"The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it." -Oscar Wilde
To Catch a Raven
By Lynx Klaw
Chapter 5: Step 12 (Epilogue)
Step 12: So Now You Have a Raven... Now What?
She threaded her fingers through one of the soft, pink horns of hair. So soft. As she moved her hand to stroke her sleeping lover's neck, the girl didn't so much as stir. That alone spoke of how tired she must have been. They had made love to each other for the better part of the night. Now it was 3 AM and Kamala was almost immediately out after their last romp.
Raven was sated. In her current form, however, there was no lack of stamina. She was as rested as if she'd awoken a handful of hours ago. The demi-Demon slipped off the bed and wandered over to her closet. After rummaging around in the rarely used section of civilian clothes, she snagged a white tee shirt with a smiley face (that had a bullet hole in its head) that nearly swallowed her and came to her knees.
In a medium-sized trunk, she found some black, drawstring shorts. She didn't remember ever acquiring them, but some of these things were merely taken from previous missions as possible undercover outfits. Once washed, Raven generally threw them in the back and forgot about them. Now that she thought about it, she shouldn't be surprised to find all manner of strange clothing in here...
Deeming herself modest--or as modest as she cared to be--she left the room. The barefoot heroine padded to the common room, and then to the kitchen. There she sensed another, but ignored him in favor of making a beeline for the fridge. The raid took all of thirty seconds.
She pulled out five steaks--they were Victor's of a certainty, but hers now. The stove blazed to life with a vague gesture in its direction. A large, non-stick pan later, she was warming them... Only warming them. The mystic Titan wanted them as close to mooing as possible.
The violet-haired teen wouldn't have done this in front of Kamala, knowing her girlfriend's religious views on the matter. However, the compulsion for meat--dripping and raw--demanded satisfaction. There was a slight impulse to abandon any form of utensil and snatch up the meat with her bare hands, feel it warm and bleeding on her fingers... but she felt no need to go that far. She was not some mindless beast, after all.
"Mm?" she noised.
A plate, fork, and knife floated over to the table; the steaks followed. The pan transported itself over to the sink and Raven sank into the chair across from the teen hiding in the shadows. The only light came from the one above the coffee table in the common room--and it didn't stretch far enough to reach him.
It didn't matter, her sight--even without the lights--picked out the Boy Wonder clear as day. She didn't deign to look at him. The scent of the bloody meat held her attention. The demi-Demon immediately set into it. She could feel the eyes upon her... but he should know by now that she didn't fluster easily.
A soft growl of pleasure issued as she savored the taste of the steak. All four eyes closed and a sigh only further articulated her contentment.
She swallowed her bite and smiled lightly, "My room."
"She fell asleep."
"That's not what I mean," he retorted doggedly.
Another bite, more happy growling.
Richard glared austerely in silence, but she kept on eating. His fist clenched and bit out words through gritted teeth.
"Look at me, damnit! I need to know what happened, Raven." He paused, trying to moderate his temper, "I can't lead the team properly if I'm not aware of the changes in its dynamics. I have to be steadfast and flexible at the same time. That's impossible if we don't work with each other."
"Kamala's not one of your Titans... you can't make demands of her. I won't let you, Richard. I have her, now. She's mine."
"Yours?" he inquired with deceptive softness.
"Mine," she rejoined with a hint of growl underlining her words.
She stabbed a piece of meat with her fork.
He replied slowly, as though she were a small child, "She's not an object, Raven. You can't own her like one."
Her upper-left eye ticced. Before she became too angry, however, an answer provided itself from memory--one almost lost during her heated coupling with Kamala.
"She's mine and I'm hers," she stated with finality.
Raven finished two of the steaks before he spoke up again. When he did, he sounded much less agitated than before. Whatever it was that he had worked out in that sleuthing head of his seemed to have appeased him.
"You're different," the Titans leader stated the obvious, "Is it anything to worry about?"
The violet-haired demi-Demon inspected her black claws on red fingers, "I suspect these changes are temporary... I'm not worried."
"That's what worries me. It's not just physical, it's you're mental state."
She gave him a pointed, quadruple stare, "You always suggest that I should I relax and enjoy myself. Now that I am, you want me to crawl back in my shell. ...Make up your mind."
"Damnit, Raven, quit twisting my words around!"
With an exasperated sigh, she tucked into her last remaining steak. Several bites later, she stood up and went for some coffee. She typically didn't drink it, but she was in an adventurous spirit tonight. The heroine returned with a mug and brought it back. A sniff at the liquid had her sitting back from its strong scent. It wasn't unpleasant, though...
"Fine," she speared the last bite of meat--this time with a claw tip. After popping it into her mouth, she licked the claw clean, "I'll work it out tomorrow, but for now I want to enjoy it."
She stalked off with her mug, pausing at the door to take a sip of it. Raven halted and stared into the cup, raising a brow. It had an interesting taste--just about the same as it smelled. When she reverted to her standard self, she wasn't sure if she would like it any more than the blue rare steak... Still, it was something to keep in mind for times like this.
The red-skinned demi-Demon headed for her room. Already, the meat was having a sedating effect upon her. Maybe now she could curl up with Kamala and sleep until late morning. When the mystic Titan got there, she was already yawning. Raven crawled onto the bed and wrapped herself around her lover. Nuzzling Kamala's neck, she closed her eyes and smiled.
Noon on Sunday saw everyone finally awake. The Titans were about doing their own thing, so it had been decided that they would fend for themselves for lunch. Richard, having already eaten, was doing some routine upkeep on his computer. When a communications notification appeared, he quickly answered. There was no video feed provided, but he instantly recognized the voice.
#Richard, has Raven picked up a social life, recently?#
His brows rose, "Barbara, good to hear from you... Um, you could say that... Why, has something popped up on your grid?"
#Something's popped up everywhere,# she said, sending him a link--to YouTube of all places.
#Just watch. It's all over the net; youtube, myspace, forums, viral vids... you name it.#
He did. The quality wasn't exceptional, but it was more than adequate to show a floating table. Seconds later, it turned to show a full two minutes of the most seductive and erotic dancing he'd seen in... well, probably ever. The sticking point, however, was the pink-haired girl--whose face wasn't revealed--and her hot dancing partner... the one with four eyes. The Boy Wonder sat there quietly for several seconds after the video ended, just staring at the title: 'Dirty Dancing Demon.'
Its current hits since upload around midnight: over 400.
His head fell on the console, banging several times.
#Dick... what's that sound?#
"Our publicity's slow and agonizing demise," he replied with a pained groan.
#There's a chance no one will recognize her outside those who know her that well. She usually has that hood, right?#
"Jinx's got her to wear it down more often."
Before it could be discussed further, the door to the common room opened, permitting Raven. She was still in her mostly Demonic form. Richard frowned; it was supposed to have been a temporary thing. Behind her, Kamala wandered in complacently.
"I'll call you back, Barb," he said, turning to face the mystic Titan, "Raven."
The demi-Demon in question glanced his way. Today she wore her pants from last night and a black hoodie with sleeves that terminated in fingerless gloves; underneath it, she had a purple sports tank--not that he could have known. After last night's success, she had taken a closer look at the clothes that cluttered the non-uniform section of her closet. The hood was down.
Still red-skinned and black-clawed, she veered over to him and stared at him with those quadruple eyes. There was no hint of contrition in Raven's stance or expression, nothing that belied she felt ill at ease with him. She was treating the issue as though he wanted her to go grocery shopping.
This blasé attitude seemed to perturb the bird-boy...
Running his fingers through his hair, Richard looked at her with a miserable expression of exasperation, "You told me you would try to change back this morning."
She blinked at him, "...I didn't feel like it."
The teen sleuth developed a twitch under his left eye. The hex-caster hung back, watching the exchange with interest. She was in a simple black jacket over a pink tee shirt with a blue, cartoon bunny. The caption on the shirt read: 'Cute but psycho. Things even out.' Kamala's jeans were a faded blue with black hearts and lightning bolts that she drew with permanent marker several months ago.
"...I take it you're planning on going out."
"Mm," she noised in assent.
"Before you go, what do you have to say about this?" Richard asked as he played the YouTube video.
By its conclusion, Raven was grinning. "That was fun..."
Kamala went red in the face. She hadn't intended for anyone to see that! Where the Hell had the video come from? About to die from mortification, her only consolation was that there were no names tagged to the event, just yet. Hopefully, none would be! Raven seemed solely unconcerned, but she figured that was natural for the time being. A carefree Raven was truly something to behold.
She could tell that Robin was about as thrilled with it as she was. They couldn't do anything about it, though; so why harp on it? It was probably best just to prepare for the worst-case scenario and let the chips fall where they may.
"That's not the point, Raven. This could be damaging to our reputation--which has an impact on how official law enforcement views our activities. They accept and aid our vigilantism because it suits them. We can't afford to alienate allies and resources!"
"Even police officers take breaks from time to time, Robin. We didn't break any laws or cause any trouble... I don't see why anyone should bother with it."
The Titans leader looked fit to explode, but a chime sounded on the com that drew his attention. It was a local number and the screen automatically pulled up the city map with the location and name of the store. It was Karasu's, a local jewelry shop. At the mere sight of it, Kamala winced.
'Oh, this does not bode well.'
Robin answered immediately, "Titans Tower, Robin."
#Hello, Robin, this is Sasaki Mizuki. My husband, Katsuo, and I own the jewelry store, Karasu's.# Her voice had a moderate, Japanese accent, but her English was impeccable and cultured. #I have been searching for a... Kamala Malti. The police referred me to a judge, who informed me that she could be reached this number.#
"She is holding temporary residence here, yes," he said, turning around to face Kammie. He mouthed to her, 'What did you do?'
She held her hands up, shook her head slowly, and mouthed back, 'Nothing!'
"If you wouldn't mind waiting, I can page her," he said.
#No, I do not mind. Please do.#
He hit the mute button and looked at her, "...It's your call, but you should probably take it. If nothing else, I'm here as the leader of the Titans and Raven is here as your probation officer."
"I don't understand! I didn't do anything! I haven't even gone near the store since my arrest!" she whined hysterically, running her hands through her hair. One of her hair bands fell out during the motion. Raven bent down to pick it up.
"We know that... so they can't cause any trouble for you--just stay calm," he placated, then switched off the mute button, "A moment more, Mrs. Sasaki; she's on her way."
#Thank you, Robin.#
He switched the mute on once more, "If they make any accusations, we'll coach you through dealing with it. Between us, you'll be fine. ...Are you ready?"
Taking a deep breath, the ex-villainess centered her mind and focused herself on the goal of handling Mrs. Sasaki. Kamala nodded and he switched the microphone back on.
"Hello, this is J--Kamala."
#Ms. Malti,# Mizuki said, making the pink-haired girl wince at the title, #This is Mrs. Sasaki from Karasu's. Would you mind if I asked you a few questions?#
The sorceress paused, frowning. That was an odd way to start and it still left her in the dark. However, she could play ambiguously vague and beat around the bush with the best of them.
"No, but I can't guarantee I'll have the answers," Kammie replied diplomatically.
#Do you have any knowledge of precious stones and metals--specifically jewelry?#
Even though the call was by phone and had no video, she glared at the screen. At the moment, she could be candid... but this odd question had her raking her brain for the reason why Mrs. Sasaki would ask such a thing.
"...Probably more than I would care to admit. I know general price ranges, rarity, composition... color, cut, clarity, carat, and Millesimal fineness. I'm familiar with various classifications of precious and semi-precious gems. I don't have any experience in creating, repairing, or fitting jewelry, though.
"I'm also aware of their mystical resonance and compatibility with various spells including charming, cursing, enchantments, warding, and containment. I can use them in a variety of ways--concoctions, incantations, divinations, rune-stone magic, wards, charms, curses, and containers. I've made containers for stored magic reservoirs, small pocket-dimensions for physical storage, um... That's about it," the hex-caster said, then mentally added, 'Not including the best ways and places to fence 'em all, of course.'
Kamala knew she had rambled at the woman, but maybe if she overwhelmed the woman, she would be left alone. It helped that metals and gems were part of her magical studies and it gave her a more-than-adequate background on these sorts of things. There was a quiet moment while Mizuki assimilated everything. The response put her off even further, as her tactic seemed only to entice the elderly storeowner even more.
#I must say your qualifications are more than I expected. Do you have any formal education or are you self-taught?#
Robin was observing her in that dissecting way again. It was making her nervous--making her ramble more than she really wanted. She hated that unflinching, stony stare!
"It's... it's mostly," she cleared her throat, "self-taught--er--on the job training. It was quite thorough, though."
That was a good way to put it, she felt. Kamala admitted to nothing she wasn't required to about her illegal escapades. She hadn't even told the police the full extent of her crimes and never intended to do so. The crimes she committed and revenue she had generated over the years were no one's business but her own.
Her mention of thorough knowledge was only to dissuade the woman from trying to pull the wool over her eyes. She knew her stuff and there was no way some gem shop crone was gonna pull a fast one on her! Once again, luck was not with her; the comments kept fanning the flames, somehow.
#Good, very good,# the woman said.
Kamala facepalmed herself, 'Damnit, how do I shake her?'
#I would like to set up an interview with you. I could use someone who knows the trade to cover sales. Your presence last week has caused an influx of new customers. What I am suggesting is not some publicity stunt, however, Ms. Malti. It is an honest job and requires dedication and care.
#There is a starting position of temporary assistance with one of my employees for a period of one month. If you do well, then you may work in the sales area as a full-time employee... This is all dependent upon the interview, of course. Are you available Monday morning?#
"..." the pink-haired teen stood in shock for several seconds. When Kamala came out of it, she exclaimed, "Are you serious? ...I-I mean, yes--yes I am."
#Very well, then perhaps we can hold an interview over brunch. Please meet me at Karasu's at 9:15.#
"Yes, ma'am," Kamala managed to say.
Immediately after Mizuki hung up, Kamala found herself swung around in a wide circle and then soundly kissed senseless by her girlfriend. Still reeling from the implications of the phone call, her brain decided to go on vacation. Raven growled softly with delight into Kamala's ear.
"I knew you could do it," the demi-Demon told the hex-caster, "Now, let's have a preemptive celebration of your new job with a special lunch!"
With that, the two girls sank into a pool of darkness.
"Raven, wait! ...Shit," Robin grumbled as she teleported away, but he was too late. Now Jinx and a Demonic Raven were wandering the streets. In light of recent events, though, maybe--just maybe--luck would be on their side.
Short and sweet. This is the end of To Catch a Raven. I'm happy with where this ends because it leaves lots of things open. I fully intend to explore them, too... if only in my imagination. By now, you all know that I love sharing my imagination; so if you'd like to see what I've got in store for Jinx and Rae--not to mention the rest of the Titans, by all means let me know in your reviews!
Hm. I wonder what I'll call that sequel? Now's a good a time as any for me to start considering it. I think I'll title it "No Laughing Matter." In the meantime, I'll let you ponder the possible significance to and implications behind that... because I'm evil.