The First Time in Years
-New York -
Robin was standing in front of the mirror, looking at himself. He could feel the cold tile on his feet and the air stinging against his skin. He sighed and closed his eyes, wanting to escape from himself, from his life. He didn't understand what he had done to get here. He didn't understand why he was even alive. What purpose did he have? What was the reason that he kept living and breathing? He didn't feel… he didn't love… so what was the point? He would kill himself, in fact, he had considered it many times, but Slade would just revive him. So why bother? He will just get beaten for it, or worse… someone else would suffer because of it, some other innocent person.
Out of all the people that he had seen die and personally killed, he didn't see one that deserved it more than him. He used to keep count of his kills, but the number grew too large. And at a certain point, he didn't care to know anymore. He was beyond hope, beyond feeling compassion. He wasn't human anymore; his soul died a long time ago. He had stopped caring about those that he ruthlessly murdered. He no longer pitied them, he no longer thought about their families. Once he had hated himself for being a murderer, but now… he saw nothing wrong with it. He still hated himself, but for other reasons.
He opened his eyes and looked into the mirror, seeing those dead eyes looking back at him. So void… so vacant… so lifeless… He turned on the faucet and began to clean out several cuts on his forehead. His face was honestly not that bad compared to his body. There were only about three cuts and his left eye was slightly swollen. Nothing that he hadn't had before, in fact, he has had much worse. This was his punishment for setting off the alarm at Neuro Link Inc.; he was very lucky that he wasn't in a coma right now. After washing out the wounds, he opened the cabinet and pulled out rubbing alcohol. He didn't so much as flinch as he poured it into the open cuts. He had become accustomed to pain. He placed several band aids over the cuts and then proceeded to slowly pull his shirt off.
This time flinching in the slightest, Robin threw the shirt to the floor and began to examine his torso in the mirror. There were several lashes across his chest and back and there were boot shaped bruises along his ribcage and stomach. He was pretty sure that he didn't have any broken ribs, as he knew what those felt like quite well, but every time he moved he could feel twinges of pain. Every time he breathed he could feel his chest constricting. How had this become his norm?
He took a wash cloth and wet it down, wiping the blood off of his torso before pouring rubbing alcohol over each wound with a hiss. He relished the pain, knowing that as soon as he was done, he would go back to total numbness. After finishing cleaning his wounds, he stopped to inspect his body. He was quite lean, but he had built up a bit of muscle since becoming Slade's apprentice. One noticeable aspect about Robin was his massive amount of scars. He had more than could probably be counted, some from Slade, some from various missions. He let his hands trace several of the scars before landing on one in particular that sat straight over his heart. He traced it several times before stopping to look at that oh so familiar S. He could remember the day that Slade had carved that into him.
He had come home from a mission, several months after being kidnapped, to be jabbed in the neck with a needle. Apparently, Slade had carved a large S straight over his heart with a surgical knife. Robin woke up to the lovely bleeding insignia on his chest and when asked, Slade replied, "Needed to mark my territory." It healed over and left a faint scar, which Slade was not satisfied with. He knocked Robin out once again and re-carved it, wanting it to be more prominent. The second time, the cut did not heal so discreetly and left a rather noticeable scar, much to Robin's distaste.
After that, Robin gave up on not being Slade's. He could no longer deny it. His will wasn't completely broken, but he was very close. It took a few more months of killing for his fire to completely die out. And when it did, Robin fell into complete darkness. That was when he stopped feeling; that was when the light in his eyes dissipated. There was no going back from there… There was no bringing Richard back. Now he was just Robin, assassin extraordinaire.
- Jump City -
Cyborg walked into the main ops room, a book in hand. Beast Boy was sitting on the couch, watching some action show and Starfire was leaning against a counter in the kitchen. Both were completely silent as they listened to Cyborg enter the room.
"Hey Star, have you seen Raven?" he asked.
"I believe that she has gone to the roof," she replied. Her voice wasn't as joyous as it used to be, but it still wasn't completely depressing. Though her tone was often melancholy, it wasn't disheartening. She still held out hope, it was the only thing that kept her going.
"Thanks," he replied and turned to walk out of the room. "Hey Star?" he said as he stopped in the doorway.
"Yes, friend Cyborg?" she asked, her tone sweet and curious.
"Would you like to do something later? Watch a movie or something?" He turned to look at her. Her face lifted slightly and she smiled at him.
"I would very much like that," she whispered. Beast Boy's ears perked up at the mention of a movie and he flipped over on the couch to look at the two. Cyborg nodded at her and continued on his way towards the roof, leaving the two alone in the room.
"Could I maybe get in on the action?" Beast Boy asked, his voice enthusiastic. He loved watching movies! And they hadn't all watched a movie together in years. She walked over to the couch and sat down next to him.
"What do you mean? I do not understand the 'get in on the action'? Is there going to be battle?" she asked. She knew that it was another earthly expression, but she did not understand what it meant. Beast Boy laughed and she looked down, embarrassed from being so foolish.
"No! Star, it's okay! I wasn't laughing at you, I promise! I was just asking if I could join you and Cyborg with the movie," he explained. Starfire took Beast Boy's laughter the wrong way most of the time and he had been trying to remedy that lately. She smiled, her expression understanding.
"Yes! I would be overjoyed to have you join me and friend Cyborg!" she exclaimed. Beast Boy laughed again; he loved her enthusiasm. He had never fully appreciated what a good person she was during their first few years together as team mates. He stood up abruptly and she jumped slightly from surprise.
"How about I teach you how to play videogames? I mean, I know that we taught you years ago, but I figure that I could re-teach you!" He thought it would be a great way to kill some time and cheer her up. She looked at him doubtfully for a moment. "Come on… you know you want to! It'll be fun, I promise!" With that, she nodded and Beast Boy ran over to the Game Station console to set up their first game.
Above the ops room, on the roof, sat a young woman with dark hair. She was levitating and chanting her mantra. "Azarath…Metrion… Zinthos… Azarath… Metrion…Zinthos…" Behind her, the door to the roof opened and a young man walked through the entryway. He stood at the door as it closed behind him, admiring the view of the sunset over the water. They really did live in a spectacular spot. He continued to stand there, watching as the sun went completely down.
It really was a lovely day, the temperature was slightly warm and Cyborg could feel a cool breeze pass him by every so often. It was days like these that he really felt content with life, no matter the circumstances. It was days like these that showed him that life can still be beautiful, even when you are suffering. It was days like these that Cyborg felt happy to be alive.
"How long have you been standing there?" a monotonous voice asked. Cyborg looked over at Raven, who was now sitting on the ground. He walked over to her, his boots crackling on the rocky pavement, and sat down next to her.
"Just since the sunset, I came to give you this," he said and handed her a very old, very heavy book. She looked down at it for a moment before taking it out of his hands. "I found it in the hallway near Robin's door." She continued to look at the book in silence and Cyborg sighed. "Look, if you ever want to talk, I am here." He looked up at the now darkening sky and saw stars beginning to appear. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, trying to shut out her emotions.
"That is nice of you Cyborg, but I am fine. I must have dropped it while walking to the ops room," she said. He sighed once again, wishing that just for once she would open up. He knew that Robin's room was nowhere near her route to the ops room. It wasn't good for her to bottle up her emotions; that he knew for sure. But he didn't want to push her; she would open up when she was ready.
"You know? I don't think I have ever really watched the sunset. I have seen it before, but I never really sat down to watch it," he mused, the whole time looking out at the darkening horizon. Raven grunted in acknowledgment and began to look out at the waters surrounding the island, placing the book on the ground next to her. They both sat there for a while, Cyborg leaning on his hands behind him and Raven sitting cross-legged next to him.
Both just sat in silence, appreciating the calm night. Raven was enjoying the company, not being used to having any, and Cyborg was enjoying the cool night air. Neither really felt the need to say anything, the silence was perfect. Both of them knew what was on the other's mind, so words were unnecessary. After a while of watching the stars begin to appear, Cyborg sat up, deciding that it was time to be getting back inside.
"Starfire and I are watching a movie, would you like to join?" he asked. He didn't expect her to come; he just thought it would be nice to invite her. She looked out at the stars for a moment before standing up, book in hand, and walking towards the door.
"You know," she stopped, "that actually sounds nice." Cyborg smiled at her and she nodded in return. The two made their way down to the main ops room, where Starfire and Beast Boy were laughing and playing videogames. Beast Boy paused the game and turned around, sitting with his knees on the couch and looking at Raven. Raven looked back at him, "So, are we going to watch a movie or what?" He smiled and jumped out of his seat, running towards their collection of movies.
On that night, the four Titans sat around the television and watched a movie, all smiling and enjoying each other's company for the first time in nearly two years.
Cyborg woke up on the couch and looked around at his friends. To his right Starfire was sleeping while sitting up straight and to his left, Beast Boy was sprawled across several cushions, drooling onto the floor. He smiled at the sight of them, his two friends sleeping happily. He cared about them so much, and seeing them happy last night had made his day. They all must have fallen asleep on the couch during the movie, except Raven. She must have gotten up to go to bed after everyone else had fallen asleep.
Cyborg yawned and sat up to stretch. He looked at the time, 7:14. It would be a while before anyone woke up, so he decided to go and get himself a glass of milk. He stood in the kitchen in silence, watching his friends and sipping his milk. The sun was shining through the windows and the air was pleasantly still. It was a beautiful morning and Cyborg was happy to be right where he was. He took a deep breath and looked over at the computer across the room. Might as well check…
He walked over to the computer and sat down in the desk chair, placing his milk on a coaster. The once silent room was now filled with the faint sounds of a keyboard clacking. Cyborg looked over his shoulder at his sleeping friends before typing in the URL for the New York Post. He began to scan the front page, looking for anything of interest, when he came across an article titled 'Up and Coming Biotech company attacked'. He was about to click on the article when heard Starfire stir behind him. He immediately closed the page and stood up.
"Morning Star," he said as he walked over to the couch. She grumbled and rubbed her eyes before stretching her arms as high as she could.
"Why am I not in my room?" she asked as she yawned. She opened her eyes wide and looked at Cyborg.
"We all fell asleep on the couch after the movie," he replied. She turned and looked at Beast Boy who was lying on his stomach and breathing deeply.
"Where is Raven?" she asked.
"Oh, I guess she went to her room after we all fell asleep." Starfire nodded and stood up. She flattened out her skirt and walked to the front door, which slid open for her. She wanted to take a shower and change into some new clothes. Her stomach grumbled from hunger, but she would rather feel clean than eat right now.
Cyborg watched her go and walked to the kitchen, now hungry enough to eat breakfast. He began to make waffles, bustling around the kitchen and trying not to make noise; he didn't want to wake Beast Boy up. After making enough waffles to feed a family of five, Cyborg sat down to eat, drowning them in a pool of syrup. Half way through his feeding frenzy, the doors slid open again and Raven walked in. She had her hood over her face and was beginning to make tea. "So I guess you skipped out on the sleepover?" Cyborg asked jokingly.
"Yeah, sleepovers aren't really my thing…" she replied in her monotonous voice. Despite her impassive persona, she had actually really enjoyed last night, though she would never admit it. Cyborg chuckled and continued to eat his waffles. "That was a nice thing you did," she said, her back turned to him. He swallowed and turned his head to look at her.
"What did I do?" he asked before shoveling more waffles into his mouth with a fork. Raven turned around to face him and swirled the spoon in her mug.
"Having us all watch a movie, it was nice. We all needed it, especially Starfire." Cyborg looked at her and put his fork down.
"I just figure that you know, the team needed to relax and have some fun for once," he said. It was true, they needed it badly. All of them, even if Raven didn't want to admit that she needed it too. The two were silent for a few minutes, both thinking about last night.
"Starfire almost floated out of her chair last night," Raven whispered before sipping her tea.
"Yeah, I saw…" Cyborg and Raven looked away from each other, Raven focusing on her tea and Cyborg gazing at the counter.
"It's been a long time since she has done that… almost two years…" Raven added, not quite knowing why she was continuing on with the conversation.
"Yeah, I know," Cyborg said bitterly. Starfire hadn't flown since the night that the tower was attacked. Raven understood that it was because she needed to feel 'the unbridled joy of flight' in order to fly, and that she just couldn't feel it anymore. Raven had never asked her about it, but she knew why. She had switched bodies with her at one point.
Raven looked at Cyborg, sensing his harsh tone, and walked over to him. She placed her hand on his shoulder and gave him one last look before walking out of the room. She needed to meditate, to get her emotions under control. Cyborg looked back down at his waffles, he no longer felt hungry. He stood up, his happiness from the morning leaking out of him, and looked over at Beast Boy. He looked so peaceful just lying there, like he didn't have a care in the world. That's how he should be… without a care in the world. He is so young, so innocent; and yet he has been through so much. Cyborg couldn't help but feel sorry for him.
He checked the clock again, it was now almost nine. He looked around the room and sighed. Maybe he should go work out in the gym or work on the T car. They may not use it anymore, but it was still his baby. As he looked around the room, his eyes landed on the computer in the corner. He could finish looking at the news…. Nah… He would rather go check on his baby, not like there was anything important in the news today anyways.
Robin was standing in the weapons room, looking around at his options. He took two hand guns, placing them in his hip holsters, and then turned around to look at the knives. A set of beautiful, shiny throwing knifes lay sheathed on a shelf. Robin couldn't resist the temptation and grabbed them, placing each knife in its place in his thigh holster. He grabbed several smoke bombs, flash bombs, and normal explosive bombs and positioned them in his belt. Along with those his belt held a grappling hook and a set of poisoned darts. He also had a machete sheathed over his back for good measure… you never know…
Robin walked towards the door, where Slade stood, watching him as he chose his weapons. "Throwing knives?" he asked with his eyebrows raised. Robin stood still next to Slade, looking at him and not saying a word. Slade looked down at his young apprentice, pride filling his eyes. He sure did love watching Robin get ready for an assassination. It was a victory for him every time. "Ready?" he asked, this time expecting an answer from Robin.
"Ready," the cold voice replied.
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