Maybe we are them—the superheroes in Garfield's comic books. Who says that we're not? Reality? How many times have we outgrown reality? I can heal. She has super strength, Chase can connect to people, to animals, Vic is smart, and you, you, Richard, can fight-more so than the rest of us-for all of us!"
Author's Note: This is a story of mine that I wanted to tell through the Teen Titan characters. This is a story of healing, reconciliation, and becoming of something much greater. But what are they to become? Do the bright reds, blues, and yellows of the Teen Titan comics color their destinies? Boy, that was cheesy. Anyway, I hope to be updating frequently! Also, this is my spin on the Teen Titans.
Character Sheet: Koriand'r "Starfire" (15), Richard Grayson(15), Rachel Roth (12), Garfield Logan (11), Victor "Vic" Stone (18)
Extra important information: Driver's suit: The suit of armor Starfire wears. A driver straps themselves in and takes on the legs of the robot, controlling its movements with her own. Her arms are free for fist to fist contact. With this suit, she is six and a half feet.
No weak points, no dysfunctions, and no flaws to the movement. The suit was layered and thick. To the driver of the suit, its etched surface deteriorated by the licking of concrete that eroded away its metal shine, I had gone after. Ricocheting off the faded brick and fire escapes, I had held the pursuit of the being, we hastily crisscrossing the levels of stairs. Its heavy stride shook the apartment ledge, it to hiss at rising of tremendous weight banging against the rising platforms.
A slew of search lights fanned and riddled against the silver bot running away from me. Despite its sudden jerks and swings to avoid my offense, I had scanned its back, sure that the off switch would appear beneath the silvery extension beneath the back that should resemble a shoulder blade. Lack of time had swept my opportunity away. Its sudden maneuver swung a metal fist at my stomach, I to dodge, flip back, harness energy from the gravitational force, hit the ground, and launch back, swinging my leg up and over, hurdling my body through air, quickly closing the space in between me and the robot.
Despite the smog that shrouds my memory now, I remember a grim smile knotting the corners of my lips before the sweet intensity of the impact, my kick across the suit's chest. Bending to break, it tumbled across the wide spanning rooftop. Wind blew and there was a violent spray of metal nuts and bolts. To the edge, it bashed the iron gated fence that hissed at such impact. Caught in the stiff web of metal, the artificial intelligence writhed.
I prowled to the mechanism fashioned as a cruel woman: curved body, ironed fists, and armored jaw and headline. Arched above, I shoved my fist to its chest, notching my fingers around the hole of my heel print, slowly lifting the being against the fence. Its head had slung in defeat and carelessly rolled to examine the sky. City lights flashed; I remember their fingertips swinging across the android's face, highlighting the very edge of its cheek. Sirens screeched, a man on a megaphone called, and helicopters clapped, chopping the tempo of chaos. Green blazes shot from the lime green fires beneath the high rise. I remember those blazes fluttering past my face like fireflies, sick and misplaced in a scene of hell.
But now, I am unsure of which is louder: the memory of her screaming—the thrashing, the shattering of glass, the fall—or the silence now. It overwhelms the eardrum in such a way that it becomes an eerie buzzing, drowning the room with such emotion as if angst and sorrow overflow from where we sit, now observing the blinking lights of the emergency room.
Upon the rooftops, I had felt the hysterical chain of heartbeats hyped with vehemence pulsing through my grip locked upon the artificial intelligence's chest—her chest—and saw the slow crawl of sinister crimson seep onto my hands, then arms.
That was then. Now, they wait. The blinking lights of the waiting room, the sudden lime flickering caresses the boy's cheek and gleam in the gloss of his empty stare, he too distraught and too isolated to lean upon Rachel. Rain like pellets upon the hood of his jacket, his small hands tug upon the rim of his black scarf and tenderly pull its fabric to cover his bloody nose and charred chin. Rachel slumps over beside him, brow bleeding, arm distorted, purple fill overflowing from her cornea and seeping into the rims of her eye sockets. Despite the weight she holds to appease the pain in her arm, she presses her fists into her black jacket. Yet, the bloodiness overturns the dark pigment to sinister. Her neck arches forth, allowing her short, scraggly, unkempt hair to sway forward, masking her face.
Slowly, Vic eclipses the light, becoming a nearing silhouette in my vision field, carefully pushing a stained rag of shredded corners through the space between us. Disobeying orders and failing to preform is seven and three kicks to the face. The Commander insures it.
"Hold still." Upon my skinless forehead, the heaviness of the rag sits with a sting, and then liberates a three pronged stream of substance, overflowing off my brow at Vic's squeeze. The cool of the substance counterbalances the searing burn etched in by concrete, but I am drawn to the red fusion, dripping into my eyes. I look down.
"Becoming human, are you?" Rachel mutters. Her voice is cold—what else am I to expect? Her eyes tremble against her thrashed knees, her black tights in webbed rips to expose them. She lets the moment pass, feeling the weight of Vic's gaze upon her cheek. I follow Vic's hand as he takes Rachel's and places it upon her knees. Her cringing pacifies and she hesitantly looks to him. A blink takes her there.
"Garfield tells me you can heal."
"Garfield says a lot of things."
"From the comic books, I take it? Doctor Mann," Vic stands, unraveling his hand for the passing man to shake. Though, he looks at me. "Going to address me, son?" Through his green tinted spectacles, he peers above, his brows raised, his mouth tightened into a grim scowl. His eyes wane on the bridge between boredom and disdain. "Not leader enough to take responsibility for your team?"
"We're not a team."
"Then, who am I to report on the charge of murder." She's dead. That's it then.
"Hmmm." He stoically scratches his chin and tilts his head as if silently amused. "That's interesting."
"You find this all amusing?"
"No. Your tone as it is now. It hinges with some emotion and emotion is not something I associate with you, Mr. Grayson."
"In spite of your talent, the title of Cadets is only given to one who surpass the age of sixteen." I dislike his voice. He continues, "You do not have a death on your hands—yet. By these scans," to the wall, he points a clicker that triggers some sort of projection upon the brick wall, beaming from a device above. He points. "We see formation of this dream here. It is given that she is exiting the third chamber of sleep."
In the display, the rambunctious friction of excited pixels dies in fuzziness. It contorts to resemble a lime sea of interchanging cosmos, toppling over themselves like waves. I feel as if I had just been given an important piece of information: a memory of another maybe presenting itself before us; a window into the mind of a stranger.
"T-These a-are h-her dreams?" Garfield says.
"The formation of one—like I said." Slowly, he pulls his hand to his roughened cheek, then tucking his chin into the palm now shaped into a fist. He stares longer at the projection, and then slowly turns back to them. "I must file this report," he says, "excuse me."
"Doctor Mann." Vic hesitantly calls, he looking left to right to scan for privacy—as I would imagine—before approaching.
"She's no older than fifteen, if that is what you wanted to ask me."
"She looks that way. But I wanted to talk about her punch. She shattered walls, so I scanned her metal suit she was wearing and it was relatively light in contrast to my estimation."
"The current one is that she is not of this world like the alien-like supers before her."
"Was it the super strength, the light throwing, strange language, or the flight that conveyed this theory?"
"It was her appearance. The glow in her eyes and the damage it dealt onto this shard of lamppost here." From his bag, he pulls out the claimed object, "It combusted at her strike and there is no trace of radioactivity or any other substance that could of enhanced the chemical make up a human would have to provide this power. The power—it's natural. An innate gift."
"Perhaps we are to do more research."
"We? Sir—it would be an honor."
"As in the detective agency."
"But haven't I proven myself with this—"
"Such reliance should be given to the more credible, yes?"
"I have scheduled you and the rest of the work group for cleanup duty tomorrow morning. Six o' clock. Seventy-eight Lester Square. I want the debris gone and the brick repaired. Fires were put out last night. Yet, ashes remain. I want them cleaned too. Do I have your understanding? Now, excuse me."
I look to see Doctor Mann passing Vic who watched him go, he to momentarily return to some photos he grasped in his gloved hand and to stare into the pavement's rupturing. Covering the ground, shattered pieces of the metal suit and further debris catch the extreme light of the high rising lamp posts that faintly placed highlighted color into the graywashed, grim scene.
I push the dampened rag to my forehead.
"We're not a team?" Rachel's voice is dry, cold.
"I said I would find you two a home and I have. I am not responsible for you and Garfield anymore."
"When did you come to that conclusion?" There was a pause, "When you went after her? When you threw the first punch? When you left us vulnerable?
"When we got hurt? When were thrown against the wall? When you realized you couldn't protect us?
"You think you're so heroic—and maybe you are—but when you fail just once, you give up everything. So when was it? When she hit the ground? When we saw blood? When she cried for help?"
"Shut up to the both of you!" Vic interfered. "Dammit! You're upsetting Gar." To the boy before the projection, the soft blond tousles of hair stealing the colors of the faint green running images, we look, he sinking lower into his scarf. His back is turned from us, but I see the rim of gloss and wetness in his eyes and I wait.
"R-Rachel can be useful."
Her scowl dims to solemnness, her mouth in a think line and her eyes slightly shifting against her knees, she rises halfheartedly—I can tell—and awkwardly places her hand on his shoulder after hesitating a moment or two. His face of a dazed expression rises from his scarf. She moves forward, raising her hand to his nose, he to cringe.
We wait in silence until the surgeon approaches forth.
From the scene, I look away.
"She and you will only get hurt."
"That's not a good enough answer-"
"Leave him alone, Rachel. It's been a bad day. Richard, give me your sweater," Vic outstretches his hand in front of me. "Give me your sweater, Richard." He hastily pulls at the hood and almost yanks the sleeves from my arms. The fabric snaps into his hands and he bends down to the boy's height.
"Feel the inside," Vic says, "This one will keep you warmer." He places his own in Vic's hands and he wraps his around Rachel's knees—I thought he would do something like that.
"There is a bathroom around the hall," I scan the ceiling. "Go wash up. Take Garfield with you and instruct him to do the same."
"Instruct?" She mutters. "You're talking fancy today."
"Just do it."
They leave and onto the space next to me, Vic sits.
"I know you would have wanted to do the same." He says.
"I'm not their caretaker."
"Then, why do you take care of people?"
"Because I am left with no other option."
"You have plenty of options, Richard."
"Then what are they for this situation?"
"Do you want to hear my hypothesis?"
"Maybe I already know what it is."
"The girl-she's fifteen." He confirms.
A moment silences my voice, letting sound of the waiting room slip back in. "Do you hear her?"
"Her moaning-it passes the brick."
He listens for a moment. "It's faint."
"It's loud enough. Real enough. I thought she was just another escaped android from the Sevee's Factory. What else could be different?"
"It wasn't the motive that they were afraid of."
"Rachel and Gar. They were afraid of what came over you."
"I never get afraid anymore. I've seen this many times. I'm used to it."
"Use to what?"
"I'm used to that crazed look growing in the face of the trainees. I always thought that it was a monster inside that showed in the face when ready to possess the person. That desire to perform at whatever means necessary to get a pet on the back by Commander."
I let his words sit.
"I just thought you-the highest ranker-would be different."
"And what would make me different? To take her in as I did with Garfield and Rachel?"
"You have many options, Richard. Plus, she can handle herself, you know. I mean, look at us." He gave a puff of laughter. "All broken and bruised and bloody. I was actually scared for my life. You know that?"
"Yeah, I knew that." A grim smirk rises from my mouth though I tried to distract myself with the ceiling. "You wet your pants the minute she shattered the apartment wall."
"I am not too sure if that was fear or extreme excitement."
"You should probably figure that out, then."
The moment grew silent, dimming the moment back into coldness. I look to the fuzziness of the pixels fidgeting by the projection.
"After the damage we did to her today, she won't be able to fight back if confronted."
"And you? You look awful." He says.
"You are more careless than usual. That's our note to know that something's wrong."
"Gar, Rachel, and me."
"Look-" my voice is too stern, "if this is another way to pitch the 'team' plan, I don't want to hear it. I've been telling you guys this! I am don't want-"
"You work alone. Richard. That's what you say all the time whenever someone expresses concern for you! Look, you pick and choose what you want to hear. The obvious is always before you, but for some reason, you have trouble seein' it." Vic stands, his expression tucked into his jacket. His eyes sweep to the corner towards me, "I am going to find out more information about this girl. You should decide what you're going to do now-you, out of work for the while."
I found myself sitting the floor beside the boys' bathroom. At the cue of the little footsteps, barely enough weight above them, the door opens, slowly swinging outward, letting the florescent light of the room into the hallway. Beside the doors weight, Garfield stands, his head now tilting in slight confusion to why I am on the floor. I stand to meet him.
"I am going to take you and Rachel home, okay?"
Slowly, he nods, but his eyes droop to where his nose and his scarf meet. He unravels it from his neck, and speaks. "I got t-the bl-blood out. Like you-you i-instructed." Tenderly, he holds his scarf in his hands, fingers knotted together. The cuff of my jacket he wears, the leather stealing the light, falls over his hands. He looks up, his green eyes squinting at the brightness of the white halls and places the green fabric in my hands, "c-can you use it t-too?"
I admit…alone in my apartment, I placed the scarf on my chest that night. Those cries l I heard were human after al. And I don't even know her name.