My first fan-fic :o) It's technically my second, but I lost my first one when the computer crashed...but since there's no use crying over spilt milk, I'll pretend that never happened and consider this numero uno.
Disclaimer: Needless to say, I don't own Teen Titans. I do, however, own the bad guy, though I borrowed the name from William Shakespeare's Julius Casear.
Even over the pounding bass and roar of voices in the club, Aqualad—otherwise known as Garth to his teammates—could hear her heave another heavy sigh.
"This is so pointless," she growled, arms crossed defiantly. Her permanent scowl was distorted by the ever-racing, dancing, flashing rainbow lights.
He shrugged, smiling to himself, and replied, "This isn't my sort of thing, either. Too many people."
He sensed—more than saw—Raven raise a skeptical eyebrow as she peered at him from beneath her azure hood. "I thought you're royalty?"
"But I'm Atlantian royalty. I'm not used to all this heat," he said, tugging at the too-tight T-shirt even as he spoke. "Not to mention that fact that I was exiled from Atlantis before I could experience any sort of party." He shifted his weight from one foot to the other and added, "And these clothes don't help; they're driving me nuts."
"They're Beast Boy's—they probably don't even fit."
In fact, he had known the minute he had seen them that the T-shirt and denim shorts were far too small and that he probably should have worn Speedy's clothes instead, but Speedy hadn't offered, and Beast Boy had refused to let Garth leave the Tower without donning more "club friendly" clothing. True, Starfire, Beast Boy (Garfield Logan, nicknamed Gar, but usually just addressed as B.B.), and Speedy had dressed for the occasion as well, but that didn't ease his own discomfort at all.
From within the crowd emerged Beast Boy himself, grinning from ear to pointed elfin ear. He reached for Raven's crossed arms and, before she could protest, pulled her out onto the dance floor. Garth was then left alone, leaning against a barstool, to watch everyone else "dance."
This is dancing? he marveled, not for the first time since the Titans had arrived at the club. They look like they're in pain, writhing around like that.
Garth jumped at hearing his birth name (even at home the Titans usually addressed each other by code name) and turned to find his teammate Speedy—Roy by birth—standing beside him.
"Yeah?" he replied, slightly confused. He could distinctly remember seeing Roy talking to a group of girls just a few minutes ago.
Bearing his most charismatic grin, Roy gracefully settled himself on the barstool Garth was leaning against, and—in a fluid motion true to his name—straddled Garth from behind, hooking his feet together so Garth couldn't leave without a semi-serious struggle.
"What are you—" came Garth's protest, but it was cut short by Roy sticking a straw into his mouth.
"Aw, come on; it's only a soda," laughed Roy, as Garth sputtered in shock at Roy's out-of-character behavior. Ever since Titans East had been formulated the two of them had always been at odds, bickering over even the most meaningless of topics. Now Garth couldn't help wondering if Roy was either somehow drunk or—stranger still—flirting with him.
Roy removed the straw from Garth's mouth, who instinctively tried to turn around and face his captor. To his surprise, Roy unhooked his feet, allowing him to freely turn around—which he did rather than stumble away, like Roy had expected. It was then Garth's turn to smile as surprise registered on Roy's face, which even the club's erratic lighting and his own mask couldn't hide.
"Do you have something to tell me?" Garth asked, forcing his voice to remain calm—even though his heart was inexplicably racing. He should be angry, not excited; had Roy not just damaged his dignity, his ego? But the logic didn't seem quite as logical as Roy shifted in embarrassment before sliding off the seat.
Quickly regaining his composure—Garth was beginning to understand more and more the significance of his comrade's codename—Roy nonchalantly shrugged and stated, "You looked bored. I just thought I'd keep you company."
Garth wasn't convinced. "What about that group of girls?"
Think fast, Roy. And sound like you don't care...
"Huh? Oh. They left." Roy shifted his gaze from Garth to the seething dance floor. He could see the back of Cyborg's head towering above the rest of the crowd, but none of the other Titans were visible.
He vaguely wondering if he was going to faint; the rapid beating of his heart combined with the stifling heat of countless bodies was making him dizzy. Or maybe it was just nerves, but his pride refused to let him admit that to himself.
"Hey. You wanna dance?"
Roy held a strangely inviting hand to Garth, who took it without hesitation.
"You're going to have to teach me," he said with a smile.
After what felt like a blissful eternity of reckless dancing, the stifling heat finally became unbearable for the ocean prince.
"Roy," gasped Garth, "I need to go outside..."
Even before he had finished his sentence he was being led by the hand through the crowd by Roy. They exited the humid confines of the club and were greeted by a blast of cooler, dryer air—but Roy knew this didn't help Garth's condition at all.
"Can you make it back to the tower?" asked Roy, concern furrowing his brow as Garth swayed where he stood. He hadn't realized how long they'd been in the club—had it been an hour already?—and, apparently, neither had Garth; beads of sweat were trickling down the contours of the Atlantian's face and neck, and he was writhing with clenched fists and gritted teeth. Roy knew that his companion didn't have a lot of time before he began to slowly suffocate.
"Shit," hissed Roy. He helped Garth sit with his back against the wall, kneeling beside him, and wrenched his communicator out of his pocket. Garth grasped Roy's free hand, and he gasped slightly at the cold clamminess (Do his hands always feel like this? he wondered; Roy had never felt Garth's skin before).
"Raven? Aqualad needs help."
"Where are you?"
"Just outside. We need to get him to the water."
A split second later, Raven rose from the floor. In another moment she had one hand on Garth's heaving shoulder and another on Roy's shivering one, and the three of them were suddenly on the beach on which they had picnicked earlier that day. It was private and hidden, shielded from prying eyes by boulders that had fallen from the seaside cliff; Garth had discovered it years ago, before even meeting the Teen Titans, and had used it to observe beach goers to better integrate into the surface world should the need had arisen. Foam-crested waves rushed and burbled around Roy's knees as Raven quickly levitated away from the ocean, and the two watched Garth heave himself into deeper water.
Soon he disappeared from sight.
With a relieved sigh, Roy sat on the faint line where the ocean ended and land began, still shivering slightly. Garth had explained to the team about his "earthly limitation"—how he can only be out of the water for an hour at a time—but none of them, including Garth himself, had seen an Atlantian in the beginnings of suffocation (or "reverse drowning," as Garth had said).
"Are you two going to stay out here?" Raven asked.
"Yeah. We'll meet you guys back at the Tower. And Raven," he added, before she could teleport away, "thank you."
She smiled—a rare occurrence—and Roy had the faintest feeling that she knew what was behind the sudden kindness between the previously quarrelsome teammates.
"You're both welcome."
And then she was gone.
Roy resigned himself to watching the glittering ocean as he awaited Garth's return. He was unsure of how long Garth had to be submerged before fully recovering, but he was willing to wait all night. Soon his thoughts were drifting away from the beach and riding on the wind towards unknown horizons.
Wait till the team gets a load of this: Speedy the wannabe lady-killer actually has a crush on a fellow teammate...and it's not Bumble Bee.
Should I tell him? I've come this far...
The memory of Garth dancing, awkward-yet-sensual, against Roy sent another shiver quivering through him. He rubbed his arms absently, staring off past the moon into the unreachable distance.
He has amazing arms. Great abs. God, what I wouldn't give to—
"That was close," murmured Garth, collapsing in relief beside Roy on the beach. Beast Boy's clothes clung to him possessively, catching Roy's eye immediately. Garth's chest and abdomen were perfectly etched—a godly swimmer's physique.
Roy cleared his throat but didn't divert his gaze; Garth's eyes were shut, and his face was turned away from the archer.
"Sure was," Roy agreed. "You okay?"
Garth smiled mildly. "I'll live. I never want to do that again, though."
The two listened to the constant roar of the ocean dancing with the wind until Garth propped himself up on his elbows and turned to face Roy.
"Let's go for a swim."
Roy raised an eyebrow. Was he serious? "Didn't get enough?"
"How could I? I've seen your world; I want you to see mine."
"It's night; what is there to see?" Why was Roy objecting? He finally had time alone with Garth, and they weren't squabbling for once. Plus, Garth would probably remove Beast Boy's constricting clothing...
Garth smiled mysteriously, and Roy felt his heart melt. "You'd be surprised what's down there."
"Okay...but what am I supposed to swim in? My underwear?" Roy laughed as he asked this, but his heart had stopped in anticipation of the aquatic heartthrob's reaction.
To Roy's incredulous delight, Garth laughed, too. "Why not? You'll drown in those clothes." Even as he spoke he was peeling off his own sopping shorts, revealing black briefs.
And a pair of very nicely toned, alabaster legs.
Roy felt his cheeks grow warm as his eyes wandered up Garth's legs. "You wouldn't let me drown, though, would you?"
Garth's reply was muffled. "Of course not," he said, struggling with his T-shirt.
Stifling a laugh, Roy climbed to his feet and helped Garth yank the saturated shirt over his head. Garth shook his head, sending sand sprinkling down his shoulders and back. Roy than found himself standing inches away from an almost-naked Garth, resulting in a full-on blush.
He had not a hair on his body—a result of Atlantian genetics, no doubt—and, though pale-skinned, his complexion wasn't ghastly or pasty, which contrasted deliciously with his ebony hair. He was thin, but every muscle was perfectly toned with a lifetime of swimming, providing a look of strength unlike that of a grotesquely large body-builder. His posture was perfect, typical of nobility.
And, for the first time, Roy noticed the color of Garth's eyes.
"Your eyes are purple," he stated simply, almost surprised. He had assumed they were entirely black, as they appeared from a distance.
Garth blinked—he was becoming tense under Roy's scrutiny—and said, "That's why I was exiled from Atlantis. Atlantians with purple eyes used to be considered inferior."
Why so nervous? he asked himself. He was using every shred of willpower he had to refrain from stepping away from Roy and was beginning to panic about having confided the truth of his exile to someone. He'd always been a loner—with the exception of Aquaman's guidance, of course—but now he found himself wanting Roy to know everything, even though a conflicting conscience told him to not say anything else.
"So..." Garth turned to face the ocean, confused about what he was doing and whether he should continue. Why was he so drawn to Roy? He always had been, but had hidden it by...
Was that it? Did he and Roy pick fights to hide their feelings for each other? Was it possible that Roy returned his taboo affections?
"So?" repeated Roy, abruptly tugging Garth back to the situation at hand. In Garth's pondering Roy had already removed his clothing and was now standing before the confused prince in….
"Are those Finding Nemo boxers?" asked Garth incredulously. Roy struck a pose, planting his hands firmly on his waist as he shifted his weight to one leg in a classic "superhero" stance.
"Yes. Yes, they are. Like 'em?" he asked slyly.
"Of course I do. That movie was terrific. But I didn't think you'd wear aquatic anything, what with the way we're constantly fighting…" Garth trailed off, gauging Roy's reaction. He had ventured into rough territory, and now it was the moment of truth.
Roy recognized it, too, and decided he had nothing to lose in admitting the truth.
"Actually…we need to talk about that," he began.
In an instant, both youths were underwater.
Why won't they answer?
"Robin, Garth won't answer, either." She snapped the communicator shut, then took to tossing it between her hands. "This isn't right. Garth always answers."
"Maybe he can't, Bumblebee. Raven said they were at the beach; maybe they just went for a swim."
"It doesn't matter," she asserted. "He always finds a way to answer."
It had been almost half an hour since Raven had teleported Roy and Garth to the beach, and the Titans had since returned to the Jump City Tower. Being the natural leader she was, Karen—alias Bumblebee—was anxious to learn if Garth was all right and when they were to be expected back. While she paced around the main room, Robin (and only Robin, since he had long since turned his back on his life as Dick Grayson) watched from the kitchen, equally as antsy. Unlike Karen, he had long since learned to hide emotion; so he leaned against the kitchen counter, calm and stoic, with arms crossed and gaze focused on the leader of Titans East.
"It's alright, Bumblebee. They can take care of themselves," assured Robin.
Karen quickly turned on him. "I know they can take care of themselves, Robin; they're on my team. I just want to know where they are and how they're doing."
Eyes widening involuntarily, Robin uncrossed his arms and looked on at Karen in surprise. "I didn't mean—"
He was interrupted by the beeping of his own communicator. In the tiny screen appeared Raven's face, brow furrowed more deeply than usual.
"Report." His voice was clipped and strict.
Raven didn't appear to take notice; even if she had, she didn't show it.
"We have a problem."
Oh, my God, I'm gonna die.
He couldn't stop thinking it, over and over, as he was dragged down through the lightless, airless, hopeless ocean in the grip of a creature he couldn't even see. In mere seconds he could already feel more pressure pushing down on his body then he thought he could endure, and it didn't help that whatever it was that had him was already crushing his midsection. He suddenly wondered which would kill him first: the pressure or lack of air.
Head pounding and lungs on fire, Roy made one last feeble attempt to wriggle free of his captor, but to no avail; it tightened its hold even more, and he decided he would just have to accept death—all though, he realized, the irony was too obvious to overlook. He was to die in the ocean, the stomping grounds of his one true love, before he even got the chance to confess—
Holy shit, what was that? He reached up and over his left shoulder, and his hand blindly collided with something soft. His hand was suddenly lightly constricted by something, and he realized that Garth was behind him, holding his hand.
God, please let me live so I can see him one last time…
What must have been Garth's other hand brushed Roy's jaw, and—despite the dire circumstances—he shivered….which he thought was funny, in a sense, because he was rapidly losing physical feeling. Had he not been so numb he may have combusted entirely when Garth's hand "reappeared," turned Roy's head gently to the left, and spread across his neck as Garth pressed his lips against Roy's.
Oh, God...PLEASE let me survive this!
To his (slightly vague) astonishment, his head cleared up a little.
Oh. He's not kissing me; he's giving me air. Must be filtering it from the water and giving it to me or…something.
While he appreciated the oxygen, Roy was feeling the water pressure better than before. Although unsure of whether he would explode or implode, he was starting to panic. He started thrashing again, but promptly stopped when Garth tightened his embrace. Then, as soon as it had begun, the bizarre journey came to an end when the whatever-it-was rudely tossed Roy and Garth, who still held Roy with all he had, straight up and out of the water into a cavern.
Roy's chest ignited.
"Holy fuck!" he hissed, doubling over as his lungs instantaneously swelled with air.
Garth collected Roy in his arms and stood, studying the cavern in the pale green light that washed up from around the perimeter of the room.
Excuse me,> he asked telepathically of an anglerfish he sensed nearby, where are we?>
In the simplistic manner of a single-minded predator accustomed to hunting and swimming, it answered in a dialect no Earth-dweller could hope to comprehend: Cavern. Cassius. Danger. Leave.>
Roy coughed, inhaled, exhaled, and leaned his forehead against Garth's chest. The fire in his lungs had been extinguished only to be replaced by a cold knot of fear in his heart; where were they, and who could possibly have the means of dragging the prince of Atlantis into the ocean down an unknown distance?
"Are you all right?" asked Garth, concern for his comrade overriding his inquiries about his childhood rival.
Roy nodded with a weak and wry smile. "Oh, yeah. I'm great. Fantastic, even. But I would like to know where the Hell we are."
"I think I know…but if I'm right, we could be in trouble."
"And why is that?"
"One of the fish told me Cassius sent the octopus."
Roy's eyes widened. "That monster was an octopus? It was huge!"
"Where do you think legends of the Kraken came from? At any rate,it doesn't make sense that all Cassius wants is a friendly reunion."
"Because I can talk to sea creatures. He could have just sent a dolphin or something to invite me down here. Instead he had it grab you so I would be forced to follow it."
"Oh." Roy had assumed that Garth had been nabbed, too, and had managed to free himself on the trip. "I guess that makes sense."
"Roy, that means he doesn't want to throw us a party."
"Well, who is he? What'd you ever do to him?"
Garth set Roy down, who crossed his arms like the cocky egomaniac he was. Inwardly, Garth smiled, but it wasn't the time to show that.
"Cassius was a childhood…rival, I guess. I met him not long after Orin—er, Aquaman—and I parted ways. He and I became friends, but everything was always competitive to him. It got to the point where he'd even steal admirers from me."
Despite himself, Roy cocked an eyebrow. "'Admirers'?"
"Well, you know: girls. And it didn't bother me so much that he was always putting me down as it did that he was so passionate about it. It really…freaked me out."
"Sounds perfectly natural."
Garth sighed. "You're missing the point. Since we met, he's always dedicated his time and effort from taking things away from me. And this time it really does matter."
Oh, my God.
"Are you saying what I think you're saying?"
"What I'm saying, Roy, is that you're the one thing that matters to me that he has the power to take away…and I couldn't bear to lose you."
By the time Robin and the remaining Titans East arrived at the beach, all—if any—evidence of whatever had happened had been washed away. As Starfire and Garfield surveyed the ocean (the former in the air and the latter as a dolphin in the water), Raven and Cyborg—Victor Stone—met with their arriving team mates.
"We think they were dragged into the ocean, but we don't know by what," explained Victor. "And we haven't seen any sign of them exiting the water, which means Aqualad was overpowered."
"All we have is their clothes," Raven added, "and their communicators are here in their pockets. We have no way of reaching them; I already tried empathically, but they're too far away."
Bumblebee snorted. "So what do we do? We can't just wait around for them if whatever it was could take down Aqualad is his own environment. We gotta find 'em.
"We can go in shifts. Mas, Menos, and I will go first. We'll search for a couple hours, and if we don't find 'em we'll come right back."
Robin nodded curtly. "Call if you need back-up."
"With the way I'm feelin', I ain't gonna need it."
Mere seconds after Garth finished speaking, torches blazed to life along the perimeter of the cavern. Roy and Garth squinted in reflex, then grew tense as someone entered from across the room.
"It's been a long time, hasn't it, Garth?"
Garth resumed his aristocratic stance, despite barely being dressed. "It certainly has. I can't say I much appreciate the manner in which your invitation was extended, however."
Cassius laughed, a grating mixture of pride and malice that put Roy on edge. Barely two minutes had passed and Roy was already angry. It didn't help that he was wearing only a pair of boxers; he suddenly felt vulnerable and a bit awkward. If this guy was the freak Garth made him out to be….
Roy felt himself grow warm, but Cassius's voice quickly delved him back into chills.
"Listen to you, talking like the diplomat you never got the chance to be. Relax, Garth; I was just having a little fun."
"You could've killed him" Garth stated simply, coldly, gesturing over his shoulder to Roy, who had taken to crossing his arms and standing almost directly behind Garth where he was out of Cassius's line of sight.
Cassius didn't seem to catch on. "Who?" He quickly strode around Garth and was instantly standing directly in front of Roy.
"A terrestrial?" gasped Cassius, his voice dripping sarcasm and contempt, as his steely eyes grazed Roy from head to toe. "And a male, nonetheless. Funny. I never imagined you running that way."
Just as quickly, Garth snatched Cassius's arm and pulled him away from Roy, who stepped around behind Cassius where Garth could see him. Garth must have reprimanded him telepathically, because after a moment Cassius smiled and said aloud, "Don't get your briefs in a knot; I'm just getting acquainted. Just a moment ago you were so eloquent and polite."
"I reserve propriety for those deserving of it," Garth shot back.
Cassius's smile hardened. Long seconds passed, and Roy quickly grew anxious to leave. From where he stood Roy couldn't see Cassius's front at all, but he found Garth's expression to be unreadable, and that worried him. He didn't have long to worry, though, before pandemonium broke out between the two Atlantians.
Simultaneously, Cassius spun around and wrapped Roy in superhumanly strong arms while Garth lunged for Cassius himself. In a moment all three were on the ground, but it was an unfair fight; with Roy in Cassius's hold, Garth couldn't make any sort of attack on Cassius, and Roy himself had no chance of escaping from arms that could easily snap his spine in two.
Not to mention that Cassius had a hidden ability.
From a crack in the cavern wall behind Garth slithered two ropes of seaweed, catching the prince off-guard and easily pinning him against the moist stone wall.
Cassius stood and strode across the space to Garth, effortlessly containing the struggling and swearing Roy in his grasp. He sneered but said nothing until he was only inches away from Garth; he then planted a firm hand over Roy's mouth, silencing him, and hissed, "Sorry, old friend, but old habits die hard."
It was all Garth could do not to scream as Cassius turned Roy around and kissed him with all the force he could muster.
Karen was one pissed-off lady, and the twins knew it.
"It's been a damn hour already and we haven't found shit!" she repeated loudly as their blue T-Sub rose to the ocean surface to rendezvous with the original Titans' orange one. "This is ridiculous."
The twins unanimously opted for silence; even if they had said anything, Karen only would've grown more frustrated at the Spanish-English language barrier. For reasons unknown, Mas y Menos seemed to understand English (both written and spoken) but refused to speak it themselves, and while the remaining Titans East had picked up on the basics, there were often times when communication was virtually impossible. Karen had never felt the need to teach them English, though, since they cooperated with the team just fine in battle.
The sub broke the surface and continued ascending up and out of the water. Robin and the others took that as their cue to submerge, which they did, followed by a green dolphin.
Despite herself, Karen sighed. She had failed her teammates, but she hoped with everything in her that the other Titans would find Garth and Roy before anything happened to either of them.
Meanwhile, Garth's mood was descending far below Karen's. He was beyond thinking, beyond feeling; all his energy was devoted to trying to breath. Cassius had left him harnessed to the wall, and Garth was beginning to feel the passage of time as his limbs slowly fell numb from the constriction. His attempts to use the water that had surrounded the cavern had been quashed by Cassius's exit; as he had left, he had mentally taken the water with him, snaking it through the moat until it disappeared beyond Garth's capability to sense it.
He wondered where Roy was. The cavern was obviously frustratingly vast, and Garth hadn't heard anything since Cassius had dragged Roy away an hour ago. Hoping against all hope that Cassius didn't posses any sort of freakish torture devices, Garth reassumed his as-of-yet futile struggle against his algal bindings.
Naturally, Cassius had waited until Garth was weak before striking his final blow. The entirety of the past hour had been nothing but a warm-up, though Roy was obviously less than thrilled to know that the worst was yet to come.
To Cassius's surprise, Roy still had plenty of fight left him in.
"I'm not letting Garth trade himself for me," hissed Roy through gritted teeth. He was doubled over in obvious pain, but the fury in his voice easily overpowered it.
Cassius just as easily overlooked it. "We'll see about that, Terrestrial."
With that, Cassius enveloped Roy in his arms and dragged him back out to the main cavern. Roy immediately commenced in swearing up a storm, catching Garth's attention. The Atlantian raised his head but couldn't see Roy's condition until he and Cassius were right in front of him again.
Then Garth released a curse even Roy could be proud of.
Roy's neck and chest were covered in dark bruises; his arms, back, sides, and stomach were likewise etched with scratches and bite marks. His usually immaculate hair was tremendously askew, the entirety of his body was trembling in rage and anguish, and his breath came in ragged gasps while his teeth bore themselves defiantly. His every wound bled, painting his body a morbid red with handprints and smears.
Garth didn't need an explanation, and Cassius was in no mind to provide one.
"Now," purred Cassius, "I have an offer for you, Garth."
"Shut the hell up, you sick bastard," growled Roy, twisting violently against his captor's hold. Cassius effortlessly overtook him, sinking his teeth into Roy's already bleeding shoulder for good measure, and slammed him up against Garth's immobile form. Garth stifled another curse at the warm and slippery sensation of Roy's blood against his own skin.
"As I was saying," continued Cassius, licking his lips as if Roy's blood was simply a beverage, "I have an offer for you, old friend, though I'm sure you've already figured it out."
Garth had, in fact, figured it out, and was about to voice his agreement when Roy fervently began thrashing again even though he was now sandwiched between the two Atlantians.
"I swear to GOD, Garth, if you trade yourself for me I'll NEVER forgive you!" he roared almost directly into Garth's ear.
Cassius planted one hand firmly over Roy's mouth and nose; the other disappeared from Garth's field of view. Within seconds, Roy's anger quickly diverted itself from Garth's near-compliance to Cassius's intrusion, and he once more began to flail against this violation.
Garth didn't care if Roy never spoke to him again; saving him would be worth it.
"Cassius, stop!" he begged, though it wouldn't be until later when he'd realize just how pathetic he'd sounded. "Take me—"
Roy gave another fierce thrash, struggling to breathe and only managing to murmur and hum through Cassius's hand.
"I'm sorry, Garth; what was that?" Cassius was smiling wickedly, digging fierce fingernails into Roy's already torn flesh.
Garth could sense Roy's fury through his pain, but he chose to look past it. Even as Roy glared and mumbled and struggled, Garth repeated, "Please…take me."
Roy fell silent, fighting the urge to sob—and failing as Garth continued to speak.
"I understand it all now. Ever since we met this is what you wanted: for me to trade myself in for everything you've ever stolen."
His voice was calm and quiet, numb with turmoil. He kept speaking even as Cassius let Roy fall to the cavern floor.
"Now you've got me. Now," Garth's voice cracked almost inaudibly as he added, "you've won."
Cassius's grin widened.
"Desperate" didn't even begin to describe how the Titans were starting to feel. Robin and his team were following Gar as a squid, who was blindly calling out to Garth with his mind. The severity of the situation overshadowed his feeling of stupidity.
Gar startled noticeably. Raven cast her mind out to him, asking, What's wrong?>
I found him, and he's not happy.>
Lead the way.>
Cassius summoned the water back into the channel and led Garth into it, while Roy was restrained against the wall in Garth's place.
Garth, we're almost there,> announced Gar, who had converted to sperm whale to accommodate for the increase in pressure.
He received no answer.
Cassius ran his hands up Garth's arms, through his hair, down his back.
Garth grit his teeth as Cassius leaned toward him.
Raven, you need to hit that spot in the rock with the seismic blasters at full power when I tell you to.>
What about Speedy?>
This is the only way, Raven.>
Cassius stopped with the tip of his nose only centimeters away from Garth's.
"Tell me you love me," he murmured.
Garth took in a deep breath, looked Cassius directly in the eyes, and hissed, "Go to Hell."
There was an explosion, and the ocean rushed in to greet him.
Gar rode the water into the cavern, "echolocating" like mad to find Garth and Roy in the bubbling, murky madness.
Something bumped into his snout.
Gar opened his mouth, scooped up his teammates, awkwardly backed out of the cave, and swam straight up toward the distant, sun-speckled surface.
Another telepathic voice screamed behind him, but Garth told him to ignore it.
Three weeks passed before Roy was fully healed and entirely willing to recount what had happened.
Garth took even longer.
For over two months Karen tried to persuade—even force—Garth to talk, but he continuously refused. Instead he took to watching Mas and Menos play GameStation II when he wasn't training or out on a mission with the team. Even Roy couldn't get a word out of him edgewise; Garth would humor him with only an occasional monosyllable.
But even Garth couldn't stay quiet forever.
"Good night, fellas," called Karen from upstairs. Roy and Garth were seated on either side of Mas y Menos, who were dutifully duking it out on their GameStation.
With a sigh, Karen retreated to the hallway and leaned against the door. Granted, Garth had actually said two words, but that didn't ease Karen's worries in the slightest.
Through the door, she heard Garth call, "Karen?"
"Yeah?" she replied, casually returning to the couch.
Instead of Garth, Roy answered, "We need to tell you what happened."
The pattering of the GameStation controllers slowed as Karen took a seat next to Roy. Garth stood, and the twins immediately moved over so he could sit between Mas and Roy; Karen couldn't help but notice as their fingers entwined and Garth grasped Roy's hand in both of his own.
"Oh, wow," she blurted, causing the boys to smile.
"That's only part of it," Garth said. Roy sighed and leaned against Garth as the prince began to speak.