Number One Zero

Chapter 8

Raven floated to her room, exhausted with all the revelations that have been divulged to her that day. She didn't know what to make of Batman's plea to save his adopted son, or Speedy's sudden concern and closeness. She only hoped that Cyborg's decision to cut the surveillance video feed wouldn't cause them anymore trouble. She had a bad feeling about what they had done, but she didn't want to tell them about it since she didn't have proof of it, anyway.

As she went inside her room, her eyes darted to her bed, focusing their attention on a small, black box. She suddenly remembered its presence; it was a gift for her that was delivered inside Robin's silver ball of taunting messages. She hadn't had the time to look at it through all of the commotion that occurred in the Tower. She walked nervously toward the box, fearing its contents. What did Robin give her? Her wondering thoughts were answered as she opened the box to find a note. It only had these words written on them:

For your protection.

Never take it off. Ever.

She was puzzled by the note, but was even more confused when underneath it she found...a necklace?

It was a small amethyst gem in the shape of a raven, attached to a gold chain. She found it interesting that with everything that has been happening, Robin had even thought to give her jewelry. She chuckled to herself, finding it amusing that even psychopaths still had a gentlemanly side to them. She wore the necklace, hoping that the others wouldn't notice it and start asking questions. For just a little while, she wanted to enjoy her gift and pretend that it didn't come from their enemy.

The next day began with an attack in the city. There was a robbery in a local bank downtown and the Titans came to stop it. Three masked robbers stepped out of the bank they had just stolen from, only to find the Titans East and the Titans West waiting for them outside. They ran toward their getaway van, but the Titans were right behind them.

As they were comically chasing each other through the streets of Steel City, one man was on a rooftop, just a few buildings from where the Titans were, preparing his gun for them. He was wearing black combat boots above black pants. He had a black vest with numerous bullets hanging on it atop a black jumpsuit. He wore wrist turrets on each of his arms so he could easily shoot at his enemies. He had light brown hair, an arched nose and a specialized eye-patch on his right eye.

He cocked his sniper rifle and placed it on a stand, ready to shoot at his unknowing target. This man was one of the most notorious villains known in the world. He was never known to miss a shot. And this day was not an exception.

As the Titans came running into view, he saw his target and grinned wickedly. He found this job perfect, since he could get back at the Hood for messing up his eye. Well, the sidekick, at least.

Without even a second thought, he shot at the red-headed archer, who was unknowingly running to his death.

Raven was flying beside him when she felt danger approaching them. She looked to her right and saw the bullet that was heading straight for Speedy. She chanted her mantra and put up a shield above him, praying that she wasn't too late.

Speedy was surprised to say the least to see a black shield suddenly appear in front of him. But he was shocked even more to hear a ping from the shield. He saw a bullet flying off to the other side, successfully deflected by Raven's energy shield. He mentally reminded himself to thank Raven with a kiss for that after all of this was over. Wait, did he just say that?

From across the rooftop, the gunman was infuriated when he saw a shield suddenly come up from nowhere and save his target from certain death. He watched the scene below curiously, noticing a girl in a purple hood approach his target with concern etched on her face. He decided to take out the girl first and continue with the archer. But he instantly pulled his hands from the trigger when he saw the amethyst gem on her neck.

He was then reminded of his assignment: take out the archer. But if he saw a girl with an amethyst necklace, he was to make sure that she was unharmed. And everyone else was to receive 'warning shots'. The archer did too, if the girl in the amethyst necklace gave a pleasing answer.

He then replaced his sniper rifle with a tranquilizer gun and started shooting away at the young superheroes. Before anyone could comprehend what was going on, Starfire, Beast Boy and Bumblebee were all on the floor, paralyzed.

Cyborg, Aqualad and Mas y Menos had just finished handing over the robbers to the police when they heard the gunshots. They rushed to the other Titans only to find half of the team on the floor, unmoving.

A look of horror spread across Cyborg's face when he heard laughter from the rooftops. He looked up and saw the gunman, laughing right at his face.

"Calm down, Metal man. They're not dead, just paralyzed. You kids are lucky that the Master was in a pretty good mood today. Only asked me to send warning shots." he said in such a mocking tone that made Cyborg's blood boil.

"Well, except for that kid there." he added, pointing a finger at Speedy.

"Me? What did I do?" Speedy exclaimed, as panic colored his voice.

"Well, aside from the fact that the Hood did this to me," the gunman pointed to his right eye. “you apparently stole the Master's girl." As he said those words, he got his rifle ready, pointing it at the archer.

"No way. You're Deadshot!" Speedy exclaimed, recognizing him from Green Arrow's list.

The other Titans stood dumbfounded at the realization. Deadshot was one of the most dangerous villains around, not to mention that he was part of the Suicide Squad. They knew they barely stood a chance against him.

"That's me. And you better remember that." He had almost pulled on the trigger when Raven's voice stopped him.

"Wait!" she screamed. Fortunately for them, Raven's brain was working on overtime, developing a plan before he could take another shot. "What does the master want with Speedy?" She hastily made the assumption that his 'master' was actually Robin. If he was, then she could strike up a deal with Deadshot, allowing the Titans to leave with their lives.

"I told you, he's paying 'cause he stole his girl." the gunman replied, slightly amused at Raven's rashness.

"Well I'm his girl and no one has stolen me yet." she said defiantly, praying to whoever God was listening that she was playing her cards right. "So tell your master that if he wants me, then he'd better come get me."

Deadshot's lips curved into a dangerous smirk. It was as if Raven's answer was the exact thing that he was looking for.

"Don't worry. I'll be sure to pass it on." he replied as he switched guns.

Raven let out a breath she didn't know she was holding. She was thankful that it seemed that the gunman wasn't going to kill anyone that day.

Or was he?

Before anyone could react, Deadshot fired at the remaining Titans, sending them crashing to the floor. Cyborg and Aqualad didn't stand a chance. Speedy tried to take him out with an arrow but the bullet proved to be much faster. Mas y Menos tried to run with their lightning speed but Deadshot fired ahead of them, sending the twins to the ground.

"Super speed is useless if you know where they'll be." he muttered under his breath.

Raven's eyes glowed white as she prepared for her own shot that was coming but the gunman just shook her off.

"No need for that, miss. The Master explicitly said not to harm the girl wearing the amethyst necklace." he explained as he started picking up his guns.

Raven's mouth fell open as she clutched the necklace that Robin has given her. It was only then that she understood its purpose. It served as a marker for his lackeys, to tell them that she was 'his girl' as Deadshot had put it.

There were a million questions that were going through her mind at that time. What did all of this mean? She looked up to ask more questions from Deadshot, but he was already gone. She heaved a deep sigh, as her mind was drowning in questions and mysteries. She slowly made her way toward her teammates, as she was left all alone to care for their paralyzed selves.

She wondered what Robin was up to as she created a giant raven and transported them all back to the Tower.

Raven was thankful that none of them had sustained major injuries. They were all just paralyzed from head to toe... And will stay that way for another couple of hours.

That meant that Raven was the only one who could protect Steel City.

And the only one who could defend them if ever someone attacked the Tower.

She let out a breath; obviously she didn't want to be in this position. She wasn't sure she could defend herself with all the villains coming to the city, how could she protect the whole Tower filled with her friends? She made sure that everyone was resting in their rooms, and retreated to her own. She entered it alone, chuckling a little to herself at the fact. Even though she was supposed to share the room with Starfire, the alien princess still chose to lie beside her boyfriend Aqualad. Not that they could do anything while they were completely paralyzed, but she guessed that the simple fact that they were lying beside each other comforted them already. She mentally vomited at the idea.

Her room felt too empty as the night sky shrouded it in darkness. Before she knew it, it was already 11 PM. Taking care of the Titans' paralyzed forms took a lot out of her day. She took off her cloak for the night, feeling that it somehow weighed her down recently. She gazed out the large windows of her room, feeling more isolated than ever before. She allowed her mind to wonder about the past events that have just occurred.

She sighed as she held the small, amethyst necklace in her hand. She could feel Robin's obsession for her already start to affect the Titans. No one wanted to talk to her as much; she even believed that Beast Boy hated her to a certain extent. He didn't say anything, but she could feel his repressed anger coming off of him in waves, directed at her. He was blaming her. In his mind, she was the reason why Robin was terrorizing the Titans, though both of them knew that Raven didn't want for any of this to happen. It just felt so much easier to have someone to blame.

Cyborg was too busy trying to be the leader and take control of the situation to be her overprotective brother-figure. Though clearly, the situation was so bad that no one even understood what was going on, let alone have any control over it. So, he just let out his frustrations at Bumblebee, both sexual and other forms.

Starfire on the other hand, felt too awkward around her. Well that was understandable. How could she talk to her best friend, who was now the obsession of her ex-boyfriend, who she dumped for an Atlantian prince? That sentence even felt too compounded for her to construct, let alone comprehend.

In fact, the only person who was really talking to her in the Tower was Speedy. But then Robin suddenly decided to become too possessive of her and ordered a hit on the archer, just because he hugged her during her time of need.

The overly-complicated situations made her head hurt as she tried to understand them all. She had already meditated that day, but she was still left confused and alone. There was no one who could be there for her as she tried to sort things out. She wanted so badly to talk to someone, anyone, but they all were incapacitated at the moment.

She let out a sigh as she lifted her hands to remove the beautiful necklace off of her neck. She decided that Robin was making things too complicated for her. She needed time to understand everything, to sort things through, especially her feelings for him that have been-

Before she could even finish that thought, her body tensed up as she felt two hands stopping her own from removing the clasp of her necklace.

"I told you never to take this off. You have no idea what bad things might happen to you if you do."

His voice alone made her whole body freeze. She couldn't believe her ears. Was he really here? How could he even think of coming to the one place where he was most unwelcome?

"Robin..?" she breathed out in disbelief.

"The one and only." She could hear an edge of a smile in his reply.

"You're not supposed to be here." she said, with a hint of worry in her tone. She had to get him out of here before their teammates find him- but they couldn’t do that if they were all paralyzed. It was only then that she realized that this was his plan all along. The Titans’ current condition gave Robin the perfect opportunity to come to the Tower. She shuddered at the thought, seeing how well-planned his tactics were. Her stomach turned in horror, fearing what he had in store for her.

"What? But you asked me to come here." he replied playfully as he took her hands and moved them over her head, placing them in front of her waist. Before she knew it, she held her in an unrelenting bind; she tried to squirm, but there was no way out.

"I believe your words where somewhere along the lines of, 'come and get me..?" he teased as he rested his head on her shoulder.

She realized he was referring to the earlier encounter with Deadshot, somewhat confirming her suspicions that he was the ‘Master’ that the gunman was talking about. But instead of being affected by fear, she went on for a more playful reply. "You're paraphrasing. I did not sound like a wanton hussy."

He chuckled lightly at her response, surprised that she decided to humor him. "And that's what I love about you." He started kissing her neck, making her lose hold of all form of logic. The warmth of his kisses was driving her mad. Her supposedly cold resolve against her former leader was swiftly melting away, only leaving the love that she had for him all this time. Even though she knew it was wrong, so wrong…

"" she was biting back a moan, mentally berating herself for falling too easily to his charms.

"Tasting you." he managed to blurt out as his tongue traced her neck ever so slowly. The movement sent shivers down her spine, relishing the tempting feeling of his tongue on her skin. His arms pressed her body tighter into his, never wanting to let her go, never forgetting the taste of her skin, never ending their pleasure.

She unconsciously exposed her neck to him, giving him free reign to do what he wanted. His lips formed into a wicked grin before he started sucking on the skin before him, as if he had an insatiable thirst that only she could satisfy. It was then he knew that he only wanted her. There would be no substitute for his ravenous desire. He knew now that only Raven could fill the longing of his heart, of his soul. Only the dark sorceress could make him feel whole; she was the only one who could make every fiber of his being burst into life. It was only Raven now. Only her skin, only her lips, only her.

She couldn’t suppress the moan that escaped her lips then, desire sweeping over them. It was only then that she realized how much she wanted him to touch her that way, to hold possession of her as if she were his, to drink the essence of her skin as if she were a fine class of wine. But she knew that this was wrong. His kisses didn’t change anything between them. He was still after her teammates. He was still a criminal, running from the law. He was still the sinner pretending to be a saint.

As his lips moved up to nibble her ear, her eyes flew wide open, morality finally coming back to her senses. “STOP!” she screamed, using her powers to pry his arms off of her. A black wave of energy emanated from her, sending Robin to the other side of the room. But he easily shifted his position so he could land on his feet, watching her movements, wondering what he did wrong.

“We can’t do this.” She said, her voice faltering with each word.

“Why not?” He started walking toward her, desperate for her not to leave his side again.

“This is wrong and you know it.” She tried to walk away from him, but within seconds, he was only a few meters away from her,

“They’re the ones who are wrong, Raven! They’re the ones stealing you from me!” His voice lost the cool façade that it always had. He was allowing his emotions to run free, exposing himself in front of her for the man that he really was.

“And they have a pretty good reason to, Robin!” She turned to face him now, her own emotions coloring her voice as well. “You did have them almost killed a number of times. You have them all paralyzed right now! Doesn’t that say a lot already?”

“They should be thankful that I haven’t killed them yet!” His voice was suddenly something that Raven could not recognize. She took a step back, the fear and danger being revealed right before her very eyes. This was the danger that surrounded Robin, this was the real Boy Wonder now. Someone very far from who he once was.

“Do you know how easy it would be for me to kill them? I single-handedly killed Slade without even breaking a sweat. How hard do you think it would be to add the Titans to that list?”

Even from the darkness of her room, Raven clearly saw Robin’s features. The way his face contorted into an expression of pure hatred, of evil. She couldn’t do anything but to take a step back, in fear of what he could do in the fit of his rage. But despite the fear, her questioning mind got the best of her, as she asked:

“So that’s why you sent Deadshot here? So that he could do it for you? Isn’t that right, Master?” She instantly regretted the sharp edge her tone had. She wouldn’t be surprised if he murdered her right then and there.

“Yes, I am the Master.” He replied with a tinge of pride in his voice. “And you have only begun to comprehend what that truly means.” Raven opened her mouth to speak, wanting to know what he meant with those words, but he cut her off as he continued:

“Like I said, he was only to send warning shots. Hence the reason why they’re still alive right now.”

“Yeah, just completely paralyzed.”

“Oh they can’t be completely spared, Raven. Not after what they’ve done to me. Not after what they’ve done to you.”

Raven didn’t even notice his movements, but before she knew it, Robin was right in front of her, caressing her face ever so softly, his rage disappearing instantly once he touched her cheek.

All the hostility left Raven’s voice as well as she breathed out his name. “Robin…” She looked down and shook her head, hiding herself from his smoldering gaze. She couldn’t fall prey to his charms- not again. She had to stay strong, for Batman, for her friends, for what was right. “They haven’t done anything to me. They tried to find you, we all did. Please, can you just leave them alone?” she practically begged those last few words, hoping against hope that he would listen.

He only replied with maniacal laughter, throwing back his head as the eerie sound filled the room. “No, Raven. I saw with my very own eyes how they have been hurting you, how they gave up on looking for me after two months- two damn months!

“So you have been watching us!” Raven exclaimed, finding something to be angry about; something she could hold on to so that she wouldn’t fall to his charms again.

“Oh, didn’t you know? I’ve been watching you all for years now. I know your every movement, your gestures, your true intentions… everything. I’ve been watching you all.”

Raven’s fists began curling up into balls. “How could you?! Didn’t you respect our privacy? Did you watch us while we bathed, while we ate, while we slept? What kind of a sick person are you?”

“The one who wouldn’t last a day without you.”

Her anger disappeared instantly as he said those menacing words. She felt the swift change in his emotions. He was no longer the playful hero she remembered him to be. She saw him for who he was now: the evil Master.

Even behind the mask, she could feel his gaze boring into her, looking at her possessively. It was only then did she feel the blackness of his heart, the evil that he had worked so hard to conceal. He had sheathed it all for her at that moment, and all she could do was to slowly back away.

Before she even had a chance to speak, he was suddenly upon her, harshly pinning her to the steel door. Her back shivered at the contact of the cold, metal door against her body, while Robin’s warm chest pressed tightly to her own. He held her wrists forcefully against the door, already bruising them in his hold, telling her that there was no escape.

“Do you know how easy it would be for me to take you right now?” he whispered harshly against her ear. “Do you have any idea how I can just claim you as my own, how I can finally have the one woman that has been in my heart and soul for the past two years?” He inhaled her scent, as if it were an addicting drug. “Can’t you see how helpless you are in my arms? I can just rip your leotard off and you will be mine.” He let go of one of her wrists so he could trace the sides of her body, making her feel like he burned her skin with his every touch. He licked his lips, telling her of the overwhelming desire that he was feeling right now.

Raven had never felt so helpless in her life. She was counting down the seconds before the man before her took her for everything that she was. She cowered in fear at the thought, though a part of her wanted it to happen. She closed her eyes, trying to control her conflicting emotions. How could she still love the man before her when it looked like he was going to devour her any second now?

“But I won’t.”

He suddenly let go of her wrists and backed away from her, the evil aura suddenly disappearing from his persona.

“I won’t force myself upon you. I will never make you do anything that you wouldn’t want to. I want you to come to me willingly. I don’t care if takes months or years for you to do so, but I swear Raven, I will do everything in my power to make you love me.”

Her face twisted into a confused expression. She didn’t know what to make of Robin’s words. Did that... did that mean that he truly loved her? That he loved her so much that he was willing to wait for her to love him back? Was this what Batman was talking about yesterday, the remnants of who he was as a hero? And if it was, could she really be the one to bring out that side of him, to overcome the evil persona that she just saw?

“Robin, I…” she reached out to touch his face, though she didn’t know why. Confused thoughts swam in her head as she drew closer to the man before her. As she lifted herself up to reach his face, only one thought crossed her mind. As he wrapped an arm around her tiny waist, he felt hope springing forth from his chest, his mind asking him just one question. As their lips were only a breath away from each other, they wanted to know the same thing: was this the love that could finally bring them together?

Right at that moment, the door in Raven’s room swooshed open, allowing a shirtless Speedy entrance into her room. Both of them turned around just in time to hear the archer scream:


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