"And Hell Came With Him"
Chapter 1: "Schwarz Drache Feuer"
Disclaimer: Teen Titans, as well as any other characters or elements I might borrow from the DC Universe (animated or comic), belong to DC Comics and Warner Brothers. I make no money from this story whatsoever, and any characters that I do not explain as sourced from an extant fictional universe are mine.
Author's note: I would have written a sequel to my hit Titans fic "Coil," had I not become preoccupied with my next-gen smash "Teen Titans: Future Storm." Ergo, VFSNAKE had to take up the relatively thankless task of continuing what I started in his fic, "Teen Titans: Shadows of Wrath." In case you don't feel like reading that, there will be references to it in terms of the status quo at the beginning of this story.
This story, by the way, is going to be a supernatural action-horror story. At least, that's what I'm going to try to do with it. It's gonna feature Nightwing going up against not only the legions of Hell, but also more earthbound foes with their own ties to the supernatural. Plus, there will be some complications in Nightwing's relationships with Blackfire, Starfire, and Raven, among other things.
Enough rambling from me. Time to begin the story.
"You are the luckiest son of a bitch in the world."
"What makes you say that?"
It was two young men talking, seemingly making nothing but idle conversation, but they were not ordinary young men at all. One was a highly skilled gentleman thief turned reluctant superhero, and the other was a highly skilled urban knight harboring an ancient quasi-evil force within his body. Both wore black costumes, but the thief wore his with red accents and the knight wore his with blue accents. The thief's symbol was a red X that looked as though it had been slashed into the fabric, and the knight's symbol was the outstretched wings of a blue bird.
They were Red X and Nightwing, and they were currently conversing about Nightwing's love life.
"What makes me say that?" Red X asked. "I'll tell you what makes me say that. You've got three beautiful women who are perfectly willing to put up with each other to be with you. If that's not lucky, I'm not Red X!"
Nightwing chuckled slightly. "Not quite, X. Not quite."
"What's that supposed to mean?" The thief, his usual death's-head mask exchanged for red-tinted goggles and black mouth-plate, leaned forward, wanting to hear what Nightwing had to say.
"For one thing, they still get kind of antsy whenever I want to spend time alone with just one of them," Nightwing admitted. "It's still taking some getting used to that I really do want to be with all of them."
Red X sighed. "I guess it's not that much fun for you, after all."
"Don't get me wrong, I do love them all . . . but you know how you might have a whole bunch of friends and yet want to spend time with just one of them?"
"Let me tell you something, kid. Friends are one thing, but when love is involved, it's something else altogether. You're just gonna have to ride it out."
"At least Raven's trying to be mature about it." A faint smile found its way to Nightwing's lips.
"Considering that she's used to keeping herself in check . . ." Red X snickered. "That must make the sex fun."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Nightwing asked.
"Simply put, people who are forced to repress themselves become very expressive once freed from their constraints," Red X clarified. "If you know what I'm saying."
"Don't be a jackass, X."
"Who's being a jackass? I'm just saying the truth."
He is right, you know, the darkness dragon, Rij'ze, whispered within Nightwing's thoughts. Raven has a great deal of passion pent up inside her . . . as I'm sure you've experienced already.
You just love it when she lets her demon side out, Nightwing grumbled to his unrequested soul partner, rolling his eyes beneath his birdlike domino mask.
Yes, I do, Rij'ze admitted shamelessly. Something wrong with that? Besides, you heal in no time, thanks to me.
"Anyway, there's a little bit of trouble going on," Red X cut in. "That thief. Violet."
"Violet?" Nightwing repeated. "Again?"
"Yeah, Little Miss Robin Hood," Red X confirmed. "She's gonna get herself nailed if this goes on."
"You do the same thing," Nightwing commented.
"Unlike me, she doesn't have a super-suit and her technique is pedestrian."
"She's doing the best with what she's got, and she's relatively decent at what she does."
"Decent doesn't cut it. Isn't that what Batman always told you?"
"I'm not Batman, but good point. I think . . . if you could take her under your wing . . ."
"Oh, no!" Red X declared. "Hell, no! You are insane if you think I'm going to do that?"
"What's the problem? You're the one who said her technique was pedestrian," Nightwing taunted. "Don't you want to show her how it's done? Doesn't your thief's pride compel you to make her not such an embarrassment to the Thieves' Guild?"
"There is no such goddamn thing as the Thieves' Guild," Red X snarled, rising from his seat. "Come on, bastard. We got patrol."
"Don't go on patrol mad," Nightwing advised with a lilting smirk, enjoying getting under the thief's skin as much as said thief had enjoyed getting under his skin. "You'll only regret it in the morning."
Red X flipped Nightwing off without looking at him, before exchanging the goggles and mouth-plate for his full mask. "Quit it, dickhead." The voice distorter in his mask amplified the irritation in his tone to terrifying levels of anger. At least, they would have been terrifying to anyone aside from Nightwing . . . or Batman. Who knew if the Dark Knight ever actually felt scared?
Elsewhere in the City of Angels, Starfire hovered above the city streets. She was supposed to be patrolling, but the lack of activity left her bored, and a bored Starfire tended to contemplate her navel more often than she normally did. It was rather easy to contemplate her navel, though, considering how exposed it was by her uniform. As tended to be the case when she contemplated her navel, her thoughts turned to one Nightwing.
She remembered their first meeting, how he had so bravely stood against her even though – at the time – she was vastly more powerful than he was. When he'd made it clear that he didn't really mean any harm, she'd kissed him. Technically, it was just to learn his language, but even then she'd found him pleasant to behold by her standards. Still, it had not been a kiss that she easily forgot, and she'd found that there was a connection between them.
Then she had forsaken him. In his hour of need, when he was struggling with a literal demon sharing his body, she had let her own fear get the better of her. And he had left, heartbroken, only to fall into her wicked sister's arms, to accept the comfort that her embrace gave him. She had thought him lost to her forever, and then it had seemed that Blackfire, her sister, had died.
She had seen his heartbreak, which transmuted into an apocalyptic rage that nearly caused the end of everything. Once it had become clear that Blackfire was not lost, it had also become clear that, for all of her sister's flaws and faults and crimes, there was something genuine about her that had pulled Nightwing's heart to her. There was no way to pull them apart, it seemed, and then . . . it turned out that she didn't need to pull them apart. Nightwing, X'Hal bless his soul, had more than enough love for her, for Blackfire, and for her best friend Raven.
It had not been an easy arrangement. Starfire still had to fight down the surge of jealousy whenever Raven kissed Nightwing on the cheek or vice versa, or whenever Blackfire draped her body around Nightwing. It did help, though, that Nightwing was just as affectionate with her as he was with Raven or Blackfire. It was an unconventional arrangement, something many Earth cultures tended to frown upon, but they all loved Nightwing and Nightwing loved all of them in turn.
Her musings were interrupted by the ring of her Titans communicator, repainted blue and black. She clicked it on, and Blackfire's image appeared on the screen. "Hey, li'l sis. I ran into this redheaded chick who's just as fond of purple as you are."
"Do you mean the Violet?" Starfire asked.
"No, I mean Mai Valentine," Blackfire retorted sarcastically. "Who do you think I mean?"
"You do not need to be rude, sister. I am on my way." Starfire closed the link and flew to Blackfire's location, using the GPS built into the communicator to find her.
When Starfire reached Blackfire's position, she found Blackfire wrestling a redheaded girl in a dark purple latex suit and open-head mask completed by darkly tinted goggles and an off-white breathing mask with circular vents on either side of the mouth. The two seemed to be fighting over something in the purple-clad redhead's hand, and Blackfire seemed to be having a hard time. Upon closer examination, it turned out that Blackfire was simply toying with the young woman, judging by the wicked smirk on her face. Finally, Blackfire pinned the redhead and yanked the mysterious object out of her hand.
"Give that back!" the redhead yelled.
"Nope, finders keepers, losers weepers," Blackfire answered, smirking. She looked at the object. "Wow, you have good taste. This ought to fetch a pretty penny on this planet's black market. I should know."
"Blackfire, stop toying with her," Starfire admonished, landing beside her.
As though not hearing Starfire, Blackfire continued on. "I'd take you to jail, but Nightwing wants a word with you first."
"Nightwing?" the redhead asked.
"Yeah," Blackfire purred. "He is so gonna want to give you a thorough interrogation."
"Sister, stop!" Starfire exclaimed.
"You heard her," Raven's raspy voice growled from within the shadows. "Stop."
"Spoilsports, both of you," Blackfire pouted, reluctantly getting off the purple-clad thief and playing catch with herself using the mysterious object.
The thief got up, but not before Raven materialized out of the shadows, dressed in a black sleeveless leotard, black cloak, and elbow-length gloves and knee-high boots, and bound her with those same shadows. "Nightwing and Red X should be here any minute."
"Good, then the fun can really start," Blackfire remarked.
"Quit it, Blackfire," Raven snarled.
"It's not my fault you don't know how to have fun. I thought Nightwing would have cured you of that by now."
"Wow, you three are really dysfunctional," the thief remarked.
Just then, all four young women could hear two motorcycle engines roaring nearby. Moments later, two black-clad young men stepped into the alleyway where Raven was holding the thief with Starfire and Blackfire keeping watch. One of the young men wore a black cape and skull-faced mask with crimson eyes and a red X "slashed" into the forehead, along with another red X "slashed" into the chest and red accents on the sides and arms, not to mention silver-white guards on the forearms and fingers. The other young man had short black hair and wore a birdlike domino mask, along with black armor overlaying a black body-glove and a blue symbol resembling a bird with outstretched wings emblazoned on the chest.
"So you joined the party," Blackfire greeted with a slow smirk. "Hi, lover. Hi, lover's annoyingly sexy friend."
"I'll take that as a compliment," Red X answered. "But I am not annoying."
"Violet," Nightwing greeted. "Nice to finally meet you."
Violet turned her head toward Nightwing in a manner that made it clear she was glaring at him. "What do you want with me, Dickwing?"
Red X snickered and whispered to Nightwing, "She's closer to your real name than she thinks."
"Yeah, but you're not telling her that," Nightwing answered.
"What do I want with you?" Nightwing asked Violet. "I want to make you a proposition."
"I'm not letting you fuck me, bastard," Violet snapped. "You're not even that cute."
Nightwing permitted himself a tight smirk, concealing his shock. "Not my style. I don't even know what you look like. No, that's not what I want." He directed a sidelong look at Blackfire before returning his attention to Violet. "No, I'm proposing an alliance."
"An alliance? Why would a superhero want me as an ally?"
"Intimidating lower-level crooks only goes so far. I could do a lot better with someone on the inside."
"Are you talking about what I think you're talking about?"
"You steal from men who think themselves untouchable." Nightwing walked closer to her, accenting his every word with a step. "You slip in to their sancta like a wraith, and you take whatever you want from them. That gives you a special kind of access that I don't have."
"What's in it for me?" Violet asked.
"I'm willing to pay you quite generously," Nightwing replied. "I'll set up a secret account for you, and transfer money there in increments of 5 million. In exchange, you will do what you usually do, only you will occasionally go after targets I specify."
"Why should I go after your enemies?" Violet sneered. "Don't you have Red X for that?"
"Too obvious," Nightwing answered. "Besides, he's going to improve your technique."
"I am?!" Red X shouted.
"He is?!" Violet yelled.
Blackfire chuckled. "This just got interesting."
"You can't be serious!" Red X and Violet exclaimed at roughly the same time.
"My technique doesn't need improving!" Violet protested heatedly.
"Me? Teach her? Not a chance!" Red X declared.
"What's your problem, X?" Nightwing taunted. "Don't you hold yourself to be an even greater thief than Catwoman?"
"Doesn't mean I want to teach a poseur like her!" Red X protested.
"Poseur?! You're one to talk!" Violet protested.
Nightwing chuckled. "I see we're going to have a lot of fun here." He wrapped one arm around Red X, who had followed him, and the other around Violet. "Come on. We've got a lot to talk about." He looked at Raven, who wrapped them all in shadows, much to Violet's terror as she could not see at all in this darkness. When the shadows receded, they were in Nightwing's headquarters.
"Where am I?" Violet asked.
"My base," Nightwing replied. "You're welcome to stick around and think it over."
"Think what over?" Violet sniped.
"My offer." Nightwing smiled.
"You do realize you freaking kidnapped me, right?"
"I could easily let it be known just who the new thief in town is. Get both the cops and your 'unfortunate' victims hunting you down. You wouldn't be safe anywhere . . . except here."
"And what's stopping you from doing that, huh, asshole?"
"It would be counterproductive. It would fly completely in the face of what I'm trying to do."
"Come on, Wing, she's clearly not interested," Red X remarked.
"Oh, I'm interested now, fuckwit," Violet retorted. "I'm in, Dickwing."
"Seriously?" Nightwing asked, genuinely surprised.
Violet just looked at Nightwing in a way that made it damned clear she was smirking beneath her mask. "Yeah. Gotta show Bonehead how it's done."
"You just wanna piss me off," Red X growled.
"Yeah, that, too," Violet confirmed shamelessly.
She feels wrong, Rij'ze snarled within Nightwing's thoughts.
What do you mean, "wrong"? Nightwing asked.
You can't tell? Hm, you don't know how to use your senses, fool mortal, or else you'd be able to taste the infernal stink.
She's a demon?
No, but she has demon in her lineage. And, strangely enough, I taste angel.
You mean . . . a demon and an angel . . . actually . . .
It's not that unheard-of, although such unions don't survive very long. Even if they yield offspring, those children don't tend to survive very long, either. They're an abomination to the Hosts of Heaven and to the Fallen, so both sides want them dead.
What happens to the parents?
Cast out, if they're lucky.
And if they're not lucky?
Rij'ze let out a grim chuckle. Do you really want to know, boy?
You asked. If they're not lucky, they're executed by their own side or left to the not-so-tender mercies of the other side.
Are you sure Violet . . . are you sure she . . .
Yes. But the bloodline is so diluted by now that her abilities are no greater than an extension of what a well-trained human such as your Batman or Arsenal could do. The Hosts and the Fallen will leave her be . . . unless she trespasses in forces she has no business messing around with.
"Hey, Nightwing," Red X called out. "Earth to Nightwing!"
Nightwing turned to look at Red X. "Yeah?"
"Chatting with your little buddy again?"
"Something like that."
Did he just call me what I think he just called me? Is he not aware of the torments I could visit upon his mortal soul?
Shut up, Rij'ze.
Did you just tell me to shut up?
Yes. Deal with it.
A pair of lean, muscled arms sheathed in silver armor wrapped around Nightwing, their owner pressing her firm body against his back. "Nightwing, dear . . . I'm sure we're a lot more interesting than your scaly buddy. At least, I'm certainly more interesting than he is."
"Blackfire." Nightwing smiled, feeling her warmth through the layers of armor that separated them. "What was that you swiped from Violet?"
"What do you mean?" Blackfire asked coyly.
"You know what I mean," Nightwing answered.
Blackfire withdrew one of her arms from around Nightwing and reached into her belt. When her arm returned, her hand was holding a silver ring with an inset purple gem. When Nightwing looked at that ring, a cold shiver ran down his spine . . . and it wasn't from Blackfire's nearness.
"What's wrong?" Blackfire asked.
"That ring . . ." Nightwing replied, shuddering. His right arm was painfully warm, a sign that Rij'ze was not in a very good mood.
It's . . . it's . . . where did she get it?! WHERE?!
The question was asked with so much fury and pain behind it that it gave Nightwing a migraine. "Where did you get that ring?" he asked Violet.
"I got it from the vault of a woman named Blaze," Violet replied.
"Blaze," Red X echoed. "As in Angelica Blaze, newest rising star in the L.A. underworld."
"Blackfire, please put that ring away," Starfire requested. "It is causing Nightwing pain."
"It's ok, Star," Nightwing growled, his voice sounding slightly less human. He took the ring out of Blackfire's hand and slipped out of her embrace, walking over to the computer and typing a code into the keyboard. Instantly, a panel extended from beneath the keyboard and Nightwing placed the ring inside it, immediately slamming the panel closed. "It's ok . . ."
"What's wrong with his voice?" Violet wondered aloud.
"That's just what happens when Nightwing gets in a mood," Red X answered. "Nothing unusual."
Nightwing sat down in front of the computer, panting slightly, like he'd been forced to do a hundred-meter dash in under a minute. That ring had unsettled him more than just psychologically; it had messed with his very biochemistry, too. Actually, it'd messed with Rij'ze, and since Rij'ze was bound to him, it had affected him as well. "That ring's no ordinary ring."
"What makes you say that?" Red X asked.
"It's evil," Raven stated. "Plain and simple."
"You mean like 'The One Ring' evil?" Red X quipped.
"Worse," Raven answered. "Sauron's a meek little kitten compared to what this ring's giving off."
"Does that mean something?" Violet asked.
"It means this Blaze woman is more trouble than we originally thought," Raven clarified.
"That ring . . . it smells like Hell," Nightwing murmured.
"Hell? You mean, fire and brimstone?" Violet asked.
Nightwing quietly laughed, but the laugh turned louder and more crazed . . . until Blackfire whirled his chair around and punched him in the face. "Stop it, Nightwing! You're scaring me!"
"I'm scared, too," Nightwing admitted, his bruise fading rapidly. "That ring's eviler than anything I've ever felt. Even Slade didn't scare me this bad."
"Wow. Worse than Slade. That's a whole new kind of badness," Red X remarked somewhat sarcastically.
Raven and Starfire glared at Red X. "If you knew . . . just how much suffering Slade caused Nightwing, you would know not to take him lightly," Raven snarled, her eyes glowing beneath her hood.
"Whoa, damn, sorry!" Red X raised his hands in concession.
"Slade? The Slade?" Violet asked.
"What do you know about him?" Raven asked.
"He's a legend in the international criminal underworld," Violet replied.
"Figures," Red X mumbled. "Birdboy's a legend among teenage superheroes and One-Eye's a legend among super-criminals."
"I'm going to find out just who this Angelica Blaze is, or who she's pretending to be," Nightwing muttered, turning back to face the computer monitor.
"Wow, I didn't know I was causing this much trouble," Violet commented. "Still want me on your team, Dickwing?"
"Yes," Nightwing answered tersely. He turned to his team. "I have the computer running an automated records search for Angelica Blaze. It should turn up something."
"What do we do in the meantime?" Red X asked.
"I have a few ideas," Blackfire purred, wrapping her arms around Nightwing despite the obstruction of the chair in which he sat.
"Really?" Red X asked. "Tell me about them."
"They don't involve you," Blackfire retorted sharply.
Red X clutched his chest dramatically. "Damn, Blackfire. You wound me. You really do."
"If I actually set out to wound you, you'd be in the hospital macking on nurses," Blackfire quipped.
"You know me well." Red X smirked beneath his mask.
"How do you guys stand each other?" Violet asked.
"Through excesses of violence and sex," Blackfire replied deadpan.
"You are one freaky bitch," Violet remarked.
"I'll take that as a compliment," Blackfire answered, smirking. "Besides, Nightwing more than appreciates my 'freakiness,' as you put it."
"You are a bona fide nymphomaniac," Raven commented somewhat derisively.
"Yeah? You scream louder than I do when Nightwing does that tongue thing," Blackfire answered. "Even Starfire can't reach that soprano."
"Is there something I need to know?" Red X asked.
Raven, Starfire, and Blackfire turned to Red X and said in complete unison, "No."
"You . . . are all weird," Violet stated.
"Oh, yeah, we're the weird ones," Raven drawled sarcastically. "You're the one who dresses in purple latex. What does that say about your own proclivities?"
Violet looked down at herself. "Hmm . . ."
"Gee, thanks, Raven," Red X sniped. "Now you'll make her cover up."
"If I couldn't do that with Blackfire, what makes you think I could do that with her?" Raven asked.
"Could we please stop talking about sex?" Nightwing asked. "As much as I'd like to engage in it, there are more important things on my mind right now."
"Like what?" Blackfire pouted.
"Rij'ze wants to remind this city's scum why they're so afraid of me in the first place," Nightwing answered.
"That's almost as good as sex," Blackfire remarked.
"Like I said, nymphomaniac," Raven muttered to Violet.
"I heard that, little bluebird," Blackfire sneered.
"Ravens are blackbirds," Raven retorted.
Nightwing sighed. This was exactly why he never had foursomes, or threesomes where the other two were Raven and Blackfire. It was just a headache to have to keep them from trying to outdo each other all the time. At first, he'd found it perversely adorable, and had certainly gotten his own jollies out of it while in the bedroom, but it started grating on him how neither could bring themselves to some form of civility in the other's presence.
"I'm gonna go out," he said, slipping out of Blackfire's embrace and standing up. He looked to his team. "You guys can escort Violet out." In a blur of lightning-like black fire, he was gone out the door that would have led to his civilian identity's apartment, said door closing before Violet could get a good look inside, jumping out the window of said apartment. He plummeted twenty stories before landing on the street in a crouch, diffusing his power so that he didn't cause even a small earthquake with his landing yet tapping enough of it to hold his bones and muscles together through that landing.
Time to go to work, Rij'ze whispered.
End Notes: The title is actually German for "Black Dragon Fire." Violet is not exactly an OC, but a fusion of a character that appeared in Chuck Dixon's post-Infinite Crisis run on Robin and a member of Catwoman's supporting cast in her comic. If you want to know who that character is, you're just going to have to keep reading. "Angelica Blaze" is not an OC, either, just an obscure character from the DC Comics mythos. You'll find out what she's about soon enough, and both she and Violet will have significant roles to play in this story. If you're curious, your wait for the next chapter will not be long, and your patience will be rewarded. In the meantime, thanks for reading.