Author's Note: Hey guys look! I'm not dead! Seriously what type of person promises an update within the week and then just disappears for six months? Me apparently. Anyways, I'd like to promise that this is the last time this will happen, but that would probably just be a lie. Just be thankful I've gotten this far without giving up. On that note I'd like to make it clear that I am NOT giving up on this story. However I did change the estimated chapter count from 25 to 20 because it was going to be way too drawn out the other way. Anyways, I personally think this chapter's crap but that's probably just because I hated writing it so much. Anyways lets just get this over with. Also, because I took such a long break I might be a little out of touch with the characters so let me know if they seem OOC with the rest of the story.
BB: Oh Striper you're back!
Me: Awww… did you miss me?
BB: UH DUHHH! You left me all alone with meany Raven! I knew you we're going to come back though because me and Rae Rae needed to kiss and makeup and then go back to living happily ever after!
Me: Right, because that's totally what happens next…
BB: I knew it! Now come on! Lets get to the story already!
Me: Beast boy, aren't you forgetting something?
BB: What? Oh right. TIGERSTRIPER DOES NOT OWN TEEN TITANS OR BATMAN BECAUSE THEY ARE PROPERTY OF DC COMICS! NOW COME ON LETS GO SEE THAT KISS.
Me: Uh, don't you think you're getting a little a head of yourself- never mind, you're right lets go.
Chapter Nine: Given the Choice
"Mr. Wayne I hate to ask such a large favor from you, but giving the circumstances you can see how I don't have many other options. I don't want this to act as proof of what kind of person I am."
"I understand why you would be concerned giving your attachments, but I can assure you that I do not see this as a mark of character. Dick has given me his word that you don't reflect your heritage and I trust his judgment, besides, do you really think I would have let hi continue to associate with you if I thought you were anything other than who you say you are? Believe it or not but I look out for my boys"
"I don't doubt it, So you will help me?"
"Yes, concidering what you've told me about the subject I believe it is in the best interest of both the girl and my company to help you."
"I had hoped that you would agree, unfortunately I have to be getting back to Jump City, but I will be in contact."
"Actually I'd prefer if you didn't, security precautions, I will personally take care of the details and ensure your friend gets the help and protection she needs. If there are any complications I will contact you through Dick."
"Thank you Mr. Wayne, I can't express how much this means to me."
"I'm happy I could help Ms. Roth, now if you'd excuse me, I have prior engagements that I must tend to, I trust you can find your way out."
"Of course, pleasure doing business with you."
"Oh and Rachel, watch out for Dick for me."
Raven paced in front of Nightwing's door. She had spent the better part of her sleepless night thinking over the events of the past month and the solution was clear. She did not particularly like it, but there was no other answer.
Hesitantly she knocked on the door. As much as she hated it, she knew the experience would be painful. Like it or not she had grown an attachment to these people, or at least a sense of indebtedness to them, and she knew doing this would hurt them. She heard bumping around behind the door until it finally slid open.
"Raven?" Dick asked behind groggy eyes. Perhaps she should have waited until later in the day. Her lack of sleep had distorted her sense of time, to her it was already considerably late, but anyone who had exhibited normal sleep habits that night would just be waking up.
"I need to talk to you. Do you have a minute?" She asked, her voice coming off a little to harshly, it seemed her lack of sleep had a bigger effect on her mood than she realized.
"Uh sure, come on in." He said and stepped aside as to let her in. He sat down in his desk chair and gestured for her to take a seat on his bed, but she did not.
"So, what's up?" He asked when she didn't say anything.
"Robin I'm leaving the Titans." She finally said and his eyes snapped wide open and then he blinked rapidly, in shock, as if he didn't quite hear her right.
"I can't do this anymore Dick. I feel like I'm suffocating." She elaborated.
"I don't understand. Is there something we've done to make you decide this?" He asked.
"No, not at all. You were all put in an impossible situation, and you all did your best to stand by and help me get better. And for that I am grateful. But I can't keep living my life in the shadow of someone I used to be." Raven explained.
"Raven, you can't just leave, where would you go?" He questioned. He knew this whole thing had taken a toll on her, but she had seemed to be getting better; he didn't know what had changed. But in any case he had never thought she would actually leave.
"I'm not sure. Somewhere where no one knows who I am. I need to figure out who I am for myself." Dick sighed, he hated to admit it, but he knew where she was coming from, he himself had left for the same reasons.
"Listen, I know this is hard for you, I've been where you are, I know how hard it is to not know who you are, to feel like you're just living in the shadow of someone you can never be. But you've been through this before, and every time you came out okay. But you can't leave Raven, we need you, with everything that's happened with shriek, I don't know how we'll do it if you leave." He was resorting to desperate reasoning, he knew it, but he needed her to stay.
"I'm sorry Dick. But this time isn't like all the others."
"You're serious about this aren't you" He said, dropping his head to his hands.
"Yes. I am."
"I wish you would stay. At least until we've captured Shriek." It wasn't a matter of losing her anymore, it was a matter of them losing.
"I'm sorry. I've already made my decision. I'm leaving tonight." She finally said and walked out of the room before he could argue further.
Raven sat in the center of her room placing various items into the small suitcase. She didn't need much, most of her things were foreign to her and she could hardly find a reason to slow herself down by bringing them along. She had lasted a long time without worldly possessions; she couldn't see why she wouldn't do it again.
She picked up another sweater, it was a pale blue turtleneck, she'd never worn it but figured it would be useful in the winter months. She quickly folded it and threw it into the pile with the rest of her clothes.
After her morning discussion with Robin she went straight to packing. She may not need all her possessions, but she wanted to make sure everything was accounted for. So she knew what she was taking with, and what she was leaving behind.
She had yet to tell the rest of the Titans. Although she was sure Dick had let it slip the moment he saw them. But it was an event she was dreading more and more by the moment. She was good at saying goodbye. But she was used to being on the other side of the equation, and the thought of causing others pain due to her departure thoroughly disheartened her.
She couldn't bear having to see the look on Kori's face, or feel the sadness drop in her stomach. She didn't want to think about what it would do to Victor, or Garfield. Especially Garfield, she had done enough hurting him lately.
"So you're really leaving?" The voice boomed into her room and she looked up to see Victor leaning against the side of her doorframe.
"Yes." She replied quickly.
"Why? If it's about last night let me explain. I don't want ya leaving just because of me." He said walking further into her room.
"No. It's not because of that. I'm just tired of not knowing who I am." Victor couldn't argue with that. He knew exactly what it felt like, after all he'd never had his memory wiped, or rather he never had it wiped permanently.
"Well you should talk to Gar before you go, you owe him that." He said before walking out of her room.
He was right of course, but she wouldn't do it. There was nothing she could say that would justify what she was doing in his eyes.
Raven had a lot of files. She didn't know what she kept half of them for. Most of them were crime cases, she kept her eyes out for ones of importance, especially ones pertaining to her fake identity. If she was leaving it meant that she was leaving as Rachel Roth, and she needed anything that validated that person. She wondered how she got her hands on such official documents, then remembered who exactly her team leader was, figuring his father most likely had a part in it.
Close to the last file was one that she found especially out of place. It was labeled S. Hiker. It didn't look like another criminal file, but when she opened it the first page was a judicial document. It looked the same as any of the other hearing report, arrested for blowing up a bank, sentenced fifteen years in prison for attempted terrorism and mass larceny. But Raven then flipped to the second page in the file.
"After further analysis and review, Samantha Elizabeth Hiker has been declared mentally unstable and has been called for immediate transfer to Arkham Asylum."
Reason for reanalysis: Unknown. Reason for transfer: Also Unknown. Whatever reason she was transferred, it wasn't legitimate. She flipped to the next page, it was the psychiatrist report, there was one for every month since the patient was admitted. Usually the reports were only sent to the judge, Raven wondered why she had them. They all said the same thing; the patent is stable but does not respond to treatment, release unadvised.
Then she came across something different, a letter.
"Dear Mrs. Roth,
I would like to thank you both for your continual interest in Samantha, along with the generous donations your company has provided me to continue her program. I understand your concerns relating Mrs. Hiker, so far she has done considerably well and has been responding well to her medication, although I will need to do further tests to develop a more intensive investigation of her condition, which I believe I can create a more permanent method of managing her outbursts. As of now she still proves to be a danger to the society but I am certain with further research I can find a manageable way to ensure the suppression of Samantha's abilities so she may safely be reinserted into society. As of now I am using a physiological approach to restricting Samantha's abilities, but I am planning on moving into a neurological territory and find more permanent solution, however these test may become more invasive and dangerous to the patient and I will not proceed without your permission. Again I thank both you and Wayne Industries for your helpful donations and look forward to continue working closely with you for a cure to Mr. Hiker's condition.
Regards, Doctor Arnold Bryson, MD. PhD."
It was her. She rigged the trial. But why. Who was so important that she would go to such lengths for? She stared at the file S. Hiker, Samantha Hiker. The name sounded familiar. She looked at the dates again. February 2007. Less than a year after her last memory. What had she been doing before the Titans found her? She tried to find something, retracing her steps, everything up to the time when she left Azarath made sense; the memories were clear and linear, but as she tried to recount her steps from then on they became more jumbled and dream like until they disappeared all together. She remembered another witch, Zatana, who said she could take her to people who could use her help, then she found out who she was, it didn't go over well. After that she moved from town to town, helping anyone who needed it. She had been on her way up from San Diego, trying to get to Coast City after she heard about an earthquake; she was passing through Jump when her memories faltered, but according to Robin that was nearly six months before she met the titans. So where had she been for those six months, why had she stayed in Jump City for so long?
Samantha. Whoever she was, she was important enough for Raven to commit a federal crime for, and apparently get Dick's father to help. The name didn't ring any bells. But S. Hiker did. She knew she had seen it before the letters were so familiar.
Then it clicked. S. Hiker. Rearrange the letters, it was Shriek. It couldn't be possible, she thought, she was just connecting imaginary dots out of desperation. But still, it was the only thing even close to a lead she had. She looked back at the file, reading back over the criminal record, she didn't just attempt terrorism, she blew up a bank safe, stealing over four hundred thousand dollars, without using any explosives. Just like the building Gar was in.
Picking herself up off the floor she grabbed the file and fled to Dick's room. Even if she was wrong, the chance that she was right; changed everything.
"Raven? I thought you'd be gone by now." Robin said when she teleported straight through his door.
"I think I know who Shriek is."
"Look at this, it's a case from seven years ago, some girl named blew up a bank and stole half a million dollars without using explosives. Her name was S. Hiker." Raven told him, shoving the file into his hands. She focused on his expression as he sifted through the papers, she could see him making all the same conclusions as she did.
"This changes everything." He told her.
"I know, and look at this." She said, pulling out the letter from Dr. Bryson.
"Raven, what were you doing bribing a psychiatrist?" He asked her, trying to hide the condemning tone in his voice.
Had he really forgotten already? "I don't know, I was hoping you could tell me."
"This is the first I've heard of any of this."
"Well it's our only lead, and it could be a good one." Our only lead, Robin speculated, so she still thinks of herself as one of us.
"Yeah, I, we could really use you're help with this one Raven."
"I know. Which is why I've decided to stay." She could feel his aurora fill with hope, she continued. "Just until we've taken down Shriek. Then I'm gone Richard." She told him before walking out of his room. She still wanted to leave, but it was better than before. At least now he had the time to convince her to stay.
He was sitting on the rooftop when she found him, staring at the sky, it was getting late and the sun had begun to creep down towards the earth, leaving the sky to emanate with purple and orange hues.
She sighed as she came up behind him. She hated it, but Victor was right, he didn't deserve to be left in the dark.
"May I sit?" She asked, not waiting for a response before she sat down on the ledge of the roof. He was quiet and unmoving, but she could guess what he was thinking.
"So you're leaving." She didn't know why but the statement stung. He was sad, but the bitterness in his voice took the dominant role.
"I was." Hope. It was small, but she could feel it. "But it looks like I'll have to post pone."
"What made you change your mind?" He asked. She knew what he wanted her to say, that she couldn't leave them because they were her family, where she belonged, but saying that would just make her a liar.
"We found a lead on Shriek. We don't have any proof yet, but we think its connected to my past. So I've decided to stay until we've caught her." She owed them that much.
"Yes. A girl named Samantha Hiker, at least that's what we think. I'm sure Dick will fill you in on the details later." He didn't say anything. Probably trying to come up with the proper response.
"I know what you're thinking Garfield. This doesn't change anything."
"I know, it's just hard ya know. I just wish you'd let us in." Dammit why did he have to make her feel so guilty?
"I know. I'm not ignorant to the impact this has had on you and the others. But that doesn't change the way I feel."
"Why! Dammit Rae why wont you just let us in? What more can we do to prove to you that we care about you?" His sudden outburst caught her off guard.
"Garfield, I understand how frustrating this has been for you. But you can't understand how I feel about all of this."
"Because you haven't given me a chance to understand. All you do is push us a way and hide away in that cold shell of yours. Please Raven. Just let me in." His rush of negative energy was making her sick, if he didn't calm down there was no guarantee that she wouldn't fall off the roof.
"I can't Garfield. I'm sorry."
"You said things might be different once you got to know me better. But you haven't even given me the chance to do that."
He cut her off, "No, stop making excuses, everyone needs friends Rae, even you. That's all I'm asking, just give me a chance to be your friend."
I don't deserve friends Gar…
"I know what you're going to say, and it's not true. No one deserves to be alone Raven. Especially not you." He replied before standing up. She didn't know how he had read her like that.
"If you change your mind you know where to find me." And then he walked off, leaving Raven alone with the setting sun.
It was late, nearing midnight. He should go to sleep. Robin had called a meeting hours earlier, explaining the new information they had uncovered. He had also made it very clear that they were going to have a very busy next few days and Garfield was dreading the work already. But he couldn't sleep, drawn awake with the hope that she would come and accept his offer. It was a long shot, he knew, but he could help thinking that maybe he had gotten through to her.
Suddenly there was a quite rap on his door. His heart surged with hope. Don't be stupid Gar, it's probably just Dick reminding him that they had an early start tomorrow. He dragged himself to his feet, throwing a shirt on in the process before going to the open door.
So she had come after all. He stared at her, she looked as if she had been thinking hard about something for a while. She stood with her eyes downcast at her feet, as if she was admitting defeat. Realizing he had opened the door she changed her demeanor, looking at him with more confidence.
"So, how does this whole friendship thing work exactly?" She asked, a slight smile tugging at her lips. His eyes brightened, and then he smirked.
"See, I knew you'd come around eventually." His smirk turning into a laugh, and then he was grinning.
So he had gotten through after all.
AN: HOLY FREAKING SHIT! I thought I would NEVER finish this! You guys have no idea how proud of myself I am right now. Seriously what a relief. I was going to put in a part with Shriek but I decided to save it for the next chapter even though it probably would have fit better in this one. Oh well. The last part's a bit rushed but I don't freaking care. Also, you guys can probably tell, but I could really, really use a beta, I don't have the time or energy to properly edit this. So yeah, excuse the grammatical mess for the time being. So yeah, let me know what you guys think! Seriously, Reviews are my life source, I don't care if you hate it or love it, just review! :DDDDD