The last thing she remembers is her lips on Damian’s when the flashpoint swallows them both in a light so blinding that she desperately searches for his hand. She cries out his name when her lips are torn from his so violently and the pain is so sudden and overwhelming she hardly has time to gasp when her soul-self is forced out of her, backwards through time.
Then she is soaring through dimensions, stuck in between alternate realities for what seems like an eternity but was only milliseconds before she is thrust back into her body once more.
Eyes blinking rapidly, she gasps and falls to her knees with a hand to her head, groaning at the unbearable spike of pain in her mind. The world around her is spinning as her soul catches up with her physical body and her limbs feel numb and tingly, and the sudden urge to vomit has her bending over with her hands covering her mouth.
Then Damian is in front of her and his mask wrinkles from his furrowed brows and a slight frown tugs at the corner of his mouth when he touches her shoulder gingerly.
“Raven? What’s wrong?” He asks her and his voice tethers her to this earth and she gasps once more when the memories come flooding back to her at once. She’s back to the beginning, back before the invasion and Superman is there, barking out orders and people are buzzing around the hangar, boarding the aircrafts. A panic rises in her when flashes of the battle cross her vision and she sees death and destruction and so much blood. She doesn’t know how she remembers it but now that she has she has to do anything within her power to stop it.
“No!” She yells in a panic as Superman is barking out orders and everyone stops at the pure terror in her voice. She scrambles to find her footing so she can stand and Damian helps her, graciously taking most of her weight. She tries to ignore the wave of concern that flows through him at her outburst.
“The flashpoint. I remember. You can’t go! You’ll all die!” She knows she’s rambling and they’re all looking at her like she’s grown another head but she doesn’t care. All she knows is that she has to stop them.
The silence is deafening and she can barely hear the whispers over the sound of her own heartbeat, and Damian’s grip on her tightens when a wave of fatigue has black dots dancing across her vision.
“Raven… it’s okay to be afraid. There are many risks that come with war.” Superman’s voice is soft as he tries to ease her bubbling panic, though there is an edge to it that leaves no room for discussion. The others sound similar words of agreement and Raven steps out Damian’s grasp towards them in desperation.
“No, no you don’t understand! You can’t do this!” Her power crackles at her fingertips and she knows she’s losing control but she ignores the way everyone looks at her with pity. Tears form at the corners of her eyes in frustration in pure unadulterated fear. They’re making the same mistake. Why do they not believe her?
The panic rises in her chest when the black in her vision grows at an alarming rate, but she pushes through it as long as she can.
“Darkseid… he’s watching…” She’s barely able to lift her finger and everyone’s eyes are wide when they all land on Cyborg. With that, she braces for the cold linoleum but never hits it. She lands into Damian’s arms and the tears finally escape her eyes and run down her face. He looks down at her and she thinks he’s yelling her name but she can’t hear it because of the sudden ring in her ears. He clutches her closer to his chest and he looks down at her with something akin to fear, for her.
“Damian… don’t let them… go.” She whispers, though she’s not sure he hears her- but she hopes that it’s enough to stop them because there’s nothing else she can do when her vision suddenly becomes a black canvas and everything disappears.
The first thing she notices when she wakes is her pounding headache, and she groans as her eyes flutter open. The next thing she notices is the steady beeping of the machine to her right and the cold, unwavering blue hospital light. She shifts and then looks down, realizing that she is lying on a cot in a hospital gown with a sheet covering her trembling body. There’s a slight movement to her left and a flash of red and green.
“ Raven .” He’s at her side in an instant and she drinks in the sight of him and takes in the hard lines on his face, mouth set in a grim line. His voice is raspy and thick and filled with an emotion that she can’t quite interpret, and she doesn’t understand why it sounds so desperate.
“Damian .” She says and questions are suddenly bubbling to the surface along with her rising fear.
“They’re fine, Raven. We made it out alive.” He tells her and he takes her hand reassuringly. Raven lets go of a choked sob and her shoulders sag in relief. She squeezes his hand in hers if only to convince herself that this is real and the man in front of her is tangible. When her eyes meet him again she’s taken aback when she notices that he’s grown, and he looks much, much older than the last time she saw him.
“How long was I out?” She croaks and Damian looks away from her for a moment. He swallows thickly and something is nagging at the back of her mind but she can’t place what’s bothering her. Then he looks back at her and she catches glimpses of his pain and his sorrow.
For a moment she can’t breath as her mind spins in disbelief. Three years. There’s no way that she was unconscious for three whole years- but she can see the 5 o’clock shadow on his face that was never there before and his voice is deeper than she remembers. Then the other hand that isn’t clutched in hers reaches up to cup her face and she looks into his eyes, so haunted by years of war, and she knows without doubt that he’s telling the truth.
She releases a noise that sounds somewhere between a laugh and sob as she realizes that her life will never be the same before the Apokolips war. Perhaps that was how it was meant to be, maybe that was her consequence for remembering the flashpoint and for changing fate.
“We all survived because of you.” He draws closer, enveloping her in his arms and she breathes in his scent of spice and pine. When the reality of his words hit her she begins to cry uncontrollably, and he pulls her tight against a chest that’s no longer lanky. He holds her as she shakes and mourns the loss of years that she’ll never get back. He tucks a stray hair behind her ear and murmurs soft reassurances and she closes her eyes tighter, allowing herself to indulge in the comfort he’s offering. She doesn’t know how long she cries into his chest and she’s sure that his uniform is soaked from her tears, but she doesn’t stop until there’s nothing left but an empty, hollow feeling of melancholy.
She lifts her head and sees Damian glance down at her with concern and she’s enthralled at how three years of growth transformed him. He’s beautiful.
He narrows his eyes at her and Raven’s eyes widen when she realizes she’s whispered that out loud. Embarrassed, she feels heat creep up her neck into her cheeks and he stares at her intently for a moment, silent. Usually she’s content to join in the silence with him, but he’s different now and she fidgets in his hold, lowering her gaze.
“I-I’m sorry.” She says quietly, biting her lower lip. She looks down in her lap and the hospital gown that seems to swallow her, and she can’t tell how much her own body has grown, if at all. She decides that she’ll look later, if she can still walk.
Damian seems to be having his own internal battle because he opens his mouth but stops and purses his lips, and then shakes his head for a moment before catching her gaze again.
Then he takes hold of her once more and pulls her against him, and rests his chin on top of her head.
“I can’t believe you’re awake.” He mumbles against her and kisses the back of her head. Raven freezes and realizes with a stark clarity that three years is a long time and she can’t even begin to comprehend what he’s gone through without her. She pushes back to look at him and she searches his eyes for any recognition that he remembers what happened before…
“Do you remember? The flashpoint?” She asks and Damian’s eyes narrow.
Her stomach drops because she realizes he doesn’t remember their kiss, but she’s also relieved that he doesn’t have to relive the pain that he felt when he watched his brother die right in front of him- or when he took that blast for Batman, sacrificing his life to give them all a fighting chance against Darkseid. Tears fill her eyes again at the thought of him dying, to save them all, to save her.
“Damian… you died. You all died.”
“We’re alive Raven.”
She sucks in a shaky breath, nods, and wraps her arms around him. She listens to his heartbeat and strives to match her breathing with his. She asks him what happened after she blacked out all those years ago and she patiently listens as he catches her up to the present, speaking in low voices.
They had realized that Darkseid was watching their every movement through Cyborg’s motherbox. Cyborg had collapsed, fighting for control over it, and everyone had erupted in chaos. Superman pushed for his plan but Damian had granted Raven’s request and stood his ground against Superman, rallying most to his side.
Eventually Batman interceded with a confession that everyone needed to regroup as soon as Cyborg had regained control. They learned of the parademons that had been reborn with Doomsday and changed their plan of invasion- without Darkseid’s knowledge. They had fought long and hard, but in the end they had persevered and Cyborg was able to hold Darkseid and the parademons on Apokolips with no way out- while the others were able to get away through his boom tube. There were injuries- some that ended up incapacitated forever, but at least they had survived.
They had all survived.
“The others will want to know that you’re awake.” Damian says softly and she nods in agreement and the pang in her chest hurts when she thinks of Gar and Kori, and everyone else who she hasn’t seen in three years. Her mind is still reeling that she was unconscious for that long and she fingers the fabric of Damian’s cape to remind herself that yes he is real and in front of her, a grown man. Damian takes notice but remains silent, though he does glance down at her with something that Raven can only guess is worry. Her chest hurts when she thinks once more of what he has gone through the past three years to make him look at her like that.
“Thank you.” She says and Damian raises a brow in a silent question leading her to speak further, “for believing me when everyone else thought that I was just being dramatic.”
He just gives her a look that’s unreadable. He places a hand on her shoulder and pushes her back gently into the surrounding pillows.
You should rest.” He says instead. “I’ll call the others.”
Panic grips her for a moment and she fists a hand in the shirt of his uniform because she doesn't want to be alone and what if she falls asleep and doesn’t wake up again for another three years and what if she wakes up and realizes that it was all just a dream and Darkseid really did kill everyone-
“Raven.” Damian calls out to her and she blinks for a moment as he places a hand around her wrist. Her grip is so tight on his uniform that her knuckles are pure white and she forces herself to breathe slowly as she releases him.
“Don’t go.” She says, looking at him and allowing him to see the vulnerability in her eyes. He hesitates for a moment and she thinks that maybe he’s changed his mind, but then he leans in and places a soft kiss to her forehead.
“I’ll be right back.” He says and she thinks she sees a flash of regret flit across his features but it’s gone in a moment and his face is an unemotional mask. She watches as he crosses the room to step out into the hall, taking out his phone in the process. She listens to the soft murmurs in the hallway as she looks up at the ceiling. She refuses to close her eyes, fearful that if she does she’ll be back on Apokolips.
She puts a hand to her head and sighs, then freezes. Her crystal is gone. A new kind of terror is shooting up her spine now when she realizes that Trigon is gone. She flings the covers from her cot and stands on wobbly legs, ignoring the dizziness that hits her swiftly and surely. She realizes there’s an IV in one arm and she tugs at it, breaking it free. There’s a need that’s rising in her to find him, defeat him, trap him so that he doesn’t hurt anyone ever again.
The world spins and she suddenly doesn’t have the strength to stand any longer as her legs give out from underneath her.
Damian gets there just in time (he always has) to catch her and she doesn’t flinch at the glare he shoots her for trying to get out of bed so soon.
“My crystal.” she says in explanation and is already clawing to get out of his arms. “Trigon.”
Damian holds her tight as he frowns at her fully, stilling Raven.
“Raven, you destroyed Trigon years ago when he broke out of your crystal the first time. You don’t remember?”
“What?” She leans back as if he had slapped her.
She doesn’t remember. She remembers trapping him. She remembers the constant pain and torture as he struggled in his restraints at every breath. She remembers the way he threatened to kill Damian just before he broke free to fight Darkseid.
She says it all out loud and Damian’s brow furrows further.
“The flashpoint can turn back time Raven, but no one knows the potential consequences that come with it. Whatever happened with your father before must have changed when Flash turned back time.”
His green eyes stare unwavering into hers.
“Yes. Trigon is gone.”
Joy slowly replaces her panic. She was free. But even as her joy rose at the destruction of her father, a nagging worry has her wondering what other changes happened because of the flashpoint.
“Oh my god, Raven.”
Raven smiles at the familiar voice that always sounds a bit alien when Kori strides into the room with arms wide open. She hasn’t changed a bit, she realizes, and is thankful for that and her smile widens when Dick follows closely behind her both in civilian clothing. She watches, bewildered, that they’re alive and well when the last time she saw the both of them they were irreparably broken by Darkseid. Tears form at the corners of her eyes when Gar and Cyborg walk into the room shortly after.
She realizes she’s still in Damian’s arms when he shifts her around so that he shields her from view long enough so that he can carry her back to the hospital bed. When the cool air hits her back she flushes in embarrassment when she suddenly realizes that she’s only wearing her hospital gown and a pair of underwear, but her lack of dress doesn’t seem to bother Damian at all even as her blush deepens when his hands graze the back of her bare thighs. He only helps her back under the covers so that the others don’t have to see her in her state of undress. Then he tucks another strand behind her ear and Raven glances down with mild shock to see that it has grown down almost to her waist.
“It’s so long.” She whispers and Damian gives her a small smile.
“No one felt like they had the right to cut it.” He tells her.
“I also enjoyed washing and braiding it.” Kori finally reaches her side and takes her hand. Damian rolls his eyes but Raven smiles, truly grateful, because Kori has always taken care of her.
“We’re so glad to have you back Rae.” Gar says, surprisingly quietly, and Raven raises her face to his and is mildly shocked to see how much he’s grown.
“Dashingly handsome? I know right?” He gives her the same goofy grin he’s always had and the anxiety in Raven’s chest eases at the fact that her friends may have changed but their essence has stayed the same.
Any tension remaining in the room leaves at Garfield’s light joking and a soft laughter fills the room along with happy chatter. Through it all Raven notices that Damian never leaves her side. She takes a moment to study him further. His muscles have grown well, everywhere, and he’s probably about a foot and a half taller than the last time she remembers seeing him. A few worry lines crease his forehead but he’s otherwise as dangerously handsome as he was before, if not more so. His attention goes from listening to Kori and Dick argue over where she will stay to her own stare on him and she flushes, feeling like she had been caught with her hand halfway in the cookie jar. When Kori insists that she stay with her Damian interjects without his gaze leaving hers.
“She’s staying with me at the manor.” His voice leaves no room for discussion and both Kori and Dick look up at him in surprise.
Kori looks like she wants to argue but Raven is getting exhausted from her flood of emotions and trying to interpret Damian’s so she hums in agreement and Kori snaps her mouth shut when Dick places a hand on her shoulder.
“We should let Raven rest Kori.” Dick says and he and Damian pass a glance.
Kori nods and turns back to Raven, “Let us know if you need anything.” She says and Raven nods but doesn’t feel the need to tell her that she has everything she needs now with all her friends in this room alive and happy.
Dick shuffles everyone out of the room and they all leave with a chorus of goodbyes and promises to visit again soon. Raven turns back to Damian when Dick finally closes the door.
“It’s strange,” She says, “everyone seems so different yet the same.”
The corner of his mouth quirks upwards in a slight smirk but he says nothing. She thinks that he might tell her to get some sleep but he doesn’t and she’s thankful because she’s been sleeping for three years and she doesn’t really want the odd intimacy between them to end.
“We’ve all missed you, I’ve missed you.” He admits to her and a smile graces her lips at the way that Damian so freely shared his thoughts. She has a suspicious thought that he’s still not always so forthright with his emotions, but maybe he feels like he can with her because he trusts her completely.
“I’m glad to be back.” She swallows thickly at memories that fight to the surface of the war. “I’m glad that no one remembers what happened before.” She stops herself with a hitch of breath. Damian grabs her hand again, bringing her attention back to his face.
“If you ever need someone to talk about what you remember, I’ll be here. I don’t pretend to know what you went through or what you’ll go through the next few months, but I’ll help you however I can.”
“Thank you.” She whispers and he nods once then settles into the chair that’s beside her bed. She looks around the room and sees the cold domineering machinery that kept her alive the years she was unconscious. It’s currently off now since she pulled out her IV and refused to have it put back in. The room feels… impersonal, but it doesn’t bother her because Damian is here.
“We’ll go home soon.” Damian promises her and Raven turns back to him with a small smile and a nod.
She doesn’t tell him that she already feels like she’s at home, because she’s always home as long as she’s with him.