Disclaimer: I don't own Teen Titans, etc, etc, it all belongs to the many geniuses at DC, etc. You know the deal.
Pre-read by KrabKakes.
Well this is it, the final chapter. Hope you all like. I'll upload the first chapter and the prologue for my next Teen Titans fic, which is a direct sequel to this one, sometime this week, depending. It's called 'The Despair Game'. Look out for it.
"You've got to be kidding me?" Vic said, his voice rising in disbelief. Dick shook his head.
"That's what he said." Dick continued, making his way over to his laptop and taking a seat.
"Doesn't that guy know how to die?" Vic asked. "Or at least stay in jail, in this case, I mean come on, it's ridiculous. He's been silent for over a year, why now?"
"It might not even be true." Garfield argued, turning to Dick. "Right?"
"Maybe." Dick mumbled, his fingers making rapid strokes over the keyboard. "Hang on. There." With one last keystroke the Titans T.V. screen flickered and revealed an almost empty room somewhere high above the earth - the Justice League's watchtower. The Flash was lazing about in a chair just before the screen, eyes closed. Dick smirked slightly.
The Flash jumped and almost fell out of his chair before turning his attention to the Titans on his own monitor. He scowled lightly at Dick.
"Don't do that." He admonished before going on to ask. "What is it?"
"I need some information." Dick said. When Wally gave him a look he continued. "The Justice League were responsible for keeping an eye on Slade, correct? Seeing as you arrested him after the fight with Trigon. Right?"
"Right." Wally nodded, looking a little wary.
"Tell me the truth Wally." Dick continued, not even waiting for Wally to answer before continuing. "Is Slade free?"
"Well," Wally rubbed the back of his neck. He opened his mouth to answer but Dick cut him off:
"Why didn't you tell us?"
"Batman didn't want you to know." Wally answered sheepishly. "He said it was no longer your problem."
"No longer my problem?" Dick shouted, getting up abruptly and making Kory jump. "That psychopath has had it in for me – for the Titans – since he came on the scene. How is it no longer my problem? Do you think he's just going to forget us? How long has he been free!"
Wally shrugged. "About two weeks. He's been silent though."
"Well that's great." Dick cursed under his breath and began pacing and muttering under his breath. "That just means he's planning something." Turning back to Wally he said. "You should have told us. Tell Batman that when you see him."
"Right." Wally nodded. "Good…"
Dick cut the transmission before Wally could finished and slammed the laptop shut before rushing towards the door, a last minute call following behind him. "I'll be in my room."
Kory looked over at Raven. "I should go talk to him." Kory said, hovering up and following after the enraged teen. Vic was looking downcast at his feet. Tara suddenly got up as well and stormed out of the room, her shoulders hitching. Garfield looked worriedly after her for a moment before following. Raven sighed as she sat down on one of the empty chairs.
"You okay girl?" Vic's voice resonated in her ears. She jumped, having been lost in her own quiet world. She looked up at him, blushing faintly underneath her hood.
"I'm okay." She said softly.
"Worried about Dick?" Vic continued to question.
"I think we all are." Raven answered.
"You have a thing for him don't ya?" Raven's mouth almost dropped open at the simple statement. "Don't look so shocked." Vic chuckled. "I've seen how you look at him. All wistful like."
"It's not that." Raven admitted, looking down. "I did…I thought I liked him, but I was mistaken."
"But you still care." Vic commented. Raven nodded.
"Course." Vic stood up and rested a large hand on her shoulder. "Sometimes you have to look closer at things to see the big picture. Understand?"
"Good." Vic removed his hand and stepped back, heading towards the door, calling back one final: "Night." And then he was gone. Raven sat still for a long time, she didn't know how long, just staring at the tiny patterns on the floor.
She had to look closer to see the big picture. She needed to really evaluate her friend's, that's what Vic meant. Did he know something she didn't? Could he see something she couldn't?
Obviously, her own mind taunted.
But what was it? She didn't know. She stood up and headed over to the kitchen, deciding to get a cup of herbal tea and think about it later. She had other things to think about right now. Like what she saw in Garfield's mind - the memory of his parent's death.
Yeah, she knew they had died, but she never knew he was there, watching. She never knew he beat himself up about it every night. She never knew he blamed himself. How could she? He was so happy all the time.
How could he do that? How could he stay so happy on the outside but be so sad on the inside. How did he keep that smile up? Raven thought over this as she prepared her tea, and when she was finished, she had decided one thing.
Garfield Logan was a lot stronger than he looked, than people gave him credit for, and than she had given him credit for. He was very strong indeed.
Tara walked briskly, almost running, down the hall of Titans Tower, trying to reach the sanctuary of her room so she could cry like a baby and hug her pillow. Hearing the news of Slade's escape, and the fact she had been forced to relive her time with the horrible sociopath was just too much for her. She entered her room, slamming the door shut behind her and bashing her hand into the locking mechanism before collapsing to the floor, curling up into a ball. She cried to herself for what felt like an eternity before she eventually heard a soft knock on her door and his voice.
"Tara." Gar called through the door. "I know you're in there. Come on. Open up."
Tara got to her feet, wiping at her eyes and placing her hand over the locking mechanism. She didn't want company, but this was Gar, and he was coming here to help her. She smiled through her sadness at that thought and pressed the switch. The door swished open and Gar came into her room. She locked the door behind him.
Tara turned to look at him and before he could say a word she had wrapped her arms around him and was crying into his chest. Gar stiffened slightly in surprise but soon eased into the hug and returned it, rubbing her back in circles.
"Hey," Gar whispered softly. "Come on. Stop crying. It's okay."
"He's come back for me," she sobbed. "I know it. He wants revenge against Terra." She gasped and pulled back, looking up into Gar's face worriedly. "What if I am really Terra? What if he knows?"
"Hey," Gar cupped both of her cheeks and stroked them softly with his thumbs. "Don't worry. You said you weren't remember? And I believe you. That guy was just trying to cause trouble. Trying to split us apart."
"But what if…" Tara sobbed and collapsed back into his arms, burying her face into his chest again. "What if he was telling the truth? He might be Gar. I don't remember being sent here…to this time. I just remember waking up. Doesn't that worry you?"
"Well…" Gar closed his eyes, just holding the girl and thinking. Did it matter to him anymore if she was Terra? She certainly didn't act like Terra. As far as he was concerned that Terra was dead anyway. Even if she really was the first Terra, in his opinion, she wasn't the same person. This Terra was insecure about herself, about the reputation of the original. She was genuinely terrified by the idea of being the original. Gar opened his eyes and pulled Tara back again, looking her in the eye.
"You know I'm your friend right?"
Tara nodded, her eyes glistening with tears.
"You know I'll always be your friend no matter what right?"
Tara nodded again.
"Then it doesn't matter." Gar grinned at her. "It doesn't matter."
Tara sniffed and wiped at her eyes. "Really?"
"Really." Gar confirmed with a nod.
"But…I want to know…if it's true." Tara admitted. "Can we do a DNA test?"
"Yeah," Gar made her look at him again. "If you're sure."
"Will you come with me?" Tara asked.
Dick growled angrily as he slammed his fist into his wall, hardly even wincing at the pain that shot through his knuckles and up his arm. He whirled around and scattered a bunch of papers of his desk with a swift swipe. He breathed heavily as his hands came to rest on the desk, his head lowered, nostrils flaring as he took deep breaths of air. He closed his eyes and took even deeper breaths, trying to calm himself down.
It wasn't the first time he'd been Bat blocked and it probably wouldn't be the last, but that didn't make it any better. Even with his new codename, his new identity as Nightwing, free from the Bat's shadow he still found himself being treated like a kid.
Batman didn't think he could handle Slade?
Batman was wrong. He could handle Slade better than anyone. He knew Slade, he understood how his mind worked (that's a scary thought), and he'd been handling Slade ever since the sociopath had first revealed himself to the world and to the Titans. Batman was wrong.
Slade was back, and Nightwing would stop him. Again. No matter what, Slade would go down, and he'd stay down. Dick made that promise to himself right then and there. Of course he had no idea that he wasn't Slade's target. That this time, it wouldn't be his fight.
"Dick?" a soft, hardly audible voice came to his ears and he turned his head to see Kory standing meekly in his doorway, looking worried. He sighed again.
"I'm alright Kory."
"You are upset at the Batman?" Kory asked, slowly coming into his room, but keeping her distance. She had been around Dick to know well enough how fast he could lose his temper.
"Yeah…" Dick replied, standing to his full height. He noticed Kory's wariness and smiled weakly. "Really Kory. I'm okay. Come here." He held out his hand and she came to him, wrapping her arms around his chest and resting her head on his shoulder. "Sorry."
"It is okay." Kory assured him. "You have a right to be angry. We all do."
"Yeah," Dick sighed, running his hand through her long auburn locks. "But I shouldn't take it out on you guys. I know it's not your fault. So I'm sorry."
"We know Dick." Kory pulled back, looking him in the eyes. "We will find Slade and we will stop him like we always do."
"Yeah." Dick smirked. "Guy doesn't stand a chance." He laughed. "Anyway, I better get started. I need to find out what he's up to." He started away from Kory but she caught his hand and pulled him back to her.
"Not yet." She whispered, closing the distance between them, until their lips were almost touching. "Not tonight. Be with me tonight."
"I really should…" Kory caught him off guard as she quickly kissed him, not letting him continue. She pulled back and gave him a stern look.
"Be with me tonight." She repeated. Dick nodded. She closed the distance again; kissing him passionately and forcing him back up against the wall.
Dick's hand roamed all over her body, coming to rest on her waist, holding her close to him as the kiss continued. She eventually pulled back, looking him in the eyes again.
"I love you."
Dick grinned – which was something he hardly ever did - and gave her a quick kiss.
Their lips met once again as Kory dragged him away from the wall with a fist full of his shirt and forced him onto the bed, straddling him, not even breaking contact once. All of Dick's worried fell away as the two lovers continued to ease each other with kisses, touches and unrestrained love.
Gar and Tara were sitting inside one of the many examination rooms in S.T.A.R. labs, the company Victor Stones father - Silas Stone – works for. S.T.A.R. labs were very friendly with the Titans, having built Titans Tower, on Silas Stone's encouragement. When Gar came to them asking them to run a thorough DNA test on Tara they complied without a second thought. Currently, the two teens were waiting for the results.
Tara ran a hand through her long hair and looked around the room nervously. Gar turned to look at her as she began wringing her hands together. He smiled reassuringly and reached over to take one of her hands (Sweaty) in his.
"Relax." He soothed.
Tara nodded with a smile and took a deep breath.
"Are you sure you still want to know?" he asked.
"Yeah…" Tara said cautiously. "Just nervous. I'm fine."
"Really?" At Tara's nod he let it drop, but still kept hold of her hand, hoping it would help somehow. It did.
Gar was probably as nervous as Tara. Maybe even more. So far he'd been able to assure himself that the girl next to him was not the Terra that betrayed him. That she was different. But what if the test came back positive? What if she was the betrayer? No. He shook his head. It didn't matter. Even if she was the original Terra she was still a different person. She wasn't the same. Where the first Terra has been confident and cocky this one was meek and insecure. She was totally different.
Gar hoped the results were negative.
Eventually the door opened and the doctor came in, carrying a clipboard in one hand. He placed it face down on the desk and smiled at the two teens.
"I'll leave you two to look at the results." He said, still smiling warmly. "If you need anything…" he trailed of, walking out of the room.
Gar looked from the clipboard to Tara, watching as she stared wide eyed at the simple piece of paper - a thing that could change her life drastically.
"You going to look?" he asked, trying not to sound harsh.
Tara didn't say anything for a while, but eventually. "Will…will you look for me? Please?"
"Sure." Gar said, standing. "You sure?" At Tara's nod he approached the piece of paper and picked it up. His eyes skimmed over the text, not showing any reaction, as he tried to keep his shock down as to not alarm her. Tara stood.
"Gar?" she asked, her voice trembling. "Oh god…I am? Aren't I? Gar!"
Tara stared at him with tear filled eyes as he didn't respond, could respond. Eventually he smiled and put the paper down - face down. His smile turned into a full-blown grin.
"Negative." He said, breathless. "It's negative Terra. You're you."
"What?" Tara gasped, staring at him in shock. "Really? You're sure?"
"Yes!" she cried, rushing into his arms and kissing him smack on the lips. Gar pulled back eyes wide. "Sorry." She said, blushing but still smiling.
Gar shook his head.
"It's okay." Gar grabbed her hand. "Come on. Let's get out of here. Have some fun."
"Okay." Tara chimed, completely forgetting about the paper lying not even a foot from her. She grinned all the way out of the building, talking happily with the boy she secretly wished would one day learn to love her.
As it was, she was totally unaware that, on that single piece of paper was one word that would have shattered her happy world and left her feeling like garbage.
Well, there ya have it; hopefully you all liked the fic. Please leave a review if you did. Also, feel free to contact me by email, and we can chat. I'm always happy to talk to someone new, especially if we have the same interests.
Okay then, until next time, peace and good cheese.Piccolo999