This is the last chapter of Red, but there is a follow-up. The first chapter of Jade is posted, and will be ready as soon as you finish this chapter. Read, review, and enjoy.
"Hey, Sleeping Beauty. What big claws you had."
Logan stretched- okay, maybe he shouldn't stretch that arm. "A computer for a brain, and you can't even keep fairy tales straight." He was in the med bay, he was tired, and the last thing he remembered was Rouge, and- "Where's Raven?"
"Asleep. She woke up last night around eleven. We convinced her she wasn't up to healing a paper cut, Tim gave her the brief version of the fight, and then she crashed in her room."
"Everyone else is okay?"
Victor nodded. "Raven has a bruise on her cheek. You got yourself pretty banged up, but Raven said that it was nothing she couldn't handle after a full night's sleep and some breakfast. It'll be lunch by the time she gets up, but we have nothing else going on today."
"What did I do?" Logan felt like he had ran a marathon through a gauntlet.
"You attacked Rouge. Claws, teeth, punches- whatever. She kept shifting and healing herself, but she couldn't get rid of you. Robin threw his explosives at Rouge. Starfire got them to explode just before contact. He and Star kept that up for a full half hour until the police could arrest her. The jurisdiction's going through Robin to ask Batman for a way to contain her without going against the eighth amendment."
"The meta acts said that the eighth doesn't apply to metas," Logan reminded him.
"That could change. The election is tomorrow, and Whittaker's riding on the public sympathy."
"How much of the fight made the news?"
"No one has footage, and the cops aren't sharing just what happened. They don't know Tim's there, but my identity isn't exactly secret," Victor said.
"You at least have a hologram, once in a while. Green isn't exactly discreet." Logan didn't dwell on how much effort it took to sit up.
"You're just in the med bay on a precaution. If you're sore, it's because Rouge did a number on you before Tim and Star could get her off. After the fight, you weren't all in there, but you made sure Raven was okay before you fell over," Victor said.
"Speak of the pretty healer…" Logan said.
She flushed, just as he had predicted, but rolled her eyes. "Some people. Just because they're heroes…" The thought trailed off, and she didn't continue it. "Tim is cooking. Starfire is helping him, but there won't be any Tamaranean fare. The faster I heal you, the faster you can get to breakfast or lunch."
"Heal away," he said, offering a hand. "You need contact, right?"
Her hand was small in his, and her eyes were fixed on the white light that spread from her hand.
"You had cracked ribs, along with the bruises," she said when the last of the white light had faded away.
"That's not bad," Logan said. There was an upside to being a beast, then. Rouge hadn't been able to do much damage.
"Thanks," she said. The word was easy. She even could meet his eyes, saying it. "Not many people would have done that for me."
"I can think of four," he said. "I only can speak for one, but I know I'd do it again."
She could feel something behind the green expression and greener eyes, and it wasn't a threat. It was a promise, one of the best kinds. "I hope that I don't have to take you up on that. And it's mutual."
That was it. She slipped her hand out of his, and they went to breakfast.
Tim needed to call Oracle. She had sent an e-mail about something just a few hours after Rouge had been arrested. It was in their old code, a message that Tim could receive while at school. None of his classmates would think it was suspicious that Barbara needed him to come over to help with her computer. They didn't know that Oracle could write programs Tim couldn't figure out how to operate, and he never had been able to tell him just why that e-mail was funny.
He remembered that code; it was odd, how well he remembered that, but he also remembered the weekend that they had spent making it up. He should call her within twenty-four hours. It was important. The severity of the computer problem necessary meant that it did involve a civilian life. An hour wouldn't make a difference, though, if Oracle had it under control. He could have gone to his office-but it was Starfire's day with the dishes.
"Hey, Starfire." It wasn't the most original opening, but she did turn and smile.
"Hello, Timothy. Breakfast was most excellent. Do you need anything?"
"Rinsing off the pots and pans usually isn't this much work," Tim said. "I'll help you with them."
"You do not have to. I have no problem with cleaning."
"Maybe I want to."
It was the right thing to say, it seemed, because her smile changed to a new expression. Starfire had dozens of smiles, he thought. This one meant that she was happy with him, and that smile remained unique to him. "That is very nice of you, Timothy."
"My motives aren't all charitable, you know. I have a few that are pretty selfish."
"What would those be?" she asked.
"I know things got… confusing, and I never meant for that to happen. Can we start over?"
She finished scouring the last pan. He placed it in the dishwasher before she answered.
"Do you mean to start from the very beginning? If so, we already have had our disputes. I believe those can be not counted." She set down the last pan.
"It'd mean a lot to me, if we could be friends again."
Starfire smiled, a completely different expression, and he realized just how close he was standing. "If we are starting from the beginning, and already have fought…"
She kissed him, and was walking away before his jaw could drop.
"The Titans to see you, Ms. Whittaker."
"Send them right in, Chloe." Darcy glanced at her desk-it was a wreck. When Robin had called her to mention that he and the team would be visiting, she had thought that he meant within the week, if at all. She hadn't expected that they would be walking through her office in the next five minutes. Papers were half-packed into boxes, a tornado could only neaten the clutter on her desk, and her cell phone had been lost somewhere in her inbox.
She stood when she heard footsteps in the hall, and met them at the door of her narrow office. "Thanks for dropping by. My office is currently a disaster area, not that there ever was enough room for six people. The conference room isn't too terribly messy, I believe."
"Congratulations on the election, Ms. Whittaker," Robin said.
"Please, call me Darcy," she said, crossing her fingers as she opened the door. There were only two boxes. It would have to do. "I'll get a sixth chair from the lobby, and-"
"There is no need," the alien said with a bright smile. Starfire, that was it. If the girl could knock Cinderblock over, she certainly could handle a chair. Robin watched her as she took one from the lobby, Darcy noticed, and the gaze wasn't what she would have expected. She concealed a smile and moved a box to make room.
"Forgive me for being rude, but why did you wish to see me?" Darcy asked when everyone was seated.
"You're going to be the mayor," Robin said. "We would like to keep a close working relationship, to make sure that there aren't any disputes. We're not an election gimmick, we're not your public relations stunt team, and we're not going to support any decisions of yours that we don't like. We will, however, provide security for your speech in a week and a half. I have it from a source I trust with my life that the Brotherhood of Evil has looked into contracting a hit on your life, to take place at your first speech."
"A-hit?" she asked faintly.
"Because of information you provided, Madame Rouge is in jail," Changeling explained. "She's not a very nice individual, and she took it personally. She wants to cause political unrest, and her compatriots seem to have decided a political event would be a good setting."
"Do you know who she has contacted?"
"My source couldn't get the name of the assassin, but we do have the time and location," Robin said. "I know that it's disconcerting to hear something like this, but we decided that it would be better to tell you. As a precaution, one of us will be with you starting a day before the speech, with your permission."
"Thank you," she said, voice shaken. "We will remain in contact, I trust?"
"Yes, on matters beside this," Robin said. "We also want to speak to you about repealing some of the more restricting ordinances of the town." He held an identification card in his hands, and bands of white were visible.
"They're not right," Raven said. She slid hers across the table. "This piece of plastic intimidates people- you're going to be the mayor. You need to understand." She didn't like politicians, but she did want those laws changed. There were metas that didn't have the chance to talk to politicians.
Darcy looked over the red rectangle of thin plastic- it was the size of a credit card. A large picture covered almost half of one side, in a scowling likeness of Raven's face. Her full name was printed in capitals above the picture, and the driver's license number across the bottom. Those details were much like Darcy's own identification card, but the bold text at the bottom of the card said it all: Metahuman, Class A. Half Demon.
Darcy looked up, startled. "They give this much information?" She had never seen a card before, but it seemed too revealing. Hotels required cards for registration, as did landlords. It was a locally made ordinance, she remembered.
"They give more," Raven said, accepting her card. "The back gives an address, a list of powers, the usual pertinent information on a driver's license, and a fingerprint."
"I didn't know."
"Then it's time that you did," Raven said, and the words weren't quite a judgment. "It's something to think about. We will contact you about security."
Darcy shook hands with each Titan, her head only half in the action. She could bring a motion to the city council- it wouldn't make her popular, perhaps, but if she were to move to San Francisco after a term… Being liberal was practically a requirement, and it only made sense.
She was distracted by new thoughts and possibilities, but still watched the Titans leave her office. Changeling had dropped back, to speak with Robin. Darcy wondered what they would talk about. Not because they were metas, though, but because they were heroes, and it was past time the city recognized that.
The clutter on her desk was forgotten. She had more to deal with than letters from various politicians who would want something in return later. Where was that set of precedents about new policies mayors had implemented…
Darcy was moving her things to the mayor's office, she had the Titans to advise her about just what they needed, and she had a family-friendly issue to discuss at her first speech as mayor. Not even an assassin would ruin her mood. The Titans could do what they did best, and she would focus on being a politician people liked to vote for.
"I have to say, Tim, I don't envy you all the bureaucratic nonsense," Logan said. "Spokesperson, chief paper-pusher, polite in the face of politicians… it is a pity all that goes with the job."
"What are we talking about, exactly?" Tim asked. The other three Titans were just ahead. Knowing their friends, Tim and Logan both would bet that the other three were eavesdropping shamelessly.
"You and the leader gig, of course," Logan said. He shook his head. "Sad, that all the responsibility has already gotten to your brain- it doesn't make sense to have a leader on the field, and none off. Almost enough to make you sorry you're good at it, isn't it."
"When did this happen?"
"Two days ago, of course, when your plan was a piece of crap, we both added a few changes, and you later admitted that the plan didn't work. It was my fault just as much, but you were going to take all of it. You've got enough of a martyr to make this team work, and you're getting experience the old-fashioned way. Screwing up and muddling through anyway."
Tim smiled. "Thanks. I think."
"Anytime," Logan said. "Let's catch up to the others. They're listening to every word we say, so we might as well make it easy for them."
Five communicators rang. Eight eyes looked to Robin.
Tim's mask hadn't moved, but it was Robin that read the summary and rapped off a quick series of orders. Starfire and Raven were in the air just a second before a green bird shot into the air. They didn't need it, really, but the falcon wheeled overhead, the girls hovered, and Cyborg waited. It wasn't necessary- but what team didn't have their own traditions?