They looked. Of course they looked.
But there was nothing. Nothing.
And Robin felt there was nothing left of him either - he had given his all, every thing he had for this Red X, this bastard, and now Star was gone and so was he.
Nothing. All for nothing.
The ride home was the most stifling silence any of them had ever endured.
Cyborg had to help a stumbling, near delirious Robin to the T-Car, and the team averted their eyes from his dull and glazed eyes. Raven and Beast Boy followed in a hunched tangle of limbs, shuffling to the T-Car with no more words to speak, and tears that were smeared in blood. Robin let himself be lead without a fight, and Cyborg wished, wished, that he would fight back. Yell. Cry. Something.
His scream had echoed and warbled into the night sky, and it was the last sound to shatter their silence for a long time.
Robin was at a loss.
His leg throbbed as he paced, but he ignored the healing wound and placed a pale hand on his jaw. His eyes jumped skittishly from paper to paper, where the wall above his headboard was plastered with them, small, fine red strings criss crossing maps and CCTV printouts alike.
There were so many links, but they were like fragile spider webs, breaking off and drifting away from him. They had searched for Starfire for hours, hoping that they would find her curled up in the rubble, inevitably injured, but safe. But there was no sign of her, her tracker was a dead light on the map on his wall.
How he ached to hold her in his arms. There was so much he wanted to say, so much he needed to. Big stuff, apologies and confessions to be whispered against her smooth skin. Small stuff too, like how he loved the vibrant green of her eyes, the swish of her hair, the tread of her feet.
The others were slowly losing hope. He could see it in the bags beneath their eyes and the droop of their shoulders. It had been several long days since the battle, and the dark voices that slithered between their lungs were growing louder with every silent day.
But he was determined. He would bring her home. She would hear every single pitiful apology that could trip from his tongue, and he would stop rekmas, before he lost more brothers in arms than the one buried so far away.
When she woke, there was a cool touch on the inside of her wrist, a caress against her bare skin.
Her lips murmured a husky, "Robin", as she stretched her skin under the touch and instinctively tried to pull closer. A thumb traced over her veins, once, twice, then pulled away. She gave a small whimper and reached out for the warmth, fighting to open her heavy lids.
She strained, finally pulling her eyes open against the tiredness that nawed thickly on the base of her neck, fuzzing her brain with a layer of static.
She expected to be back at the Tower, could feel the soft comfort of a thick blanket beneath her, cradling her body. But it didn't smell familiar.. It was a mix of sweat and engine grease, green grass and thick pine. It was different from Robin's leather and musky hair gel.
One lid pried open, then the next. Above her was a high vault ceiling of sturdy beams, carved down gracefully to the wide arch of a french casement window, the panes covered in thick black paint put on in dizzying strokes. This wasn't the tower. Panic was slow to trawl through her sluggish veins, but when it did, it felt like her entire body was shot with ice.
She followed the line of the window, down the dark wooden curve of the wall, across the concrete floor, to herself. Her body was swaddled in a thick black blanket, but several spots were slick with blood. Her bare wrist, the only part of her that stuck out of the swaddling, tingled.
The touch…? With a gasp she twisted her neck to the right, and, when she saw Red X lounging on a chair against the opposite wall, one leg crossed casually across the other, she fought back against the tight grip of the blankets to place one shoulder against the wall. She lay on her side to watch him for several tense moments, then, when he gave no intent of moving, tried to sit upright.
Bad idea. Her world swirled in spots of racing red, like a splatter of blood, and her body was suddenly shot through with a fierce agony that made her whimper and pull her chin tight to her chest as she tried to breathe through the pain. It sliced up her hands, which she would see now were caked with dried blood. Underneath it all, fresh blood oozed from deep gouges in her palms.
Her back felt as if someone had used it for a springboard, and her feet throbbed and ached as if she had walked over live coals, again and again. A thin sliver of pain shot across her cheek when she pulled her lips into a grimace, and she remembered the flash of steel as it whistled towards her. She remembered everything.
The battle nestled between her lungs like a weight, stiffened her swollen windpipe a deep blue from where it was ringed with his touch. Her forearms were a mess of burns and blood, and she swallowed stiffly past her dry throat and her tongue that stuck to the roof of her mouth.
Finally she maneuvered herself to a sitting position with several groans and huffs, bracing her aching stomach muscles to take her weight. Her forearms, shaking and bleeding, swam before her vision, and she tucked them tight to her chest as she struggled to breeze past the whistle of her pulse in her ears.
He sat and watched her dispassionately from behind the mask, although his legs were uncrossed and his shoulders seemed tense beneath his disguise.
She watched him from beneath hooded eyes, but, when she tried to talk, the words burrowed deep behind her teeth and refused to spill into the open air between them. Her body swayed weakly when she leant forward, and through her dizziness she thought briefly she was going to fall straight off the bed.
He made a move towards her then - a quick movement of fluttering palms and open fingers. With a heavy intake of breath she thrust her right palm in front of her as a warning, but all it produced was a dull crackle of heat that danced once across her fingertips and then fled.
The action sent her awash with a new agony and she didn't have the strength to push him away when he caught her body before she fell, slipping on hand to her shoulder and another to the tender spot on skin on the nape of her neck. Dully her brain fought the fog for long enough to notice that his hands were without their black gloves. His knuckles, broken and bloody, sat oddly on such elegant fingers. In another life he could have played piano, pulled sweet notes into the air rather than blood from others' bodies. Their touch was cool against her feverish skin.
Her head swayed on shaking shoulders as she fought against everything to not fall forward on his shoulder and sleep, but she was jolted when she felt a click against the nape of her neck, and a heavy collar settled against her collarbones.
She reared away from him, pushing him from her as if he was on fire. Trembling fingers explored the thick chain link around her neck, pressing deep to the bruises that marred her orange skin a sick black. She was well familiar with the feel of a collar around her neck - the Psions had not been gentle with their experiments, so many moons ago.
Fear reared to life then, ripping the air from her lungs as she pulled desperately at the collar. Already she could feel the hum running through her teeth as her last vestiges of power were stripped from her body. Her green eyes turned a glare to Red X, for she had no other name to call him by, narrowing to dangerous slits as she realized in his hand he held a slim device, recording her every move.
With one last burst of energy she launched herself at him with a scream, catching the top of his hand with her nails before she thudded to the ground on heavy knees. Toppling forward she managed to twist her shoulder beneath her so she rolled flat on her back. Red X towered above her, framed by her blackening vision. She tried once more she reach him, to conjure anything righteous from the fear and anger that mingled in her breast, but all that came out was a whimper. Turning her face from him, she curled deep into herself, closing her eyes to welcome the darkness as the last of her power drained away.
The last thing she felt was a hand smoothing her hair away from her face, and then she was lost to the dark.