Authors Note: Well, here it is... the end of 'Chess Game'. I want to thank all my reviewers, I really couldn't have made this without your support so thank you. By the way the quote in the last paragraph belongs to'Mad Pierrot Le Fou', a very wise reviewer.
To every one who has read this far... I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. Criticism and comments are welcome and often taken aboard. So thank you to...
DarkAngelImogen - Glad you like it so far,
evilsangle - Aah but if you kill me there's no chance of a sequel... Yes I'm evil! Ha ha ha! And how dare you imply I'm a coward! Besides, dragons are immune to magic! Mwahahahaha!
cheeseshirt - But of course...
UtterlyInsane - Thank you, by the way I'm almost certain that in the comics Slade was immortal due to what the military did to him... Anyway I'm not that horrible (or that good a writer) so this is the last chapter. I may expand on the spells if there's a sequel... we'll have to see,
Lily of the Shadow - I find that well planned and executed 'jokes' work best with siblings... anyway I'm VERY glad you're enjoying this.
Bunnysquirrel - Aww! Don't worry you can still dream of him. Ok so I'm not entirely sure what damage a pistol shot at close range would do so I exaggerated. Besides people can be very touchy about scars... and it was necessary for the story. I love being in control. As for the chicken... mmmm...
PsychoMindGames - Thank you, and I will
sillymail - Glad you think so,
Falling Right Side-Up - I know it can't happen... but it is such fun! It's nice to get such a great compliment so thank you... and you'll have to read on to find out,
whitedarkness - You're the second person to tell me I'm improving. This is so great to know! Thank you,
Mad Pierrot Le Fou - Thank you... I hope the end lives up to your expectations. By the way... I quoted your last review in the last paragraph of this chapter. I truly hope you don't mind. Oh and Nottingham was fantastic, thank you.
Cruel and Usual - Yep, I know. I was kinda disappointed in his no longer single status too when that happened. Oh well... the story wouldn't let me replace Raven with myself. Anyway... I couldn't just let Slade grow old and die without Rae and I wasn't willing to make her mortal so I borrowed some comic book history...
Infamous One -Wow... you are not a happy person. This is very strange, until I read your review I hadn't thought of that ending and I'm normally extremely morbid... never mind. Sorry but I'm not so much for alternate endings... you'll just have to ask for a sequel...
ShadowVixen - You're completely welcome. I only hope you like this one as much,
LM22102 - Thank you, I needed the luck for this...
NumbuhZero - It's so fun to write! Thank you, I'm glad I'm doing well,
DragonStar - Yep, it's the end. Hope you like it,
Rogue Warrior Spirit - Your wish is my command...
Scorpio Serpent - Thank you,
ABoxFullOfSharpObjects - Actually I haven't watched Season 4 yet (damnable British TV). My inspiration for this pairing was pretty much 'Hmm... Robin and Raven go really well together... Slade's a lot like Robin... Hang on! What in hells name? Raven and Slade? Ok?' Thus appeared a driving need to get them together, luckily resolved when I realised I had been roped into playing chess with my little sister and had been steadily losing for the last ten minutes... as for more stories... I can only write what my imagination dictates. I don't see a problem as it refuses to shut up.
cat of doom - Hmm... cat army... Well it is an opportunity to use all that catnip I suppose...
Dontyoudarecry - Shh! Calm yourself, the next chapter's already here
Disclaimer - According to the theory of alternate universes I do actually own the Teen Titans... just not in this universe...
Cyborg ran through the twisting corridor, every second reminding him of the last time they hunted for Slade. After three hours even Robin was tired of looking for the villain, he'd sent a message through the communicators to regroup where they had last seen Slade… Raven hadn't appeared… Cyborg shook his head, he'd never seen Robin so scared in his life. The boy went completely mental… not that any of them had been sane. Beast Boy had tried to track by scent for hours, that was when they first found out the walls actually moved. Starfire couldn't fly and her hands were constantly covered with starbolts and as for him… he sighed as he remembered the overwhelming emotions he'd felt when he discovered she couldn't be found. He'd never known the meanings of fear, anger and helplessness until that moment… and he'd been through a lot. If he'd ever once thought that being mostly machine hindered his emotions, all doubts had been blasted away then and there.
Cyborg stared at the path ahead, turning when required as he stayed in his thoughts. He couldn't imagine a world without his little sister…
Suddenly a black fog covered his sight…
Next thing the bionic teenager knew he was standing in the middle of a park… and he was completely human…
"Ok… this is weird…" Cyborg looked around. He recognised this place… it'd been torn down when he was still a kid…
At the sound of that familiar voice Cy turned around, enveloping the young sorceress in a bear hug. For several seconds no thoughts interrupted the teen hero but eventually reality always kicks in. He pulled back slightly, not quite letting go in case she disappeared again.
"We were looking for you girl! I was running… and then I was here… and no tech… and you're here…" Cyborg trailed off as he realised how insane this situation was. "Am I dreaming?"
Raven smiled at his confused expression. "Not exactly. You're not here and I'm not here but we are talking,"
"This is a spell to allow me to talk to you. I don't know where we are though. I let you chose a place and appearance you were comfortable in… is this from your past?"
Cyborg turned from Raven, his arms dropping to his sides as he realised she wasn't going to fade away. He smiled slightly as he watched a dozen kids play on the swings, slides and climbing frames. He definitely remembered this place.
"Yeah… this is the park across the street from where I used to live. I remember…" he pointed at the swings and looked at Raven like a little child showing a new friend his favourite haunts. "That's where my Dad and I always went first on the weekends!" he stared at the swings, letting his arm drop as the memories over took him. "Even when I was a kid Dad didn't have a lot of time… but every Sunday he'd drop everything and play with me. Sometimes we'd stay in, or just go to the park… he always let me choose…"
Raven watched as her friend started to grow depressed, remembering how his parents…
"They must have loved you very much,"
Cyborg nodded as he came back to the present. "Yeah… so… um… what's going on? Rob said…"
Raven sighed. "I'm leaving the Titans Cyborg,"
His response was immediate. "WHAT! You can't! Rae its Slade! He's a villain!… you can't leave us?" Cyborgs rant whimpered to a stop as his anger faded, misery kicking in.
Ravens violet gaze bored into his hazel eyes, for once her emotions were unshielded. Her anger at the suggestion she was abandoning them, her sorrow at leaving… and the hardest one for Cyborg to accept… her happiness at finding someone…
"Cyborg… the Titans are a family to me, the only one I've ever really had. I love all of you. You're like a big brother to me… I'll miss you." Cyborg watched as the scene behind Raven changed, memories of just him and her appearing before being pushed aside by the next one. When she'd comforted him at the loss of the T-car, rebuilding it, the two of them just talking… so many times.
"You're really leaving?"
Cyborg pulled her into another hug, tears sliding down his face and whispered into her ear. "If he hurts you I will tear him limb from limb…" he released her and straightened up.
"Goodbye my friend. I'll miss you… brother…"
"You take care of yourself Rae! And you better keep in touch every now and then!"
The empath nodded with a smile as the scene changed to darkness. The next thing Cyborg knew was landing outside, hard. He winced as a sudden explosion roared behind him, the heat scorching him slightly.
In the form of a green Falcon, Beast Boy flew down the sterile lair. Although the walls were white, all he could sense was purple. Amethyst eyes, violet hair, the smell of lavender… he growled as his shape changed to a Cheetahs to rest his tired wings and give him fresh muscles. He would not lose Raven to Slade… not like Terra.
The green shape shifter had decided long ago that his feelings for Raven would never be returned but that didn't matter. For all her sarcasm, for all the times she ignored him, all the times he annoyed her by accident or on purpose… he knew that Raven cared for him. They were friends… and together with the rest… they were family…
The changeling sped up further at this thought. He'd lost one family before, he was not going to let this one go without a fight.
For a brief moment all he could see was darkness before it receded… showing a jungle. Beast Boy gasped as smells, sounds and sights he never thought he'd sense again filled him. Everywhere he turned was green, he morphed back into human form and smiled. For the first time in a while he was camouflaged, it was a very comforting feeling. In the distance he could see the edge of a brown canvas tent… his parents camp… His smile faded as he realised there was no possible way this was real.
"This is surprisingly peaceful,"
Beast Boy slowly turned to the sorceress. "It's a forest, they're alive… you should see it during a monsoon. You'd love it,"
"I'm sure I would. Maybe I will someday,"
Beast Boy hesitated, for a figment of his imagination Raven was rather realistic…
"This isn't real," he stated trying to convince himself slightly as the jungle penetrated his blood.
Raven smiled. "It is in a way. This is how you remember it… and as for me and this conversation… it's as real as most things."
"Rae… what's going on?"
"The place you're in will self destruct in a few minutes…"
"… so I'm getting you out of there. And the others… at the same time…" She caught his still confused look. "I'm teleporting the entire team out of danger."
"But this hasn't happened before?"
"No… I'm talking to all of you individually… I'm saying goodbye…"
"NO! You can't!" Beast Boy grabbed her shoulders. "Whatever he's threatening you with Raven it doesn't matter! We'll fight him! All we want is for you to come home…"
Raven smiled as realisation of what he was doing hit Beast Boy and his arms dropped.
"It's ok Beast Boy, he's not threatening me, no blackmail, no false promises. This isn't Malchior… or Terra… I'm leaving the Titans," she looked away for a moment as the forest disappeared… and scenes from their past appeared. Jokes Beast Boy had made, the time he'd gone into her mind… all the times she'd looked past his shields and comforted him, and the times he'd been there for her… "I'm going to miss all of you…" Raven looked back at him and smiled. "That includes you Beast Boy. You're my friend, I'll even miss your occasionally funny jokes…" For one of the few times since he knew her Beast Boy could see the emotions in her eyes… as she pulled him into a hug. "Good bye Beast Boy…" The background started to turn to black before Beast Boy regained his mind from shock.
"My name's Garfield. Goodbye Rae… stay safe?"
She nodded as they separated and Beast Boy straightened up. The last thing he saw was the beginnings of a smile before being chucked out of her presence. With animal reflexes Garfield caught himself as he fell and landed on his feet… only to be thrown off by an explosion. The heat and light making him wince… through his tears…
With a green light enveloping her hands a young alien girl ran down a white corridor. An observer would have noticed her stumbling gait from lack of experience. Nevertheless no human could ever match her speed as she tore down the passageway, only concerned with one thing… the retrieval of her friend. The one she talked to when she was depressed or worried, one of the few people in the universe whose advice she trusted… her sister…
Starfire gasped as a familiar black magic enveloped her… and withdrew, leaving her in a place she recognised very well.
"Wow… Titans Tower…"
Starfire turned at the voice.
"Raven?" the alien princess pulled her friend into a bone-crushing hug… or at least for pure humans. "Oh Raven! We were most worried! You were not at home for our return and then Robin said…" Starfire withdrew slightly as she remembered the accusations, her joy at finding her friend diminishing slightly.
"Starfire…" Raven looked into her friends emerald eyes. "Every thing he said is true Star…" The princess nodded, she could be more observant than most people realised. She already knew that Robins account was true and could see the proof in her friends eyes. With an intuition that crossed galaxies Starfire knew what her friend was going to do… and why they were talking…
"You're saying goodbye…"
Raven smiled slightly and nodded, her sorrow and joy evident in every move… or at least to a red haired alien.
"I will miss you… sister?"
"I'll miss you too Star. You will always be a sister to me… I could never ask for a better one."
"You are saying goodbye to the others ?"
"As we speak…"
Star took one last look as the Towers living room dissolved into a series of scenes from the past. The first time they'd meditated together, taking Raven shopping, contacting the underworld… She smiled at the empath as the many memories faded into darkness… and was thrown out of the vision. With joy for her friend still running through her veins Starfire stopped herself before hitting the ground, hovering only a few feet above it as Slades lair exploded. The shock wave and its heat left the alien unaffected, she didn't so much as blink as she watched the fire, her hair streaming behind her… and tears falling from her eyes…
Robin ran. Unlike his friends he harboured no thoughts… he couldn't trust himself to stay out of the way of his mission. There was only one thing that mattered. Finding Raven. Robin knew from experience that thinking would only bring back the pain he'd felt last time she'd disappeared… so instead… Robin ran.
Lost in his own mind he barely noticed that his eyesight went dark for a brief moment… however the scene in front of him was more than enough to wake him from his daze. With a seconds warning Robin stopped moving… and came face to face with a blue caped empath that was looking around with a sorrowful expression.
Knowing that only the most important things would ever induce her to show emotion Robin also searched his surroundings. There was nothing… only darkness, as far as he could tell they weren't even standing on anything solid… yet he and Raven were clearly illuminated… The Boy wonder turned back to the sorceress, his expression confused. Like the others he was still dazed from the journey here and half believed it was a dream.
She shook her head, her eyes down cast and body half turned from him. Her voice was filled with more emotion than he'd ever heard from the quiet empath and it tore at his heart that the emotion was sorrow.
"You don't have anywhere I can take you… there's no where that will make you feel secure or happy just by being there. I tried. I used every trick I know and everything I know of you. The circus has the worst memories, the Batcave was stifling, the Tower is duty… there is no place in your mind that holds only contentment." She sighed, the epitome of misery.
Robin walked towards her slowly, careful not to startle her with a litheness born from a lifetime of agility.
"Raven what's going on?"
At his cautious voice Raven shook herself from her trance and turned to face the teenage acrobat. She quickly noted that he still wore his costume… complete with the impenetrable mask. "I'm saying goodbye Robin,"
Robin stopped, mere inches from her as the blood drained from his face. In a voice that belonged to a far more pitiable figure the Boy Wonder asked her to retract her statement. "You're leaving us?"
The empath nodded, steeling herself against the wave of emotions coming from him that threatened to overwhelm her. "I'm leaving the Titans…"
She watched as his rage filled him, backing away from her as he snarled, "You're going with him!"
She could only watch, a silent witness to his pain. After the conscious effort needed to repair her mental barriers from his lashing anger she managed to answer. "Yes Robin. I'm going with Slade," she silently cursed herself as her answer was calmly delivered in her classic monotone. He deserved more than that.
Robin turned away in disgust. "How could you!"
Raven waited for a moment, desperately trying to regain the calm she'd felt as she talked to the others. For a moment the empty scene changed from mere blackness to the centre of a forest, the edge of a playground and the living room of Titans Tower. Silently Raven drew on her other fragments of personality for strength, she knew that saying farewell to Robin would be difficult but she had never expected him to lose such control over his emotions. Without knowing it, he was hurting her with his mere intensity. The lapse only lasted a moment and through his fury Robin didn't see it.
The sorceress approached him, her hands outstretched in a desperate gesture for peace.
At her pleading voice he span around to face her, his voice raised in anger. "We need you Rae!" The Boy Wonder paused as the nickname brought back, neither of them noticed as their shared past played on around them. Robin stepped closer to her and tore a secret out of his soul, whispering it to her in a voice that echoed with pain, loss, and life. "I need you…"
This time Raven lost her temper. She stepped back from him, her voiced raised. "Robin this is what's best for me. Can't you see that? I care for all of you but…" her reprimand trailed off as she remembered what she was leaving behind.
Once more Robin closed the distance between them with a curt step. "That's it? You care for us? Raven do you have any idea how much you mean to us? We love you! You're Cyborgs little sister, the only one he feels he can open up to! When Starfire feels lonely or sad you are the one she goes to! The one she talks to! If Beast Boy ever feels he's unappreciated you're the one he trusts to tell him we need him! You keep us sane Raven! Without you we're nothing! You're not just what keeps this team together… you're what keeps us together. We need you Raven… we… I… love you…" Robin placed her hands on hers and brought them from her sides to between their two beating hearts as she absorbed what he had said… and what he had meant.
With a soft sigh she shook her head, eyes still locked on his, behind the mask.
"Robin. You are the most noble human I've ever met. You have always known when I needed to be alone or when I needed the others, even if I didn't want them. And I… I love you too. But my choice is made." She stepped back from him, her hands once more falling to her sides. "You are not the only one in my heart and I chose him. I brought you here to say goodbye Richard. I will always hold you in my heart."
Ravens heart threatened to break as Robin looked after her with a grief-stricken expression.
"What would've happened if… I hadn't been so stubborn? If I hadn't left you in the Tower?"
Raven smiled slightly. "We would've defeated Rancid. You would've worked off some of your anger in the fight and sent the rest home… and we would have talked…"
He took a cautious step closer to her, desperate to know what could've been. "Would you have stayed?"
Ravens eyes dropped as she answered him with a whisper he barely heard. "… I don't know." Suddenly Raven looked up, panicked as she sensed what was happening. "You have to go now,"
Robin shook his head, confused. "What? Why?"
In time with their eternal dance Raven stepped back towards Robin, her eyes wide as she earnestly tried to convince him of the peril he was in. "The reason I brought you here is because time works differently. Slower or faster depending on the spell casters whim. But it doesn't stop! The hideout's about to explode! You have to GO!"
"I'm not leaving you!" he shouted as a terrible wind surrounded the two, forcing Robin away from the sorceress.
The last thing he saw of her was a gentle smile as she looked at him. Her whisper carried straight to him, seemingly unaffected be the gale. "That is not your choice… goodbye…"
Robin rolled as he hit the ground. With reflexes trained since he started to walk the former acrobat turned around. He was just in time to catch a brief glance of a large black raven, her soul self, and see the rest of his friends fall out of the bird before he was blinded by an explosion. Instinctively he turned away, realising only a second later that he'd miss her. With a moment to spare he forced his gaze back round and through the flames saw a fleeting glimpse of her black magic form before she was gone…
So many times in the past Robins mask had caught his tears… but not this time. He knew what it felt for his heart to break… but this was different. This time his heart had shattered… this time he had no tears…
With unblinking eyes the Boy Wonder stared at the place he'd last seen her from behind his mask. For what seemed like an eternity he stood there, slowly dying, until he felt a hand on his shoulder, and a deep yet strained voice give him a gently order.
"Come on man. It's over,"
The Boy Wonder didn't take his eyes off the flames to answer his friend in a voice more lost than Cyborg had ever believed possible. "But I'm not finished,"
The bionic teenager shook his head and sighed. "None of us are…"
A black raven let out a soft cry as she watched her friends walk away from the ruins. Each of them clearly showed their pain, yet all but one were determined to carry on, to accept her decision with grace. Raven felt tears run down her face as she watched Robin being led away from the flames, even without her empathic ability she could've seen how broken he was by the way he moved… his spirit that had first drawn her to him gone, hidden…
She flew away as her friends moved out of sight, her glistening tears leaving a trail in the dawning morning.
Raven fell to the earth, her tears falling freely as the empath mourned. She cried for her home, her friends, her family… but most of all for Robin.
After untold eternities of pain Raven felt a presence. The other knelt at her side and from behind her sorrow Raven felt a pair of strong arms gently pull her into an embrace. She didn't resist… finding comfort against her rescuers chest. She felt her pain ease as the stranger ran his fingers through her hair and when the tears had stopped, when her despair had receded, she smiled slightly, not moving from his embrace.
He let her lie there for a few more minutes before talking to her in a voice that was no longer cold.
"Where do you want to go?"
"A forest… will you take me there?"
"Where ever you want. I'll show you the world Raven,"
The sorceress looked up at him, her purple eyes looking deep into his steel blue gaze.
"Do you love me?"
"Yes. For as long as I breathe and beyond. I will always love you… my Raven,"
"I love you Slade,"
The former villain smiled slightly, his heart pounding at her words. "Shall we go?"
Still in each others arms the pair stood, neither of them needing to speak as Slade walked over to the side of the road and in an archaic manner opened the passenger door of the black convertible that was parked there. She smiled at his gentlemanly gestured before delicately stepping inside.
The slowly fading night stars sparkled over an ancient desert as the two immortals travelled down the dust worn road… each knowing that 'although roads are littered with many potholes and obstructions and one can easily get lost', every second of life is worth it if you choose… and choose well…
A/N: All right I know I said that was the end but... I have an idea for a sequel... Here's the deal. If five or more people review this chapter then I promise I'll write a sequel set several years down the road, ok? If not then no heartache, I will simply leave it as it is.