Jump City Citizen
Joined: 05 Jun 2005
Location: A shadow can only be so far away...
|Posted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 12:58 am
|Heart to Heart
"I'm not a hero."
Dove's eyes were held low with self-disappointment, seeming to fall on the unused communicator cradled absent-mindedly and hesitantly in her hands. The only reason she had ever accepted it was because, all that time ago, she was losing her mind, and Raven sensed what was wrong - Dove never admitted it, but she had been too afraid to tell her half-sister, blocked their empathic bond, and Raven was prompting her to communicate. It was a measure of desperation. This was supposed to symbolize valor, compassion, connection - the team, the Teen Titans - the heroes. But here she was, sitting in the living room staring at that special yellow-and-black circle while every other Titan in the tower was out helping the city, fighting off some H.I.V.E. drone invasion. She had wanted to come, at first - but Robin had warned her, it would be a very physical mission - lots of action, lots of violence. And she just couldn't handle that.
"Dove, you know that isn't true."
She shook her head - and Srentha stroked the stray piece of blond bangs that had fallen in the motion, tucking it behind her ear gently, unobtrusively. He let his arm rest on her shoulder; the loose sleeve of his white-silk training robe draped over her cloak-covered shoulder, like a miniature curtain of comfort. White on white. By now he was strong enough with his magics to wear the gold-embroidered, red-draped garments of the highest priests, but when Azarath was destroyed, all fate left him with was literally the robe on his back. And, of course, it left him with Dove, his only childhood friend...
"What kind of hero is too pacifist to even help her friends?"
"Being pacifist in the face of conflict doesn't mean you're not a hero. It means you're being who you are." His words were gentle as his touch, as comforting as the friends' shared presence. And he held his head a bit low, so when she raised her eyes, her gaze would catch his. And she'd see the truth in his reassuring smile - sense the honesty when the eye-contact laid bare his soul.
But she wasn't comforted yet. "Is who I am a coward?"
"Not at all!" He was stunned by the notion. "Dove, if you were a coward, you wouldn't have risked your safety, security to save me. Do you remember - Back on Azarath, when my heart failed..."
Her chin lifted, and he nodded encouragingly. She noted that his hand had clutched at his robe over the padded protection there, and his brow furrowed a bit, as if the memory pained him and he feared it would happen again.
She prayed it wouldn't; that had been one of the most frightening nights of her life...
It was a time of great transition.
Azar had died, and her passing left the pacifists of Azarath with not only a deep sense of loss, but a deep sense of responsibility as well. Azar had been their leader; the touch of divine force in their lives; the very wellspring of life as they know it. They had lived by her guidance and her presence had been like a force of nature that upheld the mystical forces of Azarath. And with that presence gone, the task of supporting Azarathean existence fell to Azar's colleagues-in-spirit. They needed to replace that power - practicing priests worked to maintain their world's stability, and though they knew their craft well, they still hadn't been able to replace all the spells...
Even the spells over someone's life.
Silent footsteps fell gently next to a pair of nearly-as-silent feet, the girl they belonged to glancing up at the sky yet again. Her companion followed her gaze; his bright and clear eyes reflected the sparkle of the million stars shining high above them, lighting their way. Both were quiet, both were alert; both seemed too young to need stealth, but these night-walks were unencouraged - not discouraged, exactly, nobody ever mentioned it, but in their culture that meant it shouldn't be done, so both young practitioners treated these outings as forbidden. Tonight they explored, alert to the sights and the sounds and the beauty of the world they called home...
Should anyone pass, Dove, the girl, would have to hide, while her friend Srentha continued on casually as if he had never met the other. Her very existence was a secret; she spent her entire life hidden away from society to protect her and her demonic heritage from the others' scrutiny and fear - even Srentha didn't know. Her father's demonic identity was something she never brought up, refused to disclose. But it took more than a secret or two to keep them separated, even if they had to meet at night, when everyone else was asleep or meditating.
And tonight Dove was worried. Srentha was uncharacteristically depressed and their old hideout had lost sight of the Mist-season's moon. She thought that finding a new safety with a more wonderful view might lift his spirits; he rarely left the libraries and he was such a free spirit, he loved to explore. And that old place reminded him of his favorite spot to practice spells under the practitioners' supervision - sometimes the supervision of Azar herself, and Srentha was far from immune to the same sadness that had pervaded all of Azarath. The memories pained him. Dove could feel his sorrow weighing down her own heart, just as her mother's had done, just as her own. She inched a bit closer as they walked, grinning her timid reassurance as she erased the silence with a quiet promise: "It's going to be okay." She waited for his nod. And then she asked him why his sadness was so heavy.
Srentha enjoyed her quiet presence as he answered her question; his thoughtful and sometimes disjointed babble went uninterrupted as she let him speak his mind, nodding and agreeing in just the right places. Unlike his tutors, Dove paid attention to the emotions and allowed him freedom of thought, and rather than trying to meditate it away, she tried to help him, to fix it.
He paused speaking for a quick glance around. "My tutors would scold me..."
Dove asked, "Why?"
"I've never been this far from the heart of the temple before."
Srentha was born with a weaker body than normal, more flexible to channel the powers he tapped but sacrificing physical resiliency to empower his soul. His body required special care - with magic being such an integral part of his existence, it was the automatic choice for protection over his heart. Usually the temple provided strength. But while they were still renovating the magical lay-lines, the flow of power to these protections became weaker and less effective. Between the depression that came with losing both his magickal and spiritual leader and the strain of coming to meet Dove farther than he had ever traveled...
Even his whisper sounded short of breath.
And soon Srentha started panting.
Dove turned and the concern that eased when he finally began talking returned to her threefold.
He closed his eyes, shook his head. "I think we should slow down..." Sweat glossed his brow, his heartrate mounting - he put a hand on the wall for balance and he was suddenly slouching, too weak -
"What's wrong?" Her brow furrowed - she still wasn't experienced at interpreting empathic sensations but she knew something was very, very wrong, and it made her nervous.
Srentha leaned against the marble wall behind him to support his weight, leaning over, gasping breathlessly - "I can't breathe - I can't breathe - "
Dove's anxiety climbed and she came to his side. We should stop, she told him in broken fragments of telepathy; projected her frantic thoughts to his mind. He looked like he wanted to reply but when she read his mind for response, his thoughts were jumbled.
And he was slowly collapsing against the wall. Dove put her hands on his shoulder and followed him down until they were both on their knees -
Srentha set his hand over his heart.
- and Dove brushed hair from his face. He was panting quietly; dull pressure seeped in from him...
He tried to hold her too but huddled deeper into himself, hands clutching the robe over his heart - she held him close, afraid - his heart was galloping with violent and erratic pulses.
His breath hitched.
Dove brought up her hands and held them over him - over his heart - closed her eyes in concentration and tapped their connection, met his soul, felt his pain - tried to pull it away - to heal - but - No relief. She was too afraid - too useless if she couldn't help him when he needed her so desperately. "I'm so sorry, I can't do anything - "
He gasped "Call them - ... - call them- "
Terror gripped her; if she brought them here she'd be discovered but she didn't want to leave him alone, not like this...! Wait, was his heart beating?! She couldn't hear -
His last breaths escaped in a whimper - and when he collapsed, she threw up a blaze of wild white lightning, shattering the silence with its scream. A flare of power, an explosion of magic, a desperate cry for help that arrested the attention of half Azarath's population.
And the medics reacted immediately. Any spell sent to the skies was a sign of emergency; vertical magic was highly unusual, and anything unusual in Azarath required instant investigation. And they had never seen such a colorless form before! Half the temple's keepers rushed towards the street -
Dove's flaring powers detected their presences seconds before they arrived, and she barely managed to slip into the shadows and hide herself away before their hurried footsteps entered the alley, and they sat her friend up, one priest with a hand spread palm-down over his chestpiece and the others glowing gently with light spellcasting.
Prayers. She couldn't breathe (was he breathing?). And then...
Dove could feel the pain abating, the pressure fade, he was healing. She watched them guide him up and she felt bad that she couldn't help him like that, but she was overwhelmed with the relief that, He's okay.
Once Srentha opened his eyes and regained his senses, they urged the boy to stand and took him back to the temple, asking questions and listening intently to Srentha's quiet response...
Except when they asked who sent up the flare - who was there? Because then Srentha only shrugged, shaking his head and holding a steady silence.
They never found out who had cast the flare. And they never would.
But Srentha would never forget.
"You could have run. You could have saved yourself; you could have left me there and waited for them to sense me... but you didn't."
"Instead, you risked everything so they could find and take care of me. You saved my life, Dove. You're my hero." He was smiling now; he watched the resignation fall from her face to be replaced by hesitation and hope. "You have some of the strongest bravery I've ever seen. Fighting off robots and villains doesn't make you a hero. Being brave is about being afraid - being terrified - but still being able to fight it and risk sacrificing yourself to save someone in need."
She was smiling too now, that small and timid awkward-looking smile, but his heart leapt to see it on her face. "The Titans are rubbing off on you, aren't they."
He laughed and pulled her into a hug of reassurance and comfort and thanks. "In the best of ways. You have a hero's heart, Dove. Don't ever forget that."
She nodded. His eyes closed, savoring the moment of affection as she lay her head on his shoulder... He liked it when she let herself hug him, and she liked having him to hug. And then he grinned. "And you can trust me on that, I know a lot about hearts."
Also posted on FanFiction.net and Deviantart.
Dove and Srentha are both my own characters, but I feel this story tells everything you might need to know about them to get the full meaning of the events... Below are the artists' comments from the DeviantArt page.
A sweet little oneshot for the ClubTeenTitansOC contest, "History." The point of the contest: to show your character's history, or an important part of it. I had so many ideas - but when this scene came to mind, with affection and a flashback all tucked in, I simply couldn't not write it.
It sounds strange, but this contest was the reason I realized everything I know about Srentha's heart, and Dove's heroism even as a child, and I now feel much closer to them than I ever did before~
(Dove and Srentha are both my own characters; the Titans, Azar, and Azarath were created by Marv Wolfman and George Perez and are property of DC Comics, Cartoon Network, and Warner Brothers studios.)
Long live the Black Phoenix of Azarath!
My fanfics: http://www.fanfiction.net/u/842340/
My AMV: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJJjSEhK4_0
"I am Azar's light and Trigon's darkness, bound together in Arella's humanity. And that means that I have a choice!" ~The Abyss Gazes Also by MasterGandalf