There Will Be Laughter
A Teen Titans Fan-Fic
As the moon rose high into the night sky of Titan City, many of its' inhabitants were heading home for the time being, their minds set on the day that was to come. Some, however, enjoyed the solitude. Raven was one of these people.
As the darkest member of the Teen Titans, she rather enjoyed the silence and calm of the moonlit night. It was the perfect time to take a long walk and ponder whatever questions one may have on his or her mind – which was exactly what she was in the midst of doing.
As she walked the lonely streets, she wrapped her cloak around her body tightly, barring the cold from making her shiver. Her mind had no time to comment on the weather, as it was intently focused on the events that had transpired mere hours before…
"Why can't I have a little privacy?!" Raven snapped at her fellow Titans. "Every time I finally get comfortable, someone has to walk in with some kind of problem, question, or simply nothing better to do that annoy me, and I'm TIRED OF IT!"
"Hey!" Beast Boy shot back. "My question on whether or not you knew how to remove chocolate pudding from an intake manifold WAS important!"
This response got BB some strange looks from the other Titans.
"Why in the world would you want to know something like that?" Robin asked, befuddled.
"Uhhh…" Beast Boy stammered, realizing he had revealed more than his wanted to about a certain situation. "..Well, that's really not the issue right now. What's up is Raven's attitude!"
"I must admit also that Raven has been acting somewhat apprehensively for the past few days," Starfire spoke up. "Perhaps her emotional state has something to do with the strange communications she received a few nights ag-!"
The alien princess was cut off as Raven clamped a hand over her mouth, her eyes wide open and her gray skin burning. Mentally, she resolved never to share any private issues with Starfire in the near future unless she was sure the girl could keep them private for more than a few hours.
Robin looked at Raven, suspicion in his eyes. Raven had always been rather private, but he had never seen her so worked up about a situation. Something was bothering her, but she was too proud to let on. "What communications is Starfire talking about, Rae?" he asked.
For a moment, it seemed as if Raven was at a loss for words. Suddenly, her eyes narrowed and her face contorted in rage. "It's none of your business!" she cried. "Now, everybody…just…LEAVE ME ALONE!"
With that, Raven stormed off to her room, leaving the rest of the Titans to their own accord.
'Something's seriously wrong here,' the Boy Wonder thought to himself. His train of thought, however, was interrupted as he saw Cyborg charging towards the elevator.
"Cyborg, where are you going?" he asked.
The Titan turned and looked at the caped hero, an expression of panic on his face. "After BB's question about chocolate pudding in an intake manifold, I think I need to check on the Cy-Car!" he said.
As the elevator doors shut, Robin chuckled to himself. It was then that he saw Raven emerge from her room, the hood of her cloak pulled up. It was evident that she wasn't planning on a cozy night indoors.
"Where are you headed?" he asked her, being careful not to upset her further.
"Out." Raven's voice was a sharp as a dagger. "Here."
As she spoke, the boy felt something being pushed into the palm of his right hand. Looking down, he realized that he was holding Raven's communicator.
"Raven, what's the meaning of this?" he asked her, trying to find her eyes in the darkness of her cloak.
"So you can't track me or bother me," she said, dryly. "I will return when I feel it's time. Until then, I'm a ghost."
As she turned to leave, Robin grabbed her shoulder and spun her back to back him. He was somewhat taken aback as he saw the girl's eyes shine bright white from under the hood.
"You know, I could send you through the wall, and there'd be nothing you could do about it," she snarled.
"But you won't." Robin's voice held the same hard edge as her own.
The light slowly faded from Raven's eyes, revealing a more somber expression from the shadows. "Forgive me," she said quietly. "I am…not myself."
"I know," Robin said, his voice becoming softer. "Here."
A moment later, the girl was again wearing her communicator as the boy reaffixed it to the shoulder of her cloak. "I promise, none of us will follow you unless you send for us, alright?"
Despite his words, Raven still felt uncertain.
"Alright then," she said after a moment's hesitation. "But only if I personally call for you, comprende?"
Robin smiled. "Completely," he said.
Raven managed a faint smile back, and headed towards the elevator.
Raven shook her head, clearing her mind of the incident. Now was not the time to dwell on those events. The main thing on her mind was and had been the strange communications she had indeed received a few nights before in her dreams. While average people would most likely have blown off any strange occurrences in their dreams, Raven's history as a psychic and oracle gave these dreams meaning. She had foreseen the destruction of Earth at her own hands, guided by her father Trigon, years before the event even began to take shape – though she had never informed the Titans of the prophecy until she was certain that it was coming true. For her, strange dreams were not nightmares – they were visions.
This vision had been disturbing to say the least. Raven was so wound up she felt like she could jump to the moon. It had depicted a dark figure, standing in an abandoned warehouse, beckoning to her. She could not make out the figure's face, but in its' hand was an object. This object had been long, and arched back to a tip.
As she walked on, Raven contemplated this item: it could have been a dagger, or even a sword, or maybe even a –
The girl stopped dead in her tracks. An interesting image had suddenly floated into her mind.
"What?" she muttered to herself. "But that's not threatening at all. It couldn't be…"
Suddenly, her eyes began to take in the view around her, unclouded by her thoughts. As she took in the scene, she felt a chill run down her spine.
Somehow, in some way, Raven's mind had led her to the same warehouse that had been depicted in her dreams. She hesitated, wondering if her visions were of something more horrifying than she knew. What if it had been visions of …her death?
Taking a deep breath, Raven set her jaw. Whatever she was looking for was inside of this building, and she had to find it. Summing up her courage, she pushed open the rusted door of the warehouse, and slipped into the darkness inside.
The warehouse lingered with the smell of dust and rusted metal. It had been condemned by the city four years ago for not being up to code, but the city had never quite gotten around to demolishing it. Since then, it had served as a hideout for would-be criminals – at least, until then found a more permanent residence in the county jail thanks to the Teen Titans.
'The Titans', Raven thought to herself as her eyes adjusted to the dark. 'Maybe I could use their help after all…No. This is my fight, and I have to walk this path alone.'
Still, as she made her way through the darkened building, she had the feeling that she was not alone. Every nerve in her body twitched as she delved deeper into the darkness.
Suddenly, a voice rang out across the building, echoing out from among the walls: "Raven, I'm glad you came. Now we can get down to business."
The Titan hid her ever-growing fear as she shouted back: "And just what business might that be?!"
To her horror, she felt the presence of someone near her. Before she could react, she heard a voice whisper softly into her ear, saying "You'll find out soon enough, my dear."
Suddenly, there was a horrible THUD, and the back of Raven's head exploded in sheer pain.
As Raven slowly opened her eyes, she was greeted with darkness. The back of her head still throbbed with every heartbeat, and she was groggy from the blow. To the best of her observation, she had been stretched out on a cold steel table. Her body shivered as her exposed skin began sending stimulation back to her brain.
"Ow, jeez, my head is killing me," she muttered to herself as shifted on the table. That was when the realization sunk it: her wrists and ankles had been shackled down to the table! Flexing all the muscles in her arms, she pulled with all the strength she could muster. Nothing budged.
"Great," she growled under her breath. "Just peachy."
At that moment, a cool breeze floated through the empty warehouse and over her body. It was with sheer terror that Raven learned she was more exposed than her outfit normally let her be. The sleeves of her leotard had been cut off right at the shoulders, and the midsection had been torn away. The result left the Titan in something resembling a sports bra and underwear.
"What in the hell…?" Raven had never been one for exposing her flesh. She had left that job up to Starfire. It wasn't that her body was flawed or less attractive than the Tameranean's – far from it. It was just that she had never been the type of person who wanted to show off her body. The fact that someone else would have the gall to expose her for their own amusement made her blood boil.
She blinked a few more times. Her eyes were slowly becoming adjusted to the darkness, and she could make out the shadow of a nearby chair. She could tell the outline of her cloak draped over one corner of the furniture, but on the seat sat a pair of objects she couldn't quite identify. What else could she have been wearing that would come in a pa…
Raven's eyes grew wide as her troubled brain worked to through the pain to give her the answer: Her boots. The pair of objects sitting haphazardly on the chair was her boots. Not only had her attacker bared her body, he had bared her soles as well!
'What's going on here?' she thought to herself. 'Is this some kind of sick twisted ritual? What happens now? Do they set me on fire and sacrifice me to the evil demigod of the week? Or worse? Forget this; I'm not sticking around here long enough to find out!'
Closing her eyes, the Titan began her mystic chant, the chant that would allow her to conjure up her otherworldly powers and escape this situation: "Azarath, Metrion, Zinthos!"
The words reverberated off the walls of the warehouse, and then all was still. A moment passed. Raven remained strapped to the table.
"What?" Raven shuddered involuntarily. Her emotional state should have had no bearing on her spell casting. Even more so, her powers were amplified by her emotions, so they should have erupted with enough force to bring the entire building down. Yet, nothing came from the words she had grown to trust with her power for so long.
Dumbfounded, she tried again, this time even louder: "AZARATH METRION ZINTHOS!!" Again, nothing.
'What's wrong?' she asked herself, trying to quench the fear that was slowly working its' way through her body. 'Why can't I use my powers?'
Suddenly, she heard a deep voice bellow from the darkness, "Azarath, Metrion, Zinthos!" This version, however, seemed to be of a jocular nature, as if the darkness itself was taunting Raven for being unable to use her powers.
Before the Titan could muster a response, the lights of the old warehouse sprang to life, blinding her temporarily. As she fought to identify her surroundings, she heard the deep voice from before laughing manically, saying "I don't understand the trouble! It worked fine for me!"
Something in the back of the girl's head clicked, and she realized whose voice was taunting her from the darkness. She groaned, feeling more foolish by the second.
"I don't believe it," she muttered. "Control Freak…"
The fat, unshaven man in the duster and Vulcan ears smirked at the mention of his name.
"Yessss…" he hissed, grinning. "I am the fury that bleeds from the battle torn, I am the master of all syndication, I am…"
"An irritating and overweight sci-fi fan boy," Raven finished for him.
Control Freak sighed, resembling a sail that had lost all its' wind. "You know," he said, angrily, "the whole idea behind making such a dramatic speech is NOT TO STATE THE OBVIOUS!"
"Cut to the chase, Freak-boy," Raven said, narrowing her eyes. "What's going on? Why can't I use my powers?"
A smile returned to the face of the villain, as he now had time to gloat about his new toy.
"I'm glad you asked, Rae," he said, full of pride. "You seen, my new device allows me to short out your powers, leaving you with only your physical strength to escape a situation which, I'm sure we would both agree, is not exactly on par with Cyborg."
"Really?" the girl said. "Why don't you come over here and I'll show you just how physically inferior I am."
Control Freak may have been certifiable, but he wasn't stupid. "Sorry Raven, I'll have to take a rain check," he said, grinning. "As for you, as long as you remain on that table your amazing powers will be useless, so feel free to use any magical words you'd like. I'm partial to Klaatu Barada Nikto myself, but whatever words you use will be useless in your attempts to escape."
As much as Raven detested Control Freak, she knew that he was right. There was no use wasting time and energy escaping when she would probably need it for the events to come.
"Okay, so you got me and chained me down onto a table, so now what?" she asked, her tough front holding up under the uncertainty of what was to come. "Are you going to force me to watch all three extended versions of the Lord of the Rings movies?"
"Hey that is not funny!" the man retorted, rather annoyed. "Those movies kick ass! Everybody knows that!"
"Sure, whatever" Raven said, smirking. "I'll be sure to make the announcement if I ever visit a Dungeons and Dragons convention."
"Okay, THAT"S ENOUGH!" Control Freak's face was red, and contorted in fury. "You think you're so funny, don't ya? You think you're some kind of comedian, right?"
"I get by," the Goth girl retorted, still smirking.
To her surprise, a smile returned to the face of her adversary. "Well," he said. "What I plan on doing with you is simple. What I want…" he paused as he took a deep breath, "is to break you. I want you to beg me for mercy. I want you to scream for sanctuary. I want you to plead for forgiveness and when it is all said and done, I'm going to drop your crumpled heap right on the H.I.V.E.'s doorstep and let Brother Blood finish you off."
Despite fear nipping at her heels, Raven stood firm. "Why don't you finish me off yourself?" she asked.
Control Freak sighed. "That's just not who I am," he said, before adding, "Besides, if I kill you here, I'm stuck cleaning up the mess, and that will put a big damper on my Star Wars Marathon Sunday."
There was a moment of silence between the two. Then Raven narrowed her eyes, and glared at the tubby villain.
"You want to break me, eh?" she said. "Well, give it your best shot. My soul is tormented enough; I don't expect my body will break under interrogation."
Control Freak grinned at Raven's response. She was shooting off her mouth, and now it was time for her to be humbled.
"Oh, quite the contrary, Raven" he said, slowly moving down to the end of the table where the girl's bare feet were shackled in place. "I have this inkling feeling that your body is about to betray you."
With that said, he slowly placed a finger on each of Raven's exposed soles, and began gently scratching the arches.
The Titan nearly shot up off of the table. Every muscle in her body clenched and strained against the metallic bonds. Her eyes went wild with shock as her mind comprehended what was happening to her. 'No, not that,' she thought. 'He…He wouldn't…'
"Tell me something Rae," Control Freak's voice rang out from the end of the table. "Are you by any chance…ticklish?"
As he continued to run his fingers down her soft, silky soles, an unwilling grin began to form at the corners of Raven's mouth. She could not believe how sensitive her feet were. A lifetime more spent hovering over the ground rather than walking on it had left her feet in near perfect condition…something that she was now regretting.
'I…I don't believe this! He's going to tickle torture me!' she thought to herself as she fought to resist the mind-boggling sensations. 'This is humiliating! All this time – all my life, I spent it controlling my emotions, keeping myself from showing any more than I needed to…and now that fat bloated freak is planning to tickle me into insanity!' If Raven had been of sound mind at the time, even she would have to appreciate the irony of the situation.
"Oh, it seems we have a live one," the man laughed in glee. Even he had not been sure that this plan was going to work. It wasn't as if Raven laughed or allowed herself to be tickled every day. Still, he knew from her reactions that he had struck pay dirt, and he planned on mining her for every last drop.
After a few more moments he stopped and stood back, watching as Raven let out a sigh of relief and regained her composure.
"WHOO! Now wasn't that fun?" he said, tauntingly.
"S-Speak for yourself," the girl growled, shivering from the sensations.
"Awww, is li'l Raven upset because I was tickling her?" Control Freak cooed sarcastically. "See how close I came to reducing you to a pile of giggles simply by stroking your feet? I think tonight is going to be a late one."
"You're a real screwed up cookie, you know that?" Raven shot back, her tough demeanor returning in full. "Only a sad excuse of a villain thinks to tickle torture his captives. What's next, wet willies?"
"SILENCE!" the rotund fan boy exclaimed in his best Invader Zim impersonation. "It is time for me to unveil my newest toy, and you get to help me test it!"
"I'm so honored," the Titan remarked, sarcasm dripping from every word.
Ignoring her response, Control Freak danced merrily across the room to a control panel he had set up on top of another steel table. He punched a few buttons and pulled a lever. To Raven's surprise, she watched as a robotic arm housing four laser cannons descended from the ceiling. To her, it looked like the mobile from Hell.
"Now that I know you're susceptible to tickling, I think it's time I brought in the 'big guns'," the villain said, articulating the last two words of the sentence with quotation fingers a' la Dr. Evil.
As the Titan looked up at the steel contraption, she had a gut feeling that this was not going to end well on her behalf.
"These laser cannons are state-of-the-art," Control Freak began, ready to gush about his newest invention. "None of that 'Made in China' junk here. No siree, this baby was hand-crafted by yours truly and developed with the plan to attach it to a nuclear-powered robot which I would use to turn Titan Tower into nothing more than rubble."
Raven raised an eyebrow. "So why is it here hovering over me instead of sitting on some Megadoomer?" she asked.
Control Freak rubbed his forehead. "Well, I sorta ran out of funding for the robot, and the laser cannons required a lot more energy that I originally thought they would need," he said, sheepishly. "But, I did discover a new use for them."
"And what might that be?" the Titan asked.
With a flick of his wrist, the villain began positioning the cannons around Raven's helpless body: one aimed under each arm, one on her stomach, and one around her knees.
"I learned, with a little help from Jinx before she decided to run off to the 'goooood siiide', that with the power from a standard electrical current these cannons became capable of activating all the nerve endings within the vicinity of the beam's radius. A little fiddling with frequency and amperage, and lo and behold – Tickling Lasers!" Control Freak laughed heartily as he locked the cannons into place. "These devices are going to tickle the living hell out of you, and I am the only one who has the power to stop it. In this game, I will be your god!"
"You miserable little…I will not bow down to you, you sick freak!" Raven roared in a half-enraged, half-frightened voice.
"Ah, ah, ah – that's Control Freak, my dear," he said, grinning like the Cheshire Cat. He hovered his finger over the button, anticipating the moment of glory.
"Welcome to my world," he said as he activated the device.
The moment the lasers hit Raven's skin, she shot right up, her back arched in ticklish agony. There was no build up, no light feathery touches. Raven's ticklish flesh hit full throttle right out of the gates. A scream flew from her lips, and for a moment it seemed that her own augmented strength might have been capable of breaking her restraints. With nowhere else to go, however, she simply collapsed into the table in a fit.
"NOOOOAAHHAHAHAHHAAAAHAAAA!!!" she screamed. Nothing had ever felt this horrible. Even fighting her father Trigon for control of her own body had been a simpler challenge. In this battle, her body was completely useless, and her mind was being flooded with sensations the likes of which had never been experienced. "OH GOOOAHHAHHAHAHAHAHAAAAHAAHADDD! NOOAHAHHAAHAAHAAAA!"
Control Freak, however, watched Raven's tortured figure squirm under the lasers with glee. "Amazing," he said. "She's even more ticklish that I imagined. I'd better reduce the power…otherwise, I won't get to have any fun!"
As the villain reduced the power load on the device, the Titan could feel the sensation growing dimmer. However, her own hyper-sensitivity seemed to make up for what the cannons were lacking, as she continued to thrash and scream.
"EEEIHEEHEEHEEEHEEE! I-I-I'M NOT GIVING IN YEAHAHAHAHAAAHAET!" she screamed out, more as a mental reassurance to herself than a response to Control Freak.
"Oh really?" the man said, walking his way back up to the struggling girl. "Then perhaps it's time I join in on the fun!"
Raven's voice hit another octave as Control Freak scraped his nails down the soles of her feet, another sensation that joined the multitude that was eating away at her mental resolve. It seemed now that only time would tell when it broke.
As the moon rose even higher into the night sky, Robin sat atop Titan Tower, pondering the events from earlier and the conversation he had with Raven before her departure.
"I've never seen Raven so agitated in her entire life," he said to himself, staring out into the starlit skies. "Even during the darkest times she never showed as much anger towards others."
Anger. Robin mulled the word around in his head for a minute or two. No, that didn't seem right. Raven did not seem angry at anyone in particular, so why would her anger flare up in a situation that didn't provoke it? Perhaps it wasn't anger that fueled Raven's reactions. Perhaps…
"It was fear," he said out loud to himself, identifying the cause. "Raven was afraid of something she didn't understand."
He sighed, and resumed looking at the night sky. "I never should have let her leave," he said. "Not in the state she was in."
The solution to the problem seemed simple on the surface: use Raven's communicator to track her down. But Robin had promised not to spy on her or allow any of the other Titans to track her. Was it right to break this promise? Could doing so help saving Raven from herself? Would she understand his reasons if he disobeyed?
The Boy Wonder sat in silence for a few more moments, contemplating his decision. Then he rose to his feet. The decision had been made, and there was work to be done.
Raven squealed in tickling agony as Control Freak and his soon-to-be-trademarked "Tickling Lasers" lit up her body like the Fourth of July. The ultimate insult to the Titan was that, unlike regular tickling, her sensitivity had yet to diminish across her body. These weapons of mass destruction turned interrogation devices had done their job a little too well, as every part of Raven's body tingled with equivalent of a hundred, maybe even a thousand feathers.
"AIIIEE-HEEHEEHEEEHAAHAHAHAAA!!" she cried out in anguished laughter, bucking like a wild horse trapped in a steel cage. "I – I –IEEEHEEHEHEHEE WON'T –AHHAAAHAHAAHAHAAA – LET YOU WINNN!!"
"Come on now, Raven," Control Freak said, playfully tickling her toes. "It's only a matter of time before you beg me for mercy, so why don't you just give in now? There's no point in fighting the inevitable. Tell you what: if you say 'please', I just might turn off one of these laser cannons."
He smirked in satisfaction. "Of course, if you get uppity with me I just might have to position that cannon somewhere a little more…private," he taunted.
Raven's wracked mind nearly jumped at the idea of being at least somewhat freed from the maddening sensations that flowed through her body unchecked like a flooded river. But if one thing had managed to stay intact during this own ordeal, it was her pride. She was not about to beg for leniency from a man dressed up like a Klingon elf.
"NEVER!" she screamed out between her maniacal laughter. "I'LL NE-HAHAHAHAHA-VER BEG FOR YOOOOU!! AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAA!!"
"Your funeral," Control Freak said, heading back to the control panel.
"Cyborg, did you get a lock on Raven's communicator yet?" Robin asked his fellow Titan.
Despite wanting to keep his promise to Raven, the Boy Wonder had decided that their friendship was more important that whatever had disturbed the young girl. He had to find out where she was, and what she was doing.
Cyborg, meanwhile, had been tracking the signal from the communicator on the satellite relay. The wide screen TV normally reserved for horror movie marathons and the occasional epic video game wars was currently be used to display the image taken from the eye in the sky.
"Just a second…" he said, concentrating. "Almost…BOOYA! Got her!"
"Where is she?" Beast Boy asked, studying the satellite image.
"She located in an
abandoned warehouse on the north side of town," Cyborg said. He
punched in a few more buttons, and the image on the TV turned into a
biosensor image, capturing the body heat of all in side the building.
"Hmm, looked like we've got company."
Robin turned his attention to the screen. Indeed, there were two people currently in the building. To his surprise, one of the images seemed to be glowing red and white – a sign of heightened body temperature usually associated with distress.
"Cyborg," he said. "Can you give me a reading on Raven's life signs?"
"Hmm, should be able to as long as her communicator is within range," the Titan said. A few more buttons later, and vital signs came up on the screen. It was then that Cyborg made a shocking discovery.
"Robin!" he yelled, catching the attention of the other three Titans. "Raven's pulse is off the charts! Something bad is happening to her, and I'm not sure just how much more her body can take!"
Robin narrowed his eyes, his face becoming like stone. "That settles it, then," he said. "Regardless of what happened tonight, Raven is and always will be a member of the Titans, and we're going in after her. TITANS, GO!"
Back in the warehouse, Raven was losing the battle for her sanity. Sweat mixed in with the tears that had been running down her face as Control Freak's little toy continued to wreak havoc on her sensitive frame. Despite the villain's threat, Control Freak had opted to increase the power to the lasers rather than carry out his other plan. He reminded himself that he was simply an anime fan, not a hentai fan.
Still, the increased power did not to stem the Titan's agony, as more forced laughter spilled from her mouth. Her energy spent, her body could only warrant a token fight.
"Running out of steam aren't we, Rae?" Control Freak laughed. "Come on, all I want to hear is one little word. Is that so much to ask for?"
He stepped closer, positioning himself right next to Raven's head. "Come on," he continued taunting. "Just give me one little word. Let's be serious - are you really willing to continue this?"
The girl's eyes fluttered open, eyes streaming from them. It seemed that her resolve was broken, and there was only one thing left to say…
"Y-Yes," she said, a devilish look in her eyes. It was only for a second, as her face melting back into laughter, but Control Freak had seen it: her defiance knew no bounds.
"Fine then," he said, furious that Raven could hold out so long. "I guess I'll just have to kill you myself."
Stalking back to the control panel, he wore a twisted grin on his face. "Since I'm not too keen on doing the whole blood and guts thing," he said. "I figure I'm just going to put this thing on maximum power. The sensations should be enough to spike your blood pressure and overwork your heart. A hell of a way to go, but at least you'll die laughing!"
He placed his hand on the main power switch, grinning as he thought of what was to come.
"Pray to whomever you wish," he said. "Nobody's coming to save you, little girl…"
BOOM! The north wall of the warehouse came crashing down with tremendous force, cutting the power from Control Freak's magical little device. Spinning around to face the newly-acquired entrance, the villain was horrified to see the Teen Titans standing in the opening as the dust settled.
"OH…" he said, clapping his hands together with a cheesy grin on his face. "Well, isn't this a surprise. Uh…can I get you a drink?"
Robin was not amused by the man's casual attitude. "Where's Raven?" he demanded.
"Beats me," Control Freak said, still grinning.
Now it was Robin's turn to smile. "Don't mind if I do," he said, taking a fighting stance.
"No, no, no, wait – I didn't mean it like that!" the man said, slowly backing away from the superheroes. Suddenly, Beast Boy's voice rang out over the warehouse: "Dude, what did he do…?"
Robin and the other Titans broke off contact from Control Freak and looked over the control panel. Raven's shackled body laid motionless, except for the heaving on her chest. Seeing a fellow Titan this way boiled their blood like nothing else ever could.
The villain could feel the hate burning from their eyes as they turned in unison to glare at him. "Fellas, fellas," he began.
"You're dead," Robin said, pulling his staff from his utility belt.
As Control Freak watched the team ready for battle, he recalled a personal motif of his: 'He who fights and runs away, doesn't get his ass kicked today!' Seemed a good enough time as any to put that into effect.
"Listen, I'd love stay and bleed profusely from all the orifices on my body, but I gotta GO!" he cried, charging right for a drainage pipe and leaping inside. He got stuck only one, but he managed to weasel his way out before one of the Titans put the boot to his butt. No one was going to make a liar out of him today.
"Darn it, he got away!" Beast Boy exclaimed, peering down the pipe.
Robin, on the other hand, slowly approached the steel table that Raven was shackled to. Cyborg made quick work of the restraints, tearing them cleanly from the table. As the Titans gathered around their battered friend, the Boy Wonder felt a lump grow in his throat. He had never seen Raven look so…weak.
"Raven, can you hear me?" he asked. "Please, speak to me!"
There was a moment of silence. Then, the girl rolled her head to the right, and one eye opened halfway. Seeing her friends standing before her, she mustered a faint smile.
"…Robin," she said. "This is…probably…the one time…I'm glad you didn't listen to me."
With that, she fainted.
Groggily, Raven opened her eyes. She found herself lying in her bed, with a change of clothes and no trace of the sweat and tears that and accumulated on her body during her ordeal. Sitting up slightly, she saw that Starfire, Beast Boy, and Cyborg were surrounding her bed.
"Raven, thank goodness you are okay!" Starfire said, a smile of relief on her face.
"Yeah, you had us all worried there for a little while," Beast Boy said, scratching his head.
"How did I get here?" Raven asked, confused.
"Well, we got you back to the Tower, pretty quickly," Cyborg said mater-of-factly. "Starfire helped to get you cleaned up and changed. You were pretty out of it at that time."
"Agreed," the Tamaranean said. "It was as if your body was running of its' own accord without your mind to command it."
"Yeah, you were pretty much on auto-pilot," the shape shifter said, smirking.
"Oh yeah, BB here thought it would have been a good idea for him to help you get in the shower, but Star unceremoniously tossed him out before he saw anything," Cyborg added.
Raven turned and looked at Beast Boy, who could only shrug his shoulder and smile sheepishly. "Can't blame a guy for trying, right?" he said with a chuckle.
The girl rolled her eyes, and turned her attention to Starfire. "Thank you," she said.
The alien just smiled and nodded her head in understanding.
Raven sighed, and looked back up at the Titans. "I can't believe that you guys still came after me after everything that I said to you," she said.
'Well, we all know you had something pretty big on your mind," Cyborg said reassuringly. "We all get like that something. It's nothing that would make us turn our backs on you. You're family, whether you like Beast Boy or not."
That brought a smile to the young girl's face. "Thanks," she said. "You may not know how good it is to hear that."
The team shared a moment of silence – something of which Raven was glad to have.
"Well, we'll let you get some rest now," Cyborg said, getting up and heading towards the door. "Catch ya later!"
Starfire stood as well. "I do hope you feel better soon, Raven," she said before following suit after Cyborg.
This left Beast Boy as the last person to leave. As he reached the doorway, he turned back, and grinned. "Good to have you back, Rae," he said with a thumbs-up before leaving.
Once again alone, the Titan laid back down on the bed, and closed her eyes.
"So, now that they're gone, you wanna tell me what happened?" a voice projected from the darkness.
Sitting up with a start, Raven watched as Robin emerged from the shadows of her room.
"What do you mean?" she asked.
Sitting down on the edge of the bed, the caped hero studied the girl's eyes for a moment.
"What did Control Freak actually do to you?" he asked. "By the time we got there, the machine was already off. What was it doing, exactly?"
Raven look down at her hands, but her cheeks burned just the same. "I-I can't tell you that," she said, embarrassed. "You'll think I'm pathetic."
At this, Robin leaned back and crossed his arms over his chest, smirking as he did so. "Let me take a guess," he said, pretending to think for a second. "Did he tickle you?"
Raven's head shot back up, her eyes wide open with surprise. 'Wha- H-How did you figure it out?" she asked.
Robin smiled, and reached into a pouch located on his utility belt. "Despite the issues Control Freak may have had with his technology, he always had a habit of getting a little ahead of himself on marketing his inventions." His hand returned from the pouch, holding a poorly-made label. "I found this on top of the control panel. Seems like he didn't glue it too well."
Raven looked down at the label, which read: 'The Incredible Tickling Lasers Patented Interrogation Device; Patent Pending'. She felt her face getting redder as it all sunk it.
"Don't worry," the Boy Wonder said. "Your secret is safe with me, in case you're wondering."
The girl looked into Robin's eyes, and gave a smile. "Thank you," she said. "That means a lot to me."
As the two sat in silence, Raven was unaware of Robin's hand creeping slowly down to the foot of the bed. "The one thing I don't understand about this situation," he said, grinning, "is how I never figured out."
The girl found herself wondering the meaning of the boy's words. It was at that moment she felt a slight tickling sensation on the bottoms of her feet. Moving quickly, she pulled her legs up and clutched them to her chest, giggling ever so slightly as she did so. "Don't,' she said, somewhat apprehensively. "Please."
Robin smiled, and got up onto his feet. "It's good to have you back, Raven," he said.
As he walked to the door, he turned back for a second. "Next time, please try not to give me a promise I have to break in order to save you,' he said.
The girl smiled back. "You got it," she said.
With that, the Boy Wonder left the room, leaving Raven to her own accord. As she laid back down on her bed, she thought for a moment how far her friendship with the Titans had come. Despite the events that had occurred, they were willing to lay it all on the line for her. That meant a lot to her, even if Robin knew she was ticklish…
After a moment's pause, the girl got up and quickly locked the door to her room. "Good friends or not, I think I've been tickled enough for one night," she said, smiling. "Maybe even for the year."
With that, the Girl from Azarath headed to bed, and let her dreams take flight.