To say that the Titans East were surprised when the Titans West came to their headquarters would be the understatement of the year.
To say that they were shocked beyond their wildest imaginations would have been more appropriate, what with the T-car's condition and Cyborg's severed arm. Yes, they panicked, and they freaked out, just like any normal teenager would do in the situation.
"Bumblebee please calm down." Raven begged, trying to get their leader to lower her voice.
"ARE YOU CRAZY? SPARKY'S ARM HAS JUST BEEN YANKED OFF OF HIM AND NOW YOU'RE ASKING ME TO CALM DOWN?" was her hysterical reply.
"Yes that is exactly what I want you to do if you want to save him."
Bumblebee took a few deep breaths, trying her best to do what her friend was asking, after seeing the rationale of her thoughts.
"Okay Raven. I'm okay now. What the heck happened to you guys?"
"I'll tell you later. What we need to do right now is to-"
"Robin did it!" Beast Boy shouted, cutting Raven off as she entered with Bumblebee to the Titans East common room.
"Wait, are you telling me that Robin did all this?" Speedy asked in disbelief as he sat up from their large sofa.
"I am afraid that is the truth, Friend Speedy." Starfire replied sadly from Aqualad's lap. He held her protectively as they were both seated on the couch beside the resident archer.
"Dude! He beat us up and locked us in a dungeon for a day! He's way out of his mind and we have got to stop him and fast!" Beast Boy exclaimed, a mix of determination and desperation coloring his voice.
"No, Beast Boy. We can't go charging at him just like that. We need to think this through. We need a plan." Raven said, as she placed a hand on Beast Boy's shoulder to calm him down. She stood behind him from the couch, with a very worried Bumblebee right beside her.
"But what about Sparky?" she asked sadly.
"We have to get him to S.T.A.R. Labs. Bee, can you take us there?" Raven replied, as she gazed toward her friend.
"I'll do it. I think you guys need your rest more than anything. I'll just call you if anything happens." She started flying out of the common room when Raven called out to her. "Wait Bee! Are you sure about this?"
"Of course I am. Just make sure your teammates won't kill each other 'til I get back!" She had a warm smile on her face as she left her with her broken teammates. "That might actually be harder than you think." Raven muttered mostly to herself.
After Bumblebee left, none of her teammates moved from their current positions. Starfire and Aqualad still stayed in each other's arms, appreciating the comfort that they were sharing. Beast Boy on the other hand just sat on the sofa, with his fists clenched on his lap. Raven rarely saw him so angry about something. She was worried about him, to say the least.
Speedy stood up from the couch and went to Raven’s side. "Are you guys okay?" he asked, genuine worry coloring his voice.
"Honestly, I don't know. They’ve been taking things pretty hard, especially Beast Boy."
"Tell me about it. This is the first time that I've seen him this mad about something. What did Robin put you guys through?" He placed a hand on her shoulder, showing how concerned he really was about the team.
Raven simply replied with a weak smile on her face. She could feel that he truly was worried for all of them, and she honestly appreciated that. In fact, she was really thankful for all the help Titans East has given them throughout this whole ordeal. Unfortunately, she knew that this was just the beginning.
"Hey, I'll check if Mas y Menos are done with your rooms. You guys look like you desperately need your rest." Speedy said, disrupting Raven's train of thought.
"I'll go with you. I've spent a whole day knocked out. I don't think I could fall asleep even if I tried." Raven replied, walking with Speedy as he exited the common room.
"Two days? What the heck did Robin do to you?" Speedy asked hysterically. He couldn't believe everything that the Titans West was telling him about his friend. It was one thing to hear these crazy stories from Starfire or Beast Boy. But when they came from the no-nonsense Raven, he knew that things were really serious.
"He drugged me." was all Raven said as she heard the doors close behind them.
Repairing Cyborg took a lot longer than expected. Aqualad decided to fight with his old team, especially since Bumblebee was still with the half-metal man in S.T.A.R. Labs. He said it brought him a sense of normalcy, especially with everything that has been happening to them.
Beast Boy tracked Terra down in Steel City, spending more time with her now more than ever. He said she was the only one who was keeping him sane through the recent events. Terra was also very worried about this dark nature that seemed to loom over Beast Boy, but she was glad that her presence seemed to appease him... for now.
Raven was surprised to see that all her teammates had their own ways of coping through everything that Robin had done. But as an empath, she knew that all they were doing was running away from all their thoughts and fears. She knew that whatever they were feeling before was still there. They just worked so hard to deny the truth.
They had been staying with the Titans East for three days now. They prepared two rooms for the Titans West: one for Raven and Starfire and one for Beast Boy and Aqualad. But on most nights, Raven was alone in her room because Starfire usually stayed with Aqualad, and Beast Boy stayed with Terra somewhere in Steel City.
On this very night, Raven sat alone in their room, while she secretly worried about her teammates. She sat on her regular sized bed, which had a blue comforter and white pillows. The bed was soft enough to get her a decent night’s sleep, but she still longed for her own bed back in the tower. Right beside her bed was Starfire’s, which looked exactly like hers. Their room just had those beds, and a small desk in the middle of them, where a little lamp stood. This was supposedly the Titans East guest room, and despite its simplicity, Raven was quite happy in staying there.
She remembered her old room and instantly thought of Robin again. Though he was seemingly leaving them alone for now, she knew that he had so much more in store for them. And if they keep on running away from that fact, then they will be caught unprepared when that time comes.
Just as she was deep in her thoughts, Starfire entered their room, looking sad and dejected.
"Starfire, what's wrong? Where's Aqualad?" Raven asked, as her Tamaranian friend sat on the bed next to her.
"There was trouble in the city and the Titans East went to face it." Starfire replied, still in that sad voice.
"You'll see him again soon, Starfire. He'll come back before you even know it." Raven placed a reassuring hand on Starfire's own, assuming that missing her boyfriend was the reason for her sadness.
Starfire shook her head slowly. "No, that is not what I am worried about, Friend Raven."
"Then what seems to be the problem?"
Starfire stared at Raven intently, emerald orbs gazing into amethyst ones before she spoke.
"Friend Raven, do you think that I am a bad person?”
Raven was taken aback with her question. She was surprised to hear such a strange inquiry from the sweet and ever bubbly Starfire. How did she come to think of these things? What made her question her personality, her essence?
“No of course not! Why would you even think that?” Raven said, her voice becoming more emotional than her usual monotone.
“But Robin is mad at me for what I did to him.”
“You mean he’s mad because you kind of replaced him with Aqualad?”
“Yes. But it’s not in the way that he thinks.”
Curiosity got the best of Raven with her friend’s mysterious reply. “What do you mean?”
Starfire heaved a sigh before she explained her side of the story. “When Robin disappeared, I felt so sad, so lonely. It was then I realized how much he has helped me and has been with me ever since I came to Earth. He took care of me and gave me a home. He taught me how it is to truly love someone. But then, he suddenly left without even saying goodbye. I felt like he left a hole in me, like there was an empty part of me that had to be filled.”
Raven looked back at those first few months of Robin’s disappearance. She did notice a dip in the Tamaranian’s mood, even if she was very busy in finding Robin’s location. But she was surprised to hear her lengthy admission. She knew that there was something between Starfire and the Boy Wonder. She just didn’t know that it was actually that deep of a relationship.
“Which is why I became close with Boyfriend Aqualad.” she began once again, enlightening Raven on her side of the story. “I thought that he could fill the gap that Robin had left. I thought he could make me feel alright again, until Robin came back.” her voice trailed off, as if she was unsure of the words that were coming out of her mouth.
“And he did.” Raven said, completing her thought for her, as she tried to understand what her friend was trying to say.
“That doesn’t make me a bad person, does it?” she asked once again, her pleading eyes staring right into Raven, as if they were asking her to say the words that she needed to hear.
Raven could only gaze back at her, unsure of what she should say. She could clearly see that her friend was seeking comfort from her, but she had her own opinions of her actions, especially pertaining to Robin’s disappearance. But with Starfire’s begging eyes staring right at her, she had no choice but to tell her:
“No, Star. It doesn’t make you a bad person. If anything, it makes you human. No one should blame you for just wanting to be happy. And I really hope you are happy with him.” Raven flashed one of her rare smiles to the Tamaranian, doing her best to make her feel better despite all the doubts that were hovering in her mind.
“Oh thank you, Friend Raven! You have chased all my worries away!” she exclaimed as she enclosed Raven in a bone-crushing hug.
“Starfire! I kinda…need…to…breathe.” She said, slowly choking at her tight embrace.
Starfire let out a squeal and instantly let Raven go, forgetting her strength once again. She thanked the resident empath a couple more times before she heard the Titans East come back from their mission. She looked towards the door, and Raven only gave her an understanding nod which meant that she knew that it was her time to leave. Starfire said one last thank you before flying out of their room with much happiness and glee.
Raven couldn't help but feel elated, knowing that she was able to help her friend through those trying times. But she also felt torn deep inside her heart, knowing that she was not completely honest with everything she said to the Tamaranian.
She could remember a time two years before, when she had a completely different perspective on her story.
After discovering that she was right about the location of Slade's hideout, Raven could not help but harbor ill feelings toward her teammates. She couldn't help but be mad at them for giving up on Robin, especially when they had the chance to save him. That night, as they were happily eating their 'celebratory pizza' after putting Control Freak in jail, she couldn't contain her anger any longer. Because it was on that specific night that Aqualad and Starfire shared their first kiss. Beast Boy and Cyborg cheered them on as they pressed their grease-stained lips upon each other. Raven tried her very best to contain her anger against Starfire, especially since she shared a somewhat romantic relationship with the Boy Wonder before his disappearance.
Raven didn’t want to admit it to herself, but she had grown feelings for their leader after he had braced hell just to save her. But she kept those feelings a secret, and watched as his relationship with Starfire deepened even more. She didn’t say anything, even after they shared that kiss back in Tokyo. At that point, Raven had decided to sacrifice her own happiness and her feelings for Robin just so he and Starfire could have a wonderful and beautiful relationship with one another. But seeing how easily she replaced the Boy Wonder in her heart, she felt like her sacrifice was wasted.
Finally the two lovebirds gave each other a chance to breathe, parting from their kiss. Cyborg and Beast Boy congratulated the couple, while Raven simply sat in the corner, watching them with a blank expression on her face.
"Raven, aren't you going to say anything to our latest couple?" Cyborg asked, wondering if she reverted back to her old, antisocial ways.
"Congratulations." was her only reply.
Later that night, Raven could not contain her emotions any longer. After their victory dinner, she went to Starfire's room, knocking on the steel door as she waited for her friend to entertain her. After only a few seconds, the steel door swished open, revealing a beaming Tamaranian to a deadpan Azarathean.
"Hello Friend Raven! May I help you with anything?" Starfire greeted.
"Yeah... I just wanted to ask you something." Raven replied, seemingly irked by her friend's cheerfulness.
"Oh! What is it?" she asked once again, with an even bigger smile on her face.
Raven took a deep breath, trying to calm her nerves before she faced the current source of her frustration.
"Did you love Robin?" she blurted out the words before she even knew what she was saying.
Starfire's wide, beaming smile disappeared instantly upon hearing the question. She did not expect that her friend would ask something that blunt to her, especially on the night that she decided to make her relationship with Aqualad official.
"Why would you ask that?" She seemed so hurt by Raven's question, wondering if her friend was as loyal as she seemed to be.
"It's been roughly two months since he disappeared. What if he came back to find you in Aqualad's arms?" Raven couldn't help it, but her voice was colored with the bitterness that she felt inside.
"Honestly, I do not know what I will do if ever he comes back. But I could not help it, Friend Raven. Aqualad treats me unlike how Robin treated me."
"He makes you happier?"
"He understands me more. He is not as serious as Robin was. With him, I don't have to think too deeply about everything. I don't feel that I have to be someone else, or I don't have to do other things just to please him. Aqualad accepts me for who I am, and he does not wish for me to become anyone else."
"Did Robin make you feel that way?"
"I do not know. All I know is that I didn't feel like myself when I was with him. But with Aqualad, he makes me happy. It's easier when I'm with him."
She ended her admission with a soft smile on her face. It told Raven everything she felt when she was with the Atlantian prince: pure, unadulterated bliss. And that was something she didn't feel from the Boy Wonder.
Raven let out a sigh, feeling the irony hitting her. She cared more for Robin than Starfire did. And yet she was the one who had to let go of her feelings. She wondered what would have happened if she had fought for him. If she showed him how much she meant to him, would things have changed? Would it have been her in Robin's arms? Would she have had the happiness that she yearned for? Would she have had that shot at love that she had let go of? She shook her head of these thoughts. None of those things mattered now. Robin was still missing and Starfire has moved on. It only mattered to her…
"As long as you're happy." she said with a weak smile on her face. It was her way of accepting everything that her friend said, that in the end, it didn't matter. It only mattered to her, and that was never really enough.
Upon hearing her reply, Starfire took her in a bone-crushing hug, thankful that her friend understood her side of the story. Raven tapped her friend's shoulder, reminding her that she needed air to breathe. Starfire quickly let her down on the ground, as her beaming smile returned to her beautiful face.
"Thank you Friend Raven! Thank you for your understanding!" she exclaimed in joy.
Raven could only respond with a small smile on her face. In truth, she didn't understand Starfire's reasons, but she accepted them, knowing all too well that she couldn't do anything about them now.
Before they even realized it, they had spent a week in Steel City. Fortunately, this was also the day that S.T.A.R. Labs had finally finished working on Cyborg's arm. Everyone was excited to finally have their two leaders home. They were eagerly waiting for their arrival in the common room. Raven was on her way as well as she was walking in the corridors. She was excited to meet her big brother, especially since she was the one who carried him out of the tower when he was in the brink of danger. Just as she was walking through the hallways, she couldn't help but hear two voices whispering from the other room.
"I really don't want to stay with them anymore. Do you have any idea how crazy Robin is right now? He's going to kill me!" one voice said in a frantic and fearful voice.
"What makes you so sure that he wants you dead? You're not the one who got his arm yanked off." the other voice replied calmly.
"It's because I'm dating Starfire! He thinks I stole his girl." Raven was surprised when she heard. This was the first time she saw this side of Aqualad's personality. He had been on the team for more than a year now. And yet he could easily give up the Titans West at the first sign of danger.
"Well what are you gonna do now? Are you gonna dump Starfire and go back to Atlantis?" Raven could recognize the other voice as Speedy, but it lacked the carefree nature that the redhead always had.
"Of course not! I'll find a way to get her to go with me. We can probably lay low in Atlantis for awhile, just until this whole mess with Robin is settled."
"And leave the Titans West short of two members? Right after one of them gets their arm severed?"
"Look, it's not like I like the situation. I wish there was a better way. I mean, I can't bring the whole team to Atlantis. Robin will destroy my kingdom if I bring Raven there. "
She froze upon hearing her name. She almost forgot that the whole team was there when Robin screamed of his possessiveness of her. She was trying to hide the fact that he had been claiming ownership of her ever since his return, but she couldn't deny that Robin almost murdered her team at the thought of her being taken away from him.
"Wait, why? Why Raven specifically? I thought he was after Starfire?"
"You don't know? Robin-" A loud thump was heard in the room before Aqualad could even finish his statement. Raven subconsciously slammed her hand against the door, preventing the Atlantian prince to reveal her secret. Unfortunately, that also alarmed them of her presence. She froze right in her place, realizing the grave mistake she had just made.
The two boys stood alert in their room, ready to attack whoever was listening to their conversation. They both gave each other a look and in one swift movement, opened the steel door to reveal...
They were puzzled to find nobody there. Speedy even looked to the left and to the right of the hall, but he still found nothing that could have made that noise. The two boys scratched their heads and decided to head to the common room, postponing their little chat for later.
Raven was breathing heavily when she appeared back in her room. She thanked Azar that she had teleporting powers or else she wouldn't have escaped the two Titans. Still, the adrenaline rush was still enough to get her heart racing and catching her breath.
When she had finally calmed herself down, she started walking out of her room to meet her big brother. But just before she reached the door, she noticed a piece of paper lying on her bed. She went closer to the note and picked it up, curious of its contents. When she did open it, her eyes widened with what she read. Her heart started racing in her chest once again, wondering what it could mean.
Watch the news.
I have a surprise for you.
Before Cyborg came to the common room, Raven teleported there, suddenly appearing from a black pool of power from the floor. Most of the Titans were surprised with her entrance; since they had all been in the common room already, save for Bumblebee and Cyborg. Starfire and Aqualad were by the kitchen, preparing the food for Cyborg's welcome home party while Speedy and Mas y Menos were lounging around the sofa, flipping through the channels. ...
"Whoa Raven! What an entrance!" Speedy exclaimed as he stood a few inches from where she appeared.
She paid the archer no mind as she grabbed the remote from his hand and changed it to the news channel.
And she was utterly dumbfounded with what she saw. In fact, they all were.
They saw Robin wearing his old traffic light costume, tying up Mumbo with a rope. The newscaster's voice could be heard, but all eyes were on Robin and his seemingly heroic form.
“Earlier today, Robin once again single-handedly saved the city, defeating Mumbo before he could rob the Jump City National Bank.”
The scene shifted to Robin leading a tied up Mumbo to the police department. A crowd of media men were excitedly taking his pictures as he gave them a smile and a small wave.
“Throughout this entire week, Robin has defeated three of Jump City's most dangerous villains single-handedly. He has Plasmus and Cinderblock behind bars and now he can add Mumbo to the list. Just when the Teen Titans have gone M.I.A., Robin has been efficiently taking their place as protectors of this city. The Teen Titans better get ready for when they return. This may not be the same Jump City that they left behind. And that's all because of the amazing Boy Wonder!"
Just then, Cyborg and Bumblebee came into the common room.
"Hey guys! I'm back!" Cyborg announced in his booming voice.
The Titans only gazed at him with blank expressions on their faces, utterly confused with what they had just witnessed.