AN: This one came out of a picture prompt on Tumblr from Writeworld. I've never been compelled to write a piece like this until now, but it didn't let me go until it was done...
Warnings: Suicide (attempt? not going to say) and language.
Disclaimer: I don't own the Titans.
The Back Door
Raven kept her leotard on, even though the sensation of warm water soaking through the fabric was discomforting in a way she couldn't quite describe. When they found her body, she wanted to retain at least some bit of her dignity.
The glamorous, hyper-sexualized Hollywood version wasn't for her; she wanted a relatively clean, uneventful suicide.
Rolling up her sleeves to the elbow, she stared at her wrists, then the blade lying on the porcelain, then her wrists again. The ever-so-faint whispers of blue tracing under her skin were harder to find against a gray background than if she'd had normal skin— one more reminder of her heritage, her purpose. A destiny she had to subvert.
This was the only way she could prevent Trigon's coming.
Raven did her best to tune out the nagging voice in her head insisting that that was a weak excuse, that there was always hope. It didn't help matters when she realized the words were coming in a distinctive, squeaky treble. Since when had he been the voice of her conscience?
A deep breath and a recitation of her mantra helped banish the thoughts back behind a wall of nothing, and she built her empathic shields until she could feel no residual emotions from anyone. All that remained was her decision, the cold, impartial knowledge that she was doing what was best for the world.
The irony of it was, none of them would ever know that. Her note, the only one left after so many long-winded explanations written with impeccable penmanship were crumbled into dust, simply read, "Not your fault. Thank you for everything, friends."
The inadequacy of those eight words gnawed at her, and the sorceress nearly climbed from the tub and set off to write another note, but the sloshing warmth around her reminded her of just how far she'd come already.
She was committed to this. No turning back.
Slender fingers closed around her instrument, a craft blade bought for this express purpose. Raven had briefly toyed with taking a knife from the kitchen, but decided against it; she was already leaving a vacuum behind, and she didn't want an empty spot in the knife block to be an extra reminder for her friends. She was trying to make this convenient for them... as convenient as a suicide could be, in any case.
Azar, the handle was cold. She imagined the chill that was bound to extend to the blade, thought of the icy prick before it sliced through skin and pain overwhelmed other sensation. Should she put the blade in the water for a few minutes to warm it up?
A shake of her head dispelled that notion as well. It was immaterial, and further considerations were only delaying the process and giving her time to chicken out.
With another deep, calming breath, she lowered her empathic shields and reached out for her sleeping friends, wanting to feel their familiar auras one last time.
She sent her sixth sense toward Cyborg's room first, skimming across his dreams and suppressing a smile as she found his dreams filled with pink hair and a happier future than was likely to come for either of the two. Ever the older brother, he would take this harder, perhaps, than any of them. It was inevitable that he would blame himself despite her note, and she knew he would withdraw into the garage for even longer stretches than usual. It was one of the few things they had consistently done as a pair; the companionable silence, the zen-like loose focus, and the satisfaction of a job well done were therapeutic for both of them. She would miss those times.
Robin was next, the leader who held his ground so well against metahumans that it was sometimes difficult to remember that he had no powers of his own. His dreams tonight were bittersweet, recollections of family lost and family left behind. All things considered, though, those were better than the dreams he had most nights... and the ones he would have. He was almost certainly going to be the one to find her, being the earliest riser of all of them. It was because of him that Raven had chosen to leave a body behind in lieu of simply disappearing from their lives; as morbid as it was, she knew he would have to see her corpse before he would believe her suicide was genuine. The last thing the Titans needed was to be torn apart by his refusal to believe she was dead.
With a sigh, she moved to Starfire, the sister of her heart, as they had taken to calling each other in moments of heightened emotion. Despite her outward protests, the sorceress had grown fond of their "girl nights," the chance to paint each other's nails and partake in other such rituals reserved solely for their time together. Raven had experienced most of these for the first time with the Tamaranean; her childhood on Azarath had been spartan at best, and she would never have tried such things for herself if not for the alien's insistence. Raven was entirely unsure what effect her suicide would have on Starfire, apart from the obvious; they had never discussed the topic, so she had no idea how it was viewed in the orange-skinned girl's culture. It was one of so many conversations they would never get the chance to have with each other.
She wasn't even going to try predicting Beast Boy's reaction to her death; it could be anything from a slight rise in aggression to leaving the team outright. The boy was a complete wildcard, and she had long since stopped trying to wrap her head around that enigma. Raven reached out to his room tentatively, hoping that for once his sleep wasn't fraught with nightmares. Yet another regret to add to the mounting list was that she wouldn't be there anymore to chase the bad dreams away...
Raven's eyebrow rose. Beast Boy wasn't in his room. She checked the kitchen, the rocky shore, every place he was prone to wandering at night, and found nothing. In a last-ditch effort, she closed her eyes, concentrated her empathy, and sent a tendril out to Terra's cave.
Nothing. He was nowhere to be found.
With a sense of disappointment heavy in her heart, she reeled her sense back in, and when she opened her eyes, he was there.
Beast Boy was there in the bathroom with her, standing with the note in his hand, and he was staring at her with an expression that spoke of utter betrayal. She hadn't seen that look on his face even after Terra tried to kill them all... and the waves of hurt and barely-restrained fury washing off of him were enough to make her build her shields back up again.
"This is it?" he asked, spitting out each word like a mouthful of vinegar. "This is what you're leaving us with?"
Raven didn't trust herself with words; merely nodded.
He stood there for a moment, his face contorting into a plethora of configurations, before it settled back into its former position. A single word came quivering from his mouth. "Why?"
The sorceress searched for something to say, torn between telling him everything and keeping quiet for his own good. In the end, she decided it would be easier on him if he simply thought she was being selfish. "You don't understand," she mumbled, eyes downcast.
"You're damn right I don't understand," he growled. "What the hell could possibly make you want to do this, Raven?" She had never heard him swear before; the effect was so jarring that she sat in silence, eyes wide, until his face was less than a foot from hers. "Answer me!"
Raven jumped, and the knife she had long since forgotten was still in her hand dropped into the water, barely missing her leg as it clunked against the bottom of the tub. A squeak slipped from her mouth, and her whole body trembled at she tried to return his gaze and failed. "It's the only way," she babbled, staring at her distorted legs under the water. "Please believe me, I've thought of everything and there's no other option. I have to do this."
Hot, heavy breaths assaulted her for a few interminable seconds before retreating. When she was finally able to look up, the changeling had walked over to the closed toilet and sat down, fingers steepled. "Okay," he said.
Of all the possible responses Raven might have prepared for, that was definitely not on the list. "What?" she asked, certain she couldn't have heard him clearly.
Beast Boy gave her a tiny smile laden with grief. "I said okay. See, I can pull you out of that tub, take away the knife, make you promise to live, but really, I can't stop you if you're gonna go through with it." He shifted, hands coming to rest on his knees. "But you're not gonna die alone, Raven. No one else who matters to me is ever going to die alone."
His choice of words raised some serious questions, but Raven pushed them aside for the moment. "You're... okay with this?"
A horrible amalgamation of a snort and a sob came from the green boy's mouth. "No, I'm not fucking okay with this, Raven!" he exclaimed, tears welling in his eyes. "I'm about the furthest thing from okay there is. But if you don't have a choice, then neither do I."
She cocked her head to the side. "What do you mean?"
"I'm going to sit here and watch you die," he said. "You're going to slit your wrists and bleed out in that tub, and I'm going to hold your hand while you leave me forever. When it's over, I'll drain the tub and wash all the blood off of your body, make sure your eyes are closed before rigor mortis sets in. I'll sit here with your corpse for hours, waiting for the inevitable... and then I'll take care of that too."
Raven's face crinkled in confusion. "The inevitable?"
A shrug. "Your sphincters are going to fail, and all your bodily wastes are going to come out. That's part of dying. I'll clean that up too; no one else will know."
She grimaced. If she were to be honest with herself, the idea of having someone hold her hand and usher her out of the world was oddly comforting. Still, the thought of Beast Boy cleaning up after... that... disturbed Raven severely. She hadn't thought through the death process that completely, and she'd have preferred to go without the information. "Why are you doing this?"
Beast Boy let out a long sigh. "Well, I've already told you one reason," he said, standing and walking over to the tub. "The other one is more self-serving."
"And that is...?"
He knelt to lock his gaze with hers. "I want you to look me in the eye when you throw your life away, Raven." Green irises blazed with conviction. "I want you to see how much you're hurting me when you do it, hurting all of us. We all care about you; we'd do anything to help you if you would just ask... and yet you're running out the back door, not caring what losing you forever will do to us. Well, I'm not gonna let that happen. You have to face this, Raven. You're going to see it rip me apart, see how goddamn selfish you're being. If you really want to kill yourself, you'd better own up to it— all of it."
The sorceress's lip quivered as she reached into the water and found the knife. It was warm now; there would be no chill as it cut through skin and tendon and found the veins. She lifted it past the surface and felt its balance in her hand. Had it always been so heavy?
The blade came to rest on her skin, and every instinct screamed at her to pull it away. Only the repeated, "It's for the best," that had made the transition from inside her head to her lips kept her from throwing the knife across the room. As she steeled herself for the fateful movement, she brought her eyes up to meet Beast Boy's.
"Raven," he whispered, a tear spilling over to slide down his cheek, "Please don't do this. Please."
She willed the blade downward in spite of his pleading, and gritted her teeth as the very tip of the blade slipped into the skin. Pain blossomed, no worse than any of the myriad cuts and abrasions she sustained each time the Titans' alarm sounded, but it was a reminder of the reality of the situation.
And if she went through with this, she would never answer another alarm with her friends.
A myriad of thoughts swirled around in her head, each brought up and weighed in fractions of a second. The city needed her. Did its need for her now outweigh its eventual destruction? No. Her team needed her. Would they be able to move on without her? Probably. Her friends needed her.
Her... friends needed her.
All of Raven's life, she'd never had a single friend, and now that she had four of the closest, most loyal companions she could have imagined, she was abandoning them with the full knowledge of how much it would hurt them.
With a sob, Trigon's Gem threw the instrument of her death away, not particularly caring where it landed. No sooner had it clattered on the ground than there was a presence behind her in the tub, wiry arms wrapping around her torso and holding her close. Morbid curiosity got the best of her, and she dropped her shields and reached for his emotions. The enormous swell of gratitude was what broke her; he was so glad that she was alive, and she had almost taken that away from him right before his eyes.
Raven wept in ugly, hacking gulps and gasps and coughs, and that was okay. She would be okay. And she made a promise to herself right there, with Beast Boy in the bathtub, both of them drenched in lukewarm water and tears, that she would never run out that back door.