Must keep in control, must be in control…just breathe, breathe, breathe…she thinks to herself, trying to, indeed, stay in control of her ever-changing emotions. As soon as she loses control, she knows, it’s over. The severity of her actions is something she would rather not worry about. Ever since The Day…she shudders, and immediately blocks that memory out of her mind. She continues to breathe slowly, steadily…and finally, she opens her eyes. Only to see more darkness – her bedroom. Temporary, but currently, safe. “A good solution to a hopeless now,” she mutters to herself. She sighs, rising from her squat on the floor. Her hand runs through her violet-black hair, and she leans on her nearby dresser. She straightens up, and with a snap of her fingers, nails painted black, various candles scattered about the room light up to reveal hidden shadows. A mirror hung on the back of the door shows her reflection. Her dark, purple sweater and black jeans stand out against the yellow contrast of the candles; her just-past-the-shoulders hair is tied half-up, out of her violet eyed gaze.
She stands there, remembering what had triggered her emotional unease. She was looking at her bookshelf, and at all the characteristically dull-looking spell books and sometimes depressing folktale novels. She came across a dark red book, and, curious, took it off the shelf and into her hands, only to see that it was a photo album. Somewhere inside, she knew it was a bad idea to look through it…but she couldn’t help it. All the photos of her family and her friends resurfaced memories of the best times, and the worst times; in the intricate life of Rachel Roth.
Shaking her head, Rachel kneels to where she was trying not to freak out moments before, and picks up the photo album. She stares at it while walking to the antique bookshelf opposite her bed. Carefully, she slides it into an empty space among the books, then turns around, tucking a strand of her hair behind her right ear. She takes one more deep breath, then opens the door and strolls out of her room.
In the hallway, light streams in from the wall-to-wall windows adjacent to her. Her eyes adjust after being in her always-dark bedroom, and her fingers reach up and feel the smooth edges of her ankh necklace. A gift from her mother. Somewhere in the tower, she can hear her fellow housemates, her friends, talking boisterously. Rachel rolls her eyes – business as usual. She walks through the topmost tower hallway and over to the stairs, and glides down three floors, briefly stopping after the second to go in the laundry room to put on her fresh and clean purple cape, pulling the hood over her head. Once she reaches the main floor, aka third floor, the volume of her friends is almost unbearable. Following their voices, she eventually reaches the modern-eco kitchen.
“Okay, now you say it. Waffles,” Cyborg says, pointing to a plate of waffles and looking back at Starfire, who always struggles with the daily terms of human beings.
“Waff-hells,” she says, obviously still struggling. Cyborg stares desirously at his breakfast and says, perhaps too excitedly, “Good! We’ll work on it again later,” and hurries off to the table to eat. Starfire, too gullible for her own good, stares off, and then notices Rachel watching in the doorway.
“RAVEN!!” she screams, much to Rachel’s dismay, and practically jumps on her. Aliens, she thinks. I’ll never understand them. At that moment, Beast Boy struts in, this time as a possum. He really enjoys cycling through animals in the mornings. He notices Starfire rambling on about waffles to Raven, and shoots her a sympathetic look. Rachel rolls her eyes.
“…and then, I’m like, ‘What’s that?’ and Cyborg says, ‘They’re WAFF-HELLS!!’ I actually really like the words used here on Earth. Hey, do you want to do like, a SPA DAY later?? That would be SO fun!” Starfire continues, her green eyes sparkling. Her long, pink hair swirls around her as her feet rise and she begins to float in her flying stance. She does this when she’s really excited about something. Or bored.
Rachel nods. “Sure,” she says in her monotone. Starfire fist pumps the air and almost hits the ceiling, all the while shouting, “YES! YEAH! WE ARE GOING TO HAVE SOO MUCH FUN!!”
“You better get the black nail polish ready, Star,” Beast Boy jokes, his possum teeth clattering in what seemed to be a laugh. His small paws grab open the refrigerator door, miraculously, and he pulls out a leftover slice of pizza. Rachel grimaces.
“Are you going to participate in SPA DAY too?” Rachel asks, feigning excitement. Beast Boy laughs. “Nah. You two will have more fun without me. Ask Robin. He’ll be interested,” the possum says, cradling pizza and looking over at Starfire, then Rachel, giving her a knowing glance. It’s no secret that Robin likes Starfire. Except it is. To Starfire, of course.
Even with all this lightheartedness, Rachel couldn’t help but still feel devastated by the fact that her own father, the demon Trigon, was planning a vicious attack on Jump City. She couldn’t stand all this sitting around, but really, what could they do? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. All because of The Day…No. Don’t think about that, Rachel tells herself, holding on to an almost microscopic strand of light in all this darkness.
At that moment, Robin had waltzed in, already in costume like everyone else, immediately heading to the fridge. Rachel, still standing there, realizes she hasn’t eaten yet. She looks on as Robin grabs a slice of leftover pizza, like Beast Boy, and shakes her head. “That is truly disgusting,” she says, like she always does when she sees this act of, well, disgustingness. Robin scoffs.
“This,” he says, holding up his pizza as if it’s sacred, “is only the best breakfast EVER. You are missing out. All you eat is Cheerios, and Star eats jam like it’s going out of style,” he finishes. Rachel notices his change in demeanor as he speaks about Star. Ugh. Also disgusting.
She floats over to one of the cupboards and pulls out said Cheerios, also grabbing out a bowl, spoon, and milk with her mind powers. She watches on as the cereal is poured, then the milk, and her bowl moves up to her neck area. She takes the bowl and begins to eat, closing her eyes and relishing in the deliciousness. Once she’s done, she sticks the dishes in the dishwasher and floats over to the living room, where everyone else is. She pulls her hood off her head, and wipes hair out of her face, simultaneously sitting next to Star on the couch. Robin and Beast Boy have finished their pizza, and Cyborg’s waffles are missing from the plate precariously set on the coffee table. They now sit, arguing about which video game to play. Rachel looks over at Star, who is staring solemnly at her hands.
“What’s wrong?” Rachel asks quietly, worried. Starfire is never like this. They were just talking about spa day. What could possibly have happened to make her this depressed?
Star sniffs, her bright green eyes watery. “Beast Boy just told me about your mother. Wh-why didn’t you tell me? Or all of us?” she asks, looking over at Rachel. Suddenly, the boys are quiet and looking on at the scene a few feet away. Rachel glances at Beast Boy, who avoids her eyes. Cyborg sits, unmoving, and Robin just looks plain confused.
“Oh. Uh…” Rachel takes a deep breath and stands up, goes into float stance, and floats back and forth in a pacing motion. It looks like she’s walking on air. She stops and looks at everyone. “Beast Boy found me crying, and I had to say something…” she starts, hiding her fidgety hands behind her back. “You know that one feeling can set me off, and I couldn’t risk-” she shakes her head, fighting back tears. Emotions flood her, and all the dread she’s been feeling seems to fuel it all. “My mother and I lived together, briefly, in Azarath. Her name is – was, Arella. We came here, and then she wanted to go back. So, she did, and I stayed, and formed this team, and yesterday I found out that because of The Day, my father was able to harness his powers, and he killed-” it all came out in a rush, and at the end, Rachel broke. She crashes down to the floor, and begins to sob, not caring about the others, about anything. She holds her face in her hands and rocks back in forth, not able to handle it anymore.