This story was written in its entirety sometime before my hard drive crashed in January 2008. I recovered 99% of what I had, and all of my documents made it through the crash. I think this was written in the summer of 2007. The only changes made were to correct the dash-happy period of writing that probably is all over the place in Dots and to keep sections biased toward one point of view.
There is no sequel, and there is no sequel planned. If you want a crack at what happens next, be my guest. This has the potential to end happily, bittersweetly, horribly, or in some other way entirely. Please do send a link if you write the ending, and I'll pass them on to other readers.
"Hey, Raven, you have something in the mail. Want me to get it for you?"
It was a simple offer, very polite. It would have surprised Raven any other day, when Beast Boy was more likely to offer terrible jokes. It made sense after considering her teammate's motive. Just yesterday, Beast Boy and Cyborg had tried a new variation on Stankball. Raven doubted that their combined efforts at laundering that cloak would ever fix the discoloration. She hadn't mentioned that the cloak had been ripped twice and just one fight away from meeting the trash can. Instead, she had noticed that both were apologetic and that their attempts at laundry kept them away from the common room. By her best guess, Beast Boy wouldn't try a joke for at least a few more hours. She accepted his offer, even if it wasn't necessary. It was simple enough, and small gestures like this proved that she wasn't holding a grudge. Small offers proved that he was sorry. Most of their important conversations didn't involve words.
He paused before handing over the envelope, slitting it open for her but not looking inside. A talon extending through his glove brushed something inside the envelope. "Someone sent a present for you, I think."
She took the envelope and glanced inside as something flashed blue light. "A ring. I guess it's thoughtful, if far too big." The thick metal ring was already glinting with a subtle blue light. She took it from the envelope carefully, but nothing felt odd about the heavy ring. "It looks like it was made from steel," she said critically, looking at the odd present. "The carving in this is too small to make out, but the blue is an interesting effect."
"The carving looks a little—um—mysterious enough that it's probably meant to go with your usual vibe," Beast Boy assured her.
Somehow, that hesitation was almost enough to make her smile. "You were going to say creepy." His stuttering start to a reply was enough. "You didn't say it. Thank you for the thought." She glanced at the carvings again, unsurprised that he hadn't changed his mind.
"Can I see it?" he asked, to change the subject.
She dropped the ring in his hand in response. The carvings lit in the same pale blue, with an iridescent sheen that spread softly through the air. "Odd," she said with a frown.
"Maybe it likes green people," he said, putting it back on her hand. The light faded again to a subtle glow.
"Maybe." She left the room with ring and envelope. There was no letter or note inside. There only writing was on the envelope: Raven of the Teen Titans, Jump City, California. There was no return address.
Hush, little baby, don't say a word,
"Beast Boy. Obstacle course. Five minutes ago. Are you even awake in there?" Cyborg said loudly. "I gave you a ten minute warning fifteen minutes ago."
"If you're not out there in two minutes, you get an extra run, and you know that it won't be on a low level."
"B. Say something, would you? You're making me a little nervous. Don't make me come in there to get your sorry butt out of bed."
Cyborg made his decision after another minute of silence. "I'm coming in. Manual override." He punched in a code. They all knew the sequence of numbers, only to be used for emergencies. When a teammate was in bed two hours past noon and not responding, he decided it counted.
He waded through the mess. Beast Boy was still asleep, and all Cyborg's readings said that all vital signs were steady. He clapped his friend on the shoulder, gently. "You feeling okay?"
Beast Boy opened his eyes slowly, blinking at the faint light Cyborg emitted. "Yeah, fine. I guess I overslept. I know that I was having some pretty crazy dreams."
"Get in your uniform or it'll be nightmares. You know how Robin gets with punctuality. The guy that taught him the ropes did a good job and all, but could loosen up."
"How do you know it was a guy? Robin's never said he really worked with Batman." Beast Boy asked, discreetly pulling a blanket over an area of his mattress that looked shredded. It tended to happen when his dreams got too wild.
"Have you seen how completely clueless Robin is with Starfire?"
"Have you seen how clueless everyone is with Starfire?" Beast Boy returned. "Still, Robin doesn't do at all well with the fangirls. I just had some trouble waking up, that's all. If Robin gives me trouble, I'm sick. Deal?"
"Sounds fine to me. You just get to cover for me next time I don't hear a practice announcement because I'm doing maintenance on the T-Sub or T-Car. Maybe even the R-Cycle. We all know that Robin's a much better fighter than mechanic."
"Okay, so the next time the announcement doesn't reach the basement, you couldn't hear over the equipment," Beast Boy suggested.
"Deal, unless you want to make me dinner the next time you sleep in? If you last until six next time…"
"Yeah, right," Beast Boy said. "Now get out of my room, would you?"
"Good point. The only thing worse than spandex is spandex that probably would move on its own if the mold touched it." Cyborg used a low-intensity sonic blast on one particularly worrisome section of growth. "I'll get Robin to cut you a little slack."
Mama's gonna buy you a mockingbird.
"You haven't answered for three minutes," Raven said stiffly, taking her hand from his shoulder deliberately. "Cyborg mentioned that you didn't wake up this morning. Perhaps you are coming down with something."
"Fine, this afternoon when you didn't show up for the obstacle course." She waited for him to move to a sitting position, then took her book. He had been lying on top of it. "Are you feeling well? I confronted Cyborg, but don't blame him for talking. You both know you're on probation from that Stankball incident." That was her trump card. Cyborg wouldn't get in trouble, and Beast Boy might tell her something. When Beast Boy slept deeper than usual, it was a scary sight. Some corpses probably slept lighter.
"I'm fine, Raven. I just forgot a few things for a moment. Like the course today. Weird, isn't it? Until just now, I couldn't remember why my shoulder hurt."
"You lost focus in the wrong section. You knew where the cutters were. No one's ever hit those before. Robin and Cyborg checked the programming. You blanked."
"I didn't remember where they were."
"The point of an obstacle course like ours is to keep on your toes, Beast Boy. I went in and got you out. I can teleport, which can help in field situations. I was the logical one to go, when you started spurting blood. As it is, I had to heal what would have been severe muscle damage to your shoulder. If we were out fighting and you really were in trouble out there where it really counts, Cyborg can't turn off the course and I might not be able to go in."
"So, I better shape up?" he asked quietly.
She would have preferred it if he was mad. Then, she wouldn't feel like such a bully. She just cared about her teammate. Was that such a problem? He had been bleeding, heavily. She still had traces of his blood on her arms, but she hadn't taken the time to wash off yet. She had healed his shoulder, but had left just a little soreness, so he'd remember. The aftermath just wasn't right. He was supposed to joke, or bristle that she was correcting him, or something. She realized that she had been staring for a few seconds, which was a few seconds too long.
"Yes," she snapped, unaccountably angry.
He stared after her when she stormed away, bewildered. He couldn't think why she would be so angry, or just what had hit him on that obstacle course.
And if that mockingbird don't sing,
Starfire didn't understand it. It was four o'clock P.M. No one had yet explained just why times were P.M. or A.M., but she knew that people who went to bed before midnight should be up by four, unless they were sick. Beast Boy was not sick, Cyborg said. Raven said nothing about the conversation after healing Beast Boy the previous night. All Raven had mentioned was that, after Beast Boy was healed, he had dropped like a light. Onto her book.
Robin was trying to think through ideas. Cyborg was uncharacteristically quiet, and had mentioned something about laundry and 'the Stankball incident.' Raven had nodded and said something about how he didn't have to worry about the cloak, but Starfire guessed Cyborg would rather worry about the cloak than Beast Boy.
Starfire was the third to have the experience of trying to wake Beast Boy from a deep sleep. When her first attempts failed, she stopped. She tried something else: she listened.
He spoke in his sleep, so quietly that she could not understand the words. "Beast Boy," she said in a whisper, speaking into his ear.
"Who?" he mumbled.
She was not overly unsettled. She had once awakened Tamaraneans who had imbibed in too much ceremonial drink. "You. Beast Boy. Need. To. Awaken."
"At this moment, yes." Starfire leaned back when his eyes opened to a thin slit.
He frowned, puzzled. "Who are you?"
She stared at him, disbelieving. She counted her breaths. One, out. Two, out. Had he just asked-
"Starfire, I'm sorry, I'm just really out of it, that's all. I'll be down in five minutes, promise," he said far too quickly.
"Beast Boy, are you feeling fully well?"
"I feel like somebody wrapped my brain in cotton. Maybe that's why it's stopped knocking around. As it is, though, I completely forgot for a second. It's getting worse, Star, and I don't know what's wrong with me."
"Friend Beast Boy," she began delicately, "perhaps we should-"
"Please, Star, don't tell the others," he said quickly. "You know that they'll make a big fuss, and then they'll think that I'm going crazy again. The last time I couldn't remember… well, you remember."
"Indeed. I remember a teammate who protected someone who needed aid," Starfire said. "Please become well quickly. I will tell before we fight, should your condition not improve, because I will not see a teammate hurt."
"Do not protest, please. I am most adamant. I wish you a good afternoon, and I wish that you would not require me to keep secrets. However, I will maintain our confidence until the secret must be told. We perform most dangerous deeds, friend Beast Boy. If something strange is occurring, the team must know."
"I know, Starfire."
"Be well, Beast Boy."
Mama's gonna buy you a diamond ring.
Late at night, when all were finally asleep after tossing and turning, wishing and hoping, wondering and worrying- from in an envelope on a dresser, a blue glow brigthened, spreading to a glowing cloud of ever-shifting light.
On the ring, the flickering blue light formed into archaic symbols and words, and the glow played across the sleeping face of the room's occupant, but the light did not touch her. Instead, it danced on the walls. The shifting carvings shot beams of light to the walls, forming sharp-edged symbols traced in blue light on the dark walls.
And if that diamond ring turns brass,
Robin glanced at the time. Four hours and forty-two minutes past noon, and one of his team wasn't up. He had hoped that there would be some improvement. Just two days before, he had witnessed something he never had wanted to see. One of his team was hurt in training, badly. Cyborg had run stats to show that the cutters had always run that exact same way, in that same pattern- but he had seen the blood fly.
Cyborg had stopped the course within a second- in .17581 seconds, as the digital readout before Robin noted. He touched another area of the screen, showing just what had happened. Beast Boy had faltered at some moment, as if the ground was unsteady beneath his feet. Robin shouldn't have let him try. Something was wrong. Cyborg couldn't trace any illnesses. He had even convinced Beast Boy to provide a few blood samples for analysis. As far as they could tell, nothing was wrong.
Slower motion. If he looked hard enough, he would find the answer. It was in there. He knew it. Slowly, ever so slowly, the sharp blades moved forward. Beast Boy starts to move into a turn. There even were traces of feathers. He froze the screen to scrutinize the feathers. He slowly tapped in a new sequence of keys. The computer returned an answer seconds later (3.23906 seconds). There was a four in five (.81247) chance that the bird was some sort of hummingbird, from the pattern. Small, maneuverable, fast, able to fly backwards- all the perfect choice for the arena, one that Beast Boy had used many (59) times before.
That should have worked. Robin frowned as he again started the video feed, moving it even slower. That should have worked. But the feathers disappeared, and Beast Boy stumbled forward. He watched as the metal curved forward in a slow arc, as it slowly moved into a shoulder. The pause between contact and Cyborg and Raven's interference was interminable, and the image slowly changed. Even before pain or shock, there was another expression. Bewilderment. Robin could sympathize.
"What happened there, Beast Boy?" Robin frowned. The video continued. He watched as if it was a stranger that was bleeding onto the camera's lens.
There was a flash of black. The camera couldn't draw that out too long- Raven was there and gone within .38042 seconds, her teammate in her arms.
From there, he had the surveillance from the common room. Raven had used the couch, after impatiently putting down a towel from the nearest linen closet. By the time the team was inside, Beast Boy was fine. Tired, but fine. Raven promised, very dourly, that she would question him. That was when Beast Boy fell over, asleep even before landing on top of her book.
Now, Robin saw what had happened. Beast Boy had been awake, when Raven healed him. Beast Boy's face was indistinct from the camera's angle, but Robin could see Raven clearly past the white glow of healing. For one moment (.60928 seconds), she hadn't been mad, irritated, or tired. So, four Titans were concerned about Beast Boy. Robin would have cursed, if that would at all help. If they all were worried, something was wrong.
He had to talk to the team. Beast Boy could overhear if he woke up. If not, it would remain with the other Titans. From the pattern he had found, Beast Boy acted strangely after waking. It had taken more than an hour of persuasion to talk to Starfire. She had spoken with Beast Boy, but did not 'wish to divulge what friend Beast Boy asked me to conceal.' It had taken intervention from Raven to get the story. How were they supposed to help a teammate if there were secrets?
Robin could find no other common factor. All diet was normal, there hadn't been any major calls, the only injury had no possible infection associated with it (Raven had been insulted by the question), and all effects seemed to be mental or part of a mental problem. This wasn't the Beast again. This wasn't something that could be answered with a database. All symptoms that Robin could attribute to some disorder didn't line up with any disease that he could research.
He almost smiled, however dryly. Bruce would have hated this, but Batman wasn't around for this case that only had one answer. The answer wasn't logical. It wasn't a medical problem. This was something else- something the Titans had to deal with many times (far too many times to compute, since 'something else' is a very indefinite idea).
This had all started three days ago. Before Beast Boy went to sleep on that night, something happened to inhibit his sleep pattern. Now, he just had to find some mysterious cause that didn't fit traditional investigation. He turned the computer off. He had no idea. That's what he was going to tell his team.
He bleakly noticed his reflection on the dark screen. Reflection-Robin looked contemplative, not defeated. Robin felt defeated.
"You tell them," he told his reflection, suddenly angry. "You tell them that I don't know what to do. I don't know how to help him. I can't help him, and I'll still tell the team." He stared until the reflection seemed to soften. "He's going to be fine. The next time the call comes in, he'll be fine." He stalked away before he could consider what the man in the mirror had to think about that idea.
Mama's gonna buy you a looking glass.
"Does anyone understand this?" Robin asked.
"Not at all," Cyborg said. He sounded a bit distracted, but he still was trying to fit symptoms to a cause.
"No," Starfire said, still not sure if she had done the right thing by telling the others what had happened.
Raven shook her head, not yet trusting her voice on her innocent teammates. She was angry. Something was wrong. No one could fix it. Heroes weren't supposed to get hurt. She had to pull herself together. There was no reason to take this personally. It didn't matter that something was wrong with the one teammate who bothered her constantly, badgering her about tea and meditation and tofu and doing something with the team. She still had to calm down. "I don't think that this is something normal. I think it might be supernatural."
"At least you didn't say magic," Robin muttered.
"It could be," Raven said calmly.
"B- my old mentor had a few issues with magic," Robin said. "There's no logic to it."
"There is," Raven said, just as calm. She had to stay in control. "Magic has a purpose, and does exist There always is a procedure to follow. I do not use it frequently, but I did spend years around magic."
"What's the procedure?" Cyborg asked.
"It differs, for most spells, but is simple. If you want to do something magically, you have to be careful. It's most like- a ramp, say, or a pulley. A simple machine. You might not have to do as much work, to push a box up a ramp, but you have to move it farther. If you use pulleys, you can use less energy, but you have to pull more rope," Raven explained.
Starfire didn't comment that Raven hadn't said so much in days. "So, there is a cost for using such a procedure."
"Always," Raven said. "I might have something, in an old book. Something about this spell almost sounds familiar. Is Beast Boy still asleep?"
"Yes. Why?" Robin asked.
"I can try a few things, nothing that's really magic. More like magic detection," she said. "I agree with what you said, Robin. This is something that happens when he's asleep. If it has something to do with his mind, maybe staying awake doesn't allow for the spell to work. It is a subtle thing. If it's there, and not some assorted medical condition."
"His symptoms don't match any disease," Cyborg said.
"Do they match two?" Raven asked. Her voice was flat, as it always had to be, but Cyborg was already considering that possibility. "I'll try to have an answer by dinner. This is more important than training." It was a statement, but she still looked to Robin for approval. Something had to be close to normal.
"Get him back to normal, will you?" Robin tried to sound nonchalant, but he was serious. "Breakfast isn't the same without his nasty fake eggs around."
"I will," Raven said. "I know that I've heard of something like this before."
And if that looking glass gets broke,
Cyborg didn't know what he was expecting, but it wasn't an announcement that rang through the tower.
"Titans to my room as soon as possible. I have the answer."
He did know that he was running just behind Robin. Starfire had flown ahead. He walked into her room a little hesitantly, but she was serious. Raven stood in the center of the room, a circle of metal on her hand. The large ring would be loose on his hand. On her, it never would function as jewelry. The blue light that made scrolling designs on the wall only proved that it wasn't for fashion.
"What is that?" Robin asked.
"An old curse," Raven said grimly, closing her fist over the ring. "I know the basics- it has to do with memory. It only works when someone's mental guard is down- when the victim is sleeping, for instance. It's a bad piece of magic that Azar took into sanctuary long ago."
"Azar?" Cyborg had never heard the name. "Like Azarath?"
"In Earth ways of thinking, Azar was in charge of the planet," Raven said. "She was a monk, and she dabbled in the nicer magics. Color has nothing to do with magic type. This is one of the worst pieces in the collection." She slipped the ring on and off her finger as she looked to the others. "It wasn't meant for Beast Boy. He just touched it first."
"This was meant for me." Of all the times for the idiot to interfere, with his incessant attempts to make her smile… he had saved her. Raven clenched the ring in her fist. "As soon as he wakes up, the marks will stop glowing." She should have noticed first.
"What does that ring do?" Starfire wished that she understood such things.
"It takes memories and stores them," Raven said. "Whoever cast the spell can sort through them, after regaining the ring."
"Who would target you, Raven?" Robin asked.
She looked at the ring, and wondered. "Someone with access to Azarath before it was destroyed, or someone involved in the intergalactic black market." She watched the lights fade. "He's awake, I think. Someone should talk to him."
Mama's gonna buy you a billy goat.
Raven looked at Cyborg.
Cyborg looked at Robin.
Robin looked at Starfire.
"Will you speak to him, Raven? You are most aware of how the device works," Starfire said, looking at Raven.
"Yes." What else could Raven say? It should have been her.
And if that billy goat won't pull,
She knocked much more quietly than she usually did, not that she usually knocked on his door. "Beast Boy?" When Raven made an effort to sound nice, it was time to be worried.
He went with door number two, as usual. It was time for a joke, even if nothing good came to mind. "Should I come out there, Raven? I know that this room probably needs a HAZMAT team."
"No, thank you. I'll survive." She walked through his door. She'd be cranky if he said that she walked through the door, and correct him with terms that managed to make it sound boring, but walking through things still looked really cool. "The team is worried about you. They don't understand what's going on, but I think I do."
The team was worried about him. 'They' were, at least. "What's happening?"
"You opened my mail for me and touched a ring. That ring tested safe in all security, but that's because nothing here has seen magical technology like this." The ring was in her hand, pressing against her palm. From the marks on her hand, she'd been holding onto it for a long time.
"It's a… memory-stealer, in understandable terms. Whenever you sleep, you'll lose memories, depending on how much you dream. From what I read once, you can drastically slow the effects through ensuring that your sleep is dreamless. I can help you with that."
"More powers, Raven? You're an Azarath army knife, you know that?"
"No. This time, I recommend a heavy-duty sleeping pill. You'll be just as hard to wake up, but Cyborg has found a variety does not allow dreams."
"Thanks, Raven. For telling me."
"Thank me when I can change it," she said, walking back through his door.
Mama's gonna buy you a cart and bull.
"BB? You awake?"
"Yeah," he said, waiting for that slippery white that would take away names- he fought it in just a moment. "Rae's sleeping pills idea worked," he said with a yawn. "A little too well, maybe. How long was I out, Cy?"
"A day and a half."
"Not too bad, right?"
"Not bad at all. The med lab beds aren't all bad, are they?"
Beast Boy shrugged. "They're not bad. They just feel a little narrow."
Cyborg looked over the list Raven had written out. "Raven asked me if I could ask you a few questions. She would, but she and Robin have been researching nonstop. He's pulling out all his contacts, I have a few systems scanning the internet, and Raven has been going through her old books. Starfire's been forcing us all to eat regularly." Their takeout tab was going to be very impressive, by the time they solved this.
Cyborg handed over the list. "It's a list. All you need to do is tell me what didn't happen. I'm not sure what means what, but I'll tell Raven, and she'll have a lead."
"Okay. Let's start."
And if that cart and bull turn over,
"Did you finish?" she asked absently. There had to be a solution. There was a way to undo anything, even death. The spell to bring someone back was the darkest magic she had ever read about, because magic had a cost. Someone would pay the price, and the forbidden spells put the burden of cost on someone else.
"Here," Cyborg said. "I made a printout of all his answers. I don't know what you're looking for, so this was easier."
"Raven," he said, after a few minutes of silence as she read and cross-referenced responses with three different books. "He doesn't blame you. It's pure chance, nothing else."
"I know it was chance," she said. "I still don't know who would have sent me such a thing. Azarath was destroyed. If something such as that was stolen, the monks would have raised a fuss."
"You were raised with monks?" he asked. She didn't mind when Cyborg asked questions about personal things. If she didn't answer, he'd drop it, and he wouldn't bring it up again. She missed spending time in the garage with him, but they had to make sure Beast Boy was okay.
"By Azar and the other monks, actually," she said.
"Your mother wasn't around?" That was farther than either of them usually went, but she wanted someone to know. She had carried this secret far enough.
"She was around physically, but she had no part in raising me. I reminded her of my father, and she never could bring herself to trust me. She knew the prophecy, and she thought that I wouldn't make it."
Cyborg never gave her platitudes and never said he was sorry. There was a reason he knew more about her than almost anyone. "If you ever want to talk about her, I'll listen."
"Thank you, but there is not much to say. I don't even know if she is alive," she said. She didn't have to look to bring the right book to her hand. She recognized that book with more than sight. "She gave me this."
"I don't think I could pronounce the title," he said.
She said the title, a series of harsh syllables with a silibant undertone. A mark on the book flared white, and the cover opened. The dedication was vividly dark against the white paper, and in large enough letters that anyone could read it easily. With how quickly Cyborg read, he already knew. To my daughter, that she may learn.
"What is this?"
"Meditation," she said. "Without years of practice, a few of the techniques would be extremely dangerous. Roughly translated, the title means Meditation and Oblivion."
"What language is this?"
"The name of it is forgotten, and for good reason. It's a language of command, used only to bind." She glanced at the dedication, and her half-formed sentence vanished. She stood abruptly. The envelope that had started everything flew to her hand.
"Cyborg, you once compared handwriting samples to help find a suspect," she said, and her voice wasn't at all under control. The paper in her hand crumpled. The ring had come without a letter or note, just with Raven's name and address printed neatly.
She laid the envelope beside the book's dedication. "Match?" she asked, voice barely more than a whisper.
Cyborg had never said he was sorry, but she could feel every one of his emotions when he nodded. "Match."
Mama's gonna buy you a dog named Rover.
"Your mother?" Beast Boy asked, incredulous.
Raven looked away. "Yes. I'm sorry, I-"
"Raven, you can't apologize for this," he said. "Your mother tried to steal your memories. You had nothing to do with it." She didn't believe him. "It's better this way."
That made her meet his eyes. Before she could yell at him, he kept talking. "You know what's happening, Raven. If you'd been the first one to touch that thing, we'd have no idea what happened."
"Beast Boy." The tone of her voice left no room for half-answers. "How much do you remember?"
"Not that much," he admitted slowly. "Cy reminded me. It'll come back, though, right?"
He still trusted her to make it better. "I promise," Raven said. "I'll find a way to get all your memories back."
"If you try to feel guilty about this, I will tell Starfire on you," he threatened, grinning. "You're good at finding all the stuff in old books. Got any leads?"
"One," Raven said. "My mother gave me a book, years ago. It just might help."
And if that dog named Rover won't bark,
Raven took a long, shuddering breath. She had told the truth. She had exactly one lead.
If she did the spell on the page, Beast Boy would be fine. All his memories would return, there would be no lasting effects, and he could get back to normal.
In return, she would surrender her memories to the old curse.
To save him, she would be gone.
Raven closed the book. A few last hours would hurt nothing.
She had dinner with her friends, and made sure to have a moment or two with each. She told Starfire that she missed going to the mall, and they planned to make a trip when it all was over. She asked Robin if he would show her that hand-to-hand move he had been talking about. She told Cyborg that the T-Car would recover from neglect better with four hands taking care of her.
She spent most of the time with Beast Boy, which was only fitting. She was worried about him.
More importantly, the guilt would be his to bear. She smiled at a comment of his, and wondered just what those dazed emotions of his could become, if they had more time. His victory dance at making her smile wasn't as obnoxious as she had expected, but he only knew of that old quest from Cyborg's description. The full version probably would have left her scowling for at least an hour and a half.
She drifted back to her room, taking a long route as she tried to fix the Tower in her mind.
For him, she reminded herself when she was back in her room, belongings neatly in order. It had to happen, and her emotions had never mattered before. She would still miss them.
She took one last look out her window, looking at their city in the distance, and hissed the word that would show her the right spell. The book opened slowly, hovering in the air, and she stepped towards it.
Mama's gonna buy you a horse and cart.
"Her own mother," Robin said quietly, when Raven had gone back to her room a full hour after the dinner dishes were clean.
"Raven knew she and her mom weren't close, but the look on her face… she had no idea. She told me a little about her childhood, then showed a book her mother had given her. I couldn't pronounce the title if you offered me a GameStation 4, but I can play back what she said." Cyborg took the silence for waiting, and played a voice clip.
Starfire shivered. "The words do not sound pleasant."
"What does it mean?" Beast Boy asked. Maybe he was just easily scared, or maybe he had a few instincts humans forgot, but the hairs on the back of his neck had risen to hear those words.
"Meditation and Oblivion, in the rough translation."
He knew. Beast Boy would never be able to explain how it all made sense so quickly, but he knew.
"We need to stop her," he said. "Now."
And if that horse and cart fall down,
Her room was empty, and everything was neatly folded. The bed was made, the books were aligned perfectly, the strange mirror Beast Boy remembered again was dull and blank.
They all used favors to get substitutes in their job, but it couldn't be permanent. The city needed them, in a way that they couldn't just ignore, and they needed to find Raven.
Robin researched magic. Starfire learned languages with the all-business touch of her lips. Cyborg tried to decipher just what had happened, and scoured the internet for a trace of her. Beast Boy helped, however he could, and charmed several news stations into joining the cause. It wasn't enough. They couldn't protect the city and hope to find Raven, and it had been months.
Beast Boy was the first to leave, and not the last. Cyborg went with him, after Beast Boy stopped by for a visit. Robin should have felt betrayed, if he wasn't jealous. Watching over Jump City started to become a burden instead of a duty.
The last two Titans disappeared one beautiful summer day, and no one knew what had become of them but two elusive men who searched dark corners not drawn on any map.
They would find her.
Jump City was half destroyed, when a villain took advantage of the police officers used to their defenders taking care of the serious threat.
The Titans regretted the loss of their home, but it would have been someone, someday, and they couldn't leave a teammate somewhere in the unknown.
They searched, even as they knew that they could not look forever.
You'll still be the sweetest little baby in town.
She sang strains of an almost forgotten lullaby, voice husky from repeating the song. Her little girl, finally safe. She had missed the most important parts of rearing a child. Her baby, her Raven, was the sweetest little girl that a mother could know. Arella ran her finger along the edge of the ring, around and around as the carvings met the sensitive skin on the pads of her fingers. Most memories weren't what her daughter would want back- fights and Trigon and being alone. Who would need so many memories of being alone, of meditating, of fighting criminals for the sake of citizens who couldn't appreciate her?
Her daughter stirred in her sleep, mumbling something in the monotone that never left her sleep-talking. The murmurs always seemed to feature the Titans, after one incomprehensible speech directed to Azar. Were Starfire, Robin, Cyborg, or Beast Boy caring for her?
Arella didn't mind. Her little child was safe, with no unhappy memories left of loneliness. Arella had almost sobbed, to find memories of a damp pillow in one of the oldest memories. Her little child who couldn't feel had cried in the absolute peace of Azar's temple. Only a few times, always keeping up a shield to keep the others safe… it didn't fit anything that Azar had guessed about what a hybrid demon could do.
She sang again. It calmed her daughter, her darling child. She'd fetch the moon and stars for her sleeping daughter. Raven had woken, once, but Arella had fixed her sleeping pills quickly. The ring had done its work, so her daughter had only been confused. Raven could speak, and move, and gesture, but didn't know anything. It was as if an infant could run and walk and ask questions better left unanswered. It was easier when her daughter was asleep.
Arella smoothed the blankets, taking away the wrinkles that sleepy struggles had created. She continued her song, singing to her beautiful child. She didn't know that beneath the thick cotton of the blankets, traces of red were forming down her daughter's arms while Trigon hissed nightmares even under Arella's lullaby.
Soon, my daughter, he whispered. You will find your destiny. You do not remember, but I will explain everything.