Number One Zero

Chapter 13

He saw the conference table flying toward him, and he knew he couldn’t dodge it. He could kick it and send it back to Raven, but that would end up hurting her and that was definitely out of the question. He knew he had to find another way.

Using the table to obscure her vision, he lied down and placed his hands above his stomach, serving as a buffer against the large object. It finally fell on top of him and its heavy mass was weighing down on him, so he used his arms to lift up the table and slide his body out. He did this without making a sound so as not to alert Raven that he was free. Once he got up, he was thankful that her back was toward him, seemingly talking to herself. He used this time to sneak up behind her, to finally end their little game.

He was finally done playing; it was time to bring his Raven home.

She pressed something in her ear and said: “"This is Raven to the Titans. I was almost caught by Robin but I have him down to the ground right now. Ready to go back to the location." By the time that she was done with her report, he was just a few inches away from her. He could see the instant that her body tensed that she already felt his presence. She knew he was right behind her. But Robin never gave her the chance to confirm her fears. He sent his hand toward the back of her neck swiftly, hitting a bundle of nerves and rendering her unconscious.

She fell down immediately but his strong arms were there to catch her unconscious body. He carried her bridal-style in his arms with a contented smile on his face. He finally had the woman he loved in his arms, and he couldn’t be happier. But as he drew nearer to her face, she saw the glint of the earpiece in her ear, and a mischievous smile appeared on his lips. He took it out and placed it right above his mouth as he said, “"Hello? Is this the Titans? I have Raven with me right now. If you want her back, you'll have to get her from the Titans West Tower." He let out a taunting laugh, finding it amusing as to how the Titans’ foolish plans brought Raven straight to him. And now he had everything that he ever wanted. "Oh and thank you for delivering my love to my doorstep. I'm sure we'll have lots of fun together while waiting for you to arrive." With that, he crushed the earpiece in his hand, letting its remnants fall to the ground as he took Raven to her room.

Raven slowly got up from the bed and instantly wondered where she was. Her vision was blurred, and her head was throbbing slightly, making her even more disoriented than she already was. This feeling reminded her of the time that Robin drugged her, made her sleep for two days and chained her to her bed. And with that memory, she suddenly remembered everything that had transpired before that moment. She thought that she had him pinned to the ground, but she should have known that he was too skilled to be defeated just like that.

She placed her hand over her head unconsciously, and she realized that her hand was free to move. She expected to be chained to the bed again, but since she was free then that mean that she could easily teleport out of----

“Oh good! You’re awake.” an all-too familiar voice said from beside her. She looked toward the direction of the voice and saw her captor, with his shining blue eyes gazing right at her. He instantly placed his hand over her own, making sure she couldn’t escape. She simply shook her head in despair, wondering how she got into this situation once again.

He placed a warm mug of tea just below her nose, letting her take in the soothing aroma. “I got you tea.” He said, still smiling as he offered the simple gift to her.

She was surprised as to why he was giving it to her, instantly becoming suspicious.

“How am I supposed to know if this is drugged?” she asked too lightly for her liking.

“I assure you Raven, all that’s in there is just tea and hot water. I didn’t see the need to restrain you this time.”

“Oh, and why is that?” she asked, wholeheartedly curious.

He neared her ear, as his breathy answer escaped from his lips. “Because this time, I know you’re not going to leave me.”

Her heart skipped a beat from what she heard. She instantly moved away from him, mumbling her thanks. She took the cup anyway, deciding to focus on it, missing its familiar aroma. It had been a long time since she last drank a cup of her chamomile tea. All she could get from the Titans East Tower were generic tea bags that didn’t have the same calming effect as her specially-brewed tea. She blew on the top of the cup, cooling it down before she drank the soothing liquid. When it finally poured down her throat, she felt instant peace wash over her, making her momentarily forget that she was in the presence of the Master.

Robin felt happiness instantly well up in his heart. He was just content to see her like that, so calm and relaxed. He could only imagine the pain that she endured while with the Titans. As he watched their dealings in the Titans East Tower, he saw how Beast Boy shouted at her, how Cyborg left most of the work to her, how Starfire didn’t even attempt to comfort her even if they were best friends. And he promised himself that he would do everything in his power to take away the pain in her heart, no matter what the cost.

After taking a few gulps of the delicious tea, her mind started to become clearer, and she remembered why she ended up in his presence in the first place. She suddenly recalled their mission, that the Titans were still outside of the Tower, and they were probably worried about her. She knew she couldn’t send her soul-self out to them, since Robin would know and could probably trace it through their bond. She instead searched for them with her empathy, trying to find if they were still there, if they were still alright.

She took a sip of her tea and closed her eyes, seemingly deep in thought, but she was actually looking for her teammates. She found them outside the Tower, where she had left them just a few hours ago. She was relieved, thankful that they were still safe. But her relief instantly disappeared when she felt their emotions. They were in utter chaos; she could feel anger, resentment, and confusion coming from them. Her brow furrowed, trying to understand why they were all feeling this way. She couldn’t understand why their emotions were so chaotic; it was like they were arguing heatedly with each other. It seemed like they were at each other’s throats.

But there was one emotion that stood above the rest, and it was one that she knew was directed right at her: blame. They were blaming her for getting caught, for failing them when they were all counting on her to succeed. She gripped tightly to her mug, almost as if it was going to break in her grasp. She felt so much pain take over her heart, as if she would choke from its sheer intensity. How could they blame her for something outside of her control? How could they say it was her fault that she was caught, when she was the one who lasted the longest against the Master? What right do they have to blame her when they have all fallen in the hands of their enemies at one time or another? She closed her eyes shut, trying to stop the tears that were about to escape from them. Their blame drove her over the edge, and she remembered how the Titans had been treating her for the past months. They took advantage of her, alienated her, and secretly blamed her just because Robin loved her. And now, everything was finally coming out, and she could see the Titans for who they really were, or who they had become.

Robin suddenly felt the incredible surge of pain emanating from Raven. He was worried for her; he wondered why she was feeling this way when just moments ago, she was contentedly sipping her tea. He quickly took her into his arms and held her close, reminding her of his presence. And he was pleasantly surprised when she responded by leaning her head against his chest. She levitated the mug on her side table, so she could wrap her arms around Robin. She held him close and allowed her tears to fall, soaking his black body suit.

He was surprised to say the least by what she was doing. She was hugging him back for the first time, she was seeking comfort from him, and she was shedding her precious tears on his suit. He held her head just above his chin, trying to comfort her as best as he could. He couldn’t bear to see her like that, for her to feel so much hurt and pain, probably because of the Titans. He began to run his hand over her back comfortingly, trying to soothe her amidst the ache of her heart. He knew he had to make everything better for her. If he could chase away her fears, then he would.

Robin lifted up her chin to face him, seeing her eyes glisten with unshed tears. He felt his heart break just to see her in so much anguish. And he knew he had to do everything in his power to wipe those tears away from her eyes.

“Shhh... don’t cry.” He whispered to her, as she drew nearer to her lips. “I’m here now, Raven. And I won’t let anything hurt you ever again.” Their lips were only a breath apart when he vowed, “I’ll take all of your pain away.” He sealed his promise with a kiss.

And for the first time, Raven kissed him back.

“Okay, so who’s bright idea was it to send Raven into the Tower?” Speedy asked irritably after hearing Robin’s taunting words from her earpiece. The Titans sat around him, looking even more defeated than ever. She was their only hope of surviving in their suicide mission against Robin and his evil corporation. But now that she has been caught, they weren’t sure if they could still push through with whatever they had planned.

“You do know Raven’s our only trump card against Robin, and now that he has her, he won’t even think twice of killing us all.” The red-headed archer added, making them feel the gravity of their mistakes even more.

“Then that’s great! He can keep his stupid Raven and leave us alone!” Beast Boy exclaimed, raising his arms in the air.

“Beast Boy! How can you say such a thing toward our friend? Raven has saved us time and time again and this is how you repay her? By leaving her in the hands of our enemies?” Starfire replied, disgusted by the changeling’s words.

“Are you seriously suggesting that we just go home and leave her with a Tower filled with supervillains? Even if we can guarantee that Robin won’t hurt her, what makes you so sure that the other villains won’t? The worst of the worst bad guys are in there, and if Robin can’t trust them, what makes you so sure that we can?” Bumblebee added, surprised at what they were suggesting.

“Well what do you supposed we do know? Barge in the Tower and save her? Can we actually do that even without Raven’s powers?” Aqualad asked logically.

Cyborg let out a heavy breath and slowly opened his eyes, frustration clearly etched on his face. He stepped in front of the group, once again preparing them for one of his speeches. “The reason that we chose Raven to go in and infiltrate the Tower, and not well Beast Boy or Speedy...” he trailed off, unsure of how to go about what he had to say. The other Titans looked at him expectantly, wanting to know what he had to say.

He let out another breath as he gathered up the courage to say it, even though he felt like there was bile rising from his throat, preventing his vocal chords to speak those treacherous words. “We chose her because in the event that she would get caught,” he swallowed deeply at this point, “we could be assured that Robin wouldn’t hurt her...”

“...and we could leave her there while we figured out our next move.” Bumblebee finished for him, already understanding what he was trying to say. Unfortunately, that only enraged her even more. “Are you crazy, Sparky?! Haven’t you listened to a word we’ve just said? If we are going to leave her there, we’re not just leaving her with Robin, we’re leaving her with a whole army of supervillains, most of which she was the very person who had put them in jail! Robin can’t be with her all the time. What do you think would happen if Dr. Light found her there, and decided to get his revenge? Would she still be safe then?” She now stood face-to-face with the cybernetic teen, glaring daggers at him. She was seething with anger with their plan, and so were the other Titans.

“And why did you not consult this with us, Friend Cyborg? We could have made other plans in which Friend Raven wouldn’t have to be sacrificed in case things went wrong.” Starfire said, her eyes lit up in frustration.

“If you guys are fine with betraying your own friend, then we aren’t.” Speedy added defiantly, sending his own glare at Cyborg through his mask.

“Oh c’mon. You’re all saying that now but I’ll bet you’ll be saying something else when we’re right in the face of danger because of her.” Beast Boy suddenly said, cruelly dismissing all of their worries.

This, of course, enraged Speedy even more. He grabbed the changeling roughly by his costume, making him choke with his force. “I don’t know what your problem is, ass-wipe, but I swear if you say one more mean word against Raven, I am going to beat you to a pulp.”

“I’d bet you’re the one who gave this crazy idea to Sparky! If you didn’t cloud his judgment, then we wouldn’t be in this predicament right now!” Bumblebee added, pointing her finger to him as well.

“Well if you hypocrites wouldn’t make a big fuss about it, then it would’ve been the perfect plan!” he shouted back, fighting against the blame that they were all putting on him.

“Friend Beast Boy, what is the matter with you? Why are you so mad at Friend Raven? What had she done to make you want her to be hurt so badly?” Starfire asked as she floated around him with the others.

“She broke my heart! She chose that damn bastard over me!” Beast Boy cried out, tears starting to come from his eyes.

The Titans were all shocked at what they heard. Speedy even dropped his hold on his uniform, not knowing how to react to what he had said. They all looked at him with pity in their eyes, wanting desperately to understand what he meant with his sudden confession. It puzzled them greatly, since they didn’t notice anything different with the way the green changeling had been acting toward the dark sorceress. They saw his attempts at flirting, but they brushed it off, knowing that he had been doing that ever since the early years of the team.

Beast Boy dropped his head, knowing that there was nothing more that he could do. He could only come clean to his companions and finally admit the truth to them. “I’ve had a crush on Raven for awhile now; I just never could make my move since she was always so close to Robin. I don’t know, I guess they get each other in a sort of way that I never could.” He began in the most defeated tone that they heard from him. “But then, he disappeared, and of course I was sad that that happened, but I thought that it meant that I finally had a chance with her.” His lips curved into a small smile as he said this, but it instantly disappeared with what he had to say next. “I started approaching her, asking her out, hoping that she could give me the time of day. But she wouldn’t go out with me. All she did was to bury herself in hours and hours of research, desperately trying to find Robin. It was stupid, really. Even if he wasn’t there anymore, he was still better than me. He still owned her heart even if he was in God knows where doing God knows what.”

“But you have Terra dude.” Cyborg suddenly interjected. Though he didn’t show it, he was pained to see his best friend like that; it hurt him to realize that he had no idea that he was going through that suffering.

He scoffed at the thought of his blonde girlfriend. “Terra? Yeah, sure she’s there and all but...” His face winced in pain, as if he was physically hurt by just the thought of her. “She’s not the same. She doesn’t even remember who she is! I have to call her Tara for God sakes!” His voice raised a few notches, finally revealing how hurt he truly was about all of this. “We don’t even know how she even got out of her stone prison. All we know is that her statue disappeared and we found her walking around the city with no memory of who she really is. I try my best to love her, to focus whatever feelings I had for Raven to her but, it’s really hard. It’s like I don’t even know her. She isn’t the same person who sacrificed herself for Jump City, she isn’t the same girl from that Tower. But I try, I still try...” he trailed off as he gazed up in the T-shaped tower which was home to all of their memories they shared. “Because now that Robin’s back, there’s no way in hell that I’ll ever make Raven fall in love with me.”

The other Titans could only look at him with pity at his admission. They never expected for him to be in that much pain. But now, they fully understood what he meant. They knew the reason why he was so infuriated when it came to Raven, why he had been blaming her for everything that has been happening.

After all, hate was merely the result of wounded love.

Robin leaned back against the dark headboard above Raven’s bed, cradling her in his strong arms as they sat together on the soft mattress. He was gently rubbing her arms through her leotard, comforting her in the best way that he could. He couldn’t bear to see her hurt in this way, but he was thankful that it was bringing her closer to him. And that was all that he could ask for.

“Richard?” she breathed out, her voice weak and tired from crying.

“What is it?” he replied softly, still gently caressing her.

“Why do you say you love me?” she asked innocently. “Unless you’re just saying that to get into my pants.”

He let out a hearty laugh at what she had said before holding her closer to him as he replied, “I say it because it’s true.” He kissed the top of her head for emphasis, to speak the truth of his words. “We’ve always had a special bond, Raven, one that I only share with you and you alone. You were the only one that cared for me, even when everyone else forgot. Even if your life was in danger, you still searched for me. You never gave up, no matter what happened. And I only have my love to offer as thanks. Without you, without your determination to save me, I wouldn’t have lasted until now. Do you know that I was at the brink of death when you called out for me? Your voice gave me the strength to fight, even if things were so hard. You’re the only reason why I still fight, why I’ve created this corporation. This is all for you, Raven. The only reason I live is because of you.”

“But I failed you, Richard.” She replied dejectedly. “How can you still say such nice things about me when I was the one that failed you? Yes I tried to find you, but I never did. No matter how hard I tried, no matter where I looked, I didn’t know where you were. I couldn’t keep my promise to you. How can you still love me when I couldn’t save you?”

He tucked her body closer to his own. “Shh... Raven it’s okay.” He whispered on the top of her head. “I didn’t need you to save me. Just the fact that you were constantly looking for me, just the thought that there was someone out there who hasn’t given up on me yet was enough for me. As you can see, I am very capable of saving myself. All I needed was a reason to fight against Slade, and you gave me that reason. You are my reason, Raven. You don’t have to blame yourself anymore.”

She suddenly looked up to face him, realizing that his words were the exact ones that she longed to hear at that moment. When her teammates’ blame brought her to tears, Robin’s speech made her heart well up with happiness. She found the forgiveness that she was longing for in his arms, and she knew she had to repay him for all the love that he had been showering upon her ever since his return.

“Richard, I...” she breathed out, struggling to find the right words to show her gratitude, to finally express the love that she always had for him hidden for so long. “I can never forget you. I will never give up on you, no matter what. I...I...”

Her mouth couldn’t form the words that her heart was desperately aching for her to say. So she just held his face close to her own, and slowly leaned in, hoping to show him what she couldn’t will her mouth to say. The line between good and evil was blurred before her, and all she was aware of was the burning presence in her heart to finally show the man that she loved everything that she felt.

Robin for his part was utterly shocked with what was happening. It was like his wildest dreams were coming true before his very eyes. Raven was finally warming up to him, and she seemed to be ready to kiss him. As their lips drew even closer to one another, he knew that there was nothing he wanted more in the world than to feel his Raven’s lips on his own, through a kiss that she wanted.

They were only a breath apart when there was a sudden knocking on her door. Raven instantly pulled back from him at the sound, logic seemingly taking over her mind once again. Robin was of course, infuriated by the sudden intrusion. As he heard a second round of knocking against Raven’s steel door, he was filled with a sudden rage. He only had the most excruciating death for the person who destroyed his precious moment with his dark sorceress.

He angrily stood up and stomped his feet toward the door, seething in anger. He hastily put on his mask as he punched the access code in and the door opened with a swishing sound.

“You’d better have a damn good reason for disturbing me or I swear I will have you suffer the most painful death imaginable.” He threatened darkly at Wintergreen, his loyal servant.

“I-I’m sorry, Master.” He stammered in fear. “But they have captured the Teen Titans and they wanted to know what you would want to be done with them.”

“The Teen Titans, huh?” Robin blurted out, his mind reeling in the possibilities of their presence in the Titans West Tower. He looked back at Raven and wondered if her sudden initiation of the kiss had anything to do with the other Titans. He simply shook his head of those thoughts, knowing that it didn’t matter. Even if Raven’s presence in the Tower was just part of their plan, he already had the upper hand by simply being with her.

“Hm, it seems like your teammates are once again spoiling our fun. I’ll just deal with them for a second and we can continue where we left off.” He said teasingly as he quickly walked back to Raven’s side. He placed a small kiss above her head, and then he walked out of the room with Wintergreen, leaving Raven all alone in her room, without a single chain to keep her there.

Deafening silence was all they could hear after Beast Boy’s admission. No one knew what to say to make the situation any better. Unfortunately, they did know what to say to make the situation worse.

Mas and Menos suddenly tugged at Aqualad’s suit, seemingly worried about something. He quickly noticed this and bent down to their level, to see what they were so worried about. They whispered to both of his ears, and his black eyes widened with what he heard. He shot up from his crouched position and exclaimed to his teammates,

“Guys, if Raven is knocked out, then who’s keeping the cloaking shield up?”

Everyone turned their attention toward Aqualad, suddenly realizing why he was so worried. The only reason how they have stayed in their position while avoiding their detection was through Raven’s spell, making them invisible from onlookers from the outside. But when she was knocked unconscious by Robin, then that meant that the spell instantly disappeared, which only meant that they were completely vulnerable to the Master’s defenses.

Just as this realization dawned upon them, they heard guns clicking around them. Turning around, they saw that they were completely surrounded by a group of thugs, with Carmine Falcone standing proudly behind them.

“Well, what do we have here? The Teen Titans at our doorstep? We didn’t know we had guests! Why don’t you come inside? I believe our Master would like to have a word with you. And I do hope you do not do anything stupid. I want to deliver you all in one piece.”

The Titans had no choice but to raise their hands on their heads and surrender their selves to Carmine Falcone’s custody.

They slowly trudged in one line through the dark Titans Tower, their arms bound together by chains. There were guards at each of their sides, making sure that they weren’t planning anything reckless. The Titans’ spirits seemed dejected by the fate that had befallen upon them. Not only did they have Raven to worry about, but they had to set themselves free first. But they’d be damned if they didn’t put up a fight against Robin’s evil corporation.

Just before they entered the Titans West common room, Cyborg suddenly started coughing. The other Titans stood in alert, knowing what this simple gesture meant.

“Cy, you okay buddy?” Beast Boy asked with much concern in his voice.

“Nah bro, I’m not feeling very well. Something must’ve changed in the Tower’s systems.” He began coughing once again, louder than the ones before it.

All of the Titans stopped instantly, looking with much concern toward the cybernetic teen. The thugs were starting to become confused, wondering if something was truly wrong with their leader. Cyborg suddenly bent down as he was coughing violently, prompting one of the guards to rush to his side to see if he was alright. But just as he did this, Cyborg suddenly lunged toward him, instantly rendering the man unconscious.

The other Titans broke free of their bindings as well, and started defeating the thugs that had been around them. Carmine Falcone started panicking when he saw this; he was calling for back-up when Speedy shot an arrow toward him, destroying his cell phone in the process.

The Titans were quickly gaining the upper hand, easily defeating the other thugs that were coming toward them.

“Is that all you’ve got, Rob?!” Cyborg bellowed as he shot his sonic cannon at a group of guards.

As he said those words, a black arrow suddenly came right at him, lodging itself right in his cybernetic arm. Sparks were flying right from the wound, clearly showing the extent of the damage it made.

“I wouldn’t want to taunt the Master if I were you.” A baritone voice said from the shadows. “I heard that he’s not in a particularly pleased mood right now, and you would be a complete fool to provoke him even more.”

The Titans instantly stopped their fighting and turned toward the direction of the voice. Speedy’s heart froze in his chest, recognizing the voice. Fear suddenly rushed through his veins, knowing that he could not mistake that voice for any other. He instantly knew that if it was he that they were facing, then they were all in great danger.

Bullets were suddenly fired from different directions, leaving the Titans disoriented and confused. They managed to dodge most of the bullets as they slowly backed towards each other, converging into a space in the middle of the hallway.

Suddenly, the attacks stopped as they could hear footsteps coming toward them. Before they knew it, they were instantly surrounded by the most chilling villains they knew: Deadshot, Two-Face, Carmine Falcone, Plasmus, Cinderblock, and Overload. Another villain stepped out of the shadows, striking fear in Speedy’s heart. He wore a black hood, and a black archer suit that covered most of his body. He had a black belt around his waist and around his chest, which carried his arrows behind him. His face was hidden from the Titans, but they could tell that he was smiling underneath his hood.

The Titans drew closer to one another, fear racing in their hearts. Tension filled the room as they waited in dread of what was yet to come. Another excruciating moment of silence and stillness passed, and the suspense was driving them mad. They didn’t know what to expect from the menacing stares that they were receiving from the unmoving villains surrounding them. Finally, they couldn’t take the anticipation any longer.

“Okay guys!” Beast Boy shouted out, “If you’re gonna kill us you’d better do it now before I---“ Before he could even finish his proud speech, he suddenly felt something pierce his side. Pain shot from his abdomen as he collapsed from the ground, blood quickly escaping from his fresh wound. The other Titans gathered around him, wondering what had happened to him. And they could only gasp at the weapon that was piercing his side.

It was a black birdarang.

“That was for hurting Raven.” Robin announced as he stepped out from the shadows, his voice menacing, sending chills down their spine. “And this is for all of your sins against us.” He nodded once to his associates before he ordered, “Attack.”

Instantly all of the villains lunged toward the Titans who were still huddled around Beast Boy, and completely unprepared to fight.

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