Disclaimer: I don't own Teen Titans.
Author's Notes: If the oneshot seems a bit choppy at times, I think it's because Starfire isn't really thinking too clearly, and the episode, once it really got started, was really fast-paced.
It was strange. Starfire was no longer herself. Literally. When she held up her hand, it was not a bronzed hand that met her gaze. Instead, a small, hand with translucent skin met her eyes, with long, tapered fingers, somewhat sharp fingernails, and delicate blue veins showing through.
A different face confronted her in the reflection against dark metal. Skin as pale and clear as the Earth's moon, and short, thick, fine, ink black hair even darker than her sister's replaced her soft, coarse auburn mane. Her vivid acid green eyes were replaced by wide, luminous dark violet eyes that were huge in her face gave it something of the otherworldly, and made her appear not quite human. A small, prudish mouth supplanted her own wide, generous one.
She was Raven. When she stared at her friends face, she knew this to be true, for she saw her own face staring back at her. She was Raven, and Raven was her.
Seeing Raven's fluid, graceful movements on her own body disturbed Starfire just a little bit. Then, Raven probably found it a bit disquieting to see Starfire's much more athletic gait on her own small body.
This was a disaster, of course. She said so as they walked down a darkened road. Starfire could not help but notice that as she got more panicky, strange things were happening. Parking meters were melting, street lights were bending, windows were cracking and breaking, all (except for the windows), turning black before they were destroyed. But this in no way impeded Starfire's ability to panic.
"Starfire!" A powerful hand alit on her shoulder, making the alien girl gasp. "You have to calm down. My powers are driven by emotion. The more you feel, the more energy you unleash." Starfire could feel the irritation and anxiety rolling off of Raven and coming into contact with her own mind. Wait, she could feel these things coming from Raven?
The predicament with the boys, combined with Raven's pent-up anxiety impressing itself on Starfire's own, did nothing to calm her down. She continued on her fear-fueled rant, concluding it with an ill-advised comment that under certain circumstances might be considered a slur on Raven's looks.
Raven tried her hand at calming her down, then cast a suspicious look down at her. "What's wrong with the way I look?" she asked defensively. Starfire picked up insecurity from her friend, and realized that Raven wasn't too positive about her appearance.
"Nothing," Starfire squeaked, then flinched as a street sign blew up behind them. She meant it; she'd never found anything unpleasant about the way Raven looked, and wished that those words had never left her mouth.
Starfire then attempted to calm down, and failed miserably, blowing an at least three-ton car no less than ten feet in the air.
That's when they started to evade. Starfire telling Raven what to do to use her powers wasn't instilling the older girl with anything resembling optimism.
"Unbridled joy? Not really my thing." It really wasn't, Starfire discovered. For some reason, the very mention of the word "joy" seemed to have the exact opposite effect on Raven.
Mentions of righteous fury and boundless confidence didn't do anything for her either. Fury inspired repugnance (someone seemed to have instilled an aversion to anger in Raven), confidence, a supreme lack of.
They decided that since neither could use the other's powers effectively, they should simply evade. That's when Raven realized that Starfire might be able to levitate in her body.
Flying as Raven was very different. When Starfire flew in her own body, she felt buoyant, but hardly ever thought about staying airborne while in flight. With Raven's body and Raven's flight, it was different. She was flying far too fast; Starfire had no idea how to slow down. And Starfire had to think about flying every second of the way; when she even thought about being on the ground, she lost a few feet in altitude.
Raven seemed to be acutely aware of this. Screaming at the top of her lungs, Raven was gripping Starfire's left wrist with both hands, her fingernails digging into her flesh. All Raven seemed to be capable of thinking about at the moment was what would happen to her body were she to fall from this height, even with the more robust physique of a Tamaranean.
Falling was even worse than flying. They went facedown into a pile of garbage. Not at all appealing.
Listening to what the small ghoulish entity known as the "Puppet King" was going to do to their friends instilled almost primal terror within Starfire.
"Quickly, Raven! Our friends are in danger! We must follow and—"
"And what?" Raven challenged sullenly, pulling herself away. "Save them with my unusable powers while your unbridled emotions blow us to bits? Nice flying, by the way."
It was here that Starfire first discovered the destructive power of misinterpretation.
Starfire bristled as a haze of dark energy clouded her sight, chilling everything within ten feet of her. Raven's behavior was reminding her unpleasantly of Blackfire, and the comparison wasn't flattering. "At least I am able to fly!" she half-shouted. "On my planet, even a newborn can unleash the joy of flight! But you are too busy being grumpy and rude to feel anything at all!"
Raven's reaction made Starfire want to throw up her arms for fear of an attack. Starfire had said those admittedly mean-spirited words in a flare of rage, not realizing what affect they might have. Raven, stripped of her powers of empathy and telepathy, interpreted it as a very intentional jab.
Raven turned on Starfire, the disparity in their heights all too apparent as she towered over her. Raven's fists were clenched, her face white; she seemed to be biting her lip to keep from screaming at her. Her entire being seemed to crackle with electricity, and Starfire got the feeling that she was the closest to righteous fury that she had been that night. The rage was accompanied by a peculiar sort of pain, and the force of the emotions emanating off of her was nearly enough to knock Starfire off her feet. Raven looked like she would enjoy nothing more than to bodily fling Starfire back into the garbage.
"Maybe you haven't noticed, but my emotions are dangerous. My powers make me a threat to myself and all who are near me. I can't afford to feel anything." She turned her back on Starfire, giving her a devastatingly effective cold shoulder. "You may have my body, but you know nothing about me." Her voice's descent from barely controlled rage to soft, cold containment was incredible; she was able to beautifully modulate her voice even when angry, obtaining the desired effect.
Raven's anger and hurt washed over Starfire, making her feel subdued. She felt all the fight go out of her, her shoulders drooping. "Perhaps…" she hesitated, "Perhaps you are right." At this, Raven turned to look back at her. "If we are to overcome this ordeal, we must know each other better."
Raven smiled her approval of this plan.
They sat down on the ground. "First," Raven started authoritatively, "I don't think it's necessary to know every single thing about each other. It would take all night, and we don't have that sort of time. Aside from that, it's never a good idea to know everything about someone else."
"Even amongst friends?"
"Especially among friends."
Starfire had no problem relating her past, but when Raven did so, the bitterness and pain bled through her words profoundly, making Starfire rub her temples. She now knew exactly why unbridled joy was such a hard concept for Raven to wrap her mind about. Raven missed none of this.
"You have noticed?"
"Noticed what, Raven?" Starfire gave her friend a somewhat confused glance.
"The empathy. It can be annoying, can't it?"
"It is somewhat…troublesome."
Raven smiled ruefully. "You have my powers, but you don't seem to have any of my mental blocks. You're lucky most of the people in the city are asleep, otherwise you'd probably be unconscious by now. My powers of empathy and telepathy are painfully acute. Speaking of which—" she placed on finger on Starfire's knee.
Starfire bit her lip to keep from crying out. Powerful emotions and thoughts flooded her consciousness, threatening to overwhelm her in a wave of black…
Then everything was alright again, because Raven had taken her finger off of her leg. "What—"
"—happened?" Raven smirked humorlessly. "If a person with empathic or telepathic—or in my case, both—abilities is fortunate enough to receive training, they're taught to build up mental blocks. Blocks to keep out the thoughts and emotions of others, but also to keep your thoughts and emotions from flooding the consciousness of another empath or telepath. I seem to have lost that particular ability, for the time being."
After this fascinating little side note, Raven decided to give Starfire a crash course on how to use her powers properly.
Two small rocks were laid side by side. "Lift them," Raven instructed her, "slowly. Focus all your energies on the rocks to levitate them."
Starfire nodded, screwing up her face. "Azarath Metrion Zinthos," she whispered. Using Raven's powers was a strange experience, just as using her flight was strenuous. She felt like something was coursing through her veins to her hands, something alive. A comparable experience was when she was electrocuted by the Gordanians, but without the blinding pain.
"Good," Raven praised her. Starfire, who thrived on the praise of others, beamed and giggled. There was the sound of an explosion behind them. Raven gave a teasing look to her teammate, smirking and raising her eyebrows.
"Now…" Raven promptly launched the larger of the rocks at Starfire's face.
Starfire yelped and stopped it from crashing into her nose. It was encased in an aura of onyx energy.
"Calm down," Raven soothed her. "It would have been my face getting caved in, anyway. That was just to remind you that you don't have to use the incantation to make my powers work. In fact, you don't really need it at all. All you need is sheer willpower, Starfire, and you've got it. Good reflexes, by the way."
When they hid outside a strange, boarded-up building called a "bijou", it was Raven's turn to learn. Starfire was pleased and amazed that Raven managed to become airborne so quickly.
"Very, very good!" Starfire gushed exuberantly. "What was your joyful thought?"
Raven's rush of pleasure at this was hard to miss. She, like Starfire, thrived on the praise of others. But unlike Starfire, she was always questioning if it was sincere or well-intentioned. "You don't wanna know." Her voice held a monotone that belied the surge of happiness.
"Oh, but I do. Please, what did you imagine?" Starfire regretted asking that question, too.
"You not talking," Raven replied flatly.
"Oh." Starfire was floored, though she sensed that this might not be the truth. "Well…I am glad I was able to help."
Raven's wide-eyed, slightly guilty glance, that Starfire did in fact catch, further suggested an untruth on the older girl's part.
Raven's voice intruded upon her thoughts. "Your turn. Focus your energy on the lock."
Starfire saw what she was pointing at, and nodded, attempting to be serious. "Azarath, Metrion, Zinthos."
The lock slid cleanly in two.
"Nice work," Raven whistled, impressed.
"Success!" That outburst caused the doors to fly open much more loudly than was good for their objective.
"Nice work," Raven repeated much less charitably.
It wasn't easy to fight in Raven's body. Starfire was having to repress the urge to simply clock her friends' bodies. She was no fool; she knew that Raven's body did not possess the strength necessary to fell an opponent with such a blow.
Raven had a much easier time at the fight; she was having an easier time staying airborne, and used that to her full advantage.
Robin grabbed her by the cloak and flung her halfway across a catwalk. Starfire winced, but noticed something intriguing. She had always thought that a human body would twinge a bit more after being thrown like that, but she didn't. Raven's body seemed to be somewhat sturdier than that of a normal human.
Raven was displaying formerly unseen acrobatic skills, augmented by the alien strength she was allowing herself to tap into. Starfire felt a twinge of envy; the chance that she would ever be able to perform such complex feats of acrobatic skill was remote, at best. Flight seemed to no longer be a problem for her, and she was working on strength, but it was glaringly apparent to Starfire that Raven was literally having to talk herself into anger. She was going to have to put her abhorrence of anger aside, if only for one night. It wouldn't be long though; her anger was rapidly mounting.
Starfire had always thought that because Raven almost always fought defensively, it meant that she could not fight hand-to-hand. The truth was that Raven's small frame meant that toe-to-toe, blow-to-blow combat was not a reasonable option. And Starfire could not understand how Raven managed to run without her cloak getting tangled in her legs.
There was a flare of alarm, not from Raven, who was actually enjoying herself, as much as Raven could in such a situation, but from the boys. Starfire, caught between the animated bodies of Robin and Cyborg, took a second to glance down. She gasped in horror.
The Puppet King had them and was hurrying back towards his unnatural fire.
Something whizzed behind her. Starfire turned to see Raven hovering three feet from her, grasping Robin in one hand by the collar.
"Not me! Them!"
As Raven followed her gaze, a well of fury, unlike anything Starfire had felt even inside of herself, bubbled up inside the Azarathean girl.
With a mighty starbolt, she blasted the living puppet away from his intended destination, subsequently destroying the control.
For a moment, Starfire was bodiless, floating in the air. Then she was solid again.
"I am me! And you are you!"
It was a very…interesting…experience to be in Raven's body. But Starfire was glad to have her body back.
I'm sorry if this wasn't as deep as you would have liked. I was just cataloguing what Starfire might have been thinking during Switched.