kweandee: Here's the epilogue, a bit quickly for this fic. Hope you enjoy it.
SxStrngSamurai13: I'm glad you enjoyed the fic. Hopefully the epilogue treats you as well. I tried to keep things tense in chapter five, as the team still has a lot of issues with each other. Raven is leader almost by default, as everyone else has an affiliation with either Nightwing or Cyborg, and so she's really the only choice. Hope you enjoy the epilogue.
Kevorkian: That's very high praise. Thank you. I hope you're still around and I hope you like this chapter as well.
Tails-Coyote-Carnivore: Thanks! Hope you like the epilogue as well.
bbissocute: Thank you! I'm glad you like the fic. Here's the epilogue!
dr.evil99: We've spoken about your review on AIM, so I'll keep it short here. I know you've been looking forwards to the epilogue, and I hope it doesn't disappoint.
Toran of Raysed: I don't like it when Raven is somehow able to be able to love fully and effortlessly, after a lifetime of emotional suppression. Anyway, glad you are liking the fic. Here's the epilogue.
A/N: This is the epilogue for Five Years Later. I wanted to show how the team worked together in this setting, as well as showing a bit of the team dynamic after reforming. Plus, I like the setting and wanted to keep writing. Enjoy!
The lock was proving extremely difficult to bypass, and the man's concentration was not being helped by the thick and brutish voice from the other side. "Hurry it th' 'ell up! It's friggin' cold out here!"
"Shut your scraggin' hole, I'm working as fast as I can!" Gizmo's fingers were small, and that made tasks that required manual dexterity a bit easier, but not effortless. Still, he was more than just skilled at this sort of work, and a few more seconds saw the door clicking open. A large hand grabbed the side of the door and pulled it open quickly, revealing a nearly nine foot tall, walking tank of a man, and a smaller, svelte, black-suited man beside him. They both entered quickly, and Mammoth pushed the door shut behind him. It was soon temporarily locked again, with a glowing X across the opening.
Red X switched off his sonic dissipater to conserve power. This also had the side effect of allowing him to speak again. "We need to get in, get the money, and leave. I know you don't put stock in rumors, but I don't like what I've been hearing lately."
Gizmo typed on the nearby security console while he spoke. "What? About the Titans being back together? It's scrimpin' lies. They hate each other. They've even stopped fighting us to attack themselves before."
"Yeah, dey aren't gonna get back together. Ain't gonna happen." Mammoth seemed impatient, tapping his foot while waiting for Gizmo to crack the laser security system on the bank vault.
Red X frowned, activating his Roentgen sights, and scanning the street outside. "Look, I know you think they won't ever get over Jinx, but-urkgk!"
Mammoth's huge hand pressed Red X to the sealed door, as two fingers and his thumb closed around his neck and cut off his breathing. His voice was serious and angry. "I told you before, you don't talk about dat."
Red X struggled against Mammoth's strength with no effect, and his hand was pinning Red X's arms to the door as well, blocking any useful gadgetry. The fringes of his vision were full of sparks and flashes, as he tried to force his lungs to pull in air.
A few seconds later, seconds that seemed to last hours for Red X, Gizmo muttered. "Let him down, Mammoth; we need him."
Red X collapsed to the floor as Mammoth released him. The huge man looked down at him. "I'm not tellin' you again."
Gizmo spoke, as Red X choked and gasped on the floor. "Alright... one second, and... done. One ancient computer system hacked. Here goes."
One more keystroke, and the lasers flashed visible once, in an intricate and tightly woven web, before disappearing again, deactivated.
The crime wasn't a complex plan. The lasers were guarding the shipping company's cash vault. Nothing but a simple smash and grab, of a few hundred thousand in unmarked twenties and fifties. Mammoth crossed the room quickly, and looked at the vault door, gauging it's strength, as well as it's weak points. Gizmo wasn't so good with combination locks, as the mechanisms were too hidden.
Mammoth showed his normal aptitude for bypassing heavy locks, as he dug his fingers into the carbon-steel door, and pulled it whole from the hinges, tossing the two ton vault door to the floor nearby, forcing Red X to dodge out of the way to avoid a messy death. Mammoth looked inside, frowning at the electrified money case. The lowered security of the docks district had made it easier for supervillains to avoid police interference, but had increased the larger corporations' internal defenses against theft.
"ey, X. Take dis out." Mammoth pointed towards the electrified case.
X walked over to the entrance, keeping his distance from Mammoth as much as he was able, and readied an EMP charge from his belt. Gizmo was squinting at something in the vault, but X ignored him, throwing the device just as Gizmo realized what he was looking at. "Wait!"
The EMP charge impacted the side of the case, and detonated, dispelling the electrical field. However, immediately after the field dropped, a piercingly loud alarm broke out. All three thieves grabbed their ears, wincing from the sudden noise. Mammoth was the first to recover, storming into the room and grabbing the case, lifting the large metal container almost effortlessly. He ran for the exterior door, and Red X pressed a switch on his belt, causing the locking mechanism he'd placed there to dissipate. Mammoth kicked the door open, and ran out into the street.
Red X ran into the back of the man, as he stopped suddenly. Gizmo took a slightly more graceful path, whizzing sideways and upwards on his jetpack, hovering next to Mammoth. "Oh, fraggin' hell."
On the rooftop of the shop on the other side of the street stood five familiar figures. There was a strange air about them, of hope and determination. They looked almost happy to see the criminals pour out of the building. Changeling grinned, and elbowed the blue-cloaked girl next to him. She half-smirked as well, and spoke two words, sounding as if she hadn't said them before.
Changeling couldn't help but be amused at the expressions on Mammoth and Gizmo's faces when they'd spotted the team together again. The pair, switching in and out third members from time to time, had enjoyed moderate success since the split. Seeing all of them together again must be really disheartening. When Raven spoke, however, the team didn't leave time for amusement and jokes. She spoke, and they moved.
He could almost feel his hair singe as Starfire blew past him, driving straight towards Mammoth, her eyes and hands ablaze with power already. He changed quickly, storming towards the empty space between Gizmo and Mammoth, batting the small man out of the air with his ape paw, and clutching the invisible Red X, aided by the telepathic outline sent from Raven.
The vault building shuddered and partially collapsed as Starfire's charge drove her and Mammoth into a support column. Changeling reeled around quickly, throwing Red X across the street, and against the store that the Titans had been standing on. The cloaked villain smashed through the glass storefront, and collided with a shelf full of magazines inside, falling to the ground dazed. Laser fire suddenly tore down from the air above him, and Changeling growled loudly as a line of light grazed his arm, searing the fur and some of the flesh from it. He didn't have time to retaliate, however, as a blue beam of sonic energy smashed Gizmo sideways, the vibrations from the noise disabling his laser cannon.
Cyborg maintained his position near Raven, guarding her and watching the action from the highground. Nightwing was inside the store, fighting hand to hand with Red X. Changeling dodged quickly to the side again as Starfire blew past him a second time. However, this time she wasn't in control, smashing into the street as Mammoth tore out of the building rubble. The huge man yelled belligerently and incoherently, attacking the first thing he saw, which happened to be Changeling.
Mammoth charged violently, and Changeling only had time to set himself and try to stop him. His strength, even in his current form, was nowhere near Mammoth's, however. The pavement cracked beneath him as Mammoth slammed into him, knocking him down and pinning him to the ground. The large bruiser raised his fist and punched, and Changeling dodged just enough that he missed taking his head clean off. Raven's telepathic reassurance helped Changeling keep fighting for the extra two seconds before the black-encased car smashed into Mammoth's side and barreled him into the building again.
(Help Starfire.) The message was succinct, but he felt a telepathic nudge that she was above him. He changed into a condor and took flight, sailing towards Starfire, who was dodging missiles and lasers being fired almost wildly from Gizmo. He changed again, becoming a hummingbird, and far too nimble for Gizmo to ever hit. A few seconds later, he had reached the panicked villain undetected. He landed on Gizmo's bald head, and immediately changed again, into a Velociraptor.
The extra weight made Gizmo's flight motors fail, and they both fell like rocks. Changeling's powerful legs absorbed most of the shock of the fall, but Gizmo's shoulder wasn't built the same way, and just cracked as he landed. His shouting confirmed that he was pretty much out of the fight. Using his talons, Changeling stripped away the computer core on the man's back. A black shape caught his eye, as Raven teleported to him. Her hands glowed as she pressed them to the defeated Gizmo's shoulder. "I'll quiet him. Go help with Mammoth."
Changeling turned, looking back towards the center of the battle. Red X seemed to be unconscious, tied up with a de-cel line in front of the ruined store. Starfire was leaning up against a column, looking dazed while Nightwing was cleaning and dressing a nasty looking cut on her right thigh. Cyborg was mostly just trying to dodge Mammoth's angry swipes and punches. "Yo! BB! A little help?"
He put his leg strength to good use, pressing back before catapulting himself forty feet through the air and onto Mammoth's back. The man barely even reacted to the dinosaur's weight, but just reached around behind him and grabbed Changeling, throwing him before he could react. Cyborg tried to catch him, but his current form was too heavy, and they both were bowled backwards. Cyborg stood shakily, as Changeling shifted back to human form.
Mammoth slammed his fists into the street, nearly blind with rage. His voice was so loud that Changeling could feel the vibrations in the asphalt under him. "Murderer! You killed her!"
Cyborg grimaced fearfully. "Oh hell."
Mammoth's charge drove Cyborg into the storefront with enough force to buckle the structure entirely, collapsing it around the two. A black sphere surrounded the combatants before the rubble crushed them, and then expanded, shoving the debris away before dissipating. Mammoth pinned Cyborg, pressing his knee to the hero's stomach. He raised his arms and punched downwards, and Cyborg could do little but take the punishment, unable to lift the hulking madman off of him.
(Help him!) The telepathic plea was desperate. The punches sent shivers down the street as Changeling struggled to his feet, and then changed into an oversized ape again, charging along with Starfire. Between the two of them, they managed to pull Mammoth away from Cyborg, who thankfully had built enough armor into even his biological parts to stay alive during the assault. Changeling's eyes widened as he felt Mammoth shift his weight, and grab him by the head, swinging him sideways and clubbing Starfire with him. Changeling's weight was enough to send Starfire flying to the side, and both heroes went flying in a tangle. The attack also served to distract Mammoth for a moment, allowing the thrown projectile from Nightwing to latch itself onto his back. A half-second later, it delivered it's five hundred kilovolt payload.
Mammoth yelled into the night as the arcs of electricity flowed over his body. He regained control enough to reach behind him and tear off the device, before turning towards Nightwing. Breathing heavily, he took an unbalanced step forwards, gritting his teeth. He stopped as the black shape appeared in front of him. Mammoth seemed too dazed by the electrical attack to respond quickly enough. Raven stepped forwards, gently pressing her hand to his forehead. Her eyes glowed as she spoke quietly. "Sleep."
The man crumpled to the ground, the mental coercion working flawlessly. Cyborg pulled himself to standing, the nanorobots in his bloodstream already repairing his damage. Changeling untangled himself from Starfire, and stood, as Nightwing helped the alien up as well. The Titans looked at each other, bruised and battered from the combat, and grinned.
They were back.
Police sirens wailed in the night, as Nightwing and Cyborg secured Mammoth and Gizmo. The docks may not be the safest place in town, but reports of heavy metahuman combat always brought the authorities to the scene. Changeling tried to stay out of the way, walking over to Raven. "Hey, so that went pretty well."
Raven nodded. "Yes. It wasn't perfect, and there's always room for improvement, but we did win."
"Gonna let Nightwing talk to the cops?"
"Yes. He's more experienced in that regard and has a rapport with most of the force at this point."
The Jump City police department arrived in only a few minutes, and in such force that Changeling had to assume that they were mostly there to see the Titans again, rather than to actually stop any sort of crime. The fact that Chief of Police Bronsky was present sort of cleared all doubt. Seeing him chatting amicably with Nightwing made Changeling a bit more relaxed. It seemed like no one was going to question the two fugitives on the team. He decided to take a chance and go see what they were talking about.
"Yes, Rick. We're back together for at least the time being. You've seen the materials and workmen coming to the tower for the past two weeks, and it's getting close to being finished. The Titans should be back in earnest shortly." Nightwing had a strange demeanor when he spoke to authority figures.
Police Chief Bronsky, or 'Rick' as Nightwing apparently felt comfortable calling him, seemed to be relieved that the Titans were reforming, though he seemed to be trying to hide his emotions behind a layer of official jargon and legally indifferent terminology. "Although I can't officially support vigilantism, your efforts as concerned citizens are appreciated."
He glanced at Changeling, the turned to Nightwing again. "Along the lines of my duties as Chief of Police, I must inform you that due to the nature of metahuman abilities and the inconsistencies that come from the sort of activities you engage in, we have no way to be assured that the people on your team are the same Garfield Logan and Victor Stone that have been declared fugitive. Until some concrete and undeniable evidence is shown that they are the same people, the law in Jump City will have to assume that they are not the fugitives that we've been seeking. Do you have any such evidence?"
Nightwing shook his head. "I have no such evidence on hand, Rick."
Another man brushed his way past the police around the scene. He was a tall, somewhat heavily built man, wearing thick-rimmed glasses, a blue blazer, and a press pass. Changeling stepped aside, trying to avoid contact with the newspaper reporters as much as possible. "Ah, Mr. Nightwing, a moment of your time?"
Turning towards the man, Nightwing nodded. "Yes?"
"Clark Kent, Daily Planet. Any truth to the rumors that the Teen Titans are reforming?"
Nightwing's eyes widened for a second, but he regained his composure quickly. Something was still off about his voice, however. "Uh, Well, we're not teenagers anymore, but yes. The Titans are coming back. Ah, due to a generous grant from the Wayne Foundation, our Tower is being rebuilt as well."
Changeling left the area, heading back towards Raven with a grin on his lips. "Heh. I think Nightwing is out of practice. He's completely flustered with the press."
Raven's eyes glowed white for a moment, as she looked over towards the reporter, who was still interviewing Nightwing. He noticeably glanced back at her, and she jumped slightly, as if she'd been caught doing something wrong. Her eyes faded, but she seemed to hesitate a moment. "There's a reason for that. I'll... tell you back at the tower."
Changeling laughed. "Dude, I wish I was a mind reader." He put his arm around Raven's shoulders, and smiled at her. "So what do you think? After your first fight, are you going to stay leader?"
She pulled away slightly, moving his arm from her, while glancing at the reporters that were gathering nearby. "Of course. We wouldn't be able to agree on anyone else."
Cyborg and Starfire joined them, as the Special Crimes Unit took control of the unconscious villains. "Nice work, Rae. You did good."
"Yes, very well done. I had every confidence you in as a leader." Starfire smiled, something that was happening more often recently.
Raven nodded. "Thank you, but we would have won even without a leader. You all knew what you were doing."
Starfire looked over towards Nightwing, who was fielding questions from the dozens of reporters that had gathered. "I believe Nightwing is a bit overwhelmed. I did not realize that the Titans regrouping would be such an event."
Nightwing turned towards the team, and gestured for them to come over and join him. Changeling sighed. "Time to go pose for the cameras. Are you up to this, Raven?"
Raven nodded, though she pulled her hood up over her head as she did so. She wasn't starving any longer, but she was still visibly gaunt, and did not relish answering questions about it. "Let's go."
The impromptu press conference lasted nearly an hour before the Titans could get away. Back at the Tower, they had briefly celebrated their first victory as a team again, with champagne that Cyborg had stashed somewhere. Still, it wasn't long before the more practical concerns caused them to split up for the moment, Nightwing and Cyborg examining the work that had been done on the tower that day, while Starfire set herself to the task of cooking some food for everyone.
Raven, followed by Changeling, left the operations room, headed towards her bedroom. The two walked in silence, beside one another, down the corridor. It was amazing how much progress had been made in the repairs over the past two weeks. The hallway was well lit now, and the floor no longer felt as though it would collapse at any time. They stopped at Raven's door. She turned towards Changeling, and smiled slightly. "They followed me. Even Nightwing. They actually listened to me."
Changeling grinned. "Of course they did. You're the leader. We have to."
She stepped towards him, and leaned against him as he put his arms around her. She looked up at him. "I'm sorry for pulling away back there, but we can't act like we are dating in front of the press. The public is suspicious enough of us, and the press doesn't need anything else to focus on. Starfire's figure already makes parents nervous that their kids like us."
He squeezed her gently. "Hey, it's fine. It's kind of fun to see Starfire wanting to be close to Dick, but keeping herself away. On the topic of figures, no one asked about yours. Maybe it's not so obvious as you think."
She shook her head. "It is, but I suppressed their curiosity. They are all probably wondering why they didn't think to ask. I just don't want to explain it to them right now."
Changeling laughed, and Raven couldn't help but smile. "By the time we have another fight, you'll probably be back to your old self. You've been eating enough to feed three people."
"I'm not sure that any girl wants to hear something like that."
"You know what I mean."
They stood in silence for a few moments, holding one another in the hallway. Raven smiled, feeling secure and safe with Changeling, as well as the Titans. The past two weeks had gone quickly, but the group was already acting like a team again. There was still some resentment, and Raven had not been above noticing that the previous partnerships had been evident in the fighting earlier in the day, but when things were calm, the Titans were able to talk and laugh like the old friends that they were.
Raven felt oddly optimistic. It seemed as though, with enough time, the Titans would actually be the Titans again. She looked down at Changeling's chest as she held him. There would be some differences from the way things used to be, but she could handle them. For the first time in years, Raven found herself waking up each morning looking forwards to the rest of the day. It was a wonderful feeling, and she knew that her long period of misery and solitude was finally over.
A strange, vaguely sour aroma floated down the hallway, and Changeling laughed. "Smells like Star is cooking. Want to go help me fix a... uh... 'side dish' for the rest of us to eat?"
Raven shook her head, pulling out of his embrace regretfully. "No, I need to meditate. The combat with the Hive and the interrogation of the press has left me drained."
He grinned, and nodded. "Ok, Raven. I'll come get you when dinner is ready."
He leaned in and kissed her, just a peck on the lips. She smiled. "Yes, see you then."
A/N: Finished! Life goes on for the Titans, and hopefully in a happier direction than the previous few years. To be honest, this setting sorta interests me, and I may write another fic at some point in the future that is set after this one in the same setting. Not a sequel in the strictest sense, but more like another 'episode'. Anyway, Review if you liked it or didn't! See you in my next fic!