Chapter Nine - Return

The Titans held their breath waiting for Robin to respond. His color had returned to normal and Batman could feel a heartbeat, but Robin did not move or open his eyes. The amount of stress he had suffered over the last few days, to his body and his mind, may have taken its toll. The young crime fighter had been pushed to his breaking point and beyond, had died twice, caught on fire, been fed from and linked to a master vampire, and had stood up much longer than any other normal human would have. His body could not live without his will, and perhaps it had finally been broken.

Batman leaned over his partner when he noticed no autonomic function movement and found that the boy wonder had stopped breathing. He tilted his head back, pinched his nose and placed his lips over Robin's, breathing into the younger man. He filled his lungs three times and stayed low to listen. When he did not respond, Batman continued with his rescue breaths. Starfire was trembling against Beast Boy and Cyborg stood behind Raven with both hands on her shoulders. None of them moved as they watched the scene, dread or despair began to fill each of them as Batman continued and Robin laid still.

After a few more minutes, Batman sat back on his haunches, panting. Behind them, the moon was half illuminated by the sun's light. The Dark Knight faced them to pronounce the bad news when Robin suddenly drew in a huge breath, coming to consciousness at the same time. He blinked a couple of times and sat bolt upright, staring around. Each of them was overjoyed to see sparkling cerulean eyes surveying them. A cheer broke out among the teens and they rushed him, again crushing him in a group hug. Seeing his friends around him and his mentor by his side, Robin threw back his head and laughed, the carefree sound filling the room. It was finally over.

Batman stood, helping Robin to his feet, and clapped the younger man on the shoulder. "Welcome back."

Grinning broadly, he shook the Dark Knight's hand, "Thank you…for everything." Robin took a deep breath and looked around, the children were awake but not crying, and the vampire bodies had all turned to dust when the moon had emerged from the Earth's shadow.

Beast Boy's ear twitched at the approaching sirens, and he smiled. "Dude! You must be starving after all that! How about…"

"Waffles!" Starfire interrupted clapping her hands, stealing a little of Beast Boy's thunder.

"Boo yah, baby!" Everyone laughed at Cyborg's trademark phrase.

"Batman, you are welcome to -" Raven's words stopped as she realized she was talking to empty air. She faced Robin, "Does he always do that?"

"Yes, actually. Let's go home."

By the time they returned to the tower, the sun had risen. Robin hadn't eaten anything in four days, so he finished three plates of waffles by himself, laughing and joking with his relieved friends the whole time. He also hadn't slept in as many days, so as soon as his belly was full, he headed straight for bed. At first, he fell into a sleep deprived coma, completely still and dead to the world, but after ten or twelve hours, the began to toss and turn. He had been through a tremendous ordeal and now that his body had healed, it was time for his mind to start recovering.

The next morning, Beast Boy woke before the sun rose, as usual, and stretched as a cat, anchoring his paws in the carpet with his claws and pulling on his sleepy muscles. Then, still in his normal routine, he morphed into a Kentucky Red rooster and flew up onto the roof, ready to herald the new day with his crow. The sky was ablaze with brilliant reds and oranges, and everything was calm, as if the city was holding its breath in anticipation. The sun broke the horizon, setting the water in the bay glittering, and filling the world with warmth. The bird filled his lings, but before he could open his beak, he noticed that someone else was also on the roof. After a moment, he changed into a butterfly and fluttered back downstairs.

Robin and Raven sat side by side, watching the sunrise.

The End