Disclaimer: I'm really sorry y'all, my life hit a really busy point. I'm still kind of in transition between stages of it. Anyway, here it is way later than expected- the epilogue to Hearts.
One Which Makes the Heart Run Over
Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.
Epilogue: Learn to Fly
Raven felt like her entire world should have swung around on its axis when she spoke those three words. I love you. The world didn't, of course. For one thing, even though it was the first time she'd spoken the words, she realised now it wasn't the first time she'd expressed them.
She'd been telling Beast Boy she loved him since this whole mess had begun.
She'd only needed to say it.
When they woke up in the cave, it was almost anti-climactic. Beast Boy yawned, stretched, woke up in her arms and changed back to human. When he smiled up at her it was a real smile, with all the shadows that made her love him back in place.
Raven could still feel him in the back of her mind. She knew from what Affection had said that she always would. It was toned down a lot, now- her barricades were back up, and somehow Beast Boy had finally learned to build them. Affection had probably shown him how, now that Raven thought about it.
"Raven," Beast Boy said, sounding perfectly normal. "Let's go home."
It wasn't perfect, because the world just didn't work like that.
It was close though.
They flew home, Raven on dark energy while Beast Boy took the form of a red-tailed hawk. Raven could sense him getting nervous when they got closer, but she used their mental link to reassure him wordlessly. He sent back gratitude.
Robin was waiting for them at the Tower entrance. He didn't say a word when they landed. Instead, he crushed Raven in a brief hug, then turned to Beast Boy. There was a moment's hesitation, but the thought-channels between all the Titans were still not quite closed, and when Beast Boy felt Robin's regret and sense of responsibility he stepped into an even briefer embrace.
Then, of course, Starfire had to fly out and bruise both their ribs with hugs, and then nothing would do but that Cyborg did the same.
Some experimentation found that whatever Affection had done had negated the effects of the collar, so Raven snapped it off and set it on a shelf in her room. It seemed surreal when, a few minutes later, the entire team found themselves sitting around the couch together.
Starfire broke the silence. "It is good to be together again, friends."
"Yeah," Robin smiled behind his mask. "Yeah, it is."
"And hey, now it'll be a lot easier to explain what I'm tryin' to get across when we're workin' on the T-car!" Cyborg grinned.
"Yeah." Beast Boy grinned sheepishly down at his hands, then cleared his throat. "I'm, uh, really sorry about all this, guys."
He was met with a chorus of protest, but looked up at Raven when she laid a hand on his back.
"Don't be," she said firmly. "This wasn't your fault. We should have noticed something was wrong." She met the eyes of each of the other Titans in turn. "From now on, we'll keep a closer eye on each other." A ragged chorus of agreement met her statement.
There was a comfortable silence for several long minutes then, each of them lost in their own thoughts, but still aware of the other Titan's muted emotions in the back of their minds.
Finally Robin stirred. "Are we okay with this?"
No one had to ask what he meant. Cyborg shrugged. "For now, yeah. I think it might get a little irritating down the road though," he cast a meaningful look at the paired-up Titans. "We should definitely learn how to control it."
"But we're okay with having this… this mental affinity, or whatever it is?" Robin persisted. "It doesn't creep anyone out too much?"
"I like it," Starfire put in. "It is a very reassuring link to my friends."
"This is gonna be so weird," Cyborg said thoughtfully.
It was. It took some getting used to. It was strange to have Raven hand him a wrench before he'd asked for it, to see the way Robin and Starfire would disappear together with no audible discussion, to experience battles where they could anticipate the other's moves even farther ahead of time than they could before. It was frightening. It was exhilarating.
Eventually the channels wore their own paths, so that Robin and Starfire were more attuned to each other, and Beast Boy and Raven were more in sync, and so that Beast Boy and Raven and Cyborg together had their own private understandings. After a while Robin was freaked out enough by it that he learned to shield his mind better than before, only letting the shields down when he felt comfortable enough to do so. Beast Boy let his shields down whenever he felt depressed and the others took a cue from that.
Beast Boy and Cyborg also kept trying to use the channels to cheat against each other at video games, which Raven privately- or as privately as possible- thought was vastly entertaining.
Their lives would never be normal again.
But then, their lives had never been normal in the first place.
GuardianSaiyoko: Annnd that's all folks. Sorry it's short, but like I said in the waybackwhen, this really is an epilogue. It just took forever to get a feel for it. I have one last confession to make before I'm off to other things, and that is: I wrote this on a dare. Seriously. Cy dared me to try my hand at Teen Titans fanfiction forever and a day ago, so I went for it, and I never expected it to go over so well. Thanks for everything, all of you. You've no idea how it brightens my day even now to open my e-mail and see alerts and faves and reviews in there. It's been a long, slow, crazy ride.