Authors Note: And here it is. After almost a year (I believe...) finally chapter 8 is up. Please forgive this lowly author. As I've stated in my re-write of chapter 4, WRITING IS HARD, and I had quickly burnt out after uploading the first seven chapters. This is what happens when you TRY to write a story as fast as you can. I want this story to have the best effort put into it, I didn't just want to throw words in there and have them mean nothing. This story and these characters are too important to me to ever do that to them. I want to thank EVERYONE who has reviewed and stuck with the story so far. It really means a lot to me, and I feel like I can actually go somewhere with this story 3
I do not own the Teen Titans in anyway. They belong to the brilliant people of DC.
Chapter 8: This Bitter Earth
Once they had finished discussing Nightwing's seemingly crazy plan, Wally West, AKA Kid Flash, found himself leaning against Paris' Eiffel Tower. Bearing the image of pure innocence, not one person who walked past him knew what he was up to. Nothing dubious of course, he was on duty. Wearing normal street clothes, his messy orange hair blowing in the wind. Night had fallen, bringing with it's dark shroud a chilly wind. Wally buried himself as much as he could into his dark jacket and hid himself away from the few people who still walked about at this time. He was set to leave for his real destination soon, but why not take the last few moments before duty called to be one with a national landmark? It had been a while since he'd come here. He had even brought Jinx a couple of times. Every moment of their trip spent in perfect bliss. Understandably enough, she was quite saddened that she couldn't join him now. Per Nightwing's request, this mission was for him and him alone. No offense to Jinx. She took offense anyway.
Checking his watch, he had about another minute before he was to head out. He took this time to replay his conversation with the Titan's leader, and his closest friend.
"I want you to do a bit of snooping in this building located in Paris. It's a bit of a stretch, but a lead is a lead. I would do it myself, but I want this done now."
Wally propped his feet up on his desk, mindful of his keyboard and the many things strewn about.
"It is. I was lucky enough to find at least one thing hidden in a secluded archive using...uh, a bit of help." Nightwing's stoic expression faltered just enough for Wally to catch, and he knew what 'bit of help' he was referring to.
"Aaah, had to go to the old man for this one huh? What did he say?"
"Nothing. He doesn't know."
The knowing smirk spread wide across Wally's cheeks as he rocked back and forth on his leather chair. For being the goody two shoes Dick was, it was nice to see him breaking the rules once in a while. Lets Wally feel better at knowing that his friend wasn't so above it all, especially when it came to his infamous father.
"Wipe that smirk off your mouth, you think I'd actually ask for his help and have him breathing down my neck?"
"No no, just...hey it's you after all. I'm not as surprised as you think. But ooooh if he finds out-"
"He did last time."
"I was in a hurry."
"When aren't you?"
"Listen," Nightwing straightened himself in his chair and drew closer to the screen. The slight irritation in his voice signaled all jokes were over. Wally knew better than to push him any farther than necessary, the man had limits. "I found an address. It was the only thing. It was heavily encrypted, whoever hid it didn't want anyone finding out about it any time soon. The address leads to an old historical society in Champ de Mars. It's not too hard to find. Something's there, a connection to Dubson. Whatever looks suspicious and whatever leads to him. Find it."
So now here he was. Waiting for the old historical society to close up shop so he can make a sneaky entrance and poke around for information. The rest of their talk was on strategy, when and where to station himself, don't stick out, don't draw attention to yourself, same old same old. The night grew darker and colder, and it startled him a bit when a single drop of water hit the tip of his nose. Looking up he saw thick clouds looming over his head, the promise of a heavy rain that was soon to come down on him. He lifted his hood and turned his head when he heard the sound of a door slamming shut and footsteps hitting pavement. An old man had exited and was in the process of locking the historical society's door. He gave it a tug to check the lock, satisfied, he began to walk away. Wally watched him for a good while until he was absolutely sure he would not come back.
The rain didn't want to wait for him to make his move as it came crashing down on him in a matter of minutes. The last few people began to scurry away and he was finally alone. He dashed to the side of the building and pressed himself against the wall. He quietly moved deeper into the alley as to not be seen by any wandering eyes. He felt that all familiar rush of adrenaline every time he used his speed. It coursed through his body, making him feel alive. His blood pumped, and soon he felt every piece of him tingle as he began to vibrate his molecules through the hard brick wall. First his fingers, then his torso, then the rest of him until he was completely within the darkness of the building. He took a minute to study his surroundings while he adjusted the collar of his jacket.
It was a rather small building, surprising since it was suppose to house the history that was Champ de Mars. A few statues here and there, some tables, a desk by the entrance, bookshelves. This was nothing to write home about, it didn't even seem to warrant a search. Brushing off the droplets of water on his jacket, Wally brought out a small flashlight and shined it around the room. Just as unimpressive as it was in the dark. But then something didn't seem right. He brought his light to cast a glow on a peculiar looking contraption near the center. He really couldn't make heads or tails of what this thing could have possibly been. It was rather large and came to stand about his waist. It was white and made the shape of a traffic cone with the tip of it being flat. There was something like a panel perched at the top of it, and coming closer he identified the part as a solar panel. He made a face at the oddity and brought the light down on the silver plaque at the base it stood atop.
~Solaire alimenté micro-ondes~
The little bit of french he had picked up through his numerous travels to the country started to kick in as he slowly read the words aloud, rolling the letters on his tongue as he tried to pronounce them. If Jinx were here she'd be a blushing mess, she loved hearing him speak french. Too bad he lacked an audience to bare witness to his ultra sexy accent. Soon the words began to mean something, and his brain unscrambled the language and put it back together in English.
"Solar Powered Microwave." He looked down at the machine again and understood what that little black cabinet at the center was for. He scratched his head with the butt of the flashlight and laughed a bit. It was so huge and bulky, who would have even thought to use such a thing, solar powered or not? What was it even doing here? He held out the flashlight and let it fall on another odd looking machine. Sensing a pattern, he turned around and inspected the rest. Another machine, and another. Some big, some small. They all had their own spots scattered around the room and it began to dawn on Wally that this was no ordinary museum. He couldn't be blamed, there were no signs at the front of the building stating what truly lurked within. Dick probably didn't even know its true purpose other than what little information he was given when he found that hidden file tucked away in a secret archive within an unknown database. Feeling intrigued, Wally walked up to the front desk, looking for a sign that could give away what he believed this place to be. He found it perched like an invitation to a wedding at the front desk. It was small, as if it should not even be looked at.
Inventions de l'avenir
"Inventions of the Future." Wally had to smile. It just seemed so...out of place to have a little museum dedicated to what he believed to be the most useless, lamest pieces of hardware he ever laid his eyes on. He had to give it to that son of a bitch, Dubson. Looks like he pulled a fast one on Dick. Wally was sure he would not take kindly to this news at all. A small beeping pierced the silence in the room and Wally looked down and held up his wrist, a black watch with the time 10:30 greeted his sights. "Speak of the devil." He pushed a small button on the side and waited for a voice to speak.
"~Kid Flash." A deep voice rang out from the watch.
"Nightwing." Wally tried to mimic his friends too serious voice, but snorted at the end as he just couldn't pull it off without grinning.
Dick all but ignored him and continued. "~Find anything yet?"
"Well," Wally sighed and rubbed at his shoulder. "Unless Dubson had a thing for old fifties inventions, I'd have to say we've been duped buddy."
"~What?" The confusion in Dick's voice was almost priceless, and if he wasn't so afraid of receiving a beat down, he would have laughed.
"This place is a museum for old inventions that were made back in the late fifties, early sixties. Oh man, you should see some of the stuff people came up with back in the day."
"~Are you serious?"
"As the plague mon ami." Wally began to walk about the room, lazily shining his light every which way, letting it fall on random objects. It was as he swung his arm about that the light caught on an odd indentation on the wall, a bit ways in the back hidden from the front.
"~I don't believe this...do you know how badly I want his head between my hands so I can twist his neck until it pops off like a barbie doll!"
"Graphic." Wally followed the light and made his way to the back. It was so tucked into the side that he surely would have missed it. It wasn't very noticeable were it not for the little shadow is cast when the light hit it. He'd like to thank years of training to always see past the superficial. All it really was to anyone else was a plain wall. But there was something underneath the cheap wallpaper. It pushed against it like a scar creating a long line from the ceiling to the floor. He was almost blocking Dick's voice from his ears as he inspected the ridge in the wall.
"-so I can see him rot in jail! Are you still there?"
"~Were you ignoring me?" Dick sounded slightly peeved, and honestly Wally had been paying more attention to the wall.
"Totally. Hold on, I think I found something." He was face to face with the wall, trailing the light up and down and watching as the shadow along the ridge moved along with it. He brought his fingers up and traced two of them along the protruding wallpaper. It felt hard, and it gave a bit at the pressure he applied.
"~What did you find?"
Wally tried to envision what could be on the other side. The building was already so small, only a story high with only this single room. Lightning flashed out through the windows, the storm growing in severity. It illuminated the room for just the briefest of seconds, but that was all it took to make the shadows from the machines to dance across the walls as they twisted and formed horrible shapes. It set a jolt of fear to lurch inside of Wally and he cursed himself for jumping a bit. This place no longer seemed so small as the rain pelted against the windows, creating a rather chilling symphony.
Steeling his resolve, Wally placed a hand against the wall and gripped the flashlight tight.
"I'll let you know in a minute." He vibrated his molecules once again and pushed through the wall. Without meaning to, he had closed his eyes, not wanting to see the terrifying monster his mind conjured up that would greet him. Slowly opening them, he was relieved at finding a small room where stairs led down to some unknown place.
"~Anything?" He jumped again at the sudden intrusion of Dick's voice. He shook himself to get rid of the bits of fear that tingled on his skin and brought his wrist up close to his mouth.
"Yeah, looks like I found a hidden room. It's small and the only thing here are some stairs that go down."
"~Go ahead and-"
"I'm not going down."
"I didn't sign up for this."
"~Don't be stupi-
"Do you not want to hear from me again! This is exactly what happens in the movies when people go down dark stairways."
"~You sound like Beast Boy," Dick gave a sigh on the other end and Wally could almost picture him running his hand down his face. "If you run into anything, you can always run from them."
"That does not inspire confidence."
"~There could be something down there."
"Oh yeah there is, like Leatherface with a chainsaw ready to tear my ass apart."
"~For god's sake Wally-"
"Alright! Get off my back, I'm going! Jesus..."
Timidly, Wally walked forward and down, placing his foot on the first step. It creaked under his weight and he could have sworn he lost about ten years of his life.
"~Still alive?" The sarcasm dripped through the watch at his wrist as he continued his decent.
"Tell Jinx she was alright, we had a good run." He continued on his way, shining the light all the way down. If there truly was anything down there waiting for him, hopefully they would let him get a head start to run away.
All was quiet within Raven's domain, a few candles lit to provide just a sliver of light which created a calming atmosphere. She lit a few incense and inhaled the aromatic scent of lavender as it wafted through the room. Her breathing began to slow down, and everything just felt so comforting and relaxing as the incense continued to burn away past events. Since that explosion in the common room early yesterday morning, everyone had been slightly on edge. She had healed as much as she could of Beast Boy's wounds, telling him the rest would mend over time. It hurt to see him hobble about the tower, the pain obvious to everyone despite his best efforts to hide it from them.
Of course she felt guilty. He acted as her shield, taking the brunt of the explosion for her. Honestly, it made her feel all sorts of things. Upset over not being able to protect herself, weak because of not being able to protect herself, thankful she didn't have to endure the attack, bitter because Beast Boy did, and the one that came to the forefront of her mind, overjoyed that he had even done such a thing for her. She was almost euphoric. He had thrown all caution to the wind and dived in front of her to protect her from the blast. Her heart soared.
And then she felt guilty all over again for being glad he had shielded her. She brought herself down from her little trip on cloud nine and groaned as she pushed herself off her bed. He would have done that for anyone and she needed to stop putting in her head that she was any different, or special, than everyone else.
Sighing, she began to walk about her room, no real reason other than laying in bed would just make her think about stuff she didn't want to think about at the moment. But soon walking wasn't strong enough of a distraction and she needed to busy herself somehow. She was determined not to be that Raven from the past who wallowed in self pity, even though it was so easy for her to fall back into that dark place. Waving her arm to blow out all the candles, Raven walked to her door and left her room.
She needed to think about other things. The people at Eurydice haven't called either her or Starfire yet, she assumed they were busy calling the other women who had shown up. Raven was mildly satisfied with that, they can take as much time as they wanted. She was in no hurry to talk business with them. She was still trying to figure out what to say to them that would impress them enough to let her in the society. Nightwing had suggested they say they do a lot of community work, charities, catering to under privileged families, something like that. She had made a list, crossing off things that sounded too over the top, tried to practice how she would describe what she did, projecting her voice to each corner of her room so she could sound more confident and not like this was the first time she had done this. Which it was. She figure she'd ask Starfire so they could practice together. That sounded like a great idea. She'd make a stop at the common room first to grab a cup of tea.
Entering, she quickly spotted Nightwing sitting at the front. One of the monitors was out displaying web articles, most likely about Dubson. He also had a mic set and a laptop on the coffee table. Raven was surprised as he hardly ever brought his work out from his room, and was happy for him coming out of his seclusion and integrating himself at last with the others. Not wanting to disrupt whatever he was doing, she quietly made her way to the kitchen, mindful of the slight mess that was still there from the explosion, and ignoring the missing table and scorch marks. Raven wondered how long he had been there, it was about four in the afternoon and she didn't remember him setting up his stuff there earlier in the day. She must have been making a bit of noise as he turned his head around to look at her setting up her tea kettle.
"Sorry, didn't mean to disturb you." She turned on the stove and reached for a tea packet.
"Ah, no problem. Just wondering who it was." He offered her a smile and looked toward her tea kettle.
She grinned a bit and reached back up to the cupboard for another cup. "Would you like some tea?"
Feeling a bit embarrassed, he ran his hand through his hair and gave her a sheepish laugh. "Yes please."
He had one day, out of the blue, asked her if he could try one of her teas. She was more than happy to prepare a cup for him, thrilled that someone at the Tower was at least willing to try them. She had gave him a simple Green Tea which had a bit of dried fruit, and was pleased to find that he quite enjoyed it. Of course he would favor coffee more, but whenever he caught her making tea, he would always ask if she could make a cup for him.
As he waited, he turned his head back to his laptop, typing away at something, and would fiddle with the mic once in a while. After placing the tea bags in their cups and waiting for the water to come to a slight boil, Raven curiously looked back at him, wanting to know what he was up to.
"You look like you're set up for a conference. Got something going on?"
Nightwing stopped his typing and turned back to her. He looked unsure, not knowing if he should tell her what was going on. But not wanting to hide things from his friends, he tapped at the mic and waved a hand at the laptop. "Well, I didn't tell you guys this, but I found something hidden away in a secluded database. An address in Paris. I have Kid Flash over there now investigating an old inventions museum. I have him set up with a communications device and had him wait until nightfall over there."
Intrigued, Raven raised an eyebrow and turned her full attention on him. "Really?"
"Yeah. So far he's found a hidden room and is searching it for anything suspicious. Hey, if it was hidden, there's gotta be a reason for it." Nightwing steepled his fingers as he looked out the large bay windows. The sun was shrouded in thick clouds, making the view outside look dismal and dark. "I know somethings there. Has to be something there."
She saw the look on his face, one he wore often. That mix of determination and worry. She couldn't picture him not ever looking like that, it was just what made Dick Grayson, Dick Grayson. She nodded her head and turned back to the kettle. She poured the hot water into their cups and watched as it soaked the small bags, brewing the leaves inside them. She looked back at him and saw that he was still in the same position.
"How long have you been here?"
He leaned back and stretched himself on the couch. A few pops were heard as he let out a tired sigh. "About an hour or so. I was in my room but, I needed to get out of there. Needed a change of scenery."
She hummed in agreement. "I can relate."
The abrupt sound of beeping diverted their attention to Nightwing's laptop. He brought the mic closer to him and hit a button on the side. "Go ahead Kid Flash."
"~Yo, think I found something you might like." Wally's voice filled the room and Raven stopped what she was doing so she could listen to their conversation.
"What's up?" Nightwing leaned forward a bit, the rush of excitement to great to hold back.
"~Looks like an old archives room. There's a bunch of filing cabinets and boxes. Everything's pretty much covered in dust."
"~Well, it's weird. Everything I've seen up until now was made around the fifties and sixties. The machines, some brochures, posters, even some files scattered around," Wally sounded perturbed. Raven could almost see the confounded look on his face. "But this one cabinet has files that are at least from the late and early eighties. They're fresh."
Nightwing bunched his eyebrows in thought, rubbing a hand over his mouth. "Just one cabinet?"
"~Just one, and there aren't that many files in it."
Feeling even more intrigued, Nightwing went back to his laptop and typed a few things down before going back to the mic. "Look through them. Let me know if you find anything."
Remembering her previous task, Raven turned back to finish their teas. But something began to nag at the back of her mind, and she couldn't figure out the reason. Something didn't feel right.
It was so dark in this cold cemented room that Wally had to bite the flashlight between his teeth in order to finger through the old files. He could still here the rain going on outside. The random bangs of thunder started to grate at his nerves as it made the whole place seem that much more eerie. Nothing really stood out. He didn't recognize any names and some of the manila folders only held about two pages each. He sighed and bent down to examine the last drawer on the cabinet. He was a bit surprised to find it slightly opened, as if someone hadn't closed it right the last time they opened it. He lightly pulled at it, but it barely gave. Refusing to be opened. Using both hands and hunching down a bit, Wally steadied his feet and put as much of his strength into pulling the drawer loose. It gave with a piercing screech and Wally ended flat on his butt.
He was a bit frustrated to find nothing within the dividers, having put effort into something that didn't even deliver with the goods. He was about to call it quits and radio Nightwing when his flashlight picked up on something wedged in the back. He bent his head down to peer inside the drawer, shifting the light back and forth. Sure enough, there was a manila folder way in the back, probably the cause of the drawer being stuck too. He reached in with his arm and tried to pull it out. Once his fingers grazed at the folder, he wrapped his hands around it and pulled it free.
It was a bit torn, and dark smudges spotted around it. Wally stood, bringing the folder and flashlight along with him. Thunder roared once again and he instinctively drew himself deeper into his jacket. He studied the folder, looking at where only two letters provided a name, M.D. He turned the folder over and raised an eyebrow at the tiny dark words that scratched its surface.
Raven's grip on the cups vanished. They fell from her hands and crashed on the floor where they both shattered into tiny pieces, the liquid within them spilling and trailing to her flats.
She was over come with a debilitating sense of dread. It wracked her body, sending her trembling and failing to form words. Her throat constricted, choking at the fear. Her feet cemented themselves on the floor, and her body would not stop shaking.
Nightwing snapped his head to the sound of the breaking cups and stared dumbfounded at the sight of Raven.
His words were lost to her as the excruciating terror brought one name to her lips.
She was suddenly tearing her way to Dick. She had to get there. She had to hurry. It was a desperate need, he was in trouble. She could feel it biting at her skin as she ran for the mic. It was as if this fear was causing her to see things in slow motion and she couldn't get there fast enough.
Dick was on his feet in a second. He reached for her and was caught completely off guard as she threw herself across the couch and landed haphazardly on him. He tried to straighten them up, but she was struggling. She had to get that mic. She clawed at his arms, pushing him away as she made a mad grab for the mic. Dick was yelling for her, but he seemed so far away. He continued to grab onto her, trying to control her sporadic movements, but she kept pushing him until her shaking hand brought the mic to her lips. With a loud gasp, Raven held the button.
"Wally!" She screamed, a horrible hitch in her dry throat as the shakes devastated her body. She sensed it, and didn't understand how or why. He was in danger. Tears prickled her eyes until everything became blurry. "Run!"
Wally was at a loss at the horrified sound of Raven's screams.
She wanted him to run.
It became very clear to him that the cold air that surrounded the room was not just his imagination, and that something was towering behind him.
He barely turned his head to the side to look when he was lifted from the ground and held high in the air. He let out a startled yell and he flailed his arms and legs to try and get himself back on the ground. He lost his grip on the folder and flashlight. The hard metal tool clattered on the ground and spun away from him. He struggled, yelling all the while. Terror filled his very being as he could not see what was holding him up. He felt himself go higher until he was thrown hard against the wall.
He fell to his side, groaning as he tried to pick himself up and shake the dizziness from his head. He shakily brought his wrist to his lips and tried to speak.
He didn't have time to finish as he was grabbed again, being lifted into the air. This time he was thrown far and crashed on top of the many filing cabinets in the back. The commotion was loud and it pierced his hearing. The grinding sound of metal against metal as things began to topple over. Groaning in pain, he rolled himself off of the cabinets, pushing and kicking until he was on the ground. Something warm and wet trickled from between his eyes and dripped down his cheek. Right away he knew it was blood. Everything was dark, he couldn't make out a single thing, only what the flashlight had shined itself on, which was a crack on the wall.
Feeling violated and enraged, he growled low in his throat and quickly staggered to his feet. He brushed off the sudden head rush from standing too quickly and ignored the pain on his side.
"Son of a bitch, can't face me huh?" He cursed out to his attacker. Adjusting to the darkness, his eyes darted every which way to catch a glimpse of his assailant. All he saw was cabinets. "Show yourself!" He yelled and his voice bounced back to him. His breathing was heavy, his chest heaved and he clenched his fists and prepared to defend himself. The sound of static filled his ears and garbled talking came blaring from his watch.
"~Wal-an...hear-ge...ther-out!" It was Dick, but he couldn't make sense of him. His watch was damaged.
"Dick! I can't hear you, somethings attack-" Distracted with trying to contact Dick, Wally was again grabbed and hoisted into the air. "Fuck! Put me down!"
His attacker started to savagely slam him against the wall and then at a cabinet. Back and forth, each force of the slams intensifying. Finally he was thrown across the room and slid against the floor. His arm bumped the flashlight and it bounced against the wall and came at the tips of his fingers.
Wally groaned. His body bruised and the blood continued to trickle from the cut between his eyes. He tasted blood on his tongue and felt a split lip.
The desperate calls from his friends were jumbled as the watch became even more damaged. He lay on the floor, legs trying to push him up but only slipped as his sneakers couldn't gain any traction. He gasped for breath and rolled on his side. How could he possibly defend against something he couldn't see? He needed to run. He needed to get out. He was hurting so bad. His fingers brushed at the flashlight again. Not wanting to lose it, he quickly grabbed it and held it out in front of him.
The shaky ray of light shown on tipped over cabinets and spots of blood. His blood. Lowering the light more, it fell on the discarded manila folder. He needed that too. Groaning loudly, he dragged himself closer to it. Everything hurt. His arms, his legs, his sides. He continued to drag himself, slowly gaining the feeling back into his legs.
He heard it then. Something in the back was moving. It was like a groan from machinery. Something else began to drag itself towards him. He moved faster. He pushed and pulled, getting closer. His attacker was getting clos too. He could barely reach the folder. The groaning grew louder. His fingers were on it.
Feeling invigorated, wally clutched at the folder, gritted his teeth and hefted himself off the floor. His lungs burned as he steadied himself. He brought the flashlight out to where the noise was coming from.
That was all it took. Stuffing the folder in his jacket, Wally painfully dashed to the door, threw it opened and ran up the stars. He wasted no time and threw himself against the hidden door. It burst opened and he tumbled out. At that moment, he couldn't care less about the damage. He did the same to the front door. He toppled out into the rain and fell against the cold street. Thunder boomed all around him, and all he could do was lay there. To catch his breath. To let the water pelt at his hot and achy skin. The rain was ruthless. It came in sheets.
Finally, he opened his eyes. His chest heaved and he brought a hand to wipe at his wet orange bangs. He hobbled on to his feet, blinking away the rain as it blurred his vision. He looked back into the dark depths of the museum. Lightning flashed and the silhouette within looked back at him, unmoving.
Wally ran. He ran and he didn't stop.
She didn't know what to do. She heard him scream, and then nothing. Something happened to him. He tried to get in touch with them again, only getting out a 'guys' before the screaming started. She and Dick heard the crashes. Heard what was going on, but couldn't see a thing. They heard him yell out, for someone to put him down. More crashes. After that, it was broken static. Nothing could be made out. Nightwing had tried to tell him to get out. She did nothing but slump to the floor in complete shock and horror.
Raven had been taken over by a suffocating fear that rendered her almost motionless. All it took was Wally to say two little words. Those two little words were her undoing. It was like a bucket of cold ice was dumped on her head and it soaked deep into her skin. Reaching her bones and nerves until they froze over. Her body convulsed, and she couldn't stop the tremors. She was being attacked from the inside. Her throat hurt, as if she were holding back a thousand sobs. It was hard to explain and harder to shake off. She didn't know how, but she knew something was going to happen. And it did.
She sat on the floor, still reeling from the unbearable fear that she couldn't make sense of. Dick was on the floor shaking her, firmly grasping her shoulders trying to get her to snap out of it. She gasped, trying to catch her breath. But she couldn't, everything was out of control. That's when everyone else made an entrance. They heard Dick screaming for her and for Wally. They pushed themselves to be at the center with them. Cyborg was yelling, Dick was yelling, Starfire knelt down to her, grasping her arms and begging her to speak. Beast Boy was right there at her side. Anger and worry etched on his face. His fangs bared, ready to annihilate whatever had caused her to regress to such a state. She tried, dammit she tried to say something. Her shaking limbs and quivering lips prevented her from doing or saying anything. Their voices sounded muffled, and she couldn't really focus on them. She opted to look down at her legs, waiting, willing for the tremors to stop and let her be. Soon everything started to pick up its normal speed. She could hear them more clearly, they were yelling and trying to sort everything out.
"What happened?" Cyborg was at the coffee table, trying to fix the mic she had unintentionally broken. "Just relax and tell me what happened."
Dick had explained the whole thing. He sent Wally to Paris to investigate some things. Everything was going well, Raven was making tea. Wally had found something, and then Raven went ballistic. Screaming about him to run, and then something bad had happened. They couldn't get the communication working anymore. Wally was trying to contact them. He was in trouble. Somehow Raven knew.
Beast Boy and Starfire were still there on the floor with her. Trying to get her to talk, trying to still her shaking form. She was going to topple over when Beast Boy grabbed her and pulled her close. She didn't fight back. She rested her head on his shoulder, eyes still wide, but she was slowly coming back. She reached a hand out, and Starfire quickly latched on to her. Rubbing her hand between both of hers.
"Raven." Beast Boy's voice was hushed and close to her ear. "Raven, calm down. It's okay. We're here." He ran his hand up and down her arm, soothing her shakes. "It's okay."
Starfire continued to hold her hand. "Remain calm Raven, we are here. Concentrate on us."
Cyborg and Dick looked on from a distance, going back and forth from watching her to trying to fix the communication system.
Finally the clouds within Raven's head dispersed. She could clearly see her friends again. Starfire had her hand held tight, Beast Boy was warm and comforting, allowing her to rest on him.
"God dammit, I let this happen." Dick threw his mask on the floor, his blue eyes resembled rain clouds.
"Just chill man, this was beyond your control." Cyborg had the mic replaced and was trying to make a connection to Wally.
"The hell it was!"
"N-no...it w-w-would have happen-ned...I didn't k-know...no o-o-one c-could..." Raven stuttered her words, her throat clenched and she tried to breath in some air. Beast Boy kept rubbing her arm, rocking her a bit to comfort her.
"Shh, just take it easy Rae."
"Hush now, you must steady your breathing." Starfire let go of her hand and flew to the kitchen to grab a cup of water. She brought it back and held it up to her lips. Raven complied and let the cool trickle of water sooth her strained throat.
Dick walked towards the little group on the floor and knelt down beside Starfire. "You doing alright Raven?" He placed his hand on hers, and god it had been a while since she's seen his eyes. She breathed in once, and slowly let it out, nodding her head as she placed it back on Beast Boy's shoulder. "Just take it easy. Gar, get her on the couch."
Without a word, Beast Boy stood up with her in his arms and calmly turned toward the couch. Starfire fluffed a pillow and placed it on the arm rest, and Beast Boy gently laid her down, letting her head rest on the pillow. She closed her eyes, her brows creased in concern over Wally. What had happened? Was he okay? What was going on...
Beast Boy looked down at her, a woeful look in his eyes. His hear beat fast due to worry and fear for her. He had never seen her this way before. Seeing her stricken with uncontrollable shakes and shivers made him ache inside. Something had spooked her bad. He wanted whatever was responsible for this to pay, he didn't care how, but he wanted them to pay dearly.
"I can't get a hold of Wally. His communication must have busted. I'm not picking up a single trace." Cyborg ran a hand down his face and sighed. He was trying, and failing, to get in touch with Wally. He was worried. Dick was worried. Everyone was worried.
Dick slumped on the floor, he covered his face with his hands and groaned. "Christ, if anything happened to him-"
The Towers emergency signals blared and lights flashed within the room, coating everyone in a red hue.
Intruder alert. Intruder alert.
Dick was up off the floor in seconds, brandishing his birdarangs and inspecting every corner of the room with his keen eyes. Starfire floated above Raven, guarding her from any threat as her starbolts flared in her hands. Beast Boy shifted into a tiger, protecting Raven at her side. His fangs glistened and he snarled viciously. No one would come within ten feet of her without Beast Boy sinking his claws into them.
Cyborg dashed to the control panel, pressing keys and buttons. A small hologram presented itself to him, showing him who had dared inter the Titans Tower. Raven watched him and saw him physically relax as he quickly shut off the emergency alarms.
"It's Wally!" He turned and yelled to the others. They all eased themselves, and Dick made a mad beeline for the doors. He stopped halfway when Wally dashed in, carrying along a gust of wind that blew papers and mused their hair.
"You scared the hell out of us!"
Raven could have cried. He was safe. She felt a bit silly, like she was a mother hen fawning over her baby chicks, but she didn't care. He was safe.
He was panting and hunched over. A hand was clutching at his side. He looked exhausted.
"Sorry...didn't use...my ID...just wanted to...get in here." He was trying to catch his breath. He must have ran all the way back here without stopping.
Dick placed his hands on his shoulders and tried to look at him. His face became worried all over again. "Jesus, what the hell happened to you?"
Wally slowly straightened himself up and Starfire couldn't help but gasp when she saw his face. Dick reeled back, but kept his hands firmly on his shoulders. Cyborg was at his side in a second, assessing the wounds on the red head.
His right eye was bloodshot and blackened around the cheekbone. There was a nasty cut between his eyes and blood had smeared down the bridge of his nose and cheek where it collected on his chin. He had a split lip that had turned purple, blood also dripped from there. His clothes were slightly damp, the rain having dried off a bit from his running. He was completely spent and hurting all over.
"We need to get you to the medical wing." Cyborg shined a light from his finger into Wally's swollen eye, and seeing it react to the brightness, he nodded and inspected the rest of his face. "What happened?"
"Just a sec...is Raven alright? She sounded...out of it." Wally warded off the rest of Cyborg's inspecting hands and looked around the room, trying to find the empath. When he spotted her he began to hobble toward her, and tripped on his own feet. Dick swiftly caught him and placed a hand on his chest. Wally hissed and put his own arm around his best friends shoulder for support. "Dammit..."
"Take it easy Wally, Raven's fine, she just..." How could he even explain what had happened?
Raven needed to see for herself the damage that was done to him. She needed to prove that he was at least alright. She pushed herself up from the couch, elbows propping her up as she looked to where he leaned on their leader. Beast Boy saw this and reached his hands for her. She held up a hand to halt is advances, signaling that she would be alright.
"Rae..." Beast Boy didn't move away from her, if she needed him, he was right there.
"I'm fine...Wally, are you alright?"
She could see from across the couch that he tried to give her a smile. The cut on his lip preventing him from keeping it for too long. "Ah you know...could be better." He looked at Dick who looked back. A silent conversation went on between them before Dick nodded and slowly helped him walk the short distance to where Raven was on the couch. She brought her legs up and over the edge to allow him some space to sit. He must be so tired. Starfire had once again gone to get a glass of water, she came back and offered it to the beaten speedster. "Thanks Star." He took a pained gulp from the glass and placed it down on the coffee table.
Despite her best efforts, she just couldn't help the sorrowful expression that washed across her face. If only she could have warned him sooner...Everything just seemed to be falling apart and she didn't know why all of this was happening. She reached out shaky hands to gently cup his face, mindful of his wounds. She could have busted into tears if she weren't trying to be strong.
"Hey, I'm fine." He brought his hands to her wrists and gave them a reassuring squeeze. All while still trying to smile.
"Your hands are like ice."
"Yeah, that's what happens when you're worn out and run from Paris to Jump."
"You're exhausted, we need to get you to the med wing now." Dick hovered over Wally, ready to assist him. "No arguments, you can explain everything later."
Gingerly, Wally nodded in agreement and allowed his friend to grab his arm and pull it over his shoulder, while the other went behind him.
Raven leaned back into the couch, felling much better than earlier, but still had this sense of dread buried deep inside. It lingered and she couldn't dispel it. She turned her head slightly to the side and locked gazes with Beast Boy. She could see the swirl of emotion in his green orbs. Relief, worry, anger. They all tangled together and formed a knot that constricted within Raven's heart. She briefly let the moments of her cradled in his arms stoke a little flame inside herself, it made her feel warm and she gave him a tiny smile, one he was happy to give back.
"Hey, check it out." Cyborg garnered the attention of everyone in the room as he pointed out to the bay windows. They all stared out in wonderment, not a word escaped their lips.
Snow was falling. Thick lumps of it drifted from the clouds above and fell into the waters below. The sky was dark, a gloomy greyish color that just seemed off.
Every soul in the room seemed transfixed, not one of them looked away, and Raven couldn't help but wonder if they were feeling the same sense of dread that intensified as the snow continued to fall.
Nightfall came, making the tower feel colder due to the snow outside. All was quiet. Raven had been taken to her room some time ago, her legs still wobbly from her bizarre episode. Beast Boy had carried her, followed along by Starfire. They remained in her room despite her telling them that she would be alright alone. They refused to leave, compelled to stay by her side. She just had to accept it, and not long after that, sleep had taken over her. Beast Boy watched as he sat on a chair beside her bed, elbows resting on his knees. Starfire sat on the floor and rested her head on the bed close to Raven's pillow. About an hour had passed and Starfire too fell asleep, still huddled close to Raven. Beast Boy remained awake. He couldn't even bring himself to shut his eyes for a second. He wanted to be awake for Raven. To watch over her. To be there if she woke up and needed something, or someone.
He was close, but it didn't feel close enough. Sometimes her face would contort into discomfort and he wasn't sure if he should wake her or let her be. She needed rest and it was his own feelings that he seemed to be struggling with at the moment. His mind began to flood itself with thoughts and he groaned a bit, combing his fingers through his hair as he tried to put the jumbled pieces together. Something had made Raven terribly afraid, she had sensed something, even from a country away and whatever that something was had hurt Wally. Bad. This was Kid Flash, the fastest man alive only second to the original Flash himself. What had prevented him from running away? He could have saved himself the trouble by escaping. He must have been caught off guard. Beast Boy only wished he knew the answers. He was concerned that the weird happenings that have been going on between Raven were now growing in strength. There was much more going on than he thought.
His ears twitched. He straightened up in his seat and looked over at the two sleeping girls. They hadn't heard a thing. He angled his head to the right, trying to pick up the sound again. He heard it, but it was faint. Quiet whispers. They were coming from the room. He growled a bit and stood from his feet. Convinced that whatever had attacked Wally was now coming after Raven, he quietly stood away from his chair and walked to the center of the room.
Again, the whispers were heard, but now they were out of the room and in the hallway. He couldn't make sense of what was being said, it sounded like gibberish. He was torn from staying in the room or go out and investigate. He needed to protect them, so he tip toed his way to the door and gently opened it. Once out in the hallway, the whispers stopped.
Beast Boy clicked his tongue and walked down towards the large windows up ahead. The moon shone through, letting rays of light beam on the floor and walls. The snow was still falling and it was as gloomy looking as ever. He never thought the sight of snowfall would look so dismal.
"I know you're there." He called out to the empty hallway, narrowing his eyes. "So show yourself."
"Who are you talking to?"
Beast Boy literally jumped about ten feet into the air. He yelled and flailed his arms about. He turned and saw Nightwing standing behind him, a blanket tucked under his arm and a cup of coffee in his hand.
"Jesus dude! Don't sneak up behind me like that!" Beast Boy's beating heart felt like it would burst from his chest at any minute. Disregarding that, he tried to pick up the whispering's. He heard nothing.
"Sorry, who were you talking to?" Nightwing had his mask back on, he had lost a bit of his professional facade back then which was now back in full force.
"Uh...I was," Beast Boy shifted his eyes to try and find an explanation, he didn't want to seem silly, so he told half of the truth. "Just thought I heard something, I was ready to execute leet ninja skills, but it turned out to be you so...yeah."
Thankfully, Nightwing seemed to have bought it and nodded his head. The changeling decided to change the subject and pointed to the blanket under his leaders arm.
"Gonna spend the night with Wally?" Beast Boy really hadn't meant anything by it, but Nightwing seemed to have taken it the wrong way as he scrunched up his face and shook his head in the negative.
"No, it's for Jinx. Wally wanted me to call her since he was worried about her not hearing from him. She'll be here soon."
"How's he doing?"
"He'll be alright. Cyborg treated the cuts on his face, but they're gonna take a while to heal. He refused to have Raven heal him since he doesn't want her to get out of bed, we agreed. He's a bit beat up all over, some bumps and scrapes on his knees and some ribs got a bit bruised. He's a little dehydrated and fatigued, Cyborgs got him drinking some supplements to replace the energy he lost." Nightwing shifted a bit on his feet, obviously peeved at himself for what happened to his best friend. Beast Boy could go on all day saying it wasn't his fault, but he knew his leader well enough to know that he wouldn't believe a word the changeling would say. He needed to hear it from Wally.
"How's Raven doing?"
Beast Boy rubbed the back of his neck, a bit stiff from his hunched over position when sitting near her. "She's sleeping. Her little...freak out must have taken a lot out of her. She was doing fine before she fell asleep. Star is still there with her, she's asleep too. She'll probably stay the night with her."
"So are you right?" Nightwing gave a slight grin, and it was like everyone knew what he was trying to hide. Beast Boy chuckled a bit and nodded.
With all that said, Nightwing bid him goodnight and turned to go back to the med wing to deposit the blanket meant for Jinx, then head downstairs to wait for her to show up.
Left alone in the hallway, Beast Boy took one final look around for any hidden intruders, remaining quiet to hear the whispers that had gone as quickly as they had come. He shook his head, he was certainly loosing his mind. They were just in his head, the quietness of the Tower playing tricks with him.
He walked back to Raven's room, ignoring the chill from behind and the sudden fog that had gathered on the frosty window pane.
Authors Note: YES. Chapter 8 is finally done. I had started it previously a year ago, but it just did not turn out right AT ALL. It's very different from what I started with, and I think that year hiatus was exactly what I needed to make it better and to rekindle the fires from before. I think I just wore myself out by trying to dish out chapter after chapter hella fast. I feel so much better about it now though. Once again, THANK YOU to all who have reviewed and stuck with the story, it really brings me joy to know that there is a purpose for me to write this story. I no longer want to make promises of when I can update again, I'll be busy doing online school work to get my CDA (Child Development Associates) and I've been slacking on that a bit. I need to have it done before June so I can go back to working during the summer.
I didn't know which version of This Bitter Earth to use, I started off wanting the original version, but as the chapter went on, and as it got a bit more intense, I decided to go with the Max Richter version. You'll know which version it is, it's the long 6 minute one. But I encourage you all to hear the original 2 minute one too! Thanks again to all my reviewers and readers! Check out my FanFic main page to get a link to my Tumblr account. You can ALWAYS find me there. And if you're so inclined, check out my Master Tag list on there to be directed to my Art Only Tumblr blog to check up on new PiaB art. I've got a sketch of Kid Flash and Jinx there ya'll might be interested in 3
This Bitter Earth – Dinah Washington/ Max Richter