Flowers for Ophelia
Disclaimer: I don't own Teen Titans
Just my take on Raven's experience during those twenty years Starfire was gone.
It was a gorgeous day in Jump City, the sky an endless expanse of azure with hardly a cloud in sight. Soft golden fingers slipped past the pane of glass that was part of Titans Tower and brushed against pale eyelids that hid deep violet eyes from the world. The young soul hosting those eyes let out a small grumble as she awoke, lifting her head from the sanctuary of her blanket and peered through her aubergine tresses.
Noticing the brilliant heavenly body smiling at her, the girl's lovely features twisted angrily, her mouth full of scorn and her usually knowing eyes burning with anger, feeling as if the glorious weather was mocking her.
The female Titan tensed, hunching her shoulders and gritting her teeth. She slammed her eyes shut, forcing the lump in her throat. She wouldn't cry. She hadn't cried in years, why start now? Her slender fingers clenched her blankets. Dammit! Why couldn't she get her emotions in check?
She took a deep breath, letting it hiss through her teeth as she stood and walked into her bathroom. She turned the faucet on with more force than she usually exerted and thrust her hands into the water before splashing it on her face, hoping the stinging sensation of the ice cold liquid would slap some sense into her. No good.
She looked into the mirror and saw a pair of haunted violet orbs staring back. For a fleeting second the eyes flashed a bright emerald causing her to gasp. Whipping around, she only saw the white walls of the bathroom greeting her--however slightly--eager gaze. This should've been expected. She glanced back at the mirror, her own eyes reflecting back at her. Her stare became blank as her body went through the motions of snapping off the light and returning to her room. She picked up her lightweight cloak and fastened it around her shoulders, letting it brush the floor as she retreated into the shadows of her hood, darkness her sanctuary.
Using her powers, she briefly became one with the walls before emerging in the living room of the Titans Tower. Silence reigned as she sensed the guilt and grief that saturated every pore of the room. Her eyes flicked about before landing on the tall form of her robotic team mate. Noticing her presence, he nodded to her briefly before turning his attention back to the bacon cooking on the burner in front of him. She assessed him, noticing how stiff and mechanical his movements were, no pun intended.
The doors to the room slid open and the youngest of the Titans strolled through, yawning as he brushed sleep from his eyes. The silence was pierced by his voice. "Good Morning Raven, Hey Cy."
Raven raised an eyebrow at the sound of the changeling's voice, realizing for the first time that it lacked the eager spark that it usually possessed. Instead he sounded much more subdued. He too, was feeling the dull ache that had slithered its way into all of their hearts when…
She was grateful when Cyborg snapped her out of her thoughts merely by speaking, "Hey BB." He then surprised both of the other Titans when he went over to the refrigerator and pulled out a container of tofu bacon followed by a carton of vegan specialized eggs.
"Thanks Cyborg," Beast Boy said as he watched his friend place the food on the kitchen counter. His forest green eyes then roamed over to the door. "So."
Both Raven and Cyborg knew of his unasked question. Their leader wouldn't be joining them this morning. He hardly joined them anymore.
Not since she vanished.
All three Titans stared at the door with such hope that it would slide open, making way for a red and golden orange blur to whip through, cheer and laughter ringing throughout the halls.
The door remained closed.
A collective sigh echoed through the area, followed by sips and the clanking of metal on porcelain. Beast Boy was the first one finished. "I'm gonna go watch television," he announced before unceremoniously dumping his dishes in the sink and flopping on the semi-circular couch. Cyborg soon followed, turning a curious eye toward Raven.
"You gonna read while we watch?" He asked in his typical older brother voice. "I promise we won't let our arguments escalate too much."
Raven shook her head. "I'm going to see if there's any life left in Robin."
"There's no life left in Robin," Beast Boy said in a surprisingly cynical tone. "There hasn't been any life in him in months." Inwardly, Raven sighed. He was right.
Once on the other side of the metal door, Raven raised her eyes in surprise. That last hour with her friends felt…normal. She immediately frowned. They were the Teen Titans. To be brutally honest, they were never normal. They weren't supposed to be normal. And though she would never admit it out loud, she liked it that way.
Mentally chanting her mantra, Raven glided down the silent halls, soon reaching a metal door that once radiated pride and determination. Now all that pulsated from the door was vulnerability, the determination lingering but faint.
Foregoing the courtesy of knocking, Raven tapped in the override code, letting herself into her leader's room. She wasn't surprised to see that she was entering a place that was practically devoid of light. What did surprise her was Robin, he wasn't sitting at his desk obsessing over figuring out time travel. Instead the young man was sprawled out on his bed staring blankly at the ceiling.
"Hey Raven," he greeted blithely.
"Hello Robin," the empath replied. "Are you going to feed yourself anytime soon or am I going to have to force feed you?"
Robin pressed his lips tightly together, giving himself time to get composed before answering, "You sound just like Star."
Raven forced back a wince at the pitiful mew that had become his voice. It was amazing, she had a hard enough time merely thinking of her missing friend's name as did the boys, yet Robin said her name with such ease, a name Raven assumed would've been taboo for him. Then again, just because he could force her name past his lips didn't mean that a new wound ripped itself open in his heart.
Robin pierced her thoughts. "I can't do it Raven."
She arched an inquisitive eyebrow. "Do what, Robin?"
He sighed, sitting up and crossed his legs. "I don't think I can be Robin anymore. I don't want to be Robin anymore. There's just too much pain involved."
"There was pain when you first put on the mantle," Raven pointed out. "You'd feel pain even if you weren't. You can't be immune no matter what your actions are. Besides," she bit back the if about to escape her lips. "When she comes back, won't the first person she'll be looking for is her best friend? Robin?"
Robin let out a half-hearted chuckle. "I promised her forever. I just don't know how long I'll be able to keep trying." He got to his feet. "Thanks Raven." As he went into the hallway, she heard him comment, "Whoa, bright."
Rolling her eyes, Raven followed her friend yet her path took a different turn for she found herself in front of the door she never thought she'd have the courage to stand by. Had it not be for the bond she shared with the room's former occupant, Raven might've thought, it's just a door. Yet things were vastly different.
She hesitated for a brief moment before teleporting inside. The view before her was of mostly a royal purple, a shade lighter than Raven's own eyes, but thankfully her friend had never settled for nauseating pink. She became saddened when she noticed the covers on the bed neatly tucked in, not a wrinkle in sight signaling life. Nearly an inch of dust billowed from where Raven's hand made contact with the cover, gently snowing back down onto the soft surface.
She glanced around, her eyes soon falling on an open drawer, some contents messily hanging along the wooden lip. Getting a closer look, she noticed a set of bells forming a silver necklace. Vaguely she remembered seeing them earlier. She remembered the attempt for attention to be received, and the sadness that was felt instead. Roommates annoy each other all the time, no big deal.
Apparently to Starfire it was a very big deal. Raven wondered if she would ever find out why friendship was so important to her. Maybe it was just a part of her bubbly personality, no questions asked.
Yet Raven doubted that for when she touched the necklace, a feminine voice usually so innocent was flooded with hurt, echoing throughout Raven's mind. The Reckmas….
A shiver shot down the Titan's spine. No, it wasn't possible. But, was it? Without Starfire's presence, would the Titans truly suffer the Reckmas? She was their friend, and the only one it seemed who truly valued friendship while the others, Raven herself included, took advantage of it.
Moving away from the necklace, Raven made a hasty exit, back into the safe haven of her own room.
Slam! Raven fell to knees inside her room, her teeth gritted, her body tense. Her breathing coming through in hisses. This was much like how she awoke nearly everyday, only this time her cause for seething had nothing to do with Starfire's disappearance. It had everything to do with Beast Boy's stupidity and carelessness.
I am not creepy! She thought vehemently. Why couldn't the damn grass stain realize that?
Get it together Raven, remember what happened the last time Rage was released? We don't need a repeat of that.
Raven folded her body into the lotus position and began to chant, "Azarath, Metrion, Zinthos…" As she meditated, Raven's thoughts wandered over to Starfire. She remembered the girl's chipper smile, those emerald eyes of hers were hardly ever clouded. Briefly Raven had been in Starfire's shoes, or mind, rather when their essences had been swapped as a result of Raven trying to save them from being kidnapped by the Puppet King in order to rescue the boys.
When you feel righteous fury, you can summon your star bolts. Yet when I was in your body it took me forever to get it right. Being in your body had nothing to do with using your powers, it was me, because I need to keep my emotions in balance. How do you do it Starfire? How are you able to fly, if you're sad? You once told me that your powers are fueled by your emotions, Starfire. When you're happy, you can fly. you fly? Or are you forced to the ground? How do you know when the fury you do feel is righteous?
Needless to say, I'm envious of your powers. Yes, both of ours are reliant on our emotions, yet you have so much more of a free reign on your emotions than I do.
Raven exhaled sharply through her nose before opening her eyes. Though her emotions were no longer simmering, she had no desire to leave her room. Floating down to her bed, Raven leaned back only to hit something hard. Frowning, she sat up and pulled back her covers.
There lay a small leather bound book. Stroking the aged cover, she felt curiosity overtake her as she opened to the first crinkled page, ancient script scrawled over the parchment.
Perhaps it wouldn't be so bad for her to lose herself in the world of fantasy.
She could feel her lips stretch in a genuine smile, her eyes a much brighter color whenever she looked in the mirror, a near sapphire. Her cloak was no longer a deep navy blue like the evening Caribbean sea, but light like the morning sky. The most notable change in Raven was the fact that she started humming.
It was quite easy to say that she was falling in love.
His name was Malchior, a young sorcerer she discovered within the binding of her new book. He had been attacked by a dragon, Rorek, his magic diminished. With the help of Raven's own powers, a temporary body of mere parchment wrappings was born from the pages granting him a more tangible grasp at life.
He spoke to her of the riches of magic and the adventures he once had before his fateful battle with Rorek, his voice so charismatic, the sentences emitted from his lips so fluid when caressed by his gentle tenor tones.
Whenever she was frustrated by the growing tensions among the team and the fuel Beast Boy added to the fire with his wisecracks, he was there to embrace her and wipe her tears away.
As she strolled into the kitchen, Raven did her best not to chuckle at the boys' astounded looks towards her change in appearance. She kept her attention focused on the refrigerator not five feet away from her, summoning an apple to her open hands.
Robin was the first to speak, "Uh, Raven, I like the new color."
She smiled at her friend, "I thought it was time for a change. Too much darkness."
"Dude!" Beast Boy exclaimed, bafflement seeping into his voice. "What happened to you? Wh-where did all of the dark creepiness go?"
Raven laughed, completely unfazed. "Oh Beast Boy," she said, lightly placing a hand on his shoulder before floating back to her room and Malchior who secretly waiting for her.
Numbness, that was all she could feel. A cold, dull numb sensation swept through her as she collapsed to the floor. She felt an aching swell up in her eyes, but no tears would stroke her cheeks.
She had been betrayed. She couldn't believe she let herself fall for his lies!
She lay there, no wish or will to move. All she wanted to do was disappear.
A knock on her door shattered the comforting silence causing her to inwardly groan. She heard the uncomfortable shifting of shoes against the tile floor.
"Uh, Rae? Raven? I-it's me, Beast Boy."
Her eyes fixated a curious stare at the door. What could he possibly want?
"L-listen," he began awkwardly. "I…I'm sorry for the things I've been saying lately. I didn't mean them. I mean, so what if you like the dark? I-it's just a part of who you are, right? And even though it wasn't my fault, I'm really really sorry about what happened with you and Malchior. You didn't deserve that."
After listening to his words, she surprised them both by leaping to her feet, opening her door and throwing her arms around him. He was shocked while she held onto him, afraid that if she released him too soon, she'd be swallowed by her grief.
Dread filled Raven as soon as she opened her eyes. Today was her birthday. Her sixteenth birthday to be exact.
The day of the apocalypse.
Oh how she wished that for once she could be like a typical teenager and pull the covers over her head, ignoring the goings on of the outside world while she slept the day away. But that wasn't possible. She wasn't a typical teenager.
She wasn't even completely human.
And in that moment, the ironic thing to Raven was, the one who was most like a typical teenager had been the least human out of all of them.
Forcing herself out of bed, Raven trudged into the bathroom, refusing once to look in the mirror, terrified of what her reflection may betray. When she gathered enough strength to slip out into the Ops room, she nearly had what small amount of wits she had, scared out of her.
A birthday party. Though she was touched by the effort from her friends, this was the last thing she wanted. The last thing she needed. A small pang shot through her heart, knowing who usually would've corralled her friends into organizing such an occasion. One glance at the sadness combing the boys' smiles, Raven knew how much they still missed Starfire.
As if the pain would ever go away.
She played the part well, smiling warmly and encouraging the team to do activities such as hanging out at the park and eating pizza at their favorite eatery. She did her best to avoid Robin's inquisitive glare and knew that even without the bond they shared, he knew well enough that she was feigning happiness and was feeling almost nothing at best.
She would tell them the truth, but right now she wanted to relish in the feeling of knowing that her friends were alive.
She missed her penny.
Raven knew that it was a silly thought, but it was one that crossed her mind as Robin carried her younger self on his back, having been forced into that body once her father ripped her power away from her. As she listened absentmindedly to the story Robin was telling her, Raven's thoughts drifted back to the penny.
It wasn't a particularly shiny penny and given fact that it was a penny, it might not be deemed of great worth by many, but to Raven it was priceless. It was pressed into her hands by Beast Boy as a symbol of courage. Yet when Trigon had activated her curse, her destiny to be a portal for him to cross from the Underworld to the realm of the living, the penny had slipped from her grasp.
Raven screamed when she watched her friends fall one by one. She raced over to Robin, her surrogate brother and tugged on his sleeve, begging him to open his eyes. He didn't stir.
Beast Boy was next. All of the energy had been sapped from him and from what Raven could tell, he appeared to be glad that he was unconscious. She also saw that he was clutching her penny. The sight of her friends so innocent and ravaged, dragged into a fight they were never destined to be a part of brought tears to Raven's eyes. For the first time in years, drops of saline fell from her eyes.
She found the courage to fight back.
Raven stared blankly at the colorful balloons and flashing lights as the united team of every Titan there was celebrated their victory over the defeat of the Brotherhood of Evil. She immediately amended her previous thought. Almost every Titan was present.
"Let me guess." Raven turned toward Beast Boy, a half smile appearing on her face at the twinkle of mischief in his eye. "This is pointless, right?"
Her half smile became a smirk. "You know I'm not a party girl."
The changeling nodded. "So I take it I won't be able to convince you to dance with me once?"
"You would be correct."
As the two listened to the music and watch Cyborg flirt/argue with Bumblebee, Raven noticed a figure gleaning amongst the shadows. Without so much as a bye your leave to Beast Boy, Raven followed the figure.
"So you're giving up?"
The figure sighed, letting the mask fall from his fingers. "I guess I couldn't keep up the promise of forever after all. You're right, Raven. I can't run from the hurt, I know that, but I'm still human. As much as a huge part of me doesn't want to acknowledge it, I have my limits. And I've finally reached mine."
Raven was silent for a few moments before asking, "And where will you go?"
Robin shrugged his shoulders. "I doubt he'll be waiting for me with open arms, but back to Gotham to live with Bruce."
"Do you think its possible that Starfire will come back?"
Another shrug. "Maybe. I mean, I want her to come back." Blue eyes concealed by the shadows flickered toward the window. "I know that she is strong. But…I can't help but feel that she's terrified."
Raven crossed her arms. "Then why does it sound like you're giving up? If she comes back and you're not here, she'll be devastated."
Robin hung his head and swallowed back his tears. "I've reached my limit."
Nearly a year passed since Robin's departure, five years since Starfire's disappearance, and Raven found herself reaching her limit. The aura within Titans Tower was despondent and draining. She, Cyborg and Beast Boy were engaged in more arguments amongst themselves than actual battle with criminals.
Perhaps some space would be best for everyone.
She was packing her things in a suitcase when she heard a knock on the door. She hesitated, not wanting the boys to know about her departure until morning. Before she could levitate her suitcase into the closet and shut it, Beast Boy came sauntering in. "Hey Rae," He greeted "Cyborg and I were…" He froze, eyes glued to the suitcase. "Uh…please tell me you, Jinx and Bee are having a sleepover."
Raven shot him a wry smile. "Not quite."
The color slipped from his face. "Y-you're leaving? Raven, why?"
Her smile became sad. "I can't stay Beast Boy. I just…need to find my own place in the world."
"Your place is with me!" He exclaimed. "I-I-I mean, w-with me and…and Cyborg. Come on Raven, please don't leave! We'll clean up our acts, I promise!"
She stepped toward him and placed a soft kiss on his cheek. "I have to go."
His whimper broke her heart.
She found a job at a small, slightly run down music store. She wasn't entirely certain why she sought out work. Perhaps it was the company of others she craved. This could never replace the feeling she had when she had been with the Teen Titans, her friends. Yet it was a small way of consoling herself, an attempt to rid herself of the loneliness.
She was organizing the records, her movements slightly mechanic, when her coworker, a young girl of eighteen with magenta streaks interrupting the flow of her shoulder length ebony hair, three piercing in each lobe, a small garnet stud adorning her nose came up beside her. The elder woman spoke. "Hello, Charlotte." Her violet eyes remained on the task at hand.
"Hi Raven. Need any help?"
"I'm fine here. Don't you have to man the cash register up front?"
"Nah, Robert's over there."
Raven paused in her work, finally looking the girl in the eye. "Alright Charlotte, what's your real reason for coming back here?"
Charlotte blushed. "Just a silly question."
Raven raised an eyebrow, waiting for the girl to proceed. "Well, it's that…" She took a breath, then continued. "Robert says you look like you're in mourning, but you hardly wear black. Except for today apparently," she said taking in Raven's black jeans and tee-shirt underneath her white vest. "I thought black was all about mourning."
"In Chinese tradition white is the color of mourning," Raven replied. "White is also the absence of color. Black is the blending of all colors."
Indeed she did glide through life like a lost widow whose husband recently passed. She walked into her rather humble yet cozy apartment and curled up on her bed. She lay there for five long minutes before reaching under her bed and pulled out a lacquered wooden box. Flipping it open, she pulled out a small, silver handled mirror and did something she hadn't done in a long time. She looked into it.
Raven floated down the twisted rocky paths of Nevermore seeking out her Emotion counterparts. Happy was the first to greet her. "Heya Raven! Long time, no see! How've you been?"
Slightly amused, Raven replied. "Wouldn't you know?"
Happy shrugged. "Knowledge would know more than I would. Obviously, since y'know, she's Knowledge! She knows things!"
Rolling her eyes, Raven asked her pink alter ego, "Where is she?"
"Consoling Timid most likely. She's been really upset recently. You can find them at Knowledge's library."
"Anytime Sis!" Happy sang before skipping away.
Raven traveled to Knowledge's library and slipped inside. "Knowledge, Timid," She called. "Come here please." The aspects appeared before her.
"Yes, Raven?" Knowledge asked. The former Titan looked at the pale gold reflection.
"Have I made the right decision?" She asked. "I feel so empty."
"Of course you haven't made the right choice!" Timid snapped, surprising Raven and Knowledge. "You've been feeling empty because you're alone! You abandoned them!"
"I abandoned them?" Raven said incredulously. "They abandoned me!"
"Beast Boy and Cyborg are still at the Tower!" Timid snipped. "You're the one who left."
"Sister, Timid," Knowledge interjected. "Let's calm down and focus. Do I need to bring Serenity here?"
Immediately a silver clad Raven, the twin of Knowledge appeared. Serenity, sometimes known as Focus spoke, calm suffusing her voice. "You summoned me, Knowledge?"
"Heh, sorry Serenity," Knowledge said sheepishly. "Not really, but it's good that you're here."
"What is the present situation?" Serenity asked her twin.
"Raven feels that her leaving the Titans was not the wisest of decisions," Knowledge explained. "And Timid was…providing her opinion."
"I see," Serenity replied, adopting a thoughtful look. "First things first. Rage, get away from Timid." With a flick of her wrist toward Timid, the silver Raven drew away a crimson colored aspect.
"She was irritating me with all of her caterwauling," Rage growled. "So I just helped her out." Rage turned toward the Raven who was once more clad in Navy. "You should know if you made the right choice. We feel what you feel. You feel what we feel."
Raven looked at her Emotions present. "I wanted space."
"You chose the wrong time to get that space," Timid blubbered.
"I can still go back," Raven pointed out.
"Can you?" Knowledge asked. "Things were very rocky when Starfire disappeared and then when Robin departed the team, things were more unstable. Your leaving Beast Boy and Raven might've been the final cut to the thread. If you go back, it might be to an empty tower."
"In other words, what Goldie is saying," Rage interrupted. "You abandoned them."
Raven remained silent for a long moment before finally speaking. "I see. If you'll excuse me, I need to be alone."
"Oh of course Sister," Rage sneered. "We completely un--"
"That's enough, Rage," Serenity said sharply. "Go, Sister. We will be fine."
Nodding, Raven took her leave.
That night, Raven tossed fitfully about on her bed. The moments spent in Nevermore haunted her.
"Of course you didn't make the right choice!"
"You abandoned them!"
"You're the one who left them!"
"Beast Boy and Cyborg are still at the Tower!"
"Can you go back?"
"Oh of course Sister…."
"Y-you're leaving? Raven…why?"
"You're place is with me!"
"You made the wrong choice!" You abandoned them!"
Shut up! Shut up! SHUT UP!!!!
The room was a pure, brilliant white. Completely devoid of color. She stood in a far corner, once again swallowed by the darkness of her hood. Though she now resided in the light, the dark was still her sanctuary.
A voice broke through that sanctuary.
"Raven?" The voice was timid and unsure. A voice she hadn't heard in twenty years. "It is I, Starfire."
That voice had to have been an illusion.
"No such thing as friends. Not for me."
The voice became worried. "Raven, what are you talking about?"
"No friends, I don't deserve them."
"Raven, that is untrue!" The voice persisted, drawing closer.
"They're never coming back! I abandoned them! I deserve to be alone." She drifted forward, trying to escape the illusion.
"Your mind," The voice now whispered. "Without friends, you--"
"Go away! You're not even real! Leave!"
No one's ever coming back.
Ugh, completely horrible, I know. Go ahead and tell me how bad this was, I know.