"The Crow: Black Robin"

Chapter 6: "Requiem of Darkness"

Disclaimer: Teen Titans belongs to DC Comics and Warner Brothers. The Crow belongs to James O'Barr.

Author's notes: This is the end for the Black Robin. Will his vengeance be completed, or will Slade find a way to turn the tables? Also, to those of you who responded favorably to the possibility of my writing an extended version of the Robin/Starfire love scene, it is a certainty.

"For everything you do,

I'd like to swallow you

And every day I'm gonna blame you

Even if you justify

Every fucking bullshit lie

It only makes me want to break you.

"You pull me down

And you crucify my name

You make me insane

It's broken now

Don't ever look my way

Don't even think I'm playing.

"'Cause I fucking hate you

You're such a liar

And I love to hate you

You're all the same to me.

"When you repeatedly

Take advantage of me

The only thought I get of you sickens me

Everybody knows you're fake

You're everything I fucking hate

And I'm everything that you could never be.

"You pull me down

And you crucify my name

You make me insane

It's broken now

Don't ever look my way

Don't even think I'm playing.

"'Cause I fucking hate you

You're such a liar

And I love to hate you

You're all the same to me.

"I fucking hate you

You're such a liar

And I love to hate you

You're all the same to me.

"(Fuck you)

(Fuck you)

(Fuck you)

"You pull me down

And you crucify my name

You make me insane

It's broken now

Don't ever look my way

Don't even think I'm playing.

"'Cause I fucking hate you

You're such a liar

And I love to hate you

You're all the same to me.

"And I fucking hate you

You're such a liar

And I love to hate you

You're all the same to me.

"Fuck you (fuck you)

Fuck you (fuck you)

Fuck you (fuck you)

Fuck you (fuck you)."

Godsmack – "I Fucking Hate You"

"I'm gonna pound you six feet under," Mammoth growled.

Robin just chuckled sinisterly. "Then by all means try."

Mammoth charged at Robin and punched downward, intending to make good on his threat. However, Robin just leaped to the side, flipped off the wall, and kicked Mammoth into the opposite wall. The longhaired giant just removed his head from the small crater it'd made in the wall and charged at Robin again. This time, Robin caught his fist in his hand. Despite the vast difference in the size of their hands, Robin was holding him with no problem.

Mammoth attempted to punch with the other hand, but Robin caught that, too.

"You're strong for a little punk," Mammoth said.

"And you're weak for a big punk," Robin retorted.

"Weak?!" Mammoth protested. He pushed forward, trying to gain the upper hand. However, Robin refused to grant Mammoth even a millimeter.

"You're pathetic," Robin said. "Now let's end this." He swung both legs up in a vicious kick that sent Mammoth's head flying up, but not off his head. He let go of him, freeing him to stumble backward.

Mammoth tilted his head back down, and his lip was split and bleeding.

"You made me bleed," he growled.

"No shit, Sherlock," Robin mocked. "Now I'm going to make you die." He leaped at Mammoth and punched him right in the chest with a force that collapsed his rib cage around his lungs and heart.

Mammoth collapsed, choking. His lungs had been crushed by Robin's blow. He couldn't breathe.

"As much as I'd enjoy watching you die, I have more important things to do," Robin said coldly. He resumed his search for Starfire, leaving the dying Mammoth behind.

Inside his war room, Slade observed his prisoner, who currently had her hands bound behind her back by titanium cables. Her legs were bound to the chair she was sitting in by the same type of cables. Her helpless position didn't stop her from glaring angrily at Slade with her emerald eyes.

"You will not get away with this," she said. "Robin will never serve you."

"He will," Slade retorted. "If he loves you as much as I think he does, he will do whatever I say."

"That is what you tried before," the prisoner stated. "And look at the result."

"Yes," Slade conceded. "I did end up killing him, but I didn't want to. He was supposed to be my successor, my heir. For a year, I thought you had ruined that for me, but now he is within my reach again."

"You will not touch him," the prisoner said.

"I think I shall, Starfire," Slade said. "For I know his two great weaknesses: you and the crow that accompanies him."

"The crow is what gives Robin his power," Starfire protested.

"Yes, and that is why it is his weakness," Slade explained. "For if the crow should be injured or killed, then Robin will be mortal again."

"He will still defeat you, Slade," Starfire said with absolute conviction.

"We'll see," Slade replied coldly. Then the door opened. "Speak of the black songbird himself."

"Slade," Robin hissed in an ice-cold voice. "Let go of her."

"Ah, Robin," Slade purred. "So good to meet you again. I watched what you did to Cinderblock, Jinx, and Gizmo. Oh, and I believe my cameras recorded what you did to Mammoth. He must be dead by now." He turned to Starfire. "Would you like to see?"

Starfire glared. "If you think that will convince me to turn away from Robin, then as the humans say, 'do your worst.' I shall not fall prey to your schemes, and neither shall Robin!"

"If you're so sure," Slade said.

"You have two options, Slade," Robin said in the ice-cold tone he had recently mastered. "Of course, both of them end with your death. The first is, you let go of Starfire and I make it quick and painless. The second is, you refuse and I make it nice, slow, and agonizing. What will it be?"

"After a year of being dead, you still haven't learned anything," Slade said in mock-pitying tones. "Perhaps I'll have to beat it into you."

"Beat this," Robin retorted, and spin-flipped into the air, ending with a vicious kick to the side of Slade's masked face. The attack had come so fast that even Slade was taken aback.

"It appears your skills have improved," Slade purred. "Or perhaps that crow that always follows you has been assisting you."

Robin flipped again and landed with a vicious kick to Slade's chest. This time, Slade caught his ankle and tossed him. However, Robin merely flipped in midair and landed on one of the rotating gears in the room. He jumped off and tackled Slade, rolling and then throwing him.

"You're good, Robin," Slade said. "But I am better. I am far more experienced and I will not allow myself to be surprised again."

"We'll see," Robin replied.

The fight resumed with fists and feet clashing against each other. Slade blocked Robin's punch and when he countered, Robin blocked and ducked for a sweeping kick that would knock Slade's legs out from under him.

At least, that was how it was supposed to work.

In reality, Slade jumped over Robin's leg and kicked him in the back. At least, he would have if seeing through the crow's eyes hadn't alerted him to that attack. He whirled and grabbed Slade's leg, twisting hard. Slade had a choice: either let himself fall or hold on and get his leg broken.

Slade chose neither, spinning his body so that his leg would fall out of Robin's grip and kicking him with the other leg. Robin fell back, but turned his fall into a backward handspring. He then did a flying cartwheel that allowed him to deliver a swift, fierce kick to Slade's solar plexus.

The two warriors continued their fight. In Starfire's eyes, they were almost like dark gods --- one fighting to save those he loved, one fighting to achieve his evil goals.

Robin finally found himself knocked back onto a gear, which was rotating with another gear and his head was about to get crushed by both. He ducked Slade's punch and delivered one of his own right to Slade's masked face.

This had an unexpected effect. A crack formed in the one-eyed black-and-orange mask, a crack soon followed by others, and the mask fell apart.

The man revealed glared venomously at Robin, his one dark blue eye lurid with fury. The other "eye" was just an empty opaque orb. He had spiky dark brown hair and he seemed to be in his late thirties to mid-forties.

Starfire gaped in surprise and horror upon seeing what had become of Slade's right eye. Robin just stared in cold satisfaction.

"Now I know what you really look like," he said.

"Yes, you do," Slade replied coldly.

"You're still going to die," Robin said just as coldly. "So say your last prayers, if you think the benevolent creator will listen."

"You should think of doing the same," Slade retorted, and went at Robin again. Robin met him blow for blow, each strike inciting an equally vicious strike from him.

How was he supposed to win, Slade wondered, when he was up against an invincible ghost? Since Robin was already dead, he couldn't be killed, couldn't feel pain, and he'd recover from anything. Also, his strength, speed, and agility had increased to the point where he was every bit his equal, if not superior.

No, Slade thought. That ill-trained brat is not my superior. I will win. And I know exactly how to do it.

Slade pulled out a thermal laser and attached it to his arm, then fired. But not at Robin.

The lump of black feathers that fell to the ground provided the answer as to whom Slade had actually fired at.

Robin fell to the ground, feeling the shock of his powers leaving him as the crow bled.

"Not so tough without your little black bird, are you, Robin?" Slade purred. He stalked toward the crow and as Robin reached up to stop him, Slade viciously kicked him in the stomach, knocking the breath out of him. He walked to the crow and picked it up, then placed his mouth to its wound, drinking the crow's blood.

"What are you doing?" Robin asked in a voice that was weak yet filled with rage.

"Wouldn't you like to know?" Slade asked mockingly. He turned to face Robin, who gasped in shock along with Starfire.

Black makeup ringed Slade's eyes with vertical lines above and below each one. His lips were black, with curving lines drawn from each corner. His face was deathly white.

"You-you-you . . ." Robin stuttered, unable to complete his sentence as he was so shocked.

"The crow's power is mine now," Slade said. "How ironic. You were relying on it to ensure your vengeance upon me, and now it shall give me my victory over you." In a blur of speed, he grabbed Robin and threw him into a wall. Robin moaned in once-forgotten pain as he felt several bones crack from the force of Slade's throw.

"He's even stronger now," he murmured. He got up from the ground, the pain not stopping him. He might be human again, but he wouldn't let that stop him from finishing Slade. With a yell of rage, he charged at Slade.

However, Robin was back to his mortal speed and strength, which meant nothing to Slade's crow-fueled power. Every attack was blocked and countered with a stronger attack. Robin was left with a bloody lip, the crimson mixing with the black of his lipstick and the white of his foundation.

"Robin . . ." Starfire murmured. Her eyes glowed green as she struggled in her binds. No matter how much the cables bit into her golden skin, she wouldn't let that stop her. Not with Robin's life at stake!

Slade delivered a vicious spin-kick to Robin's solar plexus, knocking the breath out of him. Robin collapsed to his knees.

"There you are," Slade intoned coldly. "Just the way I always wanted."

"I'll never give in to you, Slade," Robin snarled. He looked up at Slade, unbridled defiance in his pale purplish blue eyes. "I'd rather die."

"You already did," Slade replied. "Would you like to do it again?" He grabbed Robin by his neck and pulled him up. "I truly wish it didn't have to come to this. You and I would have made a splendid partnership. Since you insist on having your own way, and since you're so attached to your alien paramour, I'm afraid it has come to this. Farewell, Robin." Then with a twist of the wrist, he snapped Robin's neck.

It was at that moment that Starfire burst out of the titanium cables. "NO!!!" She flew at Slade, tackling him into a wall. "Monster! You have killed him!" A hail of punches, kicks, and starbolts rained upon Slade.

"It doesn't matter now," Slade replied coldly. "You've ruined everything for me. Again."

"And you have taken Robin away from me once more!" Starfire screamed, tears of sorrow and rage streaming down her face. She poured all her grief and righteous fury into beating Slade to death. However, the crow's power would not allow him to die so easily. Finally, he punched Starfire so hard that she landed right beside Robin.

"Robin," she whispered, pulling him close to her. "You cannot be gone. You came back once. So, please, come back again!" As she made this impassioned plea, her tears dripped onto Robin's face.

Robin's soul was floating in limbo, away from the earthly world. "Starfire . . ." he moaned. Then his voice grew stronger. "I will come back. I will not let Slade defeat me! I will not let you defeat me, Slade!!!"

With this, black fire formed around him in the shape of great wings and his spirit soared back into his body. His neck twisted itself back into place and his wounds all healed as his undead body rejuvenated itself. Then his eyes snapped open.

The Black Robin had returned.

And there would be hell to pay.

"Robin!" Starfire exclaimed in joyful relief.

Robin arose from Starfire's arms, hellish fury burning in his eyes.

"It can't be!" Slade exclaimed. "You're supposed to be dead!"

"Newsflash," Robin replied, his voice edged with cold confidence. "I'm already dead. And so are you." He leaped into a spinning cartwheel that ended with a brutal kick to Slade's chest. He did a one-handed cartwheel and kicked him again. He whirled for a roundhouse punch, and while Slade blocked it, Robin just spun for a hard elbow jab. He flipped over Slade while grabbing him and judo-tossed him into the gears.

Slade got up and ran at Robin, increasing the tempo of his fighting moves. However, Robin met him blow for blow, refusing to go down.

"I won't allow you to hurt my friends anymore," Robin snarled. "I won't allow you to hurt Starfire!" He accented that with a hard kick to the torso.

As the fight continued, Slade realized that he couldn't win. So he attempted to flee.

"Not so fast," Robin snarled, giving chase to Slade with Starfire flying behind him. Slade ran for the roof access, Robin and Starfire right behind him. Slade kicked the door open and ran out onto the roof. Robin and Starfire came out after him.

"How touching," Slade sneered. "The young lovers, together again."

"You will pay for what you have done, Slade," Starfire vowed. "You shall never harm another innocent again!"

"Sorry, Starfire, but I now have the same power as your beloved," Slade replied. "Meaning I'm just as invincible as he is."

"We'll still beat you, Slade," Robin declared. He reached underneath his black cape and withdrew the same blade he had used to kill Gizmo, only tempered and sharpened into a deadly katana. He shifted into a fighting stance and Starfire hovered in the air, hands glowing.

"Come on, then," Slade challenged.

Robin and Starfire went at Slade, Robin leading with the katana. Slade sidestepped the charge, but was assaulted by a double-fisted starbolt. The green energy wave slammed into him and pushed him toward the edge of the roof.

Robin slashed with the katana, cutting through Slade's Kevlar-lined black suit and the skin underneath. Slade just chuckled as the wound sealed.

"I didn't even feel that," he purred.

"Let's see if you can feel this!" Robin yelled and slashed again. This time, Slade caught the blade between his hands, holding it in place. Robin's response was to pull the blade hard out of his hands, slicing his palms in the process. However, the wounds only bled a little before closing. Robin swung again, and Slade moved aside, letting Robin land in a half-crouching kneeling position.

Starfire fired a barrage of starbolts at Slade, who dodged them all and leaped into the air for a vicious flying kick. However, Starfire blocked it and delivered a hard kick of her own, sending Slade falling back down to the rooftop. Robin whirled into the air and brought his fist down for a devastating impact on Slade's head. However, Slade dodged and his fist collided with the rooftop.

"Robin, Robin, we are evenly matched," Slade said. "You cannot stop me. You cannot hope to stop me. No matter what you do, you will never beat me."

"We'll see," Robin replied. Then he did something surprising. He sheathed his katana.

"You might as well," Slade said. "It's not like you could do anything to hurt me with that sword, even with your skills and powers."

Robin said nothing, just strode toward Slade.

"Robin?" Starfire wondered, landing on the rooftop.

Again, Robin said nothing, just striding toward Slade with hellfire burning in his eyes.

"What do you think you're doing?" Slade asked mockingly.

Still, Robin said nothing, continuing his inexorable march toward Slade. Finally, they were face to face. Robin stared at Slade grimly before reaching up to grab his head, his fingers poking into pressure points.

"Feel that, Slade?!" Robin asked. "That's my pain! That's Starfire's pain! That's my friends' pain!"

Robin poured it all into Slade's mind, his rage and hatred, the obsession that had ultimately cost him his life, Starfire's pain when he had shut her out to pursue him, when Slade had forced him to fight the Titans, when he had died to save her, his friends' grief at his death --- all of it filled Slade's mind.

"All our pain. All at once. All for you."

Slade finally couldn't take it anymore, and after the painful psychic transfusion, he collapsed.

"What did you do to him, Robin?" Starfire asked.

"I gave him my power," Robin replied.

"Your power?" Starfire wondered.

"Pain," Robin clarified. "Pain is my power."

Robin and Starfire rejoined Batman, the Teen Titans, and the Outsiders, who had made quick work of the androids during their fight with Slade.

"Is he . . ." Arsenal asked.

"Dead?" Robin finished. "He is."

"I saw Mammoth," Batman said. "Your handiwork?"

"Yeah," Robin replied.

"I understand why you had to do it, Robin," Batman said. "But you shouldn't."

"A lot of things should not be," Starfire said. "Robin should not be dead, for instance. He should not be trapped between this world and the afterlife, never able to find rest. As horrible as the vengeance that Robin visited upon Slade and his hirelings was, he did it to protect us. To ensure that Slade could never again harm another innocent soul."

Batman's expression was imperceptible as always, but a smile tugged at the corners of his lips. "I see why he fell for you."

"You're not the only one," Arsenal added.

"Hey, she's only 17," Nightwing chided him.

"Save your womanizing for someone who's legal," Empress added.

"His mission has been fulfilled," Secret said. "He must depart now." As she said this, her insubstantial body formed a vortex.

Starfire hugged Robin tightly, tears in her eyes. "Must you go, Robin?"

Robin held her tightly, tears in his eyes as well. "I wish I didn't have to, Starfire. I would give anything to be with you." He paused. "But I can't."

Starfire looked up at him. "May I kiss you, one more time?"

Robin's reply was to kiss her, his hands entwining in her silken crimson locks. Starfire returned the kiss, her slim golden fingers in his jet-black hair.

Reluctantly, they parted. "I'll love you forever, Starfire."

"And I you, Robin," Starfire replied.

Robin let go of her and stepped through the portal, departing from the world of the living once again.

"Goodbye . . . Robin," Batman said. He was grateful for the mask he wore, for it concealed the tears in his eyes.

One year later

Starfire visited Robin's grave with new flowers. "Today is a joyous day, Tim. Since Slade's defeat, we have dismantled his criminal organization. I still miss you, but I am grateful for the fact that you returned to me, even if it was for a short time.

"You gave me hope, you gave me your heart and soul, and you gave me the strength to fight. For that, I will always be grateful to you.

"Today is my birthday, and I have turned 18 in your Earth years. We have stopped calling ourselves the Teen Titans and now simply call ourselves the Titans. I like our new name, for it symbolizes our growth." She laid the flowers down by his grave. "Goodbye, Tim. We shall speak again soon."

She flew away, back to Titans Tower. Meanwhile, on the other side of the sea that separated the island the tower stood on from the city its inhabitants protected, a shadowy figure with a crow on its shoulder watched her.

"Happy birthday, Koriand'r," he said. Then he turned away and walked into the shadows.

"I know it hurts, what you believe:

That everything is just as seems.

"The walls are cracked, the road is long

And I can't tell if their will is that strong.

"To force a change in the light to relieve you of strife

To force a change in the heart as it all comes crashing down.

"You never will see it

You will never know

You never will feel it

But where did you go?

"You never will see it

You will never know

You never will feel it

But where did you go?

"I see the fear inside their eyes

As they are falling, who will confide?

The ropes are broken, there's no net

And we are waiting for what's coming next

Will they land on their feet, will they simply give in

To the laws of the land, as it all comes crashing down?

"You never will see it

You will never know

You never will feel it

But where did you go?

"You never will see it

You will never know

You never will feel it

But where did you go?

"Open up your eyes

Open up your eyes

Open up your eyes

Open up your eyes.

"You know you'll always be drifting

You know you'll never be found

A servant, so empty, you'll never make a sound.

"You know you'll always be drifting

You know you'll never be found

A servant, so empty, you'll never make a sound, and . . .

"You never will see it

You will never know

You never will feel it

But where did you go?

"You never will see it

You will never know

You never will feel it

But where did you go?"

Switchblade Symphony – "Naked Birthday"

End Notes: Some of Slade's words can be interpreted in the light of Slade/Robin. I can't stop people from thinking that way since people have their own minds. As to why he kept referring to Starfire as "Robin's alien paramour," it's simple. The word paramour is akin in meaning to lover, but the connotations are more illicit. In the context of Slade/Robin/Starfire, it means that Slade believes that Robin belongs to him only and thus it makes him angry knowing that Robin gave himself to Starfire. Also, someone noted that Slade was immortal in the comics, so he shouldn't have died. I will address that in a later story.

That's the end for "The Crow: Black Robin." However, it may not quite be the end for Robin himself.