Thursday, August 18, 2016

With great power comes . . ? - Chapter 1 (Teen Titans Fic)

[Prologue here; Opening dialogue comes from the final episode of Teen Titans; Ashley is an original character; Scott is this guy.]

This was getting bad. Really bad. If Beast Boy didn't stop then other people would start to believe she was Terra too. Lisa had to get him to leave, and the only way to do that would be to talk. It was what he wanted. What she dreaded.

“Okay, you've got two minutes,” Lisa said.

“Maybe you don't remember, but I do,” Beast Boy said. “You're my friend. You're a Teen Titan.”

Lisa focused on other things she remembered. Slade was right. You don't have any friends. That's what he'd said before. Traitor. That's what Raven had said. Not a friend. Not a Titan.

“You're wrong,” Lisa said.

“You don't belong here, Terra,” Beast Boy said.

Damn it.

“Stop calling me that!” If he kept this up everyone would think she was Terra.

“It's who you are.”

Not anymore. Never again.

“What do you want from me?” Lisa asked. What would it take to be left alone?

“Why can't things just go back to the way they were? You were so happy then.”

No. She'd never been happy then. She finally had enough control over her powers that she didn't have to be terrified of setting off a natural disaster and killing more people, but the price was going back to the Titans, living with them, getting to know them, and setting them up to die.

There'd been no happiness. Submission, obedience, the grudging acceptance that she'd never have a happy ending, moments of joy that she tried to hold onto knowing they'd be crushed, resignation, then --at the end-- a fool's hope that if she could save just one then maybe there'd be some kind of redemption in that, her entire being being shattered when it failed, then hate filled in the cracks and making her whole again.

She wasn't happy then.

“Things were never the way you remember,” Lisa said. It was an admission that she did remember, otherwise how could she know? It was an admission that she had been Terra, otherwise her words would be meaningless. “Now leave me alone.”

“Here,” Beast Boy said. “Take this … in case you're in trouble.”

He was offering her a Titans' communicator. No. There was no way. Was there?

“In case you need me,” Beast Boy said. “You can call me anytime.”

No. She pushed any conflict from her mind. That was over now.

“I don't need it,” Lisa said.

“But . . .”

Lisa started to walk away. “Time's up,” she said.

“Terra. . .”

It wasn't her name anymore. It shouldn't have the power to stop her in her tracks. It did.

“Things change, Beast Boy,” Lisa said. He knew who she'd been, she'd admitted she did as well, no point in dodging the truth now. She turned to face him. “The girl you want me to be is just a memory.”

That's all the Terra he knew was. She wasn't even the real past, just a lie he'd believed in. How could he not understand that everything after she came back was . . . she might have felt conflicted, but she was planning on betraying them the whole time and with a slight deviation she'd followed through on that plan.

Beast Boy's communicator came to life. Robin asking for help. Sounded kind of desperate.

“Come with me,” Beast boy said to her.

Lisa shook her head.

“You go,” she said. “You're the Teen Titan. That's who you are.” She'd never been. She'd tried to be a hero, sure. But she'd always done more harm than good. Then she embraced doing harm and … “That's not me. I'm not a hero. I'm not out to save the world. I'm just a girl with a geometry test next period, and I haven't studied.”

The bell rang and she was able to disappear in the crowd.

∗ ∗ ∗

They were all worn out, but at least it was over. As the team shambled to their rooms, it hit Raven what that meant. She caught Beast Boy before he got to his room.

“Mission's over,” Raven said, “we can find out about Terra now.”

“I'm done with that,” Beast Boy said. Anger. Frustration. Shattered hope.

“Was she she not Terra?” Raven asked.

“I don't want to talk about it,” Beast Boy said as he reached his room. Disappointment. Pain. An open wound. A slammed door.

That went well, Raven sarcastically thought to herself as she went to her own room.

∗ ∗ ∗

“You're not here,” Raven said to the empty space where Terra once stood.

“Either someone took you,” she said, “or you left under your own power.”

Raven started to pace. “Obviously the first thing to do is meet the girl Beast Boy said was you, but apparently he won't be helping with that. He never did say where he saw you, either. Well, not beyond 'downtown'.”

“I hope you walked off. I swear, if some villain carted you away for experiments . . .”

∗ ∗ ∗

“I blame you,” Raven said to the, now monster free, construction site. She'd searched all day for signs of Terra in the city. Nothing. Now the sun had gone down and she'd gone back to the beginning.

Beast Boy had wandered off during the fight because he thought he saw Terra, so the girl must have been around here somewhere. But--

And that's when Raven spotted the school. She'd been so concerned about what had been torn down, she hadn't even noticed what had been built up.

Assuming the girl had come from the school, that didn't really tell Raven anything. Get a bunch of Terra age kids together and it wasn't all that unlikely that one might look a lot like Terra via random chance alone. On the other hand, a newly constructed school was just the sort of place a teen with no history might be able to slip in.

There'd have been so much paperwork and confusion because of the redistricting and fights over which students stayed where they were and which ones moved to the new school. And that assumed a public school, a private school might cover an even larger area making it even less remarkable that someone like Terra didn't seem to know anyone.

She'd need to come back in daylight.

∗ ∗ ∗

The feelings of kids getting out of school bombarded Raven, but she was able to find the emotion she was looking for: loneliness.

A student who felt cut off, left out, friendless, ignored, and invisible. Raven navigated the crowd and fell into stride beside the girl. “Hey,” Raven said. No response. “Hey,” she said again, this time accompanying it with a tap on the shoulder.

“What do you want? I didn't do anything,” the girl said quickly. Shock, fear, surprise.

“I was wondering if you were doing anything,” Raven said, “I wanted to talk and . . .” I feel better about using people for information gathering if I can make their lives a little better in the process and you, stranger, are desperately in need of someone to talk to. “And it seems like everyone is in the middle of something.” Raven gestured to the various boys and girls engaged in innumerable conversations.

“Just talk?” the girl asked. Uncertainty, hope, fear, doubt.

“Just talk,” Raven said. “I'm . . . well I'm not new around here, but I was away for a while and it feels like an entirely different city.”

“I guess we could talk,” the girl said. A bit of fear, a bit of relief, hope, even more fear that the hope would lead to a fall.

“I'm Rachel,” Raven said.

“Ashley,” the girl said.

∗ ∗ ∗

Raven had explained that she was mostly interested in learning about the new school that had popped up while she'd been gone, but she also encouraged the shy and lonely girl to tell her about herself.

When Ashley finally believed that Raven was genuinely interested, information poured out of the girl. How usually no one noticed her, but sometimes they made exceptions to torment her. How she hated the dress code because, without her clothes to attack, every single insult was now personal. How her parents barely noticed her. How she hadn't had a real friend since second grade.

In response Raven told the sanitized earthly version of her own story. That she had been raised communally after her abusive father left her depressed mother, that she'd had to learn meditation to control her mood swings and spent much of her life afraid to let anyone get to close to her, that it wasn't until she was a teenager that she finally made friends.

Raven felt Ashley's emotions lighten as she realized that Raven wasn't trying to set her up for some cruel prank, and her positive emotions strengthen as the two shared more with each other.

The subject of cruel pranks brought Raven back to why she'd come: a possible way to meet the girl Beast Boy thought was Terra on more or less neutral ground without setting off any alarm bells.

There was going to be a party over the coming weekend that most of the class was going to. At first Raven assumed that Ashley hadn't been invited, but it turned out that Ashley had been invited, and even told to bring a friend or two.

It was obviously a trap, the girls who invited her knew she didn't have a friend, certainly not two, and they probably had something nasty planned if she showed up anyway. Still, it was an opening. Even if maybe-Tara didn't show up, she'd be able to make connections and possibly set up some way to meet her.

“I think I could help you have fun that day,” Raven said, “elsewhere of course, if you could get me into that party.”

“I don't think you'd like the party,” Ashley said.

“I won't.”

“Then why--”

“Hey,” Raven interrupted, “I've got to have some secrets to maintain my mysterious allure.”

Ashley actually laughed.

“They said bring a friend or two,” Raven said. “So you show up, we go in and make sure they don't do anything to you right then, I'll stay, and 'or two' will take you somewhere less hostile and more fun.”

“Who's 'or two',” Ashley asked. Somewhat suspicious, but genuinely interested.

“A guy I've known for a few years now,” Raven said. “I think you and he would get along really well.” Raven paused and thought a moment. She did think that, but she could be wrong. “I should warn you though, he shares my fashion sense.”

“I like your fashion sense,” Ashley said.

Raven allowed herself a smile. When she was incognito she dressed as a typical goth teen her age because that was, in many ways, who she wanted to be. She'd never consider stopping being a hero, but in a world without superpowers, this was how she'd dress and this was who she'd be.

The conversation continued for a while after that. Raven hadn't really intended to do more than give the girl some friendly human contact and get some information out of her, but she found she liked the girl, and the prospect of seeing her again felt good.

It had been a year since her father, a year in which she'd had to come to terms with actually having a future, something she'd never expected. She'd started spending time in the world as a human, creating a new life for herself, and she thought this girl could be a part of it.

When it was time for them to go their separate ways, they traded phone numbers.

∗ ∗ ∗

Scott had just finished his soul crushing shift at work and messed up his hair as he walked away. They were always so insistent on customers being able to see both his eyes but as sure as anything was true in this pointless world, his hair wanted to fall down on the right side. Sure, it covered his eye, but it wasn't like he couldn't see through it.

Then he noticed someone coming his way. Rae, in civilian clothes.

“Hey Rae,” he said.

- - -

“Hey, Scott,” Raven said. She looked at his clothes. He looked like a respectable Staples employee. “You look weird in uniform.”

“Not everyone gets to pick their uniform.”

“I was wondering if you have plans for the weekend, 'everything's pointless' boy” Raven said. “I could use a favor.”

“Raven or Rachel?” Scott asked.

“Both,” Raven said. “Rachel's new friend Ashley is going to get her into a mindless party where Raven hopes to make contact with someone. Ashley would probably be picked on and otherwise suffer at said party, so I was hoping you could come with, and then take Ashley someplace fun after I'm inside.”

“I thought you didn't want to mix Rachel and Raven's lives,” Scott said.

“The situation is complicated,” Raven said.

“Since when am I fun?” Scott asked.

“You talk, you listen,” Raven said, “that's more than enough.”

Scott came the closest he ever did to smiling.

“Just . . . dress as you instead of soulless retail drone 421,” Raven said.

∗ ∗ ∗

“Well,” Raven said. “Ashley was right. I did not enjoy that at all.”

At least she'd found the girl who looked like Terra, but talking to her didn't help much. Raven was pretty sure that the girl wasn't Terra.

Raven had managed to set up a meeting where it would be just her and Lisa, the girl who looked like Terra. It would help her verify that the girl wasn't Terra if she didn't have so many people with so many emotions in so tight of a space interfering with her emphatic abilities.

Unfortunately she gave the the girl, at best, one in twenty odds of actually showing up at that meeting. Even if the girl did show, all it would do was confirm where Terra wasn't.

“Where are you Terra?” Raven asked the empty air.

Raven hoped that Ashley and Scott were having a better time.



  1. An intriguing start (and I have no history with any of these people, I'm just going by your versions of them).

  2. I too am intrigued. I like Ashley tho she is so far very vague. I assumed she had, like, lava powers, or something involving ashes but I guess not? Or maybe she was formed from an Ash tree by the gods?

    1. Not all characters in this setting have superpowers.

      She could have been formed from an Ash tree by the gods, but it wouldn't matter and thus won't come up.

  3. I don't follow Teen Titians, so I don't know the characters. But the story is interesting so far.