AN:Hey everyone, sorry for the very long hiatus. I've been very busy with school and life and...really a lot of things, and I'm still very, very busy.
I hope this chapter does some service for my long absence. I will let you all know now that I am going to be rewriting and resubmitting chapters 1-7. No new chapters will be released until they are done, and all 7 will be submitted at the same time so you won't have to wait. Thank you for your support along the way.
For those of you who have forgotten, at the end of the last chapter, Raven falls asleep in Starfire's bed. The following, until the break, is Raven's dream and told in her point of view. This is told in a past tense form to make it easier to write/understand.
Where am I? Why is it so dark?
"It is such a beautiful day, is it not? Raven?"
I finally gained the sense to open my eyes, and, upon doing so, was not happy with what I saw. I was somewhere outside the tower, possibly still on the island. I could hear the waves of the bay lashing around at rocks off in the distance, and it was foggy, very foggy. And bleak as could be. The sky above boasted a complete overcast.
And then there was the bubbly Starfire, floating just a few inches against all of this. She was the only bright thing I saw.
She had her usual cheerful countenance; a smile was plastered across her face. Though I would normally feel comforted by Starfire's presence, it was not the case then. There was something I felt looming in the air around us; the sound of crashing waves and fog made me uneasy.
It was then that I saw Starfire's expression had changed to a confused one; my own face dropped a little, my brows furrowed.
"What troubles you, friend?" she said in a gentle tone. I could only shake my head as a nauseous feeling crept into the pit of my stomach.
"I don't know," I finally managed to mutter, grabbing a lock of my hair and running my hands over it nervously. "Starfire, how did we get out here?" She made a giggle at the silly question, to which she did not answer. Starfire trotted the short distance between us and grabbed my wrists. She began to levitate, but only six or so inches off the turf. I attempted to join her in levitation so we would be more eye-level to each other, but found that I was unable to; the oppressiveness of the air and sick feeling in my gut were the most likely contributors for this.
I remained motionless, staring up at Starfire in immense confusion. My mind was racing with thoughts. What were we doing out here, and why? What was the ominous aura that I could feel around us? Why weren't my powers working?
"Raven," cooed Starfire's gentle voice. I looked into her orbed eyes. She stared down at me with a gentle smile. She dropped my wrists; I let my arms drop absently to my side. Starfire grabbed me beneath my arms, her hands firmly on the sides of my ribcage, and lifted me into a hug with ease. My heart thudded in my chest as I remained still in the awkward suspension. Finally I warily wrapped one arm around Starfire's neck, the other stretched around her back to support my weight upon her light frame; my chin was rested on her shoulder. I felt her hands ease on my sides and slip around to firmly hold the middle of my back, her palms flat to it. I saw and felt her begin to lean backwards with me; she only did so slightly.
Several minutes passed in silence; the only sounds were the ever-crashing waves, the dull, far off buzz of the city, and our breathing. I dared not move from her embrace. It was the only comforting thing about this whole ordeal and I was not about to leave it.
"Starfire?" I said weakly. My fingers clenched themselves into fists. "Why are we here?" I could feel her fingers curve gently, then the rake of bone along my spine.
"Why not?" said she. "The weather is pleasant today, yes?"
I raised my head up from her shoulder to stare at her with curious eyes. My brows were furrowed hard. "Starfire, this isn't nice weather. It's not warm; it's dank and cold. And it's so foggy I can't see ten feet in front of-"
I felt one of Starfire's hands make its way to the back of my head where her thin fingers played softly with my hair. She gently pushed my head back down to her shoulder; I said no other words in protest. I remained as still as possible, heart thumping in my chest again. She began to hum softly and, eventually, I was lulled into a semi-trance state and a false sense of security.
My body began to numb itself in the same way it does with sleep; I felt nothing, I thought of nothing. All I could mentally feel was an acute fogginess in my head. I began to feel slight movements and shifts in Starfire's body. I could feel her trembling beneath my hands. The movements and shifts were occasionally joined by an unusual sound, but, through my haze, I thought nothing of these things for several minutes. Finally, Starfire made a jerk violent enough to snap me back into reality; I almost wished she hadn't.
The feeling in my hands returned to me; beneath them I felt coarse, heavy fur. Fur? I thought in utter confusion. That should have been my first warning something was very wrong. I then began to feel a tightening grip around my body; the slender arms that once embraced me were no longer there. These felt much, much more powerful. The elegant, slender curve Starfire sported was replaced by something much more…cushioned, and, like the fur I felt on her back, I could feel it here, too.
As more and more of my mind came into focus, more changes became evident, and with those changes I sank deeper into a pit of fear. The squeezing feeling started to be unbearable upon regaining total alertness. I struggled and squirmed around beneath the force, which must have upset her, because it grew tighter…and then she let out a guttural roar. My eyes grew wide; the last curtains of my haze were lifted. Whatever was holding me now was not Starfire. I forced myself to look up at my captor's face.
What I saw instead of the soft face of the person I knew was the gnarled head of a lion-like beast. A new sudden burst of fear coupled with adrenaline rushed through my veins; I could feel my powers returning to me. Without hesitating, I let loose a surge of energy at my captor. The execution was messy, but it did its purpose; it sent the beast and I flying in opposite directions. I landed roughly on the rocky ground, but through the adrenaline high, I felt nothing. A couple hundred yards from me, I heard the monster crash hard into the earth and release a loud groan.
I stood slowly, watching it grumble and gripe as it lifted itself back onto its feet. I began to study it with frantic eyes; it seemed to me that it was the lovechild of some sort of intergalactic space lion and Grendel the Monster. It was scores larger than the lions on Earth, with large sabers protruding downward out from a formidable maw and it sported an impressive set of over-sized claws on its front paws. Its eyes were void of pupils, filled in with the same glowing green that accompanied Starfire's eyes…actually, the more I looked, the more this lion resembled Starfire. Its base fur was nearly the color of her skin, and the flowing mane the color of Starfire's vibrant red hair. Could this really be Starfire?
With this thought, my adrenaline high sunk very rapidly. Soon I was reduced to a quivering heap again. I felt the power slipping out of most of my body when the beast released a deafening roar. It began bounding recklessly towards me, teeth bared, an ugly snarl upon its face. My entire mind was screaming at me to move out of the way, but I found myself unable to for several moments. Just as the beast was almost upon me, my hand, as if on its own, threw itself upward and with it a barrier of rock. I heard a loud thud and a howl; the earth I sent up had spider web cracks forming across it. Again, my mind yelled for me to move and this time I ran as fast as I could.
This process went on for several minutes. I would run, send up rock, and the lion-thing would crash headlong into it. But after the tenth time of bashing its skull, it must have gained some sense. It slashed its claws at the next portion of earth I sent up and continued to barrel after me. I tried again; the same result. Panicking now, I stopped, turned toward it, and attempted to pick the beast itself up.
But as I soon found out, this was of no use. I was far too weak to do much more than hold it off the ground a few feet. It hung there momentarily, limbs slashing out at the air in anger, and roaring loudly to be released. It fell back down on its feet, and I, drained of nearly all my strength, collapsed to my knees. Desperately I tried to lift myself by any means, but I could not move. The beast began to run to me again, eyes glowering and mane tossing wildly. I turned my head and closed my eyes, waiting for the inevitable.
But nothing happened.
For several seconds I sat there, eyes still closed, listening to a furious roaring just a few feet away. I finally built up the nerve to open my eyes, but I still saw nothing. Everything was black. Then, suddenly, a hole of light opened in the dark ceiling, ripped open by the claws of the beast outside. The light washed over me, and then vanished, and the roaring and pounding noises continued. I realized that I had created a wall around myself, that my arm was raised above my body with dark energy engulfing my hand.
Claws flashed through the wall every so often for the next several endless minutes. I found that each time this happened, my arm felt weaker and as time dragged on, gravity began to take its toll as well. The monster began to rip larger holes in the wall that stayed open longer. I knew I couldn't keep this up forever; in the seconds after the wall fell, I would more than likely be ripped limb from limb. This thought stung me in the heart. I had tenderness for all things macabre, but I didn't exactly wish to be a cadaver just yet. The hammering against the wall and constant, furious roaring continued on in an almost rhythmic pattern...
It was around sunset when Starfire touched down on Titan Island. The front doors slid open and she walked inside the Tower. The door closed behind her a few seconds later, lock mechanisms creaking. "Robin!" she called, "I have returned!" She broke into a run, heading for the lobby entering into the Operations Room. Starfire was met by Robin in the lobby of the Operations Room. She full forcedly hugged him, nearly knocking the both of them over with the impact. Robin merely chuckled. This was usual for him.
"Oh, how I missed you!" Starfire said cheerfully. She squeezed him a little tighter as though to get her point across, but she let go when she heard Robin's back crackling. They still remained in contact, holding each other by the arms.
"I missed you too, Star." he said with a slight smile, which then sank away with his next question. "Where have you been all this time? We were all getting worried about you. "
Starfire's face sank as well and she shifted her gaze down to the side as though she were ashamed. "I am sorry, Robin. I know it is unusual of me to leave without notice. I received a message from a fellow Titan in Gotham City. He needed my assistance."
Robin's face grew solemn, and maybe just a little angry. "Who in Gotham needed you?" A cruel possibility occurred to him and he released his hold on Starfire. "It was Bruce, wasn't it?"
Starfire's face at his reaction was obviously hurt. Her jaw had dropped slightly in disgust. She drew her hands close to her chest and took a small step backwards. "No, Robin, a Titan." She stressed the last word. "Aqualad has been trying to discover the source of water pollution in the city and needed my assistance locating it."
Robin put his hands on his head. "What in the world does Aqualad care about what goes on in Gotham?" His voice had risen a little.
"Because it is reaching his home! Would you not care if trash drifted up on our home?" By this point, her voice had risen, too.
"And he needed you specifically?"
"Yes, he did!"
Suddenly the door to the Operations Room opened, revealing Cyborg in its doorway. Robin and Starfire immediately stopped their bickering and tried to make themselves look more composed, but it was evident by the serious look on Cyborg's face that he knew what had happened.
Starfire, forcing a smile, looked at Cyborg. "It is good to see you again, friend." She said in a gentle tone. Unlike she had done with Robin, she refrained from her forceful hug.
"Good to see you, too, Star. And Robin," When Cyborg said this, Starfire's face dropped a little. "I need to talk to you about some upgrades in the security systems."
Robin raised a brow in interest. "Security systems? Have we been hacked or something?"
"No, not yet, but it's been a while since I've put any work into it. Some of the systems around the Tower are getting a little glitchy, so there's room for an attack. See, like here in this sector—" He pulled up a map of the Tower on his arm and zoomed in on a sector. Starfire remained silent for a few minutes, just listening, not really understanding what all was being said. She finally she walked past the two boys and entered the Operations Room. As soon as the door closed behind her, Cyborg stopped talking and listened for a few seconds until he was sure Starfire was gone.
Then he said in a low tone, just to be safe, "Yo, Robin, what was all that yelling for?"
Robin narrowed his eyes. "How long were you listening?"
"Long enough to know something is up." he said. "Now I know you and Star have a thing going on, but you don't have to be so pushy about everything she does. I mean c'mon, man, you gotta let the girl live a little."
Robin gritted his teeth slightly. "We do not have a thing going on, and she's been gone for an unusual amount of time, in Gotham, without her communicator or another one of us with her."
Cyborg crossed his arms. "Star is a big girl. She can handle herself in Gotham City." He paused for a moment. Curiosity, however, got the better of him. "What was she doing there?"
Robin made a face. "Helping Aqualad find the source of water pollution in the city. Apparently the crud is reaching his base here in the bay."
Cyborg had a puzzled look on his face. "Well, I knew crime fighting is slow nowadays. But Gotham is so far away from Jump City. Do you think it would come this far?"
"That's what my concern is. It is possible, true, but I don't think I've seen much pollution around the water lately. Either way, I'll be speaking to Aqualad about this later. Let's go get started on that security upgrade." Without another word, Robin walked past him and into the Operations Room. Cyborg followed shortly after him.
Starfire waited in the elevator, arms crossed over her chest. She bit her lip as she watched the numbers above the doors rise steadily. When the elevator finally stopped on the top floor and opened, she rushed out and ran straight to Raven's room. She knocked loudly on her door, even yelled for Raven, but received no response. She pried the door open and entered the dark room, falling into levitation.
"Raven?" she whispered into the darkness. No response. Starfire rubbed her arms and continued to search around the room, checking under every logical and illogical place Raven may have been hidden. Finally she checked the bed, picking up the blankets daintily between her fingers. When again she found no signs of Raven, she huffed and fell cross-legged on the mattress, chin in her palms. "Perhaps Raven has traveled into the city," she said to herself reassuringly, but this made little sense. Raven rarely went into the city by herself and only did so when completely necessary.
Starfire uncrossed her legs and scooted herself to the edge of the mattress, then stood. She exited Raven's room and traversed to her own. When she tried to open the door, however, it refused to budge. "Raven?" she called, knocking on the door. "Friend, are you in there?" She knocked again, a little louder. "Raven? Open the door, please! I wish to see you!" She pressed her ear to the door and waited a few seconds, but heard nothing. Her worry turned to panic. Something could have happened to Raven! she thought. "Raven!" she yelled, drawing away from the door and pounding her fists on the door repeatedly, but the door would not budge. Starfire finally tired herself and leaned on the door. "Raven?" She made one last pound in the door with her fist; soon after followed a scream from behind the door. A gasp escaped Starfire's lips and she began to furiously pound on the door. "I will assist you momentarily! Please hold on, friend!"
Meanwhile in the Operations room, Robin stood in front of the wide-screen panel as Cyborg rattled off several computer technological terms he had never heard of. "Cyborg, we're not really in here for a computer upgrade." Robin said, stopping him midsentence.
Cyborg looked at him with his brow raised. "I was being serious about those security problems."
Robin folded his arms behind his back. "Fix them later. Computer." he said; the screen switched on. "Contact Aqualad." A few seconds passed as the computer processed his request and subsequently found the best possible way to contact his colleague. Finally Aqualad responded through what seemed to be his communicator. "Good evening, Aqualad."
Aqualad's face was solemn as ever. "Wish I could say the same to you. What can I do you for?"
"I heard there was pollution in Gotham, and it's stretching to your base."
"I was wondering," Robin said, "did you request the help of any of my team in the past week?"
When Robin said this, Aqualad's face grew confused. "No, I haven't. I've been able to handle it myself. Why do you ask?"
Robin gritted his teeth. "Starfire told me you asked her to help you."
"I see," was Aqualad's simple reply, and then he added, "You think she's up to something?"
"More than something." Robin disconnected the call.
Cyborg, who remained motionless throughout the short conversation, scratched the back if his head. "So about those upgrades..." Suddenly there was a loud explosion followed by a scream and then a crash. The tower seemed to have been rocked by the impact. Several alarms began to blare throughout the building. "What the heck was that?!" Cyborg shouted.
Robin sped off before Cyborg could finish his sentence. "It sounded like it came from the top floor!" He headed out the door for the stairs, Cyborg right behind him.
"Isn't that where Star went?"
Robin didn't answer. He flung open the door to the stairwell and began to hurry his way up them. When they finally made their way to the top, Robin busted open the stairwell door and continued running without pause. Near the end of the hall, just outside of Starfire's room, was a pile of rubble on the right side of the hall with Starfire sitting among it; on the left side was a figure resembling Raven. "Starfire!" Robin stopped suddenly; Cyborg nearly ran into him. A few steps behind them was Beast Boy in cheetah form.
Starfire placed a hand to her temple and rubbed it. A groan escaped her. She looked up to the figure standing opposite of her; Raven stood trembling, fuming with fists clenched and breath labored. She squinted her eyes at Raven for a few moments until her vision came to focus.
A grimace formed on Raven's lips and darkness formed around her hands, eyes glowing white. She took a few quick steps toward Starfire, hands raised. "I'll vanquish you, lion!"
Cyborg raised his arm, blast cannon ready. "Don't do it, Rae!"
Starfire tilted her head and made a confused face. "Raven, what is a lion?" Raven stared down at Starfire, still fuming and with hands raised. Cyborg remained in his stance, and Robin and Beastboy took stance as well. Starfire sat up a little. "Raven?"
The air remained still for a few moments. Finally the energy around Raven's hands subsided. Her eyes stopped glowing and she lowered her hands. Her countenance grew sad. "Starfire?"
Raven's face twisted in despair and she fell into Starfire's lap, knees straddling both sides and arms wrapped around her friend's neck. Starfire hesitantly placed her arms gently around her small back, palms flat. She eventually relaxed from the confusion, extending her hold on Raven to be more comforting. Cyborg, Robin and Beast Boy relaxed their stances and approached slowly.
Beast Boy morphed back into his regular form once they had stopped. "What's going on with Raven?" His voice was low; although he was normally loud and outspoken, seeing his friend and teammate in shambles spoke to him. Starfire looked up into Beast Boy's face, then to Cyborg; it seemed that both of them shared mutual feelings about the ordeal. Robin, however, was unmoved.
She turned her head back to Raven. "You must tell them at some point," she said quietly in Raven's ear. Raven looked up at Starfire, then over to the boys.
"Raven has been having nightmares." Robin said before she could speak his face still unmoved.
Beast Boy broke out into hysterical laughter. "Nightmares? I thought nightmares were normal dreams for Raven!"
Cyborg grimaced and gave Beast Boy a hard slap on the back of his head; he fell with a grunt. "Man, you think this is a joke? She could've seriously hurt Star!"
Raven squinted her eyes angrily. Her eyes glowed white and her body surrounded itself in energy. She launched herself up and vanished through the ceiling. Starfire could only watch and sigh. "It is more than simple nightmares." Starfire said, rubbing her temples. "But you did not have to say that. Perhaps Raven wanted to tell them herself."
"You mean the way you told me?" Robin said icily. Starfire squinted her eyes at him. "We need to talk." he added.
Cyborg frowned at Robin's tone. He looked over at Beast Boy, slapping a mechanized hand hard on his back. "Hey, BB, wanna help me repair the T Car?"
Beast Boy's eyes lit up. He turned and ran for the stairs, laughing hysterically. "Last one there is a rotten egg!"Cyborg followed behind him.
Robin waited until he was sure they were out of earshot. "Do you have something to tell me, Star?"
Starfire remained motionless on the floor, staring up at him. "You will have to be more specific, Robin."
Robin made a sneer. "I called Aqualad. I know you weren't helping him with the pollution problem."
Starfire stood up. Bits of the wall fell to the floor as she rose. "Robin, what I do on my own time concerns myself."
Robin folded his arms. "Your business only?"
"That is correct."
"Kinda like how Raven's business is also your business as well as mine?"
Starfire frowned. "Raven trusts me."
"But you told me."
Starfire stamped one of her feet, leaving a slight impression of her boot in the floor. "I did not believe she would mind at the time. Stop using that against me, please."
Robin stayed silent for a moment, arms still crossed. "I'm going to talk to her later about seeing a therapist."
Starfire shook her head and turned and started to walk into her now doorless room. "I am very tired. We will discuss this later." Starfire disappeared in the room. By this time, the sun had set and the tower was dark. Robin stood still until he heard an audible plop followed shortly by a creak, then turned and walked away.
AN: Once again I'd like to remind you of my deviantart page (see my profile). I usually post updates and chapter previews there. Also if you have questions for me or don't want to leave a review, you're welcome to send me a message. I love you guys, thank you so much for reading.