Finally! After all this time! I have decided to put on another chapter! And, for those of you who do come back to read this one, thank-you. And, unless you have perfect recall, I'm sure you had to reread the first part. But, if you didn't, do. I have edited it so it is now better then before! Anywho, onto the story!
Disclaimer: I don't own the The Teen Titans, Batman, nor do I own Superman.
I left to become my own man; to become stronger, to become a better fighter. I left to become a man that I knew she deserved. It wasn't until it was too late that I realized that I was wrong. I should have never left her alone. I wasn't there for her when she needed me the most.
I failed her, all because I made a mistake.
I had followed this wanna-be criminal to a warehouse in Gotham, and I went after him alone. My first mistake. Turned out that the wanna-be criminal had some real dangerous friends. And, after the resultant fight and explosion, I was left in coma for a week. I was lucky that Batman pulled me out. Of course, I might have preferred to have died. I found out when I finally woke up that Aqualad, Mas y Menos, and Jericho had been killed the day after my screw-up. And, as a result- unofficially, of course- what was left of the Titans had officially been disbanded the following afternoon.
Needless to say, I called Raven up before the minute was up, but I was too late. Five days too late. Beastboy told me that she disappeared- quiet literally- after the announcement. She just walked off the stage and disappeared using her magic before Beastboy could stop her. He couldn't have done anything to stop her, I knew that. Raven was as stubborn as they come. No doubt she had planned that before she even walked to the podium. Beastboy didn't stand a chance.
Not that that stopped me from yelling at him. I blamed him for letting her go. I blamed him for her solitude now. I blamed him for not being there. I blamed him for everything when I knew it was entirely my fault. I should have never left. I should have never been so stupid. I should have been there for her. I should have told her the truth.
For the next 5 years, I spent my days searching the internet for clues, and my nights following leads. Every young woman with purple hair I investigated. I was aware that she may have even changed that. I was also aware that she also could be in another universe. But I had to hope she was still on Earth. It was the only thought keeping me from falling into the dark gloom of overbearing guilt and regret.
Of course, I wasn't alone in my search. It didn't take long for the others to figure out what I was doing and force their way in. They gave me little choice in the matter, but I knew it would take me decades to track down every person that maybe Raven, so I took the help. I sent them to track down the long shots. I would always feel guilty about this, but I wanted to be the one to find her. I wanted to be the one to pull her from her own guilt ridden exile that she no doubt sent herself in.
The help they gave me slowly trickled into nothing. Everyday they would go out and track these leads with me. It slowed to every few days after only a month or two, the Justice League requiring their attention. By the end of the second year, I would only have one or two of them helping me every few weeks. It was after the third year that Cyborg and Starfire stopped all together.
"Friend, please. You must stop this. You are hurting yourself with this. If friend Raven had the wish to be found, we would have found her by now." Starfire tried to plead with me.
"Yeah, man, just step away. She'll come back to us when she is ready." Cyborg's excuse.
"You guys are giving up too soon! We have to find her! We need to show her we still care about her!" Beastboy argued back, he was on my side. But I always wondered what motivated his continuing search. Was it guilt laden, like I wondered everyday if my own determination was often spawn from, or whether it was from his deep sense of loyalty. Maybe it was both, I never really asked.
All I know is that Beastboy helped me nearly everyday. He worked himself almost to the point of exhaustion trying to juggle his League work and help me track down leads. But, as I knew would eventually happen, his strength let out and he reached his limit. It took him about 8 months before the periods between his help started to become really noticeable. It was at the close of the fourth year that he finally gave into his exhaustion.
"We can't do this anymore. I have to say this, but, she's gone. She's gone and I can't keep searching. And, nether can you." He finally told me one day. It was on the fourth anniversary of her disappearance.
I shut them out after that. I locked myself away and devoted myself entirely to searching for her. I'll admit, I lost myself to the desperation. It was no longer out of guilt or loyalty, by this point, I needed to find her, but, often times I found myself falling into a state of hopelessness, failing victim to the depression I started to develop.
And the leads starting to run dry were not helping. I soon found myself losing days to the darkness that I had cling to me. And, when I would snap out of it, it would come back strong at the despair I would feel at losing all that time.
By the end of the fifth year, I stopped. A week before her fifth anniversary, I shut down the searches, I turned off the computers, and tore down the maps of the world from my walls. After all was done, I stood in the room and let the shadows hide the walls covered in pin holes from the countless failed leads. I let the dark cover the monitor that had held the many searches and research that I had spent the past five years pouring over. And, as I stood there, I felt the guilt and despair well up in my chest that was only quelled by the fatigue that followed the years of sleepless nights.
I left the room and headed for my bed.
For the next year, I worked harder than ever fighting crime wherever it showed up so that I could chase away the guilt that the moments of idleness would bring. I worked myself to the point of exhaustion just so I could sleep at night.
Once news of my emersion was out there, the three remaining members of my former team showed up, trying to catch up. I never would deny them, but I had nothing to say to them. My failure denied me the right to confide my depression to them. So, I spent the time amusing their need for a social interaction between us and they spent the time trying to bring up joyful memories about the past that didn't include…her.
That's how it was for about a year. I just continued on with my life, fighting crime and fighting back the guilt and depression that came with losing what could have been. I avoided the room where that I had pretty much lived out of the past 5 years. All traces of my search for her had been removed, but the memories where still there. As long as I could avoid even looking at the door, the painful thoughts could be held back.
Then, that all changed. Batman asked me to patrol Gotham one night, out of the blue. I asked if there had been something going on in the city that he needed my help with, but he said no. He said he just wanted me there. It was completely out of character for him, and I knew there was more to the story. Between my curiosity and the lack of action the past few nights, I agreed to the request.
The night started out with nothing going on. We traveled about the city together, moving in silence that was natural for the caped man and anyone who worked beside him. But, finally, after a few hours, the man finally spoke as we paused to survey the streets below while perched on a roof top.
"Superman called me this morning." He started, stating it so suddenly that it made me jump slightly.
"Really? Does he have a problem or something?" Was that it? Did Batman call me out to ask me to watch Gotham while he helps Superman? I didn't see why he couldn't have just asked me that over the phone. He had asked before.
"No, an interesting story to tell," Batman said, shifting to turn his head towards me. "He said that the Daily Planet transferred in a reporter from Chicago, Illinois. And that this man had some very interesting things to say about his previous coworkers. One in particular stood out, a woman; a minor event reporter with natural violet hair and violet eyes. He also says that she started working there about five years ago. Very interesting, is it not?"
I didn't respond. What could I say? I had given up on finding her, and, yet another lead just fell into my lap? Every range of emotion coursed through me in one painful wave; Hope, guilt, fear, joy, the whole range.
"What's her name?" I finally managed out hoarsely.
"Rachel Roth." That was the last thing said before I took off from that roof top and headed towards the place I called home. It was almost morning by the time I made it into my home, taking the path straight towards the room. There were no flashes of memories as I entered the room, I didn't even pause at the doorway of the dust covered room. I just sat in the dust coated chair and flipped on the computers. I had a moment to think as the disused machines booted up.
My heart was racing, beating so loud against my ribs I was wondering if the beats were echoing throughout the room. But, it had every reason to be. If both Superman and Batman felt it was necessary to pass on this information to me, it had to be something. They wouldn't have plunged me back down this path without a level of certainty.
I was pulled out of my thoughts at the computer finishing its load and started to work. I quickly worked my way into the Chicago Tribune's employee files and pulled up Rachel Roth. The picture that greeted me made my heart stop. Her eyes weren't as brilliant as I had remembered them to be. They were dulled with the guilt she no doubt felt at what had happened six years ago, but there was no doubt in my mind that they belonged to her. She had some bangs which were probably to hide the gem on her forehead, but her hair was still the same violet color falling in the same straight lines that she had possessed when he had last seen her and if her hair had gotten longer, it was only by an inch or less.
I finally remembered to breathe as I turned my attention away from the profile picture of her face and down to her personal information. Her name was Rachel A. Roth, and I wondered how she had come up with the name. Her mother had been human, as such, she had to have a last name. Perhaps the last name was the same as her mother's? I had no way of finding this out. The only name I had come to know Raven's mother by was Arella, and Raven had told us that her mother acquired that name when she came to Azarath. The name, though was not what really made me wonder. It was about the degrees that Raven acquired. They were started shortly after Trigon's defeat, thus the creation of Rachel was started beyond the few years I had been looking at. It never occurred to me that Raven would have created a life that she could lead before the Teen Titans had even reached adulthood.
All the classes were taken online, giving her a wide range of degrees, including Business, Journalism, and even Nursing. The last one made those days she would request off, then disappear for the entire day before coming back exhausted, make more sense; after all, clinicals that nursing students were required to do would take up the majority of the day. (A/N for those of you who don't know, when you are taking the nursing progam, you are required to intern at different hospitals doing different things for a curtained required amount of hours.) She built Rachel quiet an education in the six years between the defeat of Trigon and the start of her joint reign with Beastboy as leader of the Titans. Though, this fact had hurt me a bit. Was she only building this profile for something to retire to, or was she always planning on disappearing?
But I pushed back the wonderings. I had no way of figuring it out, so, to answer those kinds of questions, I would have to ask her directly. Also listed in her file was her address. But I quickly pushed the idea of showing up at her door out of my head. She disappeared to be alone. If I just showed up, she might just disappear again, this time even fleeing to another universe. I would have to find her publicly and ease into the reveal of who I was. But, then I had to wonder. How would she not recognize what I looked like? We had lived with each other for eight years.
But, as quickly as the problem presented itself, it was solved by another section of her file; upcoming events that she was to cover. There was a masquerade that she was to cover coming up in a few days. It was perfect! All I had to do was acquire an invitation. And, a quick hack into the guest list at the event's guest list solved that problem as well. And, what was better, I wouldn't even have to do anymore-ehem- 'frowned upon actions', Bruce was one of those requested to go. I knew he would be happy for any excuse not to go, these kinds of things where not something he liked.
A quick phone call only proved this; though, Alfred then requested that he be the one to pack what I would be wearing to the event. I hesitated, but agreed to it, he would know more about what would be best to wear anyways.
A few days later, I found myself in a hotel room in Chicago, Illinois, getting dressed in a suit that Alfred had picked out and packed for me. As I pulled out the red shirt, I cringed. It was the same red as my Robin suit. That was followed by the matching mask. There was a reason that my Nightwing suit had no red in it. I was sick of the color! But, what was really the icing on this God-awful cake was the fedora, well, the feathers in particular. The yellow feathers fanning out from the red feather made me roll my eyes. "Really, Alfred? You really are forcing me back to the Robin colors, aren't you? Or…is this Bruce's idea of a joke?" I had to ask out loud to nobody…wait…why did it make me think of my birdarangs? ((A/N How many of you figured out the reason for the feather placement back in part 1?)) As I pulled out the coat and pants that went with it, I found myself relieved that they were at least a solid black. With the inspection done, I headed for the bathroom to shower and change before I had to leave for the masquerade.
I entered and couldn't help but smile, the large crowds and the over luxuriousness the building must really irritate her. It may have gotten better over the years, but Raven still had to hate being in a crowded room; and, if my attempts to give her a real amethyst necklace one year for Christmas was anything to go by, she preferred simplicity over luxury any day.
I turned my attention back to the mission at hand. I still had no plan as to how to go about dealing with Raven. I didn't even realize that I didn't even know what I wanted to do when I did find her until I started to think about it a few days ago. I still didn't know what I wanted. She built a life here. For all I knew, she may have even found someone here. And, even though I did not want to accept that idea, I had no right to just come in and ruin that.
I was really starting to panic at the lack of plan I had when a voice broke me from my formulating.
"Would you be willing to be interviewed for the Chicago Tribune?" Came a voice from my side. I turned and found myself looking straight at the object of my thoughts. Raven stood there holding her notebook in her right hand and her pen in her left. Her eyes were wide with a joy that caused my heart to drop in depression before I realized that it looked shallow. I cheered up at the realization that it seemed to be only an act; but, now how to proceed with this?
"Only if that means I can talk with you." I responded with the first thing I thought of. I was falling back to my persona of Robin, and back then, Robin would have found great amusement in teasing Raven during a situation like this.
"Yes, I would be the one interviewing you." Was her response to my playful flirt and I couldn't help but smile at this. I had to poke at the mask she wore. She was pretending to be someone she was not, and that, I decided, would be my first mission.
"Then ask away."
"What is your name as you would like it to appear in the paper? Or would you rather stay anonymous?"
"Grayson, G-R-A-Y-S-O-N ." I spelled out, feeling a sense of accomplishment at the sight of her soft lips tightening with the force of keeping the comment she clearly wanted to say, back. Oh, yes, I was feeling just like my teenage self again. Playfully teasing Raven in the attempt to get her to show some emotion.
"Okay…what is it that you do, Mr. Grayson?" She said, her previous amount of cheerfulness slightly down with her breathy sentence used to keep her tongue in check. But if this conversation continued in this direction, then Bruce would have to do a lot to keep the questions down. I wasn't actually part of the company.
"I worked with a very well known business man and am here in his stead." I stated simply, knowing instantly that I should not have said that by the mischievous glint that flashed in her eyes. She was going to get back at me for my teasing.
"And who might that be?" She asked, picking up a sweet undertone that made her appear as a ditzy girl, but not to someone who knew better. At least I took solace in the fact that one of the many things that I loved about her was not gone; she did not take anything lying down. And this thought caused an amused smile to pass my lips again. I would just have to show her what cockiness would get her.
"He'd probably not want the world to know that." I said and I saw something else flash behind her mask before she quickly dropped her gaze to her notebook before she started to write vigorously within it. I knew I was having an effect on her act, though, for her to react like this…dare I hope that she has feelings for me? Even after all this time? I knew she didn't recognize me yet, but if she was still anything like the Raven I knew, there was something in the back of her mind that did.
"Then why is it that you came instead?" She finally continued after a moment that she used to calm herself.
"I asked him if I could." I responded, continuing my playful teasing.
"…for any particular reason?" She asked after a few moments, her irritation was starting to poke through and I knew that it would not be long. Now, I just had to shift my focus to getting her to recognize me.
"Because I'm looking for someone." I stated simply, still smiling despise the panic I felt at letting that slip. I didn't know if I was ready. I guess I would just have to take a page from Beastboy's book and just wing it.
"Would this someone have a name?" She pressed on, her eyes beneath the mask made it clear that after that statement, there would be no deferring. Guess, I just would have to change the mood.
"Yes, but would you mind if I asked you a question?"
The frown that took hold of her lips made it clear that I had taken her off guard, and now, she was not slipping back to that cheerful reporter façade again. Good, I would just need to keep her off guard. "Ummm….sure." She responded hesitantly.
"Would you like to dance? I'll answer all your questions as we do." I asked, just going with the wimp that took hold of me, I wanted to dance with her. I gazed into her eyes that had now filled with suspicion and when she didn't answer after a few moments, I wondered if I did something wrong. So, I held out my hand to her, fighting the urge to retract it when she tensed a fraction of a bit. A shift in attitude so slight that had it not been for my training, I would have never noticed it. I was making her nervous, but it was too late to go back. I hoped that if I didn't retract my hand, she wouldn't think my intent was pure, which it was, for the most part.
I was overjoyed when she slowly lifted her hand and took mine. And so I started to lead her to the dance floor. A part of my mind noticed how soft and warm her hand was, and that same part of my mind flashed back to the other times I was able to feel the silky warmth of her pale skin. From the times I caught her as she fell, to the few 'accidental' brushes against her skin as I moved passed her in the hall or other such places. I broke away from that thought and went back to easing into the truth.
"I'm looking for a girl; someone, a really special friend of mine, whom I haven't seen in years. I have a feeling that I could find her here in Chicago." I said before I turned to her and took the proper male dance position: my one hand on her waist, the other holding her hand. My heart jumped at our closeness and, I was suddenly made very aware of the…'changes' her small frame had undergone, the changes that her thin, deep blue dress only seem to highlight. I had to fight the want to study her new form in this new light. I was making her nervous enough as it was, if she noticed me studying her luscious…errr…nice form, that would be the end of this whole thing.
"And what gives you that idea?" She asked predictably after I paused to start our dance. She followed my lead, our bodies moving together with such fluency, I couldn't help but remember the days we sparred together. We had a connection back then, a connection I broke when I left. I kept my smile. She was here now, right before me. I knew she was okay.
"It was just a theory, just an inkling that I had." I responded, before the old guilt took hold. I focused back on her, noticing that she had loosened up and I wondered if it was time to bring her back into my life.
"You're making it sound like you found her."
"I would like to think I have, Ms. Roth." I responded, knowing that the foreign name on my tongue would not go unnoticed by her.
"Congra-wait…how did you know my name?" Her masked dropped, with her defenses going up. She no longer was pretending to be the cheerfully oblivious girl I knew she was not. I took it as a good sign that she did not break our dancing. She didn't even break her stride. I gazed into her eyes, knowing she would be able to read the sincerity of what I was saying within my own eyes.
"She was beautiful when we were teens together. And she would move with such elegant confidence that I wondered if she always knew something more than I did. And her grace was only matched by the birds by which she took her name from. And, now, as an adult, that all only grew."
Her eyes dropped. "Who are you looking for?" She asked, her voice was quiet and even.
"Raven, I've missed you so much." I smiled saying this, a smile that dropped when she stopped our dance, breaking the connection we had started to repair, and, it was then that I realized how big of a mistake I had made.
"My name's not Raven." She stated coldly, as she turned and ran. I messed up, and now I was losing her. I had forgotten the most important fact about Raven; her frailty. I broke her mask that held back all that she didn't know how to deal with, and now I was losing her again.
As the thought of losing her passed my mind, I shut it down and ran after her. If she vanished again, I would just search for her again. I would keep looking until she figured out that I was not leaving.
"Wait!" I called as she came back into view as we passed under the arch. I knew the only reason I was able to catch up was the fact that she would never where heels on a normal day. I finally reached out and grabbed her hand; she stopped at the contact, causing hope to swell in my chest despite the fact she did not turn to look at me.
"It wasn't your fault, Raven."
"I don't know what you're talking about." She struggled to remain denying what I said, and I was suddenly confronted with the fear of losing her in another way.
"Please don't run away from me anymore."
"You have a hold on my hand, I can't." She fell back to her shattered mask, and that made me worry more. I needed her to realize that she wasn't alone. I needed her to acknowledge me; I wondered if it would be the only way to keep her with me.
"Please come back to me, Raven."
"Raven ceased to exist six years ago." Even, cold, detached, she was really struggling. So, I pulled her close to me; her tiny frame not putting much resistance as I pulled her close, my fear starting to leave as I regained my confidence. I finally figured out why I felt the need to search her out despite all those years of failure.
"I refuse to believe that." I whispered, a small smile coming back.
"Why are you looking for her?" Her voice was still even and detached.
"I never got to tell her something important before she left."
"And what was that?" I decided to just show her, as I caught her lips with my own. I did my best to convey everything that I needed to tell her. And, when she responded by kissing me back, it only encouraged me to hold it longer until she broke away, her lips still brushing mine as she said in a whispered;
"I'm sorry, Robin."
There you have it. Part the two. Just something I had floating around for a while. One day, I wondered what would have kept Robin from not stopping Raven, and here is the answer!
Next story I will work on? Probably a story called, 'Oops...A Cat Story'. It'll be about Raven and Kydd Wykkd getting turned into cats, and all the problems that arise from that! Along with maybe a little bit of romance...
Yes, if you havn't guessed it yet, I don't do cannon pairings. And RaeXWyk don't get enough love!