AU. Life is tough. What mask you wear to face it is up to you. Garfield Logan centric, minor Robin/Starfire.
Disclaimer: I don't own the Titans franchise, I'm just helping myself to the ready-made characters and viewing them through a shattered looking glass. It's fun. Happy Halloween.
Slade stood beside his throne, looking down at the HIVE headmistress. His hands were clasped behind his back, his mask was on, and there was nothing about his stance that could help her decide whether he was murderous, or merely irritated.
"I assure you," she said, doing her best to keep her voice steady, "such failures are not tolerated within the HIVE." She paused, in case Slade wished to say anything. He did not. "Once the agents have been retrieved from the authorities, they will be disciplined." She hit her fist into the palm of her other hand. She flinched back a little, when Slade narrowed his eye, and cleared her throat. "Strictly disciplined."
Slade finally moved, walking down several steps so his eye level was only three feet above hers, instead of five. "Actually, your agents served my plans quite well. I never expected them to succeed. They were merely messengers. And the message has been received."
He shifted, until he was holding one hand up for the headmistress's perusal. It was a transmitter, a sibling to the one he had given Gizmo. She looked from the transmitter to his masked face, and then back.
Behind the mask, Slade smirked, and activated the transmitter. A monitor behind the headmistress turned on.
She turned, and her eyes widened at the sight. Robin, holding Gizmo in the air. The tape seemed to be stuck on a loop, playing so Robin's words- 'who is Slade?'- repeated over and over.
Slade turned the monitor off by turning off the transmitter. "The team has done exactly as I hired them for. The money has already been transferred to the drop off point." He walked down the last few steps, and nodded his head in the direction of the door. "Allow me to show you out."
"Y-yes. Thank you. Most kind of you." The headmistress clutched one hand at her throat, and followed Slade out.
He opened the door for her, and escorted the headmistress to her car. "Have a good day, Adeline," he said, nodding his head in a way that suggested a bow. The headmistress paled, and drove just a little fast down the road. Slade's smile was hidden by the mask.
When he returned, he glanced over at a shadowed corner. "You were listening?"
"That was dramatic." The boy tilted his head back, and stared up at the ceiling. "And a waste of time."
"Do I need to remind you of the terms of our contract?"
"Hardly," the boy drawled. "Evaluate the Titans. Eliminate them. Kiss Brotherhood butt."
Slade blinked, and smirked. "Not that last one." Where did the boy get his ideas?
"Oh, good. I doubt the gorilla bathes."
Rage shall consume all! Rage shall destroy all! Rage shall rip that disgusting HIVE into pieces for throwing us from our tower!
Raven forced down unreasonable anger- making a mental note to slap Rage in chains as soon as she could meditate- and gestured with one hand. The disarray in her closet neatened, the rumpled leotards and cloaks lifting up off the floor, or floating off the hangers. Everything would have to be washed, of course. As she watched, the tangled sheets and blankets pulled away from the bed. The mattress covers followed, wrapping around everything else and floating over to set down next to the door, awaiting a trip to the laundry room.
She sucked in a breath, and clenched her teeth. It was reasonable, she thought, to be irritated at the invasion of her privacy. It was certainly reasonable to be dismayed at the amount of damage one pink haired witch had done to her room and her belongings. But it was most certainly not reasonable to imagine ripping said pink haired witch's intestines out and strangling her with them!
Rage! She snapped, mentally. That is enough! If you cannot be 'constructive', you will be silent. And constructive does not mean thinking up new ways to torture the H.I.V.E!
She felt Rage mutter, and drift into a distant corner of Raven's mind, taking away a great deal of the anger. There was still plenty left, thanks to Bravery and Rude, but Wisdom had them well in hand. There would certainly be no nonsense with power surges, not with only those two to worry about, at least.
Raven sighed, and closed her eyes. There was a great deal of damage done to her room. Quite apart from her clothing and bedclothes, everything Raven owned was on the floor, broken in some way. Her tragedy-comedy masks were on the floor, split apart. It would likely be an easy fix, though not while her powers continued to fluctuate as her Emotions warred amongst themselves.
Raven jumped, her powers reaching out and snapping several of her already broken incense sticks. "Yes, Starfire?" she asked, gathering up the incense pieces and moving them over to the trash can. She could already see that she would need a bigger can, or better yet, a bag.
"I was wondering if you would go to the mall of shopping with me."
Raven looked over her shoulder, and sighed. Starfire was standing on the floor, not floating, hands clasped before her chest and her eyes large and liquid looking.
A harder soul then Rave's would have given in at the look Starfire gave her. "I have to replace several things. When I am done cleaning up, we will go," Raven told her.
"Thank you!" Starfire lit up, lifting several inches into the air. "This is most glorious! I am certain you will enjoy yourself."
"Quite. But I have to clean up now."
"Of course. I shall be cleaning in the room of the television for when you are done."
Raven turned back to her room, and shifted the incense burner over to the trash can. Cracked in half, just what had that witch been doing, hexing everything?
She finally headed to the kitchen, with the simple goal of getting a garbage bag. Save her bed and bookshelves, there was nothing salvageable in her room. The spells she had placed on her bookshelves appeared to have stood up admirably against whatever forces Jinx had hit them with, as had the spells on the bed. A good investment, those spells, Raven decided. They didn't just work against her occasionally destructive powers.
I told you they would be useful, Wisdom murmured, before subsiding. Raven gave a mental nod of agreement, pulling a garbage bag out of the box.
"Raven!" Starfire grinned. "Are you ready to depart?"
"Not just yet," Raven said. "I need to take out the trash. Then I'll be right with you."
It was tempting to work slowly, by hand. That was Rude's influence, of course, the Emotion least concerned with others. Raven shoved Rude aside, and gestured with both hands. The trash, which had been piled in the center of her room, lifted up and floated to the garbage bag, which had opened up and hung in the air, waiting.
In moments, she was finished. The garbage bag knotted itself, floating outside the room to rest against the far wall. The laundry bundle lifted into the air, then, heading down to the laundry room. Only the bedclothes would actually be washed. Raven's cloaks and leotards required only a little water to activate the cleanings spells she had cast on them.
Really, she was the most self sufficient Titan on the team. Her magic took care of most nuisances, such as dusting, or keeping the carpet in her room clean. And unlike some, she knew how to cook and clean up afterwards. Well, washing the dishes was accomplished by a small spell, but even if she didn't have magic, she would have managed better then either of the boys. Robin could cook- at least, he didn't set anything on fire, as Cyborg occasionally did- but he didn't know how to clean up after himself. And Cyborg… well, the less said about his cooking, the better.
"Starfire," she said, pausing in the doorway. "I'm ready to go."
Starfire lit up, and squealed. Her joy pressed on Raven's mental shield, as bright and strong as the alien herself. "You are? Glorious! Come, friend, let us go! Robin, Cyborg, is there anything you would like us to pick up?"
"No video games," Raven said. She pulled her hood up to shadow her face.
Robin shook his head. "In that case, we'll go ourselves. Thanks anyways, though."
"Where is Cyborg?" Raven asked, moving towards the windows. "In the garage?"
"Where else?" Robin said. "I don't know which he was more worried about- the lack of food, or what Gizmo might have done to his things."
Raven sighed. She supposed she would have to go grocery shopping, then. "Don't worry about the food. I'll take care of it."
With that, she lifted into the air, and followed Starfire out one of the open windows. She could just feel the beginnings of a headache at the base of her skull. In preparation for the crowds in her near future, she whispered a brief incantation that would strengthen her shields and lower her empathy. Even so, she doubted it would be much help. It never was.
"Apprentice!" Slade rubbed at his forehead. There was really only one place his apprentice would be, and yelling would get him nothing more than a headache. His apprentice liked to pretend that he had ordinary hearing, instead of the heightened senses Slade knew he had.
He walked towards the kitchen, and wasn't surprised to hear the sounds of eating. His apprentice was an active teenager in the midst of a series of growth spurts, yet seemed convinced that if he only ate just a little bit more he could gain muscle. Unlikely, considering the boy had always been a skinny little thing. Perhaps once his frame had finished developing, he would fill out, but until then his efforts were useless.
Then again, Slade thought as he regarded his apprentice, it might simply be just another growth spurt. Slade did remember his own growing years, not at all fondly. Hunger pains that felt worse than a fist to the stomach, aching joints, as if he had been seventy instead of seventeen, and hormones running rampant. It was no surprise that the boy ate so much, slept so much, and thought so little.
"Apprentice," Slade snapped. "Why are you not training?"
The boy looked up, and arched one eyebrow. It was a habit he had picked up from Wintergreen, some time in his childhood. He had also taken to calling the butler 'uncle', for some twisted reason Slade had yet to discover. "I finished my training."
"Did you? That was quick."
"When I know the katas off by heart, it'd better be. When am I going to do something new?" The boy took another bite of his lasagna.
"Tonight." Slade smirked, taking a great deal of enjoyment at how the boy's eyes bulged out as he chewed furiously.
Only after he'd swallowed did the boy speak. "Tonight? You mean it? What am I going to do?"
"You will infiltrate the Titans and gain their trust." Slade sat down at the table across from the boy. "And this is how you will do it."
The boy leaned forward, eyes shining, food forgotten, and smiled as Slade began to outline the plan.
Raven watched as the last of the groceries settled in their proper places. Out of necessity, she had neatened the kitchen as well, putting away appliances left out and setting aside the ones that were broken. Cyborg would want to look at them, and decide whether he wanted to try fixing them or not.
Especially the toaster. For some reason, Cyborg was a bit fond of it- perhaps because it had survived the two years that the Titans had already been together, perhaps because it was one of the few things he had brought to the tower. Raven did not pretend to understand her teammates, even with her empathy.
"I need to meditate," she muttered, rubbing at her forehead. She was starting to think in tangents, never a good sign.
She headed up for the roof. She tended to meditate up there, in good weather. It usually ensured her privacy, and it was certainly nicer then her room.
She paused, one hand on the stairwell door. "Yes, Robin?"
"Could you handle patrol tonight?" Robin raked a hand through his hair. It did nothing for his hair style, Raven noticed, simply made it look messier then it had. "Cyborg is running through our systems, looking for bugs, and I promised I'd pick him up a few things at the hardware store. And Star's going with me, for the heavier things."
Patrol? After fighting with the HIVE all day? "And you would prefer not to leave the city alone, is that correct?" she asked. Already she knew that, night patrol or not, she would be expected to join the morning training. Wonderful.
"Yeah. So, if you wouldn't mind…?"
"I don't mind. If you will excuse me, though, I have to meditate."
Robin nodded, and headed down the hall towards the elevator. Raven watched him go, before entering the stairwell. A moment later, and her soul-self flew up, wings moving through air and concrete stairs with equal ease. In a far shorter time then if she had taken the elevator, Raven had reached the roof. Her soul-self moved through the door, shrinking and solidifying into her physical form.
She moved over to a corner of the roof, and folded her legs in the lotus position. Meditation was easy, familiar and comforting.
One by one, she dealt with her emotions- Happy, nearly glowing from the trip to the mall with Starfire; Timid, terrified that Robin sending her off on patrol was simply a way to get rid of her; Rage, who was nearly incoherent and needed to be chained up and locked in Raven's mental basement; Rude, who made several suggestions that earned her the right to Raven's mental closet… On it went. It took perhaps an hour to finish dealing with the Emotions. After that, Raven was able to meditate without internal interruptions.
At six, she rose out of meditation, returning to the physical world. She opened her eyes, and winced a little. Of course she would be staring straight at the setting sun.
Raven flowed into her soul-self form, and dove down through the ceiling. She would make something to eat, give herself a half hour to digest, and then begin patrol.
The kitchen was empty. In fact, Raven realized, doing a quick, empathic search for her teammates, the entire Tower was empty. With that realization, Raven relaxed slightly. She opened the fridge, and pulled out the eggs. She was in the mood for an omelet. And while she trusted her teammates, she didn't feel comfortable around them when eating.
She had yet to figure out why, though. Perhaps it was Timid's influence and the fear of looking a mess.
She finished quickly, and washed the dishes before moving out to the living room. She had left a book out there. Time to see if it had survived.
It had, though the pages were badly bent and in several cases, ripped. A muttered spell put that to rights, though, and Raven settled in for a half hour of quiet reading.
By the time she was finished her half hour, the sky outside had darkened to a shade somewhere between violet and navy blue. Raven opened a window and then simply stood, admiring the view, before floating out into the open air. She shut the window behind her with a gesture, and then lifted higher, turning to face the city.
Jump City was alive with light and darkness. Many of the buildings were lit up. There were just as many shadows beneath those lit buildings, though, which was where Raven would concentrate her attentions.
She sighed, and flew out over the ocean to the city. She was hardly one to begrudge a few hours of patrol, especially when it was Jump City and she was a Titan- but she had left her book at an interesting part, Robin would insist on an early hour for morning training, and it was a night more suited to simply flying, not looking for trouble.
Nevertheless, Raven would do her duty.
Animal took a deep breath of city air, and tried not to gag. Great, he breathed in right while walking past an overflowing trash bin. Way to kill the old nose, Animal.
He snorted at himself, and shoved his hands in his pockets. Even the smell of rotting garbage wasn't nearly as offensive as it might have been. He was on his own, in Jump City's downtown, at 0200 hours. There was any number of lowlife degenerates around who could, at any moment, decide he had something worth stealing. He could handle them, he knew he could, but it was all about image, wasn't it?
"Emphasize your appearance. Wear clothing a size too big, hunch your shoulders, move like a skittish animal."
"Look like a victim."
Look like a victim. Not hard, not when his stomach was roiling from a mess of excitement and nerves, when he knew he didn't have Slade's watchful eye on him in case the situation went bad. In the dark, the color of his skin wouldn't be as noticeable. The points of his ears were hidden by his hair, worn just a little too long. Slade had always insisted on it, for those nights when Animal had to go out without his outfit.
There was a jewelry store up ahead, on the corner. A small one, the sort the middle class went to get their engagement rings and fancy pocket watches from. The door was open, and an alarm was blaring.
Wouldn't it be better if he looked like he wanted to be a hero? Wouldn't that get their attention? If he didn't get jumped- if he stopped a robbery, there'd be the police, reporters, he'd get his face in the news, they'd have to look in on him then, wouldn't they?
Wasn't that more reliable then trying to get into trouble? The Titans couldn't be everywhere, couldn't save anyone. He didn't even know if there'd be anyone patrolling at this hour.
Animal bit his lip. Slade had told him what to do. If he stopped the robbery, wasn't that like saying he knew better then Slade?
He looked around, and listened for sirens. He could hear better then a human, but not quite as good as Slade probably thought. His nose was better, his eyes better still.
Normal eyes would have never have picked out a blue cloak up in the air, at least five hundred feet back and up. Details weren't exactly available at that distance, but only a Titan would be flying around the city at night. Animal grinned, and turned back to the jewelry store. It wouldn't matter now if the cops were coming. There was a Titan in the air, the Titans responded to things like robberies when they were happening right under their noses.
Slade wouldn't have known there would be a Titan patrolling just as a jewelry store was being robbed. It was circumstance, that was all.
Animal rolled up his sleeves, and flexed his fingers. Cat claws extended from the tips.
He could look like a victim, but he'd never be one. Now, time to go play hero for the Titan audience.
Raven frowned a little at the alarm. She had just been ready to turn back and return to the tower. She needed her sleep. For a moment, she thought about passing it by. There would be patrol cars heading towards the store already, they'd get there in moments.
No. She could not in good conscience ignore the alarm. A Titan would put in an appearance. She just hoped no one expected her to be coherent.
The jewelry store was empty. Animal's ears twitched, and he half closed his eyes. He couldn't hear anything breaking in the backroom, but the thief had to have gone there. The only other place to go was the bathroom. The main room, with the cheep jewelry still in the cases, didn't even have so much as a mouse moving around.
He headed for the backroom.
There was nothing to warn him, no flicker from the corner of his eye, no touch, barely any sound. Just the softest footstep he'd ever heard and a whistling noise, something being brought down very fast.
Animal dove forward. He rolled and came up in a guard position, facing the thief.
The thief had been hiding in the washroom. The thief had a crowbar. And the thief was attacking.
Animal ducked several wild swings, and threw a punch. The thief blocked, and kicked him back onto one of the display cases.
Broken glass and fancy wrist watches dug into Animal's back. He ignored the scratches and got to his feet just in time to have them kicked out from under him. He came down hard on his elbow, and then grunted when the thief kicked him in the stomach.
Damn it! Hadn't he been trained by Slade, a master of martial arts if there ever was one? How was one common criminal managing to land so many hits?
He shifted into the form of a hyena, and snarled.
The thief brought the crowbar down on top of his head.
The fight blurred. Later, Animal wouldn't know whether it was because he was shifting forms so quickly, or because the thief had been so fast, or whether it had simply been because he'd almost lost control. His memories were more like photographs, taken by someone else, about an event he'd had nothing to do with.
He remembered being flung into another display case, of one big shard of glass digging into his shoulder and not having the time to pull it out.
He remembered turning into a cougar and swiping the thief's ribs, drawing blood, only to be kneed in the chin seconds later. The taste of his own blood in his mouth, because he'd bitten his tongue.
Shifting into a constrictor snake and moving fast, to immobilize and crush the enemy. The thief was faster, and stomped down on his ribs, hard.
At one point he was human, and the crowbar was coming at his knees, and for some reason he couldn't dodge.
And then he was flying through the air and something was shattering and he was so cold. So cold.
And then there was nothing.
She was tired. It was her only excuse. She had not flown fast enough and so a man had been thrown through a window. She could see a man running away from the back of the store, but given a choice between catching a criminal or saving a life, she chose the life.
Uselessly, she put on speed, arrowing down to the sidewalk. The first thing she checked was that the man had a heart beat. He did. The second thing she did was curse, as quietly and venomously as she could.
Calm yourself, Raven. You won't be able to help anyone if you don't, Wisdom whispered.
Raven nodded, and took several deep breaths. She couldn't go after the person who had run away. The man in front of her was badly injured, would die if she didn't do something. She couldn't just leave him.
She'd have to heal him.
She took another breath, one that shuddered the slightest bit, and then called the healing energy to her fingertips. The taste of mint filled her mouth, and every breath she took tingled in the back of her throat.
She ran her glowing hands over the man's head and through his hair, dislodging shards of glass. Blood stained her hands, but she could feel the many slices in his scalp closing up. There was a knot the size of her fist on top of his head, and one twice that on the back. She healed both, and moved her hands to his neck. His spine wasn't broken, but there was some bruising around it, possible nerve damage from some of the slices. She healed it, and moved down to his chest.
He had broken ribs. They weren't life threatening, so Raven left them alone. She could feel her energy start to flag as she worked, and she needed to focus only on what would kill him if left untreated. She checked his pelvis, which wasn't broken, and ran her hands down his legs.
One knee was shattered, the other dislocated and cracked. She partially healed the broken knee, and continued down to his feet, which were unharmed. She moved back up and checked his arms, which were mottled with bone bruises, but weren't broken. She left the bruises alone and sat back on her heels.
He should have been waking up by now. If he'd had a concussion, she'd healed it. At the very least she should sense some awareness from him, unconsciousness moving to sleep.
His back, one of her Emotions whispered. You didn't check his back.
Of course, she thought back. There was all the glass in his hair, how could I have forgotten?
As gently as possible, Raven rolled the man over onto his stomach, and hissed despite herself. His back was a mess of cuts and blood. There were still shards of glass in the wounds.
She couldn't leave the glass in his back, but she couldn't let go of the healing energy either. She couldn't use her magic while healing. She would have to pluck each piece of glass by hand, and hope she didn't slice her fingers open and get an infection.
She started with the largest pieces, for they were the easiest to get. Though, 'large' was simply by comparison. The largest piece was in his shoulder, and the most she could touch was the size of her thumbnail, slippery with blood and sharp enough to cut. She managed to get it out though, and sealed the injury with one glowing finger.
In the end, she removed the largest pieces of glass, and healed the worst of the cuts. She had no energy for anything more. He would have to go to the hospital, and the doctors would have to get the rest of the glass out. She had just enough energy to fly to the Tower, and that was it.
She sat back on her heels again, just as the police cars pulled up. The healing hadn't taken as long as she had thought, then. Only five minutes, perhaps, from landing beside the injured man, to running out of energy.
"Raven! Do you know what happened here?" One of the police officers stepped forwards, one hand on his gun.
"Someone tried to rob the jewelry store, I don't know who. He threw this man out through the window, and I was a little distracted making sure he didn't die."
Raven stood up, and nearly fell to one knee. The officer grabbed her elbow and held her steady until she had her feet back under her.
"It was a good thing for him that it was you out on patrol tonight, then," the officer said, and stepped back. "I think you should get back to your tower, get some rest. Don't worry about him."
Raven nodded her accord and lifted into the air.
She sighed, and looked over. "Yes?"
It was a different police officer. Robin knew all their names, she thought, and then wondered why she cared. There were four police officers. One had brown hair, one had blonde, one was a girl, and one was black. She didn't need names to tell them apart. The blonde had helped her keep her feet, the girl was kneeling by the injured man and shining a flashlight on him, the other two were securing the scene.
"If it's his remaining injuries, I am aware of them," Raven said. "I imagine a stay in the hospital will take care of-"
"That's not it." The female police officer gestured Raven closer; despite herself, Raven floated over, and frowned.
"Is his skin green?" she asked.
"Yeah. I think this one's yours. The hospital can't take any more patients, their beds are full up." Meaning, of course, the hospital wouldn't take any more meta-human patients, especially not after that one pyrokinetic had tried to burn down the building.
Raven sighed, and pulled out her communicator. The only consolation was she would be getting Robin out of bed.