hopelessromantic34: Thanks! The first time I hid in my bunker was after chapter 1 of Princess of the Blacks. If you're a fan of dark HP stories, check it out, but I'm going to warn you that it takes a running leap into uncomfortable territory.
jtdarkman: Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. And acid, as I found out a couple of years ago.
hydroknight01: Has Beast Boy ever struck you as someone who thinks before he does something stupid? Rage, believe it or not, won't be who deals with him, though I don't know that you'd guess who does.
Concolor44: The situation will get pretty bad, but not just yet. When Jinx said in chapter 4 that her powers are "entirely destructive", this is what she was thinking about. Raven opened Pandora's Box when it comes to her emotions giving her advice; the one that will is someone we haven't seen a lot of.
I'm not sure if I should be amused or disappointed that everyone assumes Raven will be raked over the coals and kicked out of the Tower in this chapter. She will… eventually… but not just yet. She needs a bad-luck charm to take her in first :P
Disclaimer: Did Raven have a place to go when she needed time and space to think, one where none of the Titans could intrude on her solitude? If not, I don't own the Teen Titans franchise; it belongs to DC Entertainment, Glen Murakami, and Warner Bros.
Truth and Memories
The sound of waves crashing against the cliffs provided the perfect counterpoint to the turmoil Raven felt rushing through her mind. There was one question she tried to focus on, one question that chased after its own tail like an ouroboros. Why did she kiss me?
However she analyzed, however she hypothesized, however she dissected, she could not find a suitable answer. Were Jinx's actions motivated purely by drunken lust? If so, she understood; she had a sentient incarnation of physical desire whispering in her ear, after all. And yet, reviewing the memory, she noticed that there were more emotions present than just that: tin, chocolate, honey. Concern and pleasure were easily explainable given their discussion and activity, respectively, but what reason did Jinx have for fear? Even sober, the thief had too much self-assurance and drive — too much spunk, as Cyborg would say — for rejection of her proposition to hurt her, so what was the reason for the emotion? There was something deeper than lust at work.
Was Jinx acting on the belief that they were kindred spirits of a sort? They did both have extremely painful childhoods, though their recent histories left little for them to build on in that direction. Surely there were other students at the H.I.V.E. who also had torturous early years; why was she spending time with Raven, then? She might imply that she was no longer welcome with her fellow graduates, but both Mammoth and Gizmo had accepted her back into the fold. If the teammates she 'betrayed' trusted her once more, there was no cause for anyone else to keep their distance.
Raven pondered further, idly noting the dawn breaking over the Icelandic horizon. Lust was not the sole motivation, nor was loneliness. Perhaps pity, then. The sorceress bristled at the thought, but quickly smothered her ire. Jinx may not know her well, but she had made clear during their meal two weeks previously that she did not, would never, accept charity of any form. Like all entities with demon blood, she had her pride.
What else could it be? The decision was impulsive, certainly, but there had been no shame or doubt in the pinkette's eyes or emotions afterwards, simply resolve. It was as if she had planned to make a romantic overture, but… not that soon. Raven dropped her face into her hands and groaned.
"…maybe riding you a couple more times will completely break me in…"
"…don't leave me by the phone waiting…"
"…you just wanted to be the only Titan who can cuff me…"
"…maybe you can give me a 'personal' examination…"
"…were you just starved for my affection?…"
"…you didn't do anything to me I didn't want you to…"
"…I wouldn't mind doing it again in a more private spot…"
"Damn it all to the ninth circle!" Raven screamed into the whistling winds. How in Azar's name did I miss this?! Jinx has been interested in me for several weeks, since her heist at the museum, most likely. And I, like an idiot, ignored her comments, thinking she was teasing as a matter of habit. What's worse, by giving her non-specific answers, I led her to believe I acknowledged and was receptive to her advances, which I then contradicted by leaving. Will she think me shocked and abhorred by her preferences and therefore no longer comfortable in any relationship with her, no matter how platonic?
"I'd say you pissed the farm away this time," Impudence interjected.
"Come on, Ravie," Joy said next, "this can be fixed, and everything will get better. Relationships make people happy, and it'll do the same for you. I should know."
"Shut up, shut up, shut up! Can I not get five minutes of silence?!" she burst out, heedless of how she appeared, or at least would were there any people to see her. "My life has gone down the drain since all of you decided to jabber at me every minute of every day! I have no one now, and it is your fault!"
The weight of her own declaration crashed down upon her. No one. I have no family and no friends, my opportunity for a new companion was nothing more than a mirage, and my Ascension is in less than a month. How terrible have I had to act, to be, for this to happen before what should be the happiest week of my life? Memories of stern, unwelcoming faces flashed through her mind's eye: fellow Azarathians who had never kept their displeasure at her existence a secret. How many of them had predicted that, just as no one was foolish enough to invite her to an Ascension because of what she was, she would be forced to celebrate hers alone? Her past isolation blended with her present difficulties; the loss of Jinx's friendship, her distance from the team, and a lack of any solutions were too much for her to bear a moment longer. Twin tears cleared paths down her cheeks, and she fell to the ground and wept.
Her soulself, which had been so complacent for the past month, broke free of its restraints. Tendrils of shadow, darker than a moonless night, forked into black lightning across the soil and shattered the bedrock underneath. Unsatisfied with the destruction it had wrought, it lifted great chunks of the cliff and threw them about like so much flotsam caught in a wicked tempest. Through all the chaos, Raven did not respond; so wrapped up in her despair was she that Trigon himself could have returned and she would take no notice.
As quickly as the devastation sprang up, it subsided. A wave of nothingness swirled around her, opening a portal to Nevermore and swallowing her up before it collapsed back into the void.
Slender arms wrapped around her form, and Raven turned into the embrace, once more a child in need of comfort and kind words. Soft murmurs sounded from above her head as a hand ran through her hair.
"I have better things to do than watch her make a hosepipe of herself," she heard Rage's voice say. "Don't call me over here again unless she's no longer a sniveling mouse, or at least less of a weakling than Fear."
"I will hold myself back as best I can. Thank you for your aid, sister." Rage grunted at Love's sardonic reply and teleported away. "Now what am I going to do with you, my dear?"
Raven turned her head to look into the purple-cloaked emotion's eyes. "I suppose putting me out of my misery is not an acceptable option."
"No, it is not. Too long have you run from your troubles; now, you must confront them directly. Why do you examine Jinx's actions so closely?"
"There, there is no sense in her behavior. It has only been four weeks since we became civil acquaintances —"
"Friends, Raven. Joy tells me that Jinx thinks of you as a friend, regardless of how little time you have spent together. You feel the same for her, and you also feel something more, so do not cheapen it. Do you find sorrow and solitude so comfortable a garb that you wish to wear nothing else?"
"Of course not!" Raven leapt from her position on Love's lap and wheeled to face the personification, fury coursing through her veins, burning through her depression. "I am perfectly capable of enjoying myself, given the incentive."
Love rose to her feet as well. "And yet, when offered the opportunity to savor an experience you have dreamed of many times, you flee. Why?"
"The Titans would make an issue of it, even Cyborg. They —"
"Have already expressed their displeasure at your independence. They do not want a teammate; they want a tool that they can pull out when it is needed and throw away once it has served its purpose." Love shook her head. "Forget all the lies you tell yourself. I know you as well as you do, even better in some respects. What is the real reason for your denial of Jinx's affections? Do you find her unattractive?"
A blush suffused her cheeks as she recalled sitting on the couch in the thief's arms, and then the kiss. "She is attractive. Very attractive. But we cannot be together like she wants."
"She is a criminal, and I am a hero. It would never work out."
Love huffed in exasperation. "You do not know that. But let us assume for the sake of argument that you are correct; did you, or did you not, inform Cyborg that you were considering an alternate occupation?" Raven nodded. "And have you not realized that fighting crime is no longer satisfying?" She nodded again. "So, I repeat, what is the real reason?"
"She deserves someone better, safer."
The purple entity quirked an eyebrow. "She is capable of protecting herself, as she has proven numerous times when you engaged her in combat. Or perhaps you were implying that you would be abusive."
"I am half demon, Love!" Raven panted as her tears threatened to sweep her up once more. "If she has any sense at all, she will fear me when she discovers the truth, just as the Titans do. If not, and we become involved, she will hate me when I finally hurt her. It is better for both of us that we refrain from treading down this road."
"Ah, we come at last to the heart of the matter. You allowed the irrational few to convince you that you are unworthy of love. If you never look for it or accept it, others will be safe from the danger you present. The Titans treating you like they have has only cemented this view.
"Let me correct your thinking, my dear. Jinx already knows that you were begotten through rape, sired by an Evil who sought to and succeeded in eradicating an entire dimension. She knows that Arella birthed you and then wanted as little to do with you as possible. She knows that your own people considered you a taint upon their home and way of life. She knows that your powers can be incredibly destructive and are tied strongly to your anger, which you have loosed on her more than once. And yet, she willingly spends time in your company, invites you to her home — her sanctuary — and offers you comfort and physical affection, with the implicit promise of future romance should you desire it. What, by all that is sacred, do I have to say to convince you that her advances are genuine?"
Raven looked away; laid out like that, there was little she could say to refute her emotion's points. "I could still hurt her."
"And she could just as easily hurt you. If I might remind you, she has the higher body count. The people turned to stone due to Trigon's powers were not your victims," Love qualified as she opened her mouth to argue. "Besides, I would imagine that you have hurt her a great deal already by leaving like you did."
"Oh." She blinked rapidly in surprise, running through her departure. Her words, Jinx's expression, the soft tone used by each of them. "That was not what I intended."
"But it was the result. Raven, I know we have rarely spoken, but I pray you heed my advice now. Return to Jump City. Call Jinx and apologize. If she wants nothing to do with you, you can move on, but if she pulls you back to her like I think she will, accept it. There is more to living than sacrifice and self-pity."
Raven fought to keep her temper steady at the last chastisement and nodded. She teleported to the Forbidden Portal and then translocated to her mirror.
After she was sure the Titan was gone, Love turned to the edge of the floating platform. "You were right, she is headed down a self-destructive path. Do Trigon's powers allow you to see what the future portends should she remain as she is?"
"No," growled the red-cloaked emotion, phasing through the stone underfoot. "I have little more than vague premonitions. She is incomplete, just as we are. Should she stay broken, only despair awaits."
Love sighed. "As I feared. Joy will never agree, but you have my support. Convince Raven to perform the merge."
Raven stepped out of her room as soon as she arrived in the Tower and changed her clothes. Her frank discussion with Love had rattled her, but some warm tea might calm her nerves. The lights were still on in the command center, which was odd; Cyborg and Beast Boy were out on patrol that night, so Robin and Starfire, provided they followed routine, should be in his bed, not up and about. She did not see anyone there, but her empathy informed her that there was a stronger than normal echo of anger. Excellent, something set Robin off, and he will spend all of tomorrow morning blaming me for it.
She had just set the water to boil when a voice spoke, making her spin around in surprise. "I saw you tonight," the shape-shifter said.
"How long have you been sitting there just to tell me that?" Raven questioned. When Beast Boy did nothing but hold his stony visage, she shrugged. "Bravo, I suppose; I will bake you some cookies for performing your trick. Unless you would prefer a dog treat?"
"I saw you. With Jinx," he elaborated.
She froze, her heart pounding faster and faster in her chest. He smirked and stepped closer to her.
"It explained a lot, like why you've been such a bitch all the time. I don't care how you get off, but you're doing it with a criminal, and that's just not cool. I'm sure Robin's gonna be all kind of pissed when I tell him, might even kick you off the team. Now I don't mind a traitor getting her just desserts —"
"Big words for the boy who had a crush on Terra."
"Leave her outta this!" Beast Boy snarled at her, grabbing her arm and yanking her towards him. "She was twice the teammate you'll ever be!"
"I agree, selling us out to Slade is a hard act to follow."
The green man growled at her like a vicious canine, but he could not scare her. She was far more terrifying than he could ever dream of being. She felt the background chatter of her emotions lessen and vanish, leaving behind a cold and pointed purpose. "Let me be clear, Garfield Mark Logan. You will keep silent about my outing, not out of loyalty or friendship, but because you know how quickly I can destroy you should you get in my way. Speak, and I will demonstrate exactly how cruel the daughter of Trigon the Terrible can be." Part of her — a deep, dark part — rejoiced at those words. She had acknowledged Trigon as her sire numerous times, but always with contempt or regret; never before had she embraced it, even if it was simply to make a threat.
"We are who we are, Raven."
"Except you're not your father! The four of us can take you on."
"If you couldn't even scratch Him, how could you possibly hope to defeat His killer?" Beast Boy released her and stumbled back, his coloration paling to a nearly pastel shade. He turned to run, only for a thread of soulself to latch around his ankle and trip him, then drag him back over.
Rage, what are you doing?
"She's helping me," Wisdom replied. "Threatening him was a mistake; if he tells the others what he saw and what you said, not even Cyborg will defend you. We have to ensure this ends here."
Are you talking about killing him? He is an annoying moron, yes, and I want him to keep what happened tonight to himself, but death is far too excessive!
Wisdom was incredulous. "You truly believe I was implying that? No, I plan to use an aspect of my powers you have never explored. If you allow me possession, I can collapse his memory of this."
…You can erase memories?
"No, I cannot erase memories. Each individual memory has innumerable associations to others; were I even capable of it, removing tonight from his mind could also cause him to forget you, or his own name, or even how to breathe. What I will do is take the 'edges' of this memory and fold them in on themselves, for lack of a better description, isolating it from his conscious but preserving the connections.
"There is a risk, however. Should he discover something that is directly relevant to this, such as seeing you with Jinx or hearing you compare yourself to Trigon, he will relive the hidden memory and know what occurred, which he would immediately tell Robin. You must be extremely careful from here on out."
Raven glanced at the polymorph who was now dangling from the tendril and rapidly cycling through shapes in an attempt to escape, darkly chuckling as he changed into a beaver to try to gnaw through it. Very well, do what you need to do.
"Thank you. Rage, keep him still, please." The darkness spread over his body, forming a construct reminiscent of a straightjacket.
She hated when one of her emotions took the reins of her body, and even permitting it did not lessen the feeling. She watched the air ripple and writhe, then somehow swell into a transparent version of her soulself. Several tentacles reached out and slid into his Anja chakra, eyes, and temples. A long moment passed, then both Rage's and Wisdom's powers disappeared and she regained control. "It is done."
"Ugh, did someone get the number on that moped?" Beast Boy muttered as he raised his head from the ground where Rage had dropped him, then he looked up at her. "Raven? Whatcha doing out here at this time of night?"
"Preparing myself some herbal tea," she replied placidly, pointing a finger at the whistling kettle. "Shall I presume you do not wish to join me?"
He stood and shook his head. "Nah, I'm just gonna get some shut-eye." The metal doors of the room closed with a quiet whoosh after he staggered out.
She let her hands work on their own as she fixed her tea, too occupied with what she had just seen. I think I now understand why others are cautious when I am around; my powers scare me.
Seven different laughs followed that thought.
I hate hurting Raven. I hate it, but this breakdown has been building for some time and became a wound that needs to bleed before it can heal. The muse commands it.
Another reason for Raven's reluctance about entering into a relationship, one that I didn't find a place for in the story, is Malchior. She began to have feelings for him, and what happened? She nearly killed the child Kardiac "ate" and was betrayed. Not a good example of a potential relationship.
If it's not clear yet, I'm not Beast Boy's biggest fan. He was an impulsive and immature boy in the TV show, and I can easily see him growing up into an equally impulsive and immature man.
Silently Watches out.