trigons_child: (Comic Scan: Sad)
[personal profile] trigons_child
Raven was glad that Karla was finally able to visit her; she'd been sorely in need of some quality Karla time. She'd met her in the dorm lobby to get her signed in as her guest, then brought her upstairs to her room, one half of which was very black and incense and Raven-y, the other half being more like a typical college student's dorm room. "I suppose I could have merely teleported you directly to my room, for my roommate is gone for the rest of the week, but I have been trying to hard to do things as if I do not have powers, I did not even think of it," she said apologetically.

She sat down on the edge of her bed and gave Karla a tired smile. "Thank you for coming," she said. "It is so very good to see you."



Karla
"I can handle a few stairs," Karla said with a smile, looking over Raven's half of the room. "It's better than getting you out of the habit of normal, anyway. Do you get along well with your roommate?" she added, glancing at the side that could be featured in every ad for a college dorm ever. "Is she nice?"

Raven
"She is nice, though she is not around very much," Raven said. "She has a boyfriend with whom she spends much of her time. It is nice in a way, for it gives me privacy for meditation, and she does not question my odd hours when I am assisting Dinah in fighting crime."

Karla
"Good good," Karla said, with a nod. "I'm glad you're helping Dinah out. I feel better she's got you watching her back--and I'm glad you have a chance to use your powers while you're here."

And hopefully, using her powers to help people would restore Raven's sense of self that her fight with Eric had shaken.

"How're you doing, darling?"

Raven
"I am fine," Raven started to say, mostly out of reflex to the inquiries from her roommate and classmates, since they'd noticed she was even broodier than usual.

But she wasn't, and hopefully Karla wouldn't mind if Raven was going to get up and just cling to Karla for awhile.

Karla
Never. That was three-quarters of the reason she was here, after all. "No, you're not," she murmured into Raven's hair, holding her close. "But that's okay. You don't always have to be. Lean on me for awhile."

Raven
Raven didn't want to cry, but she'd been holding everything in since what had happened with Eric, and she couldn't stop the tears now. "I have missed you so much," she sniffled.

Karla
"I've missed you, too," Karla assured her, petting her hair. "C'mon, darling. Let it all out. You need a good cry and I'm here to hold you while you do so."

Raven
And Raven did just that, for a few minutes at least, until she lifted her head and wiped the back of her hand across her eyes. "I do not want to cry," she said. "I should not be sad. I should be angry."

Karla
"'Should' is a stupid word," Karla reproved gently. "It doesn't matter what you 'should' be feeling. All that matters is what you are. And you have good reasons to be sad, anyway."

She called in a box of tissues and offered them to Raven. "Why are you sad?"

Raven
Raven took a tissue and dabbed at her eyes. "Because I was a fool," she said, Pride still stinging after all this time. "I allowed myself to believe that someone would desire me. Even if I did not reciprocate the feelings, it was enjoyable to feel wanted. And because I did not realize what he was doing, to me and to the others."

Karla
"Stop that," Karla said, firming her voice some. "There's a line between genuine sadness and self-pity, darling, and your first comments cross it. People have desired you. People will desire you again. Believing that no one can without ulterior motives is foolish and self-pitying. It undervalues you, your previous relationships, and the people around you."

Raven did have a point with her second thought, but the first one required more focus.

Sorry, sweetheart. Karla wanted to comfort you, she did. But comfort was going to come with a few lessons, too, it seemed.

Raven
Raven stiffened. "It is not self-pity," she said. Yes, yes it was, but it was also a belief she was trying to wrap around herself like armor.

Karla
"Is too," Karla retorted like the mature person she was. "Or, if you'd rather, explain to me how it is not."

Raven
"Because no one has expressed such a genuine feeling to me in a very long time," Raven said, crossing her arms. "And the likelihood of it happening now is extremely small."

Karla
"You're right," Karla said nodding. "No one has ever found love past the age of twenty-one. That's utterly ridiculous."

Raven
"You think I would find it in Glacia?" Raven said with a shrug. "The men of your world do not give me a second glance. I am an oddity to them, jeweled but not Blood."

Karla
"How many males of my world have you met?" Karla asked, spreading her hands to make a point. "Honestly now. Think about them. Have you met anyone who wasn't a boyo, a servant, or demon-dead?"

Raven
"Not many," Raven had to admit. "But it does not matter. I do not intend to let such desires distract me in the future. It is safer that way."

Karla
"And I think that this is the mindset of the Raven who came to Fandom for the twenty-year reunion," Karla said, shaking her head. "Someone who cheated herself out of the fullness of life and happiness. I don't want to see you go down her path."

Raven
Raven moved to the window, leaning her head against the glass and looking down at the campus several floors below. "My desire for affection was exploited and used against me," she said. "Eliminating that weakness will make me stronger. I will no longer be hampered by a need for approval or desire."

Karla
"That's so much bullshit and you know it," Karla said softly, not moving from Raven's bed, but letting her feel her concern and love like a warm blanket. "Trying to eliminate an emotion isn't what makes you stronger. Eric was able to exploit your desire for affection because you don't handle it healthily. Learn how to deal with your emotions, process them, and learn from them--don't just shove them away to some back corner of your mind because you don't want to handle them isn't going to help you with anything."

She eyed Raven and added, "Neither is letting your Pride get so mixed up with your emotions that you can't handle honest criticism from your dearest friends."

Raven
"You make it sound as if it would be easy," Raven said, closing her eyes. "I just want it to stop hurting. I am tired of being hurt."

Karla
"Ignoring a wound doesn't make it go away," Karla said, getting off the bed to wrap her arms around her friend's shoulders again. "You're a Healer; you know that. It's going to keep hurting as long as you continue to refuse to deal with it. Trying to lock it all away might let you ignore it, but it will remain a vulnerability."

Raven
"And how can else can I deal with it?" Raven said, trying to relax against Karla. "I can take the pains of others and banish it, but my own lingers. Azar never prepared me for this. My mother never did. Both of them told me that I must never experience love, for it would destroy all life. That I must give myself completely to the needs of others. To save the world, my life must not be my own to live."

Karla
And guess why Azar and Arella weren't on the list of Karla's favorite people!

"Well, if I remember correctly, you've been loved and in love before, and life seems fairly well undestroyed," Karla pointed out, trying not to feel anger at those two fonts of wisdom lest Raven feel it and think it was directed at her. "So perhaps we can accept that they didn't always know what they were talking about. Especially Arella, who wasn't even a goddess, but a scared and emotionally-stunted young woman."

Don't be Arella, Raven. You were better than that.

Raven
"Arella suffered greatly at the hands of my father," Raven said, a touch defensive, but she couldn't offer up more in real defense of her mother, especially since she'd abandoned her as well once the danger from Trigon had passed.

"But they were right to worry that my emotions could be dangerous. Envy opened the door for my brother to trick me, and my anger can be fatal...as it was to Eric."

Karla
"I'm not saying Arella wasn't a real victim or suggesting she didn't suffer," Karla said, recognizing that defensiveness all too well. "But that doesn't make any of what I said invalid, either. It gives reasons, but it doesn't change facts."

Like that Arella was a scared, emotionally-stunted woman who gave up her daughter so often it was practically a hobby.

"I'm not going to be helpful on the Eric front," she warned. "I understand that killing him hurt you, but I'm not sad that he's dead. If he wasn't, I would have done it while I was here. You have been angry many time, but the only time it turned fatal was with him and he deserves to be dead."

Raven
"He deserved to be punished for his crimes," Raven said. "He killed at least three women, perhaps more, and would have destroyed me as well. I did not think myself capable of causing death unless my demon side were in control, but...." She shivered, feeling cold as she thought back to the memory of burning away his life force with her Soul-Self, stripping what remained of the human and leaving only the machine behind.

"Was it justice, or vengeance for what he did to me, and what he wished to do?" she said quietly. "I cannot answer that."

Karla
Karla nodded, resting her forehead on Raven's shoulder. "That's something that you will wrestle with for a long time," she murmured. "Darkness knows, I did. And that mistake may keep you from making another like it, later down the line. Because now you know you're capable of it."

Raven
"It is something I wish I did not know I was capable of," Raven said, leaning her head against Karla's. "Though I suspect it is something I would have to learn eventually." Given what she would be walking into in Glacia.

Still, it would be one thing if it were in defense of another, and something else if it were retribution for a wrong done to her, and she wasn't sure just what it had been with Eric.

Karla
Karla's thoughts were trending in a similar vein, and she asked, "Raven. Why is it okay to do something on behalf of another but not okay to do it for yourself?"

Raven
"Because...because that is how I was raised," Raven said, uncertain. "To give of myself to others. I did not learn to be selfish until I came to Fandom. My only desire before then was to protect Azarath and Earth and all the other realms from my father."

Karla
"Azar and Azarath did their best to protect you," Karla said neutrally, because going into how she felt about the way Raven had been raised would just get them distracted. "But their lessons didn't reflect the reality you live in. Azarath is gone and you live in this world now, and mine after that. You can't hold yourself to those standards anymore. That don't work for you anymore."

If they ever had.

Raven
"I know," Raven said. "I knew the moment I left Azarath that I would be forever changed. Even if Azarath still existed, I would not be allowed back. I have learned to accept that violence is necessary, and even to fight. And to feel. And there is no turning back from that."

Karla
"So the next step is to accept that bad emotions come with the good and to accept them, too," Karla said, reaching for Raven's hand. "And that you're can do the same thing for yourself that you'd do for others."

Raven
Karla's words made sense, but.... "That is true," Raven said, twining her fingers with Karla's. "But it hurts so much. It is a distraction. I cannot think. I cannot breathe."

There was a gaping hole inside her that she'd shunted away, and it wasn't even close to healed.

Karla
Perhaps due to the shunting? Just throwing a wild guess out there.

"It's a distraction I wish that you had dealt with over this past year," Karla admitted. "Because there's more to it than simply the danger of you being distracted at the wrong time in Glacia."

Okay. This seemed like the best opening she was gonna get. Karla took a deep breath and announced, "Jono is coming to Glacia, too."

And waited for the explosion, holding Raven's hand tightly.

Raven
Raven went rigid, jerking away from Karla, but not hard enough to break her hold. "That is not funny, Karla," she said, her voice flat.

She listened to the radio podcasts when she could. She'd begun to suspect as much, but the denial was strong in this one.

Karla
"Good, because I wouldn't joke about this," Karla said, her own voice firm. "Or should I deny Glacia his skills because he broke your heart? How many dead landens is a broken heart worth these days?"

Raven
Raven pulled away again, this time breaking free so she could stumble a few steps back. She shook her head, her heart starting to pound. "No," she said. "Do not do this, Karla. I cannot."

Karla
"You can and you will," Karla said, implacable. "Unless you wish to renege on our agreement and refuse to come to Glacia."

She softened at that. "It is a possibility. I won't hold anyone to coming until they sign a contract. It would hurt me in a million ways to lose you, sister of my heart. But I would understand."

Raven
"It would hurt you?" Raven said, shock starting to give way to anger. Once she had wanted this more than anything in the world, for them all to be together. Now the thought was making all her buried pains rush to the surface. "What about me? What about how I feel? He did not just break my heart. He abandoned me. Would you want Warren by your side if he did the same to you?"

Karla
"If Warren was still coming to fight to free Glacia, then I would suck it up and deal, yes!" Karla snapped. "I ask you again, Raven, how many dead landens is your broken heart worth!"

Raven
"My heart is worth nothing apparently!" Raven flung back. "If he is so important to you, then take him! But I...."

She stepped backwards again until the backs of her legs hit her roommate's bed, and she lost her balance and sat down hard. She couldn't even bring herself to say it. Either decision was equally painful.

Karla
This was why Karla had been hoping you'd take this year to get your emotions sorted, Raven!

"But you what?" Karla asked, not stepping further. Raven needed her space right now--if Karla pressed too close, she might teleport away. And then how would they finish this? "I need to know."

This wasn't her best friend asking. It was her potential future Queen.

Raven
Overwhelmed, Raven shook her head again, tears rolling down her cheeks. "I cannot do this, Karla," she said brokenly. "He hurt me too much. Please, do not make me choose."

Karla
"He didn't hurt you maliciously, Raven," Karla said. "Now, having seen Eric for what he was, you have to understand that. He didn't use you, he didn't toy with you. He broke your heart because he's an idiot and has the emotional understanding of a rock and the timing of a--" the rude word she used there was Eyrien, but she figured that Raven would get the gist anyway.

"But, yes, I have to ask you to choose. Because, Darkness help me, I can't turn down any weapon that presents itself to me and he knows better than either of us how much a weapon he really is."

Raven
"He was not like Eric, but he was not kind, either," Raven said dully. "He was relieved when I left Fandom. Relieved! I felt it. He would not even be my friend. I needed him, and he made me feel like nothing. And I know that he has moved on. I know that he is sleeping with other women and finding with them what he would not let me give. He has forgotten all about me. It is as if we never meant anything to each other. He had promised me a song for my birthday, but...." Her voice broke. "But he forgot that as well."

She stood up, wrapping her arms about herself. "Perhaps it is for the best. You need him, and I am a potential danger to you. We have seen a future where this happens. It would be wise to do what is necessary to avoid that fate. I envy you, my brother proved that all too well, and coupled with this...it must have made me fall into darkness and try to claim what was not mine."

She was grasping at straws now, trying to justify it to herself as much as to Karla.

Karla
Karla raised an eyebrow. "If you'd like, we can address the Jono stuff in a moment, but you need to know right now that you will never, ever be a danger to me. I don't believe it. Maybe if you hide yourself away and let your pride and envy eat at your soul, you can make an argument for that, but otherwise?"

She shook her head. "No. Never. I know you. I know who you are and what you are. So stop trying to take the easy way out. You can say no if you want to, but don't use bullshit excuses to do it."

Raven
"I wish I could be as certain as you are," Raven said. She'd seen plenty of good futures and bad, but as optimistic as she tried to encourage others to be, the fear of her own future haunted her nightmares.

"I do not want to say no," she said. "I will not be happy if I did. But I think I will be just as unhappy if I did not."

Karla
"I don't know if this will help, but Jono won't be in your face the entire time," Karla explained. "He's a soldier, he'll be in the field. Especially since he wants to train and lead the landens."

And the odds that Raven and Karla would be allowed near the front of a fight were laughable.

"He also has a life here he is loathe to give up, so even when the fighting ends and I rule, he will not be in Glacia all the time." She sent another wave of love and reassurance to Raven. "Darling, I know you don't want this. You have every right NOT to want it. You're hurting and it's not fair. I know that. But you can't live your life trying to avoid pain. That's what the people on Azarath did--and it's not life. Doing so means you're letting your hurt feelings define your life and choices."

Raven
Raven tried to hold on to that love and reassurance, but it did little to dull the ache in her heart. "No, it makes it all the more necessary for me to control my emotions," she said, circling around back to that argument.

She found a box of tissues on her roommate's dresser and took one, dabbing at her eyes to dry the tears and wipe away the smudges of eyeliner they'd left behind. "I must continue to swallow my sorrow and anger and pain. It has no place in Glacia."

Karla
Karla snorted. "Sweetheart, most of Glacia is sorrow, anger, and pain. How do you expect to understand people if you cut yourself off to the emotions they're experiencing? How will you know how to react, to talk to them, to accurate predict what they need if you refuse to deal with your own?"

Shoving her hair away, she said, "Do you remember when people would get upset with you for offering to take their emotional pain away? And why?"

Raven
"You do not understand," Raven said, shaking her head. She knew what Karla was trying to say, but it didn't change things. "I feel everything so much stronger than others. I do not know if it is because of what I am, or because for so long I had to suppress my emotions, or perhaps both. I cannot simply 'get over it' easily, not with how things were left between us. And if you wish us to coexist peacefully, then this is what I must do."

She closed her eyes, trying to hold back more tears. Maybe it wasn't the best idea, but it was the only thing that seemed to make sense right now. It hurt enough to talk about him. To see him would be devastating.

Karla
"I'm not telling you to 'get over them,'" Karla said sharply. Then caught herself and moderated her tone. She wouldn't get through to the avatar of pride by being waspish.

"I'm telling you to properly process and work through them as is right and healthy and what you should have been doing all along," she said more gently. "Because that's what would be best for you. Because it wouldn't hurt you so much otherwise."

Raven
"I wish I could," Raven murmured. "I do not like to feel this way. But it is not so easy. You do not understand how much he hurt me. How much he took from me."

Karla
"So tell me," Karla challenged. "Make me understand."

Raven
"My pride," Raven said, voice flat. She sat back down on her roommate's bed, her hands in her lap, her head down. "My faith in myself. My hopes and dreams. I know I am not the first to suffer heartbreak, nor will I be the last, and everyone probably thinks that I am overreacting. He already made me feel shame. What is a little more?"

She looked back up to Karla. "Why was I not good enough?" she said in a small voice. "What did I do that was so wrong? I know he has been through so much, but why did he punish me for it? Why would he not even be my friend? He would talk to you about so much, but he shunned me. He did not care about me anymore. And then he decided to humiliate me on my last day on the island. Why do you think I have not returned to Fandom, except when Triela called?"

Karla
Did Karla think that Raven was over-reacting? Yes. Did that make what she felt any less valid?

No, not at all.

"For some of those questions, if you really want the answers, you'll actually have to talk to Jono, because I don't know all of them," she pointed out practically. "So avoiding him will also mean that these questions continue to gnaw at you."

Just sayin'.

"There's a lot that needs to be addressed here, though." Karla bit her bottom lip and tried to put the complicated thoughts into words. "Like, he didn't set out and decide to humiliate you. He didn't come into the coffee shop with that intention. I'm not saying that wasn't the end result, but it wasn't deliberate. The way he saw it, he was trying to free you from a relationship that had been over anyway. Did he suck at it? Damn right. Should he have handled it better? Absolutely. Did he enjoy causing you pain and delight in the results? No, no he didn't and I think you know that."

Raven
"He did not," Raven conceded. No matter how much he had changed, she didn't think he would take a malicious glee in hurting her. But that didn't change the fact that he had, and it had been festering inside her for months.

"I told him I did not wish to speak to him," she went on. "I was in so much pain, and so afraid that I would say something hurtful to him, or worse, do something hurtful. I wanted to protect him even as his relief that I was leaving hurt me so much. It was as if his words of being friends were lies, and all we had shared meant nothing. How do you just stop caring about someone like that?"

She straightened her back, and her expression hardened. "I am Pride, Karla," she said. "I will not let him hurt me again."

Karla
"Part of his relief--I can't speak for all of it, but at least part--came from being able to let you go," Karla said. There was a problem when you could feel emotions, though not understand the motives behind them. "Because your relationship had been growing toxic for the last few months. Neither of you were happy and both of you were unintentionally hurting one another. So, yes, he was relieved. Because it was one final hurt that stopped him from continuing to hurt you in the thousands of little ways that he had been doing for the past however long."

And stop being hurt by her, too, though Karla wasn't sure how politic that would be to say.

Raven
"I never wished to do anything to hurt him!" Raven snapped, letting some of her anger slip. "All I wanted to do was love him. Was I supposed to turn off my feelings, like you are telling me I should not do now? Was I supposed to walk away from him, and be one more person he could say had left him? I tried so hard, and nothing I did was good enough for him. I couldn't understand, and he would not explain it to me. He just ignored me and avoided me."

Her fingers had become clenched in the folds of her skirt, and she lifted her hands, took a deep breath, and willed them to relax. "If we are so toxic to one another, as you say, perhaps it is unwise that we both be part of your Court," she said more calmly. "I do not wish to be the cause of strife."

Karla
"All you wanted to do was love him," Karla repeated calmly, refusing to respond to Raven's anger. "And that was the last thing Jono wanted. He couldn't handle it. Love means expectations. Expectations that he couldn't meet."

She rose and did her best to look Raven in the eye, given that she was several inches shorter than her friend. "And how would you be the cause of strife? Do you intend to throw yourself at him? Make a spectacle? He is going to be leading landens into battle, not sniffing about your skirts."

Raven
"Was I to lie and say I did not? Was I to pretend indifference?" Raven said. "I tried not to say it or express it often. But I was not going to abandon him. I loved him. I...." She faltered for a moment. "I still do. I always will. I wish I could hate him. It would make things easier, would it not? I should, but I cannot."

Karla
"You love who he used to be," Karla said softly. "Not who he's become. That's part of the problem. You keep looking for signs of who he used to be. And he kept trying to be that for you."

She held up her hand to prevent Raven from arguing. "I'm not trying to say what happened was your fault. Jono was extremely unfair to you. He hurt you and he was wrong in how he treated you. That's true and I won't deny it. But it wasn't because he didn't care about you."

Raven
Raven felt too drained to argue anyway, so she just shook her head and shrugged tiredly. "Then he has a very strange way of showing it," she said.

Karla
"He was too broken to show it," Karla reminded gently. "Too broken for you. To broken to do much more than hurt you."

Raven
"And now?" Raven said. "I told you, I listen to the radio. I know you spend a great deal of your time with him. Have you helped him where he would not let me?"

Where do you think some of that envy came from, Karla?

Karla
Karla just raised an eyebrow at Raven.

"I have," she said. "Is that chafing your Pride, Raven? That I could do what you could not?"

Raven
"I am pleased that you have been successful," Raven said.

She dropped her gaze to the floor as she nodded in response to Karla's question. She couldn't lie to Karla. "But...yes. It does. I told you I envy you. That is but one of the reasons. That he trusted you so much more than I. He would talk to you but not to me. He would rather you be there than I."

Karla
"I was simpler," Karla said quietly. "I wasn't his girlfriend. I could be his friend and only his friend. He didn't feel responsible for me. I could push him and push him and not flinch when he snarled back."

She stared at Raven meeting her eyes without flinching. "I was safe. He didn't have to protect me, the way he felt he had to protect you."

Raven
"If that was protecting me, then again I must say he has a strange concept of protection," Raven said softly. "It is protection I would rather have done without."

Karla
"Two different things, Raven," Karla said with a shake of her head, and for a moment, her eyes looked haunted. Raven would be able to sense the horror that Karla felt before she tamped it down and locked it away.

The Paths.

"He didn't want you to see what he'd seen. If he'd shown you, he would have needed to comfort you. Wanted to comfort you. Because he loved you. But he didn't have it in him to do so. Did you really want him spending energy and emotions he didn't have just so your pride would be assuaged?"

Raven
Raven stared at Karla for a moment, unsure if she should be insulted by the question. "Pride is not all I am, and you know that," she finally said.

Karla
"No, but you've admitted to being envious because I was able to reach him and you weren't and then sneered at the idea that he was protecting you by keeping you separate from all of that stuff," Karla pointed out.

She began pacing around the room, all-too-aware of its narrow confines. "You and I are different, Raven. We have different skills, different personalities, different ways of handling things. I am a journeymaid Black Widow, I have been trained to deal with people who need emotional healing. The only reason I'm not a full-fledged Black Widow is because I'm an asshole who doesn't take proper care of myself. The fact that I was able to help Jono has nothing to do with you--it was a job you haven't been trained for and weren't emotionally suited for. So resenting me for succeeding and Jono for making the best emotional decision for him at the time is unfair, Raven."

Raven
Raven frowned. "I do not resent you," she said. "I do not wish you to think that. Envy does not mean I harbor any ill will for you because of it. That is not the case at all, I assure you."

Karla
"Maybe not, but it feels like another thing you're clinging to in order to be properly hurt and upset with him," Karla said, bluntly. "That he didn't come to you and let you be his savior. You keep talking about how you weren't good enough, you keep acting like everything that Jono is doing now is a personal insult to you. Darling, Jono is trying to cobble together a new life from the ashes of what was left to him. That you're not does not mean that your love for him was not purer. It just means you're holding on in a way that is unhealthy for the both of you."


Raven
"Do I not have the right to be hurt and upset?" Raven bristled, anger starting to flare again. "You yourself have said he handled things badly. Am I to be indifferent, then? Is that what you wish? Very well. Take him on your court. I do not care."


Karla
Karla was just going to look at Raven for a little while. "Do you want to have an honest discussion, or do you want to throw a tantrum? Take your time with answering. In fact, feel free to stomp around, throw a few pillows and tear up some paper. When you're ready, we can talk like adults again."

Raven
"I am trying, Karla," Raven said, shaking her head. "But you are making me feel worse about myself now, but I suppose that is your point, is it not?"

Karla
"No, Raven," Karla said, reaching for her. "It's not. In fact, I didn't want to come and defend Jono to you at all, because, like I've said, I understand how much he hurt you. But you are not handling this in a healthy fashion. You're brooding and chewing on your own liver and I don't want to see you like this. When you talk about him, I don't recognize you anymore and that terrifies me. And the worst part is...?"

Karla shook her head, sorrowful. "At this point, it's no longer his fault. He's not doing anything more to you. He's not actively hurting you anymore. He's not flaunting lovers at you, or prancing around singing songs about how glad he is to be done with you, or doing anything more than trying to live his life as best he can. The choices that are leading you down this path are your own and, well, they scare me."

Raven
Raven didn't flinch, but she began to shake as Karla touched her. "How can I call myself a healer when I cannot even heal myself?" she said softly. She looked up at the ceiling, blinking rapidly as she tried to hold back the tears. "Sometimes it hurts so much that I wish Sebastian had not brought me back. I do not want to feel this way. I have tried to swallow my sorrows, and to channel my anger into my training with Prince Lucivar. But I still feel so empty and alone, and I do not know what to do."


Karla
"It's easier to heal others," Karla said in the same kind of voice she would use to coax a frightened bird. "They're separate. Even as you feel what they're feeling, you know that they've released that pain and soon you will, too. But that's not how it works with your own pain. Swallowing it and sublimating it aren't real solutions, either. You have to face those emotions and deal with them. Not 'get over them,' but work through them. It's not easy, but then, neither is what you're feeling now."

Raven
"I do not know how to," Raven said. "Love is the most wondrous feeling in the world, but then it is the most painful. It is like a part of me is just gone."

Karla
"It's not something that can be solved in a day or even in a month," Karla said with real sympathy. "And I think...I think I might not be the best person to talk to about all this. I'm close to both of you, and I know the situation all too well."

She hoped Raven understood that this wasn't a brush-off. But Karla knew that sometimes the best thing you could do was step back from a job you weren't best suited for.

"You know who might have better answers than me? Uncle Saetan." She tucked her hair behind her ear and explained. "He's got over fifty-thousand years of experience with human nature and he's got the distance from both you and Jono to be impartial. I don't. Talking to him about what you're feeling and going through--he'll be able to give you better advice on how to work through it than I."

Raven
"I cannot imagine going to someone like him for something like this," Raven said, furrowing her brow at the thought. "He has much more important things that require his attention." And she imagined it would be very awkward.

Karla
"What do you think the past few years have been like for him anyway?" she asked, giving Raven a slight smile. "With the coven and boyos staying there for summers? There's nothing you could say that would shock him, I'm sure."

And it was doubtful that Saetan would think Raven's heartaches were beneath his notice. Not just because that wasn't the kind of male he was, but also because this could affect Karla's Court. But Karla wasn't going to keep arguing for Saetan if she didn't want to.

"I guess the first step to getting over how much you loved him is by answering one question--how much do you love yourself?" That sounded so dumb aloud. "How much of your self-worth comes from what you can do for others and how they look at you, and how much actually comes from just being who and what you are?"

Raven
Raven had to struggle for a long moment to think of how to answer that question. "I...do not know," she said haltingly. "I have not thought about it."

She shook her head. "No, that is not true. I cannot love what I am. I am a demon. I am the blood of Trigon. I try to do good but how many times have I caused harm to the people I claim to care for? I have hurt my friends and I live in constant fear of doing so again." She touched her fingertips to her face. "This is just the mask the demon wears. I am the thing it uses to hide from the world."

Karla
"You are far more than a demon," Karla said firmly. "You are the blood of Trigon and the blood of Arella. He planted the seed, but she was the one who nurtured you, bore you, and then Azar raised you. How many times have I hurt people I cared for? Or Jono? Are we half demon? No."

She shook her head and sighed. "It all comes down to control, Raven. Like Craft, emotions and power need to be controlled, not hidden from in hopes they'll go away. I could smack everyone on that damn planet who thought it better to raise you to hide and fear those things than to learn to understand and control them. Damn you, Azar!"

Raven
"They believed they were doing the right thing," Raven said. And they'd believed it even as Trigon's demons destroyed Azarath. "If I had known emotion as a child, would my father have come to claim me sooner, like he did my brothers? They could not resist him."

Karla
That was a very good point. Raven could tell that, because Karla's expression became mutinous but she couldn't actually muster up an argument to the contrary.

"It's still stupid." Because that was helpful, right? "You're left floundering and confused, and, I'm sorry, Raven, but there's no way you can go back to being what you were. You've grown up, you're not that girl anymore. Trying to will only hurt you further."

Raven
Raven nodded. "I know," she said softly. "I cannot imagine not loving you, or Professor Skywalker, or Dinah or Sookie or Bobby or Kennedy or Tara or any of our friends." She had to pause to swallow the lump in her throat. "Or even Jono."

Karla
"Have you talked about this with Professor Skywalker?" Karla asked. "I think he might know a few things about the dangers of a wounded heart and good advice to help it mend."

Raven
"I have not," Raven said. "I thought perhaps to speak to him about taking a life, but...." But that would require going to the island.

"But he always became uncomfortable if we discussed such personal things," she finished, shaking her head.

Karla
Karla heard the pause, and, more importantly, what Raven didn't say. "Can you hear yourself?" she asked. "You're avoiding the island that was your home for three years, the only place you were really happy."

Her eyes pleaded with Raven to understand, to listen. "You have to understand how not-good that is."

Raven
"I have been," Raven said, nodding slightly. "I miss it, but the thought of going back, of seeing him and his indifference...it is too upsetting." The sick feeling in her stomach was already starting at just the suggestion of it.

Karla
"He may be many things to you, but not indifferent, Raven," Karla told her. "And culling your life to work around his is not okay. Everyone deserves to go home."

Raven
"Are you so sure about that?" Raven said sadly. "Has he...has he even asked you about me since I left?"

Karla
Karla looked at Raven and didn't bother to hide her disappointment. "He asked a few times if you were settling in well. But we don't talk about you. For reasons I'm sure you can understand. Neither of you covered yourselves in glory there and I don't like being in the middle of it. But Jono, at least, is trying to heal and make a life for himself. You still seem stuck in that same place you were at the coffeeshop, accusing him of using you for all that sex you were having and comparing him to Trigon."

Raven
"It is not so wrong to want some small sign that he cares, Karla," Raven said, recoiling a little from her and her judgment. "And you know I was hurt and angry when I left. If you are going to now hold that against me...."

Karla
"I am not judging you because of what you said then," Karla said. "But because you have not given any sign of having gotten much past then. And it is wrong to search for small signs that he cares, love, when you're hinging your behavior on his. When you're hanging how you feel about yourself on how he feels for you. I don't know if you actually can be friends right now, because I don't think that it's good for you!"

Raven
Defensive arguments almost escaped her lips, but she held them back. Instead, she bowed her head, unable to hold back the tears. "You are right. I am afraid," she said. "That he will disappoint me. And hurt me again."

Karla
Karla could have cried to hear that. Finally. "He can only hurt you in as much as you give him power to do so. The first thing you need to do is to let go of whatever expectations that you have for him, good or ill. He doesn't owe you anything. Not friendship, not love, not even acknowledgment. That hurts, but it's the truth. He doesn't owe you and you don't owe him. Whatever you may have had in the past is just that: the past. And that puts no requirements on the future."

She sighed and rested her head on Raven's shoulder. "I'm not saying that you have a magical clean slate between you or that your emotions should just somehow vanish. But the first step in stopping the hurt is to let go of whatever it is you think you're due."

Raven
"I will try," Raven whispered.

Then the full weight of the sorrow and emptiness she'd been trying to hide away hit her, and the tears turned to sobs.

Karla
And Karla just gathered her into her arms and held her, rocking and soothing, for as long as Raven needed.

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Raven

March 2016

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