This is the last time I rewrite this chapter lol. I've finally settled on a chapter one I can live with.
Raven fixed her eyes on the stage for the umpteenth time. No matter how hard she tried and how long she sat she couldn't absorb the poetry. Well, that was to be expected what happens when she left the Tower just to feel less like a left out loner.
The poet on stage yelled suddenly and Raven winced and resisted a good-natured eye-roll. She had to admit—that was a good way of getting the audience's attention. Unfortunately, she had to declare this distraction attempt a bust. She slid out of her booth, left payment and tip for her tea, and slipped out into the cold night air.
Raven leaned against the side of the Lark Café while she thought about the rest of her night. She mentally acknowledged Beastboy—his all-day pestering had been good for something. She really was considering joining the rest of the Teen Titans at tonight's local nightclub reopening. Drinks half off, girls get in free.
The other Titans had been looking forward to it all week and had of course asked Raven to join them. Fortunately for them, Raven did not drink. Or dance. Or let loose in any sort of rave-party fashion. They should know—tempting her control like that would be dangerous.
So, while the rest of the team had planned dates and drinks, Raven had scouted Jump City for anything remotely civilian to hold her attention. And here she was, standing outside the café, more bored than if she had just stayed in her room. Raven gnawed on her lip, turning the pros and cons over and over in her head. Pro: she wouldn't be bored, and she guessed she'd get to indulge in friendship… Con: she blew up the club, resetting all the reconstruction after Cinderblock's rampage earlier in the year.
Raven pressed her back harder against the café wall and continued worrying her bottom lip. After a few minutes, she growled and pushed off the wall. She pulled up her hood and stalked down the sidewalk, heading toward the nightclub. Fuck it. She could keep control in a loud nightclub. She could be a wallflower and enjoy the night vicariously through her team. Whatever.
Jason shifted his mask took a hard sip of his Dirty Russian with his eyes fixed on the mass of writhing bodies on the dance floor. Somehow the cacophony of the crowd and the club's thumping music couldn't drown out the inane conversation at his table.
He really couldn't stand the Jump City villains. Trust them to sit around and whine about the lack of attractive meta-women while sitting in a raging nightclub.
"Cheshire's cute," Mammoth pointed out, leaning back in his chair. The metal chair creaked concerningly under his weight.
"I'm surprised you can tell under that freaky mask partner," Billy Numerous snorted. A second Billy popped up from behind him and chimed in: "in any case, I think anyone hooking up with her would have to be on her particular wavelength if you get my meaning." Billy number two slung his arm around a third Billy's shoulders and twirled a finger by his head for emphasis. Billy number one indicated them with his thumb and nodded vigorously.
Seemore interrupted the Numerous sideshow and leaned in toward the middle of the table.
"You see, Jinx wasn't crazy and she had a good head on her shoulders," he asserted. Gizmo snorted."
"She was crazy enough to ditch us for those Titan scuds!" Gizmo raged.
"Yeah bonehead," Johnny Rancid agreed, "call me when you get her away from the 'fastest kid alive.'" Johnny's disdain for Kid Flash was clear as he physically quoted the moniker.
"But if we're going for Titan girls I pick Starfire." He continued, counting on three fingers as he spoke:
"Hot bod, flamin' red hair, and she could give you one wild ride," Johnny smirked as he slung his other arm over the back of his chair and languorously leaned into it.
Kyd Wykkyd shook his head frantically and moved his hands around his head with his palms inward and his fingers up. …what? Crown? Spikes? Oh—yeah—Robin. Chuckles would take out anyone who looked twice at Starfire. What these idiots didn't know was that Starfire would kill you first. Jason could still feel a phantom ache in his back from being blasted across the room the only time he'd tried to hit on her. He didn't get up in her face anymore.
"Yeah Johnny Rancid," Gizmo mocked, "you can tell us when you get her away from the Titans' bird-brained leader." Jason's eyebrow twitched under his domino mask. He didn't understand how anyone let this kid into the nightclub. At least the short-stack had only managed to get his hands on a glass of Sprite. Jason took another pull of his Dirty Russian and turned back to the table as he cast about for anything to liven up the conversation, even if only a little bit.
"What about Raven?"
Raven could hear the bass of the club music thumping away from across the street. She looked down at her blue cloak and leotard and muttered her mantra under her breath. Cold black magic washed over her body, leaving a casual-clothed illusion in its wake. Raven looked over her simple black top and tight jeans and deemed herself club-ready. Didn't want to ruin the party with her 'creepy getup.'
As she walked up to the club, Raven was happy for the illusion. She blended in—the bouncer let her in with no problem—and the illusion spell gave her something to focus on. And boy did she need it. Walking into the nightclub was like walking into an emotional hurricane. The place was packed, the music thumped throughout Raven's body, the lights were blinding, and everyone's emotions were running wild.
It took all of Raven's courage not to turn and run back outside. It would be okay—all she had to do was find her friends in this sea of people, find an empty spot along the wall where she could stand, and then focus on her illusion and her friends to try and have some fun. She could do that.
She pushed on through the bodies before she could change her mind. Lucky for her, as they thinned out as she approached a seating area closer to the middle of the club.
Raven stopped at the unfamiliar voice. She turned in place, trying to see who in the world had called out to her in here. Had she already been recognized?
"-at about RAVEN?!" This time her name came with a laugh at the end. A loud, mean laugh. Raven turned slightly and looked at one of the tables behind her. Oh, she noticed idly, the villains came too—and fully suited. Must have arrived after Robin.
"What about her man?" Johnny Rancid countered.
Billy Numerous snorted. "Maybe we should throw you at Cheshire instead, partner. You might live through that one." His snorts devolved into giggles, which became laughs, and two other Billys worked to hold the seated one him up.
Seemore nodded, pointing at Billy "Yeah man, the only thing I see Raven doing with the stick up her ass is swinging it at you."
Mammoth nodded, laughing as well. "She's way too creepy."
Raven's eyes bounced to each villain on the table as she numbly took in the conversation. The whole table was laughing now except Kyd Wykkyd, Red X in just his suit and a domino mask, and Gizmo. Right. Because Gizmo was terrified of her. Because she was 'creepy,' unappealing, evil-
Suddenly the rest of the nightclub thundered back into Raven's conscious and she stumbled and caught herself on someone's chair. Ignoring the occupant's indignant cry, she strode straight back to the door, yanking her falling illusion back into place and holding onto her power tightly. This was a mistake. Experiment over. Time to go home.
Jason sat back in his chair. The conversation had now devolved into laughing at him—barely better than its earlier inanity. He scanned the nightclub again, looking for something to hold his attention, when he noticed a cloaked—no, now a casually dressed dark-haired girl rushing for the exit. Oh. That was interesting.
He scooped up his mask from the table.
"Well boys, it was fun. I'll see you around, or something."
X affixed his mask back to his face and headed pushed his way through the crowd around the door.
X finally stumbled into the night air. He looked around—no Raven.
"Hey, buddy. Ya gonna stand there all night or can the other patrons walk in?" The bouncer clapped a hand on Jason's shoulder. X flinched and immediately stiffened to avoid reflexively decking the bouncer. He shrugged off the hand and walked on, choosing to go left down the sidewalk on a whim. As he scanned the street, a rustling noise came out of an upcoming alley on the left. X walked up quietly—ah—found her.
Raven leaned on the wall of the alley and slouched in on herself, clutching at her hood. She tried to slow her breathing and take deep breaths.
Unfortunately, she was still too close to the club. She could feel the club's emotions spike as they waxed and waned with the music.
Raven shut her eyes tight and pulled her hood down over her face as tight as possible. This was so frustrating! It wasn't the first time she'd been made fun of, and it wouldn't be the last. It didn't matter. These emotions weren't helpful. Ugh, if only she hadn't been in such a volatile environment when those assholes-
The streetlight outside the alley popped under a flash of her dark magic, leaving her in darkness. Great.
Raven focused on her breathing, trying to ground herself and relax well enough to get. Back. In. Control. She unclenched her fists from her hood and folded her arms at her chest. Thankfully, the darkness made it easier to block out visual distractions.
Raven focused on her breathing. She focused on the feeling of each brick on the wall behind her back, and she focused on the not-so-great smells of the alley. Raven even noticed an uptick in the beat of the club's music. She could feel herself start to calm down as she did her best to ignore her thoughts.
"Azarath, Metrion Zintho-"
"You doing okay there Sunshine?" Raven's shoulders immediately jumped to her ears. She'd know that robotic voice anywhere. Great. X. Great! Just what she needed. She opened her eyes into slits, watching as the thief leaned against the wall next to her, calm as you please. Asshole.
"Now's not the time X. I'm happy to take you in any time you want, but not right now. Go away." Raven closed her eyes tightly again, but she straightened up and pushed her back against the wall.
X chuckled. "Aw, don't be like that kid—you look like you're not doing so hot. You need to re-"
"Relax? Thanks for the advice. Working on it. Leave." Raven ground out each syllable through her teeth, desperately reaching for the calm she had tasted seconds ago.
"What? I can't leave a friend in her time of need." X's voice had a teasing lilt to it that made Raven even angrier.
"Damsel in distress."
"I will hit you!"
"Wha-" Raven cut herself off with a gasp and ducked under the fist headed straight for her face. X's fist smashed into the brickwork, leaving a fist-sized dent.
She rolled to the other end of the alley and turned on her heel, snarling. "What do you think you're doing?!"
"Helping a dame out Sunshine. What you need is to let loose." X was facing her, shaking out his hands and settling into a ready stance.
"X I don't know what your game is, but you do not want to mess with me right now." Raven clenched her fists as her eyes illuminated the alley, leaving it awash in white. She hunched over slightly, trembling with the effort of keeping still.
"I don't know…" X crowed, idling over in small steps. "Feels like I really do want to mess with you right now."
"HYYYAAGH!" Raven threw herself forward with a yell, swinging right for the insufferable prick's skull mask. X ducked and turned easily, switching places with her just in time to see her glowing black fist crash through the brick wall. Raven stayed there, breathing heavily.
X whistled low. "Now that's what I'm talkin' about Birdie."
Raven pulled her fist from the wall and whirled around, snarling. "Do you ever shut up?!"
X went on the offensive this time, throwing a roundhouse kick at her face. Raven ducked under it and came in close, ready to punch the jerk's smug mask off his face when-
Red X dodged her first and spun back to the ground. He planted his feet, grabbed her arm, and threw her over his shoulder to the other end of the alley.
The air whuffed out of Raven's chest as her back slammed into the brickwork and she subsequently smacked the ground. As she scrambled back to a standing position she glared at Red X—and if looks could kill, hers would've done the job.
"Had enough Sunshine?" Red X taunted after she remained in place for a second. "I'm a little disappointed—you never managed to lay a scratch on-"
Before X could even wonder where she had gone, a slim arm snaked around his neck and started to squeeze. X startled for a moment before he pitched forward and reached back to grabbed Raven's arms. He threw her over his shoulder and slammed her into the ground before jumping back to the other side of the alley and put his back to the wall.
Raven snarled as the air rushed out of her lungs, and-
The wails of sirens pierced through the distant club noises and thumping bass. As if it were responding the club music slowed down to a steady, thumping beat. Raven watched Red X's head twitch in the direction of the oncoming noise.
"Well," he started, relaxing out of his ready stance. "Looks like the party's over. It was fun. See you around Sunshine." As soon as he finished his farewell Red X jabbed the teleporter on his belt and fizzled out of existence.
Raven was left alone on the sticky, smelly floor of the dark alleyway. She let her head thump lightly to the ground and waited, catching her breath as the sirens approached.
"That's not my name."
Slowly, she sank into a portal below her. She lowered herself onto the couch in Titans Tower and sighed, throwing an arm over her face. What a night.