DISCLAIMER: Teen Titans and all associated characters and places are the property of DC. The character of Sera is my OC. Rated M.
A/N: This story – and, hopefully, series – will probably be darker than my Titans Forever series. Though admittedly TF had its dark moments. The Shroud of Darkness series, on the other hand, is going (like I said) to more than likely be darker overall. However it becomes (or turns out), I hope y'all will like it. Oh, and I am sorry if this story offends anyone.Shroud of Darkness Book 1: Sera Chapter 1: I Saw an Angel
Raven hated them. She was surprised by that, but couldn't deny the fact. Couldn't deny it because she'd visited her mind after a minor overreaction that no one else had, fortunately, noticed. There, she'd ran into the emotion. She'd expected to come across Envy, Jealousy, or even Anger. But it was Hate she'd encountered; the emotion was a darker red than Anger, with the bright green of Envy and the purplish-pink of Jealousy thrown in as well. It wasn't as though all three emotions had become one, for she still ran into them, it was that Hate involved all of those – and, when she became aware of it, Love. But there was no hint of Love's pink in Hate, and when she'd sought out the emotion she had been surprise to learn that Love thoroughly approved of Hate. She said Hate couldn't find her own color, and so adapted the colors of the other three to her tastes.
"When did she come?" Raven had asked, peeling the pink clad emotion off of herself.
"After that trouble in Tokyo, after Robin and Starfire finally got together," Love had replied. And just then, Hate had showed up.
"Just why are you here?" she'd asked the emotion.
"Because you hate," had been the snarled reply.
"But who do I hate?"
"It should be obvious, but I'll go ahead and say it: you hate Robin for taking Starfire from you, and you hate Starfire for choosing him over you, despite the fact that you're better than he is! You hate them both for being happy and together while you're still alone, and you hate yourself because you never told Starfire how you felt about her."
She'd acknowledged the truth of her emotion's words, since they were true, and had left her mind.
But afterwards, she wished she hadn't learned the truth of the feelings that always sent her from the room whenever Robin and Starfire started being 'lovey-dovey.' They were her friends, and she did want them to be happy; she just wished that it was her instead of him that made Starfire happy. After seeing them stare at each other in that love struck manner they had for ten minutes without doing anything, she'd quietly closed her book and teleported out of the room. Her first stop was her room to drop off her book, then she teleported up to the tower's roof to meditate.
She didn't know how long she'd been out there meditating, but when Starfire called out her name she snapped her eyes open and saw that the sun was setting.
"Raven?" she asked. "Are you okay?
"I'm fine, Starfire," she said, turning around to look at the alien princess.
"No one has seen you for many hours, and everyone was doing the wondering of where you were."
"I was meditating," she replied, keeping her surprise at how much time had passed hidden. She heard the edge in her tone and inwardly winced, knowing that the ever-perceptive Tamaranian would notice it.
"Friend Raven, is something the matter?"
"Starfire . . . it doesn't matter, okay? I'll deal with it."
"Why do you not wish to do the talking? Are we not friends?"
"Of course we're friends, Star. But this isn't something you can help with. Not without hurting someone else." She hadn't meant to say that last part out loud.
"What do you mean? Are you hurt? Did someone hurt you?"
"You did," Raven said quietly. "You hurt me."
"Raven . . . I know my knowledge of Earth customs and words still is not of the perfection, but I still do not understand what you mean. I am your friend, and I would never wish to hurt you."
"It's not your fault, Starfire," she replied. "Considering how close I keep myself, even after everything we've been through, it's no surprise that you never noticed."
It's too late now, Raven thought, referring to both the situation she was in and the fact that she really didn't want to tell her. Sighing, she said, "I love you, Starfire." Looking at the other girl, she saw her surprised and startled expression. "I never noticed how I felt until after the incident with Terra, but it wasn't until after I defeated my father that I realized just how much I loved you." Another sigh escaped her. "After all of that, whenever I saw the way you and Robin acted around each other, I deluded myself into thinking that you were just trying to understand human customs. I thought that, one day, you would see me, see what I didn't know how to express. Then Tokyo happened and I lost my chance forever." She snorted, though it was more of a sniff. "I never really had a chance at all, though."
"Raven," Starfire said, stunned by her friend's words and honesty. "Why did you not say something of this before?"
"Because it wouldn't have made a difference, okay?" There was an edge in her voice again.
"We could have-"
"Could have what?" she demanded. "Explored things with each other? Experimented in some way? I don't know how things like this are done on Tamaran, but that isn't what you do here. You would have tried it just to try it, to learn what it's like. You love Robin; you always have." She knew she sounded angry, knew that she was probably hurting Starfire's feelings, but she couldn't stop. Not because she wanted to hurt the other girl like she'd been hurt (since it really was her own fault), but because she wanted to explain herself, to tell the truth of it all. "You and Robin love each other like I loved you. I wouldn't have been able to have such a 'casual' relationship with you. Because I would have wanted to share myself with you, completely and totally, and . . . and I would have been devastated when you chose Robin. I know that there are humans in this world who are that casual, who have no problem sharing their bodies so easily, but I'm not one of them. Even if I'd you how I felt from the moment I realized it, it wouldn't have changed things between us. I'm sorry if I've hurt you, Starfire; like you, I would never want to hurt my friends." She stopped levitating and stood up. "I'm sorry, Starfire. I can't be here right now. I won't leave everyone, but I need to be by myself for a while. I'll come back tomorrow." Then the gray-skinned Titan turned and flew off, leaving a sad and hurt Starfire behind.
Raven knew that she'd been unfair to Starfire, at least in her tone and the way she'd said what she had said. She hadn't meant to say anything at all, but once that first crack had been made in the façade she'd worn it had been inevitable for all of it to come spilling out. Sitting on the roof of a skyscraper, she wondered how things would change between her and her friends. Because she knew, with absolute certainty, that things would change. She'd been too good at keeping that secret hidden. Robin would be the hardest to deal with, since he'd had a thing for Starfire from the beginning of the Teen Titans. Starfire would keep a secret if asked, and if it wouldn't hurt anyone, but she hadn't asked her to keep it a secret. And Raven knew she would have told Robin anyway, because she loved him, and then he would have questioned Beast Boy and Cyborg to see if they knew anything about it. She knew that Starfire, Cyborg, and Beast Boy wouldn't hold it against her, would know that she wouldn't do anything to break them up. But Robin tended to overreact a lot. He overreacted when Cyborg and Beast Boy teased him about liking Starfire, and that had played a role in the situation that followed. He overreacted with Slade, too, creating the Red X persona in order to try to take the villain down from the inside.
He tries to be like Batman too much, she thought, looking down past her dangling legs to the ground far below. As much as he protests about being in his shadow, about wanting to break away and be his own hero, he still tries to be like him. He forgets about his mentor's origins, forgets that he's still just a kid right now. She let a heavy sigh fall out of her. He's going to give me hell when I get back. Yelling at me about confessing my feelings to Starfire after they'd finally gotten together. He won't listen to the fact that she asked me about it all. He won't listen to the fact that I know I don't have a chance with her, that I never did. And he won't listen when I tell him I won't come between them. And he won't realize that he's being a bully about it. Not until he's had his say and given his punishment. She snorted. Never mind that, now, I would barely have to think to squeeze him out of existence if I wanted to. And that of course brought her train of thought to her now-destroyed father. She didn't know anything about the pantheon of demons he'd belonged to, thanks to being raised by the monks of Azarath. She'd destroyed him, ripped him from this plane of existence with only a little effort. It had been quite a while since that event, since she'd fulfilled her destiny of being his gateway into the material plane – then turning around and being the reason for his departure. She had no idea if there'd be repercussions from that, because it would be beyond foolish to believe Trigon had been the only demonic entity in existence.
Just then, she saw a flash of light out of the corner of her eye. Turning her head, she saw a fading red glow from downtown. That can't be good, she thought, before dropping off the roof and soaring over to investigate and deal with the situation.
Starfire had told everyone what had occurred between her and Raven on the roof. Robin was stunned at first, as were the other two boys, but it didn't take long at all for him to become angry.
"She had no right to say any of that!" he growled.
"Robin, do not be angry at Raven for this," Starfire pleaded. "I do not think she wanted to tell me her deepest feelings, but I was being the persistant and kept asking her."
"Yo, man, just calm down," Cyborg said, standing up. "You're blowing this way out of proportion."
"You did hear what Starfire said, right? Right?"
"Dude, we all heard it," Beast Boy put in. "But he's right. You're making this more than it is."
"She just told Starfire she loved her! Knowing that Starfire and I are together!"
"Loved, Robin, not love," Cyborg reminded him. He wasn't phased when the shorter Titan turned his glare on him. "Raven may have hidden just how much she cared about Starfire all this time, but you know her, man. Raven's honest to the point of being blunt. Just imagine how hard it's been for her since you and Star became official." Cyborg's calm, measured delivery actually made it through the heat of Robin's anger and he began thinking again, rather than just reacting. And he realized his friend was right. Raven had a hard time lying because it was in her nature to be honest. The more he thought about it, the more he came to see Raven's side of the situation. Knowing Raven as he did, as they all did, she wouldn't have wanted to consider that she could fall in love like that. Love was an unpredictable emotion, as he shamefully realized, and Raven needed to control her emotions in order to control her powers – and to prevent herself from giving in to her demonic heritage. Even now, some time after she'd defeated her father and became able to forge her own destiny, she still struggled with her demonic blood.
But before he could say anything, even if it was the wrong thing, the battle alert sounded throughout the tower.
When she arrived at the scene of the distrubance, she was dismayed to find that the area where she'd seen the light at was empty. Except for the destruction left in the wake of whatever was there. Looking around, she could see that whatever had arrived had apparently walked out of thin air. To her left, the street was untouched, as were the buildings and cars that way. To her right, though, there was a path of destruction: cars were burning wreckage, buildings looked as though a glass-filled tornado had come through, and – worst of all – there were bodies. Mangled, torn, shredded, gutted bodies. She couldn't help it, once she saw the extent of the devastation: she threw up. A gut wrenching, doubling over upheaval of stomach contents that left her on her knees, gasping for breath. When she had recovered enough to stand, she averted her gaze and followed the trail of death and destruction.
And when she turned around a corner, she wished she hadn't.
It was a demon. That much was obvious from the long, spade-ended tail, massive bat-like wings, horned head, and double-hinged legs (they looked almost like the legs from that space warrior game Cyborg and Beast Boy liked to play, something about a futuristic super soldier fighting against an alliance of aliens). Also, it stood over seven feet tall and had just ripped the arm off of someone.
"Hey!" she shouted, getting its attention. She knew she was too late to save its current victim, but she could stop it from getting more. Its free hand snapped up and a ball of red/black energy gathered in its palm before launching at her. She instinctively crossed her hands in front of her and summoned up a barrier that the blast slammed into. The kinetic force from it knocked her backwards, but she stayed on her feet. The demon was staring at her in surprise, though. Then he sniffed the air towards her, and its horribly beautiful features screwed up in an expression of distaste.
"Half-breed," it hissed in a guttural snarl.
"You speak English?" she asked, surprise getting the best of her.
"Your primitive tongue is far too easy to master," it hissed. "I did not know one such as you had been allowed to survive birth. Whoever sired you and left you to live shall die when his travesty is learned."
"I took care of my father myself," she snapped.
"That saves me some trouble." He sniffed again. "Your aura is strong indeed. You'll make a better meal than these pathetic animals." Dropping the person he was holding, the demon launched himself at her with surprising speed. Raven sank into a portal she'd summoned underneath herself, then reappeared where the demon had been standing. She fired off a blast of her own energy, knocking the horrendous creature off its feet. When it stood up and turned to face her, she shuddered at the cruel grin on its face.
"Powerful, powerful," he said, nodding. "You'll increase my power greatly once I ingest you." She didn't have as much of a chance to react this time, even though she knew he'd be attacking. He threw another blast of energy at her, and she chose to dodge this time rather than raise a shield – though the shield would have saved her from the clawed hand that wrapped around her somewhat small waist and slammed her into the building nearest her. She cried out from the agony of the wall hitting her back hard, and also from the pressure of his grip.
"But you're not too smart, though," he said, smiling at her large enough to reveal his long and pointed teeth. She tried to raise a shield, a barrier, something, but the pain was making it too hard to concentrate. His mouth opened wider and wider, his jaws dislocating to swallow her head whole. Then he stopped. Literally staring into the jaws of death, Raven didn't know what was going on.
Then a bright white light filled the sky above them.
They both instinctively looked up and saw an unbearably white light in the sky. It wasn't the sun, Raven knew, for the sun was yellow – and it was well after sunset. She sensed a change in the demon's unfamiliar emotional state, and realized that he recognized what the light signified.
And right then the white sphere dropped from the sky and slammed into the ground less than twenty feet away.
The shockwave and blast from the impact threw both her and the demon back, and served to free her from its grip. She cried out when she slammed into a parked car, the force of her impact denting its bumper badly and popping the hood clean off. She was hurt, bad, but she could tell it wasn't fatal. Yet. Clearing her eyes, she turned her pain-filled gaze back down the street – and saw a sight that made her jaw drop. Kneeling in the crater was what she could only describe as an angel. When it stood up, the slenderness of its figure left no doubt that it was female – that, and the slight widening at the hips. She wore a mid-riff baring long-sleeve that also left her shoulders bare, and a pair of pants that came down to mid-calf. Her shoes only went a little higher than her ankles, and everything was white with blue accents – even her hair. Her vibrant eyes were the color of pure metallic gold, and showed with an inner light that literally made them glow. Just like with the demon, Raven couldn't take her eyes off of the angel – though it was for a much different reason.
"Drashkyr," she said in a voice that was as light and pure as her appearance.
"Sera," the demon growled, coming to his feet. Raven managed to tear her gaze off of the entrancing sight of the angel – Sera – to see the demon pull a massive, evil-looking double-bladed axe out of thin air.
"You are being called to accountability, Drashkyr," Sera told him.
"One lone angel cannot hope to stop me," Drashkyr growled in reply.
"Do not underestimate me, demon," she said. "Arrogance will be your downfall. Now come with me."
With a roar of anger and rage, the demon charged the unarmed angel, his terrible axe swinging high to deliver a blow that would surely cleave the slender woman in two. Raven didn't bother to shout out a warning, as she knew that the angel could see the attack coming. She did try to focus past her pain, to erect a shield around her, but it was even more difficult to do now. And it was with a terrible sinking pain that she watched the axe start its decent while the angel raised up hers, palms out.
And the axe slammed into the space between her hands – stopping as though it had hit something. To Raven's amazement, a blue-and-white glow shimmered around where the axe's blade was stopped. And then the glow lengthened and elongated until it was a good three feet beyond either side of her hands. Then it solidified into a white staff with glowing blue ends. Before the stunned demon could react, Sera had whipped the staff down, spun around, and slammed into Dashkyr's midsection. There was a flash of light, then the demon was hurtled past the fallen Titan with tremendous speed. She turned her gaze back to the angel, only to find her standing over her.
"I would ask if you're hurt," she said, bending her knees to crouch, "but that's a question with a rather obvious answer." She frowned. "It isn't good, either." She reached out and placed a hand on Raven's forehead. Her face registered immense surprise. "You're half demon."
"Um, yeah, sorry," Raven mumbled, making the angel chuckle.
"There's no need to apologize," she said. "I can an also sense that you've got a good heart and an honorable spirit." There was a loud roar, followed by an explosion of some kind. "I'll be right back." Standing up again, Sera winked at her – then unfurled a pair of large white wings mottled with tan. Smiling at Raven's shocked expression, she flapped her wings to rise up into the air before shooting down the street past her. The gray-skinned Titan was too weak, too in pain to move, so all she could do was listen to the sounds of battle. It wasn't long, though, before she heard a pained bellow that turned into a high-pitched scream that was followed by an unnerving silence. Before she could react, a shadow dropped over her. She jerked in surprise, then cried out as pain shot through her battered body.
"I told you I'd be back," Sera said, kneeling down next to her. She blinked, then smiled. Raven was a little confused by that smile.
"What?" she asked.
"You're pretty cute for someone of this plane," the angel said, her grin getting bigger. Raven's blush didn't help the matter any. "Now, let's see about healing you."
"You can do that?" she blurted out, blushing in embarrassment.
"Well, yeah," was the matter-of-fact reply. And it was followed by another grin. "And I think I know how to go about doing it."
"How?" Raven asked. Her answer was a pair of beautiful, pale hands cupping her face – and a pair of pale red lips pressing against her own. Her eyes widened as her mind caught up with what was going on, but she didn't struggle against it; instead, she shocked herself by returning the kiss. Her eyes closed as she gave herself to the kiss. She saw a flash of light through her eyelids at the same time the pressure on her lips disappeared. Opening her eyes, she saw that Sera was gone – and she was no longer in pain.
And right just then, the rest of the Titans showed up.
"Raven!" Robin said when he caught sight of her. Gone were all thoughts about dressing her down for what she'd told Starfire. All that was in his voice was concern. She managed to get unsteadily to her feet as her friends reached.
"Raven, are you okay?" Cyborg asked.
"Yeah, what happened here?" Beast Boy put in.
"I . . . I . . ." Raven tried to say, feeling lightheaded. "I saw an . . . angel." Then she passed out.
E/N: I know I wrote this, but I was still on the edge of my seat, wondering what was going to happen next. Let me know what you think.