StarshineSoldier: Wow, you called it. Good timing on the review, as I'm updating very soon after. Anyway, I'm glad you like the idea of Slade being a weird but decent father. Seeing him change is part of Rose's problem, and part of the reason that everything is so nuts for her. Anyway, glad you are enjoying the fic. Hope you like this chapter as well.
Cori Rain: Glad you like it! Here's the next chapter.
mattchew: Thanks! Here's another.
Kayasuri-n: Cheese indeed. There's thinky and action in a lot of the chapters. You didn't nag much, and here's the next chapter anyway.
A/n: This is the final chapter of this fic. I hope that you all have enjoyed it so far, and that this chapter is no exception. There's action and dialog in this one, but hopefully it meshes well. Enjoy!
Rose grinned as Robin shouted the battle cry of the Titans, feeling something from her days of Terra being reawakened in his leadership. She focused her mind, and the wall of the cave cracked, hesitated a moment, and then exploded outwards under her powers. The sudden bright light caused Rose to shield her eyes momentarily, and when she turned back to the opening, the Titans had already run out, tearing into the robotic army with a ferocity she hadn't seen from them yet.
Rose pulled the stone from underneath the cave's sandy floor and lowered herself into combat, feeling confident with Terra's old abilities in her mind now. Rose grinned as her stone sailed through the crowd of robots, just above their chest level, smashing them and throwing parts through the air. She hopped off of the stone, letting it fall into another group of robots, and began to fight in close quarters. Knowing that the Titans were nearby if she needed help gave her confidence, and as the robots continued to fall to her assault of thrown stones, she began to feel invincible.
The crowd of robots thinned quickly, as Rose and Raven both used their power to affect wide areas of machines at once. As Rose drove the arm of one robot through another's chest, trying out new ways of using her powers, she heard Starfire gasp, and Cyborg groan in exasperation. Looking to where they were facing, she saw an even larger army approaching, dozens upon dozens of Slade-like robots marching around a nearby mesa, coming into view from where they'd been hiding.
The fight that had been fun quickly became work. The robots were more active in this second wave, moving more quickly and aggressively. Rose tore the mechanical hand from the stone she was flying on, tossing it, along with it's owner, back into the mess of parts and enemies below. Making a motion of lifting with her hand in the air, Rose pulled a few dozen small stones from the desert, throwing them forcefully through a rank of soldiers, grinning with satisfaction as the stones tore through the robots, sending pieces of metal flying into the air as explosions tore through the crowd.
Rose could see, as the battle raged on, that the Titans were wearing low on patience, and becoming fatigued besides. Rose had kept to the skies after her initial foray into close quarters, preferring to stay above the main fighting. The other Titans were fighting more heavily than she, and it was beginning to show. Robin was surrounded with a wall of destroyed machines, but more and more continued to clamor over the sides. Cyborg's power was getting low, as he'd been overly free with his sonic cannon in the beginning of the battle. Beastboy was panting heavily, sweating when he was in a form that could. Raven still fought powerfully, doing a great deal of damage, but Rose could see by her wincing between attacks that the fight was pressing her mind to it's limits. Starfire alone seemed to be still bright and full of energy and anger, but Rose was able to tell that even the alien warrior's attacks were slowing.
As another crowd of robots, this time including some larger, white models that Rose recognized from Terra's days, came around from behind another plateau, Rose could see the defeated slump in the Titans' postures. They seemed almost doggedly determined to slay all the robots, despite the stupid uselessness of doing so. There was nothing to defend here. It made more sense to retre-
Rose's thoughts were cut short as a leaping enemy bashed into her from behind. She was bowled forward, off of her stone. She had time while falling to force the robot under her with her powers, using it's body to slow her fall, before tearing it apart just before she landed. Throwing the halves of the robot in different directions, taking out others on the way, Rose began to fight in close, with the rest of the team. She ignored her martial arts knowledge from Terra, instead still using ranged assaults with stones, and blocking with walls when she needed it.
Her body, unaccustomed to combat of any variety, let alone such a long battle, quickly tired, and she could see the others weren't doing much better. Robin was limping heavily, one knee showing through his torn leggings, and badly bruised. Cyborg was fighting hand to hand, with a beeping noise coming from his power display, indicating less than ten minutes of main power reserves. Raven was sweating profusely, grimacing each time her power manifested itself, her mind completely exhausted. Beastboy was covered in small cuts and bruises, his animal forms only so effective against the metal robots. Starfire was firing fewer starbolts as her power waned, and just mechanically tearing the robots apart with her strength.
Rose saw the new wave of robots encircle the Titans, and felt panic come across her as she realized that they were being overwhelmed. She fought hard along with them, firing rocks and throwing stones, but there were simply too many enemies to overcome. Her muscles were sore, when she saw the first Titan go down. Cyborg's power supply finally cut out, and he collapsed, his blue mechanical parts fading to a dark gray. The other Titans, Rose included, formed a ring around their fallen comrade, defending him desperately.
Beastboy was next, finally knocked unconscious from a large, white robot that pulled him into the air, gripping him in it's claws. He managed a choked cry for help before he passed out. The machine was immediately encased in Raven's black power, as she suddenly found the will to use them again, crushing the metal under her will, and running to the green boy's side as he fell from the claw. "We can't do this. We have to run."
Starfire sounded angry, but also a bit scared. "Run to where? We are surrounded, and they are most adept at leaping."
Rose felt the panic rising in her, as she continued to fight, defending the fallen and Raven, who was no longer able to fight. The circle of robots tightened, and there was less and less room to maneuver. As another of the large white robots lifted Rose into the air, her powers finally snapped. The yellow glow took over her vision, and she could feel her hair flying out behind her. "Enough!"
A flash of yellow light exploded outwards from Rose, shattering the white robot holding her, and moving around her in a large circle, slicing and demolishing all the robots in it's path. Rose couldn't see past the yellow glow of her eyes, though she could feel herself floating in the air, without a stone under her feet. In a few seconds, the explosion of power was gone, and she crashed to the ground, exhausted.
She felt a hand on her shoulder, and turned quickly, expecting another machine. Seeing Robin, however, she relaxed, and looked around, seeing the ocean of destroyed machines around her. One standing figure in the distance caught her eye, and she heard Robin frown. She hadn't thought it was possible to actually hear a frown.
Slade walked calmly towards them, picking his way through the broken and twisted bodies of the machines. Robin pushed Rose behind him, and Rose realized that they were the only Titans still standing. Rose's explosion seemed to have knocked the others around a bit, and Starfire and Raven had been knocked unconscious. Rose was relieved to see that Cyborg hadn't been affected by her attack.
Robin gave a desperate shout and rushed towards Slade, as it became apparent that Slade was no longer interested in talk. Robin threw a heavy and tired punch directly towards him, which Slade calmly sidestepped and countered, his fist slamming into Robin's stomach, and knocking the breath from him. Robin crumpled to the ground, coughing heavily. Rose lifted nearby robotic bodies into the air, menacing Slade with them, but unable to bring herself to attack him. He was still her father; she couldn't just hit him.
Robin struggled to his feet, and apparently deciding to forgo all finesse, simply jumped at Slade, grappling him. The two men struggled with one another, and Rose couldn't help Robin now if she wanted, as she didn't trust her aim that much. Finally, Slade crashed his fist into Robin's temple, and Robin's body finally succumbed to the endless attacks today, and he fell to the ground, unconscious.
Slade stood up, and turned calmly towards Rose. "Everyone has their limit, girl."
Rose moved the steel she was holding in the air. "Don't come any closer! I'm with the Titans! I'll fight you if I have to!"
Slade looked at the mechanical corpses she was holding, and then turned his eyes back to her. "You can't threaten me, child. You may not consider yourself Terra," Slade moved his hand, and pressed a small button on his wrist. "But you are still in her body..."
Rose felt her body go limp, and the world went dark, as she slipped into unconsciousness.
"... and Terra's body is always mine to control."
Rose opened her eyes slowly, her body sore from the fight, and her head pounding with pain. It was dark, wherever she was, but her eyes adjusted quickly. Slade was standing nearby, watching her. Rose tried to stand, but her hands wouldn't move right. She looked down at them, and found them bound by a pair of heavy, high-tech handcuffs. Rose struggled to her feet anyway, despite her limited mobility.
"You are awake. Good." Slade's voice was, as ever, calm and quiet.
"How..." Rose winced, her head pounding with pain. "How did you knock me out?"
Slade walked over to her, and gently brushed her hair from her face. "Terra trusted me to do anything I desired. Many of the implants are now so completely integrated with your nervous system that it is nearly impossible to remove them. One such implant was used to render you unconscious."
Rose recoiled from Slade's touch. "I told you before not to touch me, daddy. You aren't my real father; don't act like you are. Why did you handcuff me?"
"Don't be stupid, girl. You know that you are more powerful than any one person should be. I placed the metagene inhibitors on you for my own protection."
Slade paused a moment, looking at Rose. "You remember it all now, don't you?"
Rose nodded slowly. "Yes, I do. You're a monster. Terra hated you."
"I have no doubt of that. In fact, it leads to my point. I'm finished, Rose. I'm done with you."
Rose didn't know what he was talking about, and just listened.
"When I first... 'adopted' you, I was stalling. I'd run to your statue in hopes of finding you alive, with no plan in mind to use you. As time passed, and your new personality manifested, I knew that you were beyond my control. I no longer need an apprentice, and Terra was never a good student. Neither are you. You may leave."
A light turned on, somewhere above them, and highlighted a small table nearby. Slade walked over to it, picking up the two small cards on it. He returned to Rose, and held them up, so that she could see them. It was a driver's license, and a social security card. "These are for a young woman named Rose Markov. She exists as of yesterday. She is eighteen years old, a high school graduate, and an orphan. Perhaps she looks young for her age, but the official documents are all where they need to be, and her existence lies in your hands."
The manacles fell to the floor, deactivating themselves. Rose felt her power return immediately, and realized how weak she'd felt without it. She reached out, and took the cards from Slade. They looked real. "Why go through this much trouble for me?"
"If you have somewhere to start in life, you will be less likely to annoy me. Rose Wilson can no longer be your name. Rose Markov, however, was never connected to this. You can live as a normal girl, with no meta powers attached to your name. You are free to go. There is a box with forty thousand dollars in small, unmarked bills, in a storage locker at the airport, in your name. Use it to do whatever you wish." Slade stepped backwards, away from Rose. Lights clicked on above, showing the way to an exit, where a door opened, bright light from outside shining in.
Rose hesitated. Was he really just letting her go? She was able to do whatever she wanted? That seemed... so impossible. She took a few steps towards the door, watching Slade carefully, and walking backwards to avoid turning from him. He made no move at all. She finally turned around, and started walking at a normal pace towards the door, not wanting to look too anxious or do anything to make Slade change his mind. Suddenly, a flash of darkness seemed to pulse through her mind, and she felt Raven's presence.
Rose turned around quickly, putting the identification cards into her pocket, but facing Slade. "Where are they?"
Slade narrowed his eye. "The Titans?"
Lights clicked on above, lighting a series of five large, X-shaped restraints, on the other side of the dark room. The Titans were strapped to these, all wearing specialized looking equipment, doubtlessly for disrupting their powers. Raven was the only one that seemed conscious, holding her head halfway upwards, as she was held in place. She looked exhausted, and the anger in her eyes froze Rose even at this distance.
Rose turned to Slade again. "Let them go!"
Slade's voice was calm, but not without a hint of anger. "The Titans have been a thorn in my side for years. I have defeated them. They are mine."
Bringing her powers into the front of her mind, Rose saw her hands glow, and the yellow tint in her vision showed that her eyes were as well. "Let them go, Slade! They are my friends. I won't let you hurt them!"
A metal wall seemed to lower automatically around the Titans, as Slade reached up, and removed his mask. He spoke carefully. "Fine. Do it, child. Attack me."
Rose frowned. She should... he was evil... She should just pick up the floor and mash him into paste, but...
He was still her father.
Without the mask, without the "Slade" identity, he was her father again. The man who had helped her with her more difficult homework, had bought her presents, cooked dinner, spoken with her when things were going badly at school, and been there for her whenever she'd needed him. He was her father, whether he had been her real father or not, and she couldn't just kill him.
"You won't do it. Even if Terra hated me, you do not. Go, Rose. Leave." Slade looked smug.
Rose smirked. Fine. If he wanted to play it this way, then she wouldn't hurt him. She'd just have to let the Titans do it. Rose's hands glowed brightly as she focused, and quickly tore the metal wall away, letting it crash into the darkness. The restraints around the Titans' arms and legs tore apart as well, and the teenagers fell to the floor, Raven struggling to her feet afterwards.
Slade quickly replaced his mask, as the wall was torn away, and rushed quickly for the open door. Raven knelt, next to Robin, her hands glowing as she healed his injuries. She turned towards Rose, who was running towards them. "Go after him, Rose. You can still fight. I'll take care of the others. Go!"
Rose nodded, smiling at Raven. Seeing the smile weakly returned, she turned quickly, pulling a metal plate from the floor and flying after Slade. The bright light outdoors blinded her for a moment, as she flew through the exit, but not enough that she lost Slade. She was faster, on her powered flight, and quickly caught up to the man, who was currently running across the rooftop of a nearby building. Trying to stop him, Rose suddenly realized, would be difficult.
Rose pulled an air conditioning duct from the roof, throwing it at Slade, hoping to at least knock him over and slow his escape. Slade reached up, grabbing on to her floor plate, and swung upwards, dodging the duct and knocking her off balance. She fell off of the plate, tumbling on the rooftop, as he landed expertly on his toes, and was running again before she could even realize she'd fallen. Rose ran to where the plate had landed, and stepped onto it again, lifting herself into the air and pursued, finding him in a nearby alley. Slade jumped onto a strange looking motorcycle, and pressed a series of switches on the side. The machine immediately roared to life, and carried him quickly away. Sensing with her powers, Rose could find no metal inside the machine, seemingly made of some high-tech plastic.
Rose knelt on the floor plate, gripping the edge, and increasing her speed. Slade weaved in and out of traffic, tearing down the grid like streets of the industrial area of town. Rose had to focus on staying in sight, as well as staying on her ride, rather than trying to slow him at all.
Finally, Slade pulled out onto a highway, which Rose recognized as the main thoroughfare for Jump City. Finally able to focus on speed instead of agility, both Slade and Rose increased their velocity. Slade dodged traffic as he drove down the wrong side of the highway. His constant motion made him a difficult target. Rose frowned, but knew she had to do something to slow him. She concentrated, and a wall of stone sprang up a dozen feet in front of Slade's bike. Slade dodged it quickly, slipping into the adjacent lane. Car horns blared loudly as commuters swerved around the sudden blockage.
Tearing part of the wall off, Rose threw it at Slade in exasperation, her frustration overriding her concern about her father. The stone was easily dodged by Slade, but rolled down the street, crashing into a car that was coming the other way. Rose slowed quickly, but the driver was out of the car in a moment, not injured, but shaken. Not knowing how to apologize in this situation, Rose continued the chase.
By the time Terra was able to catch up again, Slade had crossed onto the Bronzegate Bridge, which spanned the eastern side of the bay. Traffic was moving slower here, and more sparse, due to the toll booth at the entrances. Slade was driving in a straight line now, and Rose felt more confident. Pulling hard with her powers, she tore a chunk of metal support structure from the bridge, and slung it in front of Slade, smashing into the concrete. Slade quickly pulled upwards on the front of the light vehicle, ramping himself over the damaged section, as cars swerved to avoid the manic driver and metahuman combat.
Angry and frustrated, Rose punched downwards with her hands, and the road itself buckled and collapsed in front of Slade, who simply turned the bike sharply, ramping the concrete separation between directions, and crossing to the other side of the bridge. The traffic ahead of the collapse stopped short, and the panicked civilians ran away from the damaged area. Rose followed, as they passed the other end of the bridge, heading into the skyscrapers and high rises of the financial district.
Rose pulled a vacant taxi from the side of the street and flung it forward, ahead of Slade. She realized with horror that she'd mis-aimed, but was relieved as it only clipped off the front of his motorcycle, instead of his head. Slade jumped from the destroyed vehicle, and rolled as he landed, expertly slowing himself without injury. Rose flew past him on her floor plate, banking it as she slowed herself, so that she wouldn't slide off of it. Slade stood again, as traffic stopped around them, the crashed car and bike making it difficult to continue.
Rose lowered her plate, and stepped off of it, her hands and eyes glowing dangerously. "Give up, Slade! You can't win!"
Slade stood confidently, seeming smug. "I've already won, Rose. Look around you."
Rose looked around, not certain of what she was supposed to see. The civilians were getting out of their cars, staring at her and Slade with wide eyes. They didn't recognize her, and that seemed to make them distrustful. If she wasn't a Titan, she must be a villain. They were afraid of her. She'd been tearing through town, destroying bridges and roadways, and she hadn't realized that she was terrifying people.
She didn't want to do this. She didn't want to scare people. Her mind rushed back to Ashley and her schoolmates, the first time she'd lost control as Rose. She had to stop this.
She looked back at Slade, who seemed to be smirking, even though she couldn't see his face behind his mask. "Goodbye Rose. I'll be watching you."
Slade clicked another button on his wrist, and disappeared, seemingly into thin air. Terra's memories of his research made Rose assume that he had only cloaked himself, but she had no way of being certain. Regardless, she had no way to trace him. Rose ignored the civilians, and walked back to her plate, and took off again, heading back to where the Titans were, to help them back to the tower.
The daylight was fading outside the large windows in the operations room of Titans Tower, as Rose stood with the Titans. They had arrived some time earlier, but had been busy healing themselves and recharging Cyborg. All of the teenagers were bandaged and bruised, but none of their injuries were too severe. In a few days, they'd all be back to normal.
Rose had taken the time to retrieve the money from the airport, switching it from the case it came in, which she'd assumed was full of tracking devices, into a burlap sack that she'd bought at a nearby shop. She'd also purchased a belt for her costume, similar to the one that Terra had used, just in case she ever needed it. She wasn't really certain what to do with that much money, but knew that it would run out soon enough if she had to live on her own.
Robin had called everyone to operations shortly after Rose had returned, and Rose was nervous, uncertain as to what was about to be announced. The other Titans had a vaguely excited demeanor, with the exception of Raven, and it made her anxious. Smiling, Robin stepped towards her.
"Rose, We know that you aren't really sure what you want to be, and we don't want to pressure you. However, after we talked about it, we decided to offer you this."
Robin held out a small, yellow communicator. Rose looked down at it, and then back up to Robin's face. He grinned. "We want you to be an honorary Titan, Rose. You don't have to stay with us, if you don't want to, but you'll always have a way to call us."
Rose reached out, and took the communicator in her hand, looking at it incredulously. Her? A Titan? "Wow, I... I don't know what to say. I mean... sure! I'd like to be a Titan!"
"Wonderful!" Rose barely had time to brace herself, before Starfire hugged her overly tightly again. "We are most happy that you have accepted! We were worried that you may decline."
"Great to have you on the team, Rose. We could always use another butt-kicker like you." Cyborg had a confident grin on his face.
"Woo! Back on the team! Well, you know what I mean." Beastboy flashed an awkward smile. Rose couldn't help but laugh.
Raven put her hand on Rose's shoulder. "Are you sure? I know you don't want to fight for the rest of your life."
Rose nodded. "I'll figure something out. I mean, it was sort of fun fighting the robots today, at least at first."
Cyborg yawned, making a big show of it, like normal. "Well, it's not even eight yet, but I'm goin' to bed. Nothing like a long day of fighting crime to tire you out."
Robin nodded. "We should all get some rest. We need to be as healed as we can by tomorrow."
Rose waved to the others as the group broke up, heading to their rooms. Rose walked down the hallway to her room, holding the communicator, and looking at it. A Teen Titan. She could be a superhero. She'd known it was possible ever since her powers had first gone off, but it had never seemed so real as now. She was a Titan.
Rose stopped at her door, looking at the name on the front. Terra. If she became a Titan, would she slowly become Terra? Fighting every day, with Terra's teammates, against villains that could kill her without even trying, or even against her father... would she become the overconfident, powerful girl she had been?
Rose sighed, clicking the button next to the door, and opening it. She stepped inside, and closed it behind her, pressing the switch to lock it as well, now that she remembered how to. She crossed the room, and sat down on the end of the bed, looking down at her communicator. The sack of money sitting in the corner was still there, which Rose noted happily. She'd been half afraid that Slade would think better of his offer and steal it back. Rose looked back to the communicator, and sighed.
Reaching into her pocket, she pulled out the license and social security card for Rose Markov. The name was a nice choice. She was used to being Rose, instead of Terra or Tara, and Markov kept her parent's name alive, at least for now. She held the cards in her right hand, and the communicator in her left.
Choices. It always came down to some binary choice. She could either be Rose Wilson, a Teen Titan, and a superhero, or Rose Markov, a normal girl, struggling to make ends meet, but not living in constant danger every day.
Her left hand held excitement. It held martial training, endless combat, and immense personal power. It held immunity to the law, as well as possible eventual Justice League membership. She could save the world. She could be a big hero, like Superman, or Wonder Woman. She could live every little kid's dream.
Her right hand held stability, and sanity. It held daily work, financial troubles, and a low-rent apartment. However, it also held the possibility of a normal life. She could date some guy that she met at a coffee shop, fall in love, get married, and have kids. She could go to college, study hard, and become whatever she wanted. Normal life, as boring as it sometimes was, afforded her different options than the exciting life of a hero.
Rose sighed. She couldn't be expected to make this decision right now, but the longer she waited, the less likely she was to break from whatever path she followed while she decided. Rose stood, sighing heavily, and pocketed the cards. She placed the communicator in a compartment in her belt. Rose walked across the room, and picked up the small, mirrored box.
She opened it, and looked at herself in the mirror. Once again, she was surprised at her appearance, looking so much like the same, naive high school girl that had existed only a few days ago. Looking at her reflection somehow made things clearer. She wasn't a Titan. She wasn't Rose Markov either. She was herself, and she had to find out who that was before she could be anyone else.
Rose, now dressed in normal clothes, landed her stone next to the quiet highway, the nighttime darkness surrounding her. She looked back, at Jump City, with Titans Tower shining brightly in the bay, and smiled. It was a good city, but she had to go. There was too much history there.
Rose turned, looking down Highway 101, at the lights of San Francisco in the distance. She took a deep breath, and stepped forwards, starting her long walk to the city, not wanting to show up as Rose Markov, flying around on a rock. Her first few steps went well, before the now-familiar black shape appeared in front of her, startling her for a moment.
The shaped formed into a young girl, and Raven was there again, her face another show of practiced indifference. Something about her manner gave away her sadness, however, and Rose suddenly felt bad for not at least saying goodbye first. Raven looked at her. "Leaving?"
Rose nodded. "Yeah, I can't stay. There's too much attached to the Titans for me. If I stay, I'll just be Terra number two."
Raven sighed. "To Robin, perhaps. He sometimes tends to see people as a list of powers and abilities, rather than actual people. You know that it isn't true for everyone else, Rose."
"Yeah, but... I don't know. I'm not Terra Markov, not anymore. But I'm not Rose Wilson either, not only her, anyway." Rose found it hard to put her thoughts into words. She wasn't really even certain what she was leaving for, but she knew she had to.
"I won't stop you from leaving. None of the others are even awake. I just wanted you to know..." Raven hesitated a moment, looking mildly uncomfortable with close talk. "You have a home here. If you ever need a place to stay, or if you ever just need someone to talk to, call me. I'll be here."
Rose smiled. "Thanks, Raven. You've been a really good friend for me. I'll be back sometime. I just need to take some time to sort things out. I've been running away from everything for so long, either as Terra, when she ran away from her mistakes, or as Rose, running away from her past, that I need to take some time to come back. I need to find myself before I can make any big decisions."
Raven nodded. "Good luck then. We'll be here if you need us."
Rose hesitated a moment, and then stepped towards Raven, putting her arms around her, and hugging her briefly. To Rose's surprise, Raven hugged her as well. Rose pulled away before Raven got annoyed, and smiled. "Thanks for being a friend. I'll keep in touch, ok?"
Raven nodded. "You helped me as well. I needed this, to get over what Terra had done. Thank you. I'll be waiting to hear from you. Goodbye, Rose."
Rose waved, as Raven teleported away again. Rose looked back at Jump city one last time.
She smiled, and walked down the highway, to find her new life.
A/N: I know, it's a weird ending, but Rose is going back to what Terra did for a while, but hopefully with happier results. Thanks for reading this fic, and I hope you liked the final chapter. I don't know what I'll be writing next, or when, but hopefully it'll be good. See you then!