Disclaimer: The Teen Titans do not belong to me, and I am not making any money off of this story, because if I were, my car might have working air conditioning and I could possibly afford a new TV.

Author's Notes: My best friend, Loyce, has this annoying habit of getting me hooked on fabulous shows. A couple of weeks ago, it was Teen Titans. Not that I'm complaining, really. This story came to me as many of my stories come to me, in the shower. Odd, I guess, but whatever works. I hope you enjoy it and look for the next chapter soon.

Flying Home

by Kristen Elizabeth

It's hard to let you go

You've always let me in

And helped with all the endings

And you know where to begin

I need you here for me

Cause you always know my heart

I can't believe we'd change

Or have to be apart...

-Chantal Kreviazuk

Robin's alarm went off promptly at six a.m., but the Teen Titan had already been awake for hours. He let the beeps continue for a minute as he stared at the ceiling. Today was his birthday, his twentieth birthday, to be exact. This day had always seemed so far away, but now it was here.

He sighed and threw off the covers. After turning off the alarm, he stretched and stood up. In the mirror on the other side room, his reflection stared back at him. He definitely looked twenty, he decided. He had shot up to just over six feet of lean muscles. His hair, still sleek and ink black, had grown a few inches and now rested just at the collar of his white T-shirt. All in all, he wasn't hard to look at, and he even had a well-meaning, but highly annoying fan club of preteen girls to prove it.

Presents had already started arriving from said girls two days earlier, preventing him from putting off thinking about his birthday and what it meant. The gifts were mostly cards with adoring messages, a few stuffed animals, and even a box of chocolates that he'd left in the kitchen. It had been immediately devoured by Cyborg, he assumed. Beast Boy wouldn't ever eat anything made of milk, Raven didn't care enough about chocolate to sneak any, and Starfire would much rather munch on mustard. Robin shook his head. The presents were nice gestures, but they really meant nothing to him.

If the girls who squealed his name when he and the other Titans were out on the streets really knew who he was…if they had any idea that he was just a regular kid who went through hell before being literally taken under Bruce Wayne's wing…they probably wouldn't want anything to do with him. He was a superhero by default, elevated to that status because he had a cool cape and a couple of nifty gadgets. He had no special powers. He couldn't change shapes or conjure up firebolts or levitate objects, and he definitely wasn't half-machine. He was just Dick Grayson.

Pushing aside all these thoughts, Robin took a quick shower and began dressing. In nothing but a towel, he paused in front of his closet door. His old uniforms hung in a neat row in they very back, behind his street clothes. They were a timeline of his years with the Teen Titans. He'd grown so much, and although his uniforms had changed in size, they'd never altered in design. The same old green Lycra. The same yellow cape. The same black utility belt. "R" still stood for "Robin," and to the Titans, it always would.

He donned his current uniform piece by piece, until he was missing just one thing. Robin reached for his mask and stared at it for a long moment. This was the only part of his ensemble that had never been replaced. It was what hid his true identity from everyone, even from his teammates. He couldn't even be Dick Grayson to them; he could only be Robin. He dutifully put on the mask and secured it into place. There was only one person in the entire world who had seen entire face. And he had his own hidden identity.

It was time to go down to breakfast and face the inevitable celebration. Starfire had probably planned it all weeks ago; she never let a "day of birth" pass by, not even after Raven threatened to have her birth certificate legally altered to an unknown date. He smiled at the mere thought of the team's flame-haired alien beauty. If he was the leader of the Titans, Starfire was the heart and soul.

But he couldn't let himself think about her too much or else he'd chicken out. Today was a momentous day for more than one reason, and if he stopped to think about the girl he'd grown to love as more than just a friend and teammate, he might never do what he knew he needed to do.

Whether he wanted to do it or not.

"Is everyone in their proper places?"

A few years earlier, Raven might have winced at the shrill worry in Starfire's voice. Actually, a few years ago she might not have even been there to here it, as crouching behind the kitchen counter in order to surprise someone on their birthday was not exactly her cup of herbal tea. But after everything they'd been through together, participating in a birthday surprise that was really no surprise at all seemed tolerable. It made Starfire happy. And if Starfire was happy, that meant no Pudding of Sadness.

"We're here," Raven told her. "We've been here for half an hour."

"Where is the birthday boy?" Beast Boy wondered out loud. "He can't still be in the bathroom."

"Maybe he fell in," Cyborg snickered.

Starfire frowned. "What could Robin have fallen into?"

Raven sighed. "Just when I think you've finally learnt everything, you surprise me, Star."

"It does take him a couple of hours to get the spikes in his hair just right." Beast Boy sat back on his heels. "We could be waiting forever. Let's just eat and yell 'surprise' whenever he decides to come out."

"That is not acceptable." Still kneeling, Starfire crossed her arms over her bare midriff. "It is the joyous day of Robin's birth and we shall celebrate it by surprising him with baked goods and commemorative gifts."

Somehow Raven refrained from reminding her that everyone had stopped being surprised by her surprise parties years earlier. It wasn't easy, but no one liked seeing the sparkle in Starfire's green eyes fade away, not even her.

"If Robin has fallen into something and cannot get out, should we not help him?" their alien friend continued, worry etched all over her face.

Cyborg and Beast Boy looked at each other. Unable to hold back their amusement, they each fell to the floor, laughing outrageously.

"Help!" Beast Boy joked, stretching his arms out in front of him. "I've fallen in and I can't get out!"

Raven reached out and lightly smacked the back of his green head. "Quiet. I hear him coming."

Instantly forgetting about her friends' mysterious bout of laughter, Starfire jumped to attention. "Get ready, everyone. And do not forget the day of birth chant!"

Raven let out another sigh. Only Starfire could make the ageless "Happy Birthday" song sound so remarkable. Well, her friend might be able to get her behind the counter, but she could not, under any circumstances, make her sing.

The common area of Titan Tower was empty and silent, a sure indication that Starfire's traditional birthday surprise was well underway. Robin walked down the hall slowly, to give her time to get everyone in their usual places. Truth be told, he liked that she put so much effort into these yearly celebrations. And he tried to do the same for her on the closest approximation of her own birthday, but somehow he always felt like he fell short. Not that Starfire would ever complain or even show disappointment. She probably never was disappointed, come to think of it. She never took anything for granted. Every gift was a miracle, every kind word was to be treasured. It was one of the things about her that he loved most of all.

He would miss it terribly.

Robin paused outside the kitchen door. "It has to be done," he whispered to himself. "You've known it all along." Sucking in a deep, empowering breath, he stepped into the dark room.

The lights flipped on and his four teammates, his four best friends, leapt out from behind the counter. Well, two of them leapt out, at least. Cyborg was a bit too bulky to actually leap, and Raven was far too cool. They just sort of stood up. Beast Boy, however, jumped onto the counter as a cat and materialized in his human form.

Starfire not only leapt to her feet, she threw confetti into the air and shouted out birthday greetings. Her sweet, sincere voice almost melted his resolve. Almost.

"Happy Birthday, Robin!!!" the rest of them chimed in with Starfire.

He couldn't have stopped himself from smiling even if he'd wanted to. "Thanks, guys. Wow…you went through all of this trouble for me?"

"It was no trouble at all, dear friend!" Starfire exclaimed. She danced over to him and threw her arms around his neck in a tight embrace. "Today marks the anniversary of your twentieth year blessing this fair planet!"

Robin wanted to wrap his own arms around her and never let go, but he merely gave her a light squeeze before pulling away. She smelled like fresh flowers in the rain and if he didn't let go then, he never would. "Well, I appreciate it," he told her.

She beamed. "Come! We have made a delicious cake for you. And there are presents…oh!!" She slapped her forehead. "We have forgotten the day of birth chant!"

"It's all right, Star," Robin said. The others breathed a huge sigh of relief.

Beast Boy elbowed the team's leader in the ribs as they headed towards the table. "We owe you one, man."

"No singing is the best kind of singing," Cyborg added. He held out his metal hand. "Happy birthday, Rob."

He hesitated a second before slapping it. The handshake they'd invented as teenagers continued; the routine movements captivated Robin. How long had they been doing this? Would this be the last time they ever would?

Starfire tugged at his arm as soon as the little ritual was complete and led him to his seat. "Do not worry, Robin. I did not bake the celebratory dessert myself; it was purchased from the supermarket."

"And I made the bacon and eggs," Raven informed him as he was gently pushed into his chair. When he gave her a surprised look, she arched one eyebrow. "Beast Boy wanted to make you orange fried tofu and a soy smoothie. Consider this your present from me."

The corners of his lips turned up in a sad smile. "Thanks. Really, this is…great."

"Do you now wish to open your other presents?" Starfire asked.

"I want to." Robin paused, collecting himself. "But first there's something I need to tell you. All of you."

Beast Boy opened his carton of non-dairy milk and took a long swig. "What's up?" he asked, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand.

"Can't you at least use a napkin like a human being?" Raven asked, almost exasperated…for her, at least.

"But I'm not a human being," Beast Boy countered. As he spoke, he morphed into a gorilla.

"No animals at the table," Cyborg bellowed. "How many times do I have to tell you? I don't like finding green hairs in my breakfast!"

"Protein, man," the green Titan replied, changing back to himself. He took another sip of his milk. "No harm done."

"Until we all start coughing up hairballs." Raven poured herself her daily cup of tea.

Temporarily distracted by her teammates, Starfire nodded in agreement. "The women at the bakery where I purchased Robin's cake wore nets over their hair. Perhaps you could do the same, Beast Boy."

"It'd take more than a little hair net." Cyborg sized up his friend. "We'll need a full body cast of some kind to keep him from shedding all over this place."

Beast Boy was instantly on the defense. "Are you all crazy? I don't shed any more hair than any of you do. Okay, not you, Cy…you don't even have hair! But you, Raven? Don't think I haven't plucked some purple clumps out of the bathroom drain. And Star, can we pause a sec to talk about how long yours is getting…"

Robin sat back in his chair and watched the argument escalate. In the past, the endless bickering had frustrated him. As the undeclared, but undeniable leader of the Titans, he'd always felt responsible for maintaining some semblance of peace and team harmony. Not that he'd ever really succeeded. In fact, more often than not, he'd been right in the middle of one fight or another. But this particular one…he found himself cherishing it. They all had such strong personalities that they were bound to collide, and collide often. Beast Boy would always been the jokester, the instigator…Cyborg would never agree with him on anything…Raven's wry comments could always be counted on to add fuel to the fire…and Starfire, well, she would never take sides against anyone she considered a friend.

With no end to the heated discussion in sight, Robin finally stood up. "Titans," he said in his "leader" voice. The fight died an instant death. "This is important."

"What is it, Robin?" He felt Starfire's soft hand on his forearm, even through the Lycra. He couldn't look at her; if he saw her eyes, he'd be lost.

"Today is more than just another birthday. It's my twentieth. I'm twenty now." Robin stopped.

"Double congratulations?" Beast Boy offered.

"Twenty," he finally went on. "As in…no longer a teenager."

Raven set down her cup. "What are you trying to say?"

He took a deep breath. "Cyborg, you turned twenty almost a year ago."

"Yeah. So?"

"Raven, your birthday was three months ago. Beast Boy, you'll turn twenty next month. And Star…" He still couldn't look at her. "Going by human years, you're probably twenty, too. But you had your Tamarian coming of age years ago when you transformed."

"Get to the point," Raven ordered, her voice dark.

"We're not teenagers anymore. Hence our name, Teen Titans, is sort of…obsolete."

Beast Boy scratched the back of his head. "I'm confused. Do you just want to change our name? Cause if so, I've got a ton of ideas I could…"

Cyborg cut him off. "He's not talking about a name-change, man."

"Then what is he talking about?" Starfire asked, quietly.

Raven crossed both her legs and her arms, a silent, but effective shield against unwanted emotion. "He wants to disband. Don't you, Robin?"

Robin's chin dropped to his chest, guilt washing over him in a huge wave. "It was bound to happen, you guys. We couldn't stay teens forever."

"Well, no, of course not. But that doesn't mean we couldn't adapt or something," Beast Boy said. "Right, guys?" He looked around the table. Cyborg's good eye was narrowed into a thin slit. Raven's face was a mask of cold composure. Starfire's lower lip trembled. "Right?" he asked again, weaker this time. He looked at Robin. "C'mon, man. You don't really want this."

"It's not about want," Robin said, raising his chin. "It can't always be about what we want."

"Why not?"

"Because…that's not how it works."

Starfire's green eyes watered with hot tears. "I do not understand. Robin…" She sought out his stare, forced him to look at her. "Why are you doing this?"

He choked on the lump in his throat. "It's not to hurt you, I swear. I could never…" He ran a hand through his hair. "The Teen Titans were formed so that we could all work together and learn from each other as we each grew into our powers. Or talents. Well, we have now."

"So that means we're done with each other, according to you?" Cyborg thundered. "Bull, man. I don't buy it. I don't buy it!" He stood up, knocking over his chair. "It's crap and you know it."

"It's what needs to be done."

Cyborg shook his head. "Maybe for you. But I'm not doing it. I can stay here all by myself if you all choose to go along with this, I don't care. But this team…it's the closest thing I'll ever have to a family. And I'm not just letting go of it because Mr. Mask here thinks he knows what's best for everyone else."

"I'm not…"

Beast Boy interrupted Robin. "I'm with Cyborg." He looked at their leader with disillusioned wonder. "We're not Menudo, man. There's no age limit to being a Titan. Raven, tell him."

All eyes were suddenly on Raven. In the spotlight, she shrunk back into her chair. "People come and people go," she said. "They always go…they always leave. You can't stop them."

Cyborg groaned. "Great."

Beast Boy glared at Robin. "Look what you've done. Raven hasn't talked like this in years!"

Behind his mask, Robin's eyes were wet. "I'm only doing what I have to."

Throughout this exchange, Starfire had begun shaking her head back and forth. Now, as what should have been a happy birthday celebration turned into a painful breakup and breakdown, her head swung violently from side to side. She heard herself begin to scream. "No! No, I will not let this happen!"

Robin was at her side in a second. "Star…stop. Calm down, and let me explain what I…"

She threw off his hand. "Can you not see? We cannot let this happen! I have seen the future without us together. I thought I had stopped it from happening." Her tears broke free, sliding down her cheeks. "But I was not successful. This is the beginning of the end for us!"

"I know it is," he whispered.

"Then why, Robin? Why?"

His vision blurry, Robin glanced at each of his teammates in turn. "I wish I could make you all understand…how different I am from you."

"You're not," Beast Boy scoffed. "You're a Titan."

"But I'm not a superhero. Not a real one anyways." He shrugged. "I have no special powers like you all do. I just have some expensive toys that aren't even mine. They're really just on loan from Batman."

"There's a name I haven't heard in awhile," Cyborg said.

Robin cleared his throat. "There has always been a silent agreement between us."

"What sort of agreement?" Beast Boy asked.

"That when I was older, I'd be his partner again."

"Is that what you want?"

Starfire's question cut straight to his heart. "He's my mentor," Robin replied a moment later. "He taught me everything. I owe him more than I can possibly say." He paused. "And now…he's getting older. He needs my help." Another second passed. "I can't let him down."

"So, that's what this is all about." Cyborg snorted. "You're dumping us to play back-up to the Bat."

Robin's temper tugged at him; he tried to take his teammate's hurt into account before it ignited. "You have every right to be upset with me, but not with him. Without his help, the Teen Titans wouldn't even exist."

"They won't exist," Raven suddenly said. "If you leave."

"I'm sorry. I've made my decision. I'm leaving the Titans."

Silence cloaked the usually boisterous group. Just when it seemed like none of them might ever move again, Cyborg strode over to the pile of presents on the counter, picked up one inexpertly wrapped box and threw it onto the floor. Through the packaging, they all could hear something shatter.

"Happy birthday," Cyborg growled. "Don't let the door hit you in the butt on your way out."

To Be Continued