IMPORTANT! PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING AUTHOR'S NOTE.
Blowfish: No doubt most of you are aware; is cracking down on songfics…for no apparent reason. It really pisses me off, as a future chapter of "Heroes" was to be a song-based chapter. Also, I actually have a songfic. They're threatening account closure, so I may not be seeing you guys here again anytime soon. But if you click my profile, you'll see that I have opened a Media Miner account, where I will be continuing my stories.
Chimpy: Yes. But now, we would like to say something else.
Blowfish: …We would?
Chimpy: Well, we have a reviewer that has a sure-fire way of getting you off your ass to update this.
N/M Shin (cuz I don't feel like typing "ninmenju-shin"): (appears behind her) What up?
Blowfish: AAAAAHHH! Jeez, don't sneak up on me like that!
N/M Shin: (sticks JubJub the Guilt Trip Koala in her face) LOOK at that face.
Blowfish: AAAAHHH! NOOOOO! The cuteness…might actually…motivate me to…do and BLOOOOOOWFIIIIIISH…WE HAVE MANY TIME-WASTING INTERNET GAMES FOR YOOOOOOUUUU…
Blowfish: (completely forgets about JubJub) OOOH! GAMES!
Chimpy: No! You have to fight it, girl!
JubJub: (makes a purring noise and that cute face on the BB kitten from "Forces of Nature")
Blowfish: I…I…b-but the GAMES, Chimpy…!
Reviewers: (sharpening pitchforks)
N/M Shin: (sighs) Fine. If you won't go of your own free will, then we'll have to force you.
N/M Shin: JubJub. Go for it.
JubJub: (face turns demonic) GREEAAAAAAARGGHHH! (jumps on Blowfish)
(JubJub wrestles Blowfish off-camera, and sounds come from OC that only a deranged, fanfiction-craving koala and an authoress being brutally attacked by said koala could make.)
Chimpy: …Holy shit, dude.
Blowfish: MY SPLEEN!
Chimpy: Why is it always the spleen?
N/M Shin: I dunno…isn't it part of the immune system or something?
Chimpy: (shrugs) …HEY! Blowfish said "OMFG!111"!
N/M Shin: …Aaaaand?
Chimpy: That string of ones makes that n00b speak! THAT VILE LANGUAGE MUST NOT BE UTTERED IN THIS DOMAIN! I MUST CALL FOR THE AID OF THE HIGHER POWER! (sprinkling grated cheese on Blowfish) The power of Cheese compels you…the power of Cheese compels you…
Blowfish: AAAAAHHHHH! THE DANCING CHICKEN IS PECKING MY FECKING EYES OUT!
N/M Shin: Yeah, it'll do that.
Blowfish: OK…OK…CHIMPY! REVIEW RESPONSES! BEFORE I BLACK OUT!
Chimpy: Su—SWEET SPANDEX, N/M SHIN! YOU BROUGHT KIRBY TOO?
N/M Shin: Well, he wanted to come.
Blowfish: KIRBY, YOU WONDERFUL LITTLE BALL OF BUBBLEGUM! YOU'VE COME TO SAVE ME!
Kirby: (takes hammer out of…well, somewhere—see the first corollary, also known as "The Hammer Rule", from the Anime Law of Extradimensional Capacitance…which shouldn't even apply because Kirby is male—and begins furiously whacking Blowfish with it)
Blowfish: WELL SUCKS TO YOU TOO! CHIMPY—URK!—DO THE REVIEW—ARGH!—RESPONSES! QUICKLY!
Chimpy: Yes ma'am! Oh, and there is something that was commented on in a lot of reviews, so to save space, I'll clear up all the rumors right now:
STAR IS NOTPREGNANT.
The sickness which happened to take place in the morning and all the other symptoms in question were a result of the buildup of her unused powers. Nothing else. So everybody, please TAKE A CHILL PILL. No babies here. Gawd, I can't believe how out of hand this got.
The Gemini Sage: Ha, Karen will get the truth this chapter, that's for sure. Glad you liked Starfire's return, it was supposed to be big. And please…keep the geese, I think you can see what problems we already have. Actually, I have a BIG brother. Also, this story is far from perfect. And yours is just underappreciated. People will get it in time. Especially if you do this: READ THE GEMINI SAGE'S FANFICTION! IT ROCKS! …IT MAKES YOU COOL!
scathac's warrior: That's going to be touched on immediately, believe it or not. So no worries, eh?
N/M Shin: I've been thinking about enabling it myself. Man, wish I had an unburstable bubble. Glad you like the OCs, I take pride in not making them horribly generic…though Terry is somewhat generic goofy comic relief. Ahh…about the BBRae stuff…
BBRae Fans: …YEEEEESSS?
Errr…nothing. You'll find out. OOOH! SODA! (downs in one gulp) Needed that.
RobinluvsStar: Thanks, I'm glad. Hope you like this as well.
The Last: Yes, I realize now I should've been more careful with that element of the plot (bangs head against wall). Didn't realize until TGS and scathac warrior's reviews what this had developed into. Personally, Joe's lines were my favorite of the whole chapter, especially the .45 one. He was just so smug with himself, and smug is fun to write.
eMOTIV: Damn, wish I could get away with that sort of stuff. Lucky. And everything with Gar and Raven going on now will be covered this chapter, so your questions shall be answered!
R.S. Logan: Happy you loved it, have fun with this chapter too.
TTJLFan: Gar's gonna be all over this chapter, trust me. And Vic will get a little story time too.
TTHPfan: Thanks a lot—the proposal chapter seems to own this story, huh? n.n; Maybe I'll rent it first…
VashStampede7123: Well, you're reviewing it now, right? That's all that counts. Sorry I didn't update sooner.
TDG3RD: Heh, that order is for me to know and you to find out! XP
secondchild02: Be patient and it will come.
xox.Annie Potter.xox: Well, I try to not play on the fact that Raven's hair is not an odd color that blatantly calls attention to her by calling it "dark"…because otherwise, I would have to deal with a bunch of illogical crap writing this. And her eyes always looked blue—or possibly indigo—to me, so that's just how I describe them.
K9: (makes rock symbol) INDEED SHE DOES!
Fevered Dreams: Think you've got it all figured out, eh? Well…for all I know, you do. Up to a certain point in a few chapters or so, the sequence of events is semi-predictable. But still…I'm curious to know your theories. Email me, if you want.
Buhnana munkey: Perhaps, but it's how it shall come about that's meant to be interesting.
ElvenRanger: Glad you liked it.
A Pleasant Reader: Ahh, vinegar. Nature's smelly cure-all. Thanks, I do believe it was one of my better, more creative ideas. And the only reason Star hung around without doing anything that I can think of was that pistol barrel she was staring down. I'd shut up too. Now that I think about it, that IS kind of like the Prisoner of Azkaban—which is, incidentally, my second favorite of the series (Order of the Phoenix overtook it—it was just TOO GOOD). Speaking of which, the Half-Blood Prince came out! And I read it in ten hours! (insert Harry Potter fangirl squee here)
rixietrixie91: Sorry, but Slade isn't in this. I normally would break down from not being able to write about that wonderfully wicked supervillain, but he's in another fic I'm writing…why yes, that was shameless self-advertisement!
Miss Poisonous: Yep. It'll come. Just…good things come to those who wait, ya know. S'all right? (checks bulletproof vest) S'all right. I talk to myself all the time, so that was a little bit of me coming out in Terry there. Makes me feel like I'm crazy, but then I remember that crazy people don't think they're going crazy—they think they're getting saner. And Boss is really cooking up some diabolical stuff.
On another note, I'm surprised how few people have tried their hands at guessing his identity. It's not necessarily obvious, but a skilled whodunit analyzer may take a good crack at it and not miss by much. And it's NOT Slade. Jesus.
Absh: I guess that was SORT of a cliffie…
MizMissa: Heh. ENOUGH, that's how many. I'm getting dizzy… OOH! COOKIE! (gobbles cookie)
Gubba-Gubba: Glad you think so.
kittykat: Wow, thanks.
raexrob: And it took an even longer time this time! --; Sorry.
WolfosTerrence: Nah, I wouldn't call it lagging. It's back? Maybe I'll pop in for a look-see.
EveningCatMoon: …How could I what? I'm confused. It's KILLING you? Well for God's sake man, call an ambulance!
Martablack2: 'Fraid I can't say anything yet. All that needs to be said at the moment is in this chapter.
raven rocks: Thanks, I will.
Siner6963: Really glad you like it that much. Thanks!
Zeva: Thanks, I like it when people are encouraged to read my other works.
(As review responses come to a close, JubJub, the dancing chicken, and Kirby all rise from beating Blowfish to a bloody pulp and teleport away, leaving the authoress twitching in pain on the ground.)
Chimpy: Wow. Talk about getting totally owned.
Blowfish: …Would so…kick your ass…if I wasn't hemorrhaging.
Chimpy: Nyah. Oh yeah, disclaimer and such.
Disclaimer: I don't own Teen Titans. If I did, all would be kneeling before me in regards to the awesomeness that was "The End". I swear, the writers of this show own my soul.
"So, he was a demon?"
"Sorry!" Terry said, jumping a good foot away from Rae. "I've just…I never thought demons really existed. Or half-demons."
"Yeah, I know, it's weird," Rae sighed. "But God, Terry, I told you all of this last night."
"Yeah, but it's kinda hard to get through my head. I mean…a demon!"
"FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, YES!"
There was a notable silence while Rae browsed the pages of the newspaper. Terry stole another glance at her.
"Wait…so if your mom was human, and your dad was a demon…" He paused uncomfortably. "How'd they…I mean, how'd you…That is to say, how did they...do demons have the same basic anatomy as humans?"
"You did not just ask me that."
"How am I supposed to know?"
"I explained it to you last night, that's how!"
"You never went that far into detail! It's a valid question!"
"All you need to know is that my father seducedmy mother. I never was too keen on knowing the details myself."
"Oh…now I'm gonna be wondering about that all day."
"You are a sick, sick boy."
"Speaking of parentage, how's your mom doing?"
"She's fine," he said, taking the 'Technology' section from Rae's paper and flipping through it. "You're kinda lucky, you know."
"With what? I've yet to come across much in the past few weeks that one would describe as lucky. Though I did find that penny on the street the other day…"
"No, I mean…you can say you really know who your parents are."
Rae stared at him quizzically. "What do you mean? Your mom—"
"Haven't I ever mentioned it?"
"I'm adopted. My parents got me from some orphanage when I was two."
"Yeah. I love them and all, but I always wondered why my real parents didn't want me."
"Maybe they didn't have a choice."
"But hey," Rae pointed out. "Your real father wasn't a dimensional demon who tried to twist your soul to make you destroy the world."
"True," he chuckled. "Who knows, though? I could be demon-spawn like you!" He stuck out is fingers from his head like horns.
Rae actually laughed out loud. "You're a bit shrimpy to be demon-spawn."
"And you're one of those big, terrifying, muscle-bound women. Yeah."
"I still have the mystical powers, thank you very much."
"Heh. Anyway, how's the new story coming? Good?"
"Oh yeah. I get to interview the police and ask them how much they hate me. It's gonna be swell."
"I bet none of them have ever even met a vigilante. Heh, it would be so hilarious if they knew they were talking to the genuine article. When are you doing that? Maybe I could get a few photos."
"A week or so. I haven't got a huge amount of time or anything. The public is curious about what some of the lower officers think of me. Not just the police chief."
"He's such an asshole."
"Yeah, but he's an asshole I can identify with. It's their job to keep the city safe, and here I am, screwing up their image."
Terry nodded and looked at his watch. "Soooo…I called her to meet us in the park at noon. We might want to get going."
Raven sighed. "Yeah," she grumbled.
Karen was waiting in the park, wondering what Terry had called her about so early in the day. She had woken up at nine a.m.—following an all-nighter to finish a thesis—to the sound of a ringing phone. Her roommate had hit her several times with a pillow ("You take it, he's your goddamn boyfriend!" "He's not my boyfriend!") before she had picked it up and cursed Terry out for five solid minutes before listening to a word he said.
In short, Karen was counting on this being important news (despite the fact that she could tell—even over the phone—that this was most likely one of Terry's late-night coffee-induced rants). She took out her notebook and looked over her notes from yesterday's class, wondering how she could possibly pass her next exam. A voice interrupted her thoughts.
Karen spun. Balancing gracefully on a tree branch was none other than Raven, looking at Karen as if there was nothing even mildly shocking about the situation. Karen's mouth was hanging open—she wanted to say something, anything, but all she could get out was:
"Well geez. I was expecting the third degree, you being an ace reporter and all."
Karen stylishly whipped out her notepad—rather, she attempted to whip it out stylishly, but fumbled and dropped it.
"Sooo…no questions? Not a one?" Raven asked. Karen almost got a real word out, but was halted by the sound of giggling behind her. Terry was standing there, giggling like a school girl, pointing at Karen. Karen put two and two together—though she didn't exactly get four.
"Oh, real funny, guys," she grumbled. "Real mature."
Terry stopped giggling. "Eh?"
"Getting Rae to dress up in the costume so you guys could have a good laugh. Real hilarious."
Raven actually fell out of the tree, landing flat on her back. "Agh!"
"See? I mean, you could have at least gotten someone with better hand-eye coordination."
"Karen!" Terry exclaimed, flabbergasted. "That's the real Raven!"
"No, really! It's like I said on the phone! Raven and Rae are—"
"—One and the same. Like I'm gonna believe that. Rae, tell him he's nuts. Tell him he should—ow. Ow. Ow." Karen suddenly realized that her notepad was floating in the air, knocking her over the head. "WAAAGGH!"
"You dropped this," Raven said coolly.
"But…but…you…he…I...WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON?"
"I'm Raven. Terry's not…entirely off his rocker." She paused. "You really should pick that up."
Karen plucked her notepad out of the air indignantly. "So you…"
"Yeah. Superpowers, secret identity, former Teen Titan, yadda yadda yadda."
"Not what you expected?"
"Well, no, not really. You're always so quiet."
"Well, as someone I knew once rather truthfully stated, 'it's always the quiet ones, isn't it?'"
"Ahem," Terry cut in. "I believe someone owes me an apology?"
"Hmm…if I'm not mistaken, I hear the cry of the red-crested smugus egotist. Look!" She gestured towards Terry. "Don't disturb it, its head is quite over-inflated and may explode at any moment!"
"And I see the dreaded mark of the sores loserus. Don't be right about anything around it, it'll surely pounce!"
"Calm down, kids," Raven muttered. "I have to go, so I'll see you two later. Don't kill each other."
"Where are you going?" Karen asked. "I wanted to do a full interview!"
"You wish. I'm going on patrol." She ascended to the sky and faded into the distance.
"Wow. This is so cool. Our friend is a superhero."
"Yeah. And we can't tell a single soul."
"…This really sucks."
Sherman put down his spy novel and went down the corridor to Boss's room. He stuck his head inside. "Yes sir?"
"Get in here, don't just stand around out there."
"I put the tails on the people you asked," the assistant said lazily.
"Not that. Come in, dammit! We need to be alone."
Sherman stepped inside and closed the door. "Do you require my assistance?" he asked, feeling a bit put-off.
"What the hell do you think I called you in for? I've gotten a tip. Dominov is creating his own legion within our forces."
Sherman snapped to attention. Eric Dominov, one of the higher-ups in their "organization," had always been a huge asset. He had rather excessive amounts of monetary support, so he was never caught—he could simply bribe anybody who got too close. If he was attempting to usurp Boss's position of power, there was a good chance he would succeed.
"You and I both know that he could get a lot of the men behind him," Boss said.
"He could pull it off if he wanted to, yes."
"I'm not sure on this, but he's supposedly got a fifth of our men convinced. Probably more. And if he were smart—which he is—then he would get at least two-thirds before going ahead."
"That would take time."
"Indeed. Time that, as long as I have a say in things, he won't have. It'd be a shame to lose all the money that Dominov has behind him, but…"
"We have to make an example of him. Do you understand?"
In the dimness of the room, Boss could see a depraved grin on his normally timid assistant's face. "Why yes, sir. Disobedience must be dealt with."
"Hey, Sarah," Vic said, stepping into the tech workshop at the lab. Sarah didn't seem to hear him. Gus stepped forward.
"Heeeeey, VIC! How ya doin'?"
"Not bad, thanks. Sarah? You okay?"
"Uhh, yeah." She got a little closer, so only Vic could hear. "I'll tell you later."
"Tell me wh—"
So they worked through the day, Sarah avoiding conversation with anybody. She was certainly distracted by something, but what Vic could not say. After the day was over, he met her outside the lab.
"So what's up?" Vic asked anxiously.
"I…I think I'm being followed."
He looked at Sarah incredulously. "Followed?"
"Yeah, you know, tailed."
"How should I know? I didn't just go up to the guy and say, 'Hey, you know you've been following me for the past ten blocks? 'Cause if you're a stalker, that'd be swell to know so I can install extra locks!'"
"Whoa, chill. Maybe it's all just a misunderstanding. I'll walk you to my where my car is parked and I can take you home. Nobody'll follow you if you've got this big lug with you."
"Aww. Thanks, Vic. Where are you parked?"
"Just a few blocks away. Murder to find a space, I hope the meter didn't expire."
They walked through the bustling streets at a fairly brisk pace, but Vic began to get the feeling that Sarah was right. He looked over his shoulder several times to find the same man trailing them, his steps in time with theirs. He had a map covering his face, giving the impression of a confused tourist. Vic knew better. He put an arm around Sarah's shoulder and steered her towards a relatively crowded convenience store.
"Want to pick up some chips for Brian?" he asked loudly. Sarah stared at him, but caught on quickly and responded with the same volume that she thought that was a great idea. They went into the store and weaved in and out of the aisles, making their way towards the back slowly. Sure enough, the same man with the map, now folded up, had followed them inside. There were groups of people scattered about the store: A gaggle of teenagers were loitering around the freezers, several middle-aged men were crowded around the front trying to sort out who was paying for what, a couple that looked like they were mere moments from leaving, and a family that looked as if they were only stopping there for some batteries for the father's cell phone. Vic led Sarah very strategically through these groups, their stalker in the next aisle doing a job of not being conspicuous. Sarah pretended to pick up a bag of chips, and Vic clamped his hand on her shoulder a little harder, signifying it was time to move. They took a sharp turn away from their pursuer, and he looked over to see where they were going—however, he was too engrossed in their movements to keep track of his own. He smacked into one of the teenagers, knocking the youth backwards into one of his friends.
"Watch where you're going, man!" the boy shouted at him. The man looked around for Sarah and Vic, but one of the boy's comrades got in his face.
"Don't you think you owe him an apology?" a gangly girl with spiked hair demanded, cracking her gum between her teeth. The man tried to get away from her, but a muscular boy with a nose ring and a red streak in his hair stepped in front of him.
"Apologize," he said harshly. The man saw the front door of the store close as a pair of people stepped outside.
"I'm sorry," he grunted. "Now if you brats will leave me alone, I have big, important, grown-up things to do." He hurried towards the front of the store, the teens shouting at him until he was clear of the door. He caught up with the couple that had left the store—only he had the wrong couple. A tall bald man with a raven-haired woman by his side was looking suspiciously over his shoulder at the man. The tail swore under his breath. He'd lost them.
"That was genius," Sarah laughed, making her way with Vic away from the back door of the store. "How'd you know to do that?"
"It's like chess," Vic answered breezily. "You just have to think ten steps ahead."
"You must be really good at chess, then. I'd swear you'd done this before."
Vic laughed nervously. "Nope, just a good analyst." In the old days, he'd ditched bad guys all the time using those tactics. He had to admit, it came in handy. However, he couldn't shake the uneasy feeling he'd gotten back there. Why was somebody following Sarah? Furthermore, why did they persist when he joined her? All the people he'd had follow him usually backed off a bit when he joined a group, but this guy had only followed them closer.
"What?" he yelped, snapping out of his trance. "Oh. Sorry. Just…thinking."
"Well, doesn't it at all disturb you that you were being followed?"
"Yeah, I guess it does. But maybe it's some kind of mistake. I mean, what's so important about me?"
"No idea. Other than, you know, you goin' out with me."
"Geez. I feel special."
"Aww, I didn't mean it like that, I just…I'm kinda worried now."
"Me too, Vic. Me too."
"OK. OK. This isn't as hard as it seems. It seems terrifying, but it's not. It's no problem for you. You da man. You da man. You da man. Just keep saying that in your head. You da man. You da man. You da man. Now pick up the phone. It's not hard. It's really not. You just have to move your arm…OK. Just move your arm."
Gar's arm remained completely stationary at his side.
"OK. It's not that difficult. You just need to think about what you want to happen. I close my eyes. I see my arm moving. My brain is sending impulses down to the nerves in my shoulder telling it to move my arm in its socket…and yet my arm does not move. OK. This is something that should not take this much energy or brainpower. 'Kay. Hey! There you go! Arm lifted! OK. Phase one complete. You're doin' good. You're doin' good, Gar."
Gar's arm was outstretched towards the telephone.
"OK. Now just pick up the phone. This is a bit more complicated. I need to put my hand down…on the phone. OK! Good! Hand gripping receiver! This is excellent. This is great. OK, receiver positioned by ear. Phase two complete. Halfway there, Gar, halfway there. Now…what's her number? Oh damn. Oh damn, oh damn, ohdamnohdamnohdamn. WAIT! I can check my little black book—OK, it's not that type of little black book, it's just a book that happens to hold girl's phone numbers and happens to be black, and…I am not that type of guy. I'm NOT!"
Even Gar was not impressed by his own argument. He flipped through the small book to the number he was looking for.
"OK...549…366…9887...it's ringing. Moment of truth, Gar. You can do this. You can do this. It stopped ringing! Hello, this is G—"
"Hi, you've reached Rae Roth. If you're selling something, I suggest you hang up. If not, then you know the drill."
"Answering machine. Damn. OK. Hey there, Rae! This is Gar! I was just calling to let you know I…err…just wanted to talk, you know? I saw you outside that café, but you split, and I didn't get to say hi, or even introduce you to that friend I was with. She was not my girlfriend, if that's what you thought. No way. She's actually dating someone right now. Met him. Nice guy. Doesn't speak loads of English, actually—he's Puerto Rican moved in here really recently. Only knows the basics, 'cause he learned some over there, but Alison—that's the girl—speaks Spanish anyway. He knows how to say 'fart,' though, which is really funny—"
"—Hello? Was I just cut off? Dammit! Must…finish…message…ah, there we go!"
"Hi, you've reached Rae Roth. If you're selling something, I suggest you hang up. If not, then you know the drill."
"Hey, you know your answering machine cut me off? Anyway, I was getting carried away with Alison and her guy, sorry. I just wanted to talk. You seemed upset when you ran from the café, so I thought I might wanna set things straight. I know you're really into your, err, job right now, but I thought we should really sit down and sort this whole mess out. I mean, really get to what's causing this gap between us—I know our goals and ambitions are a big part of it, but I feel like we're having…you know, communication problems! I mean, like the café—real sorry to keep bringing that up—where you totally got the wrong idea and—"
"GODDAMMIT! OK, I am getting really freakin' PO'd at this machine! Just need to SAY what I need to SAY. Oy-vey. Now…"
"Hi, you've reached Rae Roth. If you're selling something, I suggest you hang up. If not, then you know the drill."
"Machine hook again. But listen, I should just say what I've been meaning to say this entire time—and I will be so angry if you're just sitting there listening, getting a good laugh in—which is that I really, really, REALLY want to work out things between us. I think it could work. I want it to work. I just want to know if that's what you want, too. I…I just want to know what you want."
"OK. That wasn't so hard, was it? Now you just have to wait for her to call back. Just give her some time to process it."
Gar fiddled with his watch for a few minutes.
"…Geez, how long is this gonna take?"
"Yo, Dick. It's Vic."
"Oh hey, Vic." Dick chuckled. "You ever stop and think about how our names rhyme? It's kinda funny."
"Yeah, it is," Vic agreed hastily. "Listen, did you catch that movie, last night, Code of Honor? I missed it."
He expected his friend to hesitate—after all, Vic hadn't used the T-code in ten years, and had no reason to use it now—but Dick didn't miss a beat. "Nah, was too busy watching Remember the Titans. Great flick."
"One of my favorites too. Hey, you know how I told you about that tour I took that girl on?"
Dick paused. "Not sure I do Go on."
"Well, I tell ya, that date was a real bomb. She just kept going on and ON about her job at that designer store."
Dick perked up a bit. "Oh yeah, she's a sales clerk, isn't she?"
"Yeah." Now Dick had a better grip on what they were talking about. They had always used tour to refer to a stealthy task or something suspicious. Sales clerk was what they called a shady person. "She just wouldn't shut up, and once the tour was over, she wouldn't stop following me. Finally ditched her, but it was real frustrating."
"Just wouldn't leave you alone, huh?" Dick knew now that Vic was saying he had been followed by someone with suspect motives.
"Yeah, and you know what's worse? She starts harassing Sarah, the girl I'm dating right now! It's downright embarrassing, is what it is!"
"Harassing Sarah?" Dick felt even more nervous for Vic—this person was not only tailing him, but his girlfriend as well. This had 'insurance tactic' written all over it—that is, whoever was following them was either after Sarah or Vic, and was tailing the other to use for "insurance" if their plans with the real target were to go awry. This was not good. He was caught up in too much right now to go check it out himself…but he knew someone that could do it. "I'll call you back, OK? I promised I'd call someone else."
"Right," Vic replied quietly. "I understand."
"…work out things between us. I think it could work. I want it to work. I just want to know if that's what you want, too. I…I just want to know what you want."
Rae stirred her coffee and let the information settle in her mind. He wanted to know what she wanted. She snorted. "Gar doesn't want anything that doesn't suit him," she muttered. "Still…" She broke off, thinking. Maybe it was time they straightened things out. "For his sake." Her phone rang, but she let the machine get it. She needed to deal with the matters at hand.
"Rae? This is Dick. Look, if you're home, pick up. It's important."
Rae got up, but left the phone on the hook.
"OK, guess you're really not there." He began speaking very quickly. "I guess I'll take my chances, then…look, Vic needs help. He thinks someone is trying to…get to him and Sarah, if you know what I mean. Watchin' 'em. I just really hope this isn't being tapped right now. Bye."
Rae cursed herself for not picking up. She didn't think Dick meant that important. "Should've known better, with Mr. Serious..." She knew what her priorities were now. There would be time for Gar later—Vic needed her now.
Vic was getting that sinking feeling.
He looked over his shoulder again. The same guy had been following him for the past five blocks. It wasn't the guy that had been following him and Sarah in the afternoon, but this guy was acting basically the same. Vic felt horribly cornered and confused. He didn't know why this guy was tailing him, but he knew it couldn't be anything good. He passed by an alleyway. Suddenly, he heard something that sounded vaguely like trash cans banging together. He turned around. The man had disappeared from sight. Vic paused, then smiled. "Guess I've got a guardian demon watchin' over me."
Vic was absolutely right. At that moment, Raven was dangling his pursuer by the ankles from the top of the building. The man looked ready to wet his pants, but Raven looked almost bored.
"OK, bud," she said conversationally. "I'll give you, say, 'til the count of ten to tell me why you're tailing that innocent gentleman."
"T-tail? I don't know what you're talkin' about!" the man shrieked.
"Let me down!"
"I swear on my ma's grave I ain't lyin'!"
Raven looked down at the man with a rather disenchanted expression. "Your mother lives in Reno. Try again."
The man looked more angry than scared now. "Let me go, dammit!"
"Like you'll really drop me…"
Raven gritted her teeth. "Nine…"
"OK, I'LL TALK! DOMINOV TOLD ME TO FOLLOW THIS GUY, BUT HE DIDN'T SAY WHY!"
Raven wavered. "Eric Dominov? The millionaire?"
"Yeah, yeah! He's trying to take down the mob—oh shit, he'll KILL me now that I've blabbed—to you, of all people!"
"You expect me to believe Eric Dominov—sixty-eight-year-old millionaire Eric Dominov—is in charge of the mob?"
"Well, not yet, but he was tryin' to get it away from Boss, yeah."
"Hmph. Everything I run into seems to lead back to Boss."
"I dunno anything for sure, but they say he's got this thing about the Titans. Wants to kill all of 'em. Can't, though, can he? Cyborg and Beast Boy are still under wraps—he was real happy when Starfire started zoomin' around Gotham again, 'course that only happened real recently—oh shit. Shouldn't've said that. Should've shut up."
"That's fine. You've been a real help—now tell all your friends that are tailing people—"—she tossed him over her head, and he landed ten feet behind her—"to stop. NOW."
Raven dusted off her hands. "Good." She looked at her watch. "It's late. S'pose I'll leave that talk with Mr. Dominov for tomorrow night."
After a quick change, Rae was back on the streets, homeward bound. She decided that she would take the back way, feeling that she did not want to deal with the crowded main streets. So, she wove through the alleys, coming to a quieter part of the city—the street she was on was completely empty, and the lights of the buildings were dim. She knew this sector well, and could tell she wasn't far from her apartment. However, she turned a corner and…
"Sorry, wasn't even watching where—"
"No, it was my—"
The two strangers stepped back and, upon further inspection, realized they weren't strangers at all.
Rae stuffed her hands in her pockets, unimaginably uncomfortable with the situation. "Err…what're you doing up in these parts?"
"Just going for a stroll," he said defensively. "Not against the law."
"Yeah, but…isn't it a bit out of your way? You live, like, thirty blocks from here."
"Uhh…well…OK, I was coming to see if you got my message."
"You could've called."
"I did. Six times."
Gar shuffled his feet a bit, and Rae coughed.
"So…did you get my message?"
"You mean your messages?"
"Well yeah." He blushed.
"Yes. I suppose, since we're both here, we should do that…talking thing you wanted to do."
"Yeah!" he said enthusiastically. Then, realizing Rae didn't share his enthusiasm, he grew a bit more serious. "We should."
"You wanted to talk about…'us.'"
"Well, more specifically, if there is an 'us.'"
"That's a good question."
Gar was irritated. She was just beating around the bush, hoping he would leave her alone. She wouldn't even meet his eyes. "Well…it's you that's making it so damn complicated!" he blurted out. "I've told you what I want. You've known this entire time. But I'm still in the dark about you." He was so exasperated he didn't notice the ever-shrinking space between their faces. "What do you want!"
Rae was staring straight into his eyes now, unable to avert her eyes from the pair of green orbs staring down at her. She sighed inwardly. This was it. She slid her hands up onto his face—which immediately heated up—and pulled it up next to hers.
"Garfield," she breathed. "This is what I want."
He leaned in without any coaxing. Their lips brushed at first, but then fully pressed against each other's. Her hands slid down from his face to his neck, while his arms locked around her waist. Gar let himself get completely lost in the moment, letting his brain be overcome by the thoughts bursting through it at a thousand miles an hour—she loves me, this is how it's going to be forever, it's going to be fine, no, better than fine, it's going to be wonderful, just like right now, just me and her—but then, suddenly, it was over. Rae was gazing at him, he could see the longing in her eyes—why did she make it stop?
Rae rested her head on his shoulder, her hands sliding away from his neck and falling back down to her sides. His arms were still intertwined around her waist. Her voice came out as a hushed whisper: "What I want stopped mattering a long time ago."
Gar felt his insides seize up—she was going to leave. "Don't," he pleaded, his voice cracking. "Please, don't. What I want still matters. It does." But already she was backing away, breaking away from his embrace. His arms slipped from her hips to his sides. He wanted to run after her. She wanted him to run after her. But what kind of reason was that, he thought.
Even she didn't care what she wanted anymore.
"Yes, I'm coming, I'm coming!" Eric Dominov shouted, hobbling into the foyer to answer whoever was banging the door. He opened it to find a bespectacled man in his mid-thirties standing in front of him. "Who are you?"
"I was sent by Chugger," the man replied.
"Ah, yes. Come in, come in, don't stand out there in the rain. You'll get soaked!"
The man stepped in, laughing. "'Fraid it's a bit late for that, sir." He rubbed his gloved hands together.
"Take your coat off, young man, there's a rack over there."
"I'm just going to be here for a few minutes, thanks."
"If you insist. So, Chugger sent you?"
"Good man, Chugger. Such an odd taste in codenames, eh?"
"True." The man shivered a little and pushed a stray lock of his red hair behind his ear.
"Well if you won't take your coat off, at least come to the living room by the fire." Dominov led the man to the living room, where Dominov had obviously been before answering the door: There was a tray of chocolates set out by a table, which had a half-finished game of solitaire set up on it. The fire was roaring, and the visitor moved close to it, basking in the heat.
"Dreadfully chilly out there," the visitor said. "Rain at this time of year. Really." He looked around. "I'd think you'd have a butler, or something. Such a large mansion, and you…well…"
"I am getting old, if that's what you're referring to," Dominov said gruffly, turning to face a portrait of himself on the wall. "But I intend to achieve my goal—achieve something of real importance—before I die. Boss is relatively young—he's had his time, and he'll no doubt have more of it later. I need my time now. I haven't got much left."
"No, I suppose you haven't really."
"So," Dominov continued, still transfixed on the work of art in front of him. "what did Chugger send you for? Does he need further instructions?"
"No, he has received instructions. Boss has told him he'll slit his throat if he continues in his mutinous behavior."
Dominov stuck his hand in his jacket, feeling around. "Is that so?"
The man's face was contorted by a horrible grin. "Why yes, it is."
"…Who are you, really?"
The man's grin broadened. "I'm only known by one name, and it's not really mine. They call me Sherman."
Upon hearing that name, Dominov spun around faster than any man his age should have been able to, whipping out the .38 concealed beneath his dinner jacket with stunning speed. But it was all in slow motion to Sherman. The arm withdrew from the jacket…Sherman reached into his coat…the arm outstretched to aim at him…Sherman saw his opening.
The action itself had taken less than a second: As Dominov pulled the gun, Sherman had found the opening in the sweeping motion of Dominov's arm and sent a spade flying straight into Dominov's throat. Death was, unfortunately for the aging mobster, not immediate. He found himself staring up at the ceiling, flat on his back. Sherman walked over, and leaned down.
"Let this be a message to all who would cross Boss: Disobedience is not tolerated."
With one swift—and from Dominov's point of view, quite painful—jerk, Sherman removed his spade from his dying adversary's throat. He took the handkerchief from Dominov's shirt pocket, wiped his spade with it, and laid it flat over the old man's face. "I do find the open eyes quite disturbing," he said casually, as if talking to someone other than the practically-dead man at his feet. Sherman paused at the solitaire game on the table. "Hmm…eight of hearts…over to the nine of spades. There you go."
Terry was running to bus stop in the rain, which was finally beginning to abate after half an hour. His hood was drawn over his head, so he wasn't able to see as well as usual when turning the corner, causing him to run headlong into a man, sending them both crashing to the ground. Terry's hood was knocked off and his glasses were thrown from his face.
"Geez! I'm sorry, mister," he said, feeling around on the ground for his lost glasses. He put them back on and looked over at the man he had run into. He felt so embarrassed. They got up, straightened their glasses and brushed off their coats. Terry brushed a stray lock of auburn hair behind his ear, and the man pushed his messy red hair out of his face.
"It's fine, kid," the man grunted. "Just watch where you're going, OK?"
"Yeah. I really am sorry, mister…"
"Sherman. It's fine. I gotta go."
"Seeya 'round, kid."
Blowfish: I will get SO many reviews claiming to know the significance of that scene, and SO many of them will probably be right. But if you have any (valid) guesses, PLEASE EMAIL THEM TO ME. I don't want to end up in an awkward situation in review responses if any of you should be right.
Sorry for taking a long-ass time to update. Really. Anyway, I just hope Miss Poisonous doesn't shoot me now.
MP: Won't make any promises…
Blowfish: Yeah, that's what I thought. Sorry about the lack of Star, but I did mention her! Loads of Star action next chapter, I promise. Seeya!