Aqualad was driving way over the speed limit. But in actuality, he was driving at the appropriate speed for someone who was trying to escape from a madman.
He glanced at his side to see Starfire curled up on the car seat, still recovering from the blows that she had received from Robin.
“Starfire, are you alright?” he asked as he reached for his girlfriend’s arm. She looked at him with a weak smile before replying, “I am alright. I am sure that I will be fine by tomorrow. How about you friends, are you alright as well?” She tilted her head toward the backseat, to check on their other teammates.
She was shocked to say the least with what she saw. Her mouth fell open as she saw Cyborg’s unconscious body on the seat, with his arm in Raven’s lap.
“What has happened to Friend Cyborg?” she shouted out, deeply worried for her friend.
“Robin happened to him, that’s what!” Beast Boy spat, with anger that was very much unlike him. But with his best friend in the condition that he was in, he had every reason to be. “And when I get my hands on him I’ll...”
“Calm down, Beast Boy. Cy will be fine. We just have to get him to S.T.A.R. Labs and he’ll be as good as new.” Raven interjected, trying to keep him calm. She knew that they couldn’t let their emotions blind them if they wanted to get out of this alive. Unfortunately, she could give herself the same advice; especially with how she’s been allowing herself to fall prey to Robin’s charms.
“Dude, he tore his arm off. I swear if I get my hands on him, I’ll make sure to let him know what that feels like.” Beast Boy’s tone was so dark and vengeful that Raven couldn’t help but stare at him. It was very much unlike her old teammate. She was shocked at how Robin’s reappearance in their lives has brought out all the worst features in them. Was that his plan all along? Was he going to show them all their imperfections and flaws, and use these to destroy them? Just the thought of such a devilish plan made Raven shudder in fear.
If this was his plan all along, then he was succeeding.
“Uh guys, I think you may actually get the chance.” Aqualad said, breaking the silence as he looked on in fear of what lay ahead of them.
The other Titans had fear instantly etched on their faces as they saw the army of Sladebots blocking their path out of the city. Aqualad screeched the T-car to a halt, gauging what their next move should be.
“Where did he get all of these?” Beast Boy said in a panic, as his heart started beating frantically in his chest.
“He did kill Slade, so logically he gets to be in control of all the Sladebots too.” Raven replied, allowing her monotone to bring some normality in their situation.
“Wait, you mean he murdered Slade? How do you know that?”
Raven froze at Beast Boy’s inquiry, realizing her slip of tongue. It was only then that she remembered that Robin told only her what had happened to Slade. She could feel the realization that was slowly dawning in Beast Boy’s mind. She knew that sooner or later, he would realize what was going on between them. And with Beast Boy’s current state, he won’t take that realization lightly.
“Friends, I do not think Robin’s murderous activities are our main concern at the moment. I believe we must find a way to defeat these robots before they defeat us all.” Starfire interjected, bringing her teammates back to the issue at hand.
“She’s right. We have to get out there and get them out of the way.” Raven ordered, inwardly thanking Starfire for the change of topic.
“How? There’s too many of them!” Beast Boy pointed out, as the Sladebots started to move towards them.
“We have no choice. Aqualad, stay here and take care of Cyborg. Starfire, Beast Boy, take down as many as you can. Go!” Raven shouted out. Aqualad opened the hood of the T-car to allow the other Titans to fly out and take the robots down.
The instant they got out of the car, Sladebots started attacking them from all directions. Unfortunately for them, the Titans weren’t going down without a fight. With an awakened animalistic rage inside of him, Beast Boy started charging at the robots, destroying roughly five at a time as he shifted into an elephant, to a Tyrannosaurus rex and a tiger. Starfire was still quite weak from the attack, but she still sent an incredible amount of starbolts toward the approaching robots. Raven was also showing off her prowess, pleased to be able to use her powers again after Robin had put her in those chains. She was throwing the Sladebots toward themselves, destroying countless robots at a time.
But even with their best efforts, they were still largely outnumbered. No matter how many robots they destroyed, even more came to replace them. Soon enough, they were cornered around the T-car, with thousands of Sladebots surrounding them. They slowly backed up into the car, not knowing what to do next.
“Friends! I believe I can not put them off much longer!” Starfire cried out in exasperation, since she was the one who did the most fighting that day compared to the other Titans.
“Starfire is right! There’s just too many of them!” Beast Boy called out, the adrenaline from his anger fading as well.
“Damn it. Everyone, get back in the car!” Raven ordered, as they retreated into the T-car.
That only made matters worse for them as the Sladebots surrounded the car and started pounding on it, trapping them inside.
“Guys, what are we going to do?” Aqualad shouted out through the noise as the robots continually pushed against the car. “They’re going to destroy this car if we don’t do something quick!”
Starfire let out a shrill scream as one of the robots at her side was slowly breaking the glass on the car window. All the Titans could hear were the loud thuds echoing in their ears as the robots were quickly destroying their precious T-car.
“Raven! Do something ! Quick!” Beast Boy screamed in panic as they slowly saw dents covering the car. It would only take a few moments before the car was completely destroyed, with them trapped inside.
Raven started racking her brain for a plan. But the danger and fear around her made her emotions and her powers quite hard to access. It didn’t help that Beast Boy was specifically depending on her to think of a plan, as if she was the only one who could save them.
‘The only one…’ Raven thought to herself as she realized how familiar those words were. With that realization, she instantly came up with a plan. She phased through the roof and chanted her mantra, as she created a force field over the T-car. The robots then shifted to attack the shield, and Raven knew she wouldn’t be able to hold it up for long.
“Robin!” she called out through the loud thuds that the robots were causing. “I’m out here! Let’s talk. They can’t hear us!”
Instantly as she said those words, the robots stopped their onslaught on her shield. Raven was surprised when she had realized that the Sladebots were slowly retreating from the T-car. She stood above the shield she created to make sure that the coast was clear. But she was even more surprised when a voice breathed into her ear: “You called?”
She spun around and saw Robin standing on top of the shield that she had created. Fortunately, because of the shield, the Titans were oblivious to what was happening outside the T-car.
“You…” she breathed out as she shook her head, trying her best to concentrate on the shield that she was holding up. “Why won’t you just let us go?”
“Simple, I’m not done with the Titans yet.” was Robin’s reply, as a seemingly innocent smile danced on his lips. “But you know the offer still stands. You could always come with me and they’ll be safe as they’ll ever be.”
Raven weighed her options for a moment, thinking what would be best for the team. It didn’t matter if she was handing herself over to a madman. It didn’t matter if she was giving up her freedom in exchange for that of the Titans’. All that mattered was she ensured the safety of her friends. But then she remembered Cyborg and his severed arm, Starfire cowering in fear, Beast Boy’s uncharacteristic rage, and Aqualad’s sanity that was slowly slipping away. She couldn’t leave her teammates, not when they were so lost, not when they were at the point of breaking.
She shook her head as she made her decision. But her face was twisted in pain and confusion, showing just how hard it was for her to make it.
“I’m sorry,” she replied dejectedly, “I can’t.” She looked up to stare at Robin before she continued, “The team needs me Robin. If I go now, they will break apart.”
His face turned into a scowl upon hearing her answer. He couldn’t believe that she was choosing her team over him. He truly cared for her, could she say the same for her teammates?
“But,” she spoke again, this time with much determination in her voice, “I’m not giving up on you yet. I-I…” she began stuttering, unsure if she was about to say the right words, “I will be back for you. I-I promise…” Her voice was only above a whisper as she uttered those last words, knowing the full extent of what they meant.
Robin’s masked eyes widened at what he heard. He couldn’t believe it. Did Raven just promise him that she would come to him that she would be back for him? She practically whispered those words but he was sure that he had heard her right. She was going to come back for him. And that fact made him happier than he would ever want to admit.
She took something from her cloak, and placed it in Robin’s hand. “I’m not giving up on you yet.” Just as she said those words, she turned into a black raven and flew toward the sky, bringing the entire T-car with her.
Robin landed gracefully on the ground as she saw her take flight. He knew how much energy she was using to teleport the entire team, and he was suddenly filled with anger, knowing that the Titans were somehow taking advantage of her again. He could only guess that they were headed for Steel City, to the headquarters of Titans East, since they had nowhere else to go. Bringing an entire car filled with metahumans was not an easy feat, especially to that great distance. And he blamed the Titans for making her exert that much effort. He clenched his fists as he mentally promised to make them pay for everything they were putting Raven through.
It was only then he remembered the item that she had placed in his hand. He took out his fist and opened it, only to find an old and crumpled domino mask inside, the same one that he was using. A smile started to form on his lips as he realized how she came to acquire something that important to him. He found it interesting that even if he gave this to her two years ago, she still kept it around in her cloak, always around her, just within her reach, just in case she missed him…
A week had passed since she came to know of Pier 42’s location. It had also been a week since Cyborg had turned her down and said that the area wasn’t worth exploring-- even if she believed with all her heart that Robin was there.
With fear and determination in her heart, she decided to visit the inconspicuous Pier 42 on her own; it just took a week for her to do so. She was flying over the Jump City docks at nighttime, hoping against hope that her cloak would allow her to blend into the darkness. She eventually found the pier and found an old warehouse at the site. ‘Typical villain.’ she muttered to herself as she landed in front of the location.
Despite the burning determination in her heart, she was still quite scared of what might happen to her that night, just in case she did find Slade’s lair in there. She knew how dangerous the villain was, and to go there alone was absolutely crazy. But she knew with every fiber in her being that she was right. And if there was even a sliver of a chance that Robin was there, she would take it. She was dead set on bringing him back to the team, and she wouldn’t leave any stone unturned, especially not this one.
She took in a breath and opened the door to the warehouse, bracing herself for what was on the other side. She pushed the door ever so slightly and came in without a sound, only to find…
She went through all the trouble of sneaking in only to find the warehouse completely empty. As the moonlight shone in through the glass windows that were found on the top of the warehouse, she saw absolutely nothing. There was only a vast emptiness that laid before her.
She sighed as went further inside, realizing that Cyborg was right to doubt her. She had been wrong- once again. She felt so disappointed in herself, failing Robin again. All she had to do was to find his location, and she was always unsuccessful on that simple task. She blamed herself for not being skilled enough, for not having the knowledge and the strength to find him and free him from his prison.
She continued berating herself in her mind when suddenly her feet kicked an envelope lying on the floor. Surprised, she picked up the piece of paper and found that it had a note in it. Curiosity got the best of her so she opened the letter; her eyes widening in shock as she realized who it was from.
Thank you for fighting for me. Your strength is what keeps me from giving up, despite everything that Slade has been putting me through.
Just don’t give up on me, please. And wait for me. I promise, I’ll make the Titans pay for hurting you.
She gasped upon reading the letter. She was a bit disturbed on how he vowed to make the Titans pay, or how he knew that she was still searching for him. But more than anything, she was shocked to find out she was right. Robin was here. This was Slade’s lair. And if her teammates would have just listened to her, they would have probably have been able to save Robin by now. If only the Titans believed her…
Tears started streaming from her face as she realized the irony of the past events. She started blaming herself again, for not having the courage to come here sooner. If she did then maybe, just maybe, she had a chance of saving him. If she hadn’t waited until now to get to this location, then she would’ve at least caught a glimpse of him. But now he was gone, and she had to begin her search once again.
But she knew that she had to. She couldn’t give up on Robin, not now, not when he reached out to her. Not when he told her not to give up.
She felt a burning determination rise up in her chest. Now that she knew that Robin was alright, now that she knew that he was still alive, she was going to search for him no matter what. She was going to find him, if it was the last thing she was going to do.
She folded the letter and started placing it back inside the envelope when she saw something black and white inside. Taking the material out, her mouth fell open as she realized what it was.
It was one of Robin’s domino masks.
She held it out in the moonlight as she wondered why he would give her something that precious to him. He valued his identity above all things, and yet here he was, giving the one thing that kept it a secret. Maybe it was to ensure that the letter really was from him. Maybe it served as his trademark, the one thing that defined him as Robin. But if he gave it to her, then did that mean…? She shook her head of those thoughts and instead placed the mask inside her cloak. Whatever this all meant, she promised herself that she would ask him, when she finally met him face to face.
Robin placed the mask toward his nose and inhaled Raven’s scent. She smelled of lavender and vanilla, a scent which drove him mad with need. He couldn’t wait to take this scent in as he held her in his arms, as he kissed her senseless, as he…
A menacing grin danced upon his lips as he said “Run and hide all you want, Raven. But soon enough you will come running to me, and you will be mine.”