-sniff- So here we are...-sob- The last chapter...-blows nose- Robin: Oh please! You make it sound like we're all dying!
Dusty: -wiggles eyebrow- How do you know you're not? Robin: -blinks-
Water81: Wow, thanks. LOL I feel the same when reviewing usually...there's only so many ways to say you liked it.
Mina: Yes, exactly. Me thinks Raven got a wee taste of what Robin deals with constantly...Yes, I enjoyed bringing that bit into it...made Slade just a little bit more human, though of course we all still hate him. LOL I can't see it either, but I'm assuming it did happen...I mean, he was married and had three kids, so there had to be something there. Plus you gotta admit it would suck to have your wife shoot out your eye, indirectly kill two of your children, and have the third after your head. Yeah I'm a bit emotional too. No, not to me, I will continue to write and review your stuff. Yeah those were the parts when I got a bit teary-eyed. Didn't actually cry though...I seem to have some kind of drain plug in my eyes. Made me incredibly depressed though. Thanks for the suggestions...sadly I've never heard any, so I went with Forgive Me, by Evanescence, but thank you for the help all the same.
Dark-Magic67: Unfortunately, yes. Thanks!
Aeris-Raven: Hmm...well you know the old saying, "If I can't have him no one can." Slade is not stupid, and he saw that he could easily lose in the very beginning of the battle. LOL yeah, I wanted him to actually fight in this story, cuz he was basically helpless in Aftereffects.
CelticHeiressFiona: I'm blushing. Thank you:)
Umbro Draco: Sequel? -looks around innocently- What sequel? Thanks! Sadly Slade cannot be killed...-sigh- I'm still in mourning. Sequel potential? -ponders- Would you like a cough drop? LOL I'm so mean...The answer to your unspoken question is yes.
CalliopeMused: Sorry...sadly that is the way it goes, though, unless you want me to write the whole story before posting and post a new chap every day. Yeah something like that. Thanks!
YoukaiTenshi: Ok. Glad you like it!
Rebel-Aquarius: Hmm...what is this sequel of which you speak? Er...-cough cough- ok that was scary. The answer is yes.
CloudsHalo: No problem, I was just trying to answer your questions. Thanks:) Yeah, I couldn't resist adding that in there...makes you think a bit before just dismissing him as a psycho. True, it was a little short and mostly left to your imagination...there was just too much to accomplish in a single chapter. Well, I'm glad you like it. Yes yes, things will finally be cleared up.
Lunauc: Ya caught me there.
Raven of the Night676: An epilogue is like a little "what happened after that?" to wrap up the story and tie up any loose ends. Thanks! ...and I was mostly just yanking your chain on that one.
jambey: Yeah I get what you mean...and I was just yanking your chain about the pitchforks anyway so yeah. Well yeah, the last three chapters have basically been the climax broken into chewable pieces, so I didn't expect it to be all that shocking, and I don't really know what I could have done to make it better, aside from mortally wounding someone or killing them, which I was pretty sure you guys were sick of by now.
Al the Pirate: LOL ok ok, Mr. Bossy.
alena-chan: Nah, I feel the same lol. Thanks:)
BLEH: Would if I could but I can't so I won't. He's immortal, remember?
AriesFalcon: LOL you did not wait so long! Yeah I do too... But that would spoil the plot. Hm..yeah that should be cleared up in this chapter. I updated Shadow Creature...But I don't think I've lessened by cliffy addiction. Yeah must be cuz I (obviously) feel the same. Whoa there...uh, thanks! LOL so I take it you liked that chapter? Hmm...it was disturbing but I think I liked it. It was well written to be sure. LOL yeah it was a nice touch. Yeah it made sense...I'm amazed that you liked it that much. Thanks!
DeathIsOnlyTheBeginin: Why do you hate me? Do I at least get an explanation? Thanks, and no prob, I understand.
Mystyre: -blush- You could always come visit me and recite your speech in person. LOL it was one of my favorite parts too. Robin: What is WRONG with you people? Dusty: Gee, calm down it's just a story! Thanks, I was hoping the climax wouldn't be a flop. True. The Prophecy is coming out this Saturday, where I am..and I would just like to say HOW RUDE! You've already seen Stranded? Don't tell me anything, ok? I think I should consider moving to where ever you are... -sigh- Sadly, your intuition is dead on. I mean, if I was a big-shot celebrity with security guards: one, I wouldn't have to put up with Slade lurking around my house, and two, I would OWN Teen Titans, not write pointless stories about them. Robin: Cheer for me, huh? Dusty: Don't feed is morbidly obease ego. Robin: HEY! Uh...-blushes and looks confused- Um...Mystyre? Have you ever uh met Raven? -Raven enters room- Back off, Barbie. Dusty: Uh...hehe...no fighting, children!
superman35405: Thanks! LOL yeah creative for sure...and a bit unique too. But it kept away the boredom school so often brings.
Umbro Draco: Ok, no problem! I'll be glad to hear from you when you get back though.
Asilla: LOL oh wow. Wow wow wow. I sometimes do Starfire impressions, but that one was just way too convincing. LOL well I'm glad you're "joyous" about the chapter.
Lost1n7heDark: Thanks! Tricky name there...
AnnFaithDarknessGoddess: -shrug- What else do you do with an immortal villain? Thanks.
Arein: Ok, well yes he is (mostly) ok physically. All those questions are answered here. Hope you like the epilogue!
And now, for the last
time anywhere! Robin the Boy Wonder! Robin: -chokes- What was that?
Dusty: Er...hehehe...shut up and read!
"Relax...let the energy flow through you..."
Mina nodded, taking a deep, calming breath and focusing her eyes on the lock. There it was...the familiar surge of electricity, racing through her veins and tingling on her skin.
"Now, don't just let it all explode at once. Release it slowly and deliberately, think about what you are trying to accomplish."
Mina squinted at the interior of the lock, locating the spot. Little by little, she allowed the energy to trickle in a steady stream...almost...
The lock clicked and the door swung open. "Good...much better." Raven smiled ever-so-slightly as she stood next to Mina. Her progress was indeed much faster than could be reasonably expected. The dark sorceress had been a little unsure when Robin asked her to train the girl, fearing that another Terra was in there midst, and she was still cautious even though it had been weeks since they brought her home. Cautious, but not cold. "Lets take a little break, shall we?"
"Um...Raven? Can I ask you something?" Mina glanced up at the half-demon anxiously, taking a sip from her cold water bottle.
Raven's eyebrow shot up. "Sure..."
Mina swallowed hard, twisting the end of her braid nervously. "Well...are you and, uh...and Robin...?" She couldn't seem to go any farther than that, leaving her desperately hoping that Raven would understand the question...and give her the answer she wanted to hear.
"Oh." Raven averted her eyes as well, a hint of red creeping into her pale cheeks. She didn't have to answer...that question was certainly personal enough to ignore...but what harm could it do anyway? She was bound to find out soon. "Yes."
Mina's face fell, though she did her best to hide it, leaning over and pretending to tie her shoelace as a single tear fell on her stained white sneakers. Well, now she knew...but in comparison, ignorance looked so much less painful.
Raven's eyes were wide as she sensed the unmistakable emotions pulsing from the girl as she remained bent over, tying and retying her shoelaces. A surge of sympathy brought a lump to Raven's throat; this was exactly how she had once felt with Starfire. Not knowing what else to do, she changed the subject and saved Mina from further humiliation. "I don't know about you, but I'm hungry. Lets go get some lunch," she said quickly, leading the way to allow her to come when she was ready.
Why is love always so unkind?
Robin stifled a yawn, massaging his temples as he stared dazedly at the computer screen. The virus was finally gone, thanks to weeks with hardly any sleep...the problem was, everything else was gone, too. The virus had been active for so long that it had infected every single file in Cyborg's brain, so completely established that there was nothing to do except delete everything and reformat.
Robin squeezed his eyes shut, searching desperately...there had to be some way...they couldn't lose Cyborg like this...
"He read my blueprints? My PRIVATE blueprints!"
Of course! Cyborg had the blueprints that Brother Blood had stolen. Now if he could just find them...
After searching through filing cabinets, desk drawers, and cupboards, Robin finally found the little blue compact disc. He sighed in relief, drooping with exhaustion. Unavoidable or not, he would have never forgiven himself if Cyborg's very essence had disappeared forever because of him. Staring down at the disc in his hands, a strange and frightening idea presented itself.
"You could just, you know...throw it away."
Robin found the thought wasn't quite as shocking as it should have been. "But...the Titans..."
"They don't need to know about it."
"That sounds an awful lot like a lie to me," he shot back, reaching out to put the disc into Cyborg's computer.
"Think of everything he's done to you. He betrayed you! He would have killed you if Mina hadn't stopped him! You don't owe him anything."
Robin hesitated for a moment. That was true, Cyborg had done all those things. No one had to know...wait! It was the virus that did that, not Cyborg. Besides, throwing that disc away now was as good as murder!
"Yeah, murder. Like what you almost did to Mina."
With a low growl, Robin shoved the thought away and inserted the disc, waiting impatiently as it loaded. The sooner this was done and off his chest, the better.
Batman made his way to the kitchen with a fair amount of ease. This was his second stay in the tower, and that was more than enough time to have the place scoped out. In fact, he felt a certain degree of comfort here. All in all, they were good kids, and Robin had chosen well.
The Dark Knight frowned slightly behind the mask as he thought of Richard. He had been spending far too much time locked up in the hybrid's room, working well into the night and ignoring the fact that such a thing as food existed. He didn't like it, and he would have intervened long before now if he hadn't known how important this was to Robin. He admired the boy's dedication and loyalty to his friend. After everything that Cyborg had done...it was very mature on Robin's part to help him so willingly. All the same, that did not mean he had to starve himself. Plenty of that had gone on while he was in that madman's "care".
Batman was slightly surprised to find himself in the kitchen already, with Raven staring up at him with her characteristic small smile. It had taken a bit of effort and time, but he was fairly certain that the empath trusted him. The feeling was mutual, in fact, he quite liked her. There was definitely no one more capable of helping Richard get his head on straight than Raven. She was intelligent, logical, determined, even fiesty to a degree; all qualities that made her one of the few people able to resist Robin's manipulation tactics, and for that she scored immensely in Bruce's eyes. "Hello, Raven, Mina. Have either of you seen Robin, by any chance?"
With a glance at Raven, Mina scooted off to the fridge, calling over her shoulder, "I'll just, uh, see if there's anything edible in here."
Raven nodded appreciatively in her direction, then drifted off toward the couch, closely followed by Batman. "Funny that you should mention that, because I was about to ask you the same thing." She bit her lip, gazing out the window with a dull look in her eyes. "I'm worried about him. I think he's avoiding us, even you. It's hardly a good sign, after what happened..."
Batman nodded solemnly. "Have you spoken with him at all since the incident?"
"Yes and no. He didn't really say much, to be honest, and what he did say didn't make a whole lot of sense. Listen, I know some of what went on in that warehouse, and he should not be left alone. I've done my best to get him to understand that, but as you can see I've been unsuccessful. I was hoping maybe you could talk to him...he'll listen to you." There was a slight note of desperate pleading in her voice as she locked eyes with him.
Batman let out a small scoff of laughter at her words. "I could count the times that Robin has listened to me on one hand." He quickly sobered again as Raven's frown remained firm. "Have you considered the possibility that he's telling the truth, and this really is just about Cyborg?"
Raven's face hardened slightly. "Bull. That's just another excuse, just another distraction to keep him from thinking about it. Eventually, he will have to face what happened, and the longer he waits the harder it will be. I tried to tell him that, but...he won't listen. I'm not even sure he was really looking at me." Raven's voice faltered, and she fell silent, chewing on the inside of her cheek. "Please help him," she whispered, looking openly into his eyes. "You're the only one who can."
Batman's heart went out to her, seeing her obvious pain and feeling an overwhelming desire to make it disappear. "Of course I'll help him. Don't worry; he's taken worse than this before. He'll pull through, I promise." He squeezed her shoulder gently, then turned around and strode over to Mina, darting suspicious glances at the refrigerator. "Got anything without fangs in there?"
Mina cringed. "I'm beginning to think that's a no." Peering at the bubbling, hissing blue sludge, she grimaced. "But you know, somehow I don't feel hungry anymore."
"The King and Queen of Pizza have arrived! Please, no pictures."
All three jerked to attention as a puffed-up Beast Boy and a giggling Starfire entered through the sliding doors, each balancing four pizza boxes.
"But, friend Beast Boy, I relinquished the crown! Galfor is Grand Ruler at this present time." Star tilted her head to the side questioningly.
"Uh..." BB laughed nervously, deciding it wasn't worth the energy. "Oh right. My bad, Star."
"It is not of the problem, twice the letter B!" Star replied coolly, setting the boxes on the table and smiling around at Mina, Raven, and Batman. "Please friends, let us take up the shovels and dig in!" Her face fell slightly. "But...we are missing one from our number. Does not Robin wish to eat the pie of pizza with us?"
Batman stepped forward, clearing his throat quietly. "Don't worry, I'll take some to him. I'm sure he'll be down later." Taking a plate of pizza and a can of rootbeer, he muttered, "Even if I have to drag him kicking and screaming."
"And, of course, there is Raven. She claims to love you unconditionally, swears to stay by your side always, showers you with tender words and sweet kisses. But answer me this, Robin. How long will that last?"
He jerked a hand across his cheek, blinking to clear his vision as he stuffed random items into the suitcase.
"I thought so. Well let me answer that for you, judging from...experience. It won't. Soon enough, your nature will begin to frustrate her, even frighten her to some degree. She will grow tired of you, and that young, foolish love she swore would last forever will shrivel up and die before youre very eyes. Raven will leave, and you will be alone with nothing to shield you from the truth."
"You're wrong," Robin said to no one.
A knock at the door made him jump a foot in the air, heart racing and mouth dry. Scolding himself for being ridiculous, Robin crossed the room, stepping around broken shards of glass and piles of paper to reach the door.
"Hello, old friend. Long time, no see."
Robin swallowed, self-consciously reaching up to fix his hair, which was standing up in all directions from being ruffled and pulled in frustration. "Hi."
"I brought you some food," Batman offered, holding out a plate of pizza. "You must be hungry."
Robin blinked down at the food, but felt no desire to even touch it. "Actually, I'm not. Thanks anyway."
"You're not? When was the last time you ate?" asked Batman, switching into no-nonsense mode.
"What does it matter?" he mumbled, turning around and resuming his packing.
Batman sighed and followed Robin into the room, letting the door slide shut behind him. "And Raven thought you would listen to me."
Robin froze at the mention of her name, shivering slightly as an icy cold settled over him. Struggling to keep his voice even, he choked, "If you want me to eat the stupid pizza, fine. I will."
"This isn't about pizza, Robin. It's about you, and me, and Raven. She's worried about you, and I think she has a reason to be. You can't just go about your business and pretend that nothing happened. That won't make it go away, Dick." Batman reached out a hand to grasp his shoulder, but pulled back in shock as Robin whipped around, breathing hard and shaking as angry tears escaped the mask and rolled down his cheeks. He raised a clenched fist and hit Batman in the chest, a strangled scream escaping him. Bruce made no effort to stop his son as the fists flew, weak from hunger and exhaustion. He felt as though his heart was being ripped in two as the tears fell faster and the blows became weaker and less frequent. Anger slowly departed, leaving Robin alone and unprotected once again. With one last punch, he stood gasping and choking on the bitterness of salt water, head hung low and hands limp at his sides. He didn't know what to do anymore.
Eyes wide and throat tight, Bruce reached out haltingly and pulled Robin to him, rubbing his back soothingly as a sob shook his body and he returned the hug. They stayed like that, silent and still, until Robin's tears were all spent and his heartrate had calmed to a steady beat. Only then did Batman break the silence.
"Going somewhere, squirt?" he whispered, eyes roving over the jumbled suitcases and empty dresser drawers.
Robin pulled back gently, taking off his mask and wiping away the tears with the back of his hand as a yawn caught him unawares. "Cyborg's going to be fine now, just recharging and then he should wake up as good as new. I did what I wanted to, and now..." He sighed, running a hand through his hair and putting his mask back on. "Now I want to go home. With you."
Batman's eyes widened in surprise. Didn't see that one coming. He frowned, thinking of the empath's words and the pain in her eyes. "What about Raven?"
Robin's heart sank down below his shoes. "She's better off."
Batman stared unblinkingly at him, the same intense gaze that made criminals confess with tears of horror in their eyes. "Go and talk to her first, and if you still want to come with me, I'd be happy to have you. If not...well, just try to call more than once a year, ok?"
Robin tried to smile, but his mouth wouldn't obey him. As Batman turned to leave, something that had been bothering him for weeks tumbled out. "How did you survive the...the bullet?"
Batman turned around, regarding him solemnly. "Apparently, Slade isn't as good a shot as he likes to think. The bullet hit me right here." He placed a fist just above his heart. "It did pierce through the vest, just an inch or two lower and I doubt I would have made it. After that, I found out exactly why I carry a locator."
Batman nodded, smiling slightly at the thought of the kind old man. "Not the first time he's saved my skin, and I doubt it will be the last." A frown crept onto his masked face as he stared at Richard. "Much too close..." He cleared his throat, resting a hand on Robin's shoulder. "Go talk to her, she needs you right now."
Robin nodded, watching Bruce go with a hard-to-define emotion welling up inside him, like being happy and sad at the same time. It had taken losing him for Robin to realize exactly how much he loved that man.
Raven looked up, slightly startled by the knock on her door. Curious, she slipped off the bed and levitated across the room, pressing the button and watching metal slide apart to reveal the one person she wanted to see more than any other.
Raven felt a blush creep into her cheeks as her stomach leapt in surprise, and other things. She had barely even seen him at all since...it. The empath was quick to notice his messy hair, the hollow circles under his eyes and beneath his cheekbones, and the way his uniform, once a perfect fit, hung off of him as it had done when Beast Boy tried it on. Robin looked horrible, and for some reason she couldn't place, Raven took the blame. Not trusting herself to speak, she stepped aside and motioned for him to come in.
With a strange and seemingly subconscious glance over his shoulder, Robin followed her inside, staring somewhat uneasily into the dark corners of her room. Her stomach gave another painful twist of guilt, knowing what he was thinking and willing to give anything at all to get it out of his mind. "I've been seriously considering redecorating. Care to help?"
It was meant as a joke, but he didn't so much as crack a smile, just stared at her from behind that blank mask. His face was completely unreadable, and she had made a private oath not to enter his mind unless it was absolutely necessary. "Maybe he'll take it off..." The thought caught her by surprise, especially because of just how much she wanted him to. His gaze only intensified the desire. "Do you, uh...did you need me for so--"
Raven broke off, eyes wide in shock. One minute, he was simply staring at her, and the next... Her eyes closed as she surrendered willingly to the kiss, slightly surprised to feel a tear slide down her cheek. Whether it was Robin's or her own, she didn't know or care. This was what she had been aching for ever since Slade locked her up in that wretched hole; the beating of his heart, his arms gently encircling her, the sweet comfort and oneness that only his presence could bring. Somewhere in the back of her mind, a vague fear whispered, making her hold him a little tighter, afraid to let go. Soon, this piece of heaven would be drained of its last drop, then he would be gone again, holed up somewhere far out of her reach. She would be alone.
Robin pulled back gently, almost as though he had sense her anxiety. Arms still around her waist and almost nose to nose, he whispered, quiet and gentle as though afraid she would break or disappear should he speak too loud. "What's wrong?"
Raven sighed, laying her head on his chest and squeezing her eyes shut. She had to know. "What did he do, Robin?"
The affect of that simple question was amazing. Every muscle instantly tensed, his breath caught in his chest, and his heart thumped wildly in her ear. She could tell he was trying to sound calm and unaffected, but it was more strangled than anything else. "Lets...not think about that right now, ok? It doesn't matter. I'm here now."
Raven frowned as she felt something very much like guilt emenating from him...was he still blaming himself for what happened? Did he think she blamed him? She gently lifted her head and looked at him searchingly, only to be met with that confounded blank white stare. "Robin?"
"Do you mind if I...?" One hand drifted up to rest right beside it, the fingers almost itching to rip it off. He hesitated for a moment, then sighed and shook his head.
Raven smiled as the mask slipped to the floor, happy to see his eyes again, even though the sadness within them tugged at her heart. She loved them, darkness and light, good and evil, joy and misery. Those eyes meant one thing, and one thing only.
Robin woke before dawn the next morning, woke with Raven beside him. Bitter-sweet emotion welled up in his chest as his eyes drank in the sight of her, eyes closed peacefully and framed with thick, dark lashes, a tiny smile playing about her lips as her hand rested lightly on his chest and her head nestled against his shoulder.
Leaving. He knew he should have told her last night, knew he should have broken it to her in person...but somehow he couldn't. She was happy, content. How could he shatter that sweet smile on her face?
Robin gently eased her onto the pillow, pulling the blankets up around her. His heart skipped a beat as she stirred, a frown marring her perfect face as she mumbled, one hand clamping around his shirt. "Robin..."
Her voice ripped him apart on the inside as he gently pried her fingers loose, placing a tender kiss on her forehead and whispering in her ear, "I love you."
Standing beside the bed, Robin pulled a small box and an envelope from his pocket, laying them carefully on the pillow next to her. With one last look that seemed to last an eternity and not near long enough, Robin crept across the room, leaving with barely a sigh as the doors closed on him.
Bruce was waiting in the hallway, a silent question in his dark eyes. When Robin nodded, he gave him a look as though to say "are you sure?", but Robin remained firm, and Batman saw it. Sighing quietly, he made his way down the hall to get his things. What would it be like, living with him again after so long? He would soon find out.
There were no tears. This pain was too deep for that relief. Placing a gloved hand flat against the cold metal, just beneath the name that had become his very life, Robin spoke the words in some irrational hope that she would hear them.
"Meet you there."
Eyes...Robin leaving, fading into nothingness...
"Meet you there." His eyes were engulfed by the Black...
"Robin!" Raven sat up in bed, eyes wide and heart beating wildly. A quick glance around revealed that she was indeed alone in the room. "No..." She crawled across the bed, but froze as her hand brushed agaisnt something. Looking down, she saw a tiny black box resting on a plain white envelope. With trembling hands, she opened the letter first, rubbing the sleep from her violet eyes and staring down at the scrawled message.
I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, but I had to go. I can't explain why, but I hope that in time you will understand. Don't worry about me, I'm safe.
Raven, you're the new leader. I know you will be an excellent guiding force for them, far better than I could be right now. Please take care of Mina; she saved my life more than once, and I want her to feel safe and welcome. I know, with your help, she will become a valued and necessary member of the team.
Cyborg should be waking up in a few hours, but when he does he will have no memory of the past few months. Please don't tell him, Rae. No one deserves that burden.
Protect them, be strong for them, as you have always been for me. I'll come back for you, I promise.
I love you.
Tears had smeared the ink until it was barely ledgible, tiny rivers of black spreading from his words like blood from a wounded heart. With shaking hands, she reached for the box and gently lifted the hinged lid. Her breath caught in her chest.
It was a ring unlike any she had ever seen, entwined with roses as black as a midnight sky, leaves as green as summer grass. Every tear hurt as she lifted it from its silky black pillow, one finger running along the inside and feeling a raised lump. She looked to see a tiny heart, with an R enscribed on each side. A quiet sob escaped her as she slipped it on, knowing with all her heart that this precious gift would never leave her finger until her last breath was spent and all life gone from her body.
Raven closed her eyes, the pain slowly creeping into her veins as hazel oceans of everything burned inside her, his absence a knife in her heart.
"I'll come back
for you, I promise."
The End! Wow I can hardly believe it...such a neat feeling, finishing a story. Of course, it's always neater when the ending was actually good...hopefully this one was.
Ok, to clarify, Cyborg was infected with a virus of Slade's making, and therefore he performed the necessary actions without really knowing he was being controlled. If you remember chapter 16 of Aftereffects, the team was confined by four large robots. Cyborg was infected at that time, through the actual robot. Make sense? If you have any more questions that have gone unanswered, ask them and I will answer you, one way or the other.
Perhaps you've heard Meet You There, by Simple Plan? Well...that's why Robin said that...go listen to it, it actually fits this almost perfectly.
Robin and Raven did not uh...they didn't...it may have sounded like it, but they did not...you know.
Before I go, let me just thank everyone who helped me write this, gave me inspiration, encouragement, and support. Special thanks go out to my mom, my friend Rusty, Tifereth Kantrishakrim, and of course you my faithful reviewers. Thank you and good night! -Dusty