Updated 7/26/2012 to include author's notes and resolve some punctuation and formatting issues that were bugging me.
This story is about the developing relationship between Beast Boy and Raven. Told chiefly from Raven's point of view, it will also address her relationship with the other members of her team, as Raven strives to grow beyond her heritage and become a fully rounded human being. Somewhat long, stretches from the events portrayed in the origin episode, "Titans, GO!" past the end of "The End."
I will attempt to update every couple of days. Right now I have a backlog of about ten chapters, but other commitments may force me to alter the update schedule to become weekly.
While most of the material here is appropriate for all ages, some chapters will contain prose many people deem inappropriate for minors. If you are under age, please do not read this material. Under no circumstances should minors communicate with me about this material.
I was born wearing asbestos underwear. Do your worst in the reviews – I can take it.
Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?
I do. – Lamont Cranston
Raven marched into her room and sealed the door. It was a large room, unusual in Raven's life. Most of the rest of her life had been spent in rather Spartan, monastic quarters, or on the run. Once she had gotten a room of her own, she'd made it her own space with a vengeance. The windows were covered with thick curtains that, when closed could block out all sunlight. The walls were a smoky grey, with a large, half-canopy bed against one wall. Around the semi-circular bed, the wall was decorated with a smoke and mist mural in shades of grey and black. A single mirror with five sides hung over a small dresser and a medieval Italian chest stood by the door. The ceiling lamps were from Japan, and cast an eerie yellow light, while the sculptures around the room reflected a taste for the surreal. It was a dark room for a dark personality.
For a girl who claimed she didn't have any emotions, she had spent a lot of time rushing away from her friends lately. But then, she wasn't truly emotionless. Despite all her protestations to the contrary, such a state wasn't in her background. Her mother had been human, and as full of life and passion as any of that species. It was Arella's anger and bitterness that had driven her into the demonic cult where her daughter was conceived, and it was her suicidal despair and fear for the world that had led her to the monks of Azarath, where the child was born and raised. Raven's father, Trigon the Terrible, had been one of the Dukes of Hell. Not merely a demon, but the Thane of Perdition, he embodied anger, rage, jealousy, and some regarded him as the god of Fear. So a tightly controlled, unemotional state did not come naturally to her. The calm façade people around her saw was the result of a lifetime of training and an iron will. When things were working right, she could separate a part of her soul from her body, and use it to move objects. Her control was fine, and she could move objects as fine as a needle or as heavy as a car. The same power allowed her to levitate, phase her body through solid objects, and even teleport short distances. But that was when things were working well. Raven's magic ebbed and flowed with her emotions, and so the monks of Azarath had trained her. Taught her to control her feelings and keep them locked safely away. She was dangerous.
Raven lived in Titan Tower, an unusual building on an island in the middle of Jump City bay. And unusual it should be, for it was built to house, train, and organize unusual people. Raven was one of five meta-human heroes who protected the city from threats that fell outside of the police and emergency first responder's capabilities. She strode to the middle of her room, reached the foot of her bed, and sat on the floor in the lotus position. Closing her eyes, she reached for the peaceful emptiness that would make everyone around her safe and began to meditate, chanting her mantra.
"Azarath, Metrion, Zinthos."
Her pulse slowed. Her anger ebbed. She floated a short distance into the air, drifting on the winds of her mind, her midnight blue cloak gently waving behind her.
Raven was young, having recently turned sixteen. Not by anyone's standards a "normal girl," her demonic heritage was visible, even in her calm state. For convenience she kept her purple hair cut so that it broke just above her shoulders. It was long enough to put in a pony tail when working out, but short enough to wash easily and dry quickly. Her eyes were the purple of amethysts, and were usually cold and flat. Her skin was grey, and did much to give her the reputation for being stone-faced and cold. Most of the time she wore a blue cloak and hood behind which she hid her unusual features. Some would say she was slender and petite. If pressed, she would say that she was short and skinny.
"Why don't they just leave me alone?"
Robin, the team leader, always wanted her to explain why she withdrew. A trained acrobat and martial artist, Robin was the only "normal" human on the team. He wore his hair black and shaggy. Nobody knew what color his eyes were; even the closest members of the team have ever seen him without his harlequin mask. His work clothes were based on an old circus acrobat's costume, with a scarlet tunic, green tights, and yellow utility belt. And he had no basis for comprehending how her powers worked. – Didn't he understand that explaining required thinking and thoughts could release feelings? And feelings could release . . . power?
And Starfire! Always with the singing and laughter and the hugging. Hugging! Physical contact made her empathy far easier. Starfire was in every way, Raven's opposite number. Tall, with long, lustrous red hair, Starfire had a background that was literally out of this world. She was an alien from the planet Tameran, and she lived with her emotions on the extreme outside of her skin. Mornings were never nice, they were always "glorious!" Food never tasted "good," it was "most wonderous!" Taller than Raven, Starfire's skin was golden, her eyes a clear emerald green, and her adolescent body was already showing voluptuous curves that would one day make men and most women stare as she walked down the street. Most of the time Raven thought it was a good thing, because it kept people from noticing her, but occasionally, standing next to Starfire, Raven felt a little bit like a mouse. Starfire's work clothes consisted of a very brief purple skirt that showed off her shapely legs to great advantage, a crop top, and a pair of boots. Her contribution to the team was superhuman strength, nigh invulnerability, and the ability to throw explosive energy blasts which she called starbolts. Oh, yes, and lots and lots of cheery disposition. Every time Starfiregrabbed Raven in one of those bone-crushing hugs, the flighty redhead's own emotions would flood through Raven in a torrent.
"With a friend like that," she thought, "It's a wonder I haven't destroyed the Tower entirely by now."
Cyborg was the least offensive of her friends. Cyborg had once been a young man named Victor Stone. The victim of a catastrophic laboratory accident, he had almost died, but his father, the cause of the accident, had spent time, energy, and a great deal of money replacing his damaged body parts with robotic substitutes. Now he answered only to his hero-name: Cyborg. He was brash, loud, and very, very intelligent. The mechanical parts of his body held many tools useful in the crime-fighting biz. But best of all, he retained most of his empathy, and respected that Raven wanted to keep to herself. His presumption was limited to occasional efforts to make her the butt of juvenile but harmless jokes, or persuade her to take part in the video entertainment and games that made up the socialization of the team. She could occasionally retreat to the haven of his garage and quietly read while he worked on the T-car, or other projects without having to put up with him trying to draw her out.
Beast Boy was the worst though. His whole body was green, from the tips of his toes to the top of his hair. Only his teeth and the whites of his eyes were spared. The youngest of the team, Beast Boy was only fifteen this year. His contribution to the team was perhaps the most unusual. He was an animorph. He could change into any animal he'd ever seen. In some cases, if he could learn enough about it, he could change into an animal that he'd never seen. In the heat of battle, the skinny boy could turn into a fearsome Tyrannosaurus Rex weighing several tons. On one occasion, Raven had seen him turn into an amoeba too small to see with the naked eye. From the very beginning, he'd thought the dark energy she manipulated was creepy. He'd constantly questioned her from the get-go. Why? Where? Poking and prying. And when he wasn't doing that, he'd start with the jokes. Bad puns. Practical jokes.
"Knock-knock jokes, for Azar's sake. What is he? Nine?"
And lately, she couldn't escape him. Every time she turned around, he was under foot. If she was reading in the common room, he'd walk by too close and spill her tea, usually in her lap or on her book. If she was walking past him on the stairs, he trip and fall on her. In the T-car he always seemed to have an elbow in her ribs or a knee in her side. Today had been no exception. The little green idiot had silently come up behind her. When she'd turned around, she'd been so startled to find him there she'd jumped and dumped scalding hot tea down her chest, across an irreplaceable antique book, and then fallen back on her butt on the hard steel floor of the kitchen.
"Azarath, Metrion, Zinthos."
She slowly opened her eyes and drifted back to the floor with a slight bump. Her eyes flew open.
"I have friends. Real friends."
It had happened so gradually that she hadn't noticed. When she'd come to earth, cast out of Azarath she'd been a thing, not really a person. Just a storage place for the portal that would bring Trigon to Earth, and thus, the end of the world. And end her life. All her life, she'd been told she had evil within her, and that she was created solely to do evil things. And she knew she couldn't stop it. But she'd been determined to try to pay back some small amount of the damage she was destined to do. She'd first gone to the Justice League, but they had sensed Trigon's taint inside her. Not trusting her, they turned her away. She was entirely on her own. Metropolis, under Superman's watchful eye, was closed to her, as was Batman's Gotham. Flash would bar her from Center City, Wonder Woman from Washington DC and so on . . . But Jump City, on the west coast of North America had no resident heroes. And so that is where she would go to try to make a life for herself. And do some good while the world lasted. It was pointless, but still . . . She had to do something.
And so, at the ripe old age of thirteen, she became a thing with no home, no money, and no future, she'd glided around Jump City a sapphire ghost. From the shadows she prevented car accidents, stopped muggings, and helped emergency services personnel with rescues, all without being seen. She'd had enough of people running away from her. Eating scraps and sleeping in abandoned buildings, she'd tried to make up for what was coming.
Then the green-eyed alien came.
She'd seen the emerald meteor streak across the sky, lighting up the night before it slammed into the pavement. By the time she'd gotten to the crash site, the others were there first. She watched as the three young men engaged the invader. They were powerful, but so was she. Stronger than she looked. She ranted and raged, smashing her bound hands into the ground, the buildings, and the three men trying to stop her. But Raven could sense things. Things real people couldn't. And she could sense that the alien wasn't truly angry. She was afraid.
When Robin made his statement, "I won't lose this fight," Raven had impulsively butted in. Her voice was hesitant. She hadn't spoken to another soul since being fleeing Azarath.
"M-M-Maybe fighting's not the answer," she said.
And it wasn't. With gentle words and a lock pick, Robin had freed the alien from her shackles. The alien had kissed him and then flown off before they could question her.
Then Robin had completely changed Raven's life with two simple words. As he, Beast Boy, and Cyborg stepped away to pursue the invader, he turned to her and said, "You in?"
"I'm not the hero type," she'd replied. "Trust me, if you knew what I really am, you wouldn't want me around." She turned to leave.
"I know enough," he'd replied, refusing to let her leave. Then he put his hand on her shoulder. She'd not been touched by another person since her mother died. Human contact. For those who have it, it's a very small thing. For those who are outcast and alone – it's a godsend. His gauntlet and her cloak muted the wash of emotions, but she'd still felt them. Concern for the city. Worry for the alien. Confusion at his response to the alien girl's sudden kiss. Above all, Raven sensed in Robin an overwhelming sense of responsibility. But in among it all was a warm regard for the wisdom and perception of the blue-cloaked hero he'd just met. She'd smiled very softly for the first time in a very long time. And joined them.
It had been later that same day that Cyborg had also touched her.
"Mind tellin' me why you're always by yourself?"
Looking at the ground, she'd replied, "You heard the kid. I don't exactly fit in."
"He's green, half of me is metal, and she's from outer space," he'd said, gesturing to each of them in turn. "You fit in just fine." And he'd put his hand on her shoulder, too.
Like Robin's gauntlet, Cyborg's metal hand also blunted the emotional overflow. But she'd still been able to sense that Cyborg had been concerned about her. She'd stepped forward almost fearfully, waiting for the rejection that was sure to come. But it never did.
She'd used the phrase "my friends" for the very first time that day. She'd seen the Gordanians violently kick the group around, but they'd all stood firm in defense of the liberty of the green-eyed alien they'd just met. When Beast Boy had been smashed against the warship bulkhead, she'd had enough. Tapping into her fear for her new friends, and her anger at the Gordanians who threatened them, she'd destroyed the bridge of the enormous battle cruiser, sending it splashing into the bay. Raven's new life had truly begun.