They always met in the kitchen at the oddest hours. The Titans already kept odd hours. The very nature of the job lent itself to late nights and far too little sleep. Perhaps that is what made Robin's and Raven's hours the oddest. Only they, out of the whole team, tried to keep relatively normal hours, which is why the always met in the kitchen in the mid mornings.
Raven would wrap her hands around a mug of hot tea. Robin would drink tea or orange juice depending on his mood. Robin would usually cook, a fact that never ceased to surprise Raven. Together they would sit and eat. Sometimes they would talk of the small meaningless things that tend to occupy one's not quite fully awakened mind. Sometimes they would not speak at all, merely sit in each other's company.
It was their time; the only time they had together that did not belong to the team. Once the others awakened, it would only be training, or the missions, or whatever harebrained game Cyborg and Beastboy came up with. Until then, it was Robin and Raven in the kitchen, enjoying the temporary peace and quiet.
It was one such morning. It was a morning where words seemed unnecessary. Raven was sipping her tea, and enjoying the moment. She gazed at Robin's face thoughtfully, and wondered for the umpteenth time what color Robin's eyes were behind that mask. Were they Hazel? Chocolate brown? Green? Raven fancied that they were clear blue, the color of some tropical lagoon, where the palms swayed gently in the breeze. Maybe they were the kind of eyes that changed colors depending on his mood. What would they look like when he was troubled? When he was happy? What if-
Wait a minute...
A terrible, horrible realization settled over Raven. She bolted upright. She examined the thought. She weighed it and felt its shape with her mind. The realization became certainty.
She was in love.
"Raven, what's wrong?"
"I... I forgot something I had to do. Please excuse me."
Raven stood and fled the kitchen, forgetting her mug, and not hearing Robin's acceptance of her excuse. She ran back to her room, shut and locked the door. Placing her back against the door, and sinking to the floor, she attempted to regulate her breathing, and calm herself.
How could she have let this happen? How could she have been so careless?
It wasn't that it was well known that Robin and Starfire had an ongoing relationship, no, if Robin chose to be with her, she would have no qualms about pursuing it.
Robin was the perfect man for her. No, it was her. It was Raven. She was all wrong.
She couldn't be in love. Her powers depended on ruthless control over herself, over her emotions. She couldn't be in love. She couldn't let herself love. She couldn't release control enough to love. It was far too dangerous. For her. For everyone.
What was she going to do?
She felt tears form.
See? She was already losing control. Too dangerous. Too dangerous.
She crossed her legs and tried to find her center, tried to meditate.
Peace was a long time coming.
From then on she avoided being around Robin. The usual breakfasts were out of the question. They were too intimate. The problem was the more she tried to avoid Robin, the more she seemed to run into him randomly. She would turn a corner and come face to face with him, a worried expression darkening his features, and she would be forced to deflect his concerned questions.
She started having trouble sleeping. She would lay awake, mind racing between wanting him, fearing for him, and worrying about the affect this was having on her abilities.
She must maintain control.
Food started losing its flavor. Her appetite was waning. Every time she tried to eat something, to force herself to eat to keep her energy up, the food tasted like sawdust, and she ended up giving it to Beastboy or Cyborg.
It was getting hard to remember what day it was. The days began running together. She couldn't tell anymore where the nerve wracking days and sleepless nights began or ended.
Finally a call came. The Titans were needed. Finally she could try to work out some of this anxiety in combat. Finally.
It was Dr. Light. Raven didn't really pay attention to what he was doing, or what he was after. All that mattered was that he was a foe, and he was to be neutralized.
"Azerath, Metrion Zinthos!" She chanted, bringing her power to bear.
Her magic, fueled by her seething frustration, manifested as thorned tentacles, which raced towards her target. Wrapping around him, biting their thorns deep into his skin, they brought him down, binding him thoroughly. The vines, however, given life by her uncontroled emotions, now had a mind of their own. Her powers backlashing, the vines sought out a new target; her.
The vines whipped toward her, lashing at her, thorns cutting deep.
"No... no!" she cried, desperate to find the control that used to seem so easy.
"Raven!" Robin cried, voice full of pain.
The Titans turned on their new target. Sonic blasts, explosive discs, green bolts of energy, and green claws of various shapes and sizes assaulted the tentacles from all sides. Raven wept, helpless feeling, bound by the thorns.
She was the problem. She was all wrong.
"Robin! Me! Knock me out, please! It's the only way!"
Robin's face showed his uncertainty.
"Please, you must. Trust me." She felt bad manipulating him that way, but he could not hesitate, could not doubt.
Robin hurled a concussive disc toward her. Raven closed her eyes and braced for the blast. This was going to hurt, she knew.
When the disc exploded, it only hurt for a minute before blackness took her.
When consciousness returned, she was laying in the infirmary. Sensors and monitors gauged her every sign. No one was in sight, which filled Raven with relief. She closed her eyes and drew upon the peace that her recent awakening afforded her, and sent herself to her room.
He had been stalking her, she realized, using his ample skills to anticipate her movements, trying to meet her, trying to find out what was wrong. She should have seen it earlier. She couldn't be here any more. She couldn't be a Titan any more.
She had to leave.
She looked around. As much as she wanted to gather her belongings around her, surround herself with familiar things, she didn't dare.
They would make her less mobile, more traceable, give him more chances to find her.
Robin was trained by Him, and it showed. When on a mission he was frighteningly implacable, ruthless, single minded. Raven dared not give him any advantage.
She opened the door. She should have known better. She should have just gone through the wall and left, but she wanted one last look at the tower.
She opened the door and he was there.
"Raven, what's going on? Talk to me."
She tried not to panic. Her heart wrenched at the sight of him.
"I can't, it's... personal. I have to leave, and that is all." She deflected. She had to leave. She had to go.
"Don't! C'mon, talk to me. You owe me that much."
She breathed and tried to summon whatever calm might remain in her.
"I'm having trouble controlling my powers. I need to leave to sort it out. If I stay, I'll be putting you and the others in danger." There. Enough truth to be convincing. He's already seen the magic out of control, so it should be easy to believe.
"Stay here. We're your friends, we can help you. Besides, you're a Titan, and Titans don't abandon their own."
"I'm no Titan, Robin. As long as I can't control my powers I'm not a Titan, nor do I deserve to be one." She steadied herself. "Don't worry," she smiled. "I'll come back once everything is back to normal." She felt awful lying to him, but the needs of the many, etc, etc.
She wrapped herself in whatever power she could manage, and transported herself out of the tower.
"Raven!" her communicator shouted.
"Don't try to come after me, Robin. Don't try to find me. This is something I have to do alone."
She destroyed the communicator.
She had to leave. She had to go now. Away. Far away.
She had lost count of the days she had been away. It didn't matter anyway. She was a different person now, someone who was not a hero, simply another face in the crowd. Being a magical crime fighter would draw too much of the wrong kind of attention; his.
She plunged her hands into the dough at the bakery at which she worked. Europe was a nice choice. At a moment's notice she could be across a border into another culture, another language. A simple spell or two, and she could learn a language and mask her appearance with a simple glamour. Then she was someone else. Someone normal.
She was even down to meditating only once a day. No more having to run away every five minutes to calm her nerves and center herself. Now she just has to meditate once, in the morning. During their time. To try to forget.
Otherwise she is a normal young woman, whom people consider polite, shy, and hard working. It was hard at first, but she turned away no work, no matter how menial it seemed. Mopping floors, scrubbing pots, pulling weeds, all these things she did, and none with magic. No magic. Magic could be noticed, could be tracked.
No matter. It was lunch soon, and she will sit in a cafe, and eat her lunch, and be one more lonely heart in the world, overlooked by all the other lonely hearts.
Lunch time came, and she sat in the sun, eating her small lunch. The sun warmed her face, and the sounds of birds made gentle music for her. She closed her eyes and almost smiled. Just for this moment, she was at peace. She could almost forget.
"Is this seat taken?" A voice shook her from her revelry. A familiar voice. It couldn't be.
She opened her eyes and saw him. He was in civies. She had never seen him in civies. To the best of her knowledge, none of the Titans had.
She stood, panicked. A hand grabbed her arm, gently, but firmly.
"Please. Please, I don't know anyone around here, and I've been so lonely. Please just sit with me."
She looked down into his eyes. His eyes, gods and goddesses, she could see his eyes.
And they were as blue as the endless ocean.
She sat slowly.
"Thanks," he smiled at her, "I got dragged on a business trip with my father, and I've been pretty much on my own the whole trip. I'm Richard by the way. Dick, if you can lay off the phallus jokes."
"Your father?" She prompted.
"Adoptive father, actually. I lost my parents some years ago. I'd give anything to have them back, but my adoptive father is the best anyone could hope for."
"I'm sorry. You must be lonely out here on your own."
"Yeah. Well, it's been bad for a while now. I'm really missing a friend who left a while ago."
"Oh?" Raven prompted.
"Yeah, she had to leave, and we lost touch."
"She? Girlfriend?" Raven asked.
"We never really worked that out. She left before I understood how deep we were getting. You remind me a lot of her."
Raven closed her eyes and took a breath. She carefully chose her next words.
"I'm surprised. With the way opposites attract, I would have thought you'd have steered clear of the serious types in favor of the bubbly happy-go-lucky types."
"I was kind of seeing someone like that. It didn't work out."
"She never felt that way about me. Partly it was my fault, and well, partly it was cultural. She was from pretty far away. We were doing things that I thought were pretty intimate, but she just considered being friendly. We're still friends, but we'll never be more than that. It was then that I realized how much my other friend meant to me. It was nice having someone that I could open up and talk to."
"I should think she felt the same way."
"I thought so, but now I'm not so sure."
The conversation was turning dangerous.
"I think it's time for me to get back to work"
"No, please don't leave me again." Robin's pretense fell, as did his face. "Please, talk to me."
"No, Robin, I have to go. I can't do this again."
"Do what? What are you talking about? At least tell me why you left!"
"I FELL IN LOVE WITH YOU!" Raven bolted out of her chair, as windows in the nearby area shattered. She closed her eyes, trying to find her center, her calm.
"Raven, why didn't you tell me? Why did you just leave? I mean, it was almost like we were meant to be."
Raven's eyes opened. "No, Robin. Love is not an option. Not for me. Love isn't free, Robin, and the cost in this case is far too high."
Robin flinched at the cold flat expressionless tone in Raven's voice, indicative of her ruthless clamp down on her emotions. "We should discuss this elsewhere."
Raven summoned her magic, and sent them away.
They were on a rooftop. Raven liked rooftops, and suspected Robin did too. On a rooftop you felt both big and small. Big, towering over the people in the streets below, and small, beneath the sun, moon, and stars in the great sky above.
Robin only took a second to get his bearings.
"Why did you leave without talking to me?"
"Because it didn't matter. You don't understand, Robin. This wasn't an issue of 'what if you didn't love me back.' My powers depend on control of my emotions." Her voice shook slightly with the stress of restrained emotions. "I am not allowed to be in love. The danger of my magic running out of control is too great. Someone could get hurt. Could get killed. Our friends. Me. You. I cannot allow that."
"No, you can control your emotions. You can't deny them, Raven. Your troubles started when you tried to suppress or ignore them. You have to allow yourself to be human!"
"Not all emotions are equal. Love is too deep, too strong. It just won't work. We have to be apart."
She gathered her magic around herself and levitated off the roof.
She watched in horror as Robin threw himself off the roof toward her, wrapping his arms around her.
"What are you doing?" she cried.
He climbed up her body to look into her face.
"I love you!" he cried. "I love you." He pressed his forehead against hers.
Tears formed in her eyes, and she wrapped her arms around him.
"I love you," she whispered.
It was then her powers failed.
Raven panicked as they plummeted toward the hard ground. She squeezed her eyes shut and prayed that she could save them.
The ground grew ever closer, until at last her magic flared, surrounding them. She cushioned their fall so the only landed with a hard and painful thud, but not a bone shattering one.
Limbs tangled, they stared at each other.
"I love you."
In the morning, Raven awoke to a cold, empty bed. Her still groggy mind wondered if the whole ordeal had been some wonderful, terrible dream. Then she smelled the aroma of food cooking, and heard the clanking of pans moving.
She wandered to the kitchenette to see Robin cooking, a mug of tea waiting for her on the counter. He turned to smile at her, blue eyes tender, as she sat down to sip her tea, ready to share breakfast. To share the morning. To share their time.