Disclaimer: I do not own Teen Titans.
Author's Note: Yeah, I know, everyone does these. I just want to put in my point of view.
In his mind, Slade was still there. He leaned over his hospital bed, taunting, probing, glaring at him with one cold gray eye.
Robin could not stand it. He knew Slade was not there, that he was finally dead. But he kept seeing that ominous two-tone mask. Why did he still remain?
The others told him he would be alright; that his wounds would heal, in time. Lying in his bed, the dead of night not enough for him to trust his mind enough to sleep, Robin seriously doubted it.
In his bed, he stared at the curtain separating him from monsters, and waited for the nightmare to end.
"The reagent in Slade's mask didn't trigger itself. There was a signal. Somebody triggered it...from outside the Tower."
Raven and Starfire's faces were twin images of speechless horror.
Raven knew she would have no luck meditating tonight. The events of the night were simply too horrific.
It was so real, she mused, ruefully fingering the contusion on her jaw. She had had no idea that an injury Robin had received while she was in his body could transfer to her body.
She stared around her darkened room. Lightning crashed, illuminating books and braziers and the bed that she was sitting on.
Raven sighed, staring at the water that slid down her wide window.
How was the dust activated? Who triggered it? Is it possible...
No! No! was Raven's mental scream, as she clutched the sides of her head, almost in pain. There's no way!
She felt through the Tower; no one was asleep. That did not surprise Raven at all; it had been a truly horrific night for all of them. Cyborg was examining the generators; the power had gone out again, in every area except the infirmary, which had a back-up generator. Beast Boy and Starfire were both up also, Starfire reading a Tamaranean fairy tale book by candlelight, and Beast Boy playing a board game by himself, sneezing profusely. Robin was thrashing about in the infirmary.
An earsplitting scream erupted through her mind.
The infirmary was where Raven intended upon going, as she slipped out of her room, still in her nightclothes.
"Raven?" Cyborg's voice intruded upon the girl's troubled thoughts. "The dust may have some aftereffects."
"What aftereffects?" They were conducting the conversation in hushed whispers, so they could not be overheard by Beast Boy, sneezing on a nearby bed, and Starfire, hovering anxiously over Robin.
Cyborg shrugged helplessly. "It could be any number of things. Hallucinations, sensations, paranoia, funny dreams..."
"Just tell me there won't be any repeats of tonight." Raven's monotone carried with it a bite of worry like a cold wind.
"I can't promise that."
As Raven neared the infirmary, she flinched, clutching her stomach. This bond she had established with Robin was having some side effects. She could always feel the pain of others, but except in extreme cases, she was strangely separate from it all. But now, she felt sore and aching all over, as she knew Robin must feel.
A flash of images went through Raven's mind. Batman, whom she knew to be Robin's mentor. Bruce? Two people, falling through the air. There was a tent all around; it looked like a circus tent. Mom, Dad? The smell of popcorn filled her nostrils; normally, Raven could tolerate the warm aroma, but for some reason it made her want to retch.
She straightened, knowing that Robin had to be going through the same situations with her thoughts in his mind. That worried her. Azar had always said to never let anyone in to her mind. For if they do, little Novice, they will hurt you, they will eat you away until you are nothing at all.
But then, Azar was able to do that herself.
There were many ways to enter someone's mind; the meld Raven had performed had been the most complete and thorough one anyone could perform. Why had she performed such a complete meld without even thinking about it? Better question, how had she managed to perform such a thorough bond without thinking about it?
It would last the rest of their natural lives; Raven had left something of herself behind in Robin, and something of him had been taken with her. She could see him right before her eyes, even though a wall lay between him.
Without one word, Raven stepped into the infirmary, her bare feet making slight sounds against the linoleum floor.
Robin twisted and turned, lost in a fretful, shallow sleep that brought neither rest nor comfort. The nightmares about his parents, that he though he had finally conquered the year before, had returned with more ability to drive an invisible knife through him than ever before.
But there were other dreams as well. Fire...pain...fear...NOOO!!! Words he'd never said, screams he'd never uttered, injuries he'd never sustained, emotions he'd never felt, they swamped him. The smell of sulphur and brimstone was thick in the air.
Then, like a gust of cool, fresh wind, it all stopped. Robin opened his masked eyes. There was someone sitting at his bedside.
Starfire? No, this person was diminutive, with flawless ivory skin and a sheet of black silk for hair.
"Robin?" came Raven's hoarse whisper. She was dressed in clothes that Robin had never seen her wearing, but then, Robin had never seen the slightly fastidious Raven in her nightclothes.
She looked nearly as bad as he felt. Her face was pinched and drawn; an ugly bruise stood out at her jaw. Shadows established themselves under her eyes.
"Robin, I heard you scream."
"I never screamed," Robin forced out. He knew that it was only a half-truth. "I'm alright, Raven."
She shook her head, sable hair veiling her pale face. "No, Robin, you are not alright. And you did scream. In your mind." She tapped the gem on her forehead.
"It's nothing you need to worry about." Robin attempted to dismiss her, not wanting to speak of the horrors of that stormy night.
A look, not of annoyance but of barely suppressed rage, passed over Raven's face in an instant. "Well," she said tightly, "then I don't see any reason to remain." Raven started for the door, her fists clenched.
"Raven," Robin cried, "wait." She stopped at the door, her back to him. "Don't go." For some reason, he felt better when she had come, and her leaving brought with it an impossibly painful pull, like something was trying to escape from his body.
Something about the sheer, humiliating desperation in his voice must have caught her, for she returned to the chair by his bed, and the pain ceased.
"I saw things," Raven whispered, her small mouth twisting. "And I'm sure you did as well." They weren't very close, but Raven had the distinct feeling that they would be much closer after that night.
"Raven? Where are you? You have to get out! Slade! He'll destroy you." Her voice seemed to be echoing inside his mind. She had to leave; Robin feared for what Slade would do to her while she was in his mind.
"Robin, your heart. You're in danger. You have to trust me. Slade isn't here. He's not in the tower."
"No!" Robin protested mentally, desperation flavoring his words. "He's here! He's real! I've seen him!"
"Then let me see him, through your eyes."
Suddenly, the metal walls seemed to melt away, and there was only black. Dust was being kicked up, and Robin saw someone standing in front of him.
"Please, Robin." Raven's normally even voice shook, as she stared at him through wide, worried eyes. "Let me help you." She held out a small hand.
As Robin gripped it, Raven threw back her head, screwing her eyes shut. Again, the scene in front of him vanished, and a flash of images went through his mind. His memories, and hers, mixing and commingling to the point that Robin wasn't sure which ones were his.
He opened his eyes, and he was back where he had started. But something was different. It was as if Robin was staring out through two sets of eyes.
"Do you see Robin?" Raven's mental voice sounded inside his head, sounding quite relieved for someone who claimed to be so skeptical. "There's no one here. There never was."
That's when Slade attacked. Robin felt an unbearable wrench, felt something tearing away from him, something indescribable, as Raven's soul was forcefully sent back to her own body.
"Yes," Robin murmured, wincing as a bolt of pain rippled through his midsection.
Raven ducked her head, her face contorting momentarily. She gently laid a hand on Robin's stomach, and the pain relieved itself almost instantaneously.
"You should tell, them, Richard." Raven's use of his name did not surprise Robin; he was sure that she had seen much more than that.
"When I'm ready." All the fire was gone from Robin's voice.
Lightning crashed, and for one moment, Robin thought he saw Slade leaning on the window, eyeing him predatorily.
"Robin?" Raven's voice was barely audible, containing a quavering note. "Were they your parents?"
"Yeah." The flatness of Robin's tone belied the turmoil that carried that "yeah" to life.
"I'm sorry." She sounded contrite, even ashamed.
"For what? It's not like you could have done anything. Besides, I should be sorry. I didn't trust you enough to let you help me until you forced the issue."
She bowed her head, avoiding his gaze. "I should have listened to you. I should have seen that Slade was real to you. I'm sorry for invading your mind. I value my own privacy, but I had no qualms about shattering yours. I'm sorry for seeing things that you never wanted anyone to know."
Robin shook his head, and instantly regretted it. "Raven, I should be thanking you. In a way, I think you saved me."
The young girl's eyes glazed in confusion.
"You gave me what I needed to beat him, to realize that it was all just an illusion. Besides, you're not the only one who saw things."
"What did you see?" Her soft voice carried a note of something Robin couldn't place, as she shifted her body uncomfortably.
"Enough." Robin bit his lip. "Raven, why were they doing that to you?"
She knew, instantly. "They said it was to test my control. But Robin, I think they were really doing it, just because they could." Her voice was not even, it was dead.
There was another matter he wanted to address. "You really blew up on Terra, didn't you?" Robin knew now that there was a very good chance that Terra could have ended up like Dr. Light. Cold and maddened, sent to an agonized, half-catatonic state. That fight would always be etched in his mind; her echoing voice, four malevolent red, gleaming eyes, and the rattling gasp for air before being dragged beneath the surface that showed itself most prominently.
"She was thoughtless." Raven's voice came out as a trembling whisper, overflowing with all of the worst emotions anyone could feel; her hands were clenched into fists. "Before I met you all, love, friendship, even kindness were not things I was used to. Anyone close to me had a way of disappearing, getting hurt, or shunning me. The fact that she could betray our friendship with what seemed like nary a regret…"
"It really set you off."
She curled her lip, marring what was otherwise a singularly attractive face, in a pale, haggard sort of way. "Robin, there's a monster sitting in my chest. For the most part, she is dormant, but not always. That monster's name is Rage. Rage woke up, and she was out for blood.
"I've forgiven Terra since then. I wouldn't wish her fate on anyone. What she did was truly selfless, and proved that she does have a heart after all. But still…"
Robin got it; Raven could forgive Terra her sins, but she couldn't forget the destructive rage that the little blonde girl had evoked in her.
The leader of the Teen Titans grimaced, staring up at the ceiling. "I also know why you don't like fire."
She paled, her eyes widening in what looked like fear. Robin frowned; he knew that there was little that was capable of inspiring such fear in Raven. "And I know why you can't stand popcorn," she retorted shakily.
Robin's laugh turned into a cough. Always too slow, Robin. He flinched, staring around for the source of that menacing voice.
Raven caught his sudden alarm. "Robin," she whispered urgently, "Richard. If Slade comes back, we will be ready, but only if you trust us to help you. I will always be here, if you need me. I know what you're going through, I really do, especially now. You know that, don't you?" She reached over to grip his wrist.
He nodded, smiling. Raven returned his smile, displaying a flash of white teeth and pointed canines, and lifted that hand to his forehead. It was bizarre; somehow, Robin felt the touch of her delicate hand on his flesh before it actually came. A strange, soft whisper in a lilting language that was foreign yet familiar came, and before he knew it, Robin was sailing off into the sweet embrace of a dreamless sleep.