Chapter 23- Some Adversaries Never Die

With his arms still behind his back, Slade indulged in the savory sight of watching Robin falling further and further away; taking a certain pleasure in his sinful act that only madmen could have. He could still see the horrified look on his face, his hand still reaching up towards him as if he were trying to grab hold of something or perhaps reaching for salvation. Slade felt something, almost like butterflies, in the pit of his stomach that quickly began overwhelming the insides of his body with the tinkling sensation. Finding it impossible to contain the emotion, he couldn't help but take his eye of the dieing Robin and let out a sick sinister laugh that echoed throughout the entire factory.

"Eh hahaha, AHHAHAHAHA, AHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHA"

br--

Even though he could no longer see him, Robin still kept his eyes on where Slade was as he continued screaming and falling to his fiery death. All he could think about now was Starfire and the rest of his friends. Images of Raven with her blue hair and cloak blowing in the wind, Cyborg with his back turned and arms crossed giving a thumbs-up, Beast Boy with his hands on his hips and a gleaming smile across his face, flashed through his mind until he retrained his thoughts on Starfire. Her image came in much slower as she turned around, almost as if to look at him with her beautiful green eyes and long red hair that she pulled behind her ear from her face. She started giggling then reached her hand out towards Robin like she was offering to save his life.

The realization of death washed over him, but his mind was comforted by the warming thoughts of the girl of his dreams; if he were to go like this, at least he would, thinking of Starfire. Robin closed his eyes and waited for the sense of hot magma to consume him, when suddenly he felt his entire body yank upwards as if he had just landed on a hard surface, or as if his soul had been ripped from his being.

So this was it? This is what death feels like? He was still very warm, but he didn't even feel the scorching heat of the molten steal vaporize his body. All he could see now was the ceiling, and felt like he was in motion as a slight breeze brushed over his face. It was almost as if he were…flying, or perhaps gliding his way towards heaven. He figured all of his good deeds paid off and now was granted access to the wonderful place. The funny thing though, was he didn't feel much different from before. His body was sore and aching, his broken rib still hurt immensely, he felt a drop of sweat run off the side of his forehead and down his cheek, and he could still feel the throbbing bruises all over his face and body. He put these thoughts aside though and focused more on the anticipation of seeing all of his friends again.

Now a new feeling brushed over him. He could feel something under his knees and behind his back as though he were being cradled in the tender arms of a loving parent. He thought to himself that it must be his guardian angel carrying him up towards heaven and looked over to see its' face, but his gaze fell on something far more beautiful in his eyes.

"Star…fire," he said in voice of confusion and excitement.

She had heard him clearly, but did not answer.

They started to descend towards a scaffold below and settled down on the hardened steel. Starfire placed him gently down so that he was sitting upright but did not look at him.

"Starfire," Robin said in the sincerest of voices. "I can't believe you—"he tried wrapping his arms around her to give her a hug but she yanked him off and continued starring ahead with a look of absolute disgust on her face.

Confused, he turned his head and looked to see what she was so dead set on and the same expression came over his.

There was Slade, standing on the other side gazing at them with that evil eye of his.

"Doesn't anyone around here know how to just DIE," he shouted at them in frustration.

Robin was about to say something when suddenly Starfire stood up with glowing green eyes and yelled:

"You are a very, bad, MAN!"

She rose in the air with vengeful intent and let out a raging battle cry as she charged Slade with starbolts brewing in the palms of her hands. She came at him and swung a glowing fist but the crazed madman effortlessly dodged the attack by leaning out of the way but was abruptly struck in the side by her other. Slade let out a loud OOF and keeled over but Starfire did not stop there. He was one for respecting all and fearing none, but that night he didn't respect the thing that could invariably lead to his undoing: underestimating the wrath of a woman, especially when the boy she loved was put in harms way.

Starfire punched Slade across the face again and again then slammed her fist into his stomach and planted an upper-cut under his chin. He stumbled backwards and landed on his rear but immediately sat upright and wiped the trail of spit running out of one of the slits in his mask with his forehand.

He looked at Starfire with a murderous eye and said, "You filthy, little—"but before he could finish, she grabbed him by the ankles and threw him up into the air like a volleyball.

With her eyes still glowing with anger she flew up to meet him in midair then spun around and punted him back down onto the scaffold. He slammed against the hardened steel and bounced upon impact until Starfire came down on him feet first and planted them into his stomach. His eye was as wide as a dinner plate, his upper-body immediately came up and spit ejected from his mouth from the force of her blow. Starfire knelt as to dig her boots into his guts just a little more then flipped backwards and landed gracefully. Slade let out a labored moan as he lifted his head up to gaze at his attacker when she abruptly lifted him up by the collar and propped him on his feet. He swayed from side to side until she punched him across the face over, and over, and over again without showing any signs of letting up.

Robin sat there watching in near horror at what she were doing to Slade. Each hit she delivered across his face sent chills down his spine and cringed at the sight of his relentless beating. As happy as he was to see Starfire alive, he was quite frightened by her and knew now why he never got on her bad side.

As Slade's head came back around from what seemed like the millionth punch, he watched almost in slow motion as the alien girl's fist swung around and came closer and closer towards his face. He braced for impact, anticipating the blow but less than an inch away from his face she stopped her hand and suddenly presented him with an open palm. He flinched and his head jerked back to put some distance between his head and her hand, but it wouldn't help for what she were about to do. Without warning, a green aura shot out of her palm and blasted Slade at point blank range in the face. His entire head was encompassed by green burning energy that sent him flying back and soaring into the air off the scaffold. He glided a great distance until he began falling towards the molten steel but along the way smacked into the railing of another scaffold on his back. He came off of it and fell again until his legs hit another one and sent him spinning violently downwards onto another. The more he kept falling, the more catwalks he kept landing against that caused each part of his body that hit to send out a bone chilling crackling noise that echoed throughout the chamber. After landing on the forth railing, he slammed onto the last one with a loud CRRUUUNNNCCCHHHH but the force from the impact hurled him out of the circumference of the fire pit and onto the solid concrete floor of the factory.

Starfire stood there fixed in her position, trying to catch her breath with her arm still fully extended and her eyes and hand glowing green. The adrenaline rushing through her veins had finally seized and the pain she once felt had returned to bear its' punishment on her body. Feeling exhausted now, her eyes and hand stopped glowing and she almost collapsed but caught herself on the rail. Something in the corner of her eye caught her attention and looked over to see Slade's twisted body lying lifelessly on the cold, hard, concrete floor. She kept her vision trained on him, cautious to make sure he wouldn't get up, ever again and waited. Although it had only been a few seconds it seemed like an eternity had passed while watching until the tired, soar alien girl finally took her sight off him and let out a long sigh of relief and exhaustion before falling to her knees.

Seeing her collapse, Robin disregarded his own pain and pulled himself up by the railing and got to his feet. He grunted as the stabbing pain from his broken rib nearly caused his legs to give but he had to get to his precious Starfire. Using the railing for support, he half-limped his was over to the battered Tamaranean, each step seeming like almost a mile, and fell to his knees in front of her.

"Starfire," he said in a sincere voice as he placed his hands on her shoulders.

With half-opened eyes she slowly turned her head to look at him while holding her side. "Robin," she said in almost a whisper. "ROBIN!"

"STARFIRE," he exclaimed with a smile on his face.

Overwhelmed by joy they immediately wrapped their arms around each other amazed to see the other alive.

"I thought I had lost you Star," said Robin holding back the temptation to cry.

"As did I," said Starfire in a shaky voice. "I thought you were…you were—"she couldn't contain her emotions any longer and burst into tears as she squeezed her thought to be dead love tighter in her arms.

"I'm right here Starfire," he said. "I'm going to be alright, we both are."

Feeling vulnerable to attack and uneasy of Slade's fate, he looked over the edge of the scaffold and found the crazed madman lying face down on his stomach and as lifeless as a corpse. He starred at him for a moment expecting him to get up or show signs of movement, but did not. Only slightly satisfied he turned back to his distressed Starfire.

"Starfire," he said in a calm voice as he gently pulled her away. "I know you're—"as he began explaining to her the severity of the situation they were in, and the threats the evil villain had made of a bomb, he failed to realize what was going on far below them.

If only Robin had kept his gaze on him a little longer, he would've seen as Slade's eye shot open and his head turn completely around in an unnatural way and stare up at them with murderous intent.

"And we've got to find it before it's too late," he finished.

"I agree," said Starfire. "But how will we locate such a device?"

"I don't know, we'll just have to—"he stopped in mid-sentence after hearing what sounded like a hallowed out pipe scrapping across a metal surface.

Robin immediately looked down at where Slade's body was resting but it was gone. He gasped and turned back to warn Starfire but his sight was forced upwards to the dark figure with the orange mask standing behind her.

"NNNNNNNNNNNRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHH," Slade roared with anger and hate as he bashed the red haired alien girl over the back of the head with a steel pipe.

She let out a diminishing wail of pain that didn't make it out completely on account of being knocked instantaneously unconscious.

"STARFIRE," Robin shouted with wide eyes but was struck in the face by a steel tipped boot and sent backwards.

Slade dropped the blunt object in his hand then immediately reached down and grabbed the unconscious Starfire by the collar. He hoisted her over his head and turned the other way to make sure she'd undoubtedly land in the pit of molten steel after throwing her in. He cocked her back slightly but before he went through with it, he abruptly heard a very loud:

"GET YOUR FILTHY MEAT HOOKS OFF OF HER," making it's' way closer and closer towards him.

Slade looked around his arm and caught sight of Robin coming at him before he planted a firm shoulder in his side. The demented villain immediately dropped Starfire and was thrown sideways from the blow and landed on the hardened steel of the scaffold.

Robin shot him a deathly gaze with gritting teeth then reached into one of the utility belts around his chest and pulled out three small ball-bearings. He threw them down and they exploded, dispersing a thick grey smokescreen that quickly surrounded him. He picked up Starfire and cradled her in his arms then leapt over the railing and landed gracefully on the hard cement floor and headed for cover.

As the smoke cleared and Slade rose to his feet, he noticed that the two beaten teenagers were no longer standing before him.

"Running will not save you or your friend Robin," he shouted, his voice echoing throughout the factory.

Robin dashed around a column of vertical pipelines then searched the area with his eyes to make sure Slade was not following. He looked down at Starfire in his arms then let her legs rest on the floor while he tapped her face lightly trying to wake her up.

"Starfire," he whispered urgently. "Starfire, wake-up, come on Star wake up!"

She did not move.

"ROBIN," Slade's thundering voice echoed throughout the chamber. "COME OUT, COME OUT, WHEREVER YOU ARE!"

"Come on Star wake up!" He whispered as he shook her gently. "Starfire, Starfire!"

Suddenly, she began to stir and her eyes slowly fluttered half-open.

"Star, Starfire?"

"Rob…in," she mumbled.

"Star you've gotta get up."

"ROBIN," Slade's voice boomed more assertively as if being yelled at by an angry parent. "YOU'RE ONLY PROLONGING THE INEVITABLE! YOUR CITY IS DOOMED! YOU ARE DOOMED; AND IN SIXTEEN SHORT HOURS THE BOMB WILL GO OFF AND DESTROY EVERYTHING SO STOP HIDING AND COME OUT!"

Robin refocused his attention on Starfire and started forcing her upright. "Come on Star get up!"

She started to regain consciousness and was able to keep herself upright on her own but not without Robin's help. She placed her hand on the back of her head and felt the large lump Slade had given her and let out a sigh of pain from the stinging sensation.

"Starfire I know you're tired, but if we don't stop him he's going to annihilate a lot of innocent people."

"Robin," she moaned. "I am, unable…to continue."

"Star I need you," he pleaded. "I can't stop Slade alone. I can't go on…without you."

"But, he is too…formidable."

"I know, but together we can defeat him. Together we can stop him before anyone else gets hurt."

She looked up into his eyes and the two starred at each other for a long while before either of them said anything.

"When this is all over," he said, "we'll go out on another date, one where we won't have to worry about Slade or anything else bad getting in-between us. We can be together Star, forever."

There was another long moment of silence between them as Robin now realized what he had just subconsciously admitted to her. Their faces were mere inches away from each other's, and Starfire wanted to kiss him so badly as she looked deep into his eyes, but their moment was suddenly ruined by an obnoxiously loud: "RRROOOBBBIIINNN," coming from the enraged Slade somewhere around them.

"We need to get moving," Robin finally said. "I'll draw his attention and you take him from behind."

With that he reluctantly pulled himself away from her and made his way higher and higher up each scaffold until he came just below the one Slade was on. Starfire sat there for a moment and processed the words that had just come out of Robin's mouth and found herself filled with new-found encouragement and stamina. "We can be together Star, forever," she replayed in her mind then thought about a possible bright future between her and the boy of her dreams. She used one of the pipelines for support then got to her feet and stealthily flew up towards the crazed madman they were out to stop.

"Robin," said Slade as the Boy Wonder leapt onto his scaffold, "so nice of you to join me once again."

"I don't think I can say the same," Robin said.

"I hope I didn't injure your friend too badly."

"I wouldn't know." Robin smiled as he pointed at something behind Slade and said, "Ask her."

The elusive villain turned around only to see an infuriated Starfire flying with green glowing eyes and hands coming straight at him. Before he could react he was slammed in the face by a rock-hard fist then blown away by one of her enormous starbolts. Robin ran at him as he stumble back then leapt in the air and planted his foot in the center of his back and sent him hurling forward and onto his stomach. Slade rolled over and looked at the Boy Wonder with anger in his eye then got to his feet and stormed his way towards him, but even as he drew near, Robin stood there with his arms crossed and a mischievous grin across his face.

"Why you worthless, little—"before he could finish his sentence his former apprentice jumped into the air and behind him came Starfire who blasted him away with a borage of starbolts that nearly knocked him down again.

Immediately after Robin landed, he balled his hands into tight fists then charged at the psychotic criminal with all his might and swung at his face. His knuckles made contact with his mask then followed it up with another swipe but before he could hit him, Slade caught his attack. The evil maniac stood there and shot the Boy Wonder a lame stare before quickly wrenching his hand back and cracking his wrist. Robin wailed upon the sharp pain that engulfed his wrist then let out more cries of agony when Slade twirled him around and yanked his entire arm further and further up his back.

"Robin," Starfire gasped upon seeing him in pain.

Slade looked up at the red-haired alien girl as she swooped in from above on her way to save her friend then leaned in next to Robin's ear and said, "Tick tock Robin. You're time is running out…"

Without saying another word and still holding onto the boy's arm, he drew away from his ear then planted his foot in his former apprentice's back and launched him upwards at the alien girl.

Seeing him coming at her, Starfire came to a quick stop in mid-air and caught Robin in her arms. She looked up after catching him as something else came at her followed by a furious roar but was met with the dreadful sight of Slade leaping at them with his foot. All she could do was gasp as the Boy Wonder let out a horrific cry of pain from a steel tipped boot digging into his back. They slammed down on the metallic catwalk with a loud CLANK but Robin was cushioned from his fall by Starfire still holding onto him. He winced as he rolled off of her but immediately got to his feet and charged Slade with a raging battle cry then jumped into the air and landed a tornado kick across his face. Slightly dazed, Starfire slowly got up and rose from the ground and flew above the battle below her and circled around.

Robin swiped the crazed lunatic across the jaw with the back of his hand after punching him in the kidney then jumped back and yelled, "Starfire now!"

Slade turned around but only to be met by another foot in his face and then one in his back. Robin and Starfire were double-teaming Slade, each one striking after the other to keep him off balance; they were actually gaining the upper hand over him, and winning. After what seemed like the hundredth blow that the demented psychopath had taken, Robin slid back after Starfire landed the bottom of her heal over the top of Slade's head and rushed him once more. As the Boy Wonder drew closer and closer, Slade's eye suddenly shot open and locked onto him as Robin's stomach came into his iron fist, then, he grabbed him by the hair and wrenched his head back and bashed him in the jaw. Robin stumbled back and fell on one knee as the lunatic man spun around and caught Starfire off-guard by the leg and swung her around and around before slamming her to the ground.

Feeling a sudden surge of rage, Robin reached underneath his cape and pulled out a birderang from the utility belt around his waste and let the wings fold out. He rose to his feet, grit his teeth, and cocked the device back before hurling it forward with a loud:

"EEEEEAAAAAAHHHHHH!"

As Slade was about to grab Starfire, he heard the raging battle cry behind him and immediately spun around thinking it were Robin. He was instead met with the dreadful sight of the birderang coming straight at him.

Robin had watched every moment of the contraption's flight, making sure it would surely hit its' target but unexpectedly did something he would later grow to regret. The boomerang device impacted on Slade's face and the force from the blow twirled the entire top half of his body to the side and forced him to take a step back. The Boy Wonder stood there in the same pose with his arm out in front of him then slowly came out of his position as he gasped under his breath as something fell from Slade's face. Robin followed the object with his eyes, rolling further away from its' master before finally spinning in almost slow-motion onto it's' side. He paused and then realized what it was; the right side of Slade's mask.

Starfire, on the other side of the crazed madman, had finally gotten up and leaned on her elbows while letting her eyes run up the psychotic villain's body and fall onto his exposed face. She gasped in horror at what she saw and immediately put as much distance as she could between them.

Slade had finally been unmasked, and now Robin would have the answer to what had haunted him for so many nights: who is Slade? But why was Starfire so frightened though? Was he a hideous monster, or a scarred and deformed man, or perhaps an alien from another world? Why wouldn't he turn around and show Robin his face? He just stood there, as still as a statue, with his legs spread, his right foot a step behind his left and the top half of his body completely leaned over to the side. All Robin could see was the left side of his mask, the other was completely hidden. It was almost as if Slade had shut down. Whatever he was, Robin was about to quickly learn that his foe was something far worse than any of those things.

The Boy Wonder jumped from being startled and got into a battle stance when Slade's eye suddenly rolled in his direction and locked onto him. His head and body finally started to move, and he leaned upright while turning around to show his former apprentice who and what he was. The eclipsed side of his face finally came into view and now his identity had been revealed.

"What," said Robin in a voice full of anger, confusion, and disgust with his mouth partially open and a determined look on his face

Underneath the cold, black, emotionless, side of Slade's mask was a round glossy eye that glow a sinister red. It was engraved into a shiny silvery foundation and surrounded by wires, circuitry, and metal, like that of the many androids he had created.

"ALL THIS TIME AND YOU'RE NOT EVEN REAL," exclaimed Robin in frustration.

"You're going to wish you hadn't done that," said Slade in his usual calm seductive tone before kneeling down and picking up the other half of his mask.

"And here I thought I had a madman on my hands, but you're just a heaping pile of spare-parts!"

Slade brought the broken piece up to his exposed circuitry, and with a clicking noise, put it back into place. "Come now Robin, that hurts me on the inside," he said in almost a sarcastic tone. "Besides, it's not like you and I haven't faced-off before."

"What do you mean!"

"The events with the Chronoton detonator, when you came to stop me from pulling the trigger; it was I who you defeated before Slade revealed himself and his plans to you. Do you remember now Robin?"

He stood there and thought for a moment as the horrific events of those tragic days from so long ago flashed through The Boy Wonder's mind. In black and white he could see the skirmish between him and Slade, both taking and delivering incredible blows before Robin had been brought to his knees and onto his stomach. He could see himself looking up at Slade as he spoke the dreadful words of how very much alike they were then unexpectedly rising to his feet and knocking the crazed man down for the count.

"It's over," his own words echoed in his mind and then the trigger fell to pieces in his hand.

"On the contrary Robin," Slade's voice said before entering from the shadows. "This is only the beginning."

Robin's thoughts were interrupted by the Slade imposter as he said, "The decoy you fought, the android that nearly took your life, was in fact…me."

"So why are you here," said the Boy Wonder harshly, "to exact revenge on me because I took you down!"

"Heh heh," Slade chuckled. "Not quite. You see Robin; I'm just merely another runner in this race for conquest and world domination, and after Slade had succumbed, he simply passed the baton onto me."

Suddenly it all made sense. The plots against him and the Titans, the mystery surrounding his death, even the dust from the mask that caused him to have hallucinations of Slade all pointed to this droid replica. Slade was gone and never coming back, but that didn't mean he still wouldn't have to face his ghost from the past.

"So you see," Slade interrupted again in sarcastic voice. "You just can't seem to keep the bad guys down, can you? I may have perished in that volcano, but even in death, I live on."

"That's something I can't allow to go on then," said Robin as he poised for battle and Starfire came next to him. "We've stopped you before and we'll stop you now!"

"On the contrary Robin; if you've, 'stopped' me…then why am I still here?"

With that Robin led the charge as he and Starfire went after Slade. He came at the evil maniac with all his might and leapt into the air as he came down with his foot. Slade made an X with his forearms and effortlessly blocked the attack then with incredible speed grabbed Robin in mid-air and threw him away like a piece of garbage. Starfire soared towards him with a glowing starbolt brewing in her cupped hands then cocked it back and threw it at the psychotic villain. With cat like reflexes, Slade caught the glowing orb in his hands then threw it between his legs and hopped over it as if in a game of leap-frog.

"You're going to have to do much better than that my dear," he said to her.

"How bout this," said a voice behind him.

He turned to see Robin rushing towards him again but the nimble madman casually stepped out of the way and stuck his arm out unexpectedly and clothes-lined the teenage super-hero.

Occupied with his former apprentice, Starfire swooped in and tried to take the insane criminal by surprise but Slade easily jumped over her and landed on another catwalk parallel to theirs.

Robin leaned up and rubbed the back of his head then looked over at Slade on the other scaffold, standing with his arms comfortably behind his back and his head tilted to the side as if he were smiling at them.

"Too slow Robin," the illusive transgressor called over to him. "You always were."

With anger in his voice, The Boy Wonder growled and leapt into the air and onto the platform where Slade had been standing. He could tell they had been fighting on this one on account of a large section missing in the middle of the walkway and the sweltering heat from only being twenty feet above the blazing fire pit below.

"Even with the help of your friend you still don't stand a chance," Slade taunted.

Just then Starfire flew in to knock him off guard but Slade was well aware of her coming his way and grabbed her by the face out of the air.

"Wait for your turn young lady," he said in a stern voice looking up at her then chucked the Tamaranean far back behind him on the scaffold.

Robin roared in indignation as he came at Slade and swung his fist but the psychopath effortlessly caught his hand again. Contempt, the Boy Wonder whirled his other fist but he caught that one too and starred at him in a taunting manor. Robin tried to break free but he was just too strong. After another moment of starring at him, Slade brought his leg up and firmly planted his foot in his former apprentice's chest, near his broken rib, and started to push. The teenage super-hero let out an agonizing wail of pain as the pressure from his predecessor's boot grew more intense until Slade let go and thrust him forward a great distant. Robin slammed down on his stomach after landing and slowly brought his head up but only to be met by another foot to the face that sent him flying back again.

Slade picked him up off the ground then started savagely beating him once more. First he clubbed him across the face, then he kneed him in the stomach, and then body-slammed him back into the ground with unbelievable force. On his hands and knees Robin tried to crawl away, but the deranged killer scooped him up by his foot and continued beating him until finally discarding him to the other side of the catwalk.

His limp body slid to a halt next to Starfire's and she finally woke up to the unpleasant sight of the beaten Robin by her side. Gasping, she immediately rolled onto her knees and brought him upright.

"I must say it's quite disappointing that I wasn't alive to partake in all of this," said Slade as he sauntered his way towards them.

Starfire gasped then hoisted Robin's arm over her shoulder and tried to stand him up.

"Robin," she said in a labored voice. "You must…get onto, your feet!"

He moaned and let out a series of coughs from the excruciating pain in his side then let his head hang.

Starfire looked down at him and pleaded for him to help. "Robin, I cannot—"but just then she saw Slade in the corner of her eye just a few paces away and immediately dropped him and poised for battle.

"Your charisma for him is really quite precious," the psychotic villain said in a loving voice full of sarcasm.

"Proceed any further and you shall be harmed," Starfire said in a threatening voice with glowing hands and eyes.

"Heh, Heh. Naïve young child…you must be a slow learner. When I'm finished with him I'll be more than happy to put you out of your misery."

"The only one, who shall be put out of their misery, shall be you!"

With that Starfire charged him but Slade back-handed her across the face before she could deliver any form of attack then grabbed her by the collar and threw her back out of the way. He watched her fly then turned around to take care of his former apprentice but was instead greeted by Robin's fist to the face. The evil madman stumbled back then caught his footing and brought his head back around to shoot him a deathly gaze.

Robin stood there with his hand over his broken rib, swaying from side to side. Where he had gotten any of this energy to go on after what had happened earlier beat the heck out of him, but if Slade wouldn't kill him he knew his exhaustion would.

"Leave…her…alone," he said in a labored voice trying to catch his breath.

"How chivalrous of you Robin," said Slade, "but quite foolish—"without warning he shot his hand around the boy's neck and started squeezing tighter and tighter, "quite foolish indeed."

Robin wrapped his hands around his forearms and tried to pry him off but he was far too strong.

"NO," shouted an angry voice coming up behind them.

Slade turned around as Starfire blasted him in the face with green beams from her eyes then pelted him with a borage of starbolts that caused him to drop Robin and go flying onto his side.

The Tamaranean immediately landed next to the tired Boy Wonder and slowly helped him to his feet.

"Quickly Robin," she said with urgency. "We must go now!"

"No," Robin demanded. "We're not leaving!"

"We shall face the Slade on a later date, we must go now or surely he will destroy us," she pleaded.

"NO, we can't!" Suddenly he was able to stand on his own but with the help of Starfire and said, "We have to stop him now, If we don't he'll hunt us down and will never stop until we've been annihilated."

"But Robin, he is too strong."

"No he's not, not if we work together," he turned to look into her eyes and explain. "He can't take us when we're a team Star, and that's how we're going to stop him."

"I hope I'm not interrupting anything between the two of you," said Slade who was already on his feet. "I really am on a tight schedule here and have a world to conquer."

Starfire looked at the crazed lunatic then back at Robin.

"We can get through this Star," the Boy Wonder said with a warm encouraging smile on his face. "As long as we're together we're going to be alright."

Feeling a renewed sense of hope within them, the teenage super-heroes poised for battle and prepared to take out Slade once and for all.

"How adorable," Slade said in a sarcastic but angry voice as he made his way towards them. "I think we've drawn this out long enough and it's time for the two of you to perish once and for all!"

Robin and Starfire glanced at each other and nodded, then with heroic battle cries, charged the psychotic villain with all their fury and might. As the fierce worriers collided, Slade swung at his former apprentice but missed and was struck by a hoard of starbolts then bashed across the face. The young heroes gave the evil madman no time to recover and immediately resumed their attack. Starfire nailed him in the chest with a high-kick then Robin came in with a punch to the side before being struck himself in the jaw. The Boy Wonder stumbled back but the Tamaranean girl came in to take his place and blasted the ruthless criminal away as Robin got to his feet and noticed the huge gap in the catwalk that they were pushing Slade closer and closer towards.

The crazed madman stumbled back but managed to recollect himself and with incredible speed and agility, sprung forward and planted his fist into Starfire's face. She flew back a short distance until Slade elbowed her in the gut then landed a round-house kick on her chest. The Tamaranean girl fell against the railing with her arm draped over it and looked up at her assailant as he strode closer to her with a sinister look in his eye.

"And now," said Slade looking down upon her while cracking his knuckles. "It's time for you to—"before he could finish, he was suddenly bashed in the head then punched in the stomach.

Robin shot the evil villain a disgusted look then leapt at him and continually punched him again and again across the face, each Strike sending a metallic ringing noise that echoed through the air. After delivering the tenth blow to the head, Robin hopped back onto one knee near Starfire and trained his eyes on his predecessor. Slade lifted his head up and his eye shot open as he wiped a trail of spit from the corner of his mouth and starred at his former apprentice. He brought his hands back down to his sides that formed into tight angry fists as the rage inside of him grew greater and greater.

Robin starred at Slade with a determined look on his face while preparing himself to spring forward at his adversary. The furious madman's eye twitched from his anger boiling over and now unable to contain his rage, he let out a long, rampaging:

"RrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgggggggghghghhhhhhhhhhHHHHHHHHH—"

Robin was not shaken by his indignation, and finally saw this as the perfect opportunity to strike; to end his reign of terror once and for all. He lunged forward with a raging battle cry of his own, and with all his fury and might, did a back flip in mid-air and planted the top of his foot across Slade's face as a bolt of lightning, followed by a crackle of thunder clashed outside.

The ruthless crook was instantly shot backwards and stumbled towards the edged of the scaffold. In the nick of time, Slade grabbed hold of the railings and dug his feet onto the charred rims of the gapping hole before he could fall in but most of his body was hanging over the edge.

Robin landed gracefully as Starfire came by his side and poised for battle. The two looked at each other both knowing what they had to do then retrained their eyes back on Slade.

"Starfire, are you ready," Robin asked in a concentrated voice.

"Let us end this once and for all," she responded.

With that, the young heroes charged forward with clamoring battle cries then leapt into the air. At the same time, they both spun around in mid-air and landed their feet in the hard armor plating of Slade's chest and kicked him off the edge and into the burning lake of fire below as he let out a loud:

"NNNEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH," as he was sent over.

Robin and Starfire landed simultaneously, somewhat relieved that they had finally defeated him after all this time. They looked at each other for a short moment while catching their breath but Robin broke eye contact and immediately strode over to the edge to confirm the kill and was brought to his knees by the horrific sight below. Starfire quickly joined him and gasped upon laying her eyes on their adversary.

Slade looked angrily down at his waist and lifted his melting hand out of the burning steel as he slowly began sinking into the lava. He brought his gaze back up to Robin and Starfire twenty feet above him starring down at him from the edge of the scaffold.

"Well done Robin," he called up to his former apprentice. "It seems I've once again been met with the same fiery demise!"

The Boy Wonder looked at the dieing Slade almost confused as to why he were still alive, even for an android, but angry at the same time. "WHY CAN'T YOU JUST, LEAVE US ALONE SLADE," he shouted down to him.

"YES," Starfire pitched in, "WHY DON'T YOU JUST BURN IN ZARLON!"

"Dear child," said Slade in his cool seductive tone, "because Some Adversaries, Never Die…"

Both Robin and Starfire starred at Slade as if seeing him for the first time, feeling somehow threatened by his words even though he were sinking into a pit of lava.

The molten steel was now half-way up the crazed madman's body, and his right arm had already been completely submerged, but still, he remained.

"A valiant effort once again Titans," he continued, "but as always, your efforts are in vein. You may have destroyed me, but that does not mean it all ends here."

As the lava rose to Slade's chest, a series of loud noises rang throughout the factory over the echoes of broiling steal. They almost sounded like, heavy blast doors slamming shut all around the young heroes. Robin and Starfire looked up at the sound of these strange noises and scanned the area. The Boy Wonder caught sight of the entrance door slowly coming down before it clanked shut and locked everyone in then gazed back down at Slade.

The molten steel was now up to his chest and was consuming more and more of his body but that still did not keep him from saying his last words.

"This isn't the end of it," said Slade as the lava came up to his neck. "No matter where you run, no matter where you hide, I will always be right behind you."

He reached his left hand up towards the last remaining Titans as a small handle shaped device with a big red button at the top came out of something around his wrist and extended into his palm.

"Because even in death, I live on!" He wrapped his fingers around the contraption while holding it up out of the lava and brought his thumb over the red button as he said his final words.

"I'll be seeing you, again…"

The molten steel came over his mouth and nose and he began sinking onto his side, but even as he submerged, he kept his depraved eye trained on Robin and Starfire before finally going under. Now all that was left of him was his arm sticking straight up out of the molten lava. As it came up to his sinking wrist, he pressed down on the red button just before he had finally disintegrated.

Suddenly, the entire factory was rattled like a bird cage as explosion after explosion went off all around Robin and Starfire.

KKKKAAAABBBBOOOOMMMM!

KKKAAABBBOOOMM!

PPAAKKOOM

The two teenage super-heroes immediately got to their feet and looked on in horror as the entire steel factory went up in flames all around them. Starfire quickly grabbed Robin's hand and hoisted him with her as she tried to find a means of escape and as they lifted off, a huge chunk of debris crashed down from the ceiling onto the scaffold in which they once stood. Starfire rose higher and higher up towards the roof but as it exploded and burst into flames, she quickly realized they could not get out that way. She zipped over to the other side of the factory, dodging explosions and falling pieces of debris as she maneuvered through columns of bursting steam pipes until she came to the end and saw that everything was aflame. The Tamaranean girl quickly turned back around and headed the other way but just then, a huge chunk of the ceiling fell onto a scaffold causing it to collapse into a pit of molten steel and hurled huge chunks of burning lava into the air. Starfire came to an abrupt halt in mid-air after she and Robin had almost been scorched by the molten steel and flew back the other way. A huge support column fell down from the roof and landed just in front of them, preventing the two desperate heroes from finding another way out. Exhausted from her injuries and flying, Starfire had no other choice but to set down on the only remaining scaffold that was left standing and gently lowered Robin down before landing herself.

"There's no way out," Robin shouted with an awestruck look on his face as the two stood back to back and looked around at their exploding surroundings. "We're trapped!"

"NO," said Starfire in a frenetic voice.

Suddenly, it all became clear to them. This was it, they weren't getting out; they would die here and there was nothing more they could do. Slade managed to pull off one last trick and rigged the entire factory with explosives. How could he have been so careless, Robin thought to himself, he should've anticipated something like this but failed to do so.

Giving up hope, Robin turned towards Starfire with a distressed look on his face and she did the same.

"Well Star I…I guess…this is it," he said looking down at his feet.

"Please Robin," she said as she gently wrapped her arms around him. "I do not wish to 'go out' like this."

"I…I don't either Star," he said embracing her. "But as long as we're together, we're going to be okay."

Upon hearing his words, Starfire pulled away from him with her hands wrapped around his sides and built up the courage to say something that she had wanted to say to him for so long.

"Robin," she said looking down at her chest, her heart beating a million miles an hour. "I…I always—"

"Starfire," Robin interrupted while looking deep into her eyes. "Shut-up, just, shut-up…"

She stood there taken and somewhat hurt by his words until finally, he said:

"I know…"

With that, he pulled her closer into his body and tilted his head to the side. Starfire looked at him strangely and backed her head away slightly, startled by his sudden move but found herself overpowered by the warm sensation she felt in her chest and drew her face closer to his. Robin slowly closed his eyes and brought his mouth closer and closer to hers until finally, their dry lips met and they were locked in the kiss that they had longed to give each other their entire lives.

More explosions went off around them and a huge support beam flew past them, but even as the entire factory was falling down around them, it wasn't enough to distract them from the most pivotal moment of their lives. They both knew there were about to die but it didn't matter anymore, none of it did, just as long as they would go out knowing how they both felt for each other.

"Eh hem," came a familiar voice behind the kissing couple.

With their lips still locked, Robin and Starfire both opened their eyes at the same time and starred at one another for a moment before finally pulling away. Robin turned to see who it was as Starfire gasped and a dumbfounded looked came over his face.

"Raven," said Robin in absolute shock to see his friend alive.

"If you two aren't finished," the blue haired girl said looking off to the side with an emotionless look on her face. "I can come back later…"

"RAVEN," Starfire cheered before engulfing her in an enormous hug. "YOU ARE UNDAMAGED!"

"I…was," she said gasping for air.

Robin, still awestruck by his thought to be dead friend's presence looked at her with his mouth hanging down to the ground before saying.

"But…how did you—"

"It's a long story," said Raven after Starfire put her down. "We'll tell you when we get back."

"Alright then," said Robin. "Let's get out of here."

With a grin on her face, Raven nodded to him and the three teenagers were engulfed in a black transparent dome that suddenly disappeared and teleported them to safety as the roof finally collapse and the entire factory caved in.

br--

A/N:

I know…I know…I know…I know…I know……….I know……and for the last time…I know. I know, I finally updated after almost a month, and I'm sorry for such a long wait but I thought I was busy in High School and am even busier now. So, I've finally started college and my job and work close to 40 hours a week and then go to college from 5-10 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and weekends I do homework. So, like I said, I'm sorry I couldn't update sooner, I've really been busy. With that said, did I at least make a good come back though? FINALLY, Slade is defeated and FINALLY the pivotal moment with the kiss between Robin and Starfire. Did you like it, I hope you did. If you re-read it, you should play the song "Incomplete," by the Backstreet Boys while doing so. It was on the radio while I was writing that part and was like, "hmm, this song really goes well with what's happening." So yeah, anyway, I'm going to get to the individual reviews now. Once again, sorry for the long wait. Next Chapter: The Sleeper Cells.

Drkng625- Well, I finally updated, sorry for the long wait and thanks for checkin' out my story.

Asilla- Don't worry about being terribly late, I just hope you read all the other chapters though cause there's about two left in this story. So no, Robin isn't dead and Starfire finally showed up to somewhat save the day. I'm glad you like my story so much and am glad you feel like a…scrumptious…wiggly…dessert. Thanks for the review.

Robinfan- Bout time you showed back up, and I'm going. Thanks for the review.

Infamous One- Glad you liked the fight scenes and hoped you liked the ones in here and thanks for the review.

Snowfeather- So what are you still confused about? Why are you in an endless circle? Please do tell, I don't want my readers to be confused. Don't worry I won't end it in a crappy place, the ending I have in store for you is supreme and I don't think I'll be giving anything really away by saying this, but it will be a happy one, I mean, Starfire's alive, she and Robin have kissed and the rest of the Titans are still alive (if you hadn't figured that out yet) so it's going to be happy.

Aeris-Raven- Yeah, you got me, you figured it out. I think everyone kinda saw that coming with Starfire coming in to save the day, but did you like it though? I hope you equally enjoyed the fight scenes in this one and did you like it that they succeeded against and incredible foe? Thanks for the review.

KaliAnn- Still think my last one was the best chapter ever? Yeah Robin's got some serious will power in order to resist Brother Blood but if Slade hadn't showed up he would've been brainwashed either way. Of course I couldn't kill Robin, I love Robin he's my favorite Titan! And to answer your question about the college courses in the summer…to make a long story short, I didn't get into the university I wanted to go to some I'm going to a community college now so I can transfer credits to the one I want to go to. Thanks for the comment and sorry I took so long to update.

Dlsky- An adrenaline rush while reading my story? I'm flattered, really. So was my last chapter still the best, or does this one kinda kick it up a notch? Thank you for congratulating me on graduating but I've heard everything you said to me at least a million times, but I don't mean to sound ungrateful. No way, you live in sunny old Colorado too! That's awesome, but I live in Colorado Springs so no we wouldn't have seen each other at Star Wars but I have been to Grand Junction before I was actually accepted by the college there Mesa State. So yeah, small world huh? Oh, and about the messed up words n' stuff in my last chapter, I actually posted it before I proof-read it but even now when I go back from time to time to re-read my chapters I find little mistakes here and there. So once again sorry for the long a wait and thanks for the review.

Lance Arkel- I'm glad you thought my Brother Blood was a lot better than the cartoon's because I'm right there with you, the one in the show really does suck. The aspect that Blood couldn't get into Robin's head, at least right away, definitely shows how mentally strong he is, but not only that, the fact that even after being brutally beaten more than once he was still able to go on and in the end defeat Slade. My last chapter I will agree was definitely a more action based one and I hope you liked the fight scenes with Robin, Slade, and Starfire in this one especially at the end where our two heroes finally take Slade out, but my all-time goal for this chapter was to establish that love scene between them. So, if you kinda thought the action wasn't as good in this one, that was why, but just remember, I have two more chapters left. The dialogue that I write for Slade, I put a lot of thought and effort into what he would say and whenever I'm thinking about it, I always keep in mind how it would sound coming from Ron Pearlman. So, whenever I'm writing his lines, I make them up and in a sense play them in my head and if I think they sound right, then I put em' in. You were right about the connection between Robin's past as a Flying Grayson and me not seeing it, but either way it works, and the extra training works as well. If I were to give my story I timeline in the Teen Titan's history, I'd definitely have to say this would take place after the episode "The Quest." Throughout my chapters I've always put little bits n' pieces of dialogue or scenes from the show, but they always have a purpose. The parts that I took from "Haunted" were to in a sense to connect the episodes from the show to my story, but also to make my story as authentic as possible. I know I didn't touch up on the storm that much in my last chapter or pretty much at all in this one, but I did use your idea of the lightning in the background when Robin delivered, in a way, one of the final blows BUT ALSO I took that from the first "Apprentice" episode as an allusion to that and since he was fighting the same robot decoy from that one as well. At the end when Robin was talking about someone else coming in to take his place, I wasn't intending for it to be referring to Starfire, I just wanted everyone to think that this was TRULY the end for Robin. So, now that I've elaborated on a lot things that you said in your last review, I'm quite interested in what your thoughts are of all the major events in this chapter. So, Robin and Starfire defeated Slade, Raven showed up revealing the rest of the Titans are STILL ALIVE, Robin and Starfire shared the kiss that WE'VE ALL (or at least I have) BEEN WANTING TO SEE for such a long time, and in a sense, love did prevail. So were you disappointed, satisfied, I'm really curious as to what you think. Well thanks for the long reviews as always and once again sorry for the long wait.

Van Gordan- From your last review I think it's plain to say that you'll be somewhat disappointed with my ending, but fear not my friend…I still have a TWO more chapters left, so this story hasn't ended yet. So, were you a little easier with Starfire being in this chapter and helping Robin take down Slade? I hope I haven't lost your interest in this story because I'd like to say more about my next chapters but then I'd give away too much information. Of course I couldn't have STARFIRE deliver the final blow in my last chapter, but since the beginning I had in mind that her and Robin would take down Slade, but I also wanted to keep it as Robin's battle so I had him ALMOST deliver the final blow, but once again, I've still got two more chapters left, so don't quit on me just yet. I'm glad you liked it that I had Slade tear Blood's power cell out. I needed to keep this PG, and I figured since the show could cut Cyborg's arms and legs off and rip open his chest I could pull that off without any problems. The part where Slade "fixed" himself, well, yeah I got a few parts from the show but to tell you the honest to god truth…the part with his arm…I kinda got from your story…sorry. When I came up with the part where Robin asked "What are you," to Slade and then he said he was a ghost that came back to haunt him, I was like, "dmn I'm good," cause I knew a lot of you would like that. But you do have a point that fear does make him look more genially human, unlike the show. So yeah you were right, I wasn't going to kill Robin, how could I? He's like the coolest, and I really didn't want to make Starfire the highlight of the story. This is Robin's fight and Robin's journey, the rest of the Titans are just kinda along for the ride. I too have seen some pretty terrible dialogue in other stories, NOT AT ALL LIKE YOURS STORIES THOUGH WITH THEIR EXPERTISE LINES, and I think for these kinds of fanfics good dialogue is essential. I of course had to put in Slade's carelessness when he fixed himself and then when he flicked the molten steel off his arm, but then you found out he's actually a robot so that's why he was. So, since I've got homework to do now, I'm going to go ahead and wrap this up, but not without asking you a few things. So, what are your thoughts on love prevailing and Starfire showing up after all? Better yet, what did you think of Slade turning out to ACTUALLY be an android, did it surprise you? What about the ending where Robin and Starfire actually defeated Slade and then Raven came in and revealed that she and the rest of the Titans were alright? Now, because I told you I'd update last week but didn't on account of a few computer problems, I will give you a little…clue as to what might happen in the next chapter. Here it is: It's called "The Sleeper Cells" for a reason. If you don't know what "Sleeper Cells" are, I encourage you to find out. It sounds like your dad might be in the military or something so he might know, but it has to do with terrorist/terrorism. Well, sorry for the long wait and I hope you liked this chapter. Thanks for the review.