DISCLAIMER: All characters that appear in this story are property of their respective owners.
SPOILERS: This one-shot was inspired by issues #17-19 of the Teen Titans: Titans Tomorrow. In these issues the kids meet their older counterparts in a future timeline. Dark Raven says something about wanting Starfire and Raven attacks to keep her away from Star.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To Amazon_writer713[at]hotmail.com
Promise for the Future
"Get away from her, witch!"
I launched myself at my enemy with the intent to destroy for the first time in my life, desiring to stop her at all costs. I knew what she was capable of and what she had already done to so many in her city. And it terrified me to imagine what would happen to Koriand'r if the witch got a hold of her. The punch I threw was sloppy and novice-level, even I could see that, but she was no more trained in physical combat than I and the punch landed without breaking my hand.
Her head snapped to the right from the force of my right hook but we both went down to the ground with the momentum behind my swing. My skin crawled at her touch; I could feel her power hungrily snap and eat at my own, trying to break the barrier to get to my emotions and devour them. I scrambled back quickly but kept my eye on her to watch for any sudden movements.
Like a clarion call, Koriand'r's voice caught my attention and woke my enemy up from her daze. Her eyes were black, no hint of dark blue or humanity left in the iris, and they were full of a terrible hunger. Blood leaked slowly out of the slice in her lower lip from my fist crushing her mouth against her teeth. I realized then that she could not heal herself. She had lost that ability when she became this empty shell of a being.
Her eyes moved from me to the sky searching for Koriand'r. When she found the Tamaranean locked in a struggle with the blonde Amazon her face took on gaunt visage even as she basked in the sight. "Oh, the warmth I want it." And then the shell was releasing the shapeless shadow that would engulf and strip Koriand'r of the very warmth she desired so greatly.
My soul-self rushed out of me to block the other as I chased the now upright shell that ran pell-mell towards Koriand'r. "No! Stay away from her!" Our soul-selves clashed spectacularly. It hurt so much. Like a thousand knives slicing a thousand red smiles into my skin and burning my organs inside with fiery shrapnel, our soul-selves echoed our screams of pain. But as much as it hurt, as much as I begged for the agony to stop, I will continue to engage her if she tries to capture Koriand'r again.
She glared dully at me with those inhuman eyes from three feet away. We both were sprawled on the cold rocks of her Titan Island, spent and breathing raggedly from our duel. I scowled back fiercely. "She is mine. You cannot stop me," she spat at me. The words threw me for loop. I had fully expected some drivel about how hungry she was or about the battle still waging around us to spew from her throat. I did not expect this declaration.
"No she is not! And I will kill you if you touch her." The words that flew instinctively from my own mouth shocked me even more. Apparently my words shocked her too because her eyes widened in surprise and a shiver of fear ran through her frame. I meant every word and we could both taste it.
As in the legends of the Norse, a Valkyrie descended from the smoking destruction of Armageddon to bestow blessings on the warriors of battle and lead the dead away. This Valkyrie surely saw no warrior in me or the shell but she alighted between us anyway with a stern expression and concerned eyes. Her opponent was obviously vanquished by the way she ignored the skies above her and focused on me. Lime peel green pupil-less eyes ran over my body looking for breaks and wounds causing arousal to sweep away any aches I did feel. "You are unharmed, Raven?" She sought confirmation for the hurts she could not see.
An echo that should not have been split her attention. I wanted to yell, dance around, so something - anything - to return her eyes to me. I did not want her to look at that shell, ashamed at what she would see. I have never wanted Koriand'r to see me as anyone other than Raven, a human girl who struggled with her heritage. But now she will see 'me' transformed once again into something other. Something evil.
The shell seemed to relish in Koriand'r's regard, cold though it was. On a certain subconscious level I understood why the shell did not care that Koriand'r was glaring at her. No matter how she gazed at you, it was worth burning to ash to have Koriand'r focus her entire attention upon you. For half-demons with perpetually cold skin from suppressing their demonic blood, Koriand'r was the sun beaming down on a clear day and sharing its warmth.
Lime peel green eyes narrowed before Koriand'r took two steps towards the shell and stopped. A warning flew to my lips but stumbled upon release. "No - Kori! Don't!"
That shapeless shadow rose again from the shell, weakened from the earlier skirmish we had but still hungry. Always hungry. "My star," she whispered before the soul-self roared and flung itself at Koriand'r. "NO!" I screamed and tried to teleport between my friend and the danger coming at her, but I could not concentrate, my soul-self drained and still hurting. Just as I feared Koriand'r would not be able to escape, and the onset of that crushing failure began to deteriorate my composure, Koriand'r smiled. She smiled and activated her starbolts. But instead of gathering the energy into her hands and flinging them at the shell or the shapeless soul, Koriand'r allowed her power to create a bright green layer over skin. "Come."
The shell actually grinned at Koriand'r's command. Her shapeless soul, for a moment, was carried on raven wings before it slammed into the Tamaranean and she disappeared in a writhing mass of darkness sucked back into the shell. The shell was ecstatic. "She's mine. No one can take her from me now. Star, sweet Star. So warm." I could only fall to my knees in horror.
The Koriand'r I knew would be no more. No more breakfast at dawn together. No more invitations to accompany her everywhere. No more cooking vegetarian meals on the sly at her suggestion. No more smiles, or hugs, or enthusiastic expressions of gratitude. No more warmth. No more love.
My soul-self ripped from me with a piercing anguished cry and attached the shell relentlessly. The pain did not matter anymore. I welcomed it. The only thing I could think about was making the shell pay for taking Koriand'r away from me.
My throat was raw from screaming and yelling as I physically assaulted the shell. She just kept smiling and explained between blows that nothing mattered now because she finally had the star. "You Bitch!" I bitterly hissed in her bloody face. "She was my Koriand'r!" I had no conscious knowledge of the words that spilled from my lips but they felt right, they felt real. Koriand'r was my warmth.
My arms soon began to feel tired and my soul hurt. I took a moment and shook my head in disbelief that Koriand'r was gone, pausing from continuing to punish the one I straddled. Shallow black eyes just gazed at me calmly through the damage I inflicted even as she made the most of my distraction and kicked me off of her.
"I know your despair. Let me eat it. I will take that pain away." Her voice was silky oil meant to draw me in and sway me to her whim as I forced myself to stand back up. Azar help me, a part of my heart desired exactly that, to feel no more. But I see before me what would become of the shell I would leave behind and I cannot allow that. "No," I tell her and charge again.
That shapeless soul lifted into the air again, this time the target was me. As I prepared my own soul-self for defense I noticed a strange expression cross the shell's face - something akin to confusion and growing shock. Whatever the cause, my bruised knuckles made contact with her solar plexus, doubling her body over my arm as the breath was forced out of her lungs. Her hands clawed at my shoulders as she sucked in useless air through her gaping mouth, body too paralyzed to properly receive the oxygen. My own hands arose to take her head in my grasp. I stared for a moment into unfocused black eyes, not really searching for any remorse or gloating, just giving into a sadistic need to see the life flee this shell when I break her neck. "You took her away from me. Now, your life is forfeit."
She could not struggle out of my grasp, unused to physical engagement and thus, still paralyzed. But a ghostly smile parted her lips even as I applied pressure. "My life ended when she left me the first time. Now that she is with me again I will not let her go."
My anger flared at her words and I twisted harder. "If you lost your Koriand'r, soul-less one, the only one to blame is yourself. By taking mine neither of us will ever feel the warmth again," I spat at her as I prepared for the last few inches of rotation that will signal her death. So invested in the demise of my foe I did not sense the approach of the beast.
Perhaps it was because that is all he is anymore, an animal. My thoughts on the subject were moot as I was sent to the ground a few feet away by a well-placed smack from a bear paw. My vision exploded in white pain and my thoughts swirled. 'Thank Azar he did not hit my head,' I dazedly thought from my supine position on a boulder. 'Still, I'm sure something is broken.' I winced with every breath in, isolating the area of injury beyond the superficial scrapes and bruises from hitting the ground too often. Rising took more energy than I thought it would but I had to face my opponents. They would show no mercy either way.
Luckily, by the time the fireworks in my vision faded Garfield had rallied and re-engaged the beast, leaving the shell to me once more. "Why do you fight so hard? We don't fight, we just consume. We don't kill." Her voice grated in my ears, unpleasant and provoking now. "'I' do not kill, but you - you have killed so many by destroying their ability to feel." My balance was shot and my head was ringing. The beast hit me harder than I thought.
"They were all in pain," the shell insisted. "I cured them." I scoffed and gingerly took my steps back in her direction. "You cannot cure anyone now that you have given up your own emotions to the void! What you have done is merely feed the abyss in your own heart and justified your actions with lies of a truth you once were capable of."
I knew my words would not be fully understood, their meaning lost in the exact same pit where her heart used to be. But my words were not for her; they were for me. I refuse to become this shell of a being. Even if I killed her, unleashing the demon I kept locked up inside, I would simply let the beast tear this body apart. And then, I would search the ether for Koriand'r's spirit as I did once before. I would be together with her again.
The shell did not retreat from my advance, only stood there watching me with a blank face. Then she screamed.
Her face crumpled in agony and anger before my eyes. Claw-like hands flew to her temples and anchored in her hair, alternating between yanking on the strands and cradling her skull. "No, no, no! You're mine! I won't let you go!" Her voice bordered on hysterical and I watched, enthralled, as she bent in half then snapped back upright with her head thrown back to let out a wail of despair? The shell's shapeless soul exploded from her skin at that moment, oddly suspended in the air, unmoving. Then I noticed a bulge growing in its middle as if someone had attached a hose to one end of the soul-self and was pumping it full of helium.
That odd mental image stayed with me even as the bulge ballooned to dangerous proportions and, strangely enough, gave off a very familiar neon glow that had never been there before. The bulge gave one last tremor when it shattered with the sound of ripping cloth and triumphant yell.
My eyes blurred, my ears rang, my body ached viciously, but my heart smiled joyously as my mouth called out. "Koriand'r!" There she floated, hale and whole; I could feel her emotions roiling beneath her skin as potent and intoxicating as ever.
Her beautiful eyes flicked to me for a moment, assessing the situation before returning to the shell. The shell was crumpled on the hard rock holding herself with her arms and shivering as if deathly cold. Her colorless face carried no emotion but her blank black eyes burned hotly. "Why? Why do you always leave?" Her question started softly, tonelessly, but by the end the shell was shouting accusingly.
Koriand'r shook her head and replied with an equally shattering question. "Why did you not come with me?" The empty woman seemed to flinch and retreat further into her cloak. "I know 'I' asked you to come with me and that you refused," Koriand'r continued even as she glided to me and landed facing me.
A sigh escaped my lips when her callused fingers gently probed my ribs. "Nothing is broken," she reassured me. "Not anymore," I admitted. Pursing her lips, Koriand'r moved her hands so that she could manipulate my jaw and check for bruises on my face. I cupped those warm hands in my own and gave the alien a smile. "I am fine." My smile faded into confusion. "And so are you ?" Koriand'r laughed. "You sound disappointed, Raven," she teased with a broad grin.
My scowl only lasted a few seconds before a hiccup-laugh erupted unexpectedly. "Never." Her smile grew less brash and more intimate as she took her hands from mine, scooping me up into her arms bridal-style. "Come. We must find the others and regroup." Shyly I linked my hands behind her neck, but movement over her shoulder distracted my fluttering stomach. "What about her," I whispered in Koriand'r's ear.
The shell was still folded in upon itself, staring at Koriand'r avidly with her cloak rippling in the wind but not moving otherwise. Koriand'r swiveled her head to peer over her shoulder with me before lifting off the ground. "She has a choice to make," Koriand'r solemnly intoned, loud enough to be heard by the shell whose eyes darted between the two of us floating there before her. "But I would suggest taking the time to remember the brave woman she once was and shun the guise of the coward she is now." Koriand'r's words felt like a dagger in my gut and she was not even technically talking to me. No wonder a cry of absolute anguish resounded after us in the air as we sped towards the mainland to reconvene with the other Titans lost in this timeline.
It did not take us long to spot our teammates, but instead of speeding our descent Koriand'r lingered in the air far enough above to not be overheard. She turned us so we faced Titan Island again. A bleak sadness clouded her eyes, dulling them to an olive green.
"Koriand'r?" I rubbed my fingertips against the sweat moistened skin of the back of her neck, trying to impart some comfort. "Promise me, Raven," she whispered quietly. "Promise me that if I ever ask you to come with me " Her voice trailed off as another cry reached our ears, but I was not interested in the shell's pain. Trailing my hands over her neck until I could gently nudge her jaw up so her eyes were back to my own, I leaned up and kissed Koriand'r.
There was no hesitation on either side, merely a firm desire communicated with soft lips and questing tongues. I pulled away just enough to speak clearly. "I promise." And I sealed that vow with another kiss.
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