Make Me Wanna Die
"You make me wanna die
I'll never be good enough
You make me wanna die"
- Make Me Wanna Die, Pretty Reckless
Raven paced the length of the entry hall and back again. Next to her, Cyborg sat in one of the many useless arm chairs watching her carefully. She felt his eyes on her, watching every step she made through the empty hall. He sighed noisily and shook his head. Raven paused and looked over at him.
"You're stressing yourself out, Rae." He stared at her, and under the heavy look, Raven's hands began to shake. She fought to hide them in her black trench coat before Cyborg saw, but it was too late. He shook his head again. "Calm down, girl… it's not going to make it any easier."
"I know but…" Raven looked at the large, granite tiles beneath her feet. "This is the first time we've ever really mingled with… our kind." She glanced up at Cyborg, who was chuckling quietly. The noise echoed into something much louder in the hall. Raven's eyes narrowed and she glared. "What?"
"I'm sorry, but… it's just so funny to see you all stressed out. It's like a teenager going on her first date." Cyborg stood up and ruffled Raven's hair, as a big brother might do to a little sister. Raven just continued to glare at him. "Look, we're all awkward and uncomfortable with who we are. But look at it this way, at least you have a kind. There's only one of me in this world, one of Beast Boy, and unless you count Star's psychotic kleptomaniac sister, which I don't by the way, there's only one of her too." He nudged her gently. "I'm a little jealous."
Raven shook her head, fighting the beginnings of a small smile. "While that does nothing to ease my nerves… thanks at least for trying to cheer me up." She looked up into Cyborg's face and he hugged her, much to her chagrin.
"Everything is going to be fine, Rae. You've got Robin there to protect you, and Ester to help you be less… human?" He laughed and rubbed the back of his head sheepishly. "Never thought I'd ever have to say that to you."
"Me too." Raven heart the soft, light steps of Robin come racing down the hallway and she looked over at him. He was dressed in a crisp, dark red shirt and a nice pair of black slacks. His hair was loose around his face, and he'd replaced his mask with a pair of black rimmed glasses with clear lenses. It was a trick he'd learned from Clark Kent. Raven blushed at the sight, she'd almost forgotten how handsome he was in civilian clothes.
"Sorry… I couldn't find my dress socks." Robin snorted and shook his head. "Because I use them so often."
Raven smiled softly and stared at the floor, keeping quiet. Why did this suddenly feel so awkward? Cyborg nudged her shoulder and she looked up at him. He was grinning like an idiot. Raven rolled her eyes and stepped away from him. "Are you ready to go, Richard?"
He shrugged and offered Raven his arm. "Sure. Are you ready?"
"Yes…" Raven slipped her arm through his, avoiding Cyborg's stare.
He laughed at them and called out. "Don't stay out too late, Kids. Remember your curfew." Raven lifted her free hand and proudly held up her middle finger. The gesture just made Cyborg laugh harder.
Robin looked over at her. "What was that all about?"
"Cyborg said we looked like teenagers on their first date." Raven rolled her eyes and followed Robin into the garage. There was a pause as she looked in the reflection of the T-car to smooth the hair that Cyborg had mussed. Behind her, she saw Robin staring at her and she turned around. "Do we?"
He shrugged. "A little, I guess." His head cocked to the side and he frowned, his eyes following her bare legs down to a pair of high heels. "What are you wearing?"
"Um… well… Star wanted to help dress me… so…" Raven undid the buttons to her coat and opened it up. Robin's face turned a stark shade of white before blossoming into a color that matched his shirt. She was in a dark, low-cut dress with a full skirt that stopped several inches above the knee. "I wasn't exactly sure what to wear to a cocktail party…"
"You asked Star to help you dress…" Robin ran a hand through his hair, shaking his head. "Of all the people with fashion sense… you asked Star?"
Raven rolled her eyes and cocked her hip to one side. "Well, I couldn't ask you, otherwise you'd bundle me up in a burqa in case anyone laid their eyes on your woman." Robin opened his mouth to respond, but Raven held out her hand to stop him. She shook her head and took a deep breath. "Look let's not fight tonight… we've got a lot on our minds and nerves and tonight is not the night for bickering."
"I agree." Robin stepped up to her. "I'm sorry… and I would never bundle you in a burqa, you know that." Raven cocked an eyebrow, but said nothing. Robin just shrugged. "I'm just not particular about sharing you… and this…" He ran his hands down her sides, outlining her shape with his hands.
Raven laughed and pushed him away. "You're going to make us late, come on." She walked to the black Mercedes that Robin kept in the event that any of the Titans had to make a civilian appearance. Like tonight. She slid into the vehicle, and buckled herself in, fidgeting with the hem on her dress. Robin sat next to her and started the car. There were a few moments of silence before they pulled into the underground tunnel that lead to the mainland.
"So… I noticed you didn't wear the ring." Robin's lips pressed into a thin line as he maneuvered the car onto Bayview Boulevard. Raven rolled her eyes and stared at Titan tower, looking sleepy in the darkness. A few lights were on, but it was otherwise quiet. She glanced back at Robin, who was boring his eyes into her head.
Raven snorted and looked over at him. "We already had that discussion, so I'm choosing not to respond. Shall we choose a different topic?"
"Robin." Her tone made him stop and she let out a low growl. "We have talked about that particular subject. Let it go. And furthermore, we have more important things to do tonight. Like make friends with our kind and see if we can find out who exactly is behind Jinx's release." She let loose a breath she didn't know she'd been holding. "So, please… can we not fight tonight?"
"Okay… okay, I understand." Robin closed his mouth, and the rest of the ride was covered in silence. They pulled up next to the coffee shop owned by Ester and Christine. Beatrice had left them a week ago to return to her family in Italy. The top floor of the turn-of-the-century building was lit up with artificial light, and Raven felt her stomach drop. Not for the first time that night, she began to seriously question her decision to do this.
"It'll be fine, Rae." Robin leaned over and kissed her temple. "Don't worry."
Raven just forced a small smile and pressed the buzzer. There was a crackle, and Ester's voice came over the speaker. "Well, you two are early! I'm sorry to say that none of the other guests have arrived yet, well… except for my friend, but this is his party." Raven heard a low chuckle in the background and the noise made a shiver run down her spine. There was something uncomfortably familiar about the tone, but she couldn't quite place it. "I imagine they're all going to be fashionably late. Come on up and meet the guest of honor while we have some cocktails. He might even have a few ideas on how to handle your situation."
Raven looked over at Robin. "How did she know it was us?"
"I have no idea… there are times when she just kind of freaks me out." He shook his head and shrugged. Raven sighed and opened the door, stepping inside. There was a small, brightly lit lobby with a few well adapted plants, marble tiled floor, and a gleaming brass elevator. They entered it and pressed the top floor, Raven still fidgeting through the long climb to the top.
"Calm down, Rae." Robin grabbed her hand and squeezed. "It's going to be fine… stop worrying."
"You keep telling me that, but I'm not seeing any reason to believe it will be." Raven took a deep breath and let it out slowly. Robin's face was etched with concern, and that made her wince. She didn't need to upset him, and now she was the one picking fights. "I'm sorry… I'm just…"
"Stressed. I know." Robin snagged her hand, threading his fingers through hers. He offered her a small, lopsided smile, and the sight soothed Raven's nerves for a moment. "You know, you should listen to Cyborg sometimes. I am here to protect you."
"I…" Raven didn't have a chance to finish her sentence, because the doors opened, showing a grinning Ester. She threw open her arms, moving to embrace Raven, but Raven stepped back trying to hold her off. The last thing she needed was to be hugged.
"You're here…" Ester stopped moving and talking, and stood there staring at the two of them. She glanced from Raven to Robin and back again, before yanking Raven off the elevator and dragging her into the hallway. She took in deep breaths of the air around Raven, before shoving her nose into Raven's neck. Robin stared at her, reaching for Raven. What the hell was going on?
"What are you doing? Let go of her, Ester! Are you insane?" Robin's fingers wrapped around Raven's wrist, but Ester snapped it out of his hand and shoved Raven behind her, as if protecting her. Robin took a step back, frightened by the sudden burst of suspicion and anger in her stare.
Ester's eyes narrowed at him. "I thought you said you claimed her!"
"I did." Robin's face burned red with embarrassment. "What, do you want proof?"
"She doesn't smell claimed!" Ester hissed at him, still blocking Raven's body from his sight.
"She… what?" Robin looked back at Raven, who was still too stunned by the odd display to make any comment. "But… I know I claimed her. Often. This morning even." A blush crawled up Raven's neck and she glared at him. "I'm sorry… but, I did."
Ester turned and looked at Raven, who only nodded in response. She walked up to Robin and smelled the air around him, looking a little dumbfounded. "But you smell claimed… what in the world?" There was a long pause as Ester seemed to ponder the idea in front of her. She placed a finger on her chin, tapping it, trying to figure out the puzzle in front of her. "Your turning was… unusual, and your history is partly to blame for your sensitivity to being a vampire. The make-up of your self is unlike anything usually seen in our society. Raven, I am learning all kinds of things about my kind with you."
"Clearly." Raven raised an eyebrow, her lips turning down into a frown. Of course, she was more weird than previously assumed. She sighed and prayed that this night would not get any stranger, because that was the last thing she needed now.
Ester stepped away from Raven, looking apologetically at both of them. "I'm sorry for reacting the way I did… it's a bit of an instinct to try and protect young, unclaimed women…"
Raven cocked her head to the side, looking inquisitive. "Why?"
"Well… the younger females smell different. Youthful. Vibrant… how do I put this delicately…" Ester chewed her lower lip, looking for an appropriate euphemism. "Like your pastures are fertile and ready for planting?"
Color crept up Raven's neck again and she glanced over at Robin, who was staring at her like she was some kind of freak. "Are you telling me I smell like I should be able to pop out babies at any point?"
"Well… yes… along with being… eager to please, and the younger the vampire the better you smell." Ester cocked her hip to one side and looked over at Robin before turning back to Raven. "Remember when I chased after Robin the first time we met?" Raven nodded, still feeling as if she were in a haze. What was going on? And how did she get caught up in it? "Well… I was attracted to him because of his youthful scent. It smells like… honey and ambrosia. Like he would be virile and willing to keep me satisfied." Robin's face burned red with embarrassment and he could smell the sharp scent of jealousy coming from Raven. "But, it's almost taboo to take such a young turning, which is why we were hesitant on claiming him the moment we met him. It's a catch-twenty-two for us."
"Let's pause here, for a second." Raven finally spoke up and stepped between the two of them. Ester watched Raven shift uncomfortably, face unreadable. That was not reassuring to Raven. "Are you telling me that I smell unclaimed, and therefore, I will smell unclaimed to everyone? And this is all because I'm some freak of nature in our kind."
"Unfortunately, yes." Ester shook her head and sighed, holding the bridge of her nose between two fingers. "This is just terrible. Raven do you understand the severity of this?"
"Yes… it means any unclaimed male is going to smell me from a mile away. Damnit." Raven took a step away from Ester, rolling her eyes. She threw her hands up in the air, sighing. "This is just ridiculous. I can't go anywhere or do anything without being weirder than humans, demons, and vampires. Isn't there anywhere I fit in?"
Ester looked sympathetic. "I am sorry, Raven… I can't imagine how you must feel."
"Me either." Raven pressed a hand to her forehead and closed her eyes, trying to take in the information. So, long story short, Raven was a freak of nature, of metaphysical beings, of the universe. There wasn't anyone like her anywhere. Ester grabbed Raven's wrist, and smiled.
"While you are the most unusual member of my kind I've ever met, there is another one who is close in strangeness." Raven raised an eyebrow, as if she wasn't quite sure if Ester was telling her this to just make her feel better or if she really knew someone as strange as she was. "He is here, if you wish to talk to him. He is our guest of honor… he was born a mage and turned into a vampire a thousand years ago by someone of the opposite sex. The way his body reacts is similar to yours. He, in fact, smells as if he has been claimed but has never taken a mate."
Raven raised an eyebrow. This was supposed to make her feel better? Robin nudged her shoulder, offering a small, sympathetic smile. She tried not to glare at him. He was going to drive her insane, and with any luck she would kill him by the end of the night. "Fine. While I would much rather go home and pretend this never happened, I will go rub elbows with a millennia old-vampire who has a similar make-up to me." Raven pushed past Ester to her door. "Just tell me when the day is over."
Ester blinked and turned to Robin. "Is she always like this?"
Robin snorted. "I value my life far too much to give you an honest answer."
"Ah. That explains a lot." Ester opened the door and led Raven and Robin inside. Raven, even in her state of distress, still appreciated the beauty of the apartment. It was filled with antiques and modern art, exposed brick walls and plush, luxurious furniture, all coming together in an odd but definitive way. It seemed to encompass who Ester was, all wrapped up in several layers of time and history. Raven found herself smiling, in spite of the situation.
"Make yourself at home, he's in the living room." Ester took her coat and hung it up. She cleared her throat and called out. "I've got some guests here, one of them is half demon with a violent turning and she has some questions for you."
Raven paused at the sound of the silky, old-word tones. It moved over her body smoothly, like warm water and she found herself shivering. Robin raised his eye brow in confusion and nudged her shoulder. "You okay?"
"I've got a strange feeling…" Raven shook her head and started for the living room, ignoring Robin's concerned stare. "It's nothing. Just a weird feeling…" She turned the corner and stepped into the living room, knees nearly giving out at the sight, and she had to hold onto Robin for support. She expected some decrepit old man with paper-thin skin, red rimmed eyes, and gnarled hands. What she didn't expect was the smooth, young face of someone who couldn't have been much older than her, clear blue eyes, and hair the color of pure silver. Raven took a few, awkward steps toward him, feeling like a newly born calf. "Rorek?"
The man jerked in surprise and stood up, staring at her. His gaze fluttered over her suspiciously, as if sizing her up. His hands clenched and unclenched next to him. "How do you know my name?"
"I…" Raven's face filled with the red color of shame and she turned away. "It's kind of a long story…" She glanced at him from beneath her dark lashes. Next to her she could feel Robin's confused stare watching her, trying to figure out what was going on. He kept unusually silent, despite the strange display. "I have your book."
There was a long pause before anyone moved, somewhere in the distance Ester was humming in the kitchen, shuffling around cupboards. Finally, Rorek seemed to understand. "Ah… I see. You have Malchior's book then?" Rorek blinked at her, before crossing the room to her. He placed a few fingers under her chin and pulled her eyes up toward him. Raven felt the blush cross her face before she had a chance to stop it. Next to her she felt the stark heat of anger and jealousy from Robin. He shifted, as if he was unsure as to whether or not he should intervene. "I am truly sorry for whatever pain he caused you. Malchior was my burden for some time until he was stolen from me. It was my own neglect that caused him to be available for someone to misunderstand."
Raven stepped back, pulling away from him. Robin heaved a sigh of relief, but his muscles didn't lose their tenseness, he was still waiting for a fight. Raven shook her head, clearing the haze he caused. "Pain fades and wounds heal. I'll be fine, and that's not why I'm here anyway."
"Clearly." Rorek glanced down her body again, before giving her a sad, forlorn smile and moved to sit back on the sofa. Raven and Robin joined him. "Half demon? Half human?"
"And all abomination." Raven shook her head and sighed. She looked up into Rorek's face, feeling a bit like she was falling down the rabbit hole of her past. Of all the people in the world it could have been, Rorek was the one person Fate chose for her. What a cosmic joke. "Ester told me you had a rather violent turning as well?"
"Ah…" Rorek rubbed the bridge of his nose in thoughtfulness. He glanced down into his martini before looking at Raven. "Yes… but my turning was not without justification." He gave another smile that didn't quite reach his eyes and nodded. "My magical exploits did not end with Malchior, nor did my dealings with him end. Some weeks later I encountered his lover… to put it politely, she was not exactly happy with what I had done to her lover and in the battle for Malchior's book she cursed me with what I am now."
"Oh… I am sorry."
Rorek shrugged. "I have had many years to adapt to what I am, and after some time you grow rather fond of your own strangeness." He offered her another smile and put his drink down. "What is it you wish to ask me?"
"I…" Raven had a million questions running through her mind, and unfortunately none of them had anything to do with being a vampire. She was curious as to what had happened between him and Malchior, as to what he did after he had trapped Malchior in his book, and a plethora of other things. But none of them applied to what she needed to know.
"Your genetic make-up… do you know anything about it?" Robin finally found a voice in the conversation, and Raven sent up a silent thanks to the goddess. Robin saved her from making a fool of herself. "Ester mentioned that your make-up is similar to Raven's, and we are curious as to whether or not you know anything."
"Mmm… very little. Everybody's turning is different. Some are normal, some are ritualistic, some are bouts of violent passion, and then there are ones like ours… strange circumstances where we had little or no choice. If you follow the rules, a vampire will turn out exactly as vampires are supposed to be. But if you do not…" Rorek shook his head, silver locks sliding across his face. "Then there is no telling what kind of mutation you will end up with."
"And that is why you… smell claimed?" Raven felt color cover her face and she stared into her lap. "I'm sorry, that was incredibly rude of me."
Rorek chuckled, and the noise made her look up. He nodded. "You are right. It is exactly why I smell claimed and you do not. Why your lover can go out into the sun and we cannot. And why he can eat human foods and we cannot." He touched her hand and Raven felt color rise into her face. "You and I are very similar… but Ester did inform me of your severe reaction to sunlight."
Raven swallowed the pain that rose into her throat and she looked over at Robin. He shook his head frowning, it was a silent gesture telling her not to worry, that being upset was not going to fix anything. Raven nodded and turned back to Rorek. "I cannot tolerate any sun at all either in the early morning or evening. My skin reacts violently."
"Have you ever heard of a cure?" Robin's voice cut through the sadness and Rorek's interest seemed to pique. Robin cleared his throat and continued. "Raven and I have been trying to research a cure for being a vampire."
Rorek laughed, and the sound reminded Raven of broken bells. "I have heard many cures, everything from eating silver nitrate, to gypsy remedies… but I will tell you that the reaction cannot be undone. You would have to tear your DNA apart and reassemble everything inside simply to change who you are into what you were."
Robin's eyes closed as if he'd been hit. Raven could feel the pain rip through him and the feeling of desperation seeped into her own body. This news was devastating to him, after all the work they had done to stop what they were, a man much older and wiser had told them everything they did was pointless. Robin took a deep breath and stood up, arms shaking again. "I need a moment."
"Richard…" Raven stood and reached out for him, but he shook his head, holding out his arm to stop her.
"I'll be fine… I just need a moment." He disappeared into the outside hallway. Raven watched him go, chewing on her lip. While she was not happy with her situation, she had adapted and eventually would grow to enjoy it. Robin, who had all the freedom of a human, had not adapted nor was he happy. He had a hundred more opportunities than Raven, and yet he was upset. Raven shook her head and hissed out an angry breath.
"Do not be angry at him… it's not his fault."
"I'm angry with him, there's a difference." Raven turned back to Rorek and sighed. "I am sorry that this is such a jumbled mess. I just wanted to ask you a few questions and I've gone and upset him, and I'm sure you as well."
Rorek laughed again. "I am a millennium old, there is little that can upset me."
Raven felt color rise into her face and she looked away. There was a moment of silence between them, and Ester's voice could be heard speaking to someone on the telephone. It sounded like she was arguing over a shipment to the coffee shop. Raven fidgeted with the edge of her skirt before looking up into Rorek's handsome face. "I wish we had more time to talk… I've never met anyone quite like me."
"Well, I planned on taking up residence in Jump City for some time… if you wish to meet me and discuss anything you've had questions on, I will be here." Rorek offered her another smile. "Besides, I did have some questions for you. Ones regarding my book."
Raven felt a small smile pass over her lips. "It's settled then, we'll just have to get together and trade information."
Rorek laughed. "I think that's a fine idea." He heard the ring of the door bell, and Ester went to answer it, still arguing with the shipment manager. Rorek glanced down at Raven as she watched people slowly filter into the large apartment. "You are here to gather information about someone aren't you?"
Raven nodded, still watching people hug and laugh and joke. "A vampire named Jinx."
"Ah… yes…" Rorek's lips turned down into a frown, and Raven glanced at him questioningly. He just shook his head in response. "I guess I'll have to tell you the truth. It appears we are both looking for her. She owes me something that she stole years ago."
Raven blinked. "What was that?"
"My magic…" He held up his hand, as if trying to summon a spell. Nothing happened and he sighed. "She stole the source of my magic, the little chit. And I am bound and determined to get it back."
Raven felt an evil smile peel across her lips. "We have a common goal then."
Oh my goodness… after all that time away. Here is the second chapter! I am SO SORRY it took so long to get out to you! Please leave a review and let me know what you think!