Clash of the Titans by CidGregor
Disclaimer: I do not own the Teen Titans.
For the third time in a period of forty-eight hours, Terra found herself coming back to consciousness in a hospital bed, with the lopsided grin of Beast Boy staring down at her.
Mmm…yeah…I could definitely get used to this… she thought lazily, glancing around at the dark room. The curtains were wide open, which meant it was nighttime. She wondered for a moment what she was doing there, before the memories all came back at her in one massive rush. She sat bolt upright in the bed, and right into Beast Boy's waiting arms.
"Hey there, beautiful…" he whispered.
"Beast Boy?.! Where am I?.! Where are the others?.! What happened to Malchior?.!" The questions poured from her mouth.
"Hey, hey, take it easy, dudette," Beast Boy calmed her. "One thing at a time. Everything's okay, Terra. We won."
Terra relaxed slightly. "We…we won? Really?"
Beast Boy smirked. "More like we TOTALLY WHUPPED BUTT!"
Terra couldn't help but giggle a bit at that.
He turned and called over his shoulder. "Hey guys! She's awake!"
A second later the rest of the Teen Titans entered the room, which Terra now recognized as the medical wing of Titans Tower. The team was all back in their physical bodies, and all the wounds that went with them, but Raven had done a good job healing them. Starfire's shoulder wound had stopped swelling and bleeding and was now wrapped in gauze. The scarred skin between Robin's eyes was bandaged underneath his mask. Beast Boy's bruises and scrapes had mostly vanished. Cyborg still seemed a little beat-up, but the repairs to his metallic frame were going well, Terra could see. And Raven herself…
Terra stared curiously at the unusual expression on Raven's face. It was some strange mixture of happy and yet sad, carefree and yet troubled…
A second later Raven noticed the earth maiden's stare, and quickly masked her expression, until it was unreadable as Robin's often was.
"How's my favorite rock'n roller?" Cyborg said with a grin, offering a hand, which Terra quickly high-fived.
"Welcome back to the plane of consciousness, dear friend!" Starfire said, wrapping the blonde in a hug. Terra braced herself for a squeeze, but it seemed Starfire knew to restrain herself for once.
"Thanks, Star…Robin, Raven…"
Each nodded in return, their expressions revealing nothing.
"How long was I out for?" she asked.
"The rest of the day yesterday, and all through last night. Close to eighteen hours," Cyborg answered. "It's almost dawn right now."
"A-and…Malchior? And his Titans?"
"Dead and gone," Raven answered simply. "We destroyed their minds within my mindscape, and their bodies died along with them. By the time we returned to the real world, the bodies had faded away."
"Even Malchior," Raven agreed, "thanks to you."
"Raven told us what you did, Terra," Robin said slowly. "That was…incredibly stupid and incredibly brave of you."
"Uh…thanks…?" Terra said, not sure how to respond to that.
"All right, y'all!" Cyborg interrupted. "Those poser Titans are toast, Malchior's a hole in the wall, and we've got Terra back to top it all off! Anyone up for pancakes?"
"Glorious! I shall assist!" Starfire exclaimed, and sped out of the room before Cyborg could say anything else.
"Ah…heh-heh-heh…" he laughed. "She likes to lick the spoon…"
And Cyborg sauntered out after the alien girl.
Robin cleared his throat. "Beast Boy, Raven…can you give me a minute?"
Beast Boy gave him a suspicious look, but Raven snatched Beast Boy by the back of his uniform and dragged him toward the door before he could say anything.
"C'mon, Casanova, you can chat with your girlfriend later," she muttered as they exited.
Terra eyed Robin warily, wondering what this could possibly be about.
"Terra…" Robin began, "first of all…I want to thank you. What you've done for us these last two days…I can't begin to tell you how much it means to us. And it…it really shows me how much…how much you've changed…since…"
"…Since I was with S-Slade," Terra finished, her voice shaking only slightly.
Robin's eye's tightened for a moment at the mention of his hated enemy, but relaxed again a second later.
"My point is…" he continued, "you've grown a lot since we first met you. Back then, you were a scared little girl who could barely control her powers…and now look at you. Saving the city from certain doom on a regular basis already."
Terra smiled slightly.
"You've matured so much, Terra. You made mistakes…like we all have…but you learned from them, and you strived to make up for them. And…well…we talked it over, and…we've decided you've earned one more chance. We'd like to have you back. We'd like you…to be a Titan again."
Terra's heart leapt into her throat, hardly daring to believe what she was hearing. No, she had to have been mistaken, she told herself…there was no way Robin had just told her that...no way…
But then Robin pulled from his belt a round, yellow object sporting a 'T' emblem, and Terra knew she'd heard correctly.
"Robin, I…I couldn't…this is…amazing, but you know I don't deserve it…"
"But you do, Terra. You've become a hero, whether you want to admit it or not. You saved the city six months ago, and you saved the city again in these last two days. You've earned your place here, Terra. If you want it, it's yours."
Terra slowly reached out a trembling hand to take the fresh new communicator, but Robin suddenly pulled it back at the last second.
"…On one condition," he added.
"…What condition?" Terra asked warily.
Robin paused, almost as though at a loss for words. He was fidgeting; hesitant; a side of the Boy Wonder she'd never seen before.
"Can I trust you…" he started, "to keep my secret?"
Terra breathed a mental sigh of relief; she'd almost forgotten about that. Was that all he was worried about? She was expecting it to be something bigger.
"I won't tell anyone. I promise."
"Not even Beast Boy?" he pressed.
"Your secret's safe with me…Dick," she said with a small smirk.
Robin smirked back. "It never fails. At some point or another, everyone always makes that joke. It's a curse, I tell ya…"
Terra chuckled. "So…I'm…really a Titan again?"
Robin nodded, finally handing her the communicator. "Good to have you back, Terra. We've missed you."
And the Boy Wonder spun on his heel and left Terra to admire her newest gift.
A short time later there was a knock on Terra's door. Her first assumption was that Beast Boy had returned; but to Terra's surprise, when she called the knocker inside, it was not Beast Boy, but Raven.
"Terra," she greeted in a monotone.
"Robin's told you the news?"
"Y-yeah, he did," Terra said. "T-thank you, really…it means a lot to me, y'know?"
Raven said nothing.
Terra stared. "Is…something wrong?"
Raven sighed. "I…came here for two reasons, Terra. The first…is a question. Something I have to know the truth about, if I can ever really, truly trust you again."
"Oh…y-yeah, okay…what do you want to know?"
Raven looked Terra directly in the eye with her most piercing stare. "Terra…what was it that made you go to Slade? What did he offer you that made you give up the home and the friends you had here? I need to know why, Terra."
Terra held Raven's gaze for perhaps a few seconds, then turned away and sighed, defeated. "The night I met you all…Beast Boy found out that I wasn't…totally in control of my powers. I was so afraid you guys would reject me if you knew…everyone else in my life had done so. So I made him promisenot to tell anyone. Then, that first battle we had with Slade, in the quarry…I ran into Slade, alone. He…told me Beast Boy would blow my secret…that you guys couldn't teach me to control my powers. He told me he understood me, that he could teach me control."
She took a breath, fighting back the tears that were stinging in her eyes, and went on. "At first, I didn't believe him…but when we got back, and I saw that Robin knew I couldn't totally control my powers…I thought Beast Boy had broken his promise. I thought that…that Slade had been telling me the truth all along. So I went to him…and he taught me the control I always wished for…"
Terra paused, looking back at Raven. "But…Beast Boy…he didn't break his promise, did he?" she said. "Robin…he just…figured it out on his own, didn't he?"
Raven nodded slowly. "We all did, really. After what happened in the quarry…well…it was pretty obvious."
Terra rubbed the wetness from her eyes. "God, I feel so stupid…"
"It's okay, Terra. You were honest. That's all I was really looking for."
"You mean…you knew already?"
Raven smiled slightly. "I had a pretty good idea."
Terra managed to smile back. "Um…so…what was the other thing?"
"You said you came here for two reasons. What was the other?"
This time it was Raven's turn to look away as she answered. "I…want to apologize."
"For what?" Terra asked.
"For giving you the idea that I wanted you dead," Raven answered. "When you took that spell into your own hands and gave me the power to beat Malchior…what you said to me then…it scared me. I…never wished for your death, Terra. I was…mad at you, for what you did…but I never wished you harm. Part of the reason I didn't free you from the stone sooner was that…that spell might have failed and destroyed your body. And I didn't want to risk that."
"So…you don't hate me?"
"Nah," Raven said, the slight smile creeping back to her face. "I think you've changed my mind by now."
The empath turned to go, but stopped at the door. "Actually…there is…one more thing."
She faced Terra again. "Thank you…for everything you did to help me. The mirror, the final spell…I appreciate it more than you know. And…"
"…And?" Terra probed.
"And…I want you to know…I forgive you."
"You…what?" Terra whispered.
"For the things you did…under Slade…I forgive you."
"But," Raven cut her off, "I haven't forgotten. No matter what comes in the future, the things you did will always be a part of your past. So I'm warning you: you've earned back my trust, Terra…but don't lose it again. Because I won't give it again."
Terra nodded. "Y-yeah…I understand."
Raven nodded curtly, and left without another word.
The next knock at her door ten minutes later did, in fact, turn out to be Beast Boy. She greeted him with a broad smile and open arms and he stepped forward to hug her. For a good few minutes, they stayed there, simply holding each other in silence.
"You okay?" Beast Boy finally said, pulling back so he could look into his friend's eyes.
"Yeah…never been better," she said honestly. "Guess I'm a Titan again, huh?" she added, holding up her new communicator.
"Yeah…it's pretty cool, huh? I was kinda surprised Raven was okay with it…but I guess you guys worked things out, huh?"
"More or less," Terra said. She smiled at Beast Boy again.
"What?" he asked, smiling himself.
"Nothing," she giggled. "Hey, c'mon, it's almost sunrise! Let's go up to the roof and watch! What do you say?"
"Uh…Terra, maybe you should stay in bed…"
"Are you kidding? I've been sitting in that thing for more than half a day. Let's get out of here already!"
"N-no, it's not that, it's…"
But Terra had already climbed out of bed, and made to jump out the window, but a sudden breeze around her waist gave her pause. She glanced down, and saw she was dressed in a hospital gown – the kind that had no back.
"I was gonna say, maybe you should get dressed first," Beast Boy said sheepishly, a few seconds too late.
Terra turned red. "R-right…"
Beast Boy politely turned away while Terra snatched her uniform from the bedside table and dressed, and then the both of them rode a boulder up to the roof of Titans Tower for the second morning in a row, just as the sun was beginning to shine over the horizon.
"It's really beautiful, isn't it?" Terra said, staring at the multicolored lights.
"Yeah…I love it out here," Beast Boy answered.
For a while, the two sat in silence together, and the sun slowly rose and lit up the cityscape. The world was waking up. It was almost frightening to think how they might never have lived to see this morning, had Malchior succeeded in his plan…had he unleashed the monstrous Titans of old upon the Earth. And he'd very nearly succeeded, too…thanks to those horrible visions…
Terra shivered at the memory. She knew it had just been an illusion, but she couldn't deny that that 'illusion' had very nearly been truth. And if it weren't for Beast Boy…it very well might have been.
Beast Boy noticed her shaking, and wrapped one arm around her, pulling her closer to him. "You okay?"
"I…was just…" she began, paused, then sighed and went on. "Beast Boy…when we were in Raven's mind…Malchior…he did something…he showed me this…vision…where I truly was Slade's apprentice…and I'd killed all of you…and for a while…I almost believed it was real. And it reminded me just…just how close things came to that actually being real. It scares me to think how things might have been…"
"You can't let yourself get hung up on the 'what-ifs,' Terra," Beast Boy told her. "Trust me, I went through them myself…what if I'd been a better friend to you…what if I'd found a way to free you myself…what if…I hadn't pushed you away at the carnival…"
Terra shivered again.
"They drove me crazy for a while…I was lying awake at night, thinking about all the things I could've done, but didn't. It was tearing me apart…"
Terra turned to face the changeling. "Beast Boy…you shouldn't get so worried over me…I'm not worth it…"
"Yes you are, Terra. You…you're worth more than you know. After you were frozen…I was miserable. I starting wondering whether I would ever see you again…I got scared that we would never find a way to free you…I was ready to give anything…anything to be with you again."
The earth maiden's heart pumped at lightning speed. "Why?" she whispered. "Why did you want me back so badly…?"
"Because…when I was with you, I was happy…happier than I'd ever been before. Because the thought of not being around you ever again was the most terrifying thought I'd ever had. Because…"
Ever so slowly, Beast Boy pulled her toward him, and wrapped her in a soft, gentle hug, his hands buried in her golden, silken hair.
"Because…I love you, Terra…" he whispered in her ear. "I love you…I love you so much…and I never want to lose you again…"
Terra would've jumped for joy if she wasn't wrapped up in the greatest hug of her life. He loves me! she thought joyously. I don't believe it, he really loves me!
"Oh, God, Beast Boy, I love you too…" she whispered back fiercely. "I never meant to hurt you, I just wanted you to be safe…I love you…"
And before she even knew it she was kissing him. It was an intense feeling…one full of longing for the kiss they meant to share ages ago. It was this, more than anything else, that proved to Terra what the Titans had always been telling her: that she had a home here, always.
She felt his hands running through her hair as her own were caressing his back. Gradually the kiss deepened, and Terra's body was wracked with the most incredible sensations she'd ever known…
Eventually they separated, as they both needed to breathe again for a moment. They looked into each other's eyes, and both appeared to want to say something, but both decided against it; no more words needed to be said. They leaned in again, and their lips met once more. They remained that way for a long time, engulfed in each other's warmth and love, and the sunrise quite forgotten.
Raven gazed around at the disaster zone that had once been her room. It was hard to believe, looking at the utter mess, that it had ever been clean. With a sigh, she began folding clothes and returning them to their proper drawers, gathering books and returning them to their proper place on her bookshelf, and remaking her bed-sheets exactly the way she liked them.
About an hour into her work, she was gathering a pile of robes from the floor, half-hidden under her bed, and as she picked them up, she discovered two picture frames lying under them. She bent down and picked them up, and with a start she realized they were the same two pictures she'd looked at back before the entire Malchior fiasco had begun. One of the five original Titans, posing together…the other, the one with the frame snapped in half by Raven's own power, a solo shot of Terra.
Slowly, she set down the load of robes and picked up the two frames, and for a long time, she stared at both photos, an enormous wave of déjà vu washing over her. Two days ago she had stood in that same spot…staring at those same photos…yet that felt like a lifetime ago, and it seemed like she was looking at two completely different pictures. Something just….didn't seem right about either of them. It had once, those two days and a lifetime ago…but now…something was missing…they just didn't feel whole anymore.
Raven removed both pictures from the frames and held them, one in each hand, trying to figure it out. She had no idea why in was bugging her so much…but it seemed so important.
She put both photos in the same hand for a moment to gather the load of robes back up and place them in a drawer. By random chance she happened to glance at both photos at the same time…and she froze. She looked back.
Her room forgotten, she strode down the hall to Beast Boy's room and dug a photo album out of his bedside drawer. Inside were the vast majority of the photos in which Terra was included. She flipped through them until…Perfect…he won't mind my taking one…
Raven removed the photo in question, returned the album back to its proper place, and returned to her own room, locking the door behind her. She opened the unbroken picture frame and slid the new photo inside. She snapped the frame shut, then slowly turned it over and gazed at the picture inside.
It was a group shot of the Titans; like the previous shot, they were gathered in front of Titans Tower. But now, there was no solo picture of Terra, alone and off to the side. All six Titans were gathered in front of the Tower.
Starfire with her arms wrapped around Robin's.
Robin with a goofy grin on his face.
Cyborg making the 'peace' sign.
Raven herself looking bored, and yet trying not to laugh.
And sitting down in the middle were Beast Boy and Terra. Hands clasped together. Smiling without a care in the world.
That was it…that's what was missing. The old pictures had shown the old team…the divided, incomplete team, with Terra off to the side…the outsider…the outcast. But now, as one…it felt…complete again. Terra was right where she belonged. Not off by herself…but among her family.
"Welcome home, Terra…" Raven said quietly, placing the picture on her dresser. "…Welcome home."
Author's Notes: What a ride this one has been. I can't tell you how much I loved writing this...
Well, first of all, I'd like to give my eternal thanks to SocialButterfli. Your pestering has been a constant source of motivation, heh. I'm grateful to have a friend like you.
I'd also like to thank all my regular reviewers. You know who you are. Thanks for the continued support.
And so ends Episode Two of the Titan Chronicles. Up next is Epsiode Three: "Thresholding." Look for it in a week or so.
Thanks for reading,
-CidGregor (aka JP)