Raven stumbled as she landed on the island. They had to have shot her with something. Something that wasn't as easily healed as the wounds.
Raven fell to the ground as Victor bent down. Raven felt here head thump and let him help her up.
"You have to help me."
"Of course. What's wrong?"
"Cara, they took Cara."
The tears that fell was an reaction to the pain that started to shoot up and down her body. She grinned her teeth and closed her eyes for a moment.
"You have to find Cara. Please."
He nodded, then she passed out.
The first thing she noticed was the beeping of the too familiar sounds of the machines in the med bay. Raven opened her eyes and tried to sit up, failing. She rolled over to her side and from there pushed herself into a sitting position. She looked at Kori who sat down on her bed and smiled. Behind her she saw Richard sitting on a chair, but no one else. Raven looked back at Kori. There was no anger about not telling her about Cara. No resentment that she had told Victor. Just happiness about seeing her friend well again.
"She's fine. We found her in a motell. I don't think she's too traumatized."
Richard almost smiled as he got up and walked over to her. It had been two years, on their wedding, but he hadn't changed a bit. Well, he wasn't wearing a tux. Raven didn't know what to say, but before it could get awkward Richard bent down and hugged her. Raven hugged him back, before they let go.
"So what's new?"
Richard and Kori looked at one another, before Kori grinned.
"That's wonderful Kori. I'm so happy for you."
Again Raven found herself in a hug, but this time with the alien princess.
"It's been twenty-six weeks four days three hours twenty-nine minutes and... fifty seconds since the conception of my child."
Raven looked at Richard over Kori's shoulder and he just shrugged helplessly. Raven just smiled but as Kori went for another hug she pulled away. She had reached her limits for today.
"In the common room playing with Vic. He's really fallen for her."
"Yeah, I know."
They got up and after Raven changed they walked over to common room. As the door opened she froze. Garfield, who was sitting by the table, turned and looked at her.
"She's not yours."
Cara was hanging from Victor's arm and her skirt had fallen over her head. She laughed and filled the silence, but Raven could tell the little girl was faking it. Not because she didn't love Victor or didn't like playing with him. Like her mother Cara was an empath, and could feel the pain and tension from the people in the room and did the only thing she could. She laughed and smiled and tried to cheer everyone up. She wasn't wearing her ring, and you could tell she wasn't like other children with a chackra, purple hair and grey skin, but her eyes were dark green and her face resembled her father, not her mother. Raven and Garfield looked at one another, but neither said a word. There was no need. The air had been cleared a long time ago, and she had left the team and her family as a result of it. She had tried to keep in touch with the others, but it became too awkward and when she got pregnant she only told Victor because Cara needed a holo ring so she could blend in.
Victor put the three year old down and Cara ran over and into Raven's arms. Raven picked her up and spun her around, hiding her tears in her daughter's hair.
"Are you okay mama?"
"I'm fine Cara. Are you okay? Did they hurt you?"
The girl shook her head and smiled. Showing her white teeth. Raven kissed her before hugging her tight.
"I don't know what I would have done if something happened to you."
"And here I thought you didn't want children, or was it just you didn't want children with me."
Garfield spat the words out, not at them, more to himself, but it still was heard by everyone.
"Cara, has Victor shown you the outsides yet?"
The girl shook her head and looked to the cyborg. He smiled to her and took her from Raven.
"I can show you a putle where there lives a crab family."
"I love crabs. They're so fun."
"We'll join you."
Richard grabbed Kori's arm and almost pulled her out behind them. When Raven and Garfield were alone Raven walked over and slapped him in the face. Now Raven had hit Garfield a lot over the years, and to Garfield it was just how she communicated. Like Kori hugging you until you couldn't
breathe. But this time it felt different. It felt like a... slap.
"How dare you say something like that to her?"
"But it's the truth isn't it. You left me because the thought of having children made you physical sick."
Garfield got to his feet.
"Look, yes we brok up because of that discussion, but you were just as stubborn as me."
"Will you listen, I might have left but it took two people to break us up."
She had made the same argument when he had confronted her at the wedding.
"I still don't think wanting to have children with the woman you love is that wrong."
"Not when the woman doesn't want children."
"And yet here you are with one. What a suprise."
Raven knew he was hurt and therefore she took a step back and a breathed in and out. The bowl of cereal exploding just confirmed that this was getting out of control.
"What is she, three? You must have gotten pregant right after you left."
"And prey tell, what did he have that made you want to pass on his genes and not mine."
"He was there and I was drunk."
Garfield's mouth fell open.
"You don't drink."
"I have to take my daughter home now."
Raven turned and walked out. It got easier and easier.
Cara was a sleep in the back as Victor stopped by the metro station.
"I can drive you all the way Raven. Not a problem."
"No, we're fine."
Raven got out and picked up Cara. Even Victor didn't know her adress, they had always met at cafés and such. It had taken everything Raven had to leave them the first time, to be fair to Garfield who had already lost enough people in his life, to not make them have to choose between them. She needed distance.
"Thank you again for saving her."
"We're always here for you Raven."
Raven smiled grateful before going down into the florescent lighting.
It wasn't a bad apartment. Raven unlocked the door with one hand, and locked it behind them. She walked into Cara's room. It wasn't filled with the cheap comercial produkts the titans had produced for charity in their teens, but everyone could see that the animal print on the wall, the galaxy in the ceiling, the mechanical toys, even the robin mobile was an ode to the titans. Raven changed Cara and put her in bed. The girl didn't even stir. Raven petted her, when Cara started to sweat. Raven wasn't surprised, but sad and worried. Cara started to mutter, throw herself back and forth. Raven held her down, scared she would get hurt.
"I'm here Cara. Listen to my voice. I'm here. I'm here. You're not alone. You're not alone. You're not alone. You're not alone. You're not alone."
It became a mantra for the few minutes it lasted, then Cara opened her eyes for a second, recognised her mother, and fell asleep again. Raven knew it was over. Kissed her gently and closed the door behind here. She closed here eyes.
"Azarath Metrion Zinthos."
When she was calm she walked over to her desk and started to work. The payment she had gotten when she left the titans had been enough to pay for the apartment, and there was still a lot left over, but Raven had also gotten a job as a translator. She was in the connection to the library, but lent out to other projects. She loved it, mostly because she could work at nights. After Cara had gone to bed. They were the hardest, as she had known they would be, as they should be.
Cara turned and walked over to the other children in the sandbox. With her ring on her hair was black and her skin was normal, like Raven. As Raven started to walk toward the library her phone rang. She was unlisted, so the choices were few. Work, or Victor.
"I figured. What do you want?"
They didn't meet often, every third month or so. It was Raven who held back. She felt like she was betraying Garfield somehow. Victor was his best friend, or he was now that she was gone.
"Are you free for lunch?"
Raven had to stop for the red light, but would probably have stopped for å second anyway. On one side, after the stunt she pulled yesterday, after Garfield learning about Cara, it didn't feel right. On the other hand, she missed him and wanted to meet him. There was a lump in her chest that vanished every three months after their dates, and then regrew. She couldn't breath properly. The lights turned green, but Raven didn't move. It was just so she could breath properly.
"Okay. One at Lexinton?"
The café was nice, but anonymous. Perfect for their little meetings. They were sitting outside because it was quite warm in the sun, Ravin was drinking herbal tea, Victor black coffee. Victor was also wearing his own holo ring so no one would recognise him as a titan.
"How is he?"
"How do you think?"
"My head plays everything from him not caring to threatening to jump off the building. But I guess he's sulking on his rock."
Victor gave her a confirming smile before taking a sip of his coffee. Raven sighed and leaned back on the wooden chair.
"It's been almost four years."
"And you think he would have gotten over loosing his girlfriend and best friend in just four years?"
"With Terra he had you, with Alice he had you."
Raven's grip on the cup tightened.
"He has you."
"I don't have what he needs."
Victor couldn't help smile and Raven did the same.
"Don't compare yourself with Terra and Alice Raven. You were always different."
"You mean they were blond and bubbly and I'm not?"
"You know what I mean."
Raven looked away and drank the last of her tea. When the waiter came back outside to help another costumer she ordered a new one.
"I don't know what else I could have done. He choose children over me, and I didn't want them."
"After yesterday that's not how it seems to him."
"I know, but I was desperat. And though I love Cara more than I thought posible, I wasn't wrong. I never should have had children."
The waiter came with her drink and left. Raven looked down at the green drink.
"Is something wrong."
"You don't know Victor."
"Then tell me Rae."
The tears came, despite Raven trying to stop them. She felt embarrassed, and it didn't help that Victor placed her cup on the table so she wouldn't lose it, and grabbed her hand. But, on the other hand, the attentiveness felt nice. To not be alone with everything in her head, felt nice. Suddenly the memory of Kori when they first met rushed into her head. How she had never heard of the word nice, and turned out to be nice personified. This made the crying worse.
"It can't be that bad."
"It's Cara. It's not like I inadvertently did it to her. I knew it would happen. I knew what she would have to go through, what she would have to live with and I still..."
Her voice couldn't carry her words anymore. She hadn't articulated her guilt since she decided to have Cara, and if it hadn't been for meeting everyone yesterday, she never would have.
Raven looked at him. His compassion and sympathy railing against her like a train, and her pride finally stepped in. She stopped crying and flashed him a small smile. As she got to her feet she took out some money and placed it on the table.
"Don't worry about me Vic, I can take care of myself."
He got to his feet to stop her from leaving.
"My break is over, I have to get back to work."
Before he could say anything else she left with the crowd. Suddenly relived that he didn't know where she worked or lived. If he had she knew he would come after her.
"I can take care of myself."
She knew it was a lie, but as she sat there in the dark basement translating old text from Sanskrit to English, she knew she couldn't survive without it.