. Rob/Rae. The moon triumphs over the sun.
I could tell you a story of good and evil, of a struggling half-demoness carrying a weight far too heavy for her shoulders, of a simple human who fought blindly against inevitability, and of the love that could've formed. But that wouldn't be a fairy tale with a 'happily-ever-after' ending, would it? I didn't think so. I could tell you a story where evil triumphed over good and where the princess was really just a tool and the prince a man engulfed by his own troubles. But that wouldn't be soothing, nor would it suit the ignorant minds of this world. These stories live on in my mind, empowering the ache in my bitter heart even as I watch the darkened skies from my position on the rooftop.
It is lonely tonight, the winds passing by my still form as carelessly as the memories of the past. I pull the cloak of my uniform closer to me, eyes transfixed to the waxing moon hanging above my head. It has been years since I have last been 'Raven,' even longer since I've contacted one of them. We'd parted bitterly, I feeling betrayed and everyone else too eager to find a normal life. They'd wanted to stop playing superheroes, stop dressing up in ridiculous outfits pretending to fight against crime. I clench my fists at the thought and swear softly into the night as the wind howls incessantly. How befitting, I muse cruelly, how befitting that in the end, I was the one to turn first.
I hadn't meant to kill him. I really hadn't. But it'd been pitch black that night and I'd been alone for the first time, without the familiar presence of Robin or Starfire by my side. It'd been a serial rapist—freshly escaped from jail and all too eager to resume his activities. He'd had a knife to my throat before I could even scream. Maybe if I hadn't been so self-pitying, so absorbed within my own thoughts, I would've been able to stop everything. But I had been absorbed and I let by guard down that night. The car crushed him before I'd even had the time to register what I'd done. The knife, I still remember so vividly, had clattered to the concrete by my feet as I spent the rest of the night dry heaving by his corpse. I'd murdered someone, someone with a name and a past and a future. It didn't matter that I hadn't meant to, or that he'd been about to desecrate me. What mattered back then, was that I'd killed him and managed to walk away alive.
But that was back then and this is now.
Would you shrink away in disgust if I told you I killed every day? My past had sheltered me from the crueler acts committed in the streets. I wonder now if I hadn't been lucky to live without such terrible knowledge for so long. The murderers (like me, like my two hands) and the rapists and the thieves swarmed (and they still swarm) the city at night. Batman couldn't kill, couldn't stop every single heinous act from being committed. With my hands freshly stained with a criminal's blood, I'd decided to be the executioner of Gotham City. I stifle their last screams of pain with my dark magic and crush their beating hearts as they sit in the alleyways. I am twenty-two as of today, and there is nothing left for me to celebrate in life anymore. After all, one who lives so close to death each day has no right to dwell upon the blessings of the living.
I could tell you a story…Robin. I could tell you a story—my story, but you wouldn't listen. Would you? The dying rays of moonlight reveal my downcast expression and I give a humorless laughter. There is no one to hear me as I stand above the sea, the crashing waves echoing my tumultuous thoughts. Perhaps this is for the better, receding into the shadows of life until I one day cease to exist. These aren't the thoughts of superheroes, for they are supposed to be stronger than anyone else, better. They aren't supposed to pity themselves or be tangled in the webs of unrequited love. They aren't supposed to contemplate their deaths with a small and secretive smile. They are supposed to serve as immortal guardian angels, as idols for the generations of mankind inhabiting this Earth and as unmerciful figures of Justice for wrongdoers.
I am not a hero anymore, nor am I a criminal.
I wonder sometimes if I'm even real or if this is all in my head.
Prison gates won't open up for me
On these hands and knees, I'm crawling
Oh, I reach for you
There have been countless reports of wanted criminals being killed recently. It has Bruce—Batman ready to smash his training hall into smithereens in frustration. As for me, it's putting me on edge. We're supposed to be the good guys of Gotham, to be the ones who round up wrongdoers without resorting to murder. They're supposed to be evil, to be beneath us. This…strange person running around killing those who have wronged mankind is confusing and disturbing. The universal code of being a hero implies that we can't even take life. It's probably the only reason why Joker is still alive. But this person is breaking the rules as if they could care less.
"Richard, any new information?" Bruce's voice cuts through my thoughts like knife through butter and I shake my head.
"No new deaths to report as of yesterday. It seems as if she or he took a break last night. The symptoms are all the same though; they don't appear to care much for making dazzling kills. It's so bizarre," I comment, running a hand through my hair, grimacing as I tug through a tangle. "Crushed chest leading to heart failure, but so far, no leads as to what weapon could cause that. No marks on any of the bodies either. What weapon could possibly crush a person's torso and yet not leave a single imprint?" I growl in frustration, turning away from my mentor. "It doesn't make any sense."
"A lot of things can fail to make sense. Society tends to paint things in terms of black and white, good and evil, right and wrong." His eyes aren't focused on me, gazing out the window in a distant manner. "Whoever this person is, he or she is wrong for taking lives." He finally declares, fixing an intense gaze at my face. His unspoken thought rings heavily in the atmosphere though; the question of if killing a guilty person is truly evil. I don't have the answer and stride out the room quietly. "Where are you going?" He asks, for what reason, I don't know.
"Out. I'm going to patrol the streets. Something's bound to happen tonight."
He nods his assent as I close the door shut behind me. The manor is large and empty for the most part, nothing at all like the T-tower I used to live in with the others. I still keep in contact with Cyborg and Beastboy, sending letters occasionally. Starfire's literally planets away from me, and Raven…well, Raven seems to have disappeared off the face of the earth. None of the others have heard from her either and I try to ignore the feeling as if I've forgotten something as I pull on my suit. It bothers me though, her lack of contact. We'd been through a lot together and I suppose she always understood me better than anyone else in the tower. Had we been older, I would've probably fallen in love with her. I shake those thoughts away and tighten my gloves.
Robin's gone. It's Nightwing now.
Checking to make sure everything's in place, I take to the streets, remembering wistfully that Raven's birthday was yesterday. She would've turned twenty-two.
Well, I'm terrified of these four walls
These iron bars can't hold my soul in
All I need is you
There is no satisfaction to be gained from this.
I know and yet I continue, perhaps this is my metaphorical cross to bear? It doesn't matter, I murmur aloud as the wind parts before me. For me, there will only be Hell when I die. Heaven is far beyond my reach and though I may fly freely through the pollution infested skies of Gotham, my wings are meant to be clipped in the end. When I die, then I shall surely fall. The thought is not as terrifying as it should be. I bring the hood of my outfit up to cover my face and to stop my waist-length hair from hampering my vision. There is only a cold and hollow feeling residing deep in my chest; I have long learned the virtues of ignoring emotions. They are trivial things and I am old—far too old to be displaying everything on my face. How surprised would the others be if they saw me now? My lips curve into a half-smile as I land gently on the sidewalk, my cloak wrapping around me like a barrier. I shouldn't ask questions that I already know the answer to.
They would be more than surprised. They would hate me and I, in turn, would hate them. I have not forgotten the pain of watching everyone leave for a new life as I remained still with nothing to fall back on. They were everything I had and when they left—there was nothing to hold onto. I suppose it was karma coming to haunt me or maybe it was just my rigged luck. I'm sure they have attempted to find me, but the damage has been done, and I'm not the same person anyways. The 'Raven' they know has died. That Raven was dead the instant I took life for the first time.
My footsteps are quiet as I approach the small-time criminal from behind. He's a hired killer, too consumed with reaping the cash to bother with morality. I suppose we are alike. For I am too consumed with thoughts of righting what is wrong to consider a life to be worth anything anymore. He doesn't even notice the black hand of my magic enclose him until it's too late. From beneath the folds of my cloak, my hand curls into a fist—tight enough to trap air, and I stay quiet as the last of his breath expires into the night.
Without my consent, I walk slowly towards the murdered man. His eyes are still open in shock, dirty hair playing about his rough features with the wind. I suppose a part of me feels guilty and will always feel guilty, but I no longer care. He could've chosen to be someone different; to take the chances life offered him. I reach out my hands in a rare moment of mercy and close his eyes. But it no longer matters, for a dead man can't make any choices.
I freeze as I prepare to leave, the hand on my shoulder burning my skin. I can't detect any malevolent intentions from this bold stranger, but the touch startles me enough to take a step forward. Who would dare to approach me? I am supposed to be invisible to others, appearing just to kill before retreating back into the darkness. I am untouchable, impure.
"Raven?" A faintly recognizable voice calls out and I feel sick to my stomach. Not him, of all people. Please, not him.
My breath catches in my throat.
Come please, I'm calling
And oh, I scream for you
Hurry, I'm falling
I watch in horror and awe as the nearly invisible hand literally squeezes the life out of the hit man. It isn't until his body is then carefully lowered to the ground that I force myself to pinpoint the person behind it all. The shadow lingering by the brick wall is silent, wrapped in darkness so black that it seems to drain the very life out of the flickering streetlights. My eyes continue to watch the guilty person as they close the eyes of the recently deceased…so merciful. Why? I wonder, why kill someone just to be kind to him after they're dead? He or she turns, obviously intending to find a different person to kill, another guilty person to condemn. I suppress the shudder that runs down my spine and land a hand on a surprisingly warm and fragile shoulder.
Female, my mind registers first. And then, as she moves forward in a startled motion, the hood sliding down to reveal familiar indigo tresses, Raven my mind hisses. Her name falls unbidden from my mouth and I watch as she turns around, carefully concealed astonishment flitting briefly across her face. Her features meld into one of neutrality soon enough, slender hands reaching for the hood of her cape. "Robin," she acknowledges softly and my eyes narrow at the detachment in her tone. She was never an expressive person, but these acts of murder and her cold and impersonal voice are chilling. "Or rather, should I say Nightwing?" She asks, her mouth forming an empty smile. It lacks life and vitality, brittle as the overshadowed moon.
"Nightwing." I reply firmly, stepping closer to her once more. My hands pull her hood down again, no doubt to her surprise. But she doesn't say anything, just lets the light wash over her face, tranquil and at peace. Her eyes are still large and luminous, pools of dark amethyst gazing into me. Her lips are fuller and her legs are long, lithe with power quivering in her veins. She is shorter than me, coming only to the bridge of my nose and her hair is longer than before. The strands glimmer in the poorly lit darkness, snaking around her waist like tendrils of finely spun silk. Her body is warm against mine and a part of me notes that she has indeed become someone of unnatural beauty. We are so different from before, I think, as she remains stiff in my loose hold. We have changed from awkward and gangly 'teen heroes' to cynical young adults. "Why?" I finally ask, as she remains unresponsive. Why would you do something like this? Why give up your humanity just to deliver this justice? Why did you disappear?
"Because someone had to do it." She replies after a long moment of silence. "Batman would've considered it below him to commit the same crimes as Joker and you…" She trails off uncertainly, hesitance washing over her pale, moonlit features for only an instant. The expression is quickly replaced by her façade though, and I find myself wishing for that moment of vulnerability back. It feels so strange to be talking to her like this, the barest recognition glinting in her eyes. "You're too kind." She finishes and pushes me away roughly. "You're better off with the sun than running about at night, Robin." The change of title doesn't go unnoticed by me and I tense at the self-deprecation that I hear in her words. "The moon only drags everything down."
I know I'm not supposed to hear the sentence that comes afterwards, but years of heightened awareness and training with Batman has given me the ability to pick up on the slightest sounds. "I drag everyone down." She murmurs into the light of the chilled moon. My heart clenches at her words and I reach for her even though I know she will only push me away. Even back then, she used to push everyone away. I thought we'd gone through that, broken down her barriers and became her friends. Looking into her stoic face, I know now that whatever friendship we could've claimed between us is dead.
"Don't say that, Raven. We miss you, all of us. Cyborg's been going crazy trying to find you and Beastboy actually wants you to throw him into the next dimension." I wait for the corners of her lips to lift into a small smile, but the gesture doesn't appear and I wonder just how much of the Raven from before is left.
"You don't need to keep killing them. It's not worth it. It'll never be worth it."
But her expression remains as blank as before, and I know my words are worthless to her.
Show me what it's like
To be the last one standing
And teach me wrong from right
I turn viciously, my eyes narrowing with white-hot anger. As if he could ever hope to understand me. As if he could ever hope to realize what it was like being abandoned with just emptiness around you. As if he could conjure up the pain and grief and guilt of killing someone for the very first time, and then the blankness that follows. "What should I do then, Robin? You have Batman, but I have no one. You are human, but I am half demon and cursed." I unclasp the cloak from my neck quietly, letting it drift to the floor—as unloved and emotionless as I. My fingers gesture at the expanse of light gray skin on both arms, unhidden by the leotard. "I can't wander the streets like this. I don't have another talent to fall back on. I'm not meant to even be here." I can't keep the bitterness from leaking into my voice and I take another step back from him. I'm losing control of the situation, losing control of my emotions.
"I'm only ever good enough to do what no one else wants to do." I bite out harshly, ignoring the way his aura emanates sympathy and well-concealed hurt at the same time. I don't need pity. Pity is for the weak, for the ones who can afford for others to share in their pain. I don't do pity and I don't do weak. "Forget it, Robin. It's too late for anything to be done for me now. You're five years too late." I don't understand why these words rush out of my mouth so carelessly, as if my mind no longer has any control over the things I say. The thought is disturbing and I back away even more from his outstretched hand. Not everyone can be saved and not all things can be fixed. He should know this by now. He should know the sheer hopelessness of my situation. "Leave," I whisper, hating the hoarseness that accompanies my voice. "You shouldn't be here." Someone as bright as him has no right intruding on my territory, no right to offer to share the night with me. He belongs with the sun and the halls of immortality. This land of death and murder is my domain, my mortality's chosen dying place.
"Come with me," he demands as his hands encircle my waist. It is not a romantic gesture, meant merely to constrain me than to actually comfort. But that's fine. I doubt I even deserve comfort, much less his offer. I don't even think he understands what he's offering. I ignore the feel of his muscled chest against my back. He has changed, further proof of how I have strayed from the path of good. Even without seeing his face, I know that he must be handsome, must be a lady-killer. I wonder why I even care. It isn't as if he sees me as anything more than poor, lost Raven. Poor, abandoned Raven.
"What for, Robin?" I ask, carefully neutral. Inside, hysteria settles deep inside my mind. This wasn't how I imagined our first reunion together when they first left. This wasn't what I had in mind when he showed up, witness to my crime. "Batman will ask questions and I can't stop these acts of mine. Save your pity for someone else who needs it—who cares." I try to break out of his hold, but he merely tightens his arms, and I curse my lack of strength. "Or don't you understand? I'm an untouchable, Robin." My lips curl back into a snarl, damning neutrality and niceties for righteous anger.
"Get yours hands off of me."
And I'll show you what I can be
Say it for me
Say it to me
When had she become so broken and bitter?
Her hair brushes against the exposed skin of my cheek and the scent of orchids and incense assaults my senses. I feel as if I am holding onto water, slippery and elusive. My grip instinctively tightens and despite her frosty demeanor, her skin is searing hot beneath my fingertips. "It's not pity." I answer and marvel at the way she strains against me even now. She is far from delicate, having fleshed out into soft curves but still retaining the same foreboding presence as before. And yet, as she struggles vainly against my hold, I can't help but think of how easy it would be to break her like a porcelain doll. All the more reason to keep her safe and to change her mind, I think. She is almost too slender in my hold, my fingers pressing against the outline of her ribs through the thin fabric.
"Then what is it?" She retorts, turning around so that her violet eyes bore ruthlessly into my own. "What is this?" She gestures at my hands, back to encircling around her slim waist like a tight fitting belt. "Even now, you still can't hide your emotions. Let it go. Tell Batman that I won't harm any innocents and that if he is so against my actions, he can feel free to confront me. It would be too much to hope for if I asked for him to kill me. He has a strict code of honor and morality, not unlike your own." She sighs, eyes closing for the briefest of seconds. "Just let me go. I won't bother you again."
I pull her closer to me, all too aware of her chest pressing into my torso. She is Raven, I tell myself. Moody, anti-social, anti-feeling Raven. But my eyes see only a cynical and wounded woman—one whose features are as beautiful and elusive as the fleeting moon. This really isn't the time for physical attraction, I note wryly to myself. A part of me wonders if she's feeling the same tension between us, the same sparking energy intertwining our bodies together. I tell that part of me to shut up and take a nap. "Just…trust me." I say, all too aware of the irony in that one statement. Hadn't she trusted me so long ago to keep the team together? Hadn't I broken that trust and stepped all over it as I left for Bruce's mansion? "If I can't get you to stop, then I can at least offer you another home. Come back with me, I'll explain everything to Batman."
She hesitates; I can feel it, her mouth opening slightly. I try to ignore the fact that I need only to bend down slightly just to kiss her. If she notices my eyes straying to the cloudy night, she doesn't mention it. "I…."
The next thing I know, there's a pain in my abdomen and she's flown into the sky, hovering in mid-air.
"I can't. The only home I have is in solitude." Her regret is palpable and it makes my heart twinge in pain. "Go back home, Nightwing. I hope for your sake, that you may never find me again."
With those last words, she disappears, like mist flung into the uncaring winds of Gotham City. I take my time going back to the Wayne Mansion, missing the warmth of her body against mine. The hitman's corpse lies in the streets, my thoughts too preoccupied with his murderess to bother with alerting the authorities. They'll find him come morning.
Bruce is busy when I make my entrance. For once, I am quiet instead of eager to report my information to him. To know that Raven, of all people, was the very person we'd been searching for bothers me. To know that I'd been careless enough to let her escape bothers me. I reflect on our conversation as I climb into my bed, her bitter tones and self-deprecation haunting my thoughts.
My dreams are restless that night.
Author's Notes: This was supposed to be a one-shot. Key word is 'supposed,' because now there's a full-blown plot running around in my head. And honestly? I'm too excited about this story to stop. It won't be a long story, probably underneath five chapters. This was inspired by a lot of Robin/Raven stories and really good music by iiO. I apologize if the POV switching was confusing/annoying, but I wanted to try out a new style for this story. Remember, constructive criticism is the most valuable information that you can give to a writer! I suppose that is somewhat AU since Nightwing doesn't work for Batman in the comics, but I'm not really familiar with the histories. I'm basing all my writings off of stuff I've garnered from other stories, so forgive me if I offended the inner comic fan within you.
Why Raven/Robin? Well, she's tough for one. She's also a really complex character and I wanted to explore this aspect of her if she'd left the Teen Titans in less than ideal circumstances. She strikes me as the type that would be unbelievably hurt when betrayed and also as someone most likely to offer herself as a scapegoat. Superheroes never kill criminals, but she's not exactly superhero material emotionally. She's good at heart, but there will always be someone who has to be the tragic hero. Robin is stubborn as a mule, brash, but still 'superhero' type. Batman influenced him a lot and it's shaped him into being someone who disregards their emotions for the rules and someone who acts on instinct, ignoring the rules. As Nightwing, he's more down-to-earth, and far darker than as young Robin from the Teen Titans. Together, I think they're just stunning. I'll be fleshing out some of the larger details regarding their relationship in later chapters.
Catharsis was chosen as the title because it means 'to purge one of emotions or to relieve emotional tensions.' It'll be a pivotal word to consider if you're looking for foreshadowing. Thanks for sticking through this ridiculously long note (I promise they'll be shorter) and drop a comment if you can!Up Next: Robin learns to see the world in shades of gray and with his newfound knowledge, begins to question the point of morality. Raven is less than pleased when an invitation to dinner finds its way into her lonely abode. A clash of ideals begins.