TITLE: Inner Peace
AUTHOR: Jos Mous
DISCLAIMER: I don’t own any of these characters, I’m not making a profit.
RATING: G to PG
NOTE: I wrote this fic because someone requested me to do so. However, I’ve never seen even a single episode of Teen Titans or any of the comics for that matter. So please try to keep that in mind when faced with any OOC-ness.
The door to Raven’s room closed quietly behind her.
Another day, another villain. Well, not much of a villain, Raven considered. More of a thug really. Just another guy with more brawn than brains. Someone without the imagination to be evil, but with that special kind of nasty stupidity that made him much, much worse than evil.
And also someone with a gun.
Raven shook her head. It’d be best not to think about that right now. It’d be best not to think about that forever.
She sat down on the floor, closed her eyes and calmed her breathing. The ocean may be more soothing, but the quiet of her inner sanctum was what she needed right now.
There was a knock on the door. Raven sighed. Of course she’d be interrupted.
“Come in,” she said, without turning around or even opening her eyes.
The door opened and someone quietly stepped inside.
“Uhm. . . are you OK?” It was Robin.
“I’m fine now,” said Raven.
“Starfire is gonna be OK,” said Robin.
“Good,” said Raven.
“Are you sure you’re OK?”
“For the moment,” said Raven.
“Oh. Right. I’ll be. . . I’ll be leaving now then.”
Raven inhaled deeply.
Inner peace, that was important. Don’t think about guns, don’t think about blood. And most importantly, don’t think about rage.
For the next few days, Raven didn’t emerge from her room unless it was to eat or go to the bathroom. She was mercifully left alone and spent almost all of her time meditating. Unfortunately, inner peace always seemed just out of her reach. It’d be infuriating if she wasn’t working so hard to remain calm.
Then came the day that Starfire was released from hospital and returned to the tower. Raven watched Starfire coming back in from a distance. Robin, Cyborg and Beast Boy were all fussing over Starfire, so Raven went unnoticed, which was good. There was also the knowledge that underneath the young alien’s clothes were still bandages which made Raven’s hands clench into fists, which was bad.
Noticing that the small group was heading her way, Raven quickly turned around and returned to her room.
Inner peace was still lurking just out of reach when Raven’s concentration was broken by someone knocking on the door. Sighing, she got up and walked out of the room. She wasn’t very surprised to find Starfire standing in the hallway.
“Starfire,” said Raven.
“You were not present when I returned,” said Starfire.
“I was meditating.”
“Yes. The others told me you are doing that a lot for the past few days.”
Raven said nothing, and just stared at the girl
“Am I the cause of that?” Starfire asked.
“What makes you say that?” said Raven.
Starfire looked uncomfortable for a moment. “Robin told me what you did after I was shot.”
Starfire looked up, waiting for a response. When it wasn’t forthcoming, she continued.
“Is it true?”
“Depends on how much Robin was exaggerating,” said Raven.
“He told me that the man is sleeping deeply,” said Starfire.
“That’s broadly true.”
“And that the doctors do not know when he will wake up again, if ever.”
Again, Starfire waited until she realised that having a conversation with Raven was usually a lot of one-sided work.
“How did that occur? Why would you make that occur?”
“He needed to be taken down.”
“Is that all?”
“Should there be more?”
Starfire looked intently at Raven for a moment, then sighed. “No. I suppose there should not be.” She turned around. “I shall leave you to your meditating now.”
Once she was alone in her room again, Raven closed her eyes and steadied her breathing. It didn’t help much. Inner peace seemed further away than ever.
Raven stared up at the dark ceiling. She’d given up on meditating since it didn’t seem to be working so she was trying thinking instead.
Nature/Nurture is what the humans called it. The way you are depended on the way you were born and the way you were raised. Well, she’d been raised to be quiet, thoughtful and kind.
But she’d been born to be evil and cruel and that nature was forever trying to get out.
So far, her upbringing was winning. But now, ironically, her upbringing was bringing out the dark.
She. . . cared for Starfire. And the others too, of course, but Starfire most of all. She couldn’t stand the thought of her being hurt.
And then she went and got hurt.
Raven had been upset with that. Just some nasty, small-minded oaf with a gun and he nearly killed Starfire? That was intolerable. No-one was allowed to hurt Starfire. Anyone who even tried would have to suffer for that crime.
Raven hadn’t killed the man, but not because that wouldn’t have been right, but because that would’ve been the easy way out for him.
Raven shuddered. Now even caring about someone could bring out the dark. This needed to be dealt with. She couldn’t just stop caring, although she might’ve wished it.
So. . . from now on, if Starfire got hurt there was always the possibility of her becoming angry. So angry, in fact, that she’d start entertaining ideas about using blood to wash the world clean. It was important, then, to keep in mind the fact that if she went down that road, she’d end up hurting everybody.
On the other hand, if you see the girl you. . . cared for lying limp on the ground with blood flowing out of her chest, far-reaching consequences were the furthest thing from your mind.
Fear and anger brought out the dark. Fair enough. They were “negative emotions” after all. They could be driven away. But caring shouldn’t do that. Caring was all about the need to protect others.
And sometimes, the best way to protect them would be removing the threat.
Raven glared at the ceiling. She did not wish to think like that. You could also protect people by taking the blows in their stead.
Yes. That made sense. That could work.
It had been another day with another villain that needed thwarting. And thwarted she had been. Incredibly thwarted, in fact. It had been an amazing feat of thwarting in nearly every respect. You normally didn’t get that kind of thwarting nowadays.
And Robin was feeling very worried about it. He wasn’t the only one either.
“I am feeling very concerned about our good friend Raven,” said Starfire.
“Yeah, same here,” said Beast Boy.
Robin nodded. “I’m worried too, but I’m not sure why,” he said. “You have to admit that was pretty good fighting she showed today.”
“Yeah and the second we came home, she locked herself up in her room again,” said Beast Boy. “You’d almost start thinking fighting is what she lives for right now.”
“No, that is not so,” said Starfire. “I observed her when she engaged in combat. She was cold and calculating.”
“Well. . .” Beast Boy began.
“As much as you may think otherwise, this is not the way she usually conducts combat,” said Starfire. “Raven is not unfeeling. Yet today she was.”
“You’re right,” said Robin. “Someone should go talk to her.”
“Talk at her more like,” said Beast Boy.
“I shall go and have a conversation with her,” said Starfire.
“No, I think I should go,” said Robin. “I am sort of the leader after all.”
“That is true,” said Starfire. “However, this is the time for the having of the girl talk.”
Starfire knocked politely on Raven’s door. When there was no reply for some time, she knocked again, somewhat less politely. When there was still no answer, she hammered.
Finally, the door opened a fraction of an inch. Starfire took this as an invitation and went in.
She found Raven lying on her bed, staring up at the ceiling.
“I notice you are not practising your meditation,” said Starfire.
Raven said nothing. There was no point in either confirming or denying it.
“I observed you in battle today,” said Starfire. She paused the pause of someone used to having two talking people in a conversation. “I had much opportunities to observe you for it seemed that the battle never reached me. I noticed that you always made sure of that.”
Raven just lay and stared upwards.
“You must not think I am ungrateful,” said Starfire. “I appreciate that you wanted to see no harm coming to me. However, you were going over the board.”
“Can you turn your emotions off?” Raven said.
Starfire blinked twice in surprise. “Of course not. Such a thing is an impossibility.”
“Why did you ask me that question?”
“You care for me, do you not?” said Starfire.
“Yes,” Raven whispered, much to Starfire’s surprise.
“Yes. But you did not put as much effort into warding the others from the battle even though I assume you care for them as well.”
“Do you care for me more than you do for them?”
Raven just lay on her bed, staring at the ceiling, saying nothing. Yet somehow, Starfire got the impression that the girl really wanted to say something, if only she could find the right question first.
“I care for you,” Starfire tried.
A brief smile flitted over Raven’s face, but otherwise nothing happened.
Starfire decided to go for broke. “I must ask you, why are you attempting to shut us all out of your life?”
“I’ve looked at the ceiling a lot lately,” said Raven. “I got to know it pretty well. I like it. But I wouldn’t avenge it if something happened to it.”
“I think I comprehend your dilemma,” said Starfire slowly. “You fear grief may tempt you to embrace the darkness voluntarily, do you not?”
Starfire knelt down next to Raven’s bed. “Locking yourself away like you do will not make any feelings you have disappear into thin air.”
“No,” said Raven. “But they won’t grow either.”
“Save your loneliness,” said Starfire. “Your fear, your grief, your bitterness. If you choose to live like this you will not, perhaps, succumb to the darkness inside of you, but likewise will you never see the light again. You shall have an existence in the shadows, an existence that cannot be called a life.”
“Perhaps that’s better,” said Raven. “Considering the alternatives.”
“I disagree,” said Starfire. “Witnessing you become a ghost hurts me, hurts us, more than anything else could.”
For a moment Raven looked uncertain.
“Please come with me,” Starfire pleaded. “I. . . need you.”
Raven closed her eyes. She wasn’t crying, but Starfire could, as it were, see the tears that weren’t there.
“Will you come with me?” Starfire whispered.
“It’d be dangerous,” said Raven.
“We have faced many dangers already and we have overcome them. We shall overcome this as well.”
“But the danger could be me.”
“Then I shall overcome you.”
Raven actually smiled. “Promise?”
“You are my friend. I would not let anyone else do it.”
“Friend. . .” said Raven.
Starfire reached out to take Raven’s hand and was mildly surprised when the girl didn’t pull away. “Friends,” she said. “Friends that care for each other far more deeply than usual.”
Raven looked up and found Starfire’s face to be an unreadable mask.
“Come with me,” she said, smiling.
Raven nodded and slowly stood up, not letting go of the girl’s hand. “Starfire, I’ve got to know. How deeply?”
“I think we shall have to find out,” said Starfire. “But first, we shall need something to eat. I am uncertain about you, but I have worked up quite the appetite.”
“Hmm,” said Raven.
“Might I suggest the little Italian place that recently opened business? It looked quite promising, I must say. Perhaps the two of us can go and have a meal there.”
Raven almost grinned. “Sounds good,” she said.
And with that she stepped out of her shadowy room and into the brightly lit hallway beyond with Starfire at her side.