"Welcome back." Raven says without looking up from the computer in the cave as Nightwing and Batman walk up the staircase from below. Nightwing doesn't reply before heading into the wardrobe, getting a raised eyebrow from Batman along the way. "Beats me." Raven shrugs noticing out of a corner of her eye the reaction.
"You two ok to handle the city this weekend?" He asks quietly.
"Sure, why shouldn't we be?" She asks in the same volume. "Besides, he will have time to cool off." She shrugs before directing him to the almost finished assignments. "What class is this from?"
"First year of college, too easy?" He asks.
"My knowledge of math at this level is not that great." She admits. "But the book you left is readable."
"Good Alfred will have dinner ready by the time you are done." Bruce replies, noting down he had to begin looking the internet for finished assignments just in case she was reading off them, Raven nods and continues working.
The next day is Thursday and a little odd one for Raven, who notes that Richard doesn't talk to or hardly even look at her when they are in the same room, but she shrugs it off as being leftover emotions from yesterday. During the afternoon she has lessons in aerobics and crime scene analysis, while Richard heads into the city.
After her lessons were done, she meditates on the subject of Richard and other things, like her own feelings. She is especially interested in why one of her emotions seemed to get agitated after she woke up the second time in the cell a week ago, again the situation in Tala's mind returned, sighting she reasons that some part of her might like the situation and that it is just another addition to her 'why I am not like everyone else' list.
Turning to the subject of Richard she began dissecting their whole relationship, she knows he has feelings for her, strong feelings and a week ago he was so close to voicing them before Alfred had walked in. How old is that feeling she wonders, did it appear at her arrival on Charlton Street? Was it there years ago in the Tower? Is it still there now with his sudden attitude change? She just can't tell, Richard has always been good at hiding his feelings when he wanted to.
And then there are her own feelings towards him, is she just interested in him as a very good friend or is the wall she built up after Malchior coming down and she is not realizing she may be in love with him. Does she even know what love really is anymore? Does she really want to commit herself to a person with her heart? Could she?
The night after Malchior had betrayed her, she had decided she would never be hurt like that again even if it cost her own happiness. She would be strong, cold and alone while being happy for the people around her who found their true love.
Has Richard melted that last part of the glacier and is she ready to try again? Or is she really just wishing for something that isn't there, maybe he really just sees her as a sister he cares deeply for? Finally realizing she isn't meditating at all, she resorts to ask him after Bruce and the others were gone, it would give them time to normalize in case she was wrong.
"Kinda early they had to go?" Raven asks as she, and Richard, are having breakfast in the kitchen after the other left in the Rolls Royce, it is still a little early but the day is looking to be equally abysmal as the rain had poured down when they left.
"Figure Bruce wants to shop or be seen at sights before the race tomorrow." Richard shrugs staring into his oatmeal, Raven's hope drops a bit, realizing he is still grumpy, which seems odd since he had made for both of them.
"Richard?" She asks.
"Hmm?" He replies through a mouthful.
"Was yesterday really that bad?" She asks as her stomach does an involuntary twist, finally he looks up at her.
"It was a mistake that you decided to add your own elements to the test, especially elements that could have resulted in serious injury. We trained in controlled environments where the worst that could happen was a sore body part, what you did was to send them into a battlefield they weren't prepared to handle." He replies as her vision blurs for a second and her left side seems a little heavy.
"No one shoved them into the portal Richard, all who were there, went under their own free will. And you should know how I would take it if any of them got seriously injured." She replies before taking another scoop.
"That's the problem Rae, I don't know anymore." He says as her vision blur again this time for longer and she blinks a few times to clear it. "You aren't the girl I once knew and lived with, not even the girl I once pulled out of hell." He says as he stops eating, watching her intently as her eyes begin to grow unfocused. "I won't say that they are all bad changes, but some of them I don't care so much for." He says as she struggles to get to her feet, realizing something was wrong.
"Y-you... drugged… me." Raven heaves before collapsing on the counter, turning over the rest of her breakfast into her hair before sliding down onto the floor.
"Yes." Richard shrugs at her still open eyes. "Bruce apparently won't give you the iron glove treatment, so I guess I will have to." It's the last she hears before darkness claims her.
She comes to herself again in the same darkness, she can feel she is very uncomfortably being suspended over the ground in her ankles and wrists; again she is dressed in her costume, but this time with something spherical object lodged in her mouth that refuses to budge. She has only just had time to realize this before an electrical current runs through her, breaking her other thoughts for several moments after as she breathes heavily through her nose, eventually catching a scent in the air as her ears hear slight hissing sound.
"Great, blind, gagged and suspended in a room filling with gas by manacles with a current in them. Richard is dead when I get out!" She swears internally as she finds out she can't make more than muffled whines and groans before setting to work. Getting interrupted every so often by the current that returns at set intervals.
After what feels like several hours later she is angry; she can't break out of this, her arms simply can't get far enough back to try and yank her thumbs out of their sockets. Plus she has realized that if she did, she has no idea how far down the floor is, getting both her arms free could result in braining herself on the concrete floor. She had noticed other things as well, she is sweating in the heat in the cell and the gas is making her edgy. And still the damn current runs through her every so often.
Later still, she is worried, she had tried for a period of signaling defeat by finger gestures in what she hopes is Morse code for S.O.S. But nothing has happened yet, nothing. Her body is straining to remain in shape it seems, and she is still sweating in the heat. She can feel her head beginning to cultivate a headache and her throat is dry.
Again the current wakes her up, she is scared now, not just worried, really scared. She had decided enough was enough some time ago and she wanted out, only to discover none of her power's worked, she can't even change shape. Even her empathy seems off, as she can hear someone's quiet breathing near her, but not sense anything. She had tried communication with the breather, but nothing came of it, it is really freaking her out.
The damn breathing is still there and she is close to losing control of her mind and her body completely, Fear has swollen to inhuman proportions in her head and none of the others have succeeded in stopping her. She had even tried crying to get someone to get her out, but she couldn't even manage it as the dehydration takes its toll on her.
"Hello, Ravie-poo, time for some fun." At the sound of the Jokers voice and the sudden sting and a current passing through her, Raven does the one thing left to her; scream.
"I must say that I have missed old England." Alfred says as he steps out of the car in the garage in the late afternoon before letting Bruce out, Tim already having gotten out on his own and entered by the door leading to the kitchen after unlocking it.
"It was a good trip." Bruce agrees as he steps out. While in England, Alfred had visited a few places dear to the old man's heart while Tim and Bruce watched the formula one. "Wonder if the two have managed to sort everything out?"
"I would have thought young people only waited for opportunities like this when their parents went out?" Alfred asks with amusement in his voice, Bruce smirks as well thought he would hate to be arriving in the middle of what Tim had suggested the two could be doing.
"They are sensible people, I hope." Bruce says before entering his house, finding it oddly quiet somehow.
"Erm, are they out or something?" Tim asks as he appears in the doorway to the main hall, when Richard was left alone, one could usually hear him playing music at an earth shaking volume wherever you went in the house, except the cave.
Bruce shrugs before crossing the floor, stopping when his fine leather shoes stick to the tiled floor, putting a hand on the counter, he noticed that that surface is also sticky.
"Odd. Richard doesn't usually spill and leave it." He says quietly to himself, a part of him is worried that something might have happened, but besides the spill nothing seems out of place, there's not even any dishes left in the sink. "They aren't in the garden?" He asks.
"One sec." Tim says before running off before coming back. "Nope, the garden is empty. And no notes on the counter about being away. Could be in the cave?"
"Better go check." Bruce says as Alfred enters as well, having deposited their luggage in the room separating the kitchen and the garage. "Alfred, seems someone has left a spill here, we will be right back." He says before following after Tim.
"Something is just not right." Bruce says as the two enter the oddly quiet cave. "Hmm Dicks bike is gone." He notes.
"I dunno, but it's been some time since either of them has been at the computer." Tim notes at the droppings on the computer this has Bruce's attention and he quickly walks over and brushes the keys, staring it up, finding it in slumber mode.
"What is going on?" Bruce asks himself as he eyes the big screen, only finding a note about a rave party Friday night and a note about possible drug trafficking.
"Uh, Bruce." Tim says as he directs his attention to one of the smaller screens to his left, displaying a single strung up figure hanging limply in chains.
"Get Alfred! NOW!" Bruce bellows before storming down the stairs, quickly arriving at the cave cells and races to the last one on the right, the only cell he had that was made, but never tested, for metahumans along with containing a number of very unpleasant features. Finding the control panel his eye's go wide at the information displayed on it before opening the door. His first step inside almost has him step out again involuntarily at the smell and gas that assaults him, he has a few times arrived to the same smell where humans were left unattended for days and it horrifies him to find the same smell in his cave.
Grinding his teeth and holding his breath, he steps inside quickly disengaging the shackles with the switch besides the door and catches the light and bony figure of Raven before quickly carrying her back out and shuts the door behind him to block out the smell.
He works quickly and removes the gag in her mouth before removing the mask that makes a tearing sound as it parts from her skin, finding her mouth to be stuck open and by the looks of it, almost completely dry. She is alive, her slight but frantic breathing tells him that, but he can't look her in the eyes, that have shrunken into her head, she is staring at him with fear leaking through them.
"Sir?...Oh my lord!" Alfred exclaims from the door, quickly stopping Tim from entering. "Is she?"
"Severely dehydrated and affected by fear toxin, get the equipment set up by the water tank." Bruce says, having moved into Batman mode. "GO!" he bellows as the two aren't moving.
Several hours later:
Bruce is pacing back and forth on the memorial platform, Tim and Alfred know that a single sound could send him over the edge, so they keep their conversation to whispering while watching Raven float sedated in the water tank usually reserved for victims of Mr. Freeze, dressed in fresh underwear after she was cleaned up. A small tube is being led through the breathing mask on her face and down her throat on the inside, dripping water into her along with drops of nourishment.
She has lost almost 9kg of her body weight and is dangerously close to suffering lasting damage, if the fear gas had not already done that to her mind.
Bruce had been the only one to watch the compressed video from the last three days. He had seen Richard drug Raven's breakfast then drag her off to the cell before leaving her alone, going about his day without caring she was there. At nighttime he had checked up on her from the computer where he had also brought up the rave notion and headed off, and never came back.
To say the least, Bruce is furious at his adopted son. He had said it time and again to the two boys, if they were using the cells, no one is left in them with no one else in the house and at least one other was to know about it. And the cell Richard had put Raven in was not to be used without Bruce's expressed permission, and no one in it should be without supervision. Richard had completely disregarded all of this and put Raven in a cell she couldn't escape from, set the temperature up to rival that of a warm summers day, let fear toxin continuously leak into the cell and send a current through her every 15th minute and just left her for three days.
"Keep an eye on her; I am going to find him." Bruce announces suddenly breaking his silence. "Call me if anything happens." Both Tim and Alfred know's Nightwing is now officially on the same level as Guy Gardener with Bruce, and they don't pity him when Bruce finds him.
Gotham South Docks:
"Hey buddy, ya can't sleep here, ye'll catch a cold like that." The bearded homeless man says as he pokes the figure of a young man, dressed in a leather jacket and blue pants, lying in the trash heap with the butt of his whiskey bottle with the rain and thunder echoes from above.
The figure just groans as a black shape descends from above, causing the bum to fall over in surprise. "You're coming with me." Batman growls as he picks up the figure in the heap, throwing him over his shoulder.
"Hey… hey, hey! He's not done nothin'!" The bum says as he tries to get up.
"Get to the shelter Harry." Batman grumbles before disappearing into the night sky.
Richard groans as he opens his eyes, that the first thing he sees is Batman's silhouette a part of his mind tells him that he is deep trouble.
"I want an explanation, and it had better be good!" The man growls as Richard recognizes the cave.
"I was tracking a dealer at a rave when someone jammed something into my back, guess I got doped." He sighs tiredly, he doesn't get a chance to react before Batman has grabbed him by the front of his jacket and hoisted him into the air and onto the ground before forcibly dragging him over to the platform under the parking platform for the cars and bikes.
"I want an explanation for this!" Batman hisses as he drags Richard before the water filled cylinder, still containing the wrinkle-skinned Raven. Richard struggles to get to stand on his own feet before replying.
"I was proving to her the very words she used on me yesterday; no one is stronger than the team. I wanted her to know that it applies even to her after that stunt she pulled off in the Pit!" Getting Batman to hold Richard up in front of him again.
"I leave you for three days and I find her half dead in a cell she could not break out of! A cell I told you never to use without my permission!" Batman roars. "I have seen the videos, how you drugged her, stuffed her into that cell and just left her there! Had she been sick from the dose you gave her or the dehydration you could have killed her!" It dawns on Richard now what Bruce is saying.
"Wait, three days?!" Richard asks as he is allowed to stand.
"Three days without food, water or sleep." Batman growls. "She's lost 8.68kg of her bodyweight in water, her back, shoulders and hip were stretched to the breaking point due to the position, she even dislocated her left shoulder in there and God only knows what the fear toxin has made her go through!"
"I…" Richard interrupts getting silenced by a palm slamming into the side of his head, sending him to the ground, leaving him staring up at Batman.
"You are right, a team relies on the trust of the other members… and by your actions; you have lost mine, Tim's and hers." Batman says. "You need time to think over what you have done, you get one conversation with her." Batman says to Richards widening eyes before he is dragged down and pushed into one of the vacant cells before being left in darkness.
Time passes slowly for Richard who just stares off into the darkness as he waits for the inevitable; ignoring the one meal he notices being offered him before the door is opened again by Batman.
"She is awake." He says as Richard gets up.
"I… I'm sorry." Richard whispers as he passes him.
"It is not me you have to apologize to." Batman says as he walks behind him up to the medical bed, finding Raven in it, still looking frail, but the look in her eyes could freeze water as she stares at Richard.
"Raven, I…" Richard starts.
"Don't!" Raven hisses with a dry voice. "I trusted you, I was even sure I was actually falling in love with you! And this is what you do to me?!" She says in a voice no louder than a whisper before clutching her throat in pain. "I thought we were friends?" She whispers obviously breaking apart on the inside before turning away from them as a chill runs down Richard's spine.
Richard is led back to his room, where he just sits down on his bed, staring holes in the wall in front of him, "What have I done?"
Later, Alfred and Tim who are in the kitchen, see the red taillights of a motorcycle speeding off down the driveway, prompting them both to head up to Richards's room, finding it empty with a note on the bed. They both read it once before heading down to the cave and hands it to Bruce, who sighs looking at the sleeping woman in the bed next to him.
I am leaving you all this note; because I know I cannot stay. I can't give you a decent explanation for my actions other than my own damn pride demanded I do it, I never intended it to go this far, I never wanted to hurt her. But I have, and for that I can never forgive myself, much less ask any of you to do so.
Bruce I don't know if I will ever come back or if I will ever be welcome in your house again, but I wish you all the best in case we never see each other again. Tim, you are a brother to me and I hope that you one day will be the man I have failed to become. Alfred, I will always remember the lessons you taught me how to act and behave, now more than ever when I failed to abide by them. Raven, I will understand if you will never speak to me again, I know you must hate me now on the same level as the dragon and Slade and I deserve it. But for what it's worth, I love you and I am truly sorry.
Yours in disgrace Richard John Grayson
"She will need Diana." Bruce sighs after reading it. "Alfred will you pass me the phone?"
"Bruce, talk to me." Diana says as she goes over the photos in the kitchen, she would have to settle with them till Raven wakes up again, Bruce isn't sure how much her system can handle at the moment.
"Richard, was… not happy about the trip they took into the Pit." Bruce says while staring into the table. "I am not sure if it was because of the lack of control he had or if because he was sidelined by her… But this weekend, Alfred suggested that I take him and Tim away, to let Raven and Richard figures out their feelings they had for each other. Richard had other plans and wanted her to ask to be rescued. On the morning we left, he drugged her, dressed her up in her costume, gagged and suspended her in a cell in the cave where her powers were taken away from her. In the cell she wasn't allowed to sleep and fear gas was slowly filling the cell, while he went about his day, even leaving the cave in search of a drug dealer. I have pieced together that happened, while dressed in civilian he approached the dealer, but he had been made and was continuously drugged for three days before being discarded in a trash pile, leaving Raven alone in the cell to dehydrate to what you see." He says without meeting her stare, instead favoring the table surface.
"And he is, where?" Diana asks in a hard edge in her voice.
"Gone, I thought he would be man enough to face up to what he did, but he ran, leaving this behind." Bruce says handing her the folded note, which she reads before sighing.
"You have talked to her?" Diana asks putting down the letter while rubbing her eyes.
"The two times she was up to it." Bruce says. "She is confused, unsure if it was punishment for some failure on her part. But most of all she doesn't understand why her closest friend would do this to her. So far, she doesn't know about the letter or him leaving."
"What will you do?" She continues.
"Depends on her and how much of an effect it will have on her, but I will not stand in the way if she wishes to leave."
"And if I wish her to?" Diana asks, Bruce is wounded but doesn't let it show, for Diana to suggest this is showing he has lost her trust in the matter.
"I will not stop you, only urge you to listen to her wishes." He says, still boring holes in the desk.
"And I will. What are you going to tell the others?"
"That Nightwing is gone to parts unknown after causing a near fatal situation in the cave for Raven." Bruce replies. "I won't go into details, she doesn't deserve that."
"You are right." Diana sighs. "Let me know when she is awake."
"I will." Bruce says as she leaves the kitchen.
"Sister?" Diana asks as she approaches the bed in the cave.
"D… Diana?" Raven asks weakly before she turns slightly to regard her visitor.
"It is, I came as soon as I heard. How are you feeling?" Diana asks as she takes the seat Bruce had been occupying most of the time.
"Confused…hollow somehow." Raven replies. "I just don't know why he did it?"
"Neither do we." Diana admits.
"Again I felt prepared to open my heart to someone and again they turn on me." Raven whispers to the ceiling.
"I cannot imagine what it must be like." Diana says. "But I know no one deserved what you went through. If you want me to, I will find him."
"Doesn't matter, he is gone from here." Raven waves her off.
"You know?" Diana asks.
"I can no longer sense him in the house over us or anywhere near here, but I severed the bond I had formed with him." Diana nods at this.
"He is, he left a letter, Bruce has it if you want to read it." Raven nods as well.
"How long does Bruce say I am stuck here?"
"Not a second longer than you wish to." Diana says quickly.
"I meant in bed." Raven says with a weak smile. "I won't let one man, close to my heart as he was, let his rogue actions break me where Ares failed, not now."
"Spoken like a true Amazon, you make us proud." Diana says with a smile as she gives Raven a gentle hug, which Raven returns with a weak one of her own. "Bruce says it will take perhaps two weeks for you to be back to full strength."
"Ok. And how long do you reckon it will take for the League to decide on the trials?" Raven asks while Diana sits back down.
"End of the week, some are more up for debate than others, Cassandra included."
"Figured she would. Would you get Bruce down here, I have something I need to ask him." Diana nods before leaving, returning a few moments later with the man.
"You had something to ask me?" He says.
"A suggestion, when you announced to us that you wanted to try all the Titans and unaffiliated heroes, you didn't seem to have a backup plan for those who failed." Raven starts as Diana sits down while Bruce remains standing.
"And you took the others away to talk about it?" He asks.
"Yes. Many of these heroes are loners in the field and aren't used to operate alongside others, something that the League is built around. If we just let them go again they will continue in the same track and not learn how to act as a team, know that there are others than themselves fighting, that sort of thing. What we agreed on was that this was the kind of thing the Teen Titans taught and perhaps should continue to teach." Raven says.
"You want to reform the Titans?" Diana asks.
"We agreed that it would be a good place to teach young heroes about being on a team, making them better candidates for the League the next time they get asked." Raven continues.
"It is a good idea, but there are factors like team dynamics, leadership, location and such. But you haven't asked me anything yet." He notes.
"At the time, I was thinking that one of us older Titans would lead or something, but in case they all pass, I will ask you to perhaps let Tim do it?" Bruce looks at her in surprise. "We saw some at his age on the station and he has the skills. We haven't planned this very far, but I do realize that not everyone can live and work in the same building 24/7 like we did." Bruce regards her for a long minute turning over the idea over in his head several times.
"It's a good idea, when you have the details let me know, we will supply you with a list of candidates before that." He says.
"But will you have the time for such an undertaking?" Diana asks.
"I was thinking about that at least the West Team rotates to spend time with the new team during weekends, letting them govern themselves during weekdays or something like that." Raven replies.
"We will have a look at it, but you need your rest and water." Bruce says, getting a nod from her.
"That I do, but if you don't mind, I hear he left a letter behind?" Bruce nods at her and unfolds it after pulling it out of his jacket pocket and hands it to her before guiding Diana away, Raven sighs unhappily after reading it, her mind even more confused than it was before.
The Watchtower, a week and a half later:
"So you made it? Congratulations." Raven says as she meets with Cyborg, Starfire and Beastboy on the satellite in one of the smaller meeting rooms.
"Hey Rae and thanks." Cyborg waves with his feet on the table while leaning back in his seat.
"Yes I would also like to thank you." Starfire says as she floats over the floor, smiling broadly.
"Yeah thanks, though I thought we wouldn't make it at one point." Beastboy says as Raven enters and closes the door behind her. "So only Rob is missing now?" Raven ducks her head slightly at the mention a week and a half after the incident, she is still 2kg short of her old weight, but her cloak hides it.
"I have to be the bringer of bad news, Nightwing isn't coming. A week and a half ago he caused an accident in the cave that could have proved fatal. Batman was furious and Nightwing left that night, we haven't heard from him since." Raven sighs as she sits down with the stacks of paper in front of her.
"Dude?! You serious?" Beastboy asks, getting a nod from her while the others stare in surprise at her.
"You aren't going to tell us what?" Cyborg asks after a few seconds.
"Yes, please elaborate, why did friend Nightwing choose to leave?" Starfire continues.
"I can't and we won't find him unless he wants to be found again." Raven sighs.
"Don't you two have some kinda bond you could use?" Beastboy asks.
"I… severed it." Raven admits getting more stares. "Look it's not really a subject I can talk about right now. So should we see who might be good candidates?" She suggests, Cyborg nods while looking at her the other two just shrug. "Ok, first candidate is Zachary Zatara, magician, can only affect inanimate objects and magical beings, the reason he failed was that he did not show any team spirit, actually proved a danger to one of them." Raven says as she passes the files around, all with Zachary's file on top."
"Yeah, heard he was the only one that didn't join us for the special mission." Cyborg says as he browses the file as the others read it more intently. "And that he sent you and Kid Devil to hell?"
"He did, resulting in Kid Devil getting clobbered by a group of those demons you met initially in the Pit and I got soaked in sulfur." Raven says. "Personally, I think he needs to be mentored about having powers and an attitude adjustment, but I am not sure a new team could or should do that."
"I agree and should he continue to prove a danger to his friends, it would prove most unfortunate." Starfire adds.
"But if he is a good mage, couldn't he be taught to show more consideration?" Beastboy asks.
"He could, but preferably he should be in this business to save lives when they need saving, not when he feels like it, which seems to be part of the problem." Cyborg replies. "Or am I reading it wrong?"
"Zatanna says he used to be a good kid before he got his powers, after he turned into this." Raven says having heard it from Bruce. "Star?" Raven asks noticing the alien princess sitting with her hand in the air like she was in school.
"A question, will the team not need a member skilled in the magic?"
"Na, a team needs a good leader and a few people who are good to follow the orders given, we can't expect to cover everything with this team." Cyborg counters, getting a nod from Raven in agreement, the League had started out the same way after all.
"So let's vote on him, make three piles in case we draw." Beastboy suggest. "So who wants him in?"
Five hours later they emerge from the room with a possible team, the other Titans had been surprised to find Tim's file in the pile but Raven had assured them that it was with Batman's approval that they consider him. Also much to their surprise was the ones who had been discarded by the League, most of them part of Donna's break away squad, Kid Flash included, while she herself had been judged acceptable.
Raven and the others had a semblance of pride when they look over the sheet of names; Robin, Cassandra Sandsmark, Superboy, Kid Flash, Miss Martian, Ravager, the Blue Beetle and Static.
They had agreed on this large team because of the potential of the chosen, mainly the protégé's of the founders but also allowing a few choices that seemed to have been denied because of the possibility of infiltration and simple inexperience.
Amongst the discarded from both teams are; Kid Devil, Zachary Zatara and Supergirl. Supergirl was discarded by the League because of her attitude, that seemed to lean too much on the goodwill of her cousin and Superboy got the spot on the Titan team because he needed the experience more than her, while she will continue as she has with the League. Zachary was binned due to his attitude, lack of team spirit and the possibility of him being a danger. Kid Devil went the same way, due to the problems with the deal he made with Neron, which they read that it was he would be claimed in his twenties by Neron, body and soul and that he seemed to treat everything like a game.
They also agreed about the structure of the new team, while it will govern itself during the weekdays with the manpower that could live on site, the four of the older Titans would stop by during the weekends for check up's and guidance if needed when the early phase was over. They spent some time arguing about where to base the team. Jump City was an obvious choice, but Cyborg pointed out that the city would have expectations for a new team, that had yet to prove it was capable of being in the same room with itself. Turning over several locations around the world before they settle on San Francisco, due to its lack of actual superheroes there and a rise in metahuman criminals in the city. New York was also considered heavily, but was ultimately discarded due to the presence of the League's predecessor The Justice Society in the city; the Society being a collection of aging but very capable heroes who both Wildcat, Mid-Night, Jay Garrick and Dr. Fate were members at some point.
Raven is about to head back to Gotham with the list while the others retire for food and rest before Cyborg pulls her into a vacant room, blocking the door with his body, crossing his arms over his chest and stares at her, while she looks at him for a few seconds before sighing.
"It was you he almost killed, wasn't it?" Victor says flatly.
"It is unimportant who it was." Raven shrugs.
"Rae, I can tell, my scanners say that you rapidly lost a lot of weight within the last two weeks and that you are only just recovering. Please tell me so I know how to react if Rob suddenly asks if he can crash on my couch." He pleads, waving his arms around while looking hurt.
"Vic, I shouldn't, it was an accident." Raven says.
"Rae, please, at least tell me why it was so bad you severed the link you guys had. Rob wouldn't shut up about it back when we met up after the Tower was blown up, how it made him feel special to share something like that with you."
"I…ok." Raven sighs before sitting down at the table, depositing the files she was carrying on the table. "But don't tell the others about this." She says getting a nod out of him as he sits down next to her. "You know some of the stuff I am training in is very much so I have an idea of what to do if they happen in the field. Well one of them is how to escape in case I am caught. To simulate reality, those tests are sometimes made without you knowing about it before you wake up in it. The weekend before last week, Batman decided to take Tim and Alfred to England to watch Formula One racing, leaving me and Richard to defend Gotham and, as I learned afterwards, to figure ourselves and our relationship out in peace. Nightwing made other plans and decided to discard the otherwise planned weekend, instead he chose to have me drugged, tied up and stuffed in a dark cell where I wasn't allowed sleep or a chance of actual escape while the cell slowly had fear toxin pumped into it. Let me finish." She says as she sees him about to explode. "The cell I was put in was fitted with power dampeners, leaving me with nothing, which was his point. He wanted to tell me that I was no stronger than the team and only with its help was I going to get out. Nightwing, at some point, went out to follow a lead on some petty drug dealer, he was drugged himself continuously before being found by Batman, when he got back, lying in a trash heap. By then I had been in there for three days." Raven says as she looks into her hands lying on the table, she can feel Victor is beside's himself with anger at this, but he is settling with bending the steel table out of shape with his fingers.
"I'd kill him if he was here now." He says through grinding teeth while Raven sniffs on the verge of tears by having to retell it. "Look, if you want to, I can talk to the others and make him unwanted wherever he should show his face."
"Don't, it will divide people over the matter, some will even side with him." Raven sighs. "I don't want to fight him or anyone else." Cyborg nods at this, thought it disappoints him. "Please don't tell anyone."
He sighs before embracing her. "Ok, but if he shows up near you, I am going to come running at the slightest peep."
"Thank you." Raven whispers as she returns the embrace. "But don't tell anyone."
"Don't worry, I won't. You better get back to tall dark and spooky." He says as he lets her go.
"Where are you going?" Batman asks as Raven in a new suit passes behind him in the cave while he is seated at the computer, on her way down the stairs.
"Training, as per the rules you laid down, I couldn't get out, now I have to try again." She replies but keeps walking.
"Raven, you can't." Batman says as he gets up and follows her. "I had Fate, Zatanna and Mr. Miracle look it over several times when it was built, there is no way you can get out of it." This has her stop at the top of the next flight of stairs to turn around and look at him. "It's not doubt in abilities, it's a fact."
"Then I will master the emotions that may have attracted themselves to it." Raven says before turning to continue, Batman smirks slightly before heading back up. He keeps an eye on her as she walks down the cell corridor, stopping at the one she was in to look inside of it for a few seconds before entering, sitting herself down on the ground in the center with the chains hanging around her.
"I can control the cell from up here." He says into a microphone, startling her with his voice.
"You can hear me?" Raven asks looking into the camera in the corner at the ceiling.
"I can." He says.
"Ok, I will try and meditate." Raven says as she rests her hands on her knees. "Please turn off the light and close the door."
"Let me know when you want out." Bruce replies before the door rolls shut and the lights go out, getting a little jump out of her before she settles herself.
Batman works for three hours while Raven meditates peacefully in the cell, when dinner is about to be served, Batman heads down to let her out, finding her a little irritable at the intrusion.
"There's still some stuff about it." She says as she gets to her feet.
"You walk back in by your own free will, it's a start." Bruce says guessing she would request to have the entire scenario recreated later on.
"It is." She agrees. "Dinner time?"
"Yes, also Diana has requested to have you available for a trip to Themyscira, the Feast of Five is due in two weeks time."
"A holiday?" Raven asks.
"Yes, to honor the Gods who created the Amazons." Batman says as they head out of the cell block.
"Then I go."
Raven returns after the Feast with a few new experiences to speak of, how to hunt by spear and bow, having had the good fortune of bringing down a young boar in honor of Artemis, Goddess of the Hunt. How a large supply of wheat was burned in honor of Demeter and how she got drunk during the feast for the remaining three goddesses; Aphrodite, Athena and Hestia. She insisted that everyone had to drink, and being a normal non-drinker had left her vulnerable to the power of Themyscira's wine. One bottle had been found in her bags along with a note that said, she would need it to build up her fortitude for next year's celebration, but that she was quite amusing when she couldn't walk straight. Bruce made off with a sample for testing, finding it to be at least three times stronger than any wine he had ever seen before. Alfred had taken a whiff of it before coughing, claiming that the wine would be better served as an interesting selection after the main course, preferably in very small glasses. The bottle went into the wine cellar where it would rest with a number of very expensive brands, as Bruce said it was afterall extremely rare. Raven doesn't mention it, but Diana tried to corner her once again while both were sober, this time succeeding in her efforts.
Three months after returning from Themyscira, with much training have been completed and a few League missions undertaken in between; Raven, Starfire, Cyborg and Changeling, as Garfield wanted to be known as from now on due to his age, are proud to open the doors of the new Titans Tower in San Francisco to its new occupants. Raven receives a bit of a surprise to hear that the other three would stay permanently, citing their own need to stay on the ground and retrain themselves and make sure the new group didn't end in a massive brawl. Which seemed to be very likely between Cassandra and Ravager who seemed to take an immediate dislike to one another.
Time passes for them all, with slight changes to the new team of Titans, with Ravager leaving, Kid Devil joining, Starfire and Garfield leaving to join the Doom Patrol and Zatara joining briefly before leaving again.
Luthor awoke after spending a year in a coma like state with no memory of anything after his disappearance with Darkseid, J'onn did a throughout search, and Raven double checked to be sure, but it proved to be correct. To say Luthor was furious was an understatement, claiming he was a hero to be celebrated not incarcerated for his actions against Darkseid, that is when Raven drops a large pile of newspapers in his cell. The most soul shattering for the man was the one on top with the headline; LexCorp sold to Wayne Enterprises. After searching him as well, Fate and the returned Zatanna agreed with Raven that the Spectre had taken his vengeance, robbing a man with a photographic memory of years of his life.
Doomsday proved to be an embarrassing affair for Waller when the gray colossus was one day found missing without a trace, something the League knew they would mourn the day he was found again, if that was not bad enough for the woman, Bane decided to leave as well at some point without her knowledge.
Where Nightwing went, no one knew, only that Batman knew he was alive due to strange random acts of heroics around the globe and that he was monitoring his bank account. J'onn offered to scan the planet for him, but was told not to risk himself for someone who wasn't in need of being found.
Authors Notes: Nightwing on the run. A new team of Titans. And a new city for Raven to help defend, but with a broken heart.
Will Nightwing return on his own? Will the others go look for him? And what kind of people would want to see Raven dead or gone? Keep your eyes peeled, there is a another book coming; more surprises, more Amazons, more Nazies, more crazies, a city brought to it's knees and Emptiness Shaped Like God.
Keep a lookout for; Raven Rising: Two Years Later