Author note: Welcome back to the recurring you are a new reader of the series; first of all welcome, and do check out Book 1 and 2 of Raven Rising that leads directly into this story.
Disclaimer: I don't own the Teen Titan, Justice League or any of the others
Later that night after 'the Lecture', Raven's mind:
"What are you doing out here?" Diana asks as she exits the council room. While none of the Founders really felt tired, they decided to try sleep anyways and set a guard, something both John and Bruce insisted on since neither trusted Raven to be able to control her dreams when she slept. Bruce took the 3rd watch after Shayera and Wally, and it is now Diana's turn, but she hadn't found him watching over them.
"Observing." Batman says as he stands at the edge of the cliff the council building is housed on while Diana walks up behind him. In front of them stretches first the ghostly city of Azerath, and beyond the city's walls; the vast empty night sky. With all of its inhabitants having gone to rest inside their homes, very little light is provided now, except for seemingly random flashes of yellow that seem to occur randomly around the city. "It's been going on for 10 minutes now, I suspect she is entering what is medically known as the Rapid Eye Movement state of sleep, the dream state."
"Then she is entering the realms of Hypnos and Morpheus." She notes. "Do you think it is wise to spy on her dreams like this?"
"We may not even be able to see what she dreams." Bruce notes dryly.
"You didn't answer the question." Diana counters.
"It's me remember?" Bruce says as he gives her a half amused smile without turning his head. "She keeps many things hidden; this may prove to be useful."
"Like what?" Diana asks a little annoyed that Batman would so casually intrude on something like this.
"Fear's, hopes, ambitions and such." He replies while noting the flashes seem to last longer now. "So did you two enjoy yourselves?" He asks.
"Very, except I was growing paranoid while Richard was following me around." Diana replies calmly, knowing where this will lead.
"I wasn't referring to that." Batman continues.
"A gentleman should not discuss such matters, but if you do, I may have to tie you up next time." She says letting a mischievous smile onto her face, the statement has the man finally turn to face her for a few seconds, just enough for him to gauge if she was joking or not. "But yes, we enjoyed that."
"So you have given up on me?" Bruce finally asks while pulling off his cowl, Diana suppresses her mirth as he looks simply devastated.
"Of course not, that was just a bit of fun." She reassures him. "But you better hurry, I am not getting younger you know?"
"You're not getting any older either." Bruce notes. "So what will you tell the others?"
"Nothing, if they don't ask. And I might add, it is something that only concerns me and Raven." Diana lets an edge crawl into her voice, letting Bruce know he is treading dangerous grounds.
"Fair enough, just don't let it interfere with what you do in the field." Bruce shrugs.
"I think she fought all the harder because of it." Diana replies. "And I am happy she did, I am not sure what would have become of me if she had arrived any later."
"And her actions against Light?" He asks while putting on his mask again.
"It is a credit to her that Hemon could talk her down at all; no other Amazon I know of would have been stopped with words." She replies, knowing that those of her sisters who wouldn't have done it out of personal dedication would have done so in pure outrage and as her mother demonstrate, quite a few of them would have done it with their bare hands.
"You?" Batman continues.
"There would not have been anything left to bury." Diana notes with grim finality, Bruce sighs before she continues. "Bruce, you told me once you know what it's like to be in a situation like she was, but you have never told anyone how you handled it other than no lives were lost." Bruce is quiet for a moment before replying.
"It was the Joker. He had captured Richard while he was out on a solo patrol. I was his real target of course and he made that plainly visible by making a modified bat-signal and tying Richards shirt to it along with a note, that eventually led me to him. It was on the roof of the Gotham Library, along with Richard, he had some 20 thugs or more waiting. He had tied Richard to a chair and repeatedly beat him with a crowbar, I could tell how bad it was from the approach I made, since he had a large projector pointed at him. From the distance, I couldn't see if he was alive or not, but he wasn't moving. When I saw that, and the laughing lunatic dancing around him, something inside of me just snapped. I charged in recklessly and was nearly swamped by the goons, but I couldn't allow myself to stop before I knew if Richard was alive or not. The goons didn't have a chance even if half of them had guns or other weapons. When I got through them, Joker had pulled a gun and was aiming it at Richards head, there was maybe a meter, maybe two between the gun and his head. Joker of course kept taunting me, daring me to stop him before he fired one round into Richards shoulder. I was on him in a second before he could fire again. That one time, I came closer to killing him than ever before, he was beaten, badly, before I dragged him to the edge of the roof before holding him out over the edge. That was when I saw what he had also done, the police had surrounded the building to act as witness'. I was about to drop him before I realized it; he wanted me to kill him, to prove I was no different than him. 'All it takes is one bad day.' That's what he told me before Gordon and a squad of SWAT officers arrived on the roof. I still wanted to end the Joker, once and for all, but Jim called out to me and talked me down from dropping him. I remember half the SWAT team was actually hesitating with aiming at me; they wanted me to drop him…as would all of Gotham if it had been watching. In the end, Jim and a groan from Richard brought me back. It took Richard weeks to recuperate from that night and longer for me, since I refused to let him go alone. That was the reason why we ended up breaking, I was scared of losing him because I wasn't there, and then I lost him because of that." He sighs, remembering wondering if that had really been the plan all along, to break the Dynamic Duo. You could just never tell with the Joker if there even was a plan or even a shred of twisted logic in what he did.
"You two are very similar you know?" Diana notes, meaning Bruce and Richard.
"I am aware of that and that alone is a terrifying thought."
"Only to those who gets caught in your path." Diana continues. "Just don't let your mission blind you to the rest of the world."
"I…Maybe…one day, it's for the rest of the world I am doing this." Batman admits after a moment's thought. "Look." He says as he notices something forming on the night sky.
At first it seems to be only darkness that swallows the stars one by one forming a giant black orb in front of the two souls. A small shift inside of it signals that something is coming. It starts with a small white dot that expands to form a horizontal line before separating in two till they disappear at the top and bottom. Both heroes are reminded of a looking at a large television screen as an image appears. In the darkness a spotlight lights up a circle on the ground in the screen, where Raven is standing in her cloak and leotard, she looks confused.
"Who are you?" A voice asks, causing Raven to turn around, looking around herself to locate the speaker while keeping her guard up. "Or more accurately what are you?" The voice continues as a tall mirror phases into being behind Raven, who looks at it in surprise when she turns around. Both viewers can see the mirror image of her as it suddenly moves on its own. "Are you human?" It asks, revealing it to be the speaker. "Are you demon?" It continues as it changes image into that of Raven's demonic form. "Are you a hero, here to save the world or a monster that needs to be put down?"
"Don't worry I am here to tell you, have a seat." The image says as a wooden chair slams into Raven from behind, forcing her to sit before heavy iron restraints close around her arms and legs. "Now then, to the important bit; you are a monster!" The image says as it points an accusing finger at Raven. "Of the very worst kind! A bastard! A tool! A means to an end!" It continues as Raven notices her features begin to run like hot wax. "See, now we see that monster that you really are, no more facades, no more hiding! The world will know what you are!"
"NO!" Raven cries as the flesh falls from her left hand revealing a red-skinned hand with claws lurking beneath the grey flesh, the hand immediately begins wiggling around as if it had a mind of its own.
"Yes, accept it, drown in the knowledge. You are a monster, a demon from the deepest pits of hell." The image continues as Raven melts away leaving more red skin visible. "Humanity has abandoned you; you will never have a place amongst them." It says as the last of Ravens grey skin and purple hair melts away, revealing her full demonic form, the limbs that had all begun moving on their own cease immediately. Leaving Raven to look into the mirror image of herself in the chair.
"No…" She sobs as several images of her being chased by mobs of people, amazons, Titans, Leaguers and civilians alike, flash across the mirror.
"Yes, that is what will happen when you are exposed. But fear not, I will never abandon you." The image returns. "You are a part of me after all, dear daughter." The image smiles as its features changes into that of Trigon. "Time to come home."
"NOOO!" Raven screams as Trigon reaches out of the mirror and drags her and the chair into the mirror.
"Fear not dear daughter, I plan not to leave this world without a memory of you. Observe." He says has he holds the chair in one hand, outside of the mirror a figure takes form out of nothing. It is Raven, or a copy of her human guise that stands motionless before the mirror. "Burn this world, make it suffer!" Trigon commands before he turns away with Raven in his hand.
"Yes." The doppelganger replies in Raven's monotone voice before it fades out of view and the screaming and pleading of many voices begins in the background as the mirror shatters. The black bubble seems to implode rapidly as the place Diana and Bruce are in seems to shift suddenly.
"It was a nightmare, she just woke up." Batman says.
"Welcome to my normal dreams…" Raven's tired voice sounds from above.
"Welcome back Master Richard, I take it went well?" Alfred asks as Richard enters the cave by the teleportation tube located on one of the lower floors, where Alfred is dusting off the trophy collection surrounding it.
"It was weird; they all almost automatically elected me as the leader." Richard sighs as he pulls off the cowl. "But yes, it went well. But I suspect our new Lantern is a bit in over his head, since he's fresh out of the academy." It was a concern Bruce had noted the same at the one change in his old plan, which was only changed because he had since had a falling out with the original; Guy Gardner. Mainly because of the man's normal attitude to such things.
"Splendid." Alfred replies with a smile without looking up from his dusting, if he didn't know better Richard would have thought he didn't actually hear him.
"So did Raven head off to sleep yet?" Richard asks, it was only early in the night here.
"A matter of hours ago, but from the sounds, she is not sleeping well."
"She has nightmares quite often; I guess it has something to do with her dual natures and the recent turmoil she has been through." Richard says as he takes off the cape, glad to be rid of the weight, while remembering how he during the late hours in the tower stated to note down Raven's uneasy sleep pattern to be able to predict her good and bad days and to see if it was linked to anything unusual.
"Quite, she has taken the meaning of inner demon to a new level." Alfred agrees. "Master Tim is out on patrol, by the way, he should be back in a few hours." Richard nods.
"Good, I am going to catch a few, there's a few meetings tomorrow in the League I have to attend to and one in Wayne Enterprises to announce Bruce's departure."
"I wish you good night's sleep then Sir."
"You too, when you get to it." Richard replies before heading up for a change of clothes.
Several moments later he finds himself standing outside Raven's room, although he knew she often had nightmares, he also knew that if Alfred had noticed it, it meant it was really bad. But this time he is hesitant about sticking his head inside, as he remembers the last time he did that. Instead he presses his ear to the door in an effort to hear if anything is going on the inside. Hearing nothing he carefully opens the door and peeks inside, spotting Raven sleeping soundly as she faces the door, dressed in what Richard can tell, the long black t-shirt he knew he got her. Like Bruce did, he notes she is sleeping with her bracelets on, unlike Bruce, Richard knows he has to keep his emotions muted, that or having to face a very awkward series of questions. Satisfied she is sleeping, and not wanting to tempt fate more than he is, he silently closes the door and retreats to his own room.
The following morning, Wayne Manor:
"So what's it like wearing the cape and cowl?" Raven asks over the breakfast table that seems oddly vacant, even if it is only Bruce that is missing.
"It's too heavy for my liking." Richard replies. "But it's weird having everyone automatically think that I can fill his shoes."
"He does have big feet." Tim notes.
"So what is on your schedule today?" Richard asks Raven.
"I'm meeting with Fate and Jason later for a round of brain storming, after that; I figure we start culling everything we can." Raven replies. "You?"
"I'm going to be stuck in meeting rooms all day long, if not League's, it's the ones in Wayne Enterprises." Richard sighs.
"I don't pity you." Raven replies with a small smirk.
"Gee thanks. By the way, a big guy with a thunderbolt on his chest wants to meet you apparently." Richard adds, getting a raised eyebrow from Raven, but she doesn't need to be told who it is, even if Bruce mentions it. "Something of a request from a wizard he knows."
"Well, I fear I will be stuck with Fate for a period of time, if we get a good lead, I might be moving in with him for a while." Richard nods, having heard how furiously she read when trying to find a cure for Starfire.
"I'll let him know where you are then." He says, before they return to focus on their food, leaving Tim free space to express something on his mind.
"So with Bruce not around, does this mean I can skip school?" He asks Richard.
"No." Bruce grumbles from inside of Raven, almost making the boy jump out of his seat.
"He doesn't stop looking through my eyes." Raven notes to Richard.
"Considering he doesn't need to sleep now, I can't say I am surprised." He replies.
"Why didn't you say he can hear, see and talk last night?!" Tim exclaims.
"Didn't have a reason to." Raven shrugs.
"So I take it you're not planning on bringing Zatanna into any of this?" Richard asks shifting the conversation.
"We would if she bothered returning Fate's calls." Raven groans at the mention. "I fear she may be too busy downing more bottles."
"I never thought she'd pick up a habit like that." Richard sighs.
"It's her choice, unfortunately. Anyways, I have to get going; I have my communicator on me if you need me."
"Happy hunting." Richard waves after her as she enters the Mansion again to pack the few things she will need.
Meanwhile in Switzerland:
"Dude, are you sure we are in the right place?" Beastboy asks as the three Titans look around themselves in the empty field in the Swiss Alps.
"Positive, unless Raven got the coordinates wrong." Cyborg says as he notes the coordinates in his GPS system.
"But isn't there supposed to be a two story monastery here?" Beastboy continues.
"I fear you may be standing on it." Starfire says from above. "The grassless patch is almost completely round." Cyborg groans.
"She's right, hold on I'll run a quick scan." Cyborg says before something flashes in his arm a few times.
"What are you doing?" Beastboy asks.
"X-Ray's." Cyborg says as his features gradually harden. "Damn it. We will need help here." He sighs. "Whoever did this, sunk the entire building to cover their tracks, I see monks down there as well. Gar wait!" Cyborg says too late to stop Beastboy from turning into a mole that burrows into the ground.
"But why would Terra do such a thing?" Starfire asks as she lands next to him.
"I just don't know Star, but if she really did this, then she is far worse than Slade." Cyborg sighs as Beastboy emerges from the ground again.
"I found the roof, couldn't get through the tiles." He says with a defeated tone.
"I'll call the authorities." Cyborg says.
Later that day, Raven's mind:
"Raven a word in private?" Batman asks from within her as she closes the second book she has read, she guesses he is getting bored of only having words to look at. "It would help if I could speak the language." He notes as she opens her mind's eye appearing next to the Dark Knight, who oddly enough is standing outside Timids labyrinth bordering Happy's realm.
"What?" Raven grumbles, her friends know how much she hates getting interrupted while reading.
"A number of things. First of all, there is the matter of Jarvis Tech that got lost in all of the other events." He says.
"You want to have closer look at those events, to see if I am to blame for his death?" Raven asks, not liking this part.
"I do, but this also comes with an offer." He says.
"Oh?" Raven asks while quirking an eyebrow at him. "What kind of offer?"
"Remember you swore you would try and appease me so that you could operate in Gotham with my approval?" She nods at him. "You have earned that part when we stopped Roman. But I am going to offer you something more. I see you have many talents, but most of them can be refined. As long as I am stuck here and if you live up to expectations, I want you to learn from me when we venture into the field, a helping hand, in some cases, the voice of reason in others. But you have to do what I say, and the margin of error is thin." Raven just stares at him.
"I think I need that, after what happened in Jump City, the voice of reason part that is." She sighs.
"All things considered, we are still amazed that you were held back at all." Batman says. "Etrigan wouldn't, Diana admits that she and the other Amazons wouldn't either and I have been the same situation once." He admits.
"You had to talk someone down?" She asks.
"No…well yes I have been there as well, but I needed once to be talked down myself." Raven stares at him again. "It was before the Titans were formed, Robin had gone out on solo patrol…" He tells the full version he told Diana of the incident that eventually caused the break between him and Richard, adding the part where Raven appeared at the League only a week after the break. "The rest you know, how he and I barely spoke for four years." He finishes.
"You are both proud and stubborn; it shouldn't have surprised you that he would strive to prove that he was still capable of handling himself." Raven adds.
"I knew he could, but as you know, I don't want to take any unnecessary chances." Bruce admits.
"I know, you plan everything, almost. You know the story Richard told us about this?" She asks.
"He admitted you never said it to his face, but he got the impression that you didn't trust him to operate solo any more, that somehow you blamed him for getting caught in the first place and for putting you in that situation." Batman remains blank for a second as he thinks back of the night Richard came home to the Manor and the night he left.
"He shouted that part at me in the cave before he stormed out and packed everything he wanted to take with him, along with a few other things." Batman sighs. "I had to get a new computer the next day." He continues as he remembers a few other things that was wrecked in the cave, while outside of the cave he didn't let it show the breaking between them had hurt Bruce severely, only thing that came close to it was Barbara's and Jim's shootings.
"Proves you're still human." Raven adds.
"Same to you." He says letting on a crooked smile. "So you and Diana?" He continues as Raven visibly blushes.
"Stupid mirror." She mutters to herself. "It happened, but it's not a relationship. If anything, Diana wanted to prove that I could do it without something bad happening." Bruce smirks at her. "I hope you aren't going to put it in a file somewhere?"
"Like I said, it's between you and her."
"Besides, she is still waiting for you." Batman coughs into his hand at this. "Worst kept secret on the station I take it."
"Yes." He admits. "I just don't want any of my psychos coming after her to get to me, like they did Richard. I also fear she might become a distraction."
"You're probably the most focused, driven man on this planet and she is not the kind that needs constant attention." Raven counters. "Just don't forget she is there."
"That part isn't hard." Bruce replies with a smirk.
"Anyways, duty calls." She says.
"It does." Batman nods at her before she fades from view.
Later, the Tower of Fate:
"I fear we may be running short on useful material." Dr. Fate notes at the three remaining books from his library, he knew dealt with resurrection.
"It appears to be so." Jason adds as he looks up from his, seated in the green chair with his feet up on a foot stool, he looks at home in the corner. Currently Raven is sitting floating above the floor with two books floating in front of her, while she is leaning forwards with a hand idly stroking her chin and a focused look on her face.
"Anything useful?" Fate asks her.
"Interesting, yes, but useful? No." She sighs as she skims the last pages. "Unless we want them back as blank puppets or walking skeletons."
"Not quite the resurrection they would hope for." Fate sighs, the three have been pouring over the pile of books for hours on end, with none of them really knowing how late it was or for how long they had been reading.
"Kent?" Inza asks in her quiet voice as she enters the library.
"Yes my dear?" Fate replies while looking up at his wife.
"Perhaps the tomes Zatanna borrowed months ago may prove useful in your search." She continues as the others look up.
"I had forgotten she borrowed a few books from me before we were introduced." Fate says while nodding at Raven. "Perhaps it is time they were retrieved."
"They dealt with this subject as well?" Raven asks in surprise, the books they have been reading have all been detailing extremely dark magic and if Zatanna knew what she was looking for, these would be considered of the lighter in comparison.
"They do. Zatanna may have been looking into an alternative of finding and retrieving her father, who has been lost to her since she was 14." Fate replies.
"Giovanni Zatara, trained me in as an escape artist and in ventriloquism before he disappeared, it's his hat she wears." Bruce says from the inside Raven's head.
"Problem is, she will have taken the books to Shadowcrest." Fate sighs. "I will try to find her and the book's. You two should rest." He says to Jason and Raven, the others agree to this, both because they doubt Zatanna would be very pleased about seeing either of them in her house.
"Ok, well I've got to go to Jump City and visit Luthor's House of Horrors." Raven sighs.
"A request from the Batman?" Jason asks.
"Yup, if Captain Marvel drops by, let him know. And let me know if you get your books back." Raven continues.
"Of course." Fate replies.
"Good luck." Raven says before she disappears from the room.