Disclaimer: I do not own anything related to Batman and the Gotham Knights. I also don't own anything related to Lord of the Rings. They are the total and complete property of DC Comics and J.R.R. Tolkien.
Author's note: All good things must come to an end. As always please read and review and enjoy,
Back to the Beginning
Middle-Earth. Several hours ago…
A mid-day sun hung high over Isengard, as the Fellowship prepared to say good-bye to two of their own. There was not a single smiling face amongst the assemblage of people. For those who had become friends with Robin and Batgirl, they were loosing two dear friends. For those who had not been so lucky, they at least knew they were loosing two powerful warriors.
Raven was yet again hovering in mid-air, silently meditating and centering her Soul Self in preparation for teleporting them from one world to the next.
"Here they come," grunted Gimli, as Robin and Batgirl stepped out from their tent, dressed in a fresh change of clothing. Robin was carrying a large duffle bag over his shoulder, carrying the rest of the gear that they would be taking on the trip back home.
"So… I guess this is it," Tim said, wearing a serious expression. No one in the Bat-Clan had ever been particularly good at saying good-bye. It was mostly the reason they pulled the abrupt disappearing acts they were famous for most of the time. Unfortunately, the Fellowship would never forgive them if they vanished without a word.
"You will be greatly missed Timothy, Cassandra," said King Elessar, stepping to the forefront of everyone, with Arwen standing besides him. Elessar and Tim gripped forearms tightly, and Cassandra gave the king a soft kiss in the cheek. "Are you certain you do not wish to stay? I could really do with a proper captain of the guard and bodyguard."
"Thanks King-guy, but we've been gone for too long. I'm about twelve months past curfew." Aragorn grinned and bowed his head.
The Queen of Minas Tirith then embraced and kissed Tim and then Cassandra on their cheeks. "Thank you for protecting Elessar," she said to them, with a teary smile.
"Its what we do. Part of the hero thing, right?" Cass smiled, giving her friend another tight hug. "You'll take care of Redd and Nadia for us… right?" Cass looked in the direction of their two horses that were standing far in the distance, looking somewhat forlorn.
"Of course," Arwen smiled.
Smiling, Cassandra jutted her chin towards Elessar. "Take care of the Ranger."
"I shall," said Arwen softly. "Take care of your Boy Wonder."
The Twins were the next to step forth and although they were smiling, there was a great bit of regret behind their matching eyes. "You've both been…" began Elladan.
"…true friends…" continued Elrohir.
"…as even better…"said Elladan, picking up exactly where his brother left off.
"…opponents. We will miss you both." The twins offered out their hands, at which Tim and Cassandra looked down at suspiciously. Giving a sigh, the Twins each removed a pair of tacks that they had tied to their hands and looked disgruntled. Cassandra smiled and kissed each of their cheeks while Tim shook their, now prank free, hands.
"Never loose you sense of humor guys," Robin said grinning.
"With Sauron gone, it's going to get too quiet," added Batgirl.
"Do not worry my friends," said the twins in unison. "So long as there is breath in us, there will still be chaos amongst us."
Both Gandalf and Elrond glasped hands the two teenagers a final time and as they stepped back Elrond looked at the wizard with a slight mock scowl. "You were right about them Mithrandir," he admitted somewhat reluctantly.
"Was there any doubt?" asked Gandalf, raising his bushy eyebrows smugly.
Several other people, such as Glorfindel and assorted soldiers who Tim and Cass had made friends with of their time there also wish the pair well as they prepared to leave. Some hugged them, and others shook their hands or gave nods of farewell.
At last they got to the last handful of members from their Fellowship. Gimli walked up them, his shaggy head bowed and his normally stern face looking crestfallen with tears in his eyes. He opened his mouth to say something, but the only thing that came out was a choked sob. Cassandra immediately threw her arms around the dwarf and kissed him on the cheek. "Bye Gimli." She whispered
"Take care man," added Tim, squeezing the dwarf's shoulder. Gimli managed to let out another sob, which he tried to turn into a masculinegrunt and nodded several times as he stood back.
Legolas waited next. His face was neutral but his eyes flashed with tears. Cassandra jumped first and hugged him tightly. The elf gladly returned the embrace and kissed the top of her head. "I would have defeated you one day, my lady," he said with a small grin.
"Keep dreaming elf-boy," she shot back, burying her head into the elf's chest. "I'll miss you."
"As I will you," replied Legolas. "I am proud to have known you Cassie. Perhaps we will meet again one day."
"I hope so."
Next Legolas turned to Tim. They stared at one another for a long time before at last Tim held up his golden utility belt. "Here, take this," said the Teen Wonder with a small smile.
"Your belt?" said Legolas, taken aback. "Why?"
"Give it to your dad, and tell him thank you for everything you both did for me," Tim explained. "Besides, I know he'll never be happy knowing that I left Middle-Earth and he didn't get a hold of this little treasure."
"Won't you need it?" asked Legolas as he took the belt, staring at it in wonder.
"Naw, I've got a few extras where I'm going. Give it too him and wish him my best," Tim said, just before the Elf prince grabbed him by the shoulders embraced him tightly. Tim's own arms wrapped around the elf prince and returned the brotherly affection.
"Namárië nîn tithen tôr (Farewell my little brother)" whispered Legolas softly to the young boy in elvish. "Tenna' ento lye omenta (Until we meet again.)"
"Namárië Legolas, (Farewell Legolas)" said Robin. "Amin autien muindor nín (I'm going to miss you my brother)." They patted each other on the back once, before Tim and Cassandra at last turned to the last four members of the Fellowship. Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin stood side by side, their heads bowed and tears flowing freely from their eyes.
"We're never going to see you again, are we?" asked Pippin, a muffled sob escaping as he spoke. Tim and Cassandra looked down at the four hobbits with frowns etched on their faces.
"I wouldn't say never," said Robin with a thoughtful look at them. "Never means that it would be impossible. Look at what we've accomplished. As far as we're all concerned, nothing is impossible."
The four hobbits gave watery smiles as they ran forward and embraced Robin and Batgirl. The Hobbits who were never one to hide their emotions wept openly as they held to their friends, until at last they pulled back. Cassandra knelt down and placed a hand on the shoulders of Sam and Pippin, but looking at each of them.
"Thank you for being my best friends," she said to them. "Pippin, you always made me smile. Merry, you made me laugh. Sam, you gave me hope. And Frodo… you proved that there is a hero… in everyone. You are the best group of hobbits I ever met."
"We're the only group of hobbits you ever met," said Pippin, grinning despite his tears and runny nose."
Cassandra giggled and ruffled his hair affectionately. "I love you all."
She then kissed each of them softly on the forehead, while Robin watched with his own eyes glistening with tears. As Batgirl stood up and slipped her hand into Robin's, the Teen Wonder looked down at the nine-fingered hobbit. "Hey Frodo, be sure to tell Bilbo good-bye for us. And don't spare any of the details about what happened, okay? There's a lot that he'll need to know for that book of his."
Frodo smiled at Robin and nodded as the hobbits stepped back and joined the rest of the Fellowship. Raven then stepped forward, her blue cloak billowing behind her, and her hood pulled back.
"Are you ready?" she asked them, unable to stop herself from sensing the sadness that filled everyone around her. Her own violet eyes filled with tears brought on by everyone else.
"Yeah," said Cassandra softly. "I think we are."
Giving a nod, Raven pulled her head over her head, and took a deep breath. "Azar give me strength," she whispered. In one swift movement, her arms flew out and her cape billowed out wide, like two great bird wings. Black smoke exploded from beneath her cape, washing over Tim and Cassandra, and soon the three heroes vanishes, replaced by a great bird of black energy that rose into the sky and disappeared from the land of Middle-Earth.
"Farewell," whispered Gandalf softly.
The Batcave, Gotham City. Now…
It was difficult to say how long everyone just stood there, staring at Robin and Batgirl. It was as if none of them could believe what they were seeing. The only ones who didn't seem to be paying much time to the new arrivals was the woman dressed in a tux and fishnets, the man in the golden helmet, and Raven, all of whom were either swaying unsteadily on their feet or had collapsed to the ground. Finally the silence was shattered as a powerful wind swept through the cave, and a red and yellow blur flew at Robin and collided with him, followed by a super-fast speaking voice.
The Boy Wonder looked down in surprise at the young skinny teenaged boy in a gold and red body suit, hugging him tightly around the middle and it felt as if his entire body was vibrating. Bart Allen, also known as the second Kid Flash stared up at Robin with a wide smile, and his bright amber colored eyes staring up from beneath his mop of windswept brown hair.
Almost no one there had understood a single word that Kid Flash had just said. But it was all the same to Robin, who smiled wide at the teenaged speedster who still managed to behave like a three year old on a sugar rush. Batgirl's eyebrows were contracting together in a slight frown but even she couldn't keep her own smile off her lips as the Fastest Boy Alive rambled on like there was no tomorrow.
"Damn Bart, give them a minute to breath, would ya?" said a deep teenaged voice. Tim and Cassandra turned to see two more teenagers walking forward. The first was a beautiful teenaged girl with a long blonde hair held back with a hair band, and a red leather costume. On her chest was a gold double 'W' and at her waist she wore a glowing golden lasso. Besides her was a very large muscular boy, wearing a pair of jeans and a tight fitting black t-shirt, with an 'S' shield on the chest.
"Seriously though, what's up with the Shinning Knight look you too? Don't tell me they didn't have the Gap were you guys were," smirked Conner Kent, better known to the world at large as Superboy. Cassandra Sandsmark, AKA Wonder Girl swiped her boyfriend's arm playfully before throwing herself at Robin.
"I knew you'd come back to us. But Hera help us, we were so worried about you," she said softly, doing her best to not use all her god-given super strength on him. She pulled back and looking awkwardly at Batgirl whom she had never really known, and then finally reached out and took Batgirl's hand, squeezing it reassuringly. "Both of you."
Superboy walked up, doing his best to look masculine and cool as he stood before Robin. Finally throwing his Superman posing to the wind, the Boy of Steel hugged the Boy Wonder just as tightly as his girlfriend just had a moment ago. "Jesus Robbie, why you gotta freak us out like that?"
"You know me Kon," Robin chuckled, patting Conner on the back. "I like to keep you all on your toes."
Conner smirked and rolled his eyes, before turning to Batgirl. The two of them just stared at each other for a long time, both remembering a night of romance over Smallville, cloud castles and battling giant monsters. Giving each other a wide smile, Cassandra leapt into Conner's arms and wrapping her own arms around his neck, pressed her lips against his. It wasn't much in way of a romantic kiss, and it lacked the passion of the kisses that Cass shared with Tim, but it was enough to cause a majority of the others to look startled and a bit embarrassed. Finally Wonder Girl and Robin pointedly cleared their throats. Superboy and Batgirl pulled apart and gave cheesy grins.
"And what was THAT about?" demanded Wonder Girl. The lasso around her waist began to hum softly and crackle with electrical energy as her emotions started to flare up.
"What? Just giving my old chum a proper hello," Conner smiled innocently, as he nudged Batgirl with his arm.
"You didn't give Tim that kind of hello," she said flatly.
"Thank god he didn't. I've got enough issues, thank you very much," muttered Tim. Conner gave her his best puppy dog pout at Cassie, causing Wonder Girl to grudgingly smile. A grin widened on Conner's face as he wrapped his arm around Wondy's shoulder.
Cass giggled and looking at Tim winked at him playfully. Tim shot back his girlfriend a look of mock annoyance, but he was interrupted from making a snide retort as a pair of powerful arms wrapped around him from behind. Turning his head, he realized it was a familiar young man who had been his hero and idol since he was three years old.
Richard 'Dick' Grayson held tightly to Tim for several moments, before at last pulling back and turning him around to face him. Despite the fact he was dressed in his blue and black Nightwing uniform and wore his mask firmly in place, there was no hiding the immense relief and joy that was etched in the first Robin's features.
"Don't you EVER scare me like that again, you hear me Short round?" he said firmly, before pulling Tim in for another embrace. "I swear, you do that again, and I'm going to kill you!"
Cassandra watched the Bat-brothers interacting and allowed herself a small smile. The happiness that she saw on Robin's face as he was reunited with his friends and his brother/hero, made their decision all the more better from where she stood.
Cassandra then felt a soft hand touch her own and she spun around quickly. Sitting before her in an electronic wheel chair was someone who Cassandra had thought a lot about over the past year. She looked exactly as Cass remembers with her long red hair cascading down her head and shoulders, and her soft green eyes staring up at her from behind a pair of wire rimmed reading glasses. Barbara Gordon. The Oracle. The original Batgirl. And the woman who had given Cassandra her first real family.
"Cass, are you—?" But before Barbara could finish her sentence, Cassandra and dropped to her knees and wrapped her arms tightly around her neck, burying her head into her predecessor's shoulder. Barbara looked beyond surprised by this unexpected act of emotion from her young charge, but quickly wrapped her own arms around Cassandra and held her tightly, while smoothing Cass' black hair with her hand. "I-I missed you too Cass. Welcome home sweetie."
"So… who's the hottie red head in the wheelchair?" inquired Kid Flash to Superboy and Wonder Girl, both of whom shrugged and shook their head.
"Hey don't Bogart the luvin', Batboy," said a voice from behind them Robin and Nightwing. They turned to see a large green ape holding a disoriented and weak looking Raven in his massive arms. A second later, the ape morphed into a lean young man with green skin, hair and eyes, dressed in a white and purple costume. As he smiled, a pair of sharp fangs gleamed in the light. Still holding tightly to Raven, Garfield 'Beast Boy' Logan indicated that Robin come over for a one armed hug. The Boy Wonder obliged and Cassandra gave the changeling a smile of greeting. She didn't know much of the Teen Titans with the exception of Superboy and Robin after all, but she had heard stories about Garfield's wandering hands.
"So Rae, got you guys home?" Beast Boy asked looking at the blue clad half-demon with pride and great affection. "That's my girl!" Raven gave Gar a tired smiled and rested her head on his shoulder, closing her violet eyes. The trip back apparently took a lot more out of her the trip to Middle Earth.
More people made their way over to the newly returned teens. Victor Stone, the half-man, half-machine Cyborg placed a great metal hand on each other shoulders and smiled warmly at them with his natural brown right eye and his gleaming red sensor optical implant where his left eye had once been. Meanwhile the alien princess, Koriand'r AKA Starfire embraced both of the teens, with tears falling down from her glowing emerald green eyes and down her golden cheeks (when she pulled Tim into her hug, the Teen Wonder's face turned a bright color of red as he face was pressed against Starfire's very large and very perfect alien chest. Nightwing scowled darkly, while several of the other boys gave wistful expressions).
The next two people to welcome Robin and Batgirl home were people that neither had actually been expecting. The other Gotham Knights, of course. And considering Raven had been their transport, sure. And yet there they were, their hands being clasped by the JLA and JSA mystics Zatanna Zatara and Doctor Fate.
"I guess we have you guys to thank for helping us get home?" asked Robin, looking up at his own reflection in Fate's helmet.
"Indeed," replied the echoing voice of Hector Hall from beneath the mask of Fate.
Zatanna gave the two teenagers a wide grin. "And your boss owes me BIG time. I'm talking MAJOR big. I had to cancel two months worth of shows for him."
"And you shall be repaid properly, Miss Zatara," said a crisp British voice. Everyone turned to see an elderly balding man with a thin mustache, dressed in a perfectly ironed butler uniform standing behind them. "I have your favorite roast pheasant cooking the kitchen as we speak."
Zatanna bounced a bit in her high-healed shoes. "Now that's what I'm talking about. Thank you Alfie, you old smoothie you," she gave the old man a sly wink, as Fate led her to a near by bench so that they could both sit down and regain their strength.
Meanwhile, Alfred Pennyworth, who normally was the constant image of proper British behavior broke his normal stoic attitude, and with tears in his eyes, threw his arms around the two teenagers. "Thank God, you both are safe," he said softly. "I am so grateful to see you both again my children. It has not been the same without you."
"We missed you too Alfred," said Cassandra softly.
"Like you wouldn't believe," added Tim.
At last the Wayne family butler pulled back and wiped his eyes dry with a fresh white handkerchief, which he of course always carried on his person.
Cassandra looked up at Tim and smiling, slipped her hand into Tim's and squeezed it tightly. "We're really home," she said to him.
Tim grinned and wrapped an arm around her shoulder, drawing her close to him. Everyone who saw raised their eyebrows in surprise, and of course Beast Boy was the first to give a wolf-whistle.
"'ullo," he said in a very poor British accent. "Wot's this? A little lovey-lovey between the bat-kids?"
"Shut up Salad-head," smirked Cyborg.
"Guys let me though," came a new voice from behind the assemblage of people. Starfire and Superboy both stepped aside, revealing a young woman, dressed in an eggplant colored costume and hood, with a black mask covering her face.
"Robin, Batgirl I'm so glad to—" But whatever it was that Stephanie Brown was going to say, died immediately on her lips as she saw Robin holding Batgirl in only the way a lover would. It was impossible to say what kind of expression she wore behind her Spoiler mask, but the manner in which she just stood there and stared, spoke volumes. Without saying another word, she spun on her heals and rushed down the metal staircase towards the Batcave's vehicle vault.
"Steph!" Robin called after her, but a moment later the sound of a motorcycle engine echoed through the cave.
Tim's face fell slightly. He and Stephanie had broken up long before Tim and Cassandra were sent to Middle-Earth, but it was now clear to Robin that Spoiler had not given up the hope of them reconciling their relationship. He felt a small pang of guilt as the sound of her cycle faded away.
Batgirl meanwhile bowed her own head feeling her own sense of guilt. Spoiler had been the closest thing she ever had to best friend, and now it looked that that friendship would truly be over. There would be no more games of rooftop tag or just laughing about their fathers over chocolate ice cream with strawberries. She had take up with her friend's ex. That had to be against some sort of girl friend code. She wasn't really sure, but from the way Spoiler's body had read, it certainly seemed like that to her.
"Awkward…" muttered Superboy, getting a painful elbow in the gut, thanks to Wonder Girl.
Both Robin and Batgirl considered running after Spoiler, but despite the guilt they felt for hurting Spoiler, neither teenager felt enough guilt to regret their relationship and apologies for it. Still, Batgirl laid her head against Robin's chest as he wrapped his arms around her, offering each other comfort.
The silence that followed was soon broken by a deep rasping voice emanating from a darkened part of the cave. "Robin. Batgirl."
'Here we go…' thought Robin as he and Batgirl tore apart like a couple of kids getting caught by daddy.
The two teens turned slowly to see a tall, muscular man step from the shadow. They had been wondering when he would make his presence known. Slowly the Batman stepped forth from the shadows. His gray and black body armor and gold utility belt was hidden beneath his long black scalloped cloak. From beneath his pointy-eared cowl, he stared down at the two teenagers appraisingly, taking ever detail of their attire and the closeness at which they stood.
Everyone and everything fell silent as the three of them just stood their, staring at one another. Even the bats, which would normally be screeching insistently, had fallen completely mute.
"You look well," said the Batman stiffly.
"Um… thanks. Look… Don't kill us for this, okay?" Before Batman could say anything, both teenagers had jumped him and embraced the Dark Knight tightly. From beneath his cowl Bruce Wayne's eyes widened in surprise, although he felt a bit touched, though he would never admit it.
"Are… Are they allowed to do that?" asked Wonder Girl, who like just about everyone else stared in horrified wonder as Robin and Batgirl HUGGED the Dark Knight.
"Ummm… I guess so," muttered Superboy awkwardly.
"That's just freaky," said Beast Boy, getting nods from another few people.
"Are you sure we didn't get zapped into an alternate universe?" Kid Flash asked Zatanna.
Batman finally clear his throat and both Robin and Batgirl pulled back, smiling sheepishly at him. For a brief second Cassandra could swear she saw the corners of his mouth quirk up.
"We have a great deal to discuss," Batman said, as usual returning to the matter at hand.
"That's an understatement," smirked Robin.
"Then might I suggest we adjourn to someplace more comfortable," suggested, Alfred, returning to crisp no-nonsense butler personality.
"Does anyone know what's up with Jeevis?" asked Kid Flash.
Soon after the Gotham Knights and Titans were seated around a large meeting table, while Alfred served them with assorted drinks, including coffee, tea and hot chocolate (for Kid Flash of course). Tim gave a content sigh as he downed his second cup of coffee. After having gone a full year without a drop touching his lips, he felt like he was in heaven. Everyone listening intently as Robin and Batgirl told their tale of their adventures in Middle-Earth. Even Kid Flash who normally could not sit still for a full ten seconds, was sitting with his knees pulled to his chest and staring with wide golden eyes at the two of them.
"You're telling me a midget with hairy feet saved the world?" asked Superboy. "And you were knighted by the king of a mystical world?"
"That about sums it up, Kon," Cassandra said with a smile. All those who knew Cassandra well enough were very surprised by how more fluently she was speaking since her return. Five months ago, (by their time) she could barely say two words without a long pause between them. Robin was usually the one who gave debriefings while she would just stand by and add the occasional comment when necessary. This time however, she had not only commented, she had actually done a great deal of the storytelling. She still had the occasion moment of thought but for the most part, the change in her demeanor was amazing.
"Wow…" said Bart in awe. "How come you always have the coolest vacations Rob?"
"Bart, we fought a war against an evil demonic force, and nearly died on multiple occasions," Robin said shaking his head. "That hardly constitutes as a vacation."
Bart shrugged before looking down at his cup. "Sounded like fun to me. Hey could I have some of that coffee Mister Alfred?" he asked the Wayne butler.
"NO!" shouted nearly everyone in the room. That last thing they needed was a speedster with the attention span of a hamster, on a caffeine rush. Cyborg was still repairing the damage done to Titans Tower from when Bart had located Superboy's 'Red Bull' supply.
"It sounds like you've both had quite the time," Oracle commented, as she sipped her tea calmly. Cassandra watched as Nightwing cast the red head a look of longing, his body language all but screaming that he wanted to hold Babs' hand if not do other things with her. Of course, he kept himself controlled as Starfire shot him the occasional curious look. As far as everyone except for Batman and the rest of the Gotham heroes knew, Barbara Gordon was nothing more than Cassandra Cain's foster parent. None of the Titans were aware that she was in truth, the mysterious Oracle, whose identity only a small handful of people knew.
"That's one way of looking at it," smiled Tim.
"You admit to using lethal force," said Batman shortly. Everyone tense, but none as much as Robin and Batgirl.
Taking a deep breath, the Teen Wonder nodded and met his mentor's gaze evenly. "Yes, but never against another human, or even against elf, hobbit or dwarf. We only used it against the orcs, which are roughly the same thing as Darksied's Parademons or his Doomsday clones. Mindless killing machines created to cause destruction. We did not cross the line, Batman. We kept our oaths. I promise you that."
The opaque lenses of Batman's mask narrowed slightly, and looked from Batgirl or Robin. Both teens had wondered how Batman would react to the knowledge that they had used lethal force against an enemy.
"Very well," Batman said finally, getting a unified sigh of relief from the assembled heroes. Batgirl who had been holding tightly to Tim's hand gave it a tight squeeze. Returning the squeeze, Tim turned his attention to Zatanna and Doctor Fate. The latter had removed his golden helmet, revealing a middle-aged face, and gray hair and beard.
"So how did you guys managed to find us? Raven said it took a while and a lot of power to cross the dimensions."
"She's right," said Hector Hall. "The magiks that surrounded Middle-Earth are very old and very chaotic. They create a sort of natural shield around it. That along with the dark magiks created by this Sauron character, made entrance near impossible. Add to that the fact that the Witch Boy had a done a very good job of covering his tracks…"
"So how did you do it?" asked Cassandra.
"A series of locator spells, Raven searching for you empathic imprints and consulting a few of our cross-dimensional friends on the Ethernet," replied Zatanna.
"The what?" asked Wonder Girl.
"Think of it as a mystical internet," explained Zatanna. "It allows mystics to stay in contact with one another. Share spells, keep tabs on the comings and goings… that sort of thing."
"Of course that was the simple part," said Fate. "Breaking through the barriers was another story all together. The natural shields that protect the Middle-Earth dimension proved very difficult to breech."
"Klarion managed it," said Robin, in confusion.
"Yes, but Klarion had access to certain spells known only to those who dwelled in Middle-Earth," explained Fate. "Spells that few in our world know of. He was also 'blessed' by Sauron as a student from how you've explained it, and that probably gave him some sort of backdoor entrance."
"Basically an inter-dimensional hall pass?" supplied Cyborg.
"In a crude sense, yes."
"But thankfully, we had Raven's ability to travel through dimensions," continued Zatanna. "Since her body is a doorway between worlds like Azarath and her father's hell dimension, the she could of course cross into any world given the proper direction and if needed, power boost. Well, we had the directions thanks to our investigation. The power boost however was a bit more complicated."
"How did you do it then?"
"Your friends gave me their life-forces," stated Raven from her seat besides Beast Boy.
Robin and Batgirl both shared confused expressions. "Pardon?" asked Robin.
"Zatanna and Fate used their powers to directed me to Middle-Earth," explained Raven, "and then fed me the energy from your friends to increase the strength of my Soul Self to make the dimensional jump as well as anchored me to this plane."
"Isn't that dangerous to everyone?" asked Robin.
"Had it only been Zatanna and myself giving energy, yes," said Fate seriously. "But the joint strength of the Titans and your Gotham Allies allowed for enough strength, without doing damage to the Raven or her anchors."
"We've been making attempts to pull you out for the last three months," Batman stated, suddenly. "But it was only within the last few weeks that the barriers between our world and that other one were weak enough for Raven to make the jump all together."
"The time that Frodo destroyed the ring?" guessed Batgirl.
"Hehehe, Frodo Baggins," chuckled Beast Boy, sounding a bit like a Beavis and Butt-head characters.
"Logan," growled Batman in annoyance, immediately causing Gar's face to flush a darker shade of green and become silent again.
"Bru... Batman," Tim corrected himself. As he understood, it the younger Titans still didn't know Batman's identity, having probably been teleported directly into the cave by Raven or the JLA transporter tubes, and thus the Teen Wonder didn't want to give away too much of his mentor. After all, Tim Drake had no direct connections to Bruce Wayne. It was probably still a good idea to keep it that way. "How… How is my father taking my disappearance?"
Batgirl's hold on Tim's hand tightened slightly as she heard the worried toned in her lover's voice. Batman leaned back in his chair, and steepled his fingers together and with his opaque eyes staring fixedly at the pair of them.
"He's unaware you've been missing."
"What?" Robin's eyes widened. He knew his father had him often had an awkward relationship in past, but his father would never forget or ignore him. Not the way things had been between them after his mother had died. " But how could he not know? I've been gone for a year… I mean, five months."
"Well… we kind of had someone fill in for ya at home," admitted Nightwing with a sheepish grin.
"Fill in…? Who?"
"The Martian Manhunter," stated Batman bluntly.
"What? You've had J'onn posing as me for five months?" Robin said, his voice loosing a bit of its normal control.
"Not the full five months, but when it was necessary yes," Batman said. It clearly had to have been an emergency if Batman had asked an outsider of the 'family' to operate in Gotham. "We knew that we had a possibility at retrieving you and Batgirl, and I did no feel it necessary yet to tell your father what really happened until we had exhausted every attempt. I contact J'onn a few days after you and Cassandra had vanished and he flew in and took your form. He then placed several post hypnotic suggestions in your father and stepmother's minds too keep them from noticing any points at which he may have disappeared such as times where you should have been attending school. That was only for the first two months. Once the summer vacation set in, Tim Drake conveniently received two-month internship at the Daily Planet in Metropolis. As far as your father knows, you're still there, living with two of their reporters who agreed to be his host family."
Tim rubbed the bridge of his nose in a tired fashion. Okay, so he now owed Superman, Martian Manhunter and Lois Lane for covering for him. Yes, this whole idea worked and he didn't need to worry about explaining everything to his father, but the fact his parents were completely unaware of him missing for five months… "So let me get this straight. The Martian Manhunter has been living in my home for five months, and Dad and Dana have NO IDEA about it?"
"More or less, yeah," said Nightwing, grinning slightly. He was rather enjoying the freaked expression on Tim's face. He had missed how uptight the current Boy Wonder could be. "Of course as J'onn tells it, Dana is kinda concerned about you, considering the excessive amounts of Chocoo Cookies you've been eating during the last few months. She's thinking about putting you on a diet."
"We had to cover our tracks," Batman stated firmly. "Until we had expunged every possible method of brining you home, I was not prepared to reveal the truth to your father."
Tim groaned louder and dropped his face into his hands. "Im alta rashwe (I'm in big trouble…)"
"Ummm… what?" said Beast Boy.
"Tim, you were speaking in another language," said Kory, looking at Tim in confusion. "It was rather beautiful."
"Uh, run Tim! Before Kory tries to learn it from you!" laughed Gar, thinking of how Kory learned English from Dick. "I don't think Dick's tonsils ever recovered from when she learned english." Nightwing blushed brightly as the memory flooded his own mind while Kory gave a sheepish smile and Barbara scowled.
"Oh, sorry…" Robin said, running a hand through his hair, trying to block out the mental image. He hadn't even realized he had slipped into Elvish. He supposed Legolas and Glorfindel's lessons had really set well with him.
There was then the sound of a voice being cleared and everyone looked to where Alfred Pennyworth stood, his hands clasped behind his back.
"Sir," said Alfred. "Its the Bat-signal."
"Understood," said Batman, standing up along with Nightwing. Robin, and Batgirl also made to stand. Even after a year away, the pair of them was still trained to jump into action whenever their mentor did. Several of the Titans moved to stand as well, either out of respect or because they actually thought for a brief insane second that Batman would appreciate their help. Kory, Raven, and Vic of course did not move. They knew better.
"Do you want us to…?" began Robin.
Batman turned to the Boy Wonder and after a moment shook his head. "No, Nightwing and I can handle it. Besides, I think you and Batgirl have done enough recently." His voice much to the surprise of everyone was unusually soft showing that Batman was not rejecting them. "Rest. Visit with your friends. Tim… it's Friday, so your father won't expect you home until Sunday night. Until then Alfred will set up your regular room. We'll talk more when I get back."
Tim and Cass both nodded and resumed their seats. As Batman and Nightwing made for the exit, Batman paused and looked back at the two kids. "Cassandra, Tim. I'm very proud of you both."
Everyone in the room froze in shock, but before anyone could recover, Batman and Nightwing had vanished from the room.
"Okay now for the REALLY important question," said Wonder Girl suddenly. She leaned over the table and looked seriously at Robin and Batgirl. "How long have you two kids been together?"
Blüdhaven. Several months later…
A lone figure raced across the city's rooftops, occasionally firing out a grappling hook and d-cell line, allowing him to swing from one building to the next. His red and green costume flashed in bright contrast against the grimy and crime riddled city. On his chest there gleamed a golden insignia designed to look like a sharp-edged letter 'R'. His face was hidden behind a green domino mask, and opaque-colored eyes darted back and forth with unwavering concentration.
Landing on a rooftop, Robin walked toward the edge of the roof and stared down at the streets. Robin's wind swept black hair, was cut much shorter than it once was and despite his mask, one could still make out the corners of the scar, which still ran over his eyebrow and cheek. And yet, despite everything, he still looked a great deal like he did those many months prior.
Everything else however seemed so much more different.
The Boy Wonder gave a small jump of surprise, and turned around to see Batgirl melting out from the shadows. Her costume was just as it always was. She wore a charcoal black body suit from head to toe, with the exception of the gold utility belt at her waist, the yellow outline of a bat upon her chest. The only thing different was the leaf-like broach, holding her cape together and the silver bracelets hidden beneath her black gloves. Despite the full-face cowl, Robin could see that she was smiling softly at him.
"Hey you," he said, his voice a bit softer than normal when he was in costume. "Did you find the gun shipment?"
"Just where you thought they would be," Batgirl said, sweeping down towards him. "I'm surprised they were actually labeled as playground… equipments on the cases. That's so…very wrong. Penguin is going to be a bit pissed off when his men come back empty handed."
"Good," said Robin firmly.
"How's your night been?" Cassandra asked.
"Harley and Ivy were causing some problems at the Jackson Street Bank, but not much aside from that," Robin replied. Crouching down, on the edge of the building he looked back down over the 'Haven. It had been a little over two weeks since Robin and Batgirl had moved to Blüdhaven, taking over for Nightwing who was now living in New York of all places.
So much had changed since they got back. The world seemed… darker. More dangerous. Giving a sigh, Tim ran a hand through his hair, momentarily forgetting that he was not alone. First his father had found out he had been Robin, forcing him to quit. Then Stephanie Brown, in some misguided attempt at proving herself, tried being the new Robin, only get fired and later start a gang war in yet another attempt to prove her self to Batman and the clan.
She died before the war ended. Killed by the Black Mask. That had been a painful blow, for everyone. Batman, Oracle and Black Canary had all trained Stephanie. Robin had once loved her. Batgirl had been her best friend. Spoiler had managed to isolate herself from all of them, but her loss still hurt each and every one of them.
Oracle and the Birds of Prey had left Gotham, and Batman had ordered everyone else out of the city as well. And if that were not enough, less than a week after he regained his Robin mantle, his father, Jack Drake had been murdered.
Breathing deeply, Tim tried to bury the pain deep inside him for fear it would consume him in front of his girlfriend of nearly a year. It was useless to try however. He could never hide anything from Cassandra Cain.
"Do you regret come back Tim?" asked Batgirl taking a seat besides Robin the ledge, and pulling back her charcoal cowl. Her hair was much shorter now, cropped down at her shoulders. She had also a streak of pink running through a strand of her hair now. It was the idea of Wonder Girl during a girl's night out with Raven. Tim had laughed for ten straight minutes at the sight, but Cass refused to wash it out saying it made her look 'Dead Sexy.' Which, of course it did, but it still made him laugh.
Robin stared out over the city. Their city. "Sometimes… yes," he admitted to her softly. "Do you?"
Batgirl gave a quite nod. "Sometimes."
Robin looked up at Batgirl and reaching out, took her hand. They leaned in together, and their lips met in a soft kiss that was still filled with the same passion of their first kiss in Lothlórien. When they parted, Tim brushed her cheek with his fingers softly.
The pain that Robin had been feeling the past months, had been almost too much for one person to bear. It would have been so easy to fall into that abyss that claimed so many other men and women. But all those other people didn't have Cassandra Cain, standing by his side throughout it all. She held his head above the waves of pain and he owed her so much. And little did he know, she owed him just as much for giving her such love and understanding.
"Come on, let's go home. I'll make dinner," Tim told her. Cassandra let out a sigh, and lay her head down on his shoulder. "And Alfred brought rice crispy treats, when he came by to visit the apartment, ya know."
"Just a few more minutes," she pleaded, although her eyes began to twinkle at the mention of rice crispy treats. "I like this; just you and me, up here alone with no guns or criminals coming at us. Its nice."
Tim smiled and kissed the top of her head. "Whatever you want baby."
Cassandra nuzzled in closer to her lover, and inhaling the smell of his aftershave and combat sweat. She loved that smell. Frowning slightly after a few minutes however, she looked up at Tim. "Do you think everyone is okay back in Middle-Earth? Frodo and Sam and everyone else?"
"I think so. Sauron's dead, and Aragorn is king. All things considered, I'd bet it's been pretty quiet since we left," chuckled Robin. The smiles that the two vigilantes wore a moment ago, immediately faded as soon as the words left Robin's mouth as they shared a tensed sidelong glance.
"I know… I know…" Tim said, hitting his forehead with his hand. "Me and my big mouth…"
Middle-Earth. One year later…
It had been one year since the fall of the Dark Lord, Sauron. One year since Frodo Baggins and Sam Gamgee had cast the One Ring into the fiery pits of Mount Doom. One year since the Fellowship of the Ring disbanded. One year since Robin and Batgirl had last been seen in Middle-Earth.
The rule of King Elessar and Queen Arwen had brought forth peace, the likes of which Middle-Earth had not known in many years. Life all over had improved in fact. The elves land of Mirkwood had been expunged of the evils that once plagued it. The land known as the Shire was flourishing better than the Hobbits could remember in ages, due in large part to the box of soil that Sam Gamgee had brought from the elves of Lothlórien. Even the Dwarves beneath the Lonely Mountain had become more prosperous.
Peace had at last come to Middle Earth.
But as the saying went, "All good things must come to an end".
A lone figure walked swiftly through the ruins of Barad-Dûr, which had once been the home of the dark lord, Sauron. Their pale white skin clashed brightly against his black body armor, and even darker black hair. His face was hidden behind blood red tattoos, shaped like a crude mask. In his left hand he carried a long broad sword, which he at times used to turn over a few stones.
Sneering viciously, William Hayes looked around at his surrounding with blood red eyes. "What a lovely little world this is," he said himself, his voice cold as ice. He twirled his sword once, just as the blade was suddenly engulfed in blue fire. "It would be a pity of some sort of Harm would come to it."
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Well guys, that's it. The end of our adventure. Wow. I want to thank each and every one of your guys who stuck it out with me during this three-year story. I can't believe I actually made it to the end. This was as much fun for me to write as it was for you all to read.
Soon I'll be starting another crossover story involving the Teen Titans (comics, Post OYL) and Harry Potter (post Half Blood Prince), and possibly a sequel to Gotham Knights of Middle-Earth. I hope that those of you who decide to read them will enjoy them as much as you enjoyed this story.
Thanks again gang. It's been a thrill.
Fusion Blaster: So you thought it was Raven all along, eh…? (Raises an eyebrow) Thanks for all your reviews and encouragement over the last few years of writing. It was really appreciated.
Michael Weyer: Thanks for the review. I'm glad that you found the Raven twist unexpected. I did my best to leave breadcrumbs as to Raven's identity, but not enough to make it obvious at the time. And I agree. Leslie and Cassandra have been royally screwed. It's just not fair.
Batfan7: Wow, I never realized there were rules about Fanfic sequels. Hmmm… Well I wouldn't want to break rules… but Batgirl… Poor Batgirl… We'll see what happens. ;) Glad that you liked the twist and ending. Thanks for all the reviews.
Alia GL: I'm glad you enjoyed the introduction of Raven. She's always been a favored Teen Titan; one whom I hope will soon rejoin the team in the comics. Yeah, it's been a great run and I'm rather sad to see this story end. A sequel may still happen. I just need to rethink the plot and make some big choices.
RexRox: (Covers ears to block your scream) So… does that mean you liked it? Heh. Well in Batgirl's defense, the Astral Plane was really dark, and Raven's dark blue cloak and hood look black in dark shadows. Not to mention Batgirl probably can't read someone's body language on the Astral Plane, so it would be hard to make out who or what Raven was at the time. As you can see there's a lot going on still, despite this being the end (for now?). Yeah, things in ROBIN comics were good, but the last two issues were a real disappointment for me. I can only hope someday another writer will fix dear Cass.
Theo Gary: I KNOW! It sucks so much that they do that Cass. I'm so glad I surprised you and that you enjoyed the twist. Thanks for all the reviews and all the encouragement during this story. As for the Wikipedia info you showed me, well I wouldn't go off and say that it's a 100 accurate. Especially since the info there is written by random people on the net, and I actually wrote part of that entry for Batgirl from assorted speculations. (I have too much free time on my hand at times).
Eins: Umm… Sandman? Well considering the fact that the original Sandman is dead, Sand of the JSA has no relationship with Robin or Batgirl and the mystical dream world Sandman doesn't have anything to do with our heroes either… no, sorry. There was no intention for any of the three Sandmen making cameos in this story, and I don't really think he'll be visiting during the possible sequel either. Thanks for the suggestion though.
Akira217: Well thank you for your review, and thanks for having read my story multiple times. That's very kind of ya. Well as you can see, there was no twist of the kids staying with Frodo and the Fellowship, though I can't say I hadn't considered it during the preliminary stages of the story. As much as Batgirl and Robin wanted to stay, their lives remained in Gotham. But that's not to say this will be the end for the kids.
Raggeldgal: Yeah, what they did to Cass really sucks. And unfortunately there are absolutely no plans to bring back any Batgirl(s) following the OYL jump. They've already introduced a new Batwoman whoever she is (it's a new character all together), but who can say if she'll be any good. All we know is she isn't dear Cassandra Cain. I'm very pleased that you've been enjoying my story, and I really appreciate your review.
SxStrngSamurai13: I'm happy to know you enjoyed the unexpected arrival of Raven. She's always been a favored member of the Titans for me since way back during the day of the NEW TEEN TITANS with Marv Wolfman series and I wanted to make certain I got her personality and abilities just right, along with everyone's reaction to her. Half-Demons certainly has to flare loudly on Elf and Wizard radars. I'm also glad you appreciate their decision. As you can see from this chapter, they still wonder if they made the right choice, but they still stand by it. And you are very much correct. It was indeed Beast Boy and this story still takes place before the INFINITE CRISIS and OYL jump. Which means Superboy is alive, Raven and BB are still Titans and the team hasn't yet fallen to pieces. And don't worry about Raven over in the comics. She's supposed to play a big role in the next TT storyline AND she's getting her own mini-series written by Marv Wolfman. Hurray! As for Tim in the Titan Comics… Well he's not the only one I'm worried about becoming like his future self. Think about what happens if Tim successfully clones Superboy? The scene where evil Superman-Kon says to Tim, "You happened to me," is rather worrisome. Thanks for all your reviews. I appreciated them all.
XinnLajgin: Tongue and cheek Robin might be, but he's not cruel. Considering how weak Fate, Zatanna and Raven were… could you imagine how they would take being asked to take them back to ME? No, they're back for good. Thanks for the reviews.
SPECIAL THANKS TO: SotF, Tony D, Jago Li Son, Shiranui,