A/N: I would like to apologise for taking so long to get this chapter out. Sorry...
Discb: I hope Cara isn't just a onetime thing, she sounds way too lovely to be just a oneshot.
Ahah I'll see if she makes another appearance then – if not in Friday 13th, then in one of its sequels.
Kidagarush: Completely unexpected, having Jinx being into Raven! I enjoyed the twist, and your descriptions of the fight sequence was very, well, descriptive. :)
Glad you liked it! I hope you continue to enjoy it right up until the end.
nada129: I loved this chapter we get to meet another information source great work I look foreword to your next update
Glad you did. Ah, hopefully I didn't take too long getting it out for you.
Mttmercado: oh god when cyborg said three bodies i cried NOO NOT JINX! not that it is any beter with the other girls going missing, but you know, jinx is ravens vboo
Ahah no, not Jinx. Sorry to have alarmed you like that :P
Spikesagitta: I doubt when Raven introduce Jinx to them as her girlfriend it would be voluntary :p And more background behind this shadow guy. Can I call him slender man? :D
Dude shush do you even realise I'm part way through writing a Slender Man/Teen Titans one shot? (for some reason the idea of it makes me all exited. I am a HUGE fan of Slender Man and the many indie games the urban legend has produced.)
I'm a Lover not a Hater: A demon playing a human girl teenager? Where are you getting these ideas, they're awesome! :P
Ahah I don't know! You can thank Muse for it, I think.
Dak Hamee: Wow robin u press her about her date then go silent when she mentioned she held off the shadow yesterday... Ur slipping boss man lol
Yus, he is totally focusing on the wrong line of questioning here.
Dawsen: So, the shadow thing kills again. Robin was getting WAY to close to "girl talk" and, in my opinion, girl talk is dangerous and scary territory.
It's very scary in my opinion too!
Raven Wolfbird: Hey this is a really good story, keep up the good work. Though, one thing, do check your spellings and words again, there are sometimes quite a few mistakes though it doesn't detract from the story. That's it, update soon! Looking forward to seeing where you take this.
Glad you like it. Believe it or not I do check my chapters before posting them! xD Due to being dyslexic, I'm afraid I could check them 100 times and still not pick up on all the mistakes, spell check or not – it's why when I'm feeling REALLY patient I use a Beta.
Deathnoteuser: It took the Robin this long to find out about Raven's "special friend" and he's SUPPPOSED to be the Boy freaking Detective. Then again, if there's one thing Raven's good at, it's at keeping secrets. His concern is only remotely appreciated hmm? What Jinx was the one expressing concern? Oh wait, she did. And you ignored her. The Church of Blood is something that I wish that they'd expounded on in the cartoon, but I suppose that WAS a kid's show... If Raven only has better standing than Cara because of who her father is, shouldn't it count for more considering she was able to force him out of the dimension?
Ahah Raven is good at keeping secrets. Hey, for 4 freaking years her team mates didn't even know when her birthday was. I wish they'd looked at the Church of Blood thurther too, but yeah, human sacrifices and worshiping demons isn't exactly TV kid friendly. It probably does, BUT this is Cara speaking, and god knows demons are full of crap. xD
YuriPrince: Haha I was completely confused in the beggining till you mentioned robin- I thought it was Jinx and Rea. So now we hear more of the shadow man. I'm sure Rae was extremely uncomfortable having that convo. with Robin
Sorry about that! I'm sure Rae was extremely uncomfortable with that conversation too!
Peacock-Lover: Lol, Robin is so awkward.
It's great, isn't it? xD
Stormplains: Very interesting demon stuff, and Robin, shhhh. That's a very am ward conversation. I want to see how long it takes for the junior sects give to figure out 'he' is a 'she'. WHAHAHA. Can't wait for more! Keep writing strong.
Good. Ahaha yeah Robin, SHHHH! I'm too curious about that :'D
Titan18Gamble: Quite impressive. I haven't seen anything like this story before, which means you found one of the few rare pieces of originality left in this world. Combined with your good story telling, writing, and spell-check, this story is one of the best on site.
You haven't? Oh. I'm more of a writer than a reader, so I don't really have ANY idea on what's out there on the site. *blushes* you're just saying that. Well I'm really pleased to hear you're enjoying it :)
Dyc: And so the plot thickness.. ah poor raven having that talk with robbin as for chap..16 only Raven can get away showing there love by breaking stuff that there don't fly with my girlfriend
Yeah – don't envy her with that one! Bad enough getting the sex talk from your parents. Imagine getting it from a friend! Ahah xD Yeah, never worked with any of my yet either
"Good morning, and welcome to the Breakfast Show on Channel Six. I'm Melissa Allsworth,"
"And I'm Kevin Williams, bringing you today's biggest stories!"
"Our top story today focuses on the worst serial killer Jump City has ever seen, with the Teen Titans, and Police Commissioner Storr in the studio today to answer the questions everyone wants to know! Also this morning, global warning? Or Ice Age? Recent weather changes that have left everyone baffled will be discussed with Doctor Richard Moor from the Murdoc University, who has been studying the earth's weather changes over history."
The woman, Melissa Allsworth, turned slightly to look at her fellow reporter, a small yet handsome man, after waiting half a minute for the opening scene to be played. Kevin looked at the camera ahead of him, his expression serious as he said,
"In the past few weeks, a total of four women found dead, and an estimate of at least ten women missing off our streets. The police are working together with the Teen Titans to bring the killer to justice, and both have narrowed it down to a single suspect. But exactly who is this monster? And why hasn't he already been caught?"
There was a slight pause as two of the cameras swivelled round slightly to include the team of Superheroes and Commissioner Storr in the shot. It was Melissa who spoke this time, and she leaned forward slightly as she addressed them.
"Seven years now, you've protected Jump City from criminals, and yet this is the first serial killer you've dealt with. How does it compare to the previous challenges the five of you have faced?"
Robin answered after a moment's hesitation. "It's true serial killers aren't usually on our list. While I think it's difficult to compare completely different circumstances I think I can speak from the entire team when I say that for us, the hardest part of the case is the casualties and loss of lives. We've dealt with some challenging situations but never someone who's only aim seems to be to kill. And of course, the only reason the police have asked for our help on the case is because our suspect – and the killer's profile – isn't strictly human."
"You mean they're a meta human?" Kevin asked.
"We're not sure." Robin said slowly. "And we don't want to speculate. All we know is he has abilities that aren't within the human norm."
"Do we have a description for the public? Surely you've come across him by now."
The leader of the Titans looked at Raven, and she tried to hide her scowl as she looked at the reporter and answered, "He won't be mistaken for one of the crowd. He's a… shadow to put it simply – has no facial features, no hair to give colour to… he's solid black, from head to toe like the shadow of someone stood in the path of a spotlight. He's tall, about six feet three, and fairly broad across the shoulders."
"Easy to see why you're so sure he isn't human." Melissa said.
"Hmm. He lacks a solid form, therefore leaves no DNA behind, which is why the police have been having so much trouble identifying him. It also makes him incredibly dangerous. He can travel through solid objects. That includes walls, floors…."
"If he has no solid form, how is he kidnapping the missing girls?" Kevin frowned.
"As we discovered during our first fight, we can't seem to touch him, but he can touch us." Robin answered. "Which is why he's so dangerous. Finding out why this is, is our key to defeating him, and we've been making some good progress, but I can't stress how important it is that people don't approach anyone they suspect to be the killer; you're first move should be to contact the authorities immediately. If we get a lot of reports from on area, it might lead us to where he's keeping the missing girls."
"You believe there's a good chance they're still alive then?" Melissa asked.
"The first thirty-six hours are crucial, as with any kidnapping case, but yes, I hope – believe – they are."
"As do we all. Thank you." The woman smiled slightly before her gaze moved to Police Commissioner Storr. "Commissioner, Jump City doesn't really have a history of serial killers, does it?"
He shook his head. "No, it doesn't."
"What is the JCPD doing to help catch this murderer? Have any more regulations been implemented?"
"Well, to begin with, we've increased the amount of patrols – and the number of people on the patrols – around the areas where we believe the missing girls were taken from. It is also currently our busiest investigation, with more people working on the case than has ever been seen with any other investigation."
"And do you share the Teen Titans' confidence in finding these girls alive?" Kevin asked.
"We're doing our best, and like everyone else, we hope that we will."
"Our reporters say you met with the mayor earlier today." Melissa told him, brushing a few strand of her perfect blond hair away from her eyes. "Presumably it was to discuss the case of the serial killer?"
Commissioner Storr nodded. "We came to the agreement that while our suspect is on the loose, a curfew from 7pm to 6am for the minors and 9pm to 5am for adults might help keep Jump City residents safe. While it's still in discussion, we hope to see it put into work by the end of this week."
"Don't you think that's rather… radical?" Kevin frowned.
"I think some would say it isn't 'radical' enough. Due to our profiled suspect not being your average human, we need to implement measures outside the normal procedures until he's been caught. We're hoping that the curfew will prevent any more girls from being kidnapped."
Raven caught Robin's gaze and rose her brow sceptically, not sure how effective a curfew would be, or they exactly the police would manage to convince the people of Jump to follow it.
"Is there anything more you can tell us about your suspect? Officially, a trend in the girls he targets, perhaps?"
"He's been going after female brunettes – either natural or from hair dye - within the ages of seventeen and twenty-three, with an average height of five feet seven, give or take. Most of the girls were known to be rather athletic, and high achievers. The fact that there's a trend there leads us to believe that he scopes out possible targets a while before kidnapping them. We urge anyone who may come within this description to avoid travelling alone at any point while within the city."
The police officer met them at the door, taking the time to quickly shake everyone's hand. "Thanks for coming out. I mean it could be nothing, but when I got the call…"
"No, thank you, officer…" Robin looked at the main pointedly, silently asking for his name.
"Richmond. Officer Richmond."
He nodded. "At the moment, any possible lead is a good one."
The man seemed comforted by that, and relaxed slightly as he started to move toward the Hospital's main doors, the titans following him. "My partner's inside with the doctor who called us. Apparently for the last week all the staff in the place have been under investigation due to missing stock, and despite the fact that things have still been disappearing within the last week, no-one's been caught, so the Doc decided to see if the police could help."
"Not seeing how this is linked to the serial killer." Beast Boy muttered, shrugging when Raven frowned at him.
"Apparently all the drugs that've been going missing can be – and are – used as sedatives." The cop quickly explained. "I saw most of the news report this morning, and when the possibility of live hostages was brought up, we it'd make sense right? If he's keeping them alive, he's probably druggin' them…" He trailed off, suddenly nervous again. "I know it's not a strong connection, but-"
"It's more than enough. Cyborg, find security and download all the footage from security cameras from the last week. Beast Boy, Starfire, discreetly inform all staff we have reason to believe the suspected serial killer has been using this building and could still be here. Get a lockdown issued on all the wards. If any problems arise, tell them to contact security." Robin didn't been to tell Robin to fill them in.
"Should I call in the rest of my unit?" The officer asked, and Robin quickly shook his head.
"No. Raven, scout out the building – any storage rooms, basements, disused wards… It's a slim chance, but he could be hiding here."
"Here?" The empath frowned. "But-"
"It's a public place with a lot of daily traffic, I know, but I've found worse things hiding in hospitals, and you'd be surprised about how many rooms are hardly entered within a year. Ask the staff, they'll be able to show you such places." Robin told her and she nodded, quickly walking off. The leader of the titans turned to look at Officer Richmond, who was busy watching the titans leave and split off, carrying out their orders. "Officer, you're going to take me to your partner and this Doctor, then the two of you are going to leave the building."
The cop started walking brusquely through the hospital corridors but protested, "We can help somehow."
"No. I'm sorry Officer, but we don't like having anyone near potential meta, alien or otherwise threats in normal situations, never mind when, -as you'll have heard from this morning's interview – we can't touch him. You and your partner can help up by getting to safety."
"I became a police officer to help people. Not to be safe. My partner and I can watch the exits, or something."
Robin started to argue his point, before stopping and changing him mind. "You can help Cyborg in security."
The man grinned. "Better. We can do that."
"Now, where's this doctor and your partner?"
Officer Richmond came to a stop in front of the elevators. "Second floor." He frowned slightly as a thought occurred to him. "Shouldn't we shut down the elevators, in case-"
"If he's here, he can teleport. There isn't much point."
Cyborg didn't bother knocking as he barged through the door labelled security, suprising the two men sat inside the room, both of them jumping to their feet and grabbing for their guns as they turned to face the intruder, coming to a stop when they saw the titan, confused.
"What's up guys?" Cyborg asked cheerily as he quickly moved over and past them to their computer, sitting himself down and quickly finding his way through the system. "Sorry 'bout this, but it's kinda important I access the video footage from the security cameras."
"Cyborg, right?" One of the guards asked, approaching the titan wearily, while the other uncertainly trained his gun on the robotic teen. "What's the emergency?"
"Your friend, if he doesn't lower the gun." He replied without looking round. "We've got reasons to believe the killer and kidnapper of those girls might be here somewhere." Seeing the man next to him straighten to attention, he added, "And you're not gonna do anything but sit here and help me run a quick check of all the footage from the past week. Got it? Cause we've got everythin' else under control."
After several minutes of wandering around and getting nowhere, Raven stopped a nurse passing by. She could feel the woman's confusion, probably at having a titan in the hospital. "How can I help?"
"I need to know the locations of any disused wards and storage rooms, boiler rooms…" Raven paused, before vaguely saying, "Anywhere staff or patients rarely go."
"Well I can't say much regarding boiler rooms – or storage. That's more of the technicians department." The woman muttered, Raven trying her best to remain patient with the woman as she watched her think. "The green ward in the burns unit closed about a year ago. And two children's wards closed the year before that…" Her face suddenly lit up as she exclaimed, "Of course! If you're looking for disused, there's the old ward that was used for cholera patients back in the early 1960s, shortly after the place was built. It's hardly been touched since apart. Became a bit of a storage room for broken or out of date instruments the hospital hasn't gotten around to or couldn't sell. Renovation plans have been floating around for years, but it's been on hold due to lack of funds. Personally, that place gives me the creeps. Why? Is something wrong?"
Raven regarded the nurse for a moment, trying to guess her possible reactions to the news of a serial killer being in the building, before she decided that was Beast Boy's and Starfire's problem, not hers. "No. Everything's fine. It's just a… exercise. A standard check. Thanks for your help."
The empath quickly walked off, leaving the puzzled nurse as she unhooked her communicator off her belt, simultaneously calling all four titans, waiting until they'd all answered before saying, "Three disused wards, and I've got the location of two of them. Cyborg, think you could find the third for me? It's an old ward, unchanged from the 1960s, from the sound of it. It was used during the cholera outbreak of the time. Could you-"
"Send you a map? On it."
"I'll check them out first before doing the storage rooms."
"Good." She heard Robin tell them. "I've got a list of medicines that have been going missing from stock – after we're done here Raven, you and I'll take a trip to the forensics lab and get Doctor Reinfields to check the bodys for traces of the drugs. They'd have probably shown up in the first tox-screen if they were there, but… maybe they were overlooked."
"Or it's a more recent venture." Cyborg offered. "The guy only had five girls to contend with in the beginning. Maybe he's only been usin' the drugs since addin' the new girls."
"Maybe. Beast Boy, Starfire, how's the informing going?"
"Most well. We have almost completed the 1st floor." Starfire answered enthusiastically.
"Still transferring video files. I've got two guys from hospital security lendin' a hand."
"Check with them about other areas in the hospital that go unused, then relay it back to Raven." Robin ordered, and Cyborg replied with a cheesy "Aye Captain."
"Raven, keep moving. I'll catch up with you."
Taking it as a dismissal the empath shut her communicator Reaching the end of the corridor she came across a staircase and, on the wall, a map of the hospital's layout. Just what she needed. She quickly studied it, finding the burns unit and children's wards before heading up the stairs at a quick pace. Reaching the exit for the second floor, Raven moved to leave the stairwell, almost running straight into Robin. The leader of the titans quickly moved to the side, out of her way, before falling into step beside her.
"So, where are these wards?"
"One in the burns unit, and two are old children's wards." Raven answered. "I Thought I'd cover the burns unit first."
"Lead the way."
The room was spotless from floor to ceiling, clutter free… in fact pretty much free of everything – beds, curtains, desks, cupboards…
"Well I think it's safe to say nothing's here." Robin muttered, scanning up and down the large, white room. Next stop?"
"Children's unit. Apparently there are two disused wards there."
"And if it's as empty as this one?"
"We still have the mystery ward Cyborg's hopefully locating." Raven shrugged, seconds before her communicator started bleeping at her. She pulled it off her belt and opened it to find Cyborg, muttering, "Speaking of the devil…"
"Wouldn't that be you?" Her teammate grinned in reply. "So I found you that ward and I'm sending you it's co-ordinates now. And get ready to shower me with praise and thanks because I have found you the ultimate place of creepy that I think you need to check out."
"Okay, so get this – when the building, the hospital that is, was built there was a crazy home next door."
"You mean an Institute?" Raven clarified.
"They decided it'd be cheaper for them to get rid of their own infirmary and just have their own ward at the hospital and – in a bid to decrease the amount of Looney runaways between buildings, they built an access tunnel between the places underground. Now obviously the Institute is long gone – decades before we were born the place was shut for improper practice or somethin' and the hospital brought the land before turning it into the car park where my baby currently sits waiting for us, but the access tunnel's still there. Guys in security say it was blocked up half way down the tunnel and the rest has just been sitting empty."
"Have you got-"
"The co-ordinates?" Cyborg interrupted with a smile. "Already sent. So, what do you say?"
"Thank you." Raven smiled every-so slightly.
"You're welcome. Robbie-boy with you yet?"
"Yes. Shall I put him on?"
"Nope. Just let 'im know those two cops made it here, and I think I found evidence our friend's been here, but it's hard to tell – it's only in one frame – so until I get the files back to the computer at home, I won't know for sure."
Raven glanced at Robin who nodded, the empath verbalising it for Cyborg. "He knows."
"Good. Let me know of you guys find anything." Cyborg smiled, before the screen turned black for a moment before flashing with the word 'NEW FILE(S)' in light blue, telling her she'd received the two data files.
As she opened them, she muttered, "He could have told us which file was what."
Robin shrugged as he turned and began walking back out the ward, Raven following. "I think these two places hold more promise than a kid's ward, looking at the condition of this one. Agree?"
The empath nodded. "Two 'spooky' places that haven't been touched in years or wards that have only been closed for the last two years that don't even seem to home even dust… Of course, it would make a nice change, having a villain that wasn't so obvious."
"I've been thinking…"
"Nothing new there."
Robin ignored her. "Say the Church of Blood did create this monster. You told us shortly after our first encounter with him that you were certain he wasn't a demon. Then what is he? What did the church create a body for?"
"A human?" Raven shrugged. "That would be my first guess. More than likely he was a member of the Church during his life."
"But you said all living things have souls, and the shadow doesn't – that's how you knew he wasn't a demon."
She nodded. "True necromancy is impossible, Robin. There is no demon, angel, magician or spell that can bring the soul back to this plain of existence once it's passed on. It is, however, possible to pull a person's awareness back into the realm of the living, though it is incredibly painful and damaging for the soul. Whoever the shadow was, if the Church did create him, the soul they reached to was rotting in hell, and more likely than not it is still there, passing deeper into the circle he resides in with each new murder."
Robin frowned slightly. Even after seeing hell on earth during Trigon's take over, he'd never really decided on what came after death, and he had trouble imagining the sort of Hell Raven seemed convinced existed, even while part of him argued that if anyone knew, it would be her. "I think I like pretending this thing was never human to begin with." He looked at Raven's communicator. "So, have you chosen a map to follow?"
The empath nodded. "Ground floor, east side of the building."
"The access tunnel?" Robin asked, and Raven shrugged.
It turned out not to lead to the access tunnel, but to the old ward that had once been dedicated to Cholera patients and – after Robin managed to pick the locks on the doors into the ward – it proved to be full of dust, rusty old cots, a stack of stained mattresses, a few ancient pieces of medical equipment, and not much else.
"Because this looks totally clean and healthy." Both titans turned at the sound of Beast Boy's voice to find the changeling and Starfire entering the room behind them. "Why didn't they clean out all this junk years ago?"
"Epidemic. A scary word for the human race." Raven smiled slightly. "No doubt after the Cholera outbreak passed the ward was shut for cleaning and people just kept putting it off, no doubt due to irrational fears of becoming contaminated themselves even after all these years. Neither time nor science has any standing against irrational fear."
"Or maybe people were just put off by the amount of work cleaning this dump would mean… or because of how damn creepy it looks." The Changeling argued. "I mean, this is creepier than your room Rae. All it needs is one of those old wheelchairs in the middle of the room that moves when you aren't lookin' at it, and BAM! You have a scene straight out a horror flick."
"You watch too much TV." Robin told the green teenaged with a smile as they left the room, making sure to close the door behind them. "Are all the staff in the hospital aware of the situation?"
"They are." Starfire nodded enthusiastically.
"Until the shift change, anyway. So, where we going?"
Raven looked at the second set of blueprints on her communicator. "The far end of this hallway."
"You really think the Shadow's holed up in this place?" Beast Boy frowned.
"It isn't a small amount of drugs missing from the stock." Robin told him. "It's a lot – easily enough to keep ten people subdued, and the hospital would be a handy place to hole up."
"And rather obvious, now the connection's been made, no?" Starfire insisted. "I'm sure we'll find something."
"I take it back. This place is much creepier." Beast Boy muttered, looking around the dimly lit space as he reached the bottom of the stairs that'd sat hidden behind a door labelled 'Staff Only'. "What is it?"
"What's left of an old access tunnel." Robin answered as he grabbed a small torch off his utility belt and shone it at the far corner hidden by shadow, only to find it extended out as a corridor.
"It smell like rot." Raven informed them quietly.
"Rats?" Beast Boy suggested.
"The last time we decided it was the rats, we found a body." Starfire reminded him, the changing grinning nervously as he replied,
"Okay then. Not rats. How about… Possums. Dead Possums." He followed Raven as she began moving down the corridor, his sudden laughter echoing off the walls as something caught his attention, pointing it out to his teammates as he told them, "I found the wheelchair that as missing from upstairs." He wandered over to where it had been left against the wall, the leather worn and metal rusty under the thick layer of dust that covered it. "Gotta say, it looks more at home down here. Hey, Rae, we could turn this area into your own personal hospital room. I mean, you'd fit right in with the creepy… is that a gurney?"
"Do you ever shut up?" Raven frowned. She came to a stop as she reached a rough brick wall that marked the end of the corridor.
"I really thought we'd find something." Robin muttered unhappily.
"We still might." Raven replied. "Beast Boy, knock the wall down."
"What?!" All three titans turned to look at the empath in shock.
"It's not a supporting wall, and I can definitely smell rot. If the tunnel continues past this point, we need to search it."
"We don't have a warrant." Robin frowned.
"Would you prefer I teleport us all behind the wall?"
"Raven… what would happen if say like, you did that but it was completely solid behind?" Beast Boy asked before Robin could reply, sounding genuinely interested.
The empath shrugged, the thought never having occurred to her. "I can see where I'm going when I teleport, you know. But say I wasn't paying attention, or slipped up and released us… we'd be dead, our bodies shredded and forced into tiny air-spaces of whatever building material I happened to dump us in. The brick wouldn't make room for us, if that's what you're asking."
There was a moment of silence, before the changeling declared, "my vote's for knocking down the wall. Just in case."
"This isn't a vote. We don't have a warrant." Robin repeated impatiently.
"Don't you wish to discover what is on the other side of this wall?" Starfire asked, siding with Raven and Beast Boy.
"Of course I do! But we need to go through the proper channels." He told them. "Or what example would that be setting? And the legal charges that could come from it…"
"What charges? We're not cops. We don't legally have any more authority than the average citizen of Jump City. In fact the only reason we aren't regularly charged for vandalism, disturbing the peace, disrupting crime investigations and damaging of individually owned and council owned properties is because the local law enforcement, the public and the local council acknowledge we've kept the city safe from serious threats on more than a few occasions."
"And because they trust us to do things within the rules."
Starfire and Beast Boy watched wearily as Raven and Robin seemed to have a stare-off, the empath reminding her leader, "Right now, everything points to the people who worship my father being behind this 'shadow's' creation. I will not sit around and wait for him to come to us, especially when people are dying all because this creature has shown some sort of… interest in me."
"And if I knew you wouldn't just ignore my orders and attempt to solve this o your own, I would have made you sit out on the case due to emotional bias the moment the Church of Blood was mentioned. We'll get the warrant, Raven, but until then we have no choice but to wait."
"Wait for what? Another body? Another five?" She turned away from Robin, towards the wall before muttering, "I'll do it myself."
Beast Boy and Starfire quickly stepped away from the wall as the entire thing seemed to crumble, the air filling with chocking dust, the damp smell of decay hitting them moments later.
"Has anyone touched the crime scene?" The police Officer asked Robin.
"No." The boy wonder frowned irritably. "We know better than that."
"Nothing personal, Robin. Just standard procedure." The young man felt at a disadvantage, not knowing the cop's name, but didn't care enough to ask. "What about the wall? Security and updated plans of the hospital show it standing."
"We found it like this." Robin quickly – and smoothly – lied. "It's been a while since anyone from the hospital came down here, from what we could gather. For all we know, it's been like this since the series of Earthquakes that hit the city during Slade's occupation those years ago." After finding the body, Robin had waited until most of the dust in the air had settled before calling the cops, giving him enough time to yell at the empath, make sure his two other team members were okay, being it the first body they'd seen on this case, and call Cyborg and the guys in security to let them know what they'd found, Officer Richmond contacting the police for Robin shortly after.
The cop glanced at the wheelchair that had caught Beast Boy's attention when the titans had first entered the old tunnel. "Wouldn't surprise me."
Closing the small notepad and pocketing it, the man glanced back to where the Coroner from the local forensics lab – Doctor Reinfields – was studying the newest body. "'Obvious. But not obvious enough'. What do you think that's supposed to mean?"
"That he expected to search the hospital once we learnt about the missing sedatives. That he knows the city better than we previously thought. That he wants us to find him, I think. He's purposely giving us clues."
"Why'd he want to do that?" The cop frowned.
"No idea. Excuse me." He quickly moved away from the officer and towards Doctor Reinfeilds, pulling a neatly folded sheet of paper from a pouch on his belt. He waited patiently until the man had finished studying the body before grabbing his attention. "Doctor, do you have a moment?"
Straightening up, he removed the latex gloves he'd been wearing and acknowledged the hero with a smile. "Robin. Of course." The Doctor frowned as Robin passed him the sheet of paper. "What's this?"
"The reason we were here in the first place. Medicine has gone missing from the hospital stocks. More specifically, sedatives. One of the officers called in to help investigate the staff thought that perhaps it wasn't a staff member at all, and I suppose this-" he motioned at the body "- kinda proves it. If any of the drugs listed here appear in any toxicology reports we know how he's keeping 9, if not more, girls quiet."
"And if it doesn't?"
"Then it'll be one more question we need answering." Robin answered unhappily, glancing at the body, the sentence the cop had just quoted at him roughly carved into the flesh of her exposed stomach, the words slightly distorted by the bloating of her body, caused by the inset of decay.
"The body's been sat here for a while. A few weeks, maybe. Down here it's damp, but it's cold, and it isn't exposed to the elements, so it'd degrade at a slower rate than the other bodies we found. I'm surprised there isn't any damage from vermin, though."
"The first reports of missing drugs came in a few weeks ago." Robin nodded. "Apparently he expected us to find out sooner than we did."
"Are your two friends going to be alright?" Reinfields asked, looking at where Beast Boy sat near the stairs, his head cradled between his knees, the empath knelt next to him, softly speaking to him while Starfire paced back and for beside them.
"They'll be fine. It's not the first time they've seen something like this. I think… the severity of the case hadn't really hit them until now."
"Somethings need to be seen for your mind to fully accept it." The man nodded. "I'll run through the reports and get back to you about those drugs. The bodies didn't have much blood, but they had enough for a toxicology report to be done."
"One more thing, if possible. Could you check the blood from the first body again? If our theory is correct, it be behaving naturally again. In other words drying up."
A look of regret crossed the Doctor's face. "Robin, even during a murder investigation, we can only keep the body for so long. It was returned to the family for burial." When Robin covered his eyes with his hand – a movement of distress and frustration – the man offered, "If it's important for the investigation, we could try and get permission for the body, if buried, to be dug up."
"No." Robin shook his head. "No. We have other ways of getting an answer for our theory. That just would have been the easiest."
The man nodded, before asking. "Any idea on what he means?" Robin looked at him, a frown on his face, and the Doctor pointed towards the body and the words carved into it.
"Only that it's supposed to be some sort of clue as to where we're meant to find him."
"You'll figure it out." Reinfields smiled kindly, firmly squeezing the titan's shoulder. "I need to get the body to the lab. I'll call as soon as I've gone through the reports."
Although intended to be encouraging, the man's words lay heavy on Robin's shoulders as he left the Doctor to do his job and made his way towards his teammates. Raven turned to look at him, able to feel her leader approaching, silently asking him for help before turning her attention back on the changeling, who'd done nothing but stare at his feet for the past hour.
"Doctor Reinfields is going to contact us as soon as he's looked at the toxicology reports." Robin spoke up.
Starfire and Raven acknowledged him, the alien ceasing her pacing, while Raven asked, "When are we going to look at the first body again?"
"We're not. It's already been released to the family for burial. He didn't say when."
Raven exhaled slowly, closing her eyes for a moment as she concentrated on remaining calm, pushing back the feelings of annoyance, anger, and flattening defeat. "Then we need to go to Gotham."
"I think it's time we spoke with Brother Blood. He'll either own up and answer our questions, or he'll wish he had while he had the chance." Seeing the uncertainty on Robin's face, Raven added, "We won't need long. Three days at the most. I would go alone, but well, I don't trust the church at all, and they might be expecting me to come knocking. In which case they'll have something planned. I need someone to watch my back for me, because I'll need to keep all four eyes on Blood."
Robin's brow twitched into a frown at her uncharacteristic comment, while Starfire told her, "You do not have four eyes."
"Not right now." Raven nodded, before adopting an expression that let them know she didn't want to hear anything more on her comment, waiting for Robin to reply to her.
"Okay. I'll contact Batman when we get back to the tower and let him know we'll be coming to Gotham. Might as well have somewhere comfortable to sleep while we're there."
The empath started to protest, but changed her mind, thinking better of it. It was a long flight to Gotham, and there was no way she'd weaken herself by teleporting there before facing the followers of her father, and she knew she wouldn't sleep on the plane… "Thank you."
"Your… slip up has been sorted." Robin changed the subject, adopting a disappointed and angry tone of voice. "If you go against me like that again during this case, I will seriously consider your place in the investigation."
"I saved days and probably lives that would have otherwise been wasted." Raven frowned.
"You ignored orders, not to mention broke a law or two." He said the last quietly, aware of their company.
"The most I did was vandalise, and that's hardly-"
Raven's communicator rang, Robin, Raven and Starfire all startled by the noise.
"Is it Cyborg?" The boy wonder asked as Raven unclipped the device from her belt. She quickly glanced at the small screen on the front. Usually displaying a 'T', the letter 'J' currently blinked at her.
"No. It's a personal call. Mind if I answer it?"
"Go ahead." Robin nodded, and Raven moved away from the group and up the staircase as she flipped her communicator open, the others able to hear her say,
"Do you have any idea on how bad your timing is?... No, nothing like that. We found another body…. No! Turn the news on if you're that interested, no doubt…"
Robin turned to Starfire as the empath moved out of their range of hearing. "Are you alright?"
"Physically I am fine, yes. But I am angry. Why have we not found him yet? Why must the 'obvious' be so hard to think of and not obvious at all?" Starfire's fists clenched shut with frustration. "Why can he not act like a warrior and face us? Why must he play these games that involve the murder of girls?"
"We'll get him Star. I promise." Robin told her, not sure what else to say.
"But when? How many more will he kill before then?"
"Maybe not that many?" The changeling spoke up, coming out of his silent stupor and lifting his head to look at Robin. "I mean to me it seems like he's getting bored or impatient. Why else would he leave that message, as unhelpful as it is? Not like he's made the effort before."
Robin nodded, the possibility having already occurred to him. "It would mean he wants us to come to him. But why?"
The empath appeared at the bottom of the stairs, a frown on her face that had vanished by the time she reached her teammates. Recovered from the initial shock of finding the body, Beast Boy managed to grin at her ask he asked in a teasing voice, "So who's your boyfriend?"
"My what?" Raven asked, turning to stare at the green teenager, who quickly paled.
"I-nothing. It was a joke." He quickly sputtered, offering the empath his best innocent smile and kitten eyes look. "But seriously, who was it if it wasn't Cy?"
"If I wanted you to know, I would have answered the call here." She looked at Robin. "So, what's next?"
"We find Cyborg and go back to the tower. I'll get in touch with Batman and – unless we get a call – you can have the rest of the day to yourselves."
"But we need to find the Shadow and-"
"Can you fly?" Robin interrupted the Tameranian's protests, already knowing the answer. When she didn't reply, he told her, "I'm not going to actively search the city for him while we're…" He tried to search for the right word, "conflicted. We'll start looking for the 'obvious' first thing tomorrow."
A/N: I think we all know who 'J' is. Again, sorry for the long wait. This chapter did turn out longer than I realised – hopefully that somewhat makes up for it? ='3