Author's Note: OK... Some things to mention. First of all YES I know this is a miserably tragic way to end the story. That's why (since I know how much people love happy endings) I left you with a bit of hope at the end... "for something worthy," as Robin says. As much as I wanted to attatch a big ol' fat "END" at the bottom of this page, I didn't. Why? So y'all can hope for that something better. Also, Green Gallant, yeah, I realize Robin was out of character... but that's part of the greif I guess. I dunno. Maybe I'm just BS-ing. Gyah. I think I will change this rating (It's fluxuated ALOT between T and M for various reasons... mostly, since a story near identical to this was broacast on televsion, it's been T. But I think you're right, I will raise the rating. Argh, whatever.
Chapter Five: Homecoming
Back at the tower, the Titans began to gather the pieces. Cyborg was repairing the window in the medical unit. The room that used to belong to Starfire; that Terra now occupied.
"So, no army of doom, then," said Terra, sitting up in her bed and smiling wanly. "Huzzah for our side."
"Yeah," said Cyborg, putting in the new window pane. "I guess."
He didn't really want to be there, Terra could tell. He, like Robin, like all of them, blamed her for what happened to Starfire. Maybe not directly. But she was a part of it.
"I-I'm sorry, Cyborg," Terra said.
Cyborg looked down after sealing the pane in place. "I know you are."
"I can't change—"
"But I really wish you could."
Raven and Beast Boy were in the living room. Beast Boy was looking over Raven's shoulder as she breezed through page after page of her book.
"What are you doing? We won, didn't we?" he said.
"Yeah," said Raven. "But we still need to close the gateway to Illyria's temple. Permanently. I don't want any more surprises."
"Yeah, me neither," said Beast Boy, shivering. "What about the leather queen?"
"Illyria still has enough energy to be a threat. We regroup and we take care of it. Robin?"
Raven looked up to see their leader watching them, intently.
"It's all we can do," he said. "I'll be in Starfire's room."
He turned to leave then stopped at the stairs, his head low. "You guys are… great friends, you know," he said. "I care about you… a lot."
There was a pregnant pause. "We know," Raven said.
"We love you too," Beast Boy added.
Robin left and Beast Boy sighed. "Long day."
Robin began to clean out Starfire's room. He was packing her things away in boxes. He paused as he took down a large framed picture of all of them on Starfire's dresser. He tossed it into a nearby box.
"You grieve still… for a single life."
Robin stiffened, but he felt Illyria's presence in the room. Robin shut his eyes tight and spoke through gritted teeth.
"Why are you here?"
"I… I'm uncertain." Illyria looked around the room. "This place… it was part of the shell."
Robin snapped and spun around, teeth still gritted. "Don't call her—" He took in a deep, shuttering breath and looked down. "The girl you killed had a name."
"This is important to you," Illyria observed. "Things have names. The shell. Koriand'r Star. Starfire… She cannot return to you."
Robin turned away from Illyria again. It was painful to look at her. She looked like Starfire. But Starfire wasn't there anymore. The tears leaked through his mask this time. It was too hard.
"Yet…" Illyria intoned. Robin didn't react. He wouldn't let himself. But he did turn around to look at her again. "Yet there are fragments. When her brain collapsed, electrical spasms channeled into my function system… memories."
Illyria held up her hand with a gap between her thumb and forefinger. An electrical spark formed and she began to speak, in Starfire's voice. "Please… Robin… Why can't I stay?"
Robin turned away and felt like he was going to throw up. "No," he gagged. "Leave."
"I've nowhere to go," Illyria said. "My kingdom is long dead. Lond dead. There's so much I don't understand. I've become overwhelmed. I am unsure of my place."
Robin turned to her angrily. "Your place is with the rest of your people: Dead and turned to ash!"
"Perhaps…" Illyria nodded. "But I exist here. I must learn to walk in this world." She slowly approached Robin. "I'll need your help… Robin."
Robin held back his pain and shook his head. "If I were to help you find your way… you have to learn to change. You must not kill."
"You killed the Qwa'ha Xahn in defiance of the half-breed," Illyria pointed out.
Robin shook his head. "She murdered the girl I love."
"And that made it just," said Illyria.
"No," said Robin with a sigh. "It wasn't just. I'm probably the last man in the world to teach you what's right. I might have, before. But now that she's gone, I don't even know myself anymore what's right and what's wrong. I don't know if I should teach you."
"But you will. If I abide, you will help me."
Robin spoke softly. "Yes."
Illyria knew his real reasons. "Because I look like her?"
The tears could not be held back any longer. "Yes."
"We cling to what is gone. Is there anything in this life but grief?"
"There's love," said Robin, looking at the thrown away picture. "There's hope… for some. There's hope that you'll find something worthy… that your life will lead you to some joy… that after everything… you can still be surprised."
"Perhaps one day," Illyria said, slowly. "Perhaps one day, your half-breed will find a way to resurrect what is gone. The impossible has been disproved in the past."
"Perhaps," Robin agreed, his gaze far away.
"And then, perhaps…" Illyria continued. "Perhaps I will be where I am supposed to be."
Robin nodded. "Perhaps we all will. We can always hope."
"Is that enough?" Illyria asked him. "Is that enough… to live on?"
Robin didn't answer.