Disclaimer: Don't own any of the characters mentioned herein. Using them for entertainment purposes only. I make no money off of their use.
A/N: I AM SO SORRY. I can't believe it's been five months. I'M SORRY. I've been working on the chapter in bits because I've been so busy, and it's finally done so I'm posting it immediately, with typos and all so I'm sorry about all of those. This chapter isn't my best work, but it's basically a filler chapter. Return to action will come with chapter seven, which hopefully will not take so long, but I just want to brag about one of the things that kept me so busy...
I GOT INTO THE COLLEGE OF MY DREAMS! I'm so happy!
Ok, enough about me, I hope you enjoy this chapter, and haven't all decided not to wait for this chapter and put up with this delinquent author anymore. I love all of you for reading!
Chapter Six: Rather the Devil You Know
Raven was once again sitting across from Batman, in that same deceptively average office in Wayne Manor. This time, though, Raven was at least looking at Bruce Wayne without the mask.
She had made it through her story again, the second time in twelve hours, and managed to keep calm enough to restrain her powers. Now they sat, in the silent aftermath of her admission, waiting for each other to say something. Raven refused to offer anymore, no matter how long she had to wait for his response, for him to tell her to stay far away from Gotham. Bruce was not willing to play mind games with the fragile girl.
"Thank you for telling me this," he said steadily. She looked up from her lap blankly. He continued, "First things first, I think you should let your mother know you're alright. She must have heard about the school by now, and she's probably terrified for you."
Raven nodded shallowly. Slowly she realized that Bruce was not going to try to send her to an exorcist. He continued explaining how she could call her through the bat-computer, so it couldn't be traced, but his words took a while to filter through.
Why hadn't she met people like this years ago? These two men just accepted her so easily, opened their arms and offered her security and friendship; it was nothing she had ever felt before.
A foreign feeling of safety warmed her, relief rushed through her, and she slouched down in her chair, shoulders shaking. Bruce stopped in the middle of his sentence and called her name with worry. He stood up, not knowing what to do, until he realised that she was laughing.
Her established patterns were in such complete upheaval, she didn't know how to react, except to breakdown and rebuild from the bottom. And even through her confusion and turmoil, she felt unbelievable gratitude for the new start they were giving her. She put her face in her hands and let herself chuckle like a maniac, gasping for air as her whole life started to make sense, and not seem quite so insane.
Confused, but relieved to not have to deal with a crying girl, Bruce stayed where he was until he heard her say, between gasps, "Thank you," over and over. "Thank you... Thank you... Thank you." It was like repeating that phrase held her together. And Bruce, father of a young boy, walked around the desk between them, and put an arm around the girl. She leaned her forehead against his chest as she tried to catch her breath.
When Bruce finally thought to look around to see if she had done damage, he realised that the only thing broken was a truly hideous painting that he had always wanted to get rid of. He thought lightly, at least the girl has good taste.
Dick had been waiting in the hallway for what felt like hours, but couldn't have been more than thirty minutes, when Alfred carried a tea tray past him and entered the room without a word. Dick was now the only one in the manor not in that office with Raven. He wanted to kick something, from worry, and, honestly, a bit of jealousy. There was something special and covetous about being the only one Raven had confided in, and he was strangely reluctant to give up that honor, despite the fact that he knew it was necessary, and that he had suggested it.
Swiftly, Alfred emerged from the room, and Dick tried to commandeer him for answers, following him halfway down the hall, but was disappointed. Alfred provided no relief to his curiosity.
Dick sighed and slumped against the wall between two Wayne family portraits. They were drinking tea, he knew that much. At least that meant civil conversation. He tapped his foot a few times before pushing off of the wall and pacing across the hallway for a minute.
He turned around to pace across the hall again when movement from the corner of his eyes caught his attention. He looked over and saw the door of the office open, and Raven standing there staring at him like he was an idiot.
He certainly felt like an idiot.
He grinned sheepishly as her, caught displaying his immature impatience, until he noticed her red face. His grin dropped and he walked up to her with concern. Upon closer inspection, he realised that she hadn't been crying. He should have known she wouldn't let herself cry in front of someone twice in less than a day. And she was still mocking him with her eyes.
He relaxed from his concern, and asked casually, "You alright?"
She rolled her eyes at him. "Your emotions are annoying. Just come in and calm down. You're distracting me."
"Well excuse me," he answered sarcastically. She smirked as he walked around her and into the office. The teen smiled at his mentor, who was seated behind his desk.
Bruce grunted a laugh at his son, and stood. Raven rejoined the men, sat back in her seat, and took a sip of her tea. Dick did the same.
Bruce didn't wait long before dropping the bomb: he was going to bring Raven to the Justice League.
The headquarters for the Justice League of America was actually a satellite called the Watchtower orbiting the Earth, constantly manned by at least one Leaguer. However, there were several points all over the globe where Leaguers could meet discretely, bringing people or technology they didn't want in the Watchtower. One of these such meeting points was a warehouse south of Starling City owned by Oliver Queen, AKA Green Arrow. Above ground it was nondescript, vacant, and unused. However, below the surface lay headquarters fit for superheroes, complete with laboratory, medical bay, and training rooms. In a large meeting room, eight members of the JLA surrounded Batman and Raven. The two stood close; his gloved hand rested protectively on her shoulder, and his body hid her from sight at most angles. No one sat at the table.
The Leaguers looked at Raven with curiosity. They looked at Batman with confusion. He seemed to ignore them, waiting for something, but the hero surely knew who was there: Wonder Woman, Green Arrow, Black Canary, Zatanna, the Atom, one of Earth's Green Lanterns, Hawkman, and Hawkwoman. Wonder Woman tried to catch Batman's eye, to get an answer to her questioning look, but he ignored her and remained still and stoic, Raven following his example. Hawkman spoke in a low voice to his wife, but no one else moved or made a sound.
Raven felt fear slowly creep up her spine and tense her shoulders when she noticed a woman in a magician's outfit, Zatanna, looking at her with narrowed eyes. But as soon as he noticed her movement, Batman tightened his grip on her shoulder reassuringly. She turned and looked back up at him, and the room full of superheroes watched. Batman didn't move, but his own calm and assurance flowed over Raven in waves as her powers registered them. Raven visibly relaxed after looking up at the Bat, which confused the observers. Who was comforted by The Batman's scowl?
Raven looked up at the ceiling a second before a green figure melded down from above, straight through the concrete. Her precognition did not go unnoticed by the Leaguers.
The bald, green man, dressed in a dark blue cape with a large red X across his bare chest, landed smoothly on the floor right in front of the Batman, who moved from his position for the first time in minutes to shake the man's hand.
"Martian Manhunter," Batman greeted. "I'm glad you could make it."
The Martian nodded. "Yes, I am sorry for the delay. I was obliged to stop a drug deal in the city on my way here."
Green Arrow spoke up, "What were they selling?"
"Cocaine, in a small, blue paper bag," the Martian Manhunter told his compatriot.
"Dammit," the blonde man cursed, "I thought I had silenced that dealer. I'll have to have words with him."
Black Canary put her hand on her partner's arm to silence him. Green Arrow looked at her, and she nodded to Batman, who had straightened, and was clearly ready to explain the reason for the meeting to the Leaguers.
"I thank those of you who could come on such short notice. The Kryptonian couldn't make it due to some threat on the president's life. However, he probably wouldn't have been able to help anyway. This," he patted Raven on the shoulder, and the Leaguers openly stared at her since for the first time Batman wasn't blocking her from their view, "is Raven. She is a meta. I found her in Gotham two weeks ago. She does not have control over her powers. This makes her dangerous. I want to eliminate this danger. She needs a teacher."
Wonder Woman stepped up, and with a voice gentle with wisdom, she asked, "What are the nature of her powers?"
"They are evil."
Raven blinked in shock, and Batman glared at the person who had spoken: Zatanna.
Batman growled threateningly at the young magician in hotpants, and Raven hoped that she would stand down, and not reveal her secrets to the most powerful group of heroes on Earth. But Zatanna spoke again:
"I don't know where this girl you found came from, but send her back there. I sense... great evil from her."
Wonder Woman looked from her compatriot to the small girl Batman wanted to protect, and didn't know who to support, so stayed silent. Green Lantern had no such qualms. "What do you know about her, Batman? If Zatanna is right, you just brought an unstable and evil girl right to the JLA."
Batman glared at Green Lantern, who looked like he was trying to hide how much that glare unnerved him. "I know where she is from, but she is not evil. Zatanna, your powers are not wrong, but your assumptions are."
"What do you mean by that?" She demanded.
Martian Manhunter interjected, "I believe he means that you are right in saying her powers come from an evil source; however, the girl herself is not evil."
Batman and Raven looked to the alien, him blankly, and her hopefully. Zatanna scoffed.
"What do you think, J'onn?" Wonder Woman asked.
The martian's eyes were cold, dark, and strange as Raven looked into them, but unlike Zatanna's narrowed scrutiny, his gaze was, Raven thought, much less judgmental. She welcomed it. The edge of her consciousness felt a foreign touch, curious and passive in nature. She knew it was him, and she made no move to discourage his search. What could he find in her worse than Zatanna's harsh declaration?
"This girl is the product of evil," the alien answered the Amazon. "But that does not predetermine her destiny."
"Bullshit, J'onn, can't you feel that?" Zatanna half-shouted. "Her whole being emanates the worst kind of evil I've felt in my life, you can't ignore that. What else can she become?"
"Excuse me," Raven spoke up for the first time, capturing the whole room's attention, and not sounding sorry at all. In fact, she her voice was tight, as if she were holding back anger. "I'll thank you to not judge me based on some vague feeling you get from me. I cannot help what I was born as; I've tried." She breathed out her nose and seemed visibly calmer as she implored, "I came to ask for your help."
Her eyes were down, so she didn't see the looks the heroes gave each other, but she did feel a mixed reaction from her audience. A couple hadn't made decisions, Wonder Woman being the most disinclined to judge her, and Hawkman and Hawkwoman being the most apathetic. Green Lantern and the Atom seemed to be siding with Zatanna, though none felt so strongly as she, considering they couldn't feel her heritage declaring Hell's power. Black Canary, and Green Arrow following her lead, felt sympathy for her, and J'onn had already spoken his thoughts. The whole picture wasn't encouraging.
"Zatanna," Batman said gruffly, "I was counting on you to help me find someone with knowledge of magic to teach her."
The magician looked at him with distaste. "You'll never get me to help that thing," she declared.
Batman looked ready to punch the girl. Raven was concerned by the amount of rage she felt pulsing from him, and was afraid his rage might affect hers and be a catalyst to her powers. That would just vindicate Zatanna's judgement. Deciding to cut off the argument before it could do damage, she tried to make her voice as non-sarcastic as possible, and told the magician, "Well, then we shouldn't take up any more of your time."
Getting the implication, but apparently taking offense to her dismissal, Zatanna huffed out of the meeting room, slamming the door. The room stayed silent as Raven waited for Zatanna to leave her range, and for her emotions to fade from her concious. When they finally did, Raven sighed in relief, and looked up at Batman. She felt that he had calmed significantly in the time she'd been focused on Zatanna's exit.
"Is that it?" she asked him. "Were we counting on Zatanna, or is there anyone else who might know something?"
Batman shook his head. "J'onn," he called again on the martian, who looked up from some deep thought to Batman and the girl he had brought with him.
"Yes?" Martian Manhunter answered.
Batman asked, in a voice far from begging, but with feeling, "Is there any chance you could help her? Some of her powers appear to be similar to yours: emotional telepathy, telekinesis. Could you try to teach her to control her powers?"
"I am sorry, Batman." J'onn answered, in his deep, even voice. Each word seemed to have the same weight when he spoke, and Raven hung onto every one even as his answer dashed her hopes. "I see that this girl has much potential, and there would be very negative consequences of her continuing ignorance of her own powers. However, there is nothing I personally can do for her. With the exception of deep mind-altering, which would be highly dangerous, I could not help her understand her powers. That is something which I believe she will have to discover on her own. Martians are born with their powers and learn to use them the way human children learn to walk. I could not teach her. I wish that I could help."
Batman sighed deeply, but nodded at his fellow Leaguer. He looked around at the others. "Thank you all for your time," he said.
With that, he placed his hand on Raven's shoulder and began steering her out the same door Zatanna had recently stormed through. He didn't say another word, and neither did she.
They had ascended the stairs to the main area of the vacant warehouse when they heard a voice behind them call for them to wait.
Batman recognized the voice, and sure enough when the two turned back, Wonder Woman was gliding over to them. Raven knew the basics of what Wonder Woman did and where she came from, so didn't imagine she was coming to say that she could provide any solutions for her problems. So what did the Amazon want?
Wonder Woman touched down on the ground lightly before the slightly frustrated Batman and the very confused Raven. She completely ignored the man, and knelt in front of Raven to speak at her level- necessary because Raven was only around five foot three, and the Amazon was over six feet.
"Listen," Wonder Woman said to Raven, "I don't really care what Zatanna says she felt from you. I agree entirely with Martian Manhunter when he says that it does not predetermine your destiny. I have a feeling, that if you can control the powers Batman says you have, that you could become a very fearsome woman, and a great hero. And we could always use some more female heroes around here."
The woman smiled kindly at the girl, then stood. She said to Batman, "I'm sorry I can't help. I know of no one, even on Themiscyra with knowledge such that could help you. I will ask Hippolyta if she knows of anyone, however I doubt success from that. I wish you luck in finding her a teacher."
With that, the heroine flew up, headed North, and was gone.
Batman shook his head in exasperation. Nudging Raven on the shoulder, he started again towards the small plane they had taken there.
"Who's Hippolyta?" Raven asked.
"The Queen of the Amazons."
"Hm. Why did Wonder Woman come give me a pep talk?"
"Probably because you're a girl, and it goes against her nature to not encourage every girl in the world," Batman answered with a tired expression.
Raven thought that over a minute. "Weird," she decided.
"Very," Batman agreed. They got into the plane and an awkward silence descended as Batman took off and pointed the plane East to Gotham. After a couple of minuted he turned on the autopilot.
"Raven, I'm sure you've realized that that was a total flop."
Raven "hn"'d in agreement from the seat behind his.
"I'm sorry about that."
"Me too," droned her voice. She was trying very hard to not feel her disappointment while they were in a plane, and anything her powers could break could make them crash.
"We won't stop looking for a teacher for you. I promise you we will find someone. There are plenty of people on Earth who can, if not teach you about demon powers, still teach you about controlling your emotions, probably through meditation and things like that." He paused, waiting for a response, but none came. He continued, "But I can't put off searching for Poison Ivy any longer. She's already gone unfound for two days, and it could take a while to dig her out of her burrow. I'll find you teachers, but I have to find Ivy first. She's becoming more dangerous the longer I don't know what she's planning."
Again he waited for a response, but when his companion stayed silent he asked, "Raven?"
"That's fine. I understand." She was hardly letting the information register in her mind in order to stave off any sadness she might have felt. The plane, she had to keep from breaking the plane. "Is there anything I can do to help?"
"Not while your powers are so unstable. It'll be best for you to just stay safe as home."
Do not get offended, Raven chanted. He is thinking of your safety. She took a very deep breath. Breathe in, she told herself, and breathe out, like yoga instructors say. "Ok."
Do not break the plane.
A/N: Leave a review if you liked it. Leave a review if you hated it and want me to write better.
Thanks for reading.