Dark Raven I

This is loosely based on the 92-93 season series "Raven" starring Jeffrey Meek and Lee Majors.

R Violent and occult themes.

Disclaimer: "Raven" belongs to frank Lupo, his production company * ABC, I think. These stories are just for fun and are in no way connected to the series or for profit. I just love the characters * g *. I suspect the characters would appreciate it if I didn't love them quite so much * vbeg *

Time: 1993 December

Place: Hawaii

Spoilers: Not if you've seen the show.

Synopsis: Ski calls in a friend to help find Jonathan after someone blows up the house. The friend finds Jonathan. Jonathan finds his son.

Dark Raven: Lost

Christmas 1993

Jonathan Raven, tall, well muscled on a slender frame, dark curly hair ruffled by the evening breeze, looked at his back yard and shook his head. He wasn't certain how he had let Ski talk him into this. His yard was full of people. His martial arts students from the orphanage and Janis, their house mother/

counselor; and the handy man, whose name he had forgotten again, were there as well as Lucas and his adoptive family. Dori, the incredibly blond ditz with more brain and libido than common sense stood talking to Ken Tanaka and his daughter. Ski had even engineered Nora Blake's release from custodial care for the day so she could attend.

There were festive Christmas pin lights strung everywhere, along with some beautiful Japanese lanterns the Tanaka's had brought.

"Mr. Raven." He found the dark haired Nora at his elbow. "This looks just like a fairy tale," she said with a smile.

He smiled down at her. "Thank you. And tell Ski. It was his idea."

"That Herman, he just is the nicest guy."

"Yes, he is."

She moved away to talk to the other guests, her direct and old-fashioned formal speech surprising and delightful. He wished they could convince her to leave the institution, but there was really no safer place for her, and she enjoyed her job as a trustee, taking reading materials around to the other inmates.

The kids were a little rowdy, but none of the other guests seemed to mind. It was Christmas, a time for children. His thoughts drifted to the few Christmas holidays he could remember. Once his parents were dead, he had lived Japanese. The Shinto festivals honored by his foster family became those he knew, although he had never paid too much attention unless Aki came to get him.

Aki would love this party. He pushed the thought away. Another came unbidden: How was Hikari spending this time? Was he with "family" and friends? Or was he alone, hungry, tired? Just answering that question would make all this more meaningful. Maybe next year. He owed it to Ski to enjoy this evening with Ski's barbecue along with the Japanese cuisine he was supplying.

The party began to break up about 10 pm, the kids all clutching their presents and bubbling their thanks as they left. The others followed, thanking him for the good time. He walked Dori to her car, accepting her good night kiss with a smile before it got too entangling and he allowed himself to get lost in her warmth.

He tucked her into her car and stood watching as she drove away. Jonathan shook his head. Why did he push her away? She was warm and giving - and he never had a clue what she'd do next. Dori was - mischief and incomprehension.

He turned back to the house and was thrown to the ground by the concussive force of the blast that blew out the windows just before engulfing his home in flames. He scrambled to his feet, his brain numb. Ski. His only thought was that Ski had been inside, that Ski was rinsing out glasses in the kitchen. He moved to the doorway to go in, to get to Ski, but the heat of the flames was too intense. There was no way back in.

Jonathan moved the Jeep out of the drive way onto the street, flames reflecting in his dark eyes as he watched the life he had built become a funeral pyre for his best friend; his only friend. His mind felt empty, his body detached. The complete disbelief that flooded him made thinking impossible. This couldn't be happening. This had to be some sweat-drenched nightmare. Ski couldn't be dead. Not this way. Not so viciously, so impersonally. Ski.

Sirens. Police cars. Fire engines. Curious neighbors. He sat and watched the fire burn itself out. Aki's letter. His keepsakes. The Ninjato Tanaka had given him. Everything - gone. And through it all, Ski's face to add to his ghosts. His father and mother, Aki, the Dragons he'd killed and now Ski. Somewhere deep inside, he buried the hurt, the pain, the soul killing hate he would channel into retribution for this act. This was not an accident. It was a deliberate act of terrorism.

"Come on, move along. There's nothing to see. Move along." The cop was the voice of authority, to be obeyed. His body on automatic, he put the Jeep in gear and drove away from the ashes of his life. The police did not realize the man in the Jeep was the owner of the house. He was gone before the questions came.

Herman Jablonski woke up slowly. Lights. Lots of lights. Lots of twirly lights. There was a roaring in his ears. He shook his head. Ow! That hurt. He put a hand to his head. Warm, sticky - he was damaged. He sat up. His eyes widened as he stared at the house. Flames roared like the Inferno.

"Jonathan!" Did he really scream the name, or was it only in his mind? Where was Jonathan? He'd walked Dori to her car - His heart went cold. Jonathan was probably just walking back in when - Hell! He scrambled to his feet, then went to his knees and retched. His vision was double. He tried to regain his feet as people began to work their way into the back yard.

Darkness engulfed him.

"Chief! We've got a body!" someone yelled.

Two firemen detached from the contingent and came over. Their summation was quick: male, middle aged, large swelling and abrasion on the back of his head. Blood streaks where debris had caught him. Lucky to be thrown away from the house. He was shipped off to the hospital to recover.

Morning found Jonathan at the property he owned on Mauna Loa. He parked the Jeep and sat and staring at the lush green growth in front of him. Death was inevitable. He kept telling himself that. Yet Ski had just left an impossible to fill hole. For years now, the one constant in his life had been that big, drunken, golden bear of a man. Ski pulled in the reins when he went off half-cocked. Ski coming when he called. Ski pulling him through that god-awful bout of flu in Columbia. When he stumbled, Ski was there. No longer.

He got out of the Jeep and walked back into the woods to his unfinished house. By the time he got there, he was shaking. He sat on the steps of his house and let the reaction wash over him. He was alive. He would start again. He let the pain of loss fill him. He let the tears fall this time. Tears for his parents, his youth destroyed by vengeance, Aki and Ski. All the losses of his life found outlet in slow, silent tears.

Exhausted, he slept.

Hiroshi Osato looked from his TV to his second in command. The latter was very glad he had nothing to do with the fire and explosion, which had taken out the late Mr. Raven.

"Find him," Osato ground out.

"He is not dead?"

"Find out. Someone was taken to the hospital. If Raven-san is dead, so be it. If he is not, I want him. Now, go."

The other man bowed and did not wait to be told a second time. He did not see the frown cross his boss' face. Osato was not happy. He knew the Dragons still wanted Raven and his son, but this was not their way. The Yakuza had not ordered this attack. Who had?

He was not a man to sit and wait for information to come to him. If Osato had one flaw, it was impatience. He picked up the phone and placed several calls to people who owed him favors.

Dori awoke with a feeling of foreboding. She got up, showered, dressed and nearly spewed her first cup of coffee across the room as she watched the news. Ski in the hospital and the owner of the house missing. Damn! She called in to say she'd be late and went to see Ski.

"Hi!" she said quietly as she walked into his room.

"Dori! Where's Jonathan?"

"I don't know. I drove off; he was standing on the sidewalk. How are you?"

"Fine. Oughta be out this afternoon."

"Good."

"Yeah, but it don't explain where Jonathan is."

Dori got quiet. "Not - I mean - he -:"

"I don't think so. Cops were here earlier askin' questions. Wouldn't tell me nothin'. Go by and see if the Jeep is there?"

"OK."

She called half an hour later to tell him the Jeep was gone. "And, Ski, there are people all over the place."

"Kinda figured. Cops. Fire Marshal -"

"No. Not them. Other people. Scary people."

"Get out."

"I did. Look, I've got to go to work. I'll meet you at BK's tonight."

"Good girl." He could hear the preen on the other end as she accepted the compliment.

Jonathan awoke with a sense of loss. He lay on his back staring up at the non-roof of his house. He got up, washed his face in the cold water of the small lake fifty feet from his eventual front door and then just sat and stared at the water.

He pulled his long legs into a comfortable position and tried to meditate, to clear his mind, to focus past the hurt inside. It didn't work. Maybe some hard manual labor would help. He stripped off his shirt and set to work cutting wood for his house. Midday came and went. He continued to work until he staggered.

He wiped the sweat off his face with his shirt and sat down, staring out at the waterfall, the quiet water of the small lake, the green of the trees he had left in place. He was hungry, thirsty and bordering on the blackest bout of depression he had ever known. He sat for a long time.

Finally, thirst got the better of him and he moved, the cold water of the lake drawing him. Jonathan scooped up a couple of handfuls of water to wash his face, to drink, then pulled off his trousers and slid into the water to relax. It felt good, very good. A part of him wanted to stay in the water, to let go and just float on forever.

Eventually, hunger moved him out of the water to build a small fire and consider his options for food, of which there weren't a lot in the area. He dried his clothes and relaxed for a while, considering his options and trying not to recall Ski's predilection for bologna sandwiches with too much mayonnaise. But finding food was going to mean leaving his haven. Maybe in a while.

He stretched out next to the fire and closed his eyes. Sleep. That was the need. Sleep. He let his mind drift in the darkness behind his eyes. He dreamed. His parents' death; his initiation into the Black Dragons where he killed and killed and killed. He dreamed of Nick Henderson and their chess games, and other games more deadly. He frowned in his sleep, shifting uneasily on the grass-covered dirt. He awoke with a jerk, certain something was horribly wrong. Then he remembered. His house. Ski. An abyss of black opened before him. He let it swallow him, welcoming the darkness. For a while, Jonathan Raven disappeared.

Whispers. Ski hated it when doctors spoke in those hushed whispers. Dammit, he already knew that something was wrong. Why the hell wouldn't they just tell him?

One of the doctors, the pretty dark haired one with the serious look and the liquid dark eyes behind her prim glasses, detached from the quartet in the hallway and came into the room. She surveyed her patient and briefly referred to the thick sheaf of papers in his file. This was not the first time he had been in the hospital with broken bones, abrasions, contusions and miscellaneous holes poked in his body. She met the blue eyes and found mischief lurking there. Oh, my.

She cleared her throat. "Mr. Jablonski -"

"Ski. Call me Ski," he told her with a flirtatious grin he was far from feeling.

She met his gaze directly and broke down and smiled. "Ski," she accepted with a nod. "How do you feel?"

"Like I been blown up and hit with parts of a house. Don't beat around the bush, tell me."

"My, you are direct. All right, the bottom line is that you have half a dozen vertebrae with hairline cracks in them, along with a nice crack in your skull. The skull is healing nicely, but there is still some edema in the area which could cause problems if you do anything sudden, or get hit again."

"Right. What about the spine?" The accent was still heavy, with gravel overtones, but the intelligence in the man's eyes and demeanor was startling. This was not the good ole boy she had been led to expect.

"You need to stay pretty much immobile for the next three weeks. Right now, the breaks are exactly what I said, hairline. Any pressure, in just about any direction, could make them bigger, could twist and shatter."

"And paralyze."

"Yes."

"Damn. Three weeks."

"For the skull fracture and to give the vertebrae time to fix. You really need to keep your spine - it's going to be at least three months before you can do much more than walk from one chair to another," she told him bluntly.

"OK. How do we manage to keep me ambulatory and stationary at the same time?" He knew the answer, he'd seen other men stuck in trusses before, but he wanted it in plain English.

"Well, basically, you're going to end up laced into a truss for three months."

"Great. Wonderful. And I can't leave the hospital for the next three weeks -?"

"Well, you can go home, assuming you have a home to go to, and can keep from rattling around for the rest of the time to give your head time to heal."

"Right. If Jonathan still had a house, I could go there. Let me see what I can figure out. I can't afford three weeks in a hospital and I don't think you'd appreciate me that long."

The doctor laughed at that. "Mr. - Ski, I suspect you'd be more fun than you think. But I also think you'll be happier somewhere else after we make certain the swelling is gone. Let me know."

"I will. Believe me, Doc, I will." He smiled at her, his eyes twinkling and a part of his brain trying to figure out if she was actually as entertained by him as he suspected she was. Damn but she was a fine looking woman, even if she was a little brainier than he usually liked them. But then, brainy wasn't necessarily bad when coupled with the figure he suspected was hiding under her white coat.

He watched her leave. "And I got no idea where Jonathan is."

Ski called Dori to apologize for canceling lunch and to get some help in finding a place to stay. With her connections, he found a partially furnished apartment he could afford until he was healed and could move back onto his boat. BK took time off from running his restaurant and bar to collect Ski and take him to the new place.

"Wow," was his initial reaction. The complex was built around an Olympic sized pool area where there were more than enough haole and Hawaiian girls in skimpy bikinis to keep Ski's heart pumping royally. The walk up to his apartment was difficult, but not impossible. It would take a few days to get it into shape, but it was adequate to his needs of the moment. The biggest problem was going to be getting someone to take him places. The doctor had made it very, very plain that driving was not on the list of allowed activities. Not even an automatic transmission.

Ski learned he and Jonathan had a lot of friends on the island. Ken Tanaka, learning of the explosion from the news, waited until he knew Ski was out of the hospital before making his sympathies known. He furnished a wet bar and a more functional bed for the healing man. BK furnished groceries, with Dori's assistance. The waitresses from BK's dropped by in twos and threes to check on him. Even the curator of the small museum he and Jonathan had helped out once sent a fruit basket and a request for him to let her know if she could be of any help.

The biggest thing on his mind was Jonathan. By the 28th of December, it was obvious that there were no remains in the ashes of the house. No human remains, anyway. BK took Ski to the house to check for anything that had survived. They crossed the yellow tape proclaiming "Do Not Cross". They were, after all, family, weren't they? The fire had burned hot and wild, the explosion making certain even the roof had collapsed. Ski had BK poke around where he knew there might be items still in tact. Not that he had a lot of hope that anything important was still there. Others had already been on the sceen.

Ski was hoping to find the remains of the keepsake box Jonathan had carried with him. Aki's letter, a handkerchief with the bare remains of her favorite scent, a notebook detailing what he had done and the clues he had to find his son. There might be copies, but the one in the box was the one he was currently using. Ski didn't know if there were other up to date copies of the information in that one.

Nothing. BK shook his head. He poked around some more. Tink. What? He poked again. Something metal? He dug into the debris, trying to avoid nails and screw ends. Something long, slender - a blade. He pulled free the blade of the sword Tanaka had given Jonathan. He looked up at Ski. A short nod. They would take the blade with them.

"See if you can find the round thing that goes on it. The handle and sheath kin be replaced, but the whatchamacallit that serves as a guard/cross piece on them things can't. It's metal too."

BK dug for several minutes before finding the oval piece Ski was describing. "Got it. Ski, I don't think there's anything more to find."

"Yeah. I know. Let's get out of here."

Saturday, Dori followed Ski's instructions on how to get out to Jonathan's other place. She parked and checked the dirt in front of the gate. Nothing. No one had been here in some time. She dusted her hands off and looked around before getting back into her car. It was a nice drive, but seeing Jonathan would have been even nicer.

She didn't see the dark hair framed face watching her from the shadows of the trees. The man stayed in the shadows, his brightly glittering dark eyes watching her leave. He smiled, even white teeth a sharp break in his face. He knew the woman, distantly. She was soft and warm and dangerous. It was good that she had left. He preferred to be alone. At least, for a while.

Weeks passed. Ski was stiff and the corset-like contraption he was fastened into didn't helping his temper any. Neither did not knowing where Jonathan had gone. The Jeep was missing. He'd checked the airports, the ferries, and any other way off the island he could think of and had come up empty. He'd even had a couple of guys watch his boat for a few days. Nothing. Jonathan Raven had disappeared as though he had never existed.

Ski fretted. He knew his friend was out there somewhere. He suspected that Jonathan had been caught by the explosion and had decided that he, Ski, had been inside when the thing blew. That didn't explain why he hadn't stuck around to make sure.

Or did it? Ski considered his own injuries. Maybe Jonathan had been hurt by the blast. Not badly. Not enough to need a hospital. But concussion could do strange things. Damn! Why hadn't he thought of that sooner? With everyone worried about the man, none of them had considered that he might have been seriously injured. He hadn't shown up at a hospital because he'd run. If the Dragons had done this, he had to leave, it was what he had always done.

Ski nursed his drink for a couple of hours trying to figure it out. No one had a clue what the missing man had done after the fire. The cops still wanted to talk to him, mostly to find out if he had any enemies who might have planted the bomb that started the whole thing. The fire investigators had found the remains of a mercury detonator in the remains of the house. It was a military grade detonator, the kind of thing any of his enemies might have used. Oddly, Ski had been aware of a couple of Osato's men hanging around since he and BK had sifted the ashes looking for clues. No reason for Osato to be keeping an eye on things if he knew Raven was dead. Or if he knew the Dragons had set the bomb. Or was there? Osato could have set the bomb, but they didn't know if Jonathan was dead, did they? No one but Jonathan knew the answer to that question. And he wasn't around to answer it.

Ski looked at the blackened blade. It reminded him of Jonathan. Forged in adversity, a baptism of fire that had not destroyed its temper. Yep, that blade was a lot like Jonathan. Somehow, he had to find the man and let him know that all he'd lost was his home. Yeah. Great. He took another drink and thought about how to find a man who could lose himself almost without thinking about it. A man who could become the thing he hated most to extract vengeance. Was that what Jonathan was doing now? Was he out there becoming more lethal than ever to avenge his home? That didn't make sense. Ski's mind worried around the edges of an idea he hadn't let himself fully confront since he woke up in the hospital. What if Jonathan was out of range of the news? What if he didn't know that the old sot he considered a friend was still alive? How far back into the dark might that drive him? Not too far, he hoped.

Three months passed slowly while Ski healed and looked for any sign that Jonathan was still on the islands. Nothing. Ski took his final x-rays; Dr. Moore let him out of the truss with an admonition to take it easy and a firm handshake, which included her phone number on a business card. Ski grinned at her. She was one of the lights in a very dark time. Dr. Moore, Dori and BK had done their best to keep his spirits up, each in their own way.

Ski went out to his boat. The thing sat there, listing slightly to port, looking abandoned and lonely. He checked the cache of clothes he kept for Jonathan. Still there. He hadn't gone to the boat after the fire. Damn. Ski cracked a beer and sat back carefully. He was still stiff from the enforced immobility. He could go out to Mauna Loa himself, but if Raven hadn't been there three months ago, he wouldn't be there now.

Or would he? Ski's forehead furrowed as he followed that line of thought. What if he'd just parked the Jeep somewhere else? What if he had been up there all this time? If he'd been up there working on his house, some one must have seen him. He'd have to get provisions - or would he?

Ski found himself considering just what his friend's state of mind might be by now. The Jonathan Raven he'd met while he was still in Special Forces had been hard and cold and difficult to get to know. He still wasn't certain exactly why he'd touched something in the man and why they'd become friends, but they had. If Jonathan still believed his friend to be dead - Damn. He seemed to be saying and thinking that a lot. That could be a real problem.

Well, he knew a real problem solver. If she'd come. He sighed and picked up the phone, dialing a number in Maine and waited.

"Jones' Asylum. Pick up or delivery?" a bored female voice answered the phone.

"Calliope?"

"Ski?" The warmth in her voice was unmistakable. "Where the hell are you? How are you? - What's up?"

"I need your help."

"Done. Where?"

"Hawaii."

"I can't get there before tomorrow."

"I'll meet you at the airport."

"I'll be there."

She replaced the receiver and looked around at a slender, Oriental looking teen-aged boy. "Old friend. Going to help," she signed manually to him.

His dark eyes watched her face and her hands. "Friend?"

"Hero."

He nodded curtly and turned away to finish working on his homework. He knew all she had told him about her hero. He deserved her help. He would be fine while she was gone.

"Kaitlin!" she yelled.

A middle-aged, rawboned woman with fine pale hair fanning out in a halo about her long face looked in from the kitchen. "Yes?" her beautiful alto voice answered her.

"I'm off to Hawaii. Don't know when I'll be back exactly, but shouldn't be too long. Take care of Zeph. I'll call when I get in."

"Done." She watched her red haired employer and friend become a whirlwind to pack, make reservations and get out of the house in half an hour.

Her last act was to grab Zeph and fold him in a bear hug that seemed to both annoy and reassure him. "Take care of Kait," she whispered in his ear and was not surprised at the small, curt nod she got. "Always and forever loved," she gave him her favorite Japanese phrase and was gone. She didn't have to see the small smile he allowed himself over her words.

Then she was gone and he felt panic start to rise. After eight years, he still feared losing the home he had found. He looked around for Kaitlin. No. As long as Kaitlin was here, he was safe. In her own way, Kaitlin was as much an anchor for his life as his mother was. He sat down to finish his homework.

Ski was at the airport as promised. He looked for the red head he remembered and was almost stunned to realize the woman had aged very, very little in the years since he'd last seen her. She spotted him, gave a wide grin and rushed over to give him a hug.

"Careful, there, darlin'. I'm still healing."

"Healing? What happened? What did you do this time? What are you doing in Hawaii?-" The questions flooded out of her.

Ski held up his hands to stem the tide of questions. "I'll tell all, but let's get out of here. I hate crowds these days." Besides, he'd spotted at least three of Osato's men in the airport. If they weren't watching for him and his guest, they were looking for Jonathan. The thought both annoyed and reassured him. Osato and the Dragons didn't know where Jonathan was or if he was still alive. That was a very good thing.