Disclaimer: Teen Titans isn't mine. none of the songs i use are mine, either. in fact, aside from this plot, nothing is mine. so get over it already and just read and enjoy.
How Long is Never?
"It's a crime you let it happen to me
Nevermind, I'll let it happen to you
Nevermind, forget it, there's nothing to lose
But my mind and all the things I wanted."
--"Forget It", Breaking Benjamin
Breathing heavily, Starfire cautiously peered around the corner, scanning the fluorescent-flooded corridor for any signs of life. There was nothing there; it was completely empty. Her mouth tightened into a thin, determined line, and the no-longer-teen Titan stepped into the new hallway, continuing to glance about as she crept along its metallic length. It unnerved her, the absence of guards. Certainly they must be somewhere, and why wouldn't the path to the reactor of the entire facility be under constant surveillance? It simply didn't add up, she thought to herself for the twentieth time. Something was not right here; something was not right with this whole place, for X'Hal's sake. Maybe it was all in her head, though. Maybe she was imagining danger where it didn't exist because she had been trained to always anticipate the worst.
She almost laughed bitterly to herself, but she couldn't quite summon it. Robin would be so proud: in the end, she had become like him. Paranoid and suspicious and single-minded. She couldn't help wondering for the briefest of moments if he had become like her, if he had ever learned to let others in, if he had ever decided that never was too long.
"Perhaps not now, friend Robin, but someday, surely. Correct?"
"No, Star. Not now, not ever. Never."
"Never? But…but how long is this 'never' of which you speak?"
"Long enough, Star. Long enough to be forever."
A slight frown marred Starfire's features as she arrived at the door at the far end of the corridor, and she shoved the memory from the forefront of her mind. She would not allow herself to be distracted by recollections of what he had determined should never change. Never. It was such a hopelessly depressing word. Checking over her shoulder, she tried the knob, but as she had expected, it refused to turn. Locked. She let out a small, impatient sigh. She had hoped to cause as little commotion as possible, and here they had to go and lock the door.
Reaching up, she wrenched the hinges clean off the top of the door and then bent down to get the ones at the bottom. She tossed the twisted metal pieces aside, straightened, and eyed the door once more, sizing it up. After a moment of thought, she gripped the knob with one hand and wedged her other fingers in the gap between the door's top and the door frame, and with a grunt and impossible strength, jerked the door free; the lock broke with a sharp snap. She set the broken door aside easily and faced the now-open gap, her small eyebrows rising sharply at what she saw on the other side.
A group of equally surprised-looking guards gaped at her momentarily before they recovered, sweeping their guns into position, and Starfire found herself staring down the muzzles of half a dozen assault rifles. Apparently she hadn't been paranoid and suspicious enough. Robin would never have been caught off-guard; he would surely have anticipated such a possibility. He would have known he would be facing death in the eye and he would have been able to think clearly.
"Freeze!" one of the guards ordered, even though Starfire had not yet moved.
Starfire obligingly froze, forcing her thoughts into some semblance of order and surveying her enemies. Six of them: two for her starbolts, two for her eyebeams…still left two. Hopefully they would be shocked enough to allow her time to recover before they could do the same. Hopefully.
"Forever? You cannot mean that. I will hope that you—"
"Don't hope. All hope gets you is a chance to be disappointed and hurt. And I don't want you hurt more than you already are."
She had to move fast, and luckily it only took an instant to summon the necessary power. In the following split second the Tamaranian princess had leapt into action; searing rays of bright green energy lanced from her eyes while twin bursts launched from her hands, all while she half-jumped, half-flew forward. The four targeted guards let out pained shouts as they were slammed backwards, crumpling uselessly to the floor, their guns flying askew. The bullets from the remaining guards blasted angrily past her, one of them skimming her shoulder, and Starfire drew in a sharp breath and spun around, still soaring through the air, and shot another pair of starbolts. The energy caught the guards in the chest, knocking them back off their feet and into the wall, and they slid down, knocked out cold.
Chalk up two points to hope. Too bad it didn't always work that way, she thought as she landed safely past the sprawled, unconscious guards.
Relaxing her stance, feeling the adrenaline draining gradually from her body, Starfire allowed the glow to fade from her eyes, the darker emerald returning. She checked her shoulder, which had a thin red line across it, but it was not bleeding heavily. She disregarded the minor injury and focused her attention on what still lay ahead of her. A bright red chain-link gate was across from the now-doorless doorframe, and a small panel was stuck in the wall next to the gate. Walking up to it, she determined that it was an elevator, and she poked the button that opened the gate. It slid open creakily, and she stepped inside, allowing it to close once more. The elevator jerkily descended, and she found herself wondering where the music was before she reprimanded herself. Of course there would be no elevator music in this particular elevator. What was she thinking, anyway?
The elevator lurched to a halt, causing Starfire to lose her balance and fall against one of the sides. She shook her auburn bangs from her eyes and loosened her grip on the metal grid, shoving the door open and stepping out. She was in a large room, lit from the ceiling by several fluorescent lights, giving the place a washed-out, pale look. Oddly enough, the elevator stopped on a platform above the floor, and she clambered down the metal stairs that were so steep they were nearly a ladder. Boots echoing hollowly on the cement floor, Starfire walked carefully over to the massive piece of machinery that squatted in the center of the room. Serpentine pipes erupted from the square body and twisted and burrowed into various sections of the ceiling, clearly leading to different levels of the facility. As she stared at the sadistically complex machinery hooked up to the reactor, she wished that Cyborg were here. He would certainly be able to dismantle the thing in no time at all, and safely, too. But he wasn't here, and she was.
Scanning the array of keyboards and dials and gauges one last time, looking for a helpful label such as "Self-Destruct: Do Not Pull This Lever", Starfire took a few steps back and scrutinized the generator. Destroying this would cut the power to the rest of the facility and hopefully—there was that hopefully again—cause a chain reaction which would take out the entire place. That left the little problem of what she would do to get out, but…no plan ever was perfect. All she knew was that to save her friends and everyone else, this place had to go.
Holding her hands close together, Starfire charged up a gigantic starbolt, the entire room flooding with the lime green light. Her eyes narrowed to glowing slits, and she focused on the center of the machine, where all the pipes originated.
"Long enough to be forever."
"And now it is," she muttered to herself, letting out a shout as she launched the combined starbolt towards the reactor, creating a continuous stream of lethal green energy. The starbolt struck home, and the reactor exploded outwards from that point, sending debris and flames flying in every direction, the gases in the pipes igniting and spiraling upwards in a fiery wind.
Propelled into action, Starfire rocketed to the elevator, ripping the sliding gate free and throwing it aside carelessly as she rushed inside. She pounded the "up" button, but when it did not respond instantaneously, she charged up another starbolt and blasted a hole in the ceiling, flying through just as the fires shot into the elevator. As she streaked upwards, the explosion engulfed the elevator shaft right on her heels, and she only had time enough to blow out the door at the top before the force of the flames caught her and threw her, spinning head over heels, into the room with the unconscious guards. Slamming full into the far wall, she staggered back a step, the walls and fire spinning in her vision, before she crumpled to the floor in a broken heap and everything faded to a merciful black.